People’s shadows swayed as the candlelight flickered. As she remembered what happened, Lubella bowed her head and clutched the ends of her clothes. She stopped talking for a moment, but Zich didn’t urge her to continue.
“The people guarding me continued to fall one after another. There were so many undead, but we were also unprepared for battle.”
As if they proved that they were Karuwiman’s Holy Knights, they managed to ensure Lubella’s escape with everything against them. Afterward, Lubella ran frantically. For the Holy Knights who sacrificed their lives for her and to reveal the Mayor’s wicked deeds, she felt like she had to survive.
However, the city was blocked by then, and she was wanted as the Witch. So, she had no choice but to hide in the alleyway. When the day was bright, she hid her body in an abandoned house or a dark alleyway and only moved at nighttime.
Of course, since she couldn’t eat or rest properly, her face became haggard. Lubella had grown up like a flower in a greenhouse, and this was her first time going out to see the world. In the end, her holy powers ran out and she couldn’t even brighten up her night vision; she could only move if the moon and stars were in the sky.
“You’re saying that you met me then.”
Lubella nodded to Zich’s words.
“Did Sir Weig also die at the time?”
“No, I parted ways with Sir Weig as soon as we arrived in this city. The Church gave him a different mission, and we have been moving separately for some time.”
‘Of course. There’s no way the Killing Machine would die so easily.’
“Then what are you going to do now?”
“…I’m not sure.”
Her opponent was the city’s most powerful figure, the Mayor, and Lubella didn’t have anything at the moment except her body.
“Can’t you ask for help from Karuwiman?”
Hans interrupted with caution, but Lubella shook her head.
“Since the city is blocked, I can’t contact headquarters or any subdivision. Even if I do contact them, it will take a while for them to receive the message. Furthermore, the Karuwiman temple in this city doesn’t have much power, and even that is under heavy surveillance.”
Although Karuwiman had incredible influence, their power was concentrated in their headquarters and a few subdivisions. No king, royal, or noble liked to let the Church’s power reside in their land.
“Normally, if we need military support from the Church, we can contact the nearest religious order or an important subdivision, and headquarters will receive the message and send out brigades of the Church. The problem is that this place is very far from the points of contact.”
“That means there are no forces that can protect Lady Lubella right now.”
Lubella nodded at Zich’s words.
“Then, let’s escape out of the city first. I will take you to the nearest subdivision of the Church.”
That seemed better than handing her over to the city’s security forces, but Lubella shook her head.
“Ah, we can’t!”
At her firm refusal, both Zich and Hans stared at her strangely.
“We don’t have time! We have to stop the Mayor right now!”
“What do you mean?”
Lubella didn’t say enough for them to grasp the entire situation. Of course, Hans couldn’t understand, but Zich was able to figure out something.
“Is the Mayor planning to do a ritual with grave consequences?”
“How large is the scale?”
“It’s probably going to involve the whole city!”
Zich glanced at Lubella’s wanted poster that was on the table. Its center was crumpled, but the words were still legible.
Responsible for the assassination of the Deputy Mayor, and…
‘Attempted to cast a Great Curse on the city of Porti.’
This was a more significant issue than he had thought.
“Tell me everything you saw and thought.”
“I remember the cover of the book that the Mayor was holding onto when he revealed his true colors. It was definitely an item from Bellid.”
Bellid was a religious group with the opposite characteristics of Karuwiman. Its followers served the evil god, Bellu, and engaged in slaughter and terrorist actions to fulfill their craving for destruction and chaos.
‘Those fucking bastards are a part of this?’
In a way, most people would have thought that Demon Lord Zich would have gotten along well with a group like that, but it was the opposite in reality. Bellid acted on the principle that they had to conquer the world and offer it to their god. There was no way that Demon Lords, who liked to work however they wanted, would agree with Bellid’s methods.
As expected, Bellid and Demon People often clashed, and of course, Zich was often caught up in it.
Lubella continued, “Even at a glance, that book was stored with some dark energy. It felt sickening as if Bellu had contaminated it. At first, I thought it was an artifact that increased the owner’s skills, but that wasn’t the case.”
The room that Lubella coincidentally saw while escaping revealed the book’s true identity.
“In the room, there was a stone statue. That violent and hideous appearance definitely belonged to Bellu—but that’s not the problem. It wouldn’t have been such a problem if the statue was just in the shape of Bellu’s vile form, but it exuded a similar energy to the book. And there were also writings on the statue’s stand.”
It was written in Bellid’s ancient and sacred language, but Lubella could read it. Since Karuwiman and Bellid always clashed against each other, they knew each other well.
“It said, ‘I offer this city to Bellu.’”
Even Zich was aware of that phrase, and he knew when and where it was used.
“So, you are saying that those guys are planning to sacrifice this city as an offering to Bellu. And that book is a catalyst to ignite the statue’s power?”
“You know about it?”
“Yes, I know a bit about the group.”
The ‘City Offering Ritual’ was a ritual where followers stationed Bellu’s statue in different parts of the city and injected people’s life force into these places.
“But these guys are taking a huge risk. Usually, they target a small village or a small city that is difficult to differentiate from a village. How could they target a city like Porti?”
“I think so too, but if they succeed in performing this ritual…”
“This city will become a city of the dead, and they will gain power that matches its scale.”
