|Author: TypeAxiom||Original Source: Scribble Hub|
“See? I told you it would be fine,” Pavlor said.
The archpriest was breathing hard from exertion of casting so many large-scaled bombardment magics in such a short amount of time. “No mana beast.”
The whole area was saturated with holy mana, drowning out the trace amount of nature mana found naturally in the surroundings, as well as opposing the strange undead mana that Orlog had leaked all over the place. After being the target of such an intense bombardment as soon as it appeared, Orlog had been wounded with much of its body burnt. Unfortunately, it escaped, but without managing to hurt anyone thanks to Pavlor’s quick reaction.
“What do you mean no mana beast? Did you not feel that just now?” Arvel demanded. Despite him being the nominal leader of the team, Pavlor didn’t listen to him at all!
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And just now, right off the bat, Pavlor let off a huge spell despite being specifically told to limit himself to weaker spells…
“That lightning magic! It was quite close. How did you not notice?”
“I was focused on casting, okay?” Pavlor snapped. “Besides, it didn’t come here and I don’t sense it anymore, so it’s fine, isn’t it? All’s well that ends well.”
Arvel bit back a curse, but he was unwilling to just let the matter of disobeying orders settle like this. The problem was the reason he had used to justify the order of restricting Pavlor’s prided magic—that the mana beast might notice and attack them—didn’t hold water after all this.
For what reason, the beast didn’t attack, he had no idea, but right now he half-wished for the beast to appear right now and slaughter them all, if only so he would be corrected.
He gritted his teeth. “Sure, what I warned you of didn’t happen now, but it doesn’t mean it won’t happen later! I’m the leader of this expedition!”
“And I’m the archpriest! I outrank you!” Pavlor said, turning his nose up in the air. “You’re just an ordinary priest.”
“And we both know that’s because I choose to be just a priest because it’s a pain otherwise. If magic was muscle, then you’d be a musclebrain, Pavlor,” Arvel scoffed. “You don’t know anything other than practicing magic and all day at night. Even an idiot can become an archpriest given that much time. Some of us have other responsibilities.”
…which admitted wasn’t true. Becoming an archpriest required natural gifts as well, but Pavlor was rather privileged. Bit of a low blow there, but Arvel was pissed enough to hit there.
“Is there even a reason you decided to ignore my orders because you think I can’t punish you and you thought it would be funny?”
At the question, Pavlor suddenly turned smug, looking like the son of a noble that he was. “Of course,” he said. “Weak spells do not befit me. Only the greatest firepower is suitable against an opponent like that monster. Would such miniscule spells have been able to scare it off as quickly as I did?
“Look!” He swept his hands toward the priests and other clerics staring at their argument, and watching how Pavlor was questioning the orders of his direct superior..
Arvel wanted to punch him for his arrogance.
Could Pavlor even see how he was undermining authority? How could the expedition be a success if Arvel’s subordinates lost confidence in his leadership and turned this expedition team into two divided camps with split loyalties. Right now, he was barely holding the whole thing together, with everyone except Pavlor following his orders.
Imagine the chaos if that stopped and they started following Pavlor’s instead during a critical engagement.
But back to what Pavlor was saying. Arvel couldn’t wait to see what was going to come out of his ignorant mouth.
“—Look! Thanks to my powerful spells, all of them are still alive!” Pavlor said. “The monster is afraid of my spells! If I had used the weaker spells you told me to, it would not have been afraid. It would have taken someone, and the responsibility would have fallen upon you. You should thank me instead!”
A low rumbling came from Arvel’s throat as he let out a quiet growl. Lies. “Lies! Do you have the memory of an insect? Did all those deaths that happened when you used your stupid magic not happen or did you just forget?”
“Accidents do happen,” Pavlor shrugged. “I can’t protect everyone, but everyone I did protect is grateful toward me—”
“That’s not the topic…”
“—and as far I know, the weak magic you cast hasn’t helped anyone here.” The smug smile on Pavlor’s face grew. “Well?”
Arvel took a deep breath to calm himself down. He told himself that Pavlor was doing this on purpose. It was his goal to make him lose his cool…now that he thought about it, Pavlor had been undermining his authority since the beginning.
Why the hell did the bishop send such an arrogant person with him on this expedition? Of all the archpriests that were available, he meshed worse with Pavlor since he was a commoner and Pavlor was a noble.
Because of Pavlor’s firepower against the undead? The standard doctrine of “when in doubt, hit it with the biggest hammer?”
To his discomfort, most of his subordinates for this expedition seemed to agree with Pavlor. It couldn’t be helped…Pavlor was loud and charismatic with his impressive force of will, and his power wowed the crowd. Compared to Pavlor, Arvel was quieter and more bookish.
