16-26. Garleon Union (2)
Satou here. Apparently, those who excel at crossdressing can look more woman than a real woman. And since they've been getting the help of image processing on top of make-up, finding a natural beauty is getting harder these days.
"It seems she's still alive."
"We've got to save her quick!"
I stretch out [Magic Hand] to pull the dying mermaid girl out of the water.
But before I managed to do that, a water splash erupted and blond ringlets were spread on the surface of the sea.
Apparently, Lady Karina beat me to it and made a dive into the sea.
Mia and Princess Sistina looked surprised to see that.
Lady Karina lifts the mermaid up to pass it to us, but of course, doing that means she'd sink into the sea herself.
It might be a good idea to let her play at the Isolated Island's beach more.
I lift up Lady Karina to the surface of the sea with [Magic Hand], take the mermaid girl, and pull Lady Karina by the wrist to the pier.
Her wet chest has turned into something incredible, physically speaking, but staring too much isn't good here, so I cover it with some cloth and use life magic to dry her.
According to Mia sensei's diagnosis, the mermaid girl--or rather, mermaid little girl seems to have fainted due to fatigue.
There's no clansmen of hers around here on the Map, so she probably either drifted from afar, or she was caught by pirates and managed to escape.
"Okay, doesn't seem like she's hurt anywhere."
There were some scratches and peeled-off scales here and there on her body, I sprinkled magic potion on her to heal them just in case.
Since mermaids--finfolks breath through lungs, I'm thinking of leaving her treatment to the brownies on the airship and ask about her situations later.
I'll send her back to her home later as long as she wasn't getting cruelly treated there or something.
"Looking up close like this, it's quite an elaborate temple."
"Yes, those are some splendid-looking sculptures."
From a distance, Garleon Temple looked like a plain gray temple, but when we've gotten closer, it's clearly adorned with unique sculptures, it wouldn't be strange if it were registered as a World Heritage site.
Upon further inspections, the building isn't entirely gray, there's also colors of silver and unusual metal called black steel as its ornaments.
As one might expect from a central temple, there's a lot of wealthy looking merchant on pilgrimage, and priests serving the temple busily coming and going.
A priest who was looking at the surrounding people like glaring looked surprised and ran into the temple when he saw me.
That priest had Appraisal skill, he probably found my title [One Who Challenges God's Trials] and went inside to report it.
They'll probably come for us if we just wait here, so we're just gonna take it easy and gaze upon Garleon Temple sculptures.
Mia pointed to the entrance of the temple.
Girls wearing miko outfits are standing there.
No, apparently the beauty standing in the center is a boy.
According to AR readings, he carries the titles, [Shaman] and [Medium]. I did notice some male miko during Aze-san's oblation dance, but this might be the first time I've seen one outside the elf hometown.
From what I heard at my cousin's shrine, [Shaman (Fugeki)] is apparently the general term, and [Medium (Kannagi)] is a term for male miko, but it appears that [Shaman] in this world is used to refer males with Oracle skill.
As a matter of fact, none of the miko with [Oracle] I know has [Shaman] title.
The miko(s) are staring right at me while ignoring the pilgrims who have begun to pray around them.
There's no point feigning ignorance here, so I walk to them.
"Welcome to Garleon Temple--o one who challenges the Trial of God."
The shaman boy who was standing in the center greeted me.
The surrounding pilgrims who heard him were surprised and turned their gazes at me.
According to AR readings, the boy is called Sauani, he's this Garleon City mayor's son.
"Nice to meet you, Shaman-dono of Garleon Temple. I'm Earl Satou Pendragon of Shiga Kingdom. I have come to take on the trial of God Garleon."
Even while feeling uncomfortable with the attentions, I greeted him back.
The boy and the miko around him looked surprised when they heard me.
They probably never thought that I would find out his gender right away.
Urged by an elderly miko, we were led to a guest room in the temple.
"This is the first anyone found out about my gender in in a glance. Do you have Dragon eyes or Spirit Eyes?"
For some reason, Sauani boy is getting all touchy, weirdly a bit too much, with me.
It seems Mia can't decide if she can [Guilty] me, her eyebrows roll around, she looks confused.
