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Even though he rushed in, he didn’t seem to have covered it thoroughly. Will realized his left arm had been broken when he felt anguish in it.
Miline’s face turned white when she saw Celia’s condition. Celia, unlike her and Will, appeared to be unconscious.
As the carriage flipped over, it collided with her head, possibly causing a concussion.
Miline was relieved to find that she was still alive. If she could only hold her breath, the Duke would grab the Pope’s collar and heal her.
Miline and Will were both startled by the rough opening of the carriage door. The carriage fell sideways and one door was pressed against the floor, and the only door that could be opened was that on the ceiling.
“She fainted? What’s the situation on the outside?”
The knight standing on the plank that was supposed to be the coachman sitting next to the door clenched his teeth and held out his hand.
“There is no time! They freed the monster! We have to get the Madam out of here!”
Miline and Will both nod, as if they understood. The knight grabbed Celia and dragged her out of the carriage as the two lifted her.
The escort knight seemed to get out of the carriage with Celia in his arms and run away somewhere. He wasn’t even asked to get Miline and Will out. Will fixed his gaze on Miline.
“I’ll hand it over to you and then go up, so you should go first.”
“My arse. With that arm? I’ll hold you while you stomp on the chair and climb up.”
Miline said this as she drew two daggers from beneath her skirt. Will seemed to be at a loss, but he stomped on her chair and climbed up as Miline was instructed. With one arm, Miline pushed up his body as he was to go out through the open door of the carriage.
It was hard to go up because he was wearing armor. However, he had to face a monster, and he couldn’t even remove his armor.
Miline was the next to climb onto the carriage after Will. She lightly kicked the floor, grabbed the seater, raised her body, and stepped out of the carriage, ignoring Will’s hand.
It was chaos outside. Will and Miline plunged into a brawl as they watched the escort knights struggle against the giant queen spider.
It was difficult to defeat the monsters, but because they had already faced them, they formed a line and swept them away one by one.
Miline was horrified to see someone who shouldn’t be in the middle of this.
“Milo! Why are you here? How about Madam?”
“What are you talking about? Madam?”
Other knights also raised their voices at Milo’s bewildered voice. They were buying time for Milo while he climbed into the carriage, took out the Madam, and ran away.
“You brought the madam!”
“Milo was right there with us the whole time!”
Milo and the other escort knights appeared in the opposite direction—the side of the carriage with the Duke and Duchess where the situation is not visible. The knights wielding swords against monsters had their faces turn white.
Milo was not the person who ran away with the madam. They borrowed the face of one of Leonis’ knights, just as they used magic to create a fake Leonis.
“Te-Tell His Excellency now!”
There were two wizards in the group of escort knights. One was to support the rear, and the other was to contact them in case of emergency.
The wizard’s hand trembled as he pulled out the crystal ball for communication. They thought they were all dead at this point.
✦ ✦ ✦
Celia was walking through a pitch-black tunnel. Like her alluring aroma, the luminous white mist was drawing her along and directing her.
‘Where am I?’
She knew she was dreaming. The hazy and unrealistic surface of her dream made her aware of that. She pressed her hand against the damp and hard wall but didn’t feel its ‘real’ touch. It was just that she had an image in her mind.
“……I don’t know why you keep getting hurt.”
Celia immediately remembered the sweet yet cold voice. She is the nameless goddess, and it was through her marriage to the God of Heaven that she received her name.
But Celia couldn’t answer her. Her gaze remained fixed on the luminous mist, and her footsteps trailed behind it.
“……Holy power, the power of God, cannot defeat the Divine Power. The proof that you have been loved by God is holy power, but divine power is God’s power.”
The hallway, which she had thought was dark, was quickly turning into a large space. The damp air of the underground remained, but Celia felt overwhelmed by the immense scale of the landscape.
It was the underground of the Imperial Palace.
The interior of the old building, which had been passed down from ancient times, was illuminated by sunlight that may have come from somewhere. Celia took in her surroundings, taking in the tall pillars and the colossal statue of God.
Who knows that there is such a temple underneath the palace? No one would have expected it.
Why is there a temple underneath the palace?’
“……The Hermos Imperial Family has been coveting the power of the gods since ancient times.”
The goddess whispered in Celia’s ear.
“They wanted to pass on the power of the gods to their descendants, even in this way. Only a few know that an ancient temple lies beneath the grand palace of Imperial Palace. All secret passages in the Imperial Palace lead to this temple.”
