"But... What does that have to do with low-order magi?" Leguna asked, still puzzled. "You aren't going to make them the teachers of the school, are you?"
"Of course not!" Annelotte said, "If Hocke is founding a new magic school, it won't do for both students and teachers to be low-order!"
"Then what are they for?" Since they can't be teachers, what would be the point of having the be part of the new school?
"Even though their experience and theoretical expertice in magic is weak, they are still trained using standard curriculum," Annelotte explained, "So I believe that even though they can't serve as teachers, they would have quite a number of suggestions on how the courses ought to be taught. At the very least, they can serve as assistant instructors. We can't do without them!"
"So that's why you got me to round out those captives..."
"That's basically it. But that's just a personal thought of mine. We're going to bring them back and see what His Imperial Majesty has to say about this. And..."
"And what?" Leguna asked when he saw her hesitation.
"...and, even though the setting up of the academy has been handed to the court magi association, I wasn't given any assignments to do. So, if I want a good position at the school, I have to contribute in a significant way."
"I see." He nodded understandingly.
"I... I don't have any intention to make use of you or the bureau, that much is true," she hurriedly explained.
"No, you don't have to explain! It's fine!" He said as he shook his head fervently. "I trust you!"
"Really?" she asked carefully.
"Of course!" He replied, before his expression darkened. "I doubt the tragedy last time would've occurred if only I trusted you. So ever since then, I've decided to believe in you no matter what happens! You don't have to go out of your way to explain it to me!"
After a moment of silence, she said, "Thank you."
"Come to think of it, I really should be thankful that you had Frozentear on you! If not for that, I might not have a chance to put my trust in you ever again."
"Do you mean this?" She took out the necklace. It only looked like a normal teardrop-shaped gem to most people. Nobody would've expected it to have such a miraculous function. If she hadn't worn Frozentear back then, Leguna didn't dare imagine how it would've gone.
"That's right! That's the one!" Leguna received the gem with a gloomy look. He thanked the divine item in his heart and sighed. "I didn't think something this small was capable of something so amazing. I wonder if I should bring it back with me to worship it."
"You're going on about stupid things again!" She furrowed her brow slightly.
"Ah, that reminds me!" He searched around in his dimensional pocket and handed Annelotte a small gem. "This is your transport talisman. Come to think of it, it's pretty useful!"
She looked at the gem and shook her head. "No need."
"If... if you don't mind, I'll leave the gemstone in your care," she said after a pause, "Take it with you so that I can rush to your side in times of need. No matter how far or how dangerous... Nevertheless, there's a price."
She forced a smile and explained, "This piece of spatial stone has a connection to my spirit. That means... No matter when and where you are, as long as I want to find you, I'll be able to locate you. Is... is this something you can accept?"
Leguna was the head of the bureau, the empire's most secretive organization. Hiding his presence was of crucial importance, but if he kept the transport talisman, that would mean she would have a grasp on his location at all times.
"Foolish girl, what are you thinking?" Leguna couldn't help but flick her little nose.
"You don't want it?!" A subtle look of distaste flashed across her eyes. She didn't blame Leguna for his teasing and only smiled. "Of course! You're the head of the bureau after all! It'd be inconvenient if anyone knows your location! Don't worry, I understand!"
"It's great that you do, but that 'anyone' doesn't include you."
He searched his dimensional pocket again and took out a long mithril wire. He put the wire through the ring suspending the gem and knotted it, before putting it on his neck.
He solemnly said, "I don't mind that you know where I am. I will have this on me no matter where I go! If I'm in any danger, I'll definitely not hesitate to call upon you, so be prepared! I've promised you that I'd live properly after all! I'll do it even if it means causing you trouble, so I'll wear this as an accessory!"
She was touched, but didn't let it show on her face. She nodded and said, "Thank you!"
"Come on, I'm the one troubling you, alright? Why thank me?" He knew that Annelotte found it hard to deal with situations like these, so he changed the subject. "Alright, that's enough of that. Let's have something to eat! After that, I'll take you to see those Stokian magi. I have a feeling that even though their abilities aren't that strong, they don't lack the arrogance of magi in the slightest! I doubt you'll miss out on a chance to teach them a lesson!"
"Don't worry, I know how to deal with those fellows!" she said confidently.
"Great." Since she said she would be fine, he no longer worried about it.
As Leguna was staying in the camp of Kurdak's autonomous brigade, the magi were imprisoned there too. Even though they were technically captives, they were still treated with some degree of respect. Their cells were furnished properly, and they were given the same food the soldiers had.
That was all done per Manhattan's instructions. Since Leguna had helped him out on it, he thought that this was the least he could do.
"Heh! That wench looks amazing! Is she someone Hocke offered to wait on us?" whispered a magus as he nudged a comrade.
"It can't be... I heard that both our empires rely on harsh beatings during interrogations. These people are definitely not the easygoing kind, so I highly doubt the girl is here to serve us." The other magus shook his head regretfully.
"Huh?! Beatings?!" The first magus shook his head distastefully. "That method is only useful against those muscleheads! Magi like us are in high demand for either empire! If those people running Hocke have half a brain, they'll skip that part and go straight to making us a tempting offer!"
"Hmm, now that you mentioned it, it does sound plausible. Hey, how many rounds do you think you can go in a night?"
"Hah! I, the mighty Siro, has conquered an endless number of girls. But even I have to admit that it's my first time seeing a beauty of this level!" the magus said proudly, "Given my prowess, going four or five times a night shouldn't be a problem!"
"Tch, only four or five? Stop bragging then!" His comrade said with disdain. "If I meet someone of that caliber, I will feel sorry for myself if I don't at least go ten rounds!"
"Hah! Keep on bullshitting, you dolt! Ten times?! I doubt you'll be able to last nearly as long with drugs!"
"It's your choice whether you want to believe it or not." He clicked his tongue before he excitedly said, "Look! That guy's coming over here! We might be the first ones to get a taste of her! Who do you think should go first?"
"Since you're so 'strong', why don't you let me go first? I finish much faster after all," the magus said disgruntedly.
"No problem! Then after that, it'll by my turn to shine!" the other magus agreed.
"I wonder which one of you two sirs will want to go first?" Leguna asked with a warm smile.
"Me!" the first magus said.
"Alright. Thank you for cooperating!" After that, he drew Lighteater and stuck it through the poor magus' heart before the frightful looks of the others.
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