The Mayors mansion was gigantic and magnificent as ever. Enough to be mistaken as a palace, it was a place that a peasant couldnt even dream of stepping within. But was it just a feeling The mansion somehow looked darker and gloomier than any other worn-out building in the city.
Zich and Lubella stopped at the mansions yard. Unlike before, they confidently strutted around the yard. There was no one outside the mansion who they had to hide from.
“Its like a ghost mansion.”
“A house is a place where people live. If theres no one living inside it, it can become quite frightening. This place is more like that because it has so much useless space, giving more room for imagination.”
The whole mansion was empty. After the Mayor's assassination, the guards lost their main figure to protect and were the first ones to leave. Then, the Mayors family, who felt an ominous feeling from the residence, moved somewhere else. Even the servants didnt want to stay, and so, the mansion that had been the fanciest house in the entire city became empty.
“The Deputy Mayor probably caused this to happen since he is using the Mayors mansion as the center of his ritual.”
“I guess it wouldnt be an exaggeration to say that this mansion is Bellus temple.”
“Yes. They probably covered all their bases there. I bet theyve prepared everything they have for us.”
“Thats delightful news.”
As if she was trying to imbue some confidence into herself, Lubella spoke with high spirits. Zich smirked.
“Even if we greatly diminished the Bellid guys power, they still have a lot of forces left. He probably finished restoring that thing called theKey. Under normal circumstances, we would have retreated and called support, but you know, we dont have much time.”
“It cant be helped that we have to fix this problem with just the two of us. It wont be easy. Are you ready”
Lubella looked at the staff she was holding. It was something she had gotten when she was chosen as the Saint Candidate. She had sworn that day she would bet her life for light and justice as someone carrying Karunas strength and name.
Lubella stared at Zich. He could see determination in her eyes.
“I am prepared,” Lubella stated.
“I see, but dont be too nervous.”
Lubellas determination seemed too much to Zich, and he tapped her shoulders.
“Even if the Deputy Mayor has the city under his control, if our battle creates a loud commotion, military troops will come barging in. Then, if we just play the situation well, we may be able to get them to join us. It will also free us of our false charges at the same time. Unless they are blind, they wont attack us immediately if they see us fighting the undead.”
“Ah, there was that possibility.”
Even if Lubella had made a firm resolution, she was nervous; but hearing Zichs words, she loosened her shoulders.
As expected of Mr. Zich.
Lubella believed in Zich completely now. She admired him for his insights.
“Then lets charge in.”
With his words as the signal, the two opened the mansions main gates and went inside.
* * *
The mansions doors werent even locked by a simple system. This suggested that in contrast to how its exterior looked, the place was completely uninhabited.
As expected, Mr. Zichs predictions were right.
And they were sure that Bellid people were conspiring inside the mansion.
“Lets head to where the fish head statue is.”
“I will guide you.”
Lubella took the lead. They didnt need to hide like last time, and they arrived at their destination in no time.
Zich raised his sword and opened the door.
In a room covered in darkness, a flash of light shot out like arrows. With considerable strength and speed, the flash of light was aimed at Zichs neck. Although it had come out with great impact, it missed its mark.
“That surprised me,” Zich said after slightly lowering his head and making a perfect escape from the ambush. Unlike what he said, his tone was utterly calm. It seemed like he spat out his words out of habit rather than surprise.
However, that wasnt the end of the attacks.
Wing! Wing! Wing!
Three more flashes of light burst out.
Zich stepped away from the door.
“M-Mr. Zich! Are you okay”
Lubella wasnt able to keep up with the sudden attacks and just blinked her eyes, quickly hanging onto Zich.
“I am fine. I am not that easily affected by such sloppy attacks,” Zich replied with little regard and glared inside the room. “But besides that, its weird that I couldnt sense the attacks.”
Now that I mention it…
Zichs sensing abilities were incredible to say the least, and he had benefited greatly from them over his lifetime. From the first place, Zich was able to find Lubella in the alleyway because of his sensing abilities.
Theres someone who can trick Mr. Zichs sensing skills
Lubella began to feel a bit frightened.
Creatures that attacked Zich from inside the room revealed themselves.
“…Shadow Demons” Lubella said their name out loud. She could understand it now. Shadow Demons were monsters calledDeath that crawled out of Hells shadows. With their stealthiness, equal to none other, these creatures approached their victims without a sound or trace and attacked them. Considering this, she could understand how they had escaped Zichs sensing skills and attacked.
No, she had to compliment Zich for his reflexes that allowed him to escape these creatures attacks even as they tried to ambush him. However, even when Lubellas question was answered, her confusion wasnt resolved. No, it actually deepened.
The fact that these Shadow Demons laid in the room with Bellus statue proved that Bellid controlled them.
I thought the ritual lost some of its powers
However, these creatures were proof that the rituals powers had increased; now, it seemed like the Bellid guys had the ability to summon advanced level monsters rather than just the undead.
