Section 11: Baptismal Rites
“But if I am to investigate some ruins, it will be a difficult task for me alone.”
Rose-san accepted Aronda-san’s request, but she added on a small caveat afterwards. She turned around after that, pointing her gaze towards Saluena…..at least that was where I thought it would go until her eyes continued to move, locking in on Toslin.
“Toslin-san and Carol-san. May I ask for your cooperation?”
“Of course you may. If it’s Rose-san’s request I’ll be happy to listen. However…..”
“However you get what you pay for.”
Having been quietly napping on my lap until now, Carol’s eyes suddenly shot open.
“Wa, oh my gosh!!”
Her drooping head suddenly jumped up, a hair’s breadth away from clocking me right in the nose. Dangerous, super dangerous.
“Yes, there is the matter of payment. I am asking you to risk your lives, so of course such a task would not go unrewarded. What say you on the matter Aronda-san?”
“Of course we are more than willing to provide compensation in accordance with your abilities. That goes for Priestess Rosalith as well.”
“Just as I thought. Exactly what I’d expect from a church. They know how these things work.”
In the past Toslin and Carol had told me the church pays very well, and I guess they weren’t lying. Well, they have believers all over the world, so the total amount of donations they get must be incredible……is something I probably shouldn’t say out loud too often.
“Is it fine if we decide on remuneration after we’ve measured everyone’s strength?”
“I do not mind. Honestly, it has been over half a year since I was last measured, so I should be the one asking you.”
“There wasn’t a church in Rifront after all. We’ve killed a golem and a dragon, so I bet we’ve leveled up.”
“Although Iris was the one who technically beat them.”
Aronda-san’s gaze fell on me.
“Eh, wha……..what is it?”
I was startled and quickly looked behind me to see if she was looking at somebody else.
“I never doubted the oracle, but still, to hear that you’ve slain a dragon…….I found it somehow hard to believe.”
You never had a doubt but still doubted, well which is it? That being said, it would normally be impossible to believe that an ordinary bookstore girl like me killed a dragon. I’m still skeptical about it myself. Maybe that was just a dream, and everyone has just been pulling my leg ever since.
“It is true Priestess Aronda. Iris-san was braver than anyone else there and continued fighting until the very end without ever giving up hope. And as a result, a miracle was born.”
“Yep yep, I really did think a miracle was happening back then.”
“I was unconscious at the time, so I didn’t actually see anything I’m afraid.”
“Gentle maiden. Your oracle was truth. Iris performed a miracle that night, stopping a dragon’s breath. The fact that I stand before you now is the greatest proof of this.”
“I-I am terribly sorry Hadion-sama. As a priestess, I should not be making remarks that cast doubt on an oracle.”
Every time this gets brought up I end up feeling really uncomfortable and start fidgeting in place.
“Um, I didn’t really do much though? I could only fight because Rose-san and everyone else was there to help me. If I was on my own, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything because my feet would’ve been rooted to the ground…….”
And so I gave Aronda-san the same explanation I’ve repeated how many times until now.
“Also, if Hadion…….if Saluena hadn’t responded to my voice, I wouldn’t be here right now. So if even one person was missing, I never would’ve been able to beat that dragon.”
I desperately tried explaining myself, but whether or not my message got through, Aronda-san gave me a small nod.
“Yes, I understand. Fufu, Iris-chan killed a dragon right? I’m so proud.”
Saying so, Aronda-san guided us over to an altar.
“Now then, let us begin the baptismal rites.”
At the end of a red carpet was an altar that had been worn away by the years. Aronda-san took her place at the altar with a ginormous stained glass window located directly behind her. Meanwhile a marble pedestal was brought directly in front of us with an ornate silver cup set upon it.
“Guardian of the world, ruler of reason. Your servant Aronda Lizea offers a report. The new power of these brave individuals”
As Aronda-san finished her prayer, the holy water placed inside the silver cup began to shine a ghostly white.
“I figured there was something funny going on, but what just happened?”
