However, the young lord’s speech also slowed down due to the slow output of guiding words in the materialized system window.
Fortunately, it made him seem more pious in the villagers’ eyes.

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      “…We will endure and pray in the face of hardship.
Even when walking along the cold snowy path, you will all find red flowers someday.
My children.
This red flower represents my grace, my holy blood, and my love.” As he spoke, Ayra quietly lifted the red flower.
Then, he squeezed out his remaining mana at the right time, causing the wind to blow around him.
As the cool wind swept past the young lord, his silver hair and robes fluttered and flapped.
The sunlight pierced through the disturbed snowy particles, creating a beautiful mist-like effect.

     That silver-haired beauty, cradled in snow fog, calmly kissed the flower petals.
That sight–those specific physical characteristics–was supremely sacred to the inhabitants of this territory.

     “The lord trusted our revered Mollunka and sent me here.
I also believed in Mollunka and was able to save you all.”

     A few faithful denizens sobbed as Ayra called out Mollunka’s name.  The other residents, as if they had digested the sorrow and anger of losing their family members, teared up and wept.

     “Fortunately, we were able to rescue your family members thanks to our revered Mollunka.
If it would be alright with you, I’ll set some time aside to pray for you on the lord’s behalf.
I hope that those who have regretfully died in this incident will be at peace in Mollunka’s embrace…”

      The mob’s anger had now completely calmed down; quiet sobs and prayers followed.
After a while, a quest window accompanied by a ringing sound appeared before Ayra.


[Let’s save the citizens in danger.]

*Rescued citizens (8/8)
Reward: Return of the merchants, 34.6% increase in approval rating in the Dallum region.

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      After giving the quest window a sidelong glance, Ayra inwardly released a sigh.
This was the first step in repairing old, broken bridges between the Mollunka faith and the solar family.
He still didn’t believe in Mollunka; nevertheless, the young lord sincerely prayed for the deceased’s well-being. 


      Stat windows only appeared for the living, so it wasn’t possible to find those already deceased.
Still, Ayra didn’t rise to his feet after he finished praying.
He continued to gradually scratch at his mana reserves and used search magic to find the dead.
Though there were people who suspected that Ayra was using magic, the villagers’ attitudes remained friendly.

      ‘Ahh, I’m dying from exhaustion…’

      After finishing his business, Ayra was exhausted–mentally, physically, and magically; completely pale, he trudged along.
Even though he recovered the survivors, there was still work to be done.
After all, he visited this region in order to find the merchants.

     The rescued merchants were staying at a small inn in the village.
When Ayra went to find them, the people were drinking alcohol and relieving themselves of the tension and stress that had built up while buried underground for several days.
When their savior appeared, the delighted merchants sprang up from their seats and welcomed the young lord.
“Please come here–welcome! Isn’t it cold outside? Here, please sit down.
This is the warmest seat!”

     Smiling lethargically, Ayra plopped down in the chair next to the brazier.
Several mana stones were blazing in that brazier.
The merchants recommended him some alcohol to warm his body up.
Ayra, who felt like he was about to freeze to death, gulped down the hot liquor.
A burning sensation spread from his throat down to his stomach.

      “Thank you so much; we were able to live thanks to you.
I don’t know how to repay this good deed… May we ask for our savior’s name?”

      “Mmm… you may call me Hess.” Caught in the unexpected question, Ayra had no desire to reveal his true identity and haphazardly co-opted Ginas’ last name as his given name.
Fortunately, the merchant caravan must have recognized his advisor’s family name and easily accepted that the young lord was one of his relatives.

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      Ayra, who wanted to hurry and rest, gulped down his drink and immediately got to the point.
“I’m here because of the late return of the caravan and our trade deal.
How were your sales? According to the governor, I heard that the total goods should be worth at least 300 cells.”

      However, the merchant’s expressions were ominously miserable.
The people hesitated, peering at each other, before one opened his mouth cautiously, “Originally, it would have been worth 430 cells.
However… as you saw, we grew hungry while stuck underground and availed ourselves to the goods.”

       When Ayra lightly clicked his tongue, the merchant bowed his head.
“One of the carts was damaged as well, and… we gave some of the goods to the villagers to show our gratitude.
We’re afraid that the Lord will be angry…”

       “…Well, there was nothing you could have done.
The lord will understand.”

       He honestly understood.
They had been buried alive; how could they choose to starve to death when food was close by?

     Furthermore, thanks to the villagers’ hard work in clearing the snow away, their caravan was rescued.
Of course they would, as humans, want to show their appreciation.
Moreover, it was best that they did all they could to soothe the grieving residents who were searching for targets to direct their anger.

