The Pope stood in place and shouted for a long time, but he didn’t see Bowen and the others turn back, so he had to give up.
He was expressionless, but his eyes sparkled with a sinister light. The three men who were loyal to him were seriously injured and resting on the ground. He stared at them, like a serpent staring at prey, and when the three felt an ominous premonition, he quickly walked over and cut their necks with a sharp dagger.
Bright red blood flowed out all over the ground, it would soon lead dark beasts and devil plants to their location. But he was not worried, he slowly drew a closed magic circle on the ground with the blood.
Black demon fog emerged from the center of the magic circle, the shadow condensing into a human form. Gradually, the shadow solidified, revealing an extremely handsome and wicked face.
If Bowen and his group were still there, they would certainly recognize the man, he was the ‘Duke Hubert’ who had generously escorted Boel to the elves.
“Amazing, I never thought the Central Church’s Pope himself would be the one calling me!” The man cracked his deep red lips into a smile, as if he was looking at something very interesting.
The Pope didn’t feel embarrassed or shameful, in order to regain his power, he was willing to pay any price. He bowed, then pleaded, “Greetings Dark God, yes humble me is the one calling you. Please listen to my prayer.”
“Mmm? If I satisfy your wishes, what do I get in exchange?” The man raised an eyebrow, interested.
“I’m willing to dedicate my soul to you as your eternal servant. And I can help you win the dark war!” The Pope offered.
“Oh? How tempting. But why do you think you have the ability to win the war between the two gods?” The man almost laughed out loud. No one knew better than him the truth behind the so-called ‘dark war’, it was just a game the Monarch played to relieve his boredom.
The Pope considered for a moment, then he laid out his elaborate plan.
The man’s expression turned from casual to serious, then to surprise, and when the Pope finished, he even felt some admiration for him. The Pope was worthy of being the first mortal to receive the Monarch’s divine power, he really was special. But he had to make things clear, any person who could earn the Monarch’s attention and make him invest in them was certainly not a decent person.
The Pope’s plan was to have the Dark God inject his soul into Joshua’s body and replace Joshua, then he would become the Pope and stand as the most powerful person on the mainland again. Then, when the God of Light received him into the Temple of God, he would secretly send a message to the Dark God, so he could kill the Light God when he was most vulnerable.
This idea was too bold, too arrogant, too vicious, amazing even the King of Darkness himself.
He clapped his hands while laughing, “Herman, you’re a talented person, no wonder the Mon … the Light God once valued you so much. It’s a shame you didn’t come to my Dark Temple to be a dark priest.”
“So, is that a yes?” The Pope asked expectantly.
“Give me your soul, and I’ll take you to Joshua.” The man stretched out his hand.
The Pope was overjoyed, he immediately knelt down to the ground and allowed the man to touch the top of his head and suck his soul out without any resistance. His soul was pure black, filled with all sorts of dirty and evil thoughts and ambitious desires, his level of corruption didn’t pale in comparison to one of his Devil Kings.
The man marveled for a moment, then he turned him into a soul bead.
Herman thought that as long as he stayed as a soul bead for some time, he would be able to get a perfect and powerful body, but he was wrong, it was not an ordinary soul bead, but one used for refining, the victim would face endless anguish burning in hellfire as they wished for death. He cried out sorrowfully, “Let me out! Dark God, you betrayed your word! Helping me will help yourself, are you brain dead?!”
“Sorry, demons have no such thing as integrity.” The man scratched his head and opened helplessly, “I forgot to tell you, although I’m the Dark God, I have to answer to the God of Destruction. He’s stronger than me, so his priest is naturally above me, I can’t provoke him.”
The man disappeared in a cloud of black mist, leaving behind four rapidly decomposing corpses.
Bowen followed behind the convoy, when the convoy met a dark beast or devil plant they would come out to help clean up, allowing the Sagya Kingdom people to guard diligently.
During the fights, Priest Joshua would look at them a few times, but his eyes were very emotionless, as if he was looking at objects. Bowen would press down his anxiousness every time he looked at him, re-assuring himself: Wait, now is not the time to plead.
Finally, Priest Joshua grabbed his statue of the Father and began his daily prayer. His eyes were closed, his face was peaceful, and his cold temperament, in the blink of an eye, was replaced by a gentle and amiable temper.
Bowen immediately jumped down from the treetops and stood beside the carriage shaft and waited. The guide and the men were afraid of interrupting the priest’s prayers, so they glared at him but didn’t start a fight.
Zhou Yun Sheng opened his eyes to see Bowen sitting in front of him, his face was still relaxed from his prayer.
He smiled and asked, “Oh? You came back?”
