As always, Sem was working hard making medicinal herbs and treating injured people.
There was no doubt that Sem’s treatment was very thorough, and a lot of patients would come to see him, not just girls after his pretty face.
That day, as usual, there were a lot of people lining up to receive Sem’s treatment.
Sem gave some medicine to a mother and child that caught a cold, and she complimented him.
“Thank you so much mister Sem. I’m so glad there are people like you around.”
“No no I’m just doing my job.”
“That reminds me, I heard you were being promoted to high class priest.”
Sem raised his eyebrows.
Sem did hear about this, but usually only experienced priests would rise to the rank of high class priest.
There was a lot of trouble involved, like going on a pilgrimage to numerous temples and receiving letters of recommendation.
It seemed completely illogical for a priest in his twenties, that never even went out on a pilgrimage, to be promoted to high rank priest.
This was why Sem declined when the chief brought up the subject of promotion.
“Someone as young as me is not fit for such a position.”
“That’s not true… It’d be pretty good for us.”
Sem let out a strained laugh, and continued listening to his patient.
Standing out too much would attract unnecessary jealousy, so Sem didn’t take praise too seriously, but it was too late.
“Move move! Is Sem here!?”
“W-What are you…!?”
The five priests that barged in pushed their way through the crowd.
“Croix, Shake… What is going on?”
“Hmph, so shameless!”
They were intermediate priests just like Sem.
Leading the charge was a man around forty years of age named Croix, who usually treated Sem harshly. The reason was obvious, intermediate priests of his age were jealous of how fast Sem was climbing up the ranks.
“…I’m sorry, but I don’t know what to say if you don’t tell me what’s going on.”
“You’re still feigning ignorance!? Your depravity is a disgrace to all priests!”
“Mister Croix, just listen…”
Sem knew it was no use. The patients around them seemed unsettled, but didn’t suspect Sem at all. Still, the reason why Croix and the others were there would horrify them.
“If you’re really not going to confess, we have no choice but to make it public right here… Hey!”
One of Croix’s subordinates brought a girl with him.
She was crying, her hair was a mess, and overall, she was behaving like something terrible had happened to her.
“Mirulu! What happened!?”
Sem stood up in shock, and tried to go to Mirulu, but was stopped by Croix.
“Sem, you are being accused of raping this girl.”
“Ah!? Have you lost your mind…”
Sem was interrupted by Mirulu’s screaming.
“Yes! This man raped me… Mister Sem… I trusted you!”
“M-Mirulu, what are you saying…?”
“Give it up already! You’re coming with us.”
The people around them didn’t believe this little act, it was just too blatant.
“M-Mister Sem was here treating people all day!”
“Are you going against the word of a priest?”
Priests were in a very honorable position.
They didn’t quite reach the same level as nobles, and they had a lot of obligations, but still had a lot of privileges compared to commoners.
They healed people, and all donations they received were for god’s sake, so a commoner had no business meddling in a priest’s duties.
“Stop this violence!”
Sem said as he flared up at Croix, who sneered.
“Then come with us quietly.”
Sem’s arrest seemed too rough and unnatural, and the people he helped and the girls that liked him protested, but a new fact came to light.
Sem had poisonous herbs in his treatment room and among them, paralysis poison.
This poison could bring about excitement, fatigue, and even be used as an aphrodisiac.
With this, it was not just unfounded suspicion anymore because Sem’s patients saw it being stored in a medicine box in his treatment room.
The difference between medicine and poison was paper thin. Sem was mixing the poisonous herbs to prepare all sorts of medicine he read about in books, but few commoners were able to understand this, at the very least not the poor ones that couldn’t even read very well.
On one hand, you had priests that had good knowledge of herbs and medicine but were jealous of Sem, or just didn’t want trouble.
“Ahh… What a problem.”
In the office of the chief of Rhodiane’s temple, chief Madias whispered to the vice-chief.
“What do you intend to do?”
“There are more people working out of jealousy than I imagined. Unfortunately, we are going to have to abandon Sem.”
Madias was sure that Sem was innocent, but still avoided defending him.
He was the chief and the most powerful person in the temple, but his number one priority was defending the temple, and the second was securing his position.
“Contrary to expectations, there are rumors running around that Sem targeted children like Mirulu… Oh dear, it’s frightening how many people turned on him.”
“He is too beautiful.”
“Yes, so he is popular with women and unpopular with men.”
“No, he is also too beautiful for women.”
“Someone who is too beautiful will even be envied by the opposite sex. You will understand if you see a woman that is too beautiful.”
“Ah… Is that so?”
“Anyway, Sem has made too many enemies. If he offered bribes to his superiors, or took bribes from people below him to create his own faction, there would be priests defending him right now, but he is too clean. Even a light shake put him into this situation, there was nothing that could be done about it. And…”
“We got some dirt on the priests that framed Sem. So, it is not all that bad.”
“You sure are aweful…”
And for these reasons, the temple’s higher ups decided to turn a blind eye to Sem’s false accusations.
When the people in power decided not to intervene, Sem’s fate was sealed.
After three months in prison, Sem was expelled through the town’s back gate.
There were reasons why he was incarcerated for so long.
In order to silence people’s suspicions that Sem was falsely charged, it needed to be treated as if it really happened. This way people wouldn’t resent the temple.
And the second reason…
“Is that really Sem…”
“He looks miserable.”
“The rumors were true…”
Sem lost his fascinating good looks.
His cheeks were thin, his eyes were sunken, and his clothes were dirty and worn-out.
