Record 4: The Holy Maiden—At the City Where the Spirits are in Fear
The smell of sand.
Red, parched sand which covered the earth was blown aloft by the wind from time to time; making it cling to ones eyes and mouth.
—Exactly like a desert.
Just like the Port Town Fuellscher, the ocean can be seen nearby if one just looks over. But if one takes a step out of the harbor, a landscape baked by scorching heat would be seen instead.
“Is this place the Holy Land Canaan…?”
While standing at the edge of a street, Ren looked around his surroundings.
It was a city with buildings which had distinctive dome shaped roofs.
On both sides of the wide main street, various merchants have set up their respective shops without caring about the heat. All sorts of people crowded all over the busy main street, rubbing their backs and shoulders with each other as they navigated around it.
Ordinary families. Traders. People whose equipment seemed to indicate that they were members of a Party. Furthermore, there were robed young ladies coming to and fro from a temple for Spirit Worship.
“I’ve made you wait Ren.”
A voice called out from behind.
When he turned around, the blonde angel who had now hidden her wings was standing right there.
“Fear senpai! Thank goodness. I was just worrying about what I should do alone earlier. Before I knew it, I was standing in the middle of a city which seemed like Canaan.”
“Yes. Oh that silly Resflaze sama. She seems to have found your antics of being surprised about every little thing in Heaven to be quite amusing. So, in order to further surprise Ren, she suddenly activated one of the Trial Gates.”
Fear gave a rare expression of being exasperated and shrugged her shoulders.
“Well, the problem now is that we’ve become separated from Kyelse and Elise because of what happened.”
“Ah— That really is the case huh? I was worried about that. Even if Fear senpai knows where I am, those two are still onboard the boat right?”
She, who was prone to being seasick, was still left onboard the boat which they had rented out.
“Kyelse has already unlocked the seal to her dragonification. If she turns back into her dragon form and has Elise ride her, they could just simply fly over but… That doesn’t seem advisable. If she flies all the way here in her dragon form, it would likely cause a huge commotion. Elise is really good at locating and unraveling concealment spells. But she’s bad at actually using them to hide herself.”
“So what should we do? Do you have any good ideas Fear senpai?”
“I’ll go and meet up with them. I can properly conceal Kyelse’s dragon form from other people’s eyes when I accompany them back. Let’s go over there first Ren.”
Fear beckoned towards Ren as she slipped through an alleyway.
Ren frantically followed her back as she weaved through the dense throng of people; and the two finally reached a part of the harbor overlooking the sea.
“As expected, this place has fewer people compared to the main street.”
Fear carefully gazed around their surroundings. Immediately afterwards, her form suddenly vanished from sight in less time than it took to blink.
Practically an instant. It was to the extent that Ren, who was just talking to Fear earlier, was made to doubt that what he saw was merely his hallucination. There was absolutely no one in the vicinity who had noticed Fear casting her concealment spell.
“Well then, I shall go and fetch them now. Since we’re going to cross the ocean, it might take some time. So just go sightseeing in the meantime Ren. And once you’re done, please make arrangements for the inn we’ll be staying at tonight.”
After a moment, only the sound of flapping wings could be heard. The presence of the girl before him was completely gone; as if she was never there to begin with.
As he stood there all by himself—
“…Okay then. Guess I’ll check the place out now.”
Ren walked towards the way back to the main street.
This was the capital city of the place called the Holy Land after all. The dome shaped temples of Spirit Worship and the myriad stalls lined up on each side of the main street were both things Ren hadn’t encountered before. The accessories and books being peddled in them were also quite rare and unusual.
“This sure is neat. I have to look for an inn later, but I guess I’ll go visit the weapon workshop first. Maybe they’re selling some real powerful swords or something. There seem to be a lot of Parties aside from the [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage]. It should be fun if the place is this lively.”
In order to explore uncharted regions and sacred places. Of course, ominous lands too. Thoroughly checking out a city one has visited for the first time is something fundamental for those aiming to explore the world.
There was the weapon workshop where skilled weapon smiths and their apprentices gathered. A lot of Parties convened and exchanged info with each other at the city’s lounge area. There was also the city library. Ancient records and manuscripts which could only be found there were open for perusal.
In summary, there were quite a lot of interesting places to visit. Ren headed towards the main street while marveling at the various buildings along the way. But then…
The frantic voice of a young girl rang out from the direction right in front of Ren.
“Found you! Over here, Thyrus sensei. Hurry up, hurry up!”
The girl raised her voice without minding the attention from the surrounding people.
Her blonde hair which curled outwards was quite dazzling and lovely.
The pure white robe which enveloped her body really suited her.
— A pure white robe which gave off a prim and proper aura.
Her face and the vestments she was wearing were both quite familiar.
“Premiere, was it?”
“Tha- That’s right! Umm, well y’see…”
This young woman was an (ARIA)Caster affiliated with the Party [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage].
This girl whom Ren met at the Iscacell underground temple, where the [Spirit of the Earth] Gnome resided in, was now pointing her finger at him in a flustered manner.
“C- Come on, sensei!”
“Calm down. It’s not like you’re facing a monster. And you’re already acquainted with each other anyway.”
A large man appeared from among the crowd.
His figure was one head taller than Ren. His entire body was thoroughly trained and lacked any excess flesh. It could be likened to steel. One couldn’t help but feel that he was a veteran warrior just by looking at his calm and composed bearing alone.
A bald man who wore form fitting, full body warrior clothing.
Thyrus — Within the [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage], where a lot of highly accomplished female spellcasters gathered, he was a rarely seen male (FULLTYPE)Fighter, who distinguished himself as an outstanding talent and was promoted as one of its high ranking officers.
“You’re called Ren, right? It hasn’t actually been that long since we’ve last met, but I guess this can still be considered a reunion of sorts.”
“You’re also here, Thyrus…?”
