Solia Holy Temple.
During the late hours of the night, what appeared to be blue fireflies shimmered between the temple’s pillars, and with a flash of light, an old man revealed himself.
He was holding a chopped off arm with his other armpit.
Judging from his pale face, it appeared that he had lost quite a bit of blood.
The old man started to turn his head all over the place in search of a priest from the Holy Temple.
“Where is a priest? Priest!!”
Because his voice was loaded with mana, it was incredibly loud and echoed throughout the inside of the Holy Temple. The apprentice priests, who were awake for the early hours and walking nearby, rushed to where the old man stood.
“What brings you here to the-... Huk?! Your arm?”
“Senior…bring me a bastard that is a senior! I need to reattach my arm!”
“W-Wait a moment!”
The apprentice priests made haste to call for a senior priest.
Only a small while ago, there had been a patient who had come by with his arm cut off like Astroa, so fortunately for him, the senior priest that could fix his arm quickly arrived at the scene.
“Oh my. What in the world are the people in the Magic Tower doing at this early morning?”
“Not just one, but two came with their arm cut off. How did this happen?”
The reattachment procedure involved treatment of the cut-off area using holy power and then sutures afterwards.
This step was quite painful, hence Astroa’s face was scrunched up to the max.
Of course, it was not as bad as when he was cringing because of the two random runts that he had run into a moment ago.
“By chance, did something happen in the Magic Tower?”
The senior priest asked as he focused holy power in his hands to heal Astroa.
Since two people from the Magic Tower came with their arm chopped off, it was an obvious question that had to be asked.
The Holy Temple was located in Right Solia.
The senior priest had to ask because, if anything happened in the Magic Tower, it could also spread to the Holy Temple which was not far from the Magic Tower.
Astroa was about to tell them about what happened a moment ago, but he shut his mouth.
There was some weird bastard wearing a mask and a disposed product that he had abandoned. The two discovered the narcotics that he gathered in secret in the Magic Tower’s basement, and now, they even broke into the laboratory he was running in secrecy.
It was unfathomable for Astroa to tell such things to anyone, especially to people of the Holy Temple. That was an insane idea.
“…No. Nothing in particular.”
“Astroa, sir, your arm was cut off. Are you sure there is nothi-”
“I said there is nothing in particular! Instead, hurry, just hurry up with attaching my arm back up and do it right. I didn’t get to finish what I was working on!”
The situation was such that Astroa had no idea what the two random runts could possibly do now that they had broken into the laboratory.
All Astroa could think of right now was to return after getting his arm reattached as fast as possible.
He swore on the inside to properly tear them apart and dispose of them once he returned.
It seemed that she was having a panic attack due to traumatic memories of her past rushing back to her. Nainiae was shaking helplessly at the back. Riley left her be.
He turned the door handle and entered inside the laboratory.
Riley’s face crumpled on its own.
It was because the putrid air inside the laboratory, which had been trapped inside all this time, came right at him and buffeted his face.
That wasn’t the only reason. Inside the laboratory wafted a horrible stench.
The abhorrent stench was strong enough to completely bypass the mask Riley was wearing and penetrate straight through. It smelled of rotting corpses, unknown chemicals and excrements as well.
‘I sense a presence.’
From the inside, Riley could feel someone’s presence.
Just in case, after focusing mana to his senses and roughly figuring out how wide the inside was, Riley walked further into the laboratory.
‘The place doesn’t appear to be very spacious. As for the number of people still breathing...is it about three? It doesn’t look like they will be able to last long.’
As Riley looked at the state of the people caged behind iron bars, he thought Nainiae was quite fortunate in comparison. While glancing around the area, Riley asked the girl who was still standing just outside the door.
“Aren’t you going to come in?”
Nainiae was hesitant for a moment, but soon, she carefully traced the steps that Riley took and came right behind him.
“From what I heard a while ago, you said you learned magic from Peruda?”
To calm her down, Riley decided to strike up a conversation.
“You know my teacher?”
Hearing Riley’s question, Nainiae asked with curious eyes.
“I don’t think I could say I know him, but I have met him recently.”
From hearing Riley’s answer, Nainiae’s eyes lit up. It looked like she turned her gaze to a faraway place for a moment, and she started to carefully tell a story about Peruda.
“My teacher, Mr. Peruda, was, of all people from the Magic Tower that came to this basement, the only one…that showed kindness towards people trapped in here. He gave ointment to people who could not stand the itchy skin. He brought sweet treats that would not make people throw up after eating them. In my case, I told him I wanted to read books, and he brought me books.”
To discover that such a young man was a teacher to someone…
It was unexpected.
While tuning in to her story, Riley started to search around the area again.
“To the families of the people who were dying here, he also delivered their letters of their last will… In my case, he delivered my letter to my mother who could not recognize me.”
Even though she was in shambles, she was still alive.
Although she was still alive, to her mother, she became a dead daughter.
“What a tearjerking story.”
“So, did you learn that black-colored magic from Peruda?”
“To be exact… No.”
Nainiae immediately shook her head.
“Earlier, remember that I said the teacher gave me books?”
“Ah, is that...?”
“Yes. Those books were textbooks about magic. From the basic level to intermediate level… He brought them in that order for me. He praised me for learning magic so fast.”
That was the height in magic that Nainiae had reached.
Currently, Astroa, who appeared to be over 60 years old, was at Seven Circles.
