“Where did you learn a word like that?”
Riley was about to leave Andal’s cave. However, he asked Nainiae where she had learned the word that she had just used.
“Pardon? If you are asking where I learned it…”
As if she was not sure why Riley was asking such a question, Nainiae tilted her head to the side. She paused for a moment and said,
“… I didn’t really learn it. How should I say it… It is one of those things that came into my head? Isn’t it a word that was used in the world of your past life, Young Master? Isn’t it used in a situation like this?”
From Riley’s response, Nainiae thought perhaps she didn’t choose the right word. Concerned, she asked.
“No, it is similar, but…”
The word meant abducting a woman against her will in secret. The word she had used was similar to what Riley had said earlier about the abduction. However, the problem was that it was Nainiae who said it, not Riley.
“Of all things.”
Riley thought he would not feel this awkward if it was Ian, Sera or anyone else. Riley avoided Nainiae’s gaze and mumbled,
“Hearing you say such a thing is a little…”
For some reason, Riley was looking elsewhere and pretending to be preoccupied. Nainiae, who had a concerned look on her face, carefully moved her hand toward his shoulder.
“Ah, I’m sorry. I was thinking about something else.”
“Anyway, you will be going back to the Karuta Desert, right?”
“For now, we should.”
Instead of the word, he decided to focus on what to do now and nodded.
Riley thought of a way.
Abduction. Today morning, they took the effort to ignore and leave a Priestess behind at the desert when she said she wanted to go with them. Now, as the meaning of the word entails, they were going to snatch her and bring her here.
‘Since I have already told her off to not follow me because she would be a bother, now I’ll look super uncool, but…’
Riley thought about the divine message that Priesia mentioned last time. He pondered if she was supposed to have followed him because of Andal. Riley slowly shook his head.
‘My source of freeloading is ill. I can’t just sit back and watch.’
The dragon with red scale who was unable to open his eyes due to poison had been referred as such by Riley often. However…to Riley, Andal was his only friend in this world.
Riley was indebted to Andal. He couldn’t just sit back and watch Andal suffer in pain. This was the reason why Riley was about to make the move.
Before going back to the Karuta Desert, Nainiae was working on the isolation barrier to prepare for their return later.
“I guessed this one must be pretty powerful considering he drenched the entire desert with the epidemic, but to think he put the teacher in that state… Do you think Ms. Priesia will be able to cleanse him?”
Nainiae asked, and in return Riley said,
“You saw her cleansing a handful of sand. From what she was saying about it, it seems, she was serious about cleansing the entire desert at once… She probably was given the title of the Priestess for a good reason.”
Riley had heard this before, but he was reminded again that there was a limit to detoxification through magic. Riley thought about the power possessed by a Priestess.
Riley was holding his chin. Meanwhile, Nainiae looked like she was done with working on the isolation barrier. Riley asked Nainiae,
“Are you ready?”
“Yes. Shall we get going now?”
“Yes. Let’s go right away.”
Riley nodded and responded. Nainiae put forth her right hand and opened a portal that connected to the Karuta Desert.
“Do you think everyone is still at the same place?”
“They said they were going to move, so probably not?”
Riley and Nainiae thought about Priesia and the others who must be still at the desert as they walked toward the portal.
It was when they had walked onward for about three steps after entering the portal; they immediately felt the air that touched their nose and lips was different. They both automatically crumpled their faces.
Nainiae promptly used air cleansing magic to handle the stench. She closed the teleportation portal and started to look around the Karuta Desert which was covered in black sand.
“Starting with the air, the place is definitely different.”
Compared to the mountain where Andal was, the air at the desert that was polluted by the epidemic was insufferable. Riley shook his head and looked to place where the portal had just closed. He muttered,
“I want to go back.”
Nainiae figured that Priesia’s cleansing prayer must not be over yet. She looked around the area.
“It looks like Priesia and Reitri Merchant Group have already left.”
“They sure are diligent to an unnecessary extent.”
