The Church’s Might — Part 2
Editors: Speedphoenix, Joker
Our destination entered our view after a few minutes worth of walking. The fact that the passageway was coming to an end was incredibly obvious. The bright lights that flooded the area beyond the tunnel greatly contrasted the dimmer ones within it.
I followed the knight and the hero and slowly headed towards its source.
Upon arrival, I found myself within a building that was far removed from the shabby hut I had entered from. It was a cathedral. A great, underground cathedral far larger than anything I could have ever expected given the lacklustre path we had taken to reach it. Gorgeous pillars stretched all the way from its floor to its high rising ceiling, upon which there lay an enormous mural—one that seemed to tell a story based on some sort of religious myth. Brilliant, shimmering chandeliers hung from the ceiling and provided the building with most of its light.
The church’s floor was, as one would expect, constructed of a series of shapes and decorated with long, wooden benches. My gaze followed the centre aisle, eventually arriving at an elaborate piece of stained glass. Like the mural, it depicted a tale of sorts. I suspected the item was magically enchanted, as it was the cathedral’s secondary light source. Rays of light almost seemed to be pouring in from the glass window even though it was far outside the sun’s reach.
Beneath the glass stood a series of statues. The most well crafted of them portrayed an entity that seemed to be something along the lines of a goddess. She faced the benches and stood with a posture so elegant it made me want to correct my own. Around her was a group of angelic soldiers, each of which was committed to the duty of protecting their lord.
The sight of the light shining upon the goddess was so holy in nature that it even made me, in all my atheism, suspect that she might in fact exist. The air was so thick with an essence so divine that it felt as if it would allow no evil to intrude upon it. Though I guess yours truly being here kinda takes that idea and chucks it out the window.
I couldn’t help but stare at the vista beneath me as I looked upon it from one of the church’s overpasses. Tunnels like the one we had just exited could be seen lining the wall behind us and the one opposite it. The staircase beside us led down to the cathedral, down to the realm within the literal painting that reeled my mind in.
The benches were already populated with a whole series of armed patrons. About half of them wore armour with a design identical to that of Nell’s and Carlotta’s. They too were probably holy knights, paladins that served that of which reigned far above men. The other half of the men present were likely associates from the faction that opposed the prince.
“Woah…” I couldn’t help but sigh. That was just how impressed the sight had left me.
“This place sure is awe-inspiring, isn’t it?” asked Nell with a smile. “Seeing it for the first time totally blew me away.”
“Honestly, yeah. It is.”
“This is where we, the church’s knights, have always chosen to assemble in the case that we needed a place to talk behind closed doors,” said Carlotta. “The church has many eyes on it. All of our facilities have eyes on them. This is the only place we’re able to discuss matters away from those that might wish to pry.”
“You sure there’s no problem with you bringing someone you don’t know like me somewhere this important?”
“It isn’t an issue. Again, your ability to enter this space means that you bear us no ill will. Adding to that is the fact that you came with Nell.” Carlotta smiled as she began patting the other girl on the head. “While she is still quite ignorant about the ways of the world, she still does have quite the eye for judging other people.”
“C-Cut it out Carlotta. You’re embarrassing me!” Despite her complaints, Nell was regarding the other girl with a bit of a smile. No two ways about it. They’re definitely as close as sisters.
“That aside, the two of you have excellent timing. We were just about to announce the plan. We don’t have anything in mind for the two of you just yet, but I suggest listening.”
With that, the three of us headed downstairs. Nell and I found ourselves a pair of empty seats, while Carlotta marched down the centre aisle and took her place at the dais. Once she reached it, she turned to face the crowd and began to speak.
“Men, I address you today as Carlotta De Maya, Commander of the Order of the Faldien Holy Knights. I will be assuming supreme command of this operation.” Her voice was loud, clear, and charismatic. Hearing her caused the troops, who’d been speaking amongst themselves, to snap to attention.
“Wait… she was that important?”
“Mhm. She’s an excellent swordswoman, a talented mage, and just really good at everything she does. She’s really strong. My stats are higher than hers, but I just can’t ever beat her,” said Nell energetically. She seemed more eager to brag about Carlotta than she did herself. “The church thinks of the Faldien Knights as the linchpin to their operations, and she’s the youngest to ever be named its commander.”
Of course, the two of us spoke in hushed voices; we made sure not to disturb those around us with our discussions.
I did have to agree that the commander was outside the norm. Analyzing her had shown me that her stats were quite far removed from what one would expect from the average human being.
Name: Carlotta De Maya
Holy Magic V
Fire Magic V
Sword Mastery VII
Enemy Detection II
Crisis Detection V
Dagger Mastery V
Axe Mastery III
Rapier Mastery IV
Whip Mastery IV
The first thing I noticed about her stat page was that she had a disproportionate number of weapon-based skills. And all of them were at a decent level. Her Sword Mastery was high that it sat at an overbearing level seven. Both her titles pertained to her prowess in combat. Oh lawdy in heaven save me. Dis woman be skurry.
