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Darcia’s sermon at the Communal Church was a great success.
I’m really glad they weren’t expecting anything too formal… I can’t memorize those bulky scriptures in just a few days, after all, Darcia thought to herself.
Ordinary sermons at the Communal Church would have a priest of a different god come every day to teach their doctrines, tell anecdotes that were related to their teachings and tell stories of past heroes, creating a session that was both religious and served as leisure.
Nobody, including Vida’s priestess, had expected Darcia to talk about the history of the religion or the ‘correct’ interpretation of her doctrine.
It seemed that the priestess had sensed something about Darcia, but many of the people who had gathered here today had come to see the ‘rumored Dark Elf beauty’ and hear unusual stories.
Indeed, the ratio of men to women among the people gathered in the Communal Church was considerably skewed towards the men.
Some might lament the men’s impure intentions despite the Church being a place to come and listen to sermons, but it was only natural for the sermons of attractive clergymen and clergywomen to be popular.
… Darcia did let out a sigh when she saw that Aggar, who was apparently off duty, and the men he had previously brought to the food cart, was among them. But she was happy when she spotted the faces of Kest, customers of the food cart, Seris, Vestra and the children of the orphanage. They were all interested in what she had to say.
And although she didn’t know their faces, the adventurer Rock had been brought here by his companions in the Iron Boulder Brigade, and Bachem, the Guild Master of the Tamers’ Guild, had been brought here by his wife.
The spies sent by the region’s lord were also among the audience.
“Nice to meet you, everyone. My name is Darcia. Thank you for allowing me to come and speak to you all today,” said Darcia, greeting the crowd.
She heard the audience whispering words of admiration amongst themselves. Many of these words were regarding her beautiful appearance and her serene, clear, wonderful voice.
The voice training that she had received from Kanako was coming into play.
“But I’m not a real clergywoman, so… I’ll be talking about the goddess’s religion of the village that I lived in, and the legends of the heroes related to that,” Darcia continued.
She did not tell stories from the hidden Dark Elf village on the Amid Empire side of the continent; she described the religion of Talosheim and told of its legends, with some amendments here and there.
She did her best to ensure that she would not sound like an extremist, but she also made sure to properly tell the audience of Vida’s original teachings.
She did not want the audience to think that her teachings were similar to the mainstream teachings of Vida’s religion in the Alcrem Duchy, which were taught by those who had a friendly relationship with Alda’s followers.
Needless to say, Darcia was an enemy of Alda, the god of law and fate… a Vida fundamentalist.
But starting off with things like “Undead should be acknowledged” or “Alda is the true enemy, and reconciliation with him is unthinkable” wouldn’t win her the people’s support. She was aware that this would only cause them to turn on her.
That was why Darcia talked about the festivals inside the Boundary Mountain Range celebrating Vida, and heroes who were members of Vida’s races, while choosing her words to make the stories sound pleasant and interesting to the audience.
And once she had finished speaking, the audience’s reaction was quite favorable. Considering that this was her first time doing the work of an ordinary clergyman, it was quite an excellent result.
But Darcia decided to add something more for good measure.
“Last of all –” she began.
It’s a little flashy, but it should be fine if I hold back, right? Murakami’s group will have received information about me from Rodcorte anyway, and if Birkyne wants to face my son, he won’t back down even if I get a little stronger. Okay, let’s do this! she told herself, firing herself up.
Darcia offered a prayer to Vida and sharpened her consciousness.
“‘Familiar Spirit Descent!’”
A pillar of light descended upon her. Something that wasn’t her own, but that she wouldn’t describe as foreign, entered her.
Bathed in light, Darcia faced the audience with open arms. “The goddess’s blessings to everyone,” she said.
The audience froze for just a single moment, and then burst into a passionate cheer.
Gods existed in the world of Lambda, and its inhabitants never doubted that fact.
For a religion to gain followers in such a world, it needed more than a good doctrine and physically attractive, charismatic clergymen giving sermons.
Something that was visible to the eye was the most effective.
