“Hidden motive? What do you mean by that?” Aria asks in confusion.
Zakira raises her eyebrows slightly.
“You don’t understand? I thought you people will already know about this because of the various speculations made by the news channels… about the treaty,” She says.
“Wait, all of that is true!? But the government told us that the treaty is to improve international relations?” Aria says, looking shocked.
Come on, Aria. You seriously believed that?
“Well, isn’t it obvious that they are lying?” Zakira asks while raising her eyebrows further up.
This time, Rebecca speaks up…
“Yes, most people do think that the government is lying. So, does that mean that they really are trying to study the system of students who participated in this year’s system ceremony?” Rebecca asks.
“… but not each and every individual,” Zakira says.
“What do you mean by that?” I ask.
“I meant what I said. Not every person who participated in the system ceremony this year will be studied…”
Suddenly, relief spreads inside me… Though I don’t know the reason for it.
Shouldn’t it be good for me if the authorities find out that my system is broken? Wouldn’t they just help me!?
Then why do I feel that I shouldn’t tell them about my system anymore?
“But you are looking for clues related to the disturbances at WST, right? Then isn’t there a risk of skipping some important clues this way?” Aria asks with a frown.
Yeah, that should be the case. One reason for my surprise when I heard of the theory that the government might try to study the systems of everyone who were present at this year’s system ceremony, was that how are they going to manage that.
Including all the system-dependent countries, just the sheer number of people should pose a great problem for the government, well, that is, if they do things secretively.
“No, there is not any risk…” Zakira answers Aria.
“… as we have already pinpointed the location from where the disturbances started occurring,” Zakira says lightly.
Everyone gets silent and stare at Zakira with wide eyes.
“Y-You have pinpointed the location… where all this started occurring?” I ask, getting nervous all of a sudden.
Please don’t tell me Zakira is here to arrest me or something.
“Yes, we have. And I guess there should be no doubt as to where that location is?” She asks as her gaze falling on all of us.
“Our city… Clayacre,” Rebecca answers while nodding.
“Correct. And that is the reason why we: the vampires, elves and the beastkins have arrived here earlier than you were expecting us to,” Zakira says.
“And how did you guys find out that it is our city from where the disturbances raised?” Aria asks.
For a split second, I thought Zakira looks a little reluctant to answer but she sounds normal when she speaks…
“Hmm… you know that there was a huge burst of magical energy from WST on the night of the system ceremony, right?
“Well, after some investigation, we founded out the WST is not the only tower that had an energy burst that night. Peculiarly, there was also a secondary system tower, which released magical energy of the exact same signature but of much lesser power to come under the notice of anyone at that time…”
Suddenly, a memory resurfaced into my mind of a room with walls made from black rocks and blue and pink colored veins spreading on it like the roots of a tree. There was a small dome-shaped cave in the middle of that room with its entrance shining pure white with light… and I also remember the extreme pain I felt when I got infused with my system.
“… and after a bit more research, we found out that that secondary tower is in your city,” Zakira finishes explaining.
“I-I get why you all are here…but is the mixed race magical tournament is being conducted to study our systems?” Aria asks in a low voice.
I can tell just from the way Aria looks that she is scared from the prospect of her system being studied… like everyone else.
“Well, I won’t say that this is not done to promote friendship between different races as well, but yes… the main purpose of this tournament is to make things easier for us to analyze the magical patterns and the specifications of the system of students,” Zakira answers.
Wait a second…
“Then why are you and the other two Elf princesses are here!? If it leaks out that you all are planning to study our system, won’t the situation become really bad? Isn’t your safety on the line here!?” I ask.
This time, Zakira actually laughs.
“Hahaha… And what makes you think that just because we are the princesses, we should not have come here?” she asks.
“I-I mean, I told you the reason. You might not be safe here…” I answer.
To be honest, I am asking just because I am curious about it, not because I am concerned about her safety or anything. Especially not after she tried to kill me yesterday…
“Not safe? Hahaha… I don’t have time to go into details but let me tell you this, Jacob; just because we are princesses doesn’t mean that we are not even powerful enough to protect ourselves. In fact, it’s just the opposite,” She says.
“Just the opposite?” I ask, confused.
“Yes. I consider myself fairly stronger than any vampire of my system Level. And about Leena and Illyrana? Well, I won’t say anything about them. I want to see your face when you look at them perform in the tournament,” she says.
So, the princesses are strong, huh? I though Zakira must be weak because of what happened yesterday. Well, I don’t know for sure yet…she might be lying.
But still, apart from this, even though I understand the reason behind this tournament and the treaty, many other questions are arising in my mind because of it as well which are bugging me a lot.
And the biggest one of them all is that why is Zakira telling us all of this? Especially to Rebecca and Aria whom she has not even met once before?
It seems really suspicious…
Rebecca is silent right now and is lost in her thoughts. It looks like the same case is with Aria as well. Though Zakira is looking at me again with that same sort of hungry look I saw in her eyes yesterday.
But for some reason, I think that’s not all. It almost seems like she wants to say something more to me…
Suddenly, Zakira speaks up.
“I need to go somewhere else but before I leave, I would like to have a few words with Jacob… privately,” she says.
“What!? Why!? Say what you want in front of us!” Aria says while sounding angry again, for some reason.
Zakira doesn’t reply to her but just gives me a meaningful stare.
Well, fuck it!
“I-I want to talk to her privately as well…” I tell Aria.
Aria turns almost red from anger.
“This is my house! You don’t get to decide here! I won’t leave this room—”
“Aria… let’s leave them alone.”
Suddenly, Rebecca speaks up while cutting in-between Aria.
“Please, Aria. Let’s leave,” She says while standing up.
Wait, is Rebecca angry?
I look at her face properly but I cannot seem to find any anger there, instead, I can see a calm and understanding sort of look.
And even though Aria is looking really frustrated, she doesn’t argue with her sister and stands up as well.
Finally, Rebecca gives me a little smile before leaving the room together with Aria.
And, the moment the door of the room closes, Zakira turns back to me. Her face is completely changed now. It is etched with concern and worry…
“Jacob, I need to ask you something. Please answer truthfully…”