The following morning, Shin and the rest headed towards Kilmont. They took some time to say their farewells and give thanks to Hibineko and the others who fought in the battle of Balmel. That made them start later than the other adventurers and merchants. It also meant that their carriage ride was more spacious.
“It feels so slow now.”
Tiera muttered while looking out the window.
“It’d be inappropriate for us to go flying out of the city.”
Kagerou, as a horse, pulled the carriage just as fast as the other carriages on the road. Tiera felt like they were traveling even slower, especially after their rushed ride to Falnido.
“You know this is normal, right?”
“I feel like everything is different now after meeting Shin.”
Schnee’s words sank in, and Tiera didn’t know how to take them.
“Is that a bad thing?”
“It’s not normal.”
Tiera glanced over towards Shin, feeling a little dumbfounded. It was silly to think that a carriage going at such a ridiculous speed was normal. Shin nodded in agreement, holding tightly onto reins which was only decorative.
They were heading towards Kilmont. Shin and company’s journey to meet Shibaid had only just begun.
“I guess there isn’t much traffic. Maybe we can speed up just a little… wait? A message from Wilhelm!”
A message had arrived for Shin, amidst everyone’s convoluted thoughts.
Shin knew that Wilhelm wouldn’t send him a message over nothing. Something dire must have happened.
He immediately opened the message.
“Shin? What is it?”
Ignoring Schnee’s concerned voice, Shin quickly took out an item card and attached it to the message card.
He merely wrote “Use it,” and immediately sent his response to Wilhelm.
With Shin in a daze, Tiera and Yuzuha were also pressing him.
With his brows furrowed, Shin told them what Wilhelm’s message said.
―Rashia had been stabbed.
It happened on a beautiful day.
Sister Rashia had woken up, starting the day as usual; she made her bed, prayed, and went to wake the children. There was much work to be done in the church.
“I’m off now. Please look after yourselves.”
It was not unusual for a ceremonial occasion to be held in the church. Thoria was supposed to be at the church to make funeral arrangements for the recently deceased.
Rashia had nothing to worry about. It was just an ordinary day.
“I’m going to begin the treatment. Please relax.”
“Thank you as always.”
“Please, it’s nothing. It’s part of my duty to serve the community.”
“I can’t believe how much you’ve grown Rashia. I’m happy for the church that you’re here.”
“Yes. I owe much to Thoria, but I can only hope that I can repay my debts.”
Rashia smiled towards an elderly woman from the neighborhood.
She had gained considerable experience at the Wraith Plains and her healing ability also rose greatly. She was also quite skilled in giving medical attention to those in need. Sometimes, she was even able to cure those who had given up.
The issue with who would take over the responsibilities of the church was settled now. Everything was back to quiet. Or so she thought――.
“May I come in?”
The man stood at the entrance of the church. He and Rashia had argued heatedly over who would lead the church.
Father Bulk took a handkerchief to his oily face, wiping off the sweat and revealing a crooked smile.
“Hello my child. I beg your pardon, but we’ve got some matters of the church to discuss. Do you think you could excuse us?”
The words that came out of his mouth were polite, but the elderly woman was clearly left without a choice.
There was too much of a status difference between them; the father of the church and an elderly villager.
The woman left the church and closed the doors behind her. Rashia blurted out.
“What do you want?”
“Let’s start with ‘Hello,’ shall we? Of course, I’m here to continue our little chat from before.”
Father Bulk feigned shock. His entire demeanor was condescending. This made Rashia uneasy and bitter.
“I’m certain that I will be leading the church.”
“No, it’s too soon to call the shots. Besides, there hasn’t been a legitimate decree yet. Did you really think that you were in control? Well, that’s just hasty and careless.”
“…I’ve already received word from the other Fathers, that it’s not an issue. Of course, since there’s quite distance from headquarter, the official documents will be coming in any day now.”
“‘Any day now’? What is that, tomorrow? Or the next day? I don’t find it very reassuring that you don’t have these details all in order.”
His voice lingered in Rashia’s ears, giving her shivers.
What does he want? He’s far too confident.
“Father. Is that why you’re here? To tell me all of this?”
“Oh, heavens no child. This church will be mine eventually. I’ve merely come to see that things are still as they should be.”
“…I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean. Why would you say such a thing?”
Father Bulk made it seem as if he knew something she did not.
“Your sheer arrogance. This is why we really need to stop letting things slide just because of hereditary reasons. You know absolutely nothing.”
This time, Father Bulk became slightly more aggressive.
“Answer me. I’ve obtained 【Purification】 so I should be the leader of this church according to the rule.”
“Please don’t raise your voice. Why don’t you show a little modesty? The Sisters in the headquarter are gentle you know?”
The conversation was going nowhere.
Rashia was glaring at Father Bulk, when suddenly the door opened.
“Am I late?”
