The Black Demon King 498
Chapter 25: Days of Lies
The Calm Before the Storm (part 1)
“Hey, Sariel… Is it just me, or Reki and Ursula have been acting a little strange?”
It was the 15th of Ice Crystal Month, the day after the Valentinus Festival. That night, I approached Sariel to ask her a question I had already asked her about before.
“I’m not sure, but it’s probably because you spent last night alone with Reki during the Valentinus Festival.”
“I was wondering if it had something to do with that…”
I had felt a bit bad about going to the festival with Reki alone after Ursula had passed out from drinking alcohol, but I didn’t think it would have such an impact.
“I was kind of wishing it would’ve been just me imagining things, though…”
Earlier that day, I had started to get this horribly uncomfortable feeling from them.
Reki seemed to have gotten up before I woke up this morning, as I found myself alone in bed. And when I got to the dining room as part of my morning routine, Reki and Ursula were already there getting breakfast ready as usual, but they were strangely quiet.
Normally, they would be chatting cheerfully while preparing breakfast together, but this morning, they would only talk to each other when strictly necessary.
At that time, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. I simply thought they were still tired from the previous night. Reki had stayed up late with me at the festival, and Ursula had fainted after drinking alcohol.
Nevertheless, I was able to confirm Ursula’s well-being during our Original Magic control training session, which we had planned to have after the holiday. And her reaction wasn’t even sluggish during our training, rather than that, she displayed an ability to deliver vicious attacks, probably because she had a lot of power saved up as a result of having taken a day off.
Despite that, I got yet another uncomfortable feeling from them after we returned home in the evening. The sisters would normally enjoy talking with each other during dinnertime, but they were instead very quiet this time around.
Thinking back, this was the first time ever since I started living in this church for a dinner to be this quiet. Sariel won’t talk unless she’s addressed directly, and I’m not the kind of guy who can easily come up with bright topics to discuss during dinner.
Though I did finally tell them the date I would be leaving this village during dinner, so I understand that the mood isn’t right to have fun conversations,
Both Reki and Ursula knew that I would be leaving the village in the near future, so they weren’t surprised, but they just listened with a gloomy look on their face, as if they had realized that the time for us to part ways has finally arrived.
Still, I had no doubt that their strange behavior and the fact that I was leaving the village were completely different issues.
“Should I just get myself ready to talk about this tomorrow?”
I wasn’t going to be giving a great sermon or anything. I was just going to apologize for making it look like Reki was receiving some kind of special treatment from me.
After all, I had five more days left to stay. I didn’t want to start acting like I’m going to leave so soon when the two of them were being so weird with each other.
“…N-No, it’s no use, it’s not going well at all.”
However, time goes by in vain.
On the 16th of the Ice Crystal Month, I was determined to speak with Reki and Ursula first thing in the morning.
“Ursula, I’m sorry I went to the festival with Reki alone. If you think I was unfair to you, I’ll make it up to you.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. I’m fine. After all, I just went and fell asleep.”
“Priest Kuroe worries too much. Reki and Ursula don’t think anything of it, so Priest Kuroe shouldn’t worry about it, okay?”
I couldn’t say anything else about it since the two of them just smiled and said those things in response.
But I wasn’t convinced. The reality was that Reki and Ursula looked like they weren’t getting along with each other for some reason. There was a sense of distance, as if you were just starting to share a room with a complete stranger. So I had no reason to be convinced that they were okay.
“Damn, what the hell? What’s wrong with those two…?”
Then on the 17th, I had a mock battle with Reki.
And even when I asked her about Ursula, she calmly replied:
“Hmm? Nothing’s wrong with Ur…?”
Nothing in Reki’s body language was hinting that she was trying to hide anything from me.
But for some reason, her face looked much more mature than she was when she was frolicking on the day of the festival.
“I think I made some kind of terrible mistake…”
On the 18th, I trained with Ursula.
And when I asked her about Reki, she replied with a calm look on her face:
“Nothing, really. Everything’s normal.”
She gave me this sensation where even if she was hiding something, her lips were sealed by her steely resolve.
“What should I do… If this keeps up, I won’t be able to do anything at all about this…”
When I realized, it was already the 19th of the Ice Crystal Month. The day before the day I would leave this village.
“Do you want to postpone your departure?”
“…No, I can’t do that.”
It was easy to agree to Sariel’s suggestion.
But if I do that, I’d never be able to go back home.
I had already made up my mind. My top priority was to return to Spada in the quickest, safest way possible.
