There were four gods worshiped in this continent.
The divine oracle Medlar.
The god of harvests Baer.
The god of balance Virginie.
The god of meetings Lowell.
These gods worked on eternally barren land and turned it into lush green land where humans and animals could live. These four benevolent gods were equals, and worked towards healing and protecting people. Because of this, priests that served these gods studied pharmaceutics, medicine, and healing magic.
However, each sect had its own sense of values and concepts.
The divine oracle Medlar advocated for knowledge and education. Because of this, many Medlar temples also had schools for the poor and orphanages. Also, many librarians and scholars were affiliated with Medlar.
The god of harvests Baer valued agriculture and stock-farming. Because of this, Baer temples were rich in information about food supply. They were always ready for some sort of famine, and most people distributing food in the slums were Baer priests.
The god of balance Virginie valued order. People from the temple of Virginie felt it was their duty to help people attacked by thieves or monsters. Many people that worshiped Virginie were knights or soldiers, and it was the most militaristic of the four sects.
Lastly, the god of meetings Lowell ruled over meetings between people. Priests from Lowell would do things such as mediate peace talks in times of war, and regulate contracts and promises to make sure they were properly carried out. It was an important duty, but not one that directly concerned the average citizen. They also put emphasis on promoting marriages and educating obstetricians, but these were things also done by other temples.
Basically, the temple of Lowell felt more high society than the others. They were often involved with diplomats and high ranking merchants, and were seen by the average citizen as self-important.
Nargava was a former priest of the temple of Lowell.
“It is strange.”
When they first met Nargava, Tianna and Sem felt something was off, but didn’t say anything. They weren’t going to tell it to his face, but it most certainly was odd. Even putting that aside, he was one of few people in the abandoned area that had virtues and could be spoken with. Sem felt he didn’t have sufficient information, and had to talk to him.
It was for this reason that Sem, Tianna, and Bond made their way to the abandoned area once again.
They passed through the gate just like Nick taught them, and walked in with Bond leading the way.
“I finished mapping the last time we were here, so now, it is easy-peasy.”
“Don’t get careless. We’re not here to explore today.”
Tianna warned Bond, but it was Sem who answered her.
“Sorry for being selfish, making you come with me.”
“It’s not selfish. We have to investigate this place anyway, and that Nargava is our only contact.”
They still did not fully know Stepping Man’s escape route, but they did know of some places where he could be hiding, and the most likely place was the abandoned area.
It was only natural for him to be hiding in a place where most people are guilty of something. Survivors thought it was actually too obvious, but couldn’t not check it out.
“…Did something come to mind after seeing that man?”
Asked Tianna as they walked through the streets filled with garish graffiti.
“Yes, Nargava is very interesting… Still, a lot of that is just practical.”
“Oh, really? I thought for sure…”
Tianna stopped herself. She felt like what she was about to say was rude.
“That I felt he was like me… Or something?”
“You’re mean sometimes.”
Complained Tianna with a discontent expression.
But Sem smiled.
“I want to be nice like Nick.”
“That boy is too pessimistic too.”
Tianna and Sem both respected Nick as a leader, but at the same time looked at him with affection. He was strong and had worldly wisdom, but they felt anxious about the way he could not shake off the sort of air of ‘inexperience’ around him.
“Fufun, you can feel safe knowing I am here.”
Said Bond while puffing out his chest.
Tianna wanted to complain about him saying something stupid, but in reality, Bond really was reliable.
“This road is narrow… Are you sure there isn’t anyone hiding?”
As bond said that, Tianna and Sem started looking around with caution.
“Calm down. There is someone hiding, but he is just sleeping under blankets.”
“Don’t scare us like that.”
“Did you notice something?”
“His breathing is shallow, he has a slight fever, and there is a smell of vomit.”
Sem’s expression tightened after hearing this.
“Any other symptoms?”
“It feels as though he is about to vomit again.”
Said Bond, and Sem stepped forward.
Tianna tried to stop him, but Sem answered without turning around.
“Tianna, don’t get too close or touch anything. Cover your eyes with your hood and your mouth with a handkerchief. Try not to breath in too much as well.”
Before Tianna could finish answering, Sem covered his mouth with a cloth.
Sem continued walking, and just like Bond said, there was a man sleeping.
Perhaps sleeping was not the correct word, it was more like the man had collapsed.
“W-who are you people…”
“Let me see your eyes.”
Sem did not wait for a response, before grabbing the man’s head and opening his eyes.
They were definitely inflamed.
“I knew it.”
“Yellow devil disease.”
The man was more surprised to hear this than Tianna.
“So I really have it… I thought I was feeling a bit sluggish. I didn’t even go to a brothel.”
“It can also be transmitted via blood. We don’t know the infection route.”
“Blood? I haven’t been in any fights lately… Who are you?”
His expression was stern, but his words were slurred.
He was feeling light-headed.
Sem kept asking the man questions without answering the ones directed at him.
“Has your body been feeling sluggish for a while? Do your joints hurt?”
“Since yesterday… If I had to say, I’d say I’m feeling better today.”
“Then it’s alright, but you should be sleeping in a better place. When you throw up, try to do it in a toilet or a bowl or something.”
Said Sem as he helped the man drink water from his own canteen.
“Have you talked to Nargava about this?”
“…You have to wait for your turn. That guy doesn’t care who shows up, but if someone high up in a faction or someone strong shows up, I can’t turn against them. I had to give up my spot.”
“And I’ve been careful too… Dammit.”
Cursed the man, and Sem thought what he said was odd.
“Well yeah. There’s been a lot of cases for about half a year. I’ve been too scared to even go after women. It’s not like most people die, and Nargava’s been looking after people lately, but still…”
Sem started thinking, with his hand on his chin.
“That’s right, most people don’t die. Some do though.”
“…D-don’t talk like that.”
“You’re fine. You’re a little too thin, but you’re strong enough. The peak of your fever was probably yesterday, and it’s probably going down already. Am I wrong?”
“But we can’t say the same for everyone.”
“…It’s the.kids and the elderly right?”
Said the man with a bitter expression.
“What happens to them?”
“What happens… I guess they die and get taken to the public cemetery.”
Mumbled the man.
Sem knew this wasn’t a pleasant topic, but…
“Can you tell me more about that?”
That was precisely why he had to dig deeper.
Sem and the others were after Stepping Man, but there was something else that needed to be investigated.
Where did the children kidnapped by Stepping Man go?
Was there a trail here?