You and those priests of the royal palace…!
Because of you, that girl, Yuna is–!!
Hariet’s despair-filled cries echoed repeatedly in the depths of Asyut’s ears.
Yuna was in danger.
The instant that thought came Asyut broke into a run from that spot like a shot. Slipping through everyone who was taken aback, he wasn’t even able to care about Hariet, Rendo, and Madela, and left the bar at full speed.
(No, for them to come this far!)
He ran and ran and ran through the dark streets at night, aiming for the tallest tower in this town.
Let him make it on time. Please, let him make it on time.
Although it was a small town he felt that the distance to the church was extremely long. He was breathing hard and his breaths were so hot it seemed to burn the back of his throat. Because he rushed out empty-handed, only the moonlight was reliable in the night of the town where there were few street lights.
The church that he could faintly see in the distance under the cover of the night approached little by little. He saw a great number of large torch lights wriggling at the foot of that tower. One, two, three… Asyut clenched his teeth strongly at the large amount of lights which he couldn’t count right away.
And then, when he arrived at the church at last, there was a crowd of people around it.
The residents were staring in bewilderment at men clothed in priest robes. When he quickly sent his gaze around, there seemed to be three in all. They were straddling horses and staring at the entrance as if surrounding the church. In addition, there were more than ten men who looked like mercenaries. Each and every one was carrying a weapon and facing the church in the same way.
What was being pierced by their arrogant gazes was – ah, what was with this – just one person, the old priest Maurice who was Yuna’s grandfather. He stood in the way of the church’s entrance with his old body and was desperately confronting the priests so as not to let them enter inside.
(The priests– are they priests under Roblin. Or…)
Asyut grit his teeth strongly. –Or the king’s pursuing party?
In any case, this situation was the worst.
What Yuna’s parents were afraid of had become reality. The royal palace’s envoy had finally discovered the existence of Yuna, the miraculous sleeping girl and the “imposter saint”, and were trying to take her away as a wicked thing to the royal palace.
“No matter how much these are orders of priests from the royal palace I cannot step aside here!”
He could hear Maurice’s protesting with a voice that was already hoarse.
Asyut forced his way through the crowd, moving forward little by little while feeling heart-stricken.
“Please, as people who believe equally in God, I beg of you to stop and lower your weapons!”
But it was not seen at all that the priests were moved by that appeal. Even though he appealed with all his heart, it was clear they had no intention in the least to overlook him.
(It’s my fault.)
An unspeakable anger along with disappointment settled in Asyut’s body.
(I erred on everything.)
“Do not make us tell you again, step aside from there.”
One of the priests spat that out coldly.
“Under the God, Vida, the heretical daughter must receive judgment. For that, this daughter will be taken to the royal palace. Those who obstruct the way will all be regarded similarly as heretics.”
“No matter what you say, I absolutely cannot step aside.”
“I suppose the words of a priest cannot get through to a heretic.”
The priest on a horse sent his gaze to the mercenaries.
“Everyone receives the divine protection of our God, Vida. Therefore, although it is a degenerate body, I do not wish to do anything that would hurt you… However, I have no choice. Acknowledge your sins and resign yourself to receiving punishment.”
A small scream leaked out from the surroundings. In front of the church, Maurice’s body stiffened.
The mercenaries, who received a signal, began to slowly close the distance. It was a disgusting movement as if they were tormenting a prey. And then when they drew their weapons– Asyut, who had jumped out of the crowd, thrust one of them away as hard as he could from the side.
The mercenary’s stance collapsed at the surprise attack and turned a surprised face to Asyut. While his opponent staggered, Asyut quickly twisted that arm up and threw the large body to the ground. The instant the man struck the ground the other mercenaries stopped moving immediately with confusion.
“Don’t lay a hand on him.”
Asyut made his low voice resound.
“Stand your mercenaries down.”
“Who are you.”
One of the priests asked with irritation. Asyut did not answer and glared at them fiercely.
“I will say it once more. Stand your mercenaries down.”
“That cannot be done, because summoning of the heretical daughter to the royal palace is a mission given to us.”
“On whose orders?”
“That is irrelevant to something such as you. Everything is understood to be by the guidance of God.”
The priests’ firm attitude did not collapse all the more. In carrying out this duty it seemed it was within their expectations from the beginning for small disturbances to enter. That was clear to all with them bringing more than ten mercenaries.
