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As requested by the Duke of Cardian, the chapel had been emptied. Leonis raised his eyes to the statue of God that sat atop the altar in the chapel.
Because of the height of the church dome, the light coming from below did not travel all the way up. The architect of the church hoped that believers who stood below the statue and looked up at it would not see its face.
It is constructed in such a way that the face of the god cannot be seen. This gives the impression that a god is keeping watch over a human being, but the human being is unable to discern what kind of plans the god has in mind.
In fact, the visage of the god could not be seen clearly because the ceiling was obscured by darkness. He just had a strong feeling that the tall and massive statue of God was looking down at him, almost as if it were exerting pressure on him.
The escort knights waited for Leonis outside the entrance to the chapel as he approached, so only his maids and servants were allowed to accompany him inside.
Celia’s action prompted the maids to bring a basket of tribute to the altar of the god first, and then Celia brought the basket to Leonis’ bosom to place it there.
The basket was filled with Penina, the priest’s flower. Furthermore, the bottom of the basket contained three separate pieces of the heart of the divine beast.
“You may proceed.”
Celia whispered to Leonis as he moved the basket. He knelt down in front of the basket that was placed in the centre of the altar.
Leonis learned how to pray from his nanny when he was younger but never prayed to God when he reached as an adult. At that point, the curse of God had been planted in his body.
Although he did not hold the same level of hatred toward God as his father had, he was of the opinion that God did not love all humans.
Unless he has Celia in his arms.
Celia did nothing but just stand there in silence while she watched Leonis pray. She had some worries about whether or not God would accept the heart fragments.
‘What if they refuse on the grounds that the other one is still missing?
Then it would be sufficient to bring it back, but if the god that accepts it now would make things simpler for them. They do not need to be concerned about losing it at a later time.
While Celia was contemplating the egg, she kept looking at the ring on her finger. The egg of the divine beast contained within the ring was very small, but it felt like it was moving.
Celia spun around and looked at the statue as she perceived a significant change in the surrounding energy. She could sense three distinct forms of energy at this moment.
Those were the cold and divine energy emitted by the massive statue itself, the feeble energy emitted by the heart fragment on top of the altar, and the ominous and filthy energy that lay in front of the statue.
Celia had barely sensed this energy before. Instantaneously, it got closer to her as if the power had increased drastically.
The power that was emanating from the altar vanished as soon as Celia blinked her eyes. The energy that was being released by the statue, as well as the curse that was embedded within Leonis, did not change.
But Leonis’ power seemed to have increased, and she could sense that the curse was pressing down even more heavily on him. Celia knew that she could ‘rule’ it.
“…… Because I am a nameless goddess, the goddess of destruction!”
The words that Letta, the goddess of harmony who was married to the god of heaven, had been whispering to her came to mind. That was why Celia and Lily, who inherited the blood, could call down a curse of Leonis.
Even if it was a punishment from the God of heaven, madness was her domain to rule over.
Even the god of heaven was powerless to stop her uncontrollable power of chaos and destruction.
Due to this reason, the goddess was never actually given a name. As long as she bears her name, the goddess will continue to gain power, and eventually, she will become the most powerful God in the world.
As a consequence of this, she formed relationships with human beings and shared her power with them.
But in the end, the human that she loved did everything he could to find another woman because he was afraid of her. She eventually severed ties with her partner and travelled to heaven in search of the god who would bestow a new name upon her.
“Do you understand? Because you have inherited my power, there is nothing in this world that can hurt you……”
Seemingly hearing the whispers of the goddess, Celia let out a deep sigh. She seemed to be barely able to comprehend her own power a little bit.
‘I wish I had known earlier!’
She would not have suffered as much in the Palace of the Second Prince if she had realized this power earlier. Celia’s expression was grim as she looked at Leonis.
After concluding his prayer, Leonis got to his feet from where he had been kneeling. He drew nearer to the altar and peered inside the basket containing the Penina flowers. After taking the flowers out of the basket, he looked inside the basket and noticed that the three pieces that Celia had placed were gone.
After removing the three pieces of the heart, the God of Heaven disappeared.
As Leonis turned around, he cast a contented glance in Celia’s direction. After that, he went up to her, acting as though he had noticed her unusual behaviour after seeing her expression.
