79. [The 5th Chapter] Chapter of Chaos- Prologue
Helpharon moved his feet. He was headed to a distant forest nearby a secluded city. He could see a building not long after he began to travel down the mountain path, with hurried steps. The building was an old brick abbey. There was a cross adorning the top of its red roof, and greenery climbing the walls in various places, perhaps due to overgrowth and neglect. There was what appeared to be a pole for drying clothes in a nearby clearing, and children’s toys strewn about. some men were gathered here.
“Ey, I asked when you’re going to pay up!”
“If you borrowed money, don’t you know you have to pay it back?”
“Or just sell those orphans! Won’t you make some money selling them as slaves?”
Helpharon frowned. This was an abbey; a holy place where God was worshipped. It felt disgusting that some ‘trash’ like them were shouting in such a place. They look like they were from the nearby city. The bulky men had gathered around and were shouting at an old man.
“Ey! If you’re a holy man, live honestly like a priest! Hurry up and pay back your debt!”
A man grabbed the old man’s collar, and the old man turned pale.
“I-I’m sorry. I’ll prepare the money however I can!”
The old man looked feeble. His back was slightly hunched and he was wearing an oversized abbot’s garb. His face was gaunt, making his body size look unnatural.
“I don’t know when it’ll be, but I’ll pay it back to the best of my ability! Ah, now that I think about it, there were some subsidies granted by the state! I’ll give you that!”
Hearing those words, the thugs smiled with satisfaction.
“Hah! Subsidies? Do you think you’ll be able to pay back the debt with something like that?”
“Ey, old man, how are you going to pay back the interest? It’s already accrued to 20 gold coins.”
The old man looked surprised at those words.
“No, wait a minute. 20 coins…? I definitely only borrowed a single gold coin, but for it to have become that bloated…?”
“It’s interest! Interest! Don’t you know that the economy is bad right now? There’s a war going on as well!”
“The interest rates are quite high right now!”
They were brutish thugs. They were clearly looking like they wanted to shake this old man of everything he had.
Helpharon shook his head. When he started to move, the thugs turned their heads.
“What? Who is that bastard..? A priest?”
“Ey, old man, what are you starting at…”
The thugs looked at Helpharon’s priestly attire, then to the sword attached to his hip.
“… Holy Knight?”
When the thugs began to question, one of their ears flew off.
Hepharon returned his blade to its sheath. A thug screamed as he grabbed his severed ear while his companions retreated hesitantly. Helpharon looked at the old man then tossed a leather bag to the thugs.
“It’s 20 gold coins. 10 coins for the interest of the debt, and the remaining 10 coins for treating that man’s ear.”
“And if you think of sullying sacred grounds again…” Helpharon glared at them with hostility. “… We’ll offer your blood to god.”
The thugs fled. After seeing them disappear, Helpharon turned back to the old man. The old man eyed Helpharon unhappily, treating him more like a nemesis than a savior.
“… Who was it that really dirties these sacred grounds?”
Helphaon jumped in surprise before turning his gaze downwards. The ear was left behind, and still bleeding onto the floor. Looking back, he could see children sticking their heads out the abbey window. This wasn’t something good for them to see.
Helpharon, who noticed this, closed his eyes and lowered his head.
“… The apology shouldn’t be to me, but to our god Lord Arrtark. And… thank you.”
“There is no way that a Holy Knight would come to this backwater area… were you sent by the Pope?”
“His Holiness, the Pope, Salem Gattschurache sent me.”
The old man, Holffmann, expressed his surprise before his face soured in displeasure.
“Who’s the Pope! When was that crazy bastard the Pope! He’s just a madman! A madman that’ll topple this holy nation!” Holffmann clucked his tongue. “Get lost! I don’t even want to talk to someone sent by him!”
Helpharon turned around. It was impossible to engage him in conversation at this point.
Seeing Helpharon turn back so quickly, Holffmann peeked over at him and spoke.
“… You are the first guest in a long time, and it would be against the teachings of our Lord to chase away a savior that has given me help. Have some tea before you go.”
Holffmann carried and placed a tea set onto a shabby table. He breathed in the sweet aroma and closed his eyes. The sound of singing and holy scripture being read from the chapel could be heard; it was the sound of worship by the children of this abbey. They were rough, but their prayers contained a unique sense of purity. Maybe it was from that innocence that he could feel his stiffly frozen heart-melting.
Helpharon slowly opened his eyes and looked forward. Before his eyes was a feeble looking old man, but that person was one of the Archbishops of the Holy Empire, Holffmann.
In contrast to the other Archbishops, Holffmann was one without any influence or authority, but his strength was known to be the most powerful and the most terrible within the Holy Kingdom. He could topple armies on his own, and showed no mercy toward any heretic. He was also the one that killed the Demon Lord 200 years ago.
Despite having crossed the limit of human longevity, he had overwhelming strength to the point that people sometimes referred to him as ‘The Angel’. He was a true human, in reality, but to Helpharon, the Holy Power that Holffmann possessed was so pure and powerful that he’d believe it if it had come from an angel.
Holffmann began to speak as he sipped his tea.
“… Why have you come?”
“I’ve come to receive your help.”
“Yes, there is a war with the Kingdom of Aylans this time. The recent battle… on the side of the Holy Kingdom…”
“They say you were defeated?” Holffmann cut him short. “If you’re meaning to drag me into war, relay to Salem this message.” Holffmann spoke with a warm smile. “Do you want to die? If you want to keep living, you better tremble at the very sight of me and continue avoiding me for all you’re worth. Considering that he even sent you as a messenger, it makes me think he’s grown quite bold.”
“I don’t know what stupid things are happening, but I heard he even broke Continental Law? Nonsense. For what reason? You’re invading because you merely coveted the Kingdom of Aylans? Do you want their magic? Their land?”
