Dream Life Vol II Chapter 33: “Conversation with Councilor Wagman: Part 2”
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It was a little past 7:00 p.m. on October 2.
At the headquarters of the Magician’s Guild, I was escorted by a staff member who looked like a secretary into the office of Councilor Wagman, a member of the Guild’s council. Inside, a man in his mid-thirties was sitting at a large office desk looking over papers.
His appearance was very different from what I had imagined.
(I thought he would look sharper because he is a successful man who became a council member in his mid-thirties. He looks laid-back and like he could have been in the village of Rathmore…) (Zack)
I had taken the liberty of imagining someone like a slender, sharp-eyed, brilliant-type official. However, the person in front of me had almost obese, chubby build and small, round eyes, and I thought a farmer, or a diner owner would be more appropriate.
I was slightly bewildered by his appearance, so I was late in greeting him, and the councilman approached me first.
“You must be Lockhart. Sorry to keep you waiting. I am Quentin’s father, Piers Wagman.” (Piers)
I bowed my head immediately.
“I am Quentin’s classmate Zacharias Lockhart. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule.” (Zack)
The councilor stood up quickly and urged me to sit on the sofa in front of his office desk.
Then, without hesitation, he said, “I understand you have something important to discuss with me about my son. I hear it concerns your son’s future.” His expression was sincere, without the air like he’s dealing with a ten-year-old child.
(From what I saw, he didn’t look like someone with a black reputation, though I don’t know how much I can trust my eyes.) (Zack)
I composed myself, looked him in the eye, and began to talk.
“Something is happening at the academy right now that will have a tremendous impact on Quentin’s future.” (Zack)
In response to my words, the Councilor looked at me for a moment as if I was overreacting.
“What is happening at the academy? I don’t have much time, but I was wondering if you could tell me what’s going on.” (Piers)
His reaction was as I had expected.
(This is where the game starts. This is where our success or failure will depend on how much attention we can get from the councilor.) (Zack)
I steeled myself once more and said, “Well, let me explain briefly,” and then began my story.
“First of all, the most important factor is that His Excellency’s political career is in jeopardy. If His Excellency loses his position, there is no doubt that it will have a tremendous impact on Mr. Quentin’s future.” (Zack)
The councilor did not react particularly to my words.
“My political career huh…… interesting you say that. That’s just the kind of person that Professor Ruspede is interested in. But I’m a busy man, you know. I don’t have time for children’s stories.” (Piers)
With that, he tried to stand up.
My initial plan to get the councilor’s attention had failed, so I changed course.
“I see. So, you are aware of the adamant exclusion of me and Miss Jakes that is going on at the Academy right now, and you see nothing wrong with it?” (Zack)
“You and Miss Jakes? Oh, she’s the runner-up, isn’t she? What about it?” (Piers)
The councilor was a little curious and sat back down on the sofa again.
“Some of the students in our class and our homeroom teacher, Mr. Bennett, are trying to exclude me and Miss Jakes.” (Zack)
“Part of the class… you’re here to say my son is involved?” (Piers)
I shook my head and said, “No.”
“I think we could leave the academy and move to a private school. However, we thought that this would cause trouble for you and in turn affect Mr. Quentin, so I have asked for the opportunity to speak with you.” (Zack)
He muttered, “That’s annoying…” (Piers)
“How does your leaving the academy have to do with me?” (Piers)
I was on a roll here.
“If his Excellency has no problem with us leaving the academy, then I’ll leave you to your work.” (Zack)
Saying that, I moved and got up the chair.
The Councilor seemed to have a problem with this, and said, “Well, wait a minute.”
“I would like to hear your opinion. You said something about my political career. What do you mean?” (Piers)
I make a guts pose in my mind now that the councilor’s attention has turned to me. But my face never lost its seriousness.
“Now let me tell you about the impact on your Excellency if we quit. First of all, let me state at the outset that I have not confirmed the fact that Mr. Quentin is trying to ostracize us. Rather, whether he is doing so or not is irrelevant to this discussion. I will proceed on that assumption.” (Zack)
The councilor tilted his head slightly, but nodded without saying anything.
“If we quit the Tyria Magic Academy, the first and second positions will be empty in an instant. In this case, Quentin, who is in the third position, will move to the top of the school. This is an undeniable fact. And if I leave the academy and join a private school, there is no doubt that Professor Ruspede will make a lot of noise.” (Zack)
When I said this much, the Councilor seemed to understand what I was trying to say. But he said nothing and urged me onward with his eyes.
