Chapter 891: The Cloister’s Bitterness
“I’m not the pope, Supreme Pontiff was—” Isabella had the urge to refute, but was stopped by Agatha as she placed a hand on her shoulder.
“The task at hand is more important. I don’t think His Majesty will mind.”
These words seemed irrelevant however Isabella quickly understood what Agatha meant. She knew that this form of deception was a simple solution however these sorts of methods are often seen as a red flag for liege lords that valued power.
Isabella decided as she recalled all the things she seen in Neverwinter and quickly swallowed her disbelief. Instead, she asked, “What do you mean needing us to help you? Where are the Judgement Warriors and priests?
“They all fled!”
“Not exactly, some were recalled to the Holy City!” Another nun refuted.
“We committed crimes. We even killed the priests…”
“That’s not her fault!”
“We have no food, no clothes… and we haven’t received supplies throughout the past two months. Are we abandoned?”
“Nonsense! Don’t you see Her Holiness here?”
The nuns and orphans started to bicker and shout among themselves.
“Quiet! I only need one voice,” Isabella shouted impatiently. Her eyes moved over the crowd and then she pointed at a nun who seemed to be their leader, saying, “You first. Arise and tell me.”
“Yes, Your Holiness.” The nun respectfully pressed her forehead on the ground before laboriously struggling onto her feet. “It’s been over a month since we received news from Hermes…”
It took Isabella around an hour to get an overall understanding of what had happened here.
After the battle of Coldwind Ridge, each day the amount of the supplies the cloister received steadily declined. At first, portions of food decreased, and then delivery times were slashed. Times were hard yet order was maintained, largely thanks to the secure management the three cloisters had adopted and limited information they received from the outside world reducing panic. The priests and Judgement Warriors stationed here encouraged the orphans and nuns to pray more and be strong to get through the hard times claiming that the hard times were almost over.
However, such a time never came.
What the nun had said about church’s final order to transfer all the Judgement Warriors and priests back to Hermes was six weeks ago.
The nuns did not exactly know what the order was at the time however they remembered how desperate those believers were. Those who were left behind, looked as if they lost their souls as they left the Great Hall.
Since then, the cloister destabilized.
The institution had vacant positions which would be replaced automatically by lower ranking subordinates. These positions offered the remaining believers the rights to proclaim themselves as the new priests. However they abandoned all the duties and responsibilities a priest had to uphold. Neither did they follow the discipline of saving resources set up by their predecessors. Instead, they wantonly squandered the meagre rations left and even deducted portions that would’ve gone to the orphans.
It was only when the nuns went to the new priests and bargained for food did they know of monstrous news that the Hermes Cathedral collapsed.
The church had reached a point where its very existence was at stake.
In order to fight the enemy with all their forces in the last battle, the church’s executives decided to give up the old Holy City and recall all formal members to the highland. The last order they gave to the people left in the cloister was to resist the invasion on their own, until the last moment of their lives.
The turn of events seemed too unrealistic to believe, but the fact that the passage leading to the Reflection Church had been sealed off validated the news.
The grievous news had split the nuns into two factions. One called “The new priest faction” consisting of those who were completely disappointed by the old regime. The other faction made up by those who were hesitant and bewildered. The leading nun explained that the church used to be so powerful that there was no need for them to think or even consider their own fates… That was why they were so disturbed by the news. It was like their old, familiar world had suddenly shattered.
It was the new priests’ selfish deeds that broke the situation.
Those new priests came from the bottom, and their usual positions were just a little higher than the nuns’. They often assisted the managers to deal with internal affairs without any possible promotion. As a matter of fact, no capable man would be deployed to here. So as soon as they tasted what the power could give them with no one looking over their shoulders, they would naturally become audacious and get out of control.
For example, the “Blessing” of the choir and the ritual class.
In fact, it should have been banned, but because of the Holy City’s lax supervision of the cloister. From time to time many dignitaries that had some special interests would come and have some fun, which was no secret here. It’s only when that young extraordinary escaped did the church increase supervision.
However, now that the security is gone, the new priests didn’t have to care about punishments.
At first, in the name of “Blessing”, only a few girls were forced, then the whole class had to obey, and at last. The situation became so incredibly hideous that the girls had to give their virginity in exchange for food. This kind of behavior not only violated the laws of the church but also pushed away those hesitating nuns and resulted in their alliance with the orphans.
Although girls of different ages were plundered from everywhere in the Four Kingdoms. The nuns had spent time with them, teaching them to read and sing and imparting the knowledge of ethics and rites to them, so naturally they bonded with the girls. That and the order that the church had given them pushed them to defy the new priests. They frequently stole food from the warehouse for the starving girls.
But no matter how much they tried to save the food. They could not stop the decreasing trend of the stock. As priests suspected the nuns’ “betrayal”, conflicts between them broke out. Two nuns were caught red-handed when they were smuggling food out of the warehouse and were executed by the priest who wanted to intimidate their subordinates. This backfired however and ended up disturbing the rest nuns to revolt. Under one nun’s leadership, the nuns and orphans planned and prepared. One night when the priests were indulging in entertainment, they launched an attack. The nuns crushed those priests once and for all.
Additionally through the underground tunnels, the leader got contact with the other two cloisters. Together, they overthrew the disgusting believers in the same way.
When they attempted to send a representative who would find a way to cross the high wall and report the plight here to Hermes, the army from the Kingdom of Dawn appeared on the border of the old Holy City.
Since they had been abandoned, they had no choice but to resist by themselves. Everyone knew that once the enemy took the cloister, even surrender would not do them any good. That was why Isabella saw them in a hasty defense stance as she came in.
Isabella was very confused after she heard the nun’s recount.
The corrupt custom in the cloister was not unknown to her, nor was she surprised to see the incompetent believers deprave so quickly after they gained power. However what surprised her was the order from the church.
In order to do battle with the enemy one last time? If that was true, they could never ignore to guard the mountain path if they were intending to give up the outer city walls. It was like they had handed over the first defense line to the enemy voluntarily.
Even though the Holy City had run so short of manpower that it could not keep an eye on the Cloud Ladder. It was impossible for them to bring out any words like “give up the Old Holy City”.
Isabella knew, without a doubt that there was a secret area of the church that was hidden from most of the believers. Neither the New Holy City in the highland nor the Old Holy City at the foot of the mountain was the heart of the church. It was the Pivotal Secret Area resting deep under the ground that was the church’s one true core, a 400 years old place where they mined the God’s Stone, studied the Sigils of Magic Stones, and held the incarnation ceremony of God’s Punishment Army.
The Old Holy City had a secret path leading to the Pivotal area, and even the main exit of the path led here. How could they abandon such a crucial site so easily?
The order was full of flaws, a complete lie!