Lady Karina is munching on the snacks and tea while looking unamused, Princess Sistina is pondering who's the 'attacker' and the 'receiver' in a low voice. It seems like she's really been thoroughly educated by the former demon lord Shizuka.
"No I don't, it's just an observation I had. I know it from your build, you see."
I replied with something random yet convincing with the help of Deception skill.
Of course, I didn't forget to peel off Sauani boy in the meantime.
"The more contact we have the better for the oracle, you know?"
"There is no need to worry about that. By using the secret art of Heraruon Temple, we can perform the oracle simply with joining hands."
For some reason, Sauani boy looked dejected when I told him that.
--Why do you look so down.
Retorting with that would be my undoing, I'll take the [Silence is Golden] proverb to heart and ignore him here.
"I'd like to inquire God Garleon regarding the trial, what do you suppose I should do?"
"The temple has prepared for it."
The elderly miko answered my question in the dejected miko's place.
"By the Star of Fate, if your excellency miss today, you'd have to wait for another 10 days, what would your excellency do?"
"I'm ready anytime."
I powerfully nodded to the elderly miko.
After learning about the [Star of Fate] stuff at Heraruon Temple, I had Sera lectured me about it at the Solitary Island Palace, and knew that today was the best time for it.
"I'm sorry for being so sudden, but do you mind if we do it today."
"No, of course we don't."
The elderly miko smiled, and began to give orders to the other priests around.
Mainly for Sauani boy's preparation.
It went more smoothly than with Heraruon Temple and the ceremony began a few hours later.
<TLN: If you're reading this novel at any other site than Sousetsuka .com you might be reading an unedited, uncorrected version of the novel.>
The flow of ceremony is basically the same as with Tenion and Heraruon Temple.
I expressly chant mind magic [Mind Connection], and connect my mind with Shaman Sauani's.
I also use Telephaty skill to attune our minds.
『Ah, Satou-dono is entering me.』
I heard Shaman Sauani's inner voice.
Spare me from your barefaced lust please.
『Sauani, please call out to God Garleon.』
I urged Sauani boy who was indulging on his lust and neglected the ceremony, then it finally began.
I miss the earnest Heraruon Miko Surya already.
『--O God. Our revered mighty God.』
Looks like each temple has their own way to call their God.
Responding to Sauani boy's appeal, a bright light falls down from heavens.
Even though it has this cool blue color, the light is hot like you're getting roasted in an oven. I can feel phantom pain prickling my skin.
The expression on the ecstatic Sauani boy loosened off.
Looks like he's entered the trance state.
『Reckless one who dares to challenge my trial.』
A gallant male voice that felt wild echoed inside my head.
Looks like this is God Garleon's voice.
『Command an army, and demonstrate your power.』
That one's outside my area of expertise.
I have a feeling that gaining an overwhelming victory over troops battle with the girls would not let me clear the trial.
『Use my servants to protect the country and eliminate the invaders.』
A golden ship's wheel adorned with jewels comes up in my mind.
Just like with God Heraruon's golden sword, this wheel is probably a proof to be recognized as God Garleon's representative.
『I shall give thee my mark when the people revere my name far and wide.』
This one feels similar to what God Heraruon said.
『God Garleon, who are this invaders?』
I tried asking him that, but God Garleon cut off the connection without a word.
Just like God Heraruon, looks like he doesn't like playing catch with words.
"『Command an army, and demonstrate your power』, is it?"
"Yes, that's right."
After the ceremony was over, I told the elderly miko and the priests about the trial and if they knew about the enemy I had to fight.
Shaman Sauani is currently downed.
"Those who have gained enmity of Garleon Union, I think it must be pirates."
I reflexively asked since I couldn't imagine pirates waging war against an entire country upfront.
"Yes, a group of people who call themselves the successor of an ancient great pirate has been attacking seafaring ships coming to Garleon City, the situations have been rapidly worsening. Not only Garleon City troops, but even the union troops had been dispatched, but they were led around by the nose by the elusive pirates and always came back empty handed...."
Come to think of it, the rumor I heard at the port was about how this pirate called 『Skeleton Archduke』 rounding up pirates around the nearby ocean into one united power or something.
"Is there no need to worry about neighboring countries invading here?"
I tried asking since invaders might mean foreign country aggression.
