TRIGGER WARNING: cutting
Within the Winter God Church’s temple.
Bishop Christopher sat at the long white stone table, his expression steely as he gazed at the warriors striding in his direction.
They were dressed in a silvery armor and wielded crescent halberds. The helmets they wore were adorned with a white swan.
They were the Moon Goddess Church’s Swan Warriors, their elite guard.
“They sent six clergymen and twenty Swan Warriors? Are they here to investigate or to attack?” one of the clergymen standing beside him snorted disdainfully.
“Quiet, Georgia. Don’t make trouble,” Christopher replied solemnly. “The Moon Goddess Church is sending quite a powerful force, but with the Eternal Treaty in place, they will not make any moves carelessly.”
Even though the Eternal Treaty didn’t restrict the actions of the disciples, the peace it was meant to uphold affected all of them, making it so that none of them would dare to open fire in a careless way.
Most of the time, this thought process would be correct. Now that someone was scheming to make things happen, however, it would inevitably be flawed.
The Moon Goddess Church’s warriors finally arrived at the Winter God Church’s temple.
The group of soldiers parted, and a man wearing a large yellow robe stepped forwards. “Christopher, my friend, don’t try and pull anything funny.”
“Gambell?” Upon seeing Gambell, Christopher’s gaze noticeably shrank.
Georgia was also taken aback. “The new bishop of the Moon Goddess Church? Do you recognize him?”
“Yes. We’ve crossed paths before in the past...... and not in a good way. This snake!” Christopher cursed.
He made no attempt to keep his voice quiet, and Gambell heard everything that he had said.
Gambell shrugged. “Don’t say it like that, Christopher. You know that I’ve always viewed you as one of my friends.”
“Every person that becomes your friend has a terrible fate...... I haven’t forgotten what happened to Nius.”
Gambell shrugged. “He betrayed the light of the gods. I felt terrible when I had to purify him. But let’s not talk about that; you know why I’m here today.”
“I know. But I also know that your men died in the Lonely Forest, not to the hands of the Winter God Church. You should go there to investigate first.”
“It wouldn’t be right for me to not stop by and say hello first, right?” Gambell replied calmly. “In any case, the pertinent clues might not be in the Lonely Forest. They could be right within the Winter God Church.”
Christopher was enraged. “What is that supposed to mean? Are you saying that we were involved in what happened?”
“I’m not saying anything, Christopher. You know that anything is possible. And what we need to do is find the truth...... I hope you won’t mind us coming in and taking a look, right?” Gambell asked.
Christopher shot him a fierce glare, then spun around and walked back into the temple. “You can come in, but I hope that you will abide by the temple’s rules. I will attempt to free up any place you would like to go to, but if I cannot, don’t make an issue out of it.”
“I don’t need to go anywhere else,” Gambell said as he followed Christopher into the temple. “I just want to take a look at your room.”
“What did you say?” Christopher stopped in his tracks, stunned. “Gambell, do you know what you’re saying?”
“Of course, my friend Christopher,” Gambell replied brashly. “Let me take a look at your room. This is my only request.”
The other clergymen and warriors of the Winter God Church all began to roar in indignation.
“That would be far too humiliating!”
“The Moon Goddess Church is bullying us intolerably!”
Gambell calmly said, “You’re not refusing me because you have a guilty conscience, right?”
Christopher stared deeply at Gambell. After a long time, he finally nodded. “Alright, you can come and look.”
“Archbishop!” The other clergymen and warriors all tried to persuade him otherwise.
Christopher said, “I will allow you to search my room, but if you can’t find anything, you will need to render an account to me.”
“Of course I will,” Gambell replied.
Christopher strode off towards his own room.
Christopher’s room was to the rear of the temple grounds, in a secluded garden. His house was constructed out of red brick, and his yard was extremely scenic.
A group of people walked towards the Archbishop’s living quarters at a leisurely pace. The clergymen leading the way intentionally took roundabout paths, not wanting to reveal the Archbishop’s secrets to other individuals even if they truly did have nothing to do with what had happened in the Lonely Forest. Conflicts between churches were often more complicated and ugly than conflicts between nobles over territory. If they didn’t even have the notion of trying to prevent the other party from getting an upper hand on them, then they wouldn’t last for long.
And what Archbishop wouldn’t have some skeletons in their closets? For instance, Christopher was a pedophile, and clues of this could easily be found in his room. If such news were to be spread publicly, then Bishop Christopher would be finished even if the Winter God Church was found to be innocent.
The guards responsible for destroying evidence did as much as they could in order to avoid giving the Moon Goddess Church any leverage.
Unfortunately, just because they were on guard didn’t mean that they would be able to predict everything.
One of the guards rushed into Christopher’s room, preparing to wipe away any clues that were present.
But just as he was about to do so, he suddenly stopped in his tracks.
“I’m impressed you were able to discover me so easily,” a voice chuckled from behind him.
