“I asked if you are impotent.”
Pricia, the priestess, asked Riley right to his face if he was ‘impotent.’
As it was such an unexpected question, not just Riley, but Ian too had his mouth wide open in shock as his stare alternated between Riley and Pricia.
“If that’s not it, then is it this? You prefer men?”
With her arms folded behind her back, Pricia leaned her face towards Riley.
In light of this, the holy temple’s priests panicked. Not able to stand still, they eventually started to make hastened steps to call the high priest.
“If that is not it, how could you have that look on your face after laying your eyes on my visage under the veil? Isn’t that unusual?”
Pricia was looking at Riley with a certain expression, half of which was reflecting her interest in him, and the other half displaying her unbounded confidence in herself.
In contrast, Riley’s expression was showing more disgust than ever before.
He was facing Pricia as if he was looking at something absolutely abhorrent.
“Why should I be subjected to such a question?”
“That’s because, don’t you see that I am a priestess? Solia’s priestess! The youngest in history!”
The look on Riley’s face could be summarized in those two words.
Is she really still a child?
Among the words said by the high priest Libesra, Riley recalled the word ‘puberty’ casually tossed out in the middle. Riley sighed and asked,
Instead of using formal language, the unrespectful form of speech effortlessly spewed out from Riley.
“Huh? Now that I think about it, you are spitting out words in informal form. Excuse me sir, but are you hard of hearing? Did you not hear me say I am a priestess?”
“What about it?”
This time, the look on Pricia’s face became hollow as if she had just taken a blow.
“That is, what I am saying is…”
“What about it? So what? Is this when I am supposed to be mesmerized after looking at a priestess? Ian, is that how it is?”
It was a tense situation as it was, so Ian was keeping his head down, trying not to get on anyone’s nerves. Ian’s shoulders shivered due to the blunt question launched at him.
“Yes? No, that is…”
Before Ian could even respond, Riley continued.
“Ugh, no matter how I look at you, you are ugly as hell.”
Due to the height difference, Riley was able to stare down at Pricia. Now he was sending a contemptuous glare toward her.
Not just Ian, but other priests nearby listening to the conversation as well, made a ‘Hup?!’ sound as they gasped for air.
“Are you deaf? You over there. I’m telling you that you are hideous. Now I want to turn the tables and ask you a question instead… How do you expect me to have my face turn red from a little girl who isn’t even my type? It’s not like you are a dumbass, are you?”
It was most unexpected.
Upon hearing such harsh words that she had never heard before in her life, Pricia was gradually starting to cringe.
Her face was still the same, pretty and becoming of a priestess, but teardrops were moistening the corners of her eyes.
“What now? Are you crying? So you are crying. Why? You are the runt who slapped me first, so why?”
The tone of his voice suggested that he was trying to protest and say that he was the one being treated unfairly. Riley looked around and asked the priests nearby.
“I responded because she asked me if I was impotent, so is it still my fault?”
Riley didn’t get to hear a response.
The priests only rushed to Pricia’s side and handed her handkerchiefs.
Her cheeks swelled up like a balloon.
“It’s fine! I don’t need them!”
Some of the handkerchiefs offered were swept away by the back of her hand and fell to the floor.
“Oh my, if you are ugly, you should at least have a pretty personality, but it looks like that’s not the case either here?”
The classy atmosphere from the beginning left the scene somehow.
Instead, the phrase ‘unrefined little brat’ was a more apt description for Pricia’s current demeanor. She tightened her fists and started to glare at Riley.
The teardrops barely hanging on at the tips of her eyes were on the brink of falling along her cheek.
It was definitely a look fitting of an adolescent girl in puberty.
“What? What are you glaring at me for?”
Riley stared down at her once again with contempt-filled eyes.
It was an act displaying the whole truth without an iota of falsehood.
To be honest, Riley wanted to strangle the priestess by her neck, but he was holding himself back. Riley’s hatred and anguish were to the extent of feeling better after watching this little girl cry.
Riley didn’t have it easy in his previous life.
“Ian, let’s get going.”
“What are you doing? Nothing good will come of us tarrying around here any longer. So let’s get going.”
Riley cringed as if he was trying to say that he couldn’t stand looking at Pricia on the verge of shedding tears. He turned and started to march away.
After Riley left, Pricia, who was just standing there aimlessly, shed a tear that rolled along her cheek. She crossed her arms and said,
“Really…what ridiculousness, seriously!”
Perhaps she was too embarrassed to cry in front of the priests. Pricia raised her eyes and trembled slightly.
“Wh-why are we having a guest like that?”
The priests who were watching from the side were breaking out in cold sweat.
They wanted to wipe the tears off of the priestess’s face, but nobody could step forward for the task.
This was because a priestess was someone they were not allowed to touch. Therefore, none of the priests dared.
“Excuse me! Mister!”
“Yes, yes! Lady priestess!”
“Am I…really ugly?”
“…Come again, my lady?”
“I’m asking if I’m really ugly!”
“Ah, no way! That’s not…”
The priests shook their heads and denied the harsh words that Riley spewed out a moment before he left.
“Lady priestess, you are the most beautiful one under the Irenetsa. You are so beautiful that it makes one wonder if you might be the physical manifestation of the Holy One’s vision of an ideal beauty.”