That was why clergymen traveled to various lands as training, saved people from everyday troubles and monsters like adventurers, and provided medical treatment and education. Churches even dispatched groups of priest-warriors to Devil’s Nests and remote regions to exterminate monsters.
But visibly doing something like that in a single sermon was impossible, so Darcia had decided to use ‘Familiar Spirit Descent’ to summon a familiar spirit upon herself to show the people.
She possessed the ‘Goddess Descent’ Skill, which was a far superior Skill to ‘Familiar Spirit Descent.’ But summoning the goddess herself would stand out too much. If it became a topic of too much conversation, Vida’s Churches from all over the Orbaume Kingdom would invite her to speak for them, and messengers might visit her from Duke Alcrem or from other duchies. That would make it impossible to move freely in human society.
That was why she had decided to summon a familiar spirit that served Vida. Acquiring a superior Skill did not cause the forgetting of the previous Skill. It was no different from Vandalieu still being able to use ‘Death-Attribute Magic’ and ‘No-Attribute Magic’ even after acquiring ‘Dark King Magic’ and ‘Hollow King Magic.’
It was not rare for clergymen of large Churches of Alda to perform ‘Familiar Spirit Descent’ at the end of their sermon, though some priests of Alda were discontented by this practice, thinking that it was making a show of the gods’ servants.
But it seemed that Vida’s priestess thought favorably of it.
“Darcia-san… No, please let me call you Darcia-sama!” she said.
“No, you know, I’m just a worker at a food cart, Priestess-sama,” said Darcia.
She hadn’t expected even the priestess to react like this, never mind the gathered audience.
“Please call me ‘Paula,’ Darcia-sama!” the priestess said, clutching Darcia’s hand, her eyes shining like those of a young girl.
Darcia panicked a little, even though she was supposed to have been used to receiving the passionate stares and cheers of an audience from her concerts.
Maybe it’s because they’re so close? Kanako-chan always made sure that the audience didn’t climb onto the stage… I was so lucky to have Bone-Man-san and Mikhail-san on security, Darcia thought to herself.
Despite her sermon being over, the audience’s excitement didn’t seem to subside. As Darcia looked at the front row, she saw Vandalieu there.
His expression was unchanging as always, but he gave her the thumbs up. He probably thought of her sermon as a job well done, including the fact that Priestess Paula was clinging onto her.
… In the opposite situation, Darcia would always think of Vandalieu’s actions as jobs well done. Perhaps one could say, like mother like son.
“Darcia-sama, please take me as your disciple!” said Paula.
“No, that’s… I can’t teach a priestess… Umm, what shall we do?” said Darcia.
She couldn’t just suddenly tell her about the region within the Boundary Mountain Range, and the ‘Familiar Spirit Descent’ Skill wasn’t something that could be taught. It was a Skill that became possible to acquire by becoming more devout, changing one’s everyday actions to follow the gods’ teachings, and conforming with the gods’ way of thinking.
In other words, one could only tell devout followers to “continue doing their best.”
But this was a chance to convert Priestess Paula and the rest of Vida’s believers in the city of Morksi to an anti-Alda stance.
“I will do it, but I’m not an official priestess, so… do you mind if we just say that we’re friends? Let’s talk more about our faith from now on,” Darcia said, deciding to accept Paula as a friend.
With this, the Church of Vida, which didn’t make it clear just how much influence it had in the Orbaume Kingdom, wouldn’t make a fuss over it.
“Friends… Yes, it’s an honor, Darcia-sama!” said Paula, overcome with emotion and embracing Darcia.
“So, you won’t stop using ‘-sama’ with my name,” Darcia sighed as she returned Paula’s embrace.
I’m really glad I held back and only used ‘Familiar Spirit Descent,’ she thought to herself.
There was no telling how much commotion she would have caused if she had summoned the goddess herself rather than a familiar spirit.
The voices of praise coming from the majority of the audience gathered at the Communal Church did not subside for some time.
