Chapter 166: The Night of Pursuit (part six)
After the discussions on the Aaru hypothesis.
My brother proceeded to explain to me about the death of our uncle, Oswald.
“His corpse was found in a room of the West Dormitory of Lindis Academy.”
“What!? In the West Dormitory!?”
I shouted out loud.
But I never heard that West Dormitory was a stigmatized property!!
“It’s alright, Erica. The room is in the boy’s wing, and I am certain no one is using that particular room right now.”
“Oh, I see. That’s good to hear, Eduard onii-sama.”
I stroked my chest in relief.
That being said, it is still scary that the corpse of a close relative was found in such close proximity.
Harold raised his hand with a confused look.
I suppose hearing that it was found in the boy’s wing made him uneasy.
“Um, w-which room was it? No one really uses it now, do they?”
“I’m pretty sure it’s the room they now use for keeping cleaning tools.”
“NOOOOO WAAAY~! It’s the one diagonally across the corridor from my room!?”
With a stigmatized property diagonally across the corridor, I do not blame him for screaming.
“Two months after his disappearance, while searching our uncle’s room, his bones were discovered neatly arranged within a lightweight bag.”
What an insanely suspicious death!
I don’t feel safe at all!
Why bones, and who put them in a bag?
This truly is a bizarre case.
“Since I also have been chasing vampires for a while now, so I am no stranger to these outcomes … well, I am so closely linked to them that I even asked Klaus to take care of the inheritance for Erica in case of an emergency.”
“Aa, this one right here.”
Klaus took out a key from his pocket.
“Onii-sama … please don’t make such a tragic resolve.”
I do not know how prepared you are for such an outcome, but this does not suit you, onii-sama.
In the first place, I am not ready to bid such a painful farewell.
“Ahaha, I never thought I would be able to talk with you about this so easily, Erica. Also, thank you, Klaus-kun, for keeping quiet about it all this time.”
“Don’t even think about handing it over in such a dire situation. Your sister will be heartbroken. I have been keeping an eye on you to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
I can at least find comfort knowing that my brother has Klaus with him.
These two together would definitely make the strongest magic duo, and with their different nature and personalities, they can easily handle most situations.
“I didn’t want Erica to get involved with the vampires, so I tried to keep her away from them as much as I could. But turns out she was the one most aware of the hidden intentions of these bloodsuckers.”
My brother smiled self–deprecatingly, his eyes downcast.
“Onii-sama … ”
I also want to keep my relatives and friends away from vampires if possible, so I understand.
I guess that just means we siblings are really alike after all.
“I am sorry to interrupt, but may I ask Erica a question?”
After a moment of silence, Auguste raised his hand and asked.
Oops, it is no good to use up the limited time talking just between us siblings.
“I would like you to tell me more about the hidden schemes you have discovered, namely, the altar corruption.”
“Right, I would like to know more about that as well. Can you give us a detailed explanation, Erica?”
Next up on the agenda is the hidden schemes of the vampires—details on the long time corruption of altars.
I spread out a map pinpointing the locations of all the corrupted altars I have destroyed so far.
There were nearly a hundred of them.
The range extended from Ichthyes all the way to the Ignitian territory in Karkinos.
The sheer scale and scope of the corruption took everyone by surprise.
“Let me start with a detailed explanation of the altar corruption.”
The vampires have restructured the altars to ones dedicated to the Mad King.
The method involves a ritual of sacrifice to the altar.
Around ten or more humans must be offered as sacrifices for the ritual.
It is possible that people have been kidnapped and murdered slowly, unnoticed, at intervals of tens or even hundreds of years.
“In order to interfere with the corrupted altar, a ritual from the era of Casketia must be performed, but even the golems used for the ritual were corrupted by the curse and transformed into some kind of monster.”
Harlan appeared thoughtful as he listened to my explanation.
“It seems that the sorcery was more powerful than expected. Even if our military order had discovered it, there is a possibility that secondary damage would have occurred due to those who did not carry snowsilver ore.”
“I also think the investigation would have been difficult if not for the help of the angel.”
“I see … it was too much for mere humans to handle. But this is …”
Harlan stared at the map on the blackboard.
“You investigated and cleared up this many corrupted altars. It must have been a lot of work, right?”
“It’s alright, we have had seven years to do it. Besides, I had an excellent angel helping me.”
It has been a long time since the incident at Knot Reed.
Seven years, if I include the period of investigation before Palug recovered.
The actual purification process took about four years.
It took an average of two weeks of preliminary research and preparation for the infiltration.
The important altars are grouped together in an altar network like the ones in Knot Reed, so the purification could be completed in one go by destroying the central altar.
The remote altars were more scattered, but the preparation period was short.
Purification using the Angel’s Flame is much faster compared to human efforts.
The destruction itself lasts only for an instance.
If anything, I think it was more difficult for the people of the church and the magic a.s.sociations who had to rebuild the altar network from scratch.
“I apologize for the rather rough method of burning down the altars, Auguste-sama.”
“No need for apologies, Erica, rather I really appreciate it.”
Auguste smiled as he said so.
It helps a little having an Ignitian royalty say so.
