|“||Evil has nowhere to hide from the iron hammer of the Lord.||”|
Devote your faith to justice. Have good will in your heart and actions. Wipe all evil away into the darkness.
One origin story of the pretzel says that it gets its shape from the way hands are folded in prayer and was invented by an Italian monk who gave them out as gifts to children. Whatever its true origins, pretzels did later become considered a sign of good luck by the Church, and they've remained popular ever since.
How to Acquire
|Contract||Protect the world, save the world... In the name of the Lord, I will walk with you.|
|Log In||Have you said your prayers today?|
|Ice Arena||This bitter cold... is it the Lord's punishment?|
|Skills||Accept your punishment!|
|Ascend||I will use this power to carry out justice.|
|Fatigue||Just need a moment's respite...|
|Recovering||Worry not. I will be ever-vigilant.|
|Team Formation||Fight for justice!|
|Knockout||I... underestimated them...|
|Notice||The food is ready. Rest assured, there are no eggs.|
|Idle 1||All matters good or evil will be judged by the Lord.|
|Idle 2||The people must have awe in their hearts!|
|Idle 3||If you want to carry out the Lord's will, you must first know his goodness.|
|Interaction 1||If you want his favor, you must be disciplined.|
|Interaction 2||Have you ever seen a miracle? ...No, I wasn't talking about you.|
|Interaction 3||Do you want to make a confession?|
|Pledge||I'm willing to follow you, my Shepherd. Wherever you go, I will go too. Your country is my country. Your justice is my justice.|
|Intimacy 1||Don't be afraid. The Lord gave me his power to spread justice.|
|Intimacy 2||Don't touch the bread on the table. It is a gift for the children.|
|Intimacy 3||Your justice is my mission.|
|Victory||This glory belongs to the Lord.|
|Defeat||One must admit defeat.|
|Feeding||Thank you for your contribution.|
i. The Righteous and The Wicked
“Quiet, if you want to hear a story, you all need to quiet down now.”
“Father Pretzel, can we not hear a story from the Bible tonight? We’ve already heard them so many times, tell us a new story!”
“Father, father! Look at how obedient we’re being today, you should tell us a new story!”
In the yearning eyes of the children, I could see myself seriously pondering whether or not I should give into their demands. I don’t know why, but I nodded, raising my hand to quiet down the excited children once more.
It’s only then I part my mouth to tell the story that they asked for.
“There was this soldier who used to go into battle for the Lord, he was wounded in battle and thus returned home. However, this was the start of his misfortune.”
“Although his injury was an honorable one, because the injury happened to his eye, other people thought it looked hideous upon seeing it, and wouldn’t dare go near him.”
“Ah…… How did it turn out like this…..?”
“And so, he abandoned his faith, and became addicted to gambling and drinking, even accumulating enormous debt. Until one day, his mother fell ill, and he did not have the money to get his mother treatment. He thought there was nothing he could do, but then he saw this lady wearing a pearl necklace. He robbed her…… and then killed her.“
"Ah! How could he do something like that!?”
“However, it was for that reason that he was able to get his mother treatment. From then on, he quit gambling and drinking. He pulled himself together to take care of his mother.”
“Father, what happened to him in the end?!”
“…… He died. Before he died, he was put to trial. In the end, his mother was left all alone. She’s still alive and living by herself, not aware her own son is no longer here.”
“Ah…… This ending is so pitiful.”
When I was narrating the story, not once did I stop, even with the children’s exclamations.
The children here understood the meaning of death due to the fact that the village was once ridden with an epidemic. When they got to the part of the necklace robbing, the smaller ones held onto the older children’s hands. But no one suggested stopping, everyone listened until the end.
After the children finished listening to the story, they always have all sorts of questions, like “Which eye was it that was wounded?” “Was the pearl necklace worth a lot of money?” However, I didn’t answer them, until a smaller child came forward with a quiet question.
“Father, he…… why was he sentenced to death? He only did that for his mother. The Bible says we must uphold respect for our parents……”
“But the Lord’s judgement is always fair, He wouldn’t kill both the righteous and the wicked, it’s definitely because what he did was more evil…… Isn’t that right, Father Pretzel?”
I watched as the children debated, then raised my hand to motion for them to pipe down.
"The righteous and the wicked. Oftentimes, it is difficult to place judgement. But there are some situations, where one commits a crime under the law, that must be put to trial. This is a decree put out by the Lord. Killing is a severe crime. Even if there was hardship involved, it’s difficult to avoid punishment. You all shouldn’t feel sorry for him, but rather, his mother.”
“Then what’s the mother’s life like now after her son’s death?”
“……His mother has someone else taking care of her, there is no need for any of you to worry.”
ii. Unexpected Meeting
“Goodbye, Father Pretzel!”
