Vol 2: Chapter Five – The scene of the crime

Cobal and company followed the group of mages to the royal quarters. Barradan had permission to go to the quarters of the former crown prince, albeit only under the watchful eye of four senior palace guards. With Cobal there that probably wasn’t necessary, but having experienced the strange magics that are at play first hand, Cobal did not object to having some extra fighters in the vicinity in case something did happen. The hallway to the royal chambers was lined with expensive artwork on the walls. Paintings of former rulers, wall tapestries of epic battles and even some statues lined the hall as they made their way towards the crown prince’s room. Sapher’s room was located on the left side of the hallway. Cobal’s middle brother, Saquan’s chambers were located on the right side. They’d already walked past Cobal’s own chambers to get here and at the very end of the hallway were the King and Queen’s chambers, which were by far the largest and most expensively decorated chambers in all of the Blueyerd Kingdom.
“Here we are then,” Barradan said, stopping in front of the door. It wasn’t locked and when Barradan opened it it slightly creaked.
“It’s not been touched much since the prince’s disappearance, so I apologize for the layer of dust that has settled.”
“That’s quite alright.” They all stepped into the chambers. There was more than enough room for everyone since the crown prince has a massive room. Two desks were standing on the far end, with his bed taking up most of the other end. There, at the foot of the bed, clear for everyone to see, was the magical circle that they were here to look at. At a glance it indeed looked similar in style to the others. Kimi stepped forward and inspected it closely. Cobal went to have a look at the windows. They’d been looked over a lot of times already, but it wouldn’t hurt to look once more. Everything looked locked and there were no strange smudges or imprints that would imply otherwise. There were no other exits to the room. As they’d been told, there were no signs of anything strange except for the circle.
“I knew it,” Kimi said excitedly.
Cobal walked over to her. She was huddled around the circle with the mages. “What did you find?” He asked.
She pointed at the runic circles. “Do you see it?” Cobal looked at where she pointed, but didn’t know what she meant. “What is it?”
“It’s not easy to spot, but the outer circle is drawn by a different person than the inner two circles.”
Cobal saw Barradan’s eyes grow wide when Kimi pointed that out. “How did we miss such a simple thing?”
“It looks like whoever drew the outer circle tried to make the drawing look similar enough, but there are inconsistencies between the outer layer and the other two. The inner circles look the same throughout in the way they were drawn.”
“I can see what you mean,” Mana said. “That would suggest someone might have drawn the inner two circles, which allow a circle like this to receive something, like a summon or a transport. That lines up with our idea that the outer circle defines a location. So someone drew this circle, had someone come through it, and then that person probably drew the outer circle, being familiar with the destination, and then stepped through it with the prince.”
Mana shot Cobal a look as if she wanted to say something, then seemed to change her mind. She walked off to the window and stared out over the courtyard.
“So do you think this was the work of two people then?” Barradan asked. The other mages had mostly been quiet here. They’d probably done all their investigating many times already and didn’t have much to add.”
Cobal nodded. “I think that’s a fair assessment. Is there any way to verify this?” He looked at Kimi.
“I’ll see what I can do.”

Kimi made everyone give her some space before she took out her flute. She brought her arm down in one fell motion, transforming it into a tall harp. She sat down on a large pillow in front of it and started plucking away at the strings. Before long, a beautifully serene sound filled the room and everyone was enthralled by what they were hearing. Then suddenly, as the song seemed to be hitting its apex, the runes on the magic circle started resonating with the music. First one lit up and faded again. Then a few more lit up and faded again. Before long the symbols were lighting up in all sorts of colors.
“This reminds me of a computer keyboard,” Mana said with a nostalgic smile on her face.
“What’s that?’ Barradan asked.
Mana waved the question away. “It’s not something relevant, don’t worry about it.”
Cobal noticed something. “Is it just me, or do the center circles light up only blue while the outer circle has a mostly reddish hue to it?”
They all looked as Kimi played the harp, her fingers moving over the strings at different speeds depending on where the music was headed.
“I do believe you,’re right, your highness,” said Miloue.
Barradan nodded. “It is often said that people’s magic will have a uniqueness to it. Perhaps this color is a way of showing that.”
The song winded down and stopped a few moments later. Kimi exhaled deeply before standing up. “The magic I just used allows me to see other people’s magic. As you can see, there’s still something left of it that my music could resonate with. And like you said,” she looked at Barradan, “it does seem like two different people created this circle.”
Cobal looked at Mana who still seemed to be lost in thought like she was earlier.
“Well, I suppose we’ve learned a decent amount here today. I suggest we all let this information sink in, and if anyone comes up with something, please inform myself or Mana,” Cobal said.
“Certainly, your highness, we’ll go back to studying this magic and see if the archives have anything to say about it.”
“Very well.” Cobal turned to Mana. “Shall we go and rest up for a bit?” He looked at Kimi as well. “You look like that took quite a bit of energy.”
Kimi chuckled. “It’s not the easiest of songs to perform, so it takes some focus. I wouldn’t mind a nap either way though.”
On that note, the mages went back to their study to deliberate while Mana and Kimi joined Cobal in his chambers for some afternoon tea. Once they got there, Mana let out a deep sigh.
Cobal chuckled. “A lot coming at you all at once?”
Mana nodded. “It felt very tense in there.”
“I could see that there were some things on your mind.”
Mana nodded again. “Yeah, I have something on my mind, but I didn’t want to say it with that many people around.”

