Chapter 50 – After the Fog

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“U, u, UOOOHHHH!!”

“Awesome, awesome, awe~SOME!”

“A single blow against such a gigantic Shadow Demon!”

It looks like [Destruction] worked properly in pulverizing that monster. What a relief.

The city guards and adventurers are so hyped that they are roaring out at the top of their lungs.

That gigantic Shadow Demon had felt several times more dangerous than even the Rock Demons that I had seen in the Shadow Demon nest. Having suddenly been released from that heavy bloodthirst, I can understand the adventurers and guards being a bit high.

“The power of your magic is every bit as absurd as the rumors claim……”

“…… I don’t know what rumors are out there, but at least what you just saw was real. Though it wasn’t magic, but wizardry.”

Even the voice of Gad, the experienced adventurer Leader, is filled with heat. The Carbanera knights had responded the same way when we subjugated the Shadow Demon nest. Does this make me seem like someone who likes advertising his own name? Well, I guess I am trying to spread my name, so I suppose there’s no helping that.

But this is not the time to daze out thinking about such things.

“By means of this spell, may 108 living beings within my field of sight be paralyzed. [Greater Hold]”

I use a spell to paralyze all of the black hooded people, who seem as shocked as Baron Koval. They all fall down due to suddenly being robbed of their movement, but I hope they’ll bear with at least this much.

“…… Capture them all! Draw back their hoods!”

Coming back to his senses, the city guards’ commanding officer barks out an order. At that, the guards rush towards the black hoods.

“Carefully investigate every inch of the place! There might be escape routes or traps, so stay on your toes!”

“You got it!”

Gad and the other adventurers undertake the searching of the vicinity, making full use of their skills.

I myself also keep a sharp eye on the surroundings and the remains of the pulverized Shadow Demon statue for a while, but don’t notice any particular problems.

♥♦♣♠

Uaa….. uaaaghh……”

When all the hoods were removed, the city guards confirmed that the the leader who had been manipulating(?) the gigantic Shadow Demon was indeed Baron Koval.

Just like Jyagul had been after being de-petrified, the Baron was no longer in a state where conversation was possible. Seeing the dim golden flicker within his eyes, I tried to use my ESP Medal on him, but only learned that the Shadow Demon influence had reached very deep into his heart.

I suspect that he did not begin worshipping the Shadow Demons on his own volition.

The city guards did not recognize the man who had been cut up by the gigantic Shadow Demon’s pincers. One of the adventurers, however, claimed that he resembled the Village Head of a village under the Koval House’s rule. Considering the fact that he had been the one offering prayers in front of the altar, he was most likely one of the main perpetrators as well.

The rest were, as expected, dark elf girls.

With dark tanned skin in common, each and every one of them were young ladies with their own characteristic charm.

All of them were in a completely emotionless doll-like state, exactly like Leiha had been. Their fully golden eyes indicated that they had already been completely brainwashed.

Although I had only prepared 1 charge of [Curse Break], I thought about trying to dispel the brainwashed status of all them with [Dispel Magic]. While [Curse Break] is a single-target spell, [Dispel Magic] erases all effects due to wizardry within a certain radius, so it is very convenient spell.

“…………?!”

“What’s going on?!”

Gah…… gafu…… guhooh?!”

“Oi……?”

Therefore, I tried [Dispel Magic] on Baron Koval and the dark elves all at once.

The very moment the Shadow Demon influence was eliminated from the inside, the Baron’s body began twitching so violently that it seemed his spine would almost snap…… then he died.

Based on my knowledge from TRPGs and fantasy works, the Shadow Demon curse must have already fused with his life, such that when the curse was removed, his life also went with it.

But still.

Despite the fact that he was the one who plotted harm against myself and Mora and the rest, I still felt a bit depressed about letting someone die.

Since if I had been able to safely undo his brainwashing, he might have become able to live a normal life again……

As for the dark elves, they merely lost consciousness, but seemed otherwise fine. Judging by the color of their eyes, it seemed like they had even deeper under Shadow Demon influence though. Perhaps the depth of the brainwashing and the strength of the relationship to Shadow Demons are two separate factors.

I’m sorry to the Baron, and I can’t say this out loud due to ethical reasons, but…… if I’m honest with myself, I would probably have been much more depressed if it was these girls who died instead of the Baron……

♥♦♣♠

“Per your command, the dark elves will be transferred to the medical center for treatment, after which then they will be imprisoned.”

“It seems like there really isn’t anything else around here.”

Hearing the city guards’ commanding officer and Gad’s report, I can finally breathe easy.

Though they said there’s nothing, there are still lots of things that the city guards will have to dedicate time and manpower to examining later on, such the documents inside the mansion related to Demonism worship and the human remains piled up around the ritual grounds.

