Olsylvia Academy, North Campus, Filomena Nobility Academy’s Student Quarters, at the main entrance of the McPherson Monastery, one of the Olsylvia Academy’s Nine Midnight Forbidden Grounds.
After Bella, Noreya, Elaine, and Cynthia went through the tests within their dreamscapes, the group finally arrived at the entrance of the mysterious McPherson Monastery. No one really knew when this place had been built. Based on its architecture, the monastery may have been a post-war building constructed after the Twelve Demon Kings had invaded the human continent around ten thousand years ago.
The owner of the monastery was McPherson, who was the third-generation pope of the Radiant Church. He was the younger brother of the first pope, Goldsmith, and had taken up the position as the Red Archbishop after his sister had returned home to the Radiant God. Pope McPherson had built the monastery during his reign.
The memorial plaque outside the McPherson Monastery had some of its history recorded on it. However, as the words on the plaque were in an ancient script, Bella and the others could not understand it. Fortunately, the Holy Swordsman Cynthia was able to translate.
“Who knew that this monastery was owned by the third pope, Pope McPherson. I’m sure there will be some of the Radiant Church’s hidden treasures within this place. We’re going to be rich!”
“Bella… you guys… show some respect for the Gods, will you? This is the Radiant Church’s sacred grounds, you can’t simply….”
“Cynthia, do you wish to be gagged?”
“Don’t… Fine, I will stop speaking. Bella, is there any way that you can avoid going in? I’ll give you anything you want!”
Cynthia regretted coming to the McPherson Monastery with Bella. Only the reigning Pope of the Radiant Church knew the true reason why this place had been forbidden. As Bella and the others were outsiders of the Church, they could never know the Church’s secret.
“Cynthia, you are already mine. It doesn’t matter what you give! I want you to follow me wholeheartedly, even to the ends of the world. There is no way I am not going into the Church’s forbidden area. Noreya, if you please.”
“Bella, you… could you care just a little more about your image? Seriously!”
Noreya muttered under her breath, seeming unhappy at Bella’s actions. As Bella had been giving so much “special attention” to Cynthia, she was beginning to feel a little jealous. Cynthia had been held closely within Bella’s embrace all this time, which made her feel rather envious.
The door of the McPherson Monastery was covered in a plethora of ancient incantations, which had obviously been used by the Radiant Church to seal the place ten thousand years ago. Despite Noreya’s efforts to find a lock which she could pick, she could not find any on the gates. Eventually, she decided to use the assassin’s most primitive method and use her combat ability to force open the door.
Noreya removed a set of black tools from her space ring and brandished them towards the door. Sparks flew off the door when the black hammer hit the gates of the McPherson Monastery. No matter what she tried, the gates refused to budge.
“Hold on, Noreya. The gates have very strong links to a Radiant Array. You won’t be able to break down the doors this way. Let me try.”
Elaine took Noreya’s spot and released streams of fine puppet strings from her delicate fingers. With surgical precision, the puppet strings were inserted into the gaps within the gates. Immediately, black energy began to flow from Elaine’s fingers and into the puppet strings in the gates.
“What evil energy… Princess Elaine, don’t tell me that you are…”
“Cynthia, don’t make such a fuss. You are one of us now. There’s nothing strange about it. Let me make this extremely clear. These secrets are not meant to be told to anyone else at all.”
“Miss Cynthia, I’m sure you would never think of revealing our secrets, right? Bella, I have ways to prevent her from…”
“No need to go to such extremes! Cynthia is an intelligent person. I doubt that she wants to become a puppet that is oblivious to the world. Am I right, darling?”
Cynthia was deep in thought as Bella made everything so much clearer to her. It was apparent that both Princess Noreya and Princess Elaine were “dark” as well. There was no way that she could get out of this anymore. If she refused to join Bella and the others, Bella and Elaine would use all sorts of evil methods to cause her to sink into despair.
