As I entered the bathroom stall, I quickly locked the door and covered my mouth with both hands.
I took a moment to remember why I came to church in the first place.
It was good when I went to the market.
I had planned to ask Herrin what kind of quilt she would like if I met her.
But when I got to the market, I didn’t see Herrin, just lots of people in robes.
There were at least three people in robes in every alleyway.
At first, I was convinced that robes were a symbol of extras.
I was even a little overjoyed.
Wow, you’re an extra too? Hey, me too!
At the hostel, I put aside my impression that the peace of Arandal was strange and started to feel a sense of unnecessary homogeneity.
I had been complacent, thinking that extras who wore their own robes were also called ‘extra villains’ and ‘extra blacks’.
Up until this point, when I thought of the list of extras, I focused on ‘extras’ and didn’t pay attention to the word ‘villain’ and ‘black’ that followed.
Innocent and naive, I wandered among the Robes, looking for the futon shop.
I thought it was just a ‘friendly town’ when I saw the occasional Robes and villagers greeting me.
I thought, ‘What a nice town’, just down the road from the Demon Castle.
A little more thought would have revealed something strange, but all I could think about was getting a fluffy futon.
It’s not a big town, so there was only one futon shop.
I walked into the shop excitedly and the owner smiled broadly at me, walked up to me and said,
“You’re from the church, right? My kid ran out of medicine and is in pain….”
The hand gripping my arm was shaking.
I was about to say that I didn’t even know what ‘medicine’ was when I gently pulled my hand away.
“Brother, the afternoon prayer time is coming up.”
I don’t know when I entered the shop, but several robes appeared out of nowhere and spoke to me.
I was caught between them and the shopkeeper, wondering whose misunderstanding I should correct first.
I tried to speak to the shopkeeper, who was talking to me first.
Once again, the Robe interrupted me.
“He said there have been more outsiders in town lately …He asked us to gather early today because this prayer is important.”
That was a very interesting story.
More outsiders in town? Surely a party of warriors?
The phrase ‘afternoon prayer’ suggests that the Robes are religious.
But a religion that cares about the number of outsiders in town.
What the hell are they doing?
It’s also curious that the quilt shop owner obediently walks away when the Robes shake their heads.
There was clearly a hierarchical relationship.
I clamped my jaw shut and followed the group of robes.
My first mistake.
His curiosity had gotten him red bean tea in his previous life, and he was making the same mistake in this one.
As he walked among the Robes, he was greeted here and there.
They would put their hands together in prayer or ask about the afternoon prayers.
I noticed quickly.
‘Oh, is this the ‘church’?’
Even though I recognized it, I still didn’t feel a sense of crisis.
On the contrary, my curiosity was piqued.
Ever since the owner at the fruit shop yesterday shut up as if he had made a mistake, I had been curious about the ‘church’.
I dismissed them as a bunch of extras in robes and thought nothing of it.
What I wanted to know was how they’d managed to manipulate the permanent residents of Arandal and if the lord of the manor knew about it, and out of sheer curiosity, what would happen if I prayed to him in a cult? Would I be arrested?
When I saw the large bell on top of the church building and remembered the bells that echoed through the town, I was a little surprised, but didn’t think there was much of a threat.
I didn’t understand why anyone would believe in such a cult when it’s the Lord who has chosen a party of warriors to deal with the demon.
It wasn’t until the large front doors of the church opened that he realised something was amiss.
A fishy smell came from inside.
It wasn’t a bloody smell, but a sticky one.
It was the kind of smell I sometimes smelled when the eight schools of magical and demonic researchers returned to the tower.
His collarbone tingled where the warrior’s companion’s mark was.
He raised his hand of its own accord.
It was a mark that hadn’t reacted even in the magical Horn Mountains.
I’d thought of it as a normal tattoo, but it must have some sort of built-in ability.
Demon King detection, for example….
or detecting demons of a higher rank…
All bets were off that the ‘church’ wasn’t just a bunch of extras.
As I hesitated, the entire group of robes surrounding me stopped walking.
There was a strange atmosphere.
“…Brother, why do you do that?”
Robe 1, who was standing close to me, spoke up in a sullen voice.
Flattery and excuses were instinctive.
My head was spinning.
If the church was connected to the devil, then what was the ‘medicine’ the futon shop owner was talking about earlier?
It was a no-brainer.
A drug that would be distributed by a group associated with the devil? It must be bad.
The sound of swallowing was louder than I expected.
The tension grew tense.
Should I run away?
The difficulty level seemed oddly high for a solo effort.
Okay, I hate to interrupt your rest, but let’s call in the warrior.
I smiled awkwardly, trying to recall the coordinates for the spatial move.
A hand shot out from behind me and grabbed my shoulder.
“Brother Oberyn, you must be nervous, it’s your turn to be graced today.”
Robe 2 called me ‘Oberyn’ and clung to my back.
His hand was still on my shoulder.
I pushed the magic I’d drawn up back down.
If you teleported while touching someone, there was a 40 per cent chance that the person you were touching would be transported with you, even if you targeted the spell as an individual.
The experience of living as a researcher’s tool prevented me from casting my spells.
He’s even behind me.
If we teleported together, would I not be overpowered? I can’t walk for long.
I waited patiently for the moment when robe 2 would let go of my body.
In my mind’s eye, I pictured myself as a muscular man, pummeling my enemies.
Instead, I was seated in a waiting worship chair.
Robe 2 sat down next to me, clapping me on the shoulder.
