I tried to express my opinion as neutral as I could since I had no intentions of offending the priest who had an innate faith in God.
While I am aware it was something I am not really familiar with, I was simply sharing my thoughts.
And if I were to be proven wrong in that regard, well, I guess my life will be in the emperor’s hands in the next nine months.
My throat constricted at the thought. No.
I will get out of this place alive.
I have to.
It was the only thing I could do at this point after I recalled my memories from my previous life.
If God had indeed intended to fulfill the original story, I would have to do my best to stay alive when the time comes.
Good thing I remember most of the original story so I still have the chance to change my fate.
Deep in my thoughts, I did not realize Lavis was staring at me with a strange expression on his face.
We leisurely strolled Peter’s Garden for a while, taking our time as we passed by three to four trees that were enormous in size.
Walking here felt like walking into a deep jungle.
Lavis was silent the whole time and it was only a while later when he spoke,
“I’ve never thought about it before.
“You were thinking about that all this time” I turned to look at him, “It was just my opinion, like, how can a man comprehend God’s plans for him It was only normal for human beings to not have a single idea what their future would be like.” I said in response to keep the conversation light and urged Lavis to not take it seriously.
While I’m not an atheist by any means, I just find it uncomfortable to talk about God’s will since I don’t practice any religion myself.
I don’t even have any clue what the emperor is thinking about, what more a God I sleep by the emperor’s side every night and yet he still remains a mystery to me.
“I see.” Lavis chuckled with his eyes closed as if he was agreeing with what I said.
Our stroll finally reached its end and I had fun to be honest, with him guiding me through the garden.
“Shall we go now It seems like the ritual ceremony is about to start.”
Then he brought me to a spot in front of the main wall where a big square came into view.
It was the place where the priests lodged, right next to the big square.
The particular floor was for the apprentice priest’s use, but no one was there at the moment since everyone was called for the ceremony.
Lavis even suggested that we go to the rooftop but I declined, telling him that being there might warrant some unnecessary attention.
“Being up there is great, though.
It has a spectacular view.
Don’t you like to see the scenery” Lavis asked.
When we got there, I was met with a clear view of the big square where the prayer rites will be held and the central square beside it.
It was just like what Lavis had said.
Crowds of people were beginning to form in the surroundings, seeing that there were only two hours left until the ceremony started.
From the amount of onlookers waiting at the sidewalk, it seems like everyone had high expectations for this event.
I love it here.
Aren’t High Priests supposed to be in the ritual It seems like you know this place very well.”
“I was once an apprentice priest.
There’s a time when I was down with a fever so I couldn’t go to the festival, but I got out of my room and watched the ritual from here.”
“I guess you were pretty naughty during your childhood.” I teased.
I was out of control back then.” Lavis chuckled before continuing, “The main hall will be closed after the participants of the ritual pass through the big square.
The main ceremony will be held in the central square and the ritual hall.”
He told me he would bring me there later once the ritual begins, saying that from the second floor, I’d be able to see what’s happening inside the ritual hall clearly.
I quickly shook my head in protest and refused the offer.
Why would he even bring an outsider like me to such a sacred place
My goal is to live long, thank you very much!
He seemed disappointed at my refusal but he respected my wishes nonetheless.
I willed myself to calm down and enjoyed the scenery before us.
It is way different from Korea.
The grandeur of this temple dedicated to God was just spectacular, a scale like no other.
The last time I’m here, I clumsily entered through the rear gate so I don’t have any idea what the main hall looked like.
Now as I stand here, I could see the main hall was so enormous that it could easily fit two detached palaces of the emperor.
It was a terrifying proportion.
It reminds me of the Pantheon of Rome that I once read about on the internet back in my previous life, feeling like it was part of the middle ages.
The main hall was made from white limestone, surrounded by pillars that were embossed with beautiful patterns like the temples of ancient Rome.
In front of it was a series of steps leading down, and below it was where the big square stood surrounded by well-made pavement.
Fancy-looking green fabrics were adorned on all sides, and an arrangement of spectacular flowers were spread everywhere.
The big square that was done by men along with the entrance of the main hall was so breathtaking I could only stare at it in disbelief.
