Hilda Carlyle: Ahh, aren’t you Di Qi Ju? That laborer kid who I singled out…
Di Qi Ju:..What are you doing here?
Hilda Carlyle: I’m not too sure either. Half an hour ago, even the illuminating light of Westrealm was denied to us.
Hilda Carlyle: Let’s put all these unnecessary matters aside for now, oh faithful followers of Westrealm.
Hilda reached out with both of her arms and clasped both me and Mo Chuan on the shoulder.
As she did so, there was a light suction throughout our bodies as the worm juices and dirt on us began to coagulate into a ball in her palms.
A few seconds later, the suction feeling finally stopped and Hilda turned around with both balls in hand. With a resounding splat, she slapped both of the balls onto the dead worm.
Di Qi Ju: Huh…this is?
Hilda Carlyle: A blood toxin. If even a single drop gets into your bloodstream, you would die within an hour later.
Hilda Carlyle: But, it’s all settled now.
Mo Chuan: Thank you Sir Inquisitor, praise be to Westrealm for it was his gift that saved us.
Hilda Carlyle: We’re in the middle of nowhere right now. There’s no need for such stuffy talk. This isn’t the outer ring of the Divine Hall after all.
Hilda Carlyle: Which reminds me, that show you guys put on was really fascinating…
Hilda Carlyle: Or should I say, “you”, Di Qi Ju.
Di Qi Ju: ….!?
The contents of that conversation with Ethan on the day we set off, played back within my mind once more.
She’s able to read any memories regarding blood, weapons or drugs! S***, does that include non-humans as well? Like that worm’s!
Which means…she knows exactly what happened just now?!
Di Qi Ju:……
Mo Chuan: Ju, it’s alright, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Hilda Carlyle: It’s not the toxin that scares him.
Hilda Carlyle: I wonder what could it be then…let’s take a guess shall we…
Hilda Carlyle: Are you afraid of…your powerful ability being exposed to others?
Di Qi Ju:……
Hilda Carlyle: Judging from that expression, I’m 62% on mark.
Di Qi Ju: Exactly how did you get it so right…
Hilda Carlyle: However—
She suddenly turned around and carefully inspected the dead worm.
That horrific corpse didn’t seem to disturb her one bit as she scanned it, but that grave look on her face…was she worried about something?
Hilda Carlyle: While I don’t know why you aren’t willing to expose your strength; that seems contrary to the culture of the countries surrounding the Divine Hall—
Hilda Carlyle: —-but that isn’t the main issue here. The issue is that thing over there…
Mo Chuan: What’s the matter with this worm?
Hilda Carlyle: It can’t really be considered as an unknown creature. It just doesn’t have a designated name yet. Instead, creatures like it are merely collectively known as “Sorcerous Insects”.
Hilda Carlyle: When a large amount of poison insects are trapped together under a set of unlikely circumstances, they are forced to feed on each other in order to live until only one remains.
Hilda Carlyle: This remaining creature integrates the strength of all the toxins it absorbed from the other insects and becomes a unique “sorcerous insect”.
Hilda Carlyle: To have created such a large sorcerous insect…looks like this place is pretty dangerous.
Di Qi Ju: Sorcerous insect…
That name reminds me of something…
Isn’t it that witchcraft called Gu from certain legends and novels on Earth. However, it seems to have no connection to this world’s sorcerous insect.
Hilda Carlyle: Hmm, after all that talking, I’m kinda tired, let’s find a place to rest.
Hilda Carlyle: I know a place we can head to that’s pretty nice, at the very least it’s cleaner than this place.
Di Qi Ju: Oh, alright then.
With Mo Chuan supporting me, we followed her lead slowly into woods.
After about a kilometer of walking, the dense foliage suddenly gave way to what looked like a clearing from where we were standing. As we followed the streams of light flowing in from the gradually thinning foliage, we came upon the refreshing sight of a lake as we broke through the final line of trees.
It was a picturesque small lake with a diameter of several tens of meters wide. As it laid there in the middle of the dense woods, the serenity of the water surface reminded me of the flawless skin on those beautiful models you would see on Earth.
It reminded me of the lake Miss Poppy brought me to, but of a smaller scale. However it gave off that same sense of endearment you get when you look at your beautiful little sister.
At the side of the lake were three figures who were probably inquisitors as well, based on their similar dress code.
