Su Shi coughed twice, and suppressed the coppery scent in his throat. He pushed himself up using the ground for support, took off his helmet, and hung it on the crook of his elbow.
Although the defense level was good, the paladin’s exclusive helmet really hindered communication. The scene in front of him was divided into strips by the gridding of the helmet guard. Even blinking one’s eyes created the effect of shutters closing. It was impossible to exchange gazes with another person.
He didn’t want to wait until the moment of farewell to see the person in front of him unobstructed.
As his eyes fell on the familiar and delicate face, Esmond’s eye sockets suddenly became hot. He subconsciously wanted to speak, but he pressed his lips together tightly, lowered his gaze in silence, and raised his hand to wipe the blood on his lips.
Translations by Vanilla Muse.
The paladin should belong in the light completely. He tried everything possible, but he was unable to crack the illusion the pope had created. In the eyes of the masses, he was still a Fallen, a demonized sinful person.
There was a faint pain in his chest. The cardinal’s entire body was practically trembling faintly. It took a long while for him to speak in a suppressed voice: “Ivan, I’m sorry…”
If the illusion was not broken, he could not put up any resistance. Burning with the dark flames of sin, even if it could withstand the pope’s attacks, it would be a defilement to God.
The paladin did not answer. He only groped for Esmond’s hand, and gave it a silent squeeze. Then he stood up and turned to the pope.
The moment he saw him, the pope’s eyes flashed with malicious light. But due to the people’s gazes, he had to show a benevolent and gentle expression.
“Loyal paladin, we know that some of you have been deceived by him. You still have a chance to repent, and get back on the right path.”
The people only knew that there was an innocent paladin, but there shouldn’t be a way for them to know what that paladin looked like.
The pope made up his mind to not acknowledge the identity of the other party, and his tone was compassionate and tolerant.
He was originally a hundred percent certain of the outcome, as his gaze fell upon the paladin who was still standing erect, and he was preparing to strike the other one into a Fallen and kill both of them together, but then there was suddenly an exclamation from the crowd.
“It’s him! It’s Ivan!”
“It’s the paladin pardoned by the oracle, it must be him!”
“That’s right, it’s him, I remember his face! He really is alive!”
The paladin stood proudly in the arena, holding a helmet firmly in his hand. His pure and handsome face was heroic, and his eyes were clear and steady.
He looked exactly the same as the stone statue that was restored by holy fire in the plaza.
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The people were exhausted physically and mentally by the eternal night, and were eagerly looking forward to the appearance of the paladin. Now that they finally laid eyes on him, the cheers went up and down, quickly diluting the tragic atmosphere that the pope had previously created.
The pope’s gaze narrowed as incredulity blossomed in his eyes.
The scene came to a deadlock. The ecstatic waves from the crowd gradually tapered off. The people have calmed down and finally realized the strangeness of the situation.
The paladin who was pardoned by the oracle, not only did not stand on the side of the pope, but desperately saved the cardinal who was said to be depraved and had demonized, and was now confronting the pope to protect him.
Such a weird situation caused the people on the sidelines to fall into a dead silence for a long while.
“Seeing your actions makes me doubt the authenticity of the oracle, Ivan.”
The pope did not know about the stone statue yet, but he could already vaguely feel the sudden turn of the situation. He narrowed his eyes to look at the paladin. His tone was faintly chilling.
“In the most ancient of books, it has been recorded that if a sinful person submits to a demon, he can escape the punishment of the brand, become a traitor to God, and become a servant of darkness forever.”
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“Your current position really makes us wonder—perhaps the two of you are in cahoots with each other, and you painstakingly created the façade of an oracle and this punishment of eternal night to deceive the eyes of the innocent…”
The pope spoke of the ever-dark sky, and his words were strongly persuasive.
The people’s thoughts faltered for a moment. The eagerness with which they looked at the paladin cooled, and there was even vague doubt and hostility starting to rise.
Su Shi was accustomed to this kind of gaze, and even felt faintly relieved. He was planning to wait for an opportunity to self-destruct with the opponent, but Esmond was already struggling to stand up. He staggered forward. His voice was hoarse but firm.
“I have never fallen, nor have I betrayed my faith. All this is an illusion, and I am willing to prove it with my honor, blood, and my life…”