Even if he wasn’t a modified human made to use the Key, Grotim possessed the Bellid ritual’s power. Thus, Grotim was at a loss for words when he saw his attacks crumble so easily.
Grotim flipped his book as if he was going to use another great power.
“Do you think I will just watch?”
Unlike Lubella who was like a baby chick in a new world, Weig had accumulated an immense amount of experience. He quickly shortened the distance between him and his enemy.
Grotim put up a barrier and summoned the undead. However, the summoned undead were normal skeletons at most. He had gathered them in a hurry, and as expected, these monsters were unable to fend off Weig.
It wasn’t anything extraordinary. It was a simple stomp, but with holy powers infused into it, the single step created a shockwave strong enough to smash the skeletons into pieces. Grotim’s face turned purple. In a blink of an eye, the only thing that came between Weig and him was a magical wall.
It was a rigid and solid wall of great quality, but now, Grotim felt like it couldn’t be thinner and weaker than it looked. He felt like it would break into pieces without much protest. And unfortunately for him, his ominous predictions were always correct.
It wasn’t even a sword but a single fist. With that one punch, the magical wall cracked and shattered like glass.
Grotim let out a high-pitched shriek. He flipped the pages in his book again and unleashed Bellu’s dark energy.
“Withdraw that energy. It puts me in a bad mood.”
With a light swing of his sword, Weig split the book into two.
As he tried to evade Weig’s sword, Grotim fell on his bottom. The book dropped from Grotim’s hands and fell to the ground.
An incomprehensible and horrible shriek rang across the area. It came out of the book. Sliced into two, the book pages flapped by itself; and water, the archenemy of books, poured out from the sliced area like blood.
Weig scowled at the energy that he felt from the water.
“As if it couldn’t be any clearer that it’s Bellu’s dirty artifact, it’s disgusting until the end.”
Weig swung his sword once again. He sliced the horizontally-split book into four pieces.
In contrast to the chilling sound from a moment ago, this scream was more desperate. It was like a scream that someone would let out right before death while gasping for air.
The book burst. Without leaving a trace or a mark, the book that had pushed the city of Porti into fear hid its existence from the world.
“T-The Key…!” Grotim murmured blankly. His eyes lost aim as if he had come face to face with a reality that he didn’t want to believe.
At the same time, he heard water splashing from the fountain near him. It was the sound that Bellu’s statue made as it slammed into the fountain. With one more water column, the statue made its presence known once more and sunk to the bottom of the fountain with disappearing bubbles. After checking the scene, Weig turned his attention to Grotim again.
“He said that the book was the Key for the Offering Ritual!” Lubella shouted.
“Does that mean you can’t do the ritual without it?” Weig asked Grotim, but he didn’t receive an answer. Grotim no longer looked like he had the will to fight anymore.
“He is out of it.”
Weig kicked Grotim, and Grotim rolled on the floor like a miserable loser.
‘He won’t be a danger anymore, but I should take precautions.’
Weig stepped on Grotim’s chest and raised his holy power while making a cross sign. Grothim gasped for air, and then, a couple of white rings formed and quickly contracted around him.
The white rings restricted and trapped Grotim’s body.
‘You won’t be able to escape anymore.’
With Lubella beside him, he wouldn’t even be able to commit suicide either.
‘It’s a complete win.’
Bellid’s plans were completely ruined, and Weig’s battle was over.
Weig knew that Lubella was running towards him and turned his body to accept Lubella’s flying body tenderly.
“Oh, Lady Lubella! Please be gentle. This old man’s weak back won’t be able to handle it.”
‘Stop exaggerating. We all know you are going to be swinging your sword on your deathbed…’
Zich was astounded, but he kept his thoughts to himself. With his arms crossed, he simply stared at Lubella and Weig’s reunion.
“Are you hurt anywhere?”
“My opponents were too weak. How can they be so pathetic? They can’t even handle a dying old man like me.”
Lubella chuckled at Weig’s humorous words.
“But Lady Lubella, are you alright?”
“Yes! It’s all thanks to Mr. Zich!”
