Chapter Four: What a Heartbreaking Story
In this country, Saints were regarded as nobility without equals. Even the king would kneel before a Saint, though she doesn’t have any political power, and if the Saint wished to, there was no place she couldn’t go within the country. If there was a Saint who wanted to enter the castle’s treasury, she would be allowed without hesitation, and if there was a Saint who wanted jewels and luxuries, she would be given an endless amount. It seemed that the reason Saints were given such privileges was because Saints had very little greed. There was a theory that a compassionate heart that wants only to serve others was the first condition to be chosen by the gods.
However, when I tried to apply that to myself, I knew I didn’t have an especially affectionate heart or that I couldn’t be greedy.
Actually, because a Saint had such privileges, it was a felony to pretend to be a Saint. At best, she would be banished, at worst, decapitated. Being banished meant being thrown into a forest of monsters without weapons, so it was also a death sentence. Of course, any co-conspirators would face the same punishments.
If I hadn’t been the Saint, I would have been horrified. Wieland seemed to have been convinced of my Sainthood, but he didn’t explain the consequences before bringing me to the capitol. If he had explained it in advance, I would have escaped.
… Maybe that’s why he didn’t say anything, because he didn’t want the Saint to run away.
So while I was safe, the Saint-like beautiful girl was imprisoned as a thug. Of course, she wasn’t the only one who committed the crime, and many people behind the scenes were implicated. The three knights who had brought her were charged as well. Because of her remorseful confession, the investigation was mostly wrapped up.
“Is it true you have a sick mother?”
“Yes, but she didn’t actually die. I rescued her from the hands of the mastermind. She’s been poisoned and weakened, but she will recover soon.”
“Using your mother’s life as leverage, huh?”
The first thing I asked Wieland to do was inquire about her situation. I only asked because I thought she was in some trouble, but she was worse off than I expected. If someone deceived a saint, they would be decapitated or exiled. No matter how you deceived others, you couldn’t lie in front of God. When it was discovered she wasn’t a Saint, she ended up with a fate worse than death. Apparently, before her, no one had pretended to be a Saint because the punishment was widely known, but it seemed a noble took the opportunity of the missing Saint to craft an evil scheme.
Since the Saint never appeared, she probably died in some kind of accident. If that’s the case, why not just forge an appraisal paper to get a girl recognized? In case anyone gets suspicious, let’s make the fake a beautiful girl with a high magical power level. A helpless girl who lives with her mother in a poor part of town: if her mother were to fall ill, wouldn’t she do anything to help her?
Thus, the girl had been trapped. Her mother’s food was poisoned in order to make her sick, and the noble was able to threaten her into pretending to be the saint, saying, “Even if you are discovered as a fake, don’t reveal me as the mastermind, or else…” How disgusting!
“Where is she?”
“She’s chained up in a cell in the dungeon.”
Dungeons, confinement. These words gave me a bad feeling just hearing them. When I heard that a child was trapped there, a vague feeling spread in my chest.
“Please guide me to her.”
If a Saint wished, she could go anywhere, whether it’s a vault or a cell for thugs. When I looked into Wieland’s eyes with determination, he dropped his shoulders and sighed. It seemed he would take me.
I thought he would bring me to the dungeon right away, but Wieland headed towards the room of the Elder Saint instead. Since most people didn’t know I was the Saint yet, no one even bowed their heads to me as we passed. They probably thought I was just a new underling. The only people who knew that I was the Saint were those who were there
and the knights under the direct control of the Saint. I assumed that they were the soldiers in the dark blue uniform.
I arrived in the room for the second time since I’d woken up since I’d been here before to mourn. The knights in the dark blue uniforms knelt down as soon as they noticed me approaching the room, though their doubts were clear on their faces. I’d already offered my prayers and refused to accompany them, so they wanted to know why I’d come.
“The Saint wants to meet the girl in the dungeon.” Wieland’s brief explanation stunned the knights. Right, come to think of it, these were the knights in charge of the investigation. I had heard that in order to carefully investigate the matter, the Elder Knight had commanded every knight to turn their full attentions to it.
I realized I would need to talk to them. If I was widely known
as the Saint, I would have been able to strong arm them, but I didn’t to push them too hard.
“We can’t let you meet the felon who deceived the Saint…”
“If not for the circumstances, she should have been executed already.”
The knights, who had recovered from their shock, all began to speak at once. Just after the investigation had ended, the Elder Saint had died, leading to chaos and delaying the execution. It was a crime to deceive the Saint, and because they had served the Elder Saint for many years, their anger and grief were strong.
I understood their feelings, but I couldn’t afford to back down either. According to the report, the girl was also a victim. If her mother’s life had been used against her, she wouldn’t be able to say no. If there’s anything I could do, I should try to help. Executing her would be too pitiful.
“Please,” I begged, bowing my head. The knights let out strangled screams, probably thinking it was impossible for me to do this. The only person a Saint ever bowed her head to was God. I knew that the Saint is the most noble existence but as someone who has lived as a villager for 42 years, nobility of any kind was hard to accept.
The knights gave up trying to convince me not to visit the girl. Two of them led the way, prison key in hand, followed by Wieland and me. Shivering in the cold solemnity as I descended the stairs to the dungeon, I moved my feet quietly.
Entering the dungeons, I was surprised how many people were being held captive. Some wore coarse clothes and had their hands and feet chained, but some were well-dressed and fat. Since their hands showed no signs of labor, I guessed they were probably nobles. There were also women who looked like maids, but how are they involved in this incident? Some made excuses while spitting, some were demanding release, and one prisoner cried that he didn’t want to die. While the knights frowned at the displays, the didn’t stop until they arrived at the girl’s cell.
Unlocking all three locks, both knights heaved open the door. A door that opened slowly, even with two grown men pushing it, how heavy was it!? A thick stone wall, triple locks, and a door that required at least two people to open, the security in this cell was different from the rest.
The door opened with a dull grown, revealing a girl crouching on the floor alone. She raised her face when I called to her, her eyes widening when she saw me. Even though we’d only met for a short time, she seemed to remember me.
“It’s Zeph, uh?”
“My name is Emilia, your holiness.” The sound of chains echoed in the stone room and the girl bowed with her forehead against the floor. Her appearance was worn from being a prisoner for thirteen days, but she still had a neat and ephemeral aura. When such a girl prostrates herself, I couldn’t avoid feeling helpless.
I didn’t come here to punish you!
After scratching my head, I sat down in front of the girl. I tapped to her shoulder, causing her to raise her face and look directly into my eyes. Many of the prisoners were crying, but this child’s eyes remained clear. She may have been tougher than she looked.
“Emilia, I’m here today to talk to you.”
An old man smiling awkwardly was reflected in her round eyes.