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    Lieutenant Paris of the Holy Knights of St. Marcias was quick to assess situations.

    Even though buildings suddenly collapsed and unidentified creatures poured out from somewhere, he remained composed and promptly organized the available forces.

    Screams echoed from the Heresy Tribunal all around, but he had no time to pay attention to each one. The real problem, he felt, was in the building’s basement.

    So Paris, along with his fellow knights, rushed towards the epicenter. However, while passing through the corridors of the underground dungeon, they fell through a suddenly collapsing floor, descending into the depths below.


    Regaining consciousness, he found himself in a vast underground cavern.

    Among the building’s scattered debris, there were prisoners with broken bones or dead from the impact.

    The state of the guards who fell with them wasn’t much better, given the height they’d plummeted from.

    Apart from a few paladins skilled in handling aura and holy power, hardly anyone could get up.

    Staggering to his feet, Paris looked around. Despite his long tenure in the Holy Knights of St. Marcias, he had never heard of such a vast cavern existing beneath the Heresy Tribunal building.

    And there, at the bottom of the cavern, was an enormous black hole of unfathomable depth.

    Out of this eerie, swirling pit of black mire, monsters were continually emerging.

    Most of the monsters resembled ants or wasps, and their sizes ranged from that of a large dog to that of a horse.

    Ignoring Paris and his group who had fallen into the cavern, these creatures flew straight up to the upper floors, as if they had a clear objective.

    Only the wingless ants were left behind, gnawing at the fallen prisoners scattered around the floor.


    And then, standing in front of that hole, was a middle-aged priest Paris knew well.

    A man with a virtuous face, Priest Hayes, who had worked together with him in the Heresy Tribunal for a long time.

    Shaking, Paris slowly approached him and asked in a quivering voice,

    “…Is this all your doing, Brother Hayes? Why on earth…”


    “What is this place? Since when have you known about this?”

    Priest Hayes didn’t even look back at him. His indifferent voice merely echoed emptily through the vast corridor.

    “Long before the Imperial Palace stood at the center of Delcross, the continent’s largest church already existed here. Even before the Heresy Tribunal was established, this place was the sanctuary of the ‘Rest’ Cult.”

    “‘Rest’ Cult?”

    “You’re still young, it seems. You haven’t heard of the four underground cults.”

    For a moment, he stared at the ceiling of the hollowed corridor.

    “We were once persecuted and labeled as the Darkness cults, but we originally were a peaceful sect that had been worshipping the Divine even before the founding of the Holy Kingdom.”

    Darkness Cults.

    An heretical group within the church that was said to have been purged during the early rule of the current Holy Emperor.

    “Our Archbishop said that through ‘Rest,’ all followers of the Divine will be eternally saved. Hence, we are called the ‘Rest’ Cult.”

    What he was saying meant only one thing.

    “Heretic… Priest Hayes, so you’re a heretic!”

    As Paris staggered in shock, Hayes chuckled.

    “Knight Paris, on what grounds do you judge heresy? Do you know anything about the true teachings the Divine bestowed before the thousand-year-old empire was established?”

    “What are you saying…?”

    “Do you think the current Unified Church is normal? Their dogmatic approach, which distorts the teachings of the Divine and eliminates all dissent, is the true heresy against the will of the Divine!”

    For a moment, Paris was lost for words. The priest, who always seemed so devout, spoke so confidently. Could he himself have misunderstood something?

    The spell was broken by a calm voice that suddenly echoed from behind them.

    “At least the current Unified Church doesn’t commit mass murders like you.”

    Both Paris and Hayes turned around simultaneously.

    Approaching them was a person they never expected to see here. 

    His appearance was as usual, wearing the long, flowing ecclesiastical robes, which swayed with his steps.

    “Your Holiness, the Holy Emperor?”

    The Holy Emperor scanned the surroundings with his usual emotionless face. After briefly fixing his eyes on the massive hole behind Hayes, he faintly curled one corner of his lips.

    For a moment, both felt a chill run down their spines.

    “You’ve done well to hide from my sight until now, You devil-worshipping remnants of the old cult.”



    The appearance of the Heresy Tribunal’s underground dungeon was as if it was directly taken from the scriptures describing Hell.

    Monstrous creatures that resembled enormous hornets sprung from the crumbled floors here and there.

    The prisoners were either thrown into the holes or had their chests bitten and torn by the monsters that flew into the dungeon. Most of the prisoners, who were already not in good condition due to cruel interrogations, died a dire death because of this.

    “What… what on Earth is this…”

    As the Elder priest turned his head in a daze, he saw the gruesome corpse of a young man whose torso was completely crushed. It was a brother from the [Sowing] order who had been working with him recently in the underground dungeon.

    Suddenly, a giant monster sprang from the depths below, crawled to the surface, and happened to crush him under its body.


    As he weakly uttered the prayer, he heard a voice calling him from a distance.

    “Brother! Brother, are you alright?”

    Clemence, struggling to approach through the chaotic environment, supported the swaying Nosajae and asked. He still held a long censer for the [Sowing] in one hand.

    “Brother Clemence, what on Earth happened?”

    In response, Clemence bit his lips as he glanced at the broken floor.

    “It looks like the work of brothers from the Forgotten Order. They must have tampered with the [Rest]’s legacy.”

    “…The legacy of [Rest]? Why now?”

    “How would I know!”

    Clemence’s voice was full of agitation.

    How could he have anticipated this situation?

    Priest Hayes. He even recommended that the man, who was living a pitiable existence, join the mission. But who could have guessed it would ruin the plan like this.


    The legacy of [Rest] that they believed would advance their mission.

    But now, the monsters sprouting from there were devouring everything they had worked for.

