TNG Vol. 15 Chapter 2 Part 3

About one hour after Shin and Yuzuha returned to the residence, they were talking with Shibaid when they hear a loud bang.

“Tiera and the others are back.”

“In a foul mood too, I doubt they will have good things to report.”

The bang they had heard was the sound of the doors being thrown open.

“Yuzuha, let’s talk about what you said before when this business is taken care of. With Filma and the others too.”

Yuzuha had avoided mentioning it to Schnee and Tiera, but it would not be good to hide it. Some members were also elsewhere, so they decided to discuss it again when everyone was gathered. Shibaid nodded to Shin’s proposal, as Tiera and Schnee approached their room, with footsteps much more agitated than usual.

“Welcome back. Permission…wasn’t granted, I guess?”

Tiera’s foul mood didn’t need an explanation. She was clearly still holding back her anger.

“Oh yes, exactly! For heaven’s sake! “Mere humans cannot be trusted”, they say! You’re the ones who don’t deserve any trust!! Making Lymliss work so hard while you sit back!!”

Since she was surrounded by Shin and companions, Tiera let all her anger out. She had never shown such seething rage.

“Okay, okay, calm down now. Even if I am a priestess’ acquaintance, it’s hard to trust someone right away, isn’t it?”

“That’s true too, but…they never even met you, yet say things like “he’s probably deceiving you” or “there can’t be someone like that other than us”…aah, I’m getting irritated just thinking about it!!”

According to Tiera, the area around a World Tree was a sacred place for elves, where other races were not allowed to enter. The current situation, however, was an emergency. Even with Tiera here, all they could do was stall the contamination.

Tiera tried to persuade them that it wasn’t the time to worry about things like that, but they found it doubtful that Shin was really knowledgeable about the World Tree.

“I get why it makes you angry, but it’s pretty normal for them to find it suspicious. The World Tree is not something a human would normally learn about.”

“That’s..! That’s true, but…”

“I guess we should have them ask me a question that only someone with actual knowledge could respond, reply correctly and go on from there. If they ask where I’ve learned it from, just say that I was trained by a High Elf.”

If that didn’t work, the only way left was to sneak in. Lanapacea was Tiera’s hometown and housed the World Tree, an existence vital for the whole world, so Shin wanted to avoid trouble as much as possible. As long as the World Tree problem was taken care of, no matter what the elves said or did, they just needed to hightail it out of there, or so Shin thought. If they could, of course.

“It would be easy if they were convinced like that.”

“Did you reveal Schnee’s name, by the way? With her support, they have to be more careful with their words, no?”

“We did, but this was the result. Without master, they wouldn’t have even listened to us, I guess.”

“That’s….wow.”

Were they being extremely careful because of the gravity of the situation, or were they simply distrustful of other species? Based on the information he had, Shin leaned towards the latter option. If it wasn’t for the World Tree, he would definitely steer clear.

“Well, regardless of whether they trust us or not, what we have to do doesn’t change. Let’s start making preparations.”

“You haven’t checked the World Tree yet, how can we prepare?”

“For starters, I’ll prepare the countermeasures to the symptoms I know of. The special nutrient 『Healer EX』 to give energy to the World Tree, the magic circle 『Eraser EX』 to reinforce its purification abilities, then the magic crystal 『Empower EX』 to lessen the damage caused by impurity. With these three, it should become more resistant to impurity.”

In the game, just one of them was enough to create sufficient effects. Using all three should be enough to resurrect withering World Trees. They should work in this world too, so Shin decided to use them all without reserve.

“Healer, Eraser, Empower…one of them has a pretty ominous name…”

“Forget about the names…I didn’t choose them, just so that we’re clear. I haven’t used them in this world yet, so I’m not sure how effective they will be, but they should work as intended.”

Shin looked through his item box and took out items he didn’t use during their events. He had 2 Healer EX, 2 Empower EX and 1 Eraser EX.

Healer EX was used by planting the nutrient case into the ground.

Eraser EX, a magic circle sticker, was to be applied directly to the trunk.