Upon seeing us, they immediately donned their hoods, covering up their identities.
Hilda Carlyle: These are the inquisitors accompanying me on this mission. Due to the Divine Hall’s regulations, they are only allowed to come into contact with approved personnel. So please forgive their rudeness.
As she walked up to them, they exchanged a few handshakes and glances but kept their silence throughout.
Perhaps they had their own way of communicating.
After which, two members of the three left their team and entered the forest in the same direction we exited from.
Di Qi Ju: They’re…
Hilda Carlyle: Previously, I was sent out to check the source of the roars from earlier, since I was the safest choice. Now that the danger is gone, more suitable people have been dispatched to inspect the sorcerous insect.
Inquisitor Hilda was the safest choice among all of them? Didn’t she already possess the ability to read memories and extract toxins. If she’s also the most adept among them…exactly how many wish abilities did she have…
Hilda Carlyle: This seems like a good spot to rest.
Di Qi Ju: Are you sure it’s safe?
Mo Chuan: With more than one inquisitor here, that kind of concern is unnecessary, Ju.
Mo Chuan gently lowered me onto the ground before sitting down himself. The other two inquisitors joined in as well.
As I looked at the picturesque lake, its beauty seemed to absorb all the fatigue from me as my mind suddenly felt refreshed. If it wasn’t for that string of tragedies that brought me to this world, being able to sit here would have been a blessing in itself.
As the tenseness from that heart-pounding battle left me, my thoughts strayed to our companions on the bridge; I wonder if they are okay right now?
Hilda Carlyle: Oh Westrealm, your faithful have prevailed once more in the battle against ignorance and the wilderness.
Beside me, the prayers of Inquisitor Hilda rang out in my ears.
Hilda Carlyle: You have blessed us with your gifts and yet there remain those who do not use them properly, never showing gratitude.
Hilda Carlyle: To these cretins who can’t be converted, may their gifts be returned to you, through death will they return to your loving embrace.
Hilda Carlyle: We are your apostles, who enact your divine will, who enlightens the world of your generosity and acceptance.
Hilda Carlyle: Your will guides us and protects us, may we bring forth your glory and faith.
Di Qi Ju:……
Hilda Carlyle: What’s the matter? Haven’t you seen a inquisitor pray before?
Di Qi Ju: Ah—I’m sorry, I seemed to have gotten distracted…
Hilda Carlyle: After that gruelling battle, you should lay down and rest.
Hilda Carlyle: Ah, is it because of your torn clothes?
At this, I looked down at what remained of my clothes after that worm’s fangs had its way with them.
Di Qi Ju: Er…there’s that as well.
Hilda Carlyle: Don’t tell me you want to wear my inner clothes?
Di Qi Ju: No, I’ve never thought of that—
Hilda Carlyle: Then, you should obediently lay down—
My head was suddenly wrapped in her arms and forcefully pressed downwards.
Just as I thought I would hit the ground, I instead landed gently in a silky world of softness…
Confused, I turned around and saw the upper half of Hilda’s robes.
Ah? Don’t tell me this is…
The legendary lap pillow??
Hilda lowered her head and looked at me with a benevolent smile on her face.
Hilda Carlyle: Is it easier for you to rest now?
Di Qi Ju:…
Di Qi Ju:……
Di Qi Ju: In a sense, it is even harder for me to rest now.
Hilda Carlyle: And why is that?
Di Qi Ju: That’s what I would like to know as well…do inquisitors usually provide this sort of service towards commoners?
Hilda Carlyle: Usually we would send you to the hospital. The faithful nowadays, tend not to look to the inquisitors for medical treatment.
Di Qi Ju:…that’s really a practical and normal turn of events.
Hilda Carlyle: However, these are extraordinary times and there’s only so much we can do, so bear with it.
Hilda Carlyle: Also—to this sir beside us, I’m sorry but with your body, taking care of you would be…difficult.
Mo Chuan: I don’t need to rest nor do I require a pillow.
Di Qi Ju: Mo Chuan…
…given this awkward position where I can’t even move a muscle, how should I get him to help me?
Wait…what if he says “you can use my lap as a pillow instead”? I’m better off where I am right now.
Besides…it doesn’t feel that bad either.
Ah No—-I mustn’t rub against her with the back of my head! I might get punished for blasphemy!
