Editors: Hocchibi, Miyuchi
Chapter 2: The Cat and the Dog
Simply put, the temporary instructor named Glen Ryders was unmotivated.
Inheriting the responsibilities of his predecessor, Glen had become the instructor of year two, class two for all required courses. Regardless of whether the course he taught was black magic, white magic, alchemy, summoning, holy literature, magic history, numerology, natural science, rune language, astrology, reagent studies, magic battle-tactics or magic tool creation… he would go about it in an arbitrary manner. No one knew why he decided to do such a thing, but everyone had the feeling that he was doing this on purpose.
Basically, in this academy that was filled to the brim with passion for magic and permeated with curiosity of the unknown, Glen was the only outlier.
As a result, great conflicts often arose between Glen, the students, and other professors. In particular, the class leader– Sistina – would ‘have a word’ with him every single day. Despite this, Glen’s attitude did not improve, but rather it was getting worse with each passing day.
In the beginning, Glen would occasionally explain some concepts from the textbook, and write down some important points on the blackboard; Lecture-like things. However, he seemed to have grown weary of this after a short while. So after that, he began to copy the textbook word for word on the blackboard. Then, when he grew tired of this, he simply ripped the relevant page of the textbook and taped it to the wall.
And finally, when he found even this task too troublesome, he decided to nail the textbook directly to the blackboard. By then, Sistina could no longer withhold her rage.
A week had passed since Glen began instructing, and this was his final lecture of the day.
“Can you cut it out already!?”
Sistina slammed the table and stood from her seat.
“Hm? Come on, I already dealt with it like you wanted me to right?”
<TL Note: いい加減 has multiple meanings; two of which are ‘Cut it out’ and to ‘get something over with’.>
Glen quickly dismissed Sistina, and continued on with his meddlesome task of nailing the textbook to the blackboard. The manner in which he held the hammer around his shoulder and the nail in his mouth made him seem like a DIY carpenter.
“Don’t use some distorted reasoning like a kid!”
Her rage growing with each step, Sistina marched towards the instructor’s podium.
“Now calm down a lil’ bit, you’ll grow white hair you know?”
“And who do you think made me angry!?”
“Look, your head is full of white hair at your young age… you poor thing.”
“This is silver hair, not white hair! And don’t look at me with such pity Ah, I’ve had enough of this! I didn’t want it to come to this, but if you don’t change your attitude, there are some strings that I can pull that will make you regret your actions.
“Oh? What strings?”
“I am the daughter of the magic house Phebell, which has some influence in this academy. If I had a word with my father, you’d be promptly fired from the academy..”
“Of course I’m for real! I didn’t want to resort to this kind of method, but if you keep up this attitude during your lectures—”
“Please tell your father I have high expectations for him!”
A sincere smile appeared on Glen’s face.
Sistina was at a loss for words.
“My—, Thank you thank you! This way I can resign before the month is up! White-haired lady, I give you my sincerest thanks!”
“People like you—!”
Sistina was unable to differentiate whether this man really wanted to quit being a lecturer, or whether he was disrespecting the power of the Phebell family.
In either case, Sistina could not allow herself to overlook Glen’s behavior. In the name of Phebell, she swore that she would not allow the man before her to sully the path of magic and her family name any longer.
Thus she quickly came to a decision. With Sistina’s young age and immaturity pushing her forward—
She removed the glove on her left hand, and threw it at Glen.
The fingers of the glove hit Glen in the face, before promptly falling to the ground.
“Will you accept this?”
In the silence of the classroom, Sistina’s words were sharp and clear.
The students who spectated the situation entered into a state of commotion.
“Are you… for real?”
Glen stared at the ground with an uncharacteristically serious expression.
Lumia hurried to Sistina’s side.
“S-, Sisti! You can’t! Apologize to sensei quickly, and take your glove back!”
However, Sistina refused to budge. Her heated gaze continued to pierce through Glen.
“…You, what do you want out of this?”
Glen narrowed his eyes and returned her gaze.
“I want you to revise your indulgent attitude, and take your lectures seriously.”
“…You don’t want me to resign?”
“If you really wanted to resign as an instructor, then that kind of demand is meaningless.”
“Ah so that’s how it was. What a pity. Since you made a demand, then I can make whatever demand I want you know? Did you forget this?”
Hearing this reply, Glen showed a sour expression. He seemed rather amused by this turnout.
“…You, are you an idiot? As an unmarried lady what are you saying? Your parents are gonna cry you know?”
“Even so, as the next-in-line of the Phebell family, I cannot ignore someone who dirties the path of magic!”
“Ah, it’s so hot… too hot. You…stop…I’ll melt…”
<TL Note: 熱い can stand for both ‘hot’ and ‘passionate’>
Glen pressed his hand against his head, seemingly fed up with the situation.
The onlooking students showed nervous expressions as they watched the scene unfold.
Glen gazed at Sistina. Though Sistina was currently putting up a strong front, in reality, her body had frozen out of anxiety. However, no one could blame her for such a reaction. After all, according to the rules of the magical rite that they would perform, she would have no choice but to accept Glen’s demand, no matter what it was.
Despite all this, Sistina faced Glen directly. In this confrontation, she staked both her conviction towards magic, and the pride of her bloodline. No matter who the judge was at the moment, all would say that Sistina Phebell – despite her young age – was a first-rate magician.
“My oh my, this kind of challenge, this kind of decrepit and outdated antique of a rite still exists huh… Alright then,”
Glen’s lips curved into a sneer. He picked up the glove on the ground, and threw it into the air.
“I’ll accept this duel.”
Then, in an attempt to look cool, he swung his hand up to catch the glove…and failed. With a hint of a foul mood, he picked the glove off the ground once again.
“However, I don’t really want to hurt a kid like you, so for this duel, we will only use the spell [Shock · Bolt]. No other spells are allowed. . Got it?”
An audible and synchronized gulp rang through the classroom as Glen explained the rules.
“The rules of the duel are decided by the receiving party, so that’s fine by me.”
“And, hm, if I win… gimme a moment.”
Glen eyed Sistina from head to toe. Then, he leaned his head forward and curved his lips into a crude smile.
“Now that I look closely, you’re actually quite the gem. Alright then, if I win, then you’ll become my girl.”
In that moment. In that one instant, Sistina’s body shivered; Lumia’s complexation turned pale, as if she was unable to breathe.
Sistina was mentally prepared for this kind of demand, however, she couldn’t help but feel a bit intimidated when she actually heard it.
“I-, I understand. I’ll accept this demand.”
Embarrassed by her own reaction, Sistina quickly composed herself as she uttered those words. Despite that, she still felt a bit doubtful, since she couldn’t take those words back after saying them.
Glen tried his best to keep a straight face as he saw Sistina desperately try to cover her anxiety and regret behind a strong mask.
Suddenly, he burst out in laughter.
“Wahahahaha-! It’s just a prank bro, just a prank! Stop looking like you’re going to cry would you?”
“I have no interest in kids, so my request is simply for you to stop lecturing me about every little thing. Now then, do you feel relieved?”
Hearing that, Lumia pressed a hand to her chest, and released a sigh of relief.
“Y-…You did that just to make a fool out of me!?”
On the other hand, Sistina, who realized that she had been toyed with, felt nothing but the desire to put down Glen once and for all. Her face was flushed in a state of uncontainable rage.
“Alright, let’s go to the courtyard.”
With that abrupt statement, Glen left the classroom.
“W-, Wait a second! Geez, I won’t forgive you anymore!”
Sistina hastily chased after Glen.
A duel between magicians. This was one of the magical rites that had existed since ancient times.
In reality, magicians were people who investigated the rules of the world, and through which, had managed to obtain great power. Through magic, a fireball could be created to flatten an entire mountain, or a bolt of lightning could be summoned to split the earth. If they were left unrestrained by society, entire nations would surely meet their demise.
That’s why there is an unspoken rule for solving conflicts between magicians; the duel. Since the left hand was closer to the heart, it was the more efficient hand for casting magic. Thus, when the glove on one’s left hand was thrown towards another, it would be seen as challenging another to a duel. If the challenged party decides to pick up the glove, the duel would be established, and if they didn’t pick up the glove, the duel would be called off. In a duel, the challenged party has the right to decide the rules of the challenge. The winner of the duel would be allowed to make one demand of the other party.
As one could see, a duel was far more advantageous for the challenged party. Therefore – unless there was an insurmountable difference in power – it was uncommon for anyone to ask for a duel. Since ancient times, this was the method that magicians used to settle conflicts amongst themselves.
However, due to the reformation of laws in the modern times, the rite of dueling had become nothing more than a mere formality. Modern magicians no longer needed to settle their differences through dueling, as hiring a lawyer and going to court was a far more efficient and pragmatic method.
Yet, to this day, there were some pure-minded magicians who still insist on enacting this ancient rite.
One, for example, would be the daughter of the revered Phebell magic family, Sistina.
In the academy’s courtyard, surrounded by coniferous trees, and standing on the grassy lawn—
Glen and Sistina stood ten paces away from each other and faced off.
“Hey Kaju, who do you think will win?”
“I really want Sistina to win… but her opponent is someone who was strongly recommended by Professor Alfornea…Mm~… What do you think, Sajil?”
When the other students heard that there was a duel between an instructor and student, everyone started to gather around the courtyard. The crowd of students had formed an improvised arena.
“Well then, come at me anytime.”
Glen snapped his fingers, and stared at Sistina with a confident expression.
On the other side, Sistina – refusing to relax in the slightest – put up her battle stance. A drop of sweat trickled down her forehead.
The black magic [Shock · Bolt] was the first spell that every student would learn in this academy. The spell fired a line of electricity at a target. Although it was a non-lethal magic that was primarily used for self-defense, it’s power was sufficient enough to cause its target to become paralyzed and unable to move..
As long as the incantation was completed properly, a line of electricity would emerge from one’s fingertips. Since [Shock · Bolt] was an extremely simple magic, the one who chanted it faster would win.
“Huh? What’s up? Are you not gonna come at me?”
Generally speaking, magic battles employed a strategy based around counterattacking. This was due to the abundance of counterspells in the modern day.
However, the man named Glen could only use [Shock · Bolt] in this duel, and therefore, this was a contest of raw speed. Despite that, Glen urged Sistina to make the first move.
There was only one way to explain Glen’s actions; He had absolute confidence in his casting speed of [Shock · Bolt]. In order words, even if Sistina chanted as fast as she could, Glen would still have the upper hand from cutting segments or stages from his chant.
From this observation, it could be inferred that Glen was probably a magician that specialized in magical combat. If one were to think about it this way, then the academy’s appointment of an insincere instructor like Glen would make sense. After all, how could a meritless magician become an instructor at this academy?
The ability to research magic and the ability to utilize magic were two entirely different skills. Looking back at history, there were a lot of low-ranked magicians that had an insurmountable might when it came to a magic battles.
“Oi oi, it’s not like I’m gonna eat you or anything. Just come at me however you like alright?”
From his calm demeanor, he seemed like a magician that had experienced a countless number of battles. Even though Glen’s behavior was unforgivable, Sistina was beginning to slightly regret her impulsive decision.
But I can’t back down now
Sistina glared at Glen, who remained calm and composed.
As long as I am still myself, I cannot allow myself the overlook the actions of this crude man. Even if I have to dirty myself, I will bring judgment upon this man. That is my pride as a magician… Let’s do this!
Steeling her resolve, Sistina pointed her finger at Glen and began her chant.
“<Oh the thunder spirits’ lightning>-!”
In that instant, a shining line of electricity appeared from Sistina’s finger, and rapidly approached Glen—
And he proudly received it—
A zapping sound reverberated through the courtyard.
Glen’s body convulsed, and he fell to the ground with a thud.
Sistina remained in place, her finger still outstretched. A sweatdrop could be seen trickling down her forehead.
In front of her was Glen, who lay paralyzed on the ground after being struck by her spell.
“A-, Ahh…it’s Sistina’s win…right?”
The spectators of the duel descended into confusion over the unexpected result.
The person who had boldly said those lines and acted so cocky couldn’t be this weak right? Was this person really a combat-specialized magician?
“C-, Could… I have possibly broken some rule?”
Seeking some form of explanation, Sistina turned her head towards Lumia. However, Lumia shook her head. She too was perplexed at how the situation turned out.
And then, Glen – having slightly recovered – unsteadily rose to his feet.
“You ambushed me before I was prepared…You did that, and you consider yourself a prideworthy magician!?”
“Eh? No, but you said that I could come at you anytime…”
“Well whatever, this is a best out of three anyway, so I’ll give you the first round. That’s enough of a handicap right?”
