Chapter 6: The Mage’s Principle (Part 1)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The guards did not dare leave, and stood nervously to one side.
There were not many of them in the city guard department of Ceylon City. The real army troops were under the control of the House of the Lord, forming his private army troop. Given the episode that had occurred at the city guard department, many people had already gone to inform the troops at the House of the Lord.
Before long, out on the streets were the thunderous sounds of horses’ hooves galloping and charging towards the soldiers. More than one hundred swordsmen surrounded the soldiers. Ten of them jumped off of their horses and walked through the door of the city guard department. Earlier on, Jason had blown up the door with a fireball.
The leader of the group, who was wearing the armor of a swordsman, drew his sword and walked into the main hall. The swordsmen behind him all drew their weapons. The armored swordsman saw the situation in the hall and pointed at Jason angrily, “Who are you, and how dare you break into jail to rescue a prisoner? Let’s fight!”
“Scoundrel,” Jason berated, as he raised his finger. A green glow appeared and a jet of acid shot out towards the swordsman’s face. A sizzling sound could be heard and white smoke emerged. The acid had instantly corroded this swordsman’s face. He screeched in pain and collapsed to the ground.
After Jason had done this deed, he told Saleen softly, “Even if we are enemies, he should not have insulted us mages. Even the emperor must not have a mage bow his head. There was no need to give such an ill-mannered man any courtesy.”
“Understood, Teacher,” Saleen answered in a low voice. Everyone in the hall who had heard what was said shivered more than once.
“Drag him out. He is very noisy,” Jason told the soldier opposite him. Having received amnesty, a soldier who had barged in hurriedly dragged his injured compatriot out.
“I do not have time for this. Who was responsible for arresting my student? Bring him to me within half an hour.” Jason took out a magical hourglass, turned it over, and placed it on the table.
At this point, another two armored swordsmen walked in. Their suits of armor showed their positions of higher rank, and they were possibly officers. The two of them looked similar in stature and were well-built. One had red hair while the other was blond. The blond swordsman raised his head to look at Jason, who was still maintaining an illumination, and felt a chill in his heart.
He was not an ignorant soldier. Jason’s grey mage robe had two lines of mage symbols, indicating that he was a grade-5 mage. Which fool had infuriated such an important person?
Mage robes had three colors – white for grade-1 to grade-3, grey for grade-4 to grade-6, and black for grade-7 to grade-9. The symbols on the robes represented the mage’s grade. The grey-robed master was considered a mage master and such a figure was someone that even the lord could not afford to offend.
The red-haired swordsman bowed silently to Jason, and told the soldiers around him, “All of you, arrest the men who were connected to this matter at once. If any of them are left out, you will take their place.”
These soldiers glanced at Jason, who was expressionless but did not seem to object, then left in an unruly manner.
The red-haired swordsman spoke carefully to Jason, “Mage sir, is there anything else you need me to do?”
“Em…” Jason hesitated and said, “Do not let the lord come by. I do not wish to see him.”
The red-haired swordsman was momentarily surprised. He bowed his head and said, “Yes. Mage sir, this young master is hurt. May I get a holy master to come?”
“Not necessary. He can bear this little pain,” Jason rejected the red-haired swordsman’s kind offer. He was not anxious to treat Saleen since it was not a serious wound. It could stay, so that Saleen could be reminded of what had happened today. Had Saleen done something to get himself arrested? No matter if he had been right or wrong, the lesson could prevent similar situations from reoccurring in the future.
The red-haired swordsman spoke briefly to the blond swordsman and the latter walked out of the hall with his head lowered. The red-haired swordsman stood at one side waiting. Saleen had thought he was doomed and had not expected his teacher to come. Things were looking up for him. It appeared that his teacher was not interested in responding even to the lord.
Only now did Saleen truly understand what it meant to be a mage. The books had often depicted how mages were held in high esteem, but it had been difficult to imagine as Saleen had not witnessed it himself. He recognized the red-haired swordsman as someone from the House of the Lord. He was not a bad person, as last midautumn, he had given Saleen a small extra bag of flour when he had gone to collect the flour that the lord was distributing.
It took less than half an hour to capture the four soldiers who had arrested Saleen, as well as the businessman and his servants.
The six of them did not know what had happened. The businessman saw Saleen standing next to Jason and knew that something was amiss. He was the first to kneel on the ground, and his servants followed suit.
“Who arrested my student?” Jason asked coldly.
The four soldiers looked at each other, and then looked at the red-haired swordsman standing to the side. The red-haired swordsman did not appear to see them, his eyes looking upwards.
The four soldiers had no choice but to put on a bold front and answered, “It was us. We received a reported case about him…stealing Master Zhanbu’s gold coins.” The soldiers pointed at the businessmen, feigning innocence.
“Zhanbu? That is you, I assume. Why did you malign my student?” Jason glared at the businessman, questioning him strictly.
“Sir, it was a misunderstanding. I had the wrong person…”
“You are lying. I will give you another chance,” Jason interrupted him.
“Sir, it is the truth. I did not have any enmity with him. Why would I frame him? I…”
The businessman was going on and on. Jason impatiently cast a spell. A white glow flashed and an ice pick pierced through the businessman’s head, leaving a gaping bloody hole.
