「I’ve the ability to allow you an evolution, and an immediate one, at that.」
『It’d probably be a good idea for us to play along a bit in order to get him to tell us a bit more.』
The Principality of Falsehood would allow us the ability to discern the truth from lies, so listening to him a bit longer wouldn’t really result in any sort of harm. That said, his comment regarding the Black Cat Tribe’s ability to evolve meant that evolving as a Black Catsman probably had some sort of trick to it. This was a chance for us to learn a bit more about the process, so, the risk was well worth it, at least in my eyes.
（Information already sufficient. His evolution not true evolution. Involves transformation into Evil Being.）
（Won’t lower head to man like this. Not even as act.）
『Ah, I getcha.』
Alright, yeah. Fran’s choice was definitely the better of the two choices. Rynford thought his words to be the truth, but there was no way for us to determine the correctness of the information he provided. Not everything he thought to be true really would be true, after all. Moreover, we had no idea what he’d end up doing should we show him some sort of opening. Playing along wasn’t exactly what you could call perfectly safe.
「Nn. Can just force information from him later.」
Fran pulled tightened her grip on me as she got herself into a combat ready stance.
「Oh? So you choose not to obey? Fine. I’ll just defeat you and force you into a transformation.」
「Fuofuofuofuo! Your words appear much sharper than your skills. I assume you possess some sort of trump card, but I assure you that the magic tool you just used will be insufficient if you wish to defeat me.」
Ah, right, he had Appraisal. He must’ve seen Fran’s fake stats, and thought her to be far too weak to defeat him. He’d likely feel different if he ended up seeing her real stats. I guess that was technically the whole point of using the skill in the first place though, so yeah.
『Welp, his fault, not ours.』
I activated my telekinetic catapult and launched myself right at him. There were only ten meters between us, so my flight but lasted for an instant.
But I was unable to impale the old man.
「That’s a formidable magic sword you have there. Still, it lacks the power needed to pierce the divine protection bestowed upon me by the Evil God himself.」
I was stopped and sent flying by some sort of ridiculously powerful protective barrier. I hadn’t gone all out because I didn’t use Overboost, but I hadn’t really held back either. He’d actually managed to block an attack that made use of element enhancements, Poison Fang, and Vibration Blade.
Shit. I ended flying a bit too far. There was quite a bit of distance between Fran and I.
（Master, Urushi. Stay at current location.）
『Alright. I’ll sit around and peek at his skills to see if I can figure anything out.』
「How close. You would have been able to interrupt the ritual had you killed me with that blow. That said, delaying its completion for another ten minutes would be all your interruption would’ve managed, for not even my death can stop the gears I’ve set into motion!」
「Fuofuofuofuo! It doesn’t matter how much information you pry from me! It’s far too late! The ritual has already reached a state of completion!.」
The magic circle Rynford had hidden behind him began to shine with a blindingly bright light the moment he made his declaration. Magical power started flooding out from within it and scattering into our surroundings.
「With this, the city will give rise to an additional 330 of the Evil God’s Slaves! I’d originally planned for a number ten times that, but, all is fine. Zerais’ plans will more than compensate for what we lack.」
I knew he was using that magic circle for something! That said, I was too late to do anything about it. He’d already used it to transform everyone he could into Evil Humans.
「And with that, I’ll be taking my leave.」
Fran whipped Deathgaze at the old man, but it ended up getting repelled.
「Fuofuofuo. What a weak throw. I see that I was correct in assuming that most of your abilities stemmed from the sword you had. Well, I don’t quite care either way. Men, apprehend her. Kill her if she resists.」
The two remaining Evil Humans had somehow managed to recover from their critical injuries. Both now semi-healthy specimens turned towards Fran after acknowledging their master’s orders.
「Don’t be struggling now, if you want to live that is.」
「Dedicate yourself to Master Rynford’s service.」
「I am inclined to forgive you if you do as any good girl and beg for your life.」
They were looking down on us, which did make sense given that we’d disguised Fran’s stats in order for her to seem like any other D ranked adventurer. Numerically speaking, she appeared to Rynford as someone far inferior to both of the Evil Humans before her.
「Then die. Farewell, girlie.」
Rynford disappeared as he finished making that one last statement. Shit! Did he teleport somewhere? Evil Arts users could do that? God fucking damn it! I can’t believe he actually managed to get away!
「Prepare to die, brat!」
「We’ll have you pay for wronging Master Rynford!」
Their words were accompanied by a series of twisting expressions, not out of cruelty, but because Fran had killed one of them in an instant.
