Volume 1 Chapter 1—Return of the Traitor
Seven centuries ago, the Rhein Empire that unified the entire continent met its demise. The violent conflagration that followed lasted for hundreds of years. Things only started to settle when the Reiz Empire emerged into existence.
Now, the Reiz Empire’s territory reached the Kesri Sea in the south-east, the Malta Desert in the north, and the Uriel Mountain Range, also known as Devil Mountain, in the west. Every upstart emperor would have dreamt of having such a wonderful territory in their possession. The fertile and rich lands protected by the natural terrain in all directions was the best foundation for uniting the continent once again.
The Reiz Empire was a religious country. Although it had an emperor in name, the royal family held close to no power at all. The ruling power of the empire lay in the hands of the Holy Church which had control over the empire’s political structure and military power. With advanced development of magic and alchemy, the Holy Church spreaded the holy grace of their goddess, Tyran, throughout the whole continent.
The Reiz Empire’s capital, Noegard, was a holy ground which people yearned for. It was said to be as resplendent as the heavens, and many believed it to be a place blessed by Tyran, a magical place where dreams and wishes come true.
The Holy Messiah Academy was not the only institution in Noegard, but it was undoubtedly the most prestigious one. Established by the Senatus when the Reiz Empire first came into being, the Holy Messiah Academy was directly governed by the Holy Church. Constables and even the military could not enter without an order from the Church. As such, it was considered a place where every noble had to attend; the graduation certificate of the academy was like the entrance ticket to the high society. Studying in the academy was an honour for nobles, while it was the stepping stone towards a whole new life for commoners. Just from graduating from the academy, commoners would become distinguished people of the society.
It was the thirteenth year Karm Aucklan had been the principal of the most prestigious academy in Noegard. Many of his students were now important figures within the empire; even the emperor himself had once studied in his academy. Despite being a mere academy principal, a position without much actual power, Karm had countless personal connections. Even the higher ups of the empire had to be modest in front of him.
Although things seemed to be prominent on the outside, only Karm himself knew that holding such a position was playing with fire. He was by no means an irreplaceable person within the empire, and there were a handful others who were qualified enough to take over his place as the Holy Messiah Academy’s principal. He clearly knew that behind the glamorous Noegard lay the corpses of many who had sudden, unnatural deaths. Karm was just fifty, nowhere near the age where he needed to retire, but he did not want to stay in such a dangerous place. Just another year, and he would officially seek approval from the Senatus to resign.
Karm held an envelope in his hand. It was black in colour, decorated with scarlet patterns. A sharp hexagram seal sealed the envelope, and a bright silver symbol could be seen on the envelope’s front; in the centre was an eye, surrounded by feathers tied in chains. Beneath it was a cross formed by a scepter and a sword. Delicate flames decorated the edge of the symbol.
It was a letter from an archmage stamped with the emblem of his inheritance sect. That alone showed how crucial the letter was in the eyes of the archmage. Karm carefully read through the letter, word by word, and glanced at the silent guest seated across the desk in his office. He was teenage boy who was around fifteen or sixteen and had blue hair and azure eyes. The teenager wore a black hooded mage robe and had a tidy white kerchief around his neck. On his left collar was a silver badge in the shape of a cross, and on the right was a badge with an emblem identical to the one on the envelope. These two badges indicated he was an intermediate cleric and the disciple of an archmage.
“I understand your intentions in coming here today.” Karm was the one who broke the silence. He fiddled with the thick file in his hands; it was a record of all the information about the teen sitting in front of him. “Loki Davoral Auxsasy.”
“Then what might your answer be?”
“Under normal circumstances, you’ll have to wait till next August just to get the chance to sit here in this room. It is now October, months past the admission period. I can’t make an exception even for a cleric. You have to know that there’s mountains of clerics waiting to get into the academy.”
Loki stayed silent; he knew Karm was not done speaking yet.
“But. Your recommendation letter has quite the weight, so much that I’m willing to reconsider.” Karm looked into Loki’s eyes as if he was trying to read something from the icy eyes. “Which course do you plan to undertake?”
Karm furrowed his brows and sat up.
“You’re the disciple of the Merlin Inheritance. Your master is one of the strongest archmages of this era, yet you choose to undertake a subject which the teacher might even be less knowledgeable than you are?”
“No one’s the strongest in the path of magic. In order to search for the truth, learning and discussing with other scholars is necessary,” Loki replied.
It was the most standard answer one could ever come up with. Even Karm could not find anything wrong with Loki’s statement. However, because it was such a perfect answer, it sounded rather unnatural.
The principal suddenly stood up and closed the curtains. He then confirmed that the doors behind Loki were locked shut before asking in a low voice, “Are you back to seek revenge?”
“No.” Loki shook his head. “I am grateful for the forgiveness the Holy Church has shown me. My clansmen are unforgivable sinners who deserve worse than death. There is nothing to avenge.”
Silence enshrouded the principal’s office once again. Karm continued to stare into Loki’s eyes, but he could not find even the slightest of emotions within them. In the end, Karm stood up and said, “Very well. Your registration as a student will be completed within three days, and you can start attending classes starting tomorrow.”
“My gratitude.” Loki stood up and received the student application form signed by the principal, then turned to leave the principal’s office.
The moment Loki exited the office, a teenage girl who seemed to be of his same age ran over to him. With long, fiery hair and a pair of amber eyes, the girl was a stunning beauty. She also wore a mage robe and had the same pin as the one on Loki’s right collar on hers. Each archmage would only take in one disciple though, meaning that the girl was Loki’s apostle. Apostles were a mage’s most loyal assistant and guard, and every Inheritance Mage were contracted with their apostles through magic.
“Loki, so slow!” The girl seemed rather discontent. “I almost fell asleep from waiting!”
“I was inside the principal’s office for…” Loki said as he looked at his silver pocket watch. “Seventeen minutes and eleven seconds. Your patience and ability to fall asleep are rather worrying.”
“So? Can you study here?” The girl ignored his mockery and asked excitedly. “This must be youth! I can’t wait for our school life to begin!”
“Regardless of whether or not this has anything to do with youthfulness, this is my school life, not yours,” Loki reminded her. “You’re my apostle. You’re just in charge of taking care of my daily needs, Alice.”
“Hey! This isn’t what we agreed on before!” Alice pouted. “You promised…”
“You did ask me if you could play around to your heart’s content, but I remained silent at that time.”
“No response means tacit approval!”
“That time was a no though.”
“I can’t read your mind! How am I supposed to know if it meant yes or no!”
“Hey you! What do you mean this time!”
Karm only let out a long sigh and looked away from the door after Loki was well out of his sight. He then unbuttoned his collar to relieve himself of the pressure on his throat. It was just he had just survived a deadly duel.
The teenager came from the Auxsasy clan, formerly one of the most prestigious and reputable clans within the entire empire. Also known as the Cross’ Dirge, the Auxsasy clan had always been a loyal supporter of the Holy Church. The clan’s founder made great contributions on the battlefield which moulded the foundation for the Reiz Empire and was given great power, great enough to influence the Senatus. However, nothing lasts forever; the Auxsasy clan committed blasphemy five years ago and was completely destroyed. The Pope ordered the Church’s men to arrest the clan members, to which the Auxsasy clan resisted with force. In the end, the military were mobilised to suppress the clansmen.
Even now, Karm could still remember the disastrous scene within Noegard. Flames dyed the night sky in red, almost as if a war had broken out right inside the empire’s capital. Just removing the bloodstains from the streets after the whole ordeal took almost a week.
Just like that, the Auxsasy clan fell straight into the abyss in one night. Most clansmen were executed on the scene, and those who did not take part in the resistance were imprisoned. Only one person did not meet either of the two ends—Loki Davoral Auxsasy. Also known as “The Traitor”, the ten-year-old Loki back then offered the military his elder sister’s head with his own hands. He then led the army through the clan’s secret passages and helped put an end to his own clan’s violent revolt. The blue-haired boy was granted amnesty by the Holy Church afterwards and was even given the position of an intermediate cleric. The silver cross pin on his collar was exchanged with the lives of thousands of his own clansmen.
This incident caused a massive uproar within the entire empire. The Holy Church sent out forces to eradicate the remnants of the Auxsasy clan, and people would turn pale at the mere mention of the fallen clan. Everyone were quickly drawing the line between themselves and the Auxsasy clan, afraid that the Holy Church might purge them for being affiliated with the sinners.
Ironically, the person who was a direct descendant of the main family, Loki Devoral Auxsasy, escaped the eyes of the people and slowly faded away from public attention. Five years later, he had returned to the city covered in his clansmen’s blood as the disciple of an archmage, yet he said that “there was nothing to avenge.”
Karm opened the curtains once again. Slate grey clouds hung high up in the sky, seemingly foretelling the coming of a storm.