“Do not be so idiotic: mages can detect lies. You, tell me. Why was my student framed?” Jason asked the servant after killing the businessman. He was not pursuing the matter to prosecute someone, but wanted to know if Saleen had invited trouble.
The servant had already wet his pants in fear. He flung himself onto the ground and wailed, “Sir, it was not my idea. My master had wanted to buy Master Metatrin’s house but wanted to avoid the procedures at the city government office. Master Metatrin had all along managed to escape death so my master thought of this idea. It was really not my doing…”
“I know it has nothing to do with you,” Jason said and flung a wind blade at him. The light green wind blade instantly sliced off the servant’s head. Blood spluttered and the head, along with the mucus and tears, rolled over to one side.
After Jason had done this, he told Saleen who was next to him, “Saleen, it was indeed not your fault. Come back with me. The four of you, I am not pleased with your propensities for arresting people. I had better chop off your hands, in case you arrest the wrong people in future and end up losing your lives.”
“Sir, your student was unharmed. How about…” the red-haired swordsman began to plead on their behalf.
Jason stood up and pulled Saleen out of the hall without glancing at the red-haired swordsman. His voice rang out in the hall, “I have spared them because my student was unharmed. If he had died, all of you would have joined him in burial. Tomorrow, sort out that Zhanbu’s assets and send them to the outskirts as an apology to my student. I will kill one person for every gold coin omitted.”
The red-haired swordsman shivered coldly. There was not a single mage in Ceylon City, and if this grade-5 mage were to wreak havoc, it was possible that a massacre could occur.
With Saleen in tow, Jason walked out of Ceylon City. The soldiers at the gate who had already received word of what had happened earlier opened the city gates hurriedly, hoping for the departure of the “troublemakers”.
Back at the ancestral home, Jason used rain magic to treat Saleen’s injuries. While treating Saleen, Jason questioned him on the details of the happenings of the day. Saleen carefully related the details so that Jason could understand what had happened.
He did not blame Saleen. Being a child, he would not know the deviousness that some people could have. This lesson would be sufficient to help Saleen understand that in this world, strength was the absolute principle.
After being treated, Saleen returned to his room to rest, recollecting what had happened that day. If it had not been for his teacher, his gold coins could have caused him to lose his life instead.
He must become stronger. He must, he must!
His eyes remained open as he lay on the bed, unable to fall asleep. It was dark in the room, reminding him of his time in the dungeon. The heart palpitations and feelings of desperation had yet to diminish, and the fear of death had eroded his young soul. Saleen felt his way out of his bed and lit the candle on the table. Only then was he able to close his eyes and slip into slumber.
The next morning, the red-haired swordsman came running with the gold coins. It appeared as though he had had a busy night tabulating the assets of the deceased. Jason did not say anything to him and had Saleen attend to him.
The red-haired swordsman sat uneasily in the front hall as Saleen came running down from upstairs. The red-haired swordsman hurriedly stood up and greeted Saleen, “Master Metatrin, you are up.”
Saleen was unused to the other party’s warm greeting. Previously, when he had walked along the streets, the lord’s swordsmen treated him as though he were invisible. The red-haired swordsman might have been a kind person at heart, but if it had not been for his teacher’s request, the only kind thing he would have done for Saleen was give him an extra bag of flour during the festive season. It was likely, but had he forgotten about this incident?
“Master Metatrin…” the red-haired swordsman called out to Saleen, who was lost in his own thoughts.
“Um, what is it?”
The red-haired swordsman answered somewhat embarrassedly, “Zhanbu’s assets have been tabulated. There are about two thousand two hundred gold coins, as well as two properties and some livestock worth about four hundred gold coins. It is a bad time to sell the properties so they will have to be kept pending. After they have been sold, I will send the gold coins over. Here are bank notes worth two thousand gold coins, and here are two hundred gold coins.”
The red-haired swordsman put four bags of money on the table, each one of them packed to the brim.
Saleen’s eyes could not stop twitching. In spite of the previous day’s suffering, he did not pounce forward to count the gold coins. Instead, he said solemnly, “Those two properties are yours if you are able to raise three hundred gold coins. If it is convenient, send the money over this afternoon, and also bring me half a year’s supply of rice, flour, seasonings, and dried meat. Is that possible?”
“No problem!” The red-haired swordsman was delighted. It would have been a challenge to sell both properties for four hundred gold coins. He had been fearful about Jason’s warning – I will kill one person for every omitted gold coin. Now that Saleen was willing to sell them to him at a discount, he could gain tens of gold coins and not worry about any shortfalls.
After sending off the red-haired swordsman, Saleen brought the four money bags and two Qin Empire bank notes to Jason’s magic laboratory.
“Keep them with you. If your magic skills improve, you will need a lot of money. Get more from me when you have used it up,” Jason did not take Saleen’s money. He could not have cared less about this meager amount of gold coins. He had simply been a little bothered by the night before, when an unimportant businessman had insulted his dignity and lied to him. This was why he had taken the chance to seize Zhanbu’s assets, as compensation for himself and Saleen.