Weig’s eyes finally went towards Zich.
“Are you… Mr. Zich?”
“It seems we owe you many favors. I am indebted to you as Karuwiman’s brethren.”
“All I did was try to do a good deed.”
“Hohoho! Then I want to tell you that you really did the right thing.”
Zich didn’t think that there would ever be the day that he heard a person from Karuwiman—‘Tasnia’s Killing Machine’ at that—to tell him that he had done the right thing.
‘I really can’t get used to it.”
Lubella and Weig gazed at Zich with goodwill and made him feel uncomfortable.
“Since it seems like we have solved the immediate concern, can I hear more about the situation in detail?”
Weig looked back and forth between Zich and Lubella.
“You didn’t come here knowing everything?”
“All I know is what is written here.”
Weig took out a small slip of paper and handed it to Lubella.
It contained information about the Curse on Porti, false charges on Lubella, Bellid’s involvement, and so on. Still, because it lacked a detailed explanation, it was difficult to tie all the pieces together. In fact, Weig had warily come to the city in disguise, but when he saw Lubella’s wanted poster, all his doubts disappeared.
“The slip of paper was hidden in a secret spot outside of the city. It stated that the day after I find this paper, there will be a battle against Bellid in the evening. So, since I didn’t know where the battle would take place, I surveyed the whole city at the top of the temple’s tower.”
Then, as soon as he heard a commotion, Weig had run towards the noise; and the undead and monsters around the mansion failed to stop him.
“Were you the one who wrote this slip of paper?” Lubella asked Zich after checking the paper’s contents.
“Yes. I decided to have the battle a day after this piece of paper disappeared because I had to make sure of Sir Weig’s arrival before confronting Grotim. And I knew that Sir Weig would be the only one who would be able to find the paper in such a secretive spot.”
“Wouldn’t it have been better to unite with Sir Weig before going into battle?” Lubella asked, sullen that she didn’t know anything about this plan.
“Then what if Grotim runs away? We have to do things like this flawlessly.”
Grotim probably wouldn’t have appeared if he saw them with Belri Weig. Lubella looked convinced, so Zich asked Weig, “What happened to Hans?”
“The one who sent you the news. My servant.”
“Ah, you were talking about him.”
Weig looked troubled.
“I apologize, but I don’t really know. When I heard that Lady Lubella was in danger, I came running. If he didn’t try to hold me back with all he had to tell me about the slip of paper, I would’ve missed that too.”
‘Well, he has done well in what I ordered him to do.’
Weig’s eyes must have turned upside down after hearing what happened to Lubella; so, Zich knew that it must have been no ordinary task to pass on more information when Weig was in a state like that.
‘Hans really is quite useful.’
Zich had taken Hans to torment him, but his servant was useful in many ways that he didn’t expect.
“Then, I will summarize all the events that had happened after you left, Sir Weig…”
Lubella opened her mouth to speak when—
The ground shook.
“…What is it?”
Lubella screamed, and Weig tried to assess the situation. Then, they heard a burst of loud laughter behind them.
“It’s started! It’s started! God’s judgment will befall this damn city!”
The voice came from the fallen Grotim. In contrast to his past dejected self, he laughed maniacally now.
Weig approached Grotim right away.
Weig kicked Grotim’s sides, and Grotim rolled across the ground again.
“Did you do this?”
The vibrations continued. It was a great shock, and Weig’s voice cracked.
“Ha! Yes, I did this! This is the result of the ritual that I planned for so long!”
“Stop kidding yourself. I took care of the Key you had, and even that disgusting statue of Bellu sank. There’s no way that the ritual can continue.”
“You stupid bastards! What do you guys know about rituals!”
They didn’t have much to say about that. Until now, the ‘Offering Ritual’ had been attempted many times, but they were all stopped in the middle of the process and never succeeded. Thus, even though they had a modest amount of information about the ritual, they couldn’t say that they knew everything about the ritual.