A shout from Rendo, who seemed to have run to this place late, leapt into Asyut’s ears.
When he moved his gaze slightly to confirm he saw Rendo, Hariet, and Madela trying to rush out here from crowd of people but they were pulled back by the other residents.
“Y-You are the traveler…? Were you not the one to call for them?”
Maurice’s hoarse voice was heard from behind him. Asyut continued to glare at the front and did not reply. No, he couldn’t. Asyut didn’t call them, however this result was the same as if he had–.
(I can regret later.)
Now wasn’t the time to be overcome by feelings, Asyut told himself. No matter what happened, he had to protect this place without fail. He could not afford to let a single wound be given, not to this old priest– and, of course, not to Yuna who was sleeping deep in the church.
“Capture this man.”
The priest’s brief words served as the trigger and the mercenaries to move again.
Everyone burst towards Asyut alone without hesitation. Naturally, in terms of the number of people, Asyut was at an overwhelming disadvantage. However, Asyut was unfazed. It was clear, looking at their movements, that they were just a disorderly mob.
He slipped to the side of the first person’s spear lunge and, grasping the handle, kicked his opponent’s abdomen. He struck the man with the butt of the spear he had stolen and the man sunk down quickly. If, during this time, the other mercenaries had gone around to Asyut’s back then Asyut might have been forced into a hard fight. However, even that didn’t happen. The mercenaries were so wary of Asyut that they spent too long weighing the moment to close the distance.
Asyut had not the slightest intention to match his opponents’ movements. Sweeping the spear like that, he sent the sword of a nearby person flying. And, as he spun, he smashed the man who become defenceless sharply with the butt of the spear again. The man gave a silent scream and then, following that, groaned like a beast. The remaining mercenaries stared, half-dumbfounded, at their comrades who were writhing with expressions of agony.
Their breaths caught at Asyut’s glare as he held the spear.
“Do you intend to continue still? If so, I will not hold back.”
The remaining mercenaries only stood stock-still there as if they were frozen.
“What are you all doing, I said to capture that man!”
However, the priest’s angry voice echoed in the dark night and the mercenaries were spurred on whether they wanted to or not. It seemed that, now that it had become like this, they could not run away and so they strengthened their resolve. They rushed towards Asyut all at once mindlessly. Although Asyut was calmly handling their attack, it would not be easy to oppose close to ten people and cover the old man at his back.
And a sight that was even more of a final blow lay in wait for Asyut.
From the distance, it was apparent that several other lights were approaching.
(No, it can’t be a fresh supply of people, can it?)
If so, that would be– intense.
Asyut, while clicking his tongue, knocked a man in front of him to the ground first.
In that spare moment, he threw a glance to that distant sight. There seemed to be at least more than ten new torch lights. From the quick speed they were approaching it seemed the enemies were riding horses.
(What will I do.)
Impatience began to dominate Asyut slowly. As he told himself to calm down he floored another man. There remained seven mercenaries in front of him. However, if the newcomers were added then the number of people would double in a stroke.
“… Who are those people.”
At that moment the priests, who were watching the situation from on their horses, muttered that in a puzzled voice.
Their reactions were entirely unexpected to Asyut.
(Is it possible they don’t know that group either?)
He thought they were the priest faction’s reinforcements, but if that wasn’t the case then…
Who exactly were they–.
Soon the torch light bearers arrived before the church. Asyut was all the more surprised when he found a familiar face among all the sturdy men present there.
“You all, throw away your weapons!”
A man, who let loose an especially intense intimidating air, ordered that in a voice that carried while being low.
That man was once hostile to Asyut as a person who opposed the royal palace, the former anti-saint faction’s Ghada.
(What is this. Why are they here.)
There was Ghada and then behind him his younger sister, Milifaire, and following her, Jin. And the others must have been former anti-saint faction members as well.
They did not send a glance to Asyut, who was taken aback, and faced the mercenaries, pointing the tips of their swords directly at them. The instant that happened the mercenaries were visibly flustered, and the end result was them dropping their weapons. It was obvious their appearance was strange.
“W-Who exactly are you all.”
The priests were driven into an unfavorable situation in an instant, but still they raised their voices which did not lose their conceit only. However, what use was something like conceit in this place.
“How about ending this and giving up.”
At any rate, he had to get through this place. Asyut continued holding his weapon and advanced one step. The mercenaries, who were wholly terrified, no longer showed a fragment of fighting spirit and were completely timid.
