Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
The Cardinal Contemplates
「Very well. If we don’t know the cause, then replace the altar.」Georgis said.
「We already did that, but the result was still the same.」
When the Bloodstone Ritual started failing after the attack, they considered the possibility of the adventurer doing something to the altar, like perhaps blessing magic. The evil spirit summoned by the ritual and blessing magic were incompatible with each other. So using blessing magic on the altar would prevent the spirit from getting close.
Since there were still a lot of unanswered questions about blessing magic, detecting it with magic was difficult. So the person in charge decided to replace the entire altar. The provision took a lot of time, but with the help of the Garden of Despair, they managed to complete the task.
But the result was a tragic failure. Nothing changed and the ritual failed just like before.
「Then what do you suggest we do?!」
Enraged, Georgis tried to draw his sword, but held himself back at the last second. He could kill all the soldiers he wanted as long as they were from his domain. However, the person in charge of the ritual was from the Garden of Despair and was an expert in ritual magic. If he killed him, he would incur the wrath of the organization.
The Cardinal couldn’t lay a finger on him, which is why the man could talk back to him. Of course, there had been plenty of times where Georgis almost killed the man.
Instead of killing the man, the Cardinal placed his hand on his forehead and pondered over the current situation. After five minutes, he asked the person in charge a question.
「You said there isn’t anywhere else in my domain where we can hold the ritual, right?」
「Yes. We searched for other possible locations, but none met the conditions.」
「What about other domains?」
There was no other place inside the Cardinal’s domain where they could place the altar. In that case, why not check outside? Georgis wondered how he hadn’t thought about something so simple.
「Other domains? I hardly doubt there’s some other place with a great environment as yours. Searching blindly might even take years.」
「Oh, there is one. Count Meigis’ territory.」
「So you’re saying there’s a place in that annoying Count’s place where we can create an altar?」
「Think about it. How else can he produce the medicine?」
In this world, only Cardinal Georgis succeeded in mass-producing healing medicine. But recently, Count Meigis was able to do it, destroying the monopoly. The question was, how did the Count do it?
There was only one answer. He was using the same method as the Cardinal: performing a Bloodstone Ritual.
If there was a legitimate way to mass-produce healing medicine, someone would’ve done it a long time ago. The fact that no one did meant it was simply impossible. The only valid method was the Bloodstone Ritual.
「The Count is performing Bloodstone Rituals too? That sounds possible indeed. But I haven’t heard about the number of slaves entering his domain increasing.」
They had already considered the possibility that perhaps Count Meigis was performing the same ritual. So ever since he started mass-producing healing medicine, the Cardinal’s men monitored how many slaves entered the Count’s domain at all times.
But the number didn’t increase at all. In fact, Meigis barely brought slaves into his territory in the first place. Most of the ones that did enter were simply passing through to get to other lands.
Some places had many slaves while some had few. It was rare for a city to have barely any. That was the Cardinal’s findings.
「About that… Count Meigis might not be using slaves as sacrifice.」Georgis said.
「Are you saying he’s using ordinary citizens?」
「Not citizens, refugees. Everyone knows how he gathers the dregs of society.」
Indeed. Meigis accepting refugees was a well-known matter. Farmers who lost their land, sons of ruined nobles, and those with inferior job classes. Of course, he didn’t just accept anyone, only those who wanted to work. Still, most people found his actions hard to comprehend. What was the point in doing all this? Helping refugees wouldn’t benefit him.
Georgis looked down on Meigis all this time. But now he even respected the Count’s ingenuity. He believed accepting refugees was Meigis “gathering ingredients”. Unlike slaves, he didn’t have to pay, and since it didn’t go through the market, tracing was difficult.
「I see. In that case, what should we do?」the person in charge of the ritual asked.
Actually, he didn’t believe the Count had an altar in his place. The Garden of Despair investigated the possibility before anything else. While the forest was heavily guarded, making it difficult to conduct a direct investigation, they could narrow down the conditions with a map. They found that the chances of Count Meigis having an altar was low.
The Garden of Despair thought maybe Meigis produced the healing medicine using a different method, or he performed the ritual in another domain. But the Cardinal probably wouldn’t understand. All they could do was pray that the countermeasure that Georgis came up with was effective.