[Magdala V5] Act 3

Kusla shoved the torn books back within the others. Since nobody else would read them, nobody would notice the parchment gone, or that the bindings were left. It seemed most people of the world would notice the appearance of the book, and not the contents.

Through the hidden words, Fenesis discovered a parchment hidden in the spine.

Once Kusla and Fenesis were done reading, they exchanged looks.

Kusla could not imagine the expression he showed.

“Korad Abria. That’s a nostalgic name.”

The man speaking was a commander like Alzen, leading one of the 23 squads that evacuated from Kazan. He looked a dozen years older than the latter, and he appeared to be an administrative oldhead adapt at negotiating in a large city, rather than commanding on a battlefield..

“This fellow here discovered his name, so he said.”

Once Kusla left the archives, he returned to the Knights Headquarters, and without revealing about the discovered parchment, had Alzen investigate on a man called Korad Abria.

Though shocked, Alzen knew from Kusla’s grim look that the latter was serious, and had his subordinate ask the elderly in the other forces.

The one who admitted knowledge of that man was the commander before him.

“It’s said he’s a heretical inquisitor of the Church.”

Kusla said. The old man narrowed his eyes.

The Knights had been fighting the Church in being the leading representative of God, he was not showing disgust of the Church. More importantly, he was not being condescending of the inquisitors, so reviled by the Knights. It was the expression of one looking into the past, and Fenesis occasionally showed such an expression too.

“An inquisitor…yes he was. But he was a little different.”

“You’re saying he had other duties?”

“No no.”

The old man denied it, and showed a nostalgic smile.

“He’s an interesting man. Rather than being an inquisitor, you might say he’s a heretical researcher.”

“Research?”

“Yes. I do remember that fellow being passionate regarding the inquisition. Feels like…he is not normal.”

The old man’s expression clearly showed that he was not bemeaning that person.

“Back in the day, this was a pagan land, located dangerously close to the border, and Nilberk was close to falling. The pagans were powerful, so the Knights and the Church had to attack together. At this point, that notion is out of the question. I was headed North from here back then, along with Korad and the army.”

His eyes drifted slowly beyond the wooden window, as though Latria back then could be seen..

“That man was passionate about investigating heretics. He never let anything involving them slip him by.”

For Church inquisitors, it was work. They were also a group of religious fanatics, firmly believing in burning those opposing God at the stake, hoping to purely and liberate.

The Knights too had a similar organization called the Choir. For self-interest, they raised Fenesis into a cursed tool.

“But he never had anyone burned on the stake.”

“Huh?”

Kusla blurted out, and Alzen, seated on a chair and drinking wine in the old man’s commander room, looked especially intrigued.

“Hmmm. Weird, is it not? From day to night, he would lock himself in the jail cell of the pagans, even having his meals there, questioning fervently about the pagan’s teachings and myths. It felt like he wanted to experience that way of life.”

While extremely stunned, Kusla could somewhat understand.

The parchments hidden in the spine was filled with Korad’s learnings.

“But even so, that fellow never forgot his job. He ate and lived together with the pagans, and got the pagans’ trust, but he firmly believed in God’s greatness. His inquisition methods were no different from the norm.”

“Method?”

“Yes. He would refute the pagans with long spiels of God’s teachings. If the pagans remained unmoved, he would shock them with miracles.”

It was a common method used to convert the pagans.

But there was no one on this world who could create such miracles.

While Kusla had such thoughts, the old commander looked towards him, smiling,

“Yes. Those were not miracles. It was said Korad was born to a noble family of a certain fallen kingdom, and originally intended to be an alchemist for the Knights. Due to a certain incident, he transferred over to the Church instead, becoming a heretical inquisitor instead. Nowadays, this is completely impossible, but it was commonplace back then. Because of this, he would use ‘miracles’, the fake miracles the lot of you pull off. No, I suppose those should be real miracles using the Truths of the world created by God, no?”

The old commander’s words were befitting of a Knight prioritizing realistic profits, the ardent disciples would surely be utterly furious.

“In other words, Korad used such methods to shock the Pagans and convert them.”

“I see…so, where is he?”

Kusla asked a question close to the crux, but the conversation suddenly stopped.

The old commander was silent, overwhelmed with sadness.

“What’s the matter?”

He continued on, his tone unlike that of a high ranking officer.

“He’s probably not in the Church now. There is no need for someone like him in the Church.”

“But,”

Inquisitors were similar to Alchemists, yet their fates were much worse. Due to their occupation, any word from them would be enough to brand anyone a heretic, and everything would be lost.

