Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Niah closed the metal nameplate and laboriously put it back into the luggage.
In the short silence, Thales thought about the story on Anzac’s nameplate, or rather, the story Melgen told using the nameplates.
The old priestess redirected her gaze from the setting sun outside the window and waited for him patiently. She seemed to have expected a silent moment like this.
“Beliefs and magic originated from the same source. Holiness Exorcism Campaign led to the rise of humanity?”
Thales kept repeating this story, but what flashed through his mind was his first meeting with Asda.
“Wizards pursued the truths of the world. They used all kinds of ingenious methods and wisdom to take advantage of the natural resources and energies in the world, to create an even more beautiful world.
Melgen looked at him and spoke slowly, “But this is just the beginning.”
The old priestess’s tone contained a hidden and faint sympathy. “Since the foreign enemies had gone away, divergence gradually rose.
“The attitude towards the gods and beliefs caused the eldest and youngest son to go in separate ways in the end, and they gradually became increasingly estranged.”
‘So, they used the eldest and youngest son as their explanation?
‘It’s so embarrassing for them to come up with a similar explanation so similar to Abel and Cain’s.’
Thales sighed secretly.
“When the eldest and youngest son of the gods face up against each other, one is full of loyalty, and the other is rebellious.”
‘Those who do not know…’
“…will think that this is Artanis' hatred toward the zergs,” the prince criticized quietly. Melgen, who had a sharp ear, frowned. “Artanis? Who?”
Thales raised his head, and he smiled innocently and sincerely. “Nothing. It is just one of the jokes from Northland…”
Melgen pursed her lips, and the corners of her mouth curled up to make her look sharp.
Very soon, the old priestess returned to her lecture mode. “So, for thousands of years, under the gods’ observation and human practice, the eldest and youngest son, beliefs and magic, churches and wizards, were always in conflict with each other between their paths and beliefs.”
“Wait a minute?”
Thales narrowed his eyes at the perfect moment and interrupted. “So, according to what you say, the divergence between beliefs and magic is because the believers believe in the gods and the wizards do not?
“Can I understand it this way? The believers trust in the gods when it came to things they cannot understand, and the wizards only trust themselves?”
Melgen did not reply immediately. She looked at Thales quietly, and her eyes showed fluctuating emotions.
She remembered that two days ago, when she came to the temple blessed by God and visited Vicar General Stylia Nydis, who was looking for books and preparing for Thales’ class full of bright hope, while she also sent regards from Head Ritual Master Liscia, she unintentionally saw that he had grabbed Light Shines on Miles, which had one thousand and twenty-four verses of the temple’s classical hymns. She also remembered that she was there to inform him that the role of giving lessons to Prince Thales cum Duke of Star Lake would be replaced by her.
She could still remember the vicar general’s disbelieving shock and his well-controlled rage at that time.
Certainly, as one of the vicar generals in Constellation, Stylia Nydis was young, promising, and had a bright future. Since he had preached to many nobles and high officials, and inspired many of his disciples, he would not miss any chance to read the holy scriptures of Sunset for the future King of Constellation to spread the grace of God and glorify the hold works of God, just like what Bishop Layden did for Tormond the Second and Bishop Clement did for Mindis the Third.
However, for those who were lucky enough to be showered with Sunset Goddess’ grace and blessings were too used to the bright light shining in front of them, so much so that they had forgotten where grace came from.
They even forgot that the believers of the gods had to face trials and challenges from everywhere.
Stars shone brightly in the clear sky, but only after sunset.
“This is the most commonly seen, and also the most dangerous misconception.”
Melgen smiled gently, and she nodded to the price gently and politely. “Especially for those who do not have a chance to understand, but made up their minds to hate this belief after they heard about some rumors.”
He showed a helpless expression and hoped to exchange a glance of tacit understanding with Gilbert, but Count Case became quiet. He looked at Melgen silently.
“Wizards do not trust in the gods? That is not true.”
Melgen’s expression became colder.
Her next sentence made Thales feel very doubtful.
“Of course they do. They believe in the gods and the beliefs around them, regardless of how many times they deny it.”
Melgen’s tone remained calm, but the content was powerful.
Thales blinked, “I do not…”
“It is just that the god they believe in is an invisible existence who has no name, appearance, and solid form, but its power and status is greater than anything else in their eyes.” Melgen did not let him voice his question. As of current, the priestess’ voice became gloomy and serious.
