It was quite a vast ground floor, a little dozen of tables in the living room however it was empty, there was only two people, sat in front of each other, having a simple good and ol’ stew. Drake was in front of him with a smile, having a meal while Umbrum seemed to be in trance in front of his plate. After the bed, it was the food, how unexpected.
Two fingers flicked and his mind returned to his body, staring now at his master who was smiling widely and asked a very simple question.
“Do you know what is the Esoteric Syndicate ?”
As the mage wished to join it, he must know what is it, right ?
“I do not, all I know is that it is a organization affiliated to a country, that has a huge influence and that shelters their newcomers.”
Hearing the last part of his sentence, a sigh escaped Drake’s mouth, was this child really as ignorant as he thought ? No, he was even worse than he originally thought.
“Alright, so let me explain… first, as you don’t even particularly know what is the Esoteric Syndicate… you don’t know what is our country as well, isn’t it ? We are in Daizelkien. Formerly a lawless land and now under the control of the Esoteric Syndicate, in other words, the core element of this country, rulers of magical arts and one of the too many dominant forces in our poor doomed world.”
His eyebrows creased, shouldn’t this kind of attitude be considered as counterproductive since Drake was trying to take him as an assistant ? Details details.
“That is honest of you.”
In the end, he could not help but comment. Drake simply continued his monologue, ascending from his seat, rising his arms and a smile was nonchalantly appearing on his face.
“Haha, it can be said to be everything but honest ! I am just stating facts. But who cares ? Let’s just get back to some boring uninteresting subjects that we unfortunately need to know. Anyway… you could say that the Esoteric Syndicate is the government itself, the state, the country, it is what represents our shady and heinous land. Their policy has been really strict, at the start, one fault was equal to be sentenced to death. It is less severe than before fortunately or easily three quarters of us would now be dead or a revolution would have already happened.”
Of course the ones revolting won’t be peasants nor the oppressed people, why would they even bother to do such tedious tasks ? No, it would be the sentenced to death, those ones with filled pockets, costly spells, sophisticated clothes, smirks, rings… who else can revolt after all ?
“Let’s continue, we have been told to be… very open to public. To change our policy, and well as nobody wanted to take such risks, right, before that, what would be the risks if we do so ? Failure, but failure is not accepted. But then what would have exactly caused this failure ? The purist. The ones obeying to the traditions to the highest degree. And imagine the person taking the mission of changing our policy with one institution in a rather desolated place, what would the purist do ? Provoke his failure as he is going against our so great traditions.”
His explanation was stinking the sarcasm, eyes pleated at every venomous spit falling on the table and entering his ears.
“And what if that person was me ? In short, I am in charge of an exclusive mission and if it works, I will one of the richest mystic as I would be the key of the future success of our Syndicate. This is why I want to hire you, you would be the first example of a random arcanist getting hired, is it not perfect for both of us ? You get to keep your life, get sheltered and stuff.”
Isn’t it more like it an one-sided deal ? Did he even have the choice ? Of course not.
His thought process began to function as he analyzed his words, first thing to do would be to solve the conflicts between the definition of different words.
Mystics, Arcanists and Mages. Did it not mean the same thing in the end ? Yes and no, Mages are split into two part, mystics and arcanists, most mages are arcanist, then the second majority is the group of people being both arcanists and mystics, and the minority are the pure Mystics.
An Arcanist is mage who learnt magic through studies, analyzes, experiments, in others words through knowledge and employ rigid magical systems. While a Mystic is often what you would call a… monster. Similar to monsters, they can use magic without thinking, it is just natural, nothing more, nothing less, they have this instinct, this innate nature in them. They have something more than the perfectibility that mankind possess. Then, if they are described like these, aren’t the persons who are Mystic and Arcanist the most dangerous ? In fact, they aren’t as often the study is in conflict with their Mystic nature, some of them even get deprived of it by accident through studying the arcanes.
Nevertheless, in the end, they are all mages.
A person wielding a power beyond imagination yet within the realms of it.
“Mmm… do you perhaps have a map of your country ?”
Umbrum asked on a perplexed tone, it will greatly help him if he had a map as he easily gets lost. And as his future assistant, if he did not know where to go, wouldn’t he be the one to be assisted ? It made Drake smile.
“Indeed, however I need one so I will give you one later, as for now, do you any real questions ? Or do I need to continue with my explanation ?”
At his question, Umbrum nodded and began to wait for him to continue as some of his questions might be or not replied by the explanation he planned.
