Chapter 140 - The assassin repatriates
After securing the Alam Karla in my safehouse and telling her not to go outside, I returned to the Academy.
I landed on the roof of the dormitory. The moon was already shining in the sky.
I made sure no one saw me, and went back to my room through the window.
Then I took out my schoolwork and prepared myself to go out.
I was gonna attend a periodic study meeting.
These meetings were originally meant to help Epona study since her grades had been so low, but now, everyone in Class S took part in them.
Participating in them could provide me with an alibi.
This was a world where aircrafts didn’t exist, even as a concept. If you used your common sense-… No, even if you thought outside the realm of common sense, and possessed the same physical abilities as the Hero Epona, it would be impossible to go back and forth between the Holy Land and the Academy in half a day.
At the very least, no one would be able to blame me for kidnapping the Alam Karla.
I hope the rumor spreads successfully, though.
And by that, I meant the message written with lipstick on the wall of the cathedral stating that the Alam Karla was going to meet the Goddess.
I bribed one of her attendants so she would propagate the news as a rumor, and I had my personnel in place to spread it far and wide.
Those guys were professionals. I trusted them to do their job right.
The next day, Epona called out to me after class.
She was the Hero whom the Goddess predicted would destroy the world someday, and I was summoned into this world to kill her.
She was still wearing the boys’ school uniform and behaving like a boy.
She did look like a pretty boy, but because of her good looks, I kinda wanted to see her acting like a woman.
I smiled at her.
[What’s up? You called me out of the blue.] (Lugh)
At first, I approached Epona out of self-interest, so I could get close to the Hero and gather information on her. Then I could catch her off guard and kill her if the situation ever called for it.
But now, I considered her a true friend.
[…I’ll cut to the chase. This morning, a churchman called out and spoke to me. He told me you were trying to plunge the world into chaos by tricking it into believing that your words were the words of the Goddess. And I’ve heard many others like him badmouthing you. That stuff about inviting you to the Holy Land to praise you for defeating the demons is a lie, they’re actually planning to have the Inquisition pass judgment on you. That guy also gave me an order. He told me to keep an eye on you to make sure you don’t run away, and to stop you by force if you tried to.] (Epona)
The Church is acting awfully fast.
According to what the Alam Karla said, it was just yesterday morning that she announced that the Goddess had never spoken to me, so…
There was no way they could’ve given those orders to Epona through ordinary means of communication.
Meaning that they had been setting it all up since way before.
[Lugh, I need you to be honest with me. Did you lie?] (Epona)
[No, I didn’t. But the Alamism religion is.] (Lugh)
[I see, that’s a relief. Now I can proudly stand by your side.] (Epona)
[I’m thankful for your trust, but are you sure it’s fine to believe me so easily?] (Lugh)
Epona answered my question with a smile.
[You saved me before. Without you, I would’ve become unable to fight. Besides, you’ve already beaten lots of demons, and saved countless cities and people. You’re far more trustworthy than those arrogant churchmen from the cathedral. If you say that’s the truth, then it is.] (Epona)
She made me laugh sarcastically.
Epona was, for better or for worse, untainted.
The influence of Alamism, which was considered a major world religion, was colossal. Therefore, no matter how mistaken they could be, they couldn’t be criticized for it. If you even spoiled their mood, your position would be in jeopardy, even if you were a noble.
Those who were able to make that kind of prediction were still better off.
All the teachings of Alamism were right. Such a conception had been implanted in numerous people’s minds from their early childhood, and had become common knowledge.
That’s what made religion such a pain in the neck. They moved people not by reason, but by their spirits.
[Thanks for believing in me. I shudder to think what would’ve happened if I were to make an enemy of you, Epona.] (Lugh)
It was still impossible for me to win against Epona in a head-to-head confrontation. And I wasn’t sure I could escape her.
Still, the power of the Church is considerable.
Those pigs from the royal capital were so obsessed with protecting their own hides that they had Epona stationed near the royal capital.
