Leguna looked at the name 'Willis Rolin' and furrowed his brow.
The surname reminded him of one person: Alfreid. That was his surname and the name he saw now was the same, which piqued his curiosity.
Leguna wasn't someone adept at scheming, but he knew who he should have his guard up against, and the ever-mysterious Alfreid he couldn't quite grasp was one of them.
According to his investigation, Alfreid used to be a member of Duke Mellin's private intelligence agency. That was the predecessor organization to the Monitors of Larwin.
Due to Alfreid being a member of the agency, Leguna's understanding of him was limited. It would be quite a tall order to discover what he did when he was in the agency. Leguna couldn't afford to look deeper into it to avoid drawing unnecessary attention.
He didn't dwell over the discovery of the surname for long. If Alfreid really snuck into Stok as Duke Mellin's agent, it wouldn't be difficult to understand why Larwin and the late emperor trusted him so much.
The loyalty of the agents belonging to the imperial family was definitely worthy of trust. Larwin and the former emperor, Hector, would no doubt choose to stand with Alfreid no matter what.
"But if that's the case…"
What came next was even more confusing for him. If Alfreid was really Willis Rolin, he should know how to use magic. Someone without magic talent wouldn't be able to enroll in the magic academy no matter how prestigious their status was. That was the final barrier of entry to the magic academy and no exceptions would be made no matter what.
In other words, Alfreid should be a magus. Then again, if that really was the case, Annelotte, Marolyt or Myr should've been able to tell, yet they've never mentioned anything about it. The only explanation for that was he really didn't know magic.
Then what was going on? What happened to Willis Rolin?
Leguna furrowed his brow and continued to dig deeper.
After a night's researching, he arrived at the truth of the matter. The man called Willis Rolin had been subjected to human experimentation before the Hocke empire was founded.
Leguna wasn't sure whether it was voluntary or not. The records of Hocke were vague in that regard. All that was known about the experiments was that there was another young woman in her twenties apart from Willis who participated in those experiments.
It didn't end well for either of them. Willis Rolin disappeared throughout the experiments and whether he still lived was unknown. He had simply vanished into thin air. Leguna wasn't able to find any trace of him from the records.
The woman, on the other hand, died in the middle of the experiments. It was worth noting that she was a gifted, a light breaker to be specific.
Having read about that matter, Leguna couldn't wait to go ask Marolyt about it. Seeing that it was already dawn, he decided to clean up the pile of documents and get two hours of rest.
The next day, he sought out Marolyt once more. Surprisingly, the old swordsaint hadn't heard of Willis Rolin before. He didn't even know the name!
"Go ask Myr about it! That old fellow might know something," Marolyt suggested.
So, he had no choice but to seek Myr out. He happened to bump into Annelotte there. In fact, Geoffrey was there as well.
"Good day, Your Highness. It's been quite a while since we last met. You look to be rather busy lately," Leguna said with a curt bow.
He was inferior in status to the prince quite a bit, but ever since his frequent interactions with Alissanda, Leguna no longer cared much for the idiot first prince.
He was also the head of the bureau, so strictly speaking, his power wasn't much inferior to Geoffrey's. The prince only had a better father going for him.
"Long time no see," Geoffrey said coldly before proceeding to ignore him.
"Alright, brat, come here. Annie still doesn't remember many things and needs your help," Myr said as he waved Leguna over.
The discussion they were holding wasn't one others could simply participate in, but since Annelotte lost quite a lot of memories from that attack, Leguna could help her out since he was the one who usually spent the most time with her.
"First, we have to deal with the matter of recruitment for both your academies." Myr turned to Geoffrey and said, "Your Highness, do you have any thoughts on the matter?"
"We've discussed this before, so I've come up with a more complete plan based on what we've agreed," he said with a confident smile as he took out a goatskin document from his dimensional pocket.
Myr received it and nodded as he gave it a read. "It's quite well written. Well, then, do explain this to the two of them."
Even though Geoffrey was quite unhappy with having to explain things to Leguna, he had to obey Myr's direct instruction. In his eyes, Marolyt and Myr were the two people in Hocke he didn't want to offend under any circumstance if possible.
"Basically, we want to raise the bar for academy recruits. The mysterious and superior power of magic isn't something those lowly people can understand, after all."
Leguna smiled as if he expected the whole thing. Geoffrey actually didn't forget to throw him an insult or two in his explanation. But he didn't get the slightest bit mad over it. He had his fair share of insults and eye rolls when he lived in the slums. 'Lowly' almost sounded friendly compared to the other things he'd heard before.
He also knew that only fools would take such easy bait. It was quite foolish of Geoffrey to dare to attempt a slight like that in front of Myr.
"Watch your phrasing, Your Highness. It isn't uncommon for so-called 'lowly' impetus to overcome 'superior' magic. In the empire, there isn't anyone who can fight on even grounds with the galestorm swordsaint and wandering lance, and those two are masters of impetus. The only thing superior or inferior here is the amount of power, not its type," Myr rebuked with a furrowed brow.
Geoffrey bowed slightly to acknowledge the criticism. "Grandmaster Myr's criticisms are apt. But even so, we still have to raise the bar for enrollment."
"May I ask why that must be the case?" Annelotte said.
"It's simple," Geoffrey said with a smugly smile, "Money."
"That's right. As we all know, the empire's coffers are almost emptied. Despite the best efforts of our finance minister, Lord Andro, we are unable to provide sufficient logistical support for our troops on the frontlines. I'm sure I don't have to expound on how that is crucial for our army."
"What does that have to do with the academies?" Leguna asked.
"Leguna, I understand that you might not be well-informed about this because you weren't in charge of setting the academies up--" Geoffrey hid his contempt and explained it with a smile. "--The empire had spent huge sums of money to set up the two magic academies. If we are unable to recoup the investment in the short term, I trust that Lord Andro would hang himself!"
"So? How is Your Highness planning to achieve that?" Leguna asked the obvious.
"By raising the barrier of entry, we can ensure that each student enrolled has a good background, at the very least, they must come from a family with great financial standing. Only by doing so can we ensure the academy can profit sufficiently off every single student."
"It sounds like their wallets are about to be sucked dry if you ask me," Leguna mocked.
"Nonono--" Geoffrey shook his head. "--You don't know magic, so you wouldn't understand. Learning magic is in itself a money-consuming endeavor. Without enough funding, apprentice magi will almost never become a proper magus. We can't expect the empire to pay for the cultivation of every single magus, can we? It's outright impossible, given our current financial straits."
Leguna kept silent. He wasn't sure whether Geoffrey was really speaking the truth, but he was right that Leguna had little to no knowledge in magic, so there were many points he couldn't rebut with certainty.
"So, the students have to pay for their own magic education. Not only that, the academy will have to profit off them--" Geoffrey shrugged. "--It's pretty fair, isn't it? We pass on knowledge of magic and raise them into qualified magi while they pay us for that service. If spending money will net them more magi, I believe most chairmen of the rich merchant guilds would be willing to pay that sum. We can also use the profits from that to solve our financial crisis. It's a win-win solution!"
Geoffrey finished his explanation and looked at the three proudly. He had come up with those reasons after long discussions with Yumir, the one who tried to play wingman for Geoffrey during the banquet after the tournament by recommending him to take Annelotte as his assistant magus.
Even Myr had to admit that the proposal was a sound one. However, he didn't make a decision then and there, as the principal of the other academy hadn't begun to speak!
"Annie, even though you've lost much of your memories, do you have any thoughts on the matter?" Myr asked, switching to a gentler tone.
"I also believe we have to raise the bar for student recruitment," she said after some consideration.Previous Chapter Next Chapter