The fact that Nainiae, who was not even in her twenties, mastered Six Circles was not just a little fast. It was astonishing.
“Probably…it was because of the drug.”
The speed at which she focused mana, her rapid magic mastery, and the extraordinary pitch-black color of her magic were all because of the drug.
“I do not know exactly what the drugs used in the experiments are supposed to do.”
Based on what was done and what had happened, it could be guessed that Astroa was doing drug research and experiments in order to get to the next Circle.
“How you identified me right away at the Main Plaza, that was not magic, right?”
“That’s right. That wasn’t magic. That was this.”
Nainiae lightly lifted her bang and showed him her white-colored dead eye.
“Because my mind was in disarray at the time, I do not know if I poured it or one of associates from the Magic Tower did, but the thing that was poured onto my eye was not the drug from the experiment. It was something else. I was able to find you because of an unexpected effect from the chemical.”
Nainiae pulled her bangs back down and hid her eye although it could not be concealed completely.
“The explanation is kind of unclear. Can you demonstrate it?”
“Is there someone you want me to find?”
“There is no need for names. Even if you told me, I won’t be able to tell their names with my ability. Just visualize. Things like the person’s appearance.”
Riley was thinking hard about whom to visualize. He first thought about his mother, Ian and Sera, who would be soundly asleep in the hotel, but quickly changed his mind and thought about the two brothers from the Erengium family.
As he visualized their appearances in his mind, Nainiae slowly turned her head and started to stare toward a wall that had nothing.
Soon, as she gradually lifted her head, with her finger pointing to the upward direction, she said,
“The people you are looking for are pretty far in this direction. Are they nobilities? It looks like they are in a hotel. Other than that… I do not know.”
Her finger was pointing upwards. That much was obvious since Riley and Nainiae were deep underground.
However, the direction she was pointing at was to Left Solia.
“The three people you were thinking about in the beginning are also in Left Solia. They are also the people that Beta asked me to find.”
She was probably talking about Iris, Ian and Sera.
Absolutely impressed, Riley murmured,
“It is like a radar.”
Her ability was like the radar he knew from his past life.
As Riley seriously thought about her ability, he asked her,
“Do people from the Magic Tower know? This ability of yours?”
Nainiae shook her head.
“No. They don’t. I didn’t tell them. If I did, I thought I would be trapped in here again.”
“But, you told that woman?”
Thinking about Beta from Lower Solia, Nainiae remained silent.
That woman, Beta, the one that said she had faith in Nainiae, as well as the one that had poured out devastating insults at her in the end, was no longer living in this world.
“So in conclusion… You are saying that you obtained both the dark-colored magic and tracking ability from here, right?”
To Riley’s question, she couldn’t respond, and instead, she nodded as she bit her lips.
With a blank face, Nainiae was following right behind Riley, but she stopped after hearing a voice coming from nearby.
From the side…
An almost extinguished voice could be heard from the cage that had people trapped inside.
With great difficulty, the voice was pleading to be killed.
Without her realizing, Nainiae’s mouth opened.
It seemed that she was seeing a glimpse of her former self when she was trapped inside the cage.
Back then, there were times when she screamed and pleaded to be killed too.
Inside the cage, there was a child who appeared to be a lot younger than Nainiae.
It was not certain if they were aware of the presence of others outside.
With hollow eyes, as they drooled from their mouths, the people inside the cage were pleading to be killed. Seeing them made Nainiae stumble back. Soon, she bumped the back of her head to someone’s chest.
It was Riley.
It seemed he already observed the inside of the cage. Riley stood still, and his gaze was following Nainiae in to the people inside the cage begging to be killed.
Nainiae carefully opened her mouth.
It was because she had a favor to ask of Riley.
It was for ending the lives of these people who were suffering.
However…before she could even finish what she had to say, Riley moved one step toward the cage and brandished his sword.
Riley’s sword was swung.
Nainiae was not confident concerning watching them being cut down, so she tightly shut her eyes.
The sound that followed was not the sound of people being cut down. Instead, it was a metallic ‘clank’ sound of the sword striking against the cage bars.
After cutting down just the iron cage, Riley dusted off the sword to the side and asked toward Nainiae who had her eyes closed into thin lines,
“You…by chance, do you have a bit of leadership?”
Looking at Nainiae, who murmured as if she did not know the meaning, Riley put his hand in his pocket and brought out a small-sized badge.
“I’m talking about the ability to take charge and lead people.”
After making the question easier to understand, Riley tossed the badge he brought out from his pocket on the floor.
“You mean…when I asked you to kill these people?”
As she could not understand the reason behind Riley’s behavior, Nainiae tilted her head to the side and asked.
“It is time you try doing what I told you a moment ago.”
“What you told me a moment ago?”
“It is time for you to stand one step behind.”
Looking at the Erengium’s insignia on the badge that was dropped to the floor, Riley continued,
“By the looks of the eyeballs of that old geezer, it seems he had already gone insane a long time ago. He can’t see straight and thinks he can do whatever he wants… I think leaving this much here is enough.”
“With this, the preparation is roughly complete. Now, all we have to do is to stand back and watch the spectacle.”
The foundation of the big plan that Riley imagined in his mind was complete. He directed his gaze to the badge and then looked at Nainiae.
As she still did not quite understand what Riley was hinting at, all Nainiae could do was raise up a question mark on her face and stare back at Riley.
Riley was smiling comfortably.