Something was odd.
Astroa thought the way the situation was rolling along felt strange.
‘The masked man that I ran into…was he this weak?’
The question in his head led to yet another question,
‘It cannot be…’
Astroa turned his head rapidly and looked at Lower Solia’s homeless people who were hiding in corners and watching him.
A few of them had met Astroa before because of the narcotics trade, so they seemed to know why Astroa was here, but some of the others were staring at him with their eyes wide open and wondering what in the world was happening here.
It was strange.
The atmosphere felt very uncomfortable even for Lower Solia.
‘Erengium was…a bait?’
Astroa assumed that the masked man that cut off his arm and ran off with the disposed product during the early morning must be someone from Erengium House because Astroa found the badge in the laboratory.
However, now that Astroa’s anger had receded a bit and his head was cool, after thinking hard about it…Astroa felt that it was probably not right. His eyebrows started to wrinkle slowly.
‘Ugh what a bonehead… What am I doing right now… it's... How am I any different from a lab rat trapped in an experiment box?’
Astroa realized that he got too used to the peaceful life, so he had overlooked something he should have been suspicious of.
Astroa realized that he totally fell for it like a fool. He gritted his teeth.
It was when he was shaking his fist in fury.
One of the homeless who was hiding and watching the scene made the noise.
Soon, along with the sounds of footsteps, the presence of numerous people approaching could be felt.
Judging from the sound, it sounded like people wearing plate armor were approaching.
“S-Solia Holy Temple bastards?”
“The bastards from the Holy Temple? Why here…”
The priests and holy knights from the Solia Holy Temple usually didn’t want to have anything to do with the people of Lower Solia, claiming that these homeless people had abandoned god.
However, this time, there was a mob of them that showed up.
“Holy shit. It’s the priestess…”
In middle of priests and holy knights, there was a girl with a veil, who was relatively shorter than the rest, standing in front of everyone.
Watching her obviously walking toward Astroa, the homeless people of Lower Solia opened their eyes wider than when Astroa made his entrance. The homeless murmured,
“Priesia? Is it the real deal?”
“That’s crazy. Why would Priesia come here…”
Hearing the homeless people’s voices, Astroa also opened his eyes wide and stared.
‘She is the priestess from the Holy Temple. Just what business does she have here that she had to march all the way down here?’
Astroa could not think of many possibilities.
And soon, in front of Astroa’s sight, there was Priesia’s veil.
With priests and holy knights standing behind her, Priesia took a step forward and continued,
“Recently, I received a report about obscene occurrences.”
When she finished, at the same time,
The holy knights wearing plate-armored boots stomped their feet on the ground and put forth their shields and swords.
It was an unspoken threat toward Astroa. They were demanding Astroa to answer honestly to the priestess.
“Can you please answer?”
At the priestess’ question, Astroa flinched his face and asked back, (ED: Let it be known she never asked any question here)
“About narcotics…and unethical human experiments.”
“Are you involved with them?”
Priesia asked as she sharpened her eyes under the veil.
Her gaze was fierce. It was unbelievable that it belonged to a girl.
Astroa shrugged a little.
It looked like he coughed out a word to express his amusement for no reason, but he slowly turned his body away and started to murmur something.
Upon listening to it carefully, it sounded like he was murmuring a spell.
Most likely, it was going to be the Teleport spell to escape the scene.
Before Astroa could finish casting Teleport, the spell was canceled. It was because someone interfered with his spell.
Astroa was currently at Seven Circles.
‘Someone interfered and canceled my magic? A magic cast by me, a Seven Circles level mage?’
The feat was not possible unless it was by a Six Circles level mage.
Astroa stared with wide eyes at the girl in horrible state that was standing behind Priesia.
“… You…You bitch?”
There was a girl with her hand directed toward Astroa. She was certainly the one that interfered with Astroa’s spell.
It was the girl that showed abnormal rate of mana growth due to drug experiments in the Magic Tower.
It was the girl that reached the height of Six Circles in just two short years. Literally, she was a manufactured prodigy, and she was standing right there.
“To make sure that there will not be any more…”
‘To make sure that there will not be any more like me.’
Because of black blood leaking out of her mouth, Nainiae couldn’t finish her words. Instead, she continued in her head. Due to exhaustion, her eyes were about to close on her own, but she desperately maintained them and glared at Astroa.
After arriving at Solia Castle, Ian explained to the royal guards about the Erengium House, and the royal guards replied and said that they were actually investigating about the Erengium House already.
“Right now, I heard that there are suspicious movements in Lower Solia. We were about to head out right away so we won’t be late like at the incident in the Main Plaza last time.”
The royal guard explained that the eldest son of the Erengium was there right now and that something big was happening.
“Did something happen in the Main Plaza?”
Ian was listening to the royal guard’s explanation, but he tilted his head sideways and asked. It was because Ian was not aware of what had happened in the Main Plaza.
“That is…we don’t have the time to explain that to you at the moment. Please understand.”
The royal guard, who was explaining things to Ian, gathered his armor and weapon to join the other royal guards. He took a quick look to the back and said,
“Would the Iphelleta House like to come as well? To Lower Solia?”
“No thank y-…”
“…Sure. Why not.”
In light of the royal guard’s question, Sera was about to say ‘No thank you!’ However, she flinched as she heard Riley telling the royal guard that he would join them.