Most of the Popes who made it to the top of the Church were inquisitors.

As they were often hidden in the darkness, if they didn’t climb the hierarchy, it would be a matter of time before they got assassinated, or sent on suicidal missions.

Despite that, from what the commander said, it seemed Korad was still alive.

And he mentioned the reason why Korad was still alive

“I still remember. That day, it was snowing, the roads were covered in ice, the docks were frozen longer than expected. We were attacking cities, converting pagan lands, but we were outnumbered. Back then, we never thought we would take over the lands; we were mostly exploring the unknown areas. When the merchants from afar commented that the pagans were going to attack once the snow stopped, she decided to retreat. In fact, most of the soldiers were hoping to retreat. We couldn’t fill our stomachs in such undeveloped lands, and the weather was terrible. What’s the point of dying here? Korad however didn’t think that.”

“He stayed?”

Kusla asked, and the commander nodded.

He smiled.

“Not only did he stay, he went further into pagan lands. Back then, we kept trying to coax him out of it, but he just wouldn’t listen. His eyes were glittering, like a chap eager to meet a maiden he loves.”

Under the clear skies after the snow, the young inquisitor Korad Abria eagerly headed North under the bright sun.

That was the imagery Kusla had.

“Back then, we asked why he wanted to head North. If it was to spread the gospel, he could have done so once all preparations were done. That suicidal attitude of his was really against God’s teachings. Despite what we said, he answered,”

——I feel that there is something I want over there.

“In the harsh cold, there’s no food, and once a person’s physically and mentally unstable, all senses of the cold will be gone. The strong gales will continue to blow, and one would feel as though he’s falling down a bottomless hole, a delusion of a light. Those with no strength to walk would suddenly stand up, and teeter forth in ragged clothes. Some said they were summoned by God, or the Devil. Most of them were found frozen in the snow the next morning, their faces in a trance-like state. That was the face Korad showed when he talked.”

Kusla himself heard about such things, but never witnessed them.

However, Fenesis, listening intently right beside him, might have encountered such cases. Thinking about that, he looked towards her, but could not see her face clearly, Fenesis.

“Ever since then, I never heard his name again. Back then, we asked merchants more fearless than us to seek out his whereabouts, but no dice. He might have escaped, thinking that he couldn’t be an inquisitor for long…but I suppose not.”

“…”

The old man who struggled to his high position after many years chortled like a youth.

“I suppose he went to chase his own dreams.”

Korad was off to the land of Magdala, located somewhere on this world.

“People do beautify the past. Maybe it’s not the case after all.

The old man grimaced, looking at Kusla .

“But where did you find the name Korad? If a man like him lived for another twenty years, my guess is he’s probably a famous person now. Is he truly alive?”

Though the old man clearly was joking, his eyes looked serious.

He hoped that Korad was alive.

A man who remained alone in enemy terrority, unseen for twenty or so years.

Kusla endured the prickliness in his heart, and shook his head, giving the stone cold look of ‘interest’ (Kusla).

“I found this name in a book back in Kazan.”

“Ahh. So it involves the creation of dragons?”

“Yes.”

He could lie as easily as he could breathe.

He could turn lead into gold, and gold into lead.

“I was wondering if this involved the issue of faith.”

“I see……but, you probably don’t have to worry. Nobody out there, not even the Church, know of Korad’s name.”

“Is that so?”

“Hoho. Having heard an unexpected name, I ended up talking so much more.”

“My apologies.”

Alzen brushed it off, and the old commander waved his hand.

“Without Archduke Kratal’s forces, our troops might not have lasted. The existance of the dragons were a miracle to us all. Just think of this information as payment for us hitchhiking. Come to think about it, I still owe you.”

“So you mean there’s more the haggle?”

Alzen jabbed back. While both of them were joking around, they were probing each other, and then, they guffawed in a manner unique to rulers.

Kusla remained between them, quietly noting,

“And I have one last request.”

“What is it?”

“Do you mind telling me of the path Korad took?”

“?”

The man was stunned, certainly, so he muttered. He called for his subordinate, and passed over a marked map to Kusla.

“There really are various kinds of people on this world.”

They returned to Alzen’s room, who commented such.

“So? Are there possibly dragons sleeping in other cities?”

He asked Alzen, looking at the map of their path 20 years ago or so.

“Hard to say. I feel that the cities he passed has to be investigated.”

“Yes.”

