"Innie…" Leguna finally spoke after she had made her way out of the room.
But she didn't respond at all. She didn't think Leguna would speak out to get her to stay. She was so dejected she couldn't hear the sound of the youth calling her. She felt it was impossible for that to happen.
"Innie," Leguna repeated, this time with a louder volume.
Innilis heard it this time and felt a tingle through her body, but she didn't turn back immediately. She was afraid she had misheard and couldn't bear to fall back into the abyss of despair after crawling out of it once more. She carefully turned and looked back with an expression of terror, like that of a moth heading to a flame.
Leguna felt a wince in his heart at the pitiful sight. He was surprisingly silent; he didn't know what he should say.
The glow in Innilis's eyes gradually faded. She had misheard after all! That was how it should be. How could Leguna still forgive her after she did something so terrible?
She smiled self-mockingly and prepared to turn back and leave.
But the ray of hope once more shone on her.
Leguna finally said, "I've promised that I won't forget you."
Innilis silently nodded.
"But a month or so ago, I also promised I would forgive you no matter what you did."
Innilis's eyes suddenly burst with color. She looked back at him with disbelief, as if she was trying to confirm what she had heard.
"I don't think I'm able to do that. Like Lisana said, I would always promise things without thinking about the consequences. Not only would that hurt me, it would hurt others around me as well."
"That means you still can't forgive me, right?"
Her eyes darkened again.
"If you really killed Annie, then I don't know if I can ever forgive you--" He walked forward and ruffled her head. "--But this time, I can try."
She widened her eyes and looked at him.
"But I'm only trying. I can't promise I will forgive you. It'll depend on you," he said, continuing to stroke her hair, "And I'm not the center of this. The one who actually has a right to forgive you is Annie and her alone."
"I've never blamed Innie for it," Annelotte said with a shake of her head.
"Then, Innie--" Leguna hugged her and gave her back a pat. "--Stay!"
Innilis couldn't bear it and bawled yet again despite having done so numerous times that day alone.
Eirinn relaxed. She approached Innilis and gently stroked her little head. Annelotte didn't get close because of Leguna, but seeing how loudly she was crying, she slowly inched over.
After a whole day of soothing, Innilis's emotional state finally stabilized. It was time for Leguna to consider what happened behind the scenes. He called the three girls to him and wanted to hold a discussion.
"You said a voice kept trying to talk you into it?" Leguna asked.
Even though they escaped relatively unscathed from the incident, there were many suspicious points that couldn't be overlooked, such as where the poison came from and what motive Innilis would have for harming Annelotte. The thing that he was most concerned about was the so-called voice.
He recalled that Sasha also mentioned a voice constantly trying to corrupt her. What was that about?
"Yes," Innilis said with a nod, "The voice sounded just like me and even called itself such."
"So it claimed to be you…"
Leguna stroked his chin.
"Is it because I held bad thoughts in my head? That voice said so," Innilis asked carefully.
She still didn't understand how she even came to do that. It was as if she had been controlled by another personality into doing something this insane.
"This is just a method it used to sway you," Annelotte said without hesitation, "It wanted you to think that you were the one who held enmity against me. That way, you'd be more easily convinced into doing the act."
Innilis kept her head low. Regardless of how it happened, she was the one who made the concoction and handed it to Annelotte herself. Those were undeniable facts, so she couldn't push responsibility away.
"Inni," Annelotte said, noticing the change in her, "I'm not trying to blame you. I'm merely trying to break down what happened."
"I understand, Sis Annie," she said with a strained smile.
"Annie, Eirinn," Leguna said, "As a fighter, I don't see how it would be possible to use impetus to transfer one's voice to a certain target. One of you is a magic expert and the other is well-versed with divine miracles. I want to hear your thoughts."
"I… How can I compare to Sis Annie?" Eirinn's face flushed.
She was still in the mid-order and unable to break through whereas Annelotte was the Glacial Empress. There was no competition!
"Why are you getting so serious about?--" Leguna looked at her and had to admit he found her really cute since her face was healed. "--Back to the topic."
"There are many spells that can achieve targeted conversations and even voice alterations," Annelotte said, "So, the mastermind is likely to be a magus."
Leguna nodded and turned to the half-elf.
Eirinn sifted through the knowledge about divine miracles Pyro infused in her. She wasn't inferior to Annelotte in terms of that at all. But Annelotte's extensive application of magic over the past ten-odd years had cemented her understanding firmly. It was something Eirinn hadn't been able to achieve yet.
Half a minute of frantic searching later, she nodded.
"I believe divine miracles are also capable of that. I also know a few that can achieve that goal."
"That means magic and divine miracles are not out of the question then. What about distance? Can it cross half the continent?"
"Why do you ask that?"
Annelotte questioned with a cold voice. Even though Leguna was the one who brought up the search for the mastermind, she wasn't that thankful for it as she thought he had some ulterior motive. Even if he was sincere, any act of his would be perceived in a different light in her eyes.
Leguna sighed and recounted his experiences during his trip to the millennium capital. However, he didn't mention One. Somehow, his attitude towards her had changed somewhat and he chose to keep One hidden like Gahrona.
"Something like that actually happened in Stok--" Annelotte pondered for a moment and shook her head. "--No matter how much the conference spell is strengthened, it can only be used from 50 kilometers away at most. However, the empires are split apart so far… I doubt it'd be possible to use that spell across such distances.
"Could it be between the two empires then?" Leguna suggested, "Wouldn't that halve the distance between the two points?"
"It's impossible even if you divide the distance by four," she said with a confident shake of her head, "Even I can't do it at my level."
Leguna scratched his hair for a moment and blanked out.
Just because Annelotte couldn't do it, that didn't mean others couldn't. If there was someone who had far better magic than Annelotte…
"Annie, do you still remember a certain person?"
"What person?" she said, completely oblivious.
Leguna couldn't bring it up directly thanks to the limitations of the order spell. He couldn't say any word that hinted at a Stokian, myth-realm magus in front of Innilis and Eirinn. What's worse was that Annelotte had lost a large portion of her memory and he didn't know whether she remembered that.
"The time at Seatide," he said hopefully.
For some reason, Annelotte seemed to know the importance of that memory and backed it up. She understood it the moment he mentioned Seatide. She gave it some thought and shook her head.
"I can't be sure, but based on my current knowledge, I don't think even he is capable of it. Also, he could've attacked me right there. Why use such a roundabout manner?"
"I guess you have a point."
Eirinn and Innilis were completely puzzled, but Leguna understood and agreed with Annelotte's reasoning.
"That means the one who did that could be two people… Two magi, maybe…" he muttered.
"I'm not sure about that," Annelotte said, "I mentioned I'm only basing it off my own knowledge. I can't be sure how strong he is, so whether he is responsible for it is still not decided."
"Alright." Leguna sighed. "Guess that means there's nothing we can certain about. If there were two people, that means one magus must be in the millennium capital and the other must be in Melindor…"
Annelotte and Leguna both quieted down. The same name occurred to them both at once: Myr.Previous Chapter Next Chapter