“Young master, why would you…”
“We checked out all of Left and Right Solia, so…I think I would be a little upset to not get the chance to check out Lower Solia. I think that’s why?”
“But, that place...!”
Sera was about to say something back, but she bit her lip. It was because she couldn’t think of anything else to say other than that it is dangerous there.
“It is not like we are going by ourselves. Royal guards are coming too, right? It won’t be all that dangerous.”
With a pleading look on her face as if she was wronged, Sera looked at Iris.
However, the gaze from Iris was also saying, ‘I don’t understand why you are against this.’
“It seems like the decision has been made to come along. Royal guard, I’m sorry, but please let us borrow some horses.”
“Should I just provide you with a carriage? Because it is for the royal guards, it will be uncomfortable, but it would be better than riding on horses.”
“In that case, please do so.”
Now that Ian had even prepared a carriage for everyone in the blink of an eye, Sera’s face darkened even more. It was because now, going to Lower Solia became a certainty.
While the carriage was being prepared, with Riley and Iris standing in front of her, Sera sighed heavily enough to make the ground sink.
“Now that it has come to this… It cannot be helped. There are a few things I want to warn you all about. Please keep these in mind at all times.”
“I got it.”
To explain things to watch out for, Sera opened her fingers one at a time as she explained them to the mother and son duo,
“First, don’t go anywhere by yourself! Second, don’t get separated from the group! Third, don’t do anything by yourself!”
Although they were worded differently, the overall message in the cautions was the same. Riley raised an eyebrow and asked back,
“What the hell was that about?”
No matter what face Riley was making, Sera continued with a serious face and emphasized the three points once again.
“This is really important. The people in Lower Solia are filthier and more vicious than wild animals or monsters.”
Riley shrugged as if he was saying he couldn’t get a feel for it.
“…If you are bitten, then bite back harder.”
After Riley’s question, Sera raised her index finger and recited the puzzling statement with a serious face.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“To people of Lower Solia, it is a proverb, a piece of advice. Literally, these guys don’t have any sense of limits. They will throw anything that they can grab, and they are the kind of bastards who will always try to take someone with them to the grave. Lower Solia is a place where such bastards gather.”
“Although we ended up going there, it would be best to avoid eye contact with any of them. Not everyone will be like that, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful.”
Riley glanced at his mother real quick to get a glimpse of how she was feeling. Riley asked Sera,
“By chance, have you lived in Lower Solia before? You seem to know a lot about the place.”
“Pardon? Ah, that is…”
Because of Riley’s question, which was poking right at the heart of the matter, Sera avoided his eyes and mumbled.
It looked like Riley’s thoughts were correct.
“Yes. That’s right. When I was little, for a while, there was a time when I lived there.”
Instead of agonizing over how to get around the subject, Sera decided to just be honest about it and continued,
“That’s why I’m worried even more. It is not like the people living in that place have any special physical abilities, but their obsessions or resentments are scary beyond anyone’s imagination. It is really…really dangerous there.”
It wasn’t the kind of trouble that would end with bumping into someone’s shoulder in the street.
These people might pick a fight just for having the eyes meet for more than three seconds.
It was that bad in Lower Solia.
Saying that they didn’t like how you were dressed in nice clothes, saying that they didn’t like how your face looked all clean and pretty, saying that they were just having a bad day… Using all sorts of excuses, they would come to pick a fight and turn things ugly.
Noticing Sera’s voice and face hardening, Iris said,
“… Looks like you experienced them.”
Sera opened her mouth like a fish inside a fishbowl. She spared the words, and, instead, she just nodded.
Actually, there was a time when she lived in Lower Solia and she experienced pain from it. Riley replied,
“I got it. We will heed your warnings. Don’t go anywhere alone, don’t get separated from the group, and don’t do anything alone… Okay?”
As if she could not help it, Iris smiled as she nodded as well.
Sera too tilted up the corners of her lips and smiled.
“It is ready.”
Riley could hear Ian from his back. It appeared that the preparations were complete.
Riley turned to see how it looked, and he said ‘wow’ after noticing the number of royal guards standing behind Ian.
“It seems that what’s happening in Lower Solia is something very serious.”
Ian said with a serious face.
Having arrived at Lower Solia with Solia Castle’s royal guards, Riley gave a vacant stare at the scene as he murmured,
The way his jaw was just hanging explained how unbelievable the scene was.
Lower Solia was matching up perfectly to the description as a place that was piled up with filth from the sewer, trash and all sorts of other garbage. In this place, the Solia Holy Temple’s holy knights and priests were exuding steady lights as they were having a confrontation with someone.
“Young master, it seems that…”
Noticing the old man facing the people from the Holy Temple, Ian said,
“It looks like… it really is something very serious.”
There were homeless people hiding and watching, and there were also priests and holy knights from the temple with stern faces.
Those were enough to call it an epic scene, but that wasn’t all there was.
“…Grand Mage Astroa and Priestess Priesia.”
The grand mage and the priestess were glaring at each other, and she had a horrendous looking girl standing behind her.
The atmosphere felt like it would explode at any moment.
“Can you please explain to us what’s happening here?”
The captain of Solia’s royal guards asked.
Meanwhile, Riley watched as he drank the brown-sugar beer that he brought.