    Seeds that they had diligently planted and flower buds that were struggling to sprout.

    As he blankly watched the spectacle, tears flowed from Elder priest’s eyes.

    “Our mission… The Day of the Great Harvest…”

    “Don’t you get it yet? Everything is ruined now!”

    Clemence, raising his voice, forcibly lifted the elder priest.

    “Forget the mission for now! Put everything aside and we have to escape this place immediately!”

    The Heresy Tribunal is now over. There was nothing more they could do.

    In that case, they should urgently meet with the [Bishop] and discuss the next steps.

    Clemence began to move towards the surface, dragging along his brother who was still unable to hold his body steady due to the shock.


    Before the proclamation of the Delcross Empire, the capital already had four derivative cults coexisting alongside the Orthodox Church.

    They were respectively called [Passion], [Sowing], [Repentance], and [Rest].

    After the first emperor implicitly allowed some of their activities, these underground sects grew in influence along with the rise of Delcross.

    Beneath the main buildings of the imperial palace, vast underground tunnels had been established as the headquarters for each sect, much like the Heresy Tribunal.

    Furthermore, these were all connected through underground passages. In some sense, one might see it as another palace beneath the surface.

    It seemed as though the emperor had just crossed the underground passage connecting the main palace and the Heresy Tribunal.

    Nathaniel Klein.

    The 17th Emperor and the one who had single-handedly eradicated the underground sects that had lasted for centuries in the capital.

    He looked at the hellish scenes he had unfolded with an expression devoid of any emotion, the same person who had made Hayes endure agonizing lengths of time.

    As if none of this mattered.

    “You’ve done well to hide from my sight until now, devil-worshipping remnants of the old cults.”

    At those words, Hayes, who had so far seemed somewhat nonchalant, looked at the emperor with eyes filled with intense emotion.

    “Calling us devil worshippers, such absurd defamation…!”

    “Didn’t the archbishop personally conduct mass human sacrifices for the worship of the Demon King?”

    Tilting his head slightly, the emperor elaborated.

    “Those who do such things are generally called devil worshippers.”

    Paris, who had been listening, was horrified. Hayes did not deny the emperor’s statement.

    The fury slowly vanished from his face that had been silent until now. It looked as if he had regained his composure for a moment.

    “It’s a misunderstanding. It was a ritual to bring Rest.”

    “Did the participants consent to that?”

    “In this world full of suffering, who wouldn’t desire rest?”

    “So you granted [Rest] even to nursing babies and submissive women.”

    “They were all saved!”

    “Is that so.”

    The emperor nodded indifferently to the fuming Hayes.

    “I too granted you salvation directly through [Rest]. What’s there to resent?”

    “Slashing my brethren unilaterally and now calling that salvation…!”

    However, Hayes’s protesting voice gradually waned.

    He himself knew that the [Rest] indiscriminately granted even to babies was, in the end, not different in result from the death of his brothers.

    Paris swallowed nervously as he looked at his face.

    “Your decisions are so unilateral and full of contradictions; you’re like the epitome of heresy.”

    The Holy Emperor drew a thin smile, slowly pulling the sword strapped to his waist. The sword had a disproportionally elongated hilt compared to its short, sleek blade—a pristine white sword.

    “By now, he should have scattered enough pieces for us to find them all. There seems to be no need to wait any longer.”

    “You… knew everything?”

    Hayes repeated in a voice devoid of strength. His eyes seemed empty, as if he had abandoned his life’s goals and will at the same time.

    The Holy Emperor momentarily met his gaze and quietly asked,

    “You’ve managed to hide from my eyes for so long; why engage in such behavior now when you knew you’d fail?”

    The Holy Emperor seemed genuinely curious.

    The only reason Hayes could evade the Holy Emperor’s sight was that he had not yet received the [Baptism]. Without the mark engraved upon his soul, Hayes could survive the period of great purification alone.

    However, for someone unbaptized to live according to the doctrine of Rest, it’s like a living person walking through death. Certainly not something one can endure with an ordinary mind.

    Then how could he have so recklessly squandered these long years of suffering?

    “I had no choice. I could not… I couldn’t refuse His command…”

    Hayes staggered, clutching his face with both hands. He looked as if he might collapse at any moment.

    After shivering for a moment, Hayes eventually raised his head toward the Holy Emperor with damp eyes.

    “What do you plan to do with Him?”


    The Holy Emperor did not respond. He simply raised his sword slowly towards Hayes.

    “…I see.”

    As if understanding something, Hayes gave a melancholy smile, his eyes welling with tears.

    “Everything is already under His plan. His preparations are still not over…”

    Swish. Silently, the Holy Emperor’s arm swung down.

    Before anyone knew it, a dazzlingly bright and long aura blade was exposed on the sword.

    Thud. Hayes, the priest cleanly cut in two, collapsed lifelessly on the ground. Compared to the deeds he had committed, it was an utterly hollow end.

    Paris couldn’t even breathe as he watched the whole spectacle unfold.

    “Aren’t you Lieutenant Paris?”

    The Holy Emperor, briefly casting his gaze on the corpse, asked Paris.

    “Yes, Your Majesty.”

    The Holy Emperor looked up at the hollow, gaping ceiling. His pupils seemed to emit a mysterious silver glow in the dark corridor.

    “Go up and restore order to the Knights. From now on, you are the Knight Commander of St. Marcias.”

    “What? What does that mean…”

    However, the Holy Emperor did not answer his question. Instead, he moved towards the large hole on the floor of the corridor, from which monsters still continually emerged.

    Slowly, the Holy Emperor raised his hand towards that hellish pit. Soon, his body was enveloped in a faint light.

    At that moment, Paris thought he saw something resembling a golden halo glowing above the Holy Emperor’s head.

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