Chapter 174

“Yes,” Yurisen answered in a low voice.

“Why did you call out a warning?”

“Because… I thought you’d be putting yourselves in danger…”

“Who? Us?” San said as his expression changed to one of surprise.

Yurisen gave a small smile.

“That… I guess I wasn’t sure.”

“Well, thank you for your consideration. Since you’re here, I’d like to ask a favor.”

“Please.”

“Can you look over that young girl and her parents for us?”

“Them?”

“If the temple’s people ask for money, I’m hoping you could pay for it in their steed. Biyeon and I can pay you back when we return to the imperial court. Would this be possible?”

“Yes, I can do this. But why…?”

“We were able to save the young girl’s life, but in the process, I think we’ve alienated and infuriated the priests here. It also seems that a body that’s been taken over by evil spirits once before is considered contaminated and dangerous. However, that child has returned to normal. I can ensure that. Based on your reputation, I’m certain you can handle the situation without further unrest, right?”

Yurisen was momentarily at a loss for words. It was a burdensome request. However, she did not even consider denying their request. Was there ever a man who could talk so freely in front of her?

“Of course. However, are both captains fine? Based on your titles, it would be easy to just…”

“Shush! Our excursion today is not related to our official duties. It is strictly personal business. I don’t want it to be known that the imperial court’s officials caused a ruckus at a religious temple and caused rumors to spread about chasing spirits out of a little girl’s body. We’re already hounded by negative rumors as it is.”

“…”

“Then, we’ll have to thank you in advance!” San said with a smile as he turned around. Yurisen took a deep breath to calm herself down. Once she was able to stabilize her breath, she walked towards the head priest with a hand on her chest. The other priests who overheard the two’s conversation stared at their receding backs. The overweight priest who first welcomed San and Biyeon started wiping his sweaty brow with the cuffs of his robe.

***

The sun had risen to its highest point in the sky as its rays warmed up the earth. In a place deep within the God Tehara’s temple, the temperature seemed to be rising even higher.

“Is our contract with Goddess Diana still valid?” Tehara’s First Apostle, Apollo, asked. He was similar in age, in his fifties, to the Second Apostle, Bichel. This world’s god seemed affiliated with the Greek gods of their previous world, as the names used for Tehara’s apostles seemed to originate from the Greek gods. Apollo’s manner of speech was direct and simple. Since Tehara was using his Apostle’s body as a vessel to speak with San and Biyeon, Tehara did not conform to human social conventions of speech.

“We extended it three more years. Since both parties are finding the partnership amenable, we’ll probably do another extension. Why, is there a problem?” San said as he raised a teacup to his mouth. San wasn’t planning on acting differently, even if the other party was a god. In San’s eyes, there didn’t seem to be a difference between humans and gods. San did feel a sense of novelty at being able to speak with a god, a being that he had only read about in books back on Earth.

“Goddess Diana was previously a lower-level god, but she’s risen through the ranks recently. Due to this and other factors, you two have become popular amongst the gods. Hearing that you both came here, I rushed over.”

“It’s nice to hear that you were interested in our visit. Truthfully, we’re here to ask for help from you gods. However, the work is a bit tedious and complex, so we wanted to ask you directly.”

“Is it related to the imperial courts and emperor?”

“Part of it is, but the majority is a private affair that’s related to Biyeon and me.”

“The current imperial courts are run by humans who have no relation with us gods, so there’s probably not much that we can offer in that area of influence.”

“We wanted to know more about the Outsiders…”

“Hmm… we do know about the Outsiders.”

Apollo’s relaxed expression suddenly turned wary.

“What is the gods’ relationship with the Outsiders?”

“Do we need to tell you?” Apollo coldly responded back.

“It’s something that has to do with the imperial courts. We’ve investigated it, but we haven’t been able to find anything about them. So, we’re a little concerned about who and what they are. We’ve heard they’re very dangerous, is that correct?”

“The Outsiders…

Apollo stopped speaking and stared at the two. Various bits and pieces of information were flowing to and from Apollo as Tehara connected with the information network the gods were a part of. The Outsiders wore a weird style of dress. Their way of speaking was novel yet familiar. 

Apollo organized his thoughts and spoke, “They’re professionals. If it’s them, even you two will find it hard to stop them from doing something.”

“Do you know them personally?”

Apollo scoffed at San’s question before speaking, “There’s nothing under the sky that we don’t know of. Since you’ve interacted with Diana, you should know about our capabilities, right?”

“Can you give us some information about them?”

“That would be difficult. We’ve made a special contract with them. There’s also a non-disclosure clause in that contract. Also, the non-disclosure isn’t restricted just to me, it applies to all the other gods. We’re enjoying very good relations with them.”

