In the end, Raishin’s game of hide and seek with Yaya continued all the way to the physics faculty building.
Upon reaching the entrance, the both of them sank down onto the floor.
“Why are you running away, Raishin..?”
“Because you’re chasing after me!”
“But that’s because Raishin ran away first!”
They both spoke in between gasps for air. As their voiced died down and their breathing became regular again, their ears were assaulted by a deafening silence.
The lights were all out. As expected of the current time, there wasn’t a single soul in the hallways.
Raishin stood up and started to walk down the hallway, relying on his fuzzy memory to guide him.
Going up the stairs, he reached the topmost floor, which was set aside exclusively for the professors. He could feel the presence of others, but surely they weren’t spirits and just enthusiastic researchers… right?
Walking down the faintly illuminated hallway, he stopped in front of a certain room.
He checked the name on the plate. The name of the girl he wanted to meet was inscribed upon it.
Knocking on the door, there was a muffled “Enter”, and Raishin opened the door.
Stepping inside, if he had to describe the room in a single word, it would be a ‘nest’.
The room was in a total mess. Even though the resident of the room was best described as an orderly person, there were stacks of academic journals piled up high everywhere. Documents and notes were scattered about. There were bookshelves as well, the books not only placed vertically, but some were turned horizontally and crammed into any empty spaces. There were so many books some of them had been stacked atop the sofa.
“What do you want at this time of the night?”
Spinning around in her chair, the owner of the nest— the room turned to face him.
White coat and red hair, it was Kimberly the professor.
“I have something I need to ask the professor about.”
“So, you’ve finally awoken to the joys of studying— like that’s even possible. Well, I was expecting you to drop by sooner or later anyway. Have you recovered already?”
“Yeah. I’m completely fine now.”
He laughed like his lie had just been exposed. However, Kimberly chose not to lecture him on his recklessness.
“Let’s hear your question. Yaya. There’s a pot over there you can use to make tea.”
The pot was on top of the table. Pushing aside the cans, bottles and boxes of snacks that were on the table, Yaya carefully retrieved the pot so as to not topple over the mountain of books.
“Have a seat, Second Last. —So, what is it?”
“While you’re a professor at the academy, you’re also someone from the magic association.”
Taking a seat on the dusty sofa, he opened with a surprise attack-like statement.
“The reason why my illegal excursion was covered up and Frey and Loki’s automata not confiscated was thanks to you, wasn’t it?”
“I don’t see any point in hiding it now. However, it’s not knowledge I’d like to be carelessly thrown about. If you leak my secret, you can expect all the same favours I’ve been giving you to dry up.”
“I’m in your debt. Therefore you can rest assured it’ll go with me to my grave.”
“Oh, how admirable. That’s so unlike you.”
“It’s totally like me. As you can see, I am a man of honour.”
“I wish you’d take that attitude and apply it to your exams.”
Raishin made a face that looked like someone had just crammed his mouth full of mustard.
“Continue. What is it you want to ask me?”
There was a sharp gleam in Kimberly’s eyes. Raishin felt like he didn’t need to waste time on a preface with her. Jumping straight to the point, he asked her,
“Is Charl being controlled by someone?”
“Oh? You don’t think she destroyed the clock tower of her own volition?”
“She’s excessively violent, tends to overdo things, and frequently relies on Sigmund’s strength.”
While staring straight at Kimberly, Raishin continued with conviction in his voice.
“But she isn’t the sort who would use Sigmund’s power to kill!”
“… But those are the facts of the matter. Charlotte was the one who destroyed the clock tower.”
“How many deaths were there?”
“Thankfully, zero. But there were a number of injuries.”
“See, she isn’t the sort that would kill… So, who was the target?”
“You’re being unusually sharp today. We’re still in the middle of investigating, but most likely—“
She drew slightly closer to him and lowered her voice to a whisper.
“It was the headmaster, Edward Rutherford.”
Raishin’s eyes widened in shock. Even Yaya, who was bringing tea over, gasped in surprise.
“… Does Charl have some sort of grudge against the headmaster?”
“Nope. It’s most likely as you said, someone is using her.”
“Who do you think it is?”
She answered his question with another question. Kimberly looked like she was trying to test him.
Raishin had no idea on the inner workings of the academy. But Kimberly didn’t seem the type to set unanswerable questions. In that case, did he already know the answer…?
Raishin was deep in thought. If the headmaster were to die, who would benefit the most?
