Zich swerved his pen in all directions while humming. From behind him, Lyla looked at the unfinished letter that Zich had written.
“Is there something you want to request from the magical tower? Tell me if you want anything—like money, magic circles, or treasures. You can even ask the master of the magical tower to dance in front of the tower under the bright moon. After all, we have his granddaughter’s life in our grasp.”
“There’s nothing. And what is the point of blackmailing them for something like that?”
“…You won’t be able to die an easy death.”
“Even if that happens, I don’t intend to give up my way of living.”
“Don’t try to frame your trashy behavior as some kind of philosophy of life.”
“Lyla wishes to pass on, ‘Don’t try to frame your trashy behavior as some kind of philosophy of life…”
“What are you writing!”
Zich quickly evaded Lyla’s hands. His movements were surprisingly fast and nimble . Lyla moved her hands a couple of times, but Zich avoided them all by just moving his torso.
“No matter how good at punching you are, you can’t do anything to me.” Zich lifted his finger up and down. However, when he saw Lyla reach for her staff with a stern expression, he obediently sat up again.
“…What did you write?” After she glared at Zich and breathed deeply a couple of times to calm herself down, Lyla placed her staff down. Of course, she didn’t forget to slap his back once.
“It’s nothing amazing. Well, I don’t plan to request anything right now,” Zich replied while rubbing the area where his back was hit.
“Even though we gave the mastermind a big blow by kidnapping Elena, we don’t know this guy’s identity.”
“Then, why are you writing a blackmail letter?”
“It’s to find their identity, of course. To catch a fish, we have to keep throwing bait at it.” Zich lifted the letter. There were a couple of simple words on it.
“This is good for now. I will write the rest of the letter to see how the situation goes.”
* *. *
Zich was called to Walwiss’ mansion. Like it was for an urgent matter, Walwiss called him early in the morning. Thus, after a light meal, Zich headed for the mansion. The mansion’s housekeepers greeted Zich, and like they were expecting him, they guided him to the drawing room. The whole mansion seemed to be swept by a sense of urgency which hinted that something serious had happened.
‘Well, it’s probably because of the blackmail letter I sent.’
Unlike the housekeepers, who tried to conceal their nervousness and worries for Elena but ended up revealing everything with their stiff faces, Zich was calm. There were many people gathered in the drawing room. Walwiss sat at the center of the table while there were Orland and some people whose faces Zich didn’t know sitting around him.
“You came? Please come this way.”
Walwiss stationed Zich next to him.
“I’m sure everyone knows who this is since he is the one who caused a great commotion recently.”
People looked at him sympathetically, and there were even a few who looked at him with curious eyes.
“Since we are all mages, we might not be able to see this incident outside of a one-sided point-of-view, so I called him. He might be able to give us his perspective as a swordsman and a traveler.” Then, Walwiss gestured towards an empty seat. Zich nodded slightly and sat in the seat Walwiss pointed to.
“He’s so easygoing. I didn’t think a traveler would be the last one to arrive,” someone said sarcastically. Zich stared at the side where the voice came from.
The person sitting diagonally across from Zich glared at him intently. It was Zich’s first time seeing this man, but he could easily guess who this person was. Not only had Zich heard about this man’s appearance before, but there was only one person connected to Walwiss who would look at him so scornfully.
“It’s my first time meeting you, Mr. Wayne Jaewick.” Zich smiled brightly and continued, “How is your son doing these days?”
Rip! Wayne gripped his fists tightly. It seemed like he wanted to beat Zich to death with those fists. Yet, Zich remained relaxed, and his eyes looked at Wayne like he was egging him on.
“You bast—!” Wayne couldn’t endure it and was about to curse.
“Stop it. This isn’t the time for fighting!” The person next to Wayne stopped him, and Wayne shut his mouth; after he gave Zich another piercing glare, he turned his head around.
Orland sat quite a distance away from Zich, and he said, “Please bear with him too. This isn’t the time, please.” Thus, Zich also took his gaze off Wayne and nodded.
As the members of the party calmed down, Orland said, “First of all, I want to thank everyone for coming to this meeting.” His voice sounded extremely tired; it clearly showed how much stress he had suffered in a short amount of time.
“I want to express my sincere thanks to all those who came right away to help find my granddaughter even though this is not a personal matter for all of you.” Walwiss bowed. The other magicians were startled and tried to stop him.
“Sir, you’ve worked so hard for the magical tower. This is not a matter for you to bow your head for.”
“Yes, if we don’t help in situations like this, how can we call ourselves companions of the magical tower?”
“I’m really thankful.” Walwiss expressed his thanks once again and finally explained the reason for this meeting. “Frankly, I received something yesterday.”
When Walwiss made a gesture, a man wearing a butler uniform came into the room holding a silver platter. The butler carefully placed the silver platter down on the table. People’s gazes all turned towards the silver platter. There was an envelope ripped open and a letter on the platter.
The person sitting right next to Walwiss asked, “Sir, what is this?”