“I guess even the gods who know everything need to contract with humans for something, huh?” Biyeon coldly responded. Her complaints had been piling up ever since she stepped foot on the temple grounds.

“Gods only know. Making or creating is something that only humans possess.”

Apollo then smiled brightly.

“Make something?” Biyeon asked.

“Only humans have the ability to create. Through that creation, new ‘information’ and ‘knowledge’ arise. Through that new information and knowledge, gods can then produce ideas and a conceptual structure. In other words, we’re able to create a new low-level god.”

“So, the number of gods increases? Like an expansion of a god pool?”

“You can understand it as such. The Outsiders are the pinnacle of human creativity. Do you understand now? Do you realize why we, the gods, have contracted with them?”

“Then… they probably know about the Creator as well?”

“Sorry, I don’t know.”

“Didn’t you say you know everything under the sky? Isn’t that counter to what you just said? Weren’t gods unable to lie?”

“It’s because they’re not under the sky. Thus, I’m not lying.”

“Then, they’re above the sky?”

“No. The Creator is something outside of our realm of influence. He’s something that is beyond the Event Horizon.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” San said as he picked his ear.

“The Creator resides in a place where rules and laws do not apply. There are no physical or chemical laws in that place. Thus, our reasoning and logic can’t be applied when discussing that place. You two are probably more similar of an existence and concept to the Creator and that place. I have no idea what you two will be doing next.”

“That… is that praise?”

“You can accept it as such. I am very curious about you two.”

“If you’re curious, then we can explain further…”

“That seems very enticing.”

Apollo leaned back leisurely in his chair. The gods were very interested in gaining more information about San and Biyeon. Did Tehara feel like he had the upper hand since he knew why the two were visiting him?

“So, you can’t tell us about the Outsiders?” San asked.

“If you present a value commensurate with our information and sign a contract stating that you won’t be contentious against the Outsiders, we can consider developing talks a little further.”

“What if they’re contentious with us?”

“That won’t happen. We will convince them otherwise. They will probably listen to us. They wouldn’t want to give up what we’re offering them.”

“What are you gods providing them?”

“Insight.”

“Insight?”

“Humans seem to call it ‘theory’. You can think of it as calculative options that gods like to discuss and play around with. However, Awakened humans, who want to create new skills, need this ‘theory’. It’s not in abundance either. What say you? Are you interested as well?”

“Hmm…” San looked toward Biyeon. Biyeon was smiling.

“What the hell are we supposed to do with insight…” Biyeon stated with scorn.

“I guess we don’t need it,” San followed up as he scratched his head. Apollo was visibly taken aback by the two’s response.

“Why?”

“We’re not on the side of creation. We’re closer to destruction. We’re also not calculative. We’re more abstract, like daydreams,” Biyeon curtly responded.

“Abstract…?” Apollo parroted. Abstract… it was a term that corresponded more with the concepts of unreasonableness and chaos. Gods did not delve into the abstract. Gods may predict, but they did not reside in the abstract.

“Another reason is that we’re sure the ideas created by gods, like most playthings, probably won’t be of any use to us. If we were to fight against one of your Apostles using skills created from your ideas, we’d probably be on the short end of the stick, right? Also, you’d probably sell our information to the highest bidder, whether that be our friend or foe. Why would we agree to such an absurd contract?”

“Ahem…” Bichel, who had been listening in, lightly coughed. Apollo changed the topic of discussion.

“Hmm… I’ll try to see what we can gather about the Outsiders. What will you give us in return?”

“Before that, I have another question…” Biyeon said. Apollo’s blue eyes met with Biyeon’s eyes. She was using her Awakened gaze to tease out the truth from the other party. Apollo gulped.

“What is it?”

“Do you guys have enough Nectar?” Biyeon asked.

Apollo stared at Biyeon. His expression slowly started crumbling into a frown.

“No, we don’t have enough,” Apollo answered.

“You’re lacking a lot of Nectar, right? The number of apostles and priests are only growing…”

“…”

Apollo stayed silent for a moment before nodding his head.

“And I believe the other gods are in the same position?”

“I can’t release any information about the other gods.”

“Whatever…”

“…”

“So, you guys still haven’t figured out how to make Nectar, right?”

“Stop. Don’t speak any further…!”

Apollo raised his hand to stop the conversation from progressing further.

‘Such an evil way of conversing!’

Bichel, who had been listening in on the conversation from the side, took out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his brow. He didn’t like how the two were conducting their conversation with his god. For gods, who could not lie, their way of asking questions was the worst form of conversation. Whatever answer the god gave, the questioner could tease out the truth. If the god refused to answer, they’d arrive at their answer anyway. The woman had gotten the answers to what she wished by using this form of questioning.

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