“So this is Bulk’s residence.”
“Yes. Access was restricted, so I do not know what’s inside.”
After listening to the knight’s reply, Shibaid turned his eyes to the closed door.
Priests are assigned private rooms, which was an ideal place to act in secrecy, with no risk of being seen by others.
Infiltrating an empty room seemed possible, but this room was inside Palmirack; it was no simple feat.
The rooms were surrounded in Chimeradite, which made slipping past its walls, or unlocking its doors, extremely difficult.
For that reason, even chosen ones could not easily enter the room and discover Bulk’s secrets.
“I’m opening it.”
Shibaid laid a hand on the door.
He had received Shin’s permission to unlock all doors; for a limited time, he could enter almost every room located inside Palmirack.
Shibaid concentrated on his hand and the door opened with almost no resistance.
“!! Stand back, everybody!”
Shibaid stepped in front of the knights.
Intense miasma emanated from beyond the door.
“Don’t come near! You may lose your sanity!”
Shibaid had the sickly-looking knights move away from the door and stepped inside the room.
Shibaid was now equipping his original weapon, the giant halberd “Placid Moon”. The light shining from its blade completely purified the miasma coming from the room.
After being upgraded by Shin, the weapons wielded by Shin’s support character gained the ability to purify miasma.
“The miasma has been purified. You can go inside now.”
After Shibaid’s words reached them, the knights entered the room with wary steps. They were knights of the church, but that did not mean that they had high resistance to miasma.
The miasma emanating from the room was so dense that simply looking at it caused a visceral sensation of impending danger. Not even upper class chosen ones would have been able to withstand such a level of miasma.
It was not something that knights, even if trained, could endure.
“Bulk was continuously immersed in that concentrated miasma? Yet.. it looks like it hadn’t caused any mental deterioration…”
Doubt arose in Shibaid’s mind.
Such a high concentration of miasma would undoubtedly lead to insanity. Despite that, Bulk had not shown the symptoms typical of those infected by miasma.
What could it possibly mean?
“I see there’s another room in the back.”
Shibaid left the current room to the knights and headed to the room in the back. There he found scattered magic tomes, items and weapons with ceremonial decorations.
Probably because of long-term exposure to miasma, they were all partially corroded or cursed; nothing was left in proper condition.
In a corner of the room was a metal box equipped with heavy locks.
Shibaid’s appraisal skill let him see through the trap protecting the box.
“【High-Poison】 and 【High-Confusion】, is it. Quite a nasty little device.”
Shibaid let out a sigh and touched the box.
The trap activated and powerful status abnormalities reached towards Shibaid, to invade his body. Shibaid’s equipment, however, made him immune to status abnormalities; he wasn’t the least bit fazed by the trap’s effects.
Shibaid then crushed the box’s lock, nothing more than a decoration compared to the trap, and opened it. Inside it he found 4 black collars.
Compared to the information Shin obtained from Bulk through torture under the name of interrogation, the number of collars were too low. Shibaid took the collars inside the box, turned them into cards and stored them in his item box.
“There should be another one somewhere…”
Having confessed under the effects of Shin’s skill, it was not possible for Bulk to have lied. The only possibility was that the last collar was hidden somewhere near by.
“It has to be inside this room.”
With the knights’ help, Shibaid searched every nook and cranny.
Much like Lilishila’s, Bulk’s residence too was equipped with a secret room. Shibaid, thinking that it was the ideal place to hide something, operated the walls.
A door opened with a dull sound, and at the same time a rotten smell was released.
It was a stench strong enough to force the knights behind Shibaid to hold their noses. Even knights such as them, used to the smell of blood and guts permeating the many battlefields they experienced, grimaced at this stench.
“Sir Shibaid, this is…”
“I can’t say I have a good feeling about this. We already know that there’s a trap inside. I can go alone, but what will the rest of you do?”
“Please take me and one of my subordinates with you. To cower before a mere stench would be utterly shameful for a knight. I shall have the others check the room again for anything we might have missed.”
