༺ Holy Kingdom Elia (1) ༻
‘… Is it here?’
Two paladins adorned in pure white armor stood in front of the white wall and the middle gate at the end of his gaze.
Holy Kingdom Elia.
The smallest country on the continent. The largest temple on the continent.
This place is called both the smallest country and the largest temple because the entire country is a single fortress, and the entire fortress is a single temple.
Vera, who barely arrived at this place after riding his horse for a week, suddenly felt a surge of emotion towards the white fortress at the end of his field of vision.
It was because he never dreamed that he would find this fortress on his own.
If it hadn’t been for the Saint, it would be a place he wouldn’t have been able to see if it wasn’t for the relationship that he made at the end of his life.
The reason he didn’t come here in his previous life…. It was because there was too much to lose when joining the Holy Kingdom at that time.
Priests of the Holy Kingdom are not allowed to engage in personal economic activities. The reason was that they should not tarnish their faith by their thirst for wealth.
You couldn’t even get a title. The reason was that those who represent the will of God should not be blinded by their lust for power.
The only thing that could be obtained by becoming a paladin is honor.
So, Vera lived hiding his stigma all his life.
What Vera wanted in his last life was wealth and power.
In other words, it was luxury and pleasure.
As he continued to think, Vera scoffed.
‘I came all the way here because of you.’
A Saint who could be described as an unblemished, pure white lily growing in a pond of mud came to mind.
Four years from now, I will go to meet the Saint on the day she is bestowed with a stigma.
To keep my oath, to follow the dazzling light that shone at the end of my life.
What do I need for that?
A procession to meet the Saint. He needed a position to lead it.
That is, he required a position sufficient to lead the Paladins.
He had no worries about whether he could get there in four years or not.
He already had everything needed to become a citizen of Elia and become a Paladin.
The stigma of the oath that was bestowed upon him.
That was enough.
If you showed this, you would get into the place of succession at once.
There, you can become recognized as an Apostle.
The power of the oath is an authority with many significant aspects, so if you show this stigma and ascend to the top of the Apostles, the status of a Paladin will come along with it.
Vera, who continued to think, moved slowly and headed towards the gate of Elia.
“Wait for me.”
I’m going to see you in 4 years.
I will not let you die as miserably as before.
I will not let you hide in the slums.
I will put you in the most honorable place, and I’ll live what I can finally call ‘life’ right by your side.
The moment the gap between Vera, who was absorbed in his thoughts, and the paladins guarding the gates, was reduced to about five steps.
Two paladins hit the floor with a halberd at the same time.
“Stop, what are you here for?”
Vera looked at the two paladins with rigid faces.
Twin Paladins with identical looks, brown hair, brown eyes, and a stout body with an angular jawline.
Even Vera knew their names. They were people who had made a name for themselves in his previous life.
Two of the Apostles who received a stigma like himself, two who could be said to be the pillars of the Holy Kingdom.
Apostles of the ‘God of Protection, Peyron,’ the twin paladins Krek and Marek.
The gatekeepers of the Holy Kingdom who became Apostles by sharing one stigma.
In his previous life, when the Demon King arrived and swept the continent, just these two alone prevented the Demon King from invading the Holy Kingdom.
Vera felt a strange feeling as he actually met the people he had only heard of through past rumors. He then raised his right arm and rolled up his sleeve.
It was because he didn’t want to talk for a long time.
Vera looked at the twins, who had their mouths agape as they looked at the stigma on his arm, in response he uttered a single sentence.
“I have a stigma on me.”
That one sentence was enough.
A closed country at the southernmost tip of the continent that even priests find difficult to enter.
An abnormal country where all the priests living inside spent the entirety of their lives with food and equipment they obtained from other priests, who returned after being dispatched outside.
A country that would have been destroyed in less than a year if it wasn’t a place of gathering for those who were endowed with the power of the Gods.
The Holy Kingdom Elia was such a country.
So, even for Vera, who had been to all the countries of the continent in his previous life, it was his first time entering the Holy Kingdom. That’s why he passed through the gate feeling a small expectation….
‘… It’s the perfect place to get mentally ill.’
That expectation was shattered upon arrival.
Vera had a tired expression as he walked through the road that stretched beyond the castle gate.
White here, white there. All buildings were white in the Holy Kingdom.
Of course, there was vegetation like trees and plants such as flowers, so it was not just white, but nevertheless he was filled with a sense of repulsion because of the white buildings that stood out.
As I was walking with a frown on my forehead,
Those words came out of nowhere.
Those words were uttered by the twin on the right as we were walking down the main street.
Vera turned to Krek at the words he had just heard, and Krek continued with a small introduction.
“I have received the Stigma of Protection. I’m an Apostle in training.”
A barrage of words came out.
With that, in Vera’s mind, it was only natural.
‘Is he an imbecile?’
Such thoughts came to mind.
It wasn’t just because of his way of talking.
His eyes were wide open, his nostrils were twitching, and he was unaware that his cloak was caught on the halberd he was holding. He looked so stupid that it hurt his mouth to even say anything.
After looking at him for a while, Vera didn’t feel the need to point those out, so he ignored Krek’s behavior by simply accepting his greeting.
“… I’m Vera.”
“I see. Nice to meet you.”
