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A procession of Inquisitors was entering Tristar.
A group with Steel Justice Heretic Inquisitor Ryburn at its centre.
In front of them, a woman with dazzling sun-coloured hair stood silently.
Esther Sol Ciliad.
She stood facing them without a word.
“Pilgrim Esther. I didn’t know you would be here.”
A blunt answer.
An exceptional momentum was brewing under that.
One that should have been absurd for a Pilgrim who had not even found their sword.
‘The genius who succeeded Stella.’
That is how the current Church viewed her. Which pilgrim would have dared to look at the Heretical Inquisitor so proudly otherwise?
‘If she finds her sword… … .’
How strong you will become?
Ryburn peered into Esther’s eyes and then looked around.
“I think you came here at the command of Bishop Alvato. He must have wondered about the authenticity of the news of the apostate, Callius.”
It was a monotonous answer, bordering on rude. However, Ryburn did not waver and continued.
“I dearly hope the Lady Sullivan is well.”
It was then that an expression appeared on Esther’s face.
As the beautiful eyebrows narrowed, an indescribable feeling rose.
Perhaps it was something close to joy?
Esther turned her back, not answering Ryburn’s question.
He stared at her without moving until she disappeared, and only spoke after she had completely vanished from view.
“I don’t hear a single footstep.”
“Yes? Oh, that’s right. I didn’t notice.”
“Only a year ago, Pilgrim Esther chased behind me.”
But now that I see her again –
“She’s now walking side by side.”
A terrifying growth.
Ryburn stared after her for a long time, with a lingering feeling of jealousy and fear.
“Let’s go. Our purpose is to find the apostate, Callius.”
Before Esther Sol Ciliad –
Find Callius and secure the relic.
That’s the top priority.
“Worst case – we might end up pointing our swords at her.”
Ryburn, speaking in distaste, ordered a search across Tristar.
“Kid, look at how stiff your neck is. Let’s see if you can still bark like a dog after getting beaten like a dog.”
The gauntlets that covered his hands banged together with a shrill iron sound.
Callius’ eyes shone sharply.
Those weren’t the simple gauntlets worn by Knights.
They were cestuses.
Traces of a forgotten god that remained to the present day.
‘Cedric, the last follower of the Forgotten God.’
A weapon created by the miracle of the God he worshipped – that is, a Carcass.
“Cedric Bor Madrician.”
“Pilgrim from this declining Kingdom, you’re calling my name in vain!”
“I have come to collect the debt of Armo, a herbalist from the West.”
Flinch. Cedric, who was about to attack Callius like a nimble tiger, stopped moving.
His colour changed to blue.
“Debt? I’m not a person who lives taking on debt, so you must have misunderstood something.”
“Are you saying that you don’t recognize the name of the herbalist Armo?”
The herbalist had said.
Cedric had taken a precious herb from him. The herb was for his only daughter, a child.
However, despite all his effort, the daughter died, and he had reached the present day.
Cedric’s mouth shut.
He seemed somewhat worried.
But Callius was not concerned.
If that was not enough, he had still a lot more to say.
“Have you found the Oracle’s Gaiters yet?”
Then, Cedric’s face distorted so viciously that it didn’t look like a face any more.
However, that was fleeting.
Ptui! Spitting, Cedric bit his words at the casino guards behind him to stay put.
“And you bastard… you follow me.”
Cedric showed his wide back and pulled a new cigar out of his suit pocket.
Seeing that, Callius calmed his pounding heart.
Cedric, the chief of Krasion.
Cedric, the last follower of the Forgotten God.
Cedric, who missed his dead daughter.
He was one of Callius’ favourite characters on The Pilgrim’s Path, and he was also a very difficult character to make friends with.
‘It’s blue now.’
But Callius was convinced.
His colour will soon turn into gold.
In the office of Casino de Cedric.
Callius sat down on the guest sofa and faced Cedric who was sitting opposite him.
Cedric Bor Madrician.
The strongest combat power, either first or second place, within Krasion.
He concealed his identity and hid in Carpe now, but if he revealed his power properly, no one in the city could defeat him except Gerald, the owner of Tristar.
“You bastard, who are you?”
Like a long sigh, the white cigar exhaled smoke.
The spewing smoke climbed up his body and disappeared into the ceiling.
“A Pilgrim. And the one who will collect the debt from you in lieu of the herbalist Armo.”
“You must be well aware that’s not what I’m asking.”
Seeing Cedric growling like an animal, Callius buried his back deeply in the back of the sofa.
“Are you asking about the Twin Gods?”
Callius smiled softly.
Miracle and Oracle.
The Miracle’s Cestuses, and the Oracle’s Gaiters.
Cedric was an apostle of a Forgotten God, who served the Twin Gods.
