Rockwall Lou – V6 Chapter 8

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟖

(8)

The next morning, the two descended to the living room hand in hand.

Waiting for them was Crozet.

The girl gracefully curtsied, holding the hem of her skirt.

“I apologize for not greeting you last night, Crozet-sama.”

Impressed, Crozet thought she must indeed be a true princess.

She was beautiful, pure, and slightly mature-looking. Her skin was surprisingly pale, perhaps from not going outside. Her dress was a bit dirty, but it was made of high-quality fabric with detailed embroidery.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Crozet.”

“Very well.”

The girl offered her hand, back of the hand facing upwards.

Crozet firmly shook it.

“Um, I heard from Luo that you are like a mother to him.”

“Mother. . . . . ..”

Crozet wished she would have said “Onee-san” instead. At just seventeen, Crozet had mixed feelings, but she was also happy that Luo trusted her so much.

“Well, something like that.”

“Crozet-sama, I’d like to greet the other members of the “Star Guardian” and also make a request.”

Her lack of composure in her tone and facial expression was slightly concerning.

This girl is as important to the “Star Guardian” as the goddess they worship.

She seems to be referred to as the “Star Princess.”

Yet, despite being a child, Crozet believed that it wasn’t right to suddenly surround the girl with a group of adults. Therefore, Crozet argued against it and chased the “Star Guardian” group out of the living room.

“Um. . . . . .May I address you as the ‘Star Princess’?”

“Huh? Oh, yes.”

Honestly, Crozet didn’t really get the idea of a royal existence. Also, she had a secret reason: she was too busy with her daily life to devote as much faith as her parents and friends did. Even if she’s the “Star Princess”, Crozet didn’t feel any particular reverence towards her.

Crozet decided to think of the girl as Luo’s friend.

“Before greetings and conversation, there’s something we must do first.”

“Wha, what is that?”

“Of course, it’s having breakfast.”

Crozet smiled warmly.

“You must be hungry since you stayed up late last night, right?”

The girl’s eyes widened in surprise.

“And before breakfast, there’s something you should do. Right, Luo-kun?”

“Wash your face!”

“Correct. So, Luo-kun, please lead the ‘Star Princess’ to the washroom. After that, let’s have breakfast and go to the assembly hall together.”

Luo’s house and the new base of the “Star Guardian” are connected by a corridor.

The meeting room, which used to be inside a red tent, was now an exact replica of a circular space. All the relevant parties were assembled around the round table centered on a pillar. Sandwiched between Luo and Crozet, Tweney sat with a dignified posture. But her nervousness was evident as she held Luo’s hand under the table.

The eldest, Theresa, who was seated at the front, started the conversation.

“We belong to an organization called the Mail Cult that worships the ancient goddess. Do you know?”

She believe Hachiko mentioned during her debut ceremony.

“I’m not exactly sure. Forty years ago, they revolted against the royal family, and then ten years ago.”

Tweney hesitated for a moment.

“I’ve heard that someone tried to kidnap me when I was just born.”

Even if he couldn’t remember, he couldn’t stay calm. Tweney tightly grasped Luo’s hand.

Theresa shook her head, claiming her innocence.

“We didn’t try to kidnap you. We tried to seal your power and protect you.”

The more she heard, the more questions arose. Suppressing the urge to ask them rapidly, Tweney spoke about herself.

“Since I was a child, I’ve worn a mask and moved from place to place.”

It was almost the same story he told Luo the previous night. What she didn’t share was her feelings. On the contrary, she added about her encounter with Luo at Akkare Castle. Trying to control her emotions, Tweney finished her tale.

“I don’t know anything about myself, not even if I have the holy power. But I do know that many demon beasts have appeared, destroying several towns and villages. And the people of this country see me as their last hope.”

Still, the reason she asked Luo to come here was because she wanted to know.

“So, I beg you. If any of you know something about me, please tell me.”

As she bowed, Luo quickly bowed too.

The room was dead silent.

Everyone looked at her with a heavy expression, and Crozet, sitting next to her, squeezed herhand with tears in her eyes.

“Star Princess-sama.”

Covering her face with both hands, Theresa was trembling.

“The fact that you’re in this situation and troubled is partly our responsibility.”

“What do you mean?”

“To make you understand and accept everything, I must convey the myths we’ve inherited and our role. It’s going to be a long story.”

Theresa was catching her breath.

Taking over for Theresa, who had a throat issue, was a woman named Maasa. Tweney had previously heard about the “Star Guardian” people from Luo. Maasa was Crozet’s mother and also Luo’s teacher.

