Not paying any mind to what the people from the Steelwall Estate thought, Zich and the holy knight continued to converse.
“I suppose the reason why you came all this way is because of the rumors?” Zich said.
“Of course. Since it’s a rumor concerning those filthy, nasty Bellids, we have to check the place in person even if there’s a possibility that the rumors are false.” After saying this, Winstin glanced at the Steelwall knights and turned back to Zich.
Zich noticed this behavior and thought, ‘He’s suspecting them.’
However, Winstin didn’t appear to be looking at a definite suspect and seemed to hold a level of doubt whether the Steelwalls were really connected to the Bellids. Considering the Steelwall’s prestige, Winstin didn’t show his suspicions openly; after all, he didn’t want to risk causing friction between the Steelwalls and Karuwimans in the case the rumors were proven to be false.
“I think you all also came because of the rumors. Did you perhaps find anything?”
“Yes, there really was one like the rumors said.”
The holy knights’ mood changed instantly. “Are you talking about a Bellid temple?”
“What else could it be?” Zich pointed at the burrow behind them. “It’s in there. It’s not that big.”
“Well, that’s probably the case considering the size of the lake next to the mountain. Did you all find anything there?”
“No, it was clean. So, we were planning to just break down the temple. We thought we might be able to find something while destroying the place, and even if we don’t, it would be better than leaving that sickening place alone.”
“That’s true. But before you destroy it, could we check the place one more time?” Winstin asked, but his eyes were firm. If Zich refused in this situation, there would probably be a serious conflict.
“As much as you wish,” Zich backed away one step to the side and stretched out his arm to the burrow.
“Thank you for your cooperation.” Winstin gestured to the holy knights, and they went inside the burrow. When all the holy knights disappeared, the rest of the investigation team from Steelwall approached Zich.
“There won’t be any misunderstandings, right?”
“What reason would they have for misunderstanding? We simply came here to check the rumors. Even though they didn’t seem to completely trust you all, they didn’t seem to be certain of their suspicions either.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“But let’s try following them in,” Zich suggested. Soon, the rest of the team went back inside the burrow again. When they reached the temple, holy knights were searching all over the building, and some were using some kind of holy magic on the walls. It appeared that the Karuwimans had special methods to find traces of Bellid followers.
“Did you find anything?” Zich asked Winstin since he was the one who ordered the holy knights at the temple entrance.
“No. We didn’t find anything special yet.”
“What place do you think this is, Sir Dyner? Do you think it’s a place for Bellid followers living nearby? Or do you think it’s a place built for a special purpose or perhaps something completely different from anything I mentioned?”
“Who can say? Even I don’t know exactly.” For now, Winstin avoided answering. “According to our experiences, it doesn’t seem to be a place built for a special purpose. The dirty statue of Bellu is nothing elaborate on, and seeing its size, this place seems to be for Bellid followers who live nearby.”
“Then, do you think the villagers living nearby are Bellid followers?”
“We can’t dismiss that possibility.”
“Don’t you think the likelihood of that is low?”
“That’s certainly true.” If those villagers were really Bellid followers, they wouldn’t have let the traveler who found the temple run away, and they would have left the village as soon as the rumors spread.
“There seems to be nothing unusual or special, Sir Dyner,” one of the holy knights said to Winstin.
“Hmm, as I thought, is it really just a small-scale temple?” Winstin was disappointed. When Chelsea failed to become the next saintess, he decided to temporarily drop his aspiration of surpassing Belri Weig. Since Belri Weig became the Saintess’ guardian knight, the gap between them only widened, and Winstin needed to do something to shorten the gap back somehow. It was then that he heard the rumors circulating around the Steelwall Estate. Thirsty for any merits, Winstin moved faster than anyone and hoped that he would be able to find something that could help recover the aspiration he had lost here: an important Bellid base, a divine item, or a high-ranking officer.
Thus, he was extremely disappointed to find out that all his expectations had been wrong and all he found was a small Bellid temple. Furthermore, he wouldn’t gain credit for even this small deed since the Steelwall knights found this place before him.
‘Now that I think of it, there’s a rumor going around that the Steelwall Estate is related to the Bellids,’ Winstin thought. Yet, even if he was obsessed with gaining merits, Winstin knew that there was a high possibility that this was nothing more than a rumor. It was highly unlikely the Steelwall family which boasted of being the kingdom’s Iron Wall would associate themseleves with such a group of people, and no one among the Karuwimans believed these unrealistic rumors.
‘If it’s really true, there would be no better way to gain merit.’ If he revealed that these rumors were true, his fame and accomplishments would rise, and he would be able to make a dent on Zich’s honor as he had helped the Steelwalls. Moreover, he might be able to cut off Zich’s head with his own hands. Of course, this was all simply in his head for now.