Garleon Union together with other neighboring countries had invaded the Holy State Parion after all last year, it wouldn't be surprising if they attacked back in retaliation.
"There was one before, but--"
According to a priest, surrounding countries are currently in the state of exhaustion because of monster stampedes from the Divine Punishment, they don't have the resources to invade another country at all.
Furthermore, apparently a hero dispatched by Saga Kingdom is patrolling the national borders on airships with 'monster cleaning' as a pretext, so even if a country attempts to attack another country, the watchdog hero will rout the army and make use of the remnants in the monster cleaning.
Since the hero Meiko I know likely can't do such things, the hero summoned after her must have a unique skill suited against army, or a charm/domination type unique skill.
Leaving that aside--.
"What about damages Garleon Union suffered from the divine punishment?"
"There is none, our country is under divine protection of God Garleon."
I see, right when I thought that, I noticed something.
"Did the neighboring Holy State Parion suffer any damage?"
"Yes, that appears to be the case."
The priest didn't clearly state it, but judging from what he said earlier, God Parion seemingly didn't protect Holy State Parion.
I mean the top brass of the temple were demon lords, and they even put [God's Fragment] into people, God Parion probably deserted them.
Well, God Parion central temple is the last stop anyway, no need to worry about it now.
"The conversation wandered off a bit. If Garleon Union does not suffer any damage, won't cities within Garleon Union attack other cities within the union?"
It doesn't seem like they're monolithic after all, thus there's a possibility of other cities going on a war to take the leadership position.
As for other possibility, neighboring countries might cause domestic problems inside Garleon Union to prevent the union from invading them.
"Is your excellency aware of Gaboz Kingdom?"
The elderly miko spoke of the name of a small country that's trying to take the leadership position of Garleon Union I heard in the rumor.
"No, not in particular."
"Countries within the union cannot attack each other with their army."
The elderly miko declared that.
"It's not about ethics nor is it a wishful thinking. Countries within Garleon Union cannot break the pact they have signed under God Garleon's name."
The elderly miko interrupted me and gave an explanation.
The pact is far more powerful than even slave contract, even kings and city mayors who rule over City Core cannot undo it.
If they broke the pact, all of their populace will be given the unpardonable sin of [Betrayal].
Looks like exchanging some weird promises with Gods could get messy.
I should be careful.
"Well then, with current situations, the highest possibility is naval battles with the pirates then."
"Yes, that's right. If your excellency is going to lead the army, Garleon Temple will be happy to lend our Temple Knights."
"Is that fine?"
"Yes, it would be an honor for the Temple Knights if they can take part even a little in the God's Trial."
Yet the Heraruon Temple knights were not cooperative at all.
Well, that one was [Individual Strength], so their help would have been pointless anyway.
I've decided to leave the temple after figuring out an idea.
--Oh right, before that.
"God Garleon revealed something that looked like a golden ship's wheel to me, do you have an idea?"
"Yes, of course."
Guided by the elderly miko, I went to the central temple chapel.
Mia who was touring the chapel quickly caught me when I got there, she trotted here, jumped and hugged me.
Lady Karina and princess Sistina followed after her.
"Were you and the girls here to look at that?"
Mia turned her head and looked up at the [Golden Wheel] adorned on the chapel wall.
"There's a legend told since the age of old in the temple, 『Master of the wheel, calls forth the Ship of God and soars through heavens』."
The elderly miko told us the story of the [Golden Wheel].
"Satou! The wheel!"
Lady Karina notified me about the unusual phenomenon happening on the wheel.
The wheel is wrapped in a mix of deep blue and golden lights.
The light brightens and turns dazzling.
I'm struck with tremendous mana and feeling of awe from the wheel.
The next instant--.
The light suddenly disappears and silence rules the place.
"Th-the wheel is!"
The wheel that was hung on the wall disappeared along with the light, the elderly miko and other priests who noticed that shouted out loud.
However, there is no need to panic.
Because the vanished wheel is floating right in front of me.
I grip the wheel that's floating in front of me while calling the elderly miko.
I felt like the wheel wished for that for some reason.
The moment I touched the wheel, it got smaller into the size that's just right on my hands.
Gotta negotiate with them to let me borrow the wheel until the trial is over.
※Next update is planned for 12/17