“I am Marek.”
This time it was from the other side. Seeing Marek’s words and looking at him blankly, Vera soon concluded his judgment.
‘It’s a pair of morons.’
I thought they were the silent type because they didn’t talk the whole time, but they just seemed to be messed up in the head.
“I am also an Apostle in training.”
There were no further words to follow up.
The twins did just what they said, and led Vera to the ‘Grand Temple’ at the end of the road and returned in the direction of the castle gate.
One of them, Krek, did not know that the cloak was hanging on the halberd until the moment he returned.
They were people who made a short, but strong impression. Silent and weird people.
‘… Why are the Apostles like that?’
Does the God of Protection likes idiots?
Vera, who had raised questions about the standards for bestowing the stigmas, immediately recalled the ‘God of Oath’ that had given him a stigma, and then the blasphemous thought that the Gods might all be idiots.
He breathed a sigh of relief at the thought that came to him, and Vera’s gaze, who had been examining the inside of the Great Hall alone, turned to the mural that filled one wall of the Great Hall.
A mural depicting nine figures sitting on a huge altar.
‘… Nine Gods.’
It was a mural on which they were painted.
The nine Gods, led by the Lord. Transcendents who created and watched over the continent.
In the center, there was a figure surrounded by light, and next to him was a man with a mace and a man with a shield.
One had a fruit in his hand, and another was holding a large book.
As he moved his gaze like that, he saw a portrait of a man, whose face was not revealed, with his entire body covered in robes, unlike other Gods.
Vera knew at once who he was.
Lushan, the God of Oath.
The one who judged Vera to be worthy of his stigma was drawn there like a guardian amidst the sickly mortals.
While looking at him, Vera felt a question that had always been in a corner of his mind resurfaced.
What was Lushan thinking about when he bestowed stigma on him? Why did he bestow a stigma on an evil being that only cared about himself?
I’ve been questioning it all my life, but I’ve never been able to figure it out.
It’s a question I hadn’t even tried to figure out.
Vera felt his doubt emerging again as he stared blankly at the mural.
“The God of Oath has no face.”
A voice was heard.
Vera shifted his gaze to the voice he heard and found a weak-looking man who, at first glance, looked like a scholar and trembled.
‘… I didn’t feel any sign.’
There were no footsteps. There was no disturbance due to breathing. He didn’t even have a presence.
It was still the same even now when he saw him.
It was a strange feeling.
Even though there was an opponent in front of him, he didn’t feel any presence from the other person.
‘Who is it?’
Red eyes with water-colored hair and a pure white robe.
Judging from the fact that he was in the Great Hall, he seemed to be a high-ranking priest, but in Vera’s head there was no information about him.
As Vera sharpened his senses at the rising vigilance, the man smiled and continued.
“Do you know why?”
It was a question related to the previous sentence.
Vera looked at the man, who appeared for a moment, then relaxed his clenched fists.
“… I do not know.”
“Because promises have no form. Therefore, the oath that represents that promise has no face.”
With that said, the man approached Vera and greeted him with a small sign on his chest.
“Nice to meet you. This is Trevor, who is responsible for the Great Hall as its custodian.”
“… I’m Vera.”
“I heard from the twins. Could you show me the stigma?”
Words full of lightheartedness. As Vera nodded and rolled up his sleeves to reveal the scars, Trevor, who had been smiling all along, began to show abnormal behavior.
It was sudden.
Immediately after the stigma was revealed, not even a single moment passed, and his expression turned over in an instant.
Red pupils flickered at the end of his gaze. His expression frowned and shoulders shuddered.
The moment when Vera took a step backwards, startled by Trevor’s sudden action.
Trevor fell to his knees and began to weep.
Vera was startled and trembled at the sight of Trevor, who suddenly knelt down and cried aloud.
‘He is crazy.’
Such thoughts filled my mind.
It was natural. It would be natural for anyone with a sane mind to reach that conclusion.
How can a person who weeps without warning be seen as a normal person?
“The Lord’s hand has come upon this land, and your grace has touched it…”
The appearance of a crying man howling while making the sign of the cross continuously.
Unknowingly, Vera came up with a question. ‘Was it the right decision to come here?’
The twin Apostles he met at the castle gate. The lunatic priest he met in the Great Hall.
They were all screwed up in the head. They were all a bunch of lunatics.
Vera, who felt a sense of rejection from the bottom of his heart, recalled the thought that it might have been because of these humans that the Saint had become such a strange woman.
‘… It’s reasonable.’
The Saint was truly a noble and benevolent woman, but from some aspects, she was not very different from the people I saw here.
Someone who was missing a screw and didn’t know what she was thinking.
The Saint I was with in the past was such a person.
Vera recalled the thoughts he had while coming here once again.
A pure white city, a perfect place for mental illness.
She said she was blind, so she couldn’t see, but in a town like this, she must have gone insane because she was surrounded by humans close to psychopaths.
I want to go back right now. My former self was right. Such thoughts occurred to him.
However, even while he was agonizing over it, he decided to put up with it.
‘If the Saint gets involved with these guys….’
The Saint would become like these bastards.
It was because of this thought.
Vera’s fists were clenched.
‘… It can’t be allowed.’
I would never let that happen.
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