「We’re going back to Spada, right now.」
「Let’s go back to Spada immediately.」
As Fiona and Lily rise from the bed, they simultaneously speak words with the exact same meaning.
With this, they realize that they have both managed to achieve the goal of their journey.
Leaving the detailed explanations for later, the two of them rush out of『Cat’s Tail』into the city of Avalon like the wind.
「–『Speed Boost』,『Rapid movement (Air Walker)!』」
「Oracle Field, full power!」
And so they run. Combining strengthening magic with martial arts and using all of the limited time of the transformation that can only be used for thirty minutes a day, they run with everything they have.
Their ability to reason calmly has been blown away completely by the thought that they can finally return to Kurono’s side; their bodies are simply moving entirely by instinct.
They have been rational and logical in their actions until yesterday; no, even up until their dreams in the night. But their lifestyle in Avalon in Kurono’s absence has caused them to bottle up their feelings, which are now gushing out.
Perhaps they are suffering withdrawal symptoms; they sprint as fast as they possibly can through the city of Avalon, whose streets are mostly empty at these early hours of the morning.
As they are about to pass through the great gates of Avalon, ignoring the guards on duty –
「Ah, we forgot Marie.」
Their feet finally come to a halt.
Like Spada, Avalon is surrounded by a defensive wall that is both physically and magically sturdy.
These white-painted walls have existed since ancient times but show no signs of their age; they are much more elegant in appearance than the bare, plain walls of Spada.
Their white color is not the city’s only attractive feature. In front of the great gates is a beautifully created plaza that brings no shame to the name of the legendary imperial city of Avalon.
The jet-black, towering object that stands magnificently at its center is an obelisk that bears the words of the ancient demon king Mia Elroad, the『Zero Chronicle.』
It is surrounded by crystal statues of the strongest knights of the demon king’s army who were his beloved wives, the seven goddesses of war.
Their bodies sparkle solemnly as they reflect the morning sun.
Lily gazes at this sight with a melancholic expression unbefitting of such a small girl.
「... It’s Fiona’s fault for being hasty and running out like that.」
It appears that she has calmed herself by blaming their previous failure on her partner.
They would have taken less time if they had prepared everything carefully and proceeded at a normal pace, rather than rushing.
Forgetting the basics of being on a journey in their desperation could only be called a failure.
Lily swings her legs back and forth on a bench in the plaza with words of criticism coming from her mouth. Anyone who sees her would assume that she is a child who has had an argument with a friend.
Incidentally, the witch who is being blamed for all of this is currently on her way to the stables to retrieve the transport necessary to reach Spada – the beloved horse, Marie. In other words, she is not here right now.
Naturally, the stables where travelling horses are kept are not far from the great gates.
Even so, Fiona has taken quite some time. As Lily considers this, it occurs to her that Fiona is likely stocking up on large quantities of food for breakfast from the food carts that have already opened for business.
Lily has also just finished a sandwich (with dressing) that she received from one of the salespeople that are calling out to customers who are traveling to work.
And so, as both her head and her stomach are now calm, she is capable of rational thought.
The thing drawing her attention right now is a single newspaper that has been left on the bench.
This newspaper that is printed by the government is a valuable source of information for the citizens. With that said, no country’s government expects all citizens to believe everything that is written in such newspapers. No matter the time period or region, there are always those who voice their dissatisfaction with the government.
Of course, the newspapers do contain some things that are undoubtedly true information – the most obvious of these being the current date printed on the front.
The date printed on the newspaper in Lily’s hand is the 22nd of the Month of Platinum (Hakkin).
「I suppose if you act so conspicuously, you appear in news articles right away.」
The top news article of today’s morning newspaper is –
『Orphanage up in flames! The young founder of the Church of White Light has gone mad?!』
The article has such a headline.
It is a national newspaper, but it is written in a sensational tone. Lily remembers that the one in Spada at least uses more serious-sounding headlines.
Nevertheless, it is still the most credible source of information in Avalon.