Walwiss let out a sigh, and with a voice full of indignation, he said, “It’s a letter sent by the ones who kidnapped Elena.”
The people began whispering amongst themselves.
“Would it be all right for us to read the letter?”
“Yes.” Orland carefully lifted the letter.
Someone asked, “What’s written on it?”
Orland glared at the letter as if he wanted to rip it apart and slowly read it . “We have Elena Dwayne.”
The people swallowed their cries. Even though the first line was way too short, it was more explicit like this. One person closed their eyes, another frowned, and some tried to stifle their anger. They all waited for Orland to say the next line.
However, Orland put down the letter. “And that’s it.”
People were dumbfounded. The person next to Walwiss quickly took the letter from the table and scanned its contents. He looked to the front and back, top and bottom, and even tried flipping it upside down. However, what was written on it was really just that one line.
“What is this…”
“I can’t believe there’s just one line.”
The people took turns looking at the letter and they all murmured to themselves in bewilderment.
“Perhaps, this might just be someone’s idea of a joke.”
It was natural that such an opinion would arise.
However, Walwiss shook his head. “This was on top of a table in my garden. What kind of insane person would secretly come to my house at this time to just play a joke?”
People nodded their heads. Unless someone was really eager to die, no one would play a joke like this at such a time.
“Then there’s a high probability that it really might have come from the culprit…”
People began to fall into deep thought.
“Why would they send a letter like this?”
“They didn’t write any demands or the reason for their crime. Did they really risk danger and infiltrate the Dwayne mansion just to relay this one line?”
The culprit’s actions were inexplicable by common sense. Even though all the people gathered here were renowned for their intelligence, their heads hurt from looking at a letter with just one line. The letter continued to be passed around, and it finally made it to Zich.
Zich frowned as if he really was contemplating about the content of the letter and stared at it. However, this was just his outer appearance. On the inside, he was thinking random thoughts that did not matter.
‘I wrote this, but it’s written very strangely.’
In order to not get caught, Zich had twisted and slanted his letters. It was not to the extent that it was difficult to read, but the handwriting was awful. Of course, the quality of the handwriting was not important to anyone else in the room. Zich was the last one to check the letter, so after he looked at it, he put it back on top of the silver platter.
“Now, I want to hear people’s opinions about this letter.” Walwiss asked this, but no one was able to immediately step forward. Why would the culprit write such a letter?
“Perhaps, it’s to show off.” one mage commented.
“Yes, sir. They literally might have sent it to show off that Ms. Dwayne is currently in their possession.”
“Isn’t that too unrealistic? Why would someone do such a useless thing?” Someone argued against the first mage who spoke up.
However, Zich agreed with the first theory. “We can’t say for sure that it’s not a possibility.”
Everyone’s gazes turned towards Zich. A very unpleasant gaze was also mixed in, but Zich thoroughly ignored that gaze. To be more exact, Zich didn’t even pay any attention to it.
He continued, “I met quite a lot of people while traveling, and there are some people who are impossible to understand with common sense. It’s not a far-fetched story for there to be a crazy guy who feels satisfaction by bragging about his crimes to his victims’ families.”
“What are you saying!” People clicked their tongues.
Orland asked, “Then are you saying that this is an act done by an insane person?”
Zich shook his head at Orland’s question. “Sir, I’m just saying that it’s a ‘possibility’. We can’t find a definite answer from the information we currently have.”
Zich added, “The culprit could also have another motive.”
“What if this is all part of their plan?” A different opinion came up. “What if it’s to distract us or change plans depending on how we react?”
“That’s also a possible explanation.”
Like this, people continued to share their opinions and thoughts. Since there were too few clues, there were no answers that seemed definite. Eventually, a few highly probable explanations came up, and since it was somewhat of a breakthrough, Walwiss’ expression brightened up a bit.
After sharing a lot of different ideas, the meeting was coming to an end. Before they could all leave, Wayne suddenly asked Zich, “Do you not have any other thoughts? The master called you to bring a completely different perspective, but I see that you haven’t shared any of your thoughts.”
Orland sided with Zich. “He shared his thoughts enough times in this meeting.”
Wayne snorted. “All he did was add onto another person’s idea. That’s not enough to meet our expectations. Didn’t we call him to hear thoughts from a completely different perspective, in ways we haven’t thought of?”
“Hey, that’s enough…” Other people tried to stop Wayne, but Zich made a big smile.
“From a completely different perspective…Well, I do have one.”
“…What?” Wayne was startled.
All the other people in the room, who had stared at Wayne with annoyance and displeasure that a fight might erupt again, looked towards Zich in surprise. Zich opened his mouth very slowly and said with a smug voice, “Why don’t we change our line of thought completely? Right now, we think that this letter is addressed towards the master of the magical tower. However, what if that’s not the case?”
Zich calmly continued while looking at everyone staring at him, “This message could be addressed to not the master of the magical tower but a completely different person.”