~ 72 ~
“T, this…! I didn’t mean to open the door…!”
They blurted their obvious excuses to the duke who was overbearingly looking at them. Even with their words, his eyes didn’t soften, and it seemed as if they had no sign of melting.
He only spit a word behind him with a firm voice.
“Gerald, bring me my sword.”
It wasn’t only the elders, who were shocked by the words left from his mouth, but also Ikshid. All of them widened their eyes and even Gerald doubted his ears and blinked his eyes.
He thought for a moment that the duke had gone mad.
Even if all of the rules were to disappear, the only exception would be the prohibition of possession of weapons inside the church. This was truly the force majeure of the Black Cathedral, which had never been allowed even once.
A group of elders who had barely come to their senses passed them and hurriedly blocked the duke as he was about to leave the room.
“Wait for a minute….! Duke, have you gone insane?!”
“Possessing a weapon within the Black Cathedral is an absolute prohibition which is punishable by death the moment one discovered that someone is violating the law…!”
At that moment, the duke passing in front of them stood tall. The crowd who had been following him urgently also glanced at each other and quickly stood in place.
Tashian turned around to them and looked ahead with his overbearing attitude. His expression didn’t change and only frowned at them, as if they were flies who made him mad.
He responded with an annoyed voice, as if he was going to do something to them.
“Do you think it is possible for a knight to participate in a battle with other knights without a sword?”
The elders seemed to doubt their ears.
At that time, the crown prince, who left the room after the Duke, was stunned and stepped forward, who were looking at each other’s faces with surprised eyes.
As if the crow prince had not yet adapted to the duke’s sudden change of attitude, he stared at the elders who could not open their mouths. They were being pathetic, he thought in his mind.
“What are you guys doing? Can’t you see that the Duke has to leave this place in a hurry to prepare for the competition?”
Sir Ouns blinked as he saw the crown prince change his attitude in an instant, who, until just a moment ago, had felt that duke behavior was full of absurdity, while he was in search of his sword. The embarrassment on his face was comparable to that of the elders.
However, he soon realized the deep meaning behind it.
In the same spot, not knowing what was still going on, Sir Ouns waved goodbye to the bewildered elders and stepped forward faster than the crown prince and duke who were walking ahead. As ordered by the commander-in-chief, Sir Ouns is to retrieve Tashian’s sword and return it to him.
As if passing through a slope, the wagon made a lesser noise and soared up and down lightly.
The girls in the carriage poured out shrieks and small complaints, regardless of who came first. It also included Eun-woo among them.
She was now sitting in a wagon full of five or six girls. As they were trapped in a wagon, she felt as if they were prisoners getting executed.
The carriage provided by the White Cathedral was quite luxurious. Eun-woo could guess that the girls selected as candidates came from quite a few classes.
Most of the girls were noble girls who had the time and resources to participate in the nominations. However, it was not uncommon to find people from commoners among them.
Eun-woo observed the other candidates sitting next to her. Some girls were already exchanging haha’s and hoho’s to each other.
Looking at those girls, Eun-woo wished that Selena was with her. It was unfortunate that they parted ways because it was as it was.
Among the girls who were beautifully wearing white clothes, Eun-woo felt that she was so lowly. Her white clothes had been torn up here and there due to the commotion earlier. She completely looked like a beggar.
‘It would be nice if I could even heal my hand…’
She thought as she grabbed her painful hand. Since she was hastily chosen as one of the nominees, and had been sent into this wagon, she didn’t have the time to tend to her wound.
Suddenly, she remembered what happened previously. She was surrounded by the Paladins, with white clothes, calling those girls who were chosen nominees. Despite that they were being dragged away, others’ expressions were still exceptionally bright. The anticipation and the joy of being chosen was still there so they were still smiling. And with that, they never noticed that what was happening was odd.
She and Selena were the only ones who were panicking and trying to get out of it.
〈 “Wait a minute…! I didn’t even participate in the nomination, why…!” 〉
However, what they were dealing with were the white paladins with armor all over their bodies.
With a daunting attitude, they only lead them like a herd of rats to where the wagon stood.
〈 “There were no mistakes in the selection of candidates. It is the chief’s order to gather all the women in white dresses to the White Cathedral without exception.” 〉
〈 “Bu, but…!” 〉
Sir Ouns had already been blocked by several knights and was unable to move even a single step. She could even hear him calling their names from afar. But they, Selena and Eun-woo, couldn’t even respond.
〈 “Time is running out, get on board!” 〉
The Paladins roughly grabbed their shoulders with one hand the size of a pot lid and put them on the carriage forcefully. It was a powerful grip power. They soon realized that their struggles were useless against them.
It was then that I broke up with Selena.
〈 “This is the way, Miss.” 〉
One of the paladins was pulling Eun-woo’s arm with an irresistible force. She soon let out a painful groan and was forced to get into one of the wagons which were waiting for the girls.
And then, they had no choice.