Ignorant of the modern world, Saluena came close and whispered her question in my ear.
“Umm. From now on the baptismal rites that she mentioned will be starting. It’s a simple and easy ceremony used to measure a person’s power.”
“Oh, this is that level thing you all mentioned earlier.”
“Yes, that’s right. A person dips their hand into that silver cup filled with holy water, and you can measure that person’s strength to a certain extent.”
In the beginning, this ceremony was performed daily as a way of showing appreciation, prayer, and reporting new information to the Goddess. But back then they used magic power instead of a person’s pure life force, and it was eventually discovered that anyone could take part in the prayer so long as a priestess accompanied them.
That was about 100 years ago. With the use of life force in the prayer, changes in the holy water was observed, and it was determined that you could measure a person’s strength based off of the change that their life force exerted on the holy water. Our ancestors set the levels produced from these changes as a basis for easily visualizing an individual’s power.
As a side note, I heard from Rose-san that the life force offered in the prayer doesn’t have to be from a hand or foot. A person could add in any part of their body, a snippet of hair for instance, and still get the desired results. Most interestingly……although it is slightly frowned upon, the life force you use in the prayer doesn’t even have to be your own. Rose-san had measured Goldmund’s level when she threw in part of his horn that had been chipped off.
Saluena nodded impressed.
“Yes, it is convenient. And during your first baptism, assuming you are a believer of the Goddess, a fairy will appear as a divine messenger of the Goddess and whisper onto you what kind of occupation would suit you best so that you don’t lose your way in life.”
“Then during your first time…….ah, no, never mind.”
“Sorry, but nothing went out of the ordinary. That’s right, this girl belongs in a bookstore. Or maybe the fairy called me a librarian back then.”
I don’t really remember exactly what she said. It was quite a few years ago, and besides being a child, I was also very excited to be doing my first baptismal rites.
“Well that’s how it is, and because it’s so convenient, it is still used as a ritual to measure a person’s strength and skill after they’ve grown up.”
Adventurers in particular like having their levels measured regularly in churches. That’s because the higher level you are, the more money you can earn from rewards.
“Okay, I’ll go first. So, Toslin-kun. Lift me up for a bit.”
“How have you not gotten any larger with all the meat you eat?”
Carol was having trouble reaching into the silver cup because of how high the pedestal was. Speaking of which, Carol is fourteen years old, so she’s technically still a child. What’s the growth period for werewolves? Just like Toslin says, I’ve been with Carol for the last six months, and I haven’t seen her get any taller.
“I will be getting bigger soon enough. Just give it a few more years, and I’ll be as big as Rose. Look forward to it.”
“…..no, that’s impossible.”
“Mou…….just where are the two of you looking?”
Mine and Carol’s gazes caused Rose-san to get flustered, and she hurriedly crossed her arms to hide her chest. But this was Rose-san’s chest we were talking about, so there was no hiding it.
“You’re still in your growing stage as well. So have no fear. I’m sure you’ll someday grow into a woman to be envied by all just like Rosa.”
Was that a hint of desire on her face there? Saluena patted my shoulder while trying to offer me some comfort.
“……do you really think so?”
Speaking of Saluena, there’s quite a bit there as well. I always feel an overbearing pressure whenever she’s standing next to Rose-san. So perhaps this is one of those things where the words are a sham born from a person who has the wiggle room to make those kinds of claims? That’s what I was thinking with eyes half-closed at least, and so Saluena helplessly shrugged.
“It’s upsetting that you would doubt me so. I would never lie to you. Iris, you are adorable as you are, but in a few years, I’m sure you will be even more wondrous and beautiful.”
“No, of course I’m going to become more beautiful with maturity. But Saluena isn’t saying anything about how big my breasts will get……..”
I mean, of course I would like to grow up to be like Rose-san, but it’s impossible for me to become that feminine in the next four years right? It would take another miracle for me to reach that realm.
“Haa…….I’m starting to feel a little empty”
I let out a deep sigh while watching Carol hold her hand out to the holy water.