「T-That’s impossible! Where the hell did that sword come from!?」
The answer was obvious, the weapon she now held in her hands was one she’d procured from her dimensional storage. Specifically, she’d pulled out a blade that hadn’t seen much use in quite a while, the magic sword Phantom Pyroxene.
Rynford’s other minion was also disposed of in an instant. There wasn’t any trading of blows. The events that transpired failed to amount to anything that even possibly be considered a battle. Fran had simply eliminated her foes. That was it. Her advantage over them was clear, she surpassed them both numerically, and in terms of the number and overall quality of her skills. Her superiority, combined with the fact that her opponents had been off guard, had allowed her to slay them without so much as batting an eyelash.
『It’d probably be a good idea for you to get rid of the magic circle too.』
「Nn. Got it.」
Rynford had mentioned something about Zerais, so chances were, the two were in the midst of joining up. In other words, Urushi would be able to track both of them down for us at once.
We left the building after casting a few spells to blow the magic circle up. Barbra was bustling with noise as a result of the old man’s actions. Screams were coming from all over the city. The port was giving off a bright red glow; it had obviously been set aflame, a result that almost seemed natural given that three hundred odd Evil Humans had been let loose.
There simply wasn’t enough time for us to fix everything ourselves. We had no choice but to hope that the knights would succeed in the completion of their duties.
『Let’s chase Rynford down.』
Again, that didn’t mean we ignored everything and just singlemindedly charged towards our destination. We still stopped to eliminate whatever enemies we happened to encounter on our way there. All the aforementioned enemies had ended up being forced into their transformations, and so not a single one of them had managed to retain a sane state of mind.
Seeing the Evil Human’s rampaging about had honestly made us feel a bit hesitant about leaving most of them as is, but Rynford and Zerais were probably plotting something to make this whole ordeal even worse than it already was, so we still ended choosing to pursue them instead.
『Take the route that’ll get us to where Zeras and Rynford are fastest.』
We managed to reach the source of Rynford’s scent about twenty odd minutes later. The trip had resulted in us butchering three additional Evil Humans along the way.
『You sure it’s here?』
There didn’t seem to be much magical energy leaking from the building’s premises, and we weren’t able to sense any presences inside of it either. But I trusted Urushi’s nose. If he said that this was the place, then it probably was.
『Why a temple of all places?』
The place that Urushi had led us to was, without a doubt, a place of worship, a house of God.
This world’s religious practice wasn’t one segregated by different sects or cults. Every single temple was dedicated to every single God. People of certain races and occupations might end up having greater dedication to one God than the rest, but it’d never be by a large margin.
All in all, the church was a simple, powerless organisation. It never named any particular popes or pontiffs. This was the result of the people believing it forbidden to use the Gods’ names in self interest. It was said that anyone that did commit such a taboo would soon meet fate in the form of death. That, to me, seemed like nothing but just another urban legend, however, this world’s denizens apparently believed it to be true. I couldn’t help but feel as if applying such an axiom to the religious organisations we had back on Earth would result in about eighty percent of their staff getting wiped out.
There was a sort of Priest-like position, but it wasn’t anything special. Priests were just responsible for managing their temples, and that was it. Anyone could become a priest so long as they had the Oracle skill.
Job classes could actually be considered one of the Gods’ blessings, and thus, one could change their job at any given temple simply by offering a prayer. Each prayer would come with a three thousand Golde fee in order for the temple to pay its maintenance costs and keep its priests out of poverty.
One could also change jobs at the Adventurer’s Guild, as Fran had done twice already in the past. The reason for that was because the guild possessed a magic item that happened to have said ability. I’d assumed that said item was considered a blasphemy or something, but apparently, all the second hand information I’d obtained said that it wasn’t.
Anyways, enough digressing. All that aside, a temple was still a temple. It only made sense for the Gods’ Divine Protection to prevent anything less than desirable from entering its grounds.
So, given that, how the hell did Rynford managed to worm his way inside? The guy was totally connected to the Evil God. No doubts there whatsoever.
『Just what the hell is going on here…?』
「Will know once inside.」
『T-True, I guess…』
We killed our presences as we approached the building. There weren’t any back doors, and the windows were too small to climb through, even for Fran. They’d only been constructed for the sake of letting light into the building’s interior.
Peeking through the windows didn’t reward us with any clues either. That said, we did manage to sense a slight bit of magical energy.
『I can feel a blatant evil energy in this magic, so it’s gotta be him… But still, why the temple?』
We’d never entered any temples ourselves, but we’d passed by a few on occasion. The magic that we’d felt on all those occasions had been pure. What we were feeling here was far too sinister to be of the same make.
Looks like we’re going to have to break in, I guess…
『Alright… Let’s go.』
We steeled ourselves as we gave the door a gentle push and got ready to make our way inside.