“Come to think of it…” Theta trailed off and frowned. “…there was Evergrant, right? The Master of the Magic Tower at the time made him an exception, and then he became the royal chief wizard of the Avalon Empire. When Evergrant returned to the Magic Tower, he even became the Tower Master…”
Most of the mages in the room froze up. Some of them had actively supported Evergrant con Aswald when he had returned, but even after his death, he was considered a public enemy of the entire continent. He would go down in history for his evil deeds. Out of his own greed, he had conducted experiments on countless people on the continent and actually used the wicked undead.
“Why don’t we do the same? I’ll recruit Iceline zin Rebrecca as the new royal chief wizard of the Avalon Empire,” Joshua declared. A faint smile danced on his lips. “Lightning himself said that an exception is no longer an exception once it’s made, so there is no problem, right? We’re just following precedent right now.”
“Ugh…!” Parma the Lightning scowled. “Emperor of the Avalon! This is the Magic Tower’s business! An outsider shouldn’t interfere!”
Joshua immediately put his hand on Iceline’s shoulder. “She’s one of my people now. She is a citizen of my empire too.”
Parma was rendered speechless. On the other hand, Iceline’s face was as red as a beetroot. She fidgeted as Joshua’s remark echoed around in her head.
“Besides, I think it would affect our future business badly if you tried something funny with a citizen of the Avalon Empire,” Joshua said, his voice hiding a sharp edge.
“Ou-our future business?” Parma blankly repeated.
“Let me explain the rest,” Theta interrupted. “As you all already know, the Magic Tower isn’t financially well off right now. During the war, the mages who followed that crazy Evergrant stole all our money and artifacts.”
“Those mages wouldn’t have been ordinary supporters, so they must have been Evergrant’s accomplices—in making the undead, for instance…”
Once Theta mentioned the undead, everyone’s face darkened. The previous Master of the Magic Tower had studied the most taboo of knowledge, black magic.
“To cut to the point, we promised to supply the Avalon Empire with wizards since the Empire is in desperate need of them due to the fact that most of its citizens are knights. In return, Avalon is going to give its business exclusively to the Magic Tower’s mages,” Theta explained.
The other mages were shocked. While the Magic Tower had been dwindling, imitations like the Ivory Tower and the Knowledge Tower sprang up everywhere. Meanwhile, the Avalon Empire was going through the process of restoration after the civil war, meaning there were a ton of job opportunities. If the Avalon Empire gave all them exclusively to the Magic Tower…
“Do you get who is on the upper side now? Keep in mind that it’s a piece of cake for me to call off the deal,” Joshua remarked with a little smile.
Theta quickly caught on.
“My, my. Your Majesty, emperor of the mighty Avalon Empire, please reconsider that for the sake of your old friend!” he chimed in.
“Then shall I change the exclusive clause to nonexclusive? I think the Magic Tower is in a better state than I expected.”
“Come on—you came all the way over here, but you still haven't seen it? The ceiling of my room is leaking, and I don’t even have the money to fix it!” Theta cried.
“Do you need to, though? You don’t really hang around in that room.”
“I’m the Master of the Magic Tower,” Theta dramatically declared. “Please let me live up to that title.”
“Was my payment to the Magic Tower… three million gold?” Joshua muttered.
The other Seven Mages turned away from Lightning with wide eyes. “Th-Three million?”
That money was enough to fund the Magic Tower for at least a year, and the Tower Master and Seven Mages might be able to bring the mages back home—no, they would definitely be able to do it. The mages had joined other organizations because they couldn’t make ends meet in the Magic Tower, but the Tower would quickly regain its glory with a Class 8 mage as their leader.
“Eeek..!” Parma squeaked.
“Then are we done with this meeting?” Theta grinned and stood up. “If any of you have objections, speak now. I’m planning to reduce your research funding and salary first.”
Just as expected, no one raised their hand. The Magic Tower’s mages were already in financial trouble, so if their salaries got reduced any further, they would have to stop their ongoing experiments too.
* * *
Iceline was quietly walking under the full moon, but she kept glancing to the side.
A handsome—as if made by god himself—man was walking right beside her. Iceline had been dreaming about this moment, but she couldn’t say a word.
