Olsylvia Academy, North Campus, Filomena Nobility Academy’s Student Quarters, in the peripheral area of one of the Olsylvia Academy’s Nine Midnight Forbidden Grounds – McPherson Monastery.
Bella’s exploratory team was stopped by the Olsylvia Academy’s Student Union’s Secretary, Cynthia, when they tried to enter the McPherson Monastery. As Cynthia was one of the Top Ten Academy Belles, Bella now had the good fortune of meeting all ten of them.
“Secretary Cynthia, what are you doing out here at this late hour instead of resting in your room? Staying up into the wee hours of the night is not good for you. I urge you to go back quickly. It wouldn’t turn out well if Chief President Angelia has to worry about you!”
“Late? Not at all. Bella, I hope you’re not thinking about creating another big ruckus. I will not allow you to wreak havoc!”
Cynthia was wearing a pure white knight’s uniform and she had a rapier attached to her waist with the Radiant Church’s inscriptions engraved on the hilt of the sword. According to the information Bella had obtained from Chief President Angelia, the full abilities of Secretary Cynthia were an unknown quantity. Even Angelia was not completely in the know about her mysterious background.
“Secretary Cynthia, I have permission. Here are my documents of authorization. Feel free to look through them.”
“Don’t lie to me. The Academy would never allow a student society to develop a forbidden area like this. What is this…”
Cynthia stared thoughtfully at Bella’s documents. The authorization letter contained the student union presidents’ official seals from the five academy branches, Chief President Angelia, and Natasha, the Chief of the Disciplinary Committee.
Somehow, this problem student was able to obtain the stamp of approval from President Isaman and Chief Natasha even though Bella did not seem to have a close relationship with either of them. Could it be that the Rose Society really had managed to obtain permission to explore the area? Didn’t any of the student union presidents or the chief of the Disciplinary Committee object to such a ridiculous request?
Seeing as Cynthia was now deep in thought, Bella quickly took the opportunity to move closer to her to observe if there was anything different about this beautiful girl who had made the top ten list. To her surprise, on closer inspection, there really was something strange about Cynthia.
Cynthia’s flowing hair was gold. However, the color seemed a little unnatural up close and felt like it was dyed on. Even though it was much more expensive, hair dye did exist in this Other World. As an experienced “old-timer”, Bella had seen many golden-haired beauties in her day. No matter how convincing Cynthia’s gold hair was, she was not fooled by it.
Other than her hair, Bella felt like Cynthia’s face was part of a disguise as well. She was absolutely beautiful, but it didn’t appear real to her, and it was likely that Cynthia’s true appearance would look nothing like her current one. It was obvious to Bella that there was a minute difference between the color of her face and neck.
“Eh, Miss Bella, what are you looking at? Is there a problem with my face? You’re so annoying. Could you stay further away from me?”
“Hehe, Cynthia, are you hiding something? Your face…”
“My face… What about it? Just go ahead. Since you have permission, then I have no reason to remain here any longer.”
A hint of panic flashed across Cynthia’s azure irises. She planned to leave immediately after returning the authorization documents to Bella. Since Bella had the documents, it would make it less awkward for her to leave. She would find out the proper details from Chief President Angelia and the Disciplinary Committee’s Chief Natasha later on.
Bella did not intend to let Cynthia go so soon, as she had not officially obtained all the seals of approval. For Presidents Maria, Britney, and Ivy, Bella had put their seals on the document in their presence, which meant that there would not be any problems. President Isaman had given her stamp during their undercover mission that afternoon, which would cover any loose ends.
However, the biggest problem was Chief President Angelia and Chief Natasha’s seals, as Bella had gone behind their backs to obtain them. As Cynthia’s biggest doubts were not cleared, if Bella were to allow her to leave, she would definitely go directly to Chief President Angelia to clear things up. Once she spoke to Chief President Angelia, Bella’s counterfeit documents would be exposed.
“Bella, what is the meaning of this? Let go of me!”
“Cynthia, come along on this exploration adventure. Since you’re already here, you might as well join me. Don’t tell me you’re not at all curious about what’s within the McPherson Monastery!”
“I… I’m not curious. I want to return to my room and retire for the night. Didn’t you say…”
“I take it all back. Cynthia, if you don’t come with me, it will really put me in a difficult position.”
Bella held on to Cynthia’s right hand as she prepared to take her along for the ride. As long as they entered the McPherson Monastery together, Bella and Cynthia would be accomplices. By then, Bella was sure that Cynthia would not reveal anything as they would be in the same boat.
“Bella, I really don’t want to explore this place. Could you…”
“Cynthia, refuse again and I will rip off your disguise right now! I believe that your actual face is far more beautiful than this one.”
“You… Fine, just my luck. I guess I will join in your shenanigans this time. After this, please leave me alone.”
“Of course. Cynthia, welcome to my society… Sorry, I meant my exploratory team.”
On the surface, Bella seemed to be engaged in a formal handshake with Cynthia. In her mind, she was already scheming to make Cynthia hers. As Cynthia was one of the Top Ten Academy Belles, there was no reason why Bella should leave her to the likes of Scott or the other Saviors.
Eventually, Cynthia gave in and joined Bella’s exploratory team as a temporary member. Although she was the Holy Swordsman of the Radiant Church, she had no clue about what was hidden behind the doors of the McPherson Monastery. The other team members were all under Bella’s command and thus did not raise any objections about her presence.
Within the historical texts of the Radiant Church, there were very few detailed records about the McPherson Monastery. Many of them had been destroyed on purpose. The only thing that was left was half a message which said “The McPherson Monastery is a place of forbidden religion. Here, sins were worshipped…”
Now, the exploratory team consisted of five people – two knights, one assassin, one mage, and one swordsman. Usually, when exploring places of the supernatural, the team would include a Priest or professions that could conduct exorcisms. However, those on Bella’s side were unavailable at the time. Her first choice was Isaman, but she had plans to secretly visit Pamela, who was feeling rather down.
The four holy maidens and President Maria were busy dealing with the formalities which would allow them to move to Bella’s place and were unavailable as well. This left Bella with no choice but to proceed with this mission without a priest on her team. Taking into consideration that something could go wrong, Bella had requested for Lolita to be stationed right outside the McPherson Monastery and await her orders.
Many students from the Filomena Nobility would stay out at night. However, very few would walk past the perimeter of the McPherson Monastery. On the wrought metal gates, there was a sign hung by the Olsylvia Academy’s Main Student Union which stated in big, bold letters – “Repairs in Progress, Authorized Personnel Only.”
“Cynthia, do you have the keys?”
“Bella, don’t you already have permission?! They didn’t give you a key?”
“Well… this problem… I’ll explain everything to you when we get back. Noreya, if you please.”
“Are you here to investigate… or to steal? It’s wrong to pick locks.”
Noreya stepped forward with a piece of thin wire in her hands. With a few nimble movements, she unlocked the gates. Soon, everything that laid behind those gates would be revealed to the world after all these years. Once the gates were unlocked, Cynthia decided to let the lock picking issue go and pushed it open with Noreya.
As Bella and Lisha looked past the gates, they were a little surprised. Initially, they had thought that the McPherson Monastery would be directly behind the gates. However, they did not expect that it would be much farther into the enclosure and was surrounded by walls as well. The outer part of the grounds was a large expanse of what seemed like a garden.
An eerie gust of cold air brushed past the group as they opened the gates. It was unnaturally cold, almost as though it came from beyond the grave. Some of the Demon Lords who were Bella’s subordinates lived in underground tombs. As Bella had visited them before, she was especially sensitive to the chill of the graveyards.
“Elder Sister Bella, there isn’t any light at all in this place. I’m scared. Let’s go back.”
“Younger Sister Lisha, you were once the fearsome leader of the Demon Hunter Race’s Demon Slaying Knights. Why are you scared of a place like this?
“I’m a little afraid of the dark. Why don’t we find a time to come back here in daylight…”
“Lisha, you will be on standby at the gates. Lolita will be here to protect you in secret. We will go further in to take a closer look.”
As Lisha had a fear of darkness, she was the first one to drop out of the expedition. The garden outside of the McPherson Monastery was especially dark, almost unnatural. Located in the central region of the Filomena Nobility Academy, the area was constantly lit up, even at night. However, none of the lights from the outside could shine into the McPherson Monastery.
To put it more accurately, due to the natural darkness properties of the monastery, light from the outside world could not reach the grounds at all. Even after Bella had opened the gates, none of the light emanating from the other buildings nearby could cross the boundaries of the McPherson Monastery.
“I’ll take the lead. Cynthia, you’ll cover the back. Elaine and Noreya will be in the middle.”
As soon as she had finished speaking, Bella took out the small round shield she had prepared and attached it to her left arm. Then, she walked straight into the darkness with her three other companions following closely behind. Lisha stayed behind to guard the entrance with Lolita, who was on standby.
Olsylvia Academy, North Campus, Filomena Nobility Academy’s Student Quarters, in the gardens of the McPherson Monastery, one of the Olsylvia Academy’s Nine Midnight Forbidden Grounds.
