Yes, there were definitely two of her.
No, why would I lie to a knight like you?
I saw them.
And their predictions were spot on… They saw my future.
The Treasure Caves lay to the east of Sacred Albion, on the northern end of the Longhorn Mountains.
There were rumors that they lived in the entrance to an old mine that was home to a coven of sorceresses who would look into the future of anyone who could afford their high price.
“Faith, there is no one I trust more than you. I have a favor to ask of you.”
I received a call from my master ten days prior.
“I need you to go to the Treasure Caves and ask the most talented sorceress there to look into my future.”
As you know, my master was one of the wealthiest merchants in Sacred Albion, which also made him one of the wealthiest people in all of Keter Sanctuary.
“I have been presented with a business deal that I just can’t ignore. Should I go ahead with it? Or is it too risky? That’s what I want to know.”
“I’d really like some advice on how I should proceed. Don’t be stingy, offer them double their usual fee. And hurry back.”
I set off for the Longhorn Mountains, just as I was told, taking as much luggage with me as I could carry.
I was on a mission to find the sorceresses who could predict the future.
I never doubted for a second the effect that predictions would have on our business. Every new year I go to the temple and have my fortune told, and always buy a good luck amulet. If my master—who was always very decisive when it came to business decisions—was seeking help from these sorceresses, then it must be a very important deal.
As for finding the best sorceress, everyone I asked recommended the Hexaorb Sorceress, so that was the one I went after.
I looked up at the Heavenly Floating Islands of Ketergia, then made my way through the countryside, the sword at my side remaining sheathed. I arrived at the Treasure Caves and was greeted by a woman.
“I am the Tri Connect Sorceress. Thank you for waiting, Faith of Sacred Albion. Please, follow me.”
What I saw both surprised and confused me.
I had imagined the Treasure Caves would be like any other abandoned mine, but they were as clean, shiny, and well maintained as any facility in Sacred Albion.
The Tri Connect Sorceress led me to a building near the entrance and offered me a seat as she took me further into the temple.
The room was decorated with countless triangles. The sorceress who had led me there looked young, but as she stared at me, holding her staff at her side, I could feel the wisdom of the ages in her gaze. As we continued to talk, I started to feel calmer.
“Your name is Faith. You were born in Sacred Albion. Your parents are alive. Your father operates a sword fighting academy. You are the second son in your family, and from an early age you have been an apprentice to the wealthy merchant Perricheu. Your skill with a blade and aptitude for figures and business have made you dependable to those around you… Of course, I only see the past, so none of that should have surprised you.”
I couldn’t hide my shock.
“Unfortunately, it is not permitted to speak of the future of someone who is not present here.”
“However, we can see into your future, Faith, and that may be able to answer the question your master sent you here with. Would that be acceptable?”
I was in a bind. But then, they hadn’t charged me for anything yet, so I decided to proceed into the next room. The sorceress wished me luck. I didn’t know why she did that.
“I am the Tier Square Sorceress…”
The next sorceress I was introduced to was soft-spoken.
The room we were in was square, the tip of her staff was square, even the ornament in her hair was square.
“Hey, don’t get distracted!”
I was being scolded, but it didn’t feel malicious. Perhaps it was because she reminded me of the servants in Master Perricheu’s house. This girl was terribly shy, though… Ah, but I wasn’t paying attention again.
“You have a problem. The solution exists in both the past and future.”
The Tier Square Sorceress, as expected, told me of the present.
“Your expression gives too much away. You shouldn’t be so hasty. Besides, I’m talking about you, not your master. So, listen carefully. It is your head you need to use now, not your sword.”
The Tier Square Sorceress tapped me on the head with her square-tipped staff.
“As your answer cannot be found here in the present, I shall not charge you for my services. Please take him, Pentagleam Sorceress.”
The next sorceress appeared in response to her mysterious words. I wanted to know what my future held now, so I didn’t need to be told twice. I followed the next sorceress gladly.
The Tier Square Sorceress’s parting words hit me hard.
“I’m the Pentagleam Sorceress! Nice to meet you!”
Why was it, I wonder, that just being in her presence made me feel so exhilarated?
She seemed even younger than the previous two. But…
“Be careful on your way back. You mustn’t stray off-track. I see you losing money and getting hurt. Be warned. To avoid this fate, you must stay at the inn for two days longer than you would have, and ask the third merchant you encounter to allow you to accompany them. Look for a red-feathered ornament. You must always walk with the head of the caravan.”
