The Consequence of Saving the World
Sword and words—two different means to an end.
They were a lot more similar than people give them credit for. As if to illustrate that point further, simply reshuffle the letters around and one can form either of them.
I wouldn’t call myself a master of words in the same way Sereya was a master of the sword, but it was one of the few things in life that I was superior in. With violence or intimidation not being such an appealing vehicle to our next destination, persuasion turned into our sweet, new ride.
I already had all the tools and preparation I needed. The question was, could I pull off the next corner?
Calming my nerves down, I went into a different state of mind. For this brief period of time, I was no longer Evansmith Mattheld.
Sereya followed wordlessly beside me as we walked past the gate which led into the clergy’s living quarters, all while I recited my lines in my head.
We were now trespassing.
My only disguise was confidence.
A few monks passed us by, likely too absorbed in their own routines. I could feel inquisitive gazes sizing me up and down, but eventually—
“Hello! I don’t mean to be rude, but you two aren’t allowed here.”
A female monk stopped us right in our tracks. Equipping a smile that clearly displayed my annoyance, I said to her:
“Well, I don’t mean to be rude, too, sister, but this is the third time we’ve been stopped so far and frankly, it’s getting on my nerves. Could you please accompany us to see Priestess Imelda so that your friends would stop bothering us?”
“P-Priestess Imelda?! But she’s currently resti—”
“Yes, that’s why your monk friend from earlier said that this is the only time we could claim our reward.”
With a loud, frustrated sigh, I gave the impression that I was using all my power to keep my patience from vanishing.
“We’re adventurers, here for the five thousand denars? You guys posted the quest, and we’ve found the body. So please, for the love of Lord Evan, could you escort us to the priestess so we could complete our quest and leave?”
A look of shock and excitement filled her face as she fell hook, line and sinker for my lie.
“Yes, definitely! Let’s make our way this instant!”
“Slow down, sister. We’ve been walking the whole day. The body’s not going anywhere.”
Just like that, we secured our chaperone with nothing but a bit of wit and saliva.
I turned to face Sereya and flashed a toothy grin, exposing the actual emotions that I was repressing. She responded by shaking her head, not in a disapproving way, but in a more ‘only you could’ve done this' way.
If you were all bark and no bite, then you better be damn good at barking.
This was pretty much the only path for me. I didn’t have years of experience fighting and killing like Sereya. All I had was about a month’s worth of tricking others into believing I’m someone that I’m not.
With my life on the line several times already, it would’ve been weirder to not be able to talk my way out of trouble. Constantly giving excuses as a rebellious child probably helped in some way, too.
Regardless, we trailed closely behind the female monk, courtesy of my tongue. Other monks and even the occasional armoured guard shot suspicious glares at us, but they were all disarmed by our escort.
As I’ve no idea how much further it was to reach where Priestess Imelda was, I figured the time spent walking in silence could’ve been put to better use.
“So, sister, how long have you been working here?”
“Work?” she giggled. “If you mean wholly dedicating my life to Lord Evan, then about three months now.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, what made a young lady such as yourself take up the religious life?”
“I believe my story is pretty much the same as most of the monks here. A lot of us came from cities and towns that were heavily ravaged by the war. Whereas the nobles celebrated the peace that our Lord won, we were left with nothing.
That is, until the Lord sent his disciples to help rebuild our destroyed towns. They took the recovery of our wartorn lands into their own hands, even without the nobles’ approval. A lot of us were touched by the aid and the teachings from the disciples, so I’ve come here to Breven to deepen my faith and understanding in the hometown of our Lord.”
I turned to Sereya, mouthing out that word silently, posing it as a question. She looked at me equally as confused, shaking her head while mouthing out, “No.”
Obviously, it was unlikely that someone like Hanasuke, who was at the forefront of the war, would have the time to recruit disciples. Someone went ahead and did that for him.
“Interesting. That’s great to hear. By the way, when was this whole place built? The last time I visited Breven, there was no temple, so I’m curious.”
“About three years ago, actually. But back then, we weren’t known as Evanists yet. The temple was only a small building, but The Exalted helped to renovate the temple into what you see today in a blink of an eye!”
“The Exalted? Who’s that?”
“You don’t know? That’s the son of Lord Evan.”
Both Sereya and myself couldn’t believe the answer that came out of the monk’s mouth.
I had a son?!?! Seriously?! Hanasuke has done the deed with MY body?!
“Who’s the mother?” Sereya asked, but her eyes were aimed at me with incredible killing intent. The only reason why she hadn’t already done so was because there were people around us.
“Lord Evan formed The Exalted purely through his own flesh, to serve as proof that he has ascended into godhood and is no longer bounded to the rules of man.”
“So there’s no mother then? He…got pregnant and gave birth to him?” Sereya prodded further.
“Like I said, our Lord is not bound to human limitations. As he’s a god, he doesn’t need a woman or to get pregnant.
“Whew, that’s a relief.”
Damn it, Sereya. What were you relieved for? The fact stands that Hanasuke magicked an offspring with MY body!
“So, where is this Exalted?” I questioned, holding back my anxiousness as best as I could.
“The Exalted is currently on a journey to meet his father, to come back with more teachings for all of us. We believe that after slaying the Demon Lord, Lord Evan left the mortal plane and unlocked the gates to inner heaven. While it’s common belief that those who lived a good life will go to heaven, those who specifically follow the teachings of our Lord will join him in inner heaven, the paradise of all paradise.”
This was approaching the level of pure fiction. You expect me to believe that Hanasuke created a baby. Then, a few years later I assumed, renovated the entire temple as a child. Now, this child of mine was trying to connect with me in ‘inner heaven’, or if I had to interpret this, meant that this Exalted boy was trying to travel to the other world called Japan.
While not exactly the explanation I hoped for, this did answer how the temple was built. Somewhat.
“I see. This has been very interesting to learn. So, what will you Evanists do now that we’ve found Farhana Constantine?”
“I think the priestess might be able to answer that for you. Us newer monks still have a lot to learn after all. Anyways, we’re here now.”
I was so taken aback by this conversation, I wasn’t even paying attention to how we got here! In front of us was a small building, separate from the rest of the large dormitory. Hopefully, going back wouldn’t result in us getting lost.
These few minutes of walking felt a lot longer than it was supposed to, mainly due to the shock that was inflicted on me. Hopefully, Sereya took it better than me, since there was no woman involved in the making of my supposed son.
Seriously though, what were her thoughts on all this?
Sadly, finding out would have to wait, since we were already here.
“Thank you, sister. Also, sorry for wasting your time taking us here.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it. I did manage to teach you a bit more about our faith, after all. Anyways, I’ll be go—”
Before we could bid each other goodbye, the door right in front of us swung open, revealing the lady dressed in pure white.
The monk quickly addressed, “Priestess Imelda! I’m truly sorry for bothering you! These two found the Holy Corpse!”
“Why, if that’s really the case, then this is most definitely a cause for celebration! Please, come on in,” the priestess beckoned.
“Well, I’ll be off then,” the monk said. “I hope you two would be pleased with your reward. Goodbye and may Lord Evan bless you!”
With that, our escort left, leaving us in the hands of this pale, mysterious woman.