The experienced guard didn’t even turn around. Instead, he said in a calm voice, “Gambell sent you to frame us, right? So the Moon Goddess Church does have ulterior motives. But your plan has failed. With us here, it will not happen.”
The voice laughed sinisterly. “You’re right that we wouldn’t have been able to frame the Winter God Church. But if we are just trying to find any excuse, then it doesn’t really matter, now does it?”
“What?” The guard was stunned.
Suddenly, a dull pain erupted from his chest. He lowered his head, only to find a sharp spike protruding from his chest.
His assailant had killed him......
How did he dare......
The unfinished thought floated away as he began to slip into unconsciousness.
He desperately wanted to know who was responsible for doing this, but as he lost consciousness, all he saw was a short figure standing behind him.
His vision faded to black.
Framing was only necessary if they needed a righteous pretext. A sinister scheme, however, required nothing more than a simple excuse.
Whether the Winter God Church had actually performed the killings was no longer important. All the Moon Goddess Church needed was an excuse to fight.
Frost had provided them with an adequate excuse. All that remained was to quietly watch the situation develop from afar.
After rearranging everything in the room, Frost immediately left, returning to the Winter God Church’s prayer hall and taking a seat.
A group of children was currently reciting prayers under a nun’s leading.
Frost followed along obediently, but he was more focused on listening to what was taking place off in the distance.
“Father says that we must humble ourselves before the gods, sustaining them with our hearts......” he gently muttered.
“You recited it wrong. It’s ‘worshipping them with our hearts’,” a quiet voice whispered into his ear.
He turned his head and found a little girl roughly his age sporting pigtails sitting beside him. Her large, round eyes were gazing at him intently.
“Alright, I got it,” Frost calmly replied.
The wide-eyed little girl grew unhappy and she muttered more forcefully, “The gods demand that you show sincerity! If you make a mistake, you must confess it and punish yourself. Our blood will wash away our sins. Otherwise, they will remain in our heart forever!”
Frost was greatly amused. “You want me to spill blood for this? You really are quite nosy.”
The young girl pouted. “This is the gods’ teaching! You should obey.”
Frost smiled when he saw her serious demeanor.
Then, he nodded. “Alright, if you insist.”
He suddenly pulled out a blade and cut himself.
Fresh blood flowed forth from his arm.
This motion attracted the nun’s attention. “Frost, what are you doing?”
“I recited the scripture incorrectly, miss. She believed that I should cleanse my mistake with my blood, so I could only obey,” Frost said as he pointed at the young girl beside him.
“Heavens! There was no need for you to have done anything like that!” the nun cried out as she picked up Frost, staring angrily at the young girl. “Selena, how could you force your classmate to cut himself?”
The girl named Selena was stunned. Obviously, she hadn’t expected to be lectured, and she stammered, “But that’s what the scripture says. All I did was obey what was written.”
“No, that’s not for you to carry out,” the nun replied angrily. “All you should have done was take care of yourself!”
The young girl was badly frightened by the nun’s sudden outburst, and as a feeling of being wronged surfaced in her heart, tears began to well up in her eyes and fell to the floor.
She cried for quite a long time, and even her recitation of the scripture came to a halt.
Until a familiar voice called out to her in a faint whisper.
Selena turned around to find Frost standing beside her, holding a handkerchief in her hand.
“Here, wipe your tears. If you cry too much, you won’t be pretty anymore,” he said.
“I won’t!” Selena jerked her head away, still feeling wronged.
Suddenly, she felt the handkerchief wiping at her face.
Selena was startled, but she allowed Frost to gently wipe away her tears until he eventually stopped.
He was still smiling at her.
Suddenly, Selena felt her heart begin to beat faster.
“You...... what are you doing?” she asked, flushing.
“I just feel bad for making you cry. I should have been a little more careful so that the nun didn’t see me.”
Selena was moved by the fact that he was not blaming her, but shouldering the burden by himself.
She had cried for so long that she was a little dazed by this point, and said, “I’m beginning to like you more. What is your name?”
“Frost. I don’t come here often to pray, and I’m not really a devout believer,” Frost replied.
“Your name is so familiar,” the young girl murmured. “What is your surname?”
“I don’t want my identity to get in the way of our contact,” Frost replied.
“You seem like you’re from a noble family, but my family is not weak either,” Selena replied.
After a moment’s thought, she added, “But maybe not as strong as yours. Otherwise, the nun wouldn’t have yelled at me like that.”
“You aren’t at the age yet where you should use your status to determine right and wrong,” Frost said.
“You talk as if you’re much older than me,” the girl pouted. “I’m still a little unhappy right now. You may go. I don’t want to talk to you right now. Come back a little later and I will be more likely to pay attention to you.”
“I’m afraid I can’t,” Frost replied.
“Why not?” Selena was stunned.”
“Because you’re in my way,” Frost replied.
As he spoke, a violent explosion could suddenly be heard off in the distance.
The battle had begun.