Translated by iseuli
‘No torture and interrogation at all? I’m lucky to experience a painless death.’
Jade felt relieved to hear that he would be burned to death without any extra torture interrogation.
When Lord Balticon arrested him, everyone had treated Jade like a murderer. However after the fact, they didn’t treat him very harsh at all.
In the monastery, his regular meals were dried hard bread to begin with, so even though the meals were awful, he didn’t feel it was much of a problem. He felt grateful that they would provide three square meals a day for a prisoner at all.
The prison guards provided Jade meals in exchange of stories to pass the time. Jade freely shared all the stories that he knew of.
He told the story of the girl who lost her shoe, the prince who turned into a frog, the young girl who sought revenge against the wolf that ate her grandmother, and also the story of the girl who died eating a poisonous apple.
The bored prison guards preferred to listen to his stories over mindlessly beating the prisoners of this place.
It was considered a sin for a Priest to talk of mystical beings such as elves, orcs, and devils. All of his stories could possibly be used against him as evidence of worshipping the devil. Even so, Jade didn’t wish to turn down the earnest requests of the prison guards in this place.
Jade was sitting on top of some damp straws in his prison cell when a voice called him. An old woman whose age that could not be guessed stopped and kneeled just before the prison door. The old woman had many wrinkles and her eyes sagged making it hard to see through to her eyes. Her jaw and cheeks sagged so much from wrinkles that it almost seemed like she was wearing someone else’s skin.
“This horrible old woman has come to make a confession.”
This was the first time Jade met this woman.
“If you want to make a confession…, why have you come to me? There should be other designated priests who are qualified to listen to confessions..”
“But it must be you. This is because when my younger brother made a confession in your place, he disappeared.”
The old woman peered up and smiled showing off a toothless smile.
‘This must somehow be related to the man from 18 months ago. What was that man’s name again?’
Jade approached the prison door and spoke the man’s name.
Jade sat just before the iron prison door.
“Yes. Yes. Duorde. That was this old woman’s younger brother.”
The old woman was sitting just out of Jade’s reach across the other side of his prison door.
“Bless me, Father, for this old woman has sinned. I’ve come to absolve my sins, please listen to my confession.”
“I do not have the power to absolve your sins with validity. However, I will listen to your words.”
“Aren’t you supposed to tell me, ‘God is listening, please confess?’ Am I wrong? Wasn’t it?”
Nopah said tilting her head in a joking manner.
Jade responded coldly.
“Would such words matter for someone like you? Anyway, you have not come to seek God, but me.”
“You’re perceptive. Yes. It was a lie that I wanted to make a confession to absolve my sins. However, this is a confession so it should be all the same? Right?”
Nopah snickered as she continued to speak.
“This old woman will confess. The reason, father priest, is locked up in this prison is because of this old woman. I’ve told all your wrongs to Lord Balticon. This old woman had.”
The old woman continued to cackle without any signs of stopping. It appeared she was forcing herself to laugh.
‘My assumptions that Lord Balticon had intervened in this incident must be true then…’
Lord Balticon had not been blindly stubborn over a short exchange of sacrilegious chatter.
The other had understood and went ahead forcing his way into the Catholic monastery, even with the knowledge that such actions would greatly shake his relation with the Catholic Order.
‘…It is hiding in the form of an old woman, the answer to this incident has come walking to me on its own.’
Jade thought for a moment and continued to talk.
“I heard rumors that the Raphael Priest Order would take over this place. In order to achieve this, Lord Balticon needed to weaken the core power within the Antone’s Monastery. I have become the black sheep to make this happen, correct?”
The elder woman was momentarily shocked, then broke into a crackling laugh.
“After the Lord is finished with this religious trial, he plans to deport everyone from the Monastery of Zerba. At that moment, the Rapheal Priest Order will intercede to stop it. Our Lord will have no choice but to reluctantly agree.”
The elder woman snickered.
Lord Balticon had always been unhappy about the small size of the local monastery. He wanted to rebuild it into a bigger scale, additionally he could even rename the church under his own name.
“Priest Jade, you will need to become the martyr for the sake of making the foundation of this Monastery stronger. Of course nobody will recognize you for it though. Except one person, this old woman will remember you.”
The old woman clapped with ecstasy.
“This old woman will be very happy because you were the one who killed my younger brother! This is the revenge of miracles. Isn’t murdering for revenge one of the unforgivable sins of the Catholic faith? This smelly old woman begs for your forgiveness. Not under the name of God, but I hope to be forgiven by you, Mr. Priest.”
“Let me ask you one thing.”
“Wrong. You’re supposed to say that you will abolish my sins.”
The old woman snickered.
Jade continued to talk without paying her any mind.
“The night your younger brother visited me, he confessed that he had killed five women.”
“The five women were prostitutes.”
“He had come to find me, because he decided the next person he would kill was me, a priest.”
“I did not ask why. Why was I the sixth target? Why did he kill the five women?”
“I needed their heart.”
“This poor hungry old woman wanted to eat it.”
“My younger brother wanted to kill, and I wanted to consume human flesh. We scattered the body parts so that others would not know that we were eating humans.”
