To reach the city of Beirut from here, they would have to traverse the surrounding mountain ranges, cross along flatland and pass through several towns and villages along the way.
Veena spread the map out to check their progress, as she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes.
They were currently descending through the mountain pass in a horse-drawn carriage.
There were three people in the carriage, including Veena.
With her sat Yua and Veena.
Aria and her unit are also heading toward Beirut by another road.
(Really though, I wonder why transmission magic wasn’t working?)
Prior to settling on traveling by carriage, she made several attempts to travel to Beirut using magic. But, for whatever reason, the spell would always end in failure.
Yua tried to do it as well but met similar results.
She thought about using transmission magic to get to a village or town near Beirut, but that failed as well, so she resigned herself to traveling this way.
“Leena, do you know anything about it?”
Veena asked, but Leena shook her head.
“No, I don’t get it either.”
The two of them had been thinking hard about the cause, but neither had a clue.
She tried to look at Beirut using clairvoyance magic, but her vision was blocked by a mysterious mist.
It’s a strange sort of phenomenon.
Veena thought to herself, as she deactivated the magic sigil formed on her hand.
The invisible Sylph growled softly as they looked out the window of the carriage.
As they left the mountains behind, they passed through a forest and entered onto the plains.
Had they been waiting for them? The mounted knights surrounded the carriage like an escort.
“…So, they must have taken a faster route on horseback.”
As Yua slept on her shoulder, Veena spoke as she lightly adjusted the resting girl’s hair.
“Leena, is it fine for you to ride with us? You’re a knight as well.”
“Fu fu~n, I’m riding in the carriage as Yua’s escort, so it’s no problem.”
Leena puffed her flat chest out in mock pride.
“More importantly, Onee-sama. Aren’t you upset with me?”
Upset? Veena tilted her head.
“Why would I be upset with you?”
“Because I brought ‘mother’ to you.”
So that’s what she means, Veena thought to herself.
“I’m not mad at you. Besides, we’re talking about ‘that person’, if she didn’t reach me through you she would have just used some other means. There’s no limit to that person’s cunning.”
“Maybe, but Onee-sama was supposed to be free.”
Leena’s shoulders drooped sadly, and Veena smiled bitterly.
“Free, huh? It’s more likely that mother just made changes to the plan. If ‘that’ person sits on the throne, the kingdom itself will definitely perish. She might have her own plans for the succession.”
“Well… I guess that’s possible.”
Those two have known their mother since birth, but even they don’t know what she’s thinking most of the time.
They had never been able to see through her plans before. They were simply the most skillful pawns on her board.
Veena turned her gaze back to the spread out the map and ran a finger towards Beirut as if drawing a path.
As she did, a magic sigil appeared on the map.
It is coloured black but shines with a faint glow. Detection magic.
On the road to Beirut, she can’t know what awaits them. There may be a trap or ambush along the way.
So, she wants to investigate. But, almost as soon as the magic activated, the sigil on the map disintegrated.
“…It’s useless. Apparently, even detection magic is no good.”
“It’s possible that the towns and villages along the route have already fallen into rebel hands.”
Veena agreed, then turned her eyes to the knight just outside the carriage.
“The fog is getting thicker. Let’s break for a while.”
Fog? Veena looks around. The sky was clear, and the sun was shining. There’s no fog anywhere.
When Veena said as much to the knight, she got a confused response of “Huh?” in reply.
“What do you mean… Oh, of course. So that’s how it is. Veena, it seems like this area is already occupied by the rebels.”
Veena is still completely confused by Aria’s words and turns to Leena for help.
“Ah, that’s right, Onee-sama doesn’t know about Captain Aria’s singular sorcery. Captain Aria is able to see magical power as colours.”
“As a colour… How convenient.”
Even if she could feel it so to speak, it was something vague. In that way, magic was a sort of sixth sense.
Possessing the ability to clearly distinguish magic would be very useful.
Veena is convinced, and looks back towards the knights.
She might be simply doting on her sister, but in her mind, Leena is far too skilful to be a mere Vice Captain, she should have been made Captain straight away. But, for some reason, Leena was placed as a subordinate under Captain Aria.
She didn’t really understand it until just now.
Veena closed her eyes and tried to grasp the magical power in the air around her. There was indeed a trace amount of magical residue left.
(She noticed it far before I ever would, I think I understand why mother wanted Aria to accompany us. She certainly has her uses. But…)
Once everything is over, she will inevitably become an obstacle.
(If possible, I’d like to take care of her before then.)
If Aria is removed, Leena will inherit the position of Captain of the squad. That would make it easy to control the other knights, potentially even being able to use them as pawns.
As she thought that, Yua who she thought was asleep gripped the sleeve of her dress.
“Veena-sama, your face looks a little scary. What are you thinking about?”
Yua whispered with a worried expression.
Not wanting that innocent girl to know anything about the dark thoughts she’s having, Veena responded with “Well, I’m just thinking about what comes next.”
Unlike Yua, Leena understood exactly what her sister was thinking. “That’s right, Onee-sama”, she said quietly and looked at Yua. For some reason, she had a triumphant look on her face as she did.
A face that seems to say that she’s the only one who truly understands her sister. And, as if Yua was moving to counter it;
“What comes next… We should think about that together.”
“Why do I have to ride in the carriage? And having to be together with that woman…”
Aria stepped into the carriage and sighed after Leena used magic to transport her horse back to Takrath.
Veena smiled wryly, it seems she is still utterly despised.
Although they have joined forces for now, that doesn’t change the fact that they are enemies.
“It can’t be helped. You can’t see anything right now.”
“It’s not that I can’t see. Rather, I can see too much.”
Aria leaned against the wall of the carriage and murmured.
The magical power in the air around her has dyed the world white like a deep fog, and she can see three different colours of magical reaction in front of her.
The raven black magic is Veena, the luminescent silver is Yua, and the shade of purple so deep it’s almost black is Leena.
(This sight really can be troublesome sometimes.)
Aria kept her hand on the hilt of her sword as she thought to herself.
This is the downside to her magic.
Aria’s magic is based on her having a condition known as a ‘Magic Eye’.
It is always active, without the use of any magical spells. It’s something more akin to a talent than magic.
Depending on how much it’s being used, a Magic Eye will still use magical energy.
Since Aria’s Magic Eye isn’t focused on combat, it consumes a lot less magical energy than others.
“You’re still so hostile to me. Why not try to hide it at least a little?”
“I’m not being hostile, I’m just being vigilant. As a leader, it’s my duty to be wary of dangerous individuals.”
What a thing to say, looking like you’re ready to swing that sword at a moment’s notice.
No matter how you look at it, she’s on edge. She had every intention to unsheathe that blade if Veena made a single sudden move.
Has she already forgotten her previous defeat, or is she confident there won’t be a second time?
“Fine. Then please remain as vigilant as you like.”
“Yes, I intend to.”
In that way, the tense atmosphere in the carriage continued.
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