Chapter 7: Following the Movement of the Corpse
The main hall that was used for sacrificial ceremonies back then had been majestically turned into a tourist spot . If you walk in and make a right turn, past a long corridor would reveal smaller halls unopened to the public . The majority were hung with signs such as “Staff’s Rest Room” and “No Visitors Allowed” .
The Temple’s 634th Archbishop, Mr . Charles Good was already 76 years old this year . However, he was still passionate about taking group photos with the others—this was also why he would always intentionally pick a time populated with tourists every time he returned, and also why he was fond of weaving his way through the tourists’ shocked gasps and the tour guides’ loud yells .
It took only ten minutes to walk through the main hall, but Mr . Good would usually take two hours . In the meantime, he was like Disney’s mascot, with a giddy smiling face and his beer belly as he was dragged for group photos with tourists and was asked for autographs . He’d grant whatever was asked and never reject them .
On this day, it was rare for him to walk briskly into the route specific for the staff without showing off .
It had been a thousand and two hundred years since the formation of the Barrier . And there had never been a single Devil-ranked Decay who bypassed the Barrier’s net . This was an unlucky matter that had never befallen his previous successor, his previous successor’s previous successor, and such generations .
The already thin hair on Mr . Good was about to thin even further .
“The Archbishop is here!” Someone yelled and everyone automatically made way .
Expression stern, Archbishop Good bent down to gaze at Kelson lying on the patient bed doing a blood transfusion . “How is he?”
“There should be no danger for him now . ” Amy said, “But he’s still very weak . After the transfusion of this bag of blood is finished, I still have to do a check-up . But based on his physical health, he should be able to recover his consciousness within three days . ”
Mr . Good nodded and following that, those old fingers made a complicated gesture . Then, while chanting, he lightly tapped on Kelson’s forehead . This poor man’s ashen face seemed to instantly relax greatly—this was the Archbishop’s Blessing . They said that when Mr . Good was young, he had been an exceptional healer too .
Mr . Good lightly caressed Kelson’s forehead and sighed . Then, he asked, “Did you retrieve the emblem?”
“It’s with me . ” Jel fished out a handkerchief from his pocket, opening it to reveal the blood-stained emblem wrapped inside .
“Jel . ” Mr . Good terminated Kelson’s emblem, and sighed, looking at him . “I’m truly apologetic, child, I’m afraid your vacation has gone down the drain . ”
Jel shrugged—After all, ever since his graduation from the Temple, vacation had always been zero .
Mr . Good wiped the blood clean off the emblem . Perhaps out of its slight responsiveness, the emblem emitted a gentle glow in his palm . “Let us see what you experienced before—show yourself . ”
Every hunter would have an emblem like this . When they were in danger, the emblem could transmit the dire situation their owner was in to their comrades . It had the function of calling the police and location transmission, and it can even record the image of the last Decay that the owner met . Just like a black box in a plane, it was carried by the hunters who could easily crash planes .
Under Mr . Good’s command, a layer of white fog swiftly gathered above the emblem . It was very thick, just like smog formed from pollution of the Industrial Revolution a few hundred years ago . A wild beast’s greedy breathing emitted from the thick fog, as if countless pairs of greedy eyes were hiding within the fog, the beasts’ tongues out as they watched their prey . Even if it was just an image, this type of deeply hidden danger made every hunter tense in reflex .
That was an instinct towards danger created from the accumulation of countless job experiences .
Then, a few grey shadows flashed through the white fog . A man’s scream abruptly cut through the white fog . Amy’s hands quivered . “It’s Kelson…”
The color of blood covered over the white fog and all the shadows vanished .
“Ruhr Pellet . ” Mr . Good sighed with an unpleasant face . “Abyss Dholes—the legendary heart-eating Devil-ranked monsters loved humans’ jealousy-filled hearts . Negative emotions will make it grow immensely powerful . ”
Amy was nonplussed . “So many…”
“No, there’s only one . ” Jel had an even clearer sight . “The Abyss Dholes’ movements are very fast, good at hiding themselves for a one-hit kill . Archbishop, what assignment did Kelson have, why would he be attacked by an Abyss Dhole?”
