“…I heard from Nainiae.”
While Riley was sipping the brown-sugar beer, a soft but stern voice could be heard from afar. It was coming from a girl having a standoff against Astroa. It was from the priestess under the veil, Priesia.
“Narcotics and experimentation… By chance, Grand Mage Astroa, were you involved?”
By the word ‘narcotics’ that was included in Priesia’s question, the captain of Solia Castle royal guards that had barged into the situation was now glaring at Astroa with a menacing look in his eyes.
“Haha. How could that be?”
Astroa was cringing and staring at Nainiae as if he was trying to express to her that she frustrated him by interfering with his teleportation spell. However, as he turned toward the priestess, he fixed his facial expression and smiled widely.
“That’s absolutely not true. The master of the Magic Tower being involved with narcotics? Ridiculous.”
Pretending to be innocent, Astroa answered and said he did no such things.
His good-natured looking smile and long, gray beard occasionally blowing in the wind were totally making him look like a man that would never do such things no matter who looked at him.
Those were not enough to trick Priesia.
Appearance wise, she was just a pretty girl. However, she was a priestess, the person closest to the heavens and blessed by the goddess Irenetsa.
“In that case, I would like to ask.”
Behind the veil, Priesia’s eyes gradually changed their color from dark brown to golden.
“To the goddess Irenetsa, can you swear that you are telling the truth?”
It was the power of the priestess.
Her golden eyes, the eyes that could pierce through others and determine the truth and deception, were glaring at Astroa.
Astroa was smiling like a good-natured man, but his face was slowly hardening.
It was because he was well aware that deception was not allowed in front of those eyes and that question.
On the other side of the street, standing among Solia Castle’s royal guards, Riley was looking back and forth between Astroa and Priesia. Intrigued, his eyes were beaming.
‘That’s interesting as well. Is it like a polygraph?’
This was the girl who acted like a little lass going through puberty and poured out foul words towards him at the temple.
However, in this moment, she was displaying valor.
The existence called priestess was something that Riley had ill feelings towards since his past life. However, by herself alone, Priesia was pressuring the grand mage who represented Solia. Watching her standing up like that made Riley think that she had a pretty strong backbone.
“Aren’t you going to answer?”
“I will ask you again.The narcotics and experimentation that Nainiae spoke of… Is it true that you were the one that orchestrated them?”
With a fierce expression on her face, Priesia inquired again.
This time, the question was no longer asking if he was ‘involved.’
Instead, now, the question was tossed at him with an assumption that he was.
Astroa dropped his head down and breathed out heavily after having been holding it for a while.
Because of the power that Priesia had as a priestess, he could not lie. That was not all.
He was also surrounded by Solia Castle’s royal guards and Solia Temple’s holy knights.
As if that was not enough, although she was just a disposed product of the Magic Tower, Nainiae, who was at Six Circles, was interfering with his escape.
It was the worst situation.
Thinking about the fact that all this was because of that ‘bastard under the mask’ made him furious.
“Ugh. Ugh. Ugh…”
Astroa all of sudden dropped his shoulders and started to make suppressed laughing sounds.
He was cornered.
No matter how much he racked his brain, it was a situation where he couldn’t think of a way out.
“Yes. I am the one that did all of them.”
“Narcotics… Yes. In the Magic Tower’s basement, I manufactured narcotics and sold them to nobles. With that, I procured funds for experiments, and I performed trivial experiments…that didn’t hurt anyone.”
‘Didn’t hurt anyone?’
Nainiae was standing with the people from the Holy Temple. Having heard Astroa’s words, she made a tight fist. It was starting to shake.
Priesia narrowed her eyes and called his name.
Her voice, and how she omitted his title, conveyed her rage.
“Yes. Is there a problem?”
Nainiae’s nails dug into her skin.
She would not have been as angry if she were the only one to be exploited.
‘What about the little kid who I had just brought to the temple, the one who was trapped inside the laboratory and begged to be killed? What did that child ever do to deserve being subjected to painful drugs and chemicals?’
It was just about when Nainiae was about to scream out of fury.
“…What a total son of a bitch!!”
A powerful roar could be heard from across the street. Nainiae’s shoulders shivered.
The loud voice echoed through the entire area.
In light of the incredibly powerful voice, not just Nainiae, but people from Solia Temple and even the homeless of Lower Solia all directed their gazes toward the man.
“Narcotics? You manufactured narcotics? You lunatic runt! Do you have any idea how many people shed bloody tears during the Great War? How dare you!”
The voice was from an old man wearing a butler’s suit with multiple Iphelleta House insignias. It was Ian.
‘Ugh. My ear drums…’
It was such an incredibly loud shout that Riley, who was standing right next to Ian, was groaning with his ears covered.
He felt like his ears were about to go deaf from the unexpected roar.
“That son of a b-…!”
Unable to hide his agitation, Ian was breathing hard. However, he took a glance at Iris and Sera and bit his lips.
“…Since before, I never liked mage bastards.”
“Ah, I got it…”
As Ian said it in a quiet voice, Riley responded a little later.
Since back in the days when he was addressed with the title of hero mercenary, Ian had deep hatred toward narcotics.
Riley expected that he would be enraged by all this, but Riley never expected that his reaction would be this intense.
“Especially this runt. Of all sons of bitches out there, this bastard… He is the real lunatic of them all. They are all lunatics.”
Riley had forgotten about Ian’s habit for a long time. Having remembered it, Riley responded as he nodded.
“Yes, yes? What is it?”
Ian put his hand on the handle of the sword he was carrying on his waist.
The old man’s entire body was overflowing with deadly aura. It felt like he would draw the sword at any moment.
“I know it is not my place to do this, but please, may I step in?”
“For lunatic bastards, a good beating is like medicine. Borrowing the name of the Iphelleta House, I would like to beat the crap out of that runt. He deserves punishment from the above. It would not be enough to kill him by frying him on a skillet full of shit. He is a piece of shi-…”
“…Ahem. You will allow me, right?”
Looking at Ian with his burning eyes, Riley did not know what to do. He looked at his mother and Sera.
Riley’s mother and Sera too only shrugged. Their eyes were saying they didn’t know what to do either.
“Uh, that is…”
While Riley was speechless and was not able to make a decision, sounds of multiple swords being drawn all together could be heard.
It was from Solia Castle’s royal knights.
By his looks, starting from his cape, his armor, even the sword he was holding, the captain of the royal knights stood out among all royal knights. The captain aimed his sword toward Astroa and said,
“Manufacturing or distributing narcotics inside Solia is the most serious crime of all. Hence, I will have to ask you to come with us to the Solia Castle. Do not resist! Please put on these mana suppressing cuffs.”
The mana felt from Astroa appeared to be at an alarming level.
The one who broke the silence that came after the captain’s words was Astroa, the one who was warned.
While laughing, he shrugged his shoulder. Astroa covered his face with his right hand and took a look around at all the people that were surrounding him. The look on his face expressed how he viewed them. He thought their stand-off was ludicrous.
“Did you just say you will arrest me?”
No response could be heard.
Until only a moment ago, his gray beard looked elderly and graceful, but now, even his beard looked terrifying.
He started to exude deadly aura.
“By chance, have you forgotten? I am a grand mage of Seven Circles magic.”
Astroa turned his head.
No matter where he looked, everyone was looking at him with the same eyes.
Everyone was glaring at him with the kind of eyes that one stared with at an evildoer.
Although it was not showing, a few people’s eyes were filled with fear.
“I’m the only one in Solia with the Seven Circles magic. If you were to arrest a grand mage like me and then Rainfield or Ansirium were to declare war on Solia…then what would you intend to do?”
To his question, again, no response could be heard.
“There is nothing good that would come out of making an enemy out of me. Am I wrong? Miss priestess?”
This time, Astroa’s head turned toward Priesia.
As if he was disappointed that he could not see the look on her face under her veil, the corner of the grand mage’s mouth was stretching.
It appeared that he was thinking the situation was turning in his favor.
“…Certainly, that would be a problem.”
In light of her response, the royal knights and temple priests all dropped their jaws with vacant stares.
Astroa pulled up the corner of his mouth and grinned as if he figured as much. He immediately pointed at Nainiae and said,
“As for that disposed product, well, since it was a mistake from the Magic Tower, I will clean it up for you. So…”
“That is, if it wasn’t for the ‘divine message’ that was sent down to me recently.”
The divine message.
It was an oracle that the goddess Irenetsa bestowed upon the priestess.
Hearing Priesia’s words mentioning a divine message, Astroa soon wrinkled his grinning face and stared at her.
“Now, what do you mean by…”
“It is not the kind of message that would be permitted to be told to someone with a bleak heart. To summarize…Astroa, it means your threat will not work.”
After finishing what she had to say, Priesia raised her right arm.
With her gesture, as if everyone was waiting for it, Solia Temple’s holy knights directed their holy powers toward their shields and swords and started to exude golden lights.
At that instant, Solia Castle’s royal knights started to move in. Those who could use the Aura Sword technique were wielding swords with a blue aura and rapidly approaching Astroa.
As expected, perhaps because they were hardened warriors, instead of describing them as running, describing their movement as flying was more appropriate.
Soon, all holy and royal knights who closed in toward Astroa started to swing their swords.
Holy knights and royal knights were deflected off by a semi-transparent layer that appeared in front of them.
Aura swords and others engulfed in holy powers penetrated deep without being deflected. However, the problem was that they could not tear apart the barrier.
“Is it a barrier?”
Knights scrunched their faces.
Also, Astroa too cringed.
“This is justified self defense.”
Because he cast a barrier and was standing inside, there was supposed to be no wind blowing at him, but his gray beard was flapping like a kite in a festival.
Astroa cast a spell.
Grease, a One Circle magic.
It instantly eliminated the friction on the ground to make people in the effective range slip or fall down.
Because it suddenly became slippery, some knights were not able to stand it and fell or tap danced around to keep the balance.
“Damn it. My foot…”
“It’s a swamp! Get out of it!”
After casting Grease, Astroa immediately cast Swamp, a Two Circle magic, which turned the ground into a mud field. Astroa also cast Fly and rose up in the air.
“Even if it is now, how about you call this off and take back what you said, Priestess Priesia? If you try to fight me…many people will die.”
Priesia turned her head up and looked at Astroa’s face.
As Priesia focused her holy power and distributed it to the surrounding quietly, the area, which was turning into a complete mess along with the sewer water starting to be thrown into the mix, was returning to its original state…and then it became completely clean.
Having cleansed the ground using her holy power, Priesia said,
“About what you just said… I believe you will have to make a correction on your statement since not stopping you now will result in more casualties.”
As if he concluded that persuasion is no longer an option, Astroa completed the spell that he had started to cast when he ascended a while ago. With several boulder-sized fireballs summoned behind him, Astroa stared down below and said,
“Well then, please feel free to go ahead and try.”
Astroa swung his hand.
The fireballs that he summoned started to pour down on Lower Solia