A few days later, on a holiday—
“Ah, Albert. Over here, over here~” said Flin, waving her hand.
Flin was my classmate from 10 years ago, as well as my friend. As of now, she was an instructor at the academy.
We were at a plaza outside of the academy. This place was quite well-known, and people from the capital frequently used it as a place to meet up.
Hey, Albert. Mind spending some of your time with me on the upcoming day off?
Flin invited me here before our holiday started.
This was the first time she asked to meet up outside of the academy since we reunited.
It wasn’t just us, though.
“I don’t really care if you guys go off and meet up on your own, but—”
Standing beside Flin, Firvus scratched his head.
“Why was I invited?”
“C’mon, the academy needs to prepare a bunch of stuff for the Kingdom Festival! We’re gonna go shopping for that! There’s gonna be lots of stuff to carry, so I want you two strong gentlemen to help out!”
“Bah, I knew that was the reason! Bloody hell! I’m leaving!”
Flin grabbed Firvus’ arm as he attempted to run away. “That’s. No. Good! You’re an employee at the academy! You have to participate!”
“AAAAAAAAAAH, COME ON! I FINALLY GOT A DAY OFF! THIS IS THE WOOOOOOOOORST!”
Firvus was dragged away by Flin.
I faintly smiled and followed behind them.
From then on, Flin made us go shopping with her until evening.
We wandered from shop to shop as Flin bought boatloads of goods that looked like they’d be used in preparation for the Kingdom Festival.
One after another, bags stuffed with wares were handed over to Firvus and me.
…Living in the capital has taken a considerable toll on my body as of late. Today’s been pretty taxing…
After a ton of shopping, we headed to a luxurious-looking restaurant as Flin led the way.
“You guys did great!” said Flin in an easygoing tone. “Today’s shopping was assigned by the academy! The headmaster said we could eat whatever we want, so dig in!”
“Well… don’t mind if I do…” Firvus breathed out a sigh as he spoke. “You sure are enthusiastic, Flin. The Kingdom Festival work just keeps piling up, day in, day out. I finally get a day off after all this time, and alas, I’m made to spend it on work… It just breaks my heart…”
“Cheer up, Firvus!”
“It’s a little depressing hearing my senior telling me to cheer up…”
Flin was the same age as me, and Firvus was the same age as Carlyle, so he was a year younger than me.
I casually asked them something I was curious about. “…Which one of you became an instructor first?”
“We actually started working at the same time.”
“Yeah, that’s right. While I was working reeeeal hard on my postgraduate course for two whole years, Mr. Firvus became a teacher only after fooling around for a year, which is why we both started working as instructors at the same time.”
By the way, the postgraduate course was the fourth and fifth year of the academy. Just about every student graduated in three years, but some decided to do the postgraduate course as well.
“Fooling around? Seriously, you… I had a lot going on too, you know…”
Firvus had a distant look in his eyes. A nihilistic atmosphere hung over him, and that gesture of his only made him look more profound and ambiguous. My opinion of Firvus went up another notch.
Firvus changed the subject. “Flin, are the preparations for the treasure exhibition going well?”
“It’s going great. I hear the academy’s gonna start transporting it today.”
I couldn’t follow their conversation, so I decided to cut in. “Excuse me, but what are you guys talking about?”
Flin was the one who answered, “An ancient treasure kept by the academy is gonna be put on display for this Kingdom Festival, and the academy began moving out that treasure today.”
The academy’s treasure, huh… They do seem to have a lot of those.
“…Our oh-so beloved and respected Professor Carlyle waved his magic wand to make it happen, y’see… I’m on my knees here, don’t give me any more extra work…” lamented Firvus.
From there on, Flin and Firvus began complaining about the work they had to do for the Kingdom Festival. They’re both civil servants, so it seems like they’re busy with various things.
I’m pretty much always interacting with them as student and teacher, so hearing them talk about these things for a change was quite enjoyable.
Firvus pointed at me and changed the subject. “Ah, that’s right, that’s right. This guy won against the head of the class, you know.”
“The head of the class? Wait, do you mean Blain?”