He was still better looking than the average person, but it was enough for people that saw value in his good looks to be disillusioned.
“…It’s your fault Sem.”
Whispered Mirulu, who was watching from afar.
“It’s your fault for not accepting me, it should have gone the way I wanted.”
That was how she dealt with any feelings of guilt.
All the girls in the orphanage doubted her, but Mirulu played the perfect victim.
A lot of people thought Mirulu was lying, but no one could say it.
Sem didn’t show himself or speak in the period between being released from prison and being thrown out of town. Also, being expelled from the temple couldn’t be interpreted in any other way than the temple and the chief admitting he was guilty. No one could object to that.
In the end, people started speculating that Sem was doing bad things hidden from everyone’s sight. More people thought ‘Sem was a bad person and he was punished, good end.’ than ‘we abandoned an innocent person’, or ‘a frightening child brought ruin to an adult with her lies’.
“Get out you damn pervert!”
“Damn pedophile!” You’re a disgrace to all priests!”
“I was an idiot for believing you!”
No one would protect Sem, and he left town being hurled abuse and pelted with rocks.
Rhodiane, the town with the divine protection of the sacred temple, expelled Sem.
Treachery, false accusation, humiliation, violence.
As if all those sins were being pressed against Sem, he was thrown into the wasteland outside of town, but you could say that Sem’s true journey as a priest was just starting.
Sem whispered to himself countless times, as he walked through the streets.
“…Why? Why did it have to end up like this?”
He had been saying these same words ever since he was betrayed by his peers and Mirulu, but there was no one there to answer him.
The investigation lasted two, maybe three days, and Sem was left alone throughout the majority of his three month sentence. The jailer was forbidden from talking to him as well, and wouldn’t answer any of his questions, so the word “why” just echoed inside Sem’s head.
The three months Sem spent in the solitude of incarceration wore him down mentally, and even his facial features changed. He became emaciated, his eyes became piercing, and the sweetness around him turned into an air of intimidation.
Everyone turned on Sem when he was released, and he realized for the first time just how much his face helped him.
But that was not when he was completely corrupted. Sem was ashamed of being ignorant about how much his beauty was working in his favor, and had hopes of one day setting things right.
It was only after he wandered into a certain village that he abandoned the idea of going back to the temple and clearing his name.
“Welcome to our inn mister priest! Are you on a pilgrimage?”
“…Yes. Something like that.”
Marede was a town about a week away from Rhodiane by foot.
That town’s inn was run by a widow named Velkia. She was around thirty years old, had no children, and looked after the inn while taking care of her parents.
Her customers were all adventurers and that is who that inn was geared towards. That town was positioned right between the border and the Labyrinth City so carriages and wagons were constantly coming and going. Velkia’s job was to take care of the young adventurers coming to town.
She was a warrior during her days as an adventurer, but settled in the inn after getting married. She did a good job taking care of her customers, but she was strong and had a good physique, so she had no problem kicking rude customer’s butts. She had no problem taking care of business by herself.
But her back pain was getting worse, and she was thinking about downsizing the inn. Winter had just started and customers were few, but the inn would be full during the summer. She was considering hiring people or just reducing her work, when Sem arrived.
Sem noticed her back pain right away and offered to treat it.
Chronic back pain was not like a small cut or wound, it took considerable skill to treat, and while Velkia was only half-convinced and thought Sem could make things worse if he failed, she accepted.
Sem cast his healing magic and suddenly, the pain was gone.
Sem’s skill was far above the ‘considerable skill’ necessary to treat it.
“Oh!? I haven’t felt this good in months…!”
“If you’re mindful of your posture when you lift heavy things, and your sleeping posture, you will reduce your pain. Take care.”
“Ah, hold on. I need to reward you for this wonderful treatment…”
Sem shook his head.
“Don’t worry about that.”
“Ahh… Don’t you want to use that to make money?”
“It’s not like I don’t, but I’m happy enough hearing someone as lovely as you saying thank you.”
Sem already received his reward.
She didn’t know his background but still, it had been a while since someone didn’t ignore him and talked to him without contempt or looking down on him.
Just having a normal conversation was enough to heal Sem. That was what he meant by “lovely”, but Velkia misunderstood him.
“Eh… But aren’t you a priest? Are you sure about this?”
Sem misunderstood her as well.
It’s a priest’s job to receive donations in such situations, priests can’t survive by eating air after all.
It’s one thing to do voluntary service in places where a disaster happened, but generally speaking, offering medical treatment for free is against the temple’s rules.
A former priest like Sem didn’t need to follow these rules, but Velkia interpreted it as him saying he wanted another kind of reward.
When she asked ‘But aren’t you a priest? Are you sure about this?’ she was teasing him, asking if it was alright for a priest like him to casually hit on a woman, but Sem didn’t notice.
“Yes, I am a former priest. Well… A lot happened and I quit, so now I am a part of regular society.”
It made sense to Velkia.
He didn’t have a cross hanging from his neck, so he didn’t belong to any sect, and there wouldn’t be a problem if they spent the night together.
The kind of people that visit this inn were usually vulgar adventurers, so someone like Sem felt fresh to Velkia.
She was aware that people saw her as mannish and brazen, and she had no intention of changing that.
Only adventurers very confident in their manliness hit on her, so it was the first time someone like Sem, who kindly treated her pain and behaved like a gentleman, hit on her. Usually she wouldn’t be interested in a nice priest detached from the real world, but the very un-priest like shadow hanging over him hit home.
Sem lost his virginity.