“Huh? Best of three? Was there a rule like that?”
“Well then let’s go! Round two! This time’ll be a normal showdown-!”
Glen loudly announced the start of round two.
Facing Sistina, who was still confused at this sudden development, Glen made the first move.
“<Oh thunder spirits · With a shockwave of lightning · Strike—”
“<Oh thunder spirits’ lightning>-!”
Sistina completed her chant before Glen.
Exaggerated zapping sounds escaped from Glen’s body, and he fell to the floor once again. Glen’s body convulsed as he lay on the floor. It was a perfect replica of the initial round.
“N-, Not bad…”
Glen staggered as he stood up. His knees were trembling, and thus, one could tell that he was merely putting up a strong front.
“Fu. Though this is a best of five, I was playing around a bit too much. I’ll need to reflect a bit.”
“Earlier, you said it was a best of three…”
As Sistina looked at Glen with amazement—
Glen suddenly screamed at the top of his lungs.
“Are you kidding me!? Why is the empress here—!?”
Sistina impulsively looked at where Glen was pointing to.
“Fuhaha, you fell for it dumbo! <Oh thunder spirits · With a shockwave of lightning · Strike it—”
“<Oh thunder spirits’ lightning>-!”
Despite the situation, Sistina’s chant was still faster than Glen’s.”
Glen rolled on the floor as he was electrocuted.
Sistina pressed on her temples and said:
“Uhm…Could it be that Glen-sensei…”
“G-, Go back to where you were! This isn’t over yet you know!? After all this is a best of seven-!”
“· With a shockwave of lightning · Strike i—”
“<Oh thunder spirits’ lightning>-!”
Again, Glen began his chant, and again, Sistina completed hers first.
Again, Glen was sent on a one-way trip to the floor.
And again, this monotonous task continued.
Though Glen had a colorful variety of crazy tactics, Sistina would complete her shortened and simplified chant first, each and every time.
And so, at the end of the best of forty seven…
“Sorry. I can’t go on anymore, please forgive me. I can’t even stand up. Anyhow, if we keep up this stupid play, I might not wake up tomorrow.
Sistina released a deep sigh as she looked down at Glen’s convulsing body,
“My—, the rule to only use [Shock · Bolt] is really super unfair isn’t it~!? Ah, if only that rule wasn’t there I would’ve won a while ago!”
“You really can’t stop blowing your own horn can you sensei?”
She had already become immune to Glen’s antics.
“By the way, you only used the three-stage chant… Could it be sensei, that you can’t use the one-stage chant for [Shock · Bolt]?”
“Fu, Fuhahaha! I-I don’t know w-w-w-what you’re talking about!? Also, using the one-stage chant for the spell is wrong! It’s disrespectful towards our predecessor’s efforts in crafting the beautiful chant! It’s not like I didn’t do it because I can’t!”
“So you can’t…”
Glen’s appearance was so miserable that even Sistina wanted to cry. She quickly recomposed herself, and returned to the original goal.
“A-Anyway, I won this duel! So sensei, you have to follow my demand starting tomorrow—”
“Huh? What dya’ say?”
Sistina froze as she heard Glen’s unexpected reply.
“What kind of agreement did we make? I really can’t remember at all~~~. You know, because I was struck by lightning from a certain someone~~?”
The man before Sistina’s eyes was far worse of a person than she had initially imagined.
Sistina was truly infuriated by Glen’s words.
“Sensei… do you mean to break the agreement between fellow magicians!? Do you even consider yourself a true magician!?”
“I mean, I’m really not a magician y’know?”
Glen announced that without a hint of shame.
Sistina was left at a loss for words.
“It’s pointless to talk about a magicians’ rules to a guy who isn’t a magician alright~. Y’know, I’m kinda distressed about this~”
“You, what are you saying…!?”
Sistina could not understand the man named Glen. She never thought that he – who had been trained and disciplined in magic – would deny that his own magical heritage. Did this man have no pride as a magician!? Does he not have any respect for the world of magic that was filled with endless mysteries and knowledge?
“So, on the account of today’s breathtaking experience, let’s call this a draw! I’ll let you go this time, but there won’t be a next, you got it!? Now farewell! FUWAHAHAHAHAHA—! Guh-!”
Due to the damage from the duel, Glen fell to the floor several times. Despite that, he ran off while laughing impudently .
He left behind an amused audience.
“What was up with that idiot?”
“To think that he isn’t even able to do the one stage chant for a simple spell like [Shock · Bolt]…”
“Fu, that was embarrassing to even watch…”
“Going back on an agreement between fellow mages, what a terrible person…”
As the surrounding people began to criticize Glen, Lumia – with a worried expression – approached Sistina.
“Are you alright, Sisti? Are you hurt anywhere?”
“I’m fine… but”
Though Glen had disappeared from sight a while ago, Sistina looked towards where he left with a stern expression.
“I completely misjudged his character.”
It sounded as if she was talking about someone that harmed her family.
Despite how Sistina acted, she had some respect for Glen; After all, Glen was technically her senior in the study of magic. Though he had a lousy attitude, she thought that, at the very least, she would be able to learn something from him, who was a fellow comrade on the path of magic.
However, this was the last straw. That man could no longer be forgiven, for he had insulted magic. As long as he remained in this academy, he would be her sworn archnemesis.
Lumia was at a loss.
Three days after Glen’s infamous dueling incident—
Despite everything that happened, his motivation during his lectures hadn’t changed at all, and the students’ opinion of him only got worse and worse.
Furthermore, it didn’t seem like Glen felt guilty about the incident. He merely continued through his day as he usually would.
Finally, his lectures officially became a free self-study period. With their strong motivation to learn, the students decided that – rather than waste their time listening to Glen’s lectures – it would be far more efficient to study earnestly from the textbook.
Regarding this, Glen didn’t have a single complaint. At some point, this kind of accommodation had become a mutual agreement between him and the students.
“Alright, class is starting~”
As usual, Glen arrived late to the lecture room. With the eyes of a dead fish, he began his unmotivated lecture.
The students sighed to themselves, opened their textbooks, and began to self-study.
While this scene wasn’t anything unusual, there were still some energetic and serious students that wanted to learn something from this unmotivated lecturer.
“Ah, uhm…sensei, I have a question about your explanation…”
About thirty minutes after the start of class, a small and petite female student timidly raised her hand. It was the girl that had been brushed off on the first day of class – Rin.