“Right. I’m glad you remember both Premiere and me.”
The (FULLTYPE)Fighter calmly replied.
“But, how did you come to this place? I’m sure the members of the [Sacred Boat of Canaan Pilgrimage] have checked all of the ships which arrived at the port.”
Ren hesitated to explain everything honestly for a moment.
Nonetheless, these two have already found out that he could actually summon Spirits. Furthermore, if they have already checked every ship which arrived at the Holy Land, saying he got here by boarding one as an excuse wouldn’t work.
“Guess I’ll just tell you guys honestly then. Actually, I was in Heaven just earlier.”
“Heaven, you say!?”
Premiere’s eyes opened wide as she raised her voice.
“That is to say, you came to the Arcana continent via Heaven!? You can’t be saying you got here through a Trial Gate of Heaven, right!?”
“Un. And so, I got transported over here. Rather, I got shoved right over.”
“…You’re doing things which surpass our imaginations as usual huh.”
Thyrus smiled bitterly while sporting an expression which seemed to say ‘good grief’ or something of the sort.
“Heaven, huh. I haven’t experienced visiting the place myself but, wasn’t there any danger?”
“I guess, unless you do anything too offensive, then you’d be alright. You just need to get to a Trial Gate and then Cupids appear. Once you pass their test, I think you’ll be fine.”
“I see. The rumored judgment of the angels huh.”
The (FULLTYPE)Fighter crossed his arms over his chest in a gesture of understanding.
“By the way, what about the other three? I don’t seem to see the young women you’re travelling with. Are you in the middle of inspecting the Holy Land separately perhaps?”
“Nope. I’m the only one here right now. I think they’ll arrive here soon though.”
“So they’ll also come here via Heaven huh?”
“Um. Err… I guess so.”
Fear was an angel. Kyelse was a dragon. The fact that they could actually fly in the sky and cross the oceans to come over ought to be kept a secret, at least.
“By the way, can I ask something as well? About you checking every ship that comes to the Holy Land. I came here directly via Heaven you see. And yet, how’d you find out I was actually here?”
We saw someone who looks just like the [Brave Hero] Eleline.
It shouldn’t be too long before information of the sort gets circulated throughout the Holy Land Canaan. But it was too soon for them to pinpoint even his exact location.
“W- What? Even if you silently stare at me like that…”
“Ren, did you forget who governs the Holy Land Canaan?”
“Eh? Well, even I at least know the name of Saint Elies.”
The woman who holds together the faith of all adherents of Spirit Worship in the Holy Land, and the leader of the [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage].
The power she wields is ancient summoning. Disregarding Ren, who’s ability is not yet known to the world, she’s the young woman known to be the only user of [Lost Spells]Ancient in the present age.
—After thinking about things up till that point.
Ren’s brain came up with one possibility.
“I see. The one who found out where I am was…”
“Ye- Yes! Saint Elies-sama is already aware that you have come here. She sensed that Spirits other than her own contracted Spirits have appeared in this land… And so, given that we’re already acquainted with you, we ended up receiving direct orders.”
“Elies-sama is waiting for you.”
“Me? The Holy Maiden is?”
“Politely guide him over. We were ordered as such. Normally, it’s the time for worship right now but… This time is an exception among exceptions. For that person to actually forgo her daily prayers in order to meet with someone.”
The [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage] officer looked down straight at him.
“But the other three not being present was beyond expectations. Well then, what should we do?”
Ren stared blankly at nothing for a few moments. To think that the Holy Maiden had actually ordered [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage] to personally invite him over.
After giving the harbor where Fear had departed from a glance, Ren had agreed.
“I’ve also only ever heard of her through rumors but, since she’s called the Holy Maiden, she should be very busy right?”
“Ye- Yes! She’s the one who governs the Holy Land after all.”
“I’ll just meet with her by myself then. I don’t think it’s good to make her wait.”
At any rate, Fear had actually crossed the ocean to travel to another continent after all.
It was unknown just how long would they have to wait for her. And if it’s those three, they would surely have some means to locate just where he was at within the Holy Land.
…To be able to talk directly with that Saint Elies.
…If he let this chance go, he wasn’t sure if he would get another opportunity like this in the future.
“There’s no one else in the world who knows more about the Spirits and their behaviour than that woman.”
The words of one of the members of the Party [Investigation on the Spirits] – the (ENCHANTER)Barrier Master Karei. They shouldn’t be an exaggeration.
She was the young woman known throughout this land of Spirit Worship as a saint and an (ANCIENTER)Ancient Caster after all.
“Well then, follow along.”
Thyrus turned around with agile movements.
Chasing after his back, Ren along with Premiere went further ahead large street after large street until they reached a back alley.
In a gap between adjacent large buildings — a dark path not touched by the suns rays silently continued on.
“By the way, are all the surrounding buildings here places of worship?”
“R- Right! It’s called Spirit Worship but, there are actually quite a few Spirits existing within the world. It’s said that, depending on the Spirit one prays to, different blessings will be bestowed. Different Spirits are enshrined in each temple.”
Premiere pointed towards the building in front of them.
“But, there practically isn’t anybody who has actually seen the Spirits here. I, myself, saw the (Spirit of the Earth) Gnome at the Iscacell underground temple for the first time as well.”
“I see. I guess Spirits really are quite rare huh.”
The (Spirit of Fire) Salamander was always accompanying him.
And the (Spirit of Earth) Gnome also got attached to him as well. These should be called indescribable strokes of great fortune. He felt this way again after he came to this land of Spirit Worship.
“So Saint Elies, who can actually communicate with the Spirits is all the more amazing huh?”
“In my opinion, you’re also the same.”
The (FULLTYPE)Fighter walking in front replied in an almost inaudible voice as he stifled a strained smile.
“You aren’t connected in any way to the Holy Land Canaan. You also didn’t undergo any sort of special training. And yet, why do you have the same ability as Elies-sama? It’s the thing most talked about regarding you.”
