Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 22





Forget it. I'll copy the rest down before I get back to decoding.

Claude desperately wanted to know what the rest of the diary recorded. The author was only a low-level magus, and he clearly hadn't commented on magic itself, but Claude felt he was unveiling the mist of history and seeing the truth.

Date: 20th day of the 8th month, 3341 NM. Weather: Sunny, save for a small drizzle in the evening.

Senior Tawari came looking for me last night. He took me to the convoy's camp. I was even more surprised to be greeted by the noble who'd commissioned me to work on the guns. Baron Regius Au Syr, the largest provider of magic stones to the many magic councils in the region. No wonder he could gather such a large convoy.

Senior Tawari hugged him when we walked in. I didn't think they were that close.

He asked me to develop a more powerful gunpowder. So far I've worked out that including ground magic crystals into the normal mixture works pretty well. I dabbled a bit in runes and discovered that you could strengthen things even further with runes on the gun barrel. You could even get an explosion on the same level as the forbidden nine-ring spell, through runes, the resulting blow would be equivalent to a forbidden nine-ring magus spell: Permitialis Procursus.

Which was no doubt why I met him last night.

He told me he only wanted to use the explosive to mine, but I still refused. He even took out an order from the magic council. It was for a massive amount of magic stones which he had to deliver over the next three years, and he said there was no way he could fulfil it. He wanted my new gunpowder so he could speed up his mining and meet the order.

I knew he was lying. I trusted him five years ago when he asked me to develop a way guns and gunpowder could be made without needing magi. I accepted and developed a step-by-step process and even designed a new kind of firearm that could fire up to 200 metres, though it was hardly accurate at that range. He told me it was so normal people could hunt and defend themselves. Now, however, my own guns are being used to kill my brothers and sisters.

I will never do anything for him again.

......

Wait, why 200 meters? Claude wondered.

He had a number of such questions, but he was too excited to spend time thinking about them. Most especially because he finally read a name he remembered, and it wasn't just any old name, either. Baron Regius Au Syr.

History knew him as the brotherhood's leader and later emperor of the first post-magus dynasty. It did not, however, remember him being a noble under magus rule, nor of him being one of the biggest suppliers for the magi overlords, and thus probably, in no small part, responsible for their continued rule for at least several decades.

He desperately wanted to read more, but his mental energy was exhausted so he decided to take a quick bath first.

......

Date: 21st day of the 8th month, 3341 NM. Weather: Sunny.

I turned Baron Regius Au Syr down again. Tawari didn't say a word about it. We quickly returned to the inn after that.

I didn't get a minute of sleep the whole night. I went to see Tawari this morning after that whole business. He must have known I would come to see him, because he told me to come in even before I knocked on his door. He must also have known what my questions would be since he cast a muffling spell right after I closed the door behind me.

I asked him if he was the one who told the baron about my progress. He was the only one who'd seen my notes.

He didn't say anything, but I could see the answer in his eyes even before he nodded. I very nearly stormed out of the office that very minute. I trusted him implicitly, how could he betray it?!

He had me sit down before my feet got me out of the office, however. I think half the reason I didn't shove him off me and storm out was how serious he looked.

He told me this little tale about a vagrant kid who collapsed in the snow one winter. A noble saved him and his parents all but adopted him. The two grew up together, like brothers. The vagrant discovered he had magic when he was fifteen and his adoptive parents spared no expense to get him the proper education.

I knew Tawari was talking about himself.

'He's my brother,' he'd said about when I asked if the baron was that noble kid.

It soothed my anger a little, but only a little.

I wanted to leave after hearing his story, I had to sort my thoughts out, but he wouldn't let me. He told me I had to know something, then told me an incredible story. I never thought I could be as hurt as I was by what he told me next.

Five thousand years have passed since the primordial era came to an end. Magic has been a part of this world the entire time. Many people became twelve-ring magi during the primordial era and a few even ascended to become gods. One of them was Nomadine, after whom his calendar is named, the Nomadine Magic Calendar.

There was enough magic back then that even dragons still existed and many powerful beasts that could use magic swam in the ocean and crawled on land as well.

The dragons have died out now, however, and most of the magic beasts, definitely all of the stronger ones, are gone as well. A few magic beasts probably still hide in the thick forests of Nubissia, but they're all but extinct everywhere else.

Magic has been vanishing from this world. There are hardly any magic beasts left, and the materials necessary to make magic items are also very quickly becoming near impossible to find. It's also become very hard to get strong magi like we had in the past. Ten-ring magi and above were common a few thousand years ago, but there are hardly anyone with even just nine rings left. I only know about two, and they're both on the council. Apparently there are five more, but I don't know who they are.

Was that the reason we were being sent to Kenpus? I asked Tawari that, but he laughed. I've never heard such a sour laugh before. But I understand why he's laughing like that. Yes, we're being sent to Kenpus, but like I've already written, the magic there is much stronger, and so are the top magi. We'll be nothing but common labourers there, the lucky ones, anyway. The less lucky ones will be cannon fodder.

I never knew magi could be stripped into such a hierarchy. I always thought we were brothers and sisters. Yeah, sure, some had more power than others, and sure some were stronger than others, but underneath all that, we were brothers and sisters, right?

It seems I was completely wrong. The original council had twenty four nine-ring magi. They each formed a household and took a part of the continent as their territory along with all the resources in it. They call themselves the white sterling nobles, or the white magi. They only teach their offspring their magic and only let them benefit from the full extent of their resources. They've become the ruling class on the continent and they control the council.

I argued that if that really were true, then he would never have been allowed to become a magus. He told me, however, that not all of their family have the gift of magic. They're lucky if one out of every hundred children born into the family could use magic.

Though each of those children are nurtured to become one of the top magi in his or her generation, they're nowhere near enough. So, they raise a few commoners with the ability to use magic to become their servants and do the dirty work.

The white sterling nobles are at the top of the food chain of magi, and five ring magi are at the bottom, the black iron peasants. None of the latter are allowed to improve any further than five rings. No matter how much talent you have, you need a lot of resources to improve as a magus, so they simply cut those resources when you become a five-ring magus.

They would never give their resources to an black iron magus, since every bit they did, was a bit less their descendants got.

I now know why Tawari stopped improving once he became a five-ring magus. It's been ten years, but he hasn't taken a single step further.

He then told me that the baron's family used to be a branch of one of the 24, hence their sobriquet, Au, which represents arcane spells. Their family hadn't produced a single magi in hundreds of years so they were cast out and are now just normal nobles.

I asked him why he was the biggest supplier of magic material, then. He told me it was because those stones were originally not considered a magical resource since they didn't have enough magic power in them. They used to be used as just common building material. The higher grade magic material however, have become so scarce that these stones are now classified magic material.

The council has decreed that half of all their recruits have to learn alchemy and runes. They want to transmute common materials into magic materials, or use runes to be able to make magic use of common material.

I don't know how I got back to my room, but here I am. I only remembered I forgot to ask about the reason for his wanting my gunpowder while I was laying in bed. Which is also when I remembered I still have to write my diary entry.

......

So tired, Claude's mind whispered at him. His hand was sore and his mind felt heavy, like a boulder that wouldn't move when pushed. The last entry was much longer than the rest, it filled up two sides of a page. It took him two hours to translate it.

He decided to have a rest. He didn't think he had the space in his head right now to read more even if he had the mental energy and physical energy left to finish another entry. This one contained way too much information he needed to ponder.





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