A white wall piled with snow from the night.
The Priest of the Blue Flame stood before the east gate of Guise.
There was no particular reason for choosing Guise from among the many options.
However, she had heard a rumor about a Demon Slayer who said he had killed a huge demon with a single sword.
As she entered Guise, following a simple identification check, crowds of busy workers filled her sight.
The once-destroyed city was slowly and steadily regaining its shape.
Seeing the traces of destruction caused by the demon, the Blue Flame Priest raised her heart’s evaluation of the Demon Slayer a little higher.
Across the city being rebuilt, the place where the Blue Flame Priest headed was the mansion of the Lord.
When she announced she was of the Blue Flame of the Holy Fire Church, the guards rushed out and announced their visit to the Lord of Guise, Thredon Philian.
With their guidance, she was taken straight to the lord’s offices.
“Welcome to Guise.”
Reticent eyes and a cold atmosphere greeted her.
Although his hair was slowly falling out, he was a man with a sense of weight enough to make such minor flaws invisible.
“I’m sorry that the reception room collapsed, and I had to be rude greeting you here in the office.
Besides, my physical condition is what it is.”
The Lord gently raised the wooden prosthetic arm, buried himself further in the chair, and waved for her to sit.
“By the way, it’s rare for the Blue Flame of Holy Fire Church to make a pilgrimage in person, so what brings you here?”
“Please, take a look at this.
Have you ever seen this man?”
What the Blue Flame Priest offered was a single picture.
This painting depicted the face of a thief who stole the sacred relics of the Holy Fire Church.
Officially, this holy relic thief didn’t exist.
Although only relics of little value were stolen from them, they were caught after a few days of pursuit.
Since he was already dead, there was no official wanted badge with this person’s face.
So, the Blue Flame Priest inevitably had to draw an impression about this man herself based on the ranger’s description.
The problem was that the picture was so bad that to call it simply crude was a compliment.
In addition, the person who presented this painting had the baseless confidence that she drew it quite well.
However, as soon as the demon saw the image, he knew with an extraordinary intuition that it depicted Marnak’s face.
He kept his face carefully blank.
“May I ask who the heck is this guy that the Blue Flame of the Holy Fire Church is personally chasing after him?”
The Blue Flame Priest sat down and looked into Thredon Philian’s eyes.
What hid behind those hollow eyes? After a while, the priest’s mouth slowly opened.
“It is for personal reasons to the Church.”
“Is that so?”
The demon slowly examined the Blue Flame Priest.
Her long blue hair was neatly tied together, and her cold blue eyes showed no emotion.
Seeing a beauty that could draw anyone’s attention at least once, the demon fell into thought.
‘I don’t think she’s chasing after him for a good reason.
I don’t have to tell her.’
“If that’s all you need, you may go.
It’s in the middle of a busy day, so making any more time for you is a little difficult.”
At the Lord’s clear order, she took the picture without regrets, put it in her pocket, and stood.
She hadn’t come to the Lord’s mansion with high expectations in the first place.
Leaving the mansion and going out onto the streets, the Blue Flame Priest walked down the street, grabbed random passersby, and held out the painting.
But no one recognized that the crude painting was of Marnak.
“Did he go to another city?”
Not realizing that her drawing was wrong, she concluded that she had picked the wrong city.
“I heard you were assigned to the capital? What a shame.
I’m going to miss you.”
“I’ll come to visit when I get a chance!”
“There’s nothing to do here.
Stop with those empty words…alright, take care of yourself on the way! Travel is always dangerous.”
“I’m not going alone, so don’t worry.”
The word capital tickled her ear, popping out of a conversation between a red-haired woman and a middle-aged woman at the grocer’s stand.
Even if she went to another city now, the probability of finding him was extremely low unless there was any other way to search.
The pursuit now stemmed from her small suspicion as there was no evidence that he was still alive.
So, the Blue Flame of the Holy Fire Church solidified her determination.
She’d use the intelligence agents in the capital to find this fugitive.
The Butcher ground down the head of the second snow spider.
Gooey fluids splashed me, and I really wanted nothing more than a bath now.
The last snow spider rushed me, but I wasn’t alone.
An arrow pierced its forelimbs, delaying the attack.
Yes, a chance like this was enough.
The Butcher started with a loud roar.
This one turned into minced meat too.
Finally, the last snow spider fell to the floor.
I looked around for more, but the coast was clear.
I beckoned to Carmen to relax his hold on his bow.
“Looks like this is the last one.”
“Is that so?”
I brushed off the fluids on the Butcher and wiped my face with the hem of my priest’s robe.
I still felt uncomfortable with the goop in my hair, but after wiping my face clean, I felt a little better.
Carmen, approaching without a moment wasted, pulled out the sword he wore around his waist and skillfully cut through the spider’s shell.
“What are you doing?”
“Ah, I’m collecting the venom sacs from the spiders.
Their venom has a great anesthetic effect, so it’s useful in many ways.
