Chapter 145

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"What?"

"Oh, didn't you hear me? It seems like you misunderstood me back then. I asked you why I need to make a bet on something I don't even need to explain."

Seiren's face went blank. She was a saint, venerated the world around. Who was this man to speak to her like this?

She grimaced. "Didn't you hear me?"

"You all might be used to it—but I don't have any of their preconceptions. You can manipulate it if you try, no?"

The lady stared at him, aghast. How dare he speak of the God's Tears like that? If this were the Hubalt Empire, his head would fly.

"Your words are senseless heresy," she coldly replied.

"This is Avalon, not Hubalt."

Seiren was speechless—Joshua was not. She looked him up and down for a long moment before lifting a pristine white finger up to her veil.

"Seiren!"

She waved Modrian off and tugged her veil all the way off.

"Ohh…"

"It's impossible to be accustomed to your beauty no matter how many times I see it."

Her waist-length golden hair framed a face as pure and white as her clothing and eyes of brilliant jade.

If Princess Sersiarin was the treasure of Avalon, Saint Seiren was the gem of Hubalt.

"Satisfied?" She grinned at Joshua.

Joshua looked perplexed.

"I will help you, with no one's power but my own."

Seiren's voice radiated confidence.

Men reacted to her in two ways: dazed by her beauty, or too busy leering to respond.

Seeing as he couldn't answer my question, it seems like he belongs to the former group. She smirked.

"It's like being a child again. Everything is done at random, and she acts like she owns the world." A particular fiery redhead flashed through Joshua's mind1.

"W-What?"

"My answer hasn't changed: I have neither the desire nor motivation to accept such a ridiculous proposition."

"This crazy—!" Seiren boggled at him. "Are you mad? Is there something wrong with your head?" She massaged her temples, but her petal-like lips didn't stop moving. "I'm here to help you." She pointed at herself. "You're just going to give that up? Really?"

[She looks like a scammer, not a saint. This is insane.]

The muffled voice in his head didn't give Joshua pause, either.

I didn't show it, but I was actually pretty empathetic.

[She's crazy! I can't believe their beloved saint is a psychopath. I wouldn't trust her even if it's the end of the world! Tsk tsk tsk.]

Seiren's eyes suddenly widened. The God's Tears suddenly darkened. No one realized, but it was responding to Lugia's power.

"...Magic?" Seiren tried to back away but found herself frozen.

After a moment, a diabolical grin, one you'd never expect to see on a saint, crept onto her face and she backed away. The holy knights braced themselves to spring into action.

"There's been a misunderstanding. The demon king has not descended, it seems, but I believe we need an explanation for this." Seiren flourished the crystal ball.

"The God's Tears!"

"That dark light—is it magic?"

It was not, in fact, nearly as frightening as she made it out to be. The dark light was dim and weak—at most, like that of a low-level undead. Critically, however, there were no undead here, only humans.

[Look! She's completely insane! She deserves a hell worse than any devil!]

Lugia's excited chatter made the God Orb react, and stronger this time.

[Some apostle of the gods, huh? At least demons don't stoop this low.]

Shhh.

Lugia went silent, but the knights had already seen the dim light of the Tears.

"Draw your blades! Protect the saint!" Modrian brandished his sword and the other knights eagerly followed suit.

Seiren stepped behind the knights and smirked at Joshua.

It's not too late, she seemed to be saying.

Joshua burst out laughing.

"What are you laughing at?"

"Nothing. It's just, you don't seem to act much like a saint. I'll have to reconsider my definition of what a saint is."

"I don't think you understand the situation you're in—"

Seiren's voice caught in her throat as Joshua's demeanor abruptly changed.

"What are you going to do if I decide to kill them all now?"

Seiren reeled in shock.

Joshua's voice was easily loud enough for the knights to hear.

"Fool!"

"At last, you show your true character, cretin!"

"You… How could you even say something like that—"

"Don't you know who I am? My name is Joshua Sanders of the Avalon Empire."

Seiren choked on her words.

"Enough words! Gather your divine power! Our might against his magic!"

"Hermes's blessings be with you!"

The paladins roared, gathering a pure white light. The divine artifact in Seiren's hand hummed in reaction to the manifestation of their divine energy.

"Stop, now. You'll regret this." Seiren retreated, fear curdling in the depths of her heart.

"Regret? I don't know about that…" His gaze was heavy with perilous intent.

This man… he's serious! Seiren clenched her teeth. I feel like he could really wipe out everyone here… S-Surely not?

"Power comes with responsibility. Dozens—even hundreds—of innocent bystanders could perish because of your careless words. The more power you have, the more care you must take. The consequences of your actions affect not just you, but your innocent subordinates."

Joshua lifted his hand.

"Not another move!" Modrian shouted.

Joshua ignored him and channeled his mana, instantly dragging the God's Tears into his hand.

"The—"

"Thus, you don't deserve this." Joshua smirked at the crystal ball. "An artifact that reacts to divine power and magic?"

"S-Stop!"

"Drop it! If you're really Baron Sanders of Avalon, this could create an international incident!"

"Hmph." Joshua snorted and began to channel his energy. The tangled mass of four different powers melded into one.

Now I know how to wield them independently.

"Some things can't be believed, even when they're seen. Let me show you."

Joshua let loose a second, explosive burst of energy. A pure white light, far beyond what the paladins had created, swept over the castle.

  1. Charles, waaaaaaayyy back in chapter 19. ↩️

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