As we sat in the pentagonal room the sorceress started telling me of the near future. But there was something else I desperately wanted to know.
“That will come later. The Hexaorb Sorceress will tell you more, so don’t worry about the fee for now. Besides…”
“Let me give you some advice. We can only tell what is most likely to happen. The choice is yours. Just keep an open mind and have faith in your own decisions.”
The Pentagleam Sorceress looked at me, and with a gleam in her eyes wished me luck. I reflexively responded with a cheerful “thanks.”
At last, I was introduced to the Hexaorb Sorceress.
We were in the deepest chamber in the Treasure Caves.
This room was unlike the others I had been brought to so far. She stood at the end of the room, in a corner raised up almost like a throne. Behind her was what appeared to be a gate of some kind made of rock and metal. The room resembled the hexagonal shape of her hat.
Something about that space immediately brought “machinery” to mind. It was odd, it’s not like there was a smell of oil or the sound of gears whirring.
“Welcome to the Treasure Caves, Faith.”
There was something undefinable about the depth and profundity of her voice. I shuddered as I felt as though I were floating through the air, being toyed with by a giant hand.
I forced my shaking knees to stay still, told the sorceress about why I was there and asked about the price for her services. This was her response.
“I know everything. It is my job as a sorceress to tell you about the future. Unlike Magi, we take a more active role in protecting this world.”
What the Hexaorb Sorceress was saying was way beyond my comprehension, but I had a feeling that it was now or never if I wanted to achieve my objective.
“I am here to find out about my master Perricheu’s future. Should he go ahead with the big deal? Or should he decline?” I asked, my heart pounding.
“Very well. I shall answer by telling you of your own future. Now…”
There appeared to be two sorceresses now; I still didn’t know whether what I was seeing was real.
The Hexaorb Sorceress revealed two paths to me.
The first one led to a future of prosperity with my master Perricheu.
The other led to a world where I threw myself into fulfilling my own dream and became part of a much larger world.
Both paths were filled with trials, and with hope.
Both had a clear path that I could follow, and both had obstacles that I would have to overcome.
“The path that lies ahead of you leads to your dreams. The path behind will take you back to your master.”
The voice seemed to come from both in front of me and behind me.
I turned around to see another Hexaorb Sorceress, wearing the same hexagonal jewel.
That surprised me. For some reason I knew right away that this was not just a twin, but rather a clone of the same sorceress.
It was time to make a decision.
Right. I walked forward.
I then woke up in a bed in an inn.
I checked my coin purse—exactly twice the standard fee for the sorceresses’ services was missing. When I asked the innkeeper about what had happened, he told me that I had come to the inn and asked for a room. I had no memory of any of that.
As terrified as I was, I did as the sorceress told me, and I made it safely home. What would have happened had I not followed her instructions? Unlike the route out to the caves, bandits and monsters were common even on the highway.
I told my master of the good news (he told me it sounded hopeful either way), then bid farewell to the Perricheu household. I learned that the business meeting went well.
I had a dream.
But out of respect for my beloved master I had put that dream aside to serve him. My seniors and colleagues tried to hold me back. The pain that caused me still lingers to this day.
However, my master’s parting words made my decision an easy one.
“You have heard the voice of your other self. I only wish you had done so sooner.”
The sorceresses of the Treasure Caves pushed me forward. I finally made up my mind.
My dream was to dedicate my life to ensuring my country’s stability and peace.
To become a knight.
Just as trade can enrich people’s lives, I want to use my sword to ensure the people of this planet are able to prosper.
This is how I, Faith, came to apply to join the Golden Paladins.
I ask only that you stop thinking of me as a simple merchant.
I look forward to receiving your response, commander.
<<Notes about Terminology>>
Once known as Magi, sorceresses made a living out of their studies in precognition and fortune telling.
It was said that in ancient times it was the Magi who wrote the “Keter Engine,” a book containing various prophecies.
As the power of blessings and magic weakened in the godless era, the prophecies in the Keter Engine became less accurate. The Magi used the power contained within the engine to create the Heavenly Floating Islands of Ketergia.
In the Chakrabarthi Divine Era most of the sorceresses lived on the floating islands and were responsible for maintaining and improving the Keter Engine.
However, some of the sorceresses embarked upon their own mission to realize a “future as it should be.”
Supervising Editor: 中村聡