Long ago –
There was a multitude of tribes worshiping different Gods, and all of them were mutually entangled in war.
The winning tribes accumulated power and prospered to form a nation, and the losing tribes disappeared into history and were forgotten.
Cedric was a worshipper of such an old God.
Among them, were the unusual Twin Gods, Miracle and Oracle. It was a religion that had been passed down through the ages, but now it was in a state where the only believer was Cedric alone.
Churches that serve their Gods have divine relics, and without those relics God’s miracles cannot be performed.
A Church without God’s miracle cannot gather devotees, so Cedric had been looking for Oracle Gaiters since a long time ago.
Only then will he be able to lay the foundation for the resurrection of his faith.
‘But Cedric can’t find it.’
Until his death, he cannot find the relic, the Oracle’s Gaiters.
Because the gaiters… … .
“How did you know of my God? No one knows my god even in Krasion. There are only two people in this world who know that I am the Saint of Miracle.”
Cedric’s question dispersed his train of thought.
Callius answered, looking at Cedric calmly.
“Isn’t there something more important than knowing about the Twin Gods? Cedric. You have to pay me back the debt first. The Gods can come second.”
“You. Do you really want to die?”
Cedric’s patience had reached its limit.
The table was smashed under his palm.
The importance and symbolism of the Church’s sacred objects were clear. But that only made Callius slow down even more.
In this world, no one knew where the Oracle’s Gaiters lie.
Apart from one. An existence who had made up this world and its various settings.
Apart from Callius himself.
‘It’s a bit heavy though.’
The momentum that Cedric exuded and the power contained in it was amazing.
Callius was acting calm as much as he could, but there were still drops of sweat on his back.
Currently, Cedric’s combat force was one of the most powerful in the Carpe Kingdom, except for the Five Paladins.
If you get into a proper fight, you can die in an instant.
But that’s why –
‘You have to be sure.’
You must not turn him into an enemy.
Awkward alliance? Shallow friendship? No.
Such an ambiguous relationship would only incite suspicion and invite the shadow of death.
If you have a relationship that can’t be broken, you have a higher chance of survival.
Being close with a strong man like Cedric in Carpe, where there is no one to turn to, can turn a crisis into an opportunity.
‘That’s the only way that I can live.’
After organizing his thoughts, Callius reached for the teacup prepared on the table.
The tea set was quite luxurious.
A limited-edition teacup set made by a master.
It was definitely his favourite teacup, as tea making was one of Cedric’s few hobbies.
If you break it, Cedric’s fist will fly straight away… … .
‘You must take the initiative.’
Callius carefully grabbed the teacup and sipped the tea.
“Come on, before my fists crush your teeth.”
Cedric blinked his bloodshot eyes.
The simmering has finished.
“Cedric. I am the only one who knows where the Oracle’s Gaiters are in this world. Do you think that attitude is appropriate?”
“That’s right. I’m going to grab you right now and hang you upside down to use you like of a punching bag. Then your tongue will spit out the truth, right?”
Callius didn’t even bother to threaten him and put his hands on his legs and clasped them.
“You should have already done your preliminary investigation on me. Then you know that such threats won’t work.”
“Yeah. A bastard child from Jervain, the famous family that stands as one of the pillars of Carpe. Had no talent in swordsmanship, and even the Church, a garbage that only lifted women’s skirts. That’s you, Callius von Jervain.”
“… I’ve never heard about lifting skirts, that’s a bit strange.”
“The fact is that you are the prodigal son of the Church, famous enough that there was no need to investigate further.”
Well, I did have a handsome face.
Where did that mongrel go?
It’s just embarrassing to be criticized for something you’ve never done.
“So, I was curious. Your swordsmanship that I saw wasn’t that great. But no matter how famous Jervain is, that shouldn’t be enough to throw you away. Besides, the eldest son…”
Cedric looked at Callius with a curious expression.
“Three years as a Pilgrim. What the hell happened to you?”
But Callius did not answer.
He just demanded.
“You don’t need to know that. Cedric. All I want is the same as I said the first time.”
“… It looks like they’re right. You don’t seem to understand what people say until you’re beaten.”
Cedric dropped his cigar.
Callius’ eyes lit up.
That was then.
Cedric’s fists moved.
Bear Claw Cedric.
Like his nickname, in an instant, his clenched fist was right in front of Callius’ eyes.
Not giving him any time to react.
Hooo!! A strong wind blew through Callius’ dark hair.
He couldn’t move in the face of the huge bear-like fist in front of him.
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Cedric stopped his fist.
His gaze rested on the teacup that Callius was holding.
What if you weren’t holding a teacup?
Cedric’s fist would have hit him right in the face. Callius would have become a bloody mess with just that one shot.