“Haha, Brother Oberyn.
You mustn’t forget me after today’s grace.”
He pretended to be close to ‘Oberyn’ and didn’t recognize that I wasn’t Oberyn, but he kept touching my arm and shoulder in a friendly way.
“Yes, haha, of course.”
See, you can’t tell the difference between voices.
Either Oberyn sounds like me or the guy in front of me is a demon.
If it’s neither… I don’t know.
I don’t want to think about it anymore.
Robe 2 kept whispering to me and grabbing my arm somewhere, as if to keep me from doing anything else.
As I nervously rolled my eyes, someone in a colorful robe stepped up to the podium.
And with that, a rap-like prayer began.
“Come, let us pray.”
Robe 2’s chuckling subordinate appeared in the background of the deafening prayer.
It was bad luck.
As the prayer progressed, my collarbone heated up.
This was no ordinary prayer.
At first glance, it was just praising the god Badel and asking for peace for all, but it was clear that the order of the words, the length of time they were spat out, and the posture and positioning of the prayers were all part of a formula.
I just wanted to get out and run cold water over my collarbone.
‘Isn’t this going to burn me?’
I asked with an expression.
“Alas, Badel will defeat our enemies and save us!”
The one standing on the podium unclasped his hands and stretched his arms upward.
And everyone mimicked the pose.
For a moment, the magic in the auditorium surged and I drew on my magic just in time.
That was my second mistake.
The magic that had risen like a tidal wave within me crashed against the powerful magi.
The spell failed to materialize, leaving only the pain of my organs being squeezed.
My groan was drowned out by the frenzied heat.
Cold sweat soaked my shirt.
I followed the robes’ lead and clasped my trembling hands together.
I glanced to the side and saw Robe 2, head slightly bowed, praying fervently.
It hurt so much.
It was best to grit my teeth to avoid giving away my heavy breathing.
A hasty evacuation to the bathroom as soon as the afternoon prayers were over didn’t make things any better.
What the hell is this in the middle of enemy territory….
I slowly reached down and lifted my robe.
I could see flesh through the sweaty shirt.
My companion’s mark was glowing faintly.
Fortunately, there was no blood, no signs of crushed skin.
Couldn’t they have warned me in a less painful way? Later, if I went near the Demon Castle, I’d be burning up.
For a moment, I compared ‘a lifetime of being a fugitive’ to ‘catching a demon with the pain of having your skin crushed by your pharynx.’
Ha, I can’t ask you to join me.”
The warrior will cry.
With that pretty face.
And I can’t be lazy.
I couldn’t hide in the bathroom stall forever.
I had a feeling that if I didn’t return for a long time, Robe 2 would come looking for me.
My magic was out of control and my skin ached.
A single bead of sweat made my hair stand on end.
I had never been taught theoretically how to control my magic because it had always come naturally to me.
As a child, when the dean nagged him, he would just throw a tantrum and go outside to play.
‘Why can’t I control my magic? I never did that.’
I remembered the dean’s face as he looked at me in confusion and I felt sorry for myself.
“Hah, ha ha.”
The bathroom was at the end of the church, so it was a good thing no one was there.
There was no sound of people outside.
I felt so helpless now that the magic I normally used like breathing was sealed.
I was a normal person, reincarnated in a fantasy novel.
I couldn’t even open the subspace.
There’s a communication orb in there and I can contact them even if I don’t have access to magic.
“Brother Oberyn, are you here?”
Damn, he’s here.
What can I do for you?”
“The hour of grace is approaching.”
I’m really sick to my stomach, can you hold on a second?”
I’ll see if I can slow it down.”
I’ll just switch to someone else.
There were a lot of people out there.
Trudge, trudge, trudge….
I listened to the footsteps receding, biting my fingers impatiently to draw blood.
With no theory of controlling magic, no way to escape at a time like this, there was only one thing to try.
The basics were always the most reliable.
If you don’t have teeth, you have gums.
I squatted on the bathroom floor and drew a magic circle.
Ah! I can’t control my magic.
I’m out of magic.
I wrote down the formula for opening, the formula for closing, and the coordinates of my subspace.
I had to bite my finger again and again for the blood that kept flowing.
Magi’s fishy stench mingled with the blood in the bathroom.
I wrinkled my nose at the foul smell.
By the time my fingers were numb, the spell was complete.
I’m drawing a magic circle that I would have drawn when I was nine years old.
A wave of emptiness washed over me.
“2-10-03, Room 27, Silent Hale.”
Since it was the Tower that developed subspace magic and since it was the Tower that gave newly minted second-ranked mages the coordinates for their subspace, the subspace warren contained the mage’s personal information.
In numerical order, the numbers represented the school, master, disciple, and dormitory number and I thought of my previous life and realized that the numbers were just like my class number.
I liked Muyeongchang.
I don’t think of college or tower.
A hole as black as the size of a round magic pearl drawn with blood was created.
Even though it was the entrance of the subspace called out with evil and kang, the boundaries were loose and incomplete.
I quickly reached in and found the communication orb.
Knock knock knock! knock knock!
“Brother, what’s wrong?”
Robe 2 shouted from the doorway.
Keung keung keung, keung keung keung keung keung keung.
The sniffing sounded strangely loud.
I wondered if he had his nose in the doorway.
“Oh, no! Let’s get out now!”
I knocked over the bucket of water next to me.
The blood washed away, and the subspace entrance disappeared.
I tucked the communication orb deep inside my robes, ready to strike when I was alone again.
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