Lily is interested to see how many details of the incident that she herself caused have been leaked, so she spreads the pages of the newspaper with her small hands and runs her eyes across the text.
Unlike the suspicious-sounding headline, the article itself is written concisely and is easy to understand; it details the tragic events that occurred the night before.
The orphanage managed by the religious organization known as the Church of White Light has been burned down, and all of the children living there lost their lives.
The young founder of the organization who calls himself a priest has had his name suppressed due to the fact that he is underage. But he has confessed to burning down the orphanage with the intent to kill those who lived there.
However, the investigation has met difficulty as he is not in a stable mental condition.
The rest of the article contains explanations of what the Church of White Light was and the problem of orphans in the slums; things that are not directly related to the incident. Lily stops reading.
「That’s good, we’re not suspected of anything.」
Even though the Church of White Light were soon to be rounded up and arrested, they were all children. The Knights’ Order aside, it is standard practice for adventurers to capture targets alive.
Knowing that, Fiona and Lily had treated them no differently to how they would treat atrocious bandit groups, with no hesitation to slaughter them – no; to be precise, they had offered them as sacrifices. In any case, it is clear that things would become troublesome if it became known that they had acted with the intent to kill.
In the worst case scenario, Lily and Fiona would both be handed prison sentences.
That is the reason that they are disguising themselves, and even during yesterday’s attack, they had taken meticulous caution – well, as a witch, Fiona had used intermediate-level magic with the power of high-level magic in spectacular fashion.
「But to think that we would not be suspected in the slightest. It seems that it was right to leave him behind.」
Even Lily had not predicted this conclusion to this incident.
In fact, she had planned to have the young priest join the other children in being sacrificed.
In the end, she had made a mistake in her experiments and essentially turned him into a vegetable for life. However, she had immediately realized that versions of events such as the one written in the newspaper would be formed, so she had left him there.
That boy is likely being questioned by the Law Guardians of Avalon in an interrogation room right now.
「Haha... Ahaha... I did it... Everyshing, I did all of it...」
He is surely giving such replies with a hollow look in his eyes.
It would not be long before he is put under the guillotine and vanishes from this world.
「Haah, Fiona is late... So late, mmh~」
Abandoning her ability to think with her adult mind, Lily leaps from the bench onto her feet and throws the newspaper into a nearby bin in impatience.
For the child-form Lily, the burning of the orphanage and the fate of the young priest are of no importance. She pays them no more attention than the newspaper she has thrown away.
The only thing on her mind right now is her resentment towards her partner, who is almost certainly on a morning tour of Avalon’s gourmet options.
Lily pouts as she returns to the bench – However, at that moment, while she is completely distracted –
Lily lets out a heartbreakingly adorable cry as she falls onto her back. Her mind had been wandering as she went to sit back down on the bench.
She has bumped into something – no, someone.
「Sorry about that, are you alright?」
A man’s smooth voice comes from above Lily’s head.
It is Lily’s fault for walking into this person, but it seems that this person is a respectable adult showing concern towards this child.
Lily seems to have managed to throw out a hand to prevent the back of her head from hitting the ground. But the soft, child-sized palm that she used to stop her fall is grazed slightly; a little blood is visible on its surface.
The child-form Lily experiences a stinging pain; the man she bumped into is asking for too much if he is expecting her to give him a reply.
The cute, round eyes that have been turned blue by the magic contact lenses are filled with tears; it is taking all of her effort just to endure the pain.
「How terrible, you’re hurt!」
The man, having guessed the situation from Lily’s behavior, crouches to examine her wound.
Through her teary eyes, she sees the man she has bumped into for the first time.
He is wearing something that resembles the Priest’s robe that Lily wears. It is a gray robe of simple design that can be found anywhere.
The hood is pulled low over his head, but Lily can see his face clearly as she looks up at him from below.
She sees one black eye and one blue eye.
His left eye is the same as Kurono’s, the color of the hell’s darkness itself. His right eye is the same shade of sky-blue as that of her own eyes.
