Chapter 96 – The Start of War
People in the entertainment district were either successes or failures.
Except for a few successful people, everyone else lived in the dark.
That was why….
When they got sick or injured, they turned to places that were cheaper… or places that did not ask for money.
Experimenting, casting curses, examining it, and then finally breaking it…
Through repetition, he had acquired a vast knowledge of curses.
“Are you doing this to the kids too?”
Celestia’s guess was that he was practicing curses on the children in his care too.
The cheerful smile faded from Shock’s face and was replaced by a forced grit.
“Prince Alto. What is your criterion for judging me as evil?”
“…the laws of the Kingdom of Light.“
Shock’s tone was inarticulate, mechanical, and cryptic.
“Men make laws that bind men. What can you call this but arrogance? How is it anything but arrogance? Is it justice to abide by flawed rules?“
“…As long as various people gather to make up a society, rules are absolutely necessary.”
“We already have the right answer.”
Alto tried to answer Shock’s seemingly reasonable question squarely, but Shock refused to listen to him and held up a large scripture.
“Listen to me, all of you. As long as we are imperfect beings, with greed and values, we cannot create a perfect law. No… there is no need to make them in the first place. Because… the answer is right here…”
The Angel Cult’s scriptures were based on the words and deeds of the White Nymph (1).
Shock’s eyes were clouded as he held his hands up to the sky, a wicked smile spreading through his face.
“The teachings of the heavens have already been revealed. There is already justice given to us. Why ignore it? Why do you turn away? Why do you try to make the laws of order reflect the will of men?”
“…your religious beliefs are irrelevant. Nothing can affirm the atrocities you have committed. We’re going to imprison you, but it would be optimal if you tell us where the escapees and the orcs are first.”
Alto, deciding that his time was too valuable to waste on this, spoke in a commanding tone with his great sword in hand.
“Take a good look. This is the reality of man. He refuses dialogue and uses strength to get his way…. I don’t know what ideals you hold for this man, but you don’t know how black a person is inside. The ideals of others and reality can never coincide.“
A slight agitation rippled among the knights.
Among them, those who heard Alto’s story last night were especially shaken.
Hakuto was also in a similar state.
“You murdered, experimented with curses on people, and are also now trying to brainwash people. No knight in the Kingdom of Light’s army will be swayed by your statements!“
Kelvin, a knight standing close to Alto, said words that not only shocked, but also struck the hearts of the knights.
“The heavens may forgive you for defaming Alto-sama, who serves the public as his priority, but I will not!“
The cry that poured out of Kelvin’s soul, who had watched over Alto more closely than anyone else, even more than King Light or the queen herself, echoed among the soldiers.
“In the first place, do you follow your teachings? If so, are there no proper teachings to not hate and disrespect others? You have committed murder many times, haven’t you?”
“Ah… I’m fed up of this!“
Suddenly, he was furious.
Shock let out a cry that showed that he had stopped trying to fix things for the first time, a cry that revealed his heart.
“Suppose I slaughter those who persecuted the Angel Cult worshippers, what is wrong with that! Should I just stand by and let my comrades be tortured! What’s wrong with experimenting curse on a human being! Won’t I use them to lift the curses on the unfortunate ones!“
Shock was justifying himself using the scriptures.
“When salvation is sought, salvation will be offered!“
Experimenting with curses on the people of the entertainment district, was just to save the Angel Cult worshippers and those who sought salvation.
He always saved those who sought help, even if they were in prison like Gesso and his entourage.
His faith had been unshaken since the day the sorcerer had destroyed his home, his village.
Told by the doctor that he had a contagious disease, he was quarantined and left to die, leaving all of his loved ones in agony.
If only it had been discovered to be a curse. If only he had been the kind of man who saved everyone like Benedict, who saved him.
By the law of man, the village was isolated, but was saved by the Angel Cult, which followed the teachings of heaven.
The past would never change. Neither would Shock.
“…I got emotional. There is no proof. Sadly…”
Shock stopped moving.
“…Your argument is too esoteric for me to understand. But indiscriminate killing and experimentation is absolutely wrong.”
As if to punctuate Hakuto’s words, a bell rang to signal that it was six o’clock in the morning.
It rang five notes, signaling that the day was beginning.
It was the bell of promise.
“We have evidence.”
The bell rung once, twice, while the knights watched with bated breath.
“…you have a point.”
At the sound of the bell ringing for the fourth time, Alto spoke up.
“But I, we, will never approve of anyone who defiles… this kingdom. We cannot defend those who have gone about it the wrong way. For better or worse, you are now–”
The fifth and final bell was rung in the capital.
“–a stepping stone for the eradication of the Angel Cult.”
The bell’s ringing ended, and blood… dripped from Shock’s mouth.
“Think of it as karmic retribution.”
A woman was undergoing treatment in the royal castle’s prison.
She was the single mother who Hakuto had last interviewed yesterday near the entertainment district.
“Oh, are you really okay?”
“I don’t know, but don’t worry… everything’s fine now….”
Juan let out a sigh of relief, confident that he had finally broken the curse, which he was trying to dissolve since dawn last night.
“Just in time. I was in a cold sweat wondering whether we would be able to make it in time….“
“Well, we made it in time, haven’t we?“
The soldiers watching over them asked, their shoulders finally relaxing.
“It should have worked. By now, the backlash from the curse being broken should have affected Father Shock in some way.“
(1) The terms ‘White Goddess’ / ‘White Priestess’ also apply here.
This chapter is not too long, so I probably won’t have to split it into three parts!