Here’s chapter 2
Episode 2: The Labyrinth of the Tower.
“I have to go now.”
The girl in the white robe muttered after looking at the clock tower.
“I’m Atrea. And you…? ”
“Lynn, huh? A pleasure. I hope the next time we meet is at the tower. I’ll take my leave then.”
With those words, Atrea disappeared among the crowd.
Shortly after Atrea left, the person who had brought Lynn to this city came to pick him up, he was a magician by the name of Yuin.
“Lynn. Sorry for the wait. I managed to get a carriage. We’ll use it to reach to the tower.”
When Lynn moved his gaze to the direction where Yuin was pointing at, he saw a horse-drawn carriage stopped by the side of the street.
After looking at it, Lynn remembered about the first time he met Yuin.
He was riding a carriage similar to this one at that time too.
Before coming to Guingard, Lynn was a slave farmer who worked on the fields in the Milne region, with nothing, not even his very person, to call his own.
One day, while on his way back, the magician Yuin found him and discovered he had talent. He then suggested that he enrolled into the school at Guingard.
“You have a talent for magic.”
That’s what Yuin told Lynn the first time they met.
“Why not coming to Guingard with me? You’ll be able to train to become a magician at the tower’s school.”
Lynn didn’t waste a moment and accepted the invitation immediately.
It wasn’t as if he hated his life, but he wanted to go somewhere else.
The talks then proceeded smoothly. The lord of Milne was happy he could get rid of a mouth to feed. And so, he immediately agreed to sell Lynn. Lynn wasn’t bothered by the fact that nobody came to bid him farewell.
Together with Yuin, Lynn crossed mountains, traveled across the ocean, visited numerous cities, and finally reached Guingard.
It was supposed to be a dangerous journey, but he never encountered any hardship on the way.
According to Yuin, a magician could safely travel anywhere in the world thank to the protection of magic.
And now, Lynn was finally in Guingard.
He was on his way to the tower in the swaying carriage.
The carriage carrying Lynn and Yuin proceeded without facing the problems other carriages had, getting caught in traffic.
He thought this had also something to do with magic.
Lynn recalled the moment Atrea entered the crowded street, where people was walking so close together they even pushed each other, as if she was just a wind passing through.
All magicians seemed to be able to move just fine even in this terrible traffic.
He observed the variety of novelty items in the main street.
Goods he had never seen before, unfamiliar stores, rare creatures… And yet, every time something new came to his sight, he couldn’t help but to think about Atrea, the girl he met earlier.
The short conversation he had with her remained in his head.
“Lynn. Stop looking around so restlessly. It’s unsightly. ”
Yuin chided Lynn in a harsh tone.
“Oh, sorry. …Uhm, master?”
“What’s wrong? ”
Lynn had called Yuin master.
There were several ways to enter the tower’s school, one of which was to enroll by the recommendation of a high ranked magician.
In the case of admission by recommendation, the nominator and the applicant were seen in a ‘master-apprentice’ relationship.
For that reason, Lynn who would enter on the recommendation of Yuin, was asked to refer to him as master.
“I’ll take the entrance exam now, right?”
“Yeah, a recommendation alone isn’t enough for one to enter. First, you have to prove you have the qualifications in a test.”
“I wonder if I’ll be alright. I feel like a magician test will be a difficult one…”
Lynn was uneasy.
After his talk with Atrea earlier, he was made aware of the fact that he lacked common knowledge that was a given for everyone in this city.
Since it hadn’t been a day since his arrival at this city, he wondered if he could pass the exam as he currently was.
Yuin had also told him nothing about it.
About the magic, about the exams, nor about the school itself.
Yuin had only brought Lynn to this city and asked him to call him master.
“It’ll be okay. If you have the qualifications, you should be able to pass the exam.”
“What kind of exam is it?”
“When you take it, you will understand.”
Yuin just said so with a grin, signaling the end of that conversation.
It had always been like that.
“Uhm, has master been to the top of the tower?”
“The top? ”
“Yes. I was talking to a magician-looking girl earlier near the square. She said something. That she was aiming to the top of the tower.”
“Lynn. Don’t go saying careless things.”
Yuin sighted in amazement.