“Well, according to my companion Elise, it could be that all my other parameters got shafted in favor of this ability alone or something.”
“You haven’t thought about aiming to become an (ARIA)Caster or a (SPIRIT)Spirit User at all?”
It was asked in a casual manner, but it went straight to the heart of the matter.
(ANCIENTER)Ancient Caster — Since one can summon Spirits, there shouldn’t be a reason for one to personally take to the front lines and fight head on like a Knight or a (FULLTYPE)Fighter. One can just leave the fighting to ones comrades and solely focus on supporting them by relying on the Spirits.
“Do you mean Elies has other techniques she can use apart from ancient summoning spells?”
“There are few who know about this, but her ability as an (ARIA)Caster is also one of the best in the world. There are a lot of first class spellcasters among her subordinates after all. It’s the perfect environment to polish her skills right? But, as a result, Elies-sama heavily specializes in spellcasting. She hasn’t focused on training her body akin to a Knight like you or a (FULLTYPE)Fighter like me. The (ANCIENTER)Ancient Caster doesn’t have skills which heavily strain the physical body in the first place.”
Saint Elies was a heavily specialized spellcaster. It made him all the more curious as to why Ren chose to become a Knight despite having the same ability as an (ANCIENTER)Ancient Caster.
“I got the ability to listen to the voices of the Spirits just recently.”
“I see. So before that, you’ve already been aiming to become a Knight.”
Thyrus continued conversing with him as they went along the back alley.
“It’s exactly as Elies-sama said.”
“『The possibility of that persons ability as an (ANCIENTER)Ancient Caster being newly awakened is high. And it was just recently—』 This was Elies-samas conjecture. Her sensing the presence of a new Spirit being summoned occurred quite abruptly, it seems.”
“That’s really amazing. She’s found out that much already.”
There was actually no way Ren could have hidden things from her. She could even sense the activity of Spirits in another distant continent. Truly an ability befitting one who is called the Saint of the land of Spirit Worship.
“Are you now truly impressed with Elies-sama?”
“I feel like I finally know why she’s called a Saint now.”
He felt his entire body shiver.
He clearly knew this was both due to nervousness and a sense of elation.
“We’re nearly there.”
The (FULLTYPE)Fighter turned from the dark back alley towards a wide street which was bathed in sunlight.
Beyond it was a huge cathedral made of stone.
It seems it was built with marble.
This type of stone was a material commonly used in ancient structures and sculptures.
It’s base color was light red, interspersed with white streak patterns, combining into marble with a truly beautiful hue.
“Welcome to the center of the Holy Land, the Canaan Grand Cathedral.”
Premiere pointed towards the towering cathedral ahead.
“The Canaan Grand Cathedral huh. It’s kinda unexpected, but you guys just straightforwardly named it after the Holy Land itself right?”
“It’s quite the opposite actually. In the first place, before the Grand Cathedral was built, this place was just simply known as the Holy Land. But this was inconvenient in a number of ways. So they decided to use the name of the Grand Cathedral, which was the central symbol of the Holy Land, and called it [Holy Land Canaan] ever since.”
Thyrus explained while he gazed upon the main gate.
The gate was engraved with elegant carvings which were akin to a song extolling a triumphant return after a great victory.
Ren, Thyrus and Premiere walked ahead, joining the many robed women and ordinary pilgrims who continuously passed through.
—Within the halls where a lot of pilgrims frequented.
Tourists, including people who wore equipment which indicated their identities as members of Parties which came from the other continents, filled the hallway blanketed by a thin carpet, not inferior in number to the throngs of people crowding about in the streets outside.
“It’s really bustling around here.”
“This is the Holy Land’s biggest building, so there are a lot of people visiting as guests in order to sightsee, and freely come and go until late at night. But, actually, the main area for worship is reserved for believers.”
“Is Saint Elies in that place?”
“No. Elies-sama resides further in.”
The (FULLTYPE)Fighter answered as he advanced along the hallways of the cathedral in a familiar manner.
—At the end of the hallway.
A new pathway continued on just outside the cathedral’s back door.
After passing through a courtyard even further beyond, the surrounding chaotic clamor suddenly disappeared, as if it were but a mere illusion.
It was a courtyard surrounded by decorative hedges as tall as a person.
“This place is?”
“True Spirit Shrine — It’s a building annexed with the Grand Cathedral, and an outbuilding which serves as the base of the [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage]. The purpose of the Grand Cathedral is mainly a place of worship for the faithful. Holding the activities of the Party in a separate place was Elies-samas idea. Furthermore, it would be quite bad if anything ever happens to Elies-sama right? And so, it’s a structure built so our Party will be able to guard her more effectively.”
Within the halls of the True Spirit Shrine.
The one who greeted Ren with a reverent bow inside was a young woman wearing dark purple vestments.
“Neprim-sama!? F- For you to personally meet up and receive us like this!”
“We have troubled you both, Officer Thyrus, Premiere.”
Her age seems to be in the mid-twenties. The woman bearing a graceful countenance declared softly with a gentle voice.
“And also, we have been awaiting you, member of the Party [Knight of Reincarnation]. You are most welcome here.”
“I will be the one to guide you from here on out. Thyrus. Premiere. We have troubled you with a sudden errand. You may now return to your normal duties.”
“Y- Yes, ma’am!”
The young (ARIA)Caster girl straightened her spine as she raised her voice in reply. Her mentor, Thyrus, gave a slight bow and started heading out through the halls of the True Spirit Shrine as well.
“Sorry for the wait. I am Neprim, of the [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage].”
The young woman proceeded towards the interior of the True Spirit Shrine with graceful steps.
“My rank is that of Primary Star. I serve as Elies-samas aide.”
“If we were to phrase it in a more blunt manner, I would be the Chief of Staff. It’s just a simple appellation denoting my rank though.”
