“You are people from the Holy Temple, but does that give you the right to block a path where people walk through?”
Looking at the priests in formation in front of him, Riley asked, but no response could be heard.
It looked like Priesia still remembered the threat she received from Riley when she was in Solia Castle. Without saying any words, all she was doing was slowly shifting eyes around to avoid Riley’s gaze.
Riley furrowed his eyebrows.
Judging from her reaction, it looked like his warning was definitely received. It appeared Priesia was not here out of her own accord.
“Ah… This… All this… Really, my apologies.”
After a long while, finally, an awkward voice could be heard. It was the old man standing next to Priesia.
“Our lady priestess is still not skilled in having conversations with people, so she makes mistakes like this occasionally. Please be generous and understand, Young Master Riley.”
Toward the old man standing next to Priesia, Riley narrowed his eyes and glared at his face.
He remembered the old man.
Riley definitely had seen his face during the first day he visited Right Solia.
“Ah, Archbishop Rebethra!”
Like how the old man was standing next to Priesia, Iris was standing next to Riley. Iris identified the old man’s title.
“Lady Iris, it’s good to see you again.”
Rebethra, the archbishop representing the priests of Solia’s Holy Temple, bowed his head and paid his respects to the two standing in front of him.
Because of his respectful gesture, Iris lost some of her wariness toward them and started to look around the people from the temple who were blocking her path.
“Why are all these people here?”
“Ah, it’s none other than…”
Rebethra turned his body to the side and gestured to the priests who were prepared and waiting at the back to come this way.
“Um? What is this?”
Following Rebethra’s hand gesture, three priests, each in both hands carrying a box that was richly decorated, came to the front.
“These are about the recent exploits. The two people, they left these things at the Holy Temple. They are supposed to take these with them.”
Two of the priests walked toward Riley, and one walked toward Nainiae.
As if they were trying to ask what these were, Riley and Nainiae floated question marks on their faces. They held the boxes given to them by the priests and checked the contents inside.
‘They don’t look like anything special.’
After checking the contents, Riley raised his eyebrows and looked at Rebethra.
On the other hand, Nainiae vacantly opened her mouth as if she didn’t expect the content to be what it was.
It did not mean that she was impressed and thankful.
It meant that she was shocked.
“It is a loot or a spoil, if you will.”
Rebethra opened his mouth.
Riley wondered if an archbishop that represented a temple should be talking like that. Riley pulled his chin and stared at Rebethra.
What Riley and Nainiae received were a cape that was neatly folded into a square shape, an ordinary looking silver ring that didn’t have any decorations, and a leather bracelet with unknown engraved patterns, these three things.
“Because we are out in the public, I can’t explain the specifics directly, but these belong to the…”
Rebethra paused for a moment and looked over the shoulders to gauge Solia citizens watching them. Rebethra continued,
“Yes. These are belongings of ‘that man.’ As for his staff, it broke completely, so it could not be helped.”
Rebethra was careful about the discussion because the death of that man was a fact not revealed to the public.
“If I refuse these?”
With a concerned and reluctant face, Riley asked back.
Nainiae was feeling the same as Riley.
She was going to die soon, so she felt that receiving these were probably not going to make a big difference. Also, they were belongings of a mage that experimented on her. She was not feeling right about having such things.
“Please accept them. The Holy Temple determined that it would be better to present these to you two instead of delivering them to the castle. I swear under the goddess Irenetsa that we have not done anything odd.”
Rebethra bowed his head once again, Riley shifted his eyes toward Priesia who was standing next to the old man.
The expression on her face looked pretty uncomfortable.
It felt like she wanted to get away from this place right this instant.
It was probably because of Riley.
‘Is this just the archbishop acting alone?’
Earlier, Riley warned Priesia that he will turn everything upside down if they pestered him, and it looked like his threat worked. It was evidenced by how the priestess was keeping her mouth shut.
‘If he is acting alone, then why is he doing this? Assuming the archbishop knew about the divine message that Priesia received, in that case, if she told him that they shouldn’t ask me, then why?’
After making conjectures on the reason behind the archbishop’s action, Riley turned his head.
“Young master, are you going to take these?”