“Listen here. In that tower, magicians from all over the world gather in order to polish and sharpen their skills. While the skilled ones are allowed to live in the upper layers, the ones regarded as incompetent are forced to live in the lower levels. Only a handful of them are blessed with talent, and have bled their way up to the top. Those existences are the very definition of ‘chosen ones’. Only a handful of people live above the 1000th layer, beyond the clouds, and they are called the ‘Dwellers of the Sky’. Since the literally live in the same place as the clouds. With your talent, you might not be able to reach even the ‘Birdling Nest’ at the 100th layer.”
“Up to what floor did master reach?”
Hearing that question, Yuin frowned.
“…That has nothing to do with you.”
Yuin answered with an unamused look on his face.
“The girl that you spoke to. She must be in a privileged social position. For her to aim for the top of the tower… Anyway, you should not listen to such nonsense.”
The middle part was muttered, but after saying so, Yuin faced away from Lynn and became silent.
Lynn was slightly angry at Yuin.
He couldn’t think that Atrea was someone who would speak nonsense.
She also wore beautiful clothes, better than Yuin’s at least.
Yuin’s appearance was as good as it got, but the shoes he wore were quite worn out.
The carriage stopped by Yuin’s command shortly before the tower. From that point, the two people walked towards the entrance of the tower.
By the time they arrived at the tower, it was already dusk.
And once again, after looking at it from close, Lynn was overwhelmed by the massive size of the tower.
It was a tower that should be conical in shape from a distance, but when one stood close to it, its walls stood upright.
It wasn’t possible to see the top of the tower even after bending the neck to the limit, and the right and left side continued seemingly until the horizon.
A myriad of arch-shaped entrances were installed along its outer perimeter.
The size of those arches varied, some were larger than a carriage, obviously made to bring baggage inside, and others were just big enough for a person to pass.
The people at each entrance also varied. There were entrances with no people lined up, and some others with a long queue of people waiting in line.
After walking for a while along the outer perimeter of the tower, Yuin stopped in front of an arch with no people lined up.
“Let’s enter from here.”
Lynn strained his eyes to see what was inside of that entrance.
It was a passage that extended towards its interior, and it was dark enough so the insides couldn’t be properly seen.
At the upper part of the arch was a plate with something written on it.
But, those were characters that Lynn couldn’t read.
“It means ‘Entrance for candidates’.”
Yuin replied before Lynn could utter his question.
“Alright, hurry up and get inside.”
Yuin pushed his back and Lynn timidly stepped into the dark interior.
Although the passage looked pretty much pitch black from the outside, it wasn’t dark when actually entering it. It wasn’t bright nor dark, and it was mysteriously lighted.
And as the passage went straight ahead, it suddenly came to an abrupt dead end.
At that place, there was only some kind of cage-like structure, surrounded by a metal fence.
Watching the puzzled Lynn, Yuin opened the door of the iron fence and entered the cage.
After Lynn also entered, Yuin shut the door and chanted “99th floor, the test’s location”.
The ground shook, and then the cage carrying Lynn and Yuin began to rise diagonally.
“Is this thing… floating? ”
“It is called elevator. It moved thanks to magic.”
Lynn raised his voice in admiration.
The elevator then went to the left then suddenly to the right, it went down and then it rose. Lynn felt like he had no idea how high he was at, nor which direction he was traveling.
“Almost like a labyrinth.”
“Exactly. Inside the tower, the elevator’s pathway is like the blood vessels of an animal. The elevator doesn’t move unless you cast the correct spell. And in order to go further above in the tower, a more advanced magic is required. That’s why this tower is said to be impregnable. If someone who can’t even use magic tries, the elevator won’t move at all.”
Yuin said, all the while exuding an air of superiority.
“Do you understand now, little Lynn.”
Yuin spread his arms as if to show off the magnificence of the tower.
“Are you still going to keep that nonsense about aiming to the top of the tower? You, who cannot even use magic!? ”
Yuin looked down on Lynn, as if ridiculing him with a smile.
Lynn couldn’t say anything in return and remained silent with a face red in embarrassment.
I shouldn’t have told him about that.
Lynn remembered that he was no more than a mere slave.
Even trying to become a magician seemed like a dream inside a dream.
The feeling of exhilaration that he felt when visiting the city of magicians for the first time was turning into a bitter one.
Lynn then decided to forget the conversation he had with Atrea, just like Yuin said.
The cage carrying the two of them continued to travel through the dark and winding path.
Next time, Episode 3 「Peculiar Interview」