V2 Chapter 100: The Snake

Upon our arrival in the Western Capital the next day, we immediately began our tour of the city with our guide, a Kijin — something I had previously decided to study.

The topic was the religion of the Light God.

Humans in the Demon Realm predominantly follow the teachings of the Light God. During our stay in Nakayama, we would pretend to be followers of the same religion.

Our identity would be vouched for by the Nakayama Royal Family, so suspicion would be minimal. However, having a basic knowledge was essential.

“If Hakuro was here, we could just dump — I mean, delegate everything to him,” someone said with a reluctant tone.

Standing before us was Prince Doga. Upon asking, I learned that Doga’s younger brother, Hakuro, was a bishop of the Light God religion. Ideally, the role of teaching us about the religion should have fallen to Hakuro, Doga explained.

The reason this didn’t happen was because Hakuro was currently absent from the Western Capital. He didn’t specify why, but regardless, I was keen to deepen my understanding of the Light God religion.

I reflected on what I’d heard about it so far.

It was the precursor to the Law God religion. Three hundred years ago, some humans betrayed their own kind and sided with the Kijin. There were many who mentioned the name of the Light God religion, such as Ouken, whom we fought on Demon Island, Lascaris in Berka, and the Emperor of Adoastera we met in the capital.

Emperor Amadeus II once described the Light God religion as follows:

“Why do the Mythical Creatures, born from the Dragon’s Den, harbor animosity towards humans? It’s because the Earth itself carries hostility towards mankind. Humans see gods in the thunder roaring in the sky. Those people saw gods in the Earth that birthed the Mythical Creatures.”

Worshipping the Earth as a deity and revering Mythical Creatures as messengers of that god, the followers of the Light God religion waged wars under the pretense of purifying the world.

What were the actual teachings of this religion? And what kind of people followed them?

Even if not me, I believed others would be curious. When I looked at Claira and the others, they seemed more surprised by the fact that humans existed in the Demon Realm than about the religion itself.

Both Claira and Ursula were young, but elite members of the Mitsurugi family. Even they seemed unaware of the Light God religion. Probably, knowledge about the Demon Realm was a top-secret matter even within the Green Woods Eight Banners.

Given that, the tales shared by the Emperor with me were truly classified. With the signet ring given for passing the Demon Gate and his sharing such secrets, Emperor Amadeus II’s generosity was overwhelming.

With these thoughts in the back of my mind, we received a basic rundown about the Light God religion from Doga.

I had initially expected extreme teachings like “Worship the Mythical Creatures!” or “Kill the non-believers!”, but it turned out to be nothing like that.

The doctrines spoken by Doga were simple: “Do not kill, do not steal, do not deceive”, with no elements that would label it as a heretical religion. The scriptures we were given reflected the same.

If the once-radical teachings mellowed over the span of three hundred years, then there’d be no problem. But, well, that probably wasn’t the case.

Probably the teachings for the general believers differ from the doctrines known to the higher echelons of the Temple. Reflecting on the information I had previously gathered about the Light God religion, this was the only conclusion that made sense.

Suddenly, a question struck me, and I posed it to Doga.

The Demon Realm is saturated with an eerie miasma, and even Soul equipment users with vast amounts of magical energy, can’t stay here permanently. Even an elite soldier like Ursula needs regular breaks. So, how do the followers of the Light God religion manage to live here? Surely, not all believers possess the magical energy equivalent to that of a Soul equipment user.

Doga’s answer to my query was, “The followers of the Light God have erected barriers around their temples, and they live within these barriers.”

Upon hearing this, I nodded in understanding. What came to mind was the barrier that Pope Noah was trying to erect to protect against the deadly toxins of the Hydra.

One barrier is to guard against toxins, the other to fend off miasma. Since the Light God and Law God religions originally stemmed from the same teachings, it wasn’t surprising that they might have similar techniques. In a broader sense, the miasma could be thought of as a type of toxin.

Even as these thoughts whirled in my mind, Doga continued his exposition.

“In the east of the Demon Realm lies the main temple, the heartland of the Light God religion. While called a temple, it’s essentially a city. The entire city is shielded by a barrier to protect against the miasma of the snake. If not for them, the Demon Realm would’ve long been consumed by the venomous miasma of the snake, becoming an uninhabitable wasteland.”

After relaying this, Doga added with a hint of sarcasm, “At least, that’s what they claim.”

It seemed Doga held reservations about the Light God religion, but there was no denying that they had established their stronghold in one of the most perilous regions of the Demon Realm. Doga seemed to acknowledge their contribution in this regard.

Having listened to his explanation, I furrowed my brows, lost in thought. A particular term in Doga’s narrative had piqued my interest.

The Snake.

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard this term. Just yesterday, Azuma had mentioned the same word, describing the Demon Realm as a land cursed by the snake.

I had prioritized Klimt’s story back then and hadn’t asked for clarification. However, from the way both Azuma and Doga spoke, it seemed the Kijin believe this snake to be the source of the miasma enveloping the Demon Realm.

Needless to say, this belief diverged from the Mitsurugi family’s understanding, who consider the power permeating the Demon Realm to originate from the Demon God.

While I briefly wondered if the Kijin referred to the Demon God as the snake, I quickly dismissed this thought. After mentioning the snake, Azuma had stated, “Even the Kijin, blessed by the Demon God, find it hard to operate here for extended periods.” If they equated the Demon God with the snake, this statement wouldn’t make sense.

It was clear Azuma and his kin believed that something other than the Demon God cursed this land.

If two answers were provided for a single mystery, then one of them was bound to be wrong.

Indeed, is it the Mitsurugi family who are correct, or is it the Kijin? At this moment, there’s no way to determine the answer, but my internal scale of truth was tilting towards the Kijin. It wasn’t due to any deep reasoning; I simply had neither reason nor evidence to trust the Mitsurugi family.

Assuming that the Kijin are right brings forth an inevitable question: What is this ‘snake’ they refer to?

I instinctively felt that this was related to the truth from three hundred years ago. Trying to maintain an air of nonchalance, I casually addressed Doga.

“So, the Kijin refer to it as the ‘snake’?”

If I’d asked about the snake directly, I would’ve exposed my ignorance. Hence, I employed a bit of trickery in my question. Fortunately, Doga seemed not to notice my ruse. The prince of Nakayama responded with a solemn tone.

“Indeed. It was the king of the Mythical Creatures against whom our ancestors fought, risking their very lives. That snake still seeks to cleanse and purify the world, coiling in the eastern lands. I might not be fond of humans, but I hold respect for the Saint of the Light God religion who sealed the snake three hundred years ago.”

As he spoke, Doga, without any hint of emphasis, uttered the name of that Saint.

To him, it might have been just another name in history. But for me, the resonance of that name was impossible to ignore.

Doga had said:

“The Saint who sealed the snake was named Sophia.”

Sophia Azurite…

The name was unmistakably familiar, and its implications were profound.

Liked it? Take a second to support WordyCrown on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!