“There is no need for you to heed to what that Young Master said.”
“That’s right! That’s right!”
Ever since she had devoted herself to the temple at a young age, Pricia lived her life without ever once having the word ‘ugly’ being directed at her.
It was understandable for Pricia to be shocked by the harsh words that Riley tossed out.
“That’s it right? There’s something wrong with that guest’s eyes right?”
‘That’s right, Pricia. Just finish the prayer you were reciting…’
After forgetting everything about Riley through great effort, Pricia was about to continue the prayer she had paused a while ago, but then she suddenly opened her eyes wide.
In order to pray, Pricia was facing the altar, but she shivered as she felt an invisible force flowing down her back.
Pricia did not respond to the call. Instead, she quickly turned her head as if she was mesmerized by something.
It was a possession by a divine entity.
With her eyes dyed in golden light, Pricia gave a piercing stare towards where Riley had stood a moment ago.
* * *
“Riley, did something happen inside?”
Iris tilted her head as she asked if anything happened while she was having a conversation with the high priest.
“Nothing in particular?”
“Is that so?”
Iris asked again because Ian’s face looked pretty disturbed for someone who supposedly just walked out of a room where nothing in particular happened.
As if he was trying to tell Ian to get a grip, Riley firmly stepped on Ian’s foot with the heel of his boots and conveyed the following with his eyes,
‘Act with some tact, please.’
As if Ian read what Riley’s eyes were trying to tell him, Ian broke out in cold sweat and smiled.
“…Yes, beautiful, I mean the inside of the temple.”
Sera made suppressed laughing noise as she watched Ian’s awkward smile.
Based on the atmosphere, Sera judged that the situation must not have been that serious, and she took the lead with Iris. Sera looked back and said,
“Our next destination is the Magic Tower.”
“Oh, the Magic Tower?”
“Since you heard a rough explanation about the Magic Tower while we were entering Right Solia, I won’t go over that again. Ah! Now that I think about it, Master Riley, you said you were interested in magic, right?”
Riley nodded in response to Sera’s question.
“Yes! To think it is possible to move objects without using your hands… Wow…how convenient is that?”
“People don’t learn magic for that purpose though.”
Ian was dragging his feet.
His shoulders were low as if he had no energy, and the devious look in his eyes said he had a lot to unload from his mind.
“A mage from House Iphelleta? This is so ridiculous and unprecedented…”
As Ian was mumbling at the back, Sera clapped her hand loudly and brightened the mood.
“At least we can visit that place.”
There was a tall tower not far from where the four were headed.
Surrounding the ivory-colored building, a ring of blue light floated around and circled the building. It seems that that place was the Magic Tower that Sera spoke of.
“That place, it feels different from when we looked at it from Left Solia, doesn’t it?”
“It does, doesn’t it? When you get closer, they say it feels different, starting with the air around it. I heard it is because mana of high purity is accumulated here, but I do not know much about the specific details.”
“Yes, that ring of light is the device.”
Riley looked intrigued. He looked up and filled his sight with the rings of light circling around the Magic Tower.
‘The so-called magic…’
Not having had much experience in magic, Riley’s eyes were completely filled with curiosity.
This was because humans, including Riley, had either a curse or a blessing when they fought monsters to defeat the Demon Lord.
‘If it is as described in the books, it is said you can shoot fire, lightning and icicle spears from one’s hands. Is this true? Moving objects with one’s will is a given, and one can even fly through the sky freely.’
In Riley’s entire life, he only had a blessing that was related to blades. He never had any other blessings like the ability that allowed for breathing fire, creating ice, telekinesis or flight.
That made Riley all the more curious about magic.
He was wondering if it really was possible to use such abilities without a blessing.
“Ah, that’s right! Would you like to try it when we head into the Magic Tower?”
Sera, who was leading the way, looked like she just recalled something and asked Riley.
“It’s called mana measurement. There is a device that can measure a person’s mana capacity. It is a test that those aiming to join the ranks of mages in the Magic Tower get to experience at least once.”
“…What’s that again?”
“Young Master, you should try it now that you have this opportunity.”
The Iphelleta family’s first and second borns, Ryan and Lloyd also proceeded with having their mana capacities measured in order to use the ‘Aura Blade,’ a technique that enables the user to wield a blade enveloped in mana.
“You have a lot of things going on, so you won’t have much time for a chance like this to come by again.”
When Ryan was twelve, and when Lloyd was fourteen, they had already mastered mana.
“That’s right. Riley, you should try it too.”
Riley still had not had the mana measurement done until now due to various excuses. It was like he was playing hide-and-seek with it until now.
It appeared Iris too was wondering about the mana measurement result. She was looking at Riley with eyes filled with wonder..
Riley was scratching his head with an impudent look on his face, and there were eyes glaring at the back of Riley’s head. They belonged to Ian, who was exhausted from the commotion at the temple.
The old man’s eyes were regaining life once again, glowing.
‘As expected of him…’
Ian, the mercenary hero…
Among all mercenaries who wielded blades during times of the world war, he was one of the best at utilizing mana.
Ian, the first one in the mansion to realize Riley’s ‘potential,’ had gleaming eyes.