She whispered, “They called it magic.”
Thales felt his eyebrows twitch.
Melgen put her hands together, and her posture was upright, but she gave off an awe-imposing and suffocating presence. “Sometimes, they will say use their thirst of knowledge as an excuse. They make it sound nice by calling it rationale, they decorate it by calling it the truth, they conceal it by calling it as their quest to seek advancement, and they argue that they are doing this for self-improvement. They worship it and call it as the supreme thing.”
After she said a series of words that made Thales think, her face showed no expression. “Does it sound familiar?”
Before Thales was able to think further about these words, Priestess Melgen’s eyes lit up. “No matter how fancy they make themselves sound, they cannot cover up this fact.”
In the next second, she spoke confidently, “Because magic itself is their god, their belief, and their supreme law is where their ‘temple’ and ‘holy teachings’ belong.”
Thales could feel the power in Melgen’s words.
“To a certain extent, its existence in their hearts is no different from the gods in our hearts, in fact, it is even greater.
“This unfamiliar ‘god’ holds a domineering nature, cruelty, indifference, and mercilessness that is greater than any other thing that has ever been worshipped.”
Melgen’s tone gradually became colder. “Its laws are strictly enforced, its domineering nature power stands supreme, those who doubt it can hardly voice their questions, and those who rebel are killed.”
Thales asked in puzzlement, “So, are you trying to say that they treated the concept of magic and the rules as God, and they worshipped it?”
Melgen snorted without replying directly,
“It will be worse since thousands of believers were brainwashed by it, regardless of whether they are wizards or were people who had no ability to use magic.
“They acknowledge themselves as the orthodox and accuse those who are different from them as fake believers. But they do not realize that they are more fanatic and hypocritical than other believers who trusted in the gods and demons.”
‘Do not realize that they are more fanatic and hypocritical than other believers…’
Thales started to fall into a daze.
However, he suddenly remembered what had happened a long time ago, while he had been uneasy in Black Sand Region because his trip to Dragon Clouds City was filled with uncertainties.
During that time, there was a strange doctor called Ramon who was interested in magic. He explained things to him in this way.
“‘Magic is a meaning, an attitude, a belief, and a principle of life.”‘
Thales remembered Ramon’s expression and his nearly crazy tone.
“‘This is what it means to be wizards! This is what it means by magic! It is the most important, beautiful, and precious moment that was forgotten in human history when it rose to power!”‘
The priestess’ words were slowly filled with a judgmental tone.
“They are clearly heretics, yet they claim that they are atheists. They had their own stance, but pretend to be a neutral party. They have countless prejudices, yet pretend to be an objective person.
“They are obviously powerless, but they believe conceitedly that the supernatural fake human-shaped gods are toying with the world. At the same time they are idolized by millions of people, they say in a smug manner that, ‘This is the noble attitude to search for truth and research magic.’”
Melgen’s expression tensed up, and it was clear that she was uncomfortable, but she insisted on finishing her words. “So not only do the wizards trust in their own god, they are also the worst and most fanatic believers, They do not need to pray, confess their sins and repent, baptize their believers, listen to sermons, perform holy deeds, or observe holy ceremonies in order to obtain motivation from their god, be filled with energy, and become their god’s proud as well as arrogant servants and slaves.”
The old priestess coughed gently. Niah immediately passed her a cup and rubbed her back gently.
‘Be filled with energy, and become their god’s proud as well as arrogant servants and slaves…’
After listening to the long story, Thales took a deep breath and tried hard to get rid of the tall and cold man in the blue shirt who had automatically appeared in his head.
At the same time of being surprised, Thales took pleasure in this and thought, ”Asda, it seems… you met a strong opponent.’
When Melgen finished resting, Thales had just organized his thoughts and tried to direct the conversation topic to the spots that sparked his curiosity.
“So, you are trying to tell me that, it is wrong to have magic as my belief and wizards are evil as believers, and they conduct many evil deeds? And this is why we should resist and prohibit magic completely?”
Against his expectations, when Melgen, who looked pious and hated magic, was asked this question, she was stunned for a moment. She seemed to have started thinking and felt a bit lost and hesitant.
She cast a profound look at the sunset outside the window. “I do not know.”
