There were five witches in this world.
“The Locked Forest Witch”,
“The Water Witch”,
“The Uninvited Witch”,
“The Silent Witch”,
“The Blue Moon Witch”;
these were their names.
They could appear on a whim, call calamity with their tremendous power and disappear. They were symbols of fear and disaster in the continent.
Amongst them, the Blue Moon Witch was the one most powerful.
She had built a blue tower in a deserted land that belonged to no countries and lived on the top floor. It was said that whoever climbed to the top of the tower would have their wish granted for a price. But as it came out that the challengers didn’t return from the tower, people didn’t even come close to its neighborhood anymore.
As he stabbed his sword into the second gargoyle’s right eye, a dreadful scream echoed in the spacious room.
The other gargoyle had already been down on the floor. Its large, unmoving mass was disintegrating into black grains that disappeared into the air.
The remaining gargoyle, with black liquid pouring out from its stabbed eye, swung his left arm at his body. The blow was full of the rage of a wounded creature, and even a bear would instantly die from it
But that blow hit empty air instead.
He had jumped up and dodged it with his formidable reflexes, then cut off the gargoyle’s neck with his sword.
The head fell to the ground with a muffled sound.
The large headless body shook once from left to right, but finally couldn’t keep straight anymore and collapsed.
He heaved and shook his sword to get rid of whatever had stuck on it. Turning around, he saw Razar was still sticking close to the wall looking relieved.
“Your safety is more important than anything…”
“If I was eaten, you wouldn’t be able to say so, right?”
He cracked a joke and looked forward.
As the gargoyles’ bodies disappeared, the floor at the end of the room started to glow. The device to transfer them to the next floor had started up.
He began walking towards the device. Just then, the entire room suddenly shook violently.
He looked around; the floor had vanished at places, and the remaining parts had also started to collapse.
“Razar, hurry up!”
He shouted. As he looked back at his attendant, he was shocked.
There was already a big hole between him and Razar, who was still standing by the wall at a corner of the room. Razar had been completely isolated.
If he jumped now, he might make it, though just barely. However, it was impossible for Razar to jump such a distance. With that conclusion, he turned back towards Razar.
The floor was collapsing rapidly and far down, the floor of the level below could be seen. The portion of the floor leading to the transfer device was also becoming a path of stepping stones.
“Your Highness, please go on ahead.”
“Idiot! You’ll fall down.”
“No, I’m fine with this. I’m really sorry, but I’m leaving first.”
Razar said. His face was pale, but he smiled and bowed deeply.
“Please, go on… I look forward to the day you become King with all my heart.”
The attendant who had been by his side since he had been old enough to understand said to him without raising his head. His voice was slightly quavering, but it was full of resolution.
Impatience seeped into his voice; he stretched out his arm.
But right at that moment, the whole area where Razar was standing crumbled down with a thunderous sound.
There were only five floors left.
No matter how difficult the riddles he had solved or powerful the demons he had banished, he simply cut his way through indifferently.
It was like this tower was originally meant to be climbed by one person alone. Losing Razar wasn’t a problem to his competence at all; but somehow, dejection dominated him.
Seventy years ago, ten comrades had climbed this tower together, but only had reached the destination. Had his great-grandfather felt the same?
As he pondered of this, he finally came to stand before the door to the top floor.
The first thing that leapt to his view when he opened the door was the scenery from the large window right in front.
As this was the very top floor of the tower, he could see to the end of the wilderness. The nature world, illuminated red by the setting sun, was so magnificently beautiful that he lost his words. He hadn’t had a view from such a height before. A gentle wind blew in from outside, ruffling his hair.
The chamber was spacious but messy.
Unknown things were casually piled up along the walls. There were swords and chests, jars and paintings; many were old, and each seemed to be a magical item.
But if one pushed away all the clutter, it seemed to be an ordinary room where people lived in.
A voice, thin as the sound of a flute, sounded in his ears.
The voice, together with the wind, calmly and naturally echoed inside the chamber. Its owner was in the inner part of the chamber, where he couldn’t see from his place at the entrance.
“I’ve prepared tea. This way, please.”
He kept a hand on the sword on his hips and cautiously moved forward. The interior of the chamber, which was just as cluttered as the entrance, gradually came into his view.
On the small table on the left of a window was a steaming cup. He took a deep breath and stepped forward, his whole body tensing.
She stood there with her back towards him.
“Your companion is sleeping on the first floor. He’s not injured.”
The witch said while turning around to face him.
