By the way, I added in a picture of the timeline in Glossary. I will add information on it as we go. Enjoy the chapter!
ED: xtostos, eristol
St. Winifred Great Church on the outskirts of Knot Reed.
It is the terminal point of the main twelve pilgrimage areas in the vicinity and is the oldest and only God’s church in Knot Reed.
In the basement of the cathedral which has been renovated many times, there are remains of the era when Ignitia’s teachings were conveyed to this place for the first time.
The two phantom beasts and I are in the deepest part of the second basement of St. Winifred Great Church.
After the banquet, we secretly left the Water Palace and came to this place.
There was a faint sound of water coming from behind the wall.
Perhaps there is groundwater flowing somewhere.
The cave was cut out of limestone.
At the height of a standing adult, the ceiling drew a round arch.
In the back of the cave, there was a square marble altar engraved with a relief of the Sun and the angels.
Next to me were Palug, who dressed up as a man, and the plush toy-size Tirnanog.
The altar, illuminated by Tirnanog’s torch, seemed to be an ordinary common altar for Ignitia’s rituals.
Dropping the large jute bag she was carrying on her back, Palug opened her mouth.
“I apologize for bringing you here.”
“Don’t mind it. We are of equal status in this regard.”
『I have to confirm that you are not just playing around.
Since you have brought us along, were there some good results?』
“Good results…… if I could choose, it would’ve been better if I didn’t find any result at all.”
『Hm? Do not use weird phrases.
Didn’t you invite us here because you wanted to show us something?』
When Tirnanog pointed it out, Palug smiled while narrowing her eyes.
It was a ferocious smile.
“Unfortunately, there is nothing here, rather there is only something I don’t want to be exposed to anyone’s eyes if possible.”
『Fumu, in other words, our purpose is to check the existence of things that should not exist?』
“Correct. Although if possible, I wish it’s only me who is thinking too much.”
Palug glanced at the altar.
And yet, it was a mediocre and ordinary altar.
“Is it impossible to check it alone, or is it dangerous?”
“If it really exists, neither you nor myself should touch it.
However, if we really have to check it…… don’t you Aurelia have a convenient technology?”
Saying so, Palug pointed to the sandbag which was being transported by Tirnanog.
I see. She is thinking of making a golem act on our behalf for the dangerous matters, huh?
Tirnanog opened the sandbag, poured the soil onto the floor and roughly shaped it into the shape of a person.
I took out the athame knife and carved magical letters from the 72 letters on the core to be incorporated into the golem.
Unlike the standing-upright golems made at the testing field, this golem also has proper motion controls incorporated.
As I breathed in magical power into the golem, the headless humanoid earth golem stood up.
Since it can only act in a sluggish manner as it is now, I threw a portion of the torch into the hollow part of his torso as a power source.
While the torch burns, the golem will become somewhat agile and it will be possible for it to do physical work.
“Is this sufficient?”
“Yes, it’s more than sufficient. From here, please move in accordance with my instructions.”
When Palug nodded in satisfaction, she took out several items from her jute bag.
An old golden candle holder branched into seven.
Seven candles made of beeswax.
Silver handbell with leather belt handle attached.
And, a tattered codex with several sheets of bookmark put between the pages.
“Thou, who shalt step into the Realm of Death, take heed.
The threshold of the impure has already opened before thee.
First, burn the seven-branched light and illuminate the unseeable darkness.”
On the ground underneath us, Palug’s poetry reverberated.
I ordered the golem and let it set the candles on the candlestick and light them on fire.
At Palug’s cue, Tirnanog extinguished the fire of the torch by smothering it.
The seven flames of the candles projected the ominously swaying shadow of the headless golem on the ceiling.
“Second, ring the silver bell and call out to the Other Side.”
The golem picked up the handbell and rang it several times.
The sound that should be refreshing resounded coldly.
Before I knew it, I could no longer hear the sound of water I previously heard from the other side of the wall.
Feeling as if the temperature of the room, which was cool by nature, cooled down further, I hugged my own body.
“Third, praise Him and shout words of profanity.
Beware, thou shalt not return under the sunshine.
—Thou art already in the Realm of Death.”
The golem picked up the codex.
At the same time, Palug had us move several steps back.
The moment the page marked by a bookmark was opened, some creaking sounds resounded from the golem’s chest.
The part where the clavicles should be in human beings was torn apart horizontally and it became a mouth-like figure.
From the opening of the golem which shouldn’t have any vocal organ, a low voice resembling the voice of a toad leaked and shook the air.
『N-now— I respectfully offer You my salutations…… ooh, Lord of Fresh Blood……
You who are the Master of the Mausoleum, of the Night and Darkness—
I will come to Your side— for this soul is pure—
These are Your hands on my back, and in Yours lies my fate.
Ooh, I wish, bestow on me my own mouth to speak—』
The golem was already breathing by itself and moving out of my control by itself.
Mutated into an unknown monstro, what was once a golem now knelt towards the altar.
A change also occurred to the altar.
As if seeping out of empty space, drop by drop, the marble surface was smeared with blood.