Empower EX was a magic crystal to be buried near the roots.

“I should craft some too.”

Items created in this world might have different effects than the ones created in the game era. Shin decided to make some more, just in case.

Eraser EX and Empower EX had simple production processes, the former required one to draw a magic circle and the latter to attach a certain enchantment, but the liquid Healer EX needed a bit more work.

“If you want to materialize Tsuki no Hokora we can do it in the inner garden, but it’ll stand out.”

“No, they’re pretty simple to make, I don’t need Tsuki no Hokora for these.”

Shin made sure no one was around and took out several metal fragments and 2 glass bottles from the item box. One of them contained a semi-transparent silver liquid, the other a golden liquid.

“Hey, Shin. That silver liquid…is that World Tree sap…?”

“Oh, you noticed? As expected of a World Tree priestess. This golden liquid is elixir, these fragments are orichalcum and scarletite minerals. They’re small because they’re leftovers from crafting. I’ll also use a magic steel alloy I created for Healer EX.”

“Wait…you’re going to use materials from a World Tree to heal it? Isn’t that weird?”

Tiera stopped Shin as he was listing the ingredients. She found it bizarre to use materials from the World Tree to cure it.

“On the contrary, they’re necessary. The sap allows the World Tree to more easily absorb the medicine. Normally you would first use medicine without it, heal the tree to a point, then make medicine with it. If possible, I’d like to use the sap from the sick World Tree, so acquire some if you can.”

Shin then gave an empty glass bottle in card form to Tiera.  He had some items in stock from past events, so he would use them this time.

Shin mixed gold and silver with skill and dropped the fragments inside. Like ice inside water, the metal fragments melted and the liquid turned a pale green color. The container changed too, transforming into a thin vial about 20 cemel long.

“And it’s done. We just need to plant it in the soil near the tree.”

It looked just like a plant nutrient vial for home use, maybe larger than normal. The liquid would be automatically absorbed by the ground, so there was no need to do anything after setting it.

“Then, the other two…one, two, three…done.”

Without the slightest bit of tension, Shin created the other items. He made some spares and gave them to Tiera too.

“I know I should feel grateful, but you make it all seem so simple…well, as expected of Shin.”

“What do you mean by that?”

Shin lightly poked Tiera for her ungrateful remark, then explained in detail how to use the items. He would be more than happy to be able to avoid the elves’ inspection.

“Okay, duly noted. I doubt they will allow you in the holy area anytime soon, so I’ll test these first.”

“Please do. Honestly, I hope they’ll be enough to close the case.”

That way, there would be no need to go through all the trouble to enter the elves’ holy land. As long as the World Tree problem was solved, there was no need to worry about appearances. Even if the clan head was up to no good showed up, they just needed to give him a good pounding. Any trouble that followed could be left to the next head, Orlean, to handle.

“By the way, do you and Lymliss go purify the World Tree at fixed hours?”

“We do it twice a day now, once in the morning and once at night. It takes energy to purify it, so we can’t do it many times a day. It takes less of a toll on me now…or rather, I’m stronger now, so I can still move after, but there’s Lymliss too, so…”

Tiera added that this pace was very close to Lymliss’ limits.

“Her purification powers aren’t weak at all, the impurity is just too thick. Now that we do it together, the burden on her should be a lot lighter. As I said before, when I arrived I found her in a state that…it would have been lethal for her to continue.”

The ability to purify hailed from a holy power, but it was still used by people. Their energy was not limitless.

One more reason for Tiera’s anger towards the Luderia was that they forced Lymliss to continue purifying the World Tree despite her state.

“I know that only priestesses have the ability to purify, but isn’t there anyone that can provide support? Just using 【Heal】 or 【Cure】 on the priestess would help a lot, I think.”

“There’s no one like that, unfortunately. There are 2 guards, for whatever reason. Priestesses don’t use magic power for purification, but something close to life force. You know, I tried using 【Analyze】 on Lymliss and noticed that the magic power indicators, “MP”, right? They hadn’t decreased much. Well, they were a little less than the max value, but in spite of that she was really spent. I tried it on myself too, and they hadn’t decreased much either.”

