At the entrance ofLower Solia, there were green vines coming out of the walls and ceilings that tightly tangled up to block the path.
“I’ll make the announcement again later, but please… Everyone, please tell others as soon as possible what I’m about to tell you, and please tell them exactly as I explain.”
Peruda used his plant magic to completely seal off the entrance to the pathway that led to the Lower Solia. He turned around to look at the people who were watching what was going on. Peruda continued.
“I’ll be temporarily forbidding access to the Lower Solia. This is not an advice to say it is recommended not to go there. I am forbidding anyone from setting foot in the Lower Solia.”
Perhaps everyone was too shocked by the corpse that just charged at Peruda. People who were gathered at the Main Plaza and watching what was happening at the entrance to the Lower Solia could not dare to talk back.
“The five of you who are standing to my left...”
Peruda turned to look at the entrance that he sealed off. He raised his left hand, and the five people from the Magic Tower who were standing to Peruda’s left responded to his call.
“Yes, Mr. Peruda.”
“I’ll leave it to you to retrieve the corpses that are restrained. They are tied up, but they are still resisting, so please be extremely cautious when you transport them.”
There were two lumps that were completely wrapped in vines like how burned victims were wrapped in bandages. The five people nodded as they looked at the lumps of vines and immediately carried out the order.
“The five of you who are standing to my right… Please head to the Solia Castle immediately. I think we should report what has happened here to the castle.”
“I understand. What about you, Mr. Peruda?”
“I’ll look around the vicinity and seal off other entrances that leads to Lower Solia.”
The five people who were standing to Peruda’s right side nodded and headed off to Solia Castle.
‘… These are surprisingly appropriate responses.’
Riley, who was watching the situation from the roof, was impressed by Peruda’s quick responses to the situation. With an impressed look on his face, Riley moved his gaze toward the corpses that were restrained in vines.
‘Plant magic, huh…’
Peruda looked very different from the naïve man that Riley met before. Peruda looked very dependable. Riley, who mumbled ‘not bad,’ found a familiar face among the people.
‘Ah, he happens to be here.’
It seemed he was here by himself, away from the others. Nara was observing the situation from the Main Plaza alone. Having found Nara, Riley nodded as if he thought it was good that he found Nara at this moment. Riley started to move his legs.
“Ian, it’s about time we moved down. Nara happens to be nearby as well, so let’s join him and listen to his story. Also, it happens my stomach’s skin is about to stick to my back from lack of food, so let’s do that while we eat something.”
As if he became a stone statue, Ian stood there on the roof vacantly and stared at the corpses that were restrained by vines. Ian vacantly had his mouth open and was not able to say anything back in response to Riley.
“… Yes? Ah, yes!”
“What were you thinking so hard about? With a blank look on your face?”
Riley went down from the roof first. Having watched it, Ian shook his head hard to get rid of useless thoughts. Ian followed suit and said,
“No. It’s nothing. My apologies. It is just…”
Ian slowly turned his head and looked at the entrance to Lower Solia again. Ian added,
“I just… I just thought it was a little disgusting… I just thought that, so…”
* * *
It was at the Solia Temple.
Rebethra managed to come back only after it became late evening. Having felt his presence, Priesia, who was praying in front of the Goddess statue, opened one of her closed eyes slowly and said,
“… You are late.”
Having heard the priestess talking to him, Rebethra, who was walking carefully to avoid having his steps heard, responded apologetically.
“Oh my… I hope I didn’t interfere with your praying?”
Priesia closed the eye again and restarted her prayer. She skipped responding to his question and tossed him another question.
“It seems you are going out often?”
“Haha. It seems so.”
Rebethra smiled awkwardly and responded as if he was ashamed. He didn’t say why he was going out so often. He just started to walk toward his room.
With Rebethra gone, Priesia was now alone in the area with the Goddess statue. She started to move her lips as she prayed.
‘Goddess Irenetsa, what should I do?’
Priesia felt she was daring to ask too much, but she thought that the divine message that she received from the Goddess was lacking in detail.
There was a message that said she should be weary of Rebethra, the Archbishop of the Holy Temple. There was a message that said there will be a dragon that will come to Solia soon, and the entire Solia could be placed in danger. There were only two messages.
‘Let alone stopping him from doing suspicious behaviors, I don’t even have any means of finding out what he is up to. I… What could I do?’
Rebethra was a problem, but the divine message about the dragon that was about to wreak havoc in Solia was also a problem.
‘Just what could I do…’
It had been a while since the divine message about the dragon. That meant it would not be odd if a dragon appeared right now and was flying in the Solia’s sky right now as the message foretold.
‘Only if that Young Master was more cooperative…’
Priesia thought about the ‘person who will stop the dragon,’ the one mentioned in the divine message. She cringed, but shook her head to turn her face back to normal and then opened her eyes.
She was going to stare at the Goddess statue after the prayer and ask for advice again. However, she blinked her eyes with a question mark floated up on her face.
<… My child.>
There was a blindingly beautiful woman who only Priesia could see, the one who was invisible to others in the temple such as priests or holy knights, was looking down at her while floating in front of the Goddess statue.
