The Pursuit of Power
“I apologize for calling both of you here.”
The elderly man expressed his appreciation for our time as he prepared tea for us.
“Don’t be sorry, Tred-sensei. If anything, we should be the ones apologizing for not coming to greet you sooner.”
The day after we were told to stay away from politics and diplomacy by Dor-sama, Tred-sensei asked to meet with us.
He had entered the Empire in order to attend the summit along with His Majesty Sein and the others.
He was one of the world’s only tri-casters, and an excellent magician to boot.
Originally, he was a researcher at the Ministry of Magic in the Empire, but at some point, he set foot down a path that strayed from ethics, where he became involved with forbidden research.
He was now the principal at the Royal Academy of Bauer.
As for why he came all the way to the Empire――
“I see…… You opened the box, huh……”
Tred-sensei spoke with a displeased, yet resigned look on his face.
Back when we were trying to assemble our reconciliation forces together with Philine, in order to recruit Hilda and the Ministry of Magic to our side, we were asked to open the Forbidden Box that Tred-sensei had left behind.
I’d heard that they had found a compilation of the results that he had produced back when he was still involved with his unethical research.
Although he gave us a warning and told us not to touch it, in the end, we opened it anyway.
“We’d like to apologize in regards to that case. Even though it was necessary for our cause, we still went against your wishes and opened it behind your back.”
“…… I see. Well, perhaps this is just a testament to how the times have changed. A person’s curiosity knows no bounds, after all. But well, perhaps one day, somebody will try to push those limits.”
“Just like how I used to be,” Tred-sensei said as he laughed gently.
“I came to the Empire so I could clean up after what happened. I doubt the Empire is happy to have me back, but that research is far too dangerous to be left alone. I need to warn them about it.”
“Speaking of which, you mentioned something like that in your letter, didn’t you, sensei? Something about being kept under surveillance.”
At least, that was what he wrote in his reply to us back when we asked for his permission to open the box.
“I won’t go into detail about it. If I talk, I might just end up getting you two involved in it as well.”
“Is there nothing we can do about that? We need all of the power we can get.”
“….. Claire-sensei, you are strong enough. When it comes to magic, you and Rei-sensei are among the world’s most powerful magicians.”
Since we were all colleagues at the Royal Academy, Tred-sensei referred to us as “sensei” as well.
“But demons are even stronger than that. Claire-sama and I have been completely defeated by them several times already.”
It was true that Claire-sama and I were considered relatively strong among humans.
However, when it came to the Three Great Archdukes, it was a completely different story.
Aside from the fights with Arist and Plato, where we were at clear disadvantages, we didn’t pose much of a challenge to Rates even when we were both in perfect condition.
If it weren’t for Dorothea, that battle would’ve spelled the end for all of us.
Things couldn’t stay like this any longer.
“It’s not like we are in reckless pursuit of power or anything. We just want to protect the people that are important to us…… We want to protect Mei and Alea, and with how we are right now, it’s just not enough.”
“Please, Tred-sensei. If you know of a way for us to get stronger, please tell us about it. Even if it involves heading down a forbidden path that goes against the world, we need power.”
After listening to our appeal, Tred-sensei appeared to be deep in thought and remained silent for a few minutes before finally saying,
“Have you ever wondered just what magic is to begin with?”
Sensei asked us.
Just what magic is, huh.
“Isn’t it a type of technique that uses your magical energy to mysteriously create some sort of reaction from magical gems……?”
“That’s a standard answer, Claire-sensei. Well then, what do you think magical energy is, Rei-sensei?”
“Well…… It’s the power that each individual holds according to their magical aptitudes, right……?”
It seemed that my answer was not incorrect, since Tred-sensei nodded at me.
“Now then, let’s take that a step further. Where exactly do you think that power comes from?”
“Where? Isn’t it from inside our bodies?”
“Your understanding of it is not wrong, but that’s not all. There’s another level to it even before it begins to exist in the human body.”
“And what would that be exactly……?”
