V2 Chapter 50: The Mystery

Three days had passed since I parted ways with Cardinal Sylara.

We relocated our base to an oasis in the desert known as Reero, continuing our search for the Behemoth and the “Silver Star.”

We weren’t forced to leave Berka by the cardinal. However, it was clear that if we, who had been living in the Temple of Law, suddenly left the temple and moved to a city inn, we would be subjected to various inquiries. Additionally, people seeking the “Dragon Slayer,” who the temple had kept at bay until now, would likely swarm us.

To be frank, dealing with such people is troublesome. Hence, we decided to leave Berka.

For the record, I harbor no animosity towards Cardinal Sylara.

I’m the one who should be blamed for the recent incident.

I tried to use my merit of saving Pope Noah to mitigate Wisteria’s crime. In response, the cardinal pointed out the danger of the Dark Elf and tried to reject it. Regardless of the relationship between the Dark Elf and the Undead King, it’s a fact that Wisteria transformed into a grotesque form and ran amok in the city of Berka. The logic was on the cardinal’s side.

Knowing that, I tried to have my way, so it’s understandable that the cardinal wore a sour expression. Moreover, at the root of my actions was my selfish desire to “become stronger.” If there were scales to weigh good and evil, there’s no doubt that the cardinal would be placed on the side of good.

Well, it was clear that if I handed Wisteria over to the Temple of Law, the situation would worsen. So, my demand was also for the sake of protecting Berka–though expecting the cardinal to understand that much might be asking too much.

I don’t trust the cardinal or the Temple of Law enough to reveal all the circumstances and ask for cooperation. That’s why I used past gratitude as a shield to push my demands.

As a result, the cardinal and I ended up parting ways, but in the end, he said, “I’ll take care of the matter from the previous night.”

This meant Wisteria wouldn’t be charged with any crime. In this sense, I not only harbor no animosity towards the cardinal but even feel gratitude.

One of the reasons I decided to leave Berka was because I didn’t want to cause any more trouble between me and Cardinal Sylara.

We’ve arrived at the Reero Oasis, but it’s not our first time here. We used this oasis when we explored the uncharted area with Katia the other day.

Despite being in the desert, the Reero Oasis is bustling every day with numerous shops lined up. The amount of spring water is plentiful, and many adventurers use it as their base of operations.

It’s a fair distance from Berka, allowing us to escape prying and curious eyes, and the influence of the Temple of Law is small. In many ways, it was a suitable base for us at the moment.

Those who accompanied us up to this point are Lunamaria, Suzume, Wisteria, Iria, and Katia, five in total. Of course, we brought along Claw Soras as well.

I’m a bit confused about Katia, but the girl searching for the whereabouts of the White Knight Arrow has been moving with me since I parted ways with the cardinal. She seems to have her thoughts as a priestess of the God of Law, but she seems to believe that it’s in her best interest to follow me for her main objective, the search for Arrow.

As for Iria, the other priestess, she sighed deeply after learning about the whole situation, but that was it. So far, she hasn’t voiced any particular complaints. I wonder if she’s restraining herself because she doesn’t have a position to complain, or if she’s given up because complaining would be futile.

Lunamaria and Suzume are actively talking to Wisteria, trying to make our new comrade feel comfortable.

“When I first left the forest, Ciel helped me adapt quickly to life in the city,” Suzume said.

Now it’s Suzume turn, She is eager. The sight of her clasping her hands tightly and huffing with determination was really cute–I mean, impressive. Lunamaria, as always, was asking Wisteria about demons and hell.

With that said, we who relocated our base to the Reero Oasis are, as mentioned before, preparing for the search for the Behemoth.

Unlike before, when we vaguely explored the uncharted area, this time we have a lead. Needless to say, it’s about Wisteria.

The most important information revealed by the silver-haired elf is about the “Divine Beast.”

The Divine Beast that Wisteria speaks of is probably the Behemoth. And, she said, the Behemoth slowly patrols around the barrier covering Andra.

This behavior could seem as if it’s trying to protect Andra, or as if it’s keeping watch over it, but regardless of the truth, there’s no doubt that the Behemoth is wandering around Andra.

In other words, if we wait near Andra, we should eventually be able to find the Behemoth.

From what we can infer from Wisteria’s story, the area of Andra is not as large as the Forest of Titus. Depending on the speed of the Behemoth, we probably won’t be left waiting for a year or two.

Of course, we might end up waiting for a month or two, but that’s still better than wandering aimlessly in the unexplored area. If necessary, we have the option of flying around Andra on Claw Soras.

The reason why Wisteria couldn’t find the Behemoth before is because she had to walk through the unfamiliar desert. If we use the aerial route, the chances of finding the divine beast should increase significantly.

If there’s a problem with this strategy, it could be the elves of Andra. How would they react to humans and Wyverns loitering around their territory? It would be a problem if they misunderstood us as intruders and attacked.