But to think she would be dispatched in the Holy Land in spite of that…
This was a testament of how powerful an organization the enemy was.
[Come on, it’s too soon to be relieved! We’re up against the Inquisition! What should we do? Umm… Should I let you run away?] (Epona)
[You don’t have to do anything. I plan to undergo the inquisition. And I’m gonna clear myself of all suspicions right then and there, fair and square.] (Lugh)
That was the place where I would draw the most attention.
If I walked away from it, I would never get that label off of me.
[Are you sure… you can manage?] (Epona)
Even someone as wide-eyed as Epona understood what the Inquisition was all about.
It wouldn’t be a place for discussion and confirmation of the truth, but only for condemnation and public humiliation.
[I’m sure. But… Right… If I’m about to get killed at some point, will you help me?] (Lugh)
[Of course!] (Epona)
[…I know I’m the one who asked, but do you realize that you could make the entire world your enemy by helping me?] (Lugh)
I felt a bit uneasy, so I asked her that.
If Epona was underestimating the power of Alamism, then I had to set her straight.
Taking advantage of Epona’s misconception wasn’t something a friend would do.
[I know. But I have to stand up for my friends. …Besides, I need you to keep your promise. You said you’d kill me if I wasn’t myself anymore. And you’re the only one who can do it. So I can’t have you get killed or captured.] (Epona)
I made that promise to Epona back when we fought the orc demon. She was crying when she got students involved in her rampage, making her lose the will to fight ever again, and afraid that she wouldn’t be herself anymore.
[I did promise you that.] (Lugh)
[If you say you forgot, I’ll get mad.] (Epona)
[As if I could ever forget.] (Lugh)
That was my reason for being summoned into this world.
As her friend, I would do everything in my power to keep Epona from destroying the world. …And if I failed to do so anyway, I would kill her, for the sake of those I cared about, for Epona herself, and for her tearful wish of never hurting anyone again.
[Well then, I’ll be going.] (Epona)
Epona walked away.
I saw her off, then I dropped the smiling face I had been keeping.
[…She’s a good girl, but pretty unguarded.] (Lugh)
As I sighed at that thought, I heard a heavy thud behind me.
It was a slender man bound with rope, and gagged with a cloth stuffed in his mouth.
Then, I heard moderately-paced footsteps approaching me.
[What a shock…! I can’t believe that there was actually someone spying on the two of you just as you expected, Lugh-sama.] (Tarte)
It was Tarte showing up late and in her uniform.
I had asked her to follow us and capture anyone who may be watching us.
It was the hunter becoming the hunted, so to speak.
I took a look at the guy on the ground.
[You’ve gotten better.] (Lugh)
[You got him with only one blow to the back of his head. You incapacitated him in a single strike from behind, without killing him. He didn’t even notice you getting closer. This guy’s a pro, and being able to do that to a pro is something to be proud of. There aren’t many girls your age who possess so much skill, Tarte.] (Lugh)
[P-Please…! It’s only thanks to you for teaching me so much, Lugh-sama!] (Tarte)
[If that were the only reason, you wouldn’t have gotten so skillful at it. You did a great job.] (Lugh)
In my past life, I had trained a fair number of disciples, even before I was asked to retire and devote myself to teaching.
There were many of them who were more talented than her, but she was the only one who had grown that much.
…It may sound cliché, but she was a prodigy at hard work.
When I stroked her head, Tarte blushed and leaned in. She tried to keep a straight face, but even then, her face relaxed. It was both typical and adorable of Tarte.
When I removed my hand from her head, Tarte regretfully moved away.
[Now, let’s deal with this guy.] (Lugh)
The tied-up man glared at me reproachfully.
I knew they would send a watchdog like him to monitor us.
Since Epona was the only one who could stop me, they had to use her, but she and I were friends.
They took into account the possibility that Epona would betray the Alamism religion. So naturally, they took the precaution of keeping an eye on us.