“The search is over. Break down this disgusting building and interrogate the people in the nearby village.”
“Wait!” At Winstin’s command, Danny stepped forward and refuted, “Even if you are holy knights from Karuwiman, please refrain from acting indecently! This place is part of the Steelwall Estate, and we are the first ones to have found the Bellid temple!”
Knowing how much the Karuwimans made a fuss whenever the Bellids were involved, the Steelwall knights had let the holy knights search the temple again. However, they had no obligation to let them do anything more than that. They could let the holy knights break down the Bellid temple if they asked for their permission first, but interrogating the villagers was another matter. Even if the villagers were suspicious, they were still people who belonged to the Steelwall Estate. Those who interrogated them also needed to be from Steelwall.
“I spoke as if I was ignoring the Steelwalls’ authority. I apologize for that.” Winstin bowed. Of course, he wasn’t giving a genuine apology. He was already annoyed that the thread of hope he had for his career had crumpled and was displeased to see that Danny was trying to interfere with his plans now. Without a doubt, Danny’s personality was on the bad side.
At the same time, Winstin couldn’t just push Danny out of the way. Danny was a knight from a high-class noble family. If things turned in the wrong direction, he could get pushed farther away from his goal.
“I hope you will understand our position as knights belonging to Karuwiman that we won’t be able to simply return like this. Besides everything else, we have to interrogate the villagers.”
Danny groaned. Like how Winstin had to consider the Steelwalls’ position, Danny had to do the same for the Karuwimans. It was then that Zich intervened.
“Since a Bellid temple has been found nearby, we have to interrogate the villagers anyway. Plus, the best ones at finding that fish head’s slaves are the Karuwimans,” Zich said.
“Pffft!” The holy knights burst into laughter. It seemed they liked Zich’s word choice of ‘fish head’. Then, Zich continued, “However, it’s true that the villagers belong to the Steelwall Estate. It should be required for Steelwalls’ government officials to accompany the holy knights during every interrogation. I’m sure this isn’t too much to ask from both sides since this is the way it’s commonly done in these types of situations.”
The knights and holy knights all nodded, and the tense atmosphere between them lifted.
“Now, all that’s left is this building.” Winstin knocked on the temple’s walls. Heavy thumps rang across the surroundings eerily. “Were the people from Steelwall going to destroy this structure themselves?”
After some thought, Danny answered, “I think it's fine to let you do it.”
They could let the holy knights do that, since they had asked for permission first. Danny watched the holy knights eagerly beat down and destroy the Bellid temple with a bitter smile on his face. He decided to leave the burrow since there was nothing more for him to do and there was dust flowing everywhere since the temple was torn down. He was about to order his men to retreat when one of his knights gave a suggestion.
“We should check the situation just in case something pops out. Moreover, I think we should also learn about the Bellids’ temples to some degree. As dreadful rumors are circulating around the area, there’s no guarantee that no other temples would appear again.”
Hearing this, Danny nodded. Then, he said to Zich, “You can leave first, young master.”
“No, I want to also watch,” Zich replied. Then he took out some handkerchiefs from his magic box and handed them to the knights. He also got another one for himself and blocked his nose and mouth with it. The knights thanked Zich and also blocked their noses and lips.
In the cloud of dust, stone slabs were sliced and cracking noises rang across the area. As if the holy knights showed what it truly meant to shred something to pieces, the temple was turning into dust. The knights watched their demolishing process and were a bit fearful when they clearly witnessed how much the Karuwimans detested the Bellids. Yet, no matter how many negative feelings the Karuwimans felt, the demolition process would eventually come to an end. Stone pebbles and dust settled down, and the holy knights stopped their work process. Then, all sounds were cut off.
Whoosh! Zich swung his hand. His mana moved and formed a powerful wind. The dust clouds in the burrow simultaneously seeped out of it. His cloudy vision returned to normal, and although the dust flying in the wind didn’t completely disappear, it no longer obstructed their vision.
“Are you satisfied?”
Winstin smiled at Zich’s question. “How could I ever be satisfied with something relating to stomping down the Bellids? If I could, I would like to devote every day to stomping those cursed bastards. However, since we have limited time here, we have to stop now.”
It was an intense display of tenacity against one enemy. Zich couldn’t help but also be impressed. In the meantime, there were holy knights wandering around the temple’s remains and searching for things they could use to attack the Bellids even more. Zich kicked the scraps on the ground into the air and let the dust fly. It seemed like most of them thought they did enough and were preparing to take their leave. It was then that one of the holy knights found something. He bent down and searched through the dust.
“What is it?” the holy knight next to him asked.
Zich and the Steelwall knights also looked toward the area from far away.
“It seems to be some kind of ripped paper. It’s…!” The holy knight shouted loudly.
“An order with a stamped seal?”
Everyone’s attention went toward the object. Something moved.