“Cedric. Don’t you know who’s holding the cards right now? You’d better not do anything rude. If you put a single finger on my body, you won’t be able to find Oracle’s Gaiters forever.”
Cedric, who stared at him for a long time, put his buttocks back on the sofa again.
“What? What do you want.”
At that moment, Callius put down the teacup and raised the corners of his lips.
“I want one thing. Cedric.”
“So, what is it, bro?”
With you –
“I want to be a brother.”
Cedric’s face contorted.
A brother who has the same rank, not a superior or subordinate relationship.
That was the condition and wish I had for Cedric.
Cedric looked at me like a madman and didn’t believe me at all.
But I ended up negotiating with him to acquire the Oracle Gaiters.
‘I’ll see you later, brother.’
And became a brother with him.
The word brother is strangely viscid.
Cedric knew the truth of that. So at first he refused, but finally he accepted.
Of course, now he only says we are brothers, but he won’t believe it.
But as time goes by, he will start to think of me as a brother.
Cedric is like that.
Outwardly, savage and cold-hearted.
But that hides a lot of warm affection.
‘It’s still blue… … .’
The moment when doubt turns into trust –
He will turn gold.
“Whoa – I’m tired.”
Click. This was a room that Cedric gave Callius to go in and rest.
A VVIP room on the top floor of the casino.
The spacious rooms were all lined with expensive ornaments and furniture.
The appearance of Tristar Fountain Square seen from the living room window and the feast of lights that illuminated the predawn sky were meant to give a glimpse into the core of the nightlife city.
A sword, the symbol of the Valtherus Church, but similar to the shape of a cross.
“The crossed red sword symbolizes the Inquisitors, so why is it here…”
Are there any apostates here?
“But that has nothing to do with me.”
Whether there are apostates or not –
Now is not the time to care about others.
I immediately wiped the blood off my body with the prepared water and laid down on the bed.
The soft bed, hugging me warmly.
It’d been a while, this kind of comfort. Most of my nights were spent camped in forests or in shabby inns and stables.
It was a place Cedric managed, so there won’t be a sudden rain of blades.
Drowsiness poured in with a strange sense of relief.
“Tomorrow, I’ll go to Trish’s auction house and buy some Holy Water materials… I’ll go down to the basement and see if there are any good artifacts.”
Somehow, I had a lot of money in my hands.
Three thousand gold coins.
It was wealth obtained through gambling. The amount was equivalent to several years’ worth of taxes of a great lord.
“I don’t have to worry about the money, Cedric can take care of it.”
I also received deeds and checques that could only be used in big cities like Tristar.
Cedric wasn’t a guy to play around with my money in the first place.
‘It would be nice to have some decent artifacts… … . There must be something useful.’
If not, I might as well ask Cedric to help. Artifacts are also known as imitations of relics.
There might be something useful in Cedric’s hand.
My eyelids were drooping.
But then, the sound of a locked door trying to be opened was heard.
Slowly, Callius reached out and grabbed Arsando that was resting by his bedside.
Sound of walking.
Soon, when the intruder had come close –
Arsando’s blue edge stopped right at the neck of the uninvited guest.
“… What is it, you.”
I did wonder what kind of assassin was this sloppy.
It was nobody other than Bruns.
“Were you alive?”
“What, of course!”
I didn’t know because I didn’t care.
‘I thought it was a shallow cut.’
It went better than expected.
“Heh, Bruns isn’t somebody who will die from the sword of an amateur! I just had to spit on the wound a little bit!”
Bruns showed off his wound while bragging, but it seemed that he had got a lot of expensive medicine and treatment for it.
“Who did all this?”
“The people at the casino. Even the bandages smell good.”
It seemed that Cedric cared.
‘Because I said, follower.’
I had just been making up an excuse to kill Ged, though.
Callius looked at Bruns as if it was ridiculous, and smirked.
“I think they did this much because I called you a follower.”
“But you’re not really a follower of mine, are you?”
At Callius’ blunt words, Bruns lowered his head to the bedside as if he had been waiting.
“I, Bruns, am just a thug from Tristar… but I fell in love with Master’s audacious gambling skills and relentless swordsmanship today! Please let me follow you to the end!”
“… That’s sudden.”
Obviously, it was no different than setting myself up as a shield, but this attitude… … .
‘Was this planned or is he just an idiot?’
It was one of the two. Of course, Callius put more weight on the latter.
“Take me as you follower! I will do anything!”
“… Well. You’re a funny one.”
Thanks for waking me up.
Callius took Arsando back, put his cloak on and started getting ready to leave.
“Where are you going?”
“Black market. I was going to go tomorrow, but I woke up, so I’m going to go now.”
Trish Auction House.
The so-called black market. There will be some things that will disappear after today.
“Uh… Then I…”
Callius looked at Bruns and raised the corners of his lips.
“Would you follow me?”