Hundreds of priests entered the huge prayer room located beneath the great temple.
"Ayy, you're cute, so get rid of the veil,” Hillis whispered with a playful smile.
I gritted my teeth. "Don't talk to me."
Damn it; the wind is blowing underneath me. Why did all the women’s priest uniforms have skirts? Isn't this an outdated idea? Oh right, this world was pre-modern and had emperors. Well, nothing I can do then.
Hillis, Lisbon, and I tried to enter the prayer room, but the priest guarding the door of the prayer room blocked us like a gatekeeper.
“Is there something wrong?" Hillis smiled and casually asked.
Hillis was confident that even if she showed her face, the priest would not remember it, thanks to the ribbon I gave her. Even if he remembered her face, I wasn’t worried because few high-ranking officials in the great temple knew what she looked like.
"It must be your first time at the great temple’s morning prayer meeting."
"Yes, that’s right… But is there a problem?”
Hillis didn't show it, but she seemed a little nervous. If there was a registry of people attending the prayer meeting, they could be kicked out without being able to enter.
The gatekeeper smiled and handed over an empty paper booklet and a pen. "The problem is, you seem to have forgotten to fill out the visitor’s book."
"Oh, I see.” Hillis accepted the visitor’s book and even filled it out for Lisbon and me.
"Welcome to the prayer meeting hosted by the archbishop-nim, my brothers and sisters."
The priest drew a cross, and Hillis and I also drew a cross simultaneously. I stepped on Lisbon’s foot as he stood in a daze to make him behave properly.
"Are you unwell, Brother-nim?
"Oh, no.” At the gatekeeper's question, Lisbon looked awkwardly and drew a cross.
We naturally stepped into the prayer room. In the prayer room, like when I came here before, there was a huge stone goddess statue, which was five meters tall, standing in front of a vast space.
Looking at the huge stone goddess statue, Hillis began to explain as if she were a tour guide, "In the past, that stone goddess statue used to be heavily covered in gold."
"Wow, is that so?" Lisbon looked at the stone statue in amazement, and I snorted lightly.
"It's all about the money," I said.
Hillis nodded and affirmed, "That's right. It's all about the money. Even if you peel off the gold, that goddess statue is too big. A life-sized one is enough, but having one that big is useless."
"An empty cart is noisy."
"That's right. That's why I like it these days. They’re more frugal.”
When Hillis and I sharply criticized the statue, Lisbon was rather flustered. "Oh, no, but there is also the dignity of God.…”
Hillis and I spoke at the same time.
"Dignity is bullshit."
"Dignity is bullshit."
Hillis and I high-fived.
"Originally, in religion, you’re not supposed to find dignity in something like that."
Hillis sympathized with me and nodded. "It seems like you know. A great God must be dignified by itself. A dignity that must be presented with outward decoration is cheap."
I was clearly an atheist while Hillis had the highest position in the temple as a saintess, but we agreed. Was this the logic that polar opposites attract?
Priests belonging to the great temple were situated in the front seats, and those present seemed to have a lower status in the great temple the further back they sat.
Hillis clicked her tongue at this sight. "Oh, they were told not to line them up."
We sat on chairs at the end of the prayer room. The prayer room was quite noisy with chatter as many people gathered, but the noise soon died down.
"The archbishop-nim is entering."
When a voice that was amplified by magic was heard, it quickly became quiet. As the door at the front of the silent prayer room opened, unlike what I had imagined, a skinny middle-aged man entered.
"He’s a little different from what I expected,” Lisbon muttered in surprise.
What was surprising was the archbishop’s seemingly quite sincere first impression. However, I could see at a glance that he was a swindler who just looked good.
"He looks too nice. He must be a crook." Hillis also looked at the archbishop with suspicion.
"I agree. How trash must he be to have a face look that nice?”
"I'm sure he accumulated a mountain’s worth of stolen donations.”
"A bank leaves records, so I wonder where he’s keeping it?"
"Well, an archbishop would be given a personal office building. Maybe it’s there?"
"No, if he put it in a personal office building, he wouldn’t be able to avoid a religious inquisition if he got caught.”
"Then he must have another secret place. Where would it be?"
"Well? Let’s check the archbishop's room."
As Hillis and I were whispering to one another, Lisbon looked at us strangely. "Um, hey. Is it okay for you to say that out loud? Everyone will be able to hear."
I stepped on Lisbon’s foot as he looked around nervously.
"Isn’t it obvious that it’s fine since Hillis has soundproofing magic up? So don't look around so noticeably."
Lisbon felt wronged by my warning. "How would I know that you cast soundproof magic?”
"Why would you not know that?"
It seems I’ll have to add drills that maximize the senses to Lisbon’s early morning training.
"That's right. Soundproofing is a basic thing. Hmm, Brother Lisbon-nim opens his mouth too wide when speaking, so it’d be better not to talk at all.” Hillis agreed with me and nagged Lisbon.
Lisbon was depressed as if he were a scolded golden retriever. Isn't ventriloquism one of the most basic things? He didn’t even have the essentials. Tsk tsk.
