“Have you seen Lord Alois?”
No matter who Camilla asked, it didn’t seem as if anyone could answer that question.
In Blume’s main square, the festival preparations were keeping everyone busy that morning.
As Victor’s group had their final practice on the stage they were going to perform on, they were having their last-minute debates about this note or another.
In a quieter corner of the square, a tent had been set up as both a changing and storage room. Inside, Mia was making some final adjustments to the band’s costumes. Nicole was busy helping out, so she wasn’t by Camilla’s side.
Klaus was instructing the manpower in the square. With the stands needing erecting by midday, the young men were busy running to and fro carrying wood and other supplies.
Along the main boulevard, Günter was orchestrating the food stalls that were going up one after another.
Amongst all these busy people, she couldn’t see sight nor sound of Alois.
Thinking that he was maybe busy organizing preparations somewhere, Camilla asked all sorts of people, but none of them had seen Alois. He had definitely been with them when they set out to begin the preparations for the festival that morning, but once things started to become busy it was like he had just melted away into the crowds.
– I thought it would have been nice to have him make some garlands with me.
Even after using a lot of them as decorations for the festival, there were still a large amount of flowers leftover from the deliveries the florists had made. She had found it boring making them alone in the tent, so she hoped that perhaps he could help her and set off to find him, but that wish had fallen flat.
– Just what is he doing, I wonder?
As Camilla worriedly thought about Alois’ whereabouts, she dejectedly walked back to the tent. If he was only running an errand, he had been gone a long time, what’s more, no one had seen him at all.
That being said, Alois wasn’t exactly the kind of person who should be disappearing like this. If he was going somewhere he should, by all means, have told them, not to mention taking one or two people as escorts.
It was out of character for him to just slip away like this. Did he get into an accident? Or maybe he…
– Something feels wrong.
Should she ask Klaus to help search? No… Instead, should she take another look around the area? Perhaps he had been nearby this entire time and they just hadn’t seen each other through pure bad luck? But…
Inside the tent, Mia and Nicole were working hard to iron out any wrinkles in the band’s costumes.
Camilla’s anxiety that caused her eyebrows to knit together in worry was drowned out by a sudden explosion that rang out from the direction of the main street.
As soon as she heard that booming sound, Camilla ran out of the tent in a hurry. Mia and Nicole too left the tent, utterly bewildered by the sudden noise.
The people who were working in the plaza had a similar reaction. Just as Camilla had jumped out of the tent, Victor and the others had put down their instruments and gotten off the stage to see what was going on at the same time. ‘What’s going on?’ and ‘What was that?’, those sorts of voices began to buzz through the square.
Looking further, she could see that people were also looking shocked on the main street. Thankfully, it didn’t seem as if there had been any injuries or damage to the stalls. But everyone who was milling around had a look of confusion on their faces, wondering just what on earth the source of that noise had been.
“H-Help! It’s an emergency!”
Over the quietly confused throng of people, a single sharp scream sounded.
Camilla knew that voice, the one that echoed sharply through the crowd. As she heard it, Camilla was shocked when she saw that person rushing towards the square from the direction of the main street.
Suddenly thinking about it, when she looked back at the band near the stage, Verrat definitely wasn’t amongst them. Had she not noticed at all because she was so worried about Alois?
Just why had she alone left the square? It was an obvious question, but it was drowned out by Verrat’s shout.
“There was an explosion in the back alley! Lots of materials got burned up and some people are hurt! Everyone, please, we have to help them!”
Just off the main street, there was an alleyway that led to a vacant lot. Because it was unused as well as being close to the main street, they had been using it in order to store all sorts of miscellaneous things needed for the festival that there wasn’t room for in the tent, such as the wood for the stalls, various bolts of cloth and bundles of flowers and cooking supplies.
“We have to stop anyone else getting hurt! Quickly, we need to make sure everyone gets off the main street for now!”
Camilla didn’t lose herself as she listened to Verrat’s desperate plea. Being the first person to rush out of the square, she began to go as fast as she could down the main street.
Victor, Klaus and the others came right after her.
– I won’t let you ruin this!
What was the cause of the explosion? Accident or incident, right now it didn’t matter to Camilla.
– Because I am going to make this a success!
For Camilla’s own sake… As well as Alois’.
Seized by that conviction, Camilla ran down the street.
Eventually, they arrived at the vacant lot along with half of the festival’s manpower… To discover not much of anything.
Indeed, there had been an explosion. Some of the thinner boards of wood had been cracked in half. Some of the flowers and cooking equipment had been scattered around as well.
On the ground, at the centre of the apparent explosion, there was a smattering of blackened soil. After looking at the ground for a little while, Nicole told Camilla that it seemed similar to an accidental discharge of magical power.
“They might have had a manastone accident… But that can’t be right. It’s not something that can happen unless it was done intentionally.”
“Yes. The magic in manastones is much more stable than in people, but if its magic is poured into it from an outside source, it won’t be able to maintain its shape… Umm… I don’t know why someone would want to do it, but I suppose it would be possible for anyone to do.”
Every human possessed at least a modicum of magical power. Even if some people had stronger or weaker magic than others, every person would be able to let it flow through them to some extent.
What’s more, one’s magic power could be compensated through the use of manastones. To transfer energy from a manastone, there was a push and pull factor, where energy is drawn from the manastone into a person’s body. Anyone could cause an accidental explosion this way.
Of course, this was a horribly inefficient way to use manastones, which were an expensive resource. It was much easier to leave jobs requiring magic to people who naturally had large amounts of magical power, instead of using up valuable manastones at the risk of causing an accident.
Listening to Nicole’s explanation, Camilla frowned. To put it simply… If this was a deliberate ‘accidental discharge’, then that means there was a culprit.
– Just who?
As Camilla was thinking, Klaus had already come to a conclusion. His eyes narrowed like he was about to laugh, but there wasn’t a hint of a smile on his lips as he turned to the people gathered behind them.
Everyone looked startled by his sudden sharp words. But, as they looked around in a hurry, they couldn’t see Verrat at all.
“Oh, I see? So she was in charge of bringing us here, huh?”
Klaus frowned, glancing back at the blackened spot on the ground. Victor and the other’s felt their faces turn pale. Their faces filled with worry, they glanced back towards the main street.
– We have to go back.
Just as Camilla thought that, again there was another loud outburst of noise. This time, it was from the direction of the square… An outbreak of violent yells and screams.