The hall was filled with screams then it was plunged into darkness. Probably because all the light coming into the room was blocked.
It was obvious why. Someone had covered the large window occupying one side of the wall.
“…Saintess,” Reneben called out.
Princess Ronella was in tears, seemingly frightened. Most of the nobles were in a similar situation.
All of this was happening before I’d even sorted out that suspicious incident that happened in the temple earlier.
I’m talking about that debacle where demons attacked the temple. A case where not just one or two, but several man-eating demons appeared at the temple—beings that only appeared once every hundred years—causing chaos.
Everyone called that day the ‘demon invasion incident.’
It was very unusual for demons who usually only acted on instinct, to attack the temple, furthermore, to attack as a group.
“I guess today will be the 2nd demon invasion incident.”
Brushing my hair aside, I reached out to a maid who had fallen and was trembling on the floor. Everyone was freezing, falling over and screaming.
“Reneben, come here.”
With a hair tie in one hand, I pulled out all the accessories in my hair. Soon, the table was filled with heavy ornaments.
I gathered my hair into the tie and released my grip, “I am honestly very angry.”
“…Just tell me what you need me to do.” came Reneben’s reply.
I twisted my long hair up and bit my lip. “The last day of the Goddess Festival and they just had to entertain me.”
With a determined look, Reneben joined me, leaving Princess Ronella behind.
“They just want to have fun, is that it?”
When I tilted my head, I spotted a mass of red fur crawling on the window.
Although the nerves were making my stomach turn, I was able to speak calmly.
With a crunch, cracks began to appear on the window. Red lumps shaped like monkeys clung to the wall, their tails wagging furiously.
The creatures were twice my size, yet they appeared agile and fast.
Thankfully, they didn’t seem to be doing anything other than climbing around on the window.
Now, I had to figure out what to do with them.
Reneben and I were the only ones here and maybe that was for the best. Although I was worried, I headed towards the window.
Seeing me approach the window alone, Reneben reached out to stop me then he stopped and withdrew his hand, clenching his fist tightly.
“I’m going to need your help, Reneben.”
I spoke to Reneben who was quietly following me.
Inwardly, I apologized for involving him in such grim tasks because of his role as the high priest and continued, “It might be a little difficult though.”
“Nothing is difficult when Your Holiness is here.”
I heard Reneben mumbling something, but I purposefully didn’t try to listen.
“Reneben, those things are man-eaters too, right?”
“Given their size, there’s no doubt they are…I’d say yes.”
“This is already the third time. And for two of them, I haven’t received any oracles.”
I stretched out my hand and peered out the glass window. Thankfully, I didn’t see any other demons apart from the two on the wall.
Reneben’s expression turned grave.
“Don’t worry, I don’t believe it’s a global disaster or anything like that.”
“It’s simply someone targeting me.”
I didn’t know who it was though.
It was hard to believe that demons, said to only emerge once every few hundred years, would appear at my location, at the same place, twice.
Right at that moment, a demon approached the window where we stood. Its eyes widened and it emitted a piercing screech that hurt to hear.
Sensing movement behind me other than Reneben, I swiftly turned around, seized the person’s arm, and pulled them closer. As a result, they lost their balance and stumbled. Taking advantage of that, I slipped my hand inside their clothing.
My hand touched a sword that had been secretly hidden in their chest sleeve and as I pulled it out, I opened my mouth, “Let me borrow this.”
Being the Saintess didn’t mean I was always busy. Unless I had important work to do, I usually had a lot of free time.
Despite that, catching the culprit behind the chandelier incident, tracking down the one who poisoned my tea, and progressing on the overhaul of the imperial law was taking me so much time.
There were two reasons for this.
One was because I was digging deeper into the so-called ‘demon invasion incident’ and it was consuming my time…
The other reason was…
“I might not look like it, but I know how to wield a sword.”
I had been learning swordsmanship from the paladins.
I glanced at Prince Alois, who had obviously allowed me to take his sword.
It’s not that I was feeling conceited after just a few months of training, but according to the knights, I had an unexpected talent in the sword or perhaps a divine blessing. Either way, I was able to display considerable skill during training.
Frankly, I was more inclined to believe it was a divine blessing.
I acquired skills way too quickly for it to be called talent. Besides, when a combination of unending stamina and agility meets swordplay, it becomes art.
“Your Holiness, perhaps some caution with the sword will…”
“It’s fine, Reneben. This is just for making wounds.”
“It’s not like I can fight like a knight with this small dagger.”
It is said throughout history, no saint has ever wielded a sword.
