Floor 1 The Beloved Principal
This had happened before Enoch headed to the tower...The sun was up above the bright sky, but the sunshine it cast on the snowy ground was too weak to expel the coldness in the air. An eye-catching crimson dragon appeared in the blue sky and approached the snow-covered continent.
The dragon landed in front of the gate of a prosperous city which was situated halfway up a mountain where eight people hopped off the back of the dragon. These people shared no similarities in appearance; however, they all belonged to Charlouette, the magic agency.
In order to complete an S-Class commission and save the agency, Enoch, the principal, brought his staff to the North. But as soon as the young principal got off the dragon, he squatted under a tree.
Dagda: Bahaha! Dragonsick, are you? You suck!
Seeing how sick Enoch was, Dagda the Druid laughed out loud relentlessly. The crimson dragon shifted back to its human form and came to Enoch, with concerns written all over her face.
Hong Ai: Are you alright, Enoch? It must be my fault, I shouldn’t have flown so fast.
Enoch: No, you did nothing wrong. I’m just too weak...Huh? What’s the matter, Xilocient?
Xilocient: ...Some medicine for you, it helps with dizziness and nausea.
Enoch: Thank you.
Enoch thanked the elf Xilocient and gobbled up the medicine. Instantly, his blurred mind became clear again. Hong Ai the runedragon was happy to find him well again. She cheered joyfully as she grabbed Enoch’s arm.
Hong Ai: Enoch’s fine now, let’s go and play in the town— no, I mean, investigate.
Enoch: Hey! Wait...mmm!
When Hong Ai was holding Enoch’s arm and dashing forward, a force intervened and stopped them. Ingrid the witch grabbed the other arm of Enoch and looked rather displeased as she bit her lips. The three-tailed companion Panther who was sitting on Ingrid’s shoulder started licking its paws with a casual indifference.
Enoch: Huh? Are you looking for me, Ingrid?
Ingrid: I...I...Of course I’m looking for you...Just come with me!
Ingrid wanted to drag Enoch away but was stopped by Hong Ai. Petite in figure, she tipped her toes and pulled Enoch back as she protested affectionately with her eyes widened.
Hong Ai: No, I won’t let Enoch go! You evil witch! Preventing me from being with Enoch every single time! I’m not giving in this time, Enoch is staying with me!
Ingrid: Tut! Stop daydreaming, you disrespectful dragon girl!
Xilocient: ...I want Enoch too…
Qing Xia: Oh! That seems fun, I’m joining!
Enoch was surrounded and torn between 3 girls. Qingxia joined the group playfully and embraced all of them. Sensing the danger of being crushed, Panther leapt out and observed.
Panther: Tut! What’s with the taste of these people meow? Why are they so into that useless idiot?
Madam Heidi: Hahaha, how youthful they are. I would do the same thing if I were 30 years younger.
Mephibo: Madam, you’re too humble. You’re still perfectly charming.
Dagda: I don’t care about your relationships, but we have to go inside and take the commission, otherwise Charlouette would be closed down for good!
Dagda might be loud with his words, but he was still too scared to step in the fight of the girls. Dagda felt helpless as he witnessed how Enoch was tweaked. He frowned and screamed silently in his head.
Enoch: “Help me...”
Finally, Enoch calmed the girls down after quite some time and carried on with their journey to the capital country of the Northern Alliance - Walhara. As they set foot on the land, everyone was amazed by the prosperity and liveliness of the city. Qingxia exclaimed suddenly.
Qingxia: Wow! The clothes in that shop are so cute! Super cute! They must suit Hong Ai and Xilocient perfectly! Let’s check them out!
Hong Ai: I don’t want—
Ignoring the complaints of Hong Ai and Xilocient, Qingxia took them to the shop.
Madam Heidi: Aren’t the girls adorable! We mustn’t lose, my doggie!
Dagda: Let me go! Why are you carrying me?
Madam Heidi: We’ve flown so long that it's already noon now, everyone must be starving. You and I are not particularly sociable, so why don’t we go get lunch for them?
Panther: Lunch meow? You can count on me! I’m particularly sensitive to smell, no doubt that I can find the best boiled chicken fillet for everyone!
Dagda: Who on earth wants chicken fillet!
And so, Madam Heidi carried Dagda away, who was in a fierce argument with Panther, for food-hunting. The number of team members plunged from 9 to 3. Only Enoch, Ingrid and Mephibo were left.
Ingrid: This...This is unbelievable, ditching the principal for shopping?
Mephibo: Haha, it means that they trust the principal very much.
Enoch: They are just as reckless as they have always been… Forget about them, let’s go there first. It should be somewhere in the plaza over there...
Floor 2 Reason for the Commission
The team came to an ancient building with a dome. The old walls may have been corroded by time, but they were still kept clean. On the right door hung a silver medal, on which mysterious runes were engraved.
Enoch: We’ve come to the right place, haven’t we? The Northern branch of Starmage.
Ingrid: The emblem is right over there, it can’t be wrong. Let’s go inside.