Skills like 【Heal】 or 【Cure】 could not restore the energy spent for purification.

“HP is supposed to stand for life force, but I’m not sure what they actually are either. Hmm, purification doesn’t use magic power, huh…we can’t use MP transfer skills in case of emergencies, then.”

“You can do that? But yes, we couldn’t drink ethers while purifying anyway.”

To purify while doing other things -even just drinking a bit of a potion- would be very difficult.

“It’s not in the list, but it’s probably a skill or something. It’s a sacred activity, so if it could be done easily it would take away a lot from it, I guess…”

As skills were based on patterns, Shin thought that the same probably worked for purification too. It wouldn’t be strange if there were conditions for its activation.

“Anyway, I did everything I can at the moment.”

“We have to wait for the Luderia to contact us or until the next purification. We could also move on our own, though…”

“Conceal ourselves and sneak in the Luderia house?”

Shin replied to Schnee’s comment, in a joking tone, with the proposal that had come up several times in conversation already. He considered it again, thinking it could be worth it. They could manage to learn what the Luderia clan head was actually up to.

“Shall we?”

“….no, let’s wait until the next purification. We might be able to sneak in without being spotted, but they are the World Tree caretakers. They might have set up alarms we are not aware of, using the powers of the World Tree. If intruders were detected the same day visitors came from the outside world, we would be suspected right away and Tiera’s standing would get worse. Let’s give it some time.”

The World Tree still had many unknowns even for Shin. It would be harder to move freely if they were distrusted any further, so they decided to wait. That was also the reason why he had not followed Orlean into his residence.

“So, we should gather information for now?”

“Right. Information about the World Tree is restricted, but we might find out something about the Luderia or the Lulac. By the way, while you two were away, elves from the Lulac and Luderia came here. I followed them for a while and found out that—”

The timing was right, so Shin told Schnee and the rest about what he heard from Orlean and Herald.

“That Orlean is the elf that proposed to me, there’s no mistake. But who would think things were like that…well, now that I think about it, to propose the moment he met me, after all these years, was quite bizarre.”

“He wanted you at his side to protect you, I suppose. What Shin heard isn’t enough to explain it, however. Based on how they talked, whoever was following them in secret must have been sent by the clan head.”

Shin had suspected as much. The two elves knew they were followed, so they pretended to fight as they talked. If they were quarrelling, it wouldn’t be strange for them to go in the same direction at the same pace. If Shin hadn’t heard their whispered conversation, he too would have thought that they were too invested in their fight and lost sight of the surroundings.

“It might be worth it to contact them. There’s information I might not be able to find by myself, though…what about Shibaid?”

“As Tiera’s companion, I can manage a mundane conversation with them, but I doubt we could delve deeper.”

Schnee could probably have an easier time talking with them. High elves and elves looked practically the same. For Shin and Shibaid, human and dragnil, it wouldn’t be easy though.

“There’s merit in trying. Insider information about Lanapacea is very important for us right now.”

Shin and Schnee could investigate them while concealing themselves. Even if Orlean and Herald were always being watched, they wouldn’t be found.

“I can help with information gathering too. Or rather, the people aiming to resurrect the Lucent clan will talk even without me asking…”

“Isn’t that a really important source? Some of them work for the Luderia, right?”

“That’s right, but only the elders and people of high rank know the really important things. I heard that they’re even more secretive since I returned. The former Lucent retainers are never assigned important tasks, anyway.”

Either they didn’t trust the Lucent retainers or simply trusted no one outside their own clan. The former was more likely, as they suspected they could be spies. They were already leaking information, so their suspicion was legitimate after all.

“Tiera and I will start gathering information, then.”

“In the meantime, we should…hm?”

Shin was thinking of concealing his presence and going into town to eavesdrop…gather information, when a message icon flashed at the edge of his sight.

“What’s wrong?”

“I received a message. The sender is…Lilishila?”