Nainiae slowly came next to Riley and whispered to him quietly so the archbishop couldn’t hear her.
“By the looks of them, how are they?”
“I checked them already. I don’t sense any magical interferences in them.”
To Riley’s question, Nainiae responded that she already checked, but she realized that she made mistake in choosing the tone of her words. She was still too used to the crass language used in Lower Solia.
“…I mean… I have checked them for you, young master.”
“Is that so?”
Riley looked like he was a bit impressed that Nainiae took a notice.
‘Is she intending to work hard as a servant?’
Riley figured that her crass language could not be helped because it became a habit for her from her time in Lower Solia. Still, Riley was impressed that Nainiae knew what he wanted and went ahead and did things even before he asked.
‘So, this means these are just simple gifts. In that case…’
Thinking about the situation and making a conjecture, Riley figured that Rebethra chose an approach of taking a long time with Riley instead of abruptly showing up and making a request. He was sure that Rebethra was trying to work him from that angle. The fact that Rebethra was not bringing up the dragon at all was the evidence.
‘So, what you are trying to do here is, let’s make an impression in person first at least, is that it?’
To Nainiae, Riley handed over the two boxes that he was carrying and then took a step toward Rebethra.
“Thank you. Since you are giving us these gifts, we will take them with appreciation.”
Toward Rebethra, Riley smiled like a good person and continued,
“But, are you going to keep the road blocked? It’s a little… No. It’s a big hindrance for the citizens.”
As if he was trying to tell them to hurry up and get out of the way, Riley was making fanning gestures with his hand. In light of Riley’s gesture, Rebethra broke in cold sweat and stepped back.
“The thing is, we haven’t had our dinner yet.”
“Ah, Yes… My apologies.”
Even though Rebethra was the elder here, he was overwhelmed by Riley’s gaze staring down at him from above. Rebethra got out of the way by taking steps back.
At the same time, other people from the temple broke into two groups and got out of Riley’s way just like how Rebethra had.
“Mother, let’s get going… Ian, Sera!”
Without a moment of hesitation, Riley started walking confidently through the pathway that the people from the temple formed by stepping away for him, but he suddenly turned his head toward his back and called for the maid and the butler who were just standing there with vacant looks.
“Just for how much longer are you going to stand there with blank faces? I’m so hungry that my stomach is about to stick to my back!”
Ian and Sera exchanged looks without saying anything and rushed to follow Riley who was walking far in front of them.
As for Ian, because he saw how it went with the priestess last time, and also because he was thinking she came here to block the way on her own accord, Ian was surprised that she didn’t say anything.
“That young master, he is different from what I have heard. What I’m saying is…not the rumors about him being Lazy Sword. I’m talking about what you told me today evening.”
After returning to the temple, the Archbishop Rebethra, who was standing in front of the stone statue with Priesia, asked as he tilted his head to the sides.
There was a shadow cast deeply on the priestess’ face that he had not seen before.
“Haa, Archbishop Rebethra, I think…it would be best if we just left him alone.”
“However, didn’t you say you received a divine message? If that young master is really the hero that could stop the dragon we are concerned about, then it is too early to give up.”
“It is futile. His eyes… His eyes are a problem separate from the divine message.”
Priesia murmured as she shook her head,
“Archbishop Rebethra, you probably don’t know this, but that man’s eyes have something…”
It was a small voice that would be hard to hear unless someone really leaned toward her to listen.
Because he was pretty hard of hearing, Rebethra didn’t hear what Priesia said. Instead, he sent a prayer in front of the statue and walked away.
It was because, just like Riley, he had not eaten his dinner yet either.
“Haha. Priestess, you worry too much. Anyway, we just need to take our time and talk to him slowly. As we do, I’m certain that he will heed to our words, the goddess Irenetsa’s words.”
Rebethra smiled like a good man and turned away, and Priesia was glaring at him with her eyes narrowed.
Priesia’s eyes turned golden for a moment before returning to normal.
‘I don’t know what you are scheming, but…’
Priesia was thinking about the very first divine message that she received after becoming a priestess, the one well before the message about Riley and the dragon.
