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Chapter 8: The Second Accomplice
“This is a medicine I got through a certain contact of mine. While I do not know of its official name, it is called Suimo1. In exchange for strong pain-relief and euphoric hallucinations, it is a highly addictive drug, almost a narcotic.”
To think that he even managed to get his hands on the real thing.
I secretly praised Morino in my heart.
That’s right. Suimo was one of the secrets of Head Priest Malacia.
Within [The Dragon and the Sacrificial Priestess] that Nasha was the heroine of; it was the greatest secret of the hidden capture target, Head Priest Malacia: the cultivation of the flower [Dragon Sleep], the main ingredient of that narcotic drug.
Malacia’s scenario was a branch route unlocked after capturing the Knight Commander’s son, Lutora. It was the direct opposite of the Crown Prince’s classic capture route. It shone a spotlight on the hidden darkness of the Kingdom and unveiled a degenerate, depraved story. Malacia himself was born of a prostitute in the slums. An abandoned son of unknown lineage who did anything he could to survive. Anything he could make use of, he did, deposing of others before he was killed. After living through such a childhood, Malacia awoke his healing ability and was picked up by the Shrine. There, he greedily absorbed knowledge, climbing to the position of Head Priest.
Having achieved authority, Malacia took over the management of Dragon Sleep, cultivated in secret by generations of Head Priests. With the help of Prime Minister Anderheim, he distributed the drug refined from Dragon Sleep to other countries, padding his coffers.
If the heroine entered the Head Priest’s route, in the bad end, the heroine would become addicted to the drug at Malacia’s hand. Even in the good ending, Malacia would spread the drug within Palcemith’s Capital, bringing about great chaos. The story ends with him fleeing the country, accompanied by(or followed by) the heroine. It was an ending that couldn’t be called satisfying.
And that Suimo was the very reason for the short lives of generations of Dragon Priestesses.
To those ladies of nobility or royalty, their lives as decorations in the Shrine were simply unexciting and boring. Even if it increased their standing in society, they could not leave freely, nor could they meet anyone without prior notice. As it was considered a holy job, even their food consisted of mainly vegetarian dishes. To those young ladies, raised being able to do anything they wanted, they couldn’t endure for long.
That is when the Head Priest would whisper in their ear. That there was a drug that could bring them pleasure.
Attracted by those words, the young Dragon Priestesses would become addicted to the ecstasy brought about by the drug, quickly becoming heavy addicts. After that, it was a matter of waiting for a suitable moment to withhold the drug, until the Dragon Priestesses sent for money from their family home.
And thus, the Dragon Priestesses’ bodies were deeply ruined by the drug, even if they quit being Dragon Priestesses, they would die one by one.
That was the truth behind the early deaths of the Dragon Priestesses.
By the way, Julieta’s engagement with the Crown Prince had been confirmed by the time she assumed the position of Dragon Priestess. In consideration of the Crown Prince’s future offspring, Prime Minister Anderheim forbade offering Suimo to Julieta. In any case, Julieta was only seven at that time, should she have taken Suimo, she would have immediately died.
Dragon Sleep was originally classified as a type of waterweed. Only the flowers that managed to bloom; watered using nothing other than the water of the underground lake the Ancient Dragon Kharis was submerged in; never having seen sunlight, could be used as the main ingredient for Suimo. While the effects were amazing, it was a rare drug with scarce production numbers.
As it was such a precious commodity, it had never been used on anyone apart from the Dragon Priestesses. However, a few years after Julieta became Dragon Priestess, Malacia became Head Priest and joined hands with Prime Minister Anderheim. As the drug was not being taken by the Dragon Priestess Julieta, there was an excess of Suimo, which was then smuggled out the country and sold at high prices.
Morino managed to trace their steps and somehow managed to confiscate the actual drug.
“This is something you created…Am I wrong, Head Priest?”
In answer to Morino’s question, without a falter in his smile, Head Priest Malacia carelessly replied, “Yes, that is correct”.
“So you admit it, Head Priest! The creator of this drug is you!”
Turning his head towards Lutora, who roared in place of the stunned Morino, Malacia nodded in affirmative.
“It’s true, I am the maker of Suimo. I had heard that our delivery to the neighboring Cemtoah had been forcibly seized. So it was done by you.”
“Head Priest. How we managed to get this drug in our hands is of no relevance. If it is you who created this drug, then that is a serious crime.”
With a finger on his chin and a tilt to his head, Malacia showed no sign of unease, composed even at Morino’s dogged probing.