I smiled as I watched.
As a result of spending more time together, I could see Carmen had a strong sense of responsibility, unlike a master of a noble family.
“How the hell do you know that?”
“I often participate in monster hunting.
Isn’t it the best way to improve your bow skills?”
Of course, to take out the poison sac, the snow spider’s stomach had to be cut, and in the process, more gunk was inevitably splashed everywhere.
“Let me do that since I’m already coated.
Just tell me where the poison sac is.”
Carmen laughed, wiping the fluid from his face.
“It’s a half-day drive to Kelton’s next city, anyway.
I’ll teach you how to collect the poison sac, so we’ll finish it together and go to the city to take a shower.”
We took two each, collected the poison sacs of the four snow spiders, and set off again for Kelton.
And not long after, we met who owned the blood coating the leg’s forelimbs.
Broken carriages and blood and flesh covered the road.
Carmen looked around with a hardened expression.
“It looks like the spiders that attacked us did this.
But it’s strange.”
Carmen tilted his head as he rummaged through the damaged boxes.
“Compared to the size of the wagon, the amount of items left here is too small.
Were they on the way back after disposing of the items?”
“There aren’t even corpses here.”
There was blood and tattered remains of organs, but there were no corpses.
The snow spider was a monster that sucked the blood out of its prey, so there was no way there weren’t corpses.
Carmen had already gone quite far in looking around.
I saw the clear traces of the snow spiders carved over the snowfields, accompanied by bloodstains leading into the forest’s depths.
Carmen pointed to them.
“It seems that the four we caught weren’t all.
It’s really strange.
When we get to Kelton, we must inform the Lord about this before there is more damage.”
There was absolutely no reason for us here to track down those spiders and uncover the truth of the case ourselves.
“I think the same.”
We quickly checked the wagon to see if there was anything we could pack.
Still, most of the remaining items were broken to the point of being unusable, so we set off again without finding anything else.
Now walking a little faster, we finally reached Kelton, and the city walls were in the distance.
“It’s good to inform the lord, but it’s good manners to wash your body first, and I think it’ll make us feel better.”
“It’s definitely worse than I expected.”
As we slowly approached Kelton’s West Gate, the guards began to move with a surprised expression.
Before long, a guard jumped out and spoke to us.
“H-How did you get here?”
‘How did you get here?’
I looked at Carmen; both of us were confused.
“We came walking.”
“Didn’t you run into monsters on the way…?”
The guard stopped talking.
He seemed to realize how stupid he was asking such a question, given our state.
Carmen smiled bitterly and said to the guard.
“Can you tell us what’s happening in Kelton right now?”
The guard swallowed hard and answered in a trembling voice.
“Kelton’s roads have been blocked for three days now by monsters.”
Blocked by monsters? Had we just broken through the siege?
A more senior guard from the city came out to greet us.
“Lord Stren wants to see you two.
We will guide you to the Lord’s mansion.”
I answered, pointing to my head.
“It’s a personal opinion, but wouldn’t it be polite to see the lord after we showered?”
The guard looked between Carmen and me.
“Perhaps the lord will allow you to use the mansion’s bath.”
The lord’s bath.
It was a very attractive offer.
As I slowly turned to look at Carmen, he nodded slightly.
I replied with a smile.
“Let’s go now.”
The hot steam rising from the warm water pleasantly brushed my cheeks.
After washing my body roughly, I soaked myself in the prepared private bath to my heart’s content.
Mother was already enjoying the hot water.
“The fact that a private bathroom is available for guests fits a proper lord.
My feelings for the Lord have already penetrated the roof with this warm water alone.”
Mother agreed by turning her palm over in the water.
After I had finished taking a hot bath, I put on the new clothes the mansion’s servants had prepared.
I wanted to lie down and take a nap, but of course, I couldn’t do that.
As I headed to the reception room, following the guidance of the servants, I found Carmen already there speaking with the lord.
I entered the room and bowed my head.
“Forgive me for being late.”
Please sit over there.”
The Lord of Kelton was a man who looked a little chubby and gentle, but he had a very youthful face.
He must’ve been in his mid-twenties at most.
As I sat beside Carmen, the lord gave me a friendly smile.
“Are you Priest Marnak, the Demon Slayer of Guise? Really, you don’t know how nice it is to have you come to our city.”
I bowed my head slightly, then answered.
“I’m not that great of a person.
I just put out the breath of a dying demon, and the real demon hunting was done by the three Reformations priests who gave their lives.”
“Slaying even a dying demon isn’t something anyone can do.
This Priest Marnak is a humble man.”
Just as the conversation was about to grow longer, Carmen changed the subject.
“I heard that the city is under siege.”
The Lord of Kelton, Stren Plkor, nodded, and his face turned gloomy.
The reason I called the two of you here has something to do with just that.
As you two may have already heard, this siege isn’t normal.”
The Lord, licking his lips, said something very serious.
“It was all done by the worshiper of the evil god.”
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