In contrast to the timidity of Enoch, Ingrid demonstrated enormous confidence. Walking soft-footedly, she pushed the door open. Enoch pulled himself together and entered Starmage after Ingrid, followed by Mephibo, who was stopped by a hand when he was about to make his entrance.
Staff: Hold on, demons are not allowed to enter.
Mephibo: ...I’ve never heard a rule like that.
Staff: Don’t make me repeat my words. Get the heck out of here!
Other staff members didn’t interfere as if it was a standard protocol. Enoch couldn’t hold back any longer; he rushed over and flung away the arm of the staff member.
Enoch: Nonsense! As one of my agents, he is perfectly qualified to come in!
Staff: Tut! Hiring a demon as an agent, what kind of magic agency is this?
Before Enoch could start a quarrel, Ingrid tapped on his shoulder and stopped him with an assertive glance. Keeping her chins up, she stepped forward and looked at the staff member right in the eyes. He must have felt the aggressive aura emitting from Ingrid, which led to his softened manners.
Ingrid: “Uniting the powers of different species and maintaining the peace and order of the world with magic” is not only why Starmage was established in the first place, but also a rule to be adhered by all mages. Seems like you’ve forgotten it completely. If so, why don’t you give up the title of a mage altogether?
Staff: ...The Starmage headquarters had no idea what we had been through. You’ve never been attacked by demons, of course it’s easy for you to say so and claim the moral high ground!
No one wanted to compromise until Mephibo, the victim, broke the stalemate. The discrimination of the staff didn’t affect Mephibo so much, who said to Enoch with his usual innocent smile.
Mephibo: It’s okay, principal. I’ll be waiting outside.
Mephibo: The commission is our first priority now. And...I can understand how they feel.
Enoch let Mephibo go. Enoch and Ingrid were the only two guests who could meet the chairman of the branch, who bowed at his guests as soon as he saw them.
Chairman: My apologies. My staff was very rude to you.
Enoch: Well...It’s not your fault.
Chairman: No, their fault is also mine. I beg your pardon, they are just too angry… The people in the North have been at war against the demons, virtually everyone suffers from the agonizing pain of their families and friends being killed by the demons. We have an implacable hatred against them…
Enoch sank into thoughts with his eyes closed. His right hand was touching his earlobe— it was a habit of his which could always calm him down. Reopening his eyes as if he had gained courage from his earlobe, Enoch gave the chairman a determined look.
Enoch: That’s...that’s why I can’t bear seeing you and your people being beclouded by hatred, because it’s...it’s too pathetic. The wish of the deceased is that you can all live in happiness, instead of animosity…
Chairman: You...Yes, you’re right…
Chairman: “So this must be why the High Priest sent him here… A person like him might be able to change the chaotic world...”
Chairman: Now let’s cut to the chase and talk about the commission.
Ingrid: I heard it’s about the three regalia which form the protective barrier. What’s the issue?
Chairman: It’s hard to explain, why don’t you come and take a look?
The chairman led Enoch and Ingrid to an enormous medical room in which a lot of people were lying in bed, unconscious. After examining one of the patients, Ingrid was deeply shocked.
Ingrid: The elements in his body were all taken away…
Chairman: That’s right. The magic barrier disappeared without warning a fortnight ago, and those who lived next to the regalia fell into a coma one after another. What’s worse, mages who had gone to investigate the matter would suffer from the same thing.
Enoch: Then...Then isn’t it impossible to investigate further?
Ingrid: Nothing’s impossible. Mages like us exist, just to make impossible things possible.
Chairman: You’re truly a descendent of the Kremier. I look forward, no, I implore you, please investigate the problem of the regalia and rebuild the magic barrier. We’re running out of time.
Enoch: Huh? What do you mean?
Chairman: The North has long been the border between humans and demons. The latter has always been looking for a chance to breach the defences, and was only prevented from doing so by the magic barrier. However, they seem to have noticed that the barrier is malfunctioning. Three days ago, they sent a scout to see if it was true. Though we managed to drive them off, they must have noticed that the barrier was gone and are now planning on a full-scale invasion.
Chairman: The magic agencies in the North are too caught up in the commissions related to the demons and no more effort can be spared to repair the magic barrier. That’s why we had to request help from Starmage.
Enoch: “The magic barrier in the North was designed by mother, and the barrier stopped working as soon as she went missing. What a coincidence...”
Ingrid: So first, we have to break into the element-extracting territory and reach the regalia. Then we’ll fix them and rebuild the barrier. Ha, it’s an S-Class mission indeed, very challenging.
Enoch: Uh… Why do you look so thrilled? I’m so worried that my stomach aches.
Ingrid: Humph...Humph...You’re pretty useless, aren’t you… But don’t worry… I… will protect you...Don’t overthink, I’m just doing it because you’re the principal!
Any sensitive person could have told from Ingrid’s rosy cheeks that she was lying, but Enoch, who was ridiculously obtuse when it comes to romance, didn’t catch the note and replied in a friendly manner.
Enoch: I’ll rely on you then.