Shin wondered for a moment who that was, then recalled the elf cleric who helped them in Palmirack, during the Holy Woman rescue. She was the one who told Shin what it meant for an elf to form a party with someone of the opposite gender and another species.

“Is it something urgent?”

“Just one moment… well…”

Shin replied to Shibaid, then scanned the message. The message stated that the elven girl that was found imprisoned in the room of “pig cardinal” Bulk had finally regained consciousness. It also said that she had to return to Lanapacea.

“Could it be that the girl is the missing priestess?”

Pulling the strings behind the cardinal were the demons: the Lanapacea priestess was also said to have been kidnapped by demons.

The elf also said that she had to return to Lanapacea, so she was very likely the kidnapped Lulac priestess.

“That girl…she was born after I was gone, so it’s no wonder I didn’t recognize her.”

“You can’t tell if another elf is a priestess like you?”

“Some can, but not me. She was corrupted by miasma at the time, so I doubt I would have noticed even if I had that talent.”

Being able to tell if others had the same power apparently depended from person to person.

“If that girl is really a priestess, then…I know it sounds strange to say this, but how can she be still alive? While they attacked me with that crazed look in their eyes…”

Tiera was probably recalling the two demons they had battled at the Summit Faction’s hideout, Adara and Scoruas. Shin thought about it too.

It was true that as soon as they perceived Tiera’s powers, they ignored Shin and others to target her. In that case, they would not have kidnapped the priestess, but killed her on the spot.

“It could be that when they kidnapped her they could seal her powers, or she was so weak they could not feel them. I do not know who kidnapped her, but, if it was by demons, any rank would be very dangerous. Even a priestess could not defend against a demon by herself. If she was kept alive, it has to be because they had something planned.”

Even if the priestess was escorted, depending on the demons’ rank, a martial strength on Schnee or Shibaid’s level was needed to put up a fight. Shin agreed that it was pretty much impossible for someone from this world to do that.

“The sooner we bring her back, the better. But if they ask how we brought her back, we can’t answer.”

Lilishila and the elf girl are in Palmirack, one of Rokuten’s guild houses. Even without using Tsuki no Hokora, they could use a teleport crystal to bring her there instantly. Shin had prepared some for situations when Tsuki no Hokora was problematic to use -like now- or when they physically couldn’t materialize it. If they registered the current location, it was easy to go back and forth from one point to another.

If Shin’s group, just arrived in Lanapacea, showed up with the kidnapped priestess out of nowhere, a huge scandal would definitely erupt. If they arrived together they could say they escorted her there, but Shin and Schnee had entered the village by themselves. They would be hard-pressed to answer where the girl had come from.

“The people here know of crystals with teleportation enchantments. We could say that she was weakened and we left her somewhere to recuperate, planning to teleport her later, what do you think? Knowing how important priestesses are, it wouldn’t sound strange to use a precious teleport crystal for one, I think.”

Shin nodded in agreement to Schnee’s proposal. If they were questioned as to why they hadn’t mentioned it in the first place, they could say that they were concerned they wouldn’t be trusted. The fact that Schnee was together with Shin also contributed to the credibility of the story.

“What incredible timing, though…”

Shin recalled what Yuzuha said. Thinking that this event might have been caused by the power inside him made him feel conflicted. The timing was perfect for them. Too perfect.

“Is there something on your mind?”

“Kind of. I’ll tell everyone once this is over, Filma and Sety included.”

Shin said he wanted to prioritize the priestess. With 3 priestesses, the purification of the World Tree might progress as well.

“Understood. I will go gather information then.”

“I’ll go ask about the purification.”

“Okay, see you later.”

Shin left the information gathering to Schnee and Tiera, replied to Lilishila’s message, then teleported to Palmirack with Shibaid and Yuzuha. They arrived in Palmirack’s heart, the control room. They hadn’t told Lilishila they could access it, so they concealed themselves with 【Hiding】 and re-entered from the main entrance.

They found a female elf with pale green hair and brown eyes waiting for them: the sender of the message, Lilishila.

