V2 Chapter 104: Reunion (Part 3)

The atmosphere throughout the mountain fortress was tense as word spread of a monster attack.

The creature that attacked was called a dark bee, a bee-like monster about the size of a human. As we had seen on our way to the Taikouzan Mountain, the dark bee, has an entirely black body. Its shimmering black exoskeleton and translucent wings, when spread out in flight, are more reminiscent of a winged ant than a bee.

Its powerful jaws can easily tear apart human limbs, and its swollen abdomen is filled with a lethal venom. Not only can the dark bee inject its venom into an enemy with its stinger, but sometimes it can also spray the venom directly at its foes.

Just a touch of this venom can burn skin, melt flesh, and rot bone. It’s no wonder that the Nakayama troops are in such a panic, given that these creatures, which possess such deadly methods of attack, have descended upon them in swarms. Moreover, the dark bees has a habit of crushing and devouring its defeated enemies, then rolling them into meatballs to bring back to their nest as food for their offspring. It is said that there have been instances where border villages have been wiped out overnight. By all accounts, they are truly fearsome monsters.

So, you might wonder, what are Ursula and I doing amidst such chaos?

Well, the answer is simple: We’re sitting in chairs, sipping tea.

“I apologize for keeping you confined like this, esteemed guests,” said Sozai, an elder with white hair, addressing us apologetically.

He looked straight into my eyes as he continued, “If you, disguised as followers of the God of Light, were to draw your Soul Equipment and battle the monsters, our soldiers would quickly realize your true identities. This might lead to dissatisfaction with the King and Lord Doga’s decisions. I, for one, would like to avoid such a scenario.”

It seems he’s asking us to stay put and avoid making any moves. Incidentally, we are right next door to Klimt’s sickroom, with Claira attending to her younger brother in the room adjacent to ours.

I nodded in understanding to Sozai’s words.

Honestly, I didn’t relish the idea of missing out on a chance to use my soul-consuming abilities. However, I understood that revealing our Soul Equipment here could lead to unnecessary complications. Thinking of it as a way to repay the help we received during Klimt’s incident, I could tolerate some inconvenience. It’s not like we’re tied up or anything.

Moreover, I realized that Sozai’s presence in the room with us served as a form of assurance. The Nakayama wouldn’t try any tricks or use us as bait for the monsters. If Doga and his men were to act against us, Sozai would act as our safeguard, even if it meant cutting him down. This too was one of the reasons I acquiesced to their demands.

Now, having decided to comply, the question remained: what to do next? While the buckwheat tea that Sozai personally made was delicious, there was little point in just sitting around drinking it indefinitely.

After some thought, I posed a question to Sozai, inquiring about whether Klimt’s severed right arm could be reattached.

Sozai, when questioned, crossed his arms and wore a troubled expression.

“We’ve managed to clear the infection from the wound, and Lord Kagari treated the severed arm to prevent it from decaying. So, technically, reattaching it is possible. However, the real issue is whether the reattached arm will function properly again. I’m sorry, but with our limited capabilities, I can’t guarantee a successful healing.”

Sozai bowed apologetically, expressing regret for his limitations. But I didn’t blame the kijin before me. I understood the complexity of restoring a completely severed limb.

Even the special potion of the “Blood Spraying Sword” couldn’t be expected to seamlessly mend a severed limb. Directly applying my blood to the wound might heal the cut itself but could ironically hinder the reattachment process.

Perhaps it should be seen as a blessing that Klimt even survived — although, considering Claira’s feelings, I couldn’t deny a desire to help if there was a feasible way.

As I was lost in these thoughts, Sozai, perhaps interpreting my silence in his own way, continued somberly.

“If you truly wish for a complete recovery, then rather than relying on human skills, you might seek a divine miracle.”

“You’re referring to the miracles performed by the priests?”

“Indeed. The Holy Highness residing in the main temple of the Light God Religion is known to perform the miracle of “Restoration,” which can even bring back lost limbs. Of course, meeting him is no easy task, and even if you were granted an audience, a significant offering would likely be required.”

The value of miracles, be it from hell or heaven, often comes down to money. The world inside and outside the gates of hell seemed to have that in common, I mused.

But, “Restoration”…?

I pondered, arms crossed. The miraculous divine magic of “Restoration”, reputed to bring even lost limbs back to life, was believed to be a skill only Pope Noah Cornelius of the Continental God Religion possessed. If Sozai’s words held truth, then the Pope of the Light God Religion must be a miracle worker on par with that one-eyed Miko.

