Ryouma was troubled to see Meltrize. She was not as stiff as Fer Noevir nor as lax as Tekun, but she was the hardest to read among the gods. One reason for that being that she was usually expressionless.
(She looks mad.)
There was a faint shadow over her in the same color of her dress that one would not see unless one paid attention.
(I was pretty sure we were getting along, but I wonder if it was just my imagination…)
“Hmm? Ahh. Sorry.” [Ryouma]
Unsure how to start the conversation with the current mood of the god before him, Ryouma was beaten to the punch when Meltrize asked him to take a seat. Ryouma accepted her offer, and he sat himself opposite the goddess at the small table reminiscent of those used by nobles during teatime.
“I know why you’re here, but there’s not much I can tell you.” [Meltrize]
“I came here knowing that might be the case. Really, if I can just get a hint of some sort, I would be really grateful.” [Ryouma]
Meltrize nodded and Ryouma listened as attentively as he could.
“This incident is as you’ve feared, a kidnapping.” [Meltrize]
“Was it planned?” [Ryouma]
“Is this the same person responsible for the missing people?” [Ryouma]
“Why did they kidnap Elia? Did they mistake her for an adventurer?” [Ryouma]
“Can you tell their goal? No? Alright.” [Ryouma]
Unable to say any further, Ryouma’s last question was only met with silence.
“This is really what I want to know: is Elia safe?” [Ryouma]
Ryouma asked anxiously, and Meltrize nodded.
“She’s safe. Her life isn’t in any danger, and neither has she been injured. Of course, her chastity too.” [Meltrize]
“Thank goodness! Thank goodness…” [Ryouma]
Ryouma was greatly relieved to hear that, but Meltrize continued.
“You won’t have to worry about her safety until morning, but I can’t guarantee her safety if you don’t find her soon.” [Meltrize]
“So she’s still being held captive then?” [Ryouma]
Meltrize nodded and Ryouma’s face turned slightly grimmer.
“Where is she being held captive?” [Ryouma]
“Outside of town.” [Meltrize]
“Can I get something more specific?” [Ryouma]
“…They moved. It doesn’t matter even if I tell you where, as you’ve never been there before.” [Meltrize]
“I suppose the Oracle Skill doesn’t allow me to ask a specific location?” [Ryouma]
“That is asking too much from the skill.” [Meltrize]
In the end, he couldn’t figure out exactly where she was, but there wasn’t any point in panicking, so he told himself to calm down.
“I heard the gatekeepers didn’t see anyone suspicious. Was that a lie?” [Ryouma]
(I don’t know what criterion she’s basing when to answer or not, but it seems keeping silent means she can’t talk in detail but that the question does have some relation to the issue at hand.)
“Hom many are the kidnappers?” [Ryouma]
Silent again. Ryouma thought, but as soon he did, the shadow over Meltrize grew a little darker.
“…There are only 2 kidnappers, but they have some friends.” [Meltrize]
The tone of her voice was the same as ever, but Ryouma was concerned with the delay in her reply and that shadow. He thought he probably shouldn’t ask any further, but then, noticing his reaction, Meltrize drew away the shadow.
“Just ask what you want. I will be the one to decide whether to answer or not. And I’m not mad at you.” [Meltrize]
“Then why are you angry?” [Ryouma]
“Because the kidnapping took place in church.” [Meltrize]
(So that’s why. But then again, considering how I need a church or something like it to meet the gods, I suppose it really is a special place for them… Anyway, at least it’s confirmed now that Elia was in fact kidnapped in the church.
Michelle’s group and Remiri-neesan did go to the church to investigate, but they found nothing… These are the same culprits as the ones responsible for the kidnapping of the missing adventurers, however, so there’s probably an organization behind them. If so, then there might be a trail I can follow.)
Ryouma felt the urge to run out to town to look for Elia this very instant, but he had to wait until his time in the divine realm expired, so he spoke to Meltrize again.
“Thank you. Just knowing that Elia’s no longer in town and is still safe is a huge help to me. Is there anything I can do back outside to show my gratitude? I’ll do it as soon as I settle this business.” [Ryouma]
“It’s fine. In fact, I want to thank you too.” [Meltrize]
“Thank me? Why? Did I do something?” [Ryouma]
Ryouma thought back to these past few days, but he couldn’t recall doing anything to be thanked for. There was the matter with the undead, but he was always having the grave slime eat and store them for later consumption, so surely she wouldn’t take him for that.
But it turns out that really was what she was thankful for.
“Ghost House.” [Meltrize]
“Sorry if I’m always asking stuff, but why exactly does that beast matter?” [Ryouma]
“That magical beast was a pain.” [Meltrize]
Then Meltrize started talking.
The Ghost House was a magical beast that fed on magical power and spawned undead, and the place it was settled at was one of the greatest concentrations of magic power in Troll Canyon.
“After you found the fragment of the demon king and gave it to Gayn, we went to change the flow of magic at Troll Canyon.” [Meltrize]
When the fragment of the demon king that was sucking all the magic power was suddenly removed, the magic power that was being absorbed all this time by the fragment overflowed into the abandoned execution grounds, so the gods had to change the flow to ensure that magic was equally distributed throughout the canyon. This is the reason why there are so many magical jewels and weak undead now.
When the investigation team went to investigate the area, they went to areas where the concentration of magic power was greater. After all, the greater the magic power, the faster the recovery of one’s magic power, and thus, the more undead and magic jewels in the area. So they put up a fortress in one of the places where the magic concentration was the greatest, but after they were done with their investigation, they took it down and left it there, allowing it to eventually turn into a Ghost House.
“I see. But since they’re birthed from magic, and are there because of the great concentration of magic, then the spawned undead should be…” [Ryouma]
“Infinite. They would keep on being spawned, each time exhausting the world’s supply of mana.” [Meltrize]
Ryouma let out an ‘Ahh’ as he inadvertently slapped his forehead with his hand. No wonder she thought the Ghost House annoying. There was already so little magic in this world already that the gods had to borrow magic from Earth, and yet here was a magical beast that added to that problem like a tumor. Then while Ryouma was quietly listening to her like this, a thought suddenly came to mind.
(…When you think about it, the Ghost House was born because of the investigation team, but the reason the investigation team came to investigate was because of the scattered magic power, but the magic power was only scattered because I removed the demon king’s fragment, so… erm… Doesn’t that basically mean that I’m the reason the Ghost House was born? Hmm… I probably shouldn’t think about it too much. I mean the fragment was pretty bad and had to be removed anyway.)
“What’s the matter?” [Meltrize]
“Ah, it’s nothing. By the way, it’s our first time talking like this, huh. Just the two of us, I mean. We don’t really get to meet aside from the banquets.” [Ryouma]
“Yes, it’s a first. We have plenty of spare time except for when searching for the demon king’s fragments, so you should come more frequently. Kufo is particularly annoying when there’s nothing to do.” [Meltrize]
The image of a god who looked like a small boy smiling flashed through Ryouma’s mind.
“Did you imagine it?” [Meltrize]
“Easily. I’ll think of something fun for the next banquet.” [Ryouma]
As Ryouma said that, a faint light started to shine.
“It’s time.” [Ryouma]
“Good luck. It’s a battle of time from here on out, so hurry. And make sure to have someone come with the four young girls, either you or someone else.” [Meltrize]
“I’ll do my best.” [Ryouma]
“There’s a high chance I’ll find the culprits responsible for the kidnapping in the church, especially those guys who kidnapped Elia.” [Ryouma]
As he said that, Meltrize went quite for a few seconds before saying.
“Ryouma-san, ‘punish them well’.” [Meltrize] 
“Did you learn that from a certain show at a nursing home!?” [Ryouma]
Meltrize’s sudden switch to that drama-like phrase caused Ryouma to inadvertently pull a tsukkomi, but the god in question just cutely inclined herself as if all was right with the world.
“It’s a phrase I learned from another Earthling like you. Is something wrong?” [Meltrize]
(Come to think of it, Asagi-san also spoke in that drama-like manner, so by Earthling she’s probably referring to Asagi’s ancestral master.)
“That Earthling apparently really liked Japanese literature and studied it a lot.” [Meltrize]
“You don’t really use it in day-to— Wait, he likes Japanese literature?” [Ryouma]
That phrasing caused Ryouma to feel a bit of malaise.