Alzen nodded, and lifted his head,

“The Bible states that there are no eternal secrets. Skills spread like the plague. That spells trouble..”

“Even the Black Plague can’t survive the passages of time.”

“Yes. Even if Korad realized the existence of the dragons, nobody remembers about him. If we play our cards correctly, the enemy might not realize.”

Kusla discovered the parchment Kord left behind in the Church, and went to look for Alzen, making up a valid reason to investigate. He said taht he found an inquisitor name called Korad in Kazan, and Korad so happened to be investigating this city Nilberk at that time. Though it was unknown what he was investigating, but if he was investigating about the dragons, perhaps there was the technology of the dragons elsewhere.

Alzen never doubted those words.

“If there’s anything else, tell me. I’ll assist.”

“Understood.”

Kusla pretentiously bowed, and took his leave.

He returned to his lodging, and took out the parchment from the waist bag.

There were words on the parchment.

No matter how many times he read them, he was nauseous with excitement.

However, Fenesis remained silent the entire time, and was even listless when she sat on the edge of the bed.

“Not feeling well?”

Kusla asked without a thought.

But Fenesis jolted, shriveling away as she looked at Kusla.

Clearly, she looked a little distracted, and she shook her head despite that.

“It just feels, surreal…”

“Huh?”

“Well…I do not know how to express it…but it seems like a city I never heard, suddenly appearing before me…”

Fenesis appeared as though she was narrating about ghosts she saw the previous night, and was on the verge of tears.

But Kusla did not tease Fenesis, for he had a vague feeling what Fenesis wanted to say.

“That is called excitement.”

Fenesis widened her eyes at Kusla .

“But you have to remain rational.”

Kusla added, and Fenesis immediately blushed. It seemed she had returned to her old self.

“Anyway, you did really well this time. Somehow noticed that.”

“…O-Of course…”

Fenesis grumbled softly, and Kusla sneered.

Her contributions were really valuable.

The parchment signed with the nameKorad Abria was written,

——In this Land, the knowledge left by God remains in slumber.

——God sent the Holy Spirit to this place.

——In the past, the Spirits from the Sanctuary left this knowledge behind.

Korad’s handwriting looked really anxious, either because it was cold, or because of his personality.

The short passage was filled with some strong will. Written on the last line was,

——I hope that those having the same aim as me will come trace my path after reading this.

Clearly it was a message left behind, in the spine of a most boring book, the city annals. Over the past 20 years, only Kusla and Fenesis discovered this hidden message.

But ultimately, it landed in the hands of those who should receive them.

Truly he was an extraordinary inquisitor..

He ate with the pagans, concerned himself with their cultures, and while exhibiting elements of an Alchemist, he had skills to enact miracles impromptu.

At the border, he ignored the words others said, and ventured deep into Pagan lands.  

He said there might be something he wanted before him.

He left his words in the city’s Annals.

“This man…is really…”

Fenesis stammered, seemingly afraid of acknowledging this fact.

Kusla picked up the parchment, stood up, and then checked the sides.

Accordingly to the old commander Alzen introduced, his impression of Korad was,

Kusla nodded, and quietly thought, there’s no doubt.

“Korad really believed the Ancients existed.”

Thus, because of that reason, he hid the hint on that page.

After taking out the parchment, Kusla had a close look at that page, and found the misspellings were all deliberately added later. There appeared to be several strokes added to similar looking words, and those dissimilar were carefully worn off and rewritten.

“Passionate about Pagan cultures, becoming an inquistor. Is it all for the sake of finding the trails of the Anicents?”

“You just…noticed?”

“The past was a lot more chaotic than it is now. The old commander said Korad was a son of nobility, so he probably touched some books that might be considered taboo, or rather…”

After some hesitation, Kusla continued,

“He saw those brought in from the Far East, talked with them, and confirmed the existence of the Ancients”

Fenesis, who was similarly treated and ended up with this fate, was a little shocked, before she nodded slightly.

“If true, the unnamed sage recorded on that Annal page was also an Ancient”

So it was written on the back of that thrown Annal,

The ancient Sage know everything. On the first day, he learned of the ways of the Earth; the second night, he learned of the ways of the Stars.

On the third day, he refined his knowledge, and on the fourth night, he fulfilled everything.

“This includes the secrets of various myths, the ability to manipulate the sage’s stone, the omnipotent elixir, the Book of Life God used when creating humanity, the Adamantite that formed the celestial bodies, and”

Kusla gave a sarcastic leer,

“The metal of God made from smelting, Orichalcum.”

