Chapter 130

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The night sky was lit only by the silent sparkling of the stars, barely illuminating the figure moving through the shadows below them.

This town, the whole eastern region of the Avalon Empire, is hiding something.

Christian had spent half a day secretly observing the hamlet. No one would be able to find him except the Imperial wizards and the Tower wizards.

But more importantly, this eerie stillness was grating on his nerves…

The town was completely abandoned. The Imperial family had done little beyond deploying wizards and announcing it to the public, even though it had happened in the center of their territory.

“If a lich is here, as High Priest Herald’s revelation said, and the Empire knows this but hides it…” Christian clenched his fists.

Lich, as well as lesser undead and warlocks, were the continent’s greatest problems. In other words, ignoring them was grounds for the other countries to band together to punish Avalon. It might even grow into a continent-wide war.

I need to be vigilant.

“For the time being, I need to prioritize fact-finding. I can’t just walk around another nation’s territory as I please.”

A single scout could not be underestimated, even by a country as powerful as the Avalon Empire.

“Emperor Marcus, what are you up to…?” There was no way a man of his temperament would be able to watch quietly while things were happening in his territory.

Christian stood before a magnificent, ancient castle. This was the source of the energy that irritated his nerves—the home of the ancient line of Count Rebrecca. The outside world knew that the Rebreccas fell because of a territorial war. The Empire cared little for conflicts that didn’t involve the five Dukes or twelve families.

Christian knew this because it was the most affluent location in this distant area, primarily because it was near the Hubalt Empire’s border, about one day west of Tripia.

“Count Rebrecca, even as a nobleman from a foreign nation, was known as a true gentleman…”

Christian reached forwards and pushed the little side-door open. It had no lock, but the hinges shrieked in protest. These sorts of entrances existed in every castle; most were connected to the kitchen.

How far have I retreated to conceal my presence?

He went down the long, dark tunnel into the kitchen. A low, spooky howl, like that of an animal, pierced through the dark night and into his ear. Christian’s perfectly attuned eyesight allowed him to see the beast through the darkness.

Razor-sharp claws and fangs, crooked waist, glowing crimson eyes…

A ghoul? He frowned.

But this wasn’t the typical monster. These three bodies lacked the decomposing bodies that typified a ghoul. They were actually quite human, with a few differences.

“A human?” The idea was astonishing and disturbing.

One of the ghouls rose to his feet and wrinkled his nose. That, too, was quite different from a normal ghoul—they typically didn’t have a sense of smell.

As the ghouls moved, they revealed what they were gathered around.

“Oh my God—!”

It was a corpse, still dripping with vivid scarlet blood. The woman’s torn innards were exposed to the air.

One of the ghouls rose from the throne, gore still crusted on its jaws, and approached Christian. He could see it dragging something behind it, and he didn’t need to look to know what it was.

The faint hiss of metal heralded the arrival of pristine white steel, gold-finished edges and gilded grips—one of only two holy swords in existence. According to legend, Chrysler John Sebastian bestowed one of his dual swords to his disciple when he went into the continent.

This sword, which would become known as one of the Three Skies, Seven Names, and Ten Exotics was—

“Holy blade, Durandal!”

The ghouls shrieked back at Christian.

“I, Christian, will judge you in the name of Hermes!”

The three ghouls ran at Christian at inhuman speeds, far faster than a common ghoul could do.

Christian calmly inverted his sword, pointing the blade down and bringing the pommel up.

“Hermes.” Divine power swelled in accordance to Christian’s words, magnified through Durandal, expelling the darkness with a blinding cross of light.

“Holy Cross!”

The light of Christian’s sword dispelled the night.

“Let’s sleep here, and we’ll approach the settlement when the sun rises!”

“Prepare to make camp!”

Joshua watched Aiden—or rather, Akshuler—for a moment, then turned away and leapt off the top of the wagon.

“Why do we need to sleep here when the town is right in front of us?”

“Baron Dubwi is not very hospitable,” Akshuler replied, ”so we have to settle for this for now.”

It was becoming increasingly normal for Akshuler to speak to Joshua, despite being several years his senior.

“Why is he hostile to strangers?”

“You’ll understand if you travel. These are people whose lives are constantly under threat. There’s nothing we can do about it.” Akshuler suddenly clapped his hands. “As I said before, Baron Dubwi’s territory is rather extensive. In terms of land area alone, it’s larger than a count’s, because the territory of the late Count Rebrecca was integrated into the Barony of Dubwi.”

“Does this include Tripia?” Joshua gave Akshuler a half-lidded look.

He’d kept his ear to the ground during his five years in the capital, but this was brand new information to him.

“Of course, Tripia is included, although there wasn’t any formal declaration from the Imperial family. Baron Dubwi administers these estates and collects taxes, so we have to pay attention. More importantly…” Akshuler’s voice dipped. “There are a few restricted areas in the barony.”

“...Prohibited?” The whole affair stank.

“That’s where we have to go. Your mission requires it.”

Joshua’s expression softened a little. He was headed to Tripia anyways and he intended to search the entirety of the far east.

“Where do I need to go?”

“Near Tripia and the County of Rebrecca.”

“As expected.” Joshua nodded to himself. The Imperial court was the ideal place to hide something. If a major family was taken down by a regional family, the Imperial family might restrict access in and out until they established the truth.

“Territorial war—”

“It’s not.”

Joshua carefully turned his head to look at the little robed figure behind him.

Her identity was obvious, now.


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