The gentle expression and tone made Bowen feel relieved, he went straight to the point, “I would like to invite you to the elves and the beastmen village as a guest. I also want you to help us take a look at the man who delivered Boel to our clan, Duke Hubert. He might not be a human.”
“Boel was indeed in your lands.” Zhou Yun Sheng thought for a moment, then shook his head, “I don’t want to have contact with anyone rejected by the Father, so I’ll not go. I remember you’re a light priest at the level of saint, how can you not even identify a demon.” Just a bit of light could solve that problem.
“But if the other is a Devil King, or something higher, even ten saint level light priests wouldn’t be able to identify it. You’re different from us. I can see a trace of gold in your eyes, that’s divine power, no level of demon can escape your eyes.” Bowen smiled wryly.
A few days had passed and two-thirds of the Elf Forest had already been swallowed by demon fog, such a fast spread was unheard of. This made him deeply skeptical of the identity of the demon lurking in their land, he was afraid it was not as simple as a Devil King.
A tier higher than a Devil King? The Dark God?! Zhou Yun Sheng was secretly surprised, but he soon remembered that Boel really did have the Dark God as one of his lovers, and the other also took the mortal identity of a Duke from some kingdom, so it wasn’t strange.
Don’t go! You must stay away from Boel and his lovers! Rational Sheng reminded him.
Brainless Sheng also agreed with him, he was just about to open his mouth to refuse when Bowen said, “And this forest only has the Light Temple our clans built. Priest Joshua hasn’t prayed in a temple for a long time right?”
Although prayer could be done anywhere, praying in a temple made you more likely to be heard by the Father. Because he’d stayed in the carriage or the wild all throughout the journey, always surrounded by bodyguards, Brainless Sheng had not met with the Father for a long time.
As long as he thought he might be able to see the Father in the temple, even if the path was through a mountain of flames, he would still go.
“All right, I’ll go with you.” He nodded firmly, making his sensible other half almost faint in his subconscious.
Bowen and party rejoiced, then they quickly guided the team toward their clans’ dwellings.
The elf and the beastman clans lived in a village covered by a thick light circle. The once beautiful dreamlike scenery had been replaced by depression, the plants couldn’t get enough nutrients from the land and had withered. Their leaves were an unhealthy yellow, and the fruit they bore were no longer sweet.
This was a very troubling situation for the vegetarian elves.
And wild animals not infected by the demon fog were getting scarcer, so the carnivorous beastmen were also having food shortage problems.
Although it was not life-threatening, they were mentally defeated, every passing elf and beastman had haggard faces.
“High Priest you came back. Who’s this?” A female elf carrying a bow ran over.
“This is Priest Joshua.” Bowen’s tone was respectful.
“The Joshua of the Sagya Kingdom?” The female elf’s eyes suddenly sharpened, she removed an arrow from her quiver and strung it, asking is a threatening voice, “If that’s him, then he’s an enemy of the elves and the beastmen! Why did you bring him back?”
Bowen and his party of elves and beastmen quickly blocked the boy’s body, shouting at the girl to not be impulsive. Bowen summon a light shield and tried to patiently explain. The elves never kept secrets from their own people, although he didn’t want to say the true identity of the boy, he’d forgotten that the boy was now the two clans’ enemy.
Saving the Mother Tree was equal to saving the whole elf clan, they owed too much to Boel’s kindness, so they were naturally willing to do anything for him, including get revenge.
Control of the body had been given to Rational Sheng, he was not a bleeding heart like Brainless Sheng, he sneered and turned around. If he went into the temple, he might be pounded by the God of Light again, as long as he thought about that, he was eager to immediately disappear.
“Priest Joshua, please stay!” Bowen was anxious, he used his light shield to block the angry elf and shouted at the boy’s retreating back.
White hair and blue eyes, a face more beautiful than an elf. Yes, that’s Joshua of the Sagya Kingdom! Hearing Bowen’s shout, a burly beastman glared at the boy with hatred.
He instantly turned into a huge winged tiger, opened his blood red jaw and roared at the young man, then leaped. He was the beast prince saved by Boel, he was secretly in love with Boel, and in order to help Boel, not to mention kill for him, he could even give up his own life.
The people of Sagya Kingdom and the Grand Duchy of Dorados were enraged, they immediately took out their weapons and confronted them.
Seeing a bloody conflict about to happen, a huge net woven by golden light fell from the sky, covering the numerous elves and beastmen that were shouting out war cries.
Rational Zhou Yun Sheng’s heart was more ruthless than anyone else’s, he twitched a finger, and the light net grew numerous sharp spikes, stabbing into the flesh of the wrapped elves and beastmen. Even the tough beastmen warriors couldn’t resist the damage of the light spikes. They were black and blue, bleeding from countless holes, they looked very miserable.
Zhou Yun Sheng was not satisfied, he shook another finger, and golden flame erupted above the net.