“Yes you are, Eline! Because of your tardiness, I’ve been through quite an ordeal. I encountered a golem during my trip, and…”
“Bulk-san, that’s your fault. You are the one who said that you wanted to visit some ancient sites. I had my own matters to attend to, so please, do not yammer on about that anymore.”
The man who stepped in wore a suit of armor.
It wasn’t unusual to see someone with blonde hair blue eyes from Bayreuth. His hair that came slightly below his shoulders was neatly tied back. He smiled, and looked like a picturesque knight in shining armor.
However, Rashia saw him as anything but that. He was an intruder, for all she knew.
“Anyways. You know what to do, don’t you?”
“Yes, the men outside filled me in. Is she the one we’re taking?”
“No. We’re taking the child of the beast. I understand the child’s name is Mily, or something like that. I’m sure she’s in the orphanage. Bring her to me.”
Father Bulk commanded with no hesitation.
The man named Eline was headed towards the orphanage.
“Wait! What are you going to do with Millie!!”
Rashia stood in his way, but Eline did not budge.
“Bulk-san. What should I do with her?”
“Do as you wish. The area is surrounded.”
It was a matter of seconds. Eline tilted his left hand, unsheathed his weapon and took the short sword.
The speed was clearly not the capability of a commoner. If this had worked, Rashia would have gone down in the blink of an eye.
Except, it didn’t. A clear barrier generated between Rashia and the short sword. A spark could be seen where the forces met, and Rashia was thrown back.
The short sword fell to the ground with a clang.
“How interesting. You seem to have equipped a shield item of some sort. Even my sword couldn’t stand against it. It’ll be even more interesting to find out, if you made this item yourself, or if you received it as a gift.”
Eline looked intrigued, but Rashia could only stare back with fear.
She had no idea what had happened.
Rashia was at level 151. She was quite strong as a common woman. Her kinetic vision was far from average.
Yet, she could not have dodged Eline’s attack on her own.
After fighting alongside Shin and Wilhelm, she had grown accustomed to sensing murderous intent. Everyone -no matter how strong- should be emitting some sort of will. It could be murderous or violent. Either way, it was a guide for Rashia to use when dodging and defending herself.
Yet here was this man, with neither murderous intent or animosity. To kill must be as natural as breathing for him. He showed no hesitation towards the act of killing. Here was true terror, in the form of a man.
“Won’t you answer me?”
“Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to find! Out!”
Before he had finished his thought, he drew his other sword and ran towards Rashia. Yet again, Rashia’s barrier stood against his force.
However, unlike the last time with the short sword, sparks were flying more dramatically and the sword was struck deep in the air.
“It’s much tougher than I had anticipated. What would happen if I hit repeatedly?”
Eline couldn’t hide his excitement. He was thrilled to have found a worthy opponent. He drew his sword again and again.
With every strike, Rashia’s barrier shrunk.
“Eline, stop horsing around.”
“But sir, I think I’m close.”
“Just use that other thing. Hurry up.”
“You leave me no choice. I’ve already tested it on a monster. Let’s see how you fare.”
Eline turned his sword into a card. He reached in his pockets for a different one. It materialized into a 2 meter long giant knife.
A single edge had to be longer than 15 cemels. The blade shone bright red. The brim had the emblem of wings, and a giant fist sized jewel fit neatly.
The onyx jewel was a stark contrast to the blood-red blade.
“Isn’t she a beauty? I’m afraid all I know is that her name is 『Exvaine』.”
Eline looked proudly at his possession.
“It’s more than just a pretty face. Just look at this!”
He seemed satisfied that Rashia couldn’t take her eyes off of his weapon, as he grinned and thrust it upon her.
You could hear the swish of the blade cutting through the air as it left a red afterimage. It was almost a shriek as the sound of shattering glass pierced through the ears of those in the vicinity. The knife cut through the barrier like butter, slashing Rashia’s cheek. The blade stopped at her neck.
Rashia peered over at the deadly tool. Should Eline gesture his hand even the slightest bit, her head would be chopped off. Blood dripped down her face, and Rashia sat there shaking.
“So. Do you feel like answering my question now?”
She put all of her might into not screaming. She had lost all words.
Eline looked smug. It wasn’t a very pleasant expression. It was the face of a violent child. One that enjoyed picking off the legs and wings of a bug.
“No. Please. Leave us alone.”
‘I will probably die.’ Rashia was filled with sorrow at the thought.
She stared into Eline’s eyes. She knew that no matter what she had said, it was all up to his whim. That is why she felt resolute to not share any information.
“That’s a pity. It’s fine though. I’m here on a mission anyways.”
Millie and the other children were indeed in the orphanage. No matter what happens, Rashia must warn them of the dangers. She was about 10 steps away from an item that would heed them.
Rashia was about to run for it, when the worst case scenario had unfolded. Luck was on Father Bulk’s side.
“Shia-nee, I’m done cleaning.”
It was none other than Millie, who had come into the church building. She was alone. She must have finished her chores before the other children.
