There was a commotion in the area.
“Did she say… The Fire of Purification?”
The group that was on the top of the list for this second test was the Fire of Purification.
Even the Agents of Destruction who caused all sorts of issues and gave the Empire quite the headache were listed under the Fire of Purification.
“That crazy cult organization……!”
It was known as the worst of the cults and an organization full of crazed believers.
“…What kind of place is that?”
“You don’t know the Fire of Purification?”
However, the ‘reason’ for why they were crazed believers was not well-known.
“Yeah, I don’t. What is up with them?”
“Ah, you are from outside the Empire. The believers of that group are to be immediately executed if found.”
“Immediate execution not just for the leaders but even for the regular believers?”
Other people who had been listening to their conversation nodded their heads in agreement. People to be immediately executed. The Church of the Fire of Purification was the place you never wanted to be around nor have any association with whatsoever.
“Man, how crazy of a cult are they? What the hell have they done?”
“…I don’t know? I’ve only heard that it was a crazy place.”
“…I guess it is weird. But wouldn’t there be a reason for them to be the worst criminal organization?”
An odd air current flowed through the crowd.
However, this current could not grow. In fact, the appearance of the Pope of the most evil organization was slowly increasing the heated atmosphere that had died down a bit.
However, there were people who could not accept this.
One of the candidates glared at Mary as if he could not believe this at all.
“I couldn’t find a single believer no matter how thoroughly I investigated the capital but you caught the Pope and all of the bishops?”
The Fire of Purification was the group that was the hardest capture, the group who was the best hidden.
How did Heni Wishrop find them when nobody even knew the accurate location of their temple?
She was merely a royalty of a perished kingdom!
One of the candidates raised his voice.
“I’m certain that Candidate 19 has brought fake captives!”
He pointed at Heni Wishrop and looked around at the crowd.
“How could a perished royal, someone who has lost her helpers, capture the Pope and Bishops of a church that the Imperial family has not managed to locate for almost 100 years?! I may be willing to believe it more if she said that they were believers, but this is clearly a lie to get high marks!”
The candidate then glared at Mary.
He then got shocked.
Heni Wishrop was smiling.
Mary opened her mouth. Her gaze headed past the Chief of Staff and the Emperor to the Huayans patriarch.
“You just need to check if it is a lie or not.”
Her voice was very calm.
“The Pope of the Church of the Fire of Purification.” You just need to see the power that put her on the Imperial Palace’s list for immediate execution.”
People’s gazes headed up to the sky. The middle-aged woman who they presumed was the pope was still dangling in the air while being held by a skeleton monster. She looked unsightly.
Mary pointed at her.
“Shall we check?”
The citizens of the Empire looked toward the Pope’s bound hands and feet.
The Pope had her eyes looking down and was quietly standing there with a dispirited look on her face.
Mary looked at the other candidates.
“That is needed for all of you to accept it, is it not?”
The candidate who got angry flinched after looking into her purple eyes.
Her eyes were so clear.
There were not any signs of anger and annoyance. The way the eyes were firm and his reflection shone so brightly in them made him scared.
– Human, Mary is doing well!
Cale heard Raon’s voice in his mind.
– But will the Huayans patriarch make the Pope use her power?
– I think that he will stop her and prevent her from using her power! Won’t the Huayans patriarch be screwed if the Pope shows everybody how she can defeat dead mana?
The Pope could not purify dead mana like Cale. However, the red smoke or red aura was able to resist dead mana and push it back.
Revealing that here?
The moment the corners of Cale’s lips curled up…
“There is no need for verification.”
The Chief of Staff stepped forward.
Mary immediately responded.
“I want to properly get my results accepted through an accurate verification process.”
The Chief of Staff looked at Mary and smiled as he responded.
“We simply need to kill all of the insolent organizations that are aiming for the Empire.”
Cale’s smile became even wider.
The Chief of Staff looked around at the candidates and addressed him.
“Wonderful, all of our esteemed candidates are finally here. Nobody has any more captives, correct? Then we will now commence the immediate execution of the members of organizations on the list.”
There was a drum booming behind the platform.
The Chief of Staff opened his mouth.
“The Imperial Palace Knights Brigade will now commence binding the group members on the list.”
The drums boomed again and people flinched….
“Eek, when did they?”
“…Why are there so many knights?”
In the alleys, buildings, platform… The Knights of the Imperial Palace started to appear all around.
Some of the candidates’ eyebrows twitched.
“…They are not Imperial Palace Knights?”