Steady there, steady…
Hilda Carlyle: Hmm?
The other inquisitor suddenly approached us and engaged in a silent conversation with her. After which she turned to look at me with a slightly different expression.
Hilda Carlyle: Mhm.. – → ↗
Di Qi Ju: Hmm? What’s wrong?
Hilda didn’t answer me, but instead used her hand to hold onto my face as she slowly lowered her onto me…
Di Qi Ju:…???
Hilda Carlyle: …Is that true?
She seemed to be talking to herself? At this distance, I had a clear view of her eyes. They were looking at me with a searching intent behind them.
Hilda Carlyle: I want to verify something…
Verify? Exactly what are you verifying? What did that inquisitor tell you?
Her head got ever closer to the point where I could see the lines on her rosy lips.
Her soft lips slowly opened and I caught a whiff of a fragrant scent flowing from them.
I was paralyzed with shock at this moment, as I stared helplessly at those soft red pillows.
Hey, hey….don’t tell me she’s—-
??: —–is it over here?
Hilda Carlyle stopped, her lips a few centimeters away from mine, upon hearing that voice.
I immediately took advantage of this opportunity to get off her lap and stand up.
Within the woods, the two inquisitors who had just left were already on the way back, but they weren’t alone.
A squad of roughly 10 people suddenly stood at attention at the lakeside, each of them exuded the aura of a seasoned veteran.
Chief among them was the familiar face of a certain officer I had encountered multiple times over the past few days, Ethan.
As Ethan spotted the both of us, his face lit up instantly.
Ethan: —-Alright, we’ve confirmed the location of the target.
Ethan and a medical officer immediately came up to us. Bending down, that medical officer performed a check on us.
Ethan: How’s their injuries?
Di Qi Ju: Sir, I’m alright. It’s just these clothes…
Ethan: Check him.
Medical Officer: Yes sir.
Ethan: That seasonal wolf as well.
Medical Officer: Yes sir!
Mo Chuan: That sure was fast.
Mo Chuan: It couldn’t have been long since we got ambushed.
Ethan: Did you forget that you’re in the military?
Ethan: Discovering the scene of the incident, reporting, setting off, each step takes less than five minutes.
Di Qi Ju: Are our teammates alright?!
Ethan: The other four have already been sent to the medical post. They weren’t seriously injured and should have woken up by now.
Ethan: As for those four adventurers, they’ve all been caught and their sentence determined.
Di Qi Ju: Is that so…
My tense body finally relaxed upon hearing this. It felt like a weight had just been lifted off my shoulders at this moment.
Hilda Carlyle: While I’m not sure what just happened, but it sounded really efficient. I’ve long heard of the famous expeditionary army of the country of Faith.
Ethan: Inquisitor Hilda Carlyle…
Hilda Carlyle: Seeing as there’s someone to handle this situation, it’s time for us to go.
The inquisitors, including Hilda, immediately gathered together and got ready to leave.
Ethan: Please wait a moment, Inquisitor Hilda Carlyle.
Hilda Carlyle: ?
Ethan: This region falls within the search zone of the expedition. Since your excellency has appeared here, I request that you follow us back to the base.
Hilda Carlyle: Ah, there’s no need to mind us. We were just passing through and will be leaving soon.
Ethan: Hold on! Without your report…
??: —-please stay a while, Hilda Carlyle.
At the back of Ethan’s squad, came the figure of the expedition’s highest ranking officer, Breman.
As he walked towards us, with his bodyguard in tow, he wore a calm look on his face.
It might be my imagination but the Breman in front of me seemed a little different from before. His golden hair was not as neat and elegant as usual. It’s a small change but it turns his usual gentlemanly appearance into one that resembled a soldier.
An officer that exuded the discipline and seriousness of a soldier.
Ethan: Your Excellency! What are you—-
Breman: Mhm, I said to handle this matter as you see fit so I decided to check up on the situation in private.
Breman: And it was a lucky coincidence that I did—Inquisitor Hilda doesn’t seem to be willing to stay behind without someone of an equal status asking her to do so.
Breman: Let’s have a talk. Shall we, Inquisitor Hilda Carlyle?
Breman: About everything that has happened so far. Everything…
Special thanks to Steve Granger, Ichitsuzen, and LaRue Martin!!
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.