As monsters specialized in stealth, the Shadow Demons pounced at Zich soundlessly. One of them jumped on Zich from the front while the other two slid into the shadows. Whenever Zich showed the smallest amount of vulnerability, they soared out from the ground and tried to end his life.
The Shadow Demon that came towards him head-on lifted its scythe, which it had for hands. Its blow was sharp and fast.
“Why are you fighting me head-on when your single asset is assassination”
Zichs sword was much faster than its speed. The moment that the Shadow Demons scythe reached him, Zichs sword had already sliced its head off.
The two other Shadow Demons burst out from the shadows to attack his weak points. Rather, they tried to burst out.
“Dont you dare!”
Even while retrieving his sword, Zich didnt lose his sense of balance. He raised one of his feet and stepped on the head of the Shadow Demon that tried to get out of the shadow.
Shadow Demons didnt specialize in durability. Thus, their heads cracked like watermelons at Zichs feet that were filled with mana. The last Shadow Demon that tried to pull its body completely out of the shadows was also unsuccessful.
Zichs sword came flying in its direction again, and the monster split into two. After killing the three demons, Zich spat, “Bastards, what are they swinging their dirty scythes for”
They had successfully handled their immediate danger, but Lubellas expression still didnt brighten up.
“Mr. Zich! How could a Shadow Demon be here”
Lubellas voice was smeared with a sense of danger, but to her frustration, Zich responded calmly.
“Those Bellid guys must have summoned them.”
“How! Their ritual should have lost power!”
“Well, theres only one answer: the ritual didnt lose its power.”
It wasnt Zich who answered. Lubella quickly turned her body to find the voices owner. But before she could, a sudden vibration overtook them.
The whole building shook. It felt like a high-magnitude earthquake. As the picture frames hanging on the walls and the decorations fell and broke into pieces, Lubella let out a scream. The wall split into parts, and Zich supported Lubella as she was about to fall. Even with the severe vibrations, Zich still maintained his balance.
“W-what is this”
“It seems like its the force of the ritual.”
I thought the ritual became weaker thanks to our efforts. Wasnt the rituals completion pushed to a later date too All kinds of questions circled around Lubellas head.
“Lets get out of here first. Hold on tight!”
Zich wrapped his left hand around Lubellas waist. Then, with his sword, he struck down the wall with great force. The mana blazed, and a huge shockwave exploded.
The mansions walls broke off easily, and Zich jumped out of the hole.
They landed in the garden. Then, Zich walked a couple of more steps to increase his distance from the mansion.
Not long after they escaped, the mansion crumbled with a huge sound. It was a bleak and pitiful ending of a mansion that had been the citys biggest, fanciest building that had housed the citys sovereign: the Mayor.
On top of the building crumbling, its whole foundation sank. It almost looked as if the ground was devouring the mansion with its mouth wide open. Lubella stared at the hole where the buildings remains disappeared. She couldnt wrap her head around everything that was happening.
Lubella tried to organize the chaos in front of her when she spotted something.
It floated arrogantly on top of the ruined grounds. Lubella thought the statue was mocking her, and she felt like a clown, running around for a false hope.
Something sprouted out from the ground and shot up. It was water, probably from the groundwater that ran below the mansion. The water shot to the sky and fell like rain into the empty hole and began to change the hole into a fountain.
“Isnt it beautiful”
She heard the voice again. It was the voice that had answered Lubellas question last time. Lubella turned her head.
“I dont dislike the title of Deputy Mayor, but isnt it about time for you to call me by my real name My name is Allid Grotim, Karuwiman Saint Candidate Lubella.”
“I havent granted you permission to call my last name!”
“Then, should I call you by your first name Like Aine.”
Lubella gritted her teeth. But Grotim didnt feel intimidated at all, and his small laughs agitated her. Lubella took some deep breaths and calmed her mind. This wasnt the time to get angry. She needed to figure out the whole story.
“It seems like you are the one who destroyed the mansion and brought the water out.”
“Of course, I am the one who did that. Its the start of the ritual for our great god, Bellu.”
Lubellas throat became dry. She repressed the uneasy feeling rising inside her heart and murmured. However, when she replied to Grotim, her rough voice cracked, “Your rituals powers became weak. So, the rituals due date should have been postponed.”
Grotim burst out in laughter. It was a mocking laugh that seemed to delightfully ridicule a fool who had been tricked.
“I received reports that you both were working diligently to block the ritual from happening. I really admire your fortitude, and I am sorry to give you some disappointing news.”
Contrary to what he said, Grotim didnt look sorry at all. It looked like his mouth itched to tell them everything he knew. Lubella wanted to block her ears and not listen to him. But she couldnt do that, and Grotims words mercilessly hit her ears.
“Everything you guys did was all useless. It didnt bother our ritual even one bit!”