Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“Being overly superstitious of the gods is also a sin. This statement is…”
Thales took a deep breath as he asked that joke that was deemed to be taunting and disrespectful, but he asked it in a decent manner, “Priestess Melgen, does your goddess agree with what you said?”
However, Melgen smiled. She sounded relaxed.
“An outstanding mentor will not like a student who thinks of the mentor as above all, who believes that his words are law, who makes use of his might, and who hopes that he will rescue the student himself, while the student does not realize it himself and never improves.”
Melgen cast a glance at Gilbert that was neither light-hearted nor severe.
And Gilbert, who was already numb, was too lazy to even try changing the expression on his face anymore.
Melgen spoke earnestly, “Believers should be more humble. That humbleness would also shield your thoughts on how to look at gods and beliefs.”
Thales suddenly had a thought.
‘The feeling that I’ve heard this somewhere before… has returned.’
“So, magic and wizards.”
Thales was trying to recall his original intention of the conversation. He was also putting effort into changing the topic back to the thing he was interested in.
“These are things that have vanished from history for a long time. What are they exactly to you in your eyes?
“Victims? Assailants? The puppets of the Path of the Youngest or perhaps the soil and cradle?
“So, what is it that led to the banning of magic and even the fear of speaking about them?”
Melgen pondered for a moment.
“In history, in the eyes of some traditional conservative friars, magic is the source of misfortune. It is deserving of being the target of ridicule and of being condemned.”
Thales nodded. ‘As expected.’
But Melgen turned her head around and smiled.
“But from how I see it, it might not just be the case.”
Thales once again felt curious.
“Although that is disrespectful to our gods, although arrogance and disdain lead to bad consequences, there are many wizards, even the unfortunate practitioners of the Path of the Youngest, are warriors and pioneers who are still people who deserve respect. Their existence is also extraordinary.”
Melgen slowly nodded and smiled.
“Their self-confidence and their relentless pursuits did not just affect themselves.
“I believe that magic appeared because it was the intention and blessing of the gods.”
Thales was stunned for a moment.
He looked up and blew at his fringe.
Niah, who was by the side, almost laughed. But the clever young nun was able to turn her laugh into a cough.
“More importantly, they also affected us—the eldest of the gods.”
Melgen did not mind the prince’s expression at all. She looked around the main study room of Mindis Hall, and she spoke in a mournful manner, “Look at the name of this lesson. It’s called a theology lesson, but do you know that long ago, the temple, regardless of which temple, never had a class known to as theology. At that time, the gods were omnipotent to many of our brothers and sisters’ eyes. They only had to practice worshipping the gods, that was all. How could they even study it?”
Thales suddenly realized something.
“Then, the wizards gained power. During the era where magic was in power, countless questions came from the Three Towers, which can be considered to be a few organizations from the wizards. They started to threaten our existence. How does God take in believers? How is a god defined? How does a god exist?”
Melgen’s words sounded calm.
But Thales took in a deep breath.
‘Three Towers. I knew it.’
Melgen spoke in an interested tone, “Their doubts and their denial had forced us to not be able to place an emphasis on our practices, actions, beliefs, and spirit with a tunnel vision. We had to touch deeper into theories and explore things to improve ourselves.”
Thales put up a smile and nodded at Melgen.
He understood that.
The familiar feeling he had just now… that was not a coincidence.
Humbleness, introspection, vigilance…
That was exactly the familiar feeling that Asda gave him during his lessons.
At the same time, Melgen’s lectures today had shown Sunset Temple’s concepts and perceptions…
That was definitely not a result that some religion, some temple, or some believer could just gain just by going into isolation and meditating for thousands of years in hopes for development.
Instead, that was the challenges that the believers had to face from the wizards for thousands of years. It was an outcome and product that was produced from countless honest people as they were persecuted and forced to move forward by magic.
Thales bit his lower lips gently for a moment.
Everything was just like the Old Crow said. This was just like how the long term confrontation between Eckstedt and Constellation had affected each other and shaped each other.