“If that were to happen, Councilors Forsythe and Ibbetson, who are vying with you to be the next chairman of the Council, would have ammunition. They may bring up the story that you pressured the Academy to put pressure on them to put your son at the head of the academy. Furthermore, if you put rumors out on the street that His Excellency has eliminated us because of his son, most people will believe those rumors. There is nothing more interesting than a scandal involving someone with a good reputation. If that were to happen, it would be very difficult for His Excellency to maintain his current power within this Magician’s Guild, wouldn’t it?” (Zack)
He was quietly meditating, listening to me, when he slowly opened his eyes and spoke to me. The farmer-like atmosphere he had earlier had changed, and he exerted a terrifying psychological pressure on me.
“What is it that you want? You went to the trouble of requesting a meeting with me. What is it that you want from me?” (Piers)
His tone was quiet, but every word cut into my psyche.
(He is indeed a man who wants to be the head of an organization. The pressure is not half as great as it seems. But I have been through the same ordeal many times. My pride would not allow me to feel pressure from a young man of only 36 years of age…) (Zack)
I looked back into Councilor Wagman’s eyes, my stomach clenched.
“I realize this is not the best way to put it, but to tell you the truth, I am not interested in your Excellency’s advancement. All Miss Jakes and I want is to gain knowledge of magic. Therefore, I would be happy to go to a private school, or, since Mr. Ruspede said he would make me his assistant, I would be happy to study under him.” (Zack)
“Do you really think so? The top of the class at the academy is very advantageous to your career in the Magician’s Guild. I graduated at the top of my class, so there is no doubt about it.” (Piers)
I sagely shook my head.
“I have no intention of becoming an employee of the Magician’s Guild, nor do I intend to become a court magician. I just want to gain knowledge of magic and become stronger.” (Zack)
The Councilor’s gaze on me weakens. Then, with a look of incomprehension on his face, he asked, “Then why did you come here?” He said, then quickly continued his words.
“You did not care if you were excluded, nor did you want to move up in the Magician’s Guild. Then why don’t you just quit the academy as it is? I don’t understand why you’ve been waiting half a day to see me.” (Piers)
I let out a small breath and relax my shoulders. Then, I relaxed my expression and raised two fingers saying, “There are two reasons.”
“The first is that I don’t like the people who tried to get rid of us. We are being used as a diversion, and they are wasting the tuition that our families have saved for us, and there is no benefit to us. I don’t like the fact that they think we are just tools.” (Zack)
The councilor nodded, “Mm,” but said nothing more.
“The second reason is that I am disillusioned with the education at the Tyria Magic Academy. I heard that you have the ambition to reform the academy. I hear that you intend to reform the academy by replacing the current teaching staff, which is not only incompetent but also harmful, with professionally trained teachers. I thought that the sooner His Excellency’s reforms began, the better it would be for my goal, which is to gain knowledge on magic.” (Zack)
He narrowed his eyes and stared at me.
“If you know so much, then you must also know that I am not as innocent and clean as people say I am. Just because I say I fit your purpose doesn’t mean I will do it, does it?” (Piers)
I dared to provoke Councilor Wagman.
“You are right, but I think you are far better than those who are playing around with positions, such as Chairman Seberg, Councilor Ibbetson, and even Councilor Isherwood. At least you are concerned about public opinion. I think that, aside from Councilor Isherwood, Councilor Ibbetson is only interested in the Guild.” (Zack)
The councilor’s eyes widened for a moment at my words and he began to laugh out loud.
“Hahaha! Are you really 10 years old? No, I’ve seen your admission records too. So, I know for sure that you are really ten years old, but your knowledge, your thoughtfulness, and above all, your boldness to say such a thing to me without fear. There is no way my son can compete with him. No, I am really overwhelmed. You can be a councilor anytime you want.” (Piers)
I still had no idea what kind of person this man is.
(How much of this was an act? I can’t let my guard down yet…) (Zack)
“By the way, Miles, or rather, Miles Isherwood, you described him as someone who plays with personnel, but what is your basis for that?” (Piers)
(How has this question not been asked yet? … I knew you would ask me this question when you mentioned the name of a man who is known to the public as a close ally, but… I should be evasive for a bit…) (Zack)
“I thought you already knew the answer without me having to answer it, your Excellency?” (Zack)
He intimidates me again by narrowing his eyes at my answer.