Riley checked the ground, wondering if there were any carriage tracks left. However, it seems the wind had erased all traces of the tracks. The sands were only showing their even flatness on the ground.
‘I thought abduction would be incredibly easy, yet…’
Riley was facing a problem – starting with finding the target of the abduction. Not sure about what to do, Riley turned to look at Nainiae while scratching his head.
“Can you do it now?”
Riley looked at Nainiae’s right eye and asked. Nainiae touched the right side of her face. The look on her face indicated she was not certain.
“I am not sure?”
Riley asked her to try it and thought about Priesia.
In the process, it seemed his thoughts got tangled up and made him remember the Priestess from his past life. Riley crumpled his face, and Nainiae also crumpled her face like Riley. She appeared to be suffering.
“Is it not working?”
“No. Please wait…”
It seemed that she didn’t cringe because of the pain. Nainiae ground her teeth lightly so that Riley wouldn’t notice. She relaxed her face and said,
“I think I can.”
She took a deep breath and looked at Riley again while gathering strength in her right eye. She soon found where Priesia was and turned her head to the side.
“It’s that direction. It appears to be pretty far too.”
“It looks like the eye worked?”
“I know. It worked this time.”
Nainiae had a question mark on her face. She wondered why it worked this time when it hadn’t worked the last time. She touched her face around her eye and immediately prepared a teleportation magic.
Feeling Riley’s hand on her shoulder, Nainiae stopped using magic. Wondering what this was about, she tilted her head to the side.
“We are literally going to abduct her. I thought maybe showing up in the open suddenly might pose a problem.”
Riley held his chin to think. He started to think if it would be all right to show themselves to Priesia and the others by arriving there through teleportation.
“If they ask why we returned when we said we were going to see the doctor, what do we say to them?”
Riley asked. Nainiae pondered about the response and asked what Riley thought of her idea.
“How about saying that the doctor has been infected with the poison and needs Ms. Priesia? Won’t that work?”
Since that actually was the situation, there was no reason for anyone, even those who didn’t really know what was actually happening, to think the response was odd.
“What if the Priestess is still in middle of the prayer?”
“From what I’ve heard, while she is sending the prayer, she will lose her consciousness and will be unaware of what’s happening in her surroundings. If she already started the prayer and if we show up out of the blue and then take her away, then that’s literally…”
The act would be no different from what the Kabal Mercenaries, who had ambushed Priesia and Nara, did.
“In that case, what do we do? As I thought, instead of abducting her, wouldn’t it be better to just be honest and ask for her help?”
“No. This is not that kind of problem. If we tell her that way, she will bring up the divine message and what not and say ‘As I thought, I should have gone with you.’ She will nag at me that way, so… Abducting her is the right answer.”
“The problem is that we need to wait until the prayer is over.”
Riley felt like he had fallen into a trap. With his arms crossed, he couldn’t feel more ickier about the situation. He thought it was such a bother to think about it anymore. For the last time, he asked,
“Can you use the surveillance magic to check the situation at Priesia’s location?”
Nainiae canceled the teleportation magic. Instead, she used the surveillance magic. She created a large mirror in the front and started to show the scenery around where Priesia was.
“… As I thought.”
Riley looked at the mirror and confirmed the scene. He muttered,
“It has already begun.”
The scenery shown in the mirror was that of some ruined desert town. Nara, Rorona and other mercenaries were surrounding Priesia.
“What would you like to do?”
Surrounded by the mercenaries, surrounded by light, the Priestess was standing there, motionless. She had just closed her eyes gently and continued to pray.
Through the mirror, Riley confirmed that the sand near Priesia was not black. As if he had seen enough, he took his gaze off from there and said,
“Let’s go back.”
“Let’s go back to the cave. Did they say the desert cleansing will take about four days?”
“Yes, about that long.”
“Andal is a lizard who is said to have lived for thousands or tens of thousands years. Couldn’t he hang in there for just four days? If he can’t, I can just use time magic.”