“It’s been a while. You arrived really soon, were you in the vicinity?”

“Yes, something like that. So, about your message…”

“Yes, we should take care of that first. This way, please.”

Lilishila led the group to a sector where personal rooms were lined up, then knocked on the door of one of them. Inside there was a young female elf, wearing apprentice cleric robes. 

Green hair cut at shoulder height and slanted, pale green eyes. She gave a rather strong-willed impression. In human years, she would be in her mid teens.

“Ehm, who are these guests?”

“They’re the people who rescued you, as I told you before.”

“I see. You have my gratitude for that.”

The young elf stood up from her chair and bowed her head. After raising it again, she politely and firmly introduced herself.

“My name is Lina Lulac.”

“I am Shin, this is my partner Yuzuha.”

“My name is Shibaid.”

Shin’s group entered the room and introduced themselves in turn.

“Er, is anything the matter?”

Shin inquired about the reason why Lina was staring so intently. Even before saying her name, her eyes had been fixated on him.

“No, just…”

Lina did not give a clear answer and her words trailed off halfway. She glanced at Lilishila a couple times.

“Lilishila, we plan to bring her back to Lanapacea as soon as possible, would that be alright?”

From Lina’s expression and glances, Shin supposed that she could not talk if Lilishila was around, so he moved the situation along.

“Lina’s condition is not bad, I think, but she just regained consciousness. I fear that such a long journey would take its toll on her.”

“No, I’m alright. I am not really sure why, but I feel in a very good form. I would like to request their assistance in bringing me back.”

Lilishila was worried about Lina, but the latter said she was fine and Shin added that they will not push her too much, so she relented. Preparations were done quickly: Lina had no personal belongings, she just had the clothes the church had supplied her.

Shin would provide both food and transportation, so all that was left was for Lina to go.

“Leave the rest to us, then.”

“Thank you very much. Please take this too.”

Shin materialized a horse carriage and climbed on the coachman’s seat, when Lilishila gave him a stack of paper.

“This is…?”

“The documents about Sacred Places I mentioned to you previously. We could not gather extensive information, though.”

Lilishila had evidently prepared to give them to Shin right away. He turned the papers into items and placed them in his box.

“Thank you for your help. We will depart now, then.”

“Please come with lady Yuki and everyone next time. You will always be welcome.”

Shin’s horse carriage left, under Lilishila’s gaze. Kagerou was not with them, so Yuzuha pulled it.

“Lady Lina, it looks like you wanted to say something. Could we hear it now?”

After putting some distance from Palmirack, Shin talked to Lina. Judging from her behavior when Lilishila was present, Shin thought that she hadn’t revealed the fact that she was a World Tree priestess.

“You are my savior, there is no need for titles or polite speech with me. There is something I wish to know…who are you, exactly?”

“I’ll take you up on that, then. I’m sorry to answer a question with another question, but, concretely speaking, what do you want to know?”

Shin was not sure what to answer her, so he asked a question instead.

“I can feel a faint aura of the World Tree from you. Besides, despite being a Human you also have magic power of other species within you. The Dragnil and monster with you are unusual too, but you are exceptionally so. Also…it’s hard to explain, but I feel overwhelming power from you. Are you really a human being?”

Lina was evidently at a loss. Her tone changed more than once as she talked.

“I think I’m a human being. About the aura, maybe it’s because one of my comrades is a World Tree priestess. As for the reason why there’s a mix of magic power within me, that I don’t know. But my priestess companion told me the same thing.”

Shin replied while thinking that the mixture of magic power was because he was a High Human who performed several resurrections in the game era.

“Anyway, it was brave of you to just come with us like that. We helped you, sure, but it doesn’t mean we can be trusted, right?”

“I can’t go back to Lanapacea by myself, and if I told the church my reasons for having to go back urgently, I would be making a risky gamble.”

“A gamble?”

With the church’s assistance, it would be possible to travel back to Lanapacea much more safely and quickly than doing so alone.