Priestess Paula had actually already improved the public opinion of Vida’s religion in the city of Morksi during the previous incident where a part of the statues of Alda mysteriously crumbled.
While the priest of Alda let out a scream and lost consciousness, Paula had calmed the people down, ordered that the incident be reported to the guard, and took charge to ensure that panic did not break out.
Of course, command soon returned to the earl that ruled over the region, but Priestess Paula had continued to make efforts to keep the people calm even after that. The people of the city had been impressed by her sincere personality and the way she worked for the city’s sake during an emergency situation.
And now, the people were extremely excited by Darcia’s sermon.
Despite the atmosphere of excitement in the Communal Church, there were some who quickly walked out with pale faces. One of them was one of the spies sent by the lord of the region.
… This has gotten out of control. But the lord’s decision to refrain from actively attempting to contain that woman and her son was correct, he thought to himself as he moved quickly down the street, wanting to make his report as soon as possible.
If one listened to her words without being distracted by Darcia’s charisma, the novelty of her stories and her performance with ‘Familiar Spirit Descent,’ it was very clear that her stance was not friendly towards Alda’s peaceful faction; in fact, it was the exact opposite.
The concepts that all of Vida’s races should be acknowledged as people, that new technology should be accepted, and Devil’s Nests should be adapted to rather than fought against.
All of these ideas were against Alda’s religion.
On top of that, Darcia had used ‘Familiar Spirit Descent.’ This performance was enough to make the spy certain that Darcia could become the leader for a group that stood against Alda’s peaceful faction.
From a social status perspective, a Dark Elf working at a food cart might be too weak to use as a leader, despite her ability to use ‘Familiar Spirit Descent.’ But if she were to make a move, the fact that she was the mother of a Dhampir would likely become a weapon for her.
If Isaac Morksi had already created a favorable relationship with Darcia and Vandalieu, Duke Alcrem, who was friendly towards Alda’s peaceful faction, would suspect that he was plotting something.
Feeling proud of his master’s keen insight, the spy continued hurrying down the road.
There was another person walking down the same street, with a look of determination in his eyes.
“I’ll do it… I can do it if I try. I’ll do it!” he muttered.
The man, who was dressed in rags, repeated his words to himself over and over as he walked towards the slum district.
The last group leaving the Communal Church unhappy was Aggar and his companions.
“Damn it, this isn’t what we were told!” one of them said.
“Nobody told us she was gonna use ‘Familiar Spirit Descent.’ We can’t follow Joseph’s orders no more,” said another.
They had gathered at the Communal Church under nobody’s orders; they had gone of their own free will.
This was not because they were devout believers who regularly attended priests’ sermons. Naturally, they had gone because Darcia was there.
They had believed that Vandalieu wouldn’t be able to bring his monsters into the Communal Church, and the ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael’s lackeys wouldn’t show their faces there either.
Of course, Aggar had already received a stern reprimand from his superior officer for trying to make a move on Darcia. The captain of the guards had visited his house first thing in the morning and given him an earful, followed by a warning to not get involved with that woman and child anymore.
If Aggar continued doing these abnormal activities, he would face the wrath of someone above his captain… possibly even the region’s lord.
If he kept causing trouble, he would lose his job… In the worst-case scenario, he would lose his head. This thought had made him fearful for a while. But Aggar was the kind of guard who would repeatedly take bribes, thinking that it was fine as long as he wasn’t caught, and his companions were the same.
Telling themselves this, they had chosen not to listen to the captain’s warning.
But they were unable to hide their shock upon seeing Darcia summoning a familiar spirit.
“If we make the wrong move, we’ll be killed,” said one of Aggar’s companions.
“According to the rumors, summoning a familiar spirit gives you some crazy Attribute Value bonuses. Even all of us together wouldn’t be able to take her in that state,” said another.
Indeed, ‘Familiar Spirit Descent’ was a Skill that enhanced the user’s Attribute Values. The most remarkable change it caused was the increase in Mana, but other Attribute Values such as Strength and Agility were increased as well.