“Nice to meet you. My name is Tinassha. Almost no one calls that name though.”
He sat down on a chair as she urged and asked suspiciously:
“Are you The Witch? You don’t look the part.”
“Asking about a witch’s appearance is a foolish question.”
Tinassha, who was tilting her head slightly, looked just like a beautiful, 16 or 17 years old girl.
Even though she wore a black robe, she wasn’t a wrinkled old woman. The robe was made from high quality cloth but in plain style to allow for easy movements. She sat down on the chair opposite him.
What was worth mentioning was her exceptional beauty.
She had long black hair, porcelain-white skin, and deep dark eyes that seemed to reflect the night. Her look was more impressive than any noble ladies he had seen until now.
“Did you use magic to alter your appearance?”
Astonished at his straightforward question, Tinassha still smiled.
“So you’re the type that asks discourteous questions. Quite earthy.”
“You have lived for hundreds of years, haven’t you? But you have no wrinkles.”
“I have lived several times longer than any human. My body has stopped growing.”
Her mouth, which looked like a red flower petal, touched the cup. It was so different from the “witch” he had imagined that he felt quite disappointed.
As if having expected such a reaction, Tinassha smiled wryly and pressed on.
“Well, it’s your turn to talk next, isn’t it? You’re the first to climb up all the way here almost by yourself. If it’s not too much trouble, then tell me your name.”
He pulled himself together at those words and slightly straightened up. He put on his natural nobility and dignity, and the atmosphere changed.
“Ah, excuse me. I am Oscar Raes Incrateus Roz Farsas.”
Her eyes slightly widened at the end of his sentence.
“Farsas? The Farsas Royal Family?”
“I am the first heir to the throne.”
Tinassha looked him up and down with scrutinizing eyes.
“Now that you mentioned it, you do look a bit like him… But Regius had a more good-natured face.”
“Cause I have a bad character.”
She laughed out loud at his calm reply.
“Sorry. But you’re the better man. Reg was too pure, and could be a bit childish…”
She said and gazed out of the window, and for a moment, Oscar saw something more than nostalgia overflowing her eyes.
Those were the eyes of someone who had lived for a long time. He was convinced that this girl was indeed “The Blue Moon Witch”.
“Do you live here alone?”
“I have a familiar. Litora!”
A 5 or 6 years old child silently appeared at the entrance at her call. Litora had a good-looking but expressionless face, and its gender was unclear. The familiar bowed at Oscar.
“Nice to meet you. I am Litora. Your companion is sleeping deeply due to the trap’s effect, so I put a blanket on him.”
Litora bowed again at his words and retreated to the wall.
He tasted his cup; the aroma of high quality tea teased his face. A blunt question casually came out:
“Where are the people who came to challenge this tower and failed? Did you hold a mass burial?”
Tinassha openly grimaced at his question.
“Please don’t just turn the surroundings of someone’s residence into a graveyard of your own accord. I don’t want to throw any corpses out of the tower, so no one dies.”
“People normally die when attacked by gargoyles”
Oscar pointed out.
Tinassha laughed and waved her hands.
“The moment they’re about to receive a fatal blow, they’ll be transported to the first floor instantly. Those who are disqualified will have their memories tampered with appropriately, then transferred to different places all around the continent. Most of them want to test their abilities or earn some fame, so I want them to at least have the resolution to pay a price.”
This sweetly-smiling girl did give off the grace of being the tower’s master. Together with her elegant manner and beauty, even if someone said that this chamber belonged to a royal, it wouldn’t be amiss.
“But Master, those challengers who come to ask for their child to be healed and such, you still help them even though they are disqualified.”
“Don’t say unnecessary things.”
She looked embarrassed at her familiar’s words and averted her eyes from Oscar. The sense of intimidation she had carried not long ago was broken for a split second, and the witch at that moment seemed to be just a young girl like her outward appearance. The impression she gave him was completely inconsistent, and Oscar found it amusing.
“You’re very elusive.”
“I’d rather not.”
Her sulky reply was rather cute.
“Don’t you go into town? The other witches appear before humans more than you.”
Oscar asked while playing with the porcelain doll on the table. It had the form of a little girl carrying a shopping basket, and was extremely intricate.
“I do if there’s something I have to buy myself, but… I don’t want to recklessly meddle with humans. My power is not something to be wielded on a whim.”
“Indeed. If only the Silent Witch followed your approach.”
Tinassha tilted her head at the sudden mention of another witch’s name.
“Is that related to the reason why you’ve come here?”