'She's coming.' Theo moved his body as soon as his senses noticed it.
He took two steps to the right, and a terrible thunderbolt struck where he had just been standing. His body moved in a way it wouldn't have been able to a fortnight ago, while his sharp five senses read the movement of mana and squeezed out the magic formula one step ahead of his mind.
It was followed by a fearsome rain of fire arrows.
Theo took one step forward and triggered the water skill. He was already in a state where Battle Song was helping him. Just like a dancer, he moved through the arrows while kicking and blocking things with his fist. They were natural movements but they seemed like clothes borrowed from someone else.
'Battle Song. Rhapsody of Power. Mezzo Forte.'
Theodore's fist filled up with magic power, and he hit a fireball.
Some of the embers from the scattered fireballs hit his face, but Theo watched Veronica's movements without moving a single eyebrow. It was because missing her position for a brief moment would lead to defeat.
However, Veronica surpassed even that level of concentration.
"Are you looking at an illusion in the distance?" As Veronica's voice rang out behind Theo, a chill ran down his spine. He had missed the moment she used illusion magic when he had been intercepting the fire arrows and fireballs. The shape in front of him was just a refraction of her heat.
'This time, it is only up to here.'
The intervals and timing… Theo couldn't see a way out.
The heat burst. He had predicted the fireballs thanks to the movement of mana. It wasn't a conventional Blaze Shell, but there was no way to stop it at this distance. He had already used the Protection skill a long time ago, and even if he combined Battle Song and Shield, he couldn't avoid the situation.
The moment he tried to open up Shield with a bitter smile…
There was a strange sensation in his body, like a misaligned cog clicking back into place. The uncomfortable magic power flow stopped, and the 5th Circle started rotating with the other four circles.
Theodore felt this and unconsciously completed the formula for the 5th Circle defense magic, Protection.
The wall of blue magic power completely blocked the fireball.
Theo couldn't help smiling at the successful defense, and Veronica grabbed him with a bright smile. She realized that Theodore had completely crossed the threshold to the 5th Circle after using Protection.
"You succeeded! Well done Kid!"
"T-Tower Master. Please let go."
Veronica wasn't wearing a robe, so Theo's head became empty at her touch. The skin moist with sweat caused him to feel dizzy.
However, Veronica didn't know what was going on in his head and smiled playfully. "When we are in private, shouldn't you call me 'Sister'? At any rate, the disciple is stubborn, just like his master. This is the last time I will play with you. I'm a little sad."
She had left her position for a fortnight to be Theodore's opponent. In a sense, one of the greatest magicians in Meltor had acted as his private tutor. It was huge when he thought about how he couldn't even afford a single bottle of magic reagent.
Yet, right now, someone this great was asking him to call her 'Sister'? Just as Theodore opened his mouth hesitantly to speak…
"Tsk, there are guests who can't read the atmosphere." Veronica sensed someone approach and moved Theo to an angle in which he wouldn't be visible.
A white robed man from the White Tower hurriedly entered Pentarium and bowed to her.
"Tower Master! There is something urgent that you need to look at!"
"At least the 4th grade of importance."
"…Oh, that is vaguely high. It can't be helped."
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She would've ignored it if it was the 5th grade, but Veronica was forced to release Theo. Theo was filled with some regret, but his eyes shook at the next words.
It was because she was giving him an order with a serious expression. "Follow me. I may need your strength."
The missions given to war mages and the Red Tower were fundamentally militant.
If it was a mission which involved 'fighting', most magicians would be dispatched from the Red Tower. They were for sent when there were appearances of strong monsters or groups of criminals, or to destroy forces preparing for a revolt.
Therefore, the Red Tower had introduced a policy with two classifications for the missions: the degree of risk; and the degree of importance.
Veronica walked in front of him and explained, "The elder lich that you dealt with in your hometown is 3rd rank in terms of risk, but his importance is unexpectedly low at the 4th or 5th rank. I could handle it without any difficulty. At most, one or two territories would be lost. Oh, grimoires are an exception."
"One or two…"
It sounded scary from the point of view of those territories, but it wasn't such a big deal when looking at the whole country.
According to her, the 1st rank importance was assigned to things like a massive rebellion, invasion from a hostile nation, or the assassination of the king. 2nd rank was associated with large-scale epidemics, natural disasters, and disasters such as a monster wave.
"Then what is the 3rd and 4th rank when it comes to importance?"
"It is simple. Issues that might become the 1st or 2nd rank. But most of these cases can be solved with violence. They are things that we can handle with strength."
Veronica kicked the doors of the tower master's office with a frown. The door was made for such an situation, so it swung open and they entered. The door knob seemed to have no meaning, but nobody cared.
She sat down on her chair and looked at the intelligence member. "Now, let's hear the report."