“The Lord will ensure safety over your journeys.”
When Sunday school is over, I stand at the gate of the church to see the children off. A child that already said goodbye to me saw white wildflowers blooming on the roadside and plucked them, before running back to me.
“This is a gift to you, Father Pretzel! As thank you for the reward you gave me during today’s Sunday school.”
“Thank you. That is something you deserve, you did a very good job reciting your scriptures.”
I didn’t expect the gesture, because few children would take the initiative to get closer to me. Taking the flowers, I stroked the child’s head. I noticed how the boy seemed hesitant to say something, so I parted my mouth to ask.
“What’s the matter?”
“Father Pretzel…… There’s some things I wanna talk to you about.”
“The truth is…. Truth is, everyone really likes you because you saved everyone…… And you always give us bread, and give us candy as a reward. It’s just that Father Pretzel constantly looks so stern, so no one really dares to talk to you in private, they’re scared they’ll get reprimanded.”
“I’ll secretly tell you this…..No, no I can’t, I can’t betray everyone. You’ll know when the time comes, Father! I’m leaving now! Goodbye, Father!”
Watching how the child ran off, I shook my head, not thinking much of it. Thus, I prepared to set out for the old granny’s house, who I’d been taking care of all this time.
The village used to be a bustling small town, its mine rich in all sorts of metals. However, when their only trading route became occupied by Fallen Angels, people were unable to pass through. What’s more, the Fallen Angels also occupied the mine, and the townsfolk had no way to continue mining. They lost their source of income, and the town eventually became desolate.
Misfortune continued to come, one by one. It wasn’t long after that the town developed a sort of epidemic. Those who were sick would first get fevers and a case of vomiting; after that, it escalated to unbearable pain spreading throughout their body. After the ill passed on, many parts of their body would start to bleed. The state of their dead body made it seem like their blood had been pumped out, making for an unbearable sight.
When I heard of this epidemic while I was with the church, I had suspected it may have had something to do with that person, so I requested to be transferred over to this town to provide treatment and conduct an investigation.
But the results of my investigation are not what I expected. While it’s true that the town has caught some sort of epidemic, the reason why is still under investigation. Luckily, the holy medicine I brought over from the church had the power of God’s blessing and were very useful. They could temporarily relieve the critical urgency brought on by this epidemic
During my time in the village, I had discovered that the epidemic may be related to animals, but I hadn’t found a definite source yet. I could only tell the villagers that I would do my best to protect them, and investigate the source of the epidemic as quickly as possible.
“Grandmother, I’m here. Your medicine for today…… Why are you here?”
“Ah, it’s Father Pretzel who’s here. I’ve already taken my medicines, it’s this young lad who helped me. I met this eager fellow while I was cooling down by the door. He helped me chase away this barking mad dog that was hunting me. It seems that…… You know each other?”
“Hehe, of course I know Father Pretzel. Granny, he’s 'treated’ me before too, let me tell you.”
“What a coincidence, what a coincidence that the two of you would meet here.”
“……Bloody Mary, follow me outside.”
I wouldn’t have thought Bloody Mary to be daring enough to appear in plain sight. He’d escaped from my grasps more than once, always too late to fearfully hide from me.
Today, he willingly showed up. I would’ve confirmed him as the mastermind behind all of this had I not already discovered that the epidemic had nothing to do with Bloody Mary.
“You’re still as laid back as ever, Father.”
“What are you doing here?”
Bloody Mary smiled as he idly tidied his hair. I didn’t make a move, only asking why Bloody Mary is here.
"Of course, it’s because— I want to see exactly how you’re lying to this poor old granny, hehe~"
iii. False Confession
“I’ll be back to find you, dearest Father.”
Ultimately, the meeting with Bloody Mary that day will happen again. I don’t know what Bloody Mary told granny, but the past few days, she’s been asking me about Bloody Mary’s situation, even asking me to care for him more, saying how Bloody Mary is someone who’s gone through a bitter life.
I know clearly what Bloody Mary has done in the past, and he has nothing to do with “a bitter life.” The ones who suffered were the victims deceived and killed by Bloody Mary and his Master Attendant.
I’d captured Bloody Mary once before, I gave him a chance to recognize that what he did was a sin, but Bloody Mary didn’t care. He’s more concerned about whether he can obtain warmth from the blood of other people. What’s more, those who died in his hands, the state of their corpses is almost exactly the same as the victims of this epidemic—-This is the reason why I initially suspected Bloody Mary to be the culprit.
“Father Pretzel, there’s this mister waiting for you in the confessional.”
With my prayers finished, the nun told me someone wanted to make a confession. In the dark claustration, I put my hand on the Bible, allowing for the man and I to recite the scriptures together.
“…Sincere confessor, the Lord will show mercy on your sins.”