“First, let me clarify. The old Mail Cult had storytellers who passed down the myths, but none exist now. So what I can tell you is the general public version of the myth. As for the events in the capital, I can only speculate. We’ve always been in this city.”

Still, knowing something is better than knowing nothing. Tweney responded, “That’s fine.”

“Let’s begin. Once upon a time.”

With a gentle tone reminiscent of a lullaby, Maasa began to narrate the myth.

It started long ago, said to be three or four thousand years ago. In the distant heavens, there was a castle where the gods lived, and from there, a male god was expelled.

“His name was Amondas. By ‘male god’, I mean a male deity. By the way, we don’t count gods as one or two but as one pillar, two pillars.”

No longer can one return to the Castle in the Sky. Consumed by resentment for being banished, the male deity descended into corruption and became a malevolent god.

The place where the malevolent god Amondas landed was the center of the continent. It is said that his immense impact created a vast chasm.

The malevolent god’s malice filled the chasm, overflowing and transforming beasts into demon beasts.

Until now, the people who had lived in peace became tormented by these demon beasts. In desperation, the king sought salvation from the gods of the sky.

Answering this call was the goddess Mail Lord.

“This is the deity that we, the Mail Cult, worship. It’s also the origin of our order’s name.”

The goddess inflicted a wound upon her own palm and shared a single drop of her blood with the king.

She then proclaimed:

“The daughter who inherits my blood shall possess holy power. With this power, she must quell the raging malevolent god and lure him into a deep slumber. Only then will a momentary peace be achieved.”

Maasa added a clarification.

“By ‘momentary’, it means in the perspective of the gods. In reality, the malevolent god would sleep for several hundred years.”

The Blood of the Goddess resides in the royal family. Even if the nation falls, it is not an issue. When a new king arises and establishes the nation, it is said the Blood of the Goddess will be passed down in that royal lineage.

“This is a promise between the Goddess and the human king, referred to as the ‘covenant’.”

Although they had received the means to salvation, mortals could not reach the malevolent god at the bottom of the chasm. Hence, the goddess dispatched the winged Sacred beast known as the “Horned Lion.”

“The ‘Horned Lion’ awaits the princess of the royal family at the ‘Altar of Endings’, located deep within the dangerous ‘wilderness’, where the ‘covenant’ was once forged. Regardless of the sacrifices made, we must reach that place.”

Should the trial be accomplished, peace will prevail for several centuries. However, eventually, the malevolent god will awaken, and once again, the demon beasts will wreak havoc.

The crux of the matter was the passing down of knowledge.

“The king who forged the ‘covenant’ believed that religion would persist longer than nations. Hence, the Mail Cult, worshipping Goddess Mail as the chief deity, was established.”

Within the order, there were three positions with special roles to fulfill the ‘covenant’ trial.

“Star Singer”, “Star Teller”, and “Star Guardian”. Due to the prefix ‘Star’, they were collectively referred to as the ‘Three Star Officers’.”

The “Star Singer” observes the positions of the stars in the night sky to predict the time of the malevolent god’s awakening.

The “Star Teller” orally conveys the ‘covenant’ exchanged between the goddess and the royal family as myths.

“And the role of us, ‘Star Guardians’ is※”

Maasa gazed intently at Tweney.

“To protect the princess of the royal family, bearing the Blood of the Goddess, referred to in our order as ‘Star Princess’, and to guide her to the ‘Altar of Endings’.”

Time has flowed, and even though the names of nations changed, the Mail Cult has been alongside the royal family, overcoming the trials that came every few centuries.

“However, forty years ago, that relationship was broken due to a conflict known as the ‘Cult War’.”

At that time, the young “Reform King” Ramon and his chief aide Hou attempted to eliminate the Mail Cult, which wielded immense power. The cultists opposed them with military force. Even as nations change, the “Blood of the Goddess” continues to flow. Maasa concluded that this fact led to the arrogant actions of the upper echelons of the cult.

“The Mail Cult was defeated and annihilated. The Goddess was labeled as an evil deity, and all texts and paintings related to the Mail Religion were incinerated.”

“How could this happen.”

Predicting the impending tragedy, Tweney was stunned. Maasa nodded reassuringly to calm her.

“However, there were those within the cult who opposed the battle with the royal family. Some stayed in the royal capital, while others escaped to the city of Arche, surviving. We are the “Star Guardian.”

To preserve the knowledge of the “covenant”.

For the time when the evil deity awakens.

All these years, for forty years.

“And ten years ago, when the “Star Princess” was born, a heinous event called the “Fanatics’ Rebellion” took place.”

Tweney gasped in realization. Finally, the story related to his origin was being discussed.