“Well what do we have here. She seems to be Millie-san. How convenient that the target came to us. Is this because I behave well everyday? ”
“Yes, it must be God smiling down on us. Eline, you know what to do.”
“Of course, my lord.”
Eline and Father Bulk shifted their attention to Millie. At that chance, Rashia attempted to run to the organ, to activate the item hidden between the keys.
However, Eline did not miss a beat.
“Are you going to do something? That’s no good at all.”
Eline stood between Rashia and the organ.
“Hurry up Eline.”
“Please don’t rush me, Father!” Eline blocked Rashia and inched towards Millie. It was then that a strong barrier burst between Millie and Eline.
Eline could sense that this force was much more powerful than that of Rashia. He swung down his precious 『Exvaine』.
Except it was different this time. 『Exvaine』 bounced off of the barrier with a jolt.
Eline’s eyes were slits of rage. He took his weapon and lashed out towards Millie. The barrier held up.
Eline put more might into his vicious attacks.
Millie was crouched to the ground, and only a little crack appeared in her barrier.
“…Well what do you know. My High Human weapon doesn’t seem to be doing its job.”
“Oops. Just a slip of the tongue.”
Rashia could not hide her surprise. A High Human weapon- one forged by the likes of God. It wasn’t just that though. It was the fact that the little Millie even stood a chance. The item from Shin seemed like a simple necklace. It was truly a God-given gift.
“This is a waste of time. Let’s try this.”
Eline took the 『Exvaine』 and destroyed Rashia’s barrier. She was thrown to the ground as the blade was placed right at Rashia’s neck.
“Millie, Millie, Millie. If you don’t want her to die, please discard your barrier item.”
“No! Millie don’t! Gah!”
Eline shut Rashia up. She could no longer produce any words.
Millie didn’t know what to do. She stood helplessly, uttering Rashia’s name.
“You don’t seem to believe me. Then, how about this?”
Eline briefly released Rashia from the holds of 『Exvaine』, and effortlessly slid the red blade into Rashia’s right rib area.
Rashia didn’t know what had happened, until the blood started coming out of her mouth.
Millie ran towards her.
However, her barrier stopped her, because it knew how dangerous Eline was.
“Look what you’ve done Millie. You can stop all of this right now, you know?”
The pain was excruciating, but Rashia didn’t want Millie in the wrong hands. All that came out of her mouth though were shallow breaths and sounds.
“No! Release Shia-nee!!”
“All you have to do is unequip your barrier item. The more you resist, the more pain she will be in….like this.”
His tone was gentle, as Eline chanted spells into the 『Exvaine』 still inside Rashia.
The blade turned red-hot.
The burning sensation made Rashia cry out.
Her scream was too much for Millie.
“Stop! Stop it…”
“Look. All you have to do is take off your item. Put it on the ground.”
Tears dripping down her chin, Millie placed her necklace on the floor. The moment her hand and the necklace weren’t touching, the barrier was released.
“That just took far too long. Off we go. Come.”
Father Bulk shook his head.
“Please. Please help S-Shia-nee…”
“If you come quietly, she won’t die. If you even let out a peep, who knows what will happen to your precious sister.”
“This is why I hate children. Eline.”
Eline hit Millie’s gut. She fell noiselessly. They had knocked her unconscious.
“We’re done here. Let’s go.”
“Shouldn’t we clean up?”
“Leave it. But don’t leave any traces.”
“As you wish.”
Bulk carried off Millie, while Eline activated his clearing skills. He took 『Exvaine』 out of Rashia.
She was in so much pain that all she could do was lay there quivering.
Eline looked up towards the beautiful stained glass.
“…By the way. Another question: an adventurer comes here often, carrying a magic spear. What class is this man’s weapon in?”
Eline was thinking of Wilhelm of course. He looked over at Rashia.
There was no response. This was only natural. Even if she could, she had no will to respond to him. Her wounds were deep and painful.
“Ah. My apologies. I really ought to have asked beforehand. What a pity. Until next time.”
Eline lowered his gaze.
Father Bulk had already left with his men.
――Except, another presence had filled the room.
“What a lucky day indeed.”
“Whose blood is that on your sword?”
Wilhelm’s voice was cold.
His hand squeezed 『Venom』 even tighter.
“I mean. I was having a friendly conversation with the sister. It really didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to though. By the way, how did you get here? I thought I had activated my clearing skill here.”
“What did you do to her?”
“Why do people never answer my questions?”
“You’re the one who’s got questions to answer.”
“My my. So hostile. Fine. I stabbed her. She doesn’t have very long to…!”
Wilhelm charged before Eline was finished.
『Venom』 had released a bright red light into the air.
It was a single shot with all his might. But Eline took his 『Exvaine』 and cut the blaze. The two weapons’ forces caused some large sparks.
“What did I ever do to you?”
“A whole lot!!”