      In a beseeching voice, the merchant continued, “If we do well, we’ll probably be able to scrounge around 220 cells…”

      Ayra automatically sighed; almost half had flown away.
At least he had obtained around 100 cells worth of Mana stones thanks to Janus.
He calmed the merchants, who were on the verge of weeping due to anxiety.
“Don’t worry too much and rest well, for now.” Then, the young lord moved onto the last matter on his to-do list.

     They said that the mage, who collapsed from Ayra’s magic, had withdrawn to one of the inn’s rooms to rest.
As soon as the young lord opened the door and entered, the mage flinched and jumped up immediately.
Even though Ayra deliberately smiled kindly, the mage’s frightened eyes trembled, darting gazes here and there.

     “Hello, did you rest well? I’ve come to talk to you…” Ayra started.

     “Heek! Y-You’re a Labyrinth mage, right?! Get out of my room right now!”

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     ‘Hmm… Perhaps I didn’t have to be so polite…’ Ayra closed the door and approached.

     The mage rolled his eyes around as if he were searching for an escape route.
“W-W-What are you scheming, now?!”

     “What have I done? I’ve saved you from the citizens here.”

     “You did something! You did! I couldn’t speak nor walk properly! Do you know how scary that was?!”

      Ayra had merely switched around his senses for a moment, ‘For a mage, he’s quite prone to exaggerating his hurts.’ The young lord sent him a contemptful stare and folded his arms across his chest.
He was tired and wanted to end this conversation quickly.
But, it didn’t seem like the other wanted to begin this conversation.
Ayra flicked his finger.
      After using magic to paralyze the man’s vocal cords for about a minute, Ayra thought the exhausted mage had calmed down a little and released the man.

      He wept, “Hnngh, I hate you Labyrthing people… you insane folk… What do you want from me!”

        This world’s mages were divided into two categories–those that wanted to enter the Labyrinth and those that want to escape.
Ayra couldn’t quite understand why, but there were more people in the latter category.
If a group of child mages was taken to the labyrinth and were sincerely educated in magic, a few years later around seven or eight out of ten will escape without fully learning basic magic.
The mage before him was clearly part of the latter category.

     Just in case, the young lord checked his affection rating with the man–it was -15.

     ‘So, affection values could go into the negative…?’

     “I’m not going to do anything to you.
I just wanted to ask you something.” Despite Ayra’s kind tone, the mage still gave him a wary look and curled up to protect his body.
Regardless, the man could still answer him so Ayra questioned, “Was there anything strange that happened when the landslide occurred?”

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     “Something strange?”

     “I don’t know if you know this, but there’s recently been two landslides in this region.
I observed the area and found suspicious traces left behind.”

        The mage’s gaze changed at Ayra’s words.
Unlike ordinary people, mages could detect traces of mana movement–just like how this mage and Ayra had noticed each other’s true identity when they had magically crushed through the frozen soil.

       “It was definitely…weird.
There was a sudden lightning strike before the landslide occurred.
But, the sky was cloudless… Are you saying some bastard set off this landslide deliberately?” The mage clenched his fist as he recalled these hard past few days where he had maintained the protective shield with great difficulty.

       Ayra interrogated further, but it seemed like the man knew nothing else.
Now that he had gotten the information he wanted, Ayra looked back and, before he left the room, kindly warned, “Ah right.
If you divulge this conversation or the fact that I’m a mage to others, you’ll have a hard time speaking for the foreseeable future.”

     “I won’t tell anyone! Alright? I won’t! Go away!”

     Leaving the jumping mad mage behind, Ayra continued on his way again.
For now, he had finished his work for the day.
He endured the desire to lie down on any random bed in a room and left the inn.
Ayra’s exhausted feet were leading him to yet another inn in this village.

     ‘Honestly, who in hell is causing this mess?’

      Whoever it was, it was clear that person intended to isolate Solar.
Judging from their ability to cause landslides, the person must be a mage or someone who could hire a mage… Someone like that would definitely be able to disguise the assassination of the Lord’s family as an accident.
Was this unidentified enemy trying to pick away at Solar, destroying this territory slowly? Ayra’s eyes adopted a chilly gleam.

      However, his weary eyelids drooped and he soon yawned.
Ayra was had enough of this avalanche, landslide business.
Not just the avalanche–he was now tired of snow as well.

      Good lord…and when he returns to his castle, it’ll soon start snowing there as well.

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