“Yup. Against Blain.”
“That’s incredible! You’re amazing, Albert!”
I felt a little embarrassed.
By no means was it a bad feeling, but I didn’t feel like dragging this conversation out.
That’s because when I heard Blain’s name, I recalled something that was on my mind.
“I’d like to ask something about Blain Milhis. I’ve heard of the term, The Tragedy of the Milhis Household.”
They both blinked in surprise at what I said.
I continued regardless, “What is The Tragedy of the Milhis Household?”
“…It’s a famous story among nobles. I guess it’s not surprising that you’re unaware, considering you just came out of your cave after 10 years. After all, this story goes a few years back.”
Then, he continued, “If you wanna know, how about I tell you what happened?”
“W-Wait just a minute, Mr. Firvus!” said Flin, cutting into the conversation in a panic. “That’s a private matter! We’re strangers—talking about stuff like that without permission is…!”
“You have a point there, but I said so earlier, didn’t I? That this is a famous story among nobles. It’s not really a secret or anything; Albert would’ve found out sooner or later. So, wouldn’t it be fine for us instructors to tell him with due consideration?”
“I… suppose…” Flin quietly agreed in response.
Firvus looked at me. “Want me to tell you?”
“Well… if you’re so inclined to.”
If I’ll find out sooner or later, I’d rather find out now.
Despite being the head of the class, he looked at me as if I was above him—as if he was the challenger. My relationship with him would probably continue—as long as he stayed interested in me, that is.
Firvus began speaking. “The Tragedy of the Milhis Household. In the span of a single night, the entire Milhis family was annihilated—with the exception of one person: the head of the class and a genius in magic, Blain Milhis.”
On a certain day a few years back—
The Blain family had left the capital of the territory they governed and were visiting their villa, which was in the same territory.
It was to take a day off with the whole family.
Blain’s father was the type to think about his family, and it was customary for him to take a week off during summer and spend time with the family.
“…But…their villa wasn’t in the best of spots…” said Firvus with a sigh. “Near their villa was a lich’s nest…”
I’ve never heard of that word before, so I raised my eyebrows in response. “A lich?”
Firvus responded, “Y’see, liches are bone monsters, just like skeletons. However, liches are what become of powerful magicians that’ve used a secret technique to obtain eternal life, becoming a shadow of their former selves. Their skill in magic is no joke.”
“Eternal life… I never knew such a thing was possible… that’s pretty amazing.”
Firvus shook his head in response. “…I wonder about that… Carlyle said, ‘they’re failures whose lives are merely long’ and whatnot.”
“Apparently, he’s researched that secret technique, but… he says the casters of that spell sacrifice not only their human body, but their mind, too. They lose their humanity and shut away the broken remnants of their emotions into their hollow skull, becoming creatures fueled only by their deep-rooted delusions in magic.”
Firvus continued, “Can you really say that liches are the same person as when they were alive? Haven’t they become something completely different, merely inheriting the memories from when they were alive? …is what he said.”
“What is it?”
“You’re quite skilled at mimicking how Carlyle speaks.”
“I’m pretty sure that isn’t what someone would normally say in response to what I was just talking about, don’t you think!?”
Firvus then scratched his cheek and continued, “…I mean, I’ve known him for a long time, so of course I’d be good at it… Let’s get back on topic.”
Blain and his family were unfortunate.
A lich had been living there for ages, so they could have never known that a lich’s nest, of all things, was right under their noses.
Blain and his family were unfortunate.
The lich had been biding its time until that fateful day.
“That night was the only time it would’ve come up to the surface…”
From the chasms of a cavern that not a single soul knew about, a nightmare from ancient times crept its way to the surface, its deep-seated obsessions with magic acting as its sole source of being.
Today’s 1st chap, gonna post the second along with recreator tmrw. Already finished a chunk of it so should be doable. See you guys then. Also, I double-checked but it was never explicitly mentioned, but that part with Lucard last chapter seemed to be a fast forward to the events of this chapter. At least, I think. It confused me when I read it so I’ll just leave this here if anyone else gets confused too.