The two knights with the highest level followed Shibaid. Advancing through the corridor caused the foul stench to gradually increase in intensity.
At the end of the corridor they found a door. Opening it revealed a young girl, collapsed on the floor.
As Shibaid drew closer, he noticed long, slender ears poking out from her hair. Her HP had not decreased very much, but she was affected by several status abnormalities.
The girl appeared to be unconscious as she did not move an inch.
“She’s still breathing. Let’s bring this girl outside first.”
Following Shibaid’s decision, the knights ran out first, to call a healing specialist.
Meanwhile, Shibaid materialized an elixir from his item box and poured it into the girl’s mouth.
After making sure that the girl had swallowed the golden liquid, Shibaid stood up.
He contacted Shin via Mind Chat, then left the room while carrying the girl in his arms.
The two met up and moved to a room with a bed.
“First of all, let’s remove it.”
Shin touched the neck of the girl, now lying on the bed. As it happened with Millie and Hermie, the black collar shattered away.
The girl, however, did not open her eyes.
“I can’t fully diagnose her situation. Could you explain?”
Shin nodded to Shibaid’s request. The weakening of the spirit due to miasma was highly likely to be the same as during the game era.
“I suppose this is a good occasion. Listen up, everyone. This girl was exposed to dense miasma and is now in a comatose state. I think she’ll continue sleeping for at least 1 or 2 weeks…maybe even months.”
“What in the world happened to her?”
“When exposed to dense miasma, unless one has high resistance or regularly drinks potions to raise resistance, the spirit is weakened before the body. If nothing is done in time, there’s a risk of never waking up.”
Shin answered Lilishila’s question, recalling his knowledge from the game era.
Miasma possesses negative effects other than the status abnormality and MP consumption. NPC’s other than those belonging to the players become unable to act.
In case of players or support characters, they are affected by negative status and stats reduction.
In a game event Shin had experienced, where a miasma infection broke out in a city setting, the city’s NPC shops, adventurers’ guild, etcetera all stopped functioning.
The scenario had them fall in a coma because of the miasma’s mind infection.
Thanks to that, all miasma-related events were always instantly cleared by players who were already too powerful for guilds, before the situation became too dire. If that setting was still active, this girl too was probably in that situation.
Shin had heard from Shibaid about the dense miasma concentrated in Bulk’s room.
Based on his knowledge of the game and the state of the room, that was the only likely explanation.
“Will this girl be alright?”
“Yes. Luckily, it seems she wasn’t exposed to miasma for a long time. The body changes color when it’s too late, so you just need a glance to know.”
During the game era, the NPCs beyond salvation turned black and were replaced by another NPC the day after. That likely meant that they would never wake up again.
“Does anyone know this girl?”
Everyone surrounding Shin shook their heads at his question.
Schnee and Shibaid obviously didn’t know her, nor did Lilishila or the man who guided Wilhelm inside Palmirack.
“She was probably kidnapped, just like Millie. I will take care of her until she wakes up. Please leave it to me.”
Lilishila volunteered to help the girl, as she couldn’t just leave an elf that was just like her.
Freed from the shackles represented by Bulk, for the cardinal Lilishila, taking care of one young girl was an easy task.
No one could predict when the girl would wake from her slumber, so Shin’s party heartily welcomed her proposal.
“I apologize for the inconvenience, but please take care of her.”
After deciding to entrust the girl to Lilishila, the group returned to her room. There was no reason for a large group of people to stay in a sick person’s room.
“Here are the collars I’ve collected”
After leaving the room, Shibaid hands the collected collars to Shin in item card form.
Since they could not proceed or even begin to examine the collars here, Shin casually gazed at the collar’s design before putting it away in the item box.
“Was there anything else?”
“Nothing stood out to me. But this kind of research is best done by Shin or Yuki.”
“That’s right. I’ll go search the room once Tiera joins us.”