Over thousands of years, they were one of the heroes that shaped faith, churches, and temples into their current state through conflict and opposition.
However, that was not the full picture.
Melgen continued to speak, “That is just one example. The Path of the Youngest was not only born from magic but may have also been born from churches. Hence, every time when magic and wizards thrived, every time when beliefs and temples fell into decline, these incidents can drive knowledgeable people among the believers to begin reflecting on themselves.
“It drove them to cast aside their prejudices, their obsession, their conservative views, the old ways of worship, and truly as well as sincerely listen to the words of the gods.”
Melgen stared straight into Thales’ eyes.
“They reflected on themselves.
“They reformed the church.
“They seized opportunities.”
She spoke in a very profound manner, “Just like Priestess Jade one thousand years ago, after she was raped by the military, she wanted to hang herself in a broken church. However, when she saw the mysterious message of Holy Sun Errol, it caused her to take on the risk of losing her neck to block Kessel the Sixth’s steed. Kessel the Sixth would become the ‘Emperor of Poison’ later.
“In another instance, Prophet Mohazzard from seven hundred years ago was on his last of his breath on the battlefield after the calamity wreaked havoc across the world. He heard of the grace bestowed by the Sunset Goddess, reached out a helping hand, and located the destined King of Renaissance.”
Upon hearing that, Thales noticed that Gilbert, who was listening at the side, started to have his expression turn sour again.
“Hence, even when magic was in power, when wizards held control in the courts, monopolized knowledge, looked down upon the rest of the world… even when the Path of the Youngest was the path worshipped by most, and when it was so strong that it was domineering…”
Melgen looked a little touched.
“The believers of the gods held on to their beliefs. They took care of the churches and temples which were in ruins to leave behind one more choice for humans, who were too confident with themselves, were blind, and rash.”
“Hence, that is how the Church of Holy Sun came after Bright God Church, and why Sunset Temple came after the Battle of Eradication.”
Thales did not bother himself with the old priestess’ expression, he just shifted his eyes to the young nun Niah.
The prince curled up the corners of his lips and revealed a bright smile at her.
The little nun noticed the prince’s smile.
She shivered slightly as she subconsciously turned herself around in order to avoid eye contact with him. It revealed her red ears.
But that was enough.
Thales’ gaze went through Niah and landed on the luggage which was placed behind Niah and was revealed when she turned around.
That was the ancient metal nameplate… belonging to the tomb of King Anzac.
Thales curled up the corners of his mouth even further. He did not bother at all about the fact that Niah had become even more alarmed.
Over thousands of years, the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department was not the only organization who had left behind records of magic and wizards after Operation World Cleansing.
That also included their greatest enemy.
“So Thales, what is magic?”
Thales was absent-minded at that moment. He did not notice the question.
But fortunately for him, Melgen did not want him to answer her question. “Magic is a mirror. It is a disaster brought along by the Path of the Youngest, causing us to realize its absurdity and allow us to realize we might walk on the wrong path, force us to face our own weaknesses head-on, realize our better selves, and thereby allow us to return to the Path of the Eldest Son. As I was saying, the two paths of both the Eldest and Youngest co-exist, and they prove just how important they are to each other.”
‘That’s right. It’s just like what Melgen said.
‘Magic is just like a mirror.
‘Similarly, beliefs and churches were also magic’s mirror.
‘They reflect, show, and detain the marks of their opponent of over one thousand years, isn’t it?’
Once he thought of that, Thales looked at the luggage behind Niah. He looked at the outline of the ancient nameplate. His smile became even more sincere.
Niah avoided meeting the prince’s unscrupulous eyes. She leaned down stiffly, and she picked up the teapot while tremble and poured tea into the cup that was still very full.
Melgen’s words were heard once again.
“In fact… the tragedy of magic is the trial that we must experience. It is the consequence that is naturally formed when we sink too deeply into our sins for a long time, and while we still don’t know about it.