The Sage knew about everything.

Humans could not comprehend it all however. They were just guided by the Knowledge and Law brought forth fby the Sage, gathered, and later prospered for generations——

“But if a Sage really knows everything, is he not God to begin with?”

“But,”

Fenesis sounded unexpectedly terse.

“But…we do know something, right?”

Kusla narrowed his eyes at Fenesis, gulped, and grinned.

He often dampened his own enthusiasm, always quietly warning himself that it was all a life.

It was a way of life, ensuring that he would not be ensnared in traps. However, Fenesis could not do it as well as him.

The passion she exhibited left Kusla nostalgic.

“We do know something.”

Kusla repeated Fenesis’s words, and continued,

“The Land of Magdala is where Korad was headed.”

The map marking Korad’s route remained in Alzen’s room, and Kusla had discreetly remembered it.

Korad might have left some things in those towns he stayed in.

Kusla opened the wooden windows, and looked out.

The room was rather dark, and looking out, there was already a red hue in the sky..

The winter sunset arrived a lot earlier.

Looking up at the sky, Kusla said,

“The legend says that it’s sleeping somewhere under the skies.”

Kusla found it incredulous. The world was boundless, but yet their daily lives often stopped abruptly. What he should understand, he could not, and he was anxious, for this was seemingly too big for his mouthful.

“It’s probably far away.”

Kusla muttered. He had no intention of showing such weakness, but it seemed so surreal.

Hearing that, Fenesis sounded a little gleeful,

“Never forget the true meaning of your journey.”

“Huh?”

Kusla turned around, and found Fenesis giving him a gentle smile.

“Keep moving forth, on your feet. As long as you keep walking, there were will amazing sceneries before you, and——”

She paused.

Kusla suddenly went over to her, and grabbed her on her face with a hang..

“I was about to say, don’t get cocky.”

He shook her head side to side as he said this, and smiled,

“But I’m in a good mood.”

Then, he looked away from her, smiling,

“Also, you’re the one who contributed. You’re suited to be an Alchemist.”

“Eh?”

Kusla glanced aside at Fenesis, whose expression was one as befuddled as an innocent girl fooled by a bad man. Still the same as before, so he thought.

“Because of luck.”

“…”

Again, she was teased, and she was incensed. However, Kusla ignored her, and continued,

“This is very important. There are too many irrational things on this world. To avoid them, to reach the Land of Magdala, you need cunning, and luck.”

Fenesis gave Kusla a miffed look, and pouted,

“You are, mean spirited…”

“Whatever you say. This is required of an alchemist.”

“…That is definitely a lie.”

Kusla merely shrugged at those words, and Fenesis, looking dumbfounded, sighed at him.

She looked towards the parchment in Kusla’s hand, her face breaking into a proud smile as she started marveling at it.

She seemed to be implying that it was her accomplishment.

“Anyhow, we just have to keep investigating.”

Kusla said, closing the wooden windows.

“First, we need to eat. Or are you thinking this is a lie too?”

“…You really are a child.”

“I said I’m in a good mood.”

Good grief, so Fenesis sighed. In fact, whenever Kusla relaxed, he would celebrate like a child.

In any case, it seemed someone else did realize the existence of the Ancients he found in Kazan.

All this time, Kusla had assumed he was the only one who knew of their existences.

He was thinking that his assumptions were simply not true. At this point, he felt a strong push from behind, supporting his case.

What remained in slumber within the Lands of Latira, the lost technology from back then. Surely it was——

Kusla started letting his thoughts run wild, and was about to exit the room.

It was often that the expanding bread would burst at such moments.

“Eh?”

Fenesis muttered skeptically.

The moment she was about to leave the room, she turned back.

“What is it?”

Kusla asked, but she ignored him, and stared into the room. Right when Kusla was about to ask again, Fenesis teetered to the windowside, and opened the wooden windows.

Suddenly, Kusla could vaguely hear something.

“What is it? A fire?”

He stood behind Fenesis, and looked out of the window. There was no stench of smoke however. So what was it? Suddenly, there was the sound of metals clashing. It sounded as though a pot was being hammered, a fire warning.

“…I guessed so.”

Fenesis muttered.

“…Enemy…”

“What?”

Then, a little further there, there was the sound of metals clearly crashing, coming from afar. It appeared the guards were hammering at the pots, meandering around.

“Because the Church has no bell…no, what did you say again?”

Kusla again asked Fenesis.

