Episode 98. The Mage, the Knight, and the Summoner (2)

“Mages are, by default, pretty eccentric. That’s the only one who’s relatively normal.”

Upon hearing her harsh evaluation of the mages, Seon-Hyeok looked at the name remaining on the list.

‘Royal Mage, Senior Mage, Aria Eisen, Gradus 98.’

“Kesil Arcane is talented but has an awful personality, and he even gave up his position as head of the Royal Mages. Jake Proudmoore’s personality and ability are both rated pretty highly, but there are rumors suggesting he has been experimenting with forbidden magic. If those whispers are true, and you take him back to your territory, you might hear reports of missing people each month.”

Ahn Yoo-Jung explained her thought process in detail.

“There are no normal individuals among those considered to be real mages. It’s difficult to become a mage unless you’re crazy, and even the rare normal person that becomes a mage soon goes crazy anyways.”

It felt like he would become prejudiced against mages if he kept listening. By this point, Seon-Hyeok wondered whether she had a grudge against them – her words sounded bitter and confrontational.

“But even so, there has to be one normal person among them.”

“There could be. However, I promise you such a person doesn’t exist among the Royal Mages.”

Yoo-Jung continued, saying that the mages were all crazy, with the only difference being that some were more high-functioning than others.

“Then I have to hope that Aria Eisen is one of those bearably insane mages.”

Hearing his words, Yoo-Jung smirked and changed the subject.

“So since I gave you information, I think you should pay up now?”

“Ugh. Is there anything specific you want?”

The only information he got was that mages were all crazy, but he could not go back on his promise now.

“Just so you know, I’m not going to let you rip me off.”

Yoo-Jung frowned when Seon-Hyeok drew the line, saying he had no intention of overpaying for the information.

“Who do you think I am?”

Fortunately, she likewise felt her information was not particularly valuable.

“I can’t think of anything right now. I’ll let you know if I think of something later.”

As if starting to feel the effects of his attribute control, she gave an awkward farewell and got up from her seat.

“Ugh. Should I ask for another knight instead of the mage?”

Seon-Hyeok wondered whether he should, having been scared away from mages by the foreigner. However, he could not help but recall, and be enamored by, the utility of magic capable of immediately restoring the barricades that had collapsed in a typhoon.

Ultimately, he decided to meet Aria Eisen in person. He sighed – it had not been that long ago that he was exhausted by constant efforts to recruit him, but now, he was the one reaching out to do the same.

It was not easy to reach Aria Eisen. Seon-Hyeok expressed his desire to meet through a messenger, but he did not receive a response. The only answer he got after repeated attempts was that she was too busy with her research to meet.

And so, he decided to meet separately with the second-in-command of the Royal Mages. Fortunately, this mage had a mind for politics, and did not refuse an audience with the foreigner that had gained much fame in a short time.

“Hm. I heard rumors that you’ve been very interested in the Royal Mages recently. Is this meeting also related to that?”

Once they exchanged pleasantries, the mage asked about the purpose of his visit. Seon-Hyeok honestly spoke about his situation and asked for his assistance.

“Then how about this. I’ll arrange a meeting with Sir Eisen and the other mages.”

Of course, the second-in-command was not so accommodating from the start. He was meticulously calculating, and he asked for Goldrake’s scales in return for losing a member of the Royal Mages. Seon-Hyeok, for his part, gladly accepted the proposal. After all, Goldrake frequently shed, and the scales accumulated anyway.

“Oh, just to be sure, you don’t believe in that useless thing called Gradus, do you? Maybe it’s useful for knights, but it’s pointless when it comes to evaluating mages.”

The second-in-command of the Royal Mages explained that, unlike knights, mages had no interest in increasing their fame, and thus it was futile trying to rank them in that regard.

“You shouldn’t disparage their magical abilities just because they don’t have Gradus.”

He exhorted Seon-Hyeok not to be biased, suggesting that many mages are too focused on their research and experiments, and that even their names were barely known to the public.

“Hm…”

Summoned by the second ranking mage, the mages visited his office one after another. These meetings made it clear to Seon-Hyeok why Yoo-Jung disliked them so much. The mages were all eccentric and arrogant. They only told their superior what they needed to, and they refused to even acknowledge their guest.

Put positively, they were completely obsessed with magic. In other words, they were entirely bereft of social skills.

“Are there any among them that you like?”

“Let’s meet Sir Eisen.”

He then summoned Aria Eisen, saying he knew this would happen. Like the other mages, she did not appear for a while after being called on. When she finally did, her appearance was the worst Seon-Hyeok had seen to date.

Whatever it was she had been doing, her blonde hair was tangled and in a mess, and the mage’s robes were tattered and dirty. She looked like she had not washed in a month. When Seon-Hyeok coughed awkwardly, Aria Eisen gave him a bleary look.

Nod.

It was a rude greeting to be given to the earl of a kingdom, but it was much better than the reactions, or lack thereof, shown by the others.

“As you can see, Sir Eisen is better than the others…”

With an awkward expression, the deputy head said that there would be no point in seeing any other mages. Seon-Hyeok likewise worried about the state of the mages he had seen, and he soon made up his mind.

