Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Compared to the heated discussion on the ground level of the Church, the atmosphere in the dungeon was extraordinarily somber.
A blinding gray-white sacred light was unleashed from Artanis’s fingertips. As if traces of liquid exposed to the sun’s heat, every drop of black blood and mold were completely vaporized in an instant.
Thick and sacred air shrouded the elderly archbishop and formed a small holy ground, while beside him, Joshua used his aura to incinerate the Chaos creatures that were once cultists. Under harrowing cries, those misshapen and revolting monsters were burnt into nothingness by flames imbued with the power of Order.
Purifying the dungeon did not take too much of their time. In minutes, they had finished cleaning the prison hall.
“Cultists. So unsettling Well, we could leave the rest for the others who need a little practice.”
Flexing his wrists and heading for the exit, Artanis swept his eyes around the other zones within the dungeon and was unable to suppress a sigh.
“Moldavia’s environment had been rather peaceful and wasn’t even hugely affected by the Mana Tide two years before. Why would people still leap into the Evil God’s embrace?”
There was a trace of doubt in Artanis’s voicetypically, most converts of the cult were unable to live on anymore. This was evident in the heavy cult presence at human settlements in the West, the chief factor being the great draught that struck the region forty years ago.
It had caused a deficit to crops despite the assistance of mages. Many farmers could not even put food on the table but were still forced to pay taxes. In desperation, these poor citizens would either end their own lives or fall into the cult’s embrace, causing a backlash that lasted to this day.
War and calamity were soil the cult was built upon. However, apart from the mana tide two years ago, there were not many natural disastersreasonably, there should not be that much of a cult presence.
“Reasons could be found anytime, and Chaos would keep spreading where there are unquenched desires.”
Joshua was walking to the old clergy’s right, seemingly unperturbed, his hands clasped behind his back.
“Our region is still fine,” he said, looking up at the ceiling in reminiscence. “At present, the Distant South is the epicenter of the cult, you know that. The draconic plague had claimed the entire coastline and the Southern Foreststhe three main armies of the Kingdom are busy keeping the central defense line and the northern mountain forts, unable to spare time for anything else. With hundreds and thousands unable to make it out of the invaded lands, it is now a fine breeding ground for the descent.”
Joshua remembered that the frenzied dragons would not attack anything that shared their Chaos allegiances. Therefore, most captured zones consisted of villages controlled by the cult. Offering safety and food in return, the cultists brainwashed the refugees into fanatics who would slip into the Kingdom’s army fortifications and sabotage their defense line whenever the opportunity arises.
In the pre-existence, the players in the Far South would pit their wits and bravado against all sorts of cultists in the initial missions of the second expansion. That includes trying to uncover their disguise, or like some who turned the tables by going undercover as a cultist, slipping into fallen villages to acquire enemy intelligence.
“Indeed. The southern stage is a little dire right now.”
As Joshua had raised the topic, Artanis too remember the news the Church had sent in. “It had already been two weeks since the Pentashade dragons sent a large-scale assault. The Sacred Mountain is guessing that they are mustering enough force to take down the central defense line with one swift stroke, after of which they would completely take the Kingdom of the Far South.”
The archbishop was worried. If the Kingdom did fall, the Sacred Mountainwhich was not too far awaywould not stay unscathed. However strong Pope Igor was, he would not be able to hold against an attack by the entire Pentashade race.
“Now that you mention it, they’re here at the Empire” Joshua said. Rozek and Saya’s faces suddenly surfacing in his mind. He recalled the actions of the Church’s envoy, and it was soon apparent that they did have a special mission.
While the Sacred Mountain and the Southern Kingdom were cooperating to handle the draconic plague, they must be in a difficult situation as wellperhaps the Church’s envoy was at the Imperial Capital to seek help?
However, the Empire had just finished their last skirmish against the orcs. Most of their forces including the five great armies they hold direct influence over had barely caught their breathit was virtually impossible for them to travel through half the continent to fight dragons.
All parties should be aware of the fact since there had been no alliance between the Empire and Southern factions in the preexistence either.
