Stefan Netherlore and that monster they share a connection.

My eyes widened and my brain began calculating the possibilities.

A monster that is immune to Magic.
It appeared and disappeared mysteriously, killing the many Helmsworth Mages and Knights that challenged it

Stefan also got Awakened the next day, and the whole incident seemed as though it never happened.

The Helmsworth family is one of the major powers of the Kingdom.
Theres no way their security is weak

That meant the monster had to be unimaginably powerful.
Shouldnt such a beast have left some sort of trace?

We never got any whiff of it, Jared.
It was like it never even existed, to begin with.
Maria muttered.

The more I learned, the more conflicted I became.

They would have employed anything in their power to solve this mess.
It bothers me that they havent done so yet.

Besides what is Stefans connection to all this?

I was still unsure of the definite conclusion, but even I felt a strange energy around Stefan.
Or rather, I couldnt feel it at all.

It was just like a darkness I couldnt comprehend.

Well need to investigate this further.

H-how? Maria looked at me with an unsure expression.

A-ah, right! This all happened over ten years ago.
How would we even start?

Unfortunately for me, I was now obsessed with this subject.
When that happened, I needed to reach the bottomno matter the subject.

Well pay the Netherlores a visit.

R-really? I dont know, Jared I dont think Im up for it.

Why not?

If what I sensed is right, the Netherlores must have a connection to that monster and to Stefan.
You didnt see the thing, Jared.
Its impossible

Somehow, her words wounded my pride.

Maria do you think Im incapable of protecting you?

I didnt say that.
It would just be better if you went on your own.
I wouldnt want to be dead weight or anything

Whats up with her? I asked myself.

It was understandable if she was scared, or Id her trauma couldnt allow her to face any possibility that could lead her to the monster she described.

But this felt completely different.

Well, suit yourself, I murmured with a shrug.

I tried understanding things from her perspective, so it was better to leave her be.

No use in forcing anything.
I nodded gently.

B-by the way when will we talk about that.
Marias voice was low now, and her eyes sharply observed me.

What do you mean? That? My brain was already saturated with multiple thoughts that I didnt completely get what she meant.

The fact that youre Lewis Griffith in tha

OHHHHHHH!!!!! I sharply interrupted Maria with a howl, staggering back as I covered my face with my hand.

Ah, shoot! Why did you tell her, Jared?

It felt like how a sober man would regret the decisions he made while in a drunken state.
The game we playedTruth or Sharehad made me too much on my heart.
That caused me to make such a fatal mistake.

Shit! Oh, great! This is going to be awkward Nervousness set in, but I didnt let any of it show.

Whats there to talk abou?

Are you kidding? I want to know everything! It sounds so crazy! Well, it sort of makes sense, considering everything weve been through still

Hmmmmmmm I dont know I rubbed my chin, pretending to give the entire thing a thought.

I need to find [The Fool] Arcana quickly.
That way

Dont even think of erasing my memories.
I like that I know! Hold on, how many people know already?

Including you, Id say five.

Yesss! Looks like Im a part of your inner circle now.
Maria gave a surprising smile.

The whites of her teeth showed, and I could sense excitement bursting through her face.

Is she a Lewis Griffith fanatic, like Ana? If that was the case, then I was in danger.

W-well, the truth is Ive not completely figured out why I got reincarnated into this body.
Its still a work in progress.

Still I have lots of questions to ask.

That means youll have to come with me.
Im leaving to investigate the Netherlores.
Time is of the essence.

We would be facing Stefan sooner or later, and I really wanted to understand the strange power he now wieldedespecially how he was able to reach such a rank in the Cult.

Theres no way everything is just a coincidence.

F-fine, Ill come.
But you have to tell me everything! Maria beamed.

Everything? Why would I do that?

You seem more excited than usual.
I pointed out.

Usually, Maria never showed such extreme emotions.

Well, I just feel like we now know each others pastour respective secrets.

Of course, they are not by any means comparable, but its just that, after this exchange, I feel weve gotten a bit closer.

A-ah, I see.
Youre right.
I indeed felt more invested in Maria after learning more about Maria.

If it was the same for herdespite the awkward truththat meant my Mom was right.

Knowing people more deepens that bond of loveor, er feelings

Are you sure you have no problem with me being an old man? I awkwardly raised the question.

How old are you, Jared?

You mean my cumulative age, or

Suddenly, I felt Marias hand pressing on my chest.
She had moved so quickly that her body was now pressing against mine, and I could feel her warmth once more.

I mean how old are you?

Feeling her body so close to me caused a reaction in my body, and I swiftly stepped away before the symptoms grew worse.

See? That explains everything, doesnt it? She watched me blush, and I felt like she was teasing me.

This girl Even after realizing who I was, it didnt seem to faze her a bit.

Werent you the one that proposed an unverified theory in one of your Treatises about the Souls age?

A-ah? She knew that?! My eyes widened in surprise.

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