Darkness. A bit of light. Flashing light. Hazy consciousness.
Wang Lu shook his head hard but could not become more awake. He was still drowsy. All around him was an open area while the distant place flashed by erratically.
"Are you interested in making a deal?"
Within the darkness, a familiar voice lingered in his ears.
"Heh." With an indifferent hiss, he refused that offer without hesitation, and then closed his eyes again.
However, the voice in his ears did not give up. "If you refuse this opportunity just because of momentary dislike, you will probably regret it. For example, don't you want to know what will be the side effect of Liu Li getting spirit occupied?"
Wang Lu said, "I'm not interested to know. In any case, I know that I can't completely cure her, so sooner or later, I'll just have to bring her back to the mountain so that the Elders can handle her. If they can, then good. If they can't, big deal, at worst, she'll just become a vegetable, and I'll remember every day to water and fertilize her."
"... Well, it sounds like you're not worried at all. But, from another point of view, don't you want to know the secret of spirit occupation?"
"I don't want to."
"Really? In this champions trial, you have the support of Golden King, breaking through each pass like a hot knife through butter. Those few idiots are obviously a hundred times more powerful than you, yet you played them like they're just children. The only obstacle that you encountered is me, and the only thing that I can threaten you with is the spirit occupation. When I was seriously injured and dying, I was able to invade you, the genius cultivator of Nine Regions with the spirit occupation. Do you really have no interest in this skill?"
Wang Lu sneered, however, when the words were already at the tip of his tongue, he suddenly changed them. "Of course I'm interested."
"Well, though you certainly don't want too much from me, deep down, you must be interested in spirit occupation. And for you, curiosity is a trait that would never be missing from your characteristic."
Wang Lu frowned and pondered another question. "I can't lie here?"
"Yes, in this space, no one can lie, so you don't have to bother with my rhetoric, no need to worry that I will lie to you. It is also because of this space that I can talk with you. Currently, I am being firmly suppressed by you, so you can feel at ease."
"You want me to let you barely escape with your life in exchange for the spirit occupation?"
"I will not be that naive. After I fall into your hand, of course my life would be worse than death, and I look forward to what kind of torture that you will bring upon me… Therefore, the deal that I'm talking about is not about buying my own life."
"Then what do you want?"
"I hope that you would abort your cooperation with the Golden King, not just for me, but also for yourself."
Faceless One's argument suddenly aroused the interest of Wang Lu. "You want me to give up the King's Treasure House?"
"On the contrary, I hope that you can keep the Treasure House in your hand and not hand it over." Faceless One said, "I can guess the tacit understanding between you and Golden King. He helps you defeat the Holy Light Religion and you help him regain his treasure. The method is simply to immediately relinquish the administrator position resolutely right after you obtain it, so that the position automatically returns to Golden King's hand. You are not a native of this continent, so there's no real meaning for you in taking control of the Treasure House. By doing this… perhaps he can help you find what you want."
Faceless One said, "I admit that your method can fully achieve your purpose. However, going another way would still lead to the same result. If you continue to go on and obtain the administrator with the highest authority, there there would be no sec
ret left for you in this King's Treasure House. But if you seek shelter with Golden King, the consequence might not necessarily be what you want. By reclaiming his Treasure House, his remnant soul would have its own foundation. And given time, his resurrection might not necessarily impossible. A resurrected Golden King might not matter to you far away in the east, but what about your friend? Although the King's land is not in the center of the continent, under the rule of Golden King, one day she would face this threat. And based on the character of the Knight King, what do you think would happen?"
Of course she would stake it all out with him. Has Aya ever taken the initiative to admit defeat? However, that day would never come. Wang Lu laughed and was about to speak, but upon remembering the rule of the space, he held himself back.
Although he couldn't lie, he could refrain from speaking.
"Moreover, for Golden King, his experience in the remnant spirit state is something that he doesn't want anyone to know. And in the process of setting up a great contribution, you have seen his disgraceful situation, which would count as sin in his eyes. And conversely, after establishing heroic contribution towards the Golden King, what can you get? An insincere thanks, as well as a mere piece of treasure, don't you think that's ridiculous?"
Wang Lu lightly said, "Not ridiculous, at least, not more ridiculous than your trivial spirit occupation."
Faceless One said, "The spirit occupation is just an appetizer, I can give you more than that."
Wang Lu laughed. "On the basis of your 'unable to die but could not live' prisoner status?"
Faceless One said, "On the basis of me as the founder of the Priory of Zion."
Wang Lu was shocked speechless. Initially, he thought that Faceless One was but a relic since he was defeated. However, unexpectedly, he could still play some tricks.
The founder of the Priory of Zion? That organization was not just the sworn enemy of the Holy Light Religion, but also the greatest opposition force within the church, with several thousand years of history. However, not only Faceless One won the trust of the Pope and become the church's sharpest knife, his debut was only about more than one hundred years ago, how could he claim the founder's identity?
"Is it hard to understand?" Faceless One said, "The appearance of Faceless One was indeed only around more than a hundred years ago. However, prior to Faceless One, I have too many identities, and I could not even remember how many times I have been reincarnated. Secondly, if I had not become the church's mad dog, thus winning the trust of the Pope, do you think the Priory of Zion would've survived for thousands of years under the repression of Holy Light Religion?"
"Well, it seems that there is some truth in that. That is to say, the biggest opposition force of Holy Light Religion is but their own dog."