The gates of the McPherson Monastery failed to hold up against Elaine’s puppet strings. The entire gate rapidly turned black and within seconds the gates opened. There was a stark contrast between the two areas as, even though the outer gardens was engulfed in darkness, the monastery itself was filled with the warm glow of candlelight.
As the gates opened, countless arrows shot out from behind them. Bella reacted swiftly and rushed out, activating the Holy Knight’s Holy Guard after handing Cynthia over into Elaine’s care. At this point in time, a knight needed to take the lead.
“I heard some noise from over there. Quickly, let’s go take a look. Someone else might have infiltrated the forbidden McPherson Monastery as well.”
Norris and his team had heard the gates moving on the other side of the McPherson Monastery. Before they could proceed, their path was blocked by a translucent figure. Even though it appeared to be a blur, it was obvious that the figure was wearing a Radiant Pope’s outfit.
“You’re the Pope… Your Excellency. Wait, that’s wrong. The current Pope is much older. How dare you, you wandering spirit? You’ve got quite the nerve, trying to impersonate the reigning Pope!”
Norris stared dumbly at the wandering spirit that had donned a Pope’s robes. Could this be a lingering Holy Spirit of a past Radiant Pope? The wandering spirit appeared to be a young person, which was vastly different from the reigning Radiant Pope, who was an old fodder by now.
The members of the Doors of Truth behind Norris were already kneeling on the ground, engaging in the Radiant Church’s pilgrimage etiquette. As Norris was a Redeemer from another dimension, he was not a human that belonged on this plane and did not recognize the spirit. However, the members behind him already knew that this was the spirit of one of the ancient Radiant Popes.
“Young man, you’re not… part of my Church? You do not belong here. Leave! I am the third generation Radiant Pope, Macpherson… you can treat me as a Holy Spirit.”
McPherson was in a perpetual spiritual state. He had passed on a long time ago. However, only his physical body had died. Ten thousand years ago, when the Twelve Demon Kings had invaded, the God World had perished, along with most of the Gods. From then on, the Door of Reincarnation had been stuck in a half-paralyzed state.
Due to this issue, the third generation Radiant Pope, McPherson, had been roaming the mortal world for a long time. From the sixth generation Pope, Lindberg, onwards, the designated final resting place for future Popes had been restricted to the Holy Spirit Mausoleum in the heart of Goldsmith City.
This meant that before the sixth-generation Radiant Pope Lindberg, none of the Radiant Popes had had a peaceful resting place after they had passed away. Thus, the souls of the previous Radiant Popes had not been laid to rest and had been wandering the mortal world.
This was especially so for the first generation Radiant Pope Goldsmith. There was barely any mention of her within the Radiant Church’s historical records. Detailed biographical records of the Pope’s life had begun during the sixth generation Radiant Pope’s reign. Before that, there was no information kept about how the Popes had passed away.
Norris signed and turned to leave with his group from the Doors of Truth. They were incapable of doing any damage to the spirit of a past Radiant Pope. Everyone there unanimously decided that they would not reveal anything that they had seen at the monastery. If it was made known to the world that the spirit of the third generation Pope was still roaming the mortal world, it would definitely spell disaster for not just the Church, but for everyone else as well.
In his haste, Norris completely forgot to check if Bella and the others had left the monastery. When he had gone past the main entrance of the monastery, he had not seen Lisha, who had been there earlier. After ensuring that there was no one left in the vicinity, he locked the gates behind him.
Lisha had not left the area. Instead, she was hiding with Lolita, observing the surroundings of the monastery. In case Bella sent out any distress signals, Lisha had decided to remain on alert.
Olsylvia Academy, North Campus, Filomena Nobility Academy’s Student Quarters, in the courtyard of the McPherson Monastery, one of the Olsylvia Academy’s Nine Midnight Forbidden Grounds
“The booby traps within this monastery are too ridiculous. Somehow it’s specifically directed towards their own people. Fortunately, I’m not a real Holy Knight, otherwise, I’d be done for.”
