"So, Miss Perelia, can you do it? Are you willing to?" Annelotte asked, feeling rather nervous but not showing it. It was an important matter and if she could succeed in bringing results, not only would she have changed the world, she would also shock the world of magic.
Granted, that wasn't the most important thing ever. Annelotte wouldn't be so anxious about 'pointless' things like fame and influence. She wasn't interested in changing the world or the field of magic. What she wanted from all of this was a better standing in the empire, which would no doubt be a good thing for Leguna.
Annelotte was actually quite concerned about his position in the empire.
Because of her, he had offended Geoffrey and given the first prince's personality, he would've had Leguna killed right away if he ever got the chance. There was no longer any room for reconciliation between the two.
Similarly, Leguna also offended Premier Alfreid for Eirinn's sake. Even though Alfreid hasn't shown Eirinn personally any hostility, he definitely wouldn't be happy about Bloodhand's extermination. He also had a close relationship with Geoffrey, and she believed that had it not been for Larwin, those two would've already colluded together. Alfreid's view of Leguna was no doubt a sour one.
Furthermore, if Alfreid was hostile against Leguna, all the other officials in the empire might take his side.
Leguna wasn't alone either. While Leguna didn't get along with Geoffrey, he was a good friend of Alissanda. At least so far, Leguna had helped the second prince out quite a lot over the years.
The relationship between him and the military was also a pleasant one. Leguna had personally traveled half the empire to help General Manhattan personally and that was enough for the army to owe him a favor. Additionally, Kurdak was gradually developing his career there too.
But even that wasn't enough to give Annelotte relief. Firstly, she didn't trust Alissanda. It wasn't that she was suspicious of him, but she still wasn't able to trust him like she would Kurdak or Leguna. She felt that the second prince lived in a different world from them, not that it could've been avoided. A prince, however friendly, couldn't just lump himself with a lot of mercenaries all day, could he?
On the other hand, while Manhattan had great repute in the empire, he was nearly a hundred years old. Even though he looked energetic and vigorous, Annelotte knew that if a human wasn't able to break through the rank of a saint or myth through impetus or magic cultivation, their lifespans wouldn't change much.
While Manhattan had fought for many years, he was still only at the 18th stratum. According to her predictions, the old man might weaken in a few more years and would no longer be able to lead soldiers into battle. So far, the only heiress to the Rodelas household was Lamir, Manhattan's granddaughter. While he was a loyal subject of the kingdom, the Rodelas household would have no true heir if he falls. As such, his relationship with Leguna would only be short term help.
If Leguna really wanted to have a firm standing in the empire, he had to find long-term and reliable partners.
So, she set her sights on the formation of the new school of magic in the empire. Through that, she would be able to gain a say in the running of the school. Based on the school of magic in Stok, she knew that the new school she was helping form would have a huge influence in the empire. Magic was a driving force in the advancement of progress and it would always have a large part to play.
Should Annelotte be able to get a firm position in the school, she would become one of the most influential and reliable allies for Leguna, which was her goal.
She had never thought of her recent actions as being done for Leguna's sake, but the more she was reminded of it, the more certain she knew it was going to be futile to deny it. She could only accept this fact and firm her determination to act on her own. Today would mark the first step she took in that direction.
Annelotte gave Perelia a nervous look. The magic cannons were indeed really complex and without a person familiar with it, Annelotte wouldn't be able to replicate it, not even if she could disassemble a cannon to study it!
Perelia met Annelotte's gaze and turned to Leguna. "I'm curious what treatment I'll receive should I refuse."
"I can't say for sure," Leguna lazily replied, "But I would suggest that you cooperate to the best of your ability if you can. Even I don't dare to cross her."
"Ouch!" Before he said anything else, Annelotte's Glacial Domain sent chills down his back. The poor fellow was assailed by negative hundred degrees celsius of cold for a split second and yelped.
Annelotte's expression didn't change one bit. She secretly taught him a lesson and focused her attention back to Perelia.
Leguna was so chilled that he could barely speak.
[If that isn't overstepping your bounds, I don't know what is. You deserved it! Let's see whether you dare to fool around in the future? Our Annie's not someone you can simply mess around with!] Gahrona said mischievously.
[Hey! I don't think you remember who's supposed to be your disciple here!] he snapped with dissatisfaction. Gahrona had largely treated him well, but with one exception.
She was always prejudiced and biased against Leguna's views. Any opportunity to stand up for Annelotte, Eirinn or Innilis, she would speak in their favour without hesitation and crap on Leguna. Among the three girls, she liked Annelotte the most. Eirinn and Innilis were fine, but Gahrona would definitely have a thing or two to say to Leguna if something happened between him and Annelotte.
According to her, that was because Leguna owed Annelotte far too much. Since he had no way of making up for it, Gahrona, as his teacher, would support her the way she could.
While she couldn't manifest and physically help the girls out, at the very least, Leguna would suffer outwardly and inwardly from both the girls and Gahrona. Eirinn and Innilis would usually only argue with him, but Annelotte held nothing back and actually lashed out at him if she could.
During those times, Gahrona would send a sensation of being blown away by the enemy into his mind, which was a source of resentment for him. It was one thing to endure Annelotte's punishment, but Gahrona's bonus was like kicking a dog that lost the fight. Who could endure such treatment?
[Heh, I would make Annelotte my disciple if I could!] she said proudly, [I'd never be able to find such a fine girl by myself. You don't know how lucky you are for even being able to enter her heart. It's definitely because of my karmic luck! You're benefiting off it because I didn't use mine up! That's how you got to met her!]
[What kind of logic is this...] he found Gahrona to be fine at most times, except on occasions like these.
[Hmph! I can't be bothered to explain it to you!] She could tell why Annelotte was so desperate on replicating the cannons, but all she could do at the sight of his ignorance was humph in disdain.
During the internal argument, Perelia came to her decision. "I believe that being able to serve you, Miss Annelotte, would be an honor."
"Great." Annelotte looked closely at Perelia and said rather apologetically, "Apologies, Miss Perelia, but out of concern for your safety, I am still unable to release your magical bindings. Please endure it for a bit until we reach Melindor."
"I understand," she said with a nod. Even though being magically bound was a rather stifling affair, Leguna did say captives ought to have the self-awareness of one. Only a fool would wish to be served like royalty in captivity.
"As for the rest," Annelotte said as she cast a gaze across the room, "I will assign you relevant jobs, provided that you understand the position you're in. From the moment you became a captive, you've had only two choices. Either you show your loyalty to Hocke through your efforts or stay loyal to Stok by paying the price with your lives."
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