The young woman replied with an unconcerned tone.
“Chief of Staff!? That’s not just any title y’know. Even though it’s such a high rank…”
“Compared to Elies-sama, I am but an easily replaceable personnel.”
A calm tone.
She didn’t display a forced smile, nor showed a self depreciating expression. The smile which formed from the lips of the female spellcaster was a joyful and affectionate one, which was capable of soothing others.
“It has only been a decade or so since Canaan was revived as the Holy Land of Spirit Worship that it is today. It has already been called the Holy Land since ancient times. But there was a point when priests feared that the religion would actually be abolished.”
“Even though it’s flourishing like this?”
“This was because there wasn’t anyone who could interact with the Spirits. The (ANCIENTER)Ancient Casters, who could commune with the Spirits, no longer exist in the present age. It was a time when this belief was prevalent.”
Neprim proceeded towards a sunlit pathway.
“And the one who became the Savior was Saint Elies-sama. She had been able to freely summon the Spirits since childhood. And, after being witnessed by many believers as she communed with the Spirits, she was hailed as the Saint of the present age. And Holy Land Canaan once again returned to its former glory.”
“So that’s the story behind the legend of the Saint huh…”
Truly one of a kind. If one considers the premise that Saint Elies can never be replaced by anyone else, the assumption that a Chief of Staff like Neprim is easily replaceable in comparison would indeed make more sense.
“Well then, in here please.”
A door shining with the light given off by a special spell.
When they saw Neprim appear, the spear wielding guards on both sides of the door bowed deeply. After returning the twos gesture with a small nod, she held up her hand towards the door.
—The double leaf door opened with a ‘gii’ sound.
The dark gray colored bolt barring the door was removed through the use of a spell. After momentarily setting their gaze beyond the door, Neprim and the two spear wielding guards took a step back.
“This is the shrine [Space of Prayer]. It’s the room where Elies-sama offers up her prayers. Please, go inside.”
“Is it really okay for me to enter alone?”
“It has been ordered to be so after all. I am tasked to simply guide the Party [Knight of Reincarnation] over. Please go ahead and enter. Elies-sama is awaiting within.”
Once he took a step inside the door.
The door actually closed by itself soon after.
“This is amazing. It’s my first time seeing such a beautiful shrine…”
Space of Prayer.
After looking upon the furnishings within the room, Ren couldn’t help but let out a gasp.
The stained glass windows shone in rainbow colors as sunlight passed through them, and illuminated brass colored candle holders. Across from them stood a pipe organ so tall, one would have to look up in order to fully view it.
The central altar can be reached through a tall staircase. The furnishings within it are surely made of silver.
And it doesn’t seem that they simply brought precious metals and used them in order to craft the ornaments. The surface of the metal showed signs of oxidation gained from the passage of a long period of time, and held an incomparably solemn and sublime beauty.
“Wait. Where’s Elies?”
No matter where he looked within the room, he couldn’t seem to find the person in question at all.
A quiet shrine. The presence of people could not be heard at all.
The only thing which could be heard was the soft echoing of wind.
『…..This sound, isn’t just simply the normal sound of wind.』
“Elies, he’s here.”
“The awaited human? Hey. Can you really hear? Voice… A human other than Elies?”
It didn’t pass through the air currents swirling about the room. Not through the eardrums and certainly not within the mind, but through ones heart.
Subtle echoes which seem to directly ring within ones heart.
“(Spirit of Wind) Sylph, please unravel the air. I’ve already confirmed that the voices of you Spirits can indeed reach him.”
A whirlwind blew upon the altar.
The compressed air swirled around like a small tornado, and settled down soon after.
The surrounding atmosphere warped. Through the power of the Spirit, the distorted space returned to normal and revealed a lone young girl standing upon the altar.
“I suppose I should be saying it’s nice to meet you? And also, hello?”
A young girl wearing a golden robe. Her age seemed to be sixteen or seventeen. Just about the same age as Ren. She had a lovely expression on her face. But her dark green eyes were overflowing with dignified nobility. Her azure colored hair looked quite striking as it bathed in sunlight which passed through the stained glass.
“I do apologize if my choice of words seem inappropriate. I don’t get that many chances to interact with other people from outside after all. Especially, towards a boy like you who’s close to my age.”
“…And you are?”
“Elies. Elies Shia Rin Kale.”
The young woman known as the Saint symbolizing the Holy Land Canaan.
『She’s now standing at the altar right in front of me.』
“Now then, where should I start? I did expect that you would eventually find your way here to the Holy Land at some point. But I didn’t think you would arrive this soon. Actually, I was planning on making a move myself but… Oh well. As such, Ren, I am quite curious about the reason for your coming to the Holy Land.”
“Did you find out about my name from Thyrus?”
“Yes. I am also aware of the events which transpired within the Iscacell underground temple. About finding the place the (Spirit of the Earth) Gnome resided in, and the (Spirit of Fire) Salamander being summoned. And of course, I also know some details about you as well… I was really surprised that you’re actually travelling together with the ‘Three Great Princesses’ from the Apocalyptic War.”
“You’re even aware of Kyelse and the others!?”
Thyrus and Premiere.
The only thing these two members of the [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage] know of was that Ren was capable of communicating with the Spirits. This information surely wasn’t conclusive enough to be used to infer things related to the Apocalyptic War at all.
“How can you be so sure of that?”
“It’s actually just a guess.”
The young girl gazed down fixedly at Ren from above the altar.
“You who holds the likeness of the Brave Hero. And three mysterious young girls. From Premiere’s report, I heard that one of these girls casted a spell used by demons that reduced a giant golem to dust. After hearing that much, it’s not really unreasonable if I were to form a hypothesis like this right?”
The Three Great Princesses, the Dragon Princess Kyelse, Archangel Fear and the Demon Lord Elise, who were supposed to have fallen in the Apocalyptic War as stated in the records of humanity, have actually survived.
