Book 8, Chapter 68

Before The Radiance

With the voice ringing out from up above, a huge commotion broke out amongst the paladins of the Church of Glory. Saint Thomas winced for a moment as the sky brightened, a thick beam of soft divine light opening a path for dozens of people in divine robes. The man at the head of the group had his own robes decorated in gold, staring at the legendary paladin from up above.

Thomas reluctantly bowed, “Your Excellency, why are you here as well?”

“Wouldn’t you have claimed to represent the Church if I hadn’t? Pride is the greatest sin, Saint Thomas; I will bring this incident up for discussion during the meeting of the cardinals. I do not believe you are suited to lead our holy armies any longer.”

The paladin gasped, all the faux respect on his face fading away as he straightened his back, “Saint Martin, you do not get to decide whether I lead the forces of the Church. Even if you wish to make things difficult for me, that will happen afterwards. Right now, I have my orders and my decisions do indeed represent the Church. You should focus on handling the heresy.”

Martin smiled: “Are you saying that I am unfaithful?”

“Only the Radiant Lord can decide whether you are faithful, but your actions certainly do not benefit the Church!”

“Martin,” Richard interrupted as he stared at Thomas, “I explained the reasoning for my actions to you already, and the rest of the church must know about it as well. For this guy to show up anyway, I believe some people have made their decision. But whatever; paladin, since you keep trying to make a decision for your church, you should know about the background too. In that case, fine. I’ll give up on my child; let’s see how your pathetic family withstands a generational blood feud with the Archerons.”

Thomas finally shivered. Generational blood feud wasn’t a common term, implying that both families involved would battle each other until one was completely annihilated. Although the consequences of tampering with the divine gold had been more serious than expected, he had actually been prepared to return it all if Richard just stopped supporting Saint Martin. However, Richard’s arrogance in the Brahms Marquessate made it feel like the dignity of the Church of Glory had been trampled all over; so what did a single genius matter, there were prodigies all over Norland. 

However, this situation was entirely different from what he had imagined. He was using the nobility and clergy of the Sacred Tree Empire, but Richard had instead chosen to target him and his family for vengeance. If the Church got caught up in Martin’s policy and was too slow to provide aid, his entire line would be annihilated by the Archeron forces!

“Richard, you dare threaten a paladin of the Church of Glory?” he asked in a cold voice.

Richard laughed, “You little bastard, you threatened a saint runemaster and legendary mage.”

Thomas’s eyes flickered. The wrath of a legendary mage was truly disaster, and even if he could hold his own in battle against Richard, he just didn’t have the same mobility. The support of the Church wouldn’t matter if Richard just went into hiding and sniped everyone from afar. He grunted, “Your arrogance is unparalleled! All should be humble in front of the Lord’s light! Knights of the Radiant Lord, prepare to attack!”

A long horn resounded through the battlefield, prompting the paladins to lower their visors while their mounts started pawing the ground. However, Saint Martin flew down and shouted, “Knights of the Lord, put down your weapons! As the divine child, I hereby announce that Saint Thomas is immediately stripped of his position as the commander of the holy army!”

A commotion immediately ensued. Saint Martin had an extremely high position in the Church, second only to the pope. With him giving an order completely in contradiction to their commander, the paladins didn’t know what to do.

Thomas pointed at Martin and roared, “You dare oppose the orders of the cardinals?”

“I can confirm that the cardinals did not give you your orders!” the holy child refused to give in.

However, the old paladin had developed great loyalty in his time. He grinned and waved a hand forward, prompting thousands of knights to move forward immediately. This started off a chain reaction that eventually pushed the entire army forward.

Martin’s gaze flickered and he waved his hand, prompting his followers to form up behind him, “Knights of the Lord, stop now. One more step will be making an enemy of me!”

The paladins were shocked, immediately stopping their rides. To the faithful, the divine child was like a human incarnation of the Radiant Lord. Attacking him was the same as attacking the god they served.

However, the paladins closest to Thomas continued moving forward without the slightest hesitation. Martin’s expression darkened, and he grunted loudly. Some of his followers suddenly flew up further, spreading out wings of light.

This time, everyone fell into an uproar. These were celestials, citizens of the Celestial Plane that served as the Radiant Lord’s staff and sword! For the only divine child of the Church to have celestials by his side, it was clear that the Radiant Lord loved Martin dearly. This time, even Thomas’s closest aides came to a stop.

Richard remained seated on his mount quietly, glancing at the raging paladin in front of him before heading back to his own troops. He had already felt a spatial ripple on the eastern edge of the battlefield, making it clear that this hadn’t come to an end yet.

As he expected, a melodic hymn rang out as half the skies brightened up, divine light rolling down from the clouds to form a majestic door of light. A troop of white-caped paladins marched out, followed closely by a number of bishops and even cardinals, with Archbishop Ruford following at the end. When he stepped out, there were almost a thousand members of the clergy standing right outside the door.

“Saint Martin, are you turning your back on the Lord’s care?” Ruford asked slowly, his voice ringing throughout the battlefield.

“You’re the ones who turned your back on the Lord. He will judge us all fairly in time,” Martin replied calmly.

“You are helping an enemy of the Church and Empire, this is treason! Do you wish to become a heretic?” Ruford’s voice grew louder and louder, crashing down like thunder.

“Have you ever heard of the Lord’s chosen being a heretic? You’re becoming braver by the day, Ruford, abusing your power to a disappointing extent. Killing loyal paladins of the Church just to get at me, who’s the heretic here?”

The paladins on the battlefield were all confused, not knowing who to listen to. One was a divine child while the other was an archbishop with power second only to Hendrick, both were at comparable positions. Their accusations grew increasingly harsh as well, leaving no way to make amends.

As the tension escalated, an extremely glaring pillar of divine light suddenly shot out from Ruford’s door. It went straight into the skies, disappearing to a location that no one could see as an indescribable aura spread throughout the battlefield.

A thin old man walked out of the door, clothed in robes only normal clergymen would wear with a dull black staff in hand. However, Richard promptly found his eyes glued to this newcomer, who to him looked like a ball of extremely powerful light. Both the robe and staff were divine items with unimaginable power! His heart froze as he recalled two legends of the Church of Glory— the robe and staff that the Radiant Lord had used when he lit his godspark.

Once they saw the old man, every knight on the battlefield got off their horses and knelt on the ground. The paladins, bishops, and even cardinals knelt and bowed, with only Ruford still standing. A bitter smile came upon Martin’s own face, “Your Holiness, I didn’t think you would come as well.”

‘If you really want to come find me, wait until you can bring down the pope of the Sacred Tree Empire. You should be strong enough then.’

A letter and woman that he had tried to bury suddenly surfaced in Richard’s mind. He felt his blood start to boil, his body almost shooting forward of its own accord.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: WQ

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA