ANNOUNCEMENT: CHE SERIES IS DROPPED!

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    Hey everyone!

    Big shoutout to Squid42 and Bluebear for their Ko-fi donations! You two are amazing!. Your contributions have helped me move to a better hosting service and renew our site’s domain name.

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    Alright, without further ado, here’s the next chapter for you to enjoy!

    The day when the larvae of Bantra Moss nearly opened a gate in the capital.

    Seongjin, who had literally been brought back from the brink of death, was immediately taken to the Pearl Palace and spent the entire afternoon surrounded and pestered by an assembly of physicians.

    After undergoing all kinds of examination, including the rolling of his eyes and sticking out of his tongue, the chaos finally ended when he had undergone a holy power baptism by a priest summoned on short notice. Seongjin, after receiving a stern warning from Physician Ninnias to rest, was left sprawled on his bed.

    Although he felt completely recovered, Masain standing next to the bed would glare at him whenever he tried to move even a bit. Not only that, but everyone in the Pearl Palace showed an exaggerated response to Seongjin’s every move.

    They didn’t even let him hold a glass of water on his own, trying to spoon-feed him as if he was incapable.

    Well, according to Sir Kurt, he was in cardiac arrest for over 30 minutes, so their concern wasn’t unfounded.

    But if it was that serious, didn’t he completely pass the golden time for brain damage? Wouldn’t that dumb Morres guy lose more brain cells than he already has?

    To Seongjin’s concerns, Francis, that foul-tempered paladin, scoffed.

    “Don’t make a baseless excuse. I arrived early and continuously poured holy power into you. If you feel your intelligence has decreased a bit, blame it on your natural brain capacity.”

    Wow, who is this guy? To be able to throw such harsh words without any hesitation at the prince of the Holy Empire.

    Seongjin looked at this tall paladin with renewed interest.

    Francis Agen.

    One of the few paladins who had permission to step into the Pearl Palace, which was off-limits to regular knights altogether.

    He was the lieutenant of the Paladin Order of Saint Aurelion and was responsible for all kinds of religious and legal issues of Prince Morres, acting in place of the current commander, Dame Katrina.

    Minor royals’ outings should always be reported to a legal representative. The lieutenant, who is also managing the Paladin Order in place of the commander, heard about the outing late and had to ride hard to catch up with Seongjin’s group.

    “Why did you have to pick a place designated as a ‘caution area’ by His Majesty the Holy Emperor for a social gathering? You, who hardly ever go out, why did you choose such a place?”

    Caution area? Because of that larvae?

    When Seongjin looked at Sir Masain, the man quietly shook his head.

    How was he supposed to know and avoid a top-secret situation that even the knight commander of the Imperial Guard didn’t know?

    Anyway, when they arrived at the villa, the ground was shaking as if an earthquake had occurred, and when he arrived in the basement, Masain had just begun a rib-breaking procedure disguised as CPR.

    Why does the commander of the Paladin Order, not the First Empress, become the legal representative when the Holy Emperor is absent? And why is the First Empress, who would have rushed in one step normally, nowhere to be seen now?

    Seongjin momentarily had such questions, but he soon pushed them out of his mind. Francis was starting to scold Masain, who was still showing a dumbfounded face.

    “Pull yourself together, Masain! Do you think His Majesty attached you to the prince just to be a mere swordsmanship teacher? Especially at times like this, you should be able to hold off the Inquisitors and the Orthodox Church!”

    Masain, who is of the same age and had known the man for a long time.

    “Anyhow, whatever you do, you’re clumsy.”

    …It seems their relationship wasn’t that friendly.

    However, as he said, there seemed to be something wrong with Masain right now. His vacant face was like a person who lost a screw somewhere. His usual puppy-like demeanor was now intimidatingly oppressive due to his lack of expression.

    Of course, it’s not a common thing for the prince of the Empire to come back from the dead, but was it shocking enough to affect him that much?

    “Don’t worry Masain too much. Go now.”

    The words he had heard from the Holy Emperor during his near-death experience came to mind.

    [Hey, people are coming.]

    The demon king, who seemed to have been resting quietly for a while, suddenly spoke to Seongin. Seongjin himself was feeling an uneasy air at that moment.

    Masain and Francis also seemed to have noticed the anomaly, as their faces hardened for a moment. Francis quickly approached the window and drew back the curtain.

    Click, click, click. 

