“Might I see the beast? Where is it?”
“In my office.”
“Your office? What kind of beast could… never mind. Please don’t say anything. I’d like to see with my own eyes. May I go and see it now?”
Smiling at her excitement, Kasser rose from the sofa. He was about to turn around when he hesitated and turned back to grab the documents on the table.
“I’ll take a look at them and return them to you. I just have something I want to check.”
Eugene nodded amenably. She had already lost interest in the personnel files.
The warehouse was ringed by a fence a little taller than the average person. There were several warehouses on this street, both big and small, belonging to various guilds, and the moderately-sized and shabby ones did not stand out particularly.
Unlike the other warehouses, which were heavily guarded, this had just one guard standing in front of it, as though its contents were unimportant or it was empty and waiting to be restocked.
The guard wore a dim expression, his eyes unfocused. He looked exactly like a worker who was just waiting for his shift to end and did not seem like he would even care if anyone approached.
Right then, a visitor approached the guard and spoke. “I’ve come for what’s in the second box.”
The voice was thick making it hard to tell if it was a man or a woman.
The guard looked at the strange visitor, wearing a hooded robe, up and down.
It was almost midday and quite bright. But even though it seemed natural that the guard should be able to see the visitor’s face, he could not even make out the outline. He found this very odd since the hood was not that deep.
But he could not keep staring blatantly. He had been told already that a very important visitor would be coming and did not want to get into trouble for bothering them.
Exaggeratedly playing the part of the lazy guard, he replied bluntly. “The second box is empty, My Lord.”
“Then I’ll take the third.”
“I have to stay here and keep guard, My Lord, so go on in yourself.”
With that, he took a key hanging from his waist and handed it to the visitor. The person turned, put the key into a hefty padlock right beside the guard.
The padlock popped open without a hitch. The guard, who had been glancing sideways, faced forward again. If the padlock opened, the visitor was considered qualified.
The padlock was specially crafted to only open when someone who had had Magi bestowed upon them by Mara turned the key.
The now opened door revealed nothing but pitch darkness. As the visitor entered, the door closed behind.
Despite the warehouse’s wooden exteriors, the inside walls were sturdy, lined with bricks coated in powdered lime. On a closer look, one would find that the wooden planks stuck to the outer walls of the stone building was a deliberate ruse to make it look shabbier. Perhaps, to avoid undue attention.
There were no windows here, so even during the day, not a ray of light could enter. It was a dark room, designed to house something that should not be exposed to light.
In fact, this was a meeting place for the servants of Mara disguised as a dark warehouse. Since the walls were thick, even if several people were to gather here, pray and sing hymns, no sound would escape to the outside. And since no light could enter, when the worshippers gathered at night and lit lamps, no light would escape to the outside either.
The visitor strode forward as if the darkness did not bother them at all. They flipped back the hood from their head and long hair cascaded down to the middle of their back. When they opened their eyes, their pupils glared red.
Through the darkness, a single little light appeared. It twirled around the visitor like a firefly, and split into two; then four; eight. In no time at all, the warehouse was filled with countless little lights.
The lights pushed back the darkness and revealed that there was a person already in the warehouse, waiting. Directly in the visitor’s path, someone was prostrated on the ground, ready to receive this important guest.
The luxuriously thick hair of the visitor became longer and longer until it flowed down like a waterfall all the way to their ankles. By the time they stopped walking, their hair trailed out far behind them.
“May Mara’s blessing be upon you always. Rodrigo, the servant of Mara, offers his greeting.”
Rodrigo’s head was so low his nose touched the ground and his voice slightly trembled. It was very different from his polite and friendly demeanor before Eugene the other day.
Rather than respect born from reverence, Rodrigo’s rigid posture seemed closer to fear.
The countless small lights filling the room were now radiating even more brightly, illuminating every nook and corner of the warehouse.
Without shifting his position, Rodrigo glanced sideways to eye the now-distinct pattern of the bricks on the wall. In this windowless warehouse, even if the door was thrown wide open in the middle of the day, light did not penetrate all the way inside. He gulped fearfully.
He could feel the powerful Magi around him with his entire body. Compared to this great power, his own Magi was no more than a grain of sand. Overwhelmed by fear and awe, he found himself drenched in a cold sweat.
Among the nine priests of their church, Rodrigo was the highest ranked and essentially the leader. The people of the church believed that Rodrigo was the most faithful follower of Mara and would willingly give his own life for her.
That was why, despite his radical schemes and obvious thirst for power, there were still many followers who supported him.
As well as this, Rodrigo was the only person who was able to meet with the High Priest. Most members of their cult did not even know of the existence of the High Priest.
As the holy man who received the words of Mara through the High Priest, his position in the abominable church was very secure.
Although the High Priest looking down at Rodrigo with red eyes was young and beautiful, it was hard to tell if the person was a woman or a man. If a woman, she was a beauty; and if a man, he was a strangely beautiful man.
The long hair that trailed on the floor was like silk… golden, as the King of Mahar’s hair was known to be.
“The great Mara is now speaking.”
The raspy and unearthly voice did not match with the High Priest’s beautiful appearance at all.