It was at Solia’s Main Plaza.
An unexpected disaster turned this place into a complete mess. The priestess who made an appearance was like a blessing of a rainfall after a drought or an oasis in middle of a desert.
“Oh. It’s lady Priesia.”
“Goddess Irenetsa, please look after us.”
Priesia responded to the people’s desperate voices with caring hand gestures and smiles, then she checked the situation in the surrounding area once again.
There were several obliterated buildings and many people who were either injured or dead.
“How many are there?”
“Twenty injured and four dead. Considering what happened, casualties like this could be considered as pretty low.”
The storm had passed already.
Priesia, who only managed to arrive at the scene after the situation came to an end, cringed.
“Even though the amount of casualties was low, it doesn’t change the fact that we were too late.”
“My apologies. I’m at a loss for words.”
Having heard what Priesia said, a royal knight from Solia Castle, who was walking besides Priesia, lowered his head.
The knight was in disbelief. He did not believe something like this could happen inside Solia, a place that enjoyed a prolonged period of peace.
He also looked rather angry at himself, for the fact that he wasn’t there to step forward in the moment when people were in danger.
“I think I will have to send a prayer. Sir Knight, please, will you step aside for a moment?”
Seeing Priesia’s hand gesture, the royal knight nodded as if he understood and stepped back.
Soon thereafter, Priesia, with her hands together, started to pray.
The prayer was for those who lost their lives today in the incident.
“That’s the priestess’ prayer?”
“She glows just from praying… As expected…”
The people, who were staring with blank faces at the priestess’ prayers, turned their gazes toward where the bodies of the four dead people were placed.
Each with a white fabric covering the face, they were motionless.
Around them, their families or acquaintances gathered. With grieving faces, they were praying like Priesia.
It was not much, but because the priestess was there and given the situation, it was still a grand and proper funeral.
Among the people gathered next to the dead, there was a man in shambles who appeared to be from Lower Solia.
It appeared that he was either family or an acquaintance of the only female among the dead.
“One of those things from Lower Solia came as well.”
“Ugh. Just looking at it feels like I can smell the stench.”
“Does that mean that woman is also from Lower Solia?”
“It seems so? She looks quite tidy though.”
[TL: He said this even though her face was covered in a fabric. Perhaps he was referring to the rest of her body and her clothing. As explained in past chapters, Beta was unusually clean in her appearance.]
Looking at the only man standing next to the dead woman, people who were watching the funeral murmured.
It looked like the people were not happy with the fact that there is someone from Lower Solia in this holy ceremony.
“By the way, if she sends prayers like this, by chance…is it supposed to bring back the dead or something like that?”
She was a priestess from the Holy Temple.
Someone asked with an expectation just in case she possessed such a holy power. Another person, who was watching the funeral ceremony, answered,
“No, reviving the dead people is still not possible.”
It was a disciplined voice.
Gazes of most people who were watching the funeral now turned toward the man.
It appeared that he came from the Magic Tower.
The man was wearing a robe that could be placed around his shoulders.
“Bringing back the dead is… That’s a different kind, the kind that human beings should not touch.”
The man continued his explanation with his eyes fixated to the ground.
The people watching the funeral gulped as they heard his explanation, and then they turned their gazes toward his back.
It was the grand mage that everyone in Solia knew of.
People turned their gazes because Astroa was approaching the man from the back.
Astroa stood behind Peruda and quietly murmured something to his ears.
The people wondered what they could be talking about.
The man named Peruda scrunched his face.
Although people didn’t know what was going on, they could see Peruda nodding politely.
Also, he did not speak anymore.
In the Main Plaza, the funeral wasn’t the only happening.
In order to find those responsible for the disaster, the royal knights apprehended a few people who were thought to be suspects.
“I’ll ask you. Why were you headed to Lower Solia?”
“There was someone I needed to meet there.”
At the moment, two of the people included in the list of suspects were the sons of the Erengium House, who were headed to Lower Solia from across the Main Plaza.
“Someone you needed to meet?”
“We have no reason to tell you that much.”
“Hey! You look like you know how things work. It is no good to get involved with private matters of nobilities. We have absolutely nothing to do with this incident.”
A servant from Erengium House who just arrived insisted on claiming ignorance to the royal knight.
The royal knight was not making any progress in his investigation.
In fact, he could not keep nobilities under arrest for a long time. He sighed heavily enough to cause the ground to sink and then looked at the two sons of the Erengium House waiting behind their servant.
“Big bro. Are you alright? Big bro?”
The young master that appeared to be the older brother was looking around the area nervously as if he was possessed by a ghost.
As for the young master that appeared to be the younger brother, he could not sit still as if he was too worried about his older brother. It looked like the younger brother was desperately waiting to go back with everyone and rest.
“From the start, didn’t I explain to you earlier that all this was caused by magic?”
”That… That is true, but…”
“In that case, the Erengium House had nothing to do with this incident. Magic from a House of swordsmen? It is a ridiculous idea. Sir Knight, don’t you think so too?”
The servant from Erengium slammed the desk with his fist and stood up.
“Moreover, we are the victims. The dead people in the funeral ceremony right now include one of the servants from Erengium!”