“Oh? Did you tell that to the soldier back then?”
At first, I didn’t observe the other person at all, and when Bloody Mary was reciting the scripture with me, he’d changed his voice on purpose. I never would’ve thought he’d be so gutsy.
“How’s thinking coming along, Father?“
“Still so straightforward. You’re not afraid I’ll reveal your true self to the public? Let me go, and your reputation is protected. Now isn’t this a great deal?“
"Don’t even think of threatening me! The reason I pursue you isn’t because you’re relentlessly chasing after Steak, but because you’ve killed countless people! Your sins are not tolerated by the Lord, I’ll have to bestow judgement on you in the name of the Lord!”
“Oh dear oh dear, you’re too stubborn, Father. Since you won’t accept this deal, then I’ll do what I’d said I’d do—–tell the villagers the truth.”
“Stop! I won’t let you escape again!”
I immediately rushed out of the confession to follow Bloody Mary, and began fighting in the empty church. Seeing how calm Bloody Mary was, my heart sent out an ominous warning to me.
Sure enough, it’s when we were fighting each other that an influx of villagers came into the church. In their arms were all sorts of items; I didn’t know what they were for. The granny who I had been caring for all this time walked in front, someone supporting her by her arm.
Bloody Mary used this chance to put some distance between him and I, momentarily distracted. At that moment, he used the crowded church to prevent me from continuing our fight, as I feared hurting any of these innocent villagers.
“Ah, Father Pretzel, what are you two doing?”
“……It’s nothing. Why are you all here?”
“Eh? Wasn’t it Father Pretzel who wanted us to come to church at this time? The mister besides you said you’re about to leave this place and you have something you want to announce to us. We’re all very grateful for your help in rescuing us from the epidemic, so we all brought presents.”
When I heard this, I instantly understood Bloody Mary’s plan—– He never wanted to hear my answer from the beginning!
“The cause of this epidemic is still not clear, I’m not leaving for the time being, so there is nothing to announce, please go back.”
“Huh? Now’s not the time to be pulling a prank, Father!”
“Oh dear, I even slaughtered this chicken in hopes of giving it to Father. What do I do now, it’s such a waste.”
“What do you mean there is nothing to announce? I’ll tell you all in Father’s place.”
Bloody Mary lets out a laugh, and then raised his finger to point at me, his voice sharp and shrill.
“This person is no a true priest, here to bring salvation! That granny’s son didn’t die from the epidemic, but he was killed by someone! And that person is this sanctimonious priest standing before you all, he killed the man one night! I swear in the name of God, I saw it all with my own eyes!”
Bloody Mary’s words were like thunder, shaking up the villagers.
I finally realized how Bloody Mary came to know this situation, but I silently watched Bloody Mary, not refuting.
He was telling the truth, why would I need to retort.
Moreover, I didn’t do anything wrong.
“After he’s killed a person, he has the gall to act all superior and go take care of the man’s mother! Can you really trust this sort of person to spread the gospel? Can you really trust that he’s here to bring you all a cure?!”
“He’s basically here to kill you all! Those who later died from the disease weren’t even infected, they ended up as dead spirits under his hands! All of you have might become his next target!”
I saw granny kneel to the floor, sobbing in a villager’s arms because she couldn’t accept “the truth.”
Bloody Mary successfully provoked a reaction from the villagers. The eggs inside a box, originally meant to be a gift for me, were hurled at me, but I managed to dodge them all.
“Everyone…… Everyone stop, that’s enough." In the midst of the mob’s outrage, granny raised her trembling hand, letting the people around her help her stand.
"Father, please…… Explain yourself. If he really is the heinous person that the mister had spoken of, why would he be so kind as to take care of the children? I met the children yesterday, they even said they wanted to give Father a present as thanks for his teachings.”
“That’s right, that’s right. My kids told me that too. Moreover, my illness was cured by Father. You can’t say for sure though…… maybe there’s some things Pretzel wishes to hide?”
“How weak (1)! Women and children like you are the easiest to deceive!”
(1) Translator’s Note: the proverb used here would more accurately translate to saying these people have the softness of a woman’s soft nature; easily forgiving and willing to believe.
“Say that one more time! You’re only listening to one side of the story and you already convinced that Father is a fiend, aren’t you also being deceived?!”
"What…….What’s going on here?“
In the middle of all this chaos, a few children, holding onto a boxed gift together, appeared in the church. They didn’t know what was happening, but because of the atmosphere inside, they too grew nervous.
"We…… We came to give Father Pretzel a gift that we specially prepared.”
The tense atmosphere seemed to be alleviated upon the children’s appearance, and it’s then that a villager proposed a suggestion.
