V2 Chapter 124: Echoing Sound

“――That concludes the events that happened three hundred years ago.”

Having finished a long, dense story, the Pope said this to conclude the tale.

After listening, I found myself unconsciously exhaling deeply. The Pope’s story of the past was that rich in detail.

What was sealed in the Demon Gate was not a demon god but a dragon, and it was not the first Sword Saint who accomplished this feat, but a member of the Kijin tribe, Atori. The honor of the Mitsurugi family, who were believed to have defeated the demon god and saved the world, was nothing but an illusion created by Sofia Azurite and Mitsurugi Kazuma.

To solidify this illusion, the two thoroughly demonized the Kijin tribe and drove them from the continent. Despite the Kijin being the ones who put forth the most effort to protect the continent from mythical creatures, humans, misled by Sofia and others, hunted them down.

As a result, the Kijin tribe on the continent was pushed to the brink of extinction. Those Kijin who were locked away in the demon realm by Sofia and Kazuma were forced to spend three hundred blood-drenched years in a barren wasteland, cannibalizing their own.

Based on the history of the Light God Temple and the words of Emperor Amadeus II, it’s likely that the Law God Temple and the Adoastera Empire were also complicit in their scheme. They pinned all the sins on the Kijin tribe, seized control of the continent after the war, and used it to build their prosperity today.

The Mitsurugi family’s unique position within the empire is likely due to them being co-conspirators who knew the truth about what happened three hundred years ago, in addition to their exceptional martial prowess in the Phantom Blade Style.

These are the facts that could turn the history of the continent upside down. “When the secret of the Demon Gate is revealed, the world of man will be greatly shaken,” said Emperor Amadeus II. Indeed, if this gets out, it will undoubtedly cause a major upheaval across the nations of the continent.

However, considering such matters is the job of kings and emperors. What I need to think about is something else entirely.

Namely, the purpose of Pope Sofia Azurite telling me the truth.

Surely she didn’t tell me about what happened three hundred years ago just to say goodbye. The immortal queen in front of me is the mastermind who altered the history of the continent. Since she’s revealed a secret she’s thoroughly hidden until today, she must want something from me in return.

“Thank you for sharing this valuable story. So, what do you want from me?”

I asked directly. It wasn’t the time for trickery, nor was I in the mood for it.

The Pope’s reply was as expected.

“Please come with me. Let’s achieve purification together. What we couldn’t accomplish three hundred years ago, let’s do it together this time.”

The Pope smiled warmly, spreading her arms wide as if to embrace me, showing no sign of concern that I might refuse her.

Her gaze, filled with trust, who was it really meant for?

Pondering this, I gave a short reply.

“I refuse. I have no interest in the Light God Temple or in purification.”

Faced with rejection, the Pope, still smiling, asked me:

“If we don’t achieve purification, the dragon’s curse will continue to ravage the continent. That means the claws of mythical creatures could tear apart your loved ones at any moment. Are you okay with that?”

“I don’t intend to accept that. But following your way would lead to the same thing. It may sound noble to ‘purify the world,’ but essentially, you’re saying to cower and kneel before the dragon without any resistance. That’s an even bigger uncertainty about when my loved ones might be torn apart.”

I couldn’t bring myself to believe the nonsense that if one followed the Light God Temple or the Law God Temple, they wouldn’t become a target of the dragon. If the dragon understood such things, it wouldn’t unleash its thousand-year-old grudge on the living of today.

The Pope, still smiling, tilted her head slightly.

“So, you have no intention of coming with me under any circumstances?”

I was about to respond with a “yes,” but consciously changed my wording.

I had been using polite language out of courtesy so far, but it was becoming tiresome. There was no need to show respect to someone who had not once tried to see me for who I am.

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“That’s a shame.”

The Pope’s face still bore a smile, as if she were wearing a mask. The supposed warmth of her smile felt chillingly false, and my expression involuntarily tightened.

Then, as she looked at me, she added:

“It’s truly, very regrettable. I had hoped you would decide to join me of your own will.”

With that, the Pope clapped her hands together.

In the next instant, a chokingly dense magical power overflowed from her small body. The surging magic turned into a gusty wind, and I, standing opposite the Pope, was pushed back a step, then two, by the pressure.

I wasn’t afraid of the opponent’s magic power, but I was surprised.

It was incomparable to Sharamon, another immortal king. Even Lascaris, who had incinerated Behemoth, had not emitted this much magical power.

Amidst the flood-like waves of magical power, the Pope’s eyes caught and held mine.

“However, if you refuse, there’s no helping it. I’ll have to resort to somewhat rough methods.”

As she spoke, the Pope’s magical power roared even more fiercely, rushing around like a torrent. This intensely dense magic transcended categories like Mana or Od, resembling the primal force that springs from dragon veins. In fact, it was identical in nature.

Behind the Pope, the towering body of the dragon trembled as if shivering. I couldn’t tell if my feeling of it mocking me was just my imagination.

“I have waited three hundred years. I don’t want to wait even a split second longer――――Call of Divinity, Descend!”

The moment the Pope wove these words, the world creaked as if making an audible sound.

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