Until he saw Pudd's body, he reacted exactly like everyone else but it didn't remove Kieran's suspicions.
Pudd was a young man who allowed love to get the better side of him but his teacher was not.
The first time Pudd got himself in trouble, Herasu came before Kieran and asked for forgiveness on behalf of his student.
Then, based on common sense, what would Herasu do after that?
Surely he would tie his student down and try not to let his student cross Kieran's path.
But the result?
Pudd not only appeared again during the Festival of Partners and he provoked Kieran yet once again.
It was quite unreasonable for such a thing to happen, let alone the so-called challenge.
If the provocation from before was barely reasonable, the challenge that came after that was too intentional. It almost seemed like someone purposely wanted Pudd to lose the challenge so he would leave Hunter Temple and sprint off, thus meeting his demise outside.
The place where Pudd was killed was an alleyway near the council district. It was closely connected to the temple district yet one thing was different.
The light from the Gods could not reach there.
On the ground, the traces around the crime scene were intentionally cleaned up by the killer.
Other than Pudd's restless dead body, there was nothing valuable left behind.
"The killer followed Pudd tightly and since he was dispirited from failure, he didn't notice the killer until his throat was slit! Pudd's eyes were wide open, the shock still lingered on his face yet he doesn't show the fear of death. Which means this cut was extremely fast, to the point that his body failed to react to it right away. But when the throat was slit, there was no big splash of blood in the area and there is no excessive blood left behind at the crime scene … the killer is collecting Pudd's blood?!"
Kieran glanced over the scene and his mind immediately painted the picture of the murder occurring.
This intrigued Kieran even more.
A killer that collect the victim's blood. Other than some kind of disgusting fetish, the killer must have a use for the blood and judging from the fact that Pudd was drained dry, it must be the latter.
"What can Pudd's blood do? And… this place might be a secluded alleyway but this is the council district! The noble guards and city guards were patrolling the area non-stop and in order for Pudd to be bled dry like that, it would take quite some time yet no one noticed? Some kind of illusion was involved? Or some kind of special instrument that can drain blood within a second?
Kieran was touching his chin out of habit while he was trying to figure out the clues.
Just when he wanted to inspect the body, he was stopped by Hunter Temple's Archpriest Krecko.
"I am so sorry, Archpriest Ryan! How can this kind of horrendous act happen at an important festival?! I am truly sorry! When the killer is apprehended, I will host a feast for everyone again to express our apologies. Now please leave with Lilith and leave the rest to us. We are all excellent hunters, the killer that murdered Pudd will not escape our pursuit!"
Archpriest Krecko said in a solemn manner.
Despite his tone sounding courteous, anyone could tell the archpriest was enraged.
A homicide happened during the Festival of Partners which was only hosted once every three years. It was something unforgivable for everyone in Hunter Temple.
It was as severe as defiling their God and such a horrendous act was unforgivable for every devoted believer.
Besides, Kieran was certain that Hunter himself would also make a move after the murder.
Suddenly, Kieran's heart skipped a beat.
"Could this be… part of a plan that is specifically targeted at the Hunter himself?"
Kieran instinctively thought of Anxico and his gang.
All of this seemed to have begun from Anxico and his Follower group but soon enough, Kieran quickly denied the speculation himself.
Anxico might display decent strength but was definitely not on a Godslayer level.
Despite Anxico's claim that he wanted to oppose Lightning Temple directly, Kieran still had some guesses of what methods they would resort to.
It was nothing more than using another temple's power to fight Lightning Temple. It was impossible for Anxico to form a team to slay a God.
As far as God slaying was concerned, from a certain aspect, no mortal from this dungeon world could ever slay a God, theoretically speaking.
As for Kieran himself, if it wasn't for Lady Thorn's help, the one dead would be him, not Lady Wealth.
Kieran's mind was racing while he was trying to console Krecko.
"My condolences," Kieran said.
Lilith beside him was sobbing softly.
She declined Pudd's affection but it didn't mean she wanted to see him dead. The same age and long period of time spent together had made Lilith treat Pudd as a good friend.
Now, a good friend was killed and it was hard for her to accept.
Both of them bowed again before parting ways.
It was really not a good place for talks. Kieran sent Lilith on her wagon but didn't join.
"Archpriest Ryan, what about you?" Lilith asked as she looked at Kieran with red teary eyes.
"I need to return to my secret hideout for a while. The murder that happened bothers me a little and I hope my men can get some news on it," Kieran said honestly.
Since he became Thorn Temple's archpriest, the original members of Emerald Rock automatically changed their identities, they had become Thorn Temple's secret agents.
The original secret hideout was not demolished but kept operating under his instructions.
It only changed from a secretive nature to a half-opened nature but to Thorn Temple only.
"Please notify me if you get any news!" Lilith said.
Kieran nodded and saw her wagon back to the temple district before he returned to Emerald Rock's secret hideout.
"Welcome back. Do you need a bath? I've prepared food!"
Starbeck who was stationed in the hideout spoke delightedly when he saw Kieran.
He was living without Kieran for quite a while now and despite him prepared a lot of defensive measures, he couldn't find peace in his heart and would always wake up in the night due to nightmares.
Now, even when he saw Kieran, the anxiousness in his heart didn't lessen any.
Didn't lessen? He was still anxious?
A feeling that felt different from before made Starbeck a little dull.
He looked up at Kieran before him and so did Kieran to him.
Kieran's eyes didn't have the familiar feeling that Starbeck knew, all it has was a coldness and malicious intent.
"You are that guy's weakness?"
'Kieran' said before he reached out to grab Starbeck.
The grab was absent of technique and was not too strong as it went for Starbeck.
From the viewpoint of 'Kieran', Starbeck before him was not worthy enough to even mention.
Starbeck was able to team up with a powerhouse yet he himself was this weak.
What a joke!
'Kieran' landed his palm on Starbeck's shoulder as the arrogant thoughts flooded his mind.
He didn't want to kill Starbeck of course. Starbeck alive had much more value than a dead one.
'Kieran' experienced something that he would never forget for the rest of his life.
Six defensive fields were activated at the same time and enveloped Starbeck. Their defensive power was so powerful that it would even make a God frown. The irresistible binding force pinned 'Kieran' down on the spot, black negative energy then flooded the malicious imposter like a tidal wave that could wipe out the earth.
'Kieran''s body was instantly robbed of his mobility, followed by his soul being shredded. Even the one bit of light in the deepest part of his soul was swallowed by a formless mouth without any resistance.
On Starbeck's waist, a small, inconspicuous sack wiggled slightly as though something inside was chewing.
Then, as everything happened in an instant, everything ended in an instant as well.
Before the dust settled, Starbeck's boots shone and he vanished from the room and reappeared in front of the real Kieran.
When he saw the real Kieran before him and felt the familiar safe feeling, Starbeck broke down and cried out loud.