Chapter 173

Apostle Bichel was in his mid-fifties and had a refined, almost Greek sculpture-like, face and carried an air of dignity around him. His deep and stifling aura spread across the temple grounds, causing everyone to fall silent. He was at the two Awakened skills level (4th Stage of Acceleration), but he also possessed the ability to borrow power from the thousands of believers and priests, so he was an imposing figure.

Bichel arrived in front of the two. The other priests and holy knights stood on edge as they held their swords in anticipation of a skirmish. The priest who oversaw the temple’s waiting area respectfully approached the Apostle. He was the one who had first called upon the holy knights when the young girl’s situation was known. Next to him was the rotund priest, who had guided San and Biyeon just a moment ago, and a priestess. They were awaiting the Apostle’s questioning. They were currently racking their brains on how they should explain the situation.

“These two have blasphemed our god in this sacred temple area. They are evil beings who are able to control evil spirits…”

The priest stopped speaking and suddenly shut his mouth. He had seen the Apostle harden his expression and wave his hand, which held a cane, from side to side. Bichel was motioning that he heard enough. Bichel moved his gaze to San and Biyeon. A smile slowly spread on San’s face. San felt he met the top person in the temple much easier than he had originally thought.

“I have heard of you two from Apostle Dite, but I never thought I’d meet you in person, especially at this temple.”

Bichel spoke first. His eyes shone with curiosity. The other gathered priests all widened their eyes as they swung their heads towards San and Biyeon. Some of the priests covered their mouths in surprise. Yurisen, who had come to the temple with her brother, stood in place as she looked at San and Biyeon with a surprised expression.

‘They’re… popular…?’

“Hmm… It’s nice to meet someone whom we can communicate with. Even though a situation arose, we don’t intend to block any of your businesses,” San said as he rubbed the back of his hand.

“Block our business?”

Bichel looked askingly at San. He had never heard that phrase before. It was as if he was asking San to explain further.

“You’re probably not expecting it, but we can compensate for any lost business if you want,” Biyeon said as she rummaged through her pocket to find something. She maintained eye contact with Bichel throughout. Biyeon then continued, “Anyway, we came all the way here, so we’d like to speak with God Tehara directly. We’ve never been to a place like this before, so we didn’t prepare any money in advance. I’m not sure how much it costs, but can you take a raincheck?”

Bichel could tell that Biyeon’s request was mixed with a slight tinge of playfulness. There was also a sort of condescending tone as well… Bichel sharpened his eyes and looked at the priests who flanked his sides. 

“Compensation? Raincheck? That… what are those things?”

“It’s…”

The priests stuttered and didn’t immediately offer an answer. They looked at the Apostle’s reaction and cautiously spoke out, “These two… they came to ask something of our god, but they blocked the work that our holy knights were tasked to complete. So, the many nobles who have visited us have gone through some undue surprise and scare…”

“Are you… are you speaking about the purification of that young girl just a moment ago?” Bichel asked as he pointed towards the young girl who was lifelessly stretched out in her parents’ arms.

“Yes…”

Bichel kept his mouth shut. His eyes momentarily stopped on the back of San’s hand. Through his Accelerated eyes, and with God Tehara’s powers amplifying his eyesight, Bichel looked closely at the spirit trapped within the back of San’s hand. His eyes became more contemplative as time passed.

“A high-level spirit who has attained an ego. Those spirits usually group together and create a group…”

The gathered priests looked nervously at the mumbling Apostle. Bichel was starting to piece together the situation through the constant updates he was receiving from Tehara. He smiled dryly as he raised his reddish-hued cane. It was a motion that indicated that the Apostle was going to convey his teachings. The priests straightened their backs and awaited the Apostle’s words.

“As priests, are you able to chase out evil spirits that reside in a human’s body?”

“No, we’re not able.”

“So then… what did you try to do earlier?”

“We ordered the holy knights to get rid of the human host and the evil spirits together.”

“Tsk… such stupidity!”

“Huh?”

“Do you know what happens to an inexperienced priest who tries to chase away a spirit with an ego?”

“A spirit with an ego? I’ve never heard of…”

The priests murmured as they conferred with each other. Bichel let out a long sigh.

“A troublesome situation was about to arise. We’ve narrowly escaped it.”

Bichel’s sharpened gaze softened. However, deep within his eyes, a storm was violently brewing. Bichel faced San and Biyeon and deeply bowed to them to show his respects. The gathered priests couldn’t help but open their eyes wide with shock. They had never imagined their Apostle respectfully bowing to another person. It was widely acknowledged that Apostles only bowed to the respective god that they served.

“You’ve saved many lives with your actions. Thank you very much.”

“The evil spirits are a bit troublesome, especially this guy. He’s very tricky,” San replied back respectfully with a courteous smile on his face.

“What… what do you plan on doing with that spirit? Would you like us to dispose of it in the temple?” Bichel asked as he cautiously turned his gaze to San.

The bump on the back of San’s hand seemed to pulsate for a moment before moving further back towards San’s forearm.

“No. I promised the spirit that I would let it live, so I must keep that promise. I’m actually thinking of developing it.”