    A group of paladin knights in armor was quickly approaching the Pearl Palace from afar. As they arrived at the front gate, they spread out in a line and soon surrounded the Pearl Palace in a circle.

    Silver gleaming light armor on top of the white robes of the Paladin Order. The golden chains and the pattern of the jet-black sword engraved on their clothes were symbols of the Paladin Order of St. Marcius, which Seongjin had seen earlier at the Diggory’s mansion.

    A few resident knights of the Pearl Palace came out late to block the entrance, but their demeanor seemed rather intimidating due to their numerical inferiority.

    Meanwhile, Durand, the paladin leading the group, strutted into the gate and shouted arrogantly.

    “The Inquisitor court hereby summons a witness! Hand over Prince Morres’s whereabouts immediately!”

    “These bastards really…”

    Sir Masain grumbled under his breath. His distorted face looked eerily devilish as if he was about to rush out and start a fight at any moment. Seeing the usually soft commander turn into something akin to an unpinned grenade, Seongjin became anxious.

    Thump, thump.

    At that moment, Francis patted Masain’s shoulder.

    “Hey, pull yourself together. First, reorganize the knights you have and secure the entrance to the palace. Meanwhile, I will deal with this guy.”

    He pushed his glasses up and smirked. He looked more like a mastermind of an evil organization than a paladin.

    Yes, fortunately for them, they had a dog, authorized by the Holy Emperor, who enjoyed exercising his power.

    Durand, confidently leaning back and standing tall, frowned as a tall paladin walked out of the palace.

    This guy again.

    Francis intentionally walked right up to the old paladin. This forced the shorter paladin to look up at him, allowing Francis to look down on him at will.

    And so, a second battle between the two men unfolded at the Diggory mansion.

    “Did I not mention that I have all powers surpassing the investigation and prosecution rights of the Heretic Inquisitors? Who dares to summon the prince at will?”

    “It’s just an inquiry investigation for Kenneth Diggory’s case. There are no accusations against the prince now! He will not be harmed, so just hand him over!”

    “There is none [now], but are you implying that in this process of investigation, charges could be placed?”

    “Please refrain from baseless speculation! Of course, if a crime that we didn’t know about is revealed during the investigation, that’s a different story, but….”

    “I see. Understanding that you are fully capable of doing so, as a religious and legal representative of the prince, I refuse to accompany you.”

    Sir Durand exploded in anger.

    “Do you realize what you’re doing right now? We need to be investigating the case, not wasting time! Quickly hand over Prince Morres’ body right now!”

    “Oh! I see. You hurriedly mobilized before the case was even reported because you couldn’t waste time, right?”

    “What, what did you say….”

    As the old paladin stuttered in confusion, Francis stretched up one corner of his mouth.

    “I might have chased after Prince Morres because I had a mission, but how was it possible for the Paladin Order of St. Marcias able to deploy even before the incident was known? You arrived almost simultaneously with me.”

    “No, that’s because…we received reports that the mansion was suspicious, and we were on alert….”

    “Ah, so you were aware of the abnormalities but deliberately ignored them and waited for the situation to escalate, endangering the life of a member of the royal family…”

    “What! We waited on purpose? What kind of nonsense is that!”

    Sir Durand seethed in anger.

    “Is that not the case? Then you’re saying you were watching the mansion despite receiving suspicious reports and yet didn’t know of the danger in advance. Isn’t that a major blunder threatening the safety of the capital? I will formally accuse the person in charge and make sure they receive a fitting punishment.”

    The old paladin stared at Francis for a long time, his face flushed, then stormed off huffily.

    Even after he left, the encirclement of paladins remained. Sir Masain, who had gathered the resident knights, blocked the front entrance, and the tension in the standoff intensified.

    And shortly after, the dean of the Theology Academy, who was advising on this case, appeared. He was a well-groomed man with a shiny goatee, wearing a splendid robe.

    “Prince Morres was present at the scene with the demon. All matters related to demons must be strictly handled. Our advisory council formally requests Prince Morres to appear before the heresy tribunal!”

    Francis nodded seriously.

    “That’s true. You’re absolutely right. But how do you, the dean, who wasn’t even at the scene, know that this is related to a demon?”

    “What?”

    “How do you know it’s a demon seed? Do you have any evidence?”

    “No, just by looking at it….”

    “As a paladin, I feel it’s somewhat different from the aura of a demon. I didn’t feel any magical energy. Ah, does the academy interpret the concept of a demon, as defined by the Lord, differently? So, are you suggesting a scholarly perspective rather than a religious one?”

