(Wester lands- City of Relanter)
No matter how wealthy the Lord… it is impossible to completely eradicate poverty.
Of course, there were some nobles who invested in their territory and tried to raise the standard of living for their citizens.
But most were content to gain as much riches as possible from increasing taxes and squeezing every drop of value from their citizens.
Every major city on the continent from the dusty plains of Arone to the river lands had one similarity between them.
There was always a small section of the city usually near the outskirts where the poorest residents would live.
A filthy place where crime, diseases and vices ran rampant.
The city guards would turn a blind eye since most nobles did not care about punishing the violent gangs.
Those born in such places would slowly become rotten as they faced malice and prejudice from society.
Education was expensive and most knight schools would not accept applicants without a noble backer.
There was no way to climb out.
Poverty and violence were part of a vicious cycle.
Most men and women who were born in the slums would remain there until the day they died.
However, there was a different atmosphere inside the slums today. The usual sounds of violence and drunken cursing were strangely absent.
Instead, one could hear voices crying out in joy and gratitude. These voices came from an abandoned church located in the western corner of the slums.
"Thank you… you truly are a great priestess!"
"My son is cured! You saved him! How can I ever repay you?"
"Please… help my wife! I beg you to save her!"
Elisa smiled gently as she touched the forehead of a blind old man. Golden light erupted from her fingertips as she prayed to the Lord of Light.
The former saintess removed her fingers and the old man blinked twice. Tears ran down the sides of his face as he realised that he could now see.
"I can see! I CAN SEE! Praise the Lord of Light!" the old man yelled happily.
He shook Elisa's palm with the tears still streaming down the sides of his face.
"Next in line please," Claire's stern voice made the old man withdraw his hand as he did not want to draw the attention of the fierce knight standing behind the priestess.
Elisa smiled tenderly at her loyal paladin who was currently keeping a watchful eye on the surroundings in case any threats appeared.
The old man bowed and gave his thanks once more before leaving to rejoin his family.
A little girl stepped forward holding the hand of her elder brother who was missing an ear.
Elisa closed her eyes and whispered a silent prayer to the Lord of Light before repeating the process.
Claire's lips gently curved upwards as she saw the warm sight.
Two weeks had passed since they had left the temple and Elisa had insisted on stopping at every city on the way to the outer region.
She wanted to visit the slums where the poorest and dirtiest residents lived.
Despite the awful smell of sewage in the air and the savage men who leered at her body, Elisa was determined to follow the will of Lord Varion.
Fortunately, she had Claire by her side.
If Elisa was a delicate flower, then Claire was the savage beast that protected her treasure.
They encountered a few thugs during their time in the slums but one casual swing from Claire's longsword was enough to solve most difficulties.
Here in the slums, it was important to display that you were not someone to be messed with, so Claire did not show mercy.
She beat them violently but stopped short of actually killing them since she did not want the kind-hearted Elisa to see death.
Elisa would partially heal the injured thugs but unbeknownst to Claire she mixed a thread of dark mana in the holy light.
Those thugs may have escaped with their lives but in the coming days they would eventually beg for the sweet release of death.
A tier two knight was much stronger than the average person, and Claire had not neglected her training since leaving the main temple.
Every day she would run alongside the carriage in order to train her stamina and every night she would practice her breathing technique.
Elisa would heal her damaged body whenever she pushed herself too far, so Claire trained recklessly like a madman.
Strength was the most important thing in this world.
She had not forgotten her main objective of killing the false saintess.
Only when Marie was dead could the terrible future in the original Claire's memories never come to pass.
Saintess Marie and the pope were her enemies.
"Shall we take a break for lunch?" Elisa's sweet voice interrupted Claire's musings.
The holy paladin nodded in acknowledgement and then reached for the brown bag attached to her hip.
Elisa addressed the crowd of residents with a warm smile on her face,
"Sorry, everyone… I need to take a short break and then I will continue this afternoon. Please spread the word and let the injured and sick come to visit me."
She stood up and held out her hand for Claire to hold. The guardian knight carefully escorted the former saintess away from the abandoned church.
Elisa's body trembled and shivered with every step. She would occasionally cough, and her frail figure would sway from side to side.
Clearly healing so many people at once had put a great deal of strain on her body. Claire tightened her grip so that Elisa would not fall and hurt herself.
"Don't give me that look… it is the responsibility of a high priestess to serve the common people by healing them," Elisa calmly spoke.
"Yes… but it doesn't help anyone if you sacrifice your health to do so," Claire replied with a concerned look on her face.
"My… my… but isn't self sacrifice part of Lord Varion's teachings? Paladin are you tempting me down a path of darkness?" Elisa teased as she leaned her head against Claire's shoulders.
Elisa stood on her tip toes and whispered in Claire's ear, "Say… you wouldn't happen to be a spy sent to corrupt a pure innocent priestess…. are you?"
"My lady… I mean Elisa… I intend to remain a faithful paladin and serve the God of Light for the rest of my life," Claire firmly declared.
She needed to fulfil the wish of the original owner of this body.
Sui Li did not want to owe the fierce warrior who willingly gave up her body so that she could accomplish her task.
"Is that so?" Elisa hummed softly as her eyes briefly flashed red.
It was only for a fleeting moment as Elisa quickly got her emotions under control.
Would that unwavering loyalty remain once she exposed Claire to the dirty secrets that the church hid?
Would she still remain faithful once she saw how those self-proclaimed righteous men and women raped and pillaged those of her race? 𝒊𝐧𝑛r𝑒𝗮𝐝. 𝐜𝑜𝑚
But what if she didn't turn her back on the church?
Elisa felt a pang of sadness as she imagined fighting against Claire in battle. Somehow this stupid no-nonsense knight had wormed her way into her heart.
The former saintess was oddly quiet as the pair left the slums. Claire could not tell what she was thinking as her face was expressionless.
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