“It is the anger and punishment that the gods delivered upon us for abandoning the truth of our beliefs, misinterpret the meaning of the gods, ignore our own glory, and fall into the trap of the Path of the Youngest.
“That is the meaning of it to us and perhaps the world.”
When she said this, Melgen could not help but sigh.
“The path of a believer is never a smooth one. Each person will have to face countless setbacks. Each era will descend into darkness. But we believe that each setback is merely a test by the gods in order to strengthen our beliefs and loyalty. They show to us the path that human beings should take by using the conflict between the eldest and the youngest.
“To the believers of God, beliefs will always face dangers, we are constantly surrounded by skepticism, and the conflict between the eldest and the youngest will always be around.”
She looked out at the position of the setting sun through the window as she spoke in gratitude, “But as long as the Flame of the Eldest does not extinguish, there will come an end to the Disaster of the Youngest.”
The atmosphere in the room had become heavy again.
The sky outside the window was slowly turning dark. Dusk was arriving.
“Priestess Melgen, I must say this. The things you said today are indeed thought-provoking, and they allow me to think about them for a long time,” Thales suddenly spoke in a tone that was half sincere and half deliberate.
Melgen smiled. She bowed respectfully at Thales.
“If it can inspire you for even a tiny bit, that would be my fortune and also the blessing of the goddess.”
Thales nodded with gratitude on his face. “So, if I have questions in the future, can I visit the Sunset Temple and ask you personally?”
Everyone in the room was shocked.
It was Niah.
At some point of time, she broke the teacup, and she was picking up the pieces in a flurry of motion. Her ears, which were behind the veil, were red to the extreme.
Everyone in the had extraordinary self-restraint. The three of them only looked at her briefly before they turned away and pretended that nothing happened.
“It is my pleasure, Your Highness. Sunset Goddess accepts every believer who wants to get closer to her.” Melgen seemed to be in a good mood now. “You are welcome to visit me anytime. You do not even need to make prior appointments. I will have Niah welcome you.”
The three of them turned their eyes once again.
It was Niah, who cut her finger when she was cleaning up the fragments of the broken teacup. She applied pressure on her would, lifted her head, and looked at Melgen with an aggrieved expression. Her eyes were watery.
Melgen stared at the young nun with displeasure for a moment. The nun quickly stood up anxiously.
“Then…” The old priestess coughed once before she stood up. She returned to her amiable state. “We shall end it here today.”
Thales stood up at the same time. His smile was the same as usual. “So soon?”
‘Oh, this is great.’
Melgen smiled and pointed at the color of the sky.
“The sun has set, night is arriving.”
Her tone sounded a little profound.
“However, the stars are bright, they serve as the foreshadow for many things, and you cannot imagine what they are.”
“Is that a prophecy?”
‘The ones that also serve the purpose of buttering up to someone?’
“Other than the gods’ prophets and envoys, no one can make a prophecy.” Melgen smiled gently. “But even if it is a prophecy, it will only be a prophecy.”
Thales did not understand the logic behind all this rambling, he just continued smiling.
“Besides, Madam Jines told me before to give you more time to rest.”
That actually shook Thales a little.
“Do you know Madam Jines?”
“I know many,” Melgen said in a sentimental manner, “And also saw many things. However, the gods know and saw even more.
“But they just remain silent and protect the living.”
Thales could only smile politely again.
‘The gods will… protect the living?
The young man applied pressure on the scar at the center of his left palm. It was the scar that had opened up multiple times when he wanted to use mystic energy, and it refused to fade away.
‘All right then. If there are truly gods out there, then they definitely don’t know me.’ Thales thought mockingly.
After witnessing Melgen and Niah leave, Gilbert slowly walked over from the side.
He looked at the pieces of the broken teacup on the floor, and he sighed slowly.
“It seems that today has been truly a fruitful day for the esteemed Priestess Melgen.” Gilbert’s words were polite, and his tone was appropriate. But he sounded just a little… jealous and miserable.