“Also, your reaction just confirmed it.”
The Saint held up her hand to her lips and let out an impish laugh.
“I don’t hate such an honest reaction. But isn’t your personality just a bit too honest for your own good?”
“Ah— You got me good. You used my response to find out the truth huh.”
He was splendidly led around. After realizing that much, Ren let out a sigh as he scratched the back of his head.
“So, what do you really want after talking in such a roundabout manner?”
“Don’t be so on guard. I also didn’t think you’d get so easily caught like that. I apologize for my rudeness, okay.”
Saint Elies shrugged her shoulders in a carefree manner. It was such an innocent gesture, coming from the young woman hailed as a Saint who had revived the Holy Land. It also made her seem more amiable.
“You look like you’re having too much fun for someone who’s apologizing though.”
“I guess. I’m not so sure if ‘fun’ is the right description, but I do think this is more comfortable than being all stiff and formal. Here in the Holy Land, I always need to use formal language in order to keep up my image as a Saint after all.”
The steps of the Saint echoed out as she went down from the altar.
“Just call me Elies. Even Karei calls me like that.”
“Is it really okay for me to call you like that too?”
“Anything’s fine other than ‘Saintess-sama’ or ‘Elies-sama’. Since we don’t have a relationship of being master and subordinate or anything like that, using formal speech to talk with each other just seems so stifling.”
The young woman replied with a serious expression.
“And also, even though I did bait an answer out just earlier, it’s really quite surprising. Yes… To think that the Three Great Princesses were actually still alive. Although it was a legend from three hundred years ago, but they were a dragon, an angel and a demon huh. Just considering their lifespans, them being alive until now doesn’t seem so farfetched.”
“In that case, I also have something I want to ask.”
Ren interrupted Elies, who was in the middle of murmuring to herself as she pondered about.
“I heard about this earlier from that woman named Neprim, but why don’t you have any subordinates stationed inside this place? This may sound strange coming from me but, for example, what would you do if I was actually a really dangerous person or something?”
The Saint of the Holy Land Canaan. To this land, she is a one-of-a-kind, peerless existence, as well as the top leader of the [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage].
…Even the Goddess Resflaze had the angels called the [Seven Luminaries] stationed near her.
…But why is Elies all alone in this place instead?
Ren saw two spear wielding guards stationed outside earlier, but for the place where the Saint resides in to have Elies alone within it seemed to be far too careless an arrangement.
“It can’t be helped. This place is where I offer up my prayers, but it’s also the dwelling of the Spirits as well. If other humans apart from me were allowed to frequently enter here, the Spirits wouldn’t be able to feel at ease…”
“Also, this is supposed to be our first meeting, but I don’t really feel the need to be vigilant towards you. As for the reason why, it’s related to the topic we’re going to talk about next.”
“The next topic?”
“Right. But before we get to that, there’s something I want to confirm no matter what first.”
Elies made a gesture of pointing one delicate finger upwards.
“Something to confirm? I already told Thyrus about exactly how I came to the Holy Land though…”
“My question is, are you really the reincarnation of the [Brave Hero] Eleline?”
“Ah… So that’s it. I guess you would want to hear about that after all huh.”
Journeying with the Three Great Princesses from the Apocalyptic War. Furthermore, he was a swordsman whose looks really resemble that of the Brave Hero. Even if it was someone else, and not the Saintess of the Holy Land, they won’t be able to help but feel curious as well.
“So, are you?”
“I can definitely swear upon this. I’m not really that kind of special human y’know.”
Ren replied with a carefree tone towards the unblinking Elies.
“You know the fact that Eleline didn’t leave any descendants behind right? So, naturally, I’m not a direct descendant. But if you go way back on our family tree, to about eleven generations of our ancestors, one seems to be distantly related to one of his distant relatives, or so it seems.”
“That’s about it huh. Well, Eleline is a human after all.”
“So what’s the main thing you want to talk about?”
“Won’t you make a deal with me?”
Space of Prayer.
Within the temple wrapped in solemn serenity, the strict sounding voice of the Saint ehoed about.
“Please come over, (Spirit of Water) Undine.”
Water sprayed out and made splashing sounds.
Water spouted upwards from a gap on the hard floor like a fountain, and formed a large water sphere in the blink of an eye. It then further changed its form.
—It looked like a young girl.
—A blue skinned young girl is the most suitable description for it.
The Spirit then landed near Elies.
And this wasn’t all.
“The (Spirit of Wind) Sylph as well!?”
A small human-like figure sporting green feathers. It was mostly transparent, as if it was one with the surrounding atmosphere. Ren could only see it as something akin to a mirage even after focusing his eyes. It proceeded to hover above Elies.
“With this, I’ve already revealed all my cards to you.”
Saint Elies, the young girl known as the only (ANCIENTER)Ancient Caster in the present age, held her right hand aloft. The (Spirit of Wind) Sylph perched itself upon it like a bird.
“I’ll say it once more. Let’s make a deal. Whenever I traveled to various lands for a visit in my capacity as a Saint, I’ve also explored a lot of places. I’ve even challenged uncharted regions yet to be explored by humanity as well. I’ve discovered abodes of Spirits not yet found by anyone else, and even Trial Gates leading to Heaven and the Underworld. But this isn’t enough. Just like you, who came here seeking for something, I also have something I wish to find out above all.”
“I see. So the main thing you want is to exchange information with me?”
“Correct. The first information I want to know concerns you of the [Knight of Reincarnation]. Why did you appear at this point in time, in this age? I want to know about this first.”
Ren kept silent for a while, as he digested the meaning of Elies’ words.
“Well, this sure is unexpected… You’re actually concerned about that?”
Ren asked back with a bewildered expression.
