Lubellas voice shook as she called out Zichs name.
Her appearance was still blindingly beautiful. However, she looked completely different from a few days ago. Her shining blond hair was gray from dust, and her clean skin was now covered in dirt and mud. Her clothes, which made her look divine before, were ripped and dirtied now, making them look no better than a beggars clothes. Her current appearance did not indicate that she was a priestess of Karuwiman in any way.
“You look wretched.”
With Zichs words, Lubella bit her lips.
She slowly got up and handed something to Zich. It was a white staff with a semi-transparent blue jewel. It was probably a tool that helped increase divinity, but like its owner, the staff was also dirty.
“Judging by your reaction, you must also know that you are wanted right now.”
“…How were you able to find me”
“Im confident in my senses. I felt a similar presence like yours, Lady Lubella, shivering inside this alleyway, so I came to check.”
Zich was incredible at detection.
Hans and even Lubella were shocked. Hans looked at Zich as if he was a monster. On the other hand, Lubella quickly calmed her emotions.
“Are you going to turn me in”
There was no strength in her voice, but the light in her eyes indicated that she would not be dragged out without a fight.
“Will you believe me if I say I wouldnt”
Lubella was not able to reply.
A quiet tension passed between them and then suddenly—
A huge sound rang out from Lubellas stomach. Because no one was speaking, the sound from Lubellas stomach sounded like rolling thunder. Lubellas cheeks began to flush.
“…Lets eat first.”
Lubella didnt say anything for a few moments, but eventually, she nodded.
* * *
Even though Zich decided to bring Lubella with them, it still didnt change the fact that she was a wanted person charged with serious crimes such as theassassination of the Deputy Mayor andcasting a Great Curse on Porti.
Zich ordered Hans to go back before him.
Hans looked back and forth between Lubella and Zich with worry in his eyes, but soon, he left while carrying a torch. The two waited for a few more minutes to pass by, and silence passed between them before Lubella commented, “…You are not asking me anything.”
“Im going to ask, but only after we get out of this situation first.”
Zich lifted his head and stared at the sky. Fortunately, the moon and stars were covered by clouds like the past few days.
“Lets start moving.”
“Already Isnt it better for us to wait a bit more”
“Its okay because theres not a lot of people walking around at night these days. Its all thanks toWitch Aine Lubella.”
Lubella glared at Zich, and he shrugged in reply. They carefully trod out of the alleyway. Lubella nervously checked the surrounding area for people.
“…I cant see anything.”
The city was so dark that it was impossible to perceive even nearby objects. In this situation, it was difficult to see the way to their destination, and it was easy to receive a lot of injuries from bumping into buildings or random objects. Normally, Lubella would have just used her holy powers to support her eyesight, but she didnt have enough energy from starving and lacking sleep for the past few days.
Something suddenly grabbed Lubellas hand. It was rough and large, but it was a warm hand.
“I will do most of the guiding. Please be careful while following me.”
Lubella quietly looked at Zichs hand and replied, “Alright.”
Zich focused his mana on his eyes. With this control, the completely opaque view in front of him became visible. Zich began to lead Lubella towards their destination. Fortunately, the wind was blowing strongly, so they did not have to watch their footsteps. However, because Lubella was basically blind, her footsteps were slow.
“Did you focus your mana on your eyes”
“You know about it”
“I have seen the Holy Knights use a similar skill.”
With this statement, Lubella closed her mouth again. She probably was thinking about the Holy Knights who had protected her. Judging by her reaction, they probably werent in a good situation.
They are probably all dead.
Zich also didnt say anything and silently guided Lubella.
“Shh!” Zich whispered to Lubella.
Lubella instinctively put her hands over her mouth, and Zich carefully moved while leading her. After they went around the alleyway a few times, they stuck closely towards the wall.
Clank! Clank! Clank!
Lubellas eyes widened at the sound of rattling metal. It was probably one of the citys security guards. From a distance, faint lights brightened up the alleyway. The lights felt like flashlights searching for her whereabouts, so Lubella cautiously moved one step a time to an area far away from the light. The bright light began to dim as she slowly moved away. The sound of clinking metal also faded.
When all the lights and sounds disappeared, Lubella let out a sigh of relief.
Zich grabbed Lubella and began leading her again.
* * *
The place they arrived at was Zichs lodging. From the inside, a faint light was seeping out, and Zich could feel the presence of someone on the first floor. This meant that they couldnt use the front door, and Zich looked around the building.
Zich and Hans lodging were on the 3rd floor.
“Over there,” Zich whispered as he saw a closed wooden window on the 3rd floor.
“Please wait a moment.”
After telling Lubella this, Zich threw a small stone he found on the ground.
After a few moments, the window opened and Hans appeared in view.
“Please hold on tightly.”
Zich ignored Lubellas question and lifted her.
Lubella let out a quiet scream, but she tightly held Zich's neck. In this state, Zich began to walk towards the buildings walls. Then he shifted his mana into his legs and put force into them.
It all happened in a moment. With ease, Zich jumped to the 3rd floor. From across the window, Zich saw Hans surprised face.
While holding the windowsill, Zich pushed himself and Lubella inside.
“Are both of you alright”
“Im alright,” Zich replied to Hans concerning question.
“I-Im also alright.”
Feeling a bit more relieved now, Lubella replied a little bit more comfortably. Hans also felt relieved after hearing both of their replies.
“Thats good to hear. For now, please sit down comforta…”
Hans could not finish his sentence because he was startled by the ferociousness in Lubellas eyes. Her eyes were almost mad. Fortunately, she was not staring at Hans, but a bowl of food placed on a small table in the corner of the room.