“So, as you guessed, your work won't be the same as an assistant in the main Esoteric Syndicate, we are... more open-minded and flexible, we are located near neighbors countries to show this, anyway, you could think of your job as a receptionist for mercenaries, but in a more... governmental way. Diplomacy, wide-scale hunting, escort, and so forth. This is the kind of business we will be running. Obviously, the true goal is to make people rely more on our services as we begin to spread on all domains.”
Drake smiled without much remorse, no, he did not have any, it was a common practice after all, to exploit someone's needs for their own desires. Nothing worth mentioning either. It is simply a tacit understanding between the people and the leaders, conscious and unconscious.
“So, we could say that we have... assignments, I didn't decide on the name yet, it will be a branch of the Esoteric Syndicate, the Magic Association, quite small as for now. But backed up by one of the strongest institutions in our world, am I not in a favorable situation ?”
It was a rhetorical question.
“Of course not, my role is unfortunately important, any of my errors might get me fired or death, that's how the syndicate is, cheerful cheerful...”
He seemed to be tired with this situation, after a few minutes, he laughed and exclaimed loudly.
“Well ! I will be remembered as the Founder of the Magic Association ! Isn't it great ?! I am entering history... I should be happy.”
Umbrum did not say anything, he simply kept staring at his master, literally.
“So... before we get you to manage the paperwork... we need to find a staff. And I have exactly six months before the official opening of the Magic Association.” Six months to find a staff, it should be easy enough, no, it even seems to be too much time. Something was fishy.
“I need... trustworthy people, and that's the first major problem... I have some ideas... but... it will be vaguely criticized and hard to set up...”
“Anyway... I guess, that's it for the explanation, you could be said to be the first person entering the staff. And you will be helping me to find the rest, your original work will begin after we completed the preparations, we are only lacking trustworthy personals after all.”
Umbrum frowned, he glared at him and found Drake way too suspicious.
“Ah, don't misunderstand, I don't trust you however, I don't doubt you either which means you have potential.”, there was no issues with his words, Umbrum completely expected it, “Alright, I explained everything... and I gu-”.
“I have a favor to ask. This organization is going to grow big, right ?”, Umbrum did not bother wasting time in roundabout way, he needed those information. A smile appeared on the chairman's face, “My family, I want... to use your future network to find them, I can draw them and tell specifics traits that they have. Like a ta-”
A hand stopped him from talking, a chill ran down his spine and his voice froze in the middle of his words. The hand, shrouded in a black tissue, poked his throat, a strange pressure stopped the young mage from speaking, breathless. Everything happened in a second as the hand was already fading. The moment it realized it was disappearing, it moved quickly. Fingers contorting and surrounding the throat, before it could grasp properly this white and familiar skin, it passed through it and disappeared.
However, nothing happened, nobody saw anything. It was just one of those hallucinations, Umbrum thought.
Suddenly, the future assitant coughed, pain filled his throat as something seemed to surge from it, his hand on his own mouth, his eyes darted toward his glove and saw blood, quickly, he wiped it off on the back of his outfit and smiled as Drake's wrinkles creased on his forehead as if he was in deep thoughts. Something was wrong with Umbrum's attitude according to him, the tip of his nose momentarily moved as he sniffed a peculiar scent, at first, he was attracted to it until...
“I accept, however, we will talk about it once the Magic Association has grown out big.”
....he saw this.
It was the first time, the first time he saw a bright and sincere smile on his, always taciturn and rather silent, never showing any intensive emotions, but, the moment he accepted his request. It was as if the sun was shining in front of him, someone who did not knew how happiness looks like would immediately understand what is it if he happened to meet him. To him, this smile was one of the most beautiful he ever saw, because of its honesty and... childishness.
“You should smile more often.” hearing that, Umbrum was agape, he did not know what to say, his hands rose, he pointed his finger toward Drake while his other hand was scratching the side of his head. It did not help. The chairman smirked and showed his back, leaving him. Since Drake was bound to be his chief... perhaps, should he do some efforts ? To smile from time to time at the bare minimum.
After seeing him leaving, Umbrum stayed by himself and seemed to be concentrated, the corners of his lips hardly rose and immediately fell when he clicked his tongue.
"...it hurts a bit."
He could not help but comment about the feeling of smiling itself, on top of that, he found himself quite... silly to practice smiling, if Drake saw him... for some reasons, he trembled at this possibility and rubbed his own temples, sincerely hoping that nobody saw him.