Cracks (part 1)
“His Royal Majesty?” Linley looked over.
Dressed in resplendent golden armor, built tall and muscularly, the king was a middle-aged man with a full head of lion-like golden hair. This man was not only the king of the Kingdom of Fenlai, he was also a warrior of the ninth rank. This was inconceivable.
As a citizen of the Kingdom of Fenlai, Linley had long ago heard others speak reverently about the pride of Fenlai, the legendary ‘Golden Lion’, Clayde [Ke’lai’de]. For a kingdom to have a king that was an extremely powerful warrior was, without a doubt, a huge source of pride to the citizens of that country.
At the Radiant Temple’s plaza, over a hundred thousand people were there, watching. In front of the angel statue, the Holy Emperor, the Cardinals, the white-robed attendants, and the guardian knights of the Radiant Temple all quietly stood. Amongst all of those people, without a question, the Holy Emperor was the most dazzling figure.
The members of the six royal clans of the six kingdoms, as well as all the dukes of the various duchies, all quietly stood there as well.
With the Holy Emperor at the center, a wave of pure, billowing light suddenly emanated outwards, spreading across the entire plaza. The entire plaza full of people fell silent, and on everyone’s face, a calm, peaceful smile appeared, as they felt their hearts and minds be comforted.
“How terrifyingly powerful, for him to be able to so easily emit a wave of light that ensconced over a hundred thousand people.” As a magus himself, Linley could immediately tell how mighty this Holy Emperor really was.
The entire plaza was now so quiet that the sound of wind could be heard.
“In the name of the Lord!” The Holy Emperor said quietly, but his voice penetrated everyone and shook everyone’s souls.
Everyone present at the plaza could sense the majestic presence now emanating from the Holy Emperor. Linley, too, didn’t have any chance to resist this pressure, and he obediently bowed. The strength of this awesome presence emanating from the Holy Emperor was even more terrifying than the presence which emanated from those two Saint-level combatants who did battle in the sky over Wushan township, and more terrifying than that Black Dragon as well.
This sort of presence did not need to compel others to do anything. Its very nature caused people’s souls to feel worship and veneration towards it.
It was a deity’s presence!
In the entire plaza, aside from the Holy Emperor, everyone else, including all hundred thousand onlookers, the Cardinals, and the kings, all bowed reverently to hear the Holy Emperor speak.
“May you be blessed with the love, the kindness, and the benevolence of the Lord.”
The Holy Emperor’s voice didn’t seem to be too loud, but it shook the heavens and the earth, causing everyone’s soul to tremble.
Countless patterned rays of holy light suddenly emanated forth from the top of the Radiant Temple, bathing every single person in its radiance. Everyone in the plaza felt their hearts suddenly grow calm, and their bodies feel more comfortable than they ever had before. Everyone was extremely solemn and respectful.
“May the Lord bless you with peace and love.”
At the same time, a glorious aura began to emanate from the Holy Emperor himself. “Children of the Lord, let us admit our sins. Let us genuinely reflect and repent for our mistakes in thought, action, and speech. May the Lord take pity on us and pardon us our sins, and grant us eternal life.”
The entire world seemed to be filled with the sound of a holy song, which all the adherents of the Radiant Church immediately began to chant along with. The sound of the adherents singing, combined with the holy song emanating from the heavens, filled everyone’s hearts with reverence and solemnity.
The mass was an extremely complicated one. It started with repentance, proceeded to God’s pity, went on to songs of praise, was followed by prayers, then words of thanks, before finally ending with a choir.
The vast majority of the people on the plaza were followers of the Radiant Church, and bathed by the radiant glow from the Radiant Temple, almost everyone was silent. Even those people who didn’t really believe in the Radiant Church were sincerely moved by the sight. When the choir songs came to an end, everyone finally woke up. By now, it was mid-day.
With the mass concluded, everyone present began to leave.
Hand in hand, Alice and Linley were walking together. “Big brother Linley, how do you feel? Don’t you feel very comfortable?”
But Linley shook his head. “I was influenced by the atmosphere, to the point where I couldn’t even think clearly. Perhaps those who are not mentally strong and need something external to rely upon would really like that feeling, but personally speaking, I do not. I dislike being influenced by outside factors.”