“Ah, yes… Yes… For now, please calm down. I am not saying that the House of Erengium did something wrong.”
“Just what exactly about your accusations could possibly mean that? Huh?!”
The servant didn’t care anymore for honorary speech and started to speak casually.
In his thoughts, the royal knight cursed at the nitpicky nobles and hastily wrote something on the paper on the desk.
“Yes, I understand. Still, this matter is not resolved yet… In case we contact you later, you have to come.”
The servant snatched the paper away from the hand of the royal knight who presented it to him. The servant scrunched up his face as he complained,
“Darn! What a nitpicky man!”
Meanwhile, with the paper literally snatched from his hand after he presented it, a blood vein bulged on the royal knight’s forehead.
“Young masters, you have waited for a long time. For today, it would be best if we just went back. Let’s go eat first.”
Watching the servant tumbling his way to his young masters and saying they should go back for the day, the royal knight glared at them as if he was trying to say that they stink.
Nainiae struggled as she raised herself up.
As soon as she raised herself up, she grabbed her aching stomach. Shortly, she shook her head several times and started to look around with a blank face.
She couldn’t see very well because it was dark.
“First, ligh-… Uk?”
It was one of the basic magics.
Nainiae was about to cast Light, which brings out a floating sphere of light, but she winced.
It was not just her body that was not moving properly at her will. Even the mana inside her body was not moving as she wished.
‘Now that I think about it… Back then…’
It was just before she lost consciousness.
Nainiae remembered that she was knocked out by a blow from the man in the mask. As she realized it, she bit her lip.
Her eye finally started to get used to the darkness. She could slowly make sense of her surroundings.
“…This place is?”
It was a room filled with spider webs, as if it had been abandoned for a long time.
The hard floor was made of wood, and there was a window that she failed to notice earlier because she was so dazed.
She noticed a faint silver light coming through the window. It was gradually getting brighter. It appeared that the moon was covered by clouds.
It meant it was nighttime.
Inside the quiet room, considering how she couldn’t hear any noise from outside, she figured it must be very late in the night, an early morning when everyone was still asleep.
In order to withstand the pain in her stomach, Nainiae hugged her knees.
‘You are hopeless!’
‘It is no wonder why you were thrown out from the Magic Tower!’
She felt like she could hear Beta’s words.
She tried to protect Beta with her life, but could only hear those harsh words in return.
Instead of feeling anguish from being betrayed, a sense of self-hatred was slowly coming forward. Nainiae buried her face between her knees.
“In order to return your good will for having faith in me… That was why…”
Nainiae’s hands, which were hugging her knees, were suddenly grabbed firmly by someone.
Her hands, which were shaking as if she was going through the emotion of anguish, froze.
“…Are you awake?”
In front of her, she could hear a familiar voice.
Having identified the source of the voice, Nainiae lifted her face from between her knees and looked at the person in front of her.
She couldn’t see his face very well because of how dim it was, but she definitely recognized the vibe.
It was the boy who knocked her unconscious in the Main Plaza.
“You are awake.”
The boy took a few steps closer to Nainiae.
She could see his face without the mask.
The boy also seemed to have realized that now Nainiae could see his face.
“Beta… What happened to her?”
Nainiae asked carefully.
“I am not sure?”
The boy, Riley, asked back.
The way he talked was rather mischievous, but his voice sounded serious.
From his serious tone of voice, Nainiae realized it.
That Beta was dead.
“I will ask you straight.”
As if he was saying there was no time to grieve, Riley asked,
“Why were you after m… Well, that doesn’t matter. How did you attack me?”
As for the reason why a woman named Beta from Lower Solia attacked him, Riley didn’t need to think deep to figure out most of it.
Therefore, Riley changed the question in the middle.
Instead of asking why she attacked him, he was asking ‘how’ Nainiae figured out that it was Riley under the mask back in the Main Plaza.
Back then, he was wearing a mask, and he was keeping quiet while laying face down on top of the carriage. Riley asked again,
“That’s something even my friends could not have managed to figure out. I need to know how you knew that it was me.”
Nainiae looked at Riley with her mind in disarray. She wondered if she should charge at him, saying she should take vengeance against Riley for killing Beta, or if she should express her gratitude for sparing her life.
She was conflicted.
After agonizing over it in her mind for a while, Nainiae thought that she would rather be left alone.
“…I have no reason to explain it to you.”
Nainiae answered as she buried her face between her knees.
Riley was watching Nainiae like that from above. He changed his question and said,
“In that case. You. What are you?”
“You didn’t look like an ordinary mage? The color was different.”
This time, the question was purely out of curiosity.
Riley was curious about things like her black-colored magic or the pitch-black mana rotten inside her body.
“Is it because you are a special kind? Is that it?”
Riley asked again.
Nainiae answered again.
“…I have no reason to explain things like that to you.”
“…Is that so?”
Seeing Nainiae hug her knees and staying still, Riley nodded as if he understood and moved his right hand.
The thing his hand was headed for was the sword on his waist.
“In that case, I have no choice.”
The sound of the sword being drawn from its sheath could be heard.
Because it was early morning, the room was filled with tranquility.
Meanwhile, Riley, with his sword drawn, pointed the tip of the sword right at Nainiae’s neck.