The visibility in this area was so low that Bella could only fumble around in the dark. The region around the McPherson Monastery somehow seemed to have properties which repelled light. Bella had tried to start a fire but to no avail. Once the flames were ignited, they would mysteriously extinguish.
Luckily, it was a full moon that night. Under the dim moonlight, Bella could make out the general layout of the McPherson Monastery. The monastery was right in the middle of the area and was surrounded by a large garden on all sides.
The flowers in the garden had bright scarlet petals. Technically speaking, no one had been inside the monastery grounds in a long time, thus the flowers should have withered by now. However, that was not the case. In fact, those flowers were abnormally in full bloom, which caused one to wonder where the nutrients for the garden had come from.
“Noreya, Elaine, why are you still wearing your hoods? Doesn’t it restrict your line of sight?”
“Cynthia, it’s just how they are. Just leave them… wait, don’t move.”
Although it was the dead of night, Noreya and Elaine still chose to wear the hoods that covered their faces as the News Club had eyes everywhere. In order to lead a quiet school life, concealing their appearances was necessary. Cynthia wanted to probe further about their strange behavior but was interrupted by Bella.
Just as Cynthia was about to find out the reason behind the interruption, Bella raised a finger to her lips, signaling to Cynthia to remain silent.
Behind Cynthia, a ghostly white shadowy figure was about to attach to her body. The shadow appeared to assume the shape of a young girl with blurry facial features and was dressed in white. One of its hands was outstretched and was about to tap Cynthia’s right shoulder.
Bella was stunned when she turned around and saw what was about to happen. She had arranged for Cynthia to be the last person as she was wearing the crucifix that was blessed by President Maria.
Under normal circumstances, evil spirits and evil beings would not go near anyone who carried a crucifix. Somehow, even with a crucifix around her neck, Cynthia could still be tailed by this white malicious spirit.
When the white malicious female spirit realized that Bella had noticed her, her features instantly twisted into a terrifying expression with blood oozing out of her every orifice.
Post-interdimensional travel, Bella was not easily frightened. In any case, she was a Demon King. If she got scared by a mere malicious spirit, she would not be able to show her face in those circles anymore. Swiftly, she ran over to Cynthia and pulled her over to her side.
With sharp eyes and swift hands, Noreya, who was on alert, sent a few flying darts towards the white malicious spirit. Seeing as her attempted attack had failed, the white malicious spirit disappeared into the darkness and Noreya’s darts whizzed right through where she was earlier.
“Thank you… Bella, you can let go of me now.”
“Ah, my apologies. Old habits die hard… Anyway, I did not do it on purpose!”
Cynthia was about to thank Bella for her assistance when she was pulled right into Bella’s embrace. If not for Cynthia’s timely reminder, Bella would have unleashed her “basal instincts” and taken the opportunity to cop a feel or two.
“That was a type of malicious spirit. They target passersby by tapping them on the shoulder. If you had turned around, you would be in a lot of trouble.”
“Elaine, behind you…”
“It’s fine, I’m not afraid of such things.”
A second white ghostly figure materialized behind Elaine, poised to tap her right shoulder. Just as Bella reached out to pull her away, a skeletal hand emerged from Elaine’s large cloak and grabbed the malicious spirit’s hand at her shoulder.
In that instant, the strangest scene began to unfold. The skeletal hand held on to the malicious spirit’s hand like it was holding on to a sponge. The white malicious spirit was scared stiff at this sudden turn of events. In its years of attacking people, this was the first time it had encountered such weird prey.
Before the malicious spirit could react, a portal to an alternate dimension seemed to open up behind Elaine. Dozens of white skeletal hands appeared out of thin air, grabbed on to various parts of the white malicious spirit, and tore it to shreds.
“Bella, what’s wrong with… you, have you forgotten that I am a Puppet Master? This is one of the secret skills of my profession.”
“It’s nothing… just that, just that you seem much more terrifying than they are!”
Before, Bella had only heard of “using violence to curb violence”. Now, she realized that “treating horror with horror” was feasible as well. After Elaine had decimated one of the malicious spirits, the others had been scared into retreating by her strange methods. This allowed the team to enjoy a moment of peace.
After making some adjustments to their sequence, Bella’s exploration team continued to make their way into the monastery. This time, Elaine was the last person in line. Her main objective was to prevent any malicious spirits from tailing them. Fortunately, as Cynthia’s attention was on Bella at the time, she did not see what Elaine did to destroy the malicious spirit.
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