She slowly answered,

“An enemy raid.”

Kusla could not believe it, and was about to ask again, only to realize there was no need. The guards’ voices clearly reached his ears.

“Enemy raid! We’re under attacked!”

They hollered as they ran about, slamming the pots. The pedestrians on the streets were stunned.

“We’re under attack! Get a weapon and get to the wall! We’re attacked!”

The windows of the inn opposite were fully opened, it seemed, and each inhabitant was looking around.

At this time? Everyone was stunned, and after a while, hurriedly got into action.

The people swarmed the streets, and the mercenaries, quick on their feet, were already running.

Kusla looked down the main street, saw beyond the massive wall, and could not help but gulp.

The enemy is trying to cross that?

Though still in disbelief, he did not think it was merely a prank.

The sky was completely dark, and the mood beneath seemed to imply that any calamity that followed was not a surprise.

Kusla and Fenesis arrived at the bar on the ground floor of the inn, awaiting the news with the other mercenaries and Knights. The guard came to report that it was misinformation.

The moment Kusla heaved a sigh of relief however, the guard announced that he and the others were summoned to the Knights headquarters.

If it was simply misinformation, surely there was no need for them.

There had to be a reason.

“Can you see them?”

The cold winds brewed, and there was some humidness, due to the close proximity to the sea. The winds were somewhat damp. It would be a pleasant view from a high spot in sprint, but after the sunset, this would merely cause uneasiness.

“Hm…just a little…doesn’t feel well trained though. And they are very disorganized.”

“So they’re just moving something out?”

“If they’re not pretending to be, maybe?”

Irine looked unbemused. It appeared she was working hard on mass producing the dragons, only to be dragged off here. Her heart must have been frozen, having been brought from the scorching furnace to the hightower, exposed to the frigid elements.

“Also, they say it is the latest design. Maybe the enemy can’t tell how it works~”

Weyland placed a foot on the stone rail. There was no sun, but he had a hand right above his eyes, looking afar. Not too far away, there was a bunch of people looking down at the city.

Though they were dressed differently, they were extraordinarily similar in that they did not resemble the fine people of the city in any way.

Kusla and the others were Alchemists who came to this city along, standing upon the massive walls protecting Nilberk.

“Can your ears hear anything?”

Kusla turned around to ask.

Fenesis was slumped disinterestedly behind him.

She did that neither because of cold nor hunger, but a fear of heights.

“…”

“…Look, I’m not teasing you. Stop giving me that look.”

Kusla had no intention fo doing so, but she looked over with an anguished look, and he was left disturbed. Finally, he told her off. Looking devastated, Fenesis shook her head in anger and tears.

“But it’s definitely not something good.”

Kusla said with disgust, his eyes looking over at some bright lights on the dark empty land. They were flaming torches in the sea of darkness, and the enemy was busy assembling something there.

“The latest catapult, huh?”

The catapult was at least a dozen times taller than a person, and used the massive woods that could only be harvested from the Northern region of Latria, along with sturdy beast tendons and abundant metals. The range far surpassed that of previous versions, and so was the destructiveness. Typically, the catapults fired metal blocks, and could not really fly over the walls, but that was depending on past specifications.

Humans can only deal with what they can imagine.

“It really feels excessive if they have to escape with this in a raid~”

Hearing Weyland mention this, Kusla sighed. The sigh drifted behind in the form of white mist, as though their luck had vanished along with the gales.

“Let’s go back. It’s pointless watching them finish it.”

“Yes. There’s no way they can finish it that quickly. Look, they’re just swapping ou the same materials over and over again. There’s no leader to be seen. If that’s a workshop, nobody will complain if they’re kicked out.”

Irine critiqued them like a master, but her leadership was really outstanding, for since Kazan, there had been no complaints about her. Sometimes, it was beneficial for a woman to be overly young, just as Fenesis was viewed as a War Goddess on the battlefield.

Perhaps those that stood out in the workshop could intimidate those men.

“Better notify Alzen of that. The embodiment of the smithing and thunder God said this.”

Kusla made a sly dig with a serious look. Irine narrowed her eyes after hearing that, and fearlessly chuckled.

“Yeah. I have that fake bead now. Ready to dress up and meet him anytime now.”

Kusla could visualize Irine’s appearance whenever she toiled in the workshop.

“Let’s go back. Can you stand up?”