“Please stop, don’t kill them!” Bowen’s complexion was ashen. He’d seen those golden flames before, he knew that they were no different from the fires of God that incinerated everything to ashes.
“Who dares to slaughter our people in our lands?” An unusually handsome man ran over. He was wearing a pale blue robe, a crown made out of twigs and flowers, and a pair of emerald-green eyes full of anger and dignity.
He was very powerful, and in almost a blink of an eye, he arrived in the middle of the battlefield, his palms raised to catch the fire ball. But in the next moment, he lost his usual elegance and calm, dropping his arms with a pained expression.
The ball of golden flame had pierced through his palm, falling onto an elf in the light net, lighting him up like a match. His mournful screams made the birds in the trees flee, and the elves and beastmen who were trapped with him were all petrified.
“That’s… … God Fire!” The Elf King stared at his pierced palms, his mouth agape, his heart stirring in stormy waves. The Father would never gift God Fire to a mortal, what was this Joshua’s relationship to the Father?
However, before he could think too deeply, the elf burning by golden flame laid motionless on the ground, his breathing and heartbeat had ceased.
“Even if you have God Fire, anyone who kills my people will pay the price!” The Elf King raised his scepter and chanted a spell.
Explosive winds formed a huge vortex over the land, a deafening whistling roar sounded. If someone stood in the center of the wind blade whirlpool, even their corpse would be unrecognizable. Even though the boy before him was only 18 years old, the Elf King didn’t dare take him lightly, so he used one of his strongest spells.
Zhou Yun Sheng’s platinum hair floated in the wind, he looked like he would be sucked into the whirlpool at any moment, but he was not nervous. He pointed to the gradually extinguishing flame and said, “Look clearly, is that your people?”
The beastmen who was closest to the corpse gave a cry of horror. The thing that was lying there was not an elf, but a charred demon. Because he was howling before his death, his mouth was very large, exposing a poisonous looking snake tongue and sharp teeth, his front and back claws were twisted in a strange angle, sharp nails digging deeply into his own body , behind him was a slender tail.
“A demon? When did O’Brian become a demon? That’s impossible! You must’ve cast an evil spell to frame him!” An elf roared in rage.
However, after he roared, the burnt corpse suddenly started releasing think demon fog, melting into black juice, sipping into the land. The shape of a corpse could be changed with magic, but the demon fog inside couldn’t be falsified.
The trapped elves and beastmen forgot their pain and collectively started trying to crawl away from the black land. So horrible, they’ve been living with a demon all this time!
The Elf King immediately withdrew his spell, his state of mind was making it unstable, causing him to spit out mouthfuls of blood. The Beast King, who was gathering troops, quickly ran over to see the situation.
Their inner surprise and fear couldn’t be described in simple words.
Zhou Yun Sheng’s icy mockery sounded, “Demons feed on the darkness that hides inside hearts, then it breeds. The darker the heart, the more it’s susceptible to being possessed by demons. Which is why humans are the most favored food for demons, and the Elf Forest only has dark beasts and devil plants. That’s what I used to believe, but today, I’ve learnt how wrong I was. Even the hearts of the elves have become corrupted, they’re no longer pure. How disappointing.”
He looked at the arriving elves and beastmen with contemptuous eyes. He saw their embarrassed expressions and felt a little happier. Then he raised his index finger and summoned a great illuminating light.
This was a spell that could distinguish a demon, it could usually only be used on one person at a time. Condensing a light strong enough to illuminate and reveal all the demons in a large area was equivalent to making a small sun. In this world, probably only the Light God could do something like that.
But the boy not only did it, he did it easily. He raised his hand, and the bright light ball slowly rose into the sky, then he said, “Look at yourselves, see if you still have your original appearance.”
Under the bright golden light, none of the elves and beastmen could escape. The boy also condensed a light mirror in front of them, so they couldn’t only look at other people, but also themselves.
Two more demons were found, they tried to flee but were paralyzed by the light and dropped to the ground. Many of the elves and beastmen had a tiny creeping black spirit between their eyebrows, it seemed to be looking for the evil thoughts hidden in their minds. Once it found enough, it would burrow into their body, slowly growing and eventually replacing them.
Bowen had never been so frightened before, because he discovered that even the Elf King and the Beast King’s eyebrows were shrouded in demon fog. If their minds were not strong enough, they would become demons, and the elves and beastmen would face an unprecedented disaster. How terrible!
He quickly turned around and noticed that most of the people contaminated by demon fog were Boel Britte’s closest companions, what that meant was self-evident. Either Boel Britte was a demon, or the man that brought him to their land, Duke Hubert, was a Devil King, or the Dark God himself.