“I suspect the prince might be in on whatever is happening.” Mana said.
“Come again?” Cobal didn’t expect her to say something like that.
“I’m not saying it’s certain by any means.” She looked up at Cobal. “In my old world there’s something called Occam’s Razor, have you ever heard of that?” She chuckled. “Of course you haven’t, what a stupid question.”
“What’s that? I’ve heard of a razorblade before, if that’s what you mean?”
Mana shook her head. “It’s a way of thinking that proposes that the answer to a problem is most likely the one that requires the least amount of variables. Or something like that, I’m not an expert in philosophy, but it’s an interesting way of looking at things.”
“And why is that relevant?” Cobal asked.
“Well, if we apply that way of thinking to this current situation, then I think the crown prince being involved in some way is not unlikely. The room looked completely undisturbed. The magical circle was drawn by two different people, which means there’s a high chance two people were involved. If the crown prince drew the initial circles, used it to summon someone to their room and then this second person drew the outside circle and teleported both of them out. Wouldn’t that be the situation that requires the least amount of people involved?”
Cobal thought for a moment.
“But why would the prince do that?” Kimi asked.
Mana shook her head. “That I do not know. I’m not even sure if this is true or not. But it’s the most direct and simple answer to the situation and that makes it likely enough to at least consider.”
“Perhaps we should go back and look through his books and papers?” Kimi asked.
“I would hope they already did that.”
“That’s true, but if the prince was in on this, there could be some hints in there that others wouldn’t consider.” Kimi added.
Mana thought about this. “There’s no harm in trying I suppose.”
“Want to go back immediately then?” Cobal asked.
Mana nodded. “Might as well, gives us something to do until dinner.”

“I didn’t expect anyone back here so soon,” the guard in front of Sapher’s door said.
Cobal smiled. “We thought of something else we wanted to have a quick look at, if you don’t mind.”
The guard nodded. “Of course your highness.” He stepped out of the way and Cobal opened the door. After all three were inside, he closed the door behind him again.
“So what exactly are we looking for?” he asked Mana.
“Anything pertaining to magic, teleporting and perhaps even the Feral Wildlands.” She took out a small piece of paper. “If you see any author names, let me know and I’ll write them down. If he was dealing with this sort of magic in a way, then knowing what kind of people’s works he was reading is important information.”
Cobal nodded and started rummaging through his brother’s dresser. There was a messy pile of papers as well as some writing utensils. There was also a necklace that he knew Cyanna gave him once, several years ago. He would wear it to special occasions and important social events. If his brother did leave of his own accord, would have taken this with him? Cobal wasn’t quite sure.
“I think this might be of interest,” Kimi said, pulling a piece of paper from the drawer.
“What’s that?” Mana asked, looking it over. “This looks like it’s just a normal letter to someone, doesn’t it?”
Cobal saw the same until he noticed why Kimi had picked it out. “Oh, I see, look at the bottom left corner.”
Mana looked and seemed to get it. “That’s one of the runes used in the circle, isn’t it?” She took the piece of paper and brought it to the circle on the ground.”
Cobal’s heart sank. “It’s the same, isn’t it?”
Mana nodded. “I don’t know why or what happened, but I’m pretty confident that your brother was part of drawing this circle. And looking at this symbol on here, it’s not a spur of the moment thing either, it was probably something planned.”
“Why?” Cobal asked. “Why would he do something like that?”
“I don’t know,” Mana replied. She looked at Kimi who shook her head. “This does change things though. If your brother was involved with this kidnapping, it’s a lot less likely that the Rilodar Kingdom was directly guilty in kidnapping him.”
Cobal thought. “Not necessarily, but it’s a lot less likely now. This is very worrying.” He sighed. “Let’s head back, I think I need a drink.” He stood up from where they’d been gathered and made his way out of the room. “Did you find what you were looking for, your highness?” the guard outside the door asked when they suddenly barged out.
Cobal shook his head. “We looked at some more details but it seems that the mages have done a thorough investigation themselves.
Mana and Kimi didn’t argue with that assessment.
“Well, they are the royal mages after all, I’m sure they’re very good at what they do.”
Cobal smiled at the guard. They then all went back to their rooms to prepare for dinner with the queen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s