Kusla grabbed Fenesis by the arm, dragging her arm. Seeing her this terrified, he lost interest in teasing her like usual. On their way back, Fenesis tugged onto Kusla’s arm firmly, stumbling about, and only once they began descending the stairs of the walls did she finally calm down.

The city walls of an ordinary city functioned like the walls of a house, but for a massive city like Nilberk, the walls functioned as overly thin house. The windows at the stairs of the wall were opened, and the soldiers could fire arrows out or scatter scorching oil from there. Thus, the wall contained lots of resources, lamps for burning oils, and wells to draw water.

The cramped space was filled with such materials, all for this purpose. Kusla inadvertently recalled his alchemist workshop, and was feeling nostalgic.

The moonlight shone into the stone walls crammed with materials. Kusla had the feeling if he looked out of the window and pondered, he might get some amazing inspiration.

But that was something only to be done in normal times. At this point, Nilberk did not require thoughts, but actual actions.

Kusla and the gang went for the Knights Headquarters, and arrived at Alzen’s room.

Alzen’s eyes were strangely sharp.

“So what do you think after witnessing out outstanding technology?”

The one answer was a miffed looking Irine, her hands on her waist.

“Not too bad, but the people assembling are really terrible, stupid.”

The quality managed showed the amount of trust granted.

A craftsmen guild might seem gloomy, but the quality it provides can be assured.

“It’ll take a long time to assemble, right?”

“Anyway, it doesn’t feel like they’ll finish assembling right now. It’ll take some time at least, and since they’re not from my guild, I can’t give a rough tell.”

Irine was not sounding curt in the slightest, either because she was overly fatigued, or that she was gutsy to begin with.

Outside a city, she was a girl trembling in fear. Within it, she’s a skilled blacksmith telling off men wielding hammers around.

“The blueprint tot burned, but if anyone discovers a problem, all difficulties can be solved. The materials are prepared, and most importantly, those fellows brought a completed sample and broke them up here.”

“In that case, once the assemblers know how to coordinate, it should be possible to assemble. At most, there’ll be a few days of delay.”

Kusla then continued from what Irine said,

“I agree with Irine. So do we build the catapult too? The guy who drew the blueprint is one of us, right? We should be able to do i.”

Alzen gloomily sighed seethingly. It was said that the watchmen found lots of carriages outside the city, and were wondering if it was that catapult they were building.

Once the news reached headquarters, a commander confessed.

He mentioned that the catapult was made by his forces to attack Latria.

But when the Queen of Latria launched her ambush in advance, they were forced to scamper away, and also had to burn the blueprints.

Simply put, the weapon baring its fangs before the city was made by them.

So how would the people who escaped from the enemy’s clutches think?

“That…well.”

The one answering was Irine.

“Any problems?”

“They only had a blueprint, yes? In that case, it’ll be like an errand boy with poor memory writing his tasks on a stone plate with lime.”

Irine could not read, but her metallurgical skills were top notch.

Craftsmen typically stayed in the same city for their entire lives, building the same things with others. They did not need written words to convey skills to others, nor need to leave behind anything.

“You young fellows have quite the decent eyes.”

There was a sly dig in Alzen’s tone.

Of course, it was his biggest appraisal of Irine.

“Grateful for that. It’s impossible to build them now, unless we stop producing the dragons.”

“This is also a problem too.”

Alzen simply answered, and raised his chin at Irine.

“Return to your workshop. The production of the dragons shall be our lifeline.”

“Yes.”

Irine nodded, good grief, and left the room.

“Luckily, there’s lot of tar in this city. It was shipped in not too long so, to coat the spring boats and keep them waterproof. Praise be to God.”

Things that could be used in Alchemy could be used in other areas too.

“I tried it. It can work.”

“Then we do have a way to fight back.”

Irine left the room, and closed the door. Left behind were Alzen, Kusla, Weyland and Fenesis. There were frantic footsteps outside the door, and the lit torches shone in through the windows. The entire city was embroiled in a commotion.

“So the reason why you haven’t sent us back to the workshop is?”

Kusla asked.

“Of course, I’m not asking to built catapults to defeat the enemy.”

Alzen tapped the desk with his fingers, saying

“But if this keeps up, we will lose.”

At that moment, Kusla assumed he misheard, and so did Weyland, it seemed.

“Some metaphor~?”

“No.”

Kusla too understood that someone like Alzen would never show weakness so easily.

Surely it was the conclusion he made after having calmly and thoroughly analyzed the situation.