Thales smiled faintly. “Take a guess. If I said that I would want to visit their temple more often earlier into the lesson, would she have ended the lesson before the scheduled time?”
Thales quirked his eyebrows.
“When you said that…” Gilbert gave Thales a thought-provoking expression. “Did you actually understand her lesson?”
Thales shrugged and raised his right hand while he rubbed his thumb and index finger together. “A little bit.”
Gilbert’s eyes sparkled. “Good.”
Gilbert nodded to show that he understood. The jealous and miserable tone in his voice vanished slightly.
The Foreign Affairs Minister sent a sidelong glance at the area outside the door. “My apologies, Your Highness.”
He stared at that part and did not even look at Thales. “I have to rush over and have an unpleasant conversation with Priestess Melgen.”
Gilbert’s eyes were unfriendly as he chased after their guest.
He sat down again while he went through what he had gained through today’s lesson.
“Er… Your Highness? What have you done to the young nun?”
Thales looked up and realized that it was Doyle, and it was not the ordinary servants who walked in. It was Doyle who came to light up the Everlasting Lamps after nightfall.
Watchman Mallos would later wrap his arms around himself with narrowed eyes and say, “So, you are saying that you are forced to light up the lamps for His Highness because there are no servants around… and the servants did not come because you sent them off to light up the lamps, dear D.D., don’t you think that there is something wrong with your explanation?”
Doyle said in puzzlement, “That is the thing I noticed… when she left, she kept turning her head around to look at you, and she had a terrified expression on her face…”
“I did not do anything, did I?”
Doyle lit up a lamp. He seemed to be thinking about something. The expression on his face changed slightly. “All right, then. But that intimidating old lady…”
Thales looked up again.
As the lamp was lit, he could see Doyle mutter, “I was not far away… so I could not help but listen in for a moment. You know, the thing about the coexistence between the Eldest and the Youngest… she explained it pretty reasonably, is it not?”
Thales stretched his arms a little and quirked up the corners of his mouth. “Reasonable?”
As he saw that the duke’s interest was aroused, Doyle quickly turned around and started talking, “That is right… her attitude is quite tolerant towards magic. She is not hostile nor discriminatory toward it. She is very gentle, and she explains things much better than the old monk who was hired by my family back then. He would only say that ‘ancient wizards are all the believers of demons. They summoned the calamities to destroy the world’, and so on…”
Thales pondered over this slightly before he snorted.
“Other than her tone, I cannot seem to see which part of her stance was gentle.”
Doyle was stunned for a moment. “Huh? But she did not deny magic completely. She even reflected on the temple’s errors, saying that magic and wizards are the motivation that drove them to improve…”
As he was listening to D.D’s words, Thales’ expression changed multiple times.
A few seconds later, after Doyle’s voice slowly became weaker, Thales opened his mouth again and spoke up, “As expected, Gilbert is right. Grammar lessons are truly very important.”
Doyle’s smile turned stiff. “What?”
Thales leaned against the chair as he looked at Doyle, who seemed dumbfounded by the look on his face. He smiled and said, “Based on Priestess Melgen’s words, this is no longer about whether magic is good or bad…”
As Thales spoke, he put on a contemplative expression. “If the temples and beliefs are corrupted, then that must mean that they had walked on the wrong path and were walking down the Path of the Youngest.”
He muttered to himself, “Similarly, if Magic was beneficial, then it must be because the people who use magic have found the correct path and followed the Path of the Eldest.”
Doyle had a twinkle in his eyes.
“Gentle?” Thales repeated as he snorted in a thought-provoking manner. “Truth be told, I cannot find someone with an attitude that is even more unyielding than hers.”
Doyle tried hard to explain what she meant first, but he then put on an enlightened expression that said, “Oh, I see.”
“You are indeed correct, Priestess Melgen was neither hostile nor contemptuous of magic.”