Ren’s true lineage or stuff concerning Ancient Summoning spells. And furthermore, things about Kyelse and the rest of the Three Great Princesses. If Ren were to put himself in the shoes of Elies, he would probably want to know about these things first. However—
“And also, what do you exactly mean by ‘in this age’…?”
“The timing is a cause for concern. Sword Saint Shion left these words to me.”
Accompanied by two Spirits.
The young woman who serves as the symbol of the Holy Land Canaan spoke thus.
“The appearance of your group, [Knight of Reincarnation], and the phenomenon of Spirits becoming frightened due to some unknown reason, happened mostly at the same time. Finding out the possible relationship between these matters is my duty as a Saint.”
Azure waters which spread out towards the seemingly endless horizon. The waters surface, sparkling by reflecting the suns rays, was accented by white colored foam bubbles which sprayed out from the ocean waves.
Far above it.
Higher than the altitude where the migratory birds fly. Even higher than the clouds floating about in the sky—
“Really now. She sure does such pointless things even if she’s a so called ‘goddess’. To think she’d send just Ren and Fear to a different continent. Kyelse and I ended up waiting around on top of the sea for nothing.”
“Now, now dear. Goddess-sama didn’t really mean anything bad by it.”
The former Demon Lord Elise had her arms folded over each other as she puffed out her cheeks.
She was currently up in the sky while sitting cutely on the back of a giant flying dragon.
“By the way Kyelse, can’t you make the ride a little more comfortable?”
“…..I’m still feeling a bit seasick.”
A low, booming voice from which both dignified majesty and soft femininity could be felt.
It came from a massive silver dragon enveloped in mystical light.
—Heavenly Silver Dragon
Sporting two wings covered in pure white feathers akin to those of the angels. A gleaming, bluish, silvery white body; more ephemeral and purer than pearls.
The height of its body towered over ten meters tall. But the trunk which supported its large frame did not bulge out like that of other dragons. Rather, the contours of its entire body sported a lithe silhouette which can almost be said to be human-like.
Its emerald green eyes were filled with brilliance, just like precious gems.
That mystical dragon right now was—
“Uu… It feels like everything before my eyes is wobbling.”
Muttering in such a frail tone.
“Really now. You’re only weak towards being seasick huh. Even though you seem to be invincible before anything else other than that.”
“Even I also have things I’m not good with….. Auu…..”
“He- Hey, Kyelse!?”
The silver colored dragon rolled over in midair. Elise managed to barely hang on to her scales. But if it were a normal human, one would have still been thrown off even if one manages to latch on with ones arms.
“Do you want me to catch you, Elise?”
Fear, who was flying just a bit ahead of the giant dragon, turned around sporting an exasperated grin.
“At this rate, there’s no telling just how many times Kyelse would do somersaults in midair.”
“No thanks~ Although I would’ve liked you to, if possible.”
Elise replied as she clung to the head of the Heavenly Silver Dragon.
“Fear got close to the Goddess when you had an audience with her right? Some of her scent still remains on your body. If Fear were to catch me right now, I’ll be touched by that goddess’s blessing and would feel itchy all over y’know.”
“Ah. I guess you would huh.”
This was the fate between the former Demon Lord and the Goddess. Because they both wielded enormous power of opposite natures, whenever their powers got into contact with each other, they would proceed to oppose each other and cause an overreaction to occur.
“So I guess I’ll just have to put up with this then. Hey Fear, how much longer before we arrive?”
“Not more than one hour, I guess.”
Travelling between continents. This trip, which would have lasted a few days even just on a one way trip via sailing ship, was now being accomplished in just under two hours. This was how long it would take to meet back up with Ren, who was now touring around the Holy Land Canaan.
“One hour huh…”
“Is something the matter?”
“No, I wonder if I’m just imagining things? I kinda smell ‘something’ rea~ally unpleasant over there.”
Towards the place they were heading to.
The brown skinned young girl glared right towards the direction of the Holy Land Canaan.
The sixth sense of a Demon Lord.
It surpasses the concepts of mere smell or intuition, and can be said to be unique personal ability which cannot be fully classified. Fear and Kyelse are already aware of this.
But Elise doesn’t usually tell them directly even if she did manage to sense something.
Just like the matter with the traps at Iscacell underground temple.
Even if they were to encounter things which are considered as greatly dangerous in the human world, they wouldn’t really pose much of a threat towards Elise, Fear and Kyelse after all.
[Something] which made even a former ruler of the Underworld apprehensive.
The former Demon Lord remained silent, narrowed her eyes at kept staring at the direction of the Holy Land.
“Ren’s already over there, right?”
“Yes. I believe he’s currently going around to check the state of the capital out before we arrive.”
“There are two powerful presences over there.”
The archangel repeated Elise’s words.
“I, more or less, have an idea about the identity of one of them. But I don’t have a clue regarding the other one. Let’s see. It’s like… uh, a really, really irritating aura.”
“Shall we hurry?”
“Un. If it were any other opponent, we would just watch over Ren as he tries his best. But this time, I’m really not sure if that’s okay. It’s a really mysterious presence.”
Elise replied as she rode on top of the head of the gigantic Heavenly Silver Dragon, as her black hair got swept back by the winds in the sky.
“It’s been three hundred years since I felt something this bad. Apart from the time of the Apocalyptic War, I guess………”
Holy Land Canaan ● True Spirit Shrine — Within the [Space of Prayer], giving off both splendour, highlighted by the glitter of brass colored ornaments, and solemnity, heightened by the passage of countless years.
“……I see. So it’s really just a coincidence huh.”
The young woman being followed by two Spirits muttered to herself.
“It doesn’t feel like you’re trying to deceive me. I guess I can believe you.”
“I mean, I bet you’ll be able to find out about my origins easily if you’d investigate a bit. You could have done so immediately if you’d questioned the instructors from St. Fiora Journey Academy.”
Ren replied while glancing sideways at the towering pipe organ.
