༺ The Tenth ༻
Trevor, who had been confined in the underground library, returned.
Vera and Renee heard the news in the early morning.
It came along with his urgent message.
— Please come to the conference hall as soon as possible!
It wasn’t just Vera and Renee who received the message. It was delivered to all the Apostles.
The Apostles all wore serious expressions.
The reason was that Trevor, who had never raised his voice to anyone in his life, was insisting. It was reason enough to understand that this was not a trivial matter.
None of them hesitated.
The Apostles each got ready and began to enter the conference hall of the Grand Temple.
Standing in the middle of the conference hall to greet them was a young boy, not much older than seven or eight.
His sparkling red eyes below his water-like hair gleamed with an unwavering determination.
“Will you please sit down?“
“What’s so urgent that you’ve called us so early in the morning?“
Although his tone sounded a bit brash at first glance, the seriousness of his face revealed the urgency behind his words.
Their gazes met.
Immediately after, Trevor pulled out a few sheets of parchment from his arms and offered them to Vargo.
“I’ve found it. Records concerning the Tenth.”
The room fell silent.
The Apostles’ faces all wore a hardened expression.
Amidst it, Vera’s bitter chuckle echoed through the conference room.
“Did it really exist…?“
Vera’s tone had a hint of disbelief, one that he couldn’t suppress.
Why would it not exist?
He had already seen the fetus melting in Orgus’s vision.
Vera was the one who actually saw that grotesque and vile form.
Even though all evidence pointed to Alaysia wanting the ‘Tenth,’ he still hoped that it was just an illusion.
Trevor’s gaze turned to Vera.
With a deeply furrowed face, Trevor looked at Vera and then softly shook his head in response to Vera’s muttered words.
“It doesn’t exist yet.“
“What do you mean?“
“Would you like to see this?“
Trevor held out the parchment.
As Vera unfolded it, he suddenly tilted his head.
“Yes, the clue about the Tenth was in the memoirs. To be precise… it would be proper to say they are speculations about it.”
It was a puzzling statement.
The faces of those gathered naturally displayed confusion, and Trevor added an explanation in a distressed tone.
“It’s a memoir from over a thousand years ago. When I looked through the dates and chronology, I found out who the owner of the memoir was.“
As Trevor walked toward his seat, he continued speaking.
“The owner of the memoir is the Third Holy Emperor of Elia.“
Once again, the atmosphere grew heavy. Trevor, who had sat down, sighed and concluded.
“…He is also the first Apostle of Wisdom.“
All eyes were focused on the parchment.
Trevor gestured and added.
“Please read it.“
Vera’s gaze moved from Trevor and back to the parchment.
The words were neatly written on the yellowed, aged parchment.
Vera began to read it with sunken eyes.
『 Day 9 of Fasting.
The moon is particularly bright tonight. The atmosphere is calm and the breeze is cool, making it a good night to keep the window open.
As the fasting has lasted for nine days now, everyone must be tired.
I wish this good weather would ease the heightened tension between the siblings.
…I feel empty because I have not eaten.
Although I maintain my physical condition through my divinity, I cannot do anything about my hunger.
The human body is truly greedy.
Despite having no deficiencies in nutrition, the body continuously craves to fill the emptiness.
I needed to divert my thoughts.
So, I began counting numbers.
Even though I have climbed up to become an Apostle and have been given the generous title of Holy Emperor, I cannot help but think of my true nature as a scholar at moments like this.
However, the Gods will surely understand.
To me, numbers are a means of proving that the Gods truly exist on this land.
Combinations of numbers that start from zero and end at nine.
Numerous rules that define the unknown.
Surely, within that beauty that excites me, there must surely be an arrangement from the Gods.
Nine integers from one to nine.
And the nine gods.
Does this not prove that the only Gods that exist are those in the nine heavenly thrones?
And that the numerous rules they create resemble the Providence that shapes this world.
Thus, I loved numbers.
I loved the proof of miracles that descended on this land, and I loved that I had the knowledge to explore it.
The discourse was long.
To get to the point, today’s topic explored an indefinite number that oscillates between infinity and emptiness.
It cannot be defined because it oscillates infinitely.
However, it can be summarized as ‘unspecified.’
This is truly a beautiful quality.
Is the aesthetic of defining the undefined not the greatest charm of numbers?
Consider the representative example, the number ‘0.’
It is the master key that defines the void of nonexistence and completes all the rules.
The same concept can be applied to the world.
The nine gods and the possibilities they left empty came together and turned nine into ten.
‘0’ proves its existence by not existing.
The praise for the number continued for a while.
Vera’s forehead furrowed as he continued reading.
“…I don’t feel like there’s anything particularly significant.“
It was undoubtedly an interesting story, but it didn’t seem to have a direct connection to the threat of the ‘Tenth.’
