Volume 1 Chapter 6—Banquet
Translator and Editor: SaltyTank
The banquet had already started when Loki and Alice arrived at the Acer Palmatum Hall. It was one of the Holy Messiah Academy’s large annual banquets and was usually handled by the Student Council. The participants were mainly freshmen, but that did not mean all of them were invited. Only those with extraordinary family backgrounds and outstanding students who worked their way up from the bottom could receive an invitation. The former were future contestants in the everlasting game of power struggle, while the latter were elites whom they would compete to recruit.
That was the truth behind the so-called orientation banquet; it was a welcoming ceremony in name only. The powerful nobles would show the elite peasants a dazzling new world of power and luxury, then extend to them the entry ticket in exchange for their loyalty. The power struggle in Noegard was not restricted to government or religious organisations, and this banquet was a proof of it. The Holy Messiah Academy was the first battlefield nobles had to fight in, and the outcomes of this battle would determine their lineup in their future struggles.
As such, inviting a person as notorious as Loki Davoral Auxsasy was extremely strange. The Auxsasy family had indeed been a family which was extremely prestigious, but all that remained of the family were either prisoners or corpses. Even if someone acknowledged Loki’s talents, to recruit a cold-blooded traitor was something unthinkable.
Either way, Loki couldn’t care less. Someone wanted him to attend the banquet, and there was no reason for him not to accept the invitation.
Acer Palmatum Hall was situated close to the Lunar Palace, and these buildings share an intriguing backstory. That was, there was an unspoken rule in the Holy Messiah Academy. Every president of the Student Council would not use the mansion of the previous Council cabinet, but instead build a new mansion with their own funds. As such, a new building was constructed in the academy every few years, and the old mansions built by past cabinets would be demolished when space ran out. The academy had no reason to put a stop to this; it greatly lowered construction expenses for the schools. The rule, however, meant that students who did not have a well-off background had no chance of becoming the president.
The Acer Palmatum Hall was aptly named; the crimson building closely resembled the colours of the maple tree. The outer walls were made with red quartz, which in itself was not a luxurious material, but the act of transporting the materials all the way from the far north to the south east of the empire was an extravagant move. When observed in close proximity, one could also see the delicate relief sculptures, as well as ancient poems and myths engraved on the walls.
Loki had memorised the student handbook, thus he knew the president of the current cabinet was Cray Caligiura Xeline who studied religious studies and political studies, the two subjects which most nobles chose to study in. It also seemed that the president had some interest in elemental studies, with all the alchemical and magical decorations used in the banquet hall. The trees planted around the Acer Palmatum Hall were now giving off soothing lights in the dark, and custom-made magic torches were placed among bushes to provide more lighting.
The doors to the hall were wide open. Servants donned in uniforms of black and white stripes stood on the sides of the red carpet leading to the door with smiles on their faces. Loki and Alice walked right through the middle, and the servants simply let them through without checking their letter of invitation; the host had strictly instructed them to recognise the looks of every participant beforehand.
Loki went up the stairs with a calm look as he glanced at the tall statues that stood on the sides of the entrance. The statues each depicted a magician who wore a long robe with his arm held high, as if he was casting a spell. This level of laviousness was nothing new to him; he had once lived such a life as well.
The outer corridors were filled with students who wore carefully picked suits and dresses. The boys all had hairstyles that exuded classic elegance. Paired with custom-made tight fit suits, they all looked graceful and impressive. They held out their glasses of wine to greet the girls who carefully held the sides of their dresses as they walked in a way befitting of nobles. Lights reflected off the glasses being delivered along the corridor by busy servants.
Loki also wore his suit to the banquet, but Alice did not have any clothing suitable for the occasion, which was why she wore the Academy’s uniform instead. The uniform was an unsightly clothing for such a grand banquet, but even so, the crowd couldn’t help but steal glances at the young lady.
Following the crowd, Loki entered the inner hall and realised the place was larger than he had thought.
The architect who designed this building must have had profound knowledge of the art of construction.
Sculptures of lions, phoenixes, and dragons were lined up against the two rows of marble pillars that led from the entrance to the end of the inner hall. Doors lined with silver stood behind the pillars, each leading to other rooms of the building. Between the pillars were the tables for the banquet, with white ceramic plates and silver utensils placed neatly on them.
Those who were invited to this farce took their seats accordingly. It was only then Loki noticed that the glasses on each seat were engraved with a name. The hosts had arranged the seats with many things in mind, and the most obvious factor would be power: the seats clearly showed one’s standing.