“If you resist any more, I do not intend to keep silent even if you are priests.”
The priests on horseback looked down on Asyut even more domineeringly.
“To oppose us is the same as opposing God.”
“… Do you still not know who I am?”
“W-What did you say.”
Certainly, it was hard to see each other’s faces well in this darkness. The priests raised their torch lights forward in a cautionary manner, but even then it only showed Asyut’s stature at most.
“What are you. Announce yourself.”
“I am the First Holy Knight, Asyut.”
Asyut introduced himself as they wished.
Mixed with the sound of the torch light crackling was the priests’ breaths catching. Even the priest, Maurice, who was standing behind Asyut must have heard the words now.
“Lord… Asyut, you say?!”
The priests’ voices shook right there.
That was also only natural. The status of the First Holy Knight was not a light thing for mere priests to look down on from their horse and to give orders to. Of course, doing something like pointing a sword at him was absurd.
“It can’t be, there’s no way.”
The three priests finally descended from their horses and stood on the ground. Neither the mercenaries nor the surrounding residents should have heard the conversation just now, but they watched the proceedings that suddenly changed like the wind with held breaths.
Asyut himself walked up to the front of the priests. At this point-blank range even they could not mistake Asyut’s face.
The priests lost their words this time and stood stock-still.
“… L-Lord Asyut, to not have noticed you, we have been dreadfully rude. Please, I beg of you, grant us your pardon.”
In an instant, they changed their attitudes quickly and lowered their heads courteously.
“For reasons, we were to ask you to return back to the royal palace before you arrived at this town, Lord Asyut. And we were told that, in return, we would bring the daughter to the royal palace.”
“Who ordered that. Roblin?”
“Exactly as you say.”
Perhaps their terror was too great, the priests only murmured that, shrinking back. It seemed more effective to flash his authority at them rather than a sword.
“Hereafter, you are not allowed to enter this church without exception. Even if you have received any orders from Roblin, this is absolute.”
The priests gave a low bow again. Even if they didn’t agree, they couldn’t defy Asyut.
And then immediately, because of Ghada and the others, the priests and mercenaries were gathered in one place. The mercenaries did not resist at all. Ghada moved silently with his lips pursed tightly, but the mercenaries turned their faces to him from time to time, as if wanting to say something. However, though Ghada noticed that he did not respond.
Lowering their heads again, the mercenaries curled themselves up as if they were criminals. In contrast, the priests seemed clearly discontent. Asyut watched them with a sour expression. Even though the crisis had gone away for the moment, it seemed like there was a driving rain and wind in his heart.
–It made him clearly realize that he was a person on that side.
Hariet flew out of the crowd of people. She hugged Maurice like that and, sobbing unbearably, she buried her face into his shoulder. Maurice gently held Hariet. Rendo and Madela also walked slowly over here; their eyes damp with confusion pierced Asyut.
“… I apologize deeply.”
Asyut apologized to them first. There was too much to apologize for that only those words came to mind.
“Who exactly are you?”
The one who answered Rendo’s mutter was Maurice who was soothing Hariet.
“The First Holy Knight, Lord Asyut.”
Madela, at a loss, looked up at Asyut.
“That was the name given earlier, if I’m correct?”
“Yes, there is no mistake. I apologize for having lied about my identity.”
“N-No way. The First Holy Knight… that one?”
Hariet was also similarly flustered. Naturally, because, regardless of how she realized that Asyut had come from the royal palace, she would have thought he was a government official at most.
“Why has someone with such an exalted status come to this place. Is it on the royal palace’s orders, like we thought?”
On the other hand, Rendo looked calm.
“No, that is not the case.”
Asyut raised his lowered head and faced Rendo and the others directly. Even if he couldn’t get them to believe him, he had to convey just this.
“I lied about my identity but everything I have talked about up to now is the truth. About how I have spent this past year together with Yuna in the royal palace, how I wish to wake her up again, and how I came to this town wishing for only that.”
“… I don’t… understand anything anymore.”
Madela shook her head loosely and leaned against her husband, Rendo, with a haggard appearance.
“Regarding that, please allow me to explain slowly. I’d like to tell you all about everything up to now.”
“We would like to hear as well. I won’t let you say we are outsiders.”
It was Ghada, who had taken along with him the members of the former anti-saint faction, that raised a voice which carried his spirit while being moderate.