“We can’t fully believe either of you, but he really has helped us, so we can give him a chance to prove himself. Our trading route is currently occupied by Fallen Angels. If he truly is a good priest, he’ll most certainly be able to take care of the Fallen Angels in the mine. If he isn’t, he’ll definitely seek an opportunity to run away, never to return!”
“Those Fallen Angels…… Can he handle them alone? If he really is a good person, then to die in the hands of Fallen Angels just so he can prove himself, isn’t that too much……?”
“No need to worry, everyone. This priest here has power much greater than what you’ve witnessed! Otherwise, how could he kill a strong and battle-hardened soldier!”
Bloody Mary didn’t pass up the chance to rile up the villagers, and the villagers hesitated because of his words.
“Since his old acquaintance said so himself, he must have a way to get through this trial.”
I listened to them all talking at once in their lively discussions, coming to a final conclusion.
I wish to stay here and continue, so I must prove myself and handle the Fallen Angels on my own. The cause of the epidemic has yet to be found, and I won’t abandon the villagers and let the disease ravage them again after I’m gone. Moreover, it was because of my treatment that the villagers became more devoted to my Lord. Were I to leave just like that, they will certainly abandon their faith.
“……I understand. I will go then.”
I saw Bloody Mary let out a strange smile upon my answer.
It seemed this was going to be much more dangerous than I thought.
Pretzel understood Bloody Mary very well. He also found it disgraceful that Bloody Mary killed people in the name of “seeking warmth.”
From knowing about Bloody Mary’s evil doings, to Bloody Mary’s plans to frame him, they’ve fought many times before. But despite all of this, Pretzel didn’t expect Bloody Mary to use such troublesome means to deal with him.
Pretzel has never cared whether or not people understand the things he does. He always adheres to the Lord’s will, using the Bible as guidance for his actions; The righteous are treated with benignity, and the wicked must receive punishment.
When he heard the partially blind soldier confess to him in the confessional, Pretzel realized that the man did not feel genuinely remorseful for killing. The soldier was reminded of the pleasure he found in the battlefield through fighting when he committed his sin. He was reminded so much that he wanted to feel the twisted pleasure of piercing a soldier’s blade into blood and flesh once more.
—–But of course, everyone knew that his injuries prevented him from returning to the battlefield.
Recollecting memories of spilling blood in battle for so long, it was enough to distort a once pure soul.
Pretzel also knew that a soldier, already awakened with the heart of a killer, will most certainly commit violence again.
Even if the soldier is confessing right now, God does not allow this sort of thing to exist. God is forgiving, but He is also furious towards sinners.
But what Pretzel doesn’t know, the night he carried out punishment in the name of God, there was a pair of eyes who witnessed all of this.
Bloody Mary came to this village after hearing about the epidemic, he wanted to use it as a cover up so he could use the warmth found in blood. But he never expected to meet Pretzel here. He made a decision when he saw Pretzel kill the man—- to stay in the village and get rid of Pretzel once and for all, so he could seek out blood in peace.
The mine that used to be the village’s main source of income was rumored to be full of Fallen Angels, (1) if only one Food Soul goes to challenge them single-handedly, making it out alive will definitely be a hard feat.
(1) Translator’s Note: OG text said “the mine occupied by fallen angels is rumored to be filled with fallen angels” which is goofy and redundant so the first segment was taken out.
Bloody Mary even used things that Fallen Angels like to lure more of them out, to ensure Pretzel does not return once he leaves. Of course, the villager that proposed that Pretzel go handle the Fallen Angels didn’t think of this idea on the spot, he was also part of Bloody Mary’s plan, so he could remove himself from suspicion.
When Pretzel took his leave, the children all remained in church to pray for him, praying that he would have a safe return so together, they could all enjoy the cake that they specially made for him.
During Pretzel’s absence, the “epidemic” returned to the village once more. Two men died, one after the other. This caused the villagers to panic, some even beginning to believe Bloody Mary’s words. But there was no one who dared to go near the bodies, they planned on straight away burning the bodies on the second day, and as a result, nobody noticed that the victims’ arteries, obscured by their clothes, had extremely deep puncture wounds.
Perhaps the children’s prayers worked, because Pretzel came back.
In spite of the ruined clothes on Pretzel’s body and his critically serious injuries, Pretzel didn’t show any signs of pain and resentment on his face. He is the same old unchanged Pretzel that the villagers remembered from before.
In the middle of patting the weeping children’s heads, he told the villagers that he’d found out the cause of the epidemic.
The epidemic is not actually an epidemic at all.
For many years, the village has produced all sorts of metals and alloys, but some of the newly mined metals contained poison, those toxins gradually penetrated the rocks and entered the water source.
