༺ The Lord Is With Us (5) ༻
Destroyed furniture littered the second floor of the Sun’s Shelter.
A wooden table lay split in half and remnants of shattered teacups were scattered across the floor alongside numerous sharp splinters of wood and shards of glass.
The room was in such a wreck that it wouldn’t have been odd for anyone to report it to the Church had they stumbled across the scene.
Though Ian had won, the potential aftermath was unimaginable. The Saintess was one of the loftiest members of the Church, and her public reputation was impeccable.
If she were to come forward and accuse Ian, there was no way he, a mere son of a rural viscount, would be able to handle the repercussions.
Despite this, Ian remained nonchalant, and his indifference sent shivers down her spine.
However, she still suppressed a groan and twisted her lips into a smirk.
“Do you think you can handle the consequences?”
His golden eyes blinked, devoid of anything but exhaustion. It was as if every emotion had been eliminated from within.
Gritting her teeth, the Saintess threatened the man.
“I’m the Saintess… I possess more than enough influence to have you burned at the stake. What do you think will happen if I say that you tried to assault me?”
She had never leveled such an accusation against anyone before, but her words spoke of the humiliation and shame she had to experience.
Her threat should have been effective.
She had been overpowered by sheer force, but the world did not solely revolve around strength. Nations, politics, and societal structures all supported the individuals while simultaneously constraining them.
Ian was no exception. Despite his monstrous martial skills, they were limited to small skirmishes. Even he wouldn’t be able to triumph over a coordinated group of highly skilled fighters.
However, Ian remained unfazed even when faced with her threat.
“Do whatever you want.”
Rather, his flat response caused the Saintess to become flustered.
“I said to try it if you can.”
He slowly stood back on his feet, and for a brief moment, the Saintess‘s eyes widened in fear, scared that he might attack her again out of anger.
Yet, contrary to her thought, Ian didn’t show any interest in her, and instead, walked over to the nearby window to look out at the scenery with his back turned to her.
Was it arrogance or was it a bluff?
She couldn’t tell.
Her eyes briefly met Yuren’s, and Yuren shook his head.
First, she had to find out the man’s identity. The Saintess spoke once more, her voice, sharp and indignant.
“Who the hell are you? Those techniques you just used, they’re the Church’s martial arts.”
Yuren, who had remained silent since Ian’s warning, chimed in. He glared at Ian in suspicion while suppressing a groan.
“Your hatchet’s trajectory also changed drastically without losing any momentum… That’s one of Sword Circle’s secret techniques, isn’t it?
The organizations behind each of these skills adhered to strict principles of secrecy. As such, it was impossible for one to master both techniques.
Yet, the man had accomplished precisely that.
Both the Saintess and Yuren couldn’t begin to speculate his true identity.
Amidst their barrage of questions, the man remained indifferent.
“Who else would I be?”
“I’m not interested in playing word games with yo-“
The Saintess retorted in annoyance, but flinched and immediately fell silent as his golden gaze turned towards her.
What human being would be able to look into those chilling eyes and not react in the same way?
The man wordlessly approached her and knelt down to meet her gaze.
“Both the Church and Sword Circle boast of long-established heritages. They make a point to guard their secrets and have managed to do so for generations. It’s rather impossible for someone to learn the secret techniques of both organizations.”
“So, how exactly di-“
The Saintess opened her mouth to retort but trailed off as a possibility crossed her mind.
That’s right. It would normally be impossible.
Unless he had stolen them.
Somehow, he had managed to break into the respective organizations, each filled to the brim with formidable individuals and stringent security measures, and had made off with their secret techniques.
Her common sense dictated that it was an impossible feat. However, at that moment, her eyes widened in shock as the air pulsated with energy.
Crimson mana formed characters in the air, accompanied by a subtle heat.
The Saintess knew that at present, those characters were nothing more than suppressed mana.
But that if Ian so desired, there was enough power within those characters to reduce the room to ashes.
“……D-Dragonblood Scripture?! You’re affiliated with the Imperial Family?”
The Dragonblood Scripture was a secret skill passed down by the Imperial Family.
Its unique characteristic allowed one to use magic through the inscribed characters even without any magical knowledge.
Whether it be a swordsman, a priest, or even a peasant living on the street, anyone could receive a Dragonblood glyph and use the magic inscribed within it.