Both her level and her dexterity stat were incredibly high. Wait. Is dex related to sword mastery? ‘Cause I swear Nell has also got a bunch of dex. I mean, my dex is supposed to be super high too, but for some odd reason, I just can’t do the sword. …Might that mean that I’ve just got no talent for swordplay? Naw, no way, right? I mean, I can still use greatswords decently. And my sword mastery skill did level itself up recently. Yeah, you know what, it’s totally not my problem. It’s the swords’ problem. Okay, great. I guess this is where I should probably call it a day and move on to the next topic before I overthink things. Alright brain, next thought please.
Analyzing all the humans I came across had allowed me to develop a sort of scale for basically every stat but health and mana. The average child had somewhere between 10 and 100 of each base stat, whereas the average fully grown non-combatant had between 100 and 150. Those that worked in fields that required them to use weaponry had stats that ranged between 150 and 400, though the average individual would have something between 200 and 300, regardless of their precise class. Anything between 400 and 600 was incredibly rare, and seemed to denote that the individual was a master of their craft. I’d only seen three people with anything over 600, and all of them had more or less been freakish outliers. The three were Nell, the guy with the axe (but only while it was boosting all his stats), and the knight standing in front of the podium.
The knights that populated the cathedral general had stats around 300 to 400. They were elites. And yet, Carlotta stood out far above them.
These numbers only applied to humans. The only demons and beastkin I had ever analyzed were Leila and Lyuu respectively. My sample size was a little bit too small for me to be thinking about averages just yet, especially since I had no idea how strong the two were relative to their peers.
“The circumstances are dire. As I am sure you are all aware, men, Prince Riutt Glorio Allysia has gone mad. He has plunged the capital into a state of chaos and used the confusion to usurp the throne from its rightful owner. We, as envoys of justice, must oppose him and right all the wrong that he has willed into existence!”
Every knight in the cathedral listened in a solemn silence as her icy cold voice echoed throughout.
“There are many of you gathered today. And I know that your expectations, predictions, and thoughts on the matter may differ, but this is one commonality that we all share. We lack the allies we need to pursue our cause. We, alone, lack the power that we need to depose the prince and his ill gotten gains. And it is for that reason that we are here. Do not forget. We are here to take each other’s hands, to cooperate, to ensure that our joint venture sees fruition. Any that object to this sentiment may speak up now.”
Not a single soul dared raise their voice in opposition. The entire cathedral almost seemed to be filled with an air of silent fervour.
“Excellent.” The paladin’s lips curled into a smile. “Then I will be briefing you on the operation.”
Carlotta pulled out a large board and used it to summarize her plans and answer any questions that happened to pop up. The operation was composed of two distinct parts. The first involved restoring communications with a squad standing outside the city’s walls, and then assault the gate with both said squad and a bit over half the troops present in the cathedral. Once enough attention was drawn to the gate, a second, smaller squad would infiltrate the castle. This squad had two objectives. Their primary objective was to rescue the king, who had been recently found alive and kicking within the dungeon lying underneath the castle. Their secondary objective was to capture the prince, if possible. Hmm.. I kind of want to go hand the king a threat or two, so I guess I’ll go a bit ahead of the rescue party and then just hand him over once they get there.
“The operation will take place tomorrow night. All of you are to sortie the moment you hear the church’s bell. That is all. Questions?”
There was apause, but again, no one raised their voice in objection.
“None? Perfect. You are dismissed!” Carlotta raised an arm and finished up her speech with a charismatic cheer. “For Victory!”
“For Victory!” The knights repeated after her in loud, booming voices before rising to their feet and moving out.
Likewise, Carlotta descended from the podium and made her way back towards us. “I’m assuming you guys don’t have anywhere to stay since you just got here today,” she said. “I can fix that. Follow me.”
Weapon Arts -> Weapon Mastery
More changes maybe soontm
Editor’s note (Joker): Hey, guys! Joker here. Quite a quick turnaround on this chapter, eh? Go, Boss Young’un, go, am I right? Not really a lot has changed since the last chapter. I guess the biggest change is that I finished the first two Ace Attorney games now and am starting the third, as well as started leveling up Miner on my FFXIV main character. Why? I dunno. Guess I just want to try it out. All right, time to check the Sack o’ Letters… Let’s see… 6 today again, huh? Awesome, awesome. Thanks to kx, Zehd Cashew, Tonatsi, A Person, Danthefan, and Jasonofwolves. Remember, if you’ve got a question for me, leave it down below with the hashtag #AskJoker and I’ll reply. Get noticed by your senpai today. See y’all in the next chapter!