Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
“N-No! He said he was gonna kill him. I tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t listen. He went… into the priest’s room… drunk!”
He was flustered and on the verge of tears. I couldn’t make sense of what he said. Instead of listening to him, Cal and I started running down the hallway.
“Let go of me, you lowly, godforsaken bandits! Why did you bring me here?! What are you going to do with me?!”
A crowd of people had gathered before the priest’s room.
“What the hell’s going on here?!”
Cal’s roar dispersed the crowd, and I saw the priest pinned down on the ground by several people, struggling to escape from their grasp. The glistening scythe in his hands sent a shiver down my spine.
“The idiot!” I said. “Did he go wild here?”
“I can’t believe it,” Cal said. “He shouldn’t be able to move.”
I thought this could happen, so I wanted to take his weapon away, but I couldn’t remove the rings from his fingers. He probably had them firmly attached so he would always have his weapon no matter what.
“Please calm down, Father!” Tito begged. “I understand your anger, but you have it wrong! That guy was drunk. I swear I will not let him near you again. So please, go back to bed, or you’ll die!”
Cal approached them, and Tito turned pale.
“Cal! I’m sorry. I didn’t pay enough attention,” the doctor said.
“What happened? What did Talba do?”
“I tried to kill him!” said a jovial voice.
I turned to the direction of the voice and saw a large, bearded man slumped on the floor with his back against the wall.
“Talba,” Cal called in a low voice.
“That’s my name.” He guffawed, sword in his right hand. “You’re too soft, Boss! You bring him to the fort just ’cause he’s injured? You’re crazy! And we’re even fixing him up… It’s just too much, okay?! It’s his fault… It’s his fault that Sect is dead!”
First he was laughing, and now he was angry. He was clearly drunk. I could tell from the intense smell of alcohol.
“He protected that witch… And now Sect and all the other guys are dead. Adjudicator, my ass! If he’d just killed that witch, Sect would still be alive! But no… and now you’re even helping him! It’s just not fair!” He swung his sword around.
“Hey, Cal. Who’s Sect?” I asked. “He blamed us earlier for his death too.”
“He was a close friend of Talba’s. He was in the group that abducted the saint, but he died on the way back.”
“I get it now.”
Breathing a heavy sigh, Cal walked towards Talba and snatched his sword away.
“Give it back!” Talba shouted, but Cal ignored his protests.
“Talba, our goal is not revenge,” he said. “It’s to bring the doctors back to this country. To do that, which do you think is the right choice? Kill the priest or get him on our side?”
“The right choice? Is saving the guy who killed Sect the right choice?! Is him protecting the saint the right choice?!”
No point in talking to the guy at this point. He was too drunk to think logically.
“You don’t understand, Boss… You don’t have the mark on you! You don’t know how we feel! We could be dead tomorrow. If you hadn’t asked us to bring the saint alive, everything would be over by now!”
Cal looked down at Talba silently, expressionless as usual, and for some reason, threw the sword back into the drunk’s hand.
“You’re right. I don’t know how you feel,” the Beastfallen said. “Knock yourself out, then. If you want revenge, go ahead and kill the priest. I won’t stop you.”
Hesitation flickered across Talba’s eyes for a moment.
“But killing him will close the only path we have to the saint. You’ll be sacrificing everyone in the fort to get your revenge. You think it’s the right thing to do, right? Talba. You’d be more than happy to take them all down with you. You want to kill a bunch of people for your own satisfaction, don’t you?”
Grasping his sword with both hands, Talba looked back and forth between Cal and the weapon. Finally, he turned his gaze to the priest, his expression twisted.
“I… I… just want to avenge Sect…”
“Go cool your head off,” Cal said. “Someone get this man some water!”
A few people from the crowd scurried over to help Talba get on his feet. Cal waited for the man to disappear before turning to the priest.
“I’m sorry about that, Father. I know you won’t believe me, but I don’t want to hurt you. I just need your help.”