“Why would you keep such a dangerous thing so close to you…”

“I think it’ll be very useful. It’s difficult to find spirits with such a developed ego,” Biyeon added from the side. Bichel was about to respond, but he bit his lower lip and stayed silent instead.

Bichel turned his gaze back at the lump on San’s hand. The evil spirit that San possessed was a dangerous entity. Even a high priest would face considerable trouble disposing of it…

The evil spirits were beings that couldn’t become gods. Thus, any existing spirit showed some properties that gods possessed. A comparable example in the physical world would be a retrovirus. A retrovirus was a simply developed life form that only possessed a code of RNA that would allow it to copy. It would find a host and use the host’s cells and DNA to multiply.

Much like the retrovirus, the evil spirit was like a virus that took over a host’s body. However, it would do this by expanding its influence over the host’s cognitive functions. Most humans would only exhibit mild conditions, like a common cold, since most spirits were not able to fully take over their hosts. However, in some cases, the evil spirits would be able to take over some ‘mediums’ at a faster and more influential rate. In rare cases, the spirits would be able to take over the cognitive function of their host, allowing them to gain an ego. These spirits were especially dangerous for priests, as priests had to purify their bodies to accept the divine powers of their gods. In other words, an ego-formed spirit would find a priest’s body as an ideal host body to take over. Furthermore, the ego-formed spirit would be able to multiply and take over many bodies, a scenario that would be destructive to any god-serving religious organization.

Bichel nervously gripped his holy cane. He maintained his gaze on San and Biyeon. He understood that he was standing in front of people that were viewing this destructive spirit entity as if it were a pet animal. He recalled what God Tehara had told him just a moment ago. A cold, freezing sensation ran down his spine.

“Shall we go into the temple? The First Apostle is waiting for you inside.”

“Is it possible to speak directly with your god right now?”

“Our god, Tehara, has requested it directly. Tehara specifically stated that we should treat the two of you as we do God Tehara.”

“Oh, that’s nice to hear. Will that child be safe?” Biyeon said as she looked towards Noeul. Based on how the holy knights were acting before, it didn’t seem like they would leave Noeul alone. Furthermore, the parents would also probably be in danger. Bichel quickly understood Biyeon’s underlying concern.

The child had been taken over by evil spirits. The child had become a sullied entity in the eyes of the temple’s people.

“They will be safe.”

The holy knights collectively took a few steps back after hearing the Apostle’s words.

“She’s seriously injured,” Biyeon continued.

“She will receive treatment,” Bichel replied while turning his gaze towards the surrounding priests. The priests nodded their heads.

“They won’t have money,” Biyeon continued on.

“Hmm…”

Bichel could not immediately reply. He swallowed a condescending chuckle that was about to come out. This was because Biyeon’s pressing questions had gone beyond what was normally accepted between the temple’s people and visitors. After hearing her last statement, the thought that she was trying to affect their ‘business’ had popped into Bichel’s mind.

“What would you like us to do?” A priest asked with a cold expression on his face. Biyeon smiled and stated, “A person who lives in a bright place is not thankful if additional light is brought in. However, providing even a little bit of light into a dark place brings tremendous thanks and happiness to those residing in that dark place. I don’t think that assisting this family will be bad for Tehara, the god of light, right?”

“…”

“We’re planning to ask your god directly. We want to know if this is a request and expectation of the humans who serve under him or from Tehara. If God Tehara is this shortsighted, I don’t think we’ll need to speak with him any further.”

“…”

Bichel’s expression hardened.

From afar, Yurisen stood dumbfounded. She had called out and rushed to them in a state of urgency, but she couldn’t understand why things were progressing as they were. Furthermore, she was still in shock at how the two had cleansed the little girl of her evil spirits.

‘I thought evil spirits could only be chased out or eliminated by those who possessed the power of a god…’

The other Yuri-clan family members, servants, and friends who accompanied Yurisen stood still in place as they didn’t know what possessed Yurisen to take such drastic action, crying out and running to the chaotic scene. The other accompanying people didn’t know what was going on. Additionally, they couldn’t understand why Yurisen cried out on temple grounds, a sacred space, and why she had acknowledged the two people who wore plain, commoner clothes.

“Yurisen, I didn’t know you were a follower of God Tehara,” San said with a gentle smile as he walked closer to her.

“Yes, I am… but why are you both here… also… why are you wearing those types of clothes?”

“Something we needed to see about. Can you lower your voice?”

“Oh, yes…”

Yurisen nodded her head. The two of them had gained everyone’s attention. Yurisen was very beautiful. She was also a part of one of the great families of the empire. Yurisen could easily gain an audience wherever she went but just stating her name… so it was perplexing for the people overhearing their conversation as to why she was using honorific words when addressing the man in plain, commoner clothing. The other visitors to the temple started gauging San and Biyeon. Though San and Biyeon’s names were popular in the capital, only the highest-level officials and family leaders knew how they looked.

“Was it you who shouted out that we should stop?” San whispered as he leaned near Yurisen’s ear. Yurisen could feel the hair on her skin rise. San’s whisper rang in her ears. Yurisen had to control her ragged breath.

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