“The Academy contacted me and reported that Luke-sama has fainted again,” Jude reported as soon as I got back home.
“Seriously? Did he practice his magic again?”
“He did. He’s also pushing himself and practising his sword at the same time.”
Two months have already passed since Lei got kidnapped. The magic stones that the Four Marquises were in charge of were usually filled once every five days. It is said that the barrier wouldn’t hold if more than 10 days past, even though we have enough magic for it. I had barely made it back to the Royal Capital last time, so even if I wanted to make my move, I couldn’t because there were guards everywhere.
The only things I could do was hire someone to search for Lei all the way until Wester and secretly search for the culprits who had kidnapped Lei. I also focused on the magic stone business that I had. Lei is in Frontier. The only thing that connects Kingdom and Frontier are the magic stones.
The Four Marquises didn’t have anything they particularly had to do except to fill magic stones and aid in politics. Incidentally, they also didn’t have fiefs. The fiefs were distributed and entrusted to those who had statuses up to Earl. The Royal family and Four Marquis Houses live lavishly by collecting tax revenue from those fiefs.
There were some who used that as funds for commerce like my Albans House, but that was due to our ancestor’s quick eye for opportunity. Also, they had stated that we should be free to do what we want with our money because we are bound to this Kingdom and the Royal Capital. I inherited this business without care, but I’m grateful for it now.
“I’ll try to talk to Luke.”
“Please do so.”
Jude bowed. I felt terrible for Jude since he was managing everything now that Sebas was gone. But I still didn’t feel like hiring a new butler. Mainly because of trust.
The weekend came quickly, so I went to get Luke.
My precious son lit up when he saw me. He used to be so expressionless. But, I knew that his face was thin and worn out for a growing boy. He’s probably pushing himself.
“Otou-sama, you’re one to talk.”
“You’ve gotten skinnier, and your clothes are a little big for you now.”
“Hmph, it’s fine for adults. You’re still growing.”
We quarrelled about foolish things while joking and being serious.
“But how many times have you fainted now? Luke, if you don’t grow up healthily, then Lei would worry and cry when she gets back.”
“And she’ll probably say, ‘Ninii, no!’”
Luke was smiling, but his lips trembled, “But Lei’s still a baby. I don’t know if she’ll remember us even if she does come back.” That’s right, a baby’s memory doesn’t last for long. She’ll forget about us even if we’re only apart for a few months. This also made me feel uneasy.
“Please, she’s our Lei. She’s smart. She’s that small, but she’s independent, energetic, and talkative and she loves us so much, doesn’t she?”
“Yes, yes. Therefore-,”
Luke looked up.
“The Marquises and Lords learn the same thing. They learn how to channel their magic into the magic stones without fainting. So, they don’t get taught how to maliciously circulate their magic and increase their magic power.”
“Increase magic power…… Luke, you already have enough magic for someone from the Albans House. It rivaled that of mine when I was your age. What are you aiming for?
“Freedom, Otou-sama. I’m aiming for freedom.”
Luke said freedom.
“The problem is we can’t leave the Royal Capital for more than 10 days. If I can’t escape from my duty as a Marquis, then I should at least increase how much magic I have so that I can fill it every 15 or 20 days. If I can fill enough for a whole month, then I can go look for her myself in Frontier!”
“The only method written in the academy and Royal Palace to achieve this is by releasing your magic until you have barely any left. How much is barely any left? Just a little more, I feel like I can understand it if I try a few more times!”
He’s only 11, I can’t believe he’s thought about it that much.
“When I turn 18, I won’t be able to leave Kingdom like you Otou-sama. I only have a little over six years. I don’t think we can get Lei back right away. If so, then I need to get stronger before I turn 18 and search for her. And even if I turn 18, I have to be strong enough so that I can go out to the border to look for her.”
“So you’re saying you’re going to be reckless?”
“Even if you say that, if you harm your health and shortened your life, you won’t be able to protect Lei when she comes back now can you?”
“…… I know.”
Luke looked down in shame. He knows this, but he can’t sit around and do nothing. Isn’t there anything I can do for him so that he doesn’t harm his health? Perhaps…
“Luke, it’s nearly summer holidays.”
“Yes, it is.”
Luke looked at me questioningly.
“Shall we go to Claire’s fief for summer?”
My mind was swirling around hectically. Increasing magic was dangerous. Luke was struggling with how to do this. He’ll become reckless if I leave him to do this on his own. So I should help him.
“Claire’s fief borders Frontier’s Farland. I’ve only been there a few times.”
Claire was from an Earl house, but she never attended the academy because her body was frail. So, I met her when I went to the northern fief on a whim. It was when I stayed at Earl Neville’s mansion in the north. I went back to take her as my bride, and once again to return her body to her family after she’d passed away.
The Four Marquises couldn’t leave Kingdom. But, there wasn’t a rule stating that they couldn’t leave before 18.
“If we go to Wester, then they’ll be on alert and obstruct us. But if we go in the opposite direction to Farland, then we can say that we’re visiting your mother. Listen, Luke. Go to Frontier after you’ve talked to Earl Neville.”
Luke’s eyes sparkled.
“What are Hollows? I believe that we should see the true appearances of Hollows at least once because we’re bound by the magic stones. If Otou-sama proposes this-!”
“I have some good negotiation materials in my collection. I’ll make up more if I need them. I’ll be going back to the Royal Capital, but I’ll ask him if you could stay there for the summer holidays. I’m sure the heir there also practices the sword. You should learn from him if an opportunity shows itself.”
Luke’s real mother is Diana, and her house’s fief was Lazuli right next to the Royal Capital. But, it was bad to go south now. And, she didn’t contact Luke even at a time like this.
“Listen. For that reason, don’t push yourself and it’s also important to build up your physique. Do you understand?”
I think we both know without me saying, that we might not find Lei until then and it might become a long battle for Luke until he reaches adulthood if we were unlucky. So we should think about what’s ahead and do what we can. Luke and I were one.