“Help you? I’m a servant of God. I would never lend a helping hand to bandits. Now release me. I need to go back to the Holy City and protect Her Eminence. I need to fulfill the mission that God gave me!”
“Listen here,” I said, exasperation in my tone. “You think you can go back to the city? Look at you. You’re a mess. An adjudicator from Dea Ignis is being pinned down by a bunch of civilians. You probably can’t even stand straight.”
“Do you want to see me try?!” the priest hissed, turning his face to me.
Torches hung by the corridor walls, illuminating the surroundings, which meant the priest couldn’t keep his eyes open. Yet it felt like I could see the fury raging behind his eyelids.
He gripped his scythe tightly. Daunted by his intensity, I quickly put my hand on my sword.
“What are you doing? Turn out the lights first!” A sharp voice came from behind me.
Startled, I turned around to see Zero walking towards us from across the hallway.
“Why are you posing to accept his challenge?” she said. “The priest is in no condition to fight. This situation is far too dangerous for him. That is why he is resorting to intimidation.”
Now that she mentioned it, this display of rage was not like him at all. He was calm and composed even in battle, but now he looked pitiful.
He was on the verge of death, practically blind, and in the middle of enemy territory. I had experienced this as well.
“Cal, tell your men to turn out the lights,” I said. “I have good night vision, and there are lights in the hall. If it’s only this hallway that’s dark, I should be able to handle him even if he goes on a rampage.”
“I don’t mind, but can I ask why?”
“That priest has a peculiar condition that makes him unable to see when it’s bright. He’ll probably calm down a little if he can see.”
“If you say so.” Cal turned to the others. “Turn off the lights!”
In the blink of an eye, the hallway fell into darkness. Gripping the hilt of my sword, I watched the priest closely. Then the priest stopped struggling. Still pinned down by several men, he opened his eyes cautiously and lifted his head.
Zero stood in front of him. The men who were restraining the priest released him and quickly moved to the side. The priest then immediately got to his feet and took a huge leap backwards. With his back against the wall and scythe at the ready, he looked like a frightened cornered animal.
“Do not be afraid, Priest,” Zero said. “You were seriously injured and needed medical attention. That is why we brought you here.”
“Yes. You and Mercenary were fighting on the bridge in Akdios when you came under fire. You remember that, do you not? After the bridge fell, Mercenary carried you up to the top of the cliff.”
The priest shot me a scornful look. He was clearly upset that a Beastfallen saved his life.
“You were an adjudicator from Dea Ignis, tasked with protecting the saint. Yet you were almost killed by the Holy City’s guards. The saint and the city deemed you an obstacle, and we want to know why.”
“Why… Her Eminence… tried… to kill me…”
The priest’s body shook violently. Perhaps he suddenly recalled that he was on the verge of death. Or maybe all the tension left his body when he realized he wasn’t in any danger.
Zero moved closer. Then the priest fell to his knees, clinging to Zero’s shoulder and breathing heavily. Zero whispered something in his ear, and he went limp and motionless in the next instant.
“I put him to sleep,” Zero mouthed.
You got guts casting a spell on a priest.
Tito rushed to the priest and gently pulled him away from Zero.
“Ah, what a reckless priest!” the doctor said. “Somebody get him some water and soup! Cal, please put the priest back in bed.”
At Tito’s command, the onlookers dispersed, and Cal took the priest back to the guest room with him. Seeing things under control, Zero shook her head in disbelief.
“Good grief,” she said. “If I did not arrive in time, he would have gone on a rampage until he was dead. You should not corner a wounded beast.”
“I’m usually the one who gets treated like a rabid animal,” I said. “Calming people down is out of my expertise. Besides, in various folk tales, it’s an innocent child or a pure maiden who soothes an angry beast. You were the right person for the job.”
“Is there a story where a witch soothes a priest?” she asked in a reproachful tone.
I shrugged, unable to give an answer.
“So?” Zero said.
“Did you talk to the hawk warrior? Can I assume that we have gained an ally?”
“Yeah. We have the same objective. Plain and clear. To drag the saint out of the Holy City by any means necessary.”