‘Why, why in the world am I feeling so nervous?’ Iceline thought, frustrated.
Even during her debut she hadn’t been this nervous. Her heartbeat thundered so loudly in her chest that she worried that Joshua might hear her. Iceline clutched her skirt.
“…Come to think of it, I haven’t even asked you about this.”
“Whaaat?” Iceline jumped in surprise.
Joshua tilted his head in confusion. “Are you feeling unwell?”
‘Argghhhh!’ Iceline was embarrassed to death by herself right now. It shouldn’t have been her first response in their conversation, so Iceline decided to be a little more brave.
“N-no, I’m fine,” she said. “But wh-hat do you mean?”
“About the royal chief wizard position,” Joshua clarified.
“I was wondering if I was actually causing you more trouble.”
Iceline quickly shook her head. “Not at all, Joshua—no, Your Majesty! I… was really grateful to you.”
“Let’s just go with ‘Joshua’ like usual,” Joshua said.
“Have you seen me worrying about formality?” Joshua asked.
Iceline’s eyes widened for a moment, and she smiled faintly. “You’re right.”
“So you want to revive House Rebrecca within the Avalon Empire, am I correct?”
“…Yes.” Iceline nodded determinedly. “While I was watching you, I became certain that I could do it.”
After accidentally confessing that she had been watching him, her face reddened.
“Yo-yo-you know… you’re an emperor! And becoming one was definitely not easy—no, I think it’ll go down in history. Definitely!”
“…Ha.” Joshua chuckled quietly.
“Huh? Why are you laughing? I’m serious right now.” Iceline pouted slightly.
“You’re cute. That’s all.” Joshua shook his head.
Iceline’s face couldn’t get any redder. After turning into a tomato, Iceline came to a halt. She realized that this was the perfect opportunity to give Joshua her gift.
“Hey, Joshua, I’ll give you this.”
Joshua’s eyes widened immediately.
The blue object that was shining brilliantly on top of Iceline’s hands was Aqua, the last primordial stone.
It can be hard to make great work when its stolen from bit.ly/3iBfjkV.
As soon as Joshua laid eyes on the stone, the other primordial stones inside him reacted fiercely. Since Aqua’s main ability was recovery, Joshua could assume that the stone would stabilize his power.
“Why are you giving this to me…?” Joshua cautiously asked.
“No specific reason. I just wanted to the moment I found out this was a primordial stone.”
“…You might regret it later. This primordial stone’s value…”
Iceline firmly shook her head. “No, I won’t. You’re more valuable to me, Joshua.”
Joshua silently examined Iceline for a moment, then nodded. “Do you want anything else?”
“I can’t receive such a treasure for free,” Joshua said.
“You really don’t have to—”
“No, I can’t. If other people find out about this, they’ll point fingers at me and call me a cheap emperor,” Joshua said mischievously.
“Then I’m fine with taking the position of royal chief mage…”
“You don’t want me to be called an emperor that takes bribes, do you?” Joshua quickly interrupted.
Iceline closed and opened her mouth several times. Something she wanted? Even though Joshua made the offer, she honestly didn’t have anything in mind—no, not nothing…
‘But I c-can’t ask for that…’ Iceline thought; she even started to fidget around with her fingers.
She’d resolved to be more brave, so couldn’t she try it first and regret it later? Besides, she didn’t really want to become the royal chief wizard anyway. The position she wanted more than anything else in the world was…
“I… am actually not interested in the position of a royal chief wizard,” Iceline cautiously began.
“Hmm? Is that true?”
“N-no, I’m not saying I don’t like the position, but…”
Joshua wasn’t sure what she meant. That makes Iceline more anxious. She had to tell him here and now that there was a position she really wanted. After turning down the position of a royal chief wizard by saying that she didn’t deserve it, she was going to confess her feelings in a vague manner, so he wouldn’t notice it immediately. However, she had to make sure he would eventually realize what she meant in the future.
The more she pondered, the more determined she became. Yes, she had already decided what she was going to say.
“Becoming a ro-royal chief wizard is too much… so ca-can I become a queen consort?”
Joshua gaped blankly at her.
Iceline didn’t realize what she had done for a moment, but she soon went still as a statue.
The embarrassment rushed in a second later and she ran away on her own.