Author: alyalia

Luize widened her eyes and shouted three beats late. “I won’t look!”


The knights who had been watching them coughed awkwardly and slowly moved away from their tent.


Robin, who had been observing from a distance, grumbled. “Even if you two have to share a tent, it’s not particularly pleasant.”


“…But you were the one who said we should share before.”


“That was because of safety issues, and this situation now just irritates me.”


Aiven chuckled at Robin’s pouty complaint of “Are you laughing at me now?!” Robin was soon drafted by Maxion for dinner duty and dragged away.


And so, night fell.


* * *

It was already the middle of autumn. At night, the forest felt the chill of early winter.


The knights lit a campfire, mixing slightly damp branches from the brief rain earlier. The fire didn’t blaze as fiercely as the night before, but it provided enough warmth.


Edward approached Luize, who was warming herself by the fire outside their tent. “It’s time to go to bed.”


“I’m fine. Elliot, you sleep alone. I’m several years older than you, so I’ll give you the better spot.”


“Did I even give up on being a gentleman?”




“Don’t worry, I won’t behave rudely. I’ll stay up through the night. I’m used to it.”


“Have you had insomnia since then?”


“It seems I still do seven years later.”




“That must be when it’s at its worst. The side effect of erasing those memories seems to have persisted until then.”


Edward threw another dry branch into the fire. Warm light flickered across his face, which bore a faint smile out of habit, though his eyes remained deeply serene.


“Then let’s stay up together tonight.”


“One of us should probably sleep. That’s why they operate in pairs, from what I remember.”


“Sometimes, what seems like an inefficient choice can lead to better outcomes.”


Edward looked at Luize curiously. She followed his lead and threw a branch into the fire.


“At least, this choice will give me enough courage to hopefully share the tent with Elliot tomorrow night without too much fear.”


“That’s wise of you.” Edward’s smile widened naturally.


As she predicted, Luize stayed up all night and fell asleep in the tent the following evening. Edward, who had expected to stay awake, lay down and watched her sleep across from him before unwittingly falling asleep as well.


“…That’s strange.”


Awakening refreshed, Edward met Luize’s gaze as she woke up after him. The two looked at each other disheveled and laughed.


It would take about five days to reach their next destination. The journey there was relatively peaceful.


* * *

Bailey Village appeared utterly ordinary on the map, unlike the village consumed by the giant mirror-shaped black magic they had seen before. It looked no different from any other village from the outside.


They looked around the outskirts of the village, but they couldn’t find any magic stones.


Maxion spoke up. “It seems this place isn’t related to the black magic.”


“Then that’s a relief.”


The 20-year-old Edward lacked the knowledge about black magic he had before losing his memory. He entered the village with a tense expression.


Villagers who glanced at the incoming knights saw the silver hawk emblem on their uniforms and widened their eyes.


“What an honor to have such distinguished guests! Our village must be becoming famous!”


“Well, it should be. Our village is now practically a treasure of the empire.”


“I wonder if the emperor sent them. Knights from the capital, how exciting. The silver hawk knights, then the man in front must be the famous grand duke, right? Ah, so dazzling.”


“I’d like to say cut it out, but he really is handsome… Surely they heard the rumors?”


While reactions varied, unlike in Servenia, the village was oddly lively. People carrying baskets covered in dark cloth were seen, but nothing seemed particularly suspicious.


Maxion decided on an inn for the knights to stay. As Edward approached a boy who stumbled out from an alley and dropped his basket, the black cloth fluttered in the air, and the contents spilled onto the ground. Edward quickly dismounted to help.


“Are you hurt?”


Ah, no, I’m fine.” The boy smiled brightly in response.


As Edward bent down to help pick up the items, his face turned pale upon seeing what had spilled.


Ahaha! You’ve seen it now!”


An old man with a beard appeared next to the boy, dressed in extravagantly mismatched clothes for his small stature and plain face.


“Our village’s specialty, memory-containing orbs!”


In his hand, a rainbow-colored sphere sparkled in the sunlight.


* * *

The old man introduced himself as the village chief. The knights received an inexplicably warm welcome as they entered the village. Proudly, the chief led them to the best inn in the village.


“The emperor himself must be keeping our village in mind.”


“There must have been something special here.”


“Indeed!” The chief’s voice rose with excitement. “One night, when the moon did not rise, a blessing from the moon descended upon us. Since then, people in our village wake up with orbs that contain memories beside them.”


“Memory-related magic is considered high-level. Were all the villagers wizards?”


“No, they’re just ordinary people. After receiving the blessing, everyone in the village wakes up with an orb beside their pillow if they sleep here. Even guests will produce orbs if they receive the moon’s blessing. One will appear next to your bed every day when you wake up. You instinctively learn how to embed and play back memories.”


“That’s quite remarkable.”


The chief nodded eagerly. “Yes! It’s all thanks to my diligent prayers for the village. I pray at the largest temple in a nearby village once a week. Being close to Perils, our lands are barren, and we lived in fear of becoming dragon’s wasteland, so our faith is strong. Of course, I can assert that our village is the most devout!”


“I see. I too am a devout believer, so we should get along well.” Edward smiled gently.


Delighted, the chief’s voice grew louder. “I’m so pleased to hear that even the Grand Duke is a devout believer! But it seems we’ve had no special visitors aside from those who stumbled upon us by chance, probably because the surrounding villages don’t believe in our ability. Anyway, those without power…” The chief’s face contorted with anger as he finished his sentence.


“We hadn’t heard rumors about this place before departing. When did these events begin?”


“Just about four months ago.”


“…Four months ago?”


“Yes! So, it’s understandable that it’s not well-known around here yet. By the way, in a week, there’s another day to receive the moon’s blessing. Would Your Excellency like to participate?” The chief widened his eyes, smiled until it reach the tip of his ears. It was a face filled with madness.


“Thank you. I would very much like to participate.”


“Exactly! It might feel a bit surreal just hearing about it, but once Your Excellency experiences it, you’ll have no choice but to believe. Hahahaha!” Laughing, the chief led the way.


* * *

The knights settled into the inn and rested from their journey. Some immediately followed Edward’s orders to scout the village, but aside from the abundance of memory orbs, they found nothing related to black magic in this peculiar village. The village was peaceful, filled with laughter.


Edward called Maxion aside after dinner. “Do you think this is all a coincidence?”


“I too find it suspicious.”


“It seems very deliberate. Just as I regain my memory, our next destination happens to be a place where memory orbs can be created. A concerning theory comes to mind.”


“Do you suspect all this is part of the emperor’s scheme?”


“I believe so. More precisely, it would be the work of the emperor and his close associates.” Edward spoke gravely. “The Emperor entrusted us with three tasks, excluding the Servenia matter. But considering the scale and method of what happened before and the Servenia incident, it’s hard not to think they’re related.”


“…Now that you mention it, that’s true. If they’re related, why did the emperor omit Servenia’s issue while entrusting the other matters to us?”


Edward thought for a moment before responding. “Because those deeds weren’t aimed at us. He probably hoped Servenia would seek help directly from him. If they did, and he solved their problem, Servenia would owe him. Then, he could use that as an excuse to bring them back to the capital for his purposes.”


“That makes sense. Moreover, the mirror building was designed to make anyone who left forget about the place due to the influence of black magic. It would have been hard to make it known to the world, so it doesn’t make sense that the emperor was aware of Servenia’s situation but not the place.”


“I thought so too.”


A shadow fell over their faces.


“Then, it means the current imperial family is in league with black magic.”


“Probably. But the plot was likely concocted by someone else. He’s not that smart.”


“If it’s someone else…”

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