My plan was to hide in this 202nd colony while getting ready to depart as soon as the snow had melted, and then cross the mountains. There was no way I could change that plan.
Lily and Fiona were waiting for my return. We were able to protect Spada, so my friends are waiting for me. So I have to go back home.
“Let’s leave the village tomorrow morning”
I couldn’t sleep that night. I just couldn’t stand how awkward it felt to have Reki and Ursula giving the cold shoulder to each other like that.
But no matter how worried I was, the sun would rise again. The 20th of Ice Crystal Month came, and with it came the morning of my departure.
“Thank you so much for everything, Mayor Randolph.”
“No, we’re the ones who should say thanks to you. After all, you’ve saved this village three times already, Priest Kuroe.”
The farewells were said in front of the church. Despite it being so early in the morning, many villagers, including Mayor Randolph, had come to see us off. The place was as crowded as it had been during the Valentinus Festival.
We had clear, sunny weather, making it a perfect day to depart. As usual, the temperature began to show the cheerfulness of spring, and the fertile soil had begun to peek into the sunny and crowded roads.
“It’s rather modest, but this is both our gratitude and the reward we had originally promised. Please take it.”
He then presented me with a leather pouch that was heavier than it seemed to be. After opening it, I found there was a considerable amount of Sinclair silver coins inside.
I already had a good idea of how much a priest would earn under the Republic of Sinclair’s monetary system. So, at a glance, I realized that it was more than that.
By the way, the fact that these coins were made out of silver meant that they could be used as a trading commodity in Spada and even all of Pandora.
“So many… is that really okay?”
“If you factor in how grateful we feel towards you, this is hardly enough.”
Randolph smiled. However, I also knew what the financial situation of the village was to an extent . Taking that into consideration, this amount of money was too much. Winter was already over, but still it was far too great of a sum for the village to be parting with so easily.
“I’m sorry, I really can’t receive such a large sum of money.”
Though this colony was created after the Crusaders’ conquest of this territory, I had already grown emotionally attached to this place. Back when I first got here, it would have never occurred to me that something like this could ever happen.
“You don’t have to be so humble about it. We’re giving this to you in good faith. We believe you’ve done this village a great service, worthy of this reward and so much more.”
Since they had gone that far as to say that, I felt I had no choice but to accept it, but… I also had a will of my own.
I mean, I didn’t really need that much money after all.
“Then, I will buy these Coloring Eyes and Rainbow Hair Clip with this money.”
“Ah, but I have already given those to you for free…”
“I know both of these are expensive Magic Tools. I don’t know if this will cover their cost, but please consider giving me a discount on them for my services to this village.”
Then I pushed the silver coin bag back onto Randolph’s hands.
“Hehe, hey uncle, if the priest says so, it should be okay, don’t you think?”
Ryan butted in from the sides with a big grin on his face”
“Ryan, are you…”
“Ryan is right, it should be okay.”
With that in mind, Randolph finally took the silver coins, though I wasn’t sure if he had been convinced or if he had simply given up.
“Priest Kuroe, thank you very much for what you have done for this village.”
I couldn’t help but feel a bit emotional as I firmly shook Randolph’s hand. Looking back on our first encounter, I would have never guessed we’d leave such an impression on each other.
“Come on, get yourself outta here already.”
“Ah, Ryan, thank you for everything as well.”
“Oh, gimme a break. Don’t give me that again. Men should see each other off without saying a word.”
“Yeah… I guess you’re right.”
Then Ryan and I shared a firm handshake.
At first, I thought he was just a hooligan who had to be involved in some sort of shady dealings, but he ended up becoming a trusted friend who I’m actually saddened to part with… I really don’t know how to read people.
“Everyone, please take care.”
After that, I gave a short farewell greeting to each villager, with special attention centered on the members of the vigilante group.
“Priest, please come visit us sometime!”
“We’re now strong enough to land a single blow on you!”
“Please let me hug Yuuri just once now that you’re leaving!”
For the time being, everyone seemed to be seeing us off with good grace.
Looking back, I have never received any confession or asked to provide any counsel during my time as a priest, but it seemed that even so, the villagers’ impression of me wasn’t that bad, probably because I did a good job as this village’s defender.
As a result, I think I did a pretty good job here in general.
However, it seems impossible to leave the village with a complete sense of satisfaction and cheerfulness.
At the very end, I ended up finding myself about to leave without even solving the biggest problem of them all, which was the issue with whatever that had made those two treat each other so coldly.