Adandito’s expression turned melancholic as if he had heard something sad.
Once again, Hierian felt a pang in his chest.
During their time in the punitive force, Adandito helped him in various ways.
In particular, he had protected Hierian from Dianel.
It was only after Adandito stepped forward that Hierian realized the problematic actions Dianel had been taking against him.
‘Dianel, Hierian is in trouble, you know.’
Despite his peculiar tastes and dual personality, Adandito was someone who knew how to take care of the weak.
Hierian thought it was okay not to show gratitude for his warmth.
“No, it’s not possible.
Hierian forcefully swallowed the words that were about to come out.
Then he glanced up and looked at Adandito.
Adandito didn’t seem to have any intention of backing down.
Hierian also couldn’t easily back down.
It was a matter involving the divine command.
With determination, Hierian opened his mouth.
“Adandito, this is the Mage Tower.
Even if you’re the substitute leader, you have to follow my orders here.”
“….Hierian, may I ask why you suddenly changed?”
“I can’t overlook a possible error that could be the cause of a magical pillar running amok.”
“…An error, you say?”
“Yes, after I finish my investigation, I will send her back to the temple.
So step aside.”
Only then did Adandito nod with a melancholic expression.
“I understand, Hierian.
I entrust her to you.”
“…Are you really going to let her go?”
“Yes, because I trust you.
I will wait until you safely return my precious person.”
With a calm gaze and demeanor, Hierian simply bit his lip.
* * *
My body felt heavy.
Even when I tried to open my eyes, they wouldn’t easily open.
It felt as if something heavy was pressing down on me, and I struggled to get up from the bed.
‘Why do I feel so weak?’
Even after managing to get up, I couldn’t gather my thoughts at all.
Eventually, I reluctantly collapsed back onto the bed after a few futile attempts.
It was because I thought there was no need to get up at this moment.
I lay on the bed absentmindedly, lost in my thoughts.
I was hungry, and my throat was dry.
But I didn’t even have the strength to chew and swallow anything.
‘I’m so sleepy.’
I was ensnared in drowsiness that made it difficult to regain my senses.
It seemed like I hadn’t been so deeply immersed in sleep for a long time.
As I writhed in discomfort, something cool settled on top of my head.
When I slowly opened my eyes, I saw reddish-brown hair cascading into my field of vision.
Even in my groggy state, it felt familiar, as if I had seen it somewhere before.
I managed to move my lips and asked:
Despite her monotone voice, her touch was gentle, awakening me from sleep.
Only then did I recall that she had introduced herself as Hierian’s secretary.
Izaya carefully wiped my face with a damp cloth and then let the water trickle into my parched lips.
She didn’t forget to lift my head to prevent any choking.
Her soothing touch made me feel better.
As my dry lips moistened, a faint sigh escaped.
“You’ve been asleep for three days already.”
Although it must be tough for you, please get up now.
I’ve prepared something for you to eat.”
Izaya propped me up with a few soft pillows behind my upper body.
As I leaned against the headboard, a lazy breath escaped me.
Only then did I slowly look around.
I was in an ordinary bedroom.
The whole space was white, and it was a bit suspicious that there wasn’t a single window.
‘Where am I?’
Before I could grasp the situation, Izaya asked again.
“Are you alright?”
I nodded in response.
I didn’t know what had happened, but sleeping for three days must have meant something serious.
‘What happened before I fell asleep?’
I blinked my eyes absentmindedly, lost in my thoughts.
Then Izaya spoke in a polite tone.
“First, on behalf of the Mage Tower, I’d like to express my gratitude.
Thanks to Siara, Hierian was able to wake up.”
Only then did I remember the memory of entering the restricted area outside the administration and finding an unidentified child.
The child was in so much pain that I had endured the suffering and reached out to help.
‘So, that child was Hierian.’
It was no wonder he looked so similar.
Anyway, I was relieved to hear that he was safe.
As various thoughts filled the silence, Izaya brought out some food.
“I prepared stew since you were on an empty stomach.”
The savory smell tantalized my nostrils, and my rumbling stomach emphasized its presence.
Startled by the loud noise, my face turned red.
For some reason, I held onto my stomach, and Izaya smiled brightly.
You must be hungry.”
I accepted the spoon she offered, but my hands were trembling with weakness.
As the spoon hit the bowl and the stew splattered, Izaya took the spoon from me and asked,
“If it’s alright with you, shall I feed you?”
Being fed by someone my age was unnecessary, I thought.
I quickly extended my hand and declined her offer.
“Oh, no! I’ll be fine after resting for a bit.”
“In that case, I’ll bring you some nourishing tonic.
Please wait a moment.”