No amount of seeing it in videos back then would come close to seeing it in real life.
“The ceremony for this year is much bigger than the previous ones, so this one’s going to be amazing.” Lavis seemed to enjoy the look of wonder in my eyes as I attentively watched the preparations for the ritual unfold.
He probably liked the fact that the huge event of the temple in which he grew up was being regarded this way.
I guess he was feeling some sort of pride.
I nodded, “The main hall is just massive.
I never thought there were buildings much bigger than the emperor’s palace.”
“It was said that the Dwarf tribe has had God-like powers that made construction like this possible, one that modern technology wouldn’t be able to achieve just as easily.”
“That’s crazy.” From his words, I looked back at the big square and there were two giant water fountains with an angel statue standing in the middle, where a sphere as big as a head was also present, seemingly floating above it.
Water was coming out of the sphere but there were no pipes connected to it.
Is that the extent of God’s power One that defies the laws of physics The realization sent shivers down my skin.
But still, God couldn’t control every single will of mine.
In my previous life, human beings were in charge of their own fates, not anyone else.
I shook my head, resolute in my own stance.
Even if it’s God’s will, I will not surrender to it just as easily.
No one is even sure if their God is almighty yet.
That fountain must be aided by something else, not God.
I reminded myself that I would not be shaken.
With a sly glance at his pocket watch, Lavis told me that the ritual is about to start any moment now.
My eyes swept the big square in curiosity.
“Thanks to His Majesty’s support, the big square is much more beautiful this year.”
“Oh, did he not show his support before”
From what I’ve read before, there was no mention of the emperor’s support; it could be that the author only forgot, or there was a slight change in the original story.
Lavis smiled, his eyes forming soft crescents.
Standing there, his blond hair was illuminated by the sunlight streaming above.
He looked absolutely radiant, catching me off guard as I held my chest tightly.
What a handsome blond man! I can’t even say anything with him smiling at me like that.
“I think he is planning to attack Lucretia this year.” He suddenly said.
I felt my breath hitch at his reply.
His smile didn’t match the words he was saying.
Lavis knew that the emperor was only doing this to bribe the temple for the upcoming war.
“Are you supposed to tell me that”
“Didn’t you already know this From what I know of Ridrian, he is actually more talkative than people think.”
I shut my mouth.
I did hear it directly from the emperor, and it was written in the original story, too.
But Lavis saying the words out loud felt somehow strange.
Does that mean he trusts me
While the emperor on the other hand, doesn’t.
“High priest, are you not against the Majesty starting a war”
Lavis laughed with no amusement, “Sadly, that war is important to His Majesty.
He won’t listen to me even if I talk him out of it.”
Lavis probably knew everything that happened to the emperor, because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t know the importance of the war and what it stood for.
Lavis, the servant of the God of life, must have seen the emperor when he was at his weakest.
“I see.” Talking about the emperor felt heavy, so I did not continue the conversation anymore and focused my attention at the square instead.
The white temple reflected the sun rays so brightly it hurt my eyes.
It felt unreal, everything was cast in a brilliance.
Being here felt like I was living in a different world away from earth.
The time has come.
The people who were busy preparing for the festivities began to depart one by one.
The grand ivory horn howled from a distance, booming loud over the big square.
The crowd’s whispers shushed and the priest that served as the host announced the arrival of the officials.
Soon, the participants entered and made their way to their seats.
The orchestra and the choir were the first ones to enter the main hall, and some stayed at the steps as they blew their trumpets in unison.
Then, the holy knights fell in line as they took up the sides of the main street, going down the steps bearing their ceremonial armors and large flags.
Followed by the white-robed priests, the nobilities of the empire came, fully dressed in their respective uniforms as they took up the space.
Hundreds of people were moving at the sound of the trumpet, and it was a sight like no other.
It’s like watching the opening ceremony of some international event.
Then the trumpet boomed even louder upon the pope’s arrival to lead the rituals.
He wore a fancy robe and a matching hat, with a big golden staff on one hand.
At the end of the steps, I could see the pope uttering words to the people behind him.
He was probably giving out his orders.
Just as I was watching them, Lavis stood next to me and said, “His Majesty will enter soon.”