No, but really, we were doing all we could do destroy religious establishments …
“So, the functions of these tainted altars … ”
I followed up with the altars’ diversion of magical energy.
The original altar was a system for converting people’s faith into magical energy and offering it to the angels.
The corrupted altars were redirecting the magical energy that should have been offered to the angels in the first place.
Because of this, the angels came to believe that they were “losing the faith of the people” and their powers were running out.
I also explained that a large amount of redirected magical energy had scattered into the sea.
That is the reason why marine accidents by krakens and other magical beasts have been on a rise in recent years.
The reason Tirnanog and I were hunting magical beasts was to reduce the number of accidents at sea.
“Could it be … ?”
Professor Actorius muttered in a small voice.
“Are you suggesting that the increase in the number of sea serpents in the southern waters of Karkinos is also due to altar corruption? There has been an increase in the number of accidents in the last few years and some of the sea routes have been deemed as ‘unnavigable’.”
The only altars Palug has dealt with are the ones within the territory of the Federal Kingdom that were within our reach of investigation. If the altar network in the vast territory of Gigantia has also been corrupted, it is highly likely this is the case.
“Yes, I think so.”
“There are legends of an angel in Karkinos, but do you think it is possible that that angel is also dying?”
The cat at my feet rubbed against me and purred anxiously.
The situation of her former colleague must be a worrying one for Palug.
“An angel of the southern continent … If I could secure that, I would have been able to confirm it.”
“Whatever do you mean, Brad?”
Actorius asked in response to Brad’s monologue.
“It’s about a bone specimen, suspected to be that of an angel, circulating in the southern continent’s market.”
“A specimen of an angel’s bone?”
That’s right. The faith in the South must be on the verge of extinction if something like this is being handled as ‘specimen’.
“Yes, Elric. It is one of the specimens I was trying to secure for research at the academy. But it was lost before the incident with the curator Lièvre.”
“That sounds suspicious, Brad.”
I completely agree.
It was lost in the museum where the monster that had disguised itself as Lièvre used to hang around.
There is no way she was not involved.
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“It is possible that the specimen itself was one of the goals of the vampires. It would be troublesome for them if we found out about the operation and intervened.”
“Chloe-chan, you know, it is …”
Chloe asked and Beatrice replied in a whisper, cautious of her surroundings.
She noticed that I was there too, so she bowed slightly and continued.
“I am exchanging information with my grandfather. I really wanted to get some information out of him about the matter of causal interference.”
Beatrice said she was negotiating with the Wynt family through a letter.
“He is usually very kind to me, but when it comes to the matter of causal interference, he is very stubborn.”
“Your grandfather is Dolores Wynt’s father, isn’t he?”
“Yes, yes! That’s right, Erica-sama.”
It is going to be difficult to find out about what happened from an old man who lost his own daughter.
“I am sure it is partly because of my aunt. But even before that, my grandfather was a man who disapproved of causal interference.”
“From the beginning?”
“Yes, my grandfather refused to become a causal interventionist, so my aunt took over the role at a young age.”
So some people continued the family business quietly, while others rebelled.
Could he not bear the heaviness of the family trade?
But could he really take it easy, leaving the task to his young daughter and granddaughter?
“Alright, I have written it! Now I will be able to exchange at least one more letter back and forth before night, so I will do my best!”
Beatrice was enthusiastic.
“Well then, we are going to do some running now!”
“Um, I am sorry, but my muscles are really sore today … ”
I feel sorry for Chloe who seems to be looking forward to it, but don’t think I will be able to run today.
“Well, Chloe-chan, I am … actually me as well … ”
Beatrice softly agreed.
“Good. Muscle soreness is a sign that your muscles are growing. Today you are going to rest the muscles you used during the run and focus on the ones you didn’t use. Alright, today we are going to start with the trunk!”
Ah, there is no escape.
Certainly, the trunk is important as well.
“Please be gentle with me.”
“… Right, we will be in your care, Chloe-chan.”
Ugh, it is that time of the day again …
☆ ☆ ☆
I was completely burnt out.
I felt like a character out of a fighting comic.
“Both of you are looking really good!”
“Um, Chloe-chan … I am not so sure, but thank you …”
Beatrice replied seamlessly.
I nodded in agreement, unable to speak.
This time I hit my limit before Beatrice.
Beatrice seems to have surprisingly strong inner muscles.
I wonder if it is the result of her training as a mage.
“Are you alright, Erica-sama?”
Beatrice and I were both drenched in sweat.
It is a cool season so we must be careful not to catch a cold.
Chloe, on the other hand, was hardly sweating at all.
She does ten times as much muscle training as us, but she still looks unruffled.
“If you keep training like this, you will both qualify as full–fledged swordsmen.”
“Chloe-chan, I don’t think that’s possible …”
I don’t think I could ever be a swordsman with this kind of training.
Both mages and dragon knights have their own methods of rigorous training, so alchemists have it easy, after all.
We have some time until the evening meeting begins, so it would be better to get some rest.
I think I will also have some tea or coffee after that.
I am certain I will fall asleep like the dead if I am not careful tonight.
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