We started moving back towards the city immediately after eliminating the thieves that’d attacked us.
Solas had asked to let him take up the lead, to which we raised no objections.
It felt like a much better idea to keep him as far away from our captive as possible, just in case he felt like murdering him again. Apparently, the men had still been holding onto the items they stole from Solas’ party, so we retrieved them and stuffed them inside of Solas’ Item Box.
We’d been unable to discern his skills because he had Appraisal Blocking, but it turned out that he was a scout-like kinda guy. He’d occasionally find traps and move to avoid them.
That said though, it didn’t seem like he was skilled enough to notice and avoid all of them.
An arrow shot out of the ceiling and made its way towards Urushi, but the large wolf had managed to grab the projectile with his mouth before it hit him. Dat reaction speed though.
「S-Sorry, my bad.」
Solas immediately apologized for missing the trap. I couldn’t blame him though. He was in a bit of a rush, so he seemed less on guard than he otherwise would have been. Plus, it’s not like we pick up on every single trap either.
Hmmmmm… Though, for some odd reason, I felt a sudden sense of discomfort, as if something was out of place… It was almost like a jolt of electricity had run through my brain — not that I actually had one in the first place.
（Master? Something wrong?）
『I’m not quite sure how to put it, but… I feel like something’s not right.』
『Like, do you feel like anything’s just a bit off?』
『What about you, Urushi?』
Was I just imagining things?
「I’m really sorry, I just set off another trap.」
Oh! There it is again…
『How about just now?』
Neither Fran nor Urushi were able to feel what I was feeling, despite the fact that it was pretty much the same as the feeling I got when I sensed magic beasts and traps and whatnot. Hm… Weird, I don’t get it.
『Oh well, whatever, let’s just keep going.』
「Um, are you okay?」
Solas came to a sudden stop after we advanced a bit further.
Did something happen?
「There’s something over there.」
I couldn’t see anything in the direction Solas was pointing. I mean, he wasn’t wrong though. My senses were telling me that there was some sort of trap there, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. That odd sensation of something being off was back too.
「It’s literally right there. You know what, come on, let’s go check it out.」
Huh… It just happened again. Yeah, alright. I’m definitely not imagining it.
That said though, I wasn’t given any time to figure out why I’d been feeling it to begin with, as Solas had immediately dashed forwards without waiting for Fran to first respond to him. Four small holes opened up around us and immediately began to emit a sort of mist. There was one above, one under, and one on either side.
The mist was something that our skills rendered completely invalid: poisonous gas.
「Ah! My bad!」
It looked like Solas had accidentally stepped on the trap’s activation switch. Seriously, holy crap, why is he messing up this much? Like, even given the current circumstances, he really shouldn’t be.
「A-Are you okay?」
We couldn’t actually see him because of all the poison that got emitted, but we could still hear his voice.
And along with said voice once again came that odd sense of incongruity.
It seemed like it was something I’d feel whenever he spoke. Wait, could it be that this is what Dias described as the odd sensation you’d get when someone used a skill on you? Wait, that’d have to mean that Solas was using some kind of skill…
Doubts began flooding my mind the moment I came to that realization, as if they’d broken through and burst out of a dam.
At first, he said that he was attacked by 3 people, but he later went on to say that there were 4 thieves. At the time, I’d ignored it because I thought to be an honest mistake, but it looked like I messed up. I trusted someone I just met despite not being able to appraise them. Why the hell?
He’d also said that the men that attacked him were masked, but he managed to recognize them immediately. Like, how? That just flat out didn’t make sense.
I also don’t understand how I didn’t catch the fact that him asking us questions nonstop was actually just him probing our skills and whatnot.
He kept activating traps, and even tried to kill the man we captured to top it all off. Like holy crap, he’s suspicious as all hell.
The only reason I trusted him was because the Principle of Falsehood hadn’t told me that he was lying, because he technically wasn’t.
An incredibly powerful sense of discomfort assaulted me, one much greater than all the others I’d felt before it. Why had we treated someone that we’d met less than an hour ago like a companion? And as if it was natural too.
The answer to that question was one that I simply could not explain. My guess was that Solas had done something to us, but I couldn’t figure out what, and also still couldn’t help but have the sneaking suspicion that I was wrong about this whole thing.
Solas was definitely suspicious, but we had no solid evidence that he was the one behind all this…
『Fran, don’t respond to him.』
『Just do as I’m about to tell you.』
Fran followed my instructions and took a knee. Likewise, we had Urushi “collapse” on the ground. Naturally, the two were both just acting.
If Solas really was what I thought he was , then he’d probably try something — not that he’d actually be able to harm us. I could activate Telekinesis literally instantly, and I’d already cast Chronos Clock, a Dimensional Magic spell, on both Fran and Urushi. The spell allowed the two to interpret Solas’ actions in slow motion, and thus retaliate should he try something.
Chronos Clock’s biggest disadvantage was the fact that his words would get slowed down as well, so they wouldn’t be able to figure out what he was saying, hence why I didn’t cast the spell on myself as well.
「Did you just you use some sort of magic…?」
「Fran? Are you okay?」
It seemed he sensed that we’d cast a spell. I guess casting Chronos Clock wasn’t exactly the best idea, but better safe than sorry.
「Hmm, so you used some sort of magic, but weren’t able to prevent yourself from being poisoned?」
Fran was showing off her acting skills by pretending to be in pain.
「It looks like you really have been poisoned. Don’t worry, I’ll help you make it so it doesn’t hurt anymore.」
He still wasn’t lying, but his actions served to contradict his words. That is, he’d drawn the blade at his waist and swung it in Fran’s direction.
Actually, thinking about it, what he said was cliché, but it wasn’t wrong. Killing someone was indeed a way to prevent them from feeling any further pain.
「What!? How!? That shouldn’t be possible!」
Fran easily dodged his blade, drew me, and performed a pair of slashes. The first removed his right hand from the wrist down, and seperated him from his sword. The second caused him to part with his right leg.
Solas, who’d collapsed, looked up at us with an expression filled but with shock.
There wasn’t any way for Fran to converse with him while she was still under the effects of Chronos Clock, so I undid the spell and let her talk.
「First. Deactivate Appraisal Blocking.」