Knowing this, Claira would undoubtedly seek an audience with the Pope of the Light God Religion. If I recall correctly, based on what I’d heard from Doga in the Western Capital, Prince Hakuro of Nakayama was a bishop in the Light God Religion.

If so, seeking treatment for Klimt through Nakayama might be an option.

Honestly, I felt no obligation to go to such lengths for Klimt alone. However, I was genuinely curious about the Pope of the Light God Religion. I wanted to know what had transpired three hundred years ago, and who would know better than the Light God Religion itself, and its top figure, the Pope?

As I was about to pose another question to Sozai…

“Um, excuse me…!”

A tense voice interrupted from the side. Turning, I saw the young kijin named Yamato, who had been silently listening to our conversation.

This boy, I was told, was the prince of Mount Ganzan. Yet, he didn’t display any arrogance and spoke politely, even to me, a human. He seemed to deeply admire Klimt and, assuming I was an ally, held me in good regard too.

As I tried to respond to the young kijin, I couldn’t help but think how differently he might feel if he knew the true nature of my relationship with Klimt.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I believe it’s best if you don’t seek the Light God Religion for Klimt-dono’s treatment,” Yamato abruptly replied.

“Why is that?”

I was taken aback by the sudden statement and probed for more information.

The kijin boy hesitated, opening his mouth as if to explain, but no words came out. He seemed torn, glancing between me, Sozai, and Ursula, who had remained silent all this while.

“Has Lord Kagari not mentioned anything to you about the Light God Religion?” Yamato finally asked.

“No, not that I recall,” I responded.

Looking to Sozai for insight, I noticed he appeared just as puzzled.

“I’m not aware of any such details either, young Yamato,” Sozai said, pondering. “Given your hesitation, it seems Lord Kagari has instructed you not to divulge certain information regarding the Light God Religion?”

To this, Yamato wore a conflicted expression, seemingly unable to confirm or deny. It was evident to us adults, but expecting a child barely ten to understand the nuances was asking too much.

Seeing Yamato’s response, Sozai’s brow furrowed, apparently ready to press further. While I couldn’t be certain, his reference to the Light God Religion’s Pope as ‘Holy Highness’ suggested that Sozai too might be a believer. If Kagari had intentionally withheld information from a fellow devotee like him, he’d naturally be perturbed.

Being interrogated by a much older figure, Yamato seemed to shrink back in apprehension. If his sister, Lan, had been here, she’d have undoubtedly stepped in, but she was tending to Klimt alongside Claira.

Ursula had been observing from the sidelines, showing no intention to intervene.

I was about to interject and diffuse the situation when, unexpectedly, the room’s door swung open.

The fortress of Taikouzan was hastily constructed due to the rebellion, so its rough craftsmanship was evident everywhere. A case in point was the noisy, ill-fitting doors that creaked with every movement.

But this door opened silently. And then, a figure stepped in.

A warrior donning a demonic mask, wielding a brilliantly sharp blade.

What was truly astonishing was the lack of presence this individual exuded. It was clear from their entrance, with a drawn sword and without a word, that they held hostile intentions, yet there was no trace of murderous intent. I couldn’t feel anything, not even a hint of aggression.

The profound stillness of this figure was as if they embodied the very essence of “Nothingness.”

Not just Yamato, but both Sozai and I were caught off guard by the silent appearance of the masked individual. Only when recognizing the drawn blade did a sense of urgency kick in, prompting us to assume a defensive stance. However, reacting to this sudden adversary’s initial strike was next to impossible given our delayed start.

A fatal hesitation.

The only reason this lethal lapse didn’t cost me my life was due to the prompt actions of one individual who managed to avoid being caught off guard.

“Soul Equipment Activation!”

With a roaring shout, Ursula manifested her Soul Equipment. The serene observer from moments before was nowhere to be seen. Instead, her face was contorted with a rage I had never seen before – neither in our recent reunion nor in my past memories with her.

“Bloom, Thunder Flower!”

Drawing her blade and striking were almost simultaneous actions. Ursula, with a force that seemed as if she’d shatter the ground beneath, lunged forward, unleashing a deadly slash upon her adversary.

The foe – donning the same four-eyed demonic mask as the kijin who murdered her father – was now the target of her full wrath.

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