“I want to hear your opinion. My relationship with Miles is well known. We cleared up our misunderstanding eight years ago and are working hand in hand to reform the guild. Can you tell me the reason for this harsh assessment of my ally?” (Piers)
I wrap myself up and prefaced my answer with, “Well, let me tell you my own personal opinion.”
“First of all, it is ostensible that you have made peace with Councilor Isherwood. In reality, you and the councilor are just taking advantage of each other. Furthermore, the councilor has infiltrated the Wagman family with his own people. I am sure you are aware of this.” (Zack)
The amused councilor said, “Who are you talking about?”
(That’s not easy to do. He’s always trying to get me to say things first. He is indeed a good politician.) (Zack)
“Mr. Archie Croft, Mr. Quentin’s tutor. May I begin with an incident ten years ago?” (Zack)
When I said ten years ago, his expression showed a bit of surprise, and he muttered, “I see… you know that much…”
“It’s well-researched. It’s not a complete secret, but it’s a taboo conversation in the current guild. Well, I don’t mind…Croft is certainly recommended by Miles. He became a tutor for my son, and I know it from his background…” (Piers)
As I listened in silence, he went on to tell me more.
“You’re right, Croft is feeding Miles information, because once I gave him false information, he fell for it. But Croft is a small fry. He doesn’t have the guts to try to discredit me.” (Piers)
“Then how is it that he is secretly meeting with Mr. Bennet, who is trying to ostracize us? Right after I told him that I was going to leave the academy.” (Zack)
Hearing those words, the councilor’s eyes widened. “You’ve been manipulating information, haven’t you? I’m more and more surprised.” Then, in a low voice, he added,
“Sure, then it makes sense. I don’t know what kind of bait Croft was lured into, but I have to give him a reward.” (Piers)
At that moment, I felt a chill run down my spine.
(Certainly, he’s not just some honest politician. Since a while ago, my instincts have been warning me, “Don’t make him your enemy.” It can’t be helped, but let’s leave as soon as possible so that I don’t say anything dangerous…) (Zack)
“Well then, Your Excellency. Thank you for your valuable time today. I have no intention of leaving the academy, at least for the entire month of October. However, I will refrain from showing my face at the academy, and I am sure that Professor Ruspede will make a fuss about it soon. I think it would be better to take action before then, if at all possible.” (Zack)
After saying that, I stood up and deeply bowed my head to Councilor Wagman.
“I have less than a month to act. …I don’t know if I can meet your expectations, but I will take care of the academy. Of course, I will also tell Quentin. I never want to be hostile to you. Hahaha!” (Piers)
He was joking at the end, but I was not sure if he was worried about me or not. He must have understood my caution because he relaxed his expression and said,
“Just kidding. Even if Quentin is hostile to you, you won’t give a damn.” (Piers)
Then, unusually for him, he said a little huskily, “I have a favor to ask of you…”
“I need you to be good friends with my son Quentin. He bears a grudge against me because of his late mother. Because of this, I seem to have mishandled his upbringing. I had intended to get rid of Croft as soon as possible, but he has become a father figure to my son. Even I couldn’t get rid of him.” (Piers)
(Even a councilor who is said to be a shrewd man does care about his family, huh? However, I don’t understand why he would say that to me. If he is simply expecting something from me, he’s in the wrong place…) (Zack)
“I don’t know what His Excellency expects from me, but I don’t particularly care for Mr. Quentin. At the very least, if he does not cease to be hostile toward me, I will not be the one to antagonize him.” (Zack)
He chuckled, “I didn’t mean to imply that,” he said,
“You are more mature than you appear. And my son acts younger than his age. Furthermore, I realize I am an unfit father. …Sorry. I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but I have a feeling that you can guide Quentin in the right direction. This is more like a hunch on my part.” (Piers)
(So now the Councilor is just a father rather than a politician? If this is an act, it’s horrible, but there’s nothing wrong with giving him as much consideration as I can.) (Zack)
“Understood. I will reconsider my relationship with Mr. Quentin.” (Zack)
The councilor nodded at that, said, “Please,” and held out his right hand.
I took his hand and gave a small nod.
The councilor then talked about reforming the academy, and I told him what I had in mind.
I was particularly concerned about the lack of involvement of the researchers in mentoring younger students. When I mentioned this, the councilor seemed to have an idea.
“It was helpful. I think the reform of the academy will be beneficial to you. If you have any suggestions, I’d like to hear them.” (Piers)
I nodded and left his office.
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