༺ Adaptation (3) ༻
Creak. After the sound, the door of the accommodation opened.
Vera, who was waiting for Renee at the door, ‘froze’ upon seeing Renee coming out.
Renee’s figure in a white robe naturally caught his attention.
Attire embroidered with gold was wrapped around Renee’s body.
At a glance, it looks like there are several layers of robes. The splendid overcoat, a white priest’s robe which peeks from beneath it, was a decoration that can be labeled as too extravagant, but Vera wondered why the robe didn’t seem extravagant at all.
It was because the attire fit her so well.
He felt like it was made for Renee from the beginning, because it was that kind of attire.
Maybe even that is not enough. Even that dress might not be worthy enough to show her nobility.
While his mind was immersed in such thoughts.
Renee, holding Hela’s hand, approached him with a cane.
“I apologize. Have you been waiting for too long?”
Upon hearing Renee’s words. Vera felt that his mind, which had been dazed until then, had been awakened, and he answered.
A prompt reply. A brief conversation that ended within a second. Vera, who replied as such, reached out and took Renee’s hand from Hela, then said.
“Let’s go then.”
Renee felt her fingers tremble slightly as Vera’s hands overlapped with hers and moved her steps along with Vera’s guidance.
Tap. The sound of the cane and his footsteps resonated with each other, creating a harmony.
In her ear, Vera’s voice resounded as he continued to explain the structure of the accommodation since she couldn’t see what’s in front of her.
“If you walk about 20 steps to the right from the door of the accommodation, you will find a door leading to the garden of the Grand Temple. If you go the other way, you’ll find the east exit, which leads to the barracks where the temple’s paladins reside…”
Stiff words. Renee knew the fact that this old-fashioned paladin’s words don’t contain emotions at all. However, even such formality and stiff tone are Vera’s own way of showing his kindness.
“…The hallways of the accommodation are usually straight. You don’t have to worry about it because I’ve put away all the decorations and other things that might interfere with your movement.”
“Is that so?”
When she responded with a nod, upon hearing those words, another explanation followed.
“There’s a garth in the garden we’re going to. The Holy Emperor is waiting there.”
“Oh, there’s even a garth in the garden? It seems like it’s rather spacious.”
“Yes, it’s much bigger than the building where the Saint lives. It’s a garden that the Apostle of Abundance, who is away due to a dispatch mission, built as a hobby.”
A thought popped into my mind as I heard the word.
‘Come to think of it….’
Vera is also an apostle.
It was a title she had heard before arriving in the Holy Kingdom, but for some reason, it still feels awkward.
This was because Renee had a stronger impression of Vera as a knight in a story than a person hailed as an ‘Apostle.’
Renee, who was continuing to think as such, asked Vera a question that crossed her mind as he remained silent after finishing his explanation.
“Are all Apostles going to be dispatched?”
“Not everyone. Depending on the mission, it tends to be different. For example… Trevor, the Apostle of Wisdom, does not go outside because he has the duty of maintaining the Barrier, which surrounds the Holy Kingdom.”
“Aha, then what kind of role does Sir Knight play?”
“My job is to escort you. I’ll probably stay with the Saint unless something really urgent occurs.”
He’ll be by my side.
Upon hearing those words, Renee’s body trembled.
“Oh, no! I tripped for a moment!”
“I’m sorry. I’ll slow down a little.”
A shrill voice came out of her throat. Renee felt the heat rising to her face as she let out a cry in panic.
Her eyes were tightly shut.
Seriously, why am I acting like an idiot? If I say, ‘I’m blind, not stupid.’ They probably wouldn’t believe me.
Renee, who was trembling and continued to panic, urged herself to control her frustrating heart.
Vera didn’t say anything more. It was because Renee was too busy trying to control herself. On the other hand, Vera wasn’t the sort of person who would utter anything extra or unnecessary.
Like that, after a long walk.
“We’re almost there.”
Startled by Vera’s words, Renee straightened up.
The voice that followed.
“Have you come?”
It was the voice of an old man with deep traces of time evident in his tone.
“It must have been an arduous journey till here. Lady Saint.”
His voice resounded again, and Renee bowed and greeted him in an anxious tone.
Gulp. She gulped dry saliva down her throat as countless thoughts flashed through her head.
Maybe she didn’t follow proper etiquette. He might rant about something.
While the idea that he might be arrogant crossed her mind, Vargo continued speaking.
“Please, come and have a seat.”
His tone seemed mellow and gentle.
Renee then thought that Vargo might be a nicer person than she expected, and Vera’s brows furrowed upon seeing Vargo’s appearance which he had never seen before.
Did that old man go truly senile? Why is he doing such a thing?
When Vera, who came up with such an idea, stared at Vargo with a frown on his face, Vargo clicked his tongue and told Vera.
“What are you doing standing around in a daze? Come on, let the Saint go. Sigh, tsk. Anyway, when it comes to being slow, you’re the best on the continent.”
Vera clenched his teeth.
“You’re only good at apologizing, aren’t you? Whenever I say something, he always replies like a parrot.”
Upon hearing Vargo’s words, a laugh escaped Renee’s mouth.
Renee burst into a cold sweat when she let out a spontaneous laugh.