…And it’s because it was such an obvious measure to take that it was so easy to predict.
[I gave you a lesson a long time ago, didn’t I? About the usefulness and danger of religion, that is.] (Lugh)
[Yes! The believers who have been fully indoctrinated renounce their own ability to reason, and consider everything their religion declares to be right. They do not bother thinking about anything, so it’s impossible to understand each other with them. You also taught me that while it’s useful when using someone as a tool, it’s awfully troublesome when that someone is completely absorbed in their religion.] (Tarte)
[Exactly. And this guy is one of those fully indoctrinated fanatics.] (Lugh)
[Mmgh…! Mmmgghh…! Mmgh…!] (Alamist fanatic)
The guy was struggling.
He would’ve never admitted to being a henchman of Alamism.
If a spy confessed his identity, it would cause damage to his organization. And he could never allow that to happen.
[How do you know that?] (Tarte)
[I know from his scent. The members of Alamism use a special incense. The aroma of this incense, which couldn’t be afforded without providing a huge donation or a significant contribution to their cause, was imbued in this man.] (Lugh)
It was originally made to provide the believers with a sense of superiority.
Every religion used hierarchy in their process to create devoted followers.
Again, this was as easy to understand as they come.
The feeling of superiority made them even more absorbed in their religion.
This guy probably obtained his special status not with money, but by contributing to their cause.
However, it was regrettable that they used incense to indicate it. It was utterly foolish for a spy to affix a mark on himself.
[Impressive as always, Lugh-sama! Shall we kill this man? It would be a problem if he told the others about Epona-san being your ally, wouldn’t it? If we disposed of him using the furnace you built for your workshop during our last stay in the academy, we could reduce him to ashes in an instant.] (Tarte)
[Mmgh…!? Mmmmmgghh…! Mmmmmmgghh…!!] (Alamist fanatic)
After hearing a cute and pretty girl like Tarte spitting out such horribly disturbing words, the man started thrashing around.
[We won’t do that. If he goes missing, the others will start suspecting that something’s up. Why not ponder that question a bit more?] (Lugh) 𝑙𝑖𝑏𝓇𝘦𝑎𝒹.𝑐𝑜𝓂
If their operative disappeared, that would be a major piece of information in itself.
[This is a difficult question. Our best solution would be to make him an ally, but… There’s no way to communicate with someone who’s obsessed with religion… And even if we tortured him, he would just rejoice in enduring pain for the sake of his Lord, wouldn’t he? Um… My apologies. I give up.] (Tarte)
[I give you 60 pts. Making him our ally is the correct solution. We’ll have him give us the information we need.] (Lugh)
[How are we going to do this? Persuading him and torturing him won’t work.] (Tarte)
[Watch and learn. I haven’t given a lesson like this in ages.] (Lugh)
Lately, I had been so busy taking measures against demons I didn’t get to perform the secret profession of Tuatha Dé.
So it had been a while since I had done those kinds of dirty practices.
Nonetheless, my true occupation was aristocratic assassin form Tuatha Dé.
So I just had to make full use of this fine educational material I had at my feet.
[I will do my best to learn!] (Tarte)
Tarte wasn’t a genius.
But she was hardworking and honest.
I had no doubt she would grow another step higher.
Now, we oughta make some preparations.
As Tarte mentioned earlier, there was no way to communicate with that kind of guy, and he had a high tolerance to pain. It would be tough to crack him with a straightforward approach.
Which is why, I would exploit the structure of the human body, especially the brain.
There was a difference between emotions and reactions. If I made use of the biologically uncontrollable parts of his body, I could do anything.
Combining my skills from my past life with my spells should give me a most effective method.
I felt bad for the poor guy.
But unfortunately for him, I wasn’t gentle enough to go easy on those who wanted to set me up, label me the enemy of the world, and mock me to death.
Updated from 𝘭𝘪𝑏𝑟ℯ𝒶𝑑.𝘤𝑜𝘮