A simple prayer ceremony had just taken place within the Saint Louis Cathedral, a soft white glow suffusing the eyes of the statue upon the altar. A dozen priests stood up and were bathed in the light, at their lead a surprisingly young man who only looked to be in his twenties.
The youth had a dazzling smile that seemingly brought joy to everyone around him, a holy book in red and black that was bounded by golden chains perched into his armpit. Unlike the other priests, this man’s robes were adorned with red lapels, complementing the red ribbons on his waist and cuffs. This was a cardinal!
Cardinal Martin was a famous existence within the Church of Glory, second only to the pope and widely regarded to be the chosen successor of the papacy. A bulk of the grace from the prayer landed upon him, but he seemingly didn’t care as he turned around with an unreadable soft smile and made his way out of the shrine.
“Your Eminence!” the bishop of the cathedral suddenly rushed over, ignoring all etiquette as he leaned forward and whispered into the man’s ear, “The Archeron army has been spotted nearby, they are less than thirty kilometres away!”
“Oh?” the youth didn’t seem concerned in the slightest, “It must have been a difficult journey for them to make it this far, there are several noble territories along the way. Their leader must certainly be a gifted one.”
The bishop watched for a moment as Martin continued walking out, but then he hurried to catch up, “Sir, the scouts say they are led by Lord Richard Archeron. Anyone else might be after secular lands, but if I am correct… his target is likely us.”
“Such a bold assumption!” Martin smiled, “Likely correct as well.”
“Your Eminence, you are in grave danger. He is still some distance away, I advise you take the book and leave right away!”
“Why?” the young man continued walking.
Sweat beaded on the bishop’s forehead, “The cathedral isn’t important compared to your safety, and every item in here added together still wouldn’t be worth your book. It must not fall into Richard’s hands at any cost!”
Martin grunted in acknowledgement, “Isn’t the defense the job of the city guards? Let them worry about it.”
“The guards do not have the ability to do it! Richard is the man who killed His Highness Uriel, he will destroy our 200 paladins! I fear we have fewer knights than he has rune knights!” There seemed to be a hint of sobbing to the bishop’s voice.
“Hmm. Speaking of rune knights, I heard that Richard brought 500 of them?” Martin finally seemed to be interested.
The bishop laughed uncomfortably, “That is unlikely. From my scouts, the number is between two and three hundred. Furthermore, Earl Alice Archeron has a hundred more coming from the north. We are not prepared to fight against such numbers. Besides…
“I divined yesterday that calamity would strike the cathedral. I believe this is the calamity the Lord spoke of.”
Martin flashed a knowing smile, “If that is the case, our prospects of defending the shrine are quite poor. Tell me, what will you do after I escape?”
“Take the priests with you, I will stay behind with the paladins to delay. If the Archerons wish to step into our holy ground, they will have to pay the price in blood!”
Martin finally stopped walking a look of alarm on his face as he faced the bishop, “You wish to hold the fort and sacrifice yourself?”
The bishop smiled bitterly and nodded his head, “I only wish the Lord will take me in after my death.”
“A frightening thought, but one worthy of respect. However, do not try to have me leave this place. I received an oracle as well, but my interpretation of it is different. I do not believe it is calamity we face, but opportunity.
“Reverend, I have lived under your roof for many days now but have not asked for your name. Forgive me.”
“Oh, no! My name is Rizal, Your Eminence,” the bishop replied respectfully.
Martin nodded, “Reverend, I feel like you will go down in history as a heart-warming example of faith. I have a bottle of fine wine in my room, let us go taste it. We can continue our conversation about Richard there.”
“Your Eminence, your safety… the book…” the bishop tried one last time.
However, the youth just smiled, “Another Martin will arise once I die. Even if the book gets burnt, its teachings shall live on in the hearts of the Lord’s sheep. What need have you to worry? I find this Richard to be a very interesting character.”
That very afternoon, Richard was outside the city of Tobia, the township that surrounded the Saint Louis Cathedral. The land was owned by an earl and situation between two dukedoms, clearly demarcated from the secular powers. The earl did not have the authority to challenge the decisions of the Church of Glory; the same could not be said about a duke.
Although they were a thousand metres away, he could still see the expressions of the guards atop the city. Although they were all performing their duties as always, the fear in their eyes was exceedingly clear. Some of the younger warriors were even white as paper.
Richard pointed to the city walls as he spoke to Brolin, “The city guards are not the enemy, have your men focus on the paladins and priests. They have only two or three hundred, but do not underestimate them. Keep an eye on the clerics as well; try your best to prevent them from casting spells. If you see any that use thick tomes as weapons, try your best to snatch the tomes without harming them. In addition, remember not to kill any clerics unless absolutely necessary.”
Brolin nodded and relayed his orders to the rune knights.
“Great, let’s go in.” Richard waved his hand, sending the mental order to attack.
*RUMBLE!* The rune knights led the way forward, covering the kilometre at a leisurely pace. They had split up into platoons of 50 each, led respectively by Gangdor, Tiramisu, Senma, Zangru, and Phaser.
“Damn it, why are there so many?!” the guard captain’s expression was sour, “Did the Sacred Alliance just gather all of their rune knights here? Get our forces ready, and load the ballistae. Two shots at that ogre there!”
A dull magic radiance flashed upon the city walls as two enormous ballista bolts whizzed forward, heading straight for Tiramisu. These enchanted bolts could dig metres into rocks, crippling even most saints in a head-on confrontation. However, the ogre just snorted and swung his two-handed hammer out, blowing both bolts away in one go without so much as slowing down.
The general’s eyes almost popped out of their sockets at the sight. These ballistae were amongst the best even for the royal army, capable of taking down dragons and grand mages! This beast had just swatted the bolts away like they were nothing!
“Damn it, a sky saint!” the general paled before roaring out, “Get ready for battle! Have the rune knights gather at the plaza, the gates will not be able to hold them out!”
A soldier ran over as soon as the scream left the general’s throat, shouting in exasperations, “The rune knights don’t want to fight this battle! They’re saying there are too many enemie— Ah!”
Before he could even finish speaking, the castle walls trembled so greatly that he lost balance. He and the general immediately looked back outside the city, finding that the rune knights were starting to accelerate. The ogre had just jumped off his mount and landed on his feet, and was rushing over at speed unbelievable for his enormous frame.
It felt like the reaper’s scythe was hanging over their necks.
Richard’s saints leapt into the air even as the rune knights threw out a volley of javelins. A veteran guard immediately fell to the ground, shouting in fear, “DUUUUCK!”
The hundreds of javelins left behind a resplendent trail as they flew through the sky, shooting in all directions. Some went straight up the walls while others arched through the sky before crashing down on top of the city walls. However, one thing was true for each one: the moment it struck stone, a loud explosion rang out as the wall crumbled for metres all around!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Styles
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA