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Chapter 136: No Return

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: Scribble Hub

The next day, Justin headed out immediately. Normally he’d be going to the research labs but there was no longer a point. Grabbing a random priest, he found out about where Demuur was. The wounded archpriest should be in the infirmary and indeed he was. Justin headed straight there.

On his way in, he ran into the bishop.

The old man peered at him, his neutral expression becoming solemn, full of duty. He put a hand to his heart. “Are you here to visit Demuur as well? Justin, right? I’m sorry that it couldn’t be your teacher in there as well. Rest assured, I will definitely track him down and bring it back,” he said.

“T-thank you…”

The bishop nodded and continued his way, leaving Justin alone at the infirmary entrance. His heart was pounding like crazy, as if it was about to jump out of his chest. Even his teacher Pavlor didn’t get like that when he was angry…

Was that a warning…?

Justin swallowed and entered. He quickly found Demuur’s room.

The old archpriest was laying in bed with the blankets up to his neck. One side of his body was flat with nothing under the blanket. His missing arm. But it was actually much worse than that. Half of his face was purple and wrinkled. One of his eyes was missing.

Justin felt a pang of pity for him despite his suspicions but quickly pushed it away.

He sat down and sensing someone near him, Demuur opened his good eye.

“…If it isn’t Pavlor’s apprentice…” His voice was raspy, as if he had aged an entire decade from his already old age. Now, it was like he already had a foot in the grave. “If I’m not wrong, you’re here to learn about what happened to your master, right?”

“Yes.”

The old man closed his eyes and nodded. “Ah…no rest for the old, I see…but I suppose you have the right to know. But to be honest, I was there late, so I didn’t manage to see much. But what I did see…”

He cut off, coughing and hacking. Justin poured him a glass of water from the pitcher and Demuur accepted it gratefully. After taking several sips, he settled back down to continue.

“I was taking my regular walk when I saw that the lights at Pavlor’s place was on. Wondering what was going on, I went in and saw him and Arvel having a little chat about something. But they changed the topic when I arrived.”

Justin listened intently. So far, it seemed correct. Perhaps Arvel didn’t find anything and decided to stay and chat with Palvor? Changing the topic when Demuur went in seems realistic as well…

No, no. After being with Arvel and experiencing his dislike for Pavlor, Justin highly doubted that he’d stay and talk. And knowing his own teacher’s personality, Pavlor was more likely to try and murder Arvel for his intrusion. Right off the bat, there were seemingly holes in Demuur’s story.

But the old man carried on, not noticing Justin’s eyes turning cold.

“They invited me, see, and we played a game together. However, they snuck up on us then. It was a lich and one of those monsters. I never fought one so I underestimated it, but the monster managed to kill Arvel first. I fought against the lich with Pavlor but it managed to hold us at bay while that monster finished up. Then it cast a spell I’d never seen before and made me like this.” Demuur pointed at his ruined side. “And your teacher was taken then. If I hadn’t pretended to be dying until they left, they might’ve killed me too.”

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He sighed.

Justin remained silent as he processed what he just learned. But he couldn’t verify anything. Then again, it didn’t really matter since he already thought that Demuur was lying.

Giving Demuur thanks and bidding him farewell while promising to visit again, Justin left.

The last place he was going to visit was the bodies. With luck, that would be where everything is made clear.

Arvel’s body was being prepared for burial so that’s where Justin went first. Quite morbidly, the Church was well equipped for handling bodies.

It was there that he saw Anne and Fleur.

Fleur’s eyes were red and she sat in a seat hiccuping while Anne hugged her, trying to calm her down. But Fleur was inconsolable. “Father…” she cried.

When Justin passed, neither of the two bothered to look up at him.

On the contrary, the other acolytes preparing the body bowed to him. “Greetings, Father,” they said.

He nodded to them as he approached the table where Arvel’s body was being embalmed. The dead man looked like he was just sleeping, so peaceful. However, the makeup that the acolytes dressed Arvel in couldn’t hide the scent of death that emanated from the body.

As Justin paid his respects, he let out his senses, casting a net over Arvel’s body. Immediately, his senses picked up on the giant gaping hole in Arvel’s body, filled with holy energy that had yet to fade. It was somewhat covered by the purifying holy mana but the destructive properties of the holy energy could not be hidden from someone of his caliber.

“How many people have come to visit? Archpriests and their apprentices, I mean.”

The little acolytes answered immediately. “Other than you, Father, only normal priests have visited. And those two over there.” They pointed over at Fleur and Anne.

Justin sighed. No one thinks you’re important, huh?

Most priests and clerics wouldn’t have been able to differentiate the two variations of holy magic, but he could. If he had come just a bit later, the destructive energy would have faded and he would’ve been able to glean nothing.

But now, he knew. What had killed Arvel wasn’t a monster or anything, even if he could still detect remnants of that corrupted power. It had been holy magic, pierced straight into his chest. The last time he checked, monsters like Orlog couldn’t use holy spells, only use the mana directly.

It could have changed, but until Justin knew more, he went off on what he knew.

Demuur lied.

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Demuur was a traitor too. His own teacher Pavlor was likely a traitor as well, which meant he wasn’t kidnapped but rather went willingly. Despite himself, tears fell down Justin’s face.

To say that he had no feelings at all for Pavlor after spending all those years studying under him would be a lie. And now Pavlor turned out to be a traitor.

How many more were there?

His heart heavy, Justin went to the final location. The research lab. The body of the slain monster was probably going to be stored near Orlog’s location. When he got to the lab, the shift had changed from templars back to clerics.

He nodded to them and they let him pass, recognizing him

He stopped in front of a room sealed with magic. Working up his courage, he stepped in and there, lying on the floor, was the monster. It looked almost like Orlog, with those crooked claws. That bloated, purple flesh. The holes for eyes and mouth filled with sharp teeth.

There wasn’t a single wound on it that Justin could find. How did it die then? He had his guesses, but he would rather them not be true.

Fearing what he may find, he once again cast out his senses. And there he found it.

Once again, Arvel proved right.

Hidden so far beneath the corruption, so warped that he almost couldn’t recognize it, Justin found traces of his teacher’s mana. Like Arvel had said, it was holy mana, corrupted. But this was a little less corrupted than Orlog’s mana had been.

Perhaps his teacher’s transformation had failed right at the end.

He’d never know, because the only person who did was a traitor and untouchable.

Justin gritted his teeth, wiping away the tears that had gathered at the corner of his eyes again.

What now?

Belatedly, he realized that he had to send a message to Camilla. She had to know about this.

Considering he had no idea where she was, this might’ve been difficult, but luckily he had a connection tying him to her—their contract.

Outside the research labs, he gathered his mana and began to cast a spell with the other end of the contract as the destination. Soon, a golden bird materialized, perched onto his hand. After he finished bundling the message in with the spell, he tossed his hand, letting the message spellbird fly.

It flapped its wings, gaining speed as it flew toward the sky.

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Suddenly a golden light shot toward it, just grazing it. Before a second ray of golden light can be fired, the bird had already flown too far away.

Justin immediately looked for the person who had cast that spell.

His eyes trained onto a person dressed like he was, pointing up at the sky with one of his hands casually stuck in his pocket.

“It’s you. What do you think you’re doing?!” he demanded.

Demuur’s apprentice spat on the ground. “That’s my line. What was that spellbird? Where are you sending it to?” he asked. “My master told me to keep an eye on you and it was right to do so! Come with me!”

He approached, step by step.

Justin took a step back. There was no way out. No way to explain this. He took another step.

Unavoidable. Conflict was avoidable.

The apprentice came closer and closer, that grin on his face never fading. It was as if something was funny. Justin’s spine tingled. His instincts warned him that this young man in front was trouble, but what exactly was it?

Demuur…

“…it seems you know too much.”

The man suddenly charged forward. His hidden hand shot out of his pocket and the glint of cold steel shone across Justin’s eyes.

“****!” Although Justin had been prepared to fight, the knife still stabbed into his stomach. But he was an archpriest in training. If he could just win, this kind of injury was easily healed. Grabbing onto the man’s hand to prevent him from disemboweling him, Justin wound his fist back and let it fly, slamming into the man’s face squaring in the nose.

The man went reeling, letting go of the knife.

Gritting his teeth, Justin pulled out the knife at the same time as he began to heal his stomach, stopping the bleeding first and foremost. Before Demuur’s apprentice could do anything else, Justin threw the knife, sending it spinning end over end at him.

The apprentice dove to dodge it and Justin was on him in an instant, crushing his face into the dirt, muffling his voice. Keeping him trapped with his weight, Justin hovered his palm over the man’s back, right over his heart.

“Go to hell too, you ******* traitor.”

A scorching beam pierced through the man and the struggling stopped.

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Justin lurched to his feet and healed his stomach all the way while he dragged the apprentice behind some bushes. Now that he did this, there was little time left. He couldn’t stay in this Church anymore. He had to take the notes and flee and meet up with Camilla.

But what will happen with Fleur? He had to take her too.

Keeping his pace slow enough to maintain some semblance of normalcy, he grabbed the bag of notebooks that he had hidden behind some bushes, and then his savings from his dorm, all the while praying to the Five Gods that no one would miss the apprentice.

To be honest, there was no reason to be worrying. It was going to take a few hours at minimum, yet paranoia hounded Justin no matter how much he pushed it away.

Finally, he went to get Fleur and her friend.

They were still with Arvel’s body.

In times like this, it was probably more effective to talk to Anne, so he pulled the taller girl away. Only reluctantly did Anne come with him.

“What do you want?” she asked, impatient to get back to Fleur.

Justin decided to be blunt. As blunt as he could. “This isn’t a joke. We have to run. I killed someone who was after me and now I have to take you to Camilla.” He danced around the words, trying to avoid tripping the contract.

Right now, he still needed his magic.

Anne squinted at him. But before she could ask anything, Justin cut in to add the part that would definitely work on her.

“The same people who killed Arvel might go after Fleur. If you don’t believe me, just wait and see!” he hissed.

Her eyes widened at that and she nodded. As far as she knew that he had no reason to lie after confessing to murder and bringing Camilla into this. Besides, he had been friends with Fleur’s dad and Camilla seemed to be on good terms with him.

While she was still a bit suspicious, his last words made her unwilling to take a gamble.

Justin watched as Anne headed back to where Fleur was and said something to her. In just a few seconds later, Fleur stood up and came with Anne to where Justin waited. Her eyes were as empty as before and all she did was follow Anne’s lead.

As they walked, Anne motioned for Justin to lean down.

“I lied to her. You’d better explain what the hell this is about later,” she growled into Justin’s ear.

“Don’t worry… I will. But for reasons, I can’t say anything until I’m sure I’m safe…”

Anne nodded curtly.

Using his status and authority, even if it was empty now considering that Pavlor was never coming back, Justin managed to get them three horses. Food will have to be bought outside.

Without telling anyone where they were going, Justin left the city with Anne and Fleur in tow.

A few hours later, deep in vampire territory, a red eyed girl looked up.

“…he broke the contract.”


Axiom’s Note

And that’s it for this arc. Remember, the time between the two views aren’t synced up, so this is actually far in the future for Camilla’s PoV.

Also, sorry for the late chapter, but it’ll probably happen again until my schedule for finals week settles. Orz.


Be sure to support the author, TypeAxiom, by subscribing to his Patreon!



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