Leguna had been feeling rather frustrated. Even though being used by others to kill Legg displeased him quite a bit, he had a feeling that his frustration didn't stem from that.
He was within Hockian territory now. There were only some three days of traveling before he would arrive in Melindor. It was the first time he wanted to go back to the capital so badly, as that was the only place he could get up-to-date information. He needed to know the source of the annoying feeling he got.
"Sir…" the coachman finally spoke. Leguna had returned a little abruptly, so only two of his attendants and the coachman went back with him. He was seated in the carriage while his attendants had their own mounts.
He wasn't quite sure why the carriage stopped.
"What is it?" Leguna asked.
"Someone requests to see you. He calls himself Xeno," replied the coachman. Though he had served as Leguna's personal driver for quite some time, he had never gone to the more restricted areas in the bureau and didn't know who Xeno was.
"Xeno?" Leguna furrowed his brow. The last time Xeno went to see him, he had to rush to Innilis's side. Why would he come now? Did something happen to Innilis again? That couldn't be, since all she did was suffer a fright. Her injuries from the attack wasn't serious. Leguna had only traveled up north after he was certain she was doing well.
He took a deep breath and pulled open the curtains of the carriage. Xeno was standing silently in front of it, waiting to be seen.
"Let him in!" He no longer thought too much after ensuring that it was him. He found himself trusting the Stokian quite a bit. If not for him, Innilis's life really would be in danger.
"Sir." There were a few droplets of sweat on Xeno's forehead. His eyes also betrayed his fatigue, but he bowed properly first nevertheless. He then spoke in his calm voice, "I think there's an urgent matter you would like to be informed about."
"Speak." Leguna furrowed his brow as the unsettling sensation grew.
"I need to warn you, Sir, to maintain your calm. The matter is settled and there's no longer a need to be startled," Xeno added carefully.
Leguna could feel his heart skip a beat, but he followed the advice. "Alright, I promise."
Xeno took out some files and handed them to Leguna. "A few days ago, the Stokian army commanded by General David cooperated with the crimsonflame demon and attacked Fort Kesta by way of a group transference spell."
Leguna's impetus surged in that moment. Pure black shadow impetus shattered the frame of the carriage and startled everyone nearby.
Xeno on the other hand wasn't startled. He calmly said, "Sir, please calm down. Miss Eirinn is fine."
Some light returned to his eyes as he forced his anger down. In a hoarse voice, he asked, "Is she really alright?"
"Yes. Miss Eirinn is now within a military encampment in Locksin. She is being heavily guarded," he hurriedly said.
Leguna's expression softened considerably. "What of Fort Kesta?"
"Fort Kesta has fallen," Xeno said with his head lowered, "General Tamro and the high-order magus, Mister Poscow, have sacrificed themselves for the empire."
Leguna's fists tightened so much that they crackled. Even though he wasn't really fond of the general for ordering him around, he did respect that man. At the very least, he was an honorable soldier.
Hearing the death of the death of the general made him feel rather apologetic and angry. It had been his bureau's shortcoming. They should've been able to find out about those plans and inform the general in advance about them.
"Why?" Leguna asked, "Even if Stok is really covert, how can we not pick up on the slightest tip for such a large-scale operation? What are our informants in Stok doing?!"
"Sir… I've looked into it and it has been reported before, more than once, in fact."
"Then why did we only find out about this after the fall of Fort Kesta?" Leguna was almost roaring.
"I heard… I heard the one who received that report was Sir Arikos…"
He once more descended into fury. It was Arikos again! He was the one who handled that matter! There was only one explanation for this: Arikos had intentionally hidden the report from him! Was he trying to set up the soldiers in the fort? Or was he trying to target Eirinn?
Leguna was fuming. He could ignore the fact that Arikos used him like a weapon to deal with Legg. Yet, he didn't think he would try something like that. What was his goal? What was he scheming? Was he alone in this? Or was the mastermind behind it all Wayerliss from Moonshadow?
You better pray you don't run into me! he thought.
"Sir…" Xeno was taken aback by the impetus blast Leguna let out again. Seeing Leguna about to blow up, he rushed over. "Sir, please calm down. There's something more important you have to attend to."
Leguna glared at Xeno and said, "I recall that you're someone Arikos promoted."
"Yes…" He felt a chill down his spine and knew that the slightest mistake would get him killed by Leguna. He admitted that fact first and said, "But I'm not his subordinate, nor am I his mole. Please investigate this matter proper, Sir."
"Investigate? Arikos promoted you to acting bureau head from the foreigner grunt you were. You dare say that you weren't working for him?"
"Sir! My sister and I had nobody else to rely on while growing up. She's the most important person to me. After she died, you were the one who gave me another chance at life. Even though I have been helped by Sir Arikos, you are the one I'm truly indebted to, Sir. Why would I risk being suspected to deliver the news to you? Please trust me!"
Leguna kept quiet. [Teacher…]
[I'm not sure whether he's telling the truth, but I can say that these things has had nothing to do with him. Also, don't forget that you have other priorities right now,] Gahrona said.
[Understood.] He calmed down and followed her advice.
"Listen here. I'm not going to look into your relationship with Arikos for now. I need you to come with me to look for Eirinn."
"Thank you for your trust, Sir." Xeno breathed a sigh of relief. He already knew there was something off when he found that Arikos was the one who neglected reporting information about the fort. He was sure that Leguna would suspect him by extension automatically. So, instead of waiting for him to discover the fact, Xeno took the initiative to admit the mistake, and it proved to be the correct choice.
"Let's go!" Leguna looked at the broken carriage and said to the rest, "Let us have the horses. We have to rush back for something."
"Sir…" Xeno said.
"What?" Leguna furrowed his brows in frustration.
"Before I left Melindor, I already got two transport talismans from the court magi association. You can be transported to the association directly using them. I've made preparations there to receive us."
"Good!" Leguna gave a satisfied nod. Though Xeno was usually quite quiet, he was rather reliable. Could he have faulted him wrongly?
"Then you three, take the horses back. I'll go back with Xeno. Just report to the bureau when you've back," Leguna told them.
"Yes, Sir!" The three of them hurriedly agreed to not risk ticking off Leguna again.
A few minutes later, Leguna stepped out of the transference formation of the association headquarters.
"Thanks for the trouble," Leguna told the magus that helped with the transference.
"It's my honor to serve, Sir Leguna." The mid-order magus didn't dare to put up airs around the head of the bureau.
Leguna nodded and left with Xeno.
"Does Annie and Innie know about this?" he asked.
"No. Miss Annelotte and Miss Innilis have been working on the magic cannon research the whole time. Gerd and I decided to keep the matter under wraps," Xeno replied.
"You did well." Xeno scored some more points in his book. "Go to the bureau to prepare some horses and necessities we need to be on our way. We'll be leaving Melindor two hours later."
"Yes, Sir. I'll get them ready.
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