This is because after the Fallen Angels had occupied their trading route, the mine hole was gradually neglected and abandoned over time. On one hand, the animals nearby eventually gathered to live there, the toxins entering the animals’ bodies, hunters would then hunt these animals and bring them back to the village. When people ate those contaminated animals, they naturally got sick; on the other hand, the water source near the trading route could no longer be used, so people could only get water near the mine hole, therefore explaining why their sickly conditions didn’t get better over time.
Fortunately, the blessed medicine that Fondant Cake made could block the problems for a while. Otherwise, Pretzel wouldn’t have even had the chance to discover the truth.
After his explanation, the villagers believed Pretzel without a shred of doubt, even blaming themselves for being so willing to believe someone’s lies.
Pretzel then went back to investigate the two villagers who’d died during his absence. He recognized one of them as the man who suggested Pretzel go to their trading route and kill the Fallen Angels there to prove himself. He also discovered some anomalies about the corpses, but right now, he had no way to punish the culprit. Bloody Mary had left the village upon hearing of Pretzel’s return.
However, this did not worry Pretzel.
Next time, he’ll definitely catch Bloody Mary, and he'll make him pay for all the sins he’s committed.
I. The Righteous and the Wicked
“Quiet, please. If you want me to tell you a story, then you must be quiet.”
“Father Pretzel, could you tell us something different from the tales of the Sacred Scripture? I've heard them so many times already. Tell us a new story!”
“Father, you too have seen how obedient we are. Tell us a new story!”
In the eager eyes of the children I saw the reflection of myself seriously thinking about whether to fullfill their request. I can't explain why, but I nodded and raised my hand to tell the children to be quiet again and then started telling them the story they asked for.
“This is the story of a soldier who fought in the name of the Lord. He was wounded in the war and retired from the army. But that was only the beginning of all his misfortunes.”
“Even though his wound was a medal of honor, other people found the injury on his eye too intimidating and consequently avoided the man. Because of this reason, the man couldn’t get a job. The subsidy given to him was too low to support his needs, and therefore everything became more and more difficult for him.”
“Uh, how could that happen...?”
“So he abandoned his Faith, getting into gambling and alcohol, and soon found himself in debt. Until one day, his mother became ill when he had no more money that he could have used to pay for her treatment. He thought he was in a dead end, but then noticed a young lady wearing a valuable pearl necklace. He robbed her of it, killing her in the process.”
“Huh!? How could he do such a cruel thing!?”
“However, thanks to that necklace the man was able to pay for his mother's treatment. From that moment on, he completely gave up gambling and alcohol, and remained at the woman's side to take care of her.”
“Father, how is he doing now?”
“...he's dead. He was executed for the crime he committed, leaving his mother alone in this world, who is not even aware that he’s gone.”
“Oh… that’s a really sad ending…”
Despite the various comments and exclamations from the children, I continued to tell the story. For these children the concept of death was not at all new because of the epidemic that plagued their village. The little ones clung to the arms of the older ones when they heard the part of the robbery, but none of them asked me to interrupt my story. Everyone had listened to it down to the last word. Every time they finished listening to the story, they started asking me questions like "Which eye was injured?", "How much was the pearl necklace worth?", but I didn't answer any of them. Except for one, asked by a smaller child with a low voice.
“Father, why was the man sentenced to death?... He did it for his mother. The Sacred Scripture says that we must always honor and bring respect our parents.”
“But the Lord's judgment is always just. The righteous do not receive the same judgment as the wicked, who have done terrible things... right, Father Pretzel?”
Seeing the children start arguing, I raised my hand to silence them.
“Judging who's righteous and who's wicked is no easy task. But there is one thing by which every sinner will be judged other than by the law, and that is the will of the Lord. Murder is a serious crime. Hard as it is to accept, there's no way to escape punishment. You shouldn't pity him, you should pity his mother.”
“And what happened to the mother after she lost her son?"
“...don't worry about her. The mother was looked after by other people.”
II. An Unexpected Encounter
“Bye, Father Pretzel!”
“May the Lord protect you on your way home."
At the end of Sunday's school, I stood in front of the church door to bid the children farewell. One of the children who had already greeted me started picking wildflowers on one side of the road and then came back to me.
"These are for you, Father Pretzel! Thank you for giving me the prize in today's lesson!"
“Thank you. But you deserved it. You recited the Sacred Scripture very well.”
That was really unexpected. Very few children came to me of their own free will. I took the flowers from his hands and patted his head, then saw him a little speechless. I asked him:
“What’s the matter?”
“Father Pretzel, I want to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
“Actually, everyone here loves you very much, because you saved us all...and also because you always give us bread and candy as a reward. It's just that your expression is always so intense, that people are afraid to talk to you face to face in private, fearing to be reproached.”
“And then there's something else... no no. I can't do that to them. I'll tell you when the time is right, Father! I'm going! Bye-bye, Father Pretzel!”