“How could you be so proud about stopping the ritual when you don’t know anything about it!” Grotim said excitedly, “The ritual will automatically activate if enough life force pervades the basement! And you can’t stop a ritual once it starts! Even if you break the Key or Bellu’s statue, you can’t! The ritual won’t stop until it swallows the entire city!”
“But you seem to value the Key so much.”
“That’s because I can only exercise control of the ritual with the Key! The ritual is now activated because the Key disappeared. But, to control where and how the ritual is activated, you need the Key! Especially a key with considerable power!”
This was the main reason why Grotim had tried to limit his use of the Key’s power. If he hadn’t let the Mayor control it, he wouldn’t have saved the item’s power as much.
“This also means that even I can’t escape from the ritual since I don’t have the Key anymore!”
Grotim gritted his teeth at his decisive death. The ritual had already begun successfully, but now he could no longer return to Bellid and enjoy the fruits of his success. This was why he had lost his senses for a moment.
“I might die this way, but Bellu’s great name will soon shake up the whole world! And the Church will remember my name forever! I don’t regret sacrificing my life like this!”
Grotim didn’t seem like he was lying. Weig’s face stiffened.
“What’s the method to stop the ritual?”
“There’s none! And even if I know, do you think I will—!”
Weig relentlessly broke Grotim’s arms.
“What’s the method to stop it?”
“Ha! Even the great Belri Weig can’t do anything in this situation—!”
“Hahahaha! There’s no point in torturing me since there’s really no method to stop the ritual!”
Weig stopped. Grotim didn’t seem like he would spill the beans. Moreover, he really didn’t seem like he knew.
‘I should get Lady Lubella out of here first.’
That was the first thing that came to Weig’s mind. However, Grotim tried to stop him.
“Don’t think about running away! The ritual has already covered the whole city. There’s no way you guys can escape! Even if you try to go out, you will be bounced right back in!”
Weig, who had kept his cool, seemed to have become more alert as his words became rough.
“W-What should we do, Mr. Zich?”
As the situation turned for the worse, Lubella filled with anxiety. Even the trustworthy Weig didn’t seem to have a clear plan or method.
“What more can we do—?”
Zich came forward and smiled widely.
“—Than teach this pitiful guy some reality?”
Zich didn’t answer Lubella and approached Grotim.
Grotim glared at Zich with sparks in his eyes.
“You bastard! Everything would have gone as planned if it wasn’t for you!”
“That’s probably true.”
“But even that’s over! I will sacrifice your worthless life to Bellu now! You should have just left the city quietly when you could!”
“Man, you are so excited.”
It was time to tell him the truth.
“So, do these vibrations appear when the ritual activates?”
“Then what happens next?”
“Water will shoot up from all over the city’s grounds! It will scatter Bellu’s great blessing over the city!”
“Like the water columns that you shot up at the mansion?”
Grotim answered Zich’s questions easily. He thought that since Zich would die anyway, he should inflame Zich’s fear by telling him more about the incoming situation.
“Then, about what time do the water columns shoot up after the vibrations?”
“Immediately! The vibrations are caused by the force of moving water filled with Bellu’s energy.”
“I see. But then…”
Zich looked around his surroundings in exaggeration.
“I don’t see any water columns?”
Even while rolling on the ground, Grotim raised his head and looked around his surroundings. There wasn’t a single water column that he talked about in sight.
“H-How? The water columns have to—!”
“Now that I think about it, the vibrations are slowing down.”
At Weig’s words, Grotim looked down at the ground. He felt the vibrations slowly coming to a stop.
“Should I tell you the reason?”
With that subtle tone, Zich seemed like he was reaching out his hand with a knife hiding behind his back. Grotim was afraid of the kind smile on Zich’s face.
“You know those magic circles I drew on Bellu’s statues. I told you that they were just a ploy to buy time before Sir Weig came, right? That was all a lie too.”
Zich told the truth to Grotim whose eyes were wide open.
“That magic circle is real. It’s a magic circle that hinders the ritual.”
Grotim’s eyes widened so much that it looked like they would stretch.
“How was it? How was that sweet moment of hope?”