༺ Holy Kingdom Elia (2) ༻
Vera’s expression grew worse as Trevor continued weeping.
“This guy is going nuts again.”
Another voice overlapped in the space.
Vera’s and Trevor’s gazes turned to the source of the voice at the same time.
At the end of their gaze, there was an old man with a bent back walking out from the inside with a cane.
It was an old man who could easily be regarded as someone that had entered the twilight of his life.
Faded white hair tied into a single braid.
Age spots were blooming and the skin was wrinkled.
Although he was an old man who, at first glance, was just dressed in a pure white robe without any decorations, Vera felt a chill down his spine as soon as he saw the old man.
Even with his back bent, his large body, which felt a bit taller than him, and the divinity that exuded with his every step made it that way.
Trevor was in the middle of wailing, but when the old man appeared, he got up in shock and disappeared from his seat, leaving Vera with some words.
“Then I hope we can have a more in-depth conversation next time, so I’ll step back! Please rest in peace!”
Vera frowned at Trevor’s behavior as he quickly continued his words and disappeared, then shifted his gaze again and looked at the old man.
‘Who is he?’
Judging by the aura he felt, it seemed that the lunatic ran away in surprise, but he was not an ordinary person.
The old man twitched and clicked his tongue as he looked at Trevor retreating, and then shifted his eyes to Vera’s gaze, who was staring at him blankly, and spoke out.
“What a rude fellow. Isn’t it polite to say hello first when you meet an adult?”
At his reproach, Vera’s body flinched and trembled.
“It’s late, you punk.”
The old man shrugged his shoulders and smiled. The old man laughed so much for a while, then walked very slowly with a cane, and stopped walking only after leaving a gap of about three steps from Vera.
“Let’s see… .”
A distance where you can attack and be hit at any time.
While Vera was tense as he looked at the old man entering in his strike zone, the old man continued with a big smile, revealing all his yellow teeth.
“You reek of blood, you stinky brat.”
At the words spoken, Vera’s body tensed up.
It was a result of being stabbed by his words.
A week ago, before leaving the slums, I killed the Scavengers.
His body trembled from being found out.
‘… He saw through my murder.’
It had already been over a week ago, so there was no way the smell of blood would remain, but he saw through it.
At that, Vera lowered his head, thinking that he might know about the old man’s identity.
“… I see Your Holiness.”
It was certain.
‘Vargo St. Lore.’
Apostle of Judgment, Mace of God, Father of all Paladins.
This old man was the source of Elia’s prosperity.
It would make sense if that were the case.
The power of the Apostle of Judgment. The eyes that see through the karma engraved in the soul.
His insight about the killings must have come from that ability.
Vargo just smiled, proving that Vera’s reasoning was correct.
“Yeah, are you this generation’s Apostle of Oath?”
“I have received such a grace undeservedly.”
“It’s too much. I’m sure there is a reason why you were chosen. Come with me. I am too old to even stand here.”
After saying that, Vera looked at Vargo who turned around, creating a little tension inside him.
It was someone he never encountered in his past life because he had been avoiding the Holy Kingdom all his life.
I met the Holy Emperor after passing through one life.
‘… A monster.’
A monster stronger than anyone Vera had ever met in his previous life.
Vargo St. Lore.
Because the Holy Kingdom was such a closed country, there weren’t many people who had actually met him, but he was an old man whose name was always mentioned when people decided the strongest man on the continent.
It’s because although 50 years have passed, what he accomplished while embarking on his Apostle training in full swing across the continent was still being hailed as a legendary tale.
A dragon slayer who slashed the skull of Demon Dragon Scarja with a mace.
The nightmare of the vampires who slaughtered all the vampires who used to be in power at the northern edge.
The mace of the weak who broke the bone of King Haman, who was plundering the weaker tribes in the land of the beasts.
Other than that, he was the living legend of this era, who accomplished so many achievements that it would be impossible to talk about it in a night.
In his previous life, when the Demon King came, everyone on the continent said that.
If Vargo St. Lore hadn’t died of old age, the Demon King would have had his bones broken without even being able to put up a fight.
For Vera, it was only after meeting him today that he could confirm whether the statement was true or not.
‘… For sure.’
The old man was the first person who made him think of that.
It wasn’t clear whether he was exuding such aura unconsciously, or whether he was exuding it purposefully, but Vera’s entire body was warning him of the divinity being emitted.
His senses were screaming that he should never fight him.
It was difficult to make a comparison as I had never actually seen the Demon King, but when I looked at the energy flowing through the Holy Emperor, I thought that the words I heard at the time were not just speculations.
“Alright. What did you come here for?”
Vargo’s question. To that, Vera bowed his head again and gave a small answer.
“It is to fulfill my duty of the miracle that has been bestowed upon me.”
What came out was an infinitely polite tone.
… It was natural.
It’s because I have to show myself well to that old man, even if I don’t know other people.
As long as he had the stigma, he would not be thrown out, but it was the Holy Emperor who approved all the external activities of the Holy Kingdom, including the escort procession of the Saint, so he had to seem as faithful as possible to stand out in his eyes.
Vera came up with an answer with that thought.
“Do you know?”
Vargo’s laughter-filled words followed.