Bella complained as she pulled the arrows that had pierced her body. The arrows released from the traps had been specially designed to deal with Holy Knights and Dragon Knights. The tips of the arrows were made of demonic materials that were only used to break through the Holy Knight’s special skill, the “Holy Guard”.
The arrows themselves were infused with a lethal poison as well. When Bella had activated the “Holy Guard”, she had been hit by dozens of arrows. As a Demon King, Bella’s body shared similar darkness properties with the dark toxins within the arrow. Because of this, Bella had not succumbed to the poison. As soon as the arrows were pulled out, Bella’s wounds began to heal as rapidly as the eye could see.
“Bella, the words on the wall are important historical literature that belongs to the Radiant Church. I can make sense of some of it. If you want, I can translate them for you.”
“Elaine, we are not here on an archaeological dig. This is the Radiant Church’s secret history. Cynthia, aren’t you curious at all?”
The stone walls of the McPherson Monastery were covered in the Radiant Church’s inscriptions. These words were a detailed record of the life and times of the Church’s first-generation Pope, Goldsmith.
“Bella, do you have anything more normal? This outfit is too… could I wear something else instead?”
Bella had already let go of Cynthia and forced her to wear one of her own designs, an outfit made for a “Demonic Swordsman”. This outfit was initially designed for Kriss. However, there had been no opportunity for her to try it on. Since Cynthia and Kriss were both silver-haired young maidens and had a similar figure, Bella had simply decided that Cynthia would be the best choice to test it out.
“What’s wrong, Cynthia? I painstakingly designed this for you swordsmen. Every single piece of material that went into this is extremely valuable. The only ones who are worthy of wearing something like this are girls whom I fancy. You should be delighted instead!”
The silver-grey swordsman outfit that Cynthia had put on was extremely bold. In Bella’s own words, sex sells. Cynthia’s shapely legs, collarbone, and shoulders were exposed to the world. The most important accessory was the black inverted cross necklace on Cynthia’s neck.
The black inverted cross necklace was a “restrictive device” that Bella had purposely gifted to Cynthia. At Bella’s command, the necklace would cause the wearer to lose consciousness. Also, Cynthia was unable to remove the necklace on her own. Cynthia could not object to this despicable move at all and could only take things one step at a time.
“Bella, I will listen to anything you say. Could we not disrupt the final resting place of the late Radiant Popes?”
“Well, this is a different matter altogether. It doesn’t seem that Pope McPherson was a decent person either if he set up these booby traps to deal with his own people.”
Bella continued to lead the way with Noreya following closely behind. Cynthia and Elaine were at the back of the group since Elaine had decided to keep an eye on the Holy Swordsman’s every move. Even though Cynthia had been “shackled” by Bella, it would be better to err on the side of caution.
The interior of the McPherson Monastery was lit by the legendary Eternal Lamps. Bella and the others had seen them on every pillar that they had walked past. They had no idea what type of fuel was being used for these lamps that had allowed them to remain lit for at least thousands of years.
“These are not Eternal Lamps, they’re Luminous Pearls. Eternal Lamps would never be able to burn for ten thousand years. Bella, the current market rates for Luminous Pearls are extremely high. Why don’t we pull a few of them off and we can resell them when we get out?”
Noreya had sent a grappling hook towards one of the lamps. Upon breaking the exterior, Bella and the others saw a Luminous Pearl the size of an egg. Apparently, all of the supposed Eternal Lamps were concealing Luminous Pearls.
In other markets, the value of Luminous Pearls was extremely low. However, the humans of this Other World were not proficient in maritime trade and activities. In the past, the only way they could obtain a Luminous Pearl was to trade with the Oceanic Race. Therefore, every single Luminous Pearl was worth many gold coins. Looking at the countless number of Eternal Lamps within the monastery, Bella could not help but marvel at the third generation Pope McPherson’s incredible wealth.
The layout of the McPherson Monastery was similar to any other monastery out there. A massive sculpture of the Radiant God had been placed within the pilgrimage hall. Although thousands of years had passed, not a single speck of dust could be seen on the seats. Every item seemed as though it was brand new. This added to the strange mystery that was the McPherson Monastery.