The wagon was surprisingly bigger than any other wagon she had ridden. Inside was gleaming with dazzling interior decorations. The girls that were excited, glimpsed at the decorations and busily talking to each other.
‘How the hell did all of this happen…’
The only serious person inside the wagon was Eun-woo alone. With a worried expression on her face, she was worried about the future that awaits her in the corner of the wagon.
Will she camp at the White Cathedral with Selena? Can I give up on this nomination? Where are Tashian and the Crown Prince….
Not long after she had been in thoughts of one thing or another, the carriage came to a standstill. The chaotic chatter of the girls was also stopped.
The carriage door opened with a creaking sound, and the candidates were dragged into an unfamiliar place by the hands of the paladins who rode with them on different wagons.
It was already dark all around, so everyone couldn’t envision what was ahead of them. They had to move forward, relying on the torches held by the paladins who led them in the front. The girls each moved in one row in groups of their wagons.
Eun-woo looked around to find Selena in it. But she soon had to quietly lower her head to the words of the paladin who restrained her.
“This is a forest where the energy of the temple is strongly applied. So anyone who turns around becomes haunted.”
Their bright white clothes had long since lost their shine. Eun-woo walked, being careful not to step on the foot of the person in front of her.
The road was narrow and winding like a country trail. The paladins passed through the forest path to-and-fro.
The girls had to walk for a long time, listening to the leaves touching their arms, the cries of insects, and the crowing of wild animals in the distance. Some candidates shrugged their shoulders with sobbing cries.
It was not long before the priestess stopped his tracks.
“We have arrived. This is the White Cathedral where the young ladies will stay during the competition.”
Eun-woo raised her gaze, which she used to be careful not to step on the foot of the person in front of her. And her eyes widened in surprise.
All her eyes could see was the white rock wall. It was such a huge stone building that anyone could easily mistake it as a mass of glacier lying in the middle of the forest, under the darkness.
Under the pitch-black night sky, only the White Cathedral was shining white.
Eun-woo moved her gaze here and there, admiring the bizarre architecture that looked like a building or a landscape. The other candidates could not help but admire the heterogeneous and beautiful appearance of White Cathedral.
Eun-woo could see that the bright light emitted from the inside and outside of the church was the power of Fedellamon’s candlestick. Otherwise, how could such a huge building shine without a single torch?
The bright light allowed Eun-woo to see the face of the priestess who led them. She was putting out the torch in her hand with her feet.
Eun-woo could see the folds on her neck and hands under her white robe, like the eyes she was wearing. Eventually, when the priestess raised her head, Eun-woo could confirm that she was older than Johannes.
“I am Irena, a member of the Senate who will protect and supervise the candidates until the end of the competition.”
She spoke her words in a voice as wrinkled as her appearance. She had her white hair sticking out under her ears.
Thanks to her skin as white as her white clothes, Irena’s body was white from head to toe, so she could be called the priestess of the White Cathedral.
“It will be to your advantage that you remember my name from now on. Because I am responsible for the convenience of your life here.”
When she finished saying that her eyes shone faintly.
“Only on the premise that you pass through these three gates.”
Eun-woo noticed the red amber color in her eyes. She gave her gloomy eyes and continued her sluggish voice.
“Candidates who have fallen from any one gate will be excluded from the candidacy afterwards and will have to leave the White Cathedral instantly.”
At Irena’s words, the murmurs of the candidates grew a little louder. Paladins standing on either side of Irena put their weight on them.
“Silence! The evaluation will be held soon, so stand in line properly!”
In response to the paladin’s shout, the girls lined up in a row in the place where they had gathered.
Eun-woo found herself checking something from the entrance as if looking for her belongings. She wanted to see more of what was in front but what she could see was limited.
The line was still long, and for her near the end of the line, the front was far ahead.
‘What is this evaluation…’
Eun-woo chewed her lips with an anxious heart.
Rather than that, she wanted to find a paladin who would listen to her and check her qualifications as a candidate.
‘I mean, I never even ran for participation…!’
Eun-woo slightly stomped her feet with a regretful heart.
How did it really happen? Who wrote her name and burned it in the hearth of the synagogue? She felt that everything was getting darker. But everything was already so dark.
Then someone whispered into her ear, almost audible.
“…. I, I’ve only heard it from rumors, but it’s a really magnificent building, isn’t it…?”
Eun-woo looked back at her, shaking her body in surprise. There was a dark-haired girl behind her, who spoke.
When Eun-woo looked overly surprised, the girl apologized,
“I’m, I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to surprise you…”
The girl was as small as she was. At first glance, it seemed that she was not a daughter of a noble family, but she had a strong premonition that she would be a child of a commoner’s family, wearing only white clothes without any jewelry.
The Dark-haired girl, who looked younger than her, bowed her head over and apologized multiple times.
Eun-woo suddenly felt sorry for the girl who seemed shyer than she was feeling.
“I’m…. fine. I was just a little surprised.”
(TN: Anyone finds FL being too dumb for a transmigrated person other than me?)