Riley thought about the time magic that had slowed the speed of deterioration from an illness. It was a spell that he already had used on Nainiae before. Riley yawned big enough to make his mouth to tear off.
“It will just be exhausting to think any more. Four days later… Let’s just decide to bring her with us during the early morning of the day the cleansing concludes. That will give us least amount of trouble afterwards.”
Riley made a definite decision before pondering on it some more. Riley said they should head back to the cave. Nainiae, who was looking at the mirror, nodded as if she understood. She prepared a dimensional portal to return to the cave.
* * *
Four days later.
“… What are you doing?”
Through the mirror that Nainiae made, Riley was looking at the scenery in the desert. He found that the sand had regained its original color. Surprised, Riley opened his eyes big.
“Huh? The color returned?”
“Yes. It looks like Ms. Priesia’s prayer definitely worked.”
It seemed like her four days of prayer didn’t go to waste. The desert had regained its former self. Nainiae clapped in joy and opened the dimensional space.
“Young Master, here.”
“It’s a mask.”
Nainiae smiled refreshingly and added that he will need it when he abducts the Priestess in the morning.
“When did you prepare this?”
Riley broke out in cold sweat at the back of his head and asked. Nainiae said with a proud look on her face,
“I made it while you were taking naps during the day. As for the fabric, I borrowed them from teacher’s guardians. I made it so that it closely resembles that thing from your past life. How is it?”
She leaned her head toward Riley, expecting praise. Riley stroked her head and stuttered,
“Y… You did well.”
Holding the mask that Nainiae had made, Riley looked at the mirror that she had made with her surveillance magic. He noticed something that was not there before and tilted his head to the side.
“Um? Who is that bastard?”
Besides Reitri Merchant Group, Two from the Nara’s mercenary group and the Priestess… there was one other human there who didn’t seem to belong to any of those groups.
From the tip of the head to the feet, the entire body was under a hood. Even at first glance, the individual looked suspicious. It was as if this person was proudly showing of their suspicious appearance by keeping their identity tightly hidden. The individual was having a conversation with Reitri.
“I am not sure? I just made the surveillance mirror, so I don’t know about the situation in detail.”
Through the mirror, they could see what was happening there, but they could not hear through the mirror, so they didn’t know what Reitri and this hooded individual were talking about. Riley noticed Reitri’s expression.
“Judging from the look on Reitri’s face, the hooded individual does not appear to be an uninvited guest.”
Soon afterwards, the hooded guest lowered his head to Reitri and started to walk.
It looked like the hooded guest might have been a vagrant. It was very early in the morning, yet the guest was already leaving. Riley shrugged and muttered,
“It’s probably nothing.”
Riley turned away from the mirror and fiddled with the mask. Having noticed this, Nainiae put away the mirror she had brought up and asked,
“Are you going to go now?”
It was roughly a little after 1 am. Nara and Rorona looked like they were exhausted from guarding Priesia for four days while she prayed. They were zonked out. It was certain that now was the best time for the job.
Having heard Nainiae’s question, Riley fiddled with the mask and pondered about it for a moment. He looked at Nainiae.
“Can’t you go there by yourself?”
Riley pulled on the mask and avoided her gaze as he casually asked. Soon, it seemed Nainiae understood what he meant. With disappointed look on her face, she lowered her head.
“That’s right. With a Seven Circles mage going there to abduct the Priestess, having one more person tag along could just get in your way. Get it done quietly by yourself.”
“I’ll come back…”
She lowered her head and put on the mask she knitted with cotton strings. She opened a portal that connected to Karuta Desert and entered the portal.
As Nainiae entered the portal, she briefly turned her head back to look at Riley before she disappeared. Riley felt guilty for some reason and he heard the summoned spirit’s sigh.
<Why didn’t you just go with her…>
Half due to it being such a bother and the other half due to feeling guilty about it, Riley avoided Heliona’s gaze and headed back to the bed in the corner of the cave.