Thales was a bit confused. “What do you mean?”
Melgen withdrew her gaze and shook her head.
“As for believers of my god, tolerance and strictness in behavior are our commandments.
“Therefore, we cannot judge in this manner. We cannot form our judgment first and say that magic itself is wrong because the consequences are bad.”
When Thales heard Melgen’s reply, he was a bit surprised.
He saw the old priestess rub her arms. She was thinking while saying carefully, “All we can say is that in history, many wizards, people who used magic, and those who worshipped magic had done many wrong things.”
Melgen seemed to have clearer thoughts now, and she nodded immediately. “But if many people who believe in magic as their creed did wrong things…”
The old priestess slowly sighed. “Who else can say that the supreme magic itself is a pure entity and is something independent of its believers?
“Therefore, I do not know the answer.
“And I cannot mislead your answer.”
Thales was quite confused with these judgments, which had attacked his perceptions fiercely before they released him gently. “You got me confused.”
Melgen turned around and gave Thales an apologetic smile. “But I can look from another perspective.”
The priestess resumed the soft tone she adopted just now. “Just as I said, this is a piece of knowledge about humans.
“When I believe in my god, what is important is not about how great God is, although she is truly great. The main point is that when I trust in God, can I become a better person and benefit those around me?”
Melgen chuckled and looked at him. “Thales, I think that God does not want us to just worship them blindly.
“But God wants us to be merciful to one another, observe each other, and reflect on our own deeds.”
‘Does not want us to just worship them blindly…’
Thales’ expression became weird. ‘These words are actually spoken from a believer’s mouth?’
Melgen thought about it and sighed with great emotion.
“I think the reason we trust in God is to make ourselves become better and not placing the gods on a higher pedestal. This is not and should not be our duty.
“As long as we do not misunderstand the gods, they will not mislead us.”
Melgen took a deep breath.
“So, let’s come back to our question just now of whether magic is good or bad…
“The gods gave enlightenment to their two sons. Belief and magic originated from the same source. The eldest and youngest son split their paths.”
Melgen raised her head, but the gaze in her eyes became much more determined.
“As the gods’ eldest son, when we believe in God, what we should believe is in the humility, introspection, sincerity and kindness we obtain when we come before the gods. This is the key for our beliefs.
“However, for the youngest son, throughout history, they were easily blinded by greed, lust, indignation, and arrogance, after they left the gods and became their own master. This is the tragedy of magic.”
‘Humility and introspection when we come before the gods.
‘The greed and lust that came after leaving the gods and becoming their own master.’
Thales subconsciously sat straight.
‘These words… sounded so familiar.’
He realized that if he assumed this old lady, who would think while she answered, occasionally stopped talking, and sometimes appeared to be hesitant, to be a fanatic believer who only had the thought of “God is great” in her head, then he would be wrong.
Meanwhile, Gilbert had not interrupted her for some time.
“Whenever the youngest stood in the way to ask people to doubt gods and beliefs, exclaim their own power and status, what they will show to be within their core is the arrogance and ignorance of humans.”
Thales frowned. ‘This is… a humanistic religion?’
“So, are you trying to say that magic is not wrong, but those who believe in magic could walk down the path that leads to the tragedy of magic? That they will walk down the path of depravity? And this will lead to evil consequences?” The prince had tried to catch up with Melgen’s religious language for a long time because that language was something Melgen had adopted for a long time.
“Not just magic, my child, not just magic.”
Her expression became more motherly.
“Everyone in every generation will have their own beliefs and their own gods. The king believes in power, merchants trust in money, artistic people trust in love, nobles believe in status, scholars believe in knowledge… There are too many. Magic is not the only one.”
‘The king believes in power.’
Thales tensed up.
“No matter what you believe in, the belief that was supposed to be the most innocent and impeccable will be stained, and you will subconsciously change it.
“It can turn from the fear of God, realizing how insignificant you are, the need to be humble, and from the countless great things that can be brought by beliefs into something else.”
Melgen said solemnly, “So, it is not magic that brought about the Path of the Youngest, but it is the Path of the Youngest that destroyed the people who used magic.”
Thales thought about it for a moment before he asked, “For example?”