“That’s not exactly true. This old woman just truly enjoys seeing other women trembling in terror.”
“So you were the one who directed all this.”
“Yes. Except one person. I never asked him to kill you. This old woman is picky and will not eat the heart of men.”
“Why did Duorde come to kill me? Why did he go out of his way to visit the monastery?”
“Our kind is just naturally attracted to those from the clergy. Especially proper upright clergymen like yourself, you look like fresh clean meat in our eyes. You are like a freshly caught fish, or newly butcherd pig. You appear about ten times more delicious than an average human. Of course this isn’t in my case, because I’m a picky eater.”
The old woman scratched her cheek with her pointy nails. Her flesh tore and sticky fluid oozed from her skin.
“Rather than eating you, this old woman would rather see you burning on a stake. The people of Zerba loved you. However, once someone calls you a heathen, they would turn their backs to you in a snap and throw stones as they rejoice smelling your burning flesh. Person to person, they would feel sad and pity, however if you group them together they will dance. I really enjoy seeing this sight.”
Jade blankly watched the old woman.
“I also feel pretty happy watching people like you burning.”
The old woman observed him with her bad eye and spoke.
“I wonder if you will be able to remain calm even when you are tied to the stake to be burned tomorrow.”
“I wonder if you will be able to remain calm while being burned alive.”
The woman chuckled lightly and then her expression abruptly turned to stone. She took several steps back as if she was pushed by a strong wind.
Jade took several steps back from the iron bars and sat down on the cell corner while covering his face.
He was like this for a long while when a familiar voice sounded.
“What are you doing there?”
Jade didn’t move his hand away from his face nor did he bother with a reply.
“I’m very disappointed in myself right now.”
“Why are you disappointed?”
“An old woman claimed she would exact revenge against me because I killed her younger brother. I followed her example and said I wonder who will be the one to die first. I acted like a knight requesting a duel. I’ve remained in the monastery for three years, but I’m still the same bastard.”
Jade put down his two hands from his face.
Father Daniel was standing on the other side of the jail instead of the old woman.
“You’ve come quickly.”
“Quickly? Your death sentence is tomorrow.” Daniel said laughing.
“I heard. This is why I said you’ve come sooner than I expected. I thought you would arrive when I was already tied to the stake.”
“Sheesh, you’re really-. I sometimes wonder if you enjoy being like this.”
Daniel held up the keys to the prison cell.
“I’ve been discharged?”
“How did you convince Lord Balticon?”
“I didn’t convince him.”
Daniel opened the prison door and answered.
“I black mailed him. I’m also in the middle of reflecting on my own behavior like you.”
Jade didn’t step out of the jail cell and asked a question.
“How did you black mail Lord Balticon? He isn’t one to easily give in.”
“Rather than the Lord himself, I blackmailed his wife, Anna.”
“Didn’t I tell you I’m regretting my actions?”
Daniel explained what happened in the past 30 minutes.
“I went to the conference hall, but instead of Lord Balticon, Anna and her son Richardo was there. They even went out their way to keep five other guards with them even though they were just meeting an old man like me. The moment they saw me, they said “Jade led my son astray with his sacrilegious teachings, and attempted to lead the citizens of Zerba astray from the Catholic Doctrine. Even if you’re from the Priest Order of Roam, we have no plans to release him.’”
“They didn’t talk about the story of three years ago?”
“They did! They said they would convict you for killing a youth in daylight! I showed them the Emperor’s letter of pardon.”
“The Emperor’s letter of pardon?”
“I had received the pardon in writing from the Emperor himself for the incident three years ago. Honestly, this wasn’t dangerous for the Lord but his wife.”
Jade stood from his seat.
“Hmm, I understand. Anna is the princess of the Kingdom of Sophania. Sophania had attempted to invade Roam three times by now, of course she would shudder in terror just over the mention of the Emperor.”
There was no way for Anna to have agreed on framing a priest, and going as far as executing one by fire. Balticon wouldn’t purposely act in a way to back his wife into a corner without someone leading him to do so.
“I’m not locked in this place for what I did three years ago though?”
“Balticon didn’t even glance at the letter of pardon I brought. He wanted to feign ignorance. He then went on to try and explain your heretic stories. I didn’t have a choice but to use Anna once again.”
Jade said with a berating expression.
“Did you know that Anna was originally planned to be married off to a young noble in Roam?”
“That’s the first time I’m hearing this.”
“Originally, Anna should have been living the easy life under the warm sun, enjoying the luxurious noble life in the city of Roam. She would have been fine if she didn’t know anything about Roam, but she had lived in Roam for a few years.”
“She is a Princess of Sophania after all, and she’s being kept a hostage here, right?”
“In name, that is so. However, there is no way that the young princess would be informed of such political affairs. Her life would have been nothing but bliss. However, she has to live in the dark and cold castle here, with a hostile religious husband to add. All around this land is only the sight of wheat, and smelly fish markets.”
“Do not belittle Zerba. I love this village much more than the crowded city of Roam.”
“I also think so, however the princess would not think so. Even if the princess from the south wears extravagant clothes and jewels, nobody is here to praise her, so it should not be an easy place to live in her case.”