Within the scope of his limited knowledge, the only one who could possibly be bearing a grudge against the headmaster was—
“Felix… I see, the Kingsfort family…”
Kimberly grinned like a cat, nodding in satisfaction.
“That’s an extremely possible theory.”
“But that’s ridiculous!”
“That’s not true. For example— during the afternoon ceremony, a secret messenger from the Kingsfort family snuck in and had a secret meeting with the headmaster.”
Kimberly’s affirmation must have had a hidden meaning behind it.
“A secret messenger… what’s that?”
“As its name implies, it’s a messenger carrying a secret communique. Recently, there has been a lot of conversations going on behind closed doors. It looks like something happened between the British government and the headmaster.”
“… No matter how you look at it, that’s strange. If they were to target someone, why not target me?”
The person who brought shame to the famous house of Kingsfort was Raishin. Instead of killing the headmaster, it would be better if they ordered his death instead, thus getting revenge no both Charl and Raishin at the same time.
“That’s too simple for revenge.”
Playing with her cup of red tea, Kimberly rebuked him.
“Listen closely, Second Last. Unlike you, who are driven by emotion at any given time, adults first evaluate something before deciding whether to act.”
“… What’s this something?”
As vulgar as it sounded, she was absolutely right.
“If they were to kill you, they would be able to pull it off without any trouble. However, doing so will not profit them whatsoever. If you were Kingsfort, what would be the number one thing you wanted the most?”
“Exactly. Restoring the honour of their name means that Sir Walter will be able to renter the political world. In order to do so, first they have to ‘erase’ the reason for their fall.”
He understood. If he looked at the chains of events leading up till now with this new viewpoint in mind…
“It was the headmaster who denounced Felix as Cannibal Candy.”
“That’s right. It might have been my analysis that confirmed it, but the person who exposed Felix’s crimes and publicly denounced them was the headmaster. Even my judgment is now being said as to have been influenced by the headmaster’s intentions.”
“So if they can’t buy him off— they want to erase him and spread a conspiracy theory? That’s stupid. Assassinating the headmaster is the same as admitting their guilt.”
“The point is to make something that was black and white into a grey area, even if they have to resort to crude and rough measures to do so. In fact using rough method may be even more effective in terms of silencing the cowards out there from raising suspicion.”
Raishin ground his inner teeth. This was unpleasant to admit, but justice had no power in this world. Instead, the ones who had power were considered justice.
“The Kingsforts are renowned as philanthropists, and they’re a well-liked family. On the other hand, ever since that scandal a few years back, the Belews have been a despised house—“
“You didn’t know? During a hunting trip with the crown prince, the count’s prized dog automaton ran wild, and mauled prince Edmund to within an inch of his life.”
“The Belew house is an enemy of the Royal Family. Also, public opinion can be so fickle. Show the slightest hint of inconsistency, and they’ll fill in the rest of the blanks with that they want to think.”
“On top of that, if Charl was exposed as the culprit…”
“It would be a complete reversal in terms of who the villain is. If you can make the people who wrote about the scandal look like ‘tabloid hacks who spewed rubbish’, then all their political opponents would become ‘fools who got manipulated by the media.’ Kingsfort would be able to silence dissenting voices across the board, and return back to their social position and possibly bloom even brighter than before.”
Raishin clenched his fists so hard his nails dug into his skin.
His powerless felt like a punch to the gut. He finally realised why Shouko had forbade all his actions. Raishin was merely a small individual. A helpless and weak existence.
Watching him with a cool gaze, Kimberly coldly spoke.
“Second Last. Wash your hands off this matter.”
“Don’t let the blood rush to your head. You’ll end up making bad judgements. Eventually, one of those bad judgments will end up costing you your life.”
“How can I back out now!? If the Kingsforts are making their move, all the more reason for me to—“
“I despise idiots. You still don’t get it? I’m telling you, you have no evidence to back it up.”
Raishin felt cold sweat pouring down his head.
She was right. There wasn’t even a shred of evidence that could link the Kingsfort family to this case, and there was no evidence that Charl was being controlled either.
“What I’ve just told you is merely conjecture. If you stirred up an incident just because your emotions got the better of you, then you’d put the Belew sisters in a disadvantageous position. Do you understand now?”
“Go cool your head off, and act more like an adult. This is no time for childish behaviour.”
“… In that case, its fine as long as I have evidence, isn’t it?”
Their gazes clashed.
Kimberly looked at Raishin, who was looking straight at her, like she was trying to ascertain something. Finally,
“That’s right. If you had evidence, then there would be no problem.”
She laughed as she spoke in an instigative tone of voice.