“Ah, what’s up? Tell me about it.”
“E-Erm…Ah…About the translation for the spell that sensei was talking about…”
As if dealing with a pest, Glen sighed. He dragged himself to the teacher’s desk and picked up a book.
“Here, this is a rune language dictionary.”
“This dictionary orders the rune language rank three and below by the order of their sound. By the way, the order of sound is…”
As Glen began to explain the way to use the rune dictionary, Sistina, who had resolved to cut all ties with Glen, stood up from her seat. Once again, she could no longer overlook his behavior.
“It’s pointless Rin, it’s a waste of time to listen to that man.”
Rin, who had innocently asked a question, was now stuck between Glen and Sistina.
“That man doesn’t understand anything about the greatness of magic, yet, he decides to mock it. He won’t be able to teach you anything.”
“It’s fine, I’ll teach you, so let’s study together ok? Just leave that man alone. Let’s work hard to discover the truth and magnificence of magic, alright?”
Sistina finished comforting Rin, and discarded her smile—
For some reason, the man seemed to be hurt by what she had said.
“Magic… is it really that great and magnificent?”
Glen murmured loudly to himself.
Of course, Sistina would not pretend that she didn’t hear what he had just said.
“Hah, and I thought you were going to say something important. Isn’t its greatness and magnificence a given? Of course, someone like you won’t understand that at all.”
With a sneer, Sistina completed her part.
Usually, the lazy and indulgent Glen would dismiss this by saying ‘Ah, is that so?’, and end the discussion there. However—
“What about it is great or magnificent?”
For some reason, he didn’t abandon the discussion.
Sistina was bewildered at Glen’s unexpected response.
“What’s so great and magnificent about magic? Tell me.”
Sistina felt slightly irritated at her inability to form a convincing response. In truth, she herself, and the people around her, had simply repeated the phrase ‘Magic is great and magnificent’ without really thinking about it. However, she did not want to admit that.
“Come on, enlighten me.”
But that was not the only reason for her admiration towards magic. Taking a deep breath, Sistina formulated an argument. Then, with an air of confidence, she said:
“Magic is the pursuit of the reality of the world.”
“The origins of the world, the structure of the world, the rules that govern the world – all of it can be explained through magic. It is the way through which we answer the eternal question of ‘why does the world and its people exist?’, and is also the way in which we may evolve into a higher form of existence. Magic is a methodology through which man can approach the gods. That is why magic is great and magnificent.”
Sistina felt that her response was more than satisfactory.
However, she did not expect Glen’s reply.
“…And how can it be used? Magic I mean.”
“What I mean is, how can magic be used after we bring the mysterious truths of the world to light?”
“D-, Didn’t I say that already!? So that we can become a higher existence…”
“What do you mean by higher existence? God?”
Sistina trembled in frustration at her inability to answer Glen’s question.
Glen, with an expression of annoyance, continued his inquiry.
“Anyway, how has something like magic brought welfare to the masses? For example, medical techniques can be used cure others of sickness, and metallurgy techniques can be used to create steel, right? If we didn’t have agricultural techniques, many people would die from starvation; and if we didn’t have construction techniques, many people would be unable to live leisurely. You see, the things in this world that are labeled ‘techniques’ are used to improve the welfare of the masses, yet, magic techniques aren’t used in such a way. Could it be that I’m the only one who thinks this way?”
<TL Note: ‘Magic’ is written as 魔術, 術 stands for technique.>
Glen wasn’t wrong. The only people that benefited from magic techniques were the magicians themselves. Since the masses were unable to use magic, they could not benefit from it. Though that was just stating the obvious, it was the primary reason that magic techniques were not applied to benefit the lives of the masses.
Furthermore, whilst the ideology of ‘unraveling the hidden mysteries of magic’ was one that every magician shared, pursuing such an ideology yielded no benefit for the masses. Therefore, to the masses, this kind of ideology was nothing more than a display of stubbornness. For most people, magic was a devilish, frightening, perhaps even occult power. Magic was something that the masses would never come into contact with, much less experience.
The harsh reality was that magic techniques were of no practical use to the people. Though this statement may have come from a rather extreme perspective, it was the undeniable truth.
“Magic… is not something that is used for a lowly purpose like ‘for the people’. It is used to discover the true meaning behind the existences of man and earth…”
“However, if it has no practical use, then isn’t it nothing more than a mere hobby? It’s a tedious task that brings no benefit to the people, therefore it is nothing more than self-satisfaction. Magic is nothing more than something we do for pleasure, am I wrong?”
Sistina gritted her teeth in frustration, yet she could not bring herself to object anything that Glen said. How could she be unable to respond to this kind of secular reasoning? Did she lose to the pressure behind Glen’s words?
As the next-in-line of the prestigious Phebell family, Glen was currently refuting the meaning of her life – which was devoted entirely to magic – yet she could not find the words to deny Glen’s claim.
His firm ideology was nothing less than an indisputable fact.
Cowed, Sistina could do nothing but shake in remorse…
“Sorry, I was lying. After all, there is a brilliant way to use magic.”
Sistina’s reaction towards Glen’s sudden change of heart was a given, but even the observing students – who overlooked the situation with bated breaths – opened their eyes wide in surprise.
“Ah, an amazing way in which magic can be used… is killing.”
Seeing Glen’s cold and emotionless eyes, and hearing the brutal argument that made itself known through his crooked lips, the students all froze in fear.
Glen’s presence… was the exact opposite of his slothful self.
“In reality, nothing beats magic when it comes to murder you know? In the time in which a sword can kill one person, magic can kill several dozen. Heck, one squadron of magicians can easily annihilate an entire division of elite soldiers. You see, isn’t this a brilliant way to use magic?”
“Stop kidding around!”
Sistina couldn’t pretend that she hadn’t heard what Glen said. It’s fine if he called magic worthless, but it was unacceptable for it to be called a method to commit devilish deeds.
“Magic isn’t something like that! Magic is—”
“Look at the current situation of this country would you? It’s called a ‘great nation of magic’, but what does this mean to other nations? Why do you think that dangerous group called the Imperial Court Magicians get a massive amount of national funding every year?”
“T-, That is—”
“Why does this ‘duel’ thing that you love so much have those kinds of rules? Why do you think that most of the elementary level spells that you learn here are offensive-type magic?”
