Chapter 217: Target
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Like before, miasma still overflowed from the bodies of the knights undergoing demonization.
However, unlike before, their skin color gradually turned blue and their eyes shone blood red with no sign of intelligence within them.
They seemed like the berserkers that appeared in stories.
“Dongahaha-san, I didn’t expect a top member of the Executives Department like you would appear here at all. Even if you didn’t come over, I would have dropped by and paid you a visit.”
Without commenting on the berserkers, I first tried conversing with him to delay the time.
“I won’t do that, Sage-dono. It’s natural to be kind to those whose death approaches.”
It seemed like Dongahaha felt that he had an overwhelming advantage as he played along with my conversation.
“Do I sound like I am about to die?”
“Gahaha, as expected of Sage-dono, to still act tough in a situation like this.”
There were 11 knights with advanced demonization, including Bulltooth.
I didn’t yet know how much stronger they had become after the demonization but I guessed that there were probably not many within the Knight Corps that could fight with them equally.
“You are also brimming with confidence. If you have that much confidence, would you mind answering my questions for my future reference?”
“I don’t believe there will be a future for you but sure. Since Sage-dono might become my ally after all.”
Dongahaha confidently said to me but he probably meant ally as when I get demonized or enslaved.
What a lowlife.
Did Pope-sama not notice his true nature? Or did she notice but let him be because of some kind of debt? Well, either way, I can now ask questions and buy time at the same time.
“There is a strong anti-evil barrier extended over the Church Headquarters so putting aside those undergoing demonization, how did the demons enter?”
“Kukuku, anti-evil barrier? Obviously, such a thing is no longer existant. Why do you think a labyrinth appeared in the center of the church?”
Did they notice that the barrier was no longer effective when the labyrinth appeared?
The labyrinth appeared half a century ago so he probably wasn’t directly involved in it.
Then, why was it not reported to Pope-sama?
“If you noticed the disappearance of the barrier, why did you leave it be? Although it’s in the past, you were once a leader within the Church Headquarters. If you knew that a labyrinth appeared due to a mistake by the Executives Department, don’t you have an obligation to report to Pope-sama?”
“That’s a given as I hold a grudge against the Church and the Pope.”
His previous smiling expression changed instantly as he glared at me with sharp eyes.
I could tell he harbored strong hatred towards the Church and Pope-sama.
“Grudge? A pillar of the Church hates the Church and Pope-sama … In my case, you people tried to set me up through various means but where did that resentment originate from?”
“Because my father died due to the incompetent Executives Department at that time and the imprudence of the Pope.”
He surprisingly had a solid reason for it.
However, since he knew about Pope-sama’s current circumstance, he should understand that his hatred was just unjustified resentment.
“Why do you plan to take revenge after all this time?”
“Revenge … it might be true that it holds that meaning in a certain way. However, I’ll clearly state the reason why it turned out this way. It is you, Sage-dono.”
He said I was the reason but I don’t recall doing anything against him in particular.
“Thanks to your efforts of conquering the labyrinth, they could perform a memorial for my father who was abandoned in the labyrinth and the Pope gave me the belongings he left behind. And at that time, the memories resurfaced.”
It was the staff I brought back from the labyrinth.
“This was the staff my father held. Before the main shrine became a labyrinth, my father was the person responsible for managing the main shrine after all.”
If the old man that disappeared along with the 50th floor boss at that time was Dongahaha’s father, did I misjudge his old appearance or is Dongahaha an adopted son?
“Isn’t it a misdirected grudge at Pope-sama just because she approved of the expansion work?”
“Do you think I would harbor so much hatred for something like that? Directly before the labyrinth formed, the Pope requested my father to retrieve something she forgot. Father was caught up in the formation of the labyrinth after that.”
“Then you’ve held that hatred all this time?”
“That’s slightly wrong. The Pope invited me to the Church Headquarters just because I am my father’s son and I steadily climbed higher in position. At that time, I was full of thankfulness, I didn’t harbor any hatred at all.”
“After I was assigned to the Executives Department, I had an opportunity to look through the past records of the Executives Department and I happened upon it. The record that my father persistently listened to being a Human Supremacist and the record of the Pope requesting my father for a lost article.”
I had a terrible feeling about it.
Both the fact that it was related to Human Supremacists and the lost article.
“You probably carefully examined if that record was real or not but aren’t you returning evil for a favor?”
“Favor … to the Pope, it should be atonement. That’s because the item she sought my father to retrieve was her favorite necklace at that time. I’ve heard it directly from the Pope so it’s undeniable. I asked her on the day she declared to give up on conquering the labyrinth.”
I’ll put aside if that was really just an ordinary necklace for now but it actually can’t be helped if it led to a grudge.
She should have worn it if it was so important.