“Aren’t they the Capital Defense Knights Brigade?”
It was not just the Imperial Palace Knights but also the knights of the Capital Defense, and the nearby area defense units as well.
Something seemed weird.
The Chief of Staff’s soft yet bright voice echoed throughout the plaza at that moment.
The knights all pulled out their swords.
The black mages who suddenly appeared channeled their dead mana as well.
One of the candidates took a deep breath.
His pupils were shaking.
Clang, c, clang!
Ten knights… They pulled out their swords.
And pointed it at someone.
It was pointed at Heni Wishrop.
“W, why at them?”
It was not just at her.
Mercenary Zero… The knights who made up the core of the units pointed their swords at him as well. Behind them were black mages who were ready to use black magic at any moment.
The plaza was filled with whispers.
It was because the Imperial Palace had surrounded some candidates.
“You were too arrogant.”
The corners of the Chief of Staff’s lips curled up as if it was straight out of painting.
He looked down at Mary and Zero.
The Chief of Staff slightly bowed his head toward the people in the plaza first.
“First of all, I apologize to the citizens of the Empire and the candidates.”
The candidates gulped. More soldiers popped out and started to surround the area.
They looked ready to fight at any moment.
“While the second test was to test the determination of the candidates, it was also there to capture some damn rats.”
The people in the plaza subconsciously flinched after hearing those words.
It was because they realized that the atmosphere was getting quite weird.
“We learned that some damn rats managed to find their way into our selection to determine the next leader of the Empire, the dignified position of our ruler.”
Cale heard the Chief of Staff’s voice in his ears and Raon’s voice in his mind at the same time.
– Human, the Huayans patriarch had a hidden card up his sleeve as we expected!
The second test of Hide and Seek…
That was not a scheme to only blame the groups on the list for everything that had happened in the Empire.
It was as described in its name…
They were seeking out some certain individuals hiding within the candidates.
“They used their heads a bit.”
As Cale had that thought…
Zero raised both hands into the air.
His sharp eyes stared at the Chief of Staff through his disheveled hair.
“How did you know?”
Just a single sentence…
That was all he said that that sentence was like an explosion that quickly changed the mood in the plaza to chaos.
Zero’s comment was basically admitting to what the Chief of Staff was saying.
The Chief of Staff continued in a girlish tone.
“The Huayans Estate was attacked when the Huayans patriarch was not present. And, out of the many precincts out there, something just happened to happen in Precinct 9 where all of the candidates were present. Isn’t it natural to expect that something that should not exist was present among the candidates?”
He pointed at Zero.
“Furthermore, the Imperial Palace has been attentively keeping an eye on you from the beginning, Zero-nim. As expected, you were a part of the Agents of Destruction.”
The Agents of Destruction. That name made the mood in the plaza even heavier.
“Wow. The Imperial Palace is so amazing. I had no idea you would have some knowledge of my identity.”
Zero clapped as if he found them to be amazing.
Human, the Imperial Palace’s information network is better than expected.
Raon showed his agreement. However, Cale’s gaze instantly turned sharp as he looked toward the patriarch.
‘…They had some knowledge of Zero’s identity? But they still allowed him to register as a candidate?’
There was only one thing that could mean.
‘It means they were confident that they could kill Zero and the entire Agents of Destruction or turn them into jiangshis.’
And that should be the same right now as well.
Cale looked around.
It was possible that the enemies had gathered much more troops than Cale had expected.
That would not be good news for them.
‘The Imperial Palace had intentions of having a battle here.’
Then Cale naturally had another thought.
‘What about the numerous citizens of the Empire gathered here?’
Cale, who had planned on naturally showing his ‘powers,’ slowly felt his back turning cold.
The Huayans patriarch. Cale looked at him.
‘Hey bastard, did you have no intentions of having a third test either?’
Cale had always moved one step ahead of the enemies.
What if the Huayans patriarch had made up his mind to move one step ahead as well in order to go up against Cale?
The Huayans patriarch was smart enough and strong enough to do that.
“But it is still surprising.”
The Chief of Staff turned away from Zero.
“I never expected that Heni Wishrop-nim would be associated with the Fire of Purification.”
He looked at Mary, who was surrounded by knights, and the leaders of the church who were dangling in the air, as he continued to speak.
“To be honest with you, we were not too sure. We were not sure about Heni Wishrop-nim’s identity. However, isn’t it obvious when you managed to capture all of the leaders of the church that even the Imperial family could not find?”
