chapter3

  The business of Charlouette the magic agency was in stake because of the missing of Tawil the former Principal. Luckily, Enoch, the son of Tawil, took over the agency and continued running it.


  To recover their loss after the 3-month closedown, the mages of Charlouette took Enoch to a job on his first day at work. The group of five was riding a carriage, heading to where their client was.


  “This job is to find the child abductor and rescue all the missing children. Our client is the duke of the city and everyone says he’s a generous man. If we do a great job, we should be able to get well paid. So everyone please stay sharp…” said Mephibo stoutly.


  Qingxia asked Enoch as she saw a frown on his face, “Enoch, what’s wrong? Do you have a question?”


  “Um...Is that okay for you two to sit like this?”


  “Of course it’s okay, right? My dearest Xilocent.”


  Qingxia, hugging Xilocient sitting on her lap, kept rubbing her cheeks against Xilocient’s face.


  Xilocient remained a poker face, who had seemingly got used to Qingxia’s behaviors.


  “Just tell me if you don’t feel good about it,” said Enoch, who didn’t want to see any bullying in Charlouette.


  “...I’m okay with it,” Xilocient muttered, “I don’t hate it. Plus I’ll get rewarded.”


  “Reward?”


  “Hehehe, I’ve prepared the badge that Xilocient likes!”


  As soon as Qingxia took out a kitty badge, a delight glowed on Xilocient’s gender-confusing yet beautiful face.


  “I wonder if Xilocient is a he or a she...But it seems rude to ask now…” Enoch was struggling inside.


  “Hey! We’ve arrived,” Dagda said loudly, reaching his body out of the window.


  Their carriage was parked on the square outside the castle, which had drawn the attention of the civilians. When Enoch got off, a couple came over and begged.


  “You’re the mages sent by Starmage! Please save our son!”


  More and more couples joined the crowd to surround and plead with Enoch.


  “Please don’t worry. We’ll find the culprit and save all the children!” The high-spirited Enoch clenched his fists, but soon his spirit was turned off.


  “We’ve got the abductor,” said the duke with a bright grin, who was sitting in the power position inside the luxurious conference lounge.


  “Huh?” Enoch was surprised. “How about the children? Are they alright?”


  “About that…” The duke put the grin away with a swifty gaze. “I’m sorry that we’re still searching. But don’t worry. We’ll try our best and get their whereabouts out of that elf’s mouth.”


  “Elf?” Xilocient popped his head out of Enoch’s back with a frown on his face. “...I wanna meet that elf.”


  However, the duke remained silent in a trance, staring at Xilocient.


  “Sir?” Enoch couldn’t help but call the duke.


  “...Oh, my apologies.” The duke made a slight cough and said, “that elf is violent. I’m afraid that he might hurt you. How about taking a rest first? I’ve had a feast prepared for you——”


  “No need. We’re the mages from Starmage. We have prepared for the danger we might encounter in the quest. Please don’t worry,” said Enoch, standing straight.


  “...Alright. Please follow my lead.”


  Led by the duke, the crew came to a sealed dungeon and stopped at the furthest jail cell. Inside which, there was a male elf suspended on the wall, with shackles around his neck and limbs.


  “This is too cruel…” Despite the fact that the elf was an abductor, Enoch pitied the elf when he saw how broken he was.


  “Sir, I don’t think the hardcore interrogation will work. We should try the other way,” said Mephibo.


  “Are you suggesting an intervention?” The duke giggled as if he had heard a joke. “He hates us to the core now. I don’t think he’ll do as you said.”


  “Right. He might not talk to me or you, but not Xilocient,” said Mephibo, gazing at Xilocient.


  “I’m an Arcus. Please let me talk to him,” Xilocient kept his voice down.


  The duke said nothing; Just when Enoch was expecting a “no”, the duke smiled and said, “Alright. I’ll leave him to you, but he might be alerted if too many people go inside...Can the others go search for the children?”


  “Why does the duke suddenly become so proactive...Nevermind. The children are more important.” Enoch didn’t dig too deep about the thought in spite of the perplexion as he was more concerned about the missing children.


  “The duke is right. We can’t spend all the human resources here. I’ll go search for the children together with my fellows before anything happens to them…”


  After pondering for a moment, Enoch looked at one of his fellows.


  “Dagda, can you track their scent?”


  “Of course! This is too easy for a genius like me!”


  Led by the wolf Dagda, Enoch, Mephibo and Qingxia tracked down the scent of the children all the way to the forest outside the city.


  “Found a lead! Kid’s footprint here!”


  “Enoch, wait!”


  Enoch ignored Qingxia’s warning as he was worried about the children. The moment he stepped on the footprint, a huge swirl popped up and sucked everyone into it.


  “Mmm...Ouch...Huh? Where are we?” Enoch found himself in a mysterious place filled with thick mist. 


  “Hmm, this should be an illusion the elf has set beforehand,” said Mephibo.