Only the Imperial family, rumored to be the descendants of the dragons, were capable of bestowing the Dragonblood Scripture. In fact, it was one of the biggest secrets that the language of dragons, the ancient creators of magic, was being passed down, and only their guards and intelligence units have been bestowed with the Dragonblood Scripture. Since that was the case, there was only a single possibility that the Saintess could come up with.
Everything fell into place if Ian was affiliated with the Imperial Family.
No matter how powerful the Church and the Sword Circle were, they paled in comparison to the Imperial Family.
It was to the point that it wasn’t strange that they had managed to steal the secret techniques of both organizations. It also explained how classified political affairs like that of Bishop Aindel had been exposed.
The man’s identity as the second son of a rural viscount was also likely to have been forged.
His monstrous combat ability also made sense if he was trained and raised to become the Imperial family’s sword.
The Saintess’ eyes betrayed their confusion, and the man did not explicitly deny her presumption.
“Did we really need to fight? All I needed was simply information on the orphanages.”
He spoke in an even voice.
She would have normally dismissed it immediately if he had mentioned it at the start of their conversation, but the notion that the other party might be under the Imperial family left her speechless.
She was conflicted. Even for her, the burden of clashing with the imperial family was too great to bear. He had even revealed that Church’s secrets have been leaked.
She thought he was showcasing his confidence in getting away unscathed even if this matter were to be made public.
Gritting her teeth, the Saintess spoke.
“You destroyed my bodyguard’s shoulders and even dislocated my arm when you wanted cooperation?”
“Weren’t you the one who attacked me first?”
“You threatened us!”
The Saintess yelled in frustration, but the man merely shrugged his shoulders.
“Knowledge is also a form of power. Since you lost, stop acting like a child.”
The Saintess‘s shoulders shook with humiliation, but she had no choice but to surrender.
“……Fine, I’ll cooperate. In exchange, keep the matter of Bishop Aindel a secret.”
As soon as the deal concluded, the man stood up without delay.
She had lost.
And it wasn’t just a physical defeat. She had been defeated in areas she was confident in – information and negotiation.
She couldn’t help but feel frustrated, despite knowing it was an inevitable outcome against someone under the Imperial family.
It was while she was wallowing over her defeat.
She raised her head and saw that the man still hadn’t left the room even while having his hand on the doorknob. What caught her attention, however, were his eyes.
Those usually indifferent eyes, for the first time, showed human emotions.
Until now, he had only shown hostility and bloodlust like a vicious beast, but now, they contained compassion and even anguish.
Taken aback by his sudden change, she sucked in a deep breath.
After a brief silence, the man spoke.
“Are you frustrated?”
She twitched, wanting to vent her frustration.
‘Of course I am.’
Wasn’t it obvious? She had been beaten unilaterally.
Yuren’s shoulders were demolished, and even she was barely suppressing her screams from the pain that radiated from her dislocated arm.
She felt angry. She felt humiliated.
So much so that she refused to speak, merely tilting her head to avoid his gaze altogether.
As if he had anticipated her silence, he simply twisted the doorknob.
Then, he left with one last word.
Unable to comprehend the meaning behind his word, the Saintess stayed slumped on the ground for an incredibly long time.
I walked away in silence after listening to Yuren’s statement.
It was all too much to comprehend.
‘The Church? Sword Circle? The Imperial Family?’
It was all nonsense. I was a free individual who didn’t belong anywhere. Still, there was something bothering me that told me this wasn’t a regular matter of simply being possessed.
Though I had glossed it over at the time, Senior Delphine had also mentioned them.
The ‘Church’ and the ‘Sword Circle’.
Yuren believed that I had been possessed by a senior mage serving the Imperial family. However, that didn’t explain everything that had happened.
Lost in my thoughts, I continued walking.
At the sound of the muffled exclamation, I turned to locate its source.
It was a boy with well-cut brown hair and pure green eyes that reflected my face like a mirror.
His handsome complexion often garnered favor from others.
His expression was as relaxed as ever, and he waved at me as if he had been waiting for my arrival.
“Ian, you’re back!”
Although it hadn’t been long since I’d seen him last, it was always a pleasure to see him.
I turned to greet my best friend, but he quickly grasped my hand.
And before I could even face him, Leto’s lips parted.
“Come with me. I’ve learned something about your amnesia.”
His sudden remark left me dumbfounded.
Then, with a serious expression, he added more detail.
“We had a conversation not too long ago… me and him.”
I didn’t even have to wonder who he was referring to.
It was ‘me’ after I had lost my memory.
It was the moment when the crucial clue that would unravel this mystery appeared.
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