(City of Lunarian- Varion Temple)
(The Hall Of Light)
"Our Father in Heaven… bless us Lord…"
"Bless us Lord…"
"Bless us Lord…"
A heavenly chorus echoed through the hall as rows upon rows of pious believers knelt down and worshiped the eternal god of light.
The Hall of Light was a magnificent open hall where the pope would summon the believers of the church to worship and adore God Varion.
It could house thousands of worshipers and had been constructed hundreds of years ago using dragon bones as the base of its foundation. 𝒊𝓃𝗻𝘳𝘦𝐚𝐝 𝒄o𝓶
The architecture was timeless with stained glass paintings on the walls that depicting scenes of humanity's victory over the foreign races.
Statues of former popes were placed around the hall each with an epitaph detailing their many accomplishments in the service of God Varion.
At the far end of the hall was a raised platform where the pope would stand and deliver his fiery sermons of truth and justice.
Saintess Elisa entered the hall with a solemn look on her face. She was accompanied by a squad of ten holy knights that marched in a rectangular formation.
The believers inside the hall glanced at the saintess with various expressions on their faces. Some were awe-struck while others smirked unkindly.
Those who smiled maliciously clearly had learned about the true purpose of today's assembly and were waiting to see the show.
It was an odd atmosphere.
Usually, the saintess would be treated with respect and devotion but today something was different.
If Saintess Elisa had detected the change in the mood, then she did not show it on her face. Claire on the other hand glared at those who looked at the saintess wrongly.
She did not have to even touch her sword as her piercing deep blue eyes sent a shiver down the spines of those who mocked the saintess.
No one wanted to provoke the paladin who was nicknamed the 'mad dog'. Claire walked steadily behind the saintess while keeping a careful eye on her surroundings.
It was the responsibility of the saintess' personal guard to keep any threats from even getting close to the next successor of the church.
But she knew that today there would be no assassination attempts.
In fact, after today there would be no more need for them.
A small frown appeared on Claire's face as certain unpleasant memories resurfaced in her mind.
She had made the wrong choice today. At least thanks to the Time Space Authority… she had gotten a second chance to make things right.
Saintess Elisa bowed her head and muttered a few words of prayer as she walked towards the front of the hall.
The front row was completely empty as the other high-ranking members of the church had yet to arrive.
Claire turned around and coldly spoke to the rest of her squad, "Stay nearby and I will guard the saintess by her side."
The front row of the Hall Of Light was reserved for the higher ups of the church and Claire barely qualified as the leader of the saintess' personal guard.
Her second in command a man named Markus Finely nodded respectfully and guided the other holy knights towards the far side of the hall.
"Will you guide me to my seat?" Saintess Elisa suddenly asked as she extended her right palm outward.
"Of course, my lady," Claire replied politely. She held the saintess' hand and was amazed at just how soft and warm it felt.
Claire froze for a moment but quickly recovered her composure. Why on earth was she feeling this way?
Was it a side effect from getting back her old memories? Did she ever feel this way around the saintess before?
Claire quickly pushed these distracting thoughts to the back of her mind and guided the saintess to her seat.
"Thank you," Saintess Elisa smiled gently as she sat down.
For a brief moment her hand remained in Claire's palm for perhaps a bit longer than necessary.
Claire nodded politely and then took her own seat which was next to the saintess. The voices singing praises to the Lord of Light continued to chant.
"Oh Lord… bless us…"
"Bless us Lord…"
"Bless us Lord…"
It was honestly getting a bit grating but fortunately Claire had an excellent poker face, so her inner annoyance did not show.
Saintess Elisa clasped her hands together and silently prayed. Her words were mumbled so Claire could not hear what she was saying.
There was an underlying sense of tension in the hall that only got worse as more higher ups finally arrived.
Claire saw archbishops, high priests, holy knight commanders and paladins enter the room one after the other.
Some sat down in the front row while others lined the walls and stood silently with expressionless faces.
Everyone had gathered. This was not a typical grand assembly as the pope rarely required the entire upper rank of the church to attend.
More eyes stared at the saintess, but Claire positioned her body so that the saintess was blocked from their view.
It was not part of her job but there was a part of her that wanted to maintain Saintess Elisa's dignity.
"His holiness the pope has arrived," a loud voice announced from the back of the hall.
Claire turned around and saw the tall wooden doors slowly open and reveal a group of people.
The pope was at the forefront of the group. He was a frail old man in his late eighties whose body shook and trembled with every step.
However, one could not afford to underestimate his seemingly weak appearance. Pope Emmanuel had a mastery over offensive holy magic spells that was unmatched.
He had single handily eradicated hundreds of heretic cults in his youth and those who went on crusades with him claimed none had survived his wrath.
But it was the two people behind the pope that made the believers inside the hall begin to whisper.
A handsome young man with short black hair walked confidently behind the pope.
He wore an expensive golden shirt adorned with sparkling jewels and a sword made from jade was attached to his hip.
This was the crown prince of the Empire. Raul Francis… the man most likely to become the next emperor.
In fact, in Claire's old life, he was the one to eventually succeed despite facing a rebellion from his half siblings.
Behind the young man… was a strange and beautiful girl.
If Saintess Elisa was a sickly beauty, then this girl was a blossoming rose.
Her lips were full and kissable, and her golden eyes were soft and shone with purity and grace.
Her facial features were captivating and would leave any observer breathless.
A cute button nose, thin eyebrows… she was the ideal version of a fairy tale princess.
She wore a plain black dress that did little to conceal her plump voluptuous body with curves in all the right places.
But her most distinguishable feature was her hair.
Unlike Saintess Elisa who only had a few streaks of white in her brown hair, this mysterious girl's shoulder length hair was completely silver.
She wore a confident smile on her face as she walked into the hall with slow and purposeful steps.
It was nearly time for the pope to reveal the true purpose of this grand assembly. Claire took another look at the mysterious girl before turning around.
She froze as she met Saintess Elisa's eyes.
The saintess had an expressionless look on her face but Claire suddenly felt like a husband whose wife had just caught him cheating.
She cleared her throat and pretended not to notice. Saintess Elisa hummed softly and resumed her prayer without paying attention to the commotion in the room.
The pope walked to the raised platform and only stopped a few times along the way to rest his hand on the forehead of certain believers.
The holy chants inside the hall got louder and louder as the worshippers were affected by the religious atmosphere.
It did not take long for the pope and his procession to reach the front of the hall.
The prince sat down on one of the available seats in the front row while the pope brought the strange woman with him to the raised platform.
Pope Emmanuel walked to the center of the raised platform and calmly raised one hand in the air.
The noisy hall was instantly silenced as the worshippers and the other members of the church waited patiently for the pope to speak.
Pope Emmanuel spread his arms outwards and loudly declared, "My faithful believers… I bring you good news."
He gestured towards the mysterious woman standing behind him and spoke the words that had sent the original Claire down a dark path of despair.
"The real saintess has appeared!"
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