In the early morning of the following day, a lady's scream echoed from the academy's infirmary, alarming nearby witches and witches-in-training to the scene for investigation.
"What happened?" a second-grade witch-in-training asked after spotting the frozen screamer by the first ward's entrance.
More witches-in-training began to gather as the terrified assistant pointed inside the ward with trembling fingers before they spotted the arrogant Isabelle's headless cold body on the bed.
The bed was soaked in red, and Isabelle's head had dropped to the ground in a patch of blood that dried overnight.
As the young witches-in-training laid eyes on the decapitated head of the City Lord's daughter, they immediately felt nauseous.
The gory sight and pungent scent of blood made them sick. Several young witches-in-training threw up the morning meals on the spot, staining the clean white floor.
"What are you all doing in the hallway?!" Senior Witch Elaine frowned as she arrived late to the scene, only to see a group of witches-in-training dirtying the infirmary's hallway.
"I-Isabelle has been murdered!" the young witches cried.
"What?!" Elaine's expression turned fierce instantly.
She gave the spoiled witch a night to recover and was just on her way to interrogate the suspect behind Wise Scholar Eniwse's berserk transformation.
And yet, that person was murdered?! How could she accept that?!
"Move! I'm going to take a look!" Senior Witch Elaine ordered.
"Don't, Senior Elaine!" a young witch stopped Elaine and said, "The smell of blood inside is especially pungent!"
"Even if it is, can it be more pungent than all your vomit?! I won't ask again, move!" Senior Witch Elaine stated solemnly.
Having a witch murdered on academy grounds is already a big problem. It's an even bigger problem when considering the murder witch's status!
A Senior Witch's authority cannot be disobeyed.
Elaine walked past them and stepped inside the ward after they made way before her eyes narrowed instantly.
Isabelle might have just been an Apprentice Witch, but she was still a witch, nonetheless. How could her blood smell so pungent like a mortal?
"Summon Lady Gwena for me!"
"Yes, Senior Elaine!"
Several young witches-in-training immediately scurried outside the infirmary building with haste after Senior Witch Elaine gave the order.
A few minutes later, they returned with Senior Witch Gwena before Elaine dispersed the crowd of young witches, leaving just the two Senior Witches behind at the crime scene.
"What do you think, Gwena?" Elaine immediately sought Gwena's expert opinion.
Senior Witch Gwena was the leading figure in the studies of life, plants, and healing magic in the academy.
Gwena took a moment to study Isabella's corpse before she spoke, "The cut was very clean. Isabelle had no chance to resist before she died. Judging by the wound, it was definitely done by a weapon. But this isn't the most interesting point."
"Witches, from the moment of their birth, are blessed by mana. Their very bodies are infused and transformed by mana and continue to do so as they absorb mana and grow, granting them lifespans that far outstrip any human in the past."
"A witch's blood should be brimming with vitality and possess a pleasant scent due to the vibrancy of life and mana, making it not easily dried. For Isabelle's blood to be dried, it would mean she had been completely drained of mana," Gwena explained.
"Right?" Elaine nodded with a frown before she said, "Although I did suspect this, but doesn't this seem like the work of a demon?"
"It does, but it also doesn't make sense if it is. It's more likely to be the work of another witch, masked to look like the demon's work. Only a True Witch or higher could have drained another witch's mana completely like this," Gwena stated with a thoughtful look.
After Gwena and Elaine exchanged glances, they seemed to have arrived at the same conclusion. Someone must have taken revenge for Wise Scholar Eniwse.
Even so, absorbing another witch's mana was taboo in the kingdom.
Elaine shook her head with a sigh and said, "I'll have to trouble you to report Isabelle's death to the City Lord and have her come pick up her daughter's body. We won't be able to hide this news from her anyway."
"Sure, you can leave that to me," Gwena agreed before asking Elaine as she was about to leave the infirmary, "But what about you, Elaine? Where are you going?"
"Me? I'm going to visit the red-light district to make it seem like I'm heading out to collect information. Even though Isabelle's death is unlikely to be the demon's work, we need to make it seem like it is to protect our students."
"After all, City Lord Istana, that old hag might just go crazy and persecute all our students and torture them to find the culprit that murdered her daughter," Elaine added.
"That does seem like something that old hag would do," Gwena agreed.
City Lord Istana was a Senior Witch like them, but she was much older and more experienced, not to mention that she was also a Combat Witch that specialized in attack magic.
As someone who earned enough merits in the war against demons and was bestowed the Region of Blackmoon by the Witch of Black Rose, City Lord Istana was more used to cruel and direct methods.
The last thing Gwena and Elaine wanted was for their innocent students to suffer under the hands of such a person.
Earthly Pleasure Manor
The morning was early, but it didn't stop the brothel's business from thriving as bustling activities and noises quickly filled the establishment.
The degenerate witches needed a taste of that morning wood to kickstart their day.
The thumping commotion next door gradually woke Grissel up from her slumber.
She rubbed her drowsy eyes and glanced around the room, but the person she was looking for was no longer present, making last night's experience seem like a dream.
Her eyelashes fluttered as she felt a sense of emptiness.
The pleasure between men and women was, strictly speaking, just business. It was a means to an end in pursuit of speedy growth and power.
But a single night of passion with Vaan had left an unforgettable memory.
"I've become one step closer to Senior Witch in a single night. Once I take the last step and ascend, my status will be completely different. That has always been my goal. I should be happy with my progress, so why aren't I?" Grissel frowned.
It took a moment before she noticed two letters placed on the table. One was addressed to her, and the other was for Lord Manfred, the brothel's owner.
She ignored the second letter and read the one addressed to her. It was a short letter with a single line.
"If it's fated, we will meet again?" Grissel read before she grumbled with pursed lips. "How can you just leave after making me feel like this? What an irresponsible man."
She immediately burned the letter with fire magic and scattered its black ashes outside the window. Her eyes glinted shortly after.
After experiencing the benefits of Vaan's skills, his existence became too valuable for her to ignore. He was simply a miracle witch maker.
If she can experience his magical touch again, She will become a Senior Witch in no time.