“Come with me . ” Mr . Good turned around to give Kelson a look . He bent down to check the injury at his chest and nodded at Amy . “You treated him very well and saved his life . ”
Amy was surprised . Mr . Good very quickly left with a group of hunters and instructors . It was only then that he adjusted the rate of the IV drip and fresh blood flowing into Kelson’s vessels . “This can’t be credited to me . ”
Muttering to himself, he shrugged his shoulders as he remembered that mysterious man temporarily living in Jel’s place .
A hunter proficient in The Collection was really too rare .
There was already someone in Mr . Good’s office . He was a middle-aged man, with extremely deep smile lines . Perhaps because he was always furrowing his brows, there was also a very thin crease on his brows . His skin practically seemed to be pasted right on his cheekbones and his fingers seemed like withered branches .
Someone gasped in shock . “Mr . Sculler!”
Mr . Sculler was the current Cleric Knight . Sadly, it had been a long time since someone saw him . People said that he was contracted with a heavy illness and had been hospitalized the whole time… He certainly did look as though only a bag of bones had remained .
The Archbishop embraced this old partner who seemed like he would not last much longer, unsurprised by his sudden appearance .
“Roy . ” Mr . Good said, “Help him along . ”
Roy silently walked up, extending a hand to support Mr . Sculler’s light, flimsy body . He noticed that this stern, unsmiling cleric was wearing the entire set of ceremonial robes used for official ceremonies and he even carried the greatsword with the cleric emblem . This was an ancient object . Even without taking the weight of its body into consideration, just the steel inside could nearly weigh this pitiful man down on the floor .
But no one could help him hold that sword . Just like the Archbishop’s staff, it symbolized the authority of the Cleric .
Sculler nodded at Roy and slowly moved into Mr . Good’s office . Under Roy’s support, he slowly sat down .
“The Barrier weakened . ” This was the first sentence the Cleric Knight uttered after sitting down, and it effectively halted everyone present in the room .
Mr . Good leaned against the chair, fingers interlaced and propped up on the table . After a moment of silence, he asked, “Is it impossible to mend it?”
Sculler shook his head . “I studied it for my entire life and I still couldn’t understand what power Archbishop Aldo used to support the Barrier . I’m very sorry . ”
Mr . Good heaved a sigh . “It isn’t your fault, my old friend . You’ve already done your best . ”
A hint of emotion cut across Sculler’s blank-looking eyes . He felt like there was a hole in his body . Like water in a basin, his life energy was endlessly leaking into another world through that dark gap .
“Why did the Barrier weaken?” A raven-haired stern woman asked . Her name was Michelle Luklita and was originally a hunter . Last year, she had a child, and thus returned to the Temple to be a combat instructor .
“The Barrier isn’t all-capable,” Sculler said . He seemed very exhausted . “Like humans, it will grow old, and its teeth will loosen too, disease rampant through its body as it walks towards death . ”
“I didn’t expect it to happen during my term . ” Mr . Good gave a wry laugh .
“Yes . It’s a pity that I’m unable to walk with you to the end . ” The greatsword in Sculler’s hands lowered on the ground and emitted a shriek . “In an earthquake ten years ago, we discovered traces of the Barrier weakening . Then, we always suppressed this information, hoping that we’ll find a way to mend the Barrier . But there was none . The appearance of a Devil-ranked Decay is a sign that the Barrier that has protected us for over a thousand years is disappearing right now . At a speed far greater than the ozone depletion . ”
The room was so quiet that you can even hear the sound of a pin dropping . After God knew how long, Michelle opened her mouth to ask, “Then what… should we do?”
