Chapter 28: The Ruined Cathedral
Amphere, meet me at the ruined cathedral on the west side of the floating island. I'll be waiting for you until sundown.
That's what the letter said. It might be a deceptive trap. I'm not sure about this letter, but it came from Estoff. Estoff wouldn't give me this letter if it wasn't verified that it really was from Richard. Besides, I knew that Estoff knows that Richard is alive all along. He kept a secret from us, and I have yet to hear his explanation.
Upon finishing the letter, I immediately bolted forward. Towards the exit. I must see Richard as soon as possible! He is one of Airi's friends after all. Or was it? I think Richard had a liking to Airi when I first looked at him.
Airi dashed too, following my lead. "Are you totally sure that you're not going to watch Reina and Rudolf's fight?" Airi asked, tilting her head. "Richard said that he will be there until sundown. But it's just past ten, totally…"
Airi has a point. The sun is still giving its radiant heat waves that make everyone in this coliseum soaked with sweat. It's really hot in here, except for the stage where the twelve generals and the princess are seating. That place looks like it's air conditioned.
"I don't need to watch those Chevalier Unit fights. I already know that they're going to win."
Airi nodded in agreement. As soon as we reached the light; the surface; or the exit of this coliseum, I activated Vesryn Pulse and rode on Airi to the destined place. Hiring a cab or uber driver is expensive, so using Airi as a free transportation is the most logical and most practical way. Besides, Airi enjoys taking me a ride on the vast thin stratosphere.
Airi didn't deploy her jets. We flew as slow as possible, enjoying the view of the paradise-like Guardian's Haven. The heat didn't bother us because the wind up here is so refreshing, though I worry that my light complexion will get darker after some time. There is a wide plain which is full of cute yellow sunflowers on the northwest, and a green grassy hill on the southwest. "This place is so beautiful, totally!" Airi cheered on my head. Maybe I'll ask her out to picnic in here some other time. Right now, I have an important thing to do.
The ruined cathedral is just another landmark on this floating paradise. About four hundred square meters, this abandoned place stood still on a hilltop. Debris and bricks of this giant church looks like it already lasted for a thousand centuries. The right wing of the cathedral has been completely ruined, but the center and left wing seems to be strong.
We landed on the main entrance. As I canceled the Vesryn Pulse, the humanoid Airi clung to my right shoulder. She was shaking. This place is considerably creepy, and I am just concealing my fear.
As soon as we set foot inside, our fears faded. We were bewildered by this breathtaking view from inside the church. This is an indoor garden. The walls are crawling with vines that bear rainbow-colored flowers. The floor has been dominated by Bermuda grass. And the center is a fountain that sprinkles cool water to the plants.
On the dry part of the fountain sits a man who should've been dead for three years.
"Welcome, Amphere…Airelina." The miracle man smiled.
"Richard." Airi muttered. I thought that Airi would jump to Richard like those romantic movies, but no. Airi is composed as ever, and she almost didn't care if this man is dead or alive.
"I see that you've grown a lot of muscles in you, Amphere. Last time I saw you, you're just a wimpy brat." Richard chuckled, and then he turned to Airi. "And Airelina, I know that you have been taken care of by your 'husband'".
"Totally!" She pumped her fist. I thought she would react on the 'husband' part, but no. I also thought that Richard is just being sarcastic and he is jealous and mad at Airi because she's clinging to me, but no. Looks like they're no lovers after all.
"Where have you been for the past three years?" I asked in a composed tone. I feel tricked for concealing the information that he's completely alive.
"I was dead for two years, but then I woke up in the Cathedral Exa." Richard rubbed his chin. "Apparently, Estoff took my body there for preservation. They engraved runes all over my body in attempt for my resurrection, and it looks like we succeeded."
Cathedral Exa is the largest cathedral on the capital. Since the cathedral accepts anyone without any racism or other discrimination, the cathedral is widely known for the dragonoid priests, or Crimson Priests. Almost eighty percent of the population of the clerics there are dragonoids, which is why they lost the trust of the human society. Since most of the humans believed that dragonoids are demons, they stopped attending masses of the Crimson Priests.
There are also rumors that Crimson Priests are engaged in illegal witchcraft such as summoning spirits of the dead and revival of dragons. I've once done my research about these allegations (because that was my report during my freshmen years on the Dragon Knight Academy) and found out that these are always not the case. Only special 'holy' priests are allowed to conduct resurrection ritual, and the chance of it succeeding is 0.0112%. I've never seen an actual resurrection, but the tattoo/rune on Richard's forehead and the runes used in this ritual are the same.
"Did Estoff totally know this?" Airi crossed her arms.
"Just a few weeks ago. He told me to take a break from Arcadia since there's no operation for the moment. And also, he gave me the freedom to do what I wanted in this second life of mine." Richard looked at his right hand with hope. He's grateful to Estoff being so considerate.
Well, not for me. Estoff has been forcing me to run some errands such as protecting an ungrateful young duchess and forcing me to enter the terrorist group. But I really enjoyed being the Black Phantom last time.
"By the way, thank you for rescuing me last time." I lent my hand to him. "If you weren't there, I should've been on the garrote right now."
He took my hand and shook it. "You're welcome. Estoff ordered me to watch you, just in case you got made."
"Hey, what kind of magic did you do to teleport me away from the enemies?" I rotated my head like an owl.
"Haven't I told you earlier?" Airi jumped between our conversation. "Richard is a Warp Dragon! Totally! That's why he's able to create protals and teleportation circles at will!"
"She's right." Richard nodded. Then he opened up his palm, and a floating circle of light emerged. "My powers seemed to become more powerful than the last time."
I remembered when Richard and I encountered Kyle Leviticus. When that evil general stabbed me, the slim sword passed through my chest, and Richard got hurt. Richard should've created a warp to protect me from that bastard's sword at that very time. He saved my life in exchange of his. That was two times in the row now, when he made me flee against the Chevalier Unit.
I can't help but to clench my hand. I always end up getting saved by my friends. I'm so pathetic.
Richard's eye widened in shock, as if he swallowed an adult rat on his mouth. When I looked around, I concluded that a person has been watching us the whole time.
It was the beautiful blonde woman, who is feared on her brilliance and battle prowess. It was the student council president, Reina Fleuret herself.
"R-Richard…" Reina muttered.
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