Watching as he ran away, I shook my head and without thinking too much about it, I left the church to go back to my mother-in-law's house, whom I was taking care of.
This town used to be prosperous thanks to the richness of its mines, full of all kinds of metal. Until the only trade route was occupied by a fallen angel. Since then, no one was able to pass through there. Then they also occupied the mines, and the villagers were forced to abandon them. With the loss of all those economic resources, the town became more and more desolate. And then, an epidemic began to spread. The people affected by it were initially suffering from fever and vomiting. Later, their bodies would begin to hurt everywhere. When one died, all the parts of their body would bleed badly. It was as if the blood had been drained from their body. Something really hard to look at.
When I first heard about this epidemic from the Holy See, I wondered if it had anything to do with that guy. So I asked to be moved to that town to deal with that problem and conduct some investigation. But it wasn't the case. There really was some kind of disease circulating in that town, but they hadn't been able to find the cause yet.
During my stay in that city, I began to suspect that the epidemic might have something to do with a particular animal, but I have not yet been able to identify the exact source of it. The only thing I could do was do my best to protect the villagers and find out the origin of this disease as soon as possible.
“Mother, I'm back. Here is your medicine for today... why is he here?”
“Ah, Father Pretzel, you're back. I've already taken my medicine. This man helped me today. This morning, while I was trying to enjoy the fresh air at the doorstep, a dog started barking at me, but this gentleman chased him away. Is it just me or do you two know each other?"
“Of course I know Father Pretzel. He also “took care” of me once, ma’am.”
“What coincidence for you two to meet again at my house of all places.”
“…Bloody Mary, come out with me.”
I never expected Bloody Mary to dare appear before me. He escaped me more than once, trying to avoid me as much as possible out of fear. If I hadn't already eliminated the possibility that the epidemic had something to do with him, I would certainly have thought that he was the mastermind of it all.
“You look very relaxed, Father.”
“What are you doing here?”
Bloody Mary was fiddling with his hair, smiling at me, but I remained unmoved, repeating my question to him.
“Isn't it obvious? I'm here to watch you lie to and trick that poor old lady, hu hu hu hu..."
III. Hypocritical Confession
“I'll come and see you again, dear Father.”
The meeting that day ended with Bloody Mary saying he was going to come back. I have no idea what he told my mother-in-law. Lately, she would always want to know how he’s doing, asking me to watch over him and take care of him, saying she couldn't bear to look at him being in such a miserable state. I know exactly what he's done, and misery has nothing to do with it. The only real victims here are all those people he deceived and killed with his now deceased Master Attendant. I managed to capture him once, trying to make him understand the gravity of his sins and make him repent, but he didn't care. The only thing he cares about is getting the warmth of people's blood, and the deaths of those who perished by his hand occurred in a way very similar to those who died from this epidemic, which is why I suspected at first that this was all his work.
“Father Pretzel, there's a young gentleman waiting for you in the confessional.”
After I finished praying, a nun told me that someone wanted to confess, so I got up and headed for the confessional. Inside the walls of that dark room, I laid my hand on the Sacred Scripture and asked the other man to read with me.
“...the Lord will have mercy on you, who have decided to confess your sin sincerely."
“Oh? Is that what you told to that soldier?”
I had not initially paid attention to who was sitting on the other side, and he had deliberately changed his voice when he read Sacred Scripture with me, but I never would have expected such boldness from him.
“What are you thinking about, Father?”
“That’s a rather hasty answer, Father. Aren't you afraid of me telling them the truth? Don't you think it's a good deal to leave me alone in exchange for your reputation?”
“You can't blackmail me with something like that! I'm not pursuing you because you're trying to get your hands on Steak, but for all those innocent people you killed! Your misdeeds can’t be forgiven by God, and for this reason, I will judge you in the name of the Lord!”
“Oh, you're so stubborn, Father. Since you don't want to accept my deal, then I'll do as I said: I'll tell the villagers the whole truth.”
“Stop! I won’t let you escape again!”
I ran out of the confessional to chase Bloody Mary, eventually starting to fight in the now empty church. Seeing how relaxed he was, I had a bad feeling about this whole situation. As I feared, while the two of us were busy fighting, the villagers ran into the church with all sorts of things in their hands, not knowing how to react to what their eyes saw. In the front row was my mother-in-law, whom I had taken care of in the past few days, helped by another person to walk. Bloody Mary took advantage of the distraction to create some distance between us. The church became crowded in an instant, so much that I could no longer continue fighting for fear of accidentally injuring an innocent person.
“Oh? Father Pretzel, what are you doing?”
“… It’s nothing. Why are you all here?”
“Why? Father, wasn’t it you who wanted everyone to come to the church at this time? The gentleman who’s standing next to you said that you would soon leave our village, but that you still had a few announcements to make. We are very grateful to you for saving us from this plague and therefore we have all brought you gifts.”