It seemed as if an invisible offering on the altar was being chopped up.
『I, who is diminutive here and now, respectfully offer You my salutations.
The Exalted God of Corruption, You who dwell eternally within the Tombs of the Land of Dusk.
The One who rides a boat of Skin and Flesh and passes time perpetual, the One who takes on Many Kinds and Many Forms.
Ooh, King of lands vast and clad in dark night, You who is magnificent, Your Name is—』
Before I knew it, the golem was speaking fluently just like a human being.
The lump of soil around the golem’s core was bulging and wriggling towards the core, trying to capture it.
Just before the characters of emet engraved on the core was captured by the mutated lump of soil, Palug swung a glowing nail.
The golem whose engraved characters turned to met, turned back into a lump of earth once again.
“This is…… just what exactly……”
“Wait. It’s not over yet.”
Palug took us by hand.
As she said, even after the golem, the performer of the ritual, was destroyed, the changes of the altar continued.
I wonder how many times the sacrificial knife was swung down.
The blood of the invisible offering soaked the altar.
A trail of blood continued down from the altar to the floor, as if something soaked in blood had tumbled down.
After it flopped down, I looked at the traces on the floor and shuddered.
No matter how I look at it, it looks like a human handprint.
An unseen knife cut off the life of a person and their handprints were erased by the newly flowing blood.
Then the blood of several more people were shed, when the altar was completely covered with fresh blood, the phantom halted.
The inside of the narrow basement was filled with the smell of blood to a choking extent.
『Twelve people……was it?』
“The number of altars is also twelve. One person was killed per altar.
Unfortunately, it seems that my conjecture is right.
In addition, it’s the worst among the worst conjectures.”
Palug had a smile on her face that made her seem as if she was about to bite at the unseen killer.
With that expression alone, I could see that she held a considerable anger in her chest.
“No way, for what purpose did they kill 12 people?”
“They wanted to rewrite the altar’s ceremonies and authorities.
This was a dedicated offering to a different God, this altar is not the altar of my God anymore.
The other eleven altars connected to this altar must have also been rewritten completely.”
『By doing that, they were snatching your and the other angels’ power.
Fumu. Having done that, it means the power of the faith that is currently being scattered in the sea is a diversion, huh?』
“Yes, thanks to that, I was late in realizing this.
It seems that this someone didn’t want to be found out by us.”
Tirnanog was throwing glances at Palug’s way.
Speaking of which, she was depleted of power until she almost died because of this.
There was a sound of him gritting his fangs anxiously from underneath his visor.
He is also thinking about the circumstances of his quarreling friend.
『I do not know who it was, but they have a bad hobby.
Secretly sucking up the lives of other people, even if it was discovered, it would still give a serious wound to the other party.
If one had exposed this secret unprepared, one might have been corroded and taken in by it.』
“Yes, that was their……the vampires’ way.”
Just hearing that word, I felt chills running through my spine.
Information on the worst bad end of the original game came to my mind.
A mountain of dead bodies covering the ground, exchanging kisses smeared with blood on top of it.
With the same name as the last King of Casketia, the hidden character called Cain.
『Was it a survivor of the destroyed ancient Kingdom, or was it a religious fanatic enthralled by the power and knowledge of the vampires?』
“Even if it was a religious fanatic, if they have the power and wisdom derived from those bloodsuckers, I can’t leave them as they are.”
Palug cut off her words for a moment and looked at me.
Her eyes held a firm resolution.
“Erica, please give me time to move freely.
It’s fine even if it’s just in-between helping out with your oracles.
Even if I am the only surviving angel, this is the only enemy that must be destroyed.”
I held Palug’s gaze and shook my head quietly.
Her eyes shook a little with unrest.
“That’s right. I am not an angel anymore; I am your subordinate.
I have attracted unnecessary crisis with my selfish behaviors—”
“That’s not it, just you alone are not enough, right? You will need plenty of help and supplies.”
Hearing my answer, Palug was dumbfounded for a while.
Tirnanog’s laughter echoed within the silent underground altar.
『Kukukukuku, interesting. That’s the friend I know.』
“See, even Tir is agreeing to this, so for the time being, how about we start with the three of us?”
“Y-you guys……jeez, just how much of good-natured people are you~~!”
Palug cried out with somewhat teary eyes.
She was so happy that she couldn’t help saying the opposite words.
I thought so when I saw her lion-tail jutting out and swaying lightly.
To tell the truth, I am angry with this culprit.
How difficult and miraculous do they think it is to be alive?
Be it people or beasts, they are earnestly standing on the place where they belong, it is unreasonable to take away their lives so easily.
Even more so since this is not natural selection or a natural disaster, but clear animosity and malice.
“I need to prepare. Even if every vampire of Casketia revives, we only need to destroy them a second time.”
With a glimpse of the biggest death flag appearing before of me, I declared so with determination.
It can be said that my challenge is reckless.
On the other hand, Tirnanog had an expression like he was admiring a bright student and Palug was nodding with an expression of renewed resolution.