  “Humph! I ain’t scared by this. Watch me!” The hot-headed Dagda ran away, disappearing into the mist. Soon he came back from behind.


  “Why am I here again?” Dagda mumbled in a low voice.


  “I’ve told you. This is an illusion. It’s useless no matter how long you run,” said Qingxia, shaking her head in disapproval. Then she took out a handbell and cracked a confident smile.


  “Let me show you the strength of a senior.”


  When Qingxia rang the bell, a dazzling golden light was emitted, shrouding the whole space.


  Clack! The crackles sounded  as if an egg was cracking, which became more and more frequent. The illusion eventually shattered, revealing the scenery of the forest.


  “Impressive, Qingxia. No illusions or encirclement can trick you.” Mephibo praised.


  “The scent is coming from this way. Let’s head over.” The impatient Dagda dragged Mephibo away before Qingxia could respond.


  “Boss, let’s go...What’s wrong?”


  “I’m sorry about——Ouch!”


  Qingxia flicked Enoch’s forehead and said, “Yes, you’re reckless. That’s why you need us.”


  “...Thank you.”


  “Alright. Let’s go.”



  With a nod, Enoch moved on to catch up with Dagda and Mephibo together with Qingxia. The four of them tracked the scent all the way to a gigantic tree, which was wide as a house. The tree was hollow with a big hole on the trunk with a dozen children sleeping inside.


  Enoch rushed over to check on them. 


  “Phew, great. They’re just sleeping.”


  Relieved, Enoch cracked his signature evil grin, and it was witnessed by the children who just woke up. All of them were scared to tears.


  “Please don’t cry. We’re not bad guys. We’re here to get you back to the city…”


  The moment Enoch said it, the children cried even louder, putting him into confusion. “What’s...going on here?”


  “Your face must have terrified them. As the old saying goes, clothes make a man. Once you put this on, you’ll become the superstar. Here you go.”


  Mephibo then took out a black pointy hat. When Enoch saw the logo on it, a deep frown appeared.


  “Well, Mephibo...Why does the logo...look so much like...a piece of poop…”


  “What are you talking about? This is the helix of the universe, meaning the endless cycle of all creatures. It’s profoundly meaningful!”


  “But it still looks like…”


  “Unbelievable. I spent so much effort on designing it to be the uniform of Charlouette, and I’ve got everyone a tailor-made logo. Here you go, Dagda. This one is yours, with an ancient dog skull logo on it——”


  “I ain’t wearing it——”


  “Hahaha!”


  Just when Dagda was going to take the hat off, he stopped for the children’s laughter, who were no longer fearful anymore.


  Seizing the chance, Mephibo put on a kind smile and asked, “Alright. Can you tell me why you don’t want to go back?”


  “That’s because...the duke will kill us!”


  “Yes. The elf saved us.”


  “The duke likes cute kids. He captured us to play with him!”


  “What!?”


  Stunned at first, Enoch was furious, punching the tree trunk next to him. 


  “No wonder he acted like he was keeping us away. He’s afraid that Starmage would kick him out when they find out.” Enoch gritted his teeth.


  “If he doesn’t want to be exposed, why did he file a quest to Starmage?” Dagda was perplexed.


  “Must be the voice of the people,” Qingxia guessed. With a hesitating gaze at Enoch, she asked, “what should we do now?”


  “Seriously? Exposing the duke of course! Save that elf!”


  “But…” Mephibo gave a rare look of hesitation and said, “the duke has some powerful connection inside Starmage, and he’s been sponsoring the association. If we make a scene, we might get ourselves in trouble and finish Charlouette for good.”


  “Why are you——”


  “Shut up Dagda! Boss makes the final call for everything in Charlouette, not us.” Mephibo widened his eyes with distinctive warning, making Dagda shut up.


  Enoch pondered with his eyes closed.


  “The creed of Starmage is to maintain the world’s peace and order with magic and elements...he moment we step down for the duke’s power, Charlouette is gone!”


  Opening his eyes, Enoch threw a sharp gaze at Qingxia and Mephibo and declared loudly, “I, the principal of Charlouette, declare that we must expose the duke and save the innocent elf!”


  The conversation entered a silence. 


  “HAHAHAHAHAHA!” Qingxia and Mephibo burst into laughter.


  “What...are you laughing at?”


  Qingxia wiped her tears and said, “Congrats, Enoch. You’ve passed the test.”


  “You can’t be the principal of Charlouette without integrity and diligence,” said Mephibo.


  “I know you’re faking it. I’ve been feeling weird when you changed your attitude towards power and privilege ,” Dagda figured the whole thing out.


  “Wheeze. Alright. After all the time we spent, let’s escort the children and save our real client,” said Qingxia.


  “Our real client?” Perplexed at first, Enoch was wide awake. “Is it…”


  “Yes. Our real client is the elf captured by the duke.” Just when Mephibo was going further, he frowned as he saw a petty elf coming over in a panic.


  “Something bad happened. Xilocient is in danger!”


chapter3