Book 4, Chapter 109

Behind The Scenes

Divinity could not be destroyed. Its power could be harnessed, its attributes changed, but as the condensed power of faith, it was difficult to remove it from the world. Lutheris knew his divinity had likely been transformed and used by someone else, forever separated from his existence. This was basically the same as converting worshippers, perhaps even worse.

Numerous rays of golden-red light blossomed from the Wargod’s throne, instantly disappearing into the depths of the void. These were numerous conscients that Lutheris released to search for the person who stole his divinity. All of Faelor’s deities quickly came to know of his wrath, expressing anger on his behalf or consoling him for his loss. Those whose power did not lose out to his remained silent, but rejoiced within.

Faelor was far too vast for even a greater deity to search through. Lutheris was only using the conscients to make a display of power, warning the presumptuous thief. However, he could not ask to encroach upon another god’s divine kingdom without being willing to start a war; this held true even for the three weakest goddesses.

The Wargod’s anger was also conveyed to his mortal worshippers; although he was based in the Baruch Kingdom, his worship spanned all across the land. However, almost the entirety of the upper echelons of his church had been destroyed in the recent invasion. He had no hope that they would be able to find the thief.

……

It took a long time after Lutheris’ will faded away for his worshippers to stand up one by one. Their faces were all pale, some even having vomited blood and fallen unconscious. The wrath of their god was far too intense for some of the newer clerics to withstand.

Leading the crowd were seven cardinals. Not long ago this number had reached into the dozens, but even with two promotions after the war this was all they could muster. The seven cardinals entered a meeting room to discuss the command they had just received.

Six of the cardinals spoke one after the other, but none of them had any clues to solving the problem. Before the invasion, most of those present here had no real authority. King Anwod, in his position as leader of both church and state, had maintained an iron grip over the decisions of the clergy and only had them execute his orders. This had worked perfectly when he was alive, but the deaths of so many qualified replacements left the church with no people qualified to control the situation.

“I think I know who stole the divinity,” a young man suddenly said from his seat. The statement was earth-shattering, attracting the gazes of everyone present. The youth seemed a little nervous under the combined pressure of six cardinals, but he forced himself to calm down and said slowly, “Zangru. When he agreed to go to war, King Anwod bestowed all three of the divine artefacts to him. When we were defeated at the portal, Zangru vanished alongside the three artefacts. I believe he has delusions of becoming a god, so he must have stolen the divinity in those tools. We all know he has the ability!”

The cardinals started whispering amongst each other, discussing the youth’s proposal as they looked at him peculiarly. This young cardinal’s face hadn’t yet lost all of its youth; he wasn’t even twenty years of old. He wasn’t truly qualified to be a cardinal either; it was only because of him being Anwod’s son that the clergy had to begrudgingly grant him this position.

The cardinals here did not have the right to make decisions themselves, but they all knew of the motivation behind his severe accusation. In those few dark days before the war against the invaders, his mother had been amongst the concubines that Zangru had raped. Although she hadn’t been killed by Zangru’s actions, she had committed suicide after the event.

The oldest of the cardinals eventually spoke up, “This judgement… It must be treated cautiously. A false accusation would be a huge crime.”

His opinion was immediately echoed by the rest. They all knew in their hearts that their god didn’t expect anything of them. If they just dragged the investigation out for a while, they could eventually bury it without fault. However, if they reported this man’s claims and were found to be wrong, they would incur Lutheris’ wrath.

They also knew just how credible this youth’s words were. There was no basis to the accusation at all.

Zangru had been gifted from the moment of his birth, the will of Lutheris blessing him the instant he had been cut off from his mother. The only reason he hadn’t taken the throne already was the fact that he had been born of supposed adultery. This young cardinal’s mother was just one of the stepping stones on his bloody path to power.

The cardinal’s face gradually grew paler as he saw his colleagues’ expressions. He suddenly stood up. “Since you lot are afraid of responsibility, I will report this to the Lord myself. If anything happens, I will bear the burden!”

He then charged out of the meeting room, slamming the door behind him with all his might. Dust was shaken off from the ancient ceiling.

……

It was dusk. The young cardinal had knelt before the statue for a long time, silently praying to Lutheris. Clerics and priests lightened their footsteps as they walked past him, but their faces were filled with ridicule and disdain. As far as they knew, this new cardinal had no shred of piety to him; the Lord would not answer his prayers.

However, a short while after sunset a dazzling flash lit up the main hall of the temple. The statue of Lutheris started to glow red and gold, blinding all those present.

A dignified presence surged forth from the statue as the will of the Wargod descended once more, rays of power shooting out from the statue into the young cardinal’s body. The youth fell to the ground, writhing in incomparable pain, but his expression was one of ecstasy. The divine power within his body was like a raging fire, he had been blessed!

Those in the hall looked at the youth in astonishment. There was an element of admiration to their stares, but that was overshadowed by the envy and resentment. However, that meant nothing to him. The young cardinal struggled to his feet once the will had faded away, and knew he would soon be crowned pope. The curtains thus fell on the fight for the Baruch Kingdom’s throne.

The young cardinal swept his eyes across everyone in the hall, including the cardinals that had rushed over as soon as they could, “Zangru has stolen the divinity of the Lord’s artefacts. He is a heretic.”

Heretic. This was the greatest sin a mortal could commit, and the greatest threat to their existence. Those who worshipped Lutheris or any allied god would now eternally chase Zangru down, burning him to death by divine fire. His family would suffer no different fate.

Zangru’s blood was dense with the blood of the Wargod himself. Lutheris could only punish him personally. However, that did not hold true for Zangru’s mother. The queen consort had come from a small family originally, and after the case of her adultery only a thousand people of her bloodline remained. One order from this young man had sentenced those who had survived the previous disaster to a painful death by fire. Elderly, women, even infants would not be spared this fate.

Late in the night, as the young cardinal walked towards the library, those he met on the way bowed almost to the ground to express their humility and respect. This future pope responded with perfect smiles, the blessings he uttered completely impeccable. However, for all his humility and virtue, he never prevented their bows.

Someone screamed in rage from afar, the sound quickly turning into a tearful entreaty. However, two inquisitors in black robes slowly dragged him to the prison they used to imprison heretics. This was the cardinal that had overruled the youth’s accusation during the afternoon meeting.

The future pope listened with pleasure as the screams slowly faded into the night. Only when he could hear nothing more did he sigh regretfully, continuing on his way to the library prepared specifically for cardinals.

There were numerous books within this small library that were restricted to the outside world. Each cardinal had his own separate seat in the main hall, while the pope had a separate chamber all to himself. The youth walked up to a bookshelf and took out an ancient book with a black cover, walking into the pope’s reading room and sitting down with practised ease. He stroked the yellowed pages as a twisted smile appeared on his handsome face, “Zangru, oh Zangru. What will you do this time? I’m not Anwod to let you escape…”

The old black book was an ancient forbidden text, describing many taboo arts. One of these arts was a mysterious but bloody ceremony to extract the divinity from someone’s blood. When the gods had still been feuding in ancient times, this ceremony had been the cause for millions of deaths.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Pei

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA