* * *
“Today was fun, wasn’t it?”
Anne-Marie looked like she was in a good mood on the way home. Anne-Marie and I left the Crawford mansion to get home before it was time for dinner.
Tatiana, the old lady who accompanied me to the bathroom, ended up joining us for tea as well. From what I could see, she was already on close terms with Anne-Marie plus I was also interested in her, so I didn’t mind her joining us.
In the end, the time we spent at the Crawford mansion was not as bad as I expected. And when we got up to leave, the two of them asked us to stay back for dinner, but Anne-Marie and I refused because we had someone waiting at home.
From what I heard today, it seemed Tatiana came to the east because something strange had happened in the north. Of course, she didn’t say it directly since Anne-Marie and I were in the room, but that was what I gathered from the indirect information she threw around.
In addition, this was something I had investigated recently as Arachne but apparently, events like what happened in the East were also taking place in other regions lately. In other words, things like children going missing, an experimenting site being found, or mutants starting to show up often.
My mind flew back to Tatiana’s most recent request.
She seemed suspicious of a connection between the Alchemist Tower and the ruin fragments. Then could this be related to all the times she had asked me to bid and acquire an item that shows in the auction house?
If that was the case, she must have very good foresight since a ruin’s fragment under the fake name of a philosopher’s stone eventually appeared at the auction.
That said…this might be a different topic but.
The old lady, I think she’s Anne-Marie’s grandmother, isn’t she?
First of all, her appearance matched, and I remember reading that she was from the north when she appeared at the end of the novel. Well, I’ll only know the truth once I investigate so I’ll just let it be for now.
Anyway, who would have thought that such terrible incidents were happening across regions. Did the fake Lakis have a hand in this too or…
“That’s weird. Why is Hestia not back yet?”
Anne-Marie asked right then, with a look of concern on her face. Her gaze alternated between the clock on the wall and the door.
“I asked Mr. Odin and he said it’s already been three hours since she went out.”
I promised to have dinner with Anne-Marie today, so I was currently sitting in Anne-Marie’s house.
Lakis was not with me.
He said he had something to do outside, all day today.
But I could tell he was somehow uncomfortable around Anne-Marie so even if he didn’t have anything to do, he probably wouldn’t attend anyway.
“I think I’ll go look for her.”
Eventually, Anne-Marie rose to her feet.
“I’ll come with you.”
I followed right after her.
We decided to split up and search for Hestia. But I headed straight towards the target. Actually, I already attached a thread to Hestia some time ago, so I knew exactly where she was right now.
There were three people I had tagged with threads.
Anne-Marie, Hestia and Leo.
The atmosphere in the east was very troubled lately so I took precautions in order to track them if anything happened. As for Siren, she could send a bird to ask for help if things went sideways like last time, so I exempted her for now.
A flock of crows flew over my head.
They were Odin’s crows.
He acted like he didn’t care but he was obviously bothered by what happened to Hestia.
When I was in the Crawford mansion, I did a check on the thread locations, so I knew Hestia had gone out to meet Leo. Honestly, Odin and I had known that Hestia and Leo were friends for some time.
Hestia came back with a familiar smell on her after going out, so it was impossible for me not to know. Odin, in particular, nagged on about how Siren and Leo didn’t know what it meant to be careful.
But honestly, we also moved around ignorantly, got kidnapped, and put ourselves in trouble, so I didn’t think we are in a position to criticize them…
Well, to be fair, Odin got caught up in trouble because of me so maybe he was the only one who had the right to complain.
However, as I followed the thread on Hestia, I kept getting an increasingly ominous feeling. And when I arrived at a certain building, I realized my instinct was right.
“Get them in line! Their identities need to be verified!”
The East’s center.
The place where those suspected of being heretics were sent.
“I, I’m not a heretic!”
“Please let me go!”
The thread I attached to Hestia continued inside the building. And Leo’s was also somewhere nearby.
However, the thread attached to Leo was linked somewhere that was locked off to the public.
I could only think of one thing that would cause this current situation.
I immediately headed back to Anne-Marie.
* * *
“What?! Hestia was misunderstood as a heretic and taken in?”
Anne-Marie’s face turned pale after hearing what I said.
“Yes, someone told me they definitely saw Hestia in that area.”
“M-Maybe they saw wrong?”
“That would be nice, but I think we should check it out first.”
