Chapter 74.2. Lancelot’s Adventure (3) Part 2

Personally, Malecia thought the criminals would have stayed at the inn if they came to this village. The desert night was not easy to endure, no matter how well-trained a warrior might be.

"Captain, by the way, is it possible that the saintess is staying in this town since it is near the Holy Land, Zaraham?" A subordinate asked with a nervous tone. 

Malecia shook his head at the subordinate, "No, the saintess will probably take a few more days to get here. Thinking logically, the saintess will be moving with a large group of paladins as escorts, which will inevitably slow her speed. You don't have to worry about the saintess as long as she isn’t moving with a small group. If the saintess notices us now, the ritual and everything else would be ruined."

"Even so, don't we still have the captain?" The subordinate believed that if it was Malecia, even the saintess could be defeated.

That belief made Malecia smile bitterly. "Don't look down on the saintess. Saintess Hillis is the most powerful user of holy magic. Even the famous battle priest Fernando must take a step back before the saintess."

The subordinates swallowed their saliva as their mouth became dry. This stemmed from the fact that more than just a few of their colleagues had died at the hands of Cardinal Fernando.

In the temple’s eyes, they were pagan enemies, and the rituals they were attempting to perform in the holy land were also evil deeds that should never be performed. Therefore, the temple was Malecia’s prime suspect among the organizations behind the criminals.

With the unannounced pilgrimage of the saintess, the temple should be placed first under suspicion.

"I’ve heard rumors that the saintess can compete on equal footing against William of the Butterfly Tribe."

"You mean that white devil!"

The men were astonished at Malecia's words. Some of the men became cautious as they had met Willam on the battlefield in the past.

"Don't be too nervous. It's simply a rumor. Just be careful,” Malecia said.

"Yes, we understand."

Even with Malecia's words, his men could not relax. As he entered the inn, this made Malecia think that he shouldn’t have bothered saying them at all.

"Welcome!" The innkeeper greeted them while hard at work cleaning the tables.

As Malecia entered the inn, he frowned when he smelled something faint, "Strangely, there’s a burnt smell.”

The inn was clean without a sign of any soot despite the burnt smell. As such, Malecia assumed that they burnt some food in the kitchen and just let it slide.

Looking around the inn, he couldn’t sense any sign of anyone other than the innkeeper. It seemed that the saintess had not yet arrived at the village. He was worried about it for no reason. There was no way the saintess could have been this fast.

Now that he had left the altar due to the carnelian crystal being stolen, it was difficult for him to respond immediately to the saintess’s movements.

The pilgrimage of the saintess was a sudden decision. Due to this, he was not able to bring along someone capable of deceiving the paladins for this mission. Therefore, he couldn't keep an eye on the saintess properly, but it wouldn't matter.

"Owner, let me ask you something,” Malecia said.

The innkeeper smiled broadly and said, "Yes, yes, of course. How much it costs per night is-”

"No-" Malecia cut off the innkeeper. "We have no intention of staying here."

At Malecia's words, the innkeeper changed his smiling face to an expressionless one, then sighed and went back to wiping the tables.

Malecia's men were instantly outraged.

"You bastard!"

"Stop," Malecia ordered.

When Malecia waved his hand, his men lowered their fists. Malecia approached the innkeeper.

"Hey. Owner."

When Malecia's only eye glared at the innkeeper, the innkeeper dropped the rag he was holding.

"Did you see a black-haired trio consisting of a young man, boy, and a girl?" Malecia asked.

As soon as he saw Malecia's eyes, the innkeeper felt his hair turning white.

The innkeeper stammered in fear as if he was facing a wolf. "That, that is.”

Malecia looked at the innkeeper with warm eyes.

"Take your time," Malecia spoke politely, but the innkeeper’s legs gave out, and he fell onto his butt from fear.

"Heeek! There, there was! A black-haired three- I mean trio!"

Looking at the blue-faced innkeeper, Malecia reached his hand out to help him stand. "When did they leave?"

When Malecia extended his hand, the innkeeper shouted while covering his face with his arms as if asking not to hit him.

"Uaack! Noon! They left around noon with the saintess's party. Spare me!"

Malecia hardened his face before his awkward emotions were revealed by the innkeeper's reaction. Feeling urgent, Malecia raised his voice, "What! Saintess?! Where did they say they were going!"

"The Holy Land! The Holy Land,  Zaharam! Heeuk!"

Leaving behind the owner of the inn, who was trying to crawl away, Malecia shouted urgently, "We are returning to the altar immediately!" 

Malecia clenched his fist. He thought he was paying close attention to her movements, but the saintess’s traveling speed was too fast.

According to Malecia’s logic, there should have been a few more days time before she arrived here due to the large group of paladins escorting the saintess on her pilgrimage.

No. More than that, how could he not have noticed when the saintess had been so close by?

In a desert’s open environment, Malecia thought it was impossible to be able to hide a large group of paladins escorting the saintess.

"Yes!" The men replied in unison, and as soon as they went out of the inn, they sent out an emergency signal in the sky.

Red smoke embroidered the sky, and Malecia brought his scattered men back to his position.

Malecia and his men went towards Zaharam at full speed.

* * *

In Hillis's carriage to the Holy Land, Zaharam, there was not only Hillis and her servant but also Leisha and Lancelot. Mac said that not moving didn’t suit his nature and decided to ride a camel with the paladins instead of sitting in the comfortable carriage. Perhaps it was due to the paladins’ magnanimity that they got along with Mac, even after they went through Hillis’s drunken hell because of him.

Lancelot was dumbfounded at the sight of the paladins and Mac.

On the other hand, however, to the paladins who sincerely revered and followed Hillis, Mac’s unwitting hell-raising actions may have just seemed trivial to them.

Of course, the theory that the paladins were perverts with strange tastes did not diminish one bit.

"Ah~ Feels nice."

Hillis was moved by the cool air that filled the carriage as she said, "Thank you so much!"

Leisha felt a little uncomfortable when Hillis held her hand and looked at her with moist eyes, saying, "No, it's just simple magic."

For Leisha, this level of magic was as simple as breathing. Teacher Mirpa’s spartan training allowed you to use magic more difficult than this as easily as breathing. Furthermore, there was stable mana everywhere, unlike when she was learning under Mirpa. To exaggerate, Leisha would, at times, sit dazed in the comfort of the carriage and forget that she was using magic.

"I've heard that Miss Saintess can use holy magic, but is there no magic like this in holy magic?”

Hillis smiled and shook her head. "No, as far as I know, there is. It's just that I haven't mastered it."

To be exact, during the time when Charlot was coming into power, he had banned many spells that were developed to make people more comfortable. The reason given for the ban was that these spells would be disruptive to the capital. In reality, it was to prevent citizens from remembering the remnants of the temple’s past glory.

This reasoning was officially a secret, but anyone who knew the history of the Empire could easily infer it.

"Oh, I see.”

Leisha moved on without thinking, but Lancelot was well aware of the Empire’s situation because he had been educated in many ways as a diplomat.

Lancelot smiled awkwardly and avoided Hillis's gaze. Hillis recognized Lancelot's realization as soon as she saw his expression, but she pretended not to know.

There was no need to let people know of the Empire’s situation. Still, when she saw Lancelot, she felt like messing around. "Is there anything Mr. Lancelot is curious about?"

"Yes?!" Lancelot, who had been avoiding her gaze, was surprised when Hillis spoke to him.

Seeing him get so flustered, Hillis laughed inwardly.

"Well, I have been thinking of one question. Aren't there too few paladins escorting Miss Saintess?” Lancelot asked.

Hillis's party had 15 people, including Hillis, her servant, and 13 paladins. This was too small of an escort considering the ranking of the saintess in the Empire. If the 13 knights were in accordance with the imperial regulation, each of the 13 should also have two squires attached to them. In other words, the actual number of guards for Hillis was only one-third of what it should have been.

Leisha thought 13 people were a lot and tilted her head. 

The question was raised because 13 strong men from the Crow Tribe could exterminate a monster colony before a warm glass cooled down. For reference, if a monster that "adapted" to the Olympus Forest formed a colony, the basic population was considered to be at least 1,000.

Therefore, Leisha didn't ask her question. It was because the world outside Olympus Forest had so many stories that went beyond common sense. Perhaps in the country called the Empire, 13 people could be considered a small amount.

Leisha waited for Hillis’s answer as she had answered her own question and also respected cultural differences.

Hillis made an unexpected face as if she had not expected him to ask this kind of question, but she quickly returned to her graceful smile and replied, "Honestly, I ditched the normal knight division that would be attached to me because it’d just be bothersome."

The knights that Hillis was referring to were not the unofficial platoon of knights that were currently escorting her. At least two more platoons would have to be added to be an official knights division, which included squires.

The knight division of the Empire normally consisted of five platoons. However, a knight division was a special unit, and so the formation could differ depending on the commander leading the division.

"Huh? Is that okay?”

Leisha did not know the size of a typical knight division, but she wondered if it was alright for a person of the saintess’s stature to trek through a desert after ditching her escorts. Still, if there were regulations, she would not be able to do as she pleased, no matter how high a position she had.

"Of course not. Huhuhu.” 

Leisha thought that Hillis laughing looked like Denburg.

With a thought that would surely make Lancelot protest if he heard, Leisha looked at Hillis with curious eyes.

Notes: 1) Fighting is a cheering phrase in Korea that is basically the same as, “You can do it” or “You got it.”

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