“Squad 3, Squad 4! A bandit that has sneaked into church has escaped! After him!”
That order was meant for the people outside the room and – by extension – to the people surrounding this church.
After the glass window shattered, several platoons immediately spread out.
“…So he was able to get away. It’s rare to see a person with such a radiant soul, so I wanted to speak with him some more, but alas.”
As the saint muttered that without a care in the world, the wings behind her spread out and she blew the smoke away.
Like that, the white smoke that had been obstructing their vision disappeared completely into the dark night through the broken window.
The dim light of the lamp could once again illuminate the room, but the black-clothed figure was nowhere to be seen.
Though the saint’s eyes have always remained closed, the situation was exactly as she has described.
“With all due respect, your holiness, even the righteous can be adversaries in certain situations. Please don’t just let anyone take your fancy. It’s dangerous,” the girl said.
“Exactly! Weren’t you the one who said it? That no matter how good you may be at martial arts, as long as you’re not immortal, you’re not peerless!?” the boy said.
They knew the saint’s personality and abilities, but she had still acted too leisurely for comfort.
They raised their voice to warn the saint about her behavior, but the saint just gently replied.
“Lana and Jake, ever the worrywarts… But there’s no need to worry, I didn’t see any such color.”
The two guards were troubled that the saint had ignored their warning, but it was also true that they couldn’t argue anything anymore after saying that.
That was just how persuasive the saint’s eyes were.
“More importantly, are the two of you hurt? You made a pretty big sound when you were sent flying awhile ago,” the saint said.
“No, Lana protected me, so at most I’ll just get a bruise on my stomach. Oh, thanks, by the way,” the boy said.
As the boy thanked the girl for saving him, the girl’s cheeks blushed a little, but she immediately shook her head and apologized.
“No, I failed to break your fall. I should’ve used the wind instead, but I panicked… My bad.”
“Don’t worry about it. In the first place, it was my fault for allowing myself to be blown away so easily…”
As the two guards were about to start an apology contest, a smiling face turned to them, and the two guards looked away, embarrassed.
“U-Umm… I’m really fine! I’ve got a few bruises, but I’ve already healed myself!”
By reporting that, the girl was implying that this conversation was over, but then the saint made a disappointed look and asked, “Should I go out of the room?”
The saint was starting to show some unnecessary consideration, so the boy hurriedly changed the subject.
“S-So anyway! What should we do now? Should we chase after that person seriously? Or should we just rest and prepare for tomorrow?”
In response to that, the saint too made a serious face and immediately answered.
Their course from here on was already decided.
“No, we should depart immediately. The determination of Masquerade’s righteousness is a priority. The capture mission we entered this country for has already been completed, so we can’t waste any more time.”
Not only was this a country that the Rimoa Church had little influence over, this was a country wary of their faith.
If not for an apostate abusing his former authority, the church would have never given permission for the saint and her subordinates to enter this country.
Normally, by this time, she should be proceeding with the procedures to leave the country, but Oreil’s plan was just too much of a godsend for the saint, who has always wanted to get to the bottom of the masked hero.
“Understood, we’ll have everyone prepare immediately. Please wait here.”
“Well, you heard the boss! Hurry up and get moving, you lousy bastard!”
The two chuckled with a knowing face, but they both immediately nodded, and one of them started preparing, while the other took Oreil away, leaving the saint on her own.
Without saying a word, she opened her hands and turned her palm upwards, then muttered something quietly.
In the next moment, the cloth that she had been protecting with one of her wings floated up onto her hand.
“…Masquerade, after so long, I finally have a trail. With this I will be able to ascertain your righteousness. Though there is no way to confirm the righteousness of your predecessors, I have my doubts about the present generation. In the end, are you truly the hero as spoken of in the legends or are you merely a thug with an evil soul? The answer will surely be revealed by these eyes of mine.”
As the saint muttered those resolute words to no one in particular, her closed eyes opened.
The pair of silver eyes, on which no light reflected, glared into the empty air.
The trail she held in her hand was a cloth conspicuously dyed in dark red.
Yes. Though where it was shed remained a mystery, without a doubt, that was a cloth stained by the blood of Masquerade.
“I failed,” the black-clothed figure said with deep regret as he shamefully ran through the dark of the night.
His red eyes could see well enough that even with just the light from the moon he could run without hesitation.
His objective was to apprehend Oreil or question him, and capture the cloth or erase it.
However, none of those could be accomplished due to the unexpected intervention of the saint and her subordinates.
‘What a terrible blunder,’ he bit his lips with frustration. This was one of the few chances for him to repay his great debt of gratitude to
To make things worse, that cloth just had to be given to the worst person possible.
Though tormented by regret, as soon as he realized that the wind was restless, he kicked off against the ground and jumped to the side, tumbling onto the ground to distance himself from the source of the sound, then immediately got up to see the culprit behind the sound. But when he saw what it was, a voice of shock left his lips.
The ground that the black-clothed figure had been running on just awhile ago was now pierced by many arrows.
Those arrows seemed to shine within the dark of the night.
“Oh? You managed to notice that? That’s pretty amazing.”
The sound of a frivolous man’s voice resounded from the direction those arrows seem to have been shot from.
Without even the time to confirm that person’s appearance, he threw his kunais at him without any hesitation.
Five kunais all in all. With mana covering every one of them, they were much sharper than they appeared.
“Idiot, don’t let your guard down!”
But then another shadow jumped in between the man and the kunais, a shadow that raised up a large dazzling shield.
The blades thrown with a spin pierced the shield, but that was all.
With the mana covering them, those kunais were more than sharp enough to easily pierce through any common shield, yet the blades failed to take even a small bite.
But then in the next instant, the black-clothed figure gave an order to the mana.
That was a remote detonation of the mana contained within. Taught to him along with the Magic Raiment Battle Law’s way to the weapons of war.
As an explosion strong enough to send all the pieces of the kunais and the dust flying arose, the black-clothed figure ran.
Yes, the objective behind that explosion was not to attack, but to block the enemy’s sight and allow him to escape.
‘Impossible,’ the black-clothed figure covered his arrow-stricken shoulder and limbs as the impact sent him tumbling onto the ground.
Despite the darkness, the sound from the explosion, and all the scattering dust, arrows still found their way into him.
To put that away as mere coincidence would be difficult given that the arrows landed right at the places disadvantageous to him, his dominant hand, dominant shoulder, and his thigh.
“You blew up the mana covering them, did you? It’s my first time seeing a skill like that in action, but unfortunately for you, your opponent just had to be me.”
A big woman that couldn’t be hidden even with that large shield made a face brimming with confidence.
Meanwhile, the man that she covered for was pouting unhappily.
“You know I could have intercepted him on my own.”
“A punk like you? Don’t be stupid. If you intercepted him, he would’ve gotten away before your next attack.”
“Ahaha, as harsh as ever, I see.”
Was it negligence or could they simply truly afford that much leisure?
Yet even as the two spoke informally, their eyes never left the black-clothed figure.
And neither did the black-clothed figure. In fact, his eyes were drawn by the armaments they were using.
The large shield of the big woman and the delicate man’s gauntlets that were fused with a handbow.
Both were made out of a gold dazzling enough that they could be easily seen even in this darkness.
What that meant and what it indicated was all too popular in this world.
“A-Ah…. T-That’s impossible… The Divine Raiment Spirit Machines of Bow and Shield!? Not only the saint, but even the entire Knight Order of Rimoa intends to chase after Masquerade!?”
As the black-clothed figure cried out in surprise, he stood up while covering for his bad arm and leg.
The man whistled in admiration, but the woman just made a troubled face.
“Well, we have been tasked to protect the saint, so naturally, that’s what’ll happen,” the big woman said.
“As for me, I’m not really interested in finding out whether he’s good or evil, but I do have my own personal business with the man,” the man said.
That’s why it’s convenient for him, the man laughed. At that, the black-clothed figure finally lost it.
Former Archbishop Oreil, Former General of Damores, Saint Cynthia, and the knights of
Every one of them was acting for their own selfish interests, every one of them with their own so-called great cause.
Those were the kind of selfish people trying to go to ‘where he was’.
The black-clothed figure had gotten so riled up that he actually forgot that he was supposed to be acting in secret.
Unable to control his boiling emotions, they erupted into the world.
“Woah, that’s some crazy killing intent right there!”
“…I wanted to end this on a peaceful note, but…”
The delicate man wryly smiled, while the woman sighed, but the black-clothed figure’s eyes have already turned red.
“Who do you think is responsible for the peace we have today!? I see the church hasn’t changed its stripes! Always using some blasted logic all so they could ruin the peace for everyone else!”
“…What should we do? I actually sympathize with her a little,” the man said.
“Shut up, he’s coming,” the woman said.
Though the man with a flippant smile and the woman warning him didn’t change the way they talked, the air about them did.
They could instinctively tell that this was not a person they could let their guard down against once he’s decided to fight for real.
“The likes of you will never get in his way! I’ll make sure of it!”
The black-clothed figure held the kunai with his good arm, then used the Magic Raiment Battle Law – albeit poorly – to strengthen himself.
The excess mana that he failed to control turned into a shockwave that shook the nearby trees.
“After so long, he was finally able to return! So you’re not going to chase him! And you’re not going to get in his way! Not on my watch!”
Then those two red eyes shone as though to split the night, striking a killing intent thicker than the darkness itself.
Driven by rage, the black-clothed figure charged out for the knights of the goddess.
Yet even amidst that rage, there was a calm part at the back of his head, telling him that he wasn’t a match for these two knights.
That person had taught him to always have that calm part no matter how angry he got.
Unfortunately, it was also true that the only way out of this situation was to do something about these two knights.
Amidst his anger and his composure, he had no choice but to face against these powerful foes.
Even if he can’t win, at the very least, yes, at the very least, someone needed to be informed of this matter───
───Elder Brother Shin is in danger!