According to Wisteria, as long as we don’t try to break the barrier and invade Andra, we should be fine, but we’ll need to act cautiously on the ground.

Furthermore, it seems that there’s no problem with attacking the divine beast itself. The Behemoth, known as the ‘divine beast’ or ‘great beast’ in Andra, is apparently not a subject of worship or reverence.

In Andra, the Behemoth is used as a method of execution for elves who have become possessed by evil spirits, which means that the Behemoth considers elves as its prey. If something happened that caused the barrier covering Andra to disappear, the Behemoth would likely attack the elves mercilessly.

In that sense, if we defeated the Behemoth, the elves might be grateful.

Finally, during our previous investigation, we encountered an obstacle known as the “sand wall” — a large-scale sandstorm that occurs in the unexplored area — but Wisteria seems to be able to roughly predict when and where it will occur. If she’s alone, she could use the protection of the spirits to force her way through the sandstorm. Admittedly, it would be impossible for six people and one animal.

According to Wisteria’s prediction, the currently occurring “sand wall” will settle down the day after tomorrow, so we’re currently conducting the final checks on our supplies such as food and water.

That’s when a man claiming to be the leader of the “Desert Hawks” came to visit.

“Hahaha! Good drinker, aren’t you, Dragon Slayer!”

After the cheers, the man watched me down a pint of ale and chuckled cheerfully, draining his own large cup in one go. His impressive drinking style, which suggested that he could drain the cup as if it was nothing, quickly emptied a container twice my size.

By the way, his drink was not ale but spirits. Despite probably having double the alcohol content of mine, he gulped it down as if it was water.

The Black Knight, Joel.

That was the name of the drunkard — I mean, the leader of the “Desert Hawks” — in front of me. Of course, ‘Black Knight’ is an alias. Probably, it was given to him to contrast with Arrow’s ‘White Knight.’

He’s in his mid-thirties. At first glance, his appearance with an unkempt beard seems crude, but if he shaves and tidies his hair, a surprisingly handsome face might emerge.

Joel, who appeared before us without any warning, introduced himself and, in a familiar manner, put his hand on my shoulder and invited me to have a drink.

Naturally, I was suspicious about the stranger, but seeing Katia staring at Joel as if glaring, I realized his words were true. To Katia, a former member of the “Silver Star,” Joel is an enemy — or at least not someone to casually share a drink with. She was looking at me as if to plead, ‘Chase him away.’

I also didn’t have anything to discuss with the “Desert Hawks.” I guess it’s something related to Wisteria, but unlike with the Temple of Law, I don’t feel the need to negotiate with the “Desert Hawks.” Now that we have prospects of finding the Behemoth, we don’t particularly need their cooperation.

Thinking that, when I was about to refuse his invitation, Joel whispered in my ear that he had something to talk about regarding Arrow. Probably, even the sharp-eared Lunamaria couldn’t have heard it.

That remark is what led me to stay.

I’m quietly joining him for a drink because I’m waiting for him to open up. By the way, we are drinking outside, surrounded by other drinkers. There are no waitstaff to take orders; whether it’s for drinks or snacks, we have to procure them ourselves from the surrounding stalls. Those with money to spare go to a proper tavern, so the people here are relatively poor among the citizens of Reero.

Neither the drunkards nor the stall owners could dream that the leader of the “Desert Hawks” and the Dragon Slayer are among them.

It might be more suitable for secret conversations to take place in a setting like this rather than in an enclosed space.

Joel began to speak after taking a sip of his fourth glass of spirits.

“Is it true that you had a dispute with the Temple of Law?”

His tone was casual, as if asking what I had for dinner last night. However, something in his voice told me that this was the main issue.

I shrugged lightly in response to his question.

“I wouldn’t say it was a dispute. They just said they couldn’t cooperate with us in the future because we pushed them too hard.”

“Haha, people would call that a dispute,” he laughed lightly and took a gulp of his spirits. Satisfied, Joel wiped his mouth and launched his second question.

“Do you have any interest in the Cardinals?”

“No — I came because I heard there was something to discuss about the stars. Does the temple have something to do with it?”

“Don’t rush, it’s just a simple check. It’s a topic that’s hard to discuss with someone who’s deeply attached to the temple.”

Joel slowly reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, crafted object from under his clothes.

An emblem shaped like a silver star.

Seeing it, I narrowed my eyes slightly. I recognized the emblem Joel had taken out. It was the same as the one Katia always wore on her chest — the identification tag of the “Silver Star.”

“Looking at your face, it seems like I don’t need to explain this. The owner’s name is engraved on the back of this. Take a look.”

With that, Joel casually tossed the emblem towards me. Catching it in mid-air, I looked at the name engraved on the back as instructed.

As expected, I guess.

The name of the leader of the “Silver Star” was inscribed there.

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