Part 10

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Volume 2 — Chapter 2: The Saint and the Father
Part 10

But don’t worry. I’m not dumb enough to blow your cover and needlessly make things worse.

“You’re not hurt anywhere, are you? You fell down because you weren’t feeling well, didn’t you? Did these people help you? Ah…thank the Lord!”

“Please wait, my Saint. It is common for thieves to use children to force carriages to stop. This child may also…”

As expected of the priest. Just earlier, he was going on about faith this, faith that, and now he wasn’t hesitating to cast doubt on an innocent child. You couldn’t trust clergymen.

“How the hell could a thin little kid like that do anythin’? Ya think so now ‘cause ya can’t see, but take off yer blindfold ’n look. He’s so skin ’n bones, you could crush ‘im to death with one hand.”

I lent Theo a helping hand for now. The priest let out a sigh of astonishment.

“It does not matter that he is thin, or that he is a child. If he is evil on the inside, he must be judged. What is important is the heart; the likes of age and appearance are merely its vessels.”

Huuuh? But hey, you treated me like trash just because I was a fallen beast, riiight?”

“That is because fallen beasts are not human.”

“Oooh, ’s that so…”

I see. He was being thorough. Rather refreshing, almost.

“Father,” the flustered Saint chided, but still he showed no sign of backing down.

“Even so. Let’s say Theo was working with the thieves. If an arbiter of Dea Ignis can’t protect one Saint from a kid, he’s got to be pretty useless, right?”

“You silver-tongued beast…”

It seemed as if I had clearly killed the mood, but I could see that I had jabbed at enough of a sore spot by his lack of a retort.

Taking the opportunity that was that moment of silence—

“I…I’m really sorry!”

Theo’s high-pitched voice forced its way in.

“I was on my way to the inn to some odd jobs for my boss at the blacksmith’s, but he didn’t let me eat anything before going, so I was so hungry I couldn’t move…! Then a bunch of thieves appeared…and I got scared…I…I thought I was a goner, but there was a carriage, so I rode it to escape…! I thought about getting help, but the horse was going wild…I…!”

The lies poured out of him as smoothly as a river. Still, it’s a bit too forced, Theo. From the tears glinting at the corners of your eyes, to your scared expression, over-acting only makes you suspicious.

Or so I thought, but—

“…Poor child,” the Saint murmured. I froze in shock. No way—

“You must have been frightened, weren’t you? It’s all right, I’m not angry in the slightest!”

She actually bought it, this woman. Then—

“O Lord…! I beg of you, please forgive my tainted self for doubting this innocent child…! Don’t cry, boy. There is nothing more joyful than the fact that you are here, safe and sound…!”

You too, Father?! Are you kidding me?!!

—So, this Saint…! And this priest…! This is how they are!

I shuddered and turned pale.

That was an inadequate excuse no matter how you look at it. How can you believe that, you two?

No, the Saint’s still okay. I still understand. But Father, how can you believe that? You’re a member of the Church’s most intimidating murder squad, Dea Ignis.

I felt fear toward the Saint and the priest, as I could no longer understand them.

“Mercenary…why am I getting goosebumps?”

“That’s called fear. I started feelin’ itchy at the base of my tail just now too; can’t do anythin’ ‘bout it…”

The three of them were embracing each other, all crying emotionally—one fake crying. I looked toward the Saint’s attendant, who was standing next to Zero and gazing at the three with a faraway look in her eyes.

“…They always like that? Those two.”

As I asked hesitatingly, the attendant looked at me with a surprised expression.

She probably hadn’t thought that I would speak to her. There were many among normal humans who thought that fallen beasts couldn’t speak human words.

Did I frighten her? I made a mistake.

It would have been better had she ignored me, but after hesitating for a moment, she looked down and murmured an answer.

“…Always. They are very kind.”

“They’re more than kind, are they alright in the head…? Any way you look it, that kid’s suspicious.”

“Have a little doubt,” I muttered, and the attendant shrugged slightly. She might have been laughing.

In a sense, this woman was almost one of my kind. Well, since the priest and the Saint were like that, things probably wouldn’t go so well without a realist nearby.

“So? What’re ya gonna do now, Saint? Are ya gonna go back to the holy city? Like Theo said, the carriage’s in shambles ’n the horse’s now in the inn’s stables.”

After I spoke, the Saint suddenly looked up and hysterically cried “that’s right!”

“I must be getting to Edeabelna…! The letter said to race against time…”

Indeed, the lord of Edeabelna had said that his son was suffering from an illness of the lungs.

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