“There are only three kinds of people who are willing to put their lives into faith. The first one is stupid. The second is mad. The third is a con artist.”
After saying that, Vargo leaned his upper body in the direction of Vera and continued with a giggle.
“Let’s see, by the way you speak, you don’t seem like a fool, and your eyes don’t show madness, so you’re not even a madman… Then, are you a con artist?”
“… Not at all.”
“Are you saying that I am telling a lie?”
“… It’s not like that.”
“This is also a lie. That’s a lie too. So what’s the truth?”
A tongue-in-cheek remark.
Vera gritted his teeth.
For some reason, it was a familiar way of speaking.
Somewhere, quite recently, someone who made him feel this way before.
After thinking about it for a while, Vera was able to think of another person who spoke that way without any difficulty.
The source of the Saint’s upsetting way of speaking, which irritated people, was immediately visible.
She probably learned it from this old man.
‘… As expected.’
The people of the Holy Kingdom were all crazy humans.
Vargo continued to ask a few more questions.
From questions about identity, to clichéd questions, such as how much he knew about the use of divinity and what kind of position he wants.
Vera tried to answer him as sincerely as he could, but the responses were not very good.
– You got a sharp tongue, don’t you?
– What do you mean?
– Don’t answer my question with another question, kid.
All of them were sarcastic, as if they had a taste for making fun of himself. His tone of voice, as if to test the limits of his patience.
In the long question-and-answer session, Vera was able to vaguely understand what Vargo’s intentions were.
‘… An old man who’s like a snake.’
He was trying to make me angry.
He wanted an emotional answer, not a clichéd answer.
It was something that Vera knew because he had lived a life ruling with fear.
Emotional words sprung out in its raw, unorganized form. The minimum safety device for a civil conversation.
In most cases, such words would put you at a disadvantage in negotiations or would expose your weaknesses to the other party.
Of course, he could reveal his minor weaknesses as much as possible, but to show his true feelings was a different matter. In order to explain the real reason for coming to the Holy Kingdom, he had to explain about the Saint who had not yet received the stigma.
He will live for the Saint. He had to talk about his oath.
To explain to him, of course, he had to add an explanation for his return, which Vera did not want.
Vera had no intention of telling anyone about his return.
He didn’t even want to tell the Saint.
In the future, all kinds of incidents would occur to the extent that it would be right to say that a storm would be raging through the continent.
Not causal events that would be twisted just because one’s behavior has changed, but accidents that should be called natural disasters.
In order to not create variables as much as possible, in order to create a result that would be to his advantage, He had to place the variable elements beside himself in their original places as much as possible.
It was for the safety of the Saint, and it was also for himself.
In Vera’s mind, the Saint who had died after being thrown into the muddy water in the slums came to mind.
Vera did not want to see the Saint die like that again.
Even if it was the Saint’s own decision to set foot in the slum, even if she was content with such a death. To Vera it was unacceptable.
It was an infinitely selfish feeling, but Vera had no intention of suppressing it.
Since she was such a noble person, who reformed even an evil being such as himself, her ending should have been more glorious.
No matter how much he bowed his head under her light, he was still a selfish human being.
He was a human being who could be broken as much as needed, as long as his wish came true.
Vera clenched his teeth at the emotions that surfaced in his mind without realizing it, then calmed his mind again and spoke to Vargo.
“I came here because the stigma came to me and I thought I had a role to play.”
“So, are you like a puppet with no will of its own?”
“How could a mere creature disobey the will of God?”
“If a person had died because of one disobedience, all the intelligent bodies on the continent would have already become extinct.”
“… That is a terrible joke.”
“You have a nasty way of speaking. You are reciting a script when you’re being told to speak.”
The gazes of Vera and Vargo clashed.
Vera didn’t say anything.
It was because of the thought that only the same words would be repeated back and forth if they were to continue the conversation.
Moreover, there was no need to say more.
Now it was definitely felt.
That old man would continue to ask more questions about him, even if he didn’t talk. And he wouldn’t give in.
It was revealed to him.
The confidence of a supernatural existence who achieved many legends in the past.
No matter what his plans were, with such confidence he could break them.
Even if he kept his mouth shut because of that confidence, he would eventually move on without knowing the answers he wanted in the end.
With that thought in mind, for a moment, Vargo burst into laughter, followed by the answer.
A small relief appeared in Vera.
“Then get up and follow me.”
“Where are we going?”
“Didn’t you say that you wanted to become a paladin? Then we should see your sword skills first.”
Words that appeared to be straightforward and clumsy at the same time.
Vera, who had such thoughts, nodded slightly, and Vargo, with a characteristically mischievous smile on his face, posed a question to Vera.
“So, are you good at wielding a sword?”
Vera’s gaze turned to Vargo again.
‘Wielding a sword…’
Smirking. A laugh escaped Vera’s lips.
It was a funny thing to say.
Born as a beggar in the slums, with little to nothing, he devoured half of the continent.
Of course, there had been many fights along the way.
Yet, Vera had almost never lost in battle with the sword until the end of his life.
There was a reason why those great Heroes had to bind him under a curse.
It was because, wielding the sword, was the thing Vera was most confident about.
Vera smiled and received Vargo’s gaze straight on. While maintaining that smile, he said.
“I’m pretty good.”
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