With that being the case, Aggar and his companions, who were only as strong as an ordinary guard, wouldn’t be able to defeat her even if they gathered dozens of others like them… though in reality, Darcia would be able to easily knock out a hundred knights, never mind guards, without even summoning a familiar spirit.
Unaware of this, Aggar and his companions’ backup plan of using force was out of the question. They were forced to accept the fact that they would be helpless if Darcia fought back.
If they took her by surprise and dealt a single blow to her head or a vital organ before she had the chance to use a Skill… This would be the way an assassin would think, and this wasn’t their goal anyway.
“And wouldn’t it be bad to mess with her? We might receive divine punishment…” one of Aggar’s companions muttered.
The mental pressure was also troublesome. If one had no malicious intent towards the user of ‘Familiar Spirit Descent,’ it would merely seem to be a divine miracle, a wonderful opportunity to witness a god’s power.
But to those like Aggar, who did have ill will towards the Skill’s user, ‘Familiar Spirit Descent’ only caused a sense of pressure. It instilled a fear of the gods, who held absolute power, a fear that Aggar usually forgot.
“D-don’t be such cowards! I’m not going to give up. We’re gonna get our pay from Joseph! If you want out, then get out!” Aggar told his companions.
As Vandalieu and the others had expected, Aggar and his companions had been hired with the Deputy Guild Master Joseph’s money. And also as expected, the objective of their task was to assist Joseph in harassing them… though it had gone too far to be called mere harassment.
Aggar had been planning to take advantage of this and also make a move on Darcia.
“You say that, Aggar, but do you really think we’d be able to do anything against someone who can use ‘Familiar Spirit Descent?’ She’s definitely stronger than us even without using it,” one of Aggar’s companions said.
“What?! Are you saying that I’d lose to her?!” Aggar demanded.
“Do you really think you wouldn’t?! She can use ‘Familiar Spirit Descent,’ you know?!”
In general, it was believed that those who could use the ‘Familiar Spirit Descent’ Skill were clergymen or heroes that had undergone strict training.
If one were to think of it in terms of Adventurers’ Guild classes, they would be a minimum of C-class.
In contrast, Aggar and his companions were somewhere between E-class and the lower end of D-class. There was no way that they would be able to overcome Darcia, even with the most conservative estimate of her strength.
“Let’s give it up, Aggar. There’ve been a countless number of women that we couldn’t make a move on in the past, haven’t there? She’s just another one on the list.”
“If you think about it, she’s a woman that someone as dangerous as the ‘Starving Wolf’ has his hands on. I’m glad we didn’t make a bad move and meet some ugly fate. Let’s think about it that way!”
“The captain warned us, too… It’s true that we took money from Joseph, but it’s not an amount that’s worth being fired from our jobs as guards, right?”
Aggar gave a frustrated sigh. They might be right, he thought.
If he gave up here and stayed quiet for a while, he could return to his life of working as a guard, earning a reasonable income as well as a little extra from his side activities from time to time. He had no obligation to return the money that he had received from Joseph, either.
He hadn’t lost anything. He just needed to give up on something that he couldn’t obtain.
No matter what I do, it’s not within my reach… no, wait, Aggar thought.
He thought of the start of a plan that could possibly work out well.
“That woman donated to the orphanage in the slums, right?” he asked his companions. “The one that we raided about ten years ago when the priest of Alda was going on about slave trading or something.”
“Yeah, I remember that. We were still rookies back then, so we were just put on lookout and carrying things about. Not sure what came of it,” one of his companions replied, recalling his vague memories.
“If I recall, nobody got caught because of that uproar. I think they didn’t find anything, so the captain of the guards back then was made to take responsibility, and the priest of Alda just stayed quiet and pretended that nothing happened,” added another.
The details that Aggar remembered were about the same. The guards had entered the orphanage and searched it, but they found nothing, so the case was closed due to insufficient evidence.
It was an incident that the majority of the city’s inhabitants had forgotten about.
“What about it?” one of Aggar’s companions asked.