Even though Baron Koval and the priest-like man are both dead, we do not know for sure that there are no more Demonists in Lelis. The investigation needs to be thorough and, depending on the situation, my help might be needed again.

Whether everything is truly over will depend on the results of their investigation.

But still, this has now given me a slight bit of peace of mind.

♥♦♣♠

The rest of the time I spent in Lelis were head-spinningly busy.

The very day we failed to apprehend Baron Koval (though everyone calls it ‘successfully defeating Baron Koval’), I had to participate in a joint meeting with the Council Chairman, Adventurer’s Guild Guildmaster, Magician’s Guild Guildmaster, and the Garrison Commander in regards to our next move.

I personally wish to build a strong friendship with the city of Lelis. The Council Chairman, being who he is, was worried that the scandal of such a well-known personage being revealed as a Demonist would turn into censure against the Council.

The countermeasure that we came up with was to use the trial of the dark elves. I would take that chance to explain the incident to the citizens, and to appeal to them the fact that the Council had done everything in its power to resolve the situation.

When we promised to share some of the credit with the magicians and adventurers, the two guildmasters also agreed to go along with the plan (though I didn’t bother digging into Heldol’s inner thoughts).

As there were still 10 more days before the trial, I stayed at Irudo’s mansion and spent the time cooperating with the investigation and going around greeting the various powerbrokers in the city.

The encounter that left the deepest impression on me was, as can be expected, the talk with Count Andel of the Council’s Noble Faction. In other words, Claura’s grandfather.

The obese elder who was unlike his granddaughter in every way possible remained in jovial spirits the entire time. Apparently he had had a very bad relationship with Baron Koval, despite being fellow nobles in the same party.

“This is the best that I’ve felt in the past 10 whole years! Wizard-dono! How about riding this flow and marrying into my family and taking over all of Lelis?!”

“…… I’m afraid I have to respectfully decline.”

According to Claura, who I had never seen this vexed, and her younger brother, their grandfather was a typical power grabber who had been at odds with the Council Chairman for long years. Well, as long as it’s not related to Demonists or assassins or the like, then he can do as he likes.

The younger brother was a handsome young man who resembled Claura more, but even he displayed a strangely friendly attitude towards me.

“Margils-sama, did my sister also pull your ear? My sister doesn’t do that to people that she doesn’t care about at all, so……”

He whispered lots of similar such things to me.

Does that mean that in Claura’s eyes, I’m unreliable like a younger brother? Even though age-wise, she’s young enough to be my daughter……

♥♦♣♠

One more important thing happened: I visited the Manuscriptor’s Guild.

In this world without a papermaking industry, almost all written records are on sheepskin (though they do use leather from other creatures).

Of course, the printing industry also does not exist, so all books have to be handmade, and all manuscripts have to be written by hand.

In modern Japan, it is almost impossible to lay eyes on a sheepskin manuscript. Here, though…… the several hundred variations of dyes and leathers, the delicate cover and page decorations utilizing combinations with metals, and the writing techniques with full consideration for ink viscosity and the font of each and every letter…… I was completely fascinated by every aspect of the process of production.

But of course, it’s not like a passion for traditional crafts awoke in me. It’s for making my backup spellbook.

The ingredients list, which figuratively dripped with chuunibyou with item descriptions like “ink mixed with the shattered fragments of a jewel exposed to the light of a full moon” and “sheepskin cut with a knife blessed by the goddess of fire,” made me seriously want to wring the necks of my younger self and my game master. However, everything was successfully gathered, and my request for the production of a blank book was accepted without much issue.

The guildmaster himself took on my job, so it would apparently be finished 3 months later.

He didn’t want to charge ‘the city’s savior’ for the job, but I still made sure to pay some remuneration as an expression of my respect for his skills.

♥♦♣♠

While spending my days so, the investigation into the remaining Demonists in Lelis made steady progress.

Naturally, Baron Koval wasn’t the only Demonist in town. 2 other nobles, 5 merchants, and several tens of citizens were apprehended.

Also, almost every village under the Koval House had been completely converted to Demonisn. With the guards and adventurers cooperating together, almost every single villager was also successfully apprehended.

From the interrogations of the Demonists and the documents found from the nobles’ mansion, more facts about the Demonists came to light.

The man who got cut up by the gigantic Shadow Demon was indeed a priest, and even a leader among them. He had come to the village from somewhere several decades ago, then steadily increased the number of adherents, before finally involving even Baron Koval.

The priest had called the skull that had turned into the gigantic Shadow Demon a ‘Vessel of God,’ and had apparently been offering living sacrifices to it from a long while ago.