Hearing their words, I instantly understood Bloody Mary's plan. From the beginning, whatever my answer to his proposal was going to be, it wouldn't have mattered.
“The origin of the epidemic has not yet been discovered. For the time being I will not leave the village, so there are no announcements to make. Please return to your homes."
"What? Father, this really doesn't seem like a good time to joke around!"
“Oh... I killed one of my chickens so I could give it to the priest. What am I going to do now? I killed it for nothing."
“How is it possible that there is no announcement? Let me speak for the priest."
Bloody Mary smiled, pointing his finger at me, his voice sharp.
“This man is not the righteous and merciful priest you believe him to be! His mother-in-law's son did not die from the epidemic, but was killed! And it was this dignified priest who, one night, killed him! I swear in God's name that I saw him do it with my very own eyes!”
Bloody Mary's words were like a thunder, bringing insecurity to the villagers. I finally knew how he found out, but all did was to keep staring at him, without denying what he said.
Why should I? After all, I had done nothing wrong.
“Killing a man and then pretending to be a good person by taking care of his mother... can we really trust a person like that who spreads the gospel? Did he really come here just to cure us from the disease?”
“He just came to kill you all! Those who "died because of the epidemic" perhaps had not even been affected by it in the first place, and were instead other victims of this man! And you, any one of you, could be his next target!"
I saw how my mother-in-law fell on her knees, crying while a villager tried to comfort her, because she could not bear this truth. Bloody Mary had been successful in sowing the seeds of doubt among the townspeople. The eggs that were carefully put into small boxes, meant to be given to me as a gift, were now taken out and used as ammunition against me. But I managed to avoid them all.
“Everyone, please stop…”
Even in that confusion, my mother-in-law still managed to raise a hand to ask the people around her to help her get up.
“Father, please explain yourself. If you are indeed the bad person as described by this gentleman, you could not have taken such good care of the children. I spoke to the them yesterday and they told me that they would give you a gift as thanks for your teachings.”
“Yeah, my kids said the same thing. And I was cured thanks to the priest. Maybe there's more to this story than it seems..."
“Women and children! Women and children like you are the ones who are most easily deceived!”
“Say that again, if you dare! You shouldn't think straight away that the priest is the bad guy after hearing only one side of the story!"
“That…what’s wrong with that?”
In the confusion, a lot of children appeared in the church from the crowd holding boxes in their hands. They were not aware of what had happened in the church, but the oppressive atmosphere made them nervous anyway.
“Come on guys… let's give Father the special gift we made for him.”
The tension was relieved by the presence of the children, until a villager made a suggestion.
“Even if we all doubt him now, he really did help us. I think then we can give him a chance to prove himself. Our business has been interrupted because of fallen angels. If he really is a good priest, then he can get rid of those creatures occupying our mines. If he's not, then he better use this opportunity to escape and never come back!"
“Those monsters... can he even handle them all by himself? If he's actually a good man, making him risk his life to fight fallen angels seems a bit too extreme to me..."
“Don't worry, folks. Father is much stronger than he seems. I mean, how else would he have killed a soldier with years of training behind him?”
Bloody Mary did not miss a single opportunity to mess with the villagers, making them hesitate again.
“Since his old acquaintance has said so, he will surely know how to pass this trial.”
I listened to their heated discussion and a final decision was made.
If I want to stay, I have to prove myself and solve the problem on my own, without any help. I have not yet been able to discover the origin of the epidemic, and I could never allow myself to bandon them and ignore their suffering. Besides, they believe in the Lord thanks to my treatments. If I were to leave now, these people would most likely lose all the faith they had in God.
“… I see. I’ll go then.”
I saw Bloody Mary putting on an unsettling smile when I answered.
Looks like it’s going to be more dangerous than I thought.
He knew Bloody Mary well, and knew that he was not ashamed to kill people in the name of “seeking warmth”. From the moment Pretzel learned of all his sins, to the moment he tried to frame him, they fought many times. Despite this, he had never expected Bloody Mary to be such a troublemaker.
He was never concerned that others might not understand his actions. He always adhered to the will of the Lord and used the Sacred Scripture as a guide. He would help the righteous and punish the wicked.
When he listened to the confession of the blinded soldier in the confessional, he realized that the man wasn't fully regretting killing the woman. Because of this, his voice contained nothing but joy whenever he spoke of battles. He even declared that he wanted to experience the distorted pleasure of cutting and stabbing flesh again. But everyone knew that his disability made it impossible for him to rejoin the military. The memory of a sword covered with blood in the middle of a battlefield would be enough to corrupt any pure soul. He also knew that the soldiers who allowed murder to fill their hearts would eventually kill again. Even if this man has now confessed his sin, God cannot let him go unpunished. God is merciful, but he can be very cruel against those who commit evil. But he never expected that that night, when he executed the wicked man who had come to confess, a pair of eyes would be spying on him, taking note of every single thing he did.
