As we crossed the hill, we found ourselves in a forest.
 We were now in the grounds of the Sacred Spring.
 The miasma that had been spreading in the Valley of Vengeance was no longer there.
 We followed the path for a while, and eventually we saw a shrine dedicated to a statue of a goddess.
 Beside it, several carriages were parked.
 Sonia and her friends were there. You can also see Gregor and his knights. It seems that they were separated by a landslide, but were able to meet up safely.

"Ah! It's Eleanor!

 As the carriage we were riding in approached, Seira noticed us. And then, as soon as she caught sight of me peeking out from the top of the cart...

And Zeke is here too!

 Seira's face lit up.
 Sonia, Spinosa, and Fam responded to her voice.

I'm so glad! You're safe!
 She ran up to the carriage, tears in her eyes.

"Hey. There's nothing to cry about.
I've been really, really worried about you!
I've been really, really worried about you," she said, taking both my hands in hers to make sure I was okay.

I knew you'd be stubborn.

 I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results.

"....... You always exceed my imagination.
 You always exceed my expectations.

I'm glad you're okay too.

 No one was missing.
 We were able to protect everyone.

"Zeke. It was a great deed. I commend you.

 Sonia said, looking at me.

I was just doing my job as an escort. Besides.
I couldn't disobey Her Highness's orders, could I?
"I see. Good. Your loyalty is worthy of recognition.

 Sonia smiled slightly as she said this.
 Then a grim-faced Gregor came up to me.
 I think he's trying to make an enemy of me. Is he going to say something sarcastic? I was preparing myself for that, but...
 Gregor walked up to me and knelt down.

"As the leader of the Knights, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for protecting Her Highness. If it weren't for you, we might have been wiped out.

 I didn't expect that.
 That Gregor thanked me so honestly.
 I thought he felt humiliated that I, as a guard, had taken the credit. Well, actually, I guess he was.
 He just wanted to thank me, even if it meant pushing past the humiliation.

I was just doing what I had to do. You don't need to thank me again. Now raise your head.
"...... Sorry. I owe you.

 Gregor muttered, looked up, and stood up.

There's one thing that's bothering me.
"Something's bothering you?
Yeah. The man I confronted was a demon, and on his deathbed he told me that one of us had a connection to the demons.


 At my words, everyone in the room buzzed.

"The insider ......
"They're just spouting crap to distract us, aren't they?

 Gregor said.

'But they've been following our patterns, haven't they? It's more natural to assume that the inner workings are leaking out.

 Seira said.

We were the five who were framed and put in danger. I'm sure you'll be happy to hear that.

 Spinoza glared at the Knights with a disturbed look in his eyes.

You? I'm not sure what to say.
No! I'm not sure what to say.
Don't you dare betray our country!
That's insulting! I will cut you down!

 The knights who were suspicious of him were furious. Some of them were even about to draw their swords.
 I guess they couldn't stand the noise.

"Gentlemen. Quiet!

 Sonia said, and brought the place under control.
 A hush fell.

"I don't care if there's a rat in the house. As long as you protect me with your lives, that's all that matters.

 After looking around, she said.

After a short rest, we will begin the ritual.

After resting, we move on to the Sacred Fountain.
 From the shrine dedicated to the Goddess, we climbed a long stone staircase.

 They couldn't travel by carriage, so they walked.

"Femme. What's the matter? You don't look so good.

 Fam's steps were heavy as she walked beside him. She usually doesn't show her emotions, but unusually, her face showed signs of fatigue.
...... I'm not feeling well at all.

 I'm not sure what to say.

I'm not sure what to do. It's pathetic. This is what a reclusive little boy usually does.
...... Please don't think of me as a brainiac.
Please take it easy. Would you like some water?

 Seira offers a thermos of water to Fam.

...... I'll take it, thank you.

 Femme takes it and drinks it with a thin slurp.

I'll be fine now." "......

 You'll be able to find a lot more information on the web. I was about to start walking again when I felt dizzy. I grab his slim shoulders.

"Take it easy. I'll carry you.
I'll carry you." "...... I'm sorry.

 Femme muttered.

"...... I'll take your word for it this time.

 I put Femme on my back. Light as a feather.
 She was the youngest of the squad, and the smallest of them all. She's the youngest in the squad and the smallest in size. It's understandable that she would be out of shape in the poor environment of the Valley of Vengeance.

...... It's a little embarrassing having you on my back.
Don't worry about it.
...... but somehow, I feel safer when I'm like this.

 Fam murmured and leaned back against me.
 Her body is relaxed.
 You can feel that she is truly at ease.

Zeke. Take my back too. I'm too lazy.
You'll have to walk yourself.
What? Cheapskate.

 Spinoza frowned in frustration.
 Spinoza frowned, "What a cheapskate." Both she and Seira looked as if they were in good spirits. Although they were in the vanguard, they seemed to be very tough, both physically and mentally.
 As they walked, they came to a sort of square.

So much for the rest of us. Zeke, you are the only one to attend my ceremony. You're the only one who can attend my ceremony," Sonia said suddenly, startling him.
"Master Sonia! What are you talking about? ......!

 I'm not sure what you mean by that.

It's insane to bring a single person to a sacred ceremony ......! This is insane! What if something happens to him?
This sacred place is off-limits to demons. There's no need to worry about an attack. Even if they do, Zeke will be fine. His strength has already been proven by the previous march.

 Sonia said in a matter-of-fact tone.

And if there really are rats in our midst, it would be risky to bring others along for the ritual. But Zeke's loyalty is genuine. He risked his own life to protect me.

"But ......!
I'm not going to ask you a question. This is a decision.

 I'm not going to question it.
 It's a good idea to have a good idea of what you're going to do.