They asked Lilishila to not allow anyone near Bulk’s room, just in case. It was possible to physically separate it from the others, but as it would invite needless suspicion, they decided to leave things to her.
Only Rokuten members and their subordinates can use Palmirack’s functions. The support characters’ faces and names were known, so spreading information about their usage privileges would end up revealing Shin’s true identity.
“Oh, so it’s really over?”
As Shin was talking with Shibaid, Tiera made her entrance, escorted by the knights. In her shadow, dwelt Kagerou, while Yuzuha was attached to her arm.
“Yes, the rescue somehow ended in success. However, we don’t know the location of the ritual site. Anything happened on your end?”
“Nothing happened to me directly, but there is something that concerns me.
“Yes? What’s that?”
“I saw a shadow fly away from the Church. Just to confirm, was there anyone with wings among the people you fought?”
Tiera’s words made Shin cock his head and think. Having wings meant that the species had to be Beast, Dragnil, Lord or Pixie.
“No, I haven’t seen anyone like that. Have you, Shibaid?”
“I haven’t seen anyone like that either. To begin with, everyone we fought has been captured. I do not think anyone escaped us.”
Shibaid, who had moved separately from Shin, gave the same answer.
“Well, what I saw was a human-like shape with 4 wings. 2 bird-like and 2 insect-like. It was night so I couldn’t see their face very well, but I had Yuzuha attach a mark to track where it was headed. Yuzuha?”
Yuzuha answered Tiera’s question energetically. Shin received a “I know!” message via telepathy. A truly unexpected hint had been found.
“Well done!! The more clues we have, the better!”
“I’m relieved to know I could be of help. I haven’t been of much use at all this time.”
Tiera spoke with a slightly somber tone.
She was uneasy about the fact that since she had been targeted at the beginning, she hadn’t contributed to Millie’s rescue.
Shin and Schnee’s infiltration operation, Shibaid’s defense operation…not her ability, but her stats made her somewhat lacking for both categories.
Kagerou could have been useful in defense, but Tiera was still inexperienced as a tamer and could not use its abilities to the fullest yet. She could not have dealt with the situation as swiftly as Shibaid.
“Asking you to keep watch was the right choice.”
Elves are quite apt at scouting jobs such as hunter or shinobi. Furthermore, the tamer job covered several roles, production, battle, scouting, etcetera; this depended on the tamed monster.
Tiera’s monster, Kagerou, was of considerable high level and also proficient in detection and infiltration abilities.
As tamers are affected by the monsters they command, Tiera’s detection ability was now boosted for a limited time.
It was a preparation done as a mere precaution, but it yielded an unexpectedly great result.
Kagerou and Yuzuha’s detection abilities were also fairly high, of course, and could be expected to be very useful.
“They said a messenger would come, what shall we do about that?”
“Let’s think about how to deal with the messenger first. In the end, we can chase down the target marked by Yuzuha whenever we want. We know that it flew away from the Church, but we don’t know if it’s going to the ritual site. If it’s Bulk’s messenger, it’s certain to lead us there.”
Shin answered Schnee’s question basing himself on the information obtained from Bulk.
“The messenger was supposed to come “pick up” Bulk, so they would surely head to the ritual site later. If we can catch it we can learn the location of the ritual.”
Alongside with a lot of other information.
“(The messenger is supposed to come 2 days from now. As long as there is a possibility that they captured Filma exists, we cannot take this lightly. We’ll use mind-type skills.)”
“(Understood. What shall we do with Lilishila?)”
“(If I say that I’ll morph into Bulk with an illusion-type skill, she won’t come with us.)”
Shin communicated the plan to Schnee and Shibaid via Mind Chat.
The great sword supposed to be in Filma’s possession, Exvaine, was here.
Consequently, it was more likely that Filma was not captured, but instead being manipulated. Even now at an unknown place, she could be doing others’ bidding.
This event had been caused by Bulk’s and a few others’ lust for power. That is why Shin decided not to dispose of the other people of the Church. However, the “Summit Faction” was different.