“I heard that the Celiastina we confronted was an imposter. That the person who stood there at the time was a completely different girl. That girl is Yuna, the one brought up just now, right?”
Asyut turned around to Ghada and nodded. He peeked at his sister, Milifaire, who he hadn’t seen in a long time, in Ghada’s shadow. Her serious eyes were turned to Asyut without any timidness.
“… First, let me thank you for your support. But why are you all here?”
“We were dispatched by orders of the king. The underlings of the priests over there are–“
He jerked his chin to point at the caught mercenaries.
“–originally members of the anti-saint faction that fought together with us. A few days ago, I received information from the king’s faction that there were people acting suspiciously among the released members. It was said that if we could assist you and prevent the worst scenario then he would also think about the treatment of those who were complicit… I didn’t want to act like the king’s dog, but I can’t abandon my former comrades.”
Ghada’s words must have reached the mercenaries who were gathered in one place. They lowered their heads even deeper, as if they had nowhere to turn their faces.
Asyut secretly clenched his fists tighter.
According to the priests’ words, it was Roblin who sent them. In other words, Roblin tried to take away Yuna by himself without waiting for Asyut’s return. So then, how did he know where Yuna’s location was–.
(Was it during the meeting with Lady Celiastina?)
The informal meeting that was held in the Priest Tower. Asyut had even felt something in him catch at Roblin waiting outside understandably at the time. That he left alone his sense of discomfort was another of Asyut’s mistakes. It was likely Roblin had been eavesdropping on their conversation at the time.
No– or was it…
In any case, in order to stop the priests that Roblin prepared, reinforcements were sent from the king. The king did not censure Asyut’s actions and, conversely, was willing to help.
(I thought I was discarded at last.)
But that was not the case, it seemed. Or did the king have other thoughts?
“For now, let us settle the priests and mercenaries of the attacck, and enter the church. We cannot cause any more trouble to the residents of the town. There, I would like to hear Lord Asyut’s story. Is everyone agreeable with that?”
Everyone nodded at Father Maurice’s suggestion. Madela and Hariet still looked distracted but they still obediently followed everyone.
When the door to the church opened, a quiet and clear air poured out, as if the disturbance just now was an illusion.
It was a small sanctuary that enveloped everything; good and evil, joy and sorrow.
In here, Yuna was sleeping.
The moon was probably illuminating this church from its highest point.
The explanation had spanned over a long time and it was already the dead of the night now.
Asyut told them the majority of the events in the royal palace this past year without hiding anything. The only thing he didn’t dare to talk about was Celiastina’s childhood and her distorted ability. It was because he wanted Celiastina herself to tell them in her own words one day.
During the time Asyut spoke, everyone listened with serious expressions. He didn’t know how much he got them to believe in. But he just told them the truth.
“… So, Yuna spent this past year in the royal palace in the place of the Lady Saint?”
Madela, who finished listening to everything, asked that as if to confirm.
“Yes, that’s right. There are many who were saved by her earnestness and pure heart. In truth, Yuna was a saint who was more like a saint than anyone else.”
“I can’t believe that child did all that. She was a softhearted and gentle girl since back then, but she’s the same as any normal child anywhere.”
Asyut shook his head at Hariet’s murmur.
“No matter what happened she was a person who never gave up. While having consideration for others, she walked directly on the path she believed in. I think she is a very strong woman.”
“Was she the one who confronted us in front of the main gates?”
It was Ghada, who managed the anti-saint faction, that revealed a complicated mental state. At that time, they faced Celiastina wagering their lives. Now that it had become another person entirely, it was natural they could not feel calm.
“… I can’t accept this at all.”
Milifaire, who had been nothing but silent until now, suddenly opened her mouth.
“The saint was an imposter, but it’s impossible to think that bygones are bygones and to stop my feelings as a result. Brother, from your story just now, Celiastina’s soul might have been right beside her at that time but there’s no meaning in that at all. I wanted my thoughts and feelings to hit Celiastina directly in any form.”
Her voice was vividly blotted with frustration and cheerlessness.
“I absolutely won’t accept this.”
And then she stood up like that with great force. The chair she had been sitting in tilted with a loud noise but, not even caring about that, Milifaire left the church.
“Hey, Mille, wait.”
Jin chased after her in a hurry and left the church similarly.
“I’m of the same opinion as Mille as well.”
Although Ghada, who crossed his arm tightly, did not follow them he announced that in a low voice.
“I cannot accept this.”