Faceless One said, "Any sufficiently large organization would have internal opposition voice. Even if everybody's belief is the same, the human heart is still different. The internal division is often the precursor to the collapse of the organization. In fact, there are even more organizations ruined by themselves than destroyed by the so-called talented genius. Holy Light Religion makes use of the Priory of Zion to gather together its opponents, sometimes to support and sometimes to suppress. By playing in the applause, Holy Light Religion is able to stand straight for the past thousands of years."
"Good strategy." Wang Lu heartily gave his praise.
Faceless One said, "But as a continuation of thousands of years of opposition force, the church resistance of the Priory of Zion is not fake at all. All along, we have been waiting for a suitable opportunity to oust the current power holder and replace them. And now, this opportunity has finally come.
"Eighty years ago, Holy Light Religion left the Holy City as its birthplace for the King's Treasure House, which is a very bold gamble. However, now because of you, the foundation of the church in the King's Treasure House has been greatly shaken. Once the authority of the administrator is taken away, their long-term goal would be drowned in the water. At the same time, the strategic layout of the church in the east was also disintegrated by the eastern cultivators.
"The eastern city-states not only have not fallen apart, they are more closely united and even allied with those who oppose Holy Light Religion. It can be said that this is the most critical moment for the church since its founding… There have been similar situations in the past, but in all those times, when the enemies came, all the different and opposing forces within the church banded together towards the common cause. Now, however, if you are willing to complete the transaction with me, I can get the Priory of Zion to lend you a helping hand, to overthrow the dominant foundation of the church over the continent together."
"To mobilize the Priory of Zion? How?" Wang Lu asked, "Or do you think because of this I would have to let you out?"
Faceless One said, "I am not that naive, so my transaction with you does not involve in me seeking to survive. The special structure of the Priory of Zion allows it so that the founder does not have to come out personally. There is another person who will come forward to command this organization."
"I believe you have heard of the name Jean d'Arc because when Rowan met the Knight King in person, he must have lamented over the similarity between her and Jean d'Arc."
Wang Lu was even more surprised inwardly. "What is the relationship between Jean d'Arc and the Priory of Zion? Moreover, wasn't she dead a long time ago?"
"She has never even lived. Jean d'Arc is just a fictional figure. Her true identity is the human body of the Knight King."
"It's not that surprising, is it? The reason why the Knight King's reign in Brettonia collapsed, apart from her own problem, is because the church's infiltration had lasting achievements. After the death of the Knight King, the church soon invaded Brettonia, where I accidentally found her corpse. As her realm was very close to the legendary level and real strength was even better than the common legendary level profession, her body did not fall into ruins.
"Therefore, I simply sealed it up. The later disturbance caused by Jean d'Arc was actually directed by a handful of high-level members of the Priory of Zion, including me. At that time, the claimed goals were to exposed the decadent degeneration of Holy Light Religion, to attract more talent to join the Priory, and to enhance the Priory cohesion. But in truth, all of it was really just to bring down two of the church's Holy Ones—which were rumored to be the decision makers within the church; she personally did destroy the reputation of the two. They used to be powerful contenders for the Pope, but after the canonization of Jean d'Arc as a saintess, although they hadn't been investigated, their prestige has been greatly reduced, so there's no further possibility for advancement."
Wang Lu asked, "What happened to the body of the Knight King?"
"To the outsiders, it was claimed that she was defeated and executed by a Holy One, but in fact, it was strictly sealed by the church, guarded by the members of the Priory of Zion." Faceless One said, "But, as long as they receive the correct password, they would be able to lift the seal on the body and bring back the Holy Saintess. The original intention of this is that in case the prestige of the current Pope is accidentally damaged, the resurrection of the saintess and her subsequent oath of allegiance to him would comprehensively strengthen his prestige."
"But now, it can be used by you. The real Knight King is in the spirit of the brave departed state, right? If you can get back her body and unite with her spirit, she would probably be able to cross the legendary level threshold that she has previously never crossed... And once the Knight King reaches the legendary level, her power would become so great that she'll likely be able to stand side by side with the continent's number one individual, the Pope. At that time, she would receive the full support of the Priory of Zion. She would be able to use the tens of thousands Holy Light believers and the thousands of years accumulated resources. Her reign would be far superior to the mere Brettonia."
"That sounds good."
Faceless One earnestly said, "With how deep-rooted Holy Light Religion in the Western Continent is, no matter how this crisis would turn out, it cannot be eradicated. Even if Holy Light Religion returns to the western wild land, its influence would still remain in its original dominant area for a very long time, which requires a new force to take over. And the Priory of Zion, under the command of the Knight King, would be the best choice."
Wang Lu pondered. "In other words, it's to support a puppet regime? But I find it strange. Since you won't be able to save your life, why would you try so hard to convince me? What's in it for you?"
"I have never been concerned with my own life and death, and I have lived too long compared to the average person." Faceless One seriously said, "It is true that even if all of those happen, I won't live to see it. However, the faith of the Holy Light will prosper."
"Can you still call this prosperous?" Wang Lu sneered, "The ruling layer has been replaced, becoming a puppet, and you call that prosperous?"
"Although Holy Light Religion has suffered a heavy blow, but the faith of the Holy Light is indeed able to continue to pass on." Faceless One earnestly said, "And to me, there is nothing more important than this."
"There is nothing more important than this…" Wang Lu gently nodded his head as if he was deeply touched by Faceless One's awareness.
"In that case, I choose to refuse."