Once the matter of the rankings was settled, only Jirni Ernas remained inside Linjos\'s office.
The results of the investigation on the academies\' staff is unsettling.
It seems that whoever is behind the anti-mana toxins played both sides.
They used the rivalry between the old noble households and the new magical bloodlines to recruit members from both factions and escalate the internal struggle into a civil war.
As for the poisoning, the method employed was as simple as effective.
They administered the toxin in the meals.
The targets were only those who belonged to the most vocal families loyal to the Crown but that lacked the resources to request the help of any of the great healers involved in the plague.
It was likely meant to make the young mages lose their rankings, if not fail completely their exams in order to cripple their opponents\' status and political relevance inside the Royal Court.
How could they achieve such capillary control Linjos had already realized by himself most of Jirni\'s report, but he still couldn\'t believe it had happened right under his nose.
Easy, they contacted and corrupted several members of the canteen\'s staff.
They seem to have handpicked them one by one, choosing only those that suffered from financial troubles or had a deep grudge against the Crown.
You should know that working for one of the six big academies is considered an honour.
Yet it doesn\'t prevent staff members who belong to noble households from treating with disrespect mages of commoner origin, while those of humble origins resent the nobles for treating them like cattle.
Both get usually very pissed seeing so much power and money passing right under their noses, yet not having access even to the crumbs of the system.
I think you should consider changing the work condition of the non magical staff too.
The information leaks, the poisoning, everything that has happened wouldn\'t have been possible if the academy system wasn\'t already rotten from the start.
Who provided the toxin and when did they start administering it to Professors and Headmasters Linjos pondered about Jirni\'s words.
No one had ever stopped considering how much power and knowledge the student secretariat actually held.
Grades, points records, purchases, those people that had always been regarded as low level bureaucrats had complete access to the personal information about every resident of the academy, from their addresses to the security details.
Just the thought of how much work he had ahead of himself was enough to give Linjos a splitting headache.
That\'s where our investigation was abruptly stopped.
The corrupted officials gave away the names of their recruiters to spare their families from capital punishment, but they turned out to be strawmen.
Once we apprehended them, the recruiters had no idea who they were working for.
As for the toxins, they were delivered through several drop spots that changed every time.
All of them were located in trash bins inside common areas, so anyone could put them in place.
Students, administrative staff, even Professors.
Alas, after our investigation started the deliveries stopped.
Either someone from the inside leaked the information or more likely they noticed how many people were being detained and interrogated.
An operation of this scale can\'t remain hidden for long.
Jirni didn\'t like facing smart opponents.
She preferred the dumb and self-entitled kind that provided open-and-shut cases.
So far, she hadn\'t spotted a single mistake on their side.
If not for the Kandria\'s incident triggering the plague, no one would have even thought such wonder of Alchemy was possible.
Even after Lith found the box, the authorities wouldn\'t pay him any attention if not for the dryad\'s gift.
Last, but not least, without Duke Tanash determination in getting help for his son, everything would have kept going according to the enemy plan.
Jirni could not help but think that the small victories they had scored so far were all because of luck and coincidences.
Luck was something she couldn\'t control or interrogate, hence it was one of the things she hated the most.
They started poisoning the magical staff only after Balkor\'s message was revealed and stopped immediately after the situation was resolved.
I think it was a long shot plan, hoping to use the god of death to get rid of the academies.
Officially, such a move would have harmed both factions at the same time, so it doesn\'t make any sense.
Off the record, I think that whoever planned these events doesn\'t care at all about who profits from the struggle.
They want to deal as much damage as possible to the Griffon Kingdom.
I suspect that even Lukart was just a pawn.
A narrow-minded idiot is the perfect frontman.
Easy to take out of the picture in case of success, easy to pin all the blame on in case of failure.
Basically we got nothing. Linjos sighed.
No, quite the contrary. Jirni replied.
We have discovered a massive corruption system, cleansed the academies from the traitorous scum and foiled at least part of the enemy plan.
Not to mention that several good mages will have a second chance at the academy, strengthening the future of the Kingdom.
We haven\'t won the war, but we aren\'t losing it either.
Considering the amount of time and resources that our opponents invested, even achieving a draw is actually a success for us.
Stay on your toes, this is far from over.
A cornered enemy is the most dangerous one.
Jirni gave the Headmaster a small bow before leaving the office.
Unlike Deirus, since she was already at the White Griffon, she had no hurry to leave.
She could as well pay a visit to her daughters and congratulate them for their achievements.
\'One achieved second place and the other two reached the top twenty despite having only one specialization.
House Ernas is bound to have a bright future, but only if I manage to keep all the girls alive.\'
Meanwhile, in Phloria\'s room Lith and Orion where sharing the good news with the rest of the group.