Vera only had one thought after reading this.
The Apostles of Wisdom had always been peculiar individuals.
His gaze turned to Trevor.
Trevor met his gaze with a stern face, then pointed with his chin and spoke.
“Turn to the next page. The main point is there.“
Vera sighed softly, then turned the page.
His eyes became absorbed in the text once again.
Immediately after, Vera’s expression began to warp with a strange light.
『 A question arose regarding ‘0.’
What would happen if ‘0,’ which proves its existence by not existing, comes to actually exist? What if it is not a void?
It was an unholy thought, but I couldn’t stop.
My pursuit became fixated on this very question.
I formulated countless theories, only to erase them.
I tried to prove them through hypotheses, but it was impossible.
I was not among the Great Gods.
I was simply one of their servants, a mere mortal.
For someone like me, there was no way to manifest what does not exist into something that does.
I knew it, but I could not give up.
How should I explain this…?
Yes, it would be accurate to say I had the heart of a young lamb caught in a quagmire of temptation.
I was like that.
I was a person whose scholarly nature was too strong, whose desire for knowledge was too deep that I could not control myself.
I had to resolve the question, no matter what the cost.
This might be a rationalization, but… I think…
This nature of mine, and this power, might be bestowed upon me by the Gods to spread the truth of ‘0’ on this land.
Is that not so? Do the eyes that see Providence they have bestowed upon me not make this possible?
A month has passed since the end of the fast.
I secluded myself once more, wanting to get an answer as to whether I was allowed to continue this pursuit.
I prayed without even realizing how much time had passed.
Like a child asking for permission from their parents, or like a sinner confessing their sins.
I prayed, hoping that the Gods would take this power back and punish me if I had done something wrong, but no answer came back.
…So, I took it as a sign of permission. 』
Vera continued reading for a long time when Vargo suddenly exclaimed.
Vera stopped speaking.
All eyes in the conference hall turned to Vargo.
Vargo looked at Trevor and asked.
“Did you see it?“
Though there was no question of ‘what?’, everyone there except the twins knew what he was asking.
The question was about seeing the concept of ‘0’ mentioned in the memoirs.
Trevor shook his head.
“I did not see it. I deemed that stealing a glimpse of such a perilous concept would have a detrimental effect on my mental state and decided to consult with you all first.”
A long sigh escaped Vargo’s lips.
“Alright, continue reading.“
Upon hearing the words, Vera nodded and looked at the next page of the parchment.
However, he did not immediately continue reading.
“…The handwriting has changed.“
“It doesn’t look like it was written by someone else… The handwriting seems to have deteriorated because it was hastily written.“
It hadn’t just deteriorated.
Unless one looked carefully, it would be impossible to distinguish the markings as letters.
“…I’ll try reading it anyway.“
Vera answered with a furrowed brow and continued.
『 I shouldn’t have seen it.
Or rather, should I say that it was right to have seen it?
I don’t know.
However, if this were the Gods’ plan, I would like to complain to them.
Why, you ask?
I’ve become someone who can no longer look at numbers.
Because the concept of ‘0’ is too frightening, rendering me incapable of recalling anything.
I want to rip open my head right now and crush my brain.
I want to erase what I saw from my head.
Everything fell apart.
Despite the fact that only a single number was added, the Providence that makes up this world has been overturned from its roots, and woven into something incomprehensible.
The concepts of species, life, and death have been mixed, and the notions of matter and non-matter have been shaken.
It’s unimaginable how horrifying this is.
Even I, who have seen it, cannot grasp its essence, so how could you understand it just by reading it through text?
Finally, I’ve realized.
Why ‘0’ must be empty.
Why it must remain as non-existent.
Ah… this is a false idol.
It’s a symbol that should not exist.
I assure you.
The moment this ‘0’ exists, the moment that void is no longer empty, that instant is the end of all things.
Emptiness will become infinite and take flight.
So, to the future generations who read this memoir, never allow its existence.
Deny it and keep denying it, and let it remain as an eternal illusion.
I, the Third St. Lore, leave this message as my sole desire.
Deny ‘0.’ 』
“…That’s the end.“
Vera finished speaking, his tone filled with unease.
He wasn’t the only one who displayed such an expression.
Everyone in the room, and even Annalise, who was cradled in Jenny’s arms, wore a look of unease.
Meanwhile, Trevor spoke.
“One thing has become clear.“
Trevor pushed his chair back.
He stood up, his voice was filled with unwavering certainty.
“Alaysia’s objective was never Ardain from the beginning. There’s only one reason she wishes for his resurrection.“
There was a brief pause.
Trevor bit his lip as if he was uneasy to utter the next words.
“…His omnipotence. The Tenth can be completed with that alone.“
Trevor clenched his fist.
“She desires the end of all Providence.“