As Elaine continued to translate the writings on the wall, Bella and the others began to feel increasingly shocked at the contents. Apparently, the historical literature on the walls of the McPherson Monastery exalted the virtues of the first generation Radiant Pope Goldsmith and the writer was filled with admiration and practically worshipped her. Other than the love for Pope Goldsmith, the walls were also covered with abuse and curses that were directed towards the second generation Pope, Aesop.
The fact that the third generation Pope had left such harsh words for the second generation Pope publicly, it was obvious that any reigning Pope of the Radiant Church would keep this as a forbidden area and away from prying eyes. This was not as simple as having a dark history anymore.
The reigning Pope would be caught in a dilemma as well. If the Pope were to destroy these writings, it would be disrespectful towards the third generation Radiant Pope McPherson. If they were preserved, it would not be showing respect for the Pope Aesop, the second generation Radiant Pope.
As Cynthia could understand the words on the wall, she had a conflicted expression on her face. There were many times that she wanted to turn away and stop reading. However, Bella kept a strong hold on her svelte waist, forcing her to keep reading.
Bella intended to completely destroy Cynthia’s faith in her previous religion. Otherwise, she would not have the opportunity to convert Cynthia over to her new faith. The dark history of the Radiant Church was necessary for Bella to achieve her means.
However, the contents on the wall were hard even for Bella to stomach. According to the records, the first generation Radiant Pope, Goldsmith, was a wunderkind. She was a beautiful young genius who managed to attain the peak of radiant-type and sacred type magic.
The second-generation Pope, Aesop, was Goldsmith’s teacher. As his talent did not match up to his disciple’s, his contributions to the war against the Twelve Demon Kings had not been as significant. Therefore, he did not become the first generation Pope.
The third generation Pope, McPherson, was Goldsmith’s younger brother. Their parents had been killed during the war against the Twelve Demon Kings. According to Aesop’s records, they might have been the descendants of a royal family that was once living on the human continent.
Back then, McPherson was only a child, while Goldsmith, his sister, was about ten years older. Goldsmith had gone missing less than a year into her reign, allowing Aesop to rise to the position as Radiant Pope. Because of this, McPherson had filled his heart with resentment. When he was ten years old, he came across Pope Aesop’s secret.
Cynthia went completely pale as she continued reading. She would have never thought that the Radiant Church that she had believed in all her life had such a “dark history”. The first generation Pope, Goldsmith, led a relatively uneventful life. On the other hand, the second and third generation Popes, Aesop and McPherson had ridiculously dark pasts.
The second-generation Pope, Aesop, was a “fake teacher” who took advantage of his beautiful female disciples under the pretense of spreading light magic. The young McPherson had stumbled across his secret one day. He knew that Pope Aesop had definitely been involved in his older sister’s disappearance.
Of course, the third generation Pope, McPherson, was not a decent person either. This fellow was a pervert with a serious sister complex. Since he had been a little boy, he had held a dark desire towards his sister, Goldsmith. At a young age, he had made a deal with one of the Twelve Demon Kings behind his older sister’s back. Of course, since he had failed to possess his sister, McPherson had redirected his anger and hatred towards the second generation Pope, Aesop.
Eventually, McPherson had ambushed and seriously injured Pope Aesop. Afterwards, both parties had been at loggerheads for more than a year before Aesop had succumbed to his injuries and passed on. However, he did not reveal where Goldsmith was before he died.
It seemed like the abusive words that were directed towards the second generation Pope had been personally engraved on the wall by the third generation Pope, McPherson. The tale of the Pope’s assassination could never be revealed to the public.
Noreya, who had been on high alert the whole time, was the first one to discover that a shadowy figure had emerged from within the monastery. Following Noreya’s line of sight, Bella and the others saw a blurry figure dressed in the Radiant Pope’s designated robes standing in the heart of the pilgrimage hall.
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