CRAWLING CREEP

Those from the church of Reformation wore outfits that usually came to mind when you think of a paladin.
Heavy iron armor and a large battle hammer matched one of the most difficult jobs in the game.

The heavy armor, which seemed very difficult to move in at first glance, was a blessed item that became lighter as the priest’s faith deepened.
And that battle hammer had a blessing that increased its power as it was directed at the enemy.
They were a profession that specialized in close combat.

The first person to speak was a middle-aged priest of Reformation with scars all over his face.
Years of experience could be felt in each of those scars.

I should avoid a close-quarters fight if possible.

“Devotion to the righteous life.
I never thought I’d meet a priest who worships the god of maintenance in a place like this.
My name is Obs, and I’m a priest of Reformation.
These two walk the same path as me.
The big guy’s name is Cornu, and this is Petina.”

At the introduction from their leader, the priests called Cornu, and Petina bowed.

“Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you.”

Petina was a woman of average stature, with short light-brown hair that suited her well.
But it was none other than Cornu that caught my attention.
He was larger than most adult men and had a thick horn growing from the middle of his forehead.
Cornu was from the one-horned tribe rarely seen in the human-centered northern kingdom.

“Nice to meet you too.”

However, that wasn’t why I was interested in the one-horned tribe.
They were able to attack with divinity, the fatal weakness of the Priest of Corruption.

I could freely use objects under the blessing of other gods and disguise myself as a priest.
Still, if, by chance, my identity was discovered, I couldn’t be friends with them.
My weakness was too clear; the possibility of forming a friendly relationship with the other churches was blocked.
That was the priest of corruption’s life.

An awkward silence settled between the reformation priests and me, but Erin intervened at that moment.

“The reformation priests will stay here to help mercenaries for a while.
Just like you!”

That was fortunate news.
There was still a chance to steal the relic they had.

So, what level of friendship should we have? In fact, there was no need to steal the holy relic.
It was okay to get the relic, absorb the divinity, and then return it.
The problem was that when the divinity was absorbed from the holy relic, the divinity of corruption would flow out for a while.

Now I needed to go through a total of three steps.
Stealing the sacred object somehow, absorb the divinity as far as possible from those priests, then put it back.

It was complicated.
It was natural that I’d be treated like a madman if I asked them to touch the relic for a moment.
Did I have to steal again? I wasn’t a priest but a bandit of corruption.

“Priest Marnak?”

I thought for too long.
Obs, the man with the scars looked closely at my face and said.

“We have something scheduled after this, so I think we should go unpack for now.
Let’s put off our conversation until next time.”

Yeah, I needed to get my plans together too.
I replied with a big smile.

“I look forward to meeting you again.”

The three priests bowed and disappeared into the mercenary guild.
Inside?

Erin watched their backs as they marched off.

“The Reformation priests have decided to stay in the Mercenary Guild while here.”

“Are you okay with that?”

“Our guild usually provides accommodation for the priests who visit us for a small price.
Because they’re priests.”

No way…

“Then that’s why you let me sleep here yesterday?”

Erin laughed bashfully.

“Yes! Of course, I let you sleep here because you’re a priest!”

The winter wind blowing outside hit my heart, which had been warm for a short moment.
Yeah, that couldn’t be true.

Her bright green eyes blinked.

“No way? Did you think I let you sleep here because I was interested in you?”

“Not at all.”

Yes, exactly.
I thought this pretty lady had a sneaky black heart for me.
Black like pencil lead.

“Actually, I’m interested in you, so I did you a favor.”

“What?”

Erin, after glancing around, came up and whispered softly into my ear.
Her warm breath tickled.

“We have a large supply of groceries coming in tomorrow night, and I was wondering if you could put up a blessing to keep them safe for a long time.”

I stepped back and patted the side of my face.

“Why are you whispering such a thing into my ear?”

Erin grinned like a mischievous kid.

“Why?”

My pocket began wriggling violently.

‘Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!’

I quickly grabbed onto the hand and smiled.

“I can give you as many blessings as you want to keep the food from spoiling.
In exchange, would it be alright to stay at the guild house for a while?”