Those who hurt innocent people and treat life as a tool do not deserve any pity.
(The world might have changed, but these kinds of people don’t learn new tricks, do they?)
What Shin had remembered was the battle against players called PK’s.
There were no benefits. It was a war. A massacre, where lives were expendable as if they were disposable items.
It was a battlefield filled with grief, hatred and insanity.
The sensation Shin felt now was familiar.
“(What should we do if the enemies equip items that make them immune to status effects?)”
“(Nothing to worry. I can bypass the “Age of Gods Earring”’s defense now.)”
Shin answered Shibaid’s question with confidence.
The effectiveness of mind-type skills depends on the user’s INT.
The mind-type skills used by Shin, who had surpassed the limit, were now capable of penetrating the defenses of even items which granted immunity to status effects.
The only situation where they could fail was if the target equipped multiple accessories of the highest rank, such as the ones Shin and Schnee had.
“Hm? What’s wrong?”
As he was speaking through Mind Chat, a faint voice reached Shin’s ears. He turned in Schnee’s direction.
His eyes found her holding the right sleeve of his clothes, a worried look on her face.
“Is everything alright?”
“Shin, your face just now…was kind of scary.”
“Ah…was it showing on my face that much?”
Shin touched his own face and felt that it was indeed pretty stiff.
Shin knew from experience that if he wasn’t careful, thinking about the PK’s would cause his emotions to become visible on his expression.
He was not thinking about things that Schnee should worry about, but Shin regretted having saddened her. Shin knew what worried Schnee the most.
“I wasn’t thinking of things you need to worry about, Yuki. It’s alright.”
“If so, I’m glad.”
Shin replied with a cheerful tone, to dispel Schnee’s worries. Shin’s smile wasn’t forced, so Schnee, relieved, let go of his sleeve.
On the other hand, Shibaid and Tiera motionlessly watched the scene that had just transpired.
“It’s pretty hard to join the conversation when you two fly in your own world all of a sudden, you know.”
“Hmm. I understand Yuki’s worries, but I would prefer you would save such gestures for when you’re alone together.”
Tiera was almost rolling her eyes at the couple, while it was not clear if Shibaid was reproaching them or giving advice.
Shin and Schnee had come back to the real world because of their words, only to be struck by another unexpected ambush.
“(Kuu! Scent of peaches! Kiss her? Kiss her?)”
“Peach-colored atmosphere” was a truly fitting description. Yuzuha had talked all of a sudden, fortunately not via words but Mind Chat.
“Hahaha, no, I’m sorry. And no Yuzuha, no kissing!”
Shin, however, replied through his normal voice.
Hearing these words, Schnee could guess what Yuzuha had said, and her whole face was stained red.
“(Shin, what in the world is wrong with you?)”
“(Yuzuha asked me if I was going to “kiss her” via telepathy! Ah, darn, I spoke out loud…)”
Shin explained what happened to Shibaid via Mind Chat. The latter then understood the situation, but behind him stood Lilishila’s group, who was unable to use Mind Chat.
Shin’s sudden “no kisses” declaration attracted their glares towards him.
“Excuse me, Shin-sama? You said something about kissing…?”
“Hahaha, of course not. I did say “missing” though, maybe you heard wrong?” (T/N: 治癒 Chiyu: Healing, but the words are omitted thus changed to missing. And ちゅーChiyu: Kissing, they are said the same way in japanese.)
“But just now, I’m sure that…”
“Surely just your imagination, milady.”
Shin tried desperately to change the subject.
Kissing and missing, it would be pretty hard to mistake words like these, but not impossible. They did come out of the blue, though.
Shibaid whispered a word of advice to Yuzuha.
“Yuzuha. Please save such words for when there is no one else around. Timing is an important factor as well.”
Yuzuha cocked her head to one side, apparently finding it a concept difficult to grasp.
“Shibaid! Hey! What kind of advice is that!?”