Floor 3 Going Three Ways
Enoch and Ingrid left the branch after gathering information about the commission from the chairman. As they pushed the door open, a dark shadow sprinted towards them and leapt on Ingrid’s shoulder. It was Panther, Ingrid’s companion.
Panther: Ingrid! I picked an apple pie for you, meow! Your favorite!
Ingrid: Thanks, Panther.
Madam Heidi: Haha, perfect timing. My estimation was pretty accurate.
Dagna: Accurate? You barely made an estimation, and I had to run around, carrying all this heavy stuff.
Madam Heidi: Hmm? What did you just say, my doggie?
Madam Heidi: I thought you had forgotten how much I love you so I’d very much like to give you a big “hug”. Oh right, where are the others?
Enoch: Mephibo should be around...Ah! There he is, I’ll bring him over.
Enoch looked around and caught sight of Mephibo instantly, who was standing below a nearby tree. Enoch wanted to call him, but the utterance came to an abrupt halt as he saw Mephibo holding up a golden charm and observing it with an expression Enoch had never seen before. An enigmatic air surrounded him, preventing Enoch from coming closer.
Mephibo: Hmm? It’s you, Enoch. Is everything done?
Noticing Enoch, Mephibo gave him his signature harmless smile.
Enoch: … Yes, we’ve got the information we need. Madam Heidi and the others were back too.
Mephibo: Let’s head back then.
Before they joined the rest of the team, they heard Ingrid’s angry voice. Crossing her arms in front of her chest, the furiousness on Ingrid’s cheek didn’t make her less pretty. Curiously, she looked unusually beautiful.
Ingrid: Why haven’t Qingxia and the other girls come back yet? We’re here to work, not to have fun! Enoch, Mephibo, you two stay here and wait, we’ll go and look for them.
Dagda: Huh? But I just came back— Why are you carrying me again!
Madam Heidi: Because you’re dumb.
Ingrid and the others had already departed before Enoch could react. Enoch and Mephibo were the only two left. After a moment of silence, Mephibo burst into laughter.
Mephibo: Hahaha, Miss Ingrid. This is the way she cares about others.
Enoch: Huh?...You mean, she deliberately asked each other to leave you and me alone, so that I could comfort you?
Mephibo: Yeah, she must’ve done it because she was afraid that I’d be upset by what just happened. That’s why she left us here, hoping you’d make me feel better. But honestly, I don’t really mind.
Enoch: ...Really? If you didn’t mind, why did you take out the necklace? You always stare at the charm when you’re upset.
Mephibo: Principal, you’re quite sensitive in these situations… Maybe I do care a little bit, but it’s not as bad as you think. I’m just feeling a little emotional, don’t worry.
Enoch: Okay… but if you’re dealing with any problems, do let me know. I might be incompetent, but I’m your principal after all.
Mephibo: How are you incompetent? We’ve all witnessed your effort after Tawil’s departure. It was you who kept Charlouette running, so don’t be too harsh on yourself.
Enoch and Mephibo looked at each other and giggled, lightening up the atmosphere. They made small talks as they were waiting for the others to return.
Enoch: ...Was the necklace given by your lover?
Mephibo: What makes you think so?
Enoch: Because… you were looking at the charm in a very affectionate way… as if it was something fragile.
Mephibo: ...It’s not what you think it is, but the one who gave me the necklace was indeed important to me.
Hong Ai: I’ve found Enoch!
Enoch wanted to know who that was, but a petite figure embraced him from the back suddenly. He turned around and saw Ingrid slowly walking towards him with the rest of the team.
Xilocient: ...We’re back, principal.
Qingxia: Wonderful, I’ve satisfied my inner desire of cuteness!
Dagda: Why are our agents a bunch of weirdos…
Enoch: Well… I guess it’s our unique style. Now that everyone’s here, let me explain how the commission works…
Enoch gave everyone the details. Everyone looked grim as they realized the seriousness of the issue, but their sense of responsibility as magers was ignited.
Madam Heidi: So that’s why. Who would’ve expected the barrier designed by Tawil is not working properly... It’s an emergency, we have to split up.
Qingxia: There are three pieces of regalia, which means we should split into 3 teams.
Hong Ai: I’ll stay with Enoch—
Ingrid: I’ve considered that. Madam Heidi, Dagda and Mephibo will stay here to investigate Mjölnir, the Warhammer. Qingxia, Xilocient and Hong Ai will be going to Folkvangr and check on Lævateinn, the Sword of Victory. Panther, Enoch and I will be heading to Asgard for Tyr’s Giant Axe.
Hong Ai: Why does an evil witch like you get to make decisions?
Ingrid: Because I am the best mage in the entire agency.
Hong Ai: You—
Qingxia: I think it works quite well. Though we have no idea what happened to the regalia yet, in a worst-case scenario we’d have to fight against them. Only a runedragon has enough power to defend against Lævateinn. I am good at creating illusion and Xilocient healing, which make us the perfect backup support… Isn’t it the best arrangement?
Madam Heidi: Hong Ai, don’t be childish now.
Hong Ai: ...Okay…
And so, Enoch and his team splitted into three and set out on their expedition in the winterland of North...