Author's Notes: …First off, forgive me for the rather lengthy period of time it took me to write this chapter. I’ve been way too easygoing these past days… And a minor case of writers’ block didn’t help much either. Thanks again to the reviewers of this story; your input truly means a lot to me.
But anyway; this is the obligatory ‘boring chapter that moves the plot’- probably not so enjoyable to read, but one needs it for the story to progress. Let me note now that I had very little to base Shuu’s personality on, and thus might have portrayed him out-of-character; I also have no idea how these people address one another in terms of military titles and such, so forgive me if I did that wrong.
Shuu is, in case one forgets, that old wizard (not Ko; the other one [he is male]) who appears in most of the Clover volumes. He talked briefly to Ran in volume four.
Part III - Terse Agreements
The crisp, empty silence of Shuu’s quarters was interrupted in a rather jarring manner by a clipped voice that rang in the aged man’s ears.
It took Shuu a few seconds to adjust to the sudden intrusion of his solitude; after said moment of recollection, the aged wizard’s eyes widened in dry surprise, his ears, from habit, recognizing the voice.
He paused - from bewilderment, if nothing else- before responding, his eyes attached dubiously to the transmitter the voice came from.
“Why are you contacting me?
There was a clipped, dry silence on the opposite end; the wizard Shuu’s expression remained still as he waited for the obligatory response.
“…I wish to request something.
“A request?” he repeated, an odd look flitting across his face. “This is a first, Gingetsu.
“I’m aware of that.”
The aged man blinked. It was, indeed, an unusual occurrence- Gingetsu had rarely asked for anything in his dealings with the wizards. The man was a perfect soldier; he wanted nothing.
Shuu’s eyes narrowed in faint suspicion.
“…Does it involve the three-leaf?
Another minute pause.
This made the aged man furrow his brow.
“…Gingetsu, I agreed to let you keep that child in your home on the condition that you would ask for no more pertaining to his status or liberties. I do not know what… sentimentality you may have developed for him, but there is very little you can ask for the boy that I can allow.
“Do you still wish to ask?” he pressed gently.
The answer came so readily that Shuu’s face pooled with baffled surprise. Even though the other man’s voice failed to carry the slightest bit of emotion, it was clear (to one who knew Gingetsu well) that he was, for some unimaginable reason, firmly set in his mind about whatever he wished to request- which was a very peculiar thing for the general to display.
‘What about the three-leaf could he possibly be so determined to find?’
“…State your subject, then,” Shuu granted, his orderly tone concealing the curiosity the question permitted.
Another second passed before Gingetsu replied.
“The three-leaf-“ Using Ran’s label so as to create an understanding with the older wizard, “-wishes permission to visit his brother, A.
The wizard’s eyes widened at the blunt request; a small frown made itself visible against his pale, wrinkled skin as the statement sunk in. His gaze hardened.
“…Gingetsu, you know there’s no way I could allow that.
“It’s what he asks.
This was Gingetsu in his purest form; simple, tactless, and to the point. Once he had his unfathomable mind set on arguing something, Shuu knew, the pale-haired man wouldn’t even let a second of silence pass before challenging an opponent’s argument with a clipped, driving response that left no space for a suitable counterattack. It was, in this context, quite an irritation.
“What he asks,” Shuu responded dryly, “is nothing compared to the will of any of the five wizards. I would be more than reluctant to let the three-leaf out of his isolation under ever harmless circumstances- A is the last person I would ever allow him to see. You know that, Gingetsu.” The man’s tone, cracked with age, still held an undeniable note of authority. “…As a man of your position, you cannot afford to make such foolish, emotional judgments.
“His mental condition is becoming increasingly unstable.
The clipped, acute observation left the air ringing with a sort of numb, chilled atmosphere, disrupting what position of commandment the wizard had held before.
“Ran can’t concentrate,” Gingetsu continued, his tone the same dry monotone. “He’s stopped eating at meals; he hasn’t slept. He is in a constant state of depression.
Shuu’s face was unreadable at this stage; his reply was a hesitant one.
“You… noticed all this, Gingetsu?
“He tried to hide it,” the man responded. “I don’t think he wanted me to worry.
“But he is thinking about it…” the wizard mused.
Shuu took a careful moment to think before prodding the conversation onward.
“…Why does he wish to visit A?
“I believe he wants to say goodbye.
“Goodbye?” the wizard repeated, his tone mildly perplexed. “I wouldn’t have thought that much of a reason.
“It’s what I’ve assumed from his conversation.
“...And you can trust his word?
“I’ve never seen him lie.
“Is that enough?
“I see no other reason for him to wish for such a thing.
“…To say goodbye…” the man agreed, his face turning thoughtful. “…C was the emotional one, wasn’t he?
“I’ve gathered such.
“He… would be concerned about his brother…
“It would only be one encounter.
“…Yes,” the wizard agreed. “But still…
“I don’t think he’d ever bother you again after this. If he knew, I doubt he’d even allow me to ask permission in the first place.
The final silence lasted nearly a minute; echoing between the two connections with a tense anticipation. Gingetsu sat, unmoving, on one end; on the other, the wizard Shuu’s face clouded over with an aura of deep, grudging thought.
Then, the mood was broken with a soft sigh.
Gingetsu didn’t need to respond to show that he understood; Shuu sighed.
“The council would never allow this, you know.
“That’s why I asked you.
The wizard’s eyes widened; then, faintly, he chuckled.
“…You’ll be the ruin of me, one of these days,” the man vowed with a helpless smirk. “You or Kazuhiko.
“I’ll take him tomorrow.
“Yes, you do that,” the man agreed absentmindedly; then, his tone turned strict as he took a moment to compose himself. “You have to keep the matter strictly confidential, you understand. This is only a one-time favor.
With a faint click, the transmission was ended.
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