    The wrong answer could lead to a religious trial. The dean’s face turned pale blue.

    “Even if it’s not a demonic species, it’s undoubtedly wrong! So, if it happens to be a new threat from another world, for the sake of Delcross, the prince’s testimony would be….”

    “And how would you prove that it is a threat from another world?”

    “That’s why, I’m suggesting we should start investigating now!”

    “An investigation? Can I ask what you will base your investigation on? Ah, are you suggesting to refer to forbidden texts like the [Otherworldy Apocalypse] from the Holy Empire….”

    “You heretic! This man is speaking recklessly!”

    The dean disappeared quietly, his hands trembling.

    And the last to visit the Pearl Palace in the late evening was the stern old man who had previously encountered the saint at the main imperial palace.

    “I didn’t expect the Archbishop Benitus to visit personally.”

    “In a critical situation threatening the safety of the Holy Empire, who else but the head of the heresy tribunal, the Inquisitor, should step forward?”

    The Archbishop glared with cold eyes, but Francis didn’t blink.

    “Your Eminence’s efforts are greatly appreciated. But what brings you here?”

    “Obviously, it’s to request the presence of the prince. I heard you sent Sir Durand away. So, reluctantly, I had to step in.”

    “Why don’t you interrogate the grandson of Archbishop Diggory first, considering the incident happened at his villa?”

    The Archbishop sighed. “He suffered a severe injury to the back of his head. He’s unconscious now, isn’t he?”

    “So, shouldn’t we wait for him to wake up? Depending on his testimony, I, Francis Agen, will decide whether to allow the prince being summoned as a witness or otherwise.”

    “Are you saying we should wait for him to wake up without knowing when?”

    “That’s strange. With so many high-ranking clergies here, why hasn’t he regained consciousness? Unless you’re intentionally delaying the treatment or hiding the fact that he’s awake…”

    “What? You’re not supposed to say that!” Archbishop Benitus trembled pitifully with his already frail body.

    But Francis calmly threw another question, “Did you receive the official document sent from the Administration Office? His Holiness the Holy Emperor has been telling you, to be quiet. Ah, I’m merely quoting His Majesty’s words verbatim. ‘Don’t go too far,’ is the real content of the official document.”

    Archbishop’s eyes were twitching.

    “I, ah, haven’t received it yet.”

    “Did Archbishop Diggory say that? The head of the administration office will turn a blind eye for a while? Delay his grandson’s interrogation? So this is, what, a collusion between the Inquisitors court and the Administration Office?

    “No, you really… There are things that can be said and things that shouldn’t be said!”

    The Archbishop’s eyes seemed to burst into flames. Against him, the clever Paladin added one more thing.

    “Ah, by the way, Your Eminence. You do know that the Pearl Palace is a region where only authorized clergymen are allowed by His Holiness the Holy Emperor, don’t you?”

    The Archbishop soon left the Pearl Palace after glaring at Francis for a while. He was trembling so much that it was worrying that he might faint due to high blood pressure.

    Wow. Ultimate combat power indeed. Seongjin was genuinely impressed.

    But that was not the end.

    “Emergency duty for all resident Knights today! Masain, what are you doing standing there all blank!? Can’t you arrange a proper shift for the guards?”

    He yelled at Sir Masain, who still seemed out of his mind.

    “Why are you just rolling your eyes? If you’re feeling a little better, you should start moving. Are your ribs still hurting?”

    He looked down at Seongjin with a sardonic expression, hinting at him.

    So, in other words, the dog barks not only outside but also inside.

    Such a stormy day passed.

    People in the Pearl Palace fell asleep in shifts, amid a tense atmosphere. They were worried about a possible armed conflict at any moment, especially with the Paladin Order of St. Marcias maintaining a threatening stance all night.

    But the next morning brought a sudden turnaround. The Paladin Order of St. Marcias had completely retreated from the Pearl Palace as if nothing had happened.

    News had spread throughout the imperial palace.

    The Holy Emperor’s closed-door prayer had finally ended.

    Oh yeah, I’m planning to create a CHE info sheet on Google spreadsheet, with all the character’s names, places, and affiliations. I’m probably gonna insert info like when these were first mentioned, or as for the names, their background, parent’s names, and other related info.

    And, if you have suggestions on what other info I should add. just let me know on this novel’s channel discord 🙂

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