Alice was tactful enough to excuse herself from Loki and headed for a corner in the hall. There were tables covered with white cloth as well, but the names were engraved on the chairs instead. It was where the followers of the participants would have their meal. Alice, however, couldn’t care less about pre-arranged seats or whatnot; she was merely attracted by nicely roasted chickens and juicy ribs.
Loki slowly strolled around the hall but couldn’t find a cup with his name on it. Even when everyone, including the participants’ followers, was seated, no one guided him to his seat. Apart from the servants, he was the only one standing in the hall; even Alice had her own seat.
The mocking gazes of the seated students gathered on him, all of them ridiculing the silent Loki who was searching for the non-existent seat.
Is that so… So that’s how it is, Loki thought.
The sole purpose of inviting him to this banquet was to let him know that the once high and mighty Auxsasy family no longer had a place in Noegard.
Even the servants took their distances. Loki stood there all alone, but with his head held up high. He almost looked like a warrior driven into a corner, battered but still enduring the humiliation.
The banquet host, President Cray, was absent, leaving the host seat at the very front vacant. On the guest of honor seat sat a man with brown hair, who slowly stood up and held his glass up high.
“Greetings, new members of our academy. Thank you all for attending this banquet. I am Sirius Caligiura Xeline, vice president of the Student Council. Unfortunately, my brother Cray has duties to perform as the president and could not attend tonight’s event. As such, I shall welcome you all to the Holy Messiah Academy in his place.”
The crowd gave a big round of applause for Sirius. The Xeline family was a relatively new noble family in Noegard which had only cemented its place in power starting from around a hundred years ago. In the past century, the Xelines had a strong influence over the finances of the empire. Ten of their family members had been the Minister of Finance, and every one of them had been the president or vice president of the Holy Messiah Academy Student Council.
Sirius paused and waited for the clapping to die down. Just when he was about to give his impromptu speech, someone interrupted him.
Everyone turned to look at the owner of the voice—Mithian. She sat at a rather front seat in the hall, signifying her importance in Noegard. She had yet to completely recover from the injuries she had received from the duel with Loki, and that was clearly shown to everyone with the bandages wrapped around her left arm. Regardless, her eyes still radiated with her usual dignity as she shot a suspicious look at Sirius.
“What might be the issue, Your Highness Mithian?” Sirius asked in a gentle tone.
Mithian was the Pope’s daughter and held the title of princess, just like the king’s daughter. She was one of the most prestigious persons present, at least in name.
Mithian pointed at Loki who was standing near the hall entrance and said, “The council must have forgotten to arrange a seat, for Loki Davoral Auxsasy has yet to be seated.”
Other participants could only look away in silence; everyone knew the Student Council would never commit such petty mistakes such as arranging insufficient seats. Everyone knew what was going on and simply chose to ignore Loki’s presence. To them, a lowly traitor did not have the qualifications to be seated together with the future elites of the empire.
Sirius’ smile tensed up slightly. Although the Xeline family had never been close with the Airdno family, he did not expect Mithian to cause a scene in front of everyone.
Was it to display the authority of the Airdno family and a warning to the Xeline family? Or was it simply because of that traitor? Sirius could not find the answer in his head.
Reluctantly, he turned to shift his gaze towards Loki. The blue-haired teen simply stood there with a cold expression. Like a sharp sword struck into a flower bed, the expressionless young man completely stood out in the merry atmosphere.
“Your Highness Mithian, what a blunder from our side.” Sirius snapped his fingers to call the servants and pointed to a corner in the hall. “We shall arrange a seat over there for Mr. Loki.”
His plan was to give Loki a seat at the followers’ table. That way, he could preserve the dignity of his family without getting on the bad side of the Airdno family..
However, Mithian did not give in easily. She suddenly moved her seat to the side and lightly tapped the table.
“The table there’s full. It would be troublesome for everyone to move just to accommodate him. Let’s see, there’s some space next to my seat.”
Before Siruis could respond, a servant of the Airdno family brought a chair and placed it next to Mithian’s seat. She looked at Loki with a smile and said, “Mr. Loki, please be seated. The banquet is about to begin.”
Sirius could only watch as Loki sat down besides Mithian, his smile siphoned from his face. There was a moment where he was ever so close to bursting out in anger, but he ultimately held back his emotions. It was not the time to fall out with the Airdno family. He still had to maintain the Xeline family’s image, and his brother would have had given him a scolding had he argued with Mithian.
However, the incident left a dent in his mood. Giving up on his impromptu speech, he merely waved his arm to signal the start of the banquet. Servants carried out delicately decorated plates with exquisite cuisine as well as an extra set of utensils for Loki.
Loki muttered his thanks in a low voice, to which Mithian did not bother replying. She simply sat there with her seemingly haughty expression as she elegantly dug in.