Bellid completed the ‘City Offering Ritual’ for three reasons: first, it was to make the city’s entire population into the undead and increase their army. The second was to please the god they served, Bellu. And lastly, it was to…
‘To take away all the residents’ life force. If they succeed in stealing energy from this many people, they will gain a tremendous amount of power.’
A great calamity would befall these surroundings, and there was no way that those Bellid guys would use their power for good. But—
‘Well, it will suck for the people around here.’
Zich’s sentiments ended there. In the first place, he was a human who was not that different from Bellid.
‘But I’d hate to see those guys gaining things from this situation.’
Even though they had been enemies before Zich regressed, if they were nice guys, Zich could have thought along the lines of, ‘I have decided to live a kind life, so I guess what is good is good.’ But, these guys were not even like that.
“If I recall the amount of Bellu’s energy in the catalyst, it seems like we don’t have much time before the ritual is complete! We don’t have time to request support from a subdivision! We have to stop the ritual right now!”
“In your condition?”
At Zich’s cold remarks, Lubella was at a loss for words. But Zich didn’t think that she could adequately stop this event with her current state. She couldn’t even have a proper meal and had been in hiding like a beggar for a while now.
“I can’t sit and stand by that thought! The only one who knows what will happen is me! If things progress like this, a countless number of people will die for sure!”
“But this is also something you can’t fix.”
Lubella glared at Zich, but she hung her head low. Zich hadn’t said anything wrong, and feelings of uselessness coiled around her.
“But let me ask you this.”
Lubella raised her head slightly at Zich’s words.
“Stopping this is also a kind act, right?”
She was surprised.
“A-are you going to help us?”
“If it is a kind act.”
Lubella’s face lightened up and then darkened again.
“But I also can’t get someone else involved in something so dangerous...”
“This is my advice, but get off your high horse.”
Lubella’s eyes widened. Even Hans, who was listening next to them, looked surprised. But Zich arrogantly crossed his arms and raised his jaws while leaning his back against a chair. Then, he coldly spat, “What are you going to do by yourself? You haven’t been able to eat or sleep properly and have been hiding as a homeless person for the past few days—what do you think you can do?”
Lubella’s head drooped lower again.
“If I hadn’t found you, you would have starved to death in a nameless alleyway or would have been caught by an officer. Or a resident might have found you, and you would have been disgraced as the Witch who drove this city into a nightmare.”
“Um, Sir Zich. I think this is enough…”
Because Zich seemed to be talking too harshly, Hans tried to stop him warily, but Zich didn’t stop.
“You don’t want to get someone else involved? How is that different from wanting to leave this situation as it is? Because of your great sense of justice, are you going to watch this city fall into danger? That’s amazing.”
Even before Zich regressed, there were many people like Lubella. Without concern for their own bodies, they jumped in to fight against injustice and save people. In a world that fell into chaos, those kinds of people stood out more than in regular times.
Zich didn’t hold a particular dislike for those types of people. Surprisingly, Zich was open-minded, and as a person who lived however he wanted, he didn’t mind people’s different ways of living. He went by the philosophy: ‘I am me, and others are others.’
However, that didn’t mean that he acknowledged everyone’s way of life. Zich could nod his head, thinking, ‘It’s understandable why they thought that,’ especially if someone acted with enough power and knowledge backing them and failed. But Zich couldn't understand those who just said plausible things without any power and knowledge behind them.
No, it was acceptable to that point. Even without power and knowledge, it took courage to go against death; although Zich couldn’t understand those who followed what they said even while knowing that they had a 100% chance of dying, he could accept it as one of the characteristics of that person.
The real problem was with people like Lubella. Those types of people said that they didn’t want to drag someone unrelated into the problem or had to maintain morals or fight fairly. If the decision only affected them, Zich would have understood.
But if they were like Lubella right now and insisted on following their moral ground when they couldn’t do anything by themselves and were in a situation where others would be harmed if things failed, Zich couldn’t accept their way of thinking no matter what.
“You should think hard with that pure head of yours—what is the right thing to do.”
Lubella gripped her fist tightly. She grabbed it so tightly that it became colorless, and some time passed.
‘I knew that she was inexperienced, but was she this pathetic during this time?’
No, the Saint might have been like this even before he regressed; the situation was so frustrating.
‘Well, I will let her do what she wants.’
Zich was about to loosen his arms when—
Lubella raised her head. Her eyes, which seemed to stare at Zich deeply, were filled with determination.
“I will just ask you one thing.”
“Are you strong? Strong enough to help me in this situation?”
‘Look at this?’
Zich’s eyes sparkled as he looked at her with curiosity. He stopped himself from getting up and crossed his arms again.
‘She is not dwelling in her guilt anymore, but is trying to make sure of my skills?’
It wasn’t bad. No, her assessment of the situation was outstanding. Without power or knowledge, one was useless in this situation, and this also applied to Zich who had suggested to help.
Zich looked at the empty plate and fork in front of Lubella. Sitting next to Lubella, Hans tilted his head. Zich lightly drew with the spoon.
The table cracked into two, and both Lubella and Hans’ eyes widened in shock.
The utensils on the table fell to the ground, and the wooden table collapsed. Thankfully, Lubella had eaten everything on her plate, so the ground didn’t become a mess. And both Lubella and Hans weren’t even bothered about that; they were too busy staring at the wooden spoon that Zich was holding.
“I think I will be of enough help.”
In a daze, Lubella nodded her head.Previous Chapter Next Chapter