“Was that person Japanese?” [Ryouma]
“No, but he said his heart was Japanese. He looked up to the samurai and said that he wants to be like them.” [Meltrize]
(His image of Japan is a bit off, almost like a foreigner otaku of Japanese culture. But I don’t get it, if he’s so knowledgeable as to even know how to make soy sauce and miso soup and pass it on to his successors, how could he possibly be so off with such basic knowledge?
Come to think of it, there was also that foreigner client who loved Japanese culture and could even speak Japanese fluently, but for some reason had “便座” (Toilet) tattooed on his arm. That client mentioned he had it tattooed because he thought it was cool. I wonder what the tattooist thought while he was working on that guy.)
When Ryouma noticed Meltrize still looking confused, he said.
“We don’t actually… talk like that outside of dramas or plays.” [Ryouma]
“I see.” [Meltrize]
As they had that exchange, the light gradually grew stronger, and when Ryouma said goodbye, his consciousness returned to his body.
Upon returning to the mortal realm, Ryouma refocused his mind, then stood up from his chair and left the chapel. His conversation with Meltrize was really a load off his back, such that when the priest saw him again, he told Ryouma that his countenance seemed better now. In response, Ryouma just said that praying calmed him down, and then left after leaving some offering. When he got out, he ran through the dimly lit roads of the town once more.
(There are a lot of rocky areas and cliffs around these parts, so the paths one can take should be limited. Anyway, I should first go back and talk to the others. They know I’m a child so having the Oracle Skill shouldn’t be a big deal, but Oslo’s group…)
Ryouma pondered to himself how he should share the information he received, but then something blocked his way.
Running through a path so narrow it would be difficult for people to pass each other in it, when Ryouma turned right to a path rarely visited by people, he noted a man whose face was wrapped in a cloth 20 meters away from him. Just a cloth wasn’t enough to rouse suspicion, he would still be just a passerby, but the fact that the man had his bow aimed at Ryouma left no room for doubt.
Having already made the turn, there were only walls in Ryouma’s flanks, so he prepared to pull out his katana upon noticing the man. But when he did, the man let loose the arrow, then vanished without a trace.
Ryouma pulled out his katana as he pushed down his sheath, unleashing the blade into an upward slash to meet the descending arrow in its path. It didn’t matter that the path was as dark as could be, Ryouma cut down the arrow as flawlessly as he could in the light of day. There was a piece of paper attached to the arrow, and it came floating down the air when Ryouma struck the arrow down.
” ‘Search’ ! A magician that uses dimension magic?” [Ryouma]
Ryouma did not only invoke the neutral-magic, Search, but he also sharpened his ears and eyes to search the surroundings for his mysterious assailant, but the man was already gone. Ryouma silently sheathed his katana, then headed for the paper attached to the arrow.
He’d only realized there was a paper attached to the arrow right before striking the arrow down, but it was clear as day that that paper contained a message regarding Elia.
Gathering the pieces of the paper – four all-in-all, as it must’ve been folded when the arrow was cut in two – Ryouma pondered to himself.
(That man was definitely one of Elia’s kidnappers, but why now? What’s the point of showing themselves? And what’s the point of sending a letter through an arrow while aiming for the vitals?)
Fortunately, as there was no wind, Ryouma was able to safely recover all four pieces of the letter and read it.
Dear Ryouma Takebayashi,
Elialia Jamil is in our hands.
If you want to save her, come to the designated location alone at the appointed time.
If you tell anyone about this letter, you can consider her life forfeit.
(Whether I follow this letter’s order or not, if the others find out anyway and they catch wind of it, Elia will be killed all the same. Where and at what time do they want to meet?)
After reading the threatening letter, Ryouma scratched his head in confusion.
(That’s odd, why are they calling me out personally? Wouldn’t you normally want to call someone from Rheinbach’s family instead? And this place is…)
The meeting place designated was in Troll Canyon, and it was quite far. In fact, Ryouma normally wouldn’t be able to make it by the time set by the kidnappers, if not for his dimension magic. Clearly, the kidnappers knew about his ability to use dimension magic.
“So their real aim is to call me out?” [Ryouma]
Ryouma muttered to himself, but there was no one around to answer.
 – A reference to a Japanese show often watched in nursing homes.