The fat king hammered the table.
"Alright, let's settle for that. Andro, discuss with the court magi later. I'll give you a day to come up with a plan," he said
With such a huge problem being resolved, the finance minister breathed a sigh of relief.
"So, there's only one thing left," Larwin said, "Since two schools of magic will be formed, do we have a candidate for the principal for the second school?"
No one could answer. The court magi association was an institution belonging to the imperial family. While the officials were familiar with much of the empire's operation, they were clueless when it came to magical institutions.
"Your majesty," Andro struggled, "I wonder if Chairman Myr of the court magi association would be appropriate?"
Larwin shook his head.
"I have considered Mister Myr, but he holds the highest authority in the field of magic in our empire. It would be too taxing on him to hold another post."
His tone made everyone aware that Larwin long had a candidate in mind. They all turned their eyes to Alfreid, only to see that he kept quiet as if it didn't have anything to do with him.
"Your Majesty," Leguna spoke, "I do have a candidate."
"Let's hear it."
After a pause, he said, "His Highness Geoffrey."
"Oh? For what reason?" Larwin asked neutrally.
"First, His Highness is of similar age to Miss Annelotte. Since the principal of one school is from the younger generation, having a senior become principal for the other might tip the scales of respect unfavorably. I believe letting young people be principal of both schools will provide the most balanced setup."
"Hmm, not bad. I did consider that. Also, the field of magic is something always changing and advancing. We older folks can't keep up," the emperor nodded, "What else?"
Leguna felt more confident from the affirmation.
"Well, His Highness and Miss Annelotte are both high-order magi and have achieved more than most ever can. Additionally, His Highness is also a prince of the empire. I believe that, in terms of ability, status and age, His Highness is a good choice."
"Well said," Larwin nodded and looked at the other officials, "Any thoughts?"
They kept their peace.
"Very well, it is decided then. Also, I'm handing the schools to our young talent, but I will still worry if nobody's supervising the effort. How about this, Mister Myr will help guide the two of you. Naturally, he won't interfere with the schools' internal affairs. Annie, is this something you find agreeable?"
"Of course," Annelotte said with a nod.
"Good. Then let's adjourn the council here," Larwin said and waved them away.
After leaving the palace, Leguna and Annelotte returned by carriage together. On the way, she looked at him as if she had something to say.
"Ask away if you have any questions!"
"Why did you recommend Geoffrey?" Annelotte said with a puzzled look. Even though the plan to form one school was divided into two, either school would still hold great influence in the empire. Why would Leguna let Geoffrey benefit from one piece of the pie?
"Because I have no choice but to do so."
"What's the reason behind that?"
Leguna leaned forward and whispered, "I'm sure you understand after spending much time in the bureau that His Imperial Majesty also has his own secret intelligence organization aside from the bureau."
"I am aware of that." Even though the bureau was the largest intelligence organization in the empire, most of it was set up by Moonshadow.
Intelligence organizations should be the most trusted institution of the imperial family, yet the bureau wasn't able to earn Larwin's full trust.
So, the emperor formed his own smaller-scale, secret organization. Even though they weren't that effective at obtaining crucial information, they were absolutely loyal to Larwin according to some of the bureau reports. Additionally, they didn't collect information from outside the empire and instead focused all their attention on what went on inside the empire, especially the administration. As such, Leguna and Arikos call them the Monitors.
The existence of that organization had not been officially revealed, and the bureau was only able to find out about them from very ambiguous sources. Most people didn't know about them and only a select few in the bureau like Annelotte were aware of their existence.
"With the Monitors around, Larwin naturally knows about what's happening to the lot of us," Leguna said, "It's not like the current situation is hard to understand either. Basically, the empire is now divided into two rather blurry factions. In one camp, we have the followers of Alfreid and Geoffrey. In the other, it's Allisanda and ours. Oh, there's the military to consider too. At least, for the time being, General Manhattan and the other officers have a better opinion on Alissanda than on Geoffrey.
"While a ruler would definitely dislike their own subjects forming private cliques, they are no doubt aware of the subtle differences between each individual. Even if there's no clear faction divide, some officials are bound to have better relationships with others. That's why, you don't have to worry about His Imperial Majesty getting mad over this."
He looked at her thoughtful expression and continued. "If you get picked as the principal of the school of magic and you side with us, don't you think the balance of power will tip too much in our favor? It'd be difficult for the emperor in that case. That's why..."
"That's why..." Annelotte gave it some thought and said, "he wants to keep the power balance of both factions."
"That's right!" He nodded furiously. That girl was far smarter than he is after all.
Leguna had been analyzing the situation since Annelotte first announced that she would be involved in the school. However, all those names and relationships confused him and he still wasn't able to connect the dots. Though he was close, he was still missing the point, so Gahrona gave him a helpful reminder.
The only thing she said to him was: with the power in Leguna's faction growing, Larwin would definitely seek to give Geoffrey some benefits. Balance was a great way to keep the empire under his control. Any monarch wouldn't want their officials to hold too much power, after all.
That was why Leguna made that suggestion and handed those benefits to Geoffrey on a silver platter.
"Alfreid seemed to have foresaw this issue and suggested forming two schools of magic," Leguna continued, "I admit that Alfreid really is a pain in the neck. However, Geoffrey's a complete pushover."
"You seem to be quite prejudiced against him," Annelotte said with a hint of a smile on her face.
"Of course! It's his fault for trying to lay his hands on my woman first!"
"You're speaking nonsense again!" She was ready to explode at any moment.
"That's why I don't care if Geoffrey becomes the principal of the other school," he said, ignoring her protests, "So what if he does? Comparing him to you will only help emphasize your brilliance!"
"Do you have that much faith in me?" she asked faintly with a slight blush.
"Of course!" he replied without hesitation.
Annelotte toyed around with her fingers shyly.
Then, Leguna had to ruin it all. "Just look at how impressive you were every time you beat me up! I don't think I've met anyone else who can give me such a beating. From your fierceness alone, I doubt that you'll-- Owowowow!"
"Huh?" The coachman started at the pained scream and knocked on the carriage walls and pushed the peephole cover open. "Sir, you..."
"Ouch!" Leguna yelped, before he said, "I'm fine, just focus on driving. Ignore me as long as the carriage doesn't flip over."
With his position as the bureau head, he didn't dare to jump out of the carriage out of worry that word of him being pushed around by a girl would spread.
However, the coachman misunderstood. He smiled lewdly and muttered, "As expected of Sir Leguna Black Requiem. He's so full of vigor in bedtime activities as well! How amazing!"
"Owowowowow!" The carriage continued on its way as Leguna's screams echoed throughout.
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