Chapter 162 – Details & Deals (Part 3)
“Now now, before you go all dead-eyed and mana-happy on us listen to me first. Obviously I have not taken action toward you and I have no intention too. I have always respected the Queen… I have seen her as a beacon which without whom we would have been led to a fate worse than death.
Now with that said… Unlike all the cult-like fans of her within these city walls. I never believed her to be quite what the others did. I believe that she was a mass murderer. Every expedition that failed…. They failed, but she managed to return each time. I believe that she was the one killing our people, and for whatever reason covering up her findings. The words she told Taeger and I before her departure, I believe that was her small way of atoning.”
Daichi’s mind was barely surprised but Lydia’s expression was one of horror. “Father how could you!”
Lydia stood up knocking her chair down completely aghast at her father’s words.
Stanislas’s face turned into a sad smile “You see?”
Being fairly intelligent and unsurprised by Hannah’s actions after his last encounter with her… Daichi quickly understood Stanislas’s meaning. Had Stanislas spoken his true beliefs with anyone in the city, these words might be sufficient for him to be viewed as a heretic with the way these people worshiped Hannah.
‘Perhaps the only person he could trust with certainty is someone who knew Hannah before all this popularity and acclaim, someone whom she herself had identified as having a grudge with. A large enough grudge that he was to be killed on sight if ever identified.’
“Father! Take those words back right now!”
“Lydia… Sit down and listen to this old man would you?”
Lydia’s eyes darted back and forth between her father and Daichi fear welling up.
“I don’t plan on repeating anything said here to anyone. Moreover, assuming this is the same Hannah and it certainly seems like it is… Believe me, there was a time when she was truly innocent, but that was long gone before she arrived here.”
Lydia’s fear was palpable “Father… If anyone…” her eyes darted back to Daichi.
“He won’t repeat this. You won’t repeat this. Now sit down!”
Lydia only hesitated for another moment before reaching down to pick up her chair and sitting back down, her entire body tense as she gnawed on her lower lip.
“Both Taeger and myself were in the Queens presence when she told us of her identity as a Chosen one. People had long suspected why it seemed as if she never aged, but her power and temper made it so no one said a thing in her presence. Of course this included questioning her in any way. The both of us were shocked to hear this, but glad to have an answer as to the various questions that had plagued us ever since we’d realized we were trapped in a bubble.”
“The Queen told us about the trial her god had set before her, and that she had finally found its location and could no longer post pone it. She would need assistance and so she would take a few citizens of the city… Naturally neither Taeger or myself would have imagined that she meant an entire clan, and the most useful one at that… It was quite the shock to everyone, much less the Knight family.”
“She let us know that if she did not return it most likely meant she was dead, and that we should leave this bubble, otherwise we would only end up growing weak and be left to die.”
Stanislas’s look was one of sorrow as he fidgeted with his hands, touching the tips of his fingers along his knuckles.
Daichi’s eyes narrowed “It’s an interesting tale, but…?”
“I asked her, Taeger was enthralled with her. She was his unrequited love. He wouldn’t ask so I did. I asked her how she could be so certain, so certain that we would need to leave here, and if we did, if we could convince others that we should… Where would we possibly go? Every expedition to every location had ended in nothing but death… Only the Queen herself had returned.”
Daichi’s eyes gleamed and Stanislas face scrunched into a dark glow “She answered me short and simple, that there were indeed several avenues of safety. While hazardous, it would not be impossible to send men protecting others to these locations. We would merely need to search them out ourselves. I protested how it could be possible when stronger men had died, stronger men led by her-herself. She merely shrugged off my question and repeated herself.”
A look of pity and disgust tore at his face “You tell me… How am I supposed to take that? What would you infer?”
Lydia’s face looked incredulous and Daichi’s mind was set aflutter with the possibilities.
He took the words much the same as Stanislas had. ‘If weaker men then those that had died, could protect even weaker people… Then there is no reason the men that had already been sent should have died. Even more so since they were in the presence of Hannah who was likely notches above them in power by that point to have single handedly garnered so much respect.’
Lydia too begrudgingly came to the same conclusion except she couldn’t believe it and accept it for what he likely meant “Impossible. I’m sure there was a misunderstanding father. You’ve been led astray! Wouldn’t Headmaster Taeger have come to the same conclusion? You’ve made incorrect assumptions!”
“Assumptions girl!? Tch.”
Clicking his tongue Stanislas steadied himself… He was angry so very angry and for the first time in his life he’d finally spoken of his deepest darkest secret to another soul.
“Taeger!? That fool! You don’t even understand the amount of idiotic devotion he had for her! He was a nobody before he’d met her! It was because of HER that he passed the test to enter the academy! It was because of HER that he excelled and learned the skills he gained. It was because of HER that he became the Headmaster at all! Everything he had in life, was all because of HER! He worshipped the ground she walked on… He loved her so hard and so much that he would have done anything for her! Forgiven any sin… No matter how grave…”
Lydia face was pale and she wanted to argue but the words wouldn’t come.
Stanislas’s eyes met Daichi’s as they gazed another once again, testing one another without words with their eyes and wills.
“So what exactly do you want from me?”
Stanislas took a deep breath. A breath he’d been holding for years. Daichi’s indifferent look at the moment, despite his words that would have been considered sacrilegious outside of this room made him feel lighter than he had in a very long time.
“Soon, the other members of the council will challenge me. They will challenge me for my position, but it won’t truly be my position at stake but the position of Headmaster. Knowing what I know… I can’t in good conscious let them do what they want and hide in this city like scared turtles… I also can’t just say what I know… Not only will what I know merely make me lose all credibility, but everyone would turn on me. I would be a pariah and no closer to saving the people I’ve worked so hard for my entire life.”
Stanislas’s age shown at this moment, and Daichi’s eyes held a sliver of respect for the old man. ‘I could never be him. This is why I could never lead… I can only imagine what it would be like to carry such a heavy burden… Only carried for the sake of others.’
Daichi’s thoughts strayed as he felt a sliver of envy for Stanislas that matched his respect for him.
“I repeat, what do you need from me.”
“You must be a chosen. You do not need to hide it from me. I know you must be from the same village as Hannah. I know you’re the same age, and for you to have survived in the wild for long in… Inside Bull-Wind Forest… Lydia has informed me of your critical lack of knowledge on the basics… And yet you survived.”
Daichi’s eyes widened and he almost burst out laughing at the realization of what Stanislas must be thinking.
“If you are a chosen then you have the power to stand at my side. As my sword. If you don’t, then I am certain that you will reach that height given the information available within this academy. The information here is what led to the Queen’s inevitable and quick rise in power. It’s why I have kept you away from it, I wanted to speak to you first. I want your tacit agreement to assist me.” Stanislas low voice grew stronger as he spoke.
A fiery gaze from Stanislas eyes that matched his tone grew as he spoke “Use all the knowledge and resources at my disposal. Nothing will be kept from you, I will give you access only other council members have. Become stronger, quick, and stand at my side and fight for me.”
“Father… What do y-“
“They will challenge me soon. It will likely be during the end of the year tournament when most of the children and my people are busy with the tournaments. When they come for me, I want you to stand at my side Daichi. Help me fend them off, and then help me convince them, with force if necessary that our only chance at survival… Is to leave Lumea!”
Daichi and Lydia sat in silence as they stared at Stanislas’s passionate eyes.