<My child, he is the first trial that will impend upon you soon.>
The very first message she received was about the trial that she must go through as a priestess.
The divine message was telling her that Archbishop Rebethra, the one that appointed her as the priestess, is going to be her first trial.
<My child, soon, you must watch out for a dragon that will fly in the sky.>
She had kept the first divine message about the trial as a secret all this time. While looking over her shoulders to be cautious of the archbishop’s gaze, Priesia had been diligently gaining experience as a priestess. The second divine message that she received was already well known to the archbishop.
<My child, that boy will stop the dragon that you are worried about.>
The third divine message told her that Riley, the one who visited the temple while the swordsmanship tournament was still in full swing, was going to resolve the problem with the dragon.
Rebethra knew about the third divine message as well because he heard about it from Priesia.
‘Rebethra, regardless of what you are thinking…’
Rebethra only knew two of the divine messages, the second one about the dragon, and the third one about Riley, a nobility, being the one who would stop the dragon.
As Priesia looked at the back of the archbishop, who was certainly scheming something, she suddenly shook her body as if she was creeped out by something.
It was not because she was afraid of the archbishop.
It was because she remembered the terrifying aura from Riley when she ran into him in Solia Castle’s restroom.
‘…is beyond you...’
Although Priesia didn’t know what the archbishop was plotting, she was still more afraid of Riley who she met only a while ago.
Priesia was certain that it was not going to work no matter what the archbishop tried to do to Riley.
It was because, at the Main Plaza, when Rebethra made a bow to Riley by lowering his head, Priesia was able to see it while she was standing a step behind him and looking at Riley.
She saw that Riley was looking at Rebethra’s back as if he just found a useful tool he could use, and he was smiling.
Having arrived at the restaurant, before Sera could make a move, Nainiae picked up the container that had forks and knives, and set them on the table for everyone.
“Oh my, how kind of you.”
Iris gave a refreshing smile toward Nainiae as she received the fork and knife from Nainiae.
It seemed it didn’t matter to her that Nainiae had burn marks on her face, cannot see with one of her eyes, and was missing a couple of her fingers. It appeared that Iris thought of Nainiae as just a friend of Riley around his age.
Somehow, Sera lost it to Nainiae with the silverware. Sera had no choice but to just sit there and twiddle her thumbs. She sat down and blew up her cheeks.
Sera felt that, unlike Nainiae’s emotionless face, Nainiae was quite sneaky.
Unlike Sera who had her cheeks blown up, Ian was observing Nainiae with his arms crossed.
“Young master, young master, I did super job, right?”
Having finished with laying down the silverware on the table, Nainiae turned her head and was about to ask Riley, but she flinched.
It was because her eyes met Ian’s.
‘I did super job, right?’
Because of the lack of formality in her words, Ian’s eyebrows kept twitching.
The sarcastic, deadly gaze from Ian felt like he was threatening to turn the table upside down if she said ‘I did super job, right?’ again.
“I mean… Young master, have I done well?”
Nainiae carefully corrected herself.
Nainiae’s eye was beaming like a little puppy’s asking for praise. Looking at her, Riley cringed as he moved his finger toward her forehead.
An upbeat sound could be heard.
Because of Riley’s gentle tap on her forehead, Nainiae’s head tilted toward the back.
“Just make sure to keep the gifts safe.”
He was talking about the Astroa’s belongings that the people from the temple gave them.
“By the way, weren’t you going to refuse those gifts?”
Nainiae slightly opened the cape she was wearing on her shoulders as she asked. On her waist, there were three bags tied to her, each of which contained the things they received from the temple.
“Well, they smell rotten, so I was going to refuse them…but after thinking about it carefully, I had no reason to refuse them. It also looked like this was not going to be the last time they are going to give us gifts, so…”
As if she didn’t understand very well, Nainiae tilted her head to the sides.
Meanwhile, Riley murmured as he twisted the corner of his mouth.
“Well, they insist on showering us with gifts, so, why not? Who hates getting stuff for free?”
Riley enjoyed the taste of the beverage placed inside the cup on the table. Appearing to be satisfied, he took a few more sips.
Judging from its color, aroma, or taste, it was a honey drink.