Thales did not pay attention to Doyle’s expression. Instead, he spoke in a daze, “Just the opposite. She wants to use the name of the gods to control magic.”
Thales stared outside the window with a profound gaze.
In the evening, the sunset was about to vanish from the horizon of the earth.
‘”So, what is it that led to the banning of magic and even the fear of speaking about them?”‘
Thales remembered this. This was a question he asked twice since the start to the end of the lesson.
Melgen never answered him.
Was it because her memory was not good or was it because of her old age?
Or was it… just a coincidence?
Doyle blinked a little while feeling gloomy. He was a little lost about what to say next in order to butter up to the prince.
But Thales ignored Doyle. He only snorted softly before he packed up the Sunset Goddess Apostles’ Acts which was dug out for the lesson but was not used during the entire duration of the lesson.
From the looks of it, the self-cultivation of the temple’s believers was not that simple either…
“And I have reason to believe that if someone had heard these words, that person would definitely be very unhappy—Oh what the heck darn it all!!”
Thales’ murmurs suddenly turned into a loud, high-pitched screech!
He shocked the guards around him, and even Doyle was shocked. “Your Highness?”
Glover and Jonveled charged into the room with wary looks on their faces. “Are you all right?”
Doyle rushed in front of the prince with a fierce look in his eyes. He pressed down on his sword to show his loyalty.
Thales took a deep breath and calmed his emotions. But his face was pale, and he was glaring. “Nothing.”
Thales lifted his head, and his sitting pose was very unnatural. “Leave the room.”
His face was dark when he finished that sentence.
It was only then that Glover and Jonveled sighed in relief.
They threw a quick glance across the study room and also checked the windows and bookshelves, including the Eternal Oil Clock that was so large to the point that it was ridiculous. Then, they cautiously got ready to leave.
“A-are you sure?”
But Doyle’s attention was fixed on Thales all this while. He had an anxious expression on his face. “Your Highness, your face does not seem too good.
“Is there anything I can be of service to you?”
Thales once again took in a deep breath.
“That is right.” Thales had great pain on his face while he said in exasperation, “Some hair in my pants has been pulled by a certain important organ. It hurts a lot.”
Thales looked on with rage. He suppressed his voice and said with a hiss, “Can you help me out?”
The room went silent for a full second.
“Of course, there is no problem with that.”
D.D had been in a hurry to serve Thales, and he did not notice what the prince asked, neither did he notice the depressing atmosphere around the prince. He walked forward with a proud expression, but Glover suddenly dragged him back.
Glover spewed some incoherent words for a few seconds before he said hesitantly, “Then… we will not bother you.”
Even Zombie’s never-changing expression appeared to be a little awkward at that moment. “We will leave… and give you some personal space, Your Highness.”
Thales smiled stiffly before he waved his hand just as stiffly.
Doyle reacted to the situation, and he smiled in embarrassment just as awkwardly. He could not help but cast a glance at Thales’ lower body, which was hidden below the study table. “Oh, all right, then… when you handle it on your own, please be careful. If you have any need, you can still…”
Before D.D, who was reluctant to leave, could finish speaking, Glover and Jonveled grabbed his elbow, and he was carried out of the study room with his feet off the ground while his face was turned toward Thales.
A few seconds later, when Thales saw the door being shut, heard the sounds of Doyle’s struggles grow gradually weaker, and was certain that there was no one in the study, he relaxed his tense shoulders.
The depressing atmosphere around the prince gradually vanished.
The Duke of Star Lake sighed, but he still looked very worked up.
He lowered his head and extended his hand to the area under the table toward his legs, which were pushed tightly against each other.
But he was not about to stroke that certain part. Instead, he brought out a book from between his thighs.
There was a very displeased expression on Thales’ face. He quietly started daydreaming while he stared at Sunset Goddess Apostles’ Acts. He would occasionally snort softly from his nose.
A few seconds later, the prince flipped open the book with a gloomy look.
Then, he brought out an accursed, noble, new, sky blue invitation made using Rilan hard paper.