“What did the magic that you love so much do during the ‘Magic Wars’ two hundred years ago? What did it do during the ‘Holy War’ forty years ago? Do you know about the atrocities that were committed using magic in the recent years? Do you know how many of these atrocities happen in our nation each year?”
“Now look, in both the past and the present, magic and murder have had an undesirable but inseparable relationship. ‘Why’ you ask? Rather than for the sake of the people, a bastard technique like magic evolves and develops only for the sake of killing people!”
Glen’s conclusion was rather extreme. While it was true that magic was one of the many ways to harm others, at the same time, that was not the only way to use magic.
However, in contrast to Glen’s usual idiotic expression, his current expression was seething with overwhelming hatred. The pressure behind it silenced the students, and none of them dared to utter a single word.
“Geez I don’t get you people at all. You guys are trying your best to study a technique that isn’t useful for anything other than killing you know? Instead of wasting your time doing this kind of thing, why don’t you guys seriously—”
A ‘slap’ cleanly resounded through the room—
Sistina, who had walked up to Glen, had slapped his face.
“Ow… you damn-!?”
“No…That…Magic isn’t… like… that…”
Noticing that Sistina had begun to cry at some point, Glen went silent.
“Why…did you…say such cruel things…? I hate… people like-”
Sistina ran out of the room as she wiped her tears on her sleeves.
All that was left in the room was an oppressive silence.
Glen scratched his head and clicked his tongue.
“Ah—, I don’t really feel like it anymore. Well then, today’s class is self-study.
He released a heavy sigh and left the classroom.
That day, Glen didn’t appear for the rest of his classes.
Afterschool. The sky was dyed with the gentle colors of twilight.
After the incident involving Sistina in the morning, Glen had ditched the rest of his classes, and spent the rest of the day on the academy’s rooftop. In this manner, he had wasted the entire day doing nothing in particular.
“…As expected, this really doesn’t suit me.”
He leaned on the metal railing, and looked blankly into the distance.
Just like before, Glen could see the entirety of the academy from the fifth floor of this luxurious building. The complex scenery of the campus was composed of the stone pavements, the floating courtyard, the ancient city-like other buildings, the medicinal garden, the mysterious forest, and the ancient ruins. There was also the transfer tower; a manmade construct whose juxtaposition with the natural scenery evoked a sense of marvel. Finally, there was also the phantasmal city that floated in the sky.
“Well, there’s no way this would suit me, I mean, getting someone who hates magic to become a magic instructor? What kind of stupid joke is that?”
Glen thought about the silver-haired girl that he gotten involved with ever since he became an instructor.
Her name was… what was it again…? It’s was… it was Sis…ah I don’t remember. Well, not like it matters anyway.
“Man, that white-haired girl slapped me hard… Good grief, she was that rude since the first day huh…”
If I remember correctly, I first met her when I crashed into her at the crosswalk.
“…Just what’s so great about magic? Is she an idiot?”
I only knew her for ten days, but I get that she’s really serious about magic. For the sake of learning about magic, she studies tirelessly and diligently day in and day out— but’s she’s blind to the dark and dangerous side of magic. All she admires is the ‘magnificent’ side of it. Things like ‘the truth of the world’ are just for self-satisfaction… In the end, she’s just a kid. But if I call her a kid, what would that make me, who snapped at a kid?
“…A kid as well.”
Maybe some part of me really admires that silver-haired girl. I admire her firm belief in the wonders of magic, and her willingness to devote the entirety of herself to researching it—
Because I don’t have a passion for anything.
“As I thought, I shouldn’t be here huh…”
To be honest, Glen no longer had the confidence to say those kinds of things to her again. Since he had a deep hatred for magic, he really didn’t care about what he said, but in the end, it wasn’t a good thing to vocalize this hatred in the presence of those that think otherwise. He could at least understand that much.
“I feel bad for Serika, but…”
Glen took out an envelope from his pocket. Inside was his resignation letter. It was a letter that Glen had written in secret, knowing that he probably wouldn’t be able to last a month.
At this moment, Glen had decided that he would somehow force Serika to support him for the rest of his life.
“Alright, when I get home I need to start practicing my dogeza. When Serika gets home, I’ll do everything I can to beg for her forgive me… forgive me for being unemployed for the rest of my life that is!”
As Glen separated his back from the railing – now possessed by the worst kind of motivation—
On either side of the main building were the east and west academic halls. So Glen – who was on the roof of the east academic hall – had a clear view t of the western hall.
He noticed a silhouette moving in one of the rooms through the window.
That room is the magic experimentation lab if I remember correctly, but there shouldn’t be any students there at this time.
“<Lead what is afar to here · My eyes that have become sagacious · Shall peer into the distance.>”
Glen closed his eyes and chanted the three-stage incantation for farsight magic—the Black Magic [Accurate · Scope]. In the next moment, the interior of the lab was projected on Glen’s closed right eyelid. It was as if he himself was inside the lab.
Inside was a lone girl.
“That gold-haired girl is…”
I remember now. It was the girl that was always stayed around that silver-haired girl like a little pup. If I remember right, that silver-haired girl called her Lumia.
“What is she doing there at this time of the day?”
Lumia was looking at the textbook. Using it as a reference, she used mercury to draw a circle on the floor, and a pentagram inside it. Then, she wrote runic words both inside and outside of the pentagram, and placed a magic crystal catalyst at the spiritual point of the formation.
It looked like Lumia was practicing how to draw magic circles.
“Hm? A revolving pentagram… that is… kinda nostalgic. I guess that’s a magic circulation formation?”
The magic circle wasn’t anything special. It was a simple formation that allowed one to see the flow of magic as it traveled through the formation. Though it was useful for understanding the concept, it was used solely for educational purposes. Formulating this magic circle without the use of reference material was proof that one had grasped the basics of magic circle creation.
“However, that’s no good… the seventh spirit point is open you know? Ah… the mercury spilled out… wha, that’s not the place where you put the catalyst… Oh, it seems like she finally noticed.”
It was as though he was looking at his past failures.
“Now that I think about it, when I was a kid, Serika and I used to play around with this a lot.
Thinking back, this was the first magic-like thing that he had performed. Although this was just a simple magic formation that had no effects in particular, for some reason, it made him feel excited when he had performed it as a kid.
Without noticing Glen’s peeping, Lumia continued to persist through trial and error, and finally, her magic circle was complete. Then, she chanted the activation spell, but the circle didn’t activate. Lumia tilted her head in puzzlement.
“Id-iot. That’s not enough for it to activate.”
Lumia compared the reference in the textbook to the formation countless times, and after a few adjustments, she chanted the spell again. Once again, the circle failed to activate, and she dropped her shoulders in defeat.
“…What a fool.”
Glen couldn’t bear to look any longer, and released his magic. He sighed and left the rooftop.
“Well, keep working hard, young one.”
Lumia jumped in surprise as the door to the magic experimentation lab was flung open.
On the other side of the door was Glen, who showed a neutral expression.
“This place is just as messy as before eh?”
He looked around the room as he murmured to himself.
It was a fairly spacious room. On the racks were skeletons, vials of lizard parts, magic crystals, and variety of other magic reagents. On the table was a parchment with a magic circle inscribed on it, a laboratory flask, and a piece glassware that twisted around like a coffee siphon. Further into the lab was a set of magic furnaces and an alchemical cauldron. Smelling the strange scent of the room, Glen felt a bit nostalgic.
“W-, Why are you here…?”
“That’s my line. Using the magic experimentation lab without authorization is a violation of basic principle you know?”
Glen felt that what he said was rather shameless. To turn in his resignation letter to the headmaster, he had to pass by this room; And as he passed by, he – for one reason or another – decided to take a peek through the gap of the door. As expected, Lumia had yet to find success and was in a state of distress. By then, without realizing it, he had flung open the door.
“I-, I’m very sorry about this! Actually, I’m not very good at magic formations, and haven’t been able to follow the recent lectures… Sistina usually teaches me how to do this, but she disappeared today… Since I wanted to review the topic… uhm…”
“So you snuck in here? But this room has a magic lock, so how did you get in here?”
“Eh, hehe… I kind of snuck into the office and…”
Lumia playfully stuck out the tip of her tongue, and took out the key.
“…You’re unexpectedly naughty aren’t you?”
Glen shrugged his shoulders in a somewhat surprised manner.
“Sorry, I’ll clean up right now! You can scold me all you want afterwards alright!?”
As she frantically turned around to clean up, Glen grabbed her arm.
“It’s alright. Just see this through to the end, I mean, you’ve gotten this far already haven’t you? It would be a shame to erase it now, right?”
“B-, But… It didn’t really work…and I was about to give up anyway…”
A depressed sigh escaped Lumia’s lips.”
“I wonder why it didn’t work? …It worked last time so… And I didn’t get the steps wrong either…”
“Idiot. You just didn’t add enough mercury.”
Glen picked up a jar of mercury and walked up to the formation. He raised the jar in the air, as if he was pouring wine, and squinted his eyes to inspect the formation. Then, he tilted the jar slightly, and without faltering, he poured the mercury. It trickled onto the formation in a fine line.
Suddenly, Glen’s hand began to move quickly. With mechanical precision, the line of mercury flowed cleanly onto the lines of the formation. There was not a single trace of doubt or hesitation in his movements.
Lumia’s eyes widened, and she held her breath as she looked at Glen’s movements.
“Those who get a teensy bit used to this begin to save too much on the ingredients, and as a result, the flow of magic through the formation is occasionally short-circuited.”
Glen put the jar down, and re-wore his left glove. Then, he placed his index finger on the mercury formation, and with deft movements, he shifted the mercury around in order to repair the essential parts of it.
“Despite how much attention you guys pay to things you can’t see, you guys fail to notice the things that are right in front of you. This is proof that you guys think too highly of magic… There we go.”
Glen stood up, and threw aside his left glove.
“Try activating this again. Say the full five verses written in the textbook. Don’t try to cut out anything alright?”
Lumia walked up to the formation again. After a deep breath, she began her chant. Her refreshing voice made it seem like she was singing instead.
“<Revolve · Revolve · The life of the beginning · The cycle of reason · Create the path>”
In that instant, the formation became white hot, and the room was enveloped by a white light.
Finally, when the light faded, the magic circle was activated with a high pitched ring. The unrestrained flow of magic through the circle emitted seven colors of light.
The seven lights that shone on the mercury created an illusory spectacle.
It was a mysterious visage—
Above all, it was an innocent and beautiful sight.
“Uwah… how pretty…”
Lumia stared at the spectacle, seemingly moved by it.
“My my… are you really moved by something like this?”
Glen coolly glanced at the formation.
“After all… I’ve never seen anyone’s magic circle glow so brilliantly… It was minutely detailed yet so strong… You’re amazing sensei…”
“Don’t be dumb, I mean, anyone can do something like this. In any case, most of the work was done by you, so it was probably due to the quality of the ingredients and catalysts that you prepared. Surely…”
Lumia noticed Glen leaving the room.
“I’m going home.”
“Ah…P-, Please wait a moment!”
Lumia frantically pulled on Glen’s sleeve.
“…What is it?”
It seemed that Lumia pulled on Glen’s sleeve without thinking, and her eyes appeared to turn monochromatic as she lost herself in thought.
“Uuhm…Right, sensei, are you going home now?”
“Hm? …I guess so.”
I was actually gonna go to the headmaster’s office to turn in his resignation letter, but I don’t really feel like going today. Well, I could always just do it tomorrow.
“Then, could I accompany you for a bit?”
Towards Lumia’s unexpected proposal, Glen raised an eyebrow.
“Uhm… I wanted to talk with sensei.”
“Well I don’t want to.”
Glen mercilessly shot her down.
“Is that so…”
Lumia, depressed, lowered her head and shoulders. Somehow, the way she looked gave off the impression of a dog being forsaken by its owner.
“I said that I don’t want you to accompany me, but…”
Glen felt a bit sorry. He felt like had seen an abandoned and pitiful dog, and now he couldn’t take his mind off it after leaving it behind. And so he muttered—
“if you want to follow me then do as you please.”
“Ah, …Thank you very much, sensei! Well, it’s slightly regretful, but please wait for a moment while I clean everything up, ok!?”
Lumia smiled happily, and hurriedly move to clean the room.
Seeing Lumia’s innocent behavior, Glen shrugged his shoulders.
“Uwah! Sensei, look at that!”
As the two walked on the main street of Fejiti after leaving the academy, they could clearly see the phantasmal castle in the sky.
The seemingly endless downhill street allowed a broad view of the sky and the town, and from here, one could see the entirety of the sky castle. Dyed by the pink sky of the sunset, the dignified castle shined like a golden flame. If anything, the sunset served to magnify its majesty.
“My friend really likes that castle. While I don’t have any interest in unlocking that castle’s secrets… after seeing how grandeur and pretty it looks… How should I say this? I would also like to go to that castle someday.”
Unlike Lumia, whose face was hot with excitement, Glen’s replies were cold and uncaring.
“It’s because of that castle that there are idiots that misunderstand the essence of magic. Geez, I can’t help but feel depressed thinking about it.”
Despite what Glen muttered, he was not criticizing anyone in particular, rather, those words seemed to be directed towards himself.
“Come on, stop looking around and let’s go.”
Glen stepped forward. Lumia hurriedly moved to follow him.
In this manner, two of them walked together along the street.
While it could be said that they were walking ‘together’, the reality of the situation was that Glen was walking ahead without a hint of courtesy, and Lumia was desperately trying to match his pace.
Although the street wasn’t quite as packed as it was in the afternoon, there were still a fair bit of people walking on the streets. Glen acted as if he was alone, and set his mind on avoiding the crowd of people.
“Sensei… you actually like magic don’t you?”
Lumia, who was walking alongside Glen, suddenly posed such a question.
“Why would you think that?”
“No, Uhm… That’s because when sensei was helping me with the magic circle… you looked like you were really enjoying it.”
Glen was at a loss for words.
I looked like I was enjoying it? Did I really show a happy expression? Just because I performed some magic?
“Hah… no way.”
Glen chose to avoid the question by laughing.
“You should know this by now, but I really hate magic. I wouldn’t enjoy something like that.”
“Hehe, is that so?”
However, Lumia gently smiled with a knowing expression.
Glen felt like he had been seen through. To him, this was a quite the unsavory development.
“But… Even if Sensei really hates magic, what you said today was too much you know? Sisti… You made someone like Sistina cry.”
So the name of that silver-haired girl seems to be Sistina.
“Apologize to her tomorrow alright? For Sistina, magic is an important bond between her and her grandfather. More than anything, Sistina really loves and respects her grandfather, who was a famous magician… ‘To someday become a great magician that won’t lose to my grandfather’… That was the promise she made with her grandfather before he passed away.”
“…I see. So I guess I did something terrible huh.”
Even if it was indirect, if I call someone whom they respect worthless, then anyone would be angry.
“That aside, what’s this? Did you invite me to walk with you so you could lecture me?”
“Ah, no… that’s part of it, but it’s not like that…”
As if rearranging her thought, Lumia stayed silent for a while after that.
“Uhm… could I ask you something?”
“It depends on what you’re asking.”
“Erm… Before you became an instructor at the academy, what were you doing?”
As if he had prepared his response in advance, Glen took a deep breath, proudly stuck out his chest, and announced.
“I was a NEET parasite.”
“Eh? A NEET? A parasite?”
“There’s a girl with a lot of authority in the academy named Serika right? She took care of me like a mother would when I was small, and borrowing that connection, I had her raise me all the way till now. Heh, amazing right?”
“A-, Ahaha…. Why are you so proud about it…?”
Lumia had no choice but to show a wry smile.
“But that’s a lie right?”
As to why she could refute him with such confidence, Glen felt a bit troubled.
“I’m not lying alright? Do I look like the kind of person who could work seriously? Serika provided for me for the past year you know?”
“One year… Then what did you do before that?”
“…Ah—, sorry, I just wanted a sound a bit cooler. To be honest, Serika provided for me ever since I graduated from the academy. My personality isn’t really suited for working you see, so ever since then, I’ve been searching for my true self or something like that…”
As if unwilling to accept such an answer, Lumia continued to stare at Glen.
“Ah—, that’s the end of unburying my dark history. The end! It’s my turn to ask you alright!?”
Although he wasn’t interested in Lumia, there was no other choice. He desperately wished to move away from the topic of his past.
“You guys, why do you pursue magic so desperately? Whether it’s that Sistina person or you, aren’t you guys a bit too serious about magic?”
“I said in class today that ‘magic is really just a meritless technique’ right? Even if we didn’t have it, there won’t be any real inconveniences, I mean, the more we use it, the worse things get. Why do you guys go so far out on your own volition?”
Although Glen had only asked the question to change the topic, the girl named Lumia – in a manner beyond his expectations – was pondering the question seriously. After thinking about it for a brief moment, she said:
“I don’t understand the motivation that pushes others to study and research magic… but I have my own reasons to study magic.”
“Hmm, Is it ‘that’? That thing about finding the truth of the world, or the origin of human evolution?”
“Ahaha, that’s not the case. After all, I won’t be able to work towards that kind of noble cause.”
For the first time, Glen had interest in this girl named Lumia.
“Well then, what motivates you to learn magic?”
“Let’s see… I want to use magic to help the people in the truest sense of word. For that purpose I want to deepen my understanding of magic.”
Glen felt that her words were an indirect criticism of his feelings of rejection towards magic.
“My my, are you trying to say that ‘the way to use power lies in the hands of the holder’? Something like ‘the sword does not kill people, people kill people’?”
“Yes, but… my belief is just a bit different from that.”
“Just like how you said today, sensei, magic that could bring harm to the people is better off not existing. If magic didn’t exist, then there wouldn’t be people hurt by magic. However, magic is definitely something that exists.”
“… I guess.”
“Under the pretense that it already exists, then it is unrealistic to hope for it to not exist. If that’s the case, then we have no choice but to think of ways in which we can prevent magic from hurting people.”
“But if we don’t understand magic, then we will never manage to find such a way. If we don’t understand magic, then it will forever be labeled as an unknown devil’s sorcery, a criminal practice, or a tool to kill people.”
“Basically… what you’re saying is that, rather than turn our eyes away from magic, we should wisely find the correct way to control it, right? That we should mobilize all the magicians for such a purpose, right?”
“Yes. Though, what I don’t know is how a mediocre magician like me can achieve such a thing…”
“You, so you want to be something like… an official in the ministry of magic, or a magic sheriff?”
“Eheh, I suppose so. To walk along the path I wish… That is my goal.”
Glen sighed, and tried to remonstrate this naïve girl.
“I’m just gonna say this, but it could all end in vain you know? No, if you work hard you could probably become and official, but your goal is too high of a hurdle. The darkness within magic isn’t something that one person could change.”
“I understand, but even so…”
“Why? Why do you choose to go down this unrewarding path?”
When Glen asked, Lumia showed a gentle smile towards him for some reason. Then, she looked into the distance with a nostalgic expression.