“If I wanted to return as quickly as possible, I would need to talk about my circumstances. But speaking about the World Tree is extremely dangerous. It is a very precious source of materials and there are those who wish to obtain its powers. When strength is within their grasp, people will always reach for it. However, if I did nothing, the World Tree might fall into ruin.”

“Thirst for power…I cannot deny that. But more importantly…the World Tree is in such grave danger?”

Shibaid had been silently listening to Lina, but could not help but react to her final words.

“Lina’s words aren’t far from the truth, yeah.”

“What do you mean?”

“You didn’t participate in those events, right Shibaid? It’s no wonder you don’t know. If all World Trees fall into ruin, are cut down, or for any reason disappear, a world-ending catastrophe will happen.”

Shin recalled about the game and recounted his memories without thinking. Only after noticing the silence that followed he realized it.

“Hey? What’s wrong?”

“Well, you said all that so naturally, that…”

“I wonder that too. It’s supposed to be a secret revealed only to priestesses.”

Shin then realized his mistake.

The world destruction event that happened in-game had been caused by certain players cutting down all World Trees. In a way, it was a disaster caused by human hand. Players fought together to protect the major cities, but the damage was massive nonetheless. In the game, it was nothing but a secret event, though.

In the game, the “end of the world” only meant that buildings, etc. were damaged and players received penalties for dying, but naturally no one actually died. In this world, however, it wouldn’t go like that.

“I can’t say why I know, at least for now. But it’s true that we wish to bring you back to Lanapacea. One of our companions and Lymliss are currently working hard to purify the World Tree. You are the kidnapped Lulac priestess, right?”

“So you knew.”

“Well, yeah. We used a bit of a trick to come to pick you up. We will do the same to go back. I’m sure you have a lot of questions, but our goal is to heal the World Tree. If possible, I would like you to cooperate with us once we return to Lanapacea.”

Lina was quiet for some time, then nodded. She had made her decision, apparently.

“Understood. Let me ask one last thing, then. Your World Tree priestess companion, is that Tiera Lucent?”

“…yes, that’s right. The cursed and banished priestess. Let me tell you first that the curse has been dispelled, though. Monsters won’t invade Lanapacea like that.”

“Is…that so. It’s her, after all…”

“Do you know Tiera?”

Shin thought it strange that Lina seemed sure that his companion was Tiera, even if they were both World Tree priestesses.

“The elder told me about her. One of the most powerful priestesses in history, banished from the village because of a curse. That’s not the only reason, though. If you know what kind of abilities World Tree priestesses have, I’m sure you can guess?”

Lina implied that if they really were companions, they should know already.

“The abilities World Tree priestesses have?”

“Yes. My ability is 【Clairvoyance】. I can see any location under the influence of the World Tree’s powers, no matter how far it may be. I can also speak with the deceased, albeit only a little.”

“Wait a moment. Is it really alright to tell us so much? We’re not from Lanapacea, you know that.”

Shin was surprised to hear Lina talk about her powers in such detail. Shibaid did not say anything, but looked at her with suspicion too.

Despite Shin’s words and Shibaid’s gaze, Lina’s expression became unexpectedly softer.

“Actually, because of this power, I already knew that I could trust you both. Palmirack was apparently built over a Ley line, so I could use my powers a bit.”

Through the ability to communicate with the deceased, Lina learned that Shin and Shibaid could be trusted.

“The souls of the dead…could you tell us who that was?”

“That I don’t know, unfortunately.”

“You don’t know?”

All Lina could tell was that it was an elf connected to the World Tree priestesses’ lineage. Lina’s ability could tell that it was the truth, so she trusted Shin’s group. The soul that told her about Shin, however, never mentioned their name. According to Lina, however, that wasn’t unusual.

“To go all the way to tell you about us…did something happen to the World Tree?”

“Indeed…it could be a situation so dire that the assistance of a far away priestess was needed.”

Shin quietly prayed that the items he gave to Tiera could be effective.

“Okay, I guess it’s time. Yuzuha, change routes.”