The magician in the white robe read out the report like he had been waiting. "It was three days ago. Agents of Earl Bergen intercepted talks of 'slavery' while they were watching some merchants. The name of the organization is [Shackler], an organization that is active in the Austen Kingdom."
"Slaves? They didn't hear wrong?" Veronica expression showed that she didn't understand.
It had been 100 years since the great powers in the northern part of the continent, the Andras Empire and the Meltor Kingdom, banned slavery. The knights and magicians had taken action, and the slave trade dried up. Families associated with slavery were destroyed, and those who gained wealth from it became cold corpses in the morning.
The policy remained even now, and few idiots tried to use the Meltor or Andras countries as intermediaries. The intelligence agent from the White Tower nodded in agreement. "I have reviewed this a number of times before telling Tower Master… They truly are slavers. I saw them smuggling several human sized barrels."
"They must want to be killed… Then we will kill them." A creepy killing intent filled Veronica's gold eyes.
Slavers were absolutely not allowed to step foot in Meltor.
The role of the Red Tower was to annihilate any harmful existences to Meltor. No, slavers were just vermin who couldn't be allowed to exist. It was best to kill them right away, without bothering to capture or arrest them.
If this was true, then the importance was at least the 4th rank.
"The species of the slaves being traded?"
"I knew it. If it was just handling human slaves, then the importance would only be at the 6th rank."
The elf species, with their beautiful appearance and long life span, had been popular as pets for the powerful since a long time ago.
At one time, there had been large scale hunting of all elves on the continent. It was to the point where they had been at the risk of becoming extinct, and the rage of the elementals had brought the country into disarray. However, the human greed still hadn't faded.
Therefore, the elves had decided to make their own country separate from humans. The elv es gathered their strength and established a country called Elvenheim, located deep in the northern mountains.
The environment, which humans couldn't easily approach, was a paradise for them. The slavers didn't dare approach the large group of elves. Rather, they were frequently beaten by the elven warriors dispatched to liberate the slaves.
Since then, the sale of elven slaves had become a taboo on the entire continent. However, the number of humans who wanted elf slaves were still too high to be counted, so slavers continued to meet the demand in the shadows.
"…It is a long awaited chance to gain some favour with Elvenheim. You figured out the power of [Shackler], right?"
"Of course." The white robed magician respectfully placed the scrolls on the table.
It seemed he was hesitant to speak in front of Theo, who didn't have any relation to the the mission.
Veronica then opened the scroll with a chant. She frowned as she finished reading the contents. "I can't believe it. Did they bring five senior aura warriors? It means the organization has a large stake in this deal."
The power of the force the slavers brought was enough to sweep away a small or medium sized estate. The price of elven slaves were high, but was it worth bringing so much power?
Frankly, Veronica was skeptical. If this power was to be wiped out then the organization [Shackler] would be almost destroyed.
'Those guys won't do anything that will lose them money. It can't be.'
There was something fishy about this. They didn't need to take such risks for something like the simple sale of elves. It seemed like there was another purpose. The intelligence network of the White Tower didn't seem to have penetrated to this extent, but there was a question at the end of the report about the unsustainability of this venture.
It seemed like Veronica would have to increase the power of the magicians who would be sent. She set the report aside and pressed the bell on her table.
Chaeng! The bell rang through the tower, and a clear of the Red Tower ran up from the bottom of the tower.
"Did you call, Tower Master?"
"I need at least two Superior magicians. Call all the people remaining in the capital right now."
"I understand." The clerk pondered for a moment before his face suddenly turned pale.
Veronica saw his look and frowned. It was clear she wouldn't receive a satisfactory answer from such an expression. Unsurprisingly, the clerk spoke in a small voice like he wanted to crawl into a mouse hole, "T-Tower Master, there is only one Superior war mage left in the capital right now."
"Who is it?"
Theodore flinched as he suddenly heard his teacher's name. However, Veronica's face distorted as she asked, "What about our veterans?"
"Only Herman remains."
"He can't fight because of an injury. Damn, there is too much work these days, so my hands are twisted like this. I can't take people from the other towers."
It was different if it was a monster subjugation, but it was hard to hand the task of killing people to magicians from another tower. Their minds wouldn't be prepared, and they didn't know the tricks.
If they were experienced veterans, then it would be okay. However, it would take a while for the request to go through. She needed to find a candidate who could be dispatched immediately.
"The remaining ones?"
"There are 23 Average ranked magicians… Most of them have recently upgraded while the rest have started missions already."
"I can't use them. Don't bother telling me."
She bounced her fingers irritably for a moment before shaking her head like it couldn't be helped. Theodore stood awkwardly before that golden gaze.
"Call Superior Vince Haidel to me right now. Vince Haidel and Theodore Miller will be given this mission. Also go to Shugel and request a transfer with space magic."
The magician didn't dare refuse and ran out of the tower.