Chapter 280: The Golden Encounter and Breath of the Age of Gods
The landscape looked magnificent as if a white veil had been forced onto the mountain range. The mountains, which should had been valiantly exposed, were now completely covered in white.
Ariene unknowingly looked up at the sky while blending her golden hair with white. The uncomfortably distant sky was showering snow grains that even made her sigh.
Snow was so beautiful that it couldn’t be described in words.
It was often said that beautiful things had poisonous thorns, but was it not an exaggeration? No, the dead snow looked more beautiful because of its dangerous existence.
Ariene grabbed a piece of fallen snow with her glove-covered palm. She tried to hold it in her hands for a moment, but it quickly melted and turned into water.
「What’s the matter? Are you tired, Songstress? Sorry to say this, but I can’t drag this carriage further if there’s snow everywhere.」
Suddenly, after seeing Ariene trying to catch snow with her hands, the man accompanying her turned around and let out his voice. Ariene smiled unintentionally at his frivolous language and behavior, and returned the words.
「There’s nothing wrong, Cathedral Knight Garras Gargantia. Besides, I’m not in the position to be called Songstress. Yes, I’m not.」
Seeing how Ariene responded, Garras jokingly laughed. The other Cathedral Knights surrounding Ariene froze their expressions upon seeing Garras laughing aloud.
Certainly, Ariene’s exact status was nothing more than a candidate to be a saint, and she was provisionally given the nickname of the Songstress Saint. Therefore, there would be no problem if Garras, a Cathedral Knight, spoke with his big mouth. That was, for now.
The Songstress Saint Ariene was a woman with golden hair and twinkling eyes who sang her bewitching poems, making priests and commoners alike to accept her as a saint.
His Holiness the Pope, whom the Cathedral Knights served, did not change his perception either. Rather, it would be fair to say that the Pope was the first person to believe that she would be a saint.
That’s why the majority of the Cathedral Knights who were supposed to stay in the Cathedral were sent to guard her. It was an act equivalent to saying that God wanted to make Ariene a saint.
Therefore, it was only a matter of time before Ariene became the true saint. The rest was just trials that God had prepared for the pilgrimage journey.
That’s why many of the Cathedral Knights who were allowed to accompany Ariene as guards treated her like the true saint. They saw their future selves and how they could increase their statuses if they treated a saint well, so they walked behind her with their heads bowed.
However, Garras Gargantia was different.
…Although his skill and prowess were the best among the Cathedral Knights, he was the one who the least looked like a Cathedral Knight. He was a beast with a spear.
Was it because he was given such a derogatory name? His tone was frivolous, and he didn’t even show a shred of respect for the saint. Every time Garras opened his mouth, all of the Cathedral Knights stiffened their expressions as if they felt chills down their spines.
Some of them would like to take this as an opportunity, hoping that Garras would upset the saint in order to dispose him. He was, after all, a person whom the Cathedral Knights did not feel comfortable with.
However, upon hearing Garras’ frivolous laugh, Ariene spoke with a smile that looked somewhat cheerful.
「Really, you’re someone I cannot fully understand. Yes, you can do whatever you want. I don’t mind.」
Garras let out a small sigh, but never showed any kind of disgust. Rather, there was something that he even liked.
There was a rumor that Garras Gargantia and Saint Ariene had been friends since the time when the saint was still called a nun. Maybe that’s why they felt at ease with each other.
He was close to the future saint. There was no doubt that he was the envy of the Cathedral Knights.
Even so, there was no other Cathedral Knight like Garras who tried to talk directly to Ariene. Despite the other Cathedral Knights’ desire to gain a relationship with her, everyone thoroughly behaved as obedient servants of the saint.
The reason was simple. For the Great Holy Church, the saint was no longer a human being.
A saint was a person who was fearful and approached God. A saint often went beyond the steps of men. Saints were those who possessed the miracles and mysteries of the age of the gods.
Therefore, a saint deserved both excessive worship and fear. Besides, Ariene’s recent behavior had made the Cathedral Knights’ reverence even stronger.
Ariene continued to follow the pilgrimage route according to the revelation of God, and her behavior or even her very existence had undergone a gradual transformation. At least, she did not have the presence of a town girl now.