Lily is unable to take her view off these odd-colored eyes.
Of course, the man has also noticed that she is staring rather than averting her gaze.
「It’s alright, I’ll fix it for you right away.」
Perhaps he has interpreted her staring as a sign of a child’s uneasiness; he gives a gentle smile with these reassuring words.
He has both masculinity and beauty and smiles with an expression similar to that of of that of ancient, famous heroes. Being unsure of his gender, Lily is completely fascinated with him.
It is a wonderful smile that even Kurono could not possibly replicate, though Lily would never acknowledge this.
Her mind is filled with an indescribable sense of discomfort.
The man’s appearance is such a perfect polar opposite to Kurono’s that one would think that this is some kind of conspiracy.
His blonde hair is in contrast to Kurono’s black and his eyes are a reflection of Kurono’s – Kurono’s right eye is black while his is blue, and he has a black left eye in place of the red one that Kurono received from the god Mia.
「Hold out your hand.」
In the short time that Lily’s thoughts regarding this mysterious man have gone in a circular pattern, it seems that he has finished his preparations to heal her as he said he would.
In his hand is bottle full of a transparent, water-like fluid.
However, despite its colorless, transparent appearance, Lily can guess this is a potion because of the sparkling particles of light dissolved in it.
No, even the child-form Lily immediately knows exactly what it is.
Because she has used the same potion herself in the past.
「How is it? It doesn’t hurt anymore, right?」
As several drops of the potion are poured onto Lily’s palm, which resembles a red autumn leaf, the wound disappears completely.
It is not on the level of the wound being repaired or closed – the wound has simply vanished in the blink of an eye.
Even though it was just a small graze from falling over, the sheer speed of the regeneration demonstrated by the potion proves that it is one of exceptionally high quality.
No; it cannot be called high-grade or superior. Fiona had said this about it in the past -
「It is the most amazing potion in existence, at least in the continent of Ark.」
Indeed; in conclusion, this is unmistakably the highest-grade potion, known as –
「Quite knowledgeable, aren’t you? Even though you’re small, you’re still a Priest.」
This man should have no idea what Lily is thinking, but he pats the top of her head, which is currently black, as if praising her.
Lily cannot tell if he is intending to be rude; in fact, she cannot read any of his emotions with her telepathy.
Is it a strong Protection? No, it is something else. Something different to Fiona’s defense, which Lily pictures to be like a solid wall. This is more like a fog that does not allow any of his true feelings to be detected, some abstract shield with no form.
Lily has never felt this sensation of her telepathy being eluded before, causing her confusion to deepen.
「Next time, make sure you look in front of you as you walk.」
It has taken less than a minute for him to heal her wound and pat her head.
Having accomplished what he wanted to, the man stands up and turns to leave.
「See you then, cute Fairy-san.」
And with a wave of his gray robe, he passes through the great gates of Avalon, departing for an unknown destination.
Lily stares blankly as he leaves, and then suddenly whispers to herself.
「Huh, Lily... I have a feeling someone was talking to you just now...」
As she looks restlessly around at her surroundings, she sees only an increased amount of pedestrian traffic in the plaza; the everyday sight of a morning in Avalon.
Something just happened, someone was here – but for some reason, Lily is unable to recall the events that happened just a few moments earlier.
No, did something happen here? Nothing should have happened.
Lily lets out confused noises as she tilts her head.
「Sorry for keeping you waiting, Lily-san. Shall we get going, then?」
Fiona appears at that moment, riding their cherished large, black horse with a paper bag full of food in her hands.
She is riding without holding the reins.
「Ah! Fiona, you’re late!」
「We’re still in disguise, so you have to call me onee-chan.」
Lily has already forgotten her confusion over her vague memories and throws herself at her completely unapologetic, childish “onee-chan”.
However, they have finally assembled the transport they need to leave Avalon, so they pass through the great gates to head towards Spada, where their beloved person awaits.