“We lost contact with the comrades who remained in the royal capital, so we can only imagine, but I believe one of our comrades possessed the “Star Song.”

The “Star Song” predicts the day of the “covenant” trial based on the position of the stars.

And then, a daughter was born to the royal family.

“Our comrades must have believed you were the “Star Princess” and tried to seal your power.”

“My power?”

Tweney voiced the question he had always had.

“What kind of power is it?”

“One is the power to keep the evil deity asleep.”

Without hesitation, Maasa answered.

“The other is the power to enhance the abilities of those you trust.”

However, the power of the goddess can be a double-edged sword. The scent of the “Blood of the Goddess” is keenly sensed by demon beasts. Even if the evil deity doesn’t awaken, the mere existence of the “Star Princess” makes her a target for the demon beasts.

“Therefore, when the “Star Princess” was born into the royal family, they immediately sealed her power, so that she could live peacefully until the trials began and grow up healthily. Crozet-san, please hand it over to the “Star Princess”.”

“Yes.”

The old piece of cloth that Crozet offered was adorned with intricate embroidery patterns.

It was a dreaded thing, saddening just by looking at it in the mirror.

“What you have marked on your forehead is the seal of the magical circle. It can be said to be the emblem of the Mail Cult.”

Realizing this, Tweney was shocked. She wondered how much she had been deceived by lies.

Maasa continued the story.

“In their reverence for their role, there was a culture of secrecy within the Mail Cult. They would hide what they knew to elevate their worth, not just from the royal family and their followers, but even within their ranks.”

Maasa suggested that such behavior might have led to distrust from King Ramon and the people, weakening the unity within the cult, eventually leading to its downfall.

“King Ramon destroyed the Mail Cult. Or at least, he believed he did. However, there were survivors within the cult. Comrades who had infiltrated the capital used secret tunnels to enter the palace and performed the sealing technique on the newborn princess. King Ramon must have been furious. Perhaps he was terrified of our tenacity. He may have even felt the same emotions toward the infant marked with the emblem of the Mail Cult on her forehead.”

Hence, King Ramon announced the assassination of the princess by the remnants of the cultists, had her wear a mask, and kept her away from the capital.

As Maasa had initially clarified, it’s mostly a speculative account. Yet, to Tweney, who was scorned as the “Child of Misfortune”, it felt real.

“Back then, we “Star Guardians” in the city of Arche were deeply shocked. If our comrades in the capital had acted on their prediction of the trials and it resulted in the loss of “Star Princess”, then for us, it would be like losing our last hope.”

The worst fear had finally become a reality.

Months ago, during a public audience in front of the royal palace, the “Blue Demon Beast” appeared. King Ramon commanded the Commander of the Royal Knights, Boskin, to subdue the “Blue Demon Beast”. Led by Boskin, the Royal Knights came to the city of Arche.

After they headed to the “wilderness”, hordes of demon beasts began to surge.

“From the way the eyes of the demon beasts gleamed and overlapped, we call this phenomenon the “Red Wave”. I have seen it myself, and it truly is a terrifying sight, fitting its name.”

Despite the gravity of the story, Maasa’s tone and expression remained calm.

“The “Blue Demon Beast” that is said to have attacked King Ramon isn’t an incarnation of an evil god. It’s the “Horned Lion”, a Sacred Beast sent by the Goddess. Perhaps the “Horned Lion” sensed the awakening of the evil god and came to warn the human king.”

“The ‘Star Princess’ was lost, and the ‘Red Great Wave’ began.

The ‘Star Guardians’ despaired. No, it would be more accurate to say they gave up. After being driven out of the royal capital and enduring in this city for forty years, everything they had done was in vain. They repented to the Goddess, and even discussed among themselves that they might just have to accept a fate of destruction.

Then, the princess, who was supposed to have been assassinated, appeared.

Leading the ‘Hero Squad’, to defeat the ‘Blue Demon Beast’.

“We thanked the Goddess and fate. It was not too late. The ‘Star Princess’ was alive, we the ‘Star Guardians’ were still alive, and even the base city of Arche was intact. Could there be a greater miracle?”

However, there were concerns about the presence of the so-called ‘Hero Squad’ formerly the ‘Black Neck Squad’ and their aim to defeat the ‘Blue Demon Beast’. The ‘Star Guardians’ decided to take drastic measures. They tried to reclaim the ‘Star Princess’ with the help of Luo.

The events that followed are also shared by Tweney.

After the long story, the room was filled with a curious silence.

The faces of the ‘Star Guardians’ were all content. Some had a sparkle in their eyes like children, and others were smiling.

Perhaps it was a manifestation of the relief felt after overcoming long hardships and finally being rewarded.

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