24.1 The Man Named Tobias Gardner
Tobias Gardner was concerned.
“It’s a bit stuffy, isn’t it?”
It had been 17 years since he had been born to the house of Duke Gardner. His house had a long history of knighthood. Therefore, it could be said that it was also his life’s biggest burden.
“The sky is blue…”
The blue sky spread below. He’d say it again—the sky was under his gaze, and not above.
From the ground far below, he could hear the voice of the cat he had just helped. By the way, the Gardner Family also had good hearing—well, it wasn’t the time to talk about that. A few minutes ago, his position and the cat’s were reversed.
It was only a few minutes ago when he first saw the cat. The cat got stuck at the end of the giant tree’s long branch. With his specialty—earth magic—he conjured a staircase, intending to help the cat.
“I’m the one who should be crying!”
However, unable to see the staircase he had conjured, the cat clung to the branch. Finally, he decided to climb the tree, cross the long branch, pick up the cat, and place it on the stairs.
Then, after seeing off the cat, who descended safely to the ground, he accidentally slipped.
Even now during that second, he was still hanging upside down from the tree. Both of his feet clung to the branch.
“…It was a short life.”
Aside from why such a big tree existed in the school’s backyard, the branch held between his feet was making a noise. There were no other branches he could latch onto. No matter how confident Tobias was in his physical ability, he didn’t think he could land safely on his head—especially from such a height.
At his last straw, he lifted his upper body with his abdominal muscles, grabbed the branch with both arms, and tried to assume the position like that of a roasted pig—of course, he had long realized falling on his back wouldn’t make that much of a difference.
It’d be nice if Tobias could use the stairs he conjured up for the cat. However, because his priority at that time was height, the staircase wasn’t that strong. Sure, it could withstand the weight of a cat, which was a few kilograms, but the same couldn’t be said about a human’s weight. To make matters worse, that day’s morning class was a hands-on style. As such, he had no magic left to build stairs for humans.
Both of his legs slipped, leaving both of his arms to cling onto the branch—
—of course, he had also realized falling on both feet also wouldn’t help his predicament.
“Haha, so this is going to be my resting place… Grandpa, I’m going to your place, soon. I upheld my family’s principles until the end…”
The Gardner Family’s number one principle followed as such;
The only time a knight was allowed to die was when he had managed to save someone.
“Being a knight isn’t about beating strong enemies, but protecting the weak.”
Such were the words of his grandfather who died ten years ago. The words kept echoing in his head.
Tobias Gardner, 17 years old. It was too short of a lifetime, he ended up being unable to achieve anything.
“Fufu… personally, if you were to ask me, the news from the Kingdom of Elgacia is plain strange. The devil who attempted to tear apart the pair of lovers is none other than my older brother? Utter nonsense! It’d be more believable if they just presented the truth—that it was a story of a witch hiding her ugly heart beneath thick makeup alongside her clown of a familiar. He’s a pitiful man who got entangled in their trap.”
Tobias had gone around gathering information. It was because of none other than the remark uttered by the second prince just before they returned to their own kingdom.
“I don’t know how it came into the hands of a wandering troupe, but… the script for that play is too similar to the report of my brother’s loss. Even the small details are the same—for it to be known to other kingdoms, it’s just too fast. Obviously, this kind of happening could only have been orchestrated by someone in a position to know about the minute details. However, it appears said person couldn’t reach the truth covered beneath the veil of fiction…”
It had been four years since he had been appointed the servant of the second prince who kept rambling about incomprehensible topics. Ever since Tobias had followed the second prince to study abroad, two years had passed.
He recalled he was still undergoing an unusual command.
“To deceive someone like my older brother… I have to acknowledge her skill in cosmetics. Should I just straightforwardly remove the white powder covering that face? At minimum, the thickness should be ten centimeters.”
“First and foremost, we need to gather information. Our aim is to uncover that ugly face smeared with white powder… and also the true objective of the witch.”
“According to that play, the witch and her familiar should have lunch in the backyard every lunch break. Tobias, it’s an order. Head straight to the backyard and uncover the secrets of the witch.”
He couldn’t understand 90% of what the second prince was saying. …To put it simply, it seemed that the second prince wanted to know what kind of skillful makeup technique the girl used. Maybe. Probably. Even if it was off, it wouldn’t be that far off, he thought. He heard that men had begun using makeup too, nowadays.
“…Well, even though I’ve helped the cat, there’s still that vague order…”
Despite such, he didn’t want to die without fulfilling his order—he himself wouldn’t allow that.
Thus, he decided to change his mindset;
I have risked my life to save the weak, and now I’m about to suffer the consequences…
“Don’t even try to cushion my fall, cat.”
If he had gotten up immediately after the first few seconds he ended up hanging upside down from the branch, he might have been able to still do something like leaping for the trunk at full speed.
But he didn’t have time anymore. In his current position, he couldn’t see the base of the branches because the trunk was behind him. He also didn’t think he’d have more than a few seconds before plunging down.
When Tobias decided to clench his teeth—
“—Water, the source of all things, the shapeless flow, become a pillar and penetrate the heaven! Aqua Column!”
A dignified voice, belonging to a girl, echoed from the faraway ground.
The next moment, a large amount of water appeared from the ground below. It should be a water column spell—but the size was immense! Fast approaching, the diameter of the water column was the size of a small pond.
Then, Tobias heard the voice of a man.
Immediately understanding their intention, Tobias took a deep breath and released the branch.
***T/N: My first impression about that second prince was, ‘My… this dude might be a cunning villain…’ now said impression had bleakly changed to, ‘Nah, dude’s just a chuuni.’
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