“Well, I actually stole a copy of the key to the orphanage back then. I thought it might come in handy one day. We’ll enter the orphanage from the back using that key, then kidnap a few of the kids,” Aggar suggested. “Then we’ll tell that woman’s Dhampir brat to come alone if they want to see the orphans alive again, and leave his monsters behind. Once we get him, we’ll tell the woman –”
“W-wait, Aggar, that doesn’t sound like a good idea!” one of his companions said, hastily trying to talk Aggar out of this.
“Yeah, we can cover up stealing small change as much as we want, and we can silence women. But we can’t cover up something like what you’re planning!”
Aggar didn’t want to hear any of his companions’ complaints.
“Don’t be so damn scared! Once everything is said and done, we can just have the ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael take the fall for it! He’s a hoodlum to begin with. We just need to fabricate some story about him being blinded by love and that’ll be the end of it,” Aggar said. “So, what’s it going to be? I’ll do it even if I have to do it on my own, you know.”
His companions did wonder whether things would go so conveniently, but their sense of danger seemed to be loosened by the fact that they had never been caught for their evil deeds so far.
Perhaps things would go fine as long as they didn’t mess anything up. That was what they thought.
“Y-you’re right. Alright, we’re in.”
Aggar gave a low laugh. “That’s what I’m talking about,” he said with a vulgar grin.
He led his companions to his room to discuss the details of the plan.
That night, the food carts in the dirty alleyway had been completely transformed.
A woman who always ate here after work approached, and her eyes grew wide open in surprise.
“… What is this?” she said.
She couldn’t help but be surprised that the food cart that she was so accustomed to seeing was now clean, and for some reason, there were large, pink hearts drawn on it.
“… W-welcome,” said the owner of the food cart with a slightly stiff smile.
The woman was relieved to see that it was the same owner as before.
“Oh, it’s you, old man. What happened to this store? I was sure that you’d been driven off somewhere else and some other food cart had taken your place,” the woman laughed.
“Well, there are circumstances, you see…” the food cart owner mumbled.
“What do you mean by ‘circumstances?’ Your food cart is so clean, and this heart is Vida’s holy symbol, isn’t it? Are you copying that skewer cart?”
“That’s… exactly right.”
“W-what?! You’re really copying them?!”
“Shut up and try it! You’re gonna have the usual anyway, right?” the food cart owner said, handing over a serving of soup.
The woman was bewildered, but she took the bowl as she always did… and frowned as she looked at its contents.
“Old man… It smells better than the stuff you had before, but what is this purple ingredient?” she asked.
The meatball soup that the food cart had been selling yesterday had been replaced by a soup with some purple objects inside it.
“I’ve tried the flavor myself. Just take my word for it and try it,” the food cart owner assured her.
“If you say so… It tastes better than it looks! It’s actually more delicious than the stuff you had before! This purple stuff tastes more normal than I thought, too! What is this?!” the woman asked.
“Goblin meat. That bra – What should I call him… Boss, says it’s a Ghoul dish called Gobu-gobu.”
“Onee-san, we’ve got Kobold sandwiches here! Come and give it a try! It’s so good that even I was surprised!” another food cart owner said, calling out to her.
“We’ve got stir-fried meat over here. It’s one Baum for one pack, same as before, but we’ve got Goblin and Kobold organs starting from today. They’ve been properly processed, so come and give it a try,” said the owner of a third food cart.
“W-wait. How many meals am I supposed to try in one night?” said the woman.
“Hey, this customer is still enjoying my soup. Save yours for later!” the owner of the first food cart told the others.
These businesses had been selling slum-style food such as soup made with meatballs containing shredded Goblin and Kobold ears, sandwiches made with scrap vegetables and meat, and slum-style stir-fried mouse and fish meat. They had now been reborn as businesses that sold Gobu-gobu soup, steamed Kobold meat sandwiches wrapped in Kobol leaves, and stir-fried organs.