There were times when the escort Cathedral Knights realized this transformation in casual contact on a daily basis by seeing Ariene’s eyes. Not usually, but sometimes they got a frightening fear when caught in that golden color.
It felt as if being directly stared at by a far superior being. It was as if the outline and existence of oneself had become ambiguous. It was as if the mind itself was being forcibly emitting madness.
That was surely the manifestation of an unmistakable mystery. The girl named Ariene was nothing less than a part of God. For a believer of the Great Holy Church, this fact was a source of great joy. It warmed one’s heart.
However, it must be because they were terribly far away from her.
Once you got close enough to feel its presence, a presence that swallowed up everything around you, your heart would throb with panic. Your emotions would be bound by an abundance of awe. Anyone who once got too close to god was swallowed up by its light by burning the eyes and one’s whole body.
That’s why the only people who could speak to Ariene were Garras Gargantia and one more person.
One more person. That person was allowed to accompany them on this journey in the form of Garras Gargantia’s companion. A one-eyed swordsman who was a prominent figure in the walled city of Garoua Maria and had been given the title of righteous avenger, his name was Helot Stanley.
「The only thing that shows the location is the record of tradition, but I’m sure you’ll be able to see it soon.」
Ariene replied with a small nod to Helot’s muttering words. Her golden eyes caught the young man in front of her who called himself as Helot.
Ariene didn’t know much about Helot Stanley.
What she did know was that the only god, Altius, chose him as her bodyguard. Moreover, he was one of the few people who survived the direct exchange of blades with Lugis, the Lord of Vice. It was said that the reason why his left eye had lost its light forever was because of the scars carved into his body during that battle.
According to rumors, the hostility that Helot harbored in his heart against Lugis was stronger than anyone else’s, and his martial arts skills were greatly unmatched, making him far from an ordinary person.
That’s why the common people expected something from him. Once defeated by the Lord of Vice, and lying on the bed of blood, he once again picked up the sword and walked the path of a righteous avenger.
Having heard such a story in advance, Ariene predicted that Helot Stanley was a man with a dark flame in his eyes.
Was it vengeance against Lugis? Ariene wondered if he was the kind of person who could harbor such overflowing emotion.
However, it seemed that it was not the case. Ariene frowned upon feeling the extreme cold of the falling snow for a moment, rippling her lips.
What was in Helot Stanley’s eye was not hostility or vengeance. Rather, Ariene felt a sign that he was carrying another strong heat.
Ariene’s hair swayed. It was just a small talk, but she spoke with shivering lips.
「…You met Lugis, the Lord of Vice. I wonder what kind of person he was when you faced him.」
In response to Ariene’s question, Helot Stanley closed his lips for a moment and acted as if he were formulating some words.
The golden eyes did not capture anything about Ariene’s figure; rather it seemed that they were imagining someone somewhere else, far away.
After a few seconds, Helot said.
「It’s hard to describe in one word…He was a strong man. He was dazzling.」
Ariene narrowed her eyes strongly upon hearing those words. After all, it was not much, but Helot’s words showed that Lugis was not his enemy. He didn’t show any color of hostility towards him. The surrounding Cathedral Knights, with the exception of Garras, had their expressions distorted in bewilderment.
Surely, no one was able to grasp Helot’s true intentions.
Of course, showing respect to even your enemies was a noble act, but there weren’t that many people who would do that to Heraldic followers. What’s more, the opponent was the one who was judged as a great evil. No matter what Helot said, there was too much suspicion.
Still, no one tried to break into the conversation with the saint.
In the midst of all that, Ariene was the only one who had something that seemed to be certain in her heart.
…The person named Helot Stanley held no grudge against Lugis. What he had was another, annoying emotion.
When Ariene realized such truth, a beautiful smile floated on her cheeks.
The voice of Garras stroked everybody’s ears.
「I can see it now, it’s the location. It’s the Giant’s Bed. Hey, it looks like a very nice place, don’t you think so?」
An ancient building appeared in the gaps of the snow.
It was said that the only god, Altius, once stole the head of the giant and sent him to sleep for eternity. It was one of those discontinuities where the age of myth still left its breath.
Have a nice sunday everyone!
Thank you to the Patrons for the continued support!
So Helot has ‘another’ émotion for Lugis… 🤔
Thanks for the chapter.