When Leonis began to whisper, Celia was the first to take his hand. She sensed the madness that had been brought on by the curse that was raging within him begin to abate.
This was inevitable.
Destruction and madness were the realms of chaos. Even though it was the wrath of the god of heaven.
‘Do you think this is enough?’
Celia noticed it, but Leonis didn’t. Celia also understood that she was capable of driving Leonis insane in the same way that the Emperor was able to.
Not only to Leonis but to all those who have exercised power. After receiving encouragement from the goddess of destruction, she had the power to drive everyone insane.
It looked to have more diversified powers because it was divine, but Celia’s power to use it immediately was impressive.
“I’ll explain it to you when we get home.”
This was something that Celia said while she had her arms wrapped around Leonis’ waist. She thought it was a blessing to be held in his broad chest.
✦ ✦ ✦
When the Cardian family procession was about to leave, a surge of people entered the shrine. They were taken aback when they saw two carriages leaving the temple in a stealthy way wearing the coat of arms of the Cardian family.
The man stood in the shadows behind the group, watching and listening to what was happening. When the gatekeeper responded, his focus shifted to a person whose face was covered by the worn-out hood.
“He is the duke who rules the Duchy of Cardian. I heard he came to pray to the god of heaven because his wife went missing.”
“You mean the duchess has not been found yet?”
“That’s what I understand. That’s why the ambiance of the city is also unusual.”
It was common knowledge across the entire city that the Duke had gone through major changes ever since he had wed his wife.
Because the Duke of Cardian belonged to a family that governed the entirety of the northern region, the citizens of the city desired for the duke to start a family and find stability.
The priest looked at the man’s face and noticed that it was sorrowful and that he was not speaking. He did this because he thought the man looked like someone he knew.
“You may go in now.”
Hellion took a step after hearing what the high priest said. Hellion quickly diverted his focus away from the one who was standing next to him while giving off the impression that they were hiding something.
The high priest of Asylus was supposed to be waiting for them. Hiding his nervousness, Hellion made his way to the main building of the temple.
✦ ✦ ✦
It was a foregone conclusion, but seeing it with his own eyes was a completely different experience. Michael sat next to the Emperor and turned his head to gaze down at Phil, kneeling on the floor beneath the throne.
Even though he had not yet taken his rightful place on the throne, he was no match for him. Michael had previously spent many years discussing several national affairs with the emperor and worked directly under the emperor’s orders.
‘Who else could be Emperor? Do you think so?’
Michael turned his head slightly to the side and gave Phil a sidelong glance while maintaining an empathetic expression on his face. He knows Phil trembles every time he receives such stares.
Phil’s angry expression gave Michael a new kind of pleasure.
Phil was not forced into a corner despite the countless accidents he caused, the enmity he stirred up among the nobility, and the damage he did to the imperial family’s reputation.
In order to save Phil, the emperor goes so far as to cause a plague to break out in a particular region.
Only the most trusted aides to the emperor knew it, and Michael was one of them. After all, the minister’s daughter’s death and Phil’s accusation could not have occurred by coincidence at the same time as the epidemic!
A sudden epidemic of the plague swept through the East, obliterating any evidence of Phil’s heinous actions.
The Third Empress boasted that heaven also seemed to care about her son, but the reality was much different. She was merely acting in the same manner as the emperor did in order to protect her son.
The emperor made the plague disappear and overturned the work properly, and the minister’s family was also destroyed. Although some nobles who backed the minister were likewise dissatisfied, the matter was quickly buried.
‘You used your brain quite cleverly, but……it will not work this time.’
This time, Phil was in conflict with the five kingdoms that bordered the Magic Tower. They would never dream of drawing comparisons between themselves and the Empire, but it was a different story when they united.
The emperor was mulling over the idea of using either the Duke of Cardian or the Duke of Giel to conquer them, but the nobles opposed it.
Because of the accident that befell Michael and the recent missing of the Duke of Cardian’s wife, Giel chose to keep a low profile. Even if the emperor were to be defeated, there would be no way to fight properly.
‘It was unexpected when the person dispatched by the duke took the duchess back.’
A spy working for the duchy provided him with the information that allowed him to confirm the Duchess of Cardian had returned safely.
How she managed to escape the Second Imperial Palace bothered him, but the plan remained unchanged. He had no doubt that he would be able to bring down the emperor after killing Leonis.