Chapter 109: The Songstress and Divine Revelation
The snow began to pile up as a coat of white covered the Cathedral located in the North.
No one special appeared when it was time to board the carriage. No one special, not even a friend or companion. Only a Sister came to see “her” off. The only person whom “she” had a close relationship in the Cathedral. Involuntarily, Ariene smiled in her heart. The sigh that came from her mouth was white because of the cold.
Her cheeks became rosy in this cold weather. Ariene casually waved goodbye at the Sister from the moving carriage. Her Sister’s figure became smaller and smaller as the carriage got further away.
There was a solid cushion under her waist to prevent the seat from shaking due to the carriage’s rattling movements. Beside this cushion, Ariene grabbed a blanket that looked quite luxurious to shelter her from the cold. The blanket was so comfortable and exquisite that Ariene could not think that someone prepared it just for her.
Ariene’s golden eyes twinkled unexpectedly.
The treatment was quite different from when she first came here. Ariene sharpened her lips as she wrapped herself with the blanket.
“Of course, I know it can’t be helped. When I came here, I was just an orphan. Just a child with some knowledge of magic.”
“The carriage on the way to the Cathedral was so violent that I thought the rider was doing it on purpose. I remember hitting my head many times over.”
“I thought about it quite often during that time. I wish I had remained in Gharast with Lugis.”
Ariene bit her lips without knowing it. She felt as if her heart had turned into cold ice. She strongly wrapped herself with the luxurious blanket, which was sturdy enough to warm herself.
Ariene wondered how lucky she was to leave the Cathedral with such a gentle gesture. This blanked was comfortable enough to make her sleepy.
Why? Was this gesture the result of her endurance? This question shook her brain painfully that began to bite her back teeth involuntary. Despite these feelings, Ariene still felt lucky somehow. At least, that was what she thought.
The Saint. The Songstress. The only achievements that Ariene got were those two names. These names were a proof that the Cathedral recognized her faith and grace given by god. Although she had a great knowledge of magic, it did not mean that she obtained any position or status because of her gift. However, she was only given those titles because she was one of those with the closest bond to the faith among the candidates who attended the seminars.
Besides, only a few people could be candidates to become a saint. Therefore, the Saint or the Songstress were special names and titles beckoned to her.
It was said that only a handful of people could reach that candidacy. Ariene was among them. Ariene could not hide the color of joy that exuded from her chest. She also felt the feeling of superiority.
Her thin, white fingers were full of scratches and her mind went through a large portion of humiliation. However, she was finally able to grab something. Yes, something relevant. Something that recognized her existence. She finally began to understand why and how she received the special treatment on this carriage. Even tears seemed to emerge at the edge of her eyes.
Right now, this journey was the result of the hard-earned titles. A result that made her feet move forward.
“…Only the Pilgrimage route can lead a person to the Holiness.”
People said that this was the teaching of the Cathedral and the proclamation of their only god, Altius.
Altius, the god who gave people a divine revelation in order to give them salvation. A saint was someone who acted as an intermediary between a person and this god.
Therefore, in order to get closer to god, even if one had to risk his or her life, then one had to receive the divine revelation brought to them by god.
This ritual was the Pilgrimage.
The existence of such teaching and ritual was also the reason why the existence of a saint was brought to life. The Cathedral chose candidates to be saints for many years.
The Pilgrimage was not just a ritual that followed a fixed path. It was a special journey given by god.
Based on the divine revelation given by Altius, all the saints of the past succeeded in performing the Pilgrimage by preventing the dangers and threats that devoured the spirit.
Sometimes the path given by Altius created war, sometimes it created abundant fertility, and sometimes it created an absolute victory.
In other words, the Pilgrimage route was nothing but a journey that caused the miracle of salvation.
Therefore, no matter how good or versatile one could be, this person could not be a saint without the divine revelation of the god, Altius.
If a candidate received the divine revelation to become a saint, then this candidate would gain absolute authority close to a deity.
However, becoming a saint was something rare. Extremely rare, that almost transformed into a tale. In fact, the last appearance of an actual saint belonged to a story of the past no longer recorded in literature. No one who lived in the present days had seen a saint with his or her own eyes.
Nonetheless, in this era, the divine revelation came down to the Cathedral, as if it had the purpose to help the sacred religion and dissipate chaos brought by the Heraldic Order. And, of course, it came down to Ariene, the subject of the divine revelation.
Ariene thought deeply. “I am really lucky. I’ve got such good luck by being given the path to become a saint.”
Ariene blinked her eyes while feeling the soft blanket on her lap. The movements of the loose carriage swayed through. She almost fell asleep. She finally felt allowed to “breathe”. The comfortable sensation she felt for the first time in a long time made her eyelids heavier.
Belfein, a city-state near Garoua Maria, was the destination given in the divine revelation. Ariene understood that and had no doubts that no peace lied ahead. She felt that something serious had happened because a divine revelation was bestowed to her.
However, the slightest anxiety obscured her expectations like a fog. Yes, that city was very close to Garoua Maria, the current home of the Heraldic Order.
If chances overlapped with one another, Ariene could finally meet “him”. She had a little hope. Yes, a little hope to see Lugis, the childhood friend whom she hadn’t seen nor heard his voice for a long time.
In the depths of Ariene’s swaying heart, she doubted whether her childhood friend was the same person as the one named Lugis, the great sinner and traitor that belonged to the Heraldic Order. She would know once she saw his appearance, but even so, she never thought that her childhood friend would be someone who could do such a big thing.
Ariene remembered the stubborn but unobtrusive Lugis.
“What should I do if the true identity of the so-called great sinner was my childhood friend?” Ariene herself did not know what kind of emotions she had in her heart.
“If he is the childhood friend of my memories, then it would be nice to meet him again. But, if Lugis became my enemy by joining the Heraldic Order, what should I do? I will probably end up meeting him if he did join the old religion. But, thinking about that scenario makes my heart ache painfully.”
Everything sounded so confusing. Ariene blinked her golden eyes as she almost slipped into her dreams.
“…Lugis, you are on my side, aren’t you? If not, then I…”
Ariene could not answer the question that came up on her sleepy mind. But, it soon disappeared into the snow that covered the surrounding area.
「How great. Finally, you became anxious too and lifted your heavy waist. Unbelievable, but I bet that you are totally fine with it!」
Words spilled from a dark shade. Without much nuance, those words melted into the surrounding darkness.
A shadow emerged from the obscurity, and the silhouette of said creature moved like the fire fluctuations of a candle. After a moment, the silhouette of this shadowy being began to emerge much stronger and more clearly.
The mouth of the shadow opened.
「Why not, Altius. At the very end, it is the people, not us, who decide everything. A helpless person can only make progress if he or she suffers and struggles. Only then, that person will decide everything, including which path to take in life.」
The other shadow appeared and oscillated. This shadow increased its voice more dynamically and with more heat. The shadow spoke with an exaggerated gesture, even though the other shadow existed in front of it. These shadows were apparently part of the kingdom of darkness.
「Ah, that is easy to say. You did not give it once. But I gave it once!」
“After all, that’s all we can do.” When the shadow professed those incomprehensible but heated words, the other shadow made a playful laugh.
Then, as it was, both disappeared into the black obscurity again.
POV for the shadows, quite eerie..
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