Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
Backlash would no doubt come with the fame. Could it be that they anticipated that, and put Lia in the spotlight, pushing all the admiration and hatred on her? If that was the case, then whoever taught Lia Magic must have benefited from the saint.
“Can I ask you something?” I said.
“Who taught you Magic?”
“Ma… jik? That thing in Wenias?”
“Yeah. That’s what you’re using, right? Did you read a book of Magic?”
“I’m sorry, I… I don’t know what you’re talking about… I can’t even read.”
She didn’t seem to be lying. Lia didn’t have the slightest idea that the miracle she performed was Magic. She didn’t know about the Grimoire of Zero either.
But she was, in fact, using Magic. If Zero’s words were to be trusted, of course.
“I… I just want to save people. To help others. So why do they want to kill me? Why did His Grace treat me that way?”
Give me a break. This is not my kinda job. What am I gonna do? Say something to make her feel better?
“I-I’m scared,” she muttered, then went silent.
I stroked Lia’s head as she buried her face in the pillow. After a while, her body relaxed, and I could hear her breathing. She had fallen asleep. Relieved, I finally loosened my shoulders.
In the end, I couldn’t get anything out of her. Wiping the tears off her face, I pulled the blanket all the way up her shoulder and got up.
Something was bugging me. Why hadn’t the priest declared Lia to be a witch? He should be aware of the possibility based on the reaction of the governor and the rumors from townspeople. Why would an adjudicator from Dea Ignis, a group known for execution based on suspicion, let Lia live?
Perhaps he was being more cautious after mistakenly killing a saint once. Did he plan to kill Lia after making sure that she had no supporters from the Church? But it felt like he was even protecting her from those who accused her of being a witch.
Unable to collect my thoughts, I left Lia’s room silently. All of a sudden, I felt a stick pressed against my neck, and my body tensed up.
Speak of the devil. I guess it’s think of the devil in this case?
“An ambush, huh? Sounds a bit extreme, don’t you think?”
Keeping my face still, I shifted only my gaze to the side. As expected, there stood a green-haired, handsome young man that I wanted to tear apart. He wore a composed look, leaning against the wall.
“I was wondering where you went after ditching your job. Seriously though, peeping? Nice hobby you got there.”
“I had to make sure the foul Beastfallen would not do anything inexcusable to Her Eminence. Had Sanare not asked me, I wouldn’t have let you two be alone in the first place.”
She’s a competent attendant, all right. I could imagine the priest barging into the room, kicking me out, and giving Lia a lecture while he was at it. It made me sick.
Can this guy tone it down a little?
“You seem to know quite a bit about the state of affairs in Wenias,” the priest said.
“What are you snooping around for? Magic and books of Magic? It sounded like you were certain the saint was a witch when you asked her questions.”
“So you were eavesdropping.”
“It would be in your own best interest to answer the question. I might cut your head off right here and now under suspicion of working for witches.”
“A Beastfallen like me working for a witch? Good one. I was in Wenias until recently to help annihilate witches. That’s why I know so much about the kingdom. I’ve also heard from merchants that a book on Magic was being traded at a hefty price. Information is essential for traveling mercenaries, you see. I was just wondering if Her Eminence came across it. If she did, I was gonna share the information with you.”
The priest sniffed loudly and put his staff away.
I didn’t notice him at all.
I didn’t realize that he was waiting quietly outside the door. I’d gotten a little used to Zero sneaking up on me, but not sensing someone who clearly abhorred me sent a chill down my spine.
“If you don’t wish suspicion to fall on you, then simply do nothing, and follow human orders like cattle. That is the only way God will forgive Beastfallen.”
After saying everything he wanted to say, the priest left, turning around a corner. When he was finally out of sight, I breathed a sigh of relief.
I really can’t stand that guy. He reminded of a venomous snake lurking in tall grass.
“Huh?” Feeling a gaze on me, I turned around to find Theo poking out of a corner, staring at me. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“I was waiting for you.” He glanced at the priest retreating. “I can’t stand that guy.”
“I feel you.” I gave a strained laugh and nodded.
“You too, huh?” Theo smiled back. “All right, then. Let’s go.”
I blinked a few times. “Go where?”
“Buying a gift for Zero. I talked to the lady attendant and she lent me this.” Theo spread out his palm, showing a small, goldworked goat necklace. “She said it’s the saint’s crest. We just show this to the gatekeeper and we can go in and out. If we’re stopped at the gate, we can just call for her and she’ll come to vouch for us. And look!”
Theo held up a small bag. It made a clinking sound as he shook it up and down.
“She gave it as payment for showing the way. I want to go shopping, so I thought why not help you out with yours too?”
He flashed a grin, showing his one missing tooth. “Let’s go!” he said as he pulled on my hand.
So in the end, I was basically forced to go to town. Covering my face and most of my body with my black cloak, I walked down the busy street with Theo.
The city was filled with the smell of the sea. A merchant with a cart full of freshly-caught fish sent his horse into a gallop. He had to deliver the catch as fast as possible to other towns while they were still fresh.
A captain of a fishing vessel and a shipwright were shouting at each other, the former using the money he earned from selling his catch to have his ship’s sail fixed. Smoke billowed in a nearby shop.
The waterways that ran parallel to the streets seemed to bring a trace of the sea into town. Where the roads intersected, the waterways also intersected, making the small boats look like fish in a giant fish pen.
The townspeople were so used to the waterways that all they did was toss coins to the ferrymen, and the ferrymen tossed back goods safely.
Trying to imitate this, Theo tossed a coin into a boat, but then screamed when he failed to catch the rare fruit that the ferryman tossed back. I managed to catch it before it hit the ground and handed it to Theo.
“Just buy from the jetties,” I said, pointing at the small wooden landings extending out at various points along the waterway. Tourists and prim ladies crouched on the jetties, reaching out to receive their goods.
“I just happened to miss it,” Theo said with a composed look. As soon as he bit into the fruit, his body stiffened, and he spat it back out. He probably didn’t expect the taste.
It looked like he was going to throw it away, so I decided to take it. While it appeared sweet, it actually tasted extremely sour. I didn’t really mind it, but it was probably too much for a child.
Spitting out the remaining pieces of fruit on his tongue, Theo looked at me as if I were some strange creature.
“How can you eat that?” he said.
“How can you buy it without even knowing what it tastes like?”
“It’s called taking chances. A man’s gotta try everything.”
“Then you failed. Spend your money carefully, you broke kid.”