Yurial remained silent most of the time, the golden pin felt to him more like a stigma than something to be proud of.
This is bullsh*t! Phloria was enraged enough to yell.
Since when the academies have to bend the knee to political interests This is just unfair!
Life it\'s unfair by nature. Lith shrugged.
The key is making it unfair to your advantage.
How does getting stripped of your rank and title work to your advantage She scoffed.
First, being third means the target on my back gets much smaller.
The points gap with the others in the top 20 is low, so they\'ll think that if instead of bothering me they work harder, they may be able to catch up with me.
You wouldn\'t have been attacked so often if you stuck with us like before! Phloria scolded him, but Lith ignored her words.
Second, I didn\'t lose a single point.
Yurial gets the glory and fame he always wanted while I can go home a week earlier.
By the way, have you thought about what I said Will you guys delay attending the fifth year
I wish! Yurial snorted.
My father never believed in visions and prophecies, so convincing him to push back all of his plans for one more year was already hard.
As soon as he saw the rankings, he immediately changed his mind.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
He says that backing down for no reason would make him lose a lot of face and stir too many questions. Yurial still couldn\'t believe his father would place the pride of the house above his only son\'s safety.
Don\'t be too harsh on your old man, kid. Orion sighed.
The vision is top secret and has to stay that way.
There is no way to justify any of you taking a year break, especially after such outstanding performances.
There\'s no illness that the White Griffon can\'t cure, so \'getting sick\' is off the table.
A family crisis that needs kids to be resolved would turn any big household into a laughing stock.
Many students do not return home even if their parents die, the academy is deemed too important.
I could ask for Phloria to be transferred into another academy, she is the only one that was clearly harmed in the vision, but again, there is no plausible excuse.
It would appear like we are punishing her for her \'low score\' or that we disagree with Linjos\'s methods.
Either way, it would make us look bad in the Court\'s eyes.
Are you really going to have them attend Lith was genuinely worried.
It makes no sense, they could die!
Thanks for worrying about me. Yurial snorted.
I do, but I can\'t argue with your father since he already left.
He\'s an a*s.
In his shoes, I would keep you home.
You are not only his son, but also the only heir of your house.
You are damn right I am! Yurial slammed his fist on Phloria\'s desk.
Do you know what he said to me before leaving Son, I receive death threats on a daily basis.
If I had to hide and cower every time I get one, I should never get out of bed.
What a d*ck! The girls said as one.
He is right though. Orion patted Yurial\'s shoulder, trying to comfort him.
Jirni and I, but especially Jirni, receive so many death threats we have lost count of them.
During winter, we use the old ones to light the fireplace.
Also, Phloria wants to join my corps, the Knight\'s Guard, since she was five.
I still want to.
Then you have to get used to such things.
At least you have an idea of the when and how it could happen.
It\'s more than I have ever known every time I risked my life during a mission.
I still think it\'s stupid making them stay. Lith scoffed.
Losing a year is no big deal, especially for Quylla.
She can use that time to learn etiquette, court manners, and everything she needs to live as a noble.
As for the others, with all that happened, a break can only do them some good.
What about you Orion retorted.
He wasn\'t happy with that decision either, but defying a direct order from the King was impossible.
Not even Jirni\'s accumulated royal pardons could allow such a thing.
It would be considered an act of high treason, something way worse than murder.
So, he had to obey.
Lith\'s words were just salt being spread on his injuries.
Are you taking a year break Because what you said about Quylla applies to you as well.
You could defend your family, instead of worrying from distance.
I\'m staying because the sequence of events that will lead to the massacre of Lutia will start here.
Only by remaining I can make sure that whatever the enemy is planning will fail, or at least timely call for help to prevent things from escalating.
Also, my death should happen after my family\'s, while Phloria\'s should take place during the attack on the academy.
I have no reason to hide, not to mention that I too don\'t plan living behind a desk in the future.
I faced death enough times that I\'m not scared at the idea of facing a mortal threat as much of remaining alone.
If I were to lose you guys and my family, there would be nothing left for me in this world.
I can already see me turning into a mad beast hungry for revenge and with no future ahead.
Orion sighed, he understood Lith\'s point of view.
It was the same for him.
Honour, loyalty to the Crown, his career.
Without his family, it would all be meaningless.
I don\'t want to get caught in the mess that will ensue when the rankings will be revealed.
I\'m going to pack my stuff and go home.
It will be a busy winter for me.
I have a lot of things to practice and even more to Forgemaster.
I hope to see you all for my birthday. Lith said looking at Phloria.
He could only hope that Orion would keep his word and give him the Gatekeeper bastard sword as a present.