Mr . Good signaled Sculler with his eyes, and the thin and pallid man took out a new emblem from his pocket . “Firstly, we will call back all the hunters . From today on, everyone will use new emblems . They have been improved and have a certain amount of defensive power . Secondly, all movements will be unified by the Temple . Every assignment will be arranged to be done in groups of hunters . Everyone, the time for solo battles has ended . I hope everyone can familiarize yourselves with your own partner in the shortest time possible . Other than the ‘Golden Emblem Hunters’, everyone is prohibited from moving alone . ”
“Thirdly, starting now, all of the teaching content in the Temple will be modified and the examination system will be reestablished . The ones who failed are not allowed to start an internship . Fourthly, we will form sections specializing in equipment and student enrollment . We need even more equipment support and even more new blood . ”
“Fifthly…” Sculler’s voice halted for a moment . He stood up from the chair in immense difficulty, and rejected Roy’s help . The man’s back still remained extremely straight . He said, “Roy Margarett . ”
Roy looked at him dubiously, “Sir?”
“Kneel . ” The Cleric Knight ordered in a low but powerful voice .
In that instant, everyone seemed to have understood . This devilish instructor widened his eyes and looked at Sculler in near disbelief . “Sir, this isn’t…”
“Kneel . ” Sculler raised his voice . His two cheeks were tensed and tightened and one could see the withered muscles through the dried, wrinkled skin .
Roy glanced at Mr . Good and the Archbishop nodded at him soundlessly . So he slowly bent his knees, kneeling down on one knee .
“I, Arin Brad Fala Sculler, the Temple’s 596th Cleric Knight had taken office for twelve years . In this position… I’m about to reach the end of my life . ” The Archbishop’s office was utterly silent . Everyone held their breath . Sculler stilled, two hands raising the Cleric’s greatsword and bestowing it to Roy . “Then—Mr . Roy Margarett, are you willing to take the Greatswords’ Oath upon yourself and shoulder the position of protecting the Temple?”
Roy raised his head, gaze meeting Sculler’s eyes by chance . The man’s eyes were exceedingly deep, like two bottomless wells .
“I…” His throat was hoarse and his Adam’s Apple bobbed before he said quietly, “Yes, I am . ”
He knelt on the ground, two hands accepting the heavy greatsword, the veins on the back of his hands surfacing from the weight .
Sculler patted his shoulder and told the Archbishop . “Let’s have the official handover next week . ”
“Roy . ” There was a sudden smile on his face that made that stern face turn gentle . “My child, you are more talented than I am, more hardworking than I am . And the most important thing is… you’re younger than me . Believe that you can grasp this sword well . ”
Roy looked at him dazed, unsure as to what to say .
Sculler sighed, sitting down once again, an exhaustion of someone nearing his deathbed visible on his face . “I speculate that the time needed for the complete collapse of the Barrier would not take more than thirty years . ”
Once these words were uttered, whispers and mutters erupted all around . Mr . Good closed his eyes, and instantly seemed to have aged many years .
Right at this time, a voice suddenly came from the door . A man said quietly, “No . The ‘nucleus’ has already begun to break . I believe it would not take more than ten years . ”
His voice is very deep, as though it was whispered right at your ear . Yet, every single person present heard his words clearly . The people turned their heads in unison to see a young man donned in snow-white robes standing there . His slightly curly golden hair rested on his shoulders, and the parts of him in poor lighting were nearly resplendent . A tender, beautiful, fresh rose was tucked at his collar, as though morning dewdrops could drip from it .
The man’s light grey eyes swept across everyone’s faces, subconsciously pausing a little on Jel’s face before finally resting on Mr . Good’s .
In an instant, the cacophonous Archbishop office turned so silent that you can even hear a pin drop . Only God knew how long had passed before someone gasped quietly, “Oh, my… Oh, my Lord! Archbishop Aldo! The statue… the statue came to life!
: 结果: could have a few meanings . 1) outcome; 2) to end; 3) bear fruit . The most logical one seems to be 2, though we’re uncertain why there’s a need to “end” the emblem when he’s simply injured .
: 湿哒哒 (lit, wet, damp) . The use of this term references how Mr . Good described his vacation as 泡汤 (lit . soaked in soup), which has been translated as “down the drain” .