Tred-sensei’s expression stiffened when I asked that question.
“The knowledge that lies beyond this path is something that is considered taboo. If you learn about it, most likely, you’ll find yourself under permanent surveillance from the Church.”
“The Church? Under surveillance?”
Why did he suddenly mention the Spirit Church?
And surveillance on top of that?
“There is a secret behind this world. I don’t have a complete understanding of it myself, but I came across one part of it. As a result of that, I’ve permanently been placed under the Church’s watchful eye. They’re probably seeing this right now as well.”
I couldn’t understand what Tred-sensei was saying.
I didn’t understand, but even so――
“That doesn’t matter. As long as it helps us find enough power to be able to protect Mei and Alea.”
“I feel the same way.”
Claire-sama and I prepared ourselves for it.
If it was for the sake of protecting the people most important to us, there were no risks that we were hesitant to take.
“…… When I look at you two, I get reminded of my daughter.”
‘Is that the daughter that you sacrificed for the sake of your research……?”
Claire-sama rebuked me for asking such an insensitive question, although it was a bit late.
“So you knew about it, huh. I see. Yes, I sacrificed my own daughter for my research. She never stopped in her pursuit of truth because she believed that it could make many people happy.”
Tred-sensei said with a pained expression in his eyes as he looked at us.
Perhaps he was seeing his own daughter through us.
“…… But in the end, I won’t tell you two about it. You two will surely follow that same path my daughter took. I don’t want to cause any more casualties.”
“Tred-sensei, we’re begging you!”
“I apologize, but our conversation ends here.”
After Tred-sensei said that, there was a knock on the door.
“? Who is it?”
When Tred-sensei asked for the person to identify themselves,
“I’m Lily Lilium. May I speak with you for a bit?”
It seemed to be Lily-sama.
‘Why does she need to see Tred-sensei?’ I thought to myself.
Claire-sama appeared to be wondering the same thing.
However, Tred-sensei reacted strongly to it.
“T-The Spirit Church…!”
His face turned pale and beads of sweat formed across his forehead.
There was a cautious look on his face that unmistakably sensed impending danger.
“What business does the Spirit Church have with me?!”
“Um, well, for the time being, could you let me in?”
“Tell me what business you have with me first!”
“I see…… Well, um…… I heard that Rei-san and Claire-sama were here right now――”
I nearly responded out of reflex, but Tred-sensei stopped me from doing so.
“They haven’t come by at all. Are you sure you haven’t made some sort of mistake?”
“No, I know that they’re in there right now. This involves them as well, so please hurry up and open the door.”
The last line that she spoke had a strong and cold tone behind her voice that was different from the usual Lily-sama, but at the same time, it felt different from her vulgar side as well.
“Gah…… Rei-sensei, Claire-sensei, it seems that we’re too late.”
“W-What do you mean?”
Neither of us could hide our discomposure.
Just what was going on anymore?
Tred-sensei reluctantly unlocked the door to the room.
“Hello, Rei-san, Claire-sama.”
The person that came into the room was without a doubt, Lily-sama.
However, I had an unsettling feeling about this.
“You sure don’t know when to give up, Tred-sensei. You’re under permanent surveillance by us, so please stop doing such unnecessary things.”
“I’m begging you, please don’t get these two involved in it too!”
“Oh geez, you make it sound like I’m a villain or something. If anything, I’m actually here to help these two out, you know?”
The person that looked like Lily-sama laughed.
The unsettling feeling I had grew stronger.
“You…… aren’t Lily-sama, are you?”
Claire-sama asked as she braced herself with her magic wand.
“As expected, Claire-sama is as sharp as always. You’re correct, but that’s a trivial matter right now. Once we’re done here, I’ll let her have her body back.”
“Don’t tell me…… You’re Salas!?”
I wondered if perhaps, she had been placed under hypnosis again; however,
“No…… It’s not that lowlife. She’s―― an apostle.”
Lily-sama―― or rather, the apostle smiled in response to Tred-sensei’s words.