As they talked, Shin noticed that there were not many people or carriages around them, so he told Yuzuha to head to the forest. It was an unnatural change of direction, but Lina did not say anything. Even if the World Tree had told her about Shin, he couldn’t help but think that she was being too trusting.

“Oh yeah, there’s one more thing I need to confirm, do you mind?”

“What is that?”

“About when you were kidnapped. The demons we encountered in the past tried to kill Tiera the instant they realized she was a World Tree priestess. Why did they let you live?”

They knew that Lina had been kidnapped by demons because of the traces left. It was all very unnatural.

“I believe that they meant to use my powers. My 【Clairvoyance】 cannot hurt others, but depending on its usage, it can be a powerful threat. I can’t do it myself, but it is told that in the past one could see the whole world with it. It was possible to see all the secrets people wished to hide.”

“It’s pretty different from the 【Clairvoyance】 skill… so the demons found it worth using, and had found a way too.”

Lina said that she willingly absorbed miasma within herself to fall into a kind of coma and prevent them from manipulating her. They kept her alive because they could manipulate her even in that state or she was still worth using in other ways.

“If you go back to Lanapacea, will the demons come for you again?”

“It’s possible. It was so powerful that I couldn’t even resist for an instant.”

“….are you okay?”

Shin noticed that Lina’s arms, crossed in front of her chest, trembled a little. She acted like everything was okay, but she had been kidnapped by monsters and almost died. It was impossible for her not to be afraid.

“Sir Shin, you are cooperating with lady Tiera, but not with the Luderia clan, is that right?”

“Hm? Yes, that’s right. I haven’t met him yet, but we’ve heard rumors that the Luderia clan head is up to no good. I’m thinking of finding out the truth about that too.”

“…in that case…after we return to Lanapacea, could I stay with you for a while?”

Shin looked at Shibaid. If the missing Lulac priestess returned, all of Lanapacea would surely know of it instantly. Even if the Luderia head was plotting something, the Lulac had enough clout for him to put his plans into action easily. 

The risk of Lina being attacked by demons was still present, however. Shin concluded that Lina had come up with that proposal after considering what she should do.

“There’s no guarantee that staying with us is safe, though.”

Shin stopped the carriage, turned it into a card and answered Lina. The card slipped into his shirt’s pocket…actually, the item box.

“They say my detection abilities are the highest in the history of priestesses. I can tell that you all- sir Shin, sir Shibaid, lady Yuzuha- are more powerful than the demon who attacked me. This is why I wish to ask for your assistance, until the clan head is captured.”

Lina then prostrated herself. Shin was surprised by her disregard for her hands and clothes turning dirty because of the soil and mud.

“What’s with you, all of a sudden!?”

“I…have seen it. I have seen the head of the Luderia clan…dealing with demons. The reason why I was attacked was probably that I saw that scene through my 【Clairvoyance】. I want to do something about the World Tree…but I’m scared…”

Lina talked with a very feeble voice. The feelings she had been holding back gushed out. Her slender shoulders trembled.

“….I see, that was also meant to keep you quiet.”

Proof of the clan head’s wrongdoings came up from an unexpected source. From Lanapacea, located right at the foot of the World Tree, even the clan head’s private rooms were visible to 【Clairvoyance】.

If Lina spoke the truth, they couldn’t let the clan head run free. There was even the possibility that Tiera was being attacked right now.

“You can rest easy. We aren’t going to leave you to fend for yourself, not at this point.”

Shin laid a hand on Lina’s shaking shoulders and raised her head. She had to be really terrified: her eyes were gleaming with tears.

“Will you…help me?”

Lina’s tears did not suggest she was acting at all. Her eyes still showed the struggle between her will to accomplish her mission and the terror she felt.

“Leave it to us. Even if a duke demon pops up, we’re bringing them down.”

“Indeed.”

“Kuu!”

Shin, Shibaid and Yuzuha all nodded confidently.

For the sake of the world? To erase impurity?

It was a mystery that, rather than such lofty ideals, fighting to help their comrade, who strove to fulfill her duty despite being banished, and to wipe the tears of a terrified girl made them much more motivated.

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