“How did you manage to use this for your own benefits?”
“The story of the fallen angel is quite popular in Rotican, such jokes would not have passed well if this place wasn’t so far away and isolated, is what I said.”
“Did you shake her pride by saying that Zerba’s trend is old fashion compared to Roam?”
“Don’t you think a person of high status like Anna would have read or heard of the story based on the fallen angel? Anna is currently worried whether their actions would be too harsh. If the rumors that someone was sent to religious trial over a mere story of the fallen angel, Zerba would be looked down on by everyone. This was how I began convincing the Balticon Lord.”
Jade coldly shook his head.
“How would anyone look down on her? Nobody would care at all that a priest was burned to death.”
“Still, I couldn’t help but use this to my advantage. I requested mercy for the moment of mistake on the young master’s mentorship.”
Daniel said smiling.
“Then they agreed to accept the Emperor’s letter of pardon.”
“Is that really an authentic pardon letter?”
Jade asked suspiciously.
“Hey what kind of person do you think I am? No matter how much I joke, do you think I would rescue you with such means? This is an official document, the Emperor had written it himself, ‘Jade’s past crimes have all been pardoned, and he is to return to the Priest Order in Roam.’ The Emperor even stamped his seal here, do you want to see?”
Daniel was about to take out the roll of paper in his chest pocket, and Jade shook his head side to side.
“No. I don’t need to see. But Lord Balticon really agreed to set me free?”
“It was quite easy. The religious trial was just formality. It took longer to explain that my father had recruited more than 200 soldiers during the first wave of the holy war, and on the second wave he had donated ten thousand Haas to Rotican, I went on and on, I explained that I hoped the relation with the Roam Priest Order would not be broken over this….”
“So you were worried the Priest Order and Rotican relation would fall.”
“I wonder why such an easily scared person would force a religious trial in the first place. Well, he probably has his own reasons. I won’t need to pry too deeply. All that is left now is to leave.”
Daniel held the door open when he suddenly stopped to ask a question.
“Now that I think, when I opened the door to the conference hall, a strange old woman was there. Her wrinkled face was full of anger and disappointment. She seemed to have been listening into our conversation since the beginning, do you know who it is? She stared at me as if studying my face so I can’t help but feel suspicious.”
Jade answered with a worried expression.
“It seems after she came to talk to me, she went to Lord Balticon to press her demands.”
Jade briefly explained that the old woman came to visit him to make a confession, and then took out a book he had hidden beneath some straw.
He quickly flipped through the pages. As the pages turned, dust flew out.
“So you were keeping it safe.”
“I didn’t keep it especially safe. Since Father has given me this book, I purposefully dropped it into a pond of water and even tried to burn it. However, it was never damaged in the least.”
“You threw it into fire? Oh my heavens, I’m starting to regret entrusting it to you. A monastery guard had said he saw Young Lord Richardo drop it into a pond.”
“You must be talking about Poy.”
“You should be careful. If it had been someone other than Poy who had seen you, they would have claimed it to be a devil’s cursed item.”
“I also wonder if this is a cursed item. Please tell me the truth. What is this book? ‘The fourth holy war’?”
“If you continue to keep it, you will come to realise what it is on your own. When you figure out the truth, you will understand why I am not telling you.”
The two walked out of the prison cell side by side.
The prison officer was waiting at the door, and Daniel passed over the keys.
“Father Jade, will you ever return to this place?’
The guards asked with a hopeful expression.
Jade answered in a smooth voice.
“I will probably return.”
Jade said with feelings of sadness.
“When Father leaves, who can I offer my prayers to?”
“You offer your prayers to God, not me.”
“However, I don’t know how to pray.”
“I don’t know how to pray either. I am just repeating what I heard.”
The two were able to leave the prison by the time complete darkness had taken over the sky. It had been a long time since the sun had set.
Daniel spoke carefully as he studied Jade’s expression.
“You don’t look happy, Jade. Aren’t you happy to be free?”
“I thought of many more things during the time I was imprisoned than the three years I spent in the Monastery. I don’t think I have the right to be a part of the clergy. I thought I should tell you this when you arrive. I will quit.”
“You wicked fellow! If you had told me 10 minutes ago, I would not have helped you out of prison.” Daniel was furious.
Jade shrugged his shoulders and continued walking alone.
“Where are you going? That is not the way to the castle gates.”
Daniel said, waving his hand.
“I still have things I must do.”
“Things you must do? Do you plan to use that book?”
“You must not use the book in front of the Balticon Lord! I just barely managed to talk him out of stopping your religious trial, if you use that book then he will give the order to execute you once again.”
“I don’t care if they execute me. I’ve already made the resolve. This is also why I went ahead and told you that I would quit. My actions from here forth, are not related to you at all Father Daniel. But I still need you to follow me. If I end up dead, then you need to make sure to collect this book.”
Daniel yelled at Jade’s back.
“You wicked guy. I’ve let you out of prison so that you could settle some affairs for me, but it’s me who has to settle everything for you. I’m the stupid one for raising you as my disciple!”