Knowing that further argument wouldn’t help matters, Arvel decided to drop the topic. Until they got back to the Church—if they got back, and Pavlor’s stubbornness didn’t kill them all, that is—he won’t be able to file complaints regarding Pavlor’s insubordination.
Besides, who knows when the mana beast will come? He had no idea what had caused the beast to unleash that huge blast of lightning magic from earlier, but it was frightening. Best to just get out before things got bad.
Gritting his teeth and trying to fix his waning patience, he turned toward the idling clerics. “Alright, get back to what we’re doing. Follow after Orlog’s trial.”
“Monster,” Pavlor corrected.
Arvel didn’t deign to reply to him. “Try to be quick. Pick up the pace! Maybe this time we’ll catch him weak.”
“Camilla! What happened? We felt that all the way from here!” Fleur rushed over when Carmen and Kagriss returned. She looked worried to death and even Anne was showing signs of unease, though not to the same extent as Fleur was.
Unfortunately, even seeing Carmen looking physically fine didn’t assuage her worries. Fleur could clearly see that Carmen was wearing a new dress. They’ve traveled together for long enough to know that unless severe damage occurred, Carmen refused to upgrade to a fancier dress.
Looking at the splendorous dress that looked almost like a ball gown, she knew that Carmen must have been hit by enough damage to demolish her armored dress, or else she wouldn’t be wearing what she was wearing.
The constant upgrading of her dress honestly got on Carmen’s nerves as well.
However, with luck, that reality might change soon. Despite the heavy dangers of hunting mana beasts, the rewards were great. For one, since mana beasts were walking spell structures, tools made from their body parts were one of the few ways someone could use magic outside of their affinity.
With the money they could get from selling the corpse of the mana beast stag, Carmen could probably commission a fine armor set comparable to the ones used by templars. The leftovers would be able for her to live modestly in town with Kagriss for a good few months if they didn’t splurge on anything.
Seeing the huge deer being dragged behind Carmen, Fleur gasped, but to her credit her curiosity didn’t overpower her concern for Carmen.
“Are you okay?” she asked. She looked all over Carmen, but Carmen knew that she wouldn’t be able to find anything. Undead regeneration made sure that Carmen’s body was totally unmarked.
“I’m fine, thanks for worrying,” Carmen said in a lighthearted tone. “It’s no big deal, really. The lightning was surprisingly powerful but it missed us completely. We lured it into attacking itself so it was surprisingly easy.”
She nudged the corpse with her foot. “See? Look at the marks on its fur.”
That was the excuse she came up with Kagriss. As long as neither of them said any different, neither Anne nor Fleur will find out they lied since no one else was close enough to know what really happened.
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Fleur looked questioningly at Kagriss, who nodded with a straight face.
Although Fleur was still suspicious, she couldn’t find anything evidence that Carmen’s words were anything but the truth, so she could only give up.
“Anyways, we were really worried. What are we going to do with that anyway?” she asked, pointing at the corpse.
“We eat it.”
“It’s edible, I promise,” Carmen said. She hadn’t been lying when she said that she and Kagriss were fine. Thanks to draining the mana beast’s blood that was filled with lingering raw power, she managed to obtain enough blood mana to convert into undead mana to replenish her mana twice over. She did it once to pay back Kagriss all the undead mana she lost, and once refill her own mana that had been drained to recover. Horribly inefficient usage of blood mana, but she had plenty to spare at the moment after all.
The meat will go bad if they don’t eat it, so they might as well make the most out of it.
“I saw the advance team ahead. Or rather, I felt their mana, so if we push our horses a bit, we can get there in an hour. When we get there, we’ll share the meat with them so it doesn’t go to waste.”
Of course, she was keeping the valuable parts for herself. Those clerics should just be satisfied with the mana-rich meat they’ll get to eat tonight.
“You felt Father’s mana?” Fleur asked, her eyes shining. It had been weeks since she last saw her father, so she was a bit excited.
“Well no, but there was definitely holy mana and their team should be the only holy magic mages around. Plus it was definitely bombardment magic, so Pavlor’s with them.”
Fleur was almost bouncing now. “Let’s go then!”
Carmen laughed at how eager Fleur was. She was excited to see Arvel as well, but nowhere near excited as Fleur was. This was the bond between a father and his adopted daughter.
How was she going to explain her current state to Arvel anyway?
She really wasn’t looking forward to that meeting despite wanting to see Arvel again after so long.
What a dilemma. Or is it? Carmen sank into her thoughts.