Melgen remained silent for a while and started to think. Her expression slowly changed. She appeared dejected at one time, then full of grief at another. “For example, every time a human’s greed toward the world matters in their eyes overflowed so greatly that they desire more than what they should get, this kind of greediness could make them ignore the pain, the price to be paid, life and happiness. They would kill when they raise their hands and tear apart their souls while seeking for an extremely perfect version of their selves…”
‘Extremely perfect version of their selves…’
Thales seemed to be touched by something.
In reality, Melgen continued speaking. “Every time, when humans do not fear the gods, no longer glorify their beliefs, no longer admit to their limits, and no longer believe that there is something that they cannot obtain in this world, cannot know, and that there are no laws that they cannot break…”
Thales suddenly remembered the night where his life changed—the first meeting between him and Asda in the chess room.
‘”…with a foothold beyond space, surpassed all the gods, and prevailed over all living things!”‘
The priestess’ words started to mix with the voice in his mind, but it was very clear.
“Each time when humans refuse to be humble and accept their own weaknesses, as well as ignorance, and use that as excuses for their endless greed…”
What flashed in Thales’ eyes was the Prison of Bones, the dark entrance to Black Prison, the strange mark that looked like a profound eye, along with words beneath it.
Melgen’s sigh could be heard slowly,
“When humans tried every means in their disposal to become stronger or powerful, they thought that it was the only and correct way to do so.”
Thales lowered his head and frowned. The Strange Doctor’s passionate words appeared while he recalled the past.
“‘Magic is the sum of all acquisition of knowledge, discoveries, and truths. The advancement of magic will bring us a more glorious future. Humans can become more perfect, mightier, improve themselves and become closer to the truth.”‘
Melgen’s sigh pulled Thales back to reality.
“Every time, when humans believe in certain matters or things, they do so at all costs and behave in an extreme way…
“We will then that the days where the Path of the Youngest will be brought to light and when the people fall to depravity and suffer from their own consequences will not be too far away.”
Melgen remained silent for a while and picked up the teacup refilled by Niah.
Thales quietly rubbed the scars on his left hand and said nothing.
A moment later, Melgen finished drinking, and she slowly said, “Two thousand years ago, the united beliefs toward the supreme Bright God had led to the endless glory of the Ancient Empire.
“A thousand years ago, the beliefs toward Holy Sun rose to great power, and bore witness to the rise and fall of the Final Empire.”
When she said this, longing and respect inevitably flashed in the priestess’ eyes.
But her eyes soon became gloomy.
“However, when the utilitarian creed of magic overshadowed the noble determination of beliefs, Bright God Church collapsed by itself, and it predicted the fall and division of the Ancient Empire.
“And the wizards madly sought for whatever they wanted without limit, which brought the greatest crisis since ancient times. Then, the Battle of Eradication came. They became the victims of their own evil deeds and underwent self-destruction, and that marked the end of the Final Empire.”
Melgen raised her head and stared sternly at Thales.
“And you, my child, you have seen the power, terror, cruelty, and madness of those monsters.”
Gilbert, who was in the distance, held back his words.
Thales took a deep breath and felt that his thoughts had become complicated. “The calamities?”
Melgen observed him and nodded slowly. “The calamities. And that is just one of the evil consequences for them, even though that was the worst.”
Even though Thales had obtained the answer multiple times from Ramon, Asda, and the hints from ancient records, when the powerful church in this world told him about this in such a straightforward manner, he realized that he was still not used to it.
When the young duke remembered the night that led to Dragon’s Blood, the bloody smell that had become faded in his memories seemed to have returned.
And that made him feel disgusted.
“Remember. This is the ‘Path of the Youngest’. It originated from arrogance. After going through countless things, it will turn into hatred in the end. It is the favorite of demons, the beloved son of evil, the cradle of disaster, and the beginning of misfortune.”
Melgen suddenly sounded stern. “And Thales, you must be aware.”
The prince was shocked.
Melgen spoke seriously, “Because the Path of the Youngest harmed many people. It has many different looks and names, and it can change into many forms. It appears in every generation, and it is just like the shadows—it cannot be dispelled. Those who seek power will say that they are doing it to survive, those who seek profit worship prosperity, those who indulge in lust praise freedom, those who seek status use dignity as their excuse, and those who seek knowledge appeal to curiosity…
“All who are blinded by these things will invite destruction upon themselves. It is definitely not limited to magic alone.”