The brainwashing of the dark elves and Baron Koval were more due to the power of this Vessel of God rather than the priest, apparently.

Aside from him, there were a few other brainwashed Demonists, but because they would die from [Dispel Magic], they were all thrown into jail instead.

I felt pity for the brainwashed people, but those who turned to Demonism worship on their own accord were merely reaping what they had sowed. I aided the investigation with [Psycometry], so I believe no one was falsely charged.

Thanks to even the Thief’s Guild having participated in the Demonist hunt, it can probably be said with confidence that their presence in the region has been completely erased.

♥♦♣♠

Ten days after failing to apprehend Baron Koval.

I am attending the trial, which is being held at the large plaza before the Council Hall.

Right in front is the judge. The members of the jury are seated both left and right. To the right is the Garrison Commander as the public prosecutor, and to the left are the 5 dark elf defendants and their counsel.

My role is to stand guarantee for them.

Trials in Sedia are, of course, very different from those in modern Japan.

The verdict is still determined by a vote of majority among the jurors, but the greatest influence on their decision is the guarantor.

Furthermore, what is given weight is ‘who the guarantor is’ much more than ‘what the guarantor says.’

I suppose it’s along the logic of “if an upright person that everyone trusts is standing guarantee, then that’s how trustworthy the defendant’s testimony is.”

In this case, though I’m the one saying it, I am currently the most upright person that everybody trusts the most in all Lelis. The very instant that the Great Wizard Gio Margils had agreed to be their guarantor, the dark elves had already almost been guaranteed an acquittal.

Now I understand why the Garrison Commander and Council Chairman had acted the way they did when I handed the girls over to the city guards……

“I, wizard Gio Margils of Jiiteias, hereby swear that the judgment sword of Guras, the God of Justice, shall strike true today.”

The thought “I seriously shouldn’t have underestimated fantasy” flits through a corner of my mind as I stand up to fulfill my duty and my promise to the Council Chairman. While facing both the jurors and all of the gathered citizens, I speak up to testify and provide a synopsis of what had happened.

Incidentally, Count Andel was the one who had proactively instructed me in trial etiquette, even though I never even asked him to.

“…… The cowardly Baron Koval took advantage of these dark elves to kidnap an innocent young girl who had taken good care of me……”

Despite being in front of a fully packed plaza the size of several soccer courts, I don’t feel embarrassment or fear like before.

It seems that I am steadily growing accustomed to Great Wizard persona.

“…… The beautiful female magician from the Magician’s Guild successfully managed to evade his evil grasp by her own strength. And then…… together with the gallant city guards who had sworn their loyalty to the Council, as well as the adventurers burning with righteous indignation who wanted to serve as a shield for the citizens of the city, we all infiltrated the underground section of the Baron’s mansion……”

Let’s not forget to give due mention to each and every source of help that we received.

“…… As a result of our investigation, we realized that the dark elves and a portion of the Demonists had actually been brainwashed by the priest. We know for sure that the terrible acts that they had committed were coerced, with zero regards to their personal will. With the name of the wizard Gio Margils on the line, here I assert that these girls are innocent.”

At the start, I did not know that the trial would be like this. But if this is the way of this world, then I feel no hesitation in abiding by — or using, actually — these rules.

In the first place, the Garrison Commander and Council Chairman didn’t even want the troublesome issue of the dark elves on their hands. Seeing this as an opportunity to buy a favor from me while washing their hands in the same stroke, there was no chance for the verdict to have gone any other way from the start.

“I shall announce the verdict. Members of the jury have agreed unanimously that the defendants are innocent!”

“ “ “Thou art our lord, Oluri [Lord of Wanderers]!” ” ”

The moment the judge uttered the verdict, all of the dark elves shrugged off their handcuffs (like taking off a pair of gloves) and kneeled in a line before me.

…… Not that I didn’t expect this, but it seems that even Leiha’s subordinates are going to call me their ‘Oluri’……

“We have not the words to express our gratitude for our lord personally testifying on our behalf.”

“From this moment on, we will be your Shi [One Who Serves] alongside Leihanaluka-ane, dedicating the rest of our lives to repaying our debt to you.”

(T/N: Ane means ‘elder sister.’)

Amidst the floating confetti and the sounds of bugles and bells and cheers from the citizens, I feel a cold sweat coming over me.

As a man, I would be lying if I denied being happy about having these beautiful ladies in my service. If I let my guard down, my face might just crumble into a broad grin.

Being used to the confident attitude of a Great Wizard? That’s fine, I suppose.

But having people kneel to me is going over the line, I think.

I sincerely pray with all my heart that these girls would not turn into a sweet poison for me.


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