“Don’t act innocent! Because of the drug you created, just how many people…!”
“Head Priest Malacia. In the name of Prime Minister Morino, I take you into custody.”
“Hm…I refuse. You have no reason to do so.”
Holding back the agitated Lutora with one hand, Morino observed Malacia cautiously.
What he saw was Malacia’s calm smile.
Morino was truly a genius.
However, he has only ever lived in a beautiful world. He might have been of commoner birth, but both his parents were wealthy merchants. He could have never experienced eating moldy bread.
That is why, even if he was able to see through to the hidden vicious darkness behind his opponent’s smile, he was likely to misjudge the depth of it.
“…Please explain your objection, Head Priest Malacia.”
“You still want to talk…? I’m already of a mind to return to the Shrine.”
Shrugging his shoulders helplessly, Malacia sent a token glance my way and gave a bow as if requesting permission. After being assured with my nod in return, Malacia took out an old booklet from within his priest robes and extended it towards Morino.
“Your Excellency, do you know what this is?”
“……The Dragon God Record [Atrizia]…It’s a contract with the Ancient Dragon Kharis that is entrusted to the Shrine.”
“Exactly. It’s a contract signed when the kingdom was built, between Sage Asbal and the dragon he sealed, His Excellency Kharis. This contract itself is protected by His Excellency Kharis’ magic, making its destruction foolish, and the alteration of its contents impossible.
“I’m aware of that. What is your point?”
“The Head Priest has the approval to take any action to protect the Ancient Dragon Kharis. Regardless of the method, the Shrine will put in a continued effort to support the Sacrificial Priestess and the Dragon Priestess.”
“……That’s a statement about the Head Priest.”
“Yes, I have been abiding by this doctrine. If I say this, surely you would understand, just for whose sake I have created Suimo.”
“Correct. Suimo was originally meant to relieve the Dragon Priestess of suffering from pain. It’s indeed a powerful drug. However, it is also true that without it, past Dragon Priestesses would have been driven mad. …..The only Dragon Priestess to be able to withstand the pain without usage of this drug, is also the youngest Dragon Priestess in history, Lady Julieta. She has such indomitable will..:
“……In that case, how would you explain the fact that Suimo is being smuggled out of our borders to be sold!”
Believing he is right, Morino continued to press for answers, unknowingly tightening the noose around the Crown Prince’s neck.
“This process only started after you became Head Priest. I know that Suimo is not a drug that can be mass-produced. That Lady Julieta not using the drug creates excess can also be predicted. However, to bring it out of the country, and selling it widely on top of that, is a crime you committed.”
“…Because of you, because of that drug…Fiona, she…!”
Five years ago, Lutora studied abroad for a year in the southern country of Sahana. There, he fell in love for the first time with a young maiden three years older, Fiona. However, she passed away. Leaving behind a light purple-colored drug, with a flower with round petals submerged at the bottom.
It was a sad past that’s revealed when the heroine enters Lutora’s route.
Lutora clearly remembered the traits of the Suimo he found at her bedside and traced it down, finally tracing it to Head Priest Malacia…Or so the scenario goes.
“Hah…Your Excellency, could you lend me your ear for a moment?”
“…You won’t be able to lay a spell on me.”
“What are you misunderstanding? Should I explain in a loud voice, the one who will suffer a heavy blow would be him over there. Be at ease. I cannot use any magic that could manipulate your mind.”
Beckoning with a hand, Malacia bent next to Morino, who approached him, and whispered something into his ear.
Morino’s complexion changed, and his round, feminine eyes widened even further.
“…Should I have explained it so that everyone can hear?”
“…No. That is unnecessary…I am grateful for your consideration, Head Priest.”
Right now, Morino probably did not have the composure to reply to Lutora’s surprised yell.
“Well then, I shall take my leave now. I will not run nor hide. If you have any concerns, do send someone you trust to the Shrine. As long as it does not disturb my work, I will hear you out.”
“…Then I shall return too. Julieta needs to undergo treatment all over again…Come, Julieta.”
I gave a sidelong glance at the flabbergasted Crown Prince and his friends.
Carrying Julieta in my arms, accompanied by Malacia whose smile never wavered, I left behind the dazzling banquet hall.
Come, the symphony of destruction has begun.
However, this is only the overture, nothing more than just the beginning.
I will allow you to experience that fact firsthand.
A/N: The majority of comments: I forgot that this is BL!