Celia came out of the hallway and went up the stairs. She saw endless hallways and staircases as she looked around. The goddess was right. Countless roads led to this temple.
“Look. This is the statue of Nedesmer, my lover and husband……”
A stone statue resembling the temple of gods stood at the end of the massive temple of gods. Although the stone’s appearance was different, the energy emanating from it was similar to that of the Great Temple Hall.
Celia saw the light swirling in front of the statue’s altar. The light from the surroundings was entangled like a thread in the vortex.
“……Remember, don’t be afraid. You must come here.”
At the request of the goddess, Celia looked at the vortex of light without even blinking her eyes. It was beautiful, with a pale golden light emanating from it.
“You are the strongest of the descendants of my blood……You have been given that life once more because of me, and you are full of my unrefined power.”
The whispers, on the other hand, were deep and cold with a harsh edge.
“Divine Power beats mana power. Because you have divine powers beneath your feet, you must not be hurt by humans.”
‘But I……I don’t know how to use this power.’
Sleeping with Leonis suppressed his madness, but other than that, she had no idea what power she possessed or how to use it. The goddess seemed to chuckle.
There was no accusation leveled at her, but she felt as if she was being called a fool.
“……You must have been perplexed as to how you were able to stop the curse that even the priest couldn’t calm it down.”
The goddess whispered in Celia’s ear.
“Madness and ruin are my realms…… Even Nedesmer, the God of the Heavens, was powerless to stop it. Now I am the ‘Goddess of Harmony’ Leta, but……”
The lips that were getting closer to her appeared to be smiling.
“I’m not supposed to have a name. I’m the one who brings eternal destruction.….”
Celia’s eyes widened as she heard the goddess whisper. And she awoke from her dream as a pure white light dyed all around her.
✦ ✦ ✦
The nobleman’s villa was surrounded by forest not far from the capital. Because hunting was a popular pastime among the Empire’s nobles, it was common to have a villa near the forest. A high-ranking nobleman, of course, had two or three residences.
Leonis, Duke of Cardian, also owned a villa similar to this. The curse prevents them from remaining in the capital for very long, so they only use it for their personal use.
Although the villa above was used for camouflage, a separate passage was required to make it easier for materials or research wizards to enter and exit.
This passage was found by Leonis’ subordinates. They already knew where the door was hidden and how to open it, so they could get in silently.
A large research lab was located in the villa’s basement. It served as a monster research facility under Prince Michael’s patronage.
Every physical part of a monster was designed specifically for hunting humans because it was a predatory creature. If this could be employed in battle, Michael reasoned, it would be more effective than deploying regular knights.
They entered the subterranean research center through a dark passageway when they discovered something strange. The rest of the room was already empty, and the monster’s screams could occasionally be heard, but it was too quiet.
Nobody in this room was naive enough to believe that the darkness was the cause. They spread out suspiciously throughout the area, collecting evidence.
Fortunately, data on the study was preserved. However, the main data was missing.
Leonis quickened his movements in response to Zeppel’s call. Following Zeppel’s guidance, he stopped at a prison with iron bars. He thought it for a prison for a second, but when he saw the handcuffs and shackles buried in a wall corner, he realized it wasn’t.
Not all prisons were empty. Towards the end, there were people left in the two prisons. A man and a woman with yellow eyes like reptiles’ were seen imprisoned in between, with shackles and handcuffs.
Leonis noticed that they stank. There was no such foul smell emanating from the human body. The stench was coming from the monster’s body.
Normal people would not notice, but knights whose job it was to kill and chase monsters would.
As the knights approached, the shackled one struggled, as if he wanted to run away. Black claws were spotted stretching from the shackled hands and feet.
When Leonis saw them writhing and drooling like monsters, he grimaced. Their body odor reminded him of the giant spider they subjugated on his wedding day.
“Your Excellency, this is……”
Leonis received the research materials from the knight. Leonis glanced at it. It was an experiment involving mana and medicines to assimilate humans and monsters.
The laboratory still had some of the magic circles and medications used in the experiment. It seems to have been purposefully left to leave a trace.
‘What is the purpose?’
When Leonis spotted the signature left at the end of the document while verifying the documents, he frowned. It was not Michael’s signature, but that of one of Phil’s close associates.