“Sir Eisen. I have a proposal.”

Determined to take Aria Eisen back to Rheinperle, he calmly explained his situation.

“So what do you think?”

“What do I think?”

“About my proposal.”

“What did you propose?”

“…”

However, Aria Eisen proved impossible to communicate with. She seemed constantly distracted, focused on other matters even while in the middle of a conversation. It was only after repeated attempts that Seon-Hyeok was finally able to convey his wishes.

She did not respond, but it was not because she was debating her options. She looked like she was engrossed in other thoughts, despite standing right in front of him. Even Seon-Hyeok, with his generous personality, could not help but be taken aback.

“Sir Eisen.”

“Ah. Hello.”

She greeted the senior mage, as if she was noticing him for the first time. Seon-Hyeok closed his eyes in frustration.

“Ugh. You’re excused. I’ll contact you separately.”

At the second-in-command’s words, she bowed and disappeared out of the office, tattered robes fluttering behind her.

After closing the door, the mage tried to offer an excuse.

“I’m sorry. The study of magic is stressful, and mages, by the time they reach this level of skill, aren’t particularly sociable.”

“I understand. It must be difficult for you.”

The mage sighed at Seon-Hyeok’s heartfelt consolation.

“Have you decided? It’s a bit strange to say this myself, but there isn’t much of a difference between them. Not much will change even if you stress out about it.”

By this point, Seon-Hyeok wondered if the mage was simply trying to pass on a particularly troublesome subordinate.

“Ugh. Let’s go with Sir Eisen.”

“In that case, I’ll try and persuade her. Of course, you’ll have to tell the princess in advance, since you’ll be taking one of the Royal Mages.”

The mage’s expression was bright upon hearing his choice. Seon-Hyeok could not help but wonder even as he left the meeting.

“Well, I’m sure the mage will do her part.”

As he left the Royal Mages’ quarters, Seon-Hyeok tried to comfort himself, saying that Aria Eisen’s personality was better than the others.

“Was Aria Eisen who you expected her to be?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing.”

Julian expressed her curiosity, seeing her lord’s face become full of exhaustion in such a short time. However, she quickly suppressed this and guided him to his next appointment.

“It took longer than I expected. Considering your position, it won’t be a problem if you’re a little late, but the person might feel resentful if you delay any longer. Let’s hurry.”

It just so happened that his appointment with the summoner was also on the same day. Seon-Hyeok was already exhausted, having met with his share of crazy mages, but he could not miss this chance to meet a summoner.

“I’ll have to hope that the summoner’s a bit more normal.”

“From my experience, he’s a bit particular, but not too difficult to deal with. I’m not sure how the mages were, but you don’t have to worry.”

Seon-Hyeok hurried to the meeting place as he listened to Julian’s comforting words.

The water summoner he met outside of the capital was a middle-aged man with a gentle expression. He seemed quite proud of his class, but at the same time, he seemed socially aware enough not to boast in front of an earl of the kingdom.

“What did you just say?”

Even so, he was unable to manage his expression as he looked at Seon-Hyeok like he was crazy.

“The earl said he wishes to buy one of your low-tier spirits.”

“So I didn’t mishear you.”

Now, the summoner was convinced that he was dealing with an insane person. However, his expression quickly changed, as he began to ponder how to send away this madman.

“If you give him a price and summon your spirit, the earl will do the rest. All you have to do is say whether or not you’d be interested in selling a spirit.”

The summoner sighed and answered Julian.

“Well, I’ll just take 50 gold. Of course, he’ll have to pick up the spirit himself.”

Fifty gold was a significant sum, enough to buy a war horse with excellent bloodlines, or to pay the salary of two elite cavalry riders. It was an excessive price to pay for what was an absurd request, but the summoner did not look like he intended to receive payment.

He must have thought such a price would cause Seon-Hyeok to give up.

“Okay. Please summon the spirit.”

From Seon-Hyeok’s perspective, however, he was willing to pay even 100 gold to gain a new spirit. The summoner looked bewildered when his price was accepted so readily.

“Please just summon the spirit. I have no intention of placing the blame on you whether or not I succeed.”

“You can’t take back your offer.”

After a moment of hesitation, the summoner summoned his spirits.

“Well, while I’m at it, I also summoned the middle and high-tier spirits. You’re getting the chance to see a rare high-tier spirit, so 50 gold won’t be too significant a loss.”

The summoner naturally thought that Seon-Hyeok’s absurd request would not come to pass, and seemed to hope that giving him a show with these higher-level spirits would avoid any lasting resentment. To him, he was being considerate in summoning all of his spirits.

However, this was a mistake. The summoner had sensed that Seon-Hyeok had some relationship with spirits because of the scent of a spirit coming from him, but he had not grasped the reason behind the Drake Knight’s request.

Flash.

The spirits summoned by the summoner all turned to look at Seon-Hyeok.

“Oh?”

Seon-Hyeok felt that he was looking at a huge gift basket of spirits, as he noticed some of them begin to squirm like fishes taking the bait.

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