“I… have someone I want to repay someday.”
“Repay? What about that?”
“This was around three years ago. Back then, I was banished from my family due to some circumstances, so I moved into Sisti’s home. Something happened shortly after that, and my life was threatened by a group of evil magicians…”
“Despite how you look, you’ve lived a hard life huh? Anyway, did you say that you were banished by your family…? You, could it be that you’re the daughter of some powerful noble!?”
“Ah, no that’s not it! I don’t come from that kind of exaggerated family! Honestly! We were just poor! Poor!”
Lumia frantically thrust her arms forward to deny.
However, while it was normal for poor families to abandon their children during hard times, it certainly wouldn’t be called “banished”.
“Wait a sec… Now that I look closely, you…”
Glen appeared to have suddenly remembered something, and began to stare intently at Lumia’s face. The way he squinted his eyes made it seem like he was trying to look at something far away.
“…Sensei? Is something the matter?”
Then Lumia, with an expectant expression, returned Glen’s gaze.
“Ah no, it’s nothing… then? What happened after that?”
As if he wanted to say ‘how could that be possible’, Glen shook his head.
A trace of disappointment could be felt in Lumia’s sigh. Then, she continued her story.
“Back then, I felt insecure after being banished from my previous family… Thinking ‘why does this always happen to me?’ I cried and cried, and then I gave up… but then, a magician appeared from nowhere and saved me in the nick of time.”
“The heck is that? That guy was totally looking for that timing, and was totally just trying to look cool.”
“Back then, I was really afraid of the person who killed the evil magicians one by one in order to protect me. That person himself also said that it was his job to kill those magicians, yet every time that person killed someone, they showed a pained expression… Even so, that person fought to the end for the sake of protecting me. Even though that person did all that, I was so scared that I wasn’t able to thank them…”
“Though I only met that person for a short time… I really thought that they were truly kind at heart. That’s why – even though they were hurt by what they did – they could continue to fight for the sake of someone else. As long as evil magicians don’t exist… that person won’t have to show such a sad expression ever again…”
“That person saved my life. This time, I want to be the one to help him. I want to be to be in a position to guide those who are led astray from the path of magic back onto the right path, and in order to do that, I need to deepen my understanding of magic. If I can walk along this path… then someday, I will give my thanks to that person… That person, who showed me the light as I was alone in the darkness.”
Hearing what Lumia said, Glen’s shoulders began to tremble. Then finally, he burst into laughter.
“Ku-, ku-, ku-… Isn’t this too much? This kind of shocking development that surpasses those of popular fiction won’t sell you know? I mean, isn’t this a bit too cliché?”
“Perhaps, hehe. But isn’t there also saying where ‘reality is stranger than fiction’?”
Even though her firm beliefs were just laughed at, Lumia showed a gentle smile.
“Hah, that kind of saying doesn’t exist.”
After that, the two of them didn’t talk about anything in particular.
As usual, Glen walked at his own pace, and Lumia – who was in a good mood for some reason – chased after him like a little pup. Repeating this cycle, the two finally arrived at the crossroads where the two had first met.
“Ah sensei. I’m going this way, since I’m living at Sisti’s house right now.”
“Is that so? Well then, be careful on your way home.”
“I’ll be fine alright? It’s really close to here after all.”
“I see, but you never know when something’s gonna happen, so just be careful alright?”
“Hehe sensei, despite the way you act, you’re a worrywart aren’t you?”
“Idiot, that just means you’re someone I have to worry about.”
“Ahaha, I’ll be careful. Well then sensei, see you tomorrow!”
Glen – for no reason in particular – gazed at Lumia’s back as she ran off into the distance.
She turned around several times on the way, and happily waved her hand at him.
“…Is she a dog?”
He said so without any real intent, but it seemed to have led him to a rather interesting revelation.
If Lumia was a dog, then the girl called Sistina would be a cat. Ahh, I see, I get it now, that kind of haughty and dishonest attitude is totally like a cat…
And so, Glen ruminated over these pointless thoughts.
“But huh… despite how she looks, she really thought it through… that girl…”
For a while now, Glen had been thinking about what Lumia said.
“…‘No choice but to think’…huh…”
Glen took the envelope out of his pocket, and raised it into the air, as if he was trying to see through it.
“Now then… what am I gonna do…?”
Analysis: Magic as a Metaphor for Reality
In the light novel, Akashic Records of the Bastard Magic Instructor, the concept of Magic is utilized as a metaphor for reality. Using this metaphor, Glen Ryders represents the denial to accept reality, and Sistina, the innocent view towards reality. Through the interplay between the two characters, Sistina and Glen represent the realization of a harsh reality as one grows from child to adult.
The main character of the series, Glen Ryders, is a man whom is lacking motivation and desire to live his life to the fullest; and while, as of chapter 2, the reasons for it are unclear, it is likely related to his hatred of magic. Unlike what his age would suggest, his view of magic as ‘evil’ is fairly immature, but it most likely has something to do with his experiences in the past four years. Due to Glen’s desperation to escape his past, and thus, escape from magic, he serves as a character that represents the refusal to accept reality as one grows up from teen to adult. In Japan, this is a common situation that causes teenagers to become NEETs.
Sistina Phebell is a foil character of Glen, and embodies admiration and fascination towards magic. Her feelings and motivation towards magic are opposite to that of Glen; a childhood memory with her grandfather. In contrast to Glen, her view towards magic, and thus, reality, is completely innocent and unadulterated.
When Glen criticizes Sistina’s idealization of magic, he seems to understand that her dream towards magic does not match up to his knowledge of reality. The phrase ‘it made him feel excited when he had performed it as a kid.’, in conjunction with his cold view towards magic, suggests that he once shared the same ideals towards magic. However, unlike Sistina – since experiencing the reality (of magic) – he feels a sense of denial towards magic, and refuses to face it head on.
Overall, the interplay between two characters Glen and Sistina represent the growth of perspective towards reality as one ages from child to adult.
– Glen represents the sense of denial towards reality, as one grows up.
– Sistina represents the innocent view towards reality that one has as a child.
Thanks for reading!
Next week’s analysis will focus on Lumia, and the perspective of magic (and thus reality) as neither good nor evil. A hint would be how Lumia specifically used ‘evil magicians’ and not a more colloquial term such as ‘warlocks’ when she recalls the incident in the past. Why is the adjective ‘evil’ necessary?