“You see, such things should be allowed to proceed while they can.”
“….where’s the serious atmosphere from a few moments ago…?”
Their serious discussion had been blown away by Yuzuha’s one line.
“How can I say it, Shin’s comrades are all pretty peculiar.”
Tiera spoke with a small wry laugh, while looking at Shin and his party.
Having lived together with Schnee, Tiera knew more than the average person about Rokuten and its members. She felt that the other members she hadn’t met yet would surely be out of the ordinary.
“Not exactly, Ms. Tiera. Remember that you too are one of those comrades.”
Shin pointed out that Tiera seemed to consider herself as not included in the “peculiar” group.
A remark that painted a shocked expression on Tiera’s face.
When Shin asked Tiera to act on her own, they explained to Lilishila that Kagerou was a monster that possessed abilities on the same level as an upper class chosen one. There was no way for Tiera, the mistress of such a monster, to be a normal person.
From Lilishila’s party’s standpoint, Shin and Tiera were in the same category.
“Why are you that shocked?”
“I can’t be expected to be on the same level as you. A normal person might think I’m incredible, but Shin, you guys are on a whole different level.”
From someone at level 1, both level 150 and 255 appear equally high-level.
Yet from Tiera’s standpoint, who had barely reached level 150 without reincarnation, a level 255 with reincarnation bonuses possessed power far beyond hers.
In addition, Tiera was a high-level user thanks to Kagerou. To be considered on the same level as Shin, who could take down Kagerou by himself, isn’t something she could simply agree with.
From Shin’s standpoint, however, Tiera was incredible enough; she had tamed the divine beast Gruefago without fighting, after all.
“You would make us lose face, if you were able to match us so easily. But you are still growing, in more ways than one. You’ll become much stronger.”
“I do think that I grew a little stronger, but I honestly can’t imagine matching you all in strength. All this time I’ve been admiring master and Shin, but I can’t even jest and say ‘I’ll be as strong as you one day’”
Tiera replied with a sigh to Shin’s comment concerning her future growth.
“Well, let’s continue this conversation another time. First, let’s do everything we can till the messenger arrives. Yuki and I will go search Bulk’s residence. Shibaid, go help Lilishila. Tiera, please keep an eye on Millie. ”
Shin stopped the conversation for the time being and gave orders to Shibaid and the others.
Lilishila was now going to arrest the people who had colluded with Bulk, so Shibaid would act as her escort. He asked Tiera to look after Millie because he felt it would not be good to have Hermie, the one venerated as Holy Woman, continue to act as caretaker.
The two nodded to Shin’s proposal.
Lilishila, who had been listening too, nodded in agreement.
With Shibaid on her side, even if the opponent was an upper class chosen one there would be no trouble. Her confidence was reinforced by having witnessed his fighting prowess not long ago.
“I’ll have Millie sent to Vizzy later. Can you relay this to Wilhelm too?”
Shin whispered to Tiera as to avoid being heard by Lilishila.
He wanted to send Millie back as soon as possible, also to soothe Rashia’s worries, who was waiting in Bayreuth. However, if it was at all possible, he wanted to keep the fact that they rode Elder Dragons to Sigurd a secret.
Vizzy, support character of Rokuten member Cashmere, had tamed the Elder Dragons, and Shin could use it freely. If this information spread, trouble was very likely to arise.
That is why he whispered to Tiera the message to be relayed.
“Understood. Don’t worry about it… Anyways, you be careful too, Shin.”
“We’ll go perform our search now. If we find anything, we’ll report later.”
“Thank you very much. We shall go remove all the infection festering within the Church.”
Lilishila had already investigated before hand, in order to stand against Bulk; her eyes now burned with red-hot flames.
This was expected. Not too long ago they were not able to deliver a crushing blow to the other party. Now, they are able to pass judgement on those people.
There was no reason not to be fired up!
Shin caught himself thinking that Lilishila’s smile was almost scary.