Renee hurriedly apologized as she felt a slight pressure on Vera’s hand that was holding her.
“…Please, don’t worry”
Vera responded to Renee’s words. Then Vera settled Renee down across Vargo while he stood behind her. The whole time he kept glaring daggers at Vargo.
“Such insolent eyes.”
“I’m still lacking.”
“Yes, you’re going to be lacking in that regard for the rest of your life.”
Vargo and Vera’s gazes clashed against each other. A confrontation with no retreat.
When Renee’s complexion gradually turned pale as she listened to them, Vargo, who noticed her expression, immediately calmed her down in an amicable tone.
“Oops, I showed quite the hideous sight to the Saint.”
The thought of running away flashed through Renee’s mind. Her legs began trembling because the atmosphere seemed more dangerous than she thought.
Perhaps if she wasn’t blind, she would have run away this instant.
As darkness loomed over Renee’s face due to the thoughts that occurred to her. Vargo turned his gaze away from Vera and continued speaking while looking at Renee.
“You don’t have to be afraid at all. This is a place where people who care about you more than anyone else are gathered, so relax.”
“I-Is that so….”
“Of course. I heard a lot of things happened on the way here. You’ve had a hard time because of that stupid guy.”
Words of insult directed towards Vera. Then, as a threatening expression grew on Vera’s face, Vargo smiled at that sight and continued speaking.
“So, how has Lady Saint’s stay been so far in the Holy Kingdom?”
“Y-Your Holiness can speak comfortably….”
“If the Lady Saint will do that, I will do the same.”
Renee’s mouth was closed shut.
Renee could tell at a glance. He was respecting herself.
That’s for sure. She would be a fool if she didn’t notice how Vargo treated Vera.
Why is he so kind? Is it because I’m the Saint? Is this stigma so great?
Renee, who felt complicated because of such thoughts, continued to ponder for a long time, then pushed aside her concerns for later and spat out a question.
As the purpose of meeting him today was to hear about what she should do in the future, she thought that such worries should be postponed for later.
“Well, first of all, can I ask you about my future duties?”
A careful remark.
Having said that, Renee quietly waited for an answer.
Vargo examined Renee who lowered her head slightly, waiting for an answer. He then smiled and said.
“Are you anxious?”
“I know you feel anxious because you came here without knowing anything. There must be some reluctance as well.”
Words that came out of nowhere. Renee, who was trembling, replied with a nod, thinking that the conversation seemed to have derailed from its original purpose.
“Tsk, I fully understand. You aren’t alone, I felt the same way… I was like that too on the day I got my stigma. Something black appeared on my forearm, so I hurled curses while looking at the sky.”
Renee’s head lifted upon hearing those words.
This is because she heard an unexpected and unconventional story.
“O-Oh, that must have been rough.”
“It was the tantrums of a brat. Back then, I was a little kid who hated being bothered more than dying, so I spent all day thinking about how to remove my Stigma. Well, I guess it turned out to be a failed dilemma because I ended up sitting in a prominent place without being able to take it off.”
It was unexpected that the man, hailed as the Holy Emperor, had such a past.
Renee, who felt a sense of familiarity with him, continued to ask questions, Feeling a sense of curiosity that overshadowed her anxiety.
“But can you say that? Won’t the divine punishment….”
“If there was such a thing, I would have died more than a hundred times already. There is no divine punishment. Those Gods dwelling in Heaven won’t even react if I swear in front of them.”
Vargo said so and smirked. He then continued speaking.
“I know you’re under a lot of pressure. The same goes for the other bearers of stigmata, but yours is the stigma of the Lord. You have to be a person worthy of the stigma. You have to be a person worthy of the title ‘Saint.’ I’m sure you thought of that.”
Flinch. Renee’s body trembled.
This is because his words hit the nail on the head.
From the moment she made up her mind to come to the Holy Kingdom, those concerns had been haunting Renee. However, Vargo pinpointed everything.
Renee nodded, feeling astonished upon hearing Vargo’s words that saw through all of the concerns that had been haunting her on the inside. The worries she never properly shared with him.
“Yes, a little…”
“You can let go of that pressure. The stigma… just think that it was fortunate that it got picked up on the street by you. Lady Saint, you just have to relax and think about what you want to do. You will naturally receive the revelation when the opportune time comes. The realization will dawn upon you naturally.”
As such, he burst into a roar of laughter.
It was a strange feeling.
How did he know all the concerns that I never shared before and that had been haunting me on the inside?
Is the position of the Holy Emperor given to people who know how to read minds?
Futile thoughts flooded Renee’s mind. Renee who began smiling without realizing, nodded her head slightly and replied to Vargo.
“I heard that the priests help with daily life. The education of divinity is…. Indeed, Trevor would be great. He’ll teach you well.”
Upon hearing his following words, Vera, who had been silent until then, opened his eyes wide. He was dumbfounded.
Vera’s gaze turned to Vargo.
Is he out of his mind? Is he seriously saying that? Is it really the right decision to leave Renee to that lunatic?
When Vera buried such doubts and looked at Vargo, Vargo met his gaze while smiling mischievously.
A realization dawned upon Vera the moment he saw his smile.
This old man is trying to screw with me.
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