The Chief of Staff smiled at the candidate who first complained earlier. The candidate flinched and looked away.
The Chief of Staff weakly looked at the Pope and spoke.
“For even the Church of the Fire of Purification to be aiming for the throne… You truly were an even organization.”
The Chief of Staff then motioned with his hand.
“Now then, let us proceed with the execution.”
Zero tilted his head as if he was contemplating something before nodding his head up and down.
“This is different from the plan, but…”
It truly was different from the plan.
They had not expected the Imperial Palace to bring so many soldiers.
Especially since the plaza was full of citizens of the Empire.
However, they could not just sit still.
If the enemies already know about him…
‘Might as well show myself.’
His gaze turned toward Mary.
Mary was quietly standing there.
Zero knew the reason behind it as well.
‘I guess she is planning on going along with the Purifier’s plan.’
However, the situation made it difficult to do so.
“It will be better for you to surrender peacefully.”
Zero was quietly staring at the sword of the Knight Captain of the Capital Defense who was approaching him.
He then asked.
“What would be better?”
“I will make your death as painless as possible.”
Either way, they were going to kill him.
“What fucking nonsense.”
Zero moved his hand at that moment.
The hilt of the sword that was in his pocket popped out.
It was a hilt that was made of bones.
The moment a black aura slightly rose out of it…
Black magic and swords all around finished their preparations to attack the enemies.
The group of over one hundred people in the luggage carts got up.
Crack. Plop. Plop.
The rope binding their hands and feet effortlessly broke and fell to the ground.
The citizens of the Empire slowly retreated or curled up in fear.
At that moment…
A breeze blew by.
People raised their heads.
A holy white light appeared in the air above the plaza as if it was a snowflake.
The Huayans patriarch, the instructor of the Emperor and one of the pillars of the Empire… He stood up and cast his white magic.
The citizens could relax now. They felt that nothing extraordinary should happen now that the patriarch has stepped in.
That was how powerful of an impression the Huayans patriarch left on the citizens of the Empire.
However, the people looking up at the sky had to feel oddly anxious again.
The white bundle of light that resembled a snowflake turned into a sharp arrow.
Then the number of arrows slowly increased.
They went from dozens to hundreds.
‘…Isn’t that too much?’
Arrows that seemed to be too many to publicly execute the criminals trying to destroy the Empire started to fill the sky at a spot even higher than Mary’s Flying Skeleton Brigade.
It was slowly getting extremely bright.
They felt as if they would get seriously injured if even one of those arrows brushed past them.
The citizens of the Empire closed their mouths again.
There were still people who seemed relieved while looking at the Huayans patriarch, but the number of people that felt something was off slowly started to increase.
It was at that moment.
Second Imperial Princess Olivia.
She leisurely walked toward the platform.
“Mr. Chief of Staff. Why don’t we announce the points for the test first?”
Her gentle yet firm tone made people all look at her.
The Chief of Staff responded to Olivia, who was so calm and seemed as if she did not understand the current situation.
“Your Royal Highness, we are currently doing that right now.”
The Emperor’s gaze turned toward Olivia.
He had definitely seen a desire for the throne in Olivia and believed that she was willing to do anything and everything necessary to get there.
The Emperor saw Olivia look right at him and smile at that moment.
“That’s right. I am asking you to give me my points first.”
“…Your points, your Royal Highness?”
The Chief of Staff hid his shock but could not hide his confusion.
Olivia. There was nobody by her side.
He did not see any captives.
The Chief of Staff’s eyes opened wide.
Olivia. There was a single person next to her.
The white-haired green eyed man whose face was covered under his eyes.
That man was now standing next to Olivia.
Olivia introduced him to the Emperor.
“I captured the Hunter who will hunt the damn rats rotting the Empire.”
The green eyes… Cale’s eyes headed toward the Huayans patriarch.
The moment the two of them made eye contact…
A loud explosion came from the north.
A fire was shooting up from the Imperial Palace.
* * *
While that was happening, away at the Emperor’s Palace at the center of the Imperial Palace…
“Who goes there?!”
Eruhaben smiled while looking at the knights shaking while pointing their swords at him.
“Me, a Dragon.”
He then pointed next to him.
“Her, also a Dragon.”
Aphei was fidgeting with her fingers while timidly standing slightly behind Eruhaben.
Eruhaben smiled as he spoke.
“I’m angry so get out of my way.”
The ancient Dragon was not planning on hiding his anger he had felt since getting to this world and had been holding back for a long time.
Boss Eru is on the loose.
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