It wasn’t a problem for me to put up a simple blessing of corruption and have it remain unnoticed by the priests of the Reformation Church.

“If the priest wants to stay here, that’s great!”

Great? Great…?! I pretended to be nonchalant, gently pressing down on my wiggling pocket.

“Then, I’ll thankfully stay for a few more days.”

“Yes.
If you’re ever in your room and you’re bored, come out and talk to me.
Well, excuse me, I have some work to do now.”

Erin returned to her station, and I returned to my room with my two gold coins.

‘Kill!’

“Mother, that’s too much.
Why don’t you use brighter words?”

‘Kill! Kill! Kill!’

“What do you mean? I’m just here to retrieve the holy relic.
There’s no speck of darkness in my heart for that red-haired lady.
I’m telling you.”

‘Kill…?’

“I mean it.
You’ve watched me over the past five years, don’t you know me well? I really have only Mother in my heart.
Ha, this is really bad! I will make you feel my pure heart!”

I massaged the hand, pressing her palm with all my heart.

‘K… I… L… L…’

The Mother of Corruption, who was about to say something, was so absorbed in the massage that she couldn’t complete the thought.

After I fully relaxed Mother, I came back down to the first floor of the mercenary guild.
Only the one-horned man was there sitting in a chair, and he made eye contact with me and smiled.

“Oh, isn’t it the priest Marnak?”

Feeling the need to gather information about the relic, I naturally went and sat in front of Cornu.

“I didn’t expect to see you again this early.
It’s really nice to meet you.
By the way, where did the other priests go?”

“Priest Obs and Petina have gone to greet the lord of Guise.”

“Why didn’t you go with them?”

Cornu smiled awkwardly and scratched his cheek.

“Since I’m not human, some of the lords of the northern kingdom are opposed to me.”

Quite a few aristocrats of the northern kingdom found it uncomfortable to face other races.

“I don’t think Lord Thredon cares about that at all.”

Suddenly, Erin appeared behind me and pulled a chair to interrupt the conversation.
Cornu smiled gently and replied to her.

“Is that right? I should have visited him with the other priests.”

“Our Lord Thredon has a very stoic personality.
Although he is cold-hearted in dealing with people, he is very good at work.
He’s distinguished between the public servants and his vassals.
There are a lot of enthusiastic supporters of Lord Thredon in Guise, so it’s best to be careful if you want to gossip about him outside.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

I asked.

“But why did the other priests go to see the lord?”

When priests entered the city, no law required them to greet the lord.
The fact that they went to meet the lord meant they had a different purpose.
Cornu peeked at Erin and slowly opened his mouth.

“We’re following a prophecy from ten years ago on this pilgrimage.
Priest Obs is the one who thinks that the end of all life will be the demons.”

Demons? Crazy! Things were going very badly, but I continued as casually as possible.

“Do you think that the lord is a demon?”

Cornu smiled and waved his big hands.

“Oh, no, not at all.
If I really thought Lord Thredon was evil, would I have stayed here? It’s just that Priest Obs goes to check every time he stops by a city.
The priest has a holy relic that can tell if someone is a demon or not.”

Bad.
Very bad.
It couldn’t have been worse.
It was clear that a lot of people were going to die soon.
If Thredon had just been possessed by a demon, the two priests of the Reformation Church could easily deal with him, but he had spent forty winters in that body.
If he needed to, he could bring a part of his body from the other world to this land.

Whoosh!

The earth started shaking, and screams echoed through the city streets.
Cornu and I bolted out of the guild.

And we saw it.
A part of the demon had descended into this world and destroyed the lord’s mansion.

“Gaaaaaaaaah!”

The charcoal skin that covered his whole body was so thick that no spear or sword could pierce it, and the sharp teeth visible through his wide-open mouth were each the size of a human head.

Bang!

A huge hammer made of pure white light fell onto the head of the huge demon.
It was the hammer of punishment, one of the representative powers the Reformation priests could muster.

Cornu looked at me.

“We have to go help!”

He looked back to the demon running wild in the distance, and his face stiffened.

“Go ahead.
I’ll be right behind you.”

While the three Reformation priests stopped the demon, I had something to do on my own.

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