“Hah! I guess it cant be helped if the Holy Priestess of Karuwiman is hungry.”
“What N-no, this is…!”
Lubella blushed bright red and began making excuses. Then, she closed her mouth and began twisting her body. Zich thought she seemed embarrassed by her behavior, but even then, Lubella could not stop stealing glances at the food. As a final blow, Lubellas stomach let out another growl again, and she collapsed onto the floor.
“You should eat it. We prepared the food for you anyways. You must have had no time to eat while being on the run.”
Even if she wanted to refuse, her stomach was so famished that it almost felt hollow. While shaking, Lubella moved towards the food.
“Then I will be leaving again.”
“What Where are you going” Hans asked Zich who was already halfway outside the window.
“Just in case, I should leave an alibi by going through the front entrance. I have to make the store owner and other people think I came into the room by myself.”
Zich put both of his feet outside the window and then turned his head back.
“When I jump down, make sure to close the window.”
With these words, Zich jumped out.
* * *
After making sure that the store owner saw him, Zich walked up to his room as if nothing was going on.
After knocking on the door and speaking, the door cracked open. Hans made sure the person was Zich, then he opened the door fully. The first thing Zichs eyes landed on was Lubella, who was eating. Nothing much was prepared for her—a simple soup, bread, and a few vegetables. But Lubella ate as if she was eating the tastiest food in the world, and after a few moments, the food quickly disappeared.
Lubella put her spoon down only after scraping the very bottom of her soup bowl. She let out a small burp and quickly closed her mouth. Hans looked as if his ideal fantasy or whatever else was shattered, but Zich ignored him and walked towards Lubella.
“Then can you tell me what happened”
“Before that, can you tell me about the rumors that are spreading about me in the city”
“Its not hard for me to tell you. In the city, rumors that you assassinated the Deputy Mayor and cast a curse on Portia have spread. Theres even a well-drawn wanted poster of you. Do you want to see it”
From his clothes, Zich took out a piece of paper. Lubella took the wanted poster and glared at it as if she was going to rip it apart.
“…Where did you get this”
“I got it because I thought you might be curious about your portrait.”
It was hard to understand Zichs state of mind. Hans shook his head at Zichs remarks.
Lubella put force into her hands so that the edges of the wanted poster crinkled under her hands.
“Its not true.” Lubella quietly murmured, “Im not a witch.”
“Lets first hear what happened to you.”
Zich sat on the chair opposite of Lubella and folded his arms. Lubella slowly started speaking.
“After hearing what happened to Sude in the store, we went to the Mayor right away.”
Random people could not meet the Mayor, but a Karuwiman priestess was not arandom person. She could obviously meet the Mayor if she had a concern. Like the rumors said, one could tell that the Mayor looked greedy with just a glance. The fat under his face made it difficult to decipher the position of his neck, and his beady eyes fervently moved around as if he was trying to sniff out money.
On the other hand, his Deputy Mayor looked more suitable. His half-white hair was stylishly pushed back, and his fit body indicated that he was excellent at self-management. Under his sharp eyebrows, his all-knowing eyes seemed to be able to see through anything.
“We said our complaints based on the words from Mr. Sude. We told him that in this city, an illegal and immoral seizing was going on. We also said that someone in the Mayors family was involved in this, and that there are also suspicions that the Mayor himself received some bribes.”
Lubella also included that the Mayor was very taken back by her statements. However, the Deputy Mayor didnt outrightly show it and seemed to look at the Mayor with disdain. Fortunately, no matter how greedy the Mayor was, he wasnt able to ignore a warning from a high-ranking follower of Karuwiman. The Mayor replied that he would quickly begin an investigation and try to remedy this problem. However, he strongly denied the claims about receiving bribes from anyone.
It was very difficult to trust him, but since he said he would fix this problem right away, Lubella had no choice but to step back. Lubella and her guards decided to go back to their lodgings for now and watch how the situation would unfold, but the Mayor stopped them in their tracks. He formally invited them to his home during the duration of their stay in the city.
“During that time, I thought he just wanted to be on the good side of Karuwiman and the Church.”
After a moment of pondering, Lubella accepted the Mayors invitation. The purpose of this trip was to see the livelihood of different types of people and listen to a diverse range of viewpoints. So far, she had spent most of her time listening to the poor, the commoners, or people from the lower class; so, she thought this could be an excellent chance to listen to the upper class people. Moreover, she could also spy on the Mayors actions.
“Just like that, we ended up staying in the Mayors mansion for two days. Nothing much happened during this time. However, weird stories began to surface.”
The shine in her eyes sharpened.
“The undead were beginning to appear in the city.”
As a follower of the divine god Karuna, the undead were an existence that they could not tolerate. As soon as she heard about the undead, she went straight to the Mayor. She still felt uncomfortable around the Mayor and thought poorly of him, but this was no time for personal feelings. Lubella and the Holy Knights told him that they would help patrol the city, protect the citizens, and expel the undead.
“The Mayor agreed to our request. He actually welcomed our involvement and told us that he would assign a section for us to patrol. Then, he told us to come to his room around sunset.”
Thinking back, his actions were suspicious. She should have known then.
“We were weaponless because it would have been a display of hostility to the Mayor while we were staying at his mansion. But that was actually a trap.”
When they went to his room at the agreed time, they saw the Deputy Mayor on the floor and the Mayor holding a strange book in his hands. And from nowhere, a group of undead began to besiege them.