“The enemy will probably use the catapult to destroy the wall, with a burning iron ball. This will definitely cause many casualties. This catapult was something a Knights squadron built; they left these materials behind to escape, and kept mum about that, even though they knew this weapon in enemy hands will be used on us.”

They probably knew the severity of the situation when they left this weapon behind, but they had no other choice. Concealing the matter was simply trying to absolving their responsibility, typical of people

In the end, they had to pray for the unrealistic, and hope the enemy did not discover the massive catapult left in the city.

“What will happen after this? The mercenaries and Knights might have a thought, that their comrades who hoped to stand out, who volunteered, will die one day not because of a glorious battle, but due to their allies’ error. They were supposed to believe in their allies.”

“The ones they can’t hold their rage and hatred against won’t be the enemies outside the city, but their own allies in the city.”

“Also, the wounds caused by such errors can’t be laughed off in the bars. The mercenaries will lose their will to fight. Furthermore, there’s already a talking point in the city. Imagine the despair when the strongest weapon to be used on the enemy shall be used on us. What will the men say?”

“…There’s no God.”

The Church of this city had no bell.

It was a city forsaken by God.

Without a Church bell, waking up in the morning would be a problem. How could the fighters storm the battlefield with vigor?

“But we cannot be defeated here. Not at all!”

The man who declared to invade Latria roared.

And Kusla, exceptionally eage about this land, was no different. Having read Korad’s text, leaving the land of Latria would mean leaving the Land of Magdala.

“I see. In other words.”

“Yes. You’re going to build a bell no matter what. I heard you were locked up in prison because you burned a Saint’s bones in the furnace, didn’t you?”

Kusla sneered, and shrugged.

“You can try any method. Anything is fine. The other alchemists will receive similar orders. The afterwork will be troublesome, but we’ll rationalize our objectives. As long as you pull off the results, you——”

Alzen’s eyes were filled with a little fear and condescendence.

“You will discover magic, won’t you?”

Turning lead into gold, turning gold into lead. Or on a full moon night, to burn toads and lizards into ash, and boil them together with the molten metal in a pot to obtain an otherworldly metal

Of course, such were superstitions, and Kusla’s mind was filled with some practical questions.

Building the bell was a minor issue, but he smelled something fishy going on.

The blacksmiths would not build the bell, for they considered the grave consequences of failing. Their workshops existed for generations, and would be inherited by their descendents. To have their names dfiled would be the end of the world for their workshops.

But was that it? Kusla was quietly leery of it.

What Alzen proposed was something they often broke.

Alchemists knew that this thing called luck remained rare on Earth.

The excitement in his heart dissipated, and he reverted back to being a skeptical alchemist, saying,

“This is getting dangerously close to heresy.”

But the response were cold eyes and words.

“So what about that? I told you to do so, so do it.”

He was dealing with his superior, and in the Knights, the superior was someone who had rule over his life and death. He had no privilege to refuse.

He himself had to protect his own life.

Having realized this, Kusla lowered his head.

“…Understood.”

Alzen did not answer. Good grief, so Weyland sighed reluctantly. Kusla looked down at Fenesis, and raised his chin.

It was Kusla and the alchemists desire to be permitted by their superiors to use any means. Someone like Alzen must be hoping that they could resolve this issue as quickly as possible, knowing that idleness would only lead to defeat. Most important, the fragments of God might remain in slumber on this land, and Kusla wanted to trace Korad’s footsteps no matter what.

But Kusla knew that it was impossible to build the bell using ordinary means. His instincts were warning him repeatedly, not to get involved with it.

And, the biggest problem.

Was that they had to build the bell no matter what.

Kusla snorted.

It was for that reason that he wanted to keep his distance from it.

Kusla and Weyland wordlessly left the Knights headquarters, and frowned at the chilly winds and the chaotic streets meeting them.

At this moment, Fenesis stammered,

“What do we do next?”

Though uneasy, she had not lost her bearings. Her voice was filled with determination, and she was not asking for comfort sake, but an earnest desire to deliver her utmost.

After reading Korad’s book, Fenesis was completely excited. Surely she was not interested in the sage’s stone, the immortal elixir and the like. She knew those were Kusla’s dreams, and felt the same as he did.

But Kusla was worried about that.

“Weyland, can I use that workshop of yours?”

“Hm? Ahhh, sure~ Half of it is for Irine to use though~.”

“Perfect. That’ll be good for supervision.”

“Supervision?”

Weyland looked mystified.

“Alzen said that we’re to use whatever means, but it’s best not to do anything weird.”

Kusla answered unhappily, and Weyland was increasingly mystified.

