- 06: Crucible of humans
And in this way, my stage has changed from my homeland to the light capital, Apollon City.
This city where the light church’s main headquarters are in, is a prominent big city even in the standards of this world.
The number of people and buildings, it is on a whole different level from my homeland. It overwhelmed a countryside person like me.
“Ufufu, are you surprised?” (Karen)
Karen-san who is accompanying me, was looking pleasantly at me who had turned into a country bumpkin.
“Is this your first time in Apollon City?” (Karen)
“No, rather than calling it my first experience in a city, it would be more like, this is my first time going out of the village. Everything I see is surprising.” (Haine)
“Is that so? In my case, it was surprising to see a completely different side of Haine-san. Since I met you, I always thought you were a cool person after all.” (Karen)
“Ah, Karen-san, what’s that?” (Haine)
“You are not listening at all…” (Karen)
What caught my interest were the vehicles that were running around the city.
No, vehicles are normally things that are pulled by cows or horses, but these vehicles have nothing pulling them. The vehicle is moving by itself.
Moreover, in this paved road, there’s not only one of those kind of vehicles, there’s several of them, and they were going back and forth.
In other words, that vehicle that moves on its own isn’t something special, but a common thing.
“That’s an ethereal car.” (Karen)
“Ethereal car?” (Haine)
“A vehicle that moves with ethereal.” (Karen)
It seems she is trying to explain it, but it didn’t serve as an explanation.
“Hmph…it is a vehicle that has degraded humans.”
The one who said this in a bad mood was, as expected, captain Vesage who was together with us. The knight corp that he leads as well, and there’s also the other corps that had spread to other locations in order to recruit new members and had reunited as we were getting closer to the light capital. It had become quite the orderly mass.
Within that group, there were a number of people that had accepted the recruitment like me.
And so, the talk of captain Vesage continues.
“Because something like that exists, people have forgotten the grace of the Light Goddess and have become arrogant. Hey, newcomer, I will be telling you this in advance since you are a country bumpkin. The light church completely forbids the use of such machines. Remember that.” (Vesage)
It is true that the knights of the light church, even when there’s this many adults, are all walking on foot or riding a horse.
There’s this many, so it would have been easier to just prepare a big one of those things called ethereal cars and bring them along that way.
“Captain Vesage, please don’t vent it on Haine-san. Seriously, you have been grumpy since the time in the village.” (Karen)
“But Hero-dono, our corp was assigned a quota of 50 people. And yet, we only brought back one. What would the founder-sama and the knight’s commander say?!” (Vesage)
“If they complain, I don’t mind you telling them it was all my fault. Also, I think this one recruit was our highest result in this time’s recruitment expedition.” (Karen)
Vesage and I react at the same time.
“This one recruit…are you referring to this country bumpkin?” (Vesage)
“Yes. Haine-san didn’t hesitate against the [Holy Light Bullet] shot by captain Vesage and was able to deal with it perfectly. Even when it was his first time seeing it.” (Karen)
“Fast and precise decision making. On top of that, those quick-witted movements, there’s no shortcomings in having him as a fighting force as he is now. Isn’t this the kind of talent we were looking for?” (Karen)
What Karen-san was saying must have been sound, but captain Vesage, who was defeated by me, was unable to obediently consent to it and was grinding his teeth.
And so, in order to not worsen the situation, I decide to stay silent.
“B-But…it all depends on whether this country bumpkin can show results in the entrance exam of the knight corps.” (Vesage)
“In that point, there’s no problem. I believe in him.” (Karen)
What are they talking about?
I couldn’t help but feel uneasiness towards the talk of those two.
While we were in the middle of that, we arrived at the last point of our journey.
The Light Grand Church located at the center of Apollon City.
This is where the main headquarters of the light church that follow the Light Goddess, Inflation, is located.
- 07: Entrance Exam
“The ones aiming to enroll, gather over here!”
When we crossed the gates of the Grand Church, the people that were not wearing armor were gathered quickly.
It is the people that were gathered from the recruitment expedition.
I am also one of them, but calling me as someone ‘aiming to enroll’ doesn’t click in me.
Karen-san and captain Vesage have long gone somewhere else.
As a hero and a captain, they have their own duties to perform.
“Listen well maggots! I commend you for gathering at the side of the light! From today on, you are one of the prided members of the light church!!”
The one talking to the newcomers is a somewhat asphyxiating bald old man.
It seems something has already started.
“However, even if I say ‘light church’ in general, the roles are many. Priests that offer prayers to the Light Goddess, the people that look after those priests; and then, there’s the military power of the church, the Aurora Knight Corps associated with it, the Light knights! That’s the majority of it but…ah right right!”
The bald old man had a face as if saying ‘I will be saying something interesting now’ as he puts on airs in his tone.
“Within this group, if there’s someone that’s aiming to become the Light Hero, this is for your own good, just give up in advance. A person that surpasses Karen-sama who is the one currently in active duty, it would take at least 30 years before someone like that appears!!”
When he finished, incredible cheers came from the crowd.
“Now that the preliminary talk has been wrapped up…maggots, I will have you take an exam. Don’t worry, we won’t be making you do anything difficult. We are only using this.”
Saying this, the old man lifts something in his hand.
It was hard to make out because my position was far away, but it seems to be some sort of board.
“This is called an element board, and it is a tool to identify your element. Everything in this world has received the divine blessing of the five Gods that created this world. Earth, fire, water, wind, and light; these five elements.”
Looking carefully at the board that the old man was carrying, I could see that it is shaped in a clean pentagon, and at each side, there’s the symbol of the earth, fire, water, wind, and light Gods.
“When a person holds this element board, this needle at the center will identify your element. We, the Light Church, will of course welcome the light element. The people that have the needle of the element board pointing at the light element will unconditionally enter the Aurora Knight Corps!!”
After this explanation, the actual exam began.
The aspirators were lined up and were holding the element board in turns.
“Wind element! Rejected!” Water element! Rejected!” “Light element! Pass!”
That voice resounded inside the Grand Church.
While we were at it, my turn came. The face of that bald old man soon got right in front of me.
“You…you are Kuromiya Haine, right?”
“Eh? That’s right but, why do you know my name?” (Haine)
“Well fine. At any rate, try holding it.”
Is what the old man said as he holds out the pentagonal board to me. At that moment, the needle of the element board pointed towards a place that was slightly to the left of the light symbol.
That’s probably the element of this old man.
“Right right, I am the vice captain of the Aurora Knight Corps, Grades. If you are going to join the knight corps, I will become a direct superior of you. I forgot to tell you.” (Grades)
“Say something like that to everyone please. What’s with this open bias.” (Haine)
“The hero Karen-sama told me to take good care of you. I have also heard about your rebellion towards Vesage. If you can become an instant fighting force, I also welcome you with big open arms, that’s all.” (Grades)
I see, so that’s how it is.
At any rate, I take the element board from the vice captain Grades.
Now then, I wonder what it will show…
Creaking sounds came from the element board.
The needle of the element board, I don’t know what it is made of, but it is probably metallic.
The creaking sound continued. And then, right after, the needle bended without anyone touching it.
Vice Captain Grades who was looking at it right in front of me was also surprised.
Without pointing at any of the elements, the needle of the element board broke itself and pointed to the sky.
As the God of Darkness, my element is of course, darkness.
For this element board that has no entry for darkness, there was no way for it to accurately identify my element.