He answered all questions as earnestly as he could.
His place of birth.
How he met with Kyelse, Fear and Elise. About the objective of their Party being the same as all the other Parties: Finding the (World Record)Encore.
And about how he became able to use ancient summoning spells and converse with the Spirits. All in all, it’s just these. Ren did not find any of Elies’s questions all that hard to answer.
“Judging from your answers alone, your group, the [Knight of Reincarnation], and the restlessness of the Spirits I’m concerned with aren’t directly related it seems.”
“Now that you mentioned it, about that matter with the Spirits.”
Ren honestly blurted out what he was thinking about as he gazed at the (Spirit of Water) Undine standing next to Elies and the (Spirit of Wind) Sylph perched on on top of her fingertips.
“Thyrus and Premiere of the [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage] are your subordinates right, Elies?”
“Those two were really shocked when I summoned the (Spirit of Fire) Salamander. When I was called here, I thought it would be like 『So they told me you can also summon the Spirits. Hurry up and show me right here.』 or something like that. So it’s not about that after all huh?”
“That isn’t really necessary.”
The Saints lips slightly loosened as she shook her head from side to side.
“I can feel the presences and voices of the Spirits near you.”
“The (Spirit of Fire) Salamander and the (Spirit of Earth) Gnome by your side seem to be really happy.”
“…You can actually tell that much?”
In Ren’s case, he would find it difficult to sense the Spirits unless he makes them materialize via summoning, or they communicate with him on their own initiative.
But this young woman could actually hear their voices even if they were just staying nearby?
“It seems to be a unique ability of mine.”
The young woman replied in a tone that did not boast, but seemed to only state a fact.
“In ancient times, it was known that (ANCIENTER)Ancient Casters had differences when it comes to empathy rates towards Spirits. In my case, as long as the Spirits emit their ‘voices’, I can perceive them, no matter where they are in the world.”
“……That’s really amazing!”
『So (ANCIENTER)Ancient Casters had differences in ability huh. Elies may have had no intention to and said it so casually, but I feel like I got shown just how much the gap in ability is between us.』
『…She isn’t called the last (ANCIENTER)Ancient Caster of the present age for nothing huh.』
『The ability to communicate with the Spirits. Empathy rate.』
『I’m not clear if one can raise ones proficiency in it or if it’s already an ability that’s fixed at birth, but I do know that her ability to feel the Spirits is leagues above my own.』
“But you can’t just feel my Spirits alone right? How about yours?”
The two Spirits of Elies, the (Spirit of Water) Undine and the (Spirit of Wind) Sylph, continued to stare at Ren in silence since earlier.
“My Spirits are always feeling afraid. That’s why I’d always stayed by them inside this room. Otherwise, they’ll feel ill at ease.”
“That’s right. The Spirits all over the world are the same. Your (Spirit of Earth) Gnome is no exception. Do you remember the time you met with my officer, Thyrus, in Iscacell underground temple? The Spirit which was supposed to be on the altar wasn’t there. What did you meet instead, I wonder?”
Ren stared blankly at the air in the middle of being questioned for a few moments.
“The Spirit we’re looking for should be on this altar, according to our investigation from two years ago.”
Thyrus really did say that when they were at the dwelling of the Spirit. The (Spirit of Earth) Gnome wasn’t at the altar, but a [Guardian] was placed there instead. And its behaviour when they first met it also was—
“There stood a small person wearing a brown long coat with a hood, looking surreal, just like how a Spirit would.”
“This Spirit was about the size of a small cat, he only grabbed Ren’s ankle, looking up with unease.”
“…I think I kind of get it.”
He looked down towards his feet. It wasn’t materialized right now, but Ren had a feeling that the (Spirit of Earth) Gnome was clinging to his feet even now.
“Before I came, the (Spirit of Earth) Gnome had hidden itself. And after I came, it seemed to have felt relieved.”
“Right. And the one I asked to investigate these matters was Officer Thyrus.”
She nodded in reply.
The Saint then fell into silence, seemingly lost in thought.
“At present, an unknown [something] has appeared in this world. This hasn’t been publicly announced in the cities around world yet. There aren’t that many eyewitness reports in the first place. But that is—”
“Scaring all the Spirits in the world huh.”
“I and [Sword Saint] Shion are trying to find out the identity of this [being]. What we know so far is that ‘it’ is similar to the Spirits; a being of pure spiritual energy.”
“Eh!? So it’s actually not a Spirit itself?”
The Spirits are the only beings in the world who don’t have a physical body, but consist of pure spiritual energy instead.
Elise had said so.
How can they maintain their existence? How are they born? And how about the mechanism behind their appearance and disappearance? Even the so called great beings, the dragons, angels, and demons, do not know the answers. If so, then—
Isn’t the energy lifeform Elies was talking about not a Spirit as well?
“We don’t know yet. I don’t know if it can be classified as such from Ren’s understanding of the term [Spirit]. But I do know that it’s different from the Spirits we humans recognize. It’s an even higher, even more fearful existence. Right now, the only ones being affected are the Spirits. But if ‘it’ materializes in earnest, we can’t predict just how much it would affect the world.”
The azure haired maiden said in an unfaltering tone.
“What’s the matter?”
“No, this might just be me overthinking things but, I remembered something those guys from Elmekia Dusk said. I think… It was something like, if I want to know the reason for the Spirits being afraid, then I have to chase after them.”
The [Third Rank] – [Heretic Knight] Casadine.
The [Investigation on the Spirits] were also wary about the movements of the [Royal Order of 72 Special Knight Brigade] Elmekia Dusk.
The world’s largest military city-state — Supreme Metropolis Elmekia. What are the secrets hidden within that place which the [Heretic Knight] claims to have not revealed its true strength?