Asyut also did not deny their thoughts and feelings. Asyut himself was unable to forgive Celiastina still even now. And surely– in the future too, it would be difficult. That Asyut could face forward now was not because he forgave her. Those thoughts, even now, haven’t changed.
“Sorry, but returning to the topic…”
Rendo calmly opened his mouth.
“So, Lady Celiastina’s power is the only hope to wake up Yuna, is it?”
“Yes, that’s right. We can only bet on Lady Celiastina’s ability now.”
“But Lady Celiastina can’t leave the royal palace.”
Asyut had to nod at Hariet’s mutter.
“That’s why I would like to take Yuna to the royal palace. I came to this town for that sake.”
“Yuna to the royal palace…”
Rendo made a difficult expression.
“But, like the church that attacked earlier, there must be many in the royal palace who do not like Yuna’s existence. Will it really end safely with taking Yuna to the royal palace…?”
His concern was natural. Madela and Hariet also showed the same uneasy expression.
However, only Father Maurice was not like that.
He gave a single nod as if he decided in his mind.
“Let’s believe in Lord Asyut.”
It was hoarse but his dignified voice echoed inside the church.
“Lord Asyut, I will take you to Yuna who is sleeping in the back. Please follow me.”
He entered the back of the church for the first time.
There were many doors lined in a row at the back of the passage but Maurice passed by all of them. Asyut did the same, following after him in silence. Before long, stairs which extended underground appeared before the both of them.
Maurice stopped in front of that for a moment and gave a faint sigh. It was a small sigh that wouldn’t have been noticed if it hadn’t been this painfully quiet. And then he slowly took a step forward. The stiff sound of the bottom of his shoe landing on hard stone echoed.
Asyut was looking at the sight before his eyes like in some kind of dream.
His heart was beating violently to the point of pain. But even that felt like it was someone else’s problem somewhere else. Asyut only followed the priest down the stairs, not even knowing if his feet were on the ground anymore.
At last he could see her. He could see her–.
Only that real feeling slowly but steadily spread through Asyut’s heart.
When he descended the stairs, a narrow passage continued before his eyes. At the end of this passage stood the front of a double door. The wrinkled hand of the priest was placed on the door. And then, along with a heavy noise, the door opened gradually.
There was a small room.
A room with nothing– except for a single pedestal placed right in the center.
It was a long horizontal pedestal decorated with elaborate engravings. There were many layers of dazzingly white cloth that was spread over it. And overflowing blue flowers in bloom were scattered on top looking as if they were protecting their beloved master.
That beloved master– was no other than a single girl lying on the pedestal.
Asyut did not wait for the priest’s guide and took a single step forward.
And another step.
And then another step again.
The fragrance of sweet flowers wrapped around the pedestal like a veil.
As Asyut approached the girl the thicker the fragrance became and he felt dizzy.
The girl was wearing a comfortable white one-piece dress.
The slightly wavy brown hair was just beyond her shoulders a little. Currently, it was spread loosely on top of the pedestal and seemed to be soft from what he could see. Her pale skin was tinged with a faint red and let him feel that life was certainly remaining in her.
–It was Yuna.
One look and he was convinced.
Asyut walked up right beside the pedestal and stared at her, dazed, and stood on the spot like that for a while.
By the time he noticed, there were tears falling down his cheek.
But he didn’t feel like wiping them.
The emotions overflowing from his heart were much too large.
So, so large that they could not be exchanged with something like tears.
“Finally, I’ve met you.”
He whispered that in a hoarse voice. Holding out his left hand he softly touched her cheek.
It was warm.
She was alive.
She was certainly alive.
Just that alone saved Asyut.
Taking her hand, which was clasped underneath her chest, he tried squeezing it strongly. Right now that hand still didn’t return his hold.
But it was alright now.
They really came a long way–.
From that moment they first met in that valley.
Not knowing anything, he threw his heart of hatred at Yuna, and struck her painfully many times. And then he began to feel perplexed at her figure who continued to walk forward despite that. He wondered when it was that he noticed he was drawn to her. He acknowledged his feelings and then he lost her.
He could hardly believe that all those events occurred in a single year.
“Please wait just a while longer.”
Asyut spoke to Yuna.
Because he would ensure she was woken without exception.
(T/N: No doubt what you’ve all been waiting for! Reminder to support the author by purchasing this series! I’ve placed Amazon JP links in the Light Beyond content page.)