In this situation, it would be faster for a relative to help than for me to sneak inside and get Hestia out amidst the strict security. Moreover, since she had a connection to the Crawfords, either Bastian or Kalian could help Anne-Marie out.
“Damn it, if I knew, I would have a put a crow to watch those two little brats even if it was annoying me.”
Odin said, reproaching himself once Anne-Marie shakenly ran out to call a carriage.
“I’ll go with Ms. Anne-Marie for now.”
“I’ll send a crow out to search just in case. I’ll also send one to the Crawfords so if anything happens, let me know right away.”
“Alright. It might be dangerous so don’t move personally until we get a grasp of the situation.”
Anne-Marie and I headed back to the Crawford mansion where we just left.
“What?! Those bastards took a child?”
Thankfully, Bastian was still in the mansion. He immediately contacted the relevant department.
The person who was called in was dripping with cold sweat before Bastian’s anger, and quickly bowed in subservience then moved to take action.
“It’s Ms. Anne-Marie’s sister, right? I know how she looks, I will go get her myself.”
Kalian, who had just come home, left with the man.
And after a while, Hestia returned in his arms.
“Hestia! Oh my god, Hestia, are you okay?”
Hestia, who had fallen asleep after crying so much, heard the noise and opened her eyes.
“Sis? Leo…What about Leo?!”
Once Hestia opened her eyes, she sat up and immediately began to ask for Leo.
“Where is Leo? Those scary people caught him because of me…!”
I didn’t know the details but as expected, it was easy to guess that the two of them were together and got caught by the search division.
Kalian’s face had hardened ever since Anne-Marie told him about Hestia and hearing this, his face hardened even more.
“I didn’t know your friend got caught with you. If you can describe him to me, I’ll go right back and look for him.”
“Yes, Hestia. Which friend is this? Do I know them too? Is it the kid next door?”
Anne-Marie was surprised to hear that Hestia’s friend got caught with her and urged Hestia.
But Hestia looked at the adults with trembling eyes and hesitated, not knowing if she should say it.
“He, He is the same age as me. H-He has brown hair and yellow eyes and he’s wearing…”
And as Hestia stumbled over her words and continued explaining, the air in the room dropped dramatically.
“And, and he has puppy ears and a tail…”
Anne-Marie seemed floored by those unexpected words as her mouth opened and closed in succession.
“So… he’s wearing a costume, you mean?”
Anne-Marie asked carefully, as though to confirm, and tears welled up in Hestia’s eyes as she cried out.
“My, My friend is not a bad person! He’s my friend, just like the other kids.”
It seemed Hestia could also feel that the atmosphere in the room had changed a little. Although, from what I could tell, it was more like they were taken aback than a negative feeling.
I glanced at Bastian and Kalian.
“I will go check it out for now.”
“Alright, do that, Kalian.”
Kalian left the room first with a tense expression. Bastian looked disconcerted as he saw him off. But in reality, it would be impossible for Kalian to get Leo out like Hestia.
Leo had striking physical characteristics and his identity was also dubious.
“I’ll take my leave then.”
I left the room first, not having any expectations. They didn’t really react to my exit, probably because they were all in a state of confusion.
I left the Crawford house immediately.
Odin’s crow quickly flew a circle over my head and followed after me like it had been waiting.
I had to go meet Odin and Siren right now.
* * *
Dominic was in his office inside the central council building. As soon as he gave permission for the knocker to enter, the door opened. The person who came in was the supervisor who came to report on the progress of the search team.
The man bowed to Dominic then opened his mouth.
“A ‘real heretic’ was found today.”
Instantly, Dominic’s hand, which was hovering over a document, paused. The glow of the setting sun from the window seemed to flash through his eyes.
“Is that so.”
“Yes, sir. They said it has the ears and tail of a beast and behaves like a wild animal. Anyone who sees it will think it is a heretic, so they are certain this time.”
As he listened to the man’s explanation, a low laugh escaped Dominic’s lips. Now that the praying ceremony was drawing near, such a good card had rolled into his hands.
“Make sure you control it well like the other heretics.”
A thin, satisfied smile spread across his lips as he leaned back in his chair.
Dominic looked at the red sun beyond the window and ordered.
“As arranged, they will all be publicly executed at the praying ceremony.”
- You know something? The fathers of male leads are usually very hot. I’m just saying.
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