Goblin meat was smelly and unpleasant. Frying it and boiling it didn’t change that. Using a mountain of expensive spices would make it about as edible as ordinary meat, but… that wouldn’t be affordable to those who weren’t wealthy.
But if Goblin meat was pickled for an entire day in the juice of Gobubu grass, a magical grass that grew everywhere, the meat turned purple and its unpleasant flavor and smell was removed. Its surface turned slick, creating a rather strange texture, but it wasn’t inedible. This was how the preserved food known as Gobu-gobu was made.
It made for a better soup ingredient than Goblin and Kobold ears whose flavor had been forcibly concealed by turning them into meatballs.
Kobold meat, when wrapped in Kobol leaves that grew only in places where Kobolds lived and then steamed, lost its odor and its sinewy, hard meat became soft. Using Kobol fruit in addition to the leaves would make it taste even better, but that would put its price far out of reach of the inhabitants of the slums, so it had been just wrapped in the leaves.
But as the softened Kobold meat had been mixed well with tare sauce and other ingredients, it made an excellent filling for sandwiches made with hard, heavy, black bread.
And the Goblin organs and Kobold organs also underwent the same odor-removing process when baked, so they became edible.
Cut into bite-sized pieces and fried with sauce, it was far more delicious than the slum-style fried meat… and more nutritious, too.
All of these dishes had the same price and quantity as their previous versions, and they were slightly cheaper than Vandalieu’s skewers. Perhaps even the curious who wandered in from the red-light district would buy them, not just the inhabitants of the slums.
“But Vandalieu-sama, couldn’t you have taken a little more payment from them?” Chipuras asked Vandalieu, who was busy grilling skewers.
The fact that the other food cart owners were selling their new products at the same prices as their old ones meant that Vandalieu had sold them Gobu-gobu and Kobold meat at the same value as the monster ears that could be purchased almost for free and scrap vegetables and meat.
“Goblin and Kobold meat has so little value that ordinary butchers refuse to buy it,” said Vandalieu. “And I processed the ingredients for them this time, but they’ll be doing it themselves from now on.”
“They promised us a little once they make some profits, so it’s alright, Chipuras-san,” said Darcia.
“… Ordinarily, you would ask for a cut of their total sales. I believe that asking for a mere one percent of their profits after stocking costs and other expenses are deducted is too little, but… well, if our objective is missionary work rather than profit, then I suppose there is no problem,” said Chipuras.
By having the business owners paint Vida’s holy symbol on their food carts, the people of the slums were able to tell that they were affiliated with Vandalieu and Vida’s religion at a single glance.
That was a big thing in and of itself.
Vandalieu wasn’t expecting to gain any passionate followers from that alone. But just having them give a short prayer or thinking of Vida after their meals would be enough.
Increasing the people’s faith in these small ways would still provide strength for the goddess.
“And spreading the fact that Gobu-gobu and baked Kobold meat are dishes from Ghoul culture is the first step to laying a foundation for proclaiming Ghouls to be one of Vida’s races rather than a race of monsters… Well, not that there are any Ghouls in the Devil’s Nests around here anymore,” said Vandalieu.
“You asked the spirits of adventurers and Miles-san to find them and invited them to move to Talosheim, after all, Your Highness,” said Princess Levia.
Indeed, there wasn’t a single Ghoul left in the Devil’s Nests around the city of Morksi.
“Now all that’s left to do is amplify Van-kun’s influence in this city?” said Orbia.
Vandalieu gave a small sigh. “… We didn’t actually need to do that in the beginning, but yes. Our original plan was just to conspicuously operate a food cart for three months.”
Now that he thought about it, he was just supposed to have set up store on the main street, buy ordinary meat from wholesale stores and sell skewers that were just slightly more delicious than ordinary food.
But it seemed that the turning point of fate had come when Joseph set his sights on Vandalieu at the Commerce Guild.
“You’re right. But I’m glad we were put in this place. That’s the one thing we can thank Joseph-san for. Thanks to him, we met Fang, made friends with the people at the orphanage and experienced a lot of good things,” said Darcia, smiling at Fang, who was keeping watch from the shadow of the food cart as usual.