“Right. [Sacred Vessel of Canaan Pilgrimage] is also monitoring the movements of [Elmekia Dusk] as well. Just keep this between us, but the spies we’ve placed inside the Supreme Metropolis do not number a mere one or two people. But we have not managed to get any vital information from them yet. In the end, there’s only one way for I and [Sword Saint] Shion to find out the identity of the being causing the Spirits to be afraid. That is…”
“The [World Record] Encore, right?”
“In the past, the only time the Spirits became fearful was during the Apocalyptic War three hundred years ago. If so, then it’s natural to think that the reason for it is also recorded in the Encore, right?”
The Apocalyptic War and the restlessness of the Spirits.
Three hundred years have passed since then, and the Spirits have become fearful once more.
Furthermore, the true identity of the [Being which threatens the Spirits] which Saint Elies and [Sword Saint] Shion have been investigating.
“Ren, aren’t you curious about the reason why the Spirits are following you?”
The Holy Maiden asked in a rebuking manner.
“You’ve already provided me some information. Next is—”
“Can you let me in on this conversation as well?”
A sound of something being crushed.
After being hit by a powerful shockwave, a sidewall of the temple turned into countless pieces of rubble and the pipe organ standing behind it was torn in two.
“What!? Those walls were protected by three layers of defensive barriers!”
Elies exclaimed in a surprised voice as she gazed upon the destroyed walls right before the altar.
“Triple Barriers? It’s laughable that you consider those thin, weak, paper-like veils to be barriers. I guess the place you humans call the Holy Land is only of this standard after all.”
A tan skinned demon stepped over the rubble and entered the [Space of Prayer].
Its body was covered with a hemp overcoat.
The face that peeked out from it can be said to be that of a young teenage boy. Its verdant green hair was cut just below the shoulders. Its eyes flashed with hints of crimson.
Its face was so strangely androgynous that, depending on the angle of ones view, it could either appear as elegant and graceful or imposing and gallant.
But, at the back of its overcoat, there peeked out a huge, scale covered tail which resembles that of a dragon.
Furthermore, vile miasma was welling out from its entire body.
And it wasn’t just any demon. Its presence can’t be compared to the many demons Ren defeated beck in the Great Volcano Galia. Its overwhelmingly intimidating aura instead comes close to that of the [Demon General of Blaze] Achendia.
“An appearance just like of that hero. I see. You’re the swordsman the [Demon General of Blaze] Achendia was talking about huh? It seems this was indeed a good time to pay a visit, since I got to meet not just the Saint alone.”
The tanned demon swept its gaze on both Saint Elies and Ren.
After it had easily blasted apart the walls of the temple, its aggressive looking eyes had continued to widen in rising excitement.
“My name is Mia. I am one of the [Five Great Disasters] directly serving under the Demon King. The [Demon General of Wave].”
“[Five Great Disasters]!?”
『Apart from the [Demon General of Blaze] Achendia, who went to here after disregarding the orders of the Demon King, there’s another one one of [The Five Great Disasters] who has come up to the Surface?』
“What’s going on? What’s a high ranking demon like you doing in this Holy Land of humans…”
This is different from the time the [Demon General of Blaze] Achendia made the Great Volcano Galia into her base.
Appearing in a human metropolis, and furthermore, barging into the [Space of Prayer] where the Saint resides in. A commotion should have been raised outside the temple as well.
“I chased after a foe and came all the way here. It’s a strange thing resembling a Spirit in both form and abilities. And so, I followed its trail and arrived here at the the Holy Land. In other words, I thought it was something of your doing, Holy Maiden followed by the Spirits.”
The demon’s piercing gaze.
It answered the saint in a low voice filled with such savage hostility that it can actually freeze the breath of an average person.
“I assume you’re talking about what happened at the northern point of the Yumel continent. The battle fought just outside a Trial Gate of Heaven.”
“I see. So you don’t even intend to deny it any—”
“No. Just the opposite.”
The (Spirit of Water) Undine went in front of Elies, as if to shield her. The (Spirit of Wind) Sylph also got ready up in the air.
The young woman called the Holy Maiden replied in a cold tone as she stood while being protected by the two Spirits.
“Us humans are also in the middle of searching for the identity of the being you called ‘a strange thing resembling a Spirit in both form and abilities’. To relate it to Spirit Worship just because it resembles a Spirit is way off the mark.”
“Hou? Well then, why would the presence of the (MARKING)Echo I placed on it remain on this Holy Land?”
“…(MARKING)Echo? What do you mean?”
“I am the [Demon General of Wave]. I may have had trouble dealing with it’s attacks in our first battle, but I still managed to attach a sliver of my power onto it. I can manage to find it no matter where it runs to. It’s an original move that only I can detect and remove.”
“I, unfortunately, have no idea about it.”
“You just keep saying that huh. The conniving ways of you humans have not changed at all after hundreds of years.”
The temple shook after thunderous noise rang out. The [Demon General of Wave] hit the floor of the temple with the huge tail peeking out of its travellers cloak.
“But that’s fine as well.”
Mia clenched its stretched out fist tightly. The eyes of the tan skinned demon with ambiguous gender welled up with excitement as he stared at the two.
“[Fake Brave Hero] Ren. [Demon General of Blaze] Achendia sure spoke highly of you. It’s been a long time since that whimsical person spoke so happily about a human.”
“Yes. I do not mean to forsake my loyalty toward the previous Demon Lord Elise-sama as a member of the [Five Great Disasters] with this, but now I managed to make a pretext in order to openly fight you and the human girl they call a Saint. Since Elise-sama is not here at the moment, there is no better time for me to exchange fists with you.”
The travellers cloak was vigorously thrown up in the air. The demon clad in light armor slowly made its way over. The lithe body which made Ren almost doubt his eyes, overflowed with an overwhelming amount of miasma and violent intent.
“I shall use my power to ask of you. The identity of that thing which resembles a Spirit. And the power of you humans. Do not disappoint me, alright?”