Nourishing tonic, huh? I hope it doesn’t contain frog legs or lizard eyes.
I sent her a skeptical gaze, but Izaya had already left the room.
“Well, I don’t know.
It might be helpful if I drink it.”
Surely she wouldn’t offer me something I can’t consume.
Yes, all I had to do was trust and wait.
By the way, didn’t they say they would give me a VIP membership when they opened the door?
“Then I’ll be rich too!”
Thinking of an energetic future, I tried my best to regain my energy,
…The sound of the door closing was too loud.
I got up from the bed and walked to the front of the door.
The shock of hitting the spoon against the bowl gave me a sudden burst of strength, enough to move me.
Fortunately, the door didn’t disappear like last time.
But I couldn’t let my guard down.
‘I don’t know when this door will disappear.’
I grabbed the doorknob and turned it.
However, the doorknob only turned halfway and wouldn’t turn any further.
Naturally, the door didn’t open.
Up to this point, it was within my expectations.
I thought the renowned magicians wouldn’t treat me kindly out of pure goodwill.
“…Should I break the doorknob?”
Looking around, I spotted a flowerpot.
It was small but looked solid.
I bid farewell to the small, white flower blooming delicately on the flowerpot.
Then without hesitation, I swung the flowerpot towards the doorknob.
The impact was enough to make my hand numb, but the doorknob remained unscathed and intact.
“It seems to be enchanted.”
At that moment, it became certain that I was trapped here.
Judging by the flow of magical energy on the wall, it was undoubtedly a mage tower.
A place I couldn’t escape with my power.
‘I can only listen to their words and wait for an opportunity.’
Somehow, I had a feeling they would confine me, whether the door opened or not.
At that moment, as I was about to give up,
I heard the sound of the door opening.
‘Is it Izaya?’
I stood in front of the door, intending to say something, but through the crack in the door, a familiar child appeared.
He spotted me and smiled, squinting his eyes.
“Yeah, do you know my name?”
He came in, stepping inside.
As soon as he did, the door closed.
“How many locks are there?”
Seems like they want to keep me locked up securely.
But Hierian, pretending not to know anything, sat next to me, smiling brightly.
Looking at his innocent smile, he seemed like an innocent child, but as someone who knew his true nature, I couldn’t relax.
‘He just smiled every day, like he was wearing a clown mask.’
No one could have guessed the truth behind that smile.
Keeping my guard up, I observed Hierian, and he handed me a vial of potion without hesitation.
A mysterious blue potion shimmered in front of me.
Wondering what it was, I looked at him, and he said directly to me,
“No, I don’t want to.”
“Don’t want to? Why?”
“…It looks unappetizing.”
“Hahahaha! You’re really funny.”
He lifted one corner of his mouth and smiled.
When the older Hierian used to smile like that, it would give me a cold feeling, but now, he looked cute because he had gotten younger.
Of course, what he said next didn’t match his cute appearance at all.
“You don’t have to drink it if you don’t want to.
There are other ways.”
Hierian smiled silently.
It was a smile that hid a dangerous intention, so I was afraid, but I soon nodded my head.
“Don’t overthink it.
Izaya said she brought the nourishing tonic, so it must be that.”
I didn’t know why I was unnecessarily scared about such a trivial matter.
I boldly shrugged my shoulders.
“Well, I’ll drink it.”
Compared to the bizarre things Hierian used to do, this was nothing.
I recalled the days when he would tell me to memorize strange things every day and reward me with candy.
It made my teeth chatter.
‘Yes, endure it.
Endure it so that I can leave this place soon.’
I forced myself to agree and took a deep breath, closing my eyes tightly as I swallowed the potion.
Then Hierian smiled as if he approved and offered me a round, candy-like object.
This was it, this! It was a candy that was round and had a star in the center! The days when he made me suffer and gave me this as a reward.
As I saw how long I had longed for it, my teeth clenched.
Then Hierian tilted his head and extended the candy towards me once more.
“It’s sweet and delicious.”
“I know, it’s just a lump of sugar.”
“Hmm, you don’t like sugar? It makes your brain sharper when you eat it.”
I wondered if my pancreas would fail before my brain became sharper.
No, perhaps it would be used as fuel if I used my brain too much.
In that case, I should just stop using my brain altogether.
While secretly grumbling, I felt a bitter taste on the tip of my tongue.
It was the bitter taste of the medicine that had been obscured by anger, finally revealing itself.
Hierian smiled even more unnervingly as if he was displeased with my expression.
“I told you to eat the candy.”
“Why is it so bitter?”
“Medicine is supposed to be bitter.”
There was nothing to say in response to his tone which seemed to say, “Don’t you know that?”.
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