“Because of that, you plan to crush the Church?”
“Sigh, if that was the case, the Church would have met its demise under the end I envisioned with my hatred. However, after receiving the order to give up on conquering the labyrinth, the Church soon turned rotten without having me do anything.”
Dongahaha shook his head showing how deplorable that situation was.
A large number of knights and healers were invested in the labyrinth so it was said that the hierarchy changed overnight, there’s even still some influence of it left in the current Knight Corps.
Because Pope-sama’s plan of throwing in excessive combat power backfired and even then the labyrinth was not conquered, Pope-sama was completely converted into a figurehead.
I certainly do understand him but currently, for some reason, his feelings were amplified.
” … If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be fine if you invested your all for the sake of the church? Doing this just causes nuisance.”
“It’s thanks to you. Even if my faction splits apart, you have much more value than that. You not only conquered the labyrinth, you also crushed the unethical healers and regained the fame and dignity of the church in the blink of an eye.”
” … It’s not solely because of me. Even you also helped work out the guidelines and law.”
“What we did was not something extraordinary. It was because a youngster like you could pull off something that people couldn’t. The people are weak to those with charisma. As long as you have something astounding, many people would be attracted.”
” … It looks like you’ve been in cahoots with Blange and the Empire extensively but when did you start interfering?”
“Interfere? That’s a weird thing to say. You are the one interfering. Crushing our plan to convert a whole village into demons using a summoned demon, you went on to Grandol to defeat the demon on the same day we assigned it to the beginner’s labyrinth, just how far did you read our movements.”
So he was aware of everything that happened … However, as somebody who can’t move outside of the Church, it would be impossible to obtain such details if he did not have a collaborator outside.
Because he was aware of things that I did not convey to Pope-sama.
“So those were all contrived by you?”
“Yeah. Of course, I also have collaborators.”
“Then, spreading the rumors about me receiving God’s punishment as well?”
“I just mixed in a few lies within the truth. Even though you self-destructed, I can’t have that, can I? After all, you messed up my revenge plan midway and I had to quickly revise it.”
He was probably talking about me having lost my ability as a Healer.
However, I felt a sense of incongruity between his speech and conduct.
Like how he admitted himself to having collaborators and how he wanted me to think he was the main culprit.
“Then you spread the rumors to damage the Church?”
“Since you lost your ability as a Healer, you no longer had your uses. I had no choice but to scatter your information but apparently, you were quite popular among the people so that also didn’t turn out as planned.”
… What’s with that. I was feeling slightly happy so I had to control myself from grinning.
“Then didn’t you have the option of giving up there?”
“Gahaha. It would be a waste to throw away a person who far surpassed my expectations and became a Sage in just three months.”
That way of putting it meant that I was his target … !?
” … Perhaps you accusations on Catherine-san and the Valkyrie Paladin Corps were traps for the sake of luring me over?”
“So you’ve finally realized. You being able to dispel the demonization was another miscalculation but … as long as I crush you here and destroy the Church Headquarters, my revenge will come to its end.”
” … Let me ask this final question. Who made this plan? No matter how capable you are of devising the plan, I can’t imagine that you are capable of summoning demons.”
” … That’s a good head you have on your shoulders. Unfortunately, I don’t have to tell everything to somebody who is about to die. Since I’ve also just finished my preparations as well!”
I tried to dispel the knights who turned into berserkers without him noticing but as I couldn’t dispel all of them in time, I had no choice but to switch to setting up a Sanctuary Barrier.
“Hou. You used a barrier for the sake of saving the demonized people huh. You sure are composed.”
The demonized knights attacked the barrier but it looked like they could not exit it.
“I don’t have enough room to spare but doing so reduces the hands you can play right?”
“Gahaha, my true intent has already been completed.”
“Completed? I can’t control my magical power? Don’t tell me?!”
I was wondering why he was so composed when I realized I could not manipulate my magical power.
“Yeah. A powerful anti-magic barrier has been set up. Because I know that abnormal conditions do not work on you, I thought of this strategy. Now, await your demise in despair.”
It seemed like my magic was sealed like in the 10th-floor boss room in the Labyrinth of Tribulations.
It looks like he really investigated in-depth about me.
If I was the same as I was then, I would probably not be able to use magic on my own.
Sure enough, the staff held by Dongahaha glowed red and a reddish-black magic circle floated in front of Dongahaha’s eye.
Thank you for reading.
TL: I’m confused … I’ll try to summarize here. So Dongahaha wanted to crush the church and the Pope for causing the death of his father but the church and the Pope caused their own demise due to them overextending trying to clear the labyrinth and the subsequent internal conflict due to unethical healers. Then suddenly Luciel came along and revived the church so Dongahaha changed target to him as he was now the obstacle to the demise of the church.