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299 Void Follower

 Upper City, Magical Garden.

The heavy brown door slid open and revealed a path to the young lady. The magical radiance extended along the red carpet and removed all darkness. Marlene quietly observed everything before her until the magical radiance reached its end and she lifted her head, gripping her staff and walking forward.

A humble magical servant with a face made of runes emerged beside her. She bent over slightly and followed Marlene closely.

"How's Dad?"

"Everything's fine, Miss Senia."

The servant softly answered. It maintained a rhythm where she pulled a distance apart from Marlene.

"Master has always been healthy, so there aren't any issues."

"Are there anything that concerns me?"

"Yes, Miss Senia. Master Sonia was hoping that you could find time and return to school as she wishes to see your growth and progress. Also, you have a few messages from your schoolmates who are hoping to meet up with you during the Midsummer Festival."

"My schoolmates?"

Marlene slowed down and quietly stared forward with complex emotions. Then, she shook her head slightly.

"Inform Master Sonia that I will find time to return to school after the Midsummer Festival. As for the schoolmates... I'm sorry. I'm still a member of Starlight, so before the festival ends, I will stay with my mercenary group. I can't promise their date."

"Miss Ellenson was one of them."

The servant paused for a moment before continuing. Marlene pondered in silence and eventually shook her head.

"I know, but I can't. I have something important to handle right now. Inform her that I'm busy and I will find time to accompany her after the festival."

"Yes, Miss Senia."

Marlene had reached the end of the hallway. The servant vanished into thin air. Then, the heavy doors opened. Marlene tidied her clothes and proudly stepped into the room with her head held high.

The room was pitch-black, but Marlene wasn't worried at all. She walked to the middle of the room and shut her eyes. Soon enough, as the colorful magical radiance reappeared, six beings in white masks appeared with staffs in their hands and dressed in black long gowns. They surrounded the young lady and observed her in silence.

Marlene reopened her eyes. She slightly lowered her head and bowed.

"Marlene Senia is here to report to the Magic Council... I hope I'm on time."

"You arrived just in time, Marlene."

Soon enough, one of them said in a muffled voice and couldn't be differentiated as male or female.

"We intended to leave before the start of the Midsummer Festival, but after receiving your report, we decided to wait for your return. So then, can you explain everything to us now? We heard you found the guardian knight in Paphield? Is this true?"

"That's true."

Marlene nodded and lifted her staff.

The gem on the tip of the staff emanated a magical radiance. Then, scenes of images emerged in the air. From the battle in the pitch-black ruins to the battle with the devil in Blackrock Depths, everything was clearly displayed. If Rhode were here, he would have quickly recognised that those were his previous battle journeys.

"Summon Spirit!"

Within the magical images, a black-haired man extended his arm and the card on his hand immediately turned into a beautiful Battle Angel. Everyone uttered in surprise.

"This is the technique of a Spirit Swordsman!"

"Yes, everyone."

Marlene continued.

"Just as I have previously reported, Mr. Rhode completely fitted in as our Senia Family's historical description of a Spirit Swordsman. He was able to summon incredibly strong spirits by using miraculous cards to battle alongside him. Furthermore, just as I reported, he seems to have a bunch of powerful companions in the past and they have been to the Deepest Labyrinth."

"Oh gosh!"

All the six masked beings couldn't help but take in deep breaths.

"Are you sure? Marlene?"

"I'm sorry, I'm unable to confirm. But all I can say is that, through various methods, I can confirm that his past companions were indeed powerful. Also-" Marlene paused for a moment as a young lady dressed in a gown and cheekily smiling at her emerged in her mind. Then, she continued. "Also... They're at least in the Master Stage."

"Is it real?"

One of them questioned and Marlene nodded.

"Yes, Mr. Rhode held strength in the Master Stage. But, it is a pity that his companions seemed to have lost their lives."

Marlene felt pitiful for them. In the mirage, she got along well with Canary. Although she wasn't a real human and was only an illusionary image who couldn't communicate with Marlene, Marlene felt that Canary's character seemed to match well with hers. Although Canary was a self-taught Mage, she possessed strength that could make Marlene accept defeat wholeheartedly. If she were still alive, perhaps they could even be friends...

Marlene sighed. However, the six beings didn't seem too mindful.

"That indeed was a pity."

Another one said. Although his motive might be completely different from Marlene's, the meaning that both sides conveyed was still the same.

"But, this shouldn't be something of our concern. I think you are clear of your mission, Marlene."

"Yes."

Marlene lowered her head and quietly stared at the black slab on the ground. It was unimaginable that a few months ago, as she was about to leave, deep inside her heart she was actually uncertain of this mission. But now... Why weren't there any hesitations at all? Instead, she was even more excited and looking forward to it?

Maybe she knew the answer but didn't wish to face it.

Marlene was distracted for a moment and a sharp voice regained her senses.

"... We have seen how this Mr. Rhode performed in the Holy War Ceremony. Marlene, what do you think of his stance?"

Marlene considered for a moment before answering.