I wasn’t too opposed to being the first.
If you really think about it, it’s almost strange that no saint had considered using a sword when they possessed boundless stamina and the perception to see the world slowly when in a dangerous situation.
The type of demon that preys on humans must be destroyed by injuring it and injecting divine power directly into the wound.
It would be hard to get rid of it by myself but if I at least knew how to hurt it, the story would change a little.
“I may not have the best skill, but this will really come in handy when I need it.”
I spun the sword in my hand and the sharp blade sliced dangerously through the air before landing firmly in my grasp.
“Don’t worry, Reneben. Even if I’m a novice, this will be more helpful than those who’ve studied the sword for decades yet ignore this situation.”
Right now, the clearest thing to me was that I had to get rid of those things.
I waved the sword in my hand and watched as a complex look flashed across Reneben’s face.
Once again, I explained that this was just to help me make a dent, even if it was a tiny wound.
The sword trembled dizzyingly in my hand.
If not for the hand that stopped me from behind, I would have gone on to display my poor skills with the sword.
“Leave this to me then.”
“…?” I turned questioningly to Prince Alois.
“If all you need is to injure them, I can manage that much.”
His somewhat dependable words made me smile a little.
“Has you ever fought a demon, Your Highness?”
Over there, the crown prince who came to get angry at me was huddling together with other nobles. Even the future ruler of this empire, the crown prince, was acting like that.
“…Of course not. But…I can assure you I’ll be helpful.”
Prince Alois seemed admirable for stepping forward and offering to help.
Even Reneben didn’t say anything this time. He just looked at the prince and sighed heavily.
“Alright, would Your Highness please take charge of this instead of my amateur self?”
The sword returned to the prince again.
Somehow, I’d gained another ally.
Even though our interactions were extremely business-like and calculated, I found him more trustworthy than a relationship built on shallow trust.
* * *
First things first, I went to the entrance of the hall to get people out the door.
“Saintess! Are you alright!?”
“W-W-What is happening…”
For some reason, everyone was gathered in one corner.
Whether it was due to fear of the possible danger outside or because they thought it would be safer in the presence of a ‘saint’, I couldn’t say.
“Everyone, please quiet down.”
I opened the hall entrance and tried to direct them to a room further down.
I wasn’t sure why, but if the demons were only targeting me, it was a good idea to keep everyone as far away as possible.
Of course, I didn’t really have any evidence that they were targeting me specifically, so sending them elsewhere was a gamble. But I trusted my intuition.
“How come something like this…on the goddess festival day….heuk.”
As I approached the nobles, I could hear a medley of cries, worries, and fear.
Reneben was still standing by the window, while Prince Alois was following behind me, dagger in hand, then he snatched a longsword from a knight.
“Saintess! Like last time! Can’t we get rid of them all at once like last time?”
When I got closer to the nobles, a man shouted as if he remembered something.
I never thought I’d have to crush the hope in their eyes. I felt a little sorry, but—
“Unfortunately…that is not possible right now.”
If I could destroy them, I would have done so already. I’d been trying to train my ability of elimination but unlike before, I wasn’t able to use my ability on living beings.
“What do you mean!”
“Ahh!! Saintess…Please! You must! You must get rid of those demons!”
I managed to do it last time, but I couldn’t do it when I tried to practice. I thought about it carefully, and I realized why I couldn’t replicate it.
It seems I was rejecting it deep down.
The act of eradicating life or nature.
Removing man-made objects was possible, but things like trees, soil, or petals scattered in the air… I couldn’t erase things that were part of nature.
And needless to say, living beings are also part of nature, making them beyond my power.
Personally, I hoped that with a little more practice, I could erase demons with the snap of a finger.
After I said it was impossible, I began to hear cries for help.
“To Her Holiness, all of you are so…”
Prince Alois was about to say something, and I signaled for him to be quiet with a finger on my lips.
Instantly, the crowd turned silent.
It’s not that I didn’t understand how they felt. In the face of death, who wouldn’t want to cling to hope?
And if those things were really aiming for me, I felt sorry for the people here.
The crown prince continued to stare at me, but I ignored him and lowered myself till I was squatting.
I wanted to be on the same eye-level as a young boy in the crowd.
Without hesitation, I got on one knee and gently caressed the boy’s head.
His face was covered in tears, probably due to crying after seeing grotesque demons running around.
*Advance chapters available on Patreon.
**Please remember: I appreciate any and all support! (comments, likes, etc). Patreon is completely optional, and only meant as a way to show your support to me and the story if you are able to do so. Enjoy! -Ruby.