Bloody Mary came to the town after hearing about the epidemic. He wanted to use the disease as a cover to experience the warmth of blood even more. But he never imagined he would meet Pretzel there. When he saw him killing the soldier, he came up with a plan. If he could get rid of him once and for all in this town, the he would be free to pursue warmth as much as he wanted. The mines, once the main economic source of the town, were occupied by fallen angels. A lot of fallen angels. If someone went to challenge them alone, escape would have been nearly impossible. He even used some bait to attract even more of them, to make sure that Pretzel would never return. The idea of exterminating the fallen angels was not a sudden thought of the villagers either, but another part of Bloody Mary's plan. That would have made him look clean, as if he had nothing to do with it.
When Pretzel set out, all the children stayed in the church to pray for him, pray that he could return safely, and enjoy the cake they specially baked for him together. During Pretzel’s absence, the "epidemic" returned, and two men died one after another, which made the villagers panic and even believe all of Bloody Mary’s words. He expected them to burn the corpses immediately the next day, so that no one would notice the deep stab wound on the artery hidden underneath their clothes. But no one dared to get close to the bodies. Maybe also thanks to all the children's prayers, Pretzel came back. Although most of his clothing had been torn to pieces and his wounds were very serious, he showed no sign of pain or repentance on his face, but only the same serious expression to which all the villagers were used by now.
As the children cried tears of joy, Pretzel patted their heads, announcing to the rest of the townspeople that he had discovered the cause of the epidemic.
It turned out that wasn’t an epidemic at all. The town has been working with all kinds of metals for many years, but some of the newly mined ones were actually toxic, and a lot of toxins soon accumulated in rocks and water sources nearby. Because the mines were abandoned after the fallen angels occupied the commercial road, the wild animals started to gather there to live in peace. But by doing so, their bodies got filled with those toxins. The hunters captured some of those animals and took them back to the town. When the townspeople ate that intoxicated meat, they naturally got sick. Moreover, since the water spring near the trade route was no longer accessible, the villagers had no choice but to drink water from the spring near the mine, which only worsened the symptoms of this alleged disease. Fortunately, the medicine with the power of blessing made by Fondant Cake was able stop the symptoms for a period of time, otherwise Pretzel would never have had enough time to find out the truth before the whole village got decimated.
After the explanation, the villagers trusted Father Pretzel again, and even blamed themselves for falling so easily to the other man’s lies. Pretzel went then to check on the two townsmen who died during his absence. He recognized that one of them as the man who proposed that he should go to the trade route and kill the fallen angels in order to prove himself. Pretzel found out the secret of the corpses, but there was no way he could immediately punish the murderer now. Bloody Mary left as soon as he heard that the priest was back in town.But that didn’t bother Pretzel. Next time, he will catch Bloody Mary and make him pay for all the evil he has done.</div></div>
|Togi Node I - Attack Spd|
|In battle, boosts one's skill dmg%. Basic attacks/skills have a 30% chance of dealing % ATK as bonus dmg to the nearest enemy|
|In battle, boosts one's basic attack dmg%. Basic attacks/skills have a 30% chance of dealing % ATK as bonus dmg to the nearest enemy|
|In battle, boosts all of one's dmg%. Basic attacks/skills have a 30% chance of dealing % ATK as bonus dmg to the nearest enemy|
|Togi Node II - Crit Dmg|
|In battle, reduces one's dmg received%|
|In battle, reduces dmg received by nearest two allies%|
|In battle, reduces dmg received for nearest 3 allies%|
|Togi Node III - Crit Rate|
|After a crit strike, boosts all allies' skill dmg%, lasting 6s. 15s CD.|
|After a crit strike, boosts all allies' basic atk dmg%, lasting 6s. 15s CD.|
|After a crit strike, boosts all ally dmg%, lasting 6s. 15s CD.|
|Togi Node IV - Attack Spd|
|Basic atks for all allies can restore% of their Max HP. 8s CD.|
|Basic atks for all allies will cast a 2s stun on a random enemy, meanwhile restoring% of the ally's Max HP. 8s CD.|
|Basic atks for all allies will deal% of the ally's ATK as dmg to the nearest enemy 8s CD.|
|Togi Node V - Attack|
|After casting a skill, there is a% chance of dealing 60% ATK as dmg to the nearest enemy|
|After casting a skill, there is a% chance of restoring 3% of Max HP for the ally with the lowest HP percentage|
|Within 4s of casting a skill, one's ATK increases% and there is a % chance of granting all allies 2s of invincibility|