(City of Lunarian- Varion Temple)
(West Training Wing- Private Quarters)
"Okay… so clothes… money…what else am I missing?" Claire muttered to herself as she walked around her room.
Her bedroom was already sparsely furnished but it was only when she started to pack up her things did Claire realised just how little she owned.
Other than the clothes that were in her closet, the armour on her body and the long sword attached to her hip…
There was nothing else.
There were no keepsakes, pictures or any mementos to be found. Clearly the original Claire had lived a very frugal lifestyle.
Claire let out a heavy sigh and tried to gather her thoughts. Today was the day of their departure from the main temple.
The former saintess Elisa was to become the head of the Varion Church's branch in the City of Galrannor, but it was obvious that this promotion was actually an exile.
Claire as her personal guard would accompany her during the journey and stay by her side when they arrived in the outer regions.
The regions located near the outer edges of the continent were dangerous places where monster attacks were common.
The nobles in charge of such lands had little to no actual power as the royal family did not concern themselves with ruling over those wastelands.
As a result, the true power was held in the hands of underworld gangs that ruled with a mixture of violence and fear.
Claire shuddered as she imagined poor innocent Elisa going to live in such a terrible place.
Rage bubbled up inside Claire's heart when she recalled the smug smile on the new saintess' face.
Wait a minute…
Claire's eyes lit up as she suddenly realised something important. The pope and Saintess Marie were clearly suspicious.
Why were they so eager to drive away Elisa?
Why was Marie appointed as the new saintess without hesitation?
According to the original Claire's memories something would happen years later that would lead to dark portals suddenly appearing across the continent.
Shadowy beasts and lesser demons would emerge from the portals to ravage the land and kill any human in sight.
That must have been the event that broke this world plane and the only person who could have done this would have to be the new saintess!
There was nowhere else on the continent except for the main temple of the Varion Church where the spiritual energy was sufficient to open up multiple portals to hell.
It was impossible to know for sure, but a faint theory had already emerged in Claire's mind and as she gave the matter some more thought…
It seemed to be correct.
If Saintess Marie was secretly a traitor, then it would make sense that she wanted to drive away the true saintess.
Somehow, she had managed to charm the pope or perhaps the old man was aware of her plans from the start.
Saintess Marie was the villainess that she needed to kill!
Claire's lips curved up into a gentle smile as she considered the matter more carefully. The short haired paladin subconsciously rested her hand on the hilt of her sword.
Her initial plan was just to complete the original Claire's request and live the rest of her life as she pleased but that was not an option.
Stopping the portals from appearing on the continent was the only way to ensure that her life remained peaceful.
But how could she do it?
Claire was under no delusions that she would be able to successfully make her way through the temple and kill both the pope and the new saintess.
She wasn't even a tier one knight yet.
Claire wasn't sure just how powerful she was, but it would be foolish to attempt to kill the pope with only her strength.
What to do? What to do?
Claire's brows furrowed as she tried her best to think of a solution. The minutes passed by slowly as Claire explored every option.
Poison? Hiring killers to help? A bomb?
No… where would she even get the materials to make a bomb? This world didn't even have gunpowder so just shooting the saintess wasn't an option either.
Claire eventually gave up as she glanced out of her window and saw the bright sun slowly move towards the center of the sky.
The wagon would be leaving soon, and she needed to pick up Elisa from the inner sanctum.
Well, the portal incident would not take place until years later so all she could do now was secretly gather her strength and one day return to finish her main task. 𝒾n𝒏𝚛𝗲αd. 𝒄om
Claire carefully placed the last pieces of armour on her body and picked up the large brown sack on her mattress.
Inside this large bag was everything that she owned… which was not much.
Claire took a second glance at her room with a trace of nostalgia in her eyes.
She didn't know when she would be coming back. Perhaps by the time she returned there would already be someone else living here.
Claire was not one to be overly concerned about her appearance but since she was about to meet Elisa, the holy knight could not resist checking the mirror.
A western beauty with short cropped blonde hair, piercing blue eyes and sharp angular facial features stared back at her.
Claire smiled and flexed her lean muscular arms that were firm and toned after months of heavy exercise and training.
Okay… she still looked great!
Claire took a deep breath and the gently exhaled. She glanced at her room for one final time before leaving.
The gossip from yesterday's grand assembly was still a hot topic and Claire was aware of the stares in her direction from the whispering nuns and servants in charge of maintain the temple.
The brightest star among the young generation of paladins was now forced to spend the rest of her life in exile.
Some would pity her, but Claire knew that there would be others secretly thankful that she had decided to stay by Elisa's side.
Those like the members of her former squad.
Perhaps the original Claire had never noticed the jealous emotions in their hearts, but Sui Li could easily tell.
There was a reason why Markus was able to get every member of the squad to agree with his decision.
Well, there was no use dwelling on it.
If anything, Claire felt sorry for them for she knew that they would eventually come to regret their choice.
Claire slowly walked through a labyrinth of side passages and corridors until she arrived at the Inner Sanctum.
The private residence of the saintess and the next successor to the church.
Claire's eyes widened as she saw a frail figure swaying in front of the entrance.
Elisa was holding two large bags and the heavy weight was causing beads of sweat to form on her forehead.
Claire dropped her bag without hesitation and ran over to the former saintess with her heart pounding in her chest.
"My lady, why are you outside?!" Claire asked frantically as she hurriedly took the bags from the fragile girl.
"Claire… I'm not your lady anymore," Elisa smiled gently as she touched Claire's cheek with a strange emotion in her eyes.
"You can call me Elisa."
"My lady… I can't suddenly," Claire stuttered nervously.
Elisa raised up her hand and placed one finger on Claire's lips. She leaned in closer and spoke in a sterner tone,
"Call. Me. Elisa."
"My lady… I… I… I mean Elisa," Claire hesitantly spoke.
Elisa smiled happily as a ray of sunlight fell on her body. Claire was lost for words as she saw just how beautiful the former saintess was.
She wore a plain black dress with a single ruby embedded in front of the dress. Her brown hair was tied in a single ponytail, and she wore a pair of golden bracelets.
Although Elisa's body was thin and frail, it did not detract from her beauty but rather made her soft facial features invoke a feeling of compassion.
"The new saintess will be arriving soon so I decided to leave early," Elisa explained as she gestured towards her bags.
Claire's face hardened as Elisa mentioned the new saintess. Marie was the villainess who would bring about the destruction of this world.
For a moment, Claire seriously contemplated telling Elisa about her suspicions but eventually decided against it.
A kind-hearted girl like Elisa would be unable to understand the actions that she needed to take to save everyone.
Claire wanted nothing more than to protect the innocent smile on her face.
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