As the warrior delved into those thoughts, footsteps rang from the entrance of the dungeon.
Sounds were extraordinarily clear at quiet places, and so Joshua could easily here there were three people. He did not have to guess much to tell that those were, without question, Ling, Ying, and Roland.
“Master.” A clear voice rang as expected, and the silver-haired girl’s silhouette quickly appeared in the warrior’s vision.
When she saw Joshua too, Ying quickly scampered ahead and happily held on to his right arm, before looking up at his face to give her report. “Roland said that he’s looking for you to handle some mattersI think we’ve got something to do!”
“Having something to do is not exactly a good thing. Don’t get too happy just because you get to chop things up.”
Joshua allowed the young girl to hug her right arm freely as Ling silently walked silently beside them too. Smiling and shaking his head, he noticed that Ying’s personality seemed to change a little after returning from Illgner.
Previously, even as she was about to play a part, the young girl did not express her excitement of being used so overtly. Now, however, she was carefreely speaking about her own expectations.
It feels like Has she grown?
The truth was exactly that. As a Divine Armament, Ling had received the last count and the butler’s knowledge transfer when she was first created. His memory core has all the knowledge every Divine Armament before him required, which was why Ling was a little more mature even when he was the younger brotherthat much was clear from his usual behavior.
On the other hand, Ying, who had lost to Ling in the initial experiment despite being on level terms, was therefore not groomed as the armament of the next head of the Radcliffe family. When Joshua himself signed the contract with her, her personality was like a sheet of white paper, with a slight ‘cold’ touch since she did not really know how to express herself.
But after two years of living with the warrior and interacting with the townsfolk, Ying gradually learned all sorts of tricks to connect with people. That, of course, includes what she was doing right nowgrabbing the warrior’s arm tightly and acting spoiledsomething impossible then.
Afterward, Joshua turned to glance at the holy knight who was walking slowly towards them, with an exhausted face.
“Roland, you don’t look too good.”
“That’s for sure. Only half a day of rest and it’s back to the grinder for me,” Roland said, poking fun at himself with a bitter smile. He knew very well that he did not owe his poor condition to the overnight questioning but also the action at Illgner.
The latter had been especially hard on him since the holy knight was not Joshua, who possessed the Azurite and Father Nature’s healing to quickly recover.
“Come to think of it. I’ve met your Church brethren at the Imperial Capital, Roland.” Joshua, who had been guessing about the envoy’s intentions, quickly remembered as soon as he saw the holy knight. “They seem quite familiar with you; they could tell that I’ve met you at once.”
“ Is that so? Who are they, pray tell?” Roland had intended to discuss the new wave of cultists with Joshua and Artanis, but quickly held back after Joshua spoke. “My comrades are still in service of the Holy Grail Knights and should still be standing guard at the Plague Lands,” he added, baffled. “They should not be in the Imperial Capital.”
“It’s Robzek, Commander of the Hammer of Freedom, and Great Nun Saya of Glendon Abbey.” Joshua curtly named the pair he had in mind, and acutely sensed Roland’s immediate change in spirit.
“Aren’t you looking even worse now?” he asked, frowning. “Are they not your friends?”
“No They are my friends indeed.”
Roland did, in fact, appear to deteriorate. This time, however, it was not due to fatigue, but for another underlying reason. “However, it’s still unlikely There is more chance for the Holy Grail Knights to be liaising at the Imperial Capital than them.”
Joshua narrowed his eyes, staying quiet as he waited for the holy knight to explain things.
Noticing Joshua and Artanis’s intense stares, Roland thought about it and frowned.
“Robzek was my instructor and friend,” he said with a low voice. “He was usually in charge of my training, teaching me the way of the war hammer. As for Saya she’s something like a sister to me, always caring for me since I joined the Church.”
At that, the holy knight looked up, his blue gaze doubtful and worried.
“However, both of them had been stationed at the garrison of the Anos Abyss alongside the Second Battle Monks Regiment. Their period of service should have been five years, and logically they should not return unless something huge happened in Anos!”