“Well, there’s more things for us to do, but I don’t regret it, either,” said Vandalieu. “Fang, Maroru, Urumi, Suruga, dinner’s ready.”
After cooling the cooked meat to a reasonable temperature, Vandalieu took the meat off the skewers and tossed it into the air, where it was caught and eaten by Fang and the rats.
The customers who had come to buy skewers smiled and enjoyed this sight.
The Great Giant Rats were still Rank 2 and hadn’t transformed into strange races. As there was a Tamers’ Guild branch in this city, the customers didn’t feel any aversion to the rats.
They would normally be terrified of the Rank 3 Black Dog Fang, who was about as dangerous as a bear, but… he was suppressing his Aura of Darkness that instilled fear in others, so he didn’t look any different from an ordinary large dog.
“Maybe I’ll go hunting with you tomorrow,” said Darcia. “We need to save up a lot of Goblin and Kobold meat for the next little while, don’t we?”
“Yes… though I can grow Kobol leaves myself,” said Vandalieu.
Fang gave a happy bark.
‘You are the only one who can do it, the only one we can ask. If you refuse, it will be the end of us; you are our only hope.’
The man had heard these words so much that they could have made his ears rot. And in the majority of the cases, things could have been managed by someone other than himself.
Even this time, the situation could almost certainly be resolved by someone else.
“A Minotaur King has gathered a horde, and the Adventurers’ Guild has missed them. I know that the Five-colored Blades have their hands full with a god’s trial and whatnot, but this is something that can be handled by gathering up some A-class and B-class adventurers. Even if a Minotaur King gathers a horde, they’re monsters that tend to stay in packs. There’s certainly time to gather the forces needed to fight them off,” the man muttered as he walked alone.
He remembered the greasy, sweaty face of Duke Alcrem, the man who had made the request of him.
A village near a Devils’ Nest had been wiped out about a month ago. Judging from the fact that all of the houses had been burned down, it was thought to be the doing of the ‘Hyena’ Gozoroff and his gang of kidnappers, and an order of knights serving the duke had been dispatched to hunt the ‘Hyena’ down.
But the order of knights had never returned; in fact, they had discovered that a horde led by a Minotaur King existed in the Devils’ Nest near the wiped-out village.
And the order of knights was led… or rather had been led, by the youngest daughter of the previous Duke Alcrem – in other words, the half-sister of the current Duke Alcrem, although the difference in their ages was about the same as that between a father and daughter.
“The duke might not have intended it, but he ended up giving a good meal to a starving lion,” the man muttered.
Having learned the identity of the leader of the order of knights, Duke Alcrem had managed to make contact with the man by chance, and made his request.
“To think that I could make contact with you… This must be the will of the gods. Please exterminate the Minotaur King and his horde, and if my half-sister is still alive… no matter what kind of state she is in, dispose of her.”
An order of knights would certainly not be weak by any means, but Minotaurs were a superior race of Ogres. Fighting a horde of monsters led by a Minotaur King… that would be a far taller task than hunting down the ‘Hyena.’
And now that a month had passed with no word from them, there was no need to imagine their fate.
“His predecessor took good care of me, and I’ve been paid well for my silence. It’s not a bad job, but… is the name of his family of dukes that he holds so dear, so cheap that it would be tarnished by his sister who has given up her rights to succession being impregnated by a Minotaur?” the man wondered.
The hush money paid to him could have been used to buy an expensive Potion, hire a first-rate healer and create a Magic Item that erased harsh memories for her treatment.
If it still concerned the duke, there were still plenty of other options, such as sending her to a monastery far away from the commoners.
These thoughts did cross the man’s mind.
“But… I suppose it’s none of my business,” he told himself.
Randolf ‘the True,’ the S-class adventurer who had publicly stepped back from duty and did indeed wish to live in seclusion, stepped into the Devils’ Nest that contained the Minotaur horde with his bow and arrow on his back and a thin-bladed sword in his hand.