Melgen paused for a moment.
Thales sucked in a deep breath and tried his best to clear his chaotic emotions while he seized the train of logic in this conversation.
“But… Based on what you said, Lady priestess, would your beliefs and your god not turn into the victims of the Path of the Youngest?”
Melgen’s expression changed slightly.
Thales observed her reaction. “For example, when the people in the world believe in Sunset Goddess to the point that they believe in her blindly and fervently suppress those whose beliefs are different from theirs at all cost, as well as declare that all those with extreme beliefs were either with you or against you?
“In fact, based on what you said right now, is not such a resolute answer also part of the pattern of the Path of the Youngest?”
The elderly priestess fell silent.
But against his expectations, Thales, who originally thought that she would pick light topics and avoid the heavy ones or provide an explanation, only saw Melgen’s expression turn slightly dark.
The priestess beside Niah listened very seriously. Thales absolutely believed that if she had a pen, she would immediately begin to write notes, and the notes would be very detailed and complete. Perhaps there would even be some of her thoughts on certain important points.
Melgen sighed deeply. “Even though I do not want to mention it, indeed, what you said is correct.”
“During the period of time our ancestors, magic, and wizards fought against those from the Path of the Youngest… Bright God Church, whose beliefs spread far and wide, once enlisted the Holy Temple Guardian Army to cast judgment on the heretics.
“The magnanimous and selfless Church of the Holy Sun once set up a Judgment Hall to correct the people’s ways.”
Melgen’s expression was solemn, and there was wariness in her eyes.
“Fanatic believers will not set any limits on themselves. They get rid of heretics based solely on their standpoints. They will suppress all remaining voices of objection, assuming an air of self-importance. The methods they resort to are also incredibly sinister. They use every method possible…
“There has been no benefit in spreading their religion. Their efforts were futile, and they also made countless enemies. Their infamy spread far and wide, and in the end, they lost themselves, and their sins were great.”
Melgen looked up with a stern expression, and it looked as if the thing pressing down on her shoulders was no longer the cloth from her robe, but the great weight of history.
“That is the ugliest and deplorable page on the history of beliefs and churches.”
Thales frowned as he watched her.
“If we revere something or some belief too much and infinitely increase its status to the point that we cast aside respect and limits to look down on the other paths and choices as well as ignore the other people’s wishes and meaning, this will be the source of the disaster brought by the Path of the Youngest.
“In history, quite a number of believers who were supposed to be the eldest of gods, my brothers and sisters in the god I believe, gradually lost their conscience and forgot their duty to heaven. In the end, they tragically walk down the same path of boastfulness, arrogance, and ignorance, but not knowing of their own ignorance.”
Melgen sighed softly, and it was clear how much she found this regretful and sad.
“They did not pass through the test and walked on the path that they should have done everything they could to reject.”
When she said this, Melgen put on the stance for prayers again, and she terrified Niah, who was listening intently by the side, to quickly pray with her in a flurry of motion.
“Gods are perfect, and perfection can even tolerate imperfection, such as their believers.
“The gods’ might is infinite.”
The priestess then continued saying, “But that does not mean that the people who believe in them also have infinite power and supreme might, can act on behalf of heaven, and speak on behalf of the gods.”
Melgen’s voice echoed in the room, and it caused people to fall into deep contemplation.
“That is why when we reflect on the disaster brought by magic, we also have to carefully reflect, perform self-examination, and ask ourselves questions. We cannot be used by the opponents that we are wary of the most and fall just like this.
“Only when we glorify ourselves can we glorify God.
“If we put too much blind faith in the gods, it will be easy for us to lose sight of ourselves.”
Once Melgen finished praying, she stopped speaking.
The room fell into silence for a long time, as though a conclusion had been made.
Thales tried his best to pull himself out from the solemnity he experienced just now, and he thought of some things that were rather relaxing.
‘Interesting.’ He quirked up the corners of his lips. ‘So, based on what Priestess Melgen just said, not only must I believe in God, but I must also not believe in them too much.
‘If I don’t believe in God, there will always be something missing in my world, but if I believe in God too much, the Path of the Youngest will be waiting for me.
‘So, do the gods have a sugar and ice personality or something?’
 Artanis and the zergs are characters from the video game, Starcraft