He had to admit, during the mass itself, Linley had been affected, and he had lost himself within that comfortable, embracing aura.
But Linley had, after all, fought his way through and survived the deadly Mountain Range of Magical Beasts. After the mass ended, he immediately woke up. Thinking back to what just happened, he was terrified. The seductive power of the Radiant Church was really too frightening.
“Influenced? No. The Lord is like our father and mother. We are all the Lord’s children, and we are all blessed with the Lord’s benevolence and love. Big brother Linley, how could you think such a thing?” Alice was somewhat unhappy.
Alice had grown up in Fenlai City since she was little. As the Holy Capital, each year during the Yulan Festival, Fenlai City would put on this sort of large-scale mass. The vast majority of the citizens in Fenlai City were followers of the Radiant Church. Alice, as well, had been a believer in the Radiant Church since she was a child. This sort of spiritual belief was not something that would be easily changed.
“Alice, you can’t think of it like that. The power and abilities you currently have, aren’t they all a product of your own hard work and training? How can it have been bequeathed to you by the Lord? If the Lord is benevolent to you, why would he give you a father and mother like the ones you currently have?” Linley knew very well what Alice’s family situation was like.
Alice couldn’t help but fall silent. She stared at Linley.
“Big brother Linley, I’m going home now. There’s no need for you to walk me back.” Turning, Alice immediately headed in the direction of her home. Watching Alice depart, Linley felt unhappy and stifled. Turning his head, he looked back at the Radiant Temple, which rose into the clouds. “This Radiant Church really does cause lots of harm.”
It was quite normal for young lovers to quarrel. By the next time Alice and Linley met, they were madly in love with each other again. Both of them wisely decided to refrain from discussions of religion. While they originally met twice a month, at the depths of their ardor, they even upped it to meeting four times a month. Their relationship grew so close that they even began sleeping together, although they never did break that final barrier.
Per Alice: “My first time has to be on my wedding night.” That second year, during the first half of year 9998 of the Yulan calendar, was a high point in the relationship between Linley and Alice.
But of course, any long-term relationship would have some small problems.
Year 9998 of the Yulan calendar, September 29th.
“Eh…there’s something Alice is hiding from me and doesn’t want to tell me.” Linley was walking with his three bros on the streets of Fenlai City. Thinking back to the unhappy parting him and Alice had last time, Linley felt very helpless.
Alice and Linley grew up in very different circumstances, and also had many different thoughts on things. Most importantly of all…Alice was a very independent, strong-minded girl. She definitely wasn’t the sort that would easily compromise with others. What made Linley the most helpless of all was that Alice was a closed gourd who hid her thoughts.
“Third bro, you and Alice are quarreling again?” Yale teased from the side.
George and Reynolds began to chuckle as well. Reynolds patted Linley on the shoulders and said, “Linley, I feel like you care a bit too much about this Alice. Careful that you don’t let your heart be hurt too badly if you break up. Look at me; I’ve had over ten different girlfriends by now. How relaxed and easy my life is!”
Linley glanced at Reynolds, speechless.
“Fourth bro, watch your words. Third bro is intending on making Alice his wife.” Yale chortled. Afterwards, he patted Linley on the shoulders as well. “But third bro, I have to say, as a man, there’s plenty of women out there waiting for you. No need to restrict yourself so much.”
Linley smiled but didn’t speak.
Within Fenlai City, Linley bid farewell to his three bros and headed towards the Dry Road and Alice’s residence.
“Uncle Hudd [Ha’de].” Linley warmly called out to the guard who stood in front of Alice’s house. Over this period of time, Linley and Alice had grown extremely close, and so he had also gotten acquainted with the guard.
Hudd laughed as he saw Linley. “Oh, it’s Linley. Are you here to see Miss Alice? Alas, Miss Alice isn’t back yet. She should have been back already. I’m not sure what’s going on.”
“Not back yet?” Linley was stunned.
But then, Linley smiled at Hudd. “Then I’ll just wait for a while over here. I bet she’ll be back soon.” Linley then headed straight for the bar located next to Alice’s residence, made an order of his preferred jade wine, and then began to drink while quietly waiting.