“Ul, has he eaten something strange?”

“Er…”

Fenesis too was suspicious, for typically, she was worried that Kusla might do something blasphemous against God.

“I-in any case, I do not agree to you doing any inhumane experiments. So I do agree…if it is not anything dangerous.”

Saying that, she peeked up at Kusla.

“Of course.”

Kusla naturally agreed, and this left Fenesis all the more confused, her worry for Kusla clearly shown. Weyland scratched his head, looking back and forth between them.

Kusla said in a matter of act manner,

“There are large bells in other cities too. There’s no need for any weird skills in making a bell. Don’t say anything weird.”

Kusla reminded Weyland, and that Weyland felt more terrified than he was whenever a dagger was pointed at him.

“Th-then what are we supposed to do~?”

Seeing Weyland’s reaction, Fenesis seemed a little miffed for some reason.

“It is a good thing, I feel. Also, your surprise is truly insulting.”

“That, hm…I see~…?”

Weyland, typically the gentleman to women, found Fenesis’s words incomprehensible, but he tried to accept.

“Yes. He has finally accepted God’s teachings.”

Fenesis said, puffing her chest as she smiled at Kusla .

Of course, this was not the case.

Kusla stared back at her coldly.

“You too.”

Fenesis’ face immediately froze, as though someone had doused her with cold water.

After looking dumbfounded, she argued back at a leaving Kusla,

“I will not do that.”

“Well said. Remember what you just said.”

Kusla sresponded without looking back. Fenesis puffed her cheeks like a toad.

After walking for a while.

“I see~”

Weyland suddenly said.

“It is as you say, Kusla.”

Hearing how Weyland, who was usually biased towards her, say this, Fenesis looked hurt, and turned to him,

“M-Mr Weyland, you too…”

“Hmm. No, well~.”

Hearing Weyland’s giggle, Kusla knew what he was going to say.

And thus, Kusla did not look back, and had no intention to stop him.

“If we’re saying that we can use any means, there are a few forbidden ways to build a bell~.”

“Eh?”

“Isn’t that right, Kusla?”

Weyland grinned.  

Kusla knew it was inevitable they would be talking about this, a topic that could not be avoid.

He glanced behind to Fenesis, saying

“Do you know why bells are often dubbed with female names?”

“Eh?”

The white girl’s green eyes looked back and forth between the two men, like a kitten playing with a furball. Her adorable look was reminiscent of a girl filial to the men. In fact, she had a strong heart, shockingly stubborn at times.

Kusla sighed, and said,

“Because God loves young women. When smelting metals, women are sometimes used.”

Fenesis stared back, tilting her head.

Weyland grimaced, and explained,

“They’re thrown into the furnace when smelting~.”

“Ah.”

“A live sacrifice~.”

There was a defined method to build bells, but there were times when things did not go well. During such instances, people would do strange things, like observing the constellations, walking out of the door with the right foot first, or grabbing the right ear with the left hand when smelting. Many knew that adding bones when smelting would increase the malleability of iron or copper. Someone thought that throwing a demure girl into the furnace would create a softer metal of pretty sounds.

“B, ut…this…”

Fenesis was at a loss of words, her legs stumbling around.

Weyland laughed as he put his hand on Fenesis’ back.

“Because you’re strangely decisive when it comes to strange matters, Ul.”

If he had not mentioned it, she might have jumped into the furnace herself. She had past instances of acting rashly.

If my life can allow you to fulfill your dreams——

Kusla looked over at Fenesis with cold eyes.

“A fool you are.”

“I-I am no fool.”

Fenesis instinctively refuted, but her voice lacked any vigor. She seemed to be on the verge of tears, feeling awkward.

Once Kusla approached the cross junction, there appeared a carriage filled with goods. He stopped, and looked back at her.

“Anyway, promise me——”

Kusla was about to continue, but Fenesis never calmed down, it seemed. She stopped, and crashed into him. He caught her in a panic, and found that Weyland shoved her forward.

She remained still in Kusla’s clutches, and Weyland giggled away.

Kusla could not help but sigh.

“…You…are mean.”

The soft, warm girl in his clutches grumbled.

The voice sounded like creaking from a cabinet filled with interesting things, leaving him weak. It seemed if he opened a little, something would flow out.

Alchemists like Kusla would risk their lives for such a cabinet of surprises, but he felt it was different from what he wanted.

Nevertheless, she was equally important.

Kusla tapped her on the head, and went forward.  

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