Please, enough with honorifics and pleasantries.
It\'s already late and it\'s just the two of us, dear friend.
As you wish, Sylpha. The two knew each other since their time at the White Griffon academy.
It was a well kept secret, since Mirim had attended the courses under a fake name.
She wanted to avoid receiving a special treatment as the daughter of the ruler of the land.
The two of them had both inherited their respective bloodlines\' talent for magic and that, together with the long years of friendship, had created a bond between them almost stronger than blood.
After achieving the role of Lord Commander of the Queen\'s corps, Mirim Distar had chosen to keep the pretense of being magicless to make her enemies underestimate her, making it hard to believe she was more than just a medium importance noble.
Her only regret was that life seemed to have an odd sense of humor.
Her daughter was the only member of the family born without any talent for magic.
It was something that had not happened for generations.
\'It\'s almost like Brinja is being punished for my deception.\' She would think from time to time, before shrugging off all that superstitious horsesh*t.
Inheriting magic was a matter of blood and luck.
Having mages in the family made it easier for descendants to be more attuned with the world energy, but it wasn\'t an ironclad rule.
That was the reason why despite having many heirs, sometimes the ancient noble households bore no mages, even for decades.
So, how was your evening Sylpha asked.
Marchioness Distar told her everything, putting emphasis on Lith revealing the ability to use Gravity magic and the discord that followed.
That young man has a talent for angering people.
The most fearsome aspect of his character is that Lith is aware of who and when to provoke.
He causes almost more troubles than he solves.
Sylpha laughed when Mirim told her about Lith forcing Archmage Ejar to kneel in public.
It sure humbled her without causing any physical harm. Mirim nodded.
I managed to turn the following quarrel into a debate, forcing the two parties to find common ground.
I can assure you that most of the guests left on better terms than when they arrived.
That\'s the advantage of knowing when and where conflict is about to happen. Sylpha grinned.
The more hot-headed people get, the easier is to manipulate their reasoning.
I\'m not concerned by such small stuff, though.
Tell me about your plan.
As you know, I made sure that all those who knew about Linjos\'s anti Balkor protocol learned about the existence of the list and that I am about to decipher it.
I assumed that whoever is the traitor, would try to learn about it as well.
So, I orchestrated the gala to give them an opportunity to enter my house.
The celebration of the top rankers was the perfect excuse to request for an invitation.
As I expected, many of our enemies took part in the banquet.
Even with so many people, they couldn\'t roam free, so I asked Mage Lith to cause a ruckus.
He is notoriously unaligned, no one outside the three of us knows of my special relationship with him.
No one suspects everything was staged.
Good! Does he know about the plan Sylpha asked.
He didn\'t even ask for an explanation.
Only to strengthen the defense of his family, more money, and materials for his research.
He said, and I quote: \'We already have a target on our backs, making it bigger changes nothing.
As long as you pay me, I\'ll get the job done.\'
Cynic and expensive for someone so young. Sylpha raised an eyebrow in disbelief.
If he was some idealist fool, I wouldn\'t have trusted him.
As for the price, if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.
I consider it an investment.
If he sees us as the last line of defense in front of his family, he\'ll never turn into another Balkor.
What about the list Sylpha was getting impatient.
My safe was successfully opened and the list copied. Mirim said with a wide smile.
Great! What was written into it
It wasn\'t the real list.
It was a doctored copy written in the same code, containing only the names of our prime suspects.
This way, it will appear like one of their accomplices has sold them or at least is planning to cut a deal with us.
Now we only need to wait and see who reacts.
Who leaked the information about the list Sylpha could almost taste their blood.
He is Linjos\'s personal assistant.
He was the one that had access to the information about the safe. The reports Mirim had provided for the suspects to read were all identical except for one detail.
The location of the list.
The spy had revealed their source simply by looking in a specific place rather than another.
May the gods burn him! I was the one that assigned him to Linjos.
How in the Great Mother\'s name did he pass all the background checks until now Someone in my inner circle is involved or, even worse, is an idiot.
Either way, some heads are going to roll for this.
The Queen could almost feel the earth crumble beneath her feet.
She had hoped the culprit was someone from the ancient noble households, to gain leverage against them in the recent power struggle.
Having been chosen by the Court, Balfas was a political knife pointed at her throat instead.
That also explains how they achieved capillary control of the kitchen staff, poisoning students and Professors exactly at the right moment.
Indeed. Mirim touched the blue gemstone on the communication amulet, sharing the latest reports with the Queen.
I had constable Ernas checking his finances.
Thanks to her cooperating with Velar Deirus, we discovered Balfas has been receiving money from a shell company that can be linked to the runaway Archmage Lukart.
How long it\'s been going on Just hearing Lukart\'s name gave Sylpha heartburn.
Before the academic year even started.
The odd thing is that even after Lukart\'s disappearance, the payments haven\'t stopped.
So, the players have changed, but is the game still the same The Queen pondered out loud.
Guess we\'ll find out soon.
I\'m not going to have him arrested getting a small fish can only get us so far.
We\'ll use him to get to the top of the command chain.
The rest of the winter passed quietly.
After the gala at the Marchioness\' manor, Jirni allowed Phloria to go to Lith\'s house, allowing them to spend his birthday together.
Orion kept his word, gifting Lith the Gatekeeper sword.
Lith was really happy about it, but there was not enough time left to perform any more experiments.
He could only keep studying the interactions between the mana crystals and the pseudo cores.
The armor and the weapon had different effects, allowing him to further his understanding about how to shape a pseudo core with true magic to give it specific properties.
Lith and Solus could almost see a pattern, but they needed more data.
In the blink of an eye, it was already time to go back to the academy for the last year.