“…You sure it’s okay for someone like that to be the hero?”
“To be more precise, he possesses the makings of a powerful man but not the makings of a hero.”
“And that’s okay, Miss Summoner?”
Shinichi was dismayed when the person who summoned the hero herself said that, but the princess just laughed with an ufufu.
The smile and gaze on her that didn’t fit the situation made Shinichi a little uncomfortable because they seemed to say, ‘but of course, after all, you’re my hero.’
The group trudged through the Temple of Darkness while having their
“Damn it, damn it! How could a branch fall this easily!?”
“W-What are these people!? They attacked out of the blue, but they’re just messing around!”
“Damn it, even though they’re just messing around, everyone’s being beaten, UGYaAa!!”
There were only a dozen or so intruders, and yet they were stronger than all of the forces of the temple.
Yet unaware of that, the warriors and monsters of the temple kept running straight at them only to be trampled over. It was as though all the confusion and irrationality they usually spread were being thrown back at them.
And then, they stopped. Suddenly, that intense flood of cultist warriors, monsters, and traps came to a halt, and the temple grew so quiet as though not even their breath was permitted to make noise.
Did they run away from fear? Were they lying in wait deeper in? Regardless, nothing would change for them. As
There were several forks and even hidden doors along the way, but Shinichi led the way as though he knew the correct route, and before long, a small ditch appeared on either end of the passage, inside which could be found a sticky black liquid flowing in the direction they were headed in.
“Don’t touch that or there’s no coming back.”
Just looking at it made one feel sick, but Kite looked at with interest, so Shinichi had to warn him.
The hero immediately distanced himself from it and bowed to Shinichi, saying, “understood.”
Shinichi felt there was something off about that but continued his explanation nonetheless.
“Cursed Water, that is the resulting product when evil ki and miasma are liquefied through a special method. Nothing can be done about it when it’s merely in the air, but once it’s been liquefied with magic power, the result is terrifyingly dense despite appearances. And yet this much of it is flowing here. One of touch of it and even your soul will be contaminated, so be careful.”
After confirming that everyone had nodded, the boy went deeper in, and everyone else too followed suit.
Though part of it was because of their trust in him that they followed the paths he chose, it was also because of his experience.
Shinichi was the most experienced and most knowledgeable among them when it came to fighting against the cult.
And as though to prove that, there was indeed a large area at the end of the passage.
The natural ceiling above was so high that one couldn’t help but suspect it to already be near the surface.
That area was big enough to fit a small village, but it had the same stone walls and flooring found in the rest of the temple.
The ditches dug everywhere around seemed to grow bigger and deeper with each step, and the cursed waters that gathered from the entire temple seemed to stir as they moved toward the deepest part of the area.
Statues of various giant monsters lied up the walls on either side, seemingly watching over that flat area.
There was an object similar to a sarcophagus illuminated by torches of black flames, above which was enshrined a sculpture as big as an adult with the symbols Φ and Ｘ overlapping each other.
The cursed waters were pouring into the sarcophagus.
“That’s an altar, so… This should be the main shrine, right?”
“Yes, it’s a staple for the Evil God Cult. A space to store the sculptures of their evil god that they sculpted based off how they believe he ought to look and the sacrifices. When the cursed waters formed from evil ki pour into the objects meant to be the go-shintai  and the torches of black flames are lit, the symbol of the cult will appear - an X over the Rimoa Faith’s symbol. Very easy to understand, right?”
“Huh, is that what their symbol meant?”
The other matters were surprising too, but apparently, that was what the girls found most surprising.
Unless pointed out, no one in the world would make that connection because the size of the circle was different from that of the Rimoa Faith, but that was indeed the case.
“There’s no one here, though.”
“Yes, there’s no one indeed.”
“Wait, Shinichi! Over there!”
Exactly halfway between the door to this place and the altar were people hanging.
Men and women of all ages were bound and suspended in midair by ropes hanging from the intersection of the khakkharas held by the huge stone statues on either side.
All of them seemed to be unconscious, as they just hung there silently, without budging an inch, but Kite and Shinichi knew from their aura that they were alive.
However, there was a water tank just below them.
Perhaps it was for adjusting the volume of water, or perhaps it was for
The cursed waters were coming from all sorts of direction, so the currents were a mess and a dense whirlpool of evil ki was there.
Shinichi had already more or less understood that it would be like this the moment he entered, so he just muttered with a dismayed expression.
“If you leave them be, they’ll eventually ‘plop’ into that pool of water and go poof… This makes it my fifth time seeing this move, I suppose.”
“P-Pool? What is that, Shinichi?”
“…I find you harder to understand, actually.”
That was a strange conversation for two Japanese to be having, but he had better matters to focus on, so he put it aside for now.
“I can’t be bothered, just drop them all,” Shinichi said.
“Huh?” Kite said.
“Understood,” Stella said.
“Uhe!? What are you agreeing for!!?” Kite said.
Shinichi had to explain to him that he was just joking to calm him down, and Stella whispered something to her subordinates and got them to quietly back away.
“In that case, I’ll cut their ropes using the wind and put them down somewhere safe.” Lilisha suggested.
No one said otherwise, so she started chanting.
Instantly, nearly 10 ropes were cut, and the victims were cushioned by the wind and gently brought somewhere level.
“Your control is as good as ever, I see. I can’t believe you can control so many winds at the same time just like that.”
The number of wind spells she cast and the height of her skills earned a praise from Shinichi, but there was some envy mixed with it too.
“Oh, but can’t you do the same thing too?”
“The result might be the same, but the process is different, so they don’t mean the same thing. It’s a kind of contradiction because I’m basically brute forcing it through skill rank. It’s not something I can be proud of,” he said as he walked toward those people with the girls.
As for Kite, he’d already run ahead and was calling out to the unconscious people to see if they were safe.
“Princess, this one’s injured! Please take a look!”
Kite held a woman up and said that. A closer look would show that her arm was indeed dyed in red blood.
Princess Lilisha, who was known to be the number one mage in this world, was good in all kinds of magic and specialized in healing magic as well.
So she immediately ran up to the woman and started using her healing spell.
“…In a sense, you could say that the way
Only Shinichi’s lips smiled as he watched the hero, but no one noticed that.
As the bleeding stopped and the wound closed, the woman opened her eyes.
The woman appeared to be a pure human and she was also commonly dressed.
That’s why a smile surfaced on the hero and the princess.
“Ah, you’re awake!?”
“I’m closing your wounds right now. I’ll be done soon, so──────For your sake, it would be best if you put away that dangerous weapon as well.”
But of course, there was a world of difference between their smiles.
A smile that exuded beauty and nobility, and yet in the face of that, the woman shuddered.
That’s why she made her move right there and then. She pushed away the hero carrying her, and then thrust out with the assassin’s blade she had on her to pierce the princess’ neck.
But all that resounded was someone’s anguish, a surprised voice, and the high-pitched sound of metal.
A silver platter had blocked her view, and the princess’ elegant laughter could be heard from behind it.
“Violence against the princess will not be tolerated.”
Yes, it was a silver tray that had blocked
 – In Shinto, shintai (神体, “body of the kami”), or go-shintai (御神体, “sacred body of the kami”) when the honorific prefix go- is used, are physical objects worshipped at or near Shinto shrines as repositories in which spirits or kami reside.