Boel saved the Mother Tree, but he also brought disaster to the two clans, he turned away from the Father and joined the dark camp. His great deed of kindness couldn’t offset this sin, they must find him and Hubert and kill them!
Bowen grinded his teeth to these dark thoughts.
When everyone recognized each other’s true face, Zhou Yun Sheng took back his ball in the sky, his light flame and net on the ground, then called his guards and turned to leave. He was not interested in getting involved with the inevitable conflict.
No, I’m going to the temple! Brainless Sheng heard the call of the Father and immediately pushed Rational Sheng into the subconscious, recapturing the body.
His cold expression instantly became compassionate. He took out his scepter from his space ring and casted a very large purification spell. The dazzling golden light enveloped the territory, attaching itself to the elves, beastmen, vegetation, land, and springs, expelling all corruption.
When the golden light dissipated, the elves and beastmen contaminated with demon fog felt clear-headed, the yellow trees, grass, and flowers were rejuvenated, even the air in the land started smelling of a long lost pure fragrance.
The power to rejuvenate the energy of all living things, this is certainly divine power!
“Thank the Father for this gift, thank you Priest Joshua for this generosity and kindness!” After experiencing many mood swings, Bowen wept. The elves and beastmen who were shouting to kill the boy before were ashamed, they rushed forward to apologize.
The boy was so powerful, even more powerful than their High Priest. Forget about Bishop of a Kingdom, even if he wanted the Pope’s position, he had the qualifications to take it. He didn’t need tricks and schemes. And he was so kind and generous, not cruel like Boel Britte described.
The elves and beastmen were not familiar with things in the outside world, but that didn’t make them fools. They gradually pieced together the clues and began looking for Boel Britte and Duke Hubert’s figures in the crowd.
“They went hunting with Belle in the morning, they haven’t come back yet.” Someone loudly shouted.
“Don’t search for him, wait for him to come back. If you can, please pretend like nothing happened.” Bowen finally realized how stupid it was to bring Joshua directly into the land. He should’ve discussed with the King and the Beast King first, then they could’ve acted more stealthily.
Thinking of this, he looked at the gloomy and in a trance Elf King and Beast King, then felt that being direct was also a good decision. The two men had been possessed by demon fog, they probably wouldn’t have listened to his explanations and would’ve still joined together to kill Joshua.
Brainless Sheng had fulfilled his mission as a light priest, he softly asked, “Where is your temple? I want to pray to my Father.”
“Please come with me.” Bowen left his people and walked down a curved road.
The Elf King and Beast King sat next to each other, looking at each other in horror and shame. The elves and beastmen both knew the truth of how demons were born, so they were extremely disgusted with the darkness in the humans’ hearts. But they would’ve never imagined that they would one day be possessed by a demon.
That meant that their hearts all produced unspeakable dirty and dark thoughts. Who was the source of this darkness, no one knew better than them.
Boel Britte, you’re not the messenger of light, but a devil from the dark abyss, you tempted us into corruption! The two men thought bitterly.
Bowen sent the boy to the temple door, but at the top of the steps was a golden barrier, blocking anyone from going further. He repeatedly tried but couldn’t go forward, and a mountain-like pressure pressed on his heart whenever he tried, like he was getting a heart attack. What’s going on? Who laid a light circle around the temple? He was astonished.
He rested his trembling palms on the light circle, trying to dissolve it with his light power, but then he saw Priest Joshua walk in without any hindrance. He stood at the door for a long time, pacing on the steps, his thoughts seemed to be struggling.
A few minutes later, he sighed and walked away slowly.
“Father, is that you?”
“If not me, who else? Come to me.”
“Did you hear all the prayers on my travels?”
“Of course, I look at you at every moment. I listen to you all the time. My eyes have not moved from you for a minute. You are my most cherished treasure. Joshua, come into my arms and let me hug you…”
The voices in the dialogue faded away because of the increased effectiveness of the light circle. Bowen stood in place, his mind repeatedly echoing one thought – The Father’s voice is so gentle and beautiful! The Father loves Joshua and has always been watching him from heaven!
What? Always watching him?
A dash of cold water seemed to pour on top of Bowen’s heart. This meant that the fact that the elves and beastmen had given Boel and Hubert shelter was already known. The elves and the beastmen were stronger physically, and their warrior and magical talents were higher than humans. Even their light priests were much stronger than human light priests. They were the gods’ favorite races.
But now, the two races had taken in Boel and the Devil, and turned their weapons on God’s true messenger, Joshua.
Bowen covered his face and groaned. He could almost foresee that the two communities would be rejected by the Father in the future. He thought: I have to hurry up and find the King and the Beast King, we need to discuss how to ask for forgiveness for our sins against the Father. The Father’s presence is filling the whole forest, Hubert and Boel probably won’t come back willingly.