The archbishop smiled graciously at the priests who filled the prayer room. He looked more and more like a fraud.
"Thank you, my great temple family, for attending the prayer meeting early this morning. Now, let me begin with a prayer of thanks to our Lord for providing us with this place. Mother in heaven...”
For the archbishop’s prayer, the priests gathered in the prayer room each took out a goddess statue or rosaries, put them in front of them, and held their hands together to pray. I also put my goddess statue in front of me.
"This goddess statue is very crude. I don't think it's sold anywhere. Did you make it yourself?”
I shook my head at Hillis's review. "No, I just maintained it with plaster. I didn’t make it."
If I made it, it would not be a statue but just a lump.
"Really? Hmm, it's not that it’s poorly made, but I feel a sense of familiarity from it. Should I say it feels sacred? Anyway, the more I look at it, the more strange it seems. I feel like I've seen it somewhere before. Where did you get it?”
Hillis's question made me wince inside. I couldn't sense anything, but I guess she was able to recognize the golden goddess statue because she was a saintess.
"It's just a statue handed down in my house."
When I smoothly lied, Hillis nodded. "I see. I don’t know, but somehow, I feel a deep history from it. Maybe your family has a deep background?"
At Hillis’s joke, I shrugged and responded with a joke too, "Maybe? You never know; perhaps one of my ancestors was a legendary hero."
Come to think of it, Galak Blade, my great-grandfather, was the hero who killed the demon king.
“Iya, should I call you a hero?”
While Hillis and I giggled and chatted, the archbishop finished praying and began preaching. "Now, let’s not forget our gratitude as we are here under the grace of our Great Mother...”
Listening to a clearly stereotypical sermon only made me yawn. On the other hand, Lisbon was paying attention to the sermon, and he started nodding at some point, listening attentively.
I stepped lightly on Lisbon’s foot.
"Ugh! It hurts."
Lisbon looked at me tearily, and I sighed. "We’ve come to rob that person’s room. So what are you doing getting swayed by him?”
"But what he is saying is right. Always help the weak, be just, and love your neighbors- Argh!”
I stepped on Lisbon’s foot once again because he was saying a bunch of nonsense. "Would a person who wants to help the weak act like a gangster at the Angel's House? Don't you know it's just words?”
"Oh, is that so? Come to think of it, it is."
Looking at the naive, convinced Pushover, I was worried that he might fall into a multi-level marketing scheme one day. Well, since Alice is here, she would stop him even if she needed to beat him.
"And to begin with, a priest's job is to say the right thing. Although, from time to time, there are people like that mouse face who come by during the day and say things that should earn them a beating."
Hillis’s face became flushed, and she sighed. "Please know that not all temple people are like that."
I nodded. "I know. A wise man once said that when five people get together, one of them is garbage.”
Hillis was impressed by my words. "Wow, what kind of wise man was it to say such an accurate thing?"
He was a wise man from my past life. The archbishop's sermon seemed just and nice to hear, but it also sounded like a threat to harm others if they didn't take his side.
"Shall we start moving now?"
Lisbon and I nodded at Hillis's suggestion.
"Let's go outside separately because it’ll be too obvious if the three of us move together."
All the doors in the prayer room were open, allowing us to escape with various excuses. I was watching the timing when I left, pretending to help an old priest who was going to the bathroom.
It would have been difficult to leave this way if there were fewer people. However, since there was such an abundance of people that it filled this huge prayer room, multiple individuals were leaving to use the bathroom, making it easy. After leaving the prayer room with our own methods, we gathered in front of the ventilation shaft that we had decided upon before.
"There’s less security than I thought,” I said.
Lisbon nodded and agreed, "Yeah, I thought they'd increase their security after being harmed by that person named Lupin."
Hillis answered the question that Lisbon and I had. "That’s because security wasn’t even a thing before. And most importantly, I've heard that the core of the former forces, Paladin Malive, as well as the paladins under him, are mostly guarding Cardinal Fernando."
That old man who wore the golden mask still isn’t dead? Although I had cast it offhandedly, it was magic I created by mixing an ancient curse that twisted the cause and effect and killed with certainty. I thought he would be dead by now, but it seems that the old man has a pretty persistent lifeforce.
I pulled the frame out of the ventilation shaft and went in. "I'll go first, so Lisbon, you come next, then Hillis."
"Den, don't you think I should go first? I’m probably more familiar with the temple."
I laughed at Hillis. “You're going to crawl in front with a skirt?”
“Oh!” Hillis blushed.
In addition, I was sure I could navigate better after having come in and out of the ventilation shafts dozens of times last year.
"Follow me." I started crawling to the archbishop's room, following the map I had memorized in my head.
By the way, I forgot that I was also wearing a skirt. The skirt kept sticking together, making it difficult to crawl.
"It’s difficult to move. Is it okay if I rip your skirt?”
Hillis refused at once. "No, if Albatoss finds out, he'll nag me.”
"What does that have to do with me?"
"I’ll hit you."
"Okay, I won't rip it."
The wig was cumbersome, and the skirt was uncomfortable, but I moved forward without any choice.Previous Chapter Next Chapter