Priesia knew that the woman, who had similar appearance as herself, was the Goddess Irenetsa. Priesia lowered her head in silence.
<If you are lost, I think it would be good for you to look for a butterfly. That butterfly will be able to help you.>
Having heard the voice, Priesia lowered her head further. The Goddess smiled lightly with ‘huhu’ sound and added,
<Follow the child of black butterfly.>
After that, the voice could not be heard.
Priesia had her head lowered and waited like that for 10 minutes. She carefully and slowly lifted her head and looked up the Goddess statue.
The beautiful woman was gone without a trace.
“A black… butterfly?”
Priesia vacantly mumbled the hint that the Goddess gave her. Priesia straightened her knees and got up, but she was not able to leave the place for a long time.
She was not the only one. Archbishop, who was hiding behind a pillar and was watching Priesia in secret, was also not able to leave the place.
* * *
Of the three who sat in a hotel at the Left Solia, Nara asked with a concerned voice to Ian, who appeared to be not in a good condition,
“Mr. Ian, are you all right? Your face is not looking good.”
‘Is he thinking hard about something?’
Ian had a serious look on his face. As if he was not able to hear Nara’s question, he was not able to respond.
“He said he is afraid of heights. He said he does not like high places.”
Having noticed Ian was deep in thoughts, Riley figured it would be best to leave him be, so he gave out a rough answer and looked at Nara.
Nara saw that Ian’s face was not pale or blue, so he thought that it was not a look of someone who was choke full of fear from heights. However… Nara realized Riley was trying to say it would be best to stop prying on it, so Nara nodded and answered.
“Anyway, you saw it already, those animated corpses…”
Having heard Nara, Riley nodded and poked a food on the table using a fork. He responded,
“It was the same as the ones we saw in the Rainfield? The fact that they were moving on their own without mana.”
Nara nodded once again.
“They have pitch-black eyes, they do not stop even if parts of their bodies are cut off, and they react to living people or animals… They are indeed the same ones as what we saw in Rainfield.”
Riley was chewing on the food he picked up with the fork. Having heard Nara, Riley asked,
“What about Rebethra? How far did you find out?”
Nara sighed big to express frustration and shook his head.
“Other than the corpses, I haven’t found out anything else in particular.”
Riley was somewhat expecting that result. He nodded as if he understood.
It was because it had not been very long since Nara had been tailing Rebethra after arriving at Solia.
“Still… I have confirmed that the Archbishop does the temple business during the morning, sets foot in the Lower Solia during late afternoon, and comes back around the evening.”
“To Lower Solia?”
“Yes. As for how many times… About two to three times a week.”
“It sounds like he is related to that.”
“What about that bastard’s face?”
Riley asked if Nara saw the dark mage’s face. Nara shook his head again as if he was ashamed.
“No. I looked around Lower Solia with Isen to find that bastard, but… The pathways were so complicated there, so we could not find him. That place didn’t even have things like maps.”
Nara scratched his head hard as if he had a headache. Ian, who had been keeping silent all this time, said,
“Lower Solia has sewers, waste disposals and slums tangled up in a mess. Pathways there are so complicated that even the people who had been living there for a long time get confused sometimes.”
Riley moved his eyes and looked at Ian. Ian, with a disappointed look on his face about not being able to locate the dark mage, continued.
“Hm. If Sera accompanied you, perhaps it would have been a little easier. That child probably knows the way around the Lower Solia pretty well.”
Riley turned to look at Nara again. To summarize everything, he asked Nara,
“You said you did not see that bastard’s face, right?”
“That means we cannot be sure if… that runt from the Rainfield came back to life here or if there is another runt with the same power as him.”
Riley mumbled about the two possibilities as he split the food on top of the dish into two even portions.
“Huh… Now that I think about it, there is a possibility that there is another runt with the same power as that dark mage instead.”
Nara, who have not thought about that, now had a serious look on his face.
It was because that meant… there could be a third or fourth human being with the same power as that runt.
“… Well, it is fine.”
Riley said leisurely. He poked at each portion of the food, brought both of them into his mouth and then said,
“You guys give up on tailing Rebethra from now.”
Riley said as he pointed at Nara with his fork. Nara tilted his head side to side.
“I am not saying your mission is complete.”
Riley was about to put in another piece of food in his mouth, but instead, he swung his fork around and said,
“I am saying you should change the target of your tailing.”
“… Change the target?”
A familiar voice could be heard from the back. Having heard the voice, Nara slowly turned his head and pleasantly greeted a comrade who just arrived at the hotel.
“I just switched with Isen. The Archbishop is currently inside the Holy Temple.”
Rorona came to an empty seat and sat down. She bowed to Riley and Ian and asked about what Riley said just now.
“By the way, you want us to change the target… What do you mean by that?”
As if he didn’t see Rorona at all, Riley, who was fully focused on food, moved his fork toward cabbage and answered,
“You guys came this far, so it is a bother, but…”
Riley cut the cabbage with the fork and said,
“I’ll tail that bastard myself.”
“What about us then?”
“Follow my tail.”
Nara could not understand what Riley was talking about. He asked with a confused look. Riley added,
“There is someone who had been tailing me. From today and on, I would like you guys to mind this one.”