"I think that Mr. Rhode shouldn't be a member of the Reformist Party. As per my observations, he was biased toward the King's party and didn't have a good relationship with the Reformist Party. Just as I have reported previously... Mr .Rhode seems to have some conflicts with the Reformist Party. Besides, I feel that he didn't have too many opinions about Her Highness Lydia."

"This sounds like a good news for us... But..."

The six beings responded and discussed while Marlene stared at her staff with complicated emotions. On one hand, Marlene felt happy, but on the other hand, she was worried and afraid. Although she knew by doing this, it wouldn't bring any harm to Rhode, she felt guilty for unknown reasons. She felt that to discuss about Rhode's matters behind his back was an act of betrayal which made her felt terrible.

Terrible?

Marlene was taken aback.

Why do I need to feel terrible? This should be my mission in the first place, besides... This isn't bad for Mr, Rhode, right? Although by doing this, I may be guilty of betraying Mr. Rhode, but I, after all, am the heir of Senia Family and held the responsibility of a 'Selector'. This is my mission for my family. Shouldn't this be inevitable and right?

But... Why? Whenever Marlene thought of Rhode's expressionless face, she felt that she had done something wrong. Could it be that she was worried about Rhode finding out?

Marlene had mixed feelings and was speechless.

If this continued... Maybe one of these days, the Senia Family would need to interact with Mr. Rhode. When that happened, how would Rhode think of her when he realised that she had been doing such things all along. After spending so much time with Rhode, she knew that he wasn't interested in benefiting the majority of the people. He was calm, had plans in mind, and also worked things his way. Of course. Marlene faintly noticed that sometimes the way Rhode did things wasn't too similar to what she imagined. However, as a person from a noble family, she knew that, in this world, if one didn't work one's way through, one would be dead. That was why whenever she noticed Rhode doing something odd, she would act like she didn't notice as long as it was unrelated to her.

Just as Rhode had thought, although Marlene had accepted such things, it didn't mean that she agreed to them.

As for her...

"... Marlene?"

"Ah. Yes!"

Marlene lifted her head instantly. The six beings exchanged looks, but due to their masks, the young lady wasn't able to see their expressions. Soon, they continued and said, "You can do what you want in this Midsummer Festival. The Senia Family will unconditionally support you... If you can teach the Reformist Party a lesson, it will be for the best."

"Yes, I understand."

"So then, that's all for today... Don't forget your mission, Marlene Senia. Everything is for the Limitless Void Astrology."

"Everything for the Limitless Void Astrology."

The colorful magical radiance dissipated and darkness fell upon her once again. After a few moments, the magical radiance before her lit up. Then, the man who had been standing before her approached. He removed his mask and revealed a stern expression.

Marlene revealed a sincere smile.

"Dad... I'm back."

"Good to see you back, Marlene."

The man revealed a gratified smile as he extended his hand and caressed the young lady's smooth hair. His face was filled with kindness and reluctance.

"You have been out for so long and lost so much weight... Have a good rest at home today. Although I know the Midsummer Festival will be starting tomorrow, the true battle hasn't begun for you..." The man paused for a moment and the smile on his face faded.

"Marlene, are you willing to forgive me?"

"Dad?"

Marlene looked at her father with doubtful eyes.

"I don't understand what you mean..."

"This responsibility shouldn't be beared by you, my child."

The man continued to caress her long hair while his eyes were filled with solidarity.

"Initially, I didn't think that you would be the one in the prophecy... As a matter of fact, although it wouldn't be nice for the family to say this, I wish you were only my daughter and the heir of Senia Family and didn't need to carry such heavy responsibilities and this mission. But now..."

"I don't think that this is anything bad, Dad."

Marlene shook her head as she looked at her father with a gentle smile.

"I admit that when I left Golden City for Paphield to follow the prophecy, I was indeed worried and uncertain because I wasn't sure who the person in the prophecy would be like. I was even more afraid and resistive. Dad, during that period of time, I wished that my mission was only an imaginative dream where everything wasn't real... But now, I feel that I am fortunate. At least... From what I see, I don't think that this is worth of regretting. I'm glad to have chosen to be determined and not escape."

Marlene shut her eyes and placed her right hand on her chest.

"This body-this soul-will be presented to the Limitless Void Astrology. Dad, I have decided that no matter what consequences we need to pay, we must fulfill the goal that our family have been chasing for... For that, I am willing to offer my everything."

The man stared blankly and let out a laughter.

"Marlene, you must know that personal feelings aren't allowed in a mission."

"D-Dad?"

Marlene blushed instantly. She widened her eyes and protested.

"I am serious in my work!"

"I'm also serious about this, Marlene."

The man sighed and let out a giggle. Although Marlene denied it, how could he not realize his daughter's true thoughts as the head of the family? She eventually would grow up...

The man lifted his head.

"That's for the best, Marlene... Don't forget the meaning of the Senias."

"Yes... Dad. I will never forget it."

Marlene raised her head and faced the dome in the hall.

Under the shine of the magical radiance, the drafted Limitless Void Astrology and shining spots of stars in the dome linked up and formed a soaring huge dragon with its wings spread open. It lifted its head high and overlooked from above.

As though looking over all living creatures in this world.