Helpharon spoke honestly without hesitation.
“… It’s because of a woman.”
Holffmann’s eyes narrowed sharply.
“You are not loyal.”
“I am merely a believer following Lord Arrtark.”
“There is no reason to be loyal to the Pope just for being a believer. The Pope is merely a servant delivering His messages. He is not the Lord, and the current Pope is not even that servant…” Holffmann placed his cup down and continued. “But a mere beast in heat driven by his instincts.”
“If you’re just following the Pope on faith with no loyalty, you should stop. I warn you. Following the current Pope is truly the path of a heretic that displeases the Lord.”
“He does anything for the sake of his desires. As you said, he invaded another country for the sake of a single woman? Even if you give him the benefit of the doubt, he’ll continue to disappoint you…” Holffmann shook his head. “A person that drags the entire continent into destruction for the sake of his own desires is not a rational person, but a base animal that ignores all thought, rationality, basic decency, and philosophy. No, you might even say that a beast is better than he. A beast will stop killing once his stomach is full, but this bastard is so wicked that he’ll puke out everything only to swallow it all up again!”
Holffmann pinched his brow.
“Yes, why couldn’t I stop him when the previous Pope accepted that child as his adopted son…”
“… This is not a request for you to participate in the war.”
Holffmann turned to Helpharon.
“It is to simply rid us of a heretic.”
Holffmann looked interested. To him, a ‘heretic’ was someone that deserved punishment, and one that shouldn’t exist in this world.
Helpharon surveyed him. Until now, Holffmann appeared incorruptible and pure, but that was merely how he appeared on the outside. In the distant past, he caused an unbelievable incident in which he leveled an entire city to destroy a single group of necromancers that had been labeled as heretics. He might care for pitiful children and kept to the norms of the state, but when it came to ‘heretics’, he didn’t hold back, even killing good and innocent people.
“… This is the information we received a while ago.”
Helpharon pulled out a pouch from his possessions. Within the pouch were a false identification card and an identity to enter the Kingdom of Aylans.
“The Devil of Lania appeared.”
“Please kill him.”
Holffmann’s eyes narrowed.
‘The Devil of Lania! Where have I heard that name before? Wasn’t that the monster that had conquered Lania? Also, didn’t he slaughter the people as he toppled the capital?’
However, that was not nearly enough to move him. The capital? It was merely flushing out the rotten water. Even if the Devil of Lania hadn’t appeared all those years ago, the capital would have eventually fallen one way or another. And what of murder? Wasn’t that also something that kings, nobles, and commoners did as well? The commoners had the excuse for hunting beasts for their own survival, but the kings and nobles commonly killed commoners for their own benefit and greed. Holffmann had no intention of intervening for something so ‘commonplace’.
However, this matter was different. The Devil of Lania was a necromancer that summoned the undead. He was a devil that broke the law of this world and forcibly entrapped the souls of the dead. The devil himself! Spirit Magic was black magic, and that Holffmann could never accept! The dead had to be at peace to be reincarnated into new life… The act of defying that was to defy the will of Arrtark, who governed such things. In other words, a heretic!
Holfmann reached out with his hand and gripped the pouch.
“The heretic… where is he?”
“… Do you think that makes any sense?”
The voices of the nobles rang out from the capital of the Kingdom of Aylans. All the gathered within the royal palace sat on both sides of the throne, their faces red from screaming.
“From the Demon Kingdom, or Hell, as they call it? For it to be Demons..! Do you think it makes any sense that that den of monsters formed a nation? We only ever called them a kingdom out of convenience, but weren’t they primitive bastards with no semblance of statehood?”
“Before all that, this is a huge problem! This won’t just be a conflict between us and the Holy Kingdom, but a conflict against the entire continent! My word… Did we actually fend off against the Holy Kingdom with the aid of Demons? If that gets out, there won’t be an end to people calling us heretics! They’ll see such as some slaves of Demons, contracted with the Devil!”
“Just what happened, Count Shabel!”
“Why did those people help you?”
“Could it be that you made a bargain with the Devil?!”
Count Shabel kept silent. There was nothing he could say to them. The other party hid their identity, but he was at fault for not having discerned their intentions.
‘It was impossible to figure out that man’s intentions beforehand. Who would have thought that there was a Hero-grade warrior under the service of the Demon Lord?!’
After he had heard that the Allied Forces of the Hero had disbanded, there were rumors regarding the Devil of Lania. They said the Devil of Lania had gone under the service of the Demon Lord, so it wasn’t so strange that there was someone of Hero-grade serving the Demon Lord as well. Considering all this… Hell was truly a dangerous place. The Devil of Lania, who had toppled the capital of the Holy Kingdom and killed the Hero, and someone of Hero-grade who had betrayed humanity, had attached themselves to the Demon Lord.
Count Shabel, who didn’t think that Tom was the Devil of Lania, decided that turning Hell into an ‘enemy’ was very dangerous. The Devil of Lania and Tom, just these two existences by themselves, were trouble enough. But, adding the army of Demons that he saw with his own two eyes… Just they alone could crush the Kingdom of Aylans. It was enough to make the idea that ‘they were just tools-for-profits’ disappear entirely.
“… Try to defend yourself, Count Shabel.”
Count Shabel raised his head when he heard the calm, but authoritative voice. King Paulie, sitting on his throne, was glaring at him.
“According to your next few words, we’ll judge whether you are loyal to the Kingdom of Aylans and I, Paulie Aylans, or some filthy servant that had offered his soul to the sovereign of Hell, the Demon Lord, and the wicked Demons.”
Count Shabel spoke in reply to King Paulie’s words.
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