“It doesn’t work, after all.” I sighed.
I had already figured as much, but I used Portal and it didn’t work. I wasn’t sure about Return. Since Portal was a dungeon point skill, and Return was merely a low-level Hero skill, it stood to reason it wouldn’t work either. They probably knew I was a Hero, so they would naturally know that I could use Return.
The reason I didn’t try it is that I didn’t feel desperate yet. Since the Church has already gone this far to capture me, I supposed I had to see where this went. Return was a skill I could only test once, and then I might just be making things worse at that point.
“What do you want?” I asked instead, motioning for the girls to put their weapons away.
The Paladin who appeared to be leading the rest sneered when he saw this, clearly unimpressed by a group of female fighters. It was the Priest who was acting as the speaker, though. Unfortunately, his attitude wasn’t much better.
“The Archbishop has ordered us to bring you in.” He responded. “He’d like to have a word with you.”
“Very well.” I clasped my hands calmly behind my back. “All you had to do was ask.”
Irritation flashed on the Priest’s face, but then again, that was my intent. I wasn’t trying to be a troublemaker, but I had a feeling that this guy was a small fry, and he was trying to throw power he didn’t really have to look better than he actually was.
Seeing that I wasn’t sufficiently cowed even with Paladins surrounding me, the lips of the priest tightened and he made a gesture. “Come along.”
The group of us followed the circle of Paladins, who remained around us like a regiment of bodyguards, or prisoners. The procession certainly drew the notice of the crowds. Previously, I had remained pretty inconspicuous. We all wore cloaks with our hoods up, and kept our heads lowered.
“Isn’t that Lord Deek?”
“The new lord?”
“He’s the lord that saved the city?”
“Lord Deek, I love you!” a woman suddenly called out.
“You saved my sister!”
“Eh? What’s with those Church guys?”
“Aren’t they being a bit stuffy? This is the city’s savior we’re talking about?”
“If they’re giving him an award, that guy in front sure looks arrogant.”
The whispering of the crowds seemed to be extremely supportive. I might have gloated, but I was just as surprised as the Church. Apparently, in the few weeks, since the Demon Lord had been defeated, I had started to gain a reputation in the city. Some were even calling me the Hero of Aberis since the Capital didn’t officially give out Hero tokens as the villages did.
The Priest, and by extension the Church, who were escorting us started turning into an unappreciative villain in the eyes of the public. Even if he had way more guts, the Priest couldn’t help but form an embarrassed expression. He perhaps had thought his own status made him a respected person of the city and worthy of worship. In the end, my credentials just outdid his own. The court of public opinion was a powerful thing. By the time we reached the Church, even the disciplined Paladins were feeling awkward.
The church, although it was probably more accurate to call it a cathedral, was quite massive and ornate. It wasn’t much different from the Catholic cathedrals from my old world. It possessed tall spires, but they were oddly rounded off, more like hills than spires, although there was a point on the top of each one that I couldn’t see clearly. There were many ornate sculptures, mostly of women. They were often pregnant, giving birth, or feeding infants with their breasts.
The Priest led me into the church, but the majority of the escort broke off at that point. Only two Paladins followed us inside. That didn’t make things anymore even, since there were guards at the gates and lined up all over the cathedral. In the large room we entered, there were at least 10 Paladins, and innumerable Priests. The Priests were probably not great at combat, but I imagine if they all concentrated on healing the warriors, they’d basically have infinite health.
On the inside, there were high ceilings and a propensity for the color white. Their religious imagery was different, once again focusing on women, particularly in motherly roles. Their deity appeared to be a somewhat robust woman with large hips and breasts. Was this the goddess who sent me to this world? This would be my first time seeing her if that was the case.
“All hail to the Mother,” I heard a man chanting.
“Mother shelter us in Your womb.”
Although the imagery was mostly women, on this floor, I saw mostly men. However, the few women I did see were surprisingly beautiful.
“You will be respectful to the Archbishop!” the Priest who was leading us snapped. “Or the penalty is death!”
I tried to make a portal again, just to test it, and it was still out. Whatever that magical circle did, it seemed to work for more than just within the circle. It appeared to be some kind of skill dampener that prevented me from using movement-related skills. I could still use other skills, as I tested out several that the Paladins wouldn’t notice like Slave Communication and Map.
We ended up entering an elevator, which was powered magically. It lifted up past the giant room. We ended up in a large room at the very top of the cathedral. I was deep in enemy territory now. I swallowed hard and then got off. At this point, the Priest stopped leading us. As soon as the six of us were off, he shut the elevator and sent it back down. Standing there as if he was blocking our exit, he gestured for the group of us to continue.
We slowly walked down the giant chamber, which looked like the office of the Archbishop. At the end of the room was a tall chair. It was facing away from me. There was also a fireplace that was burning ominously. There was an excessive use of blacks and reds, which contrasted with the white exterior. I could see it now. This was the true Church. It was the corrupt, dark underbelly. Then, before me, was the Archbishop who ran the Church. They were the most powerful person in the country, just under the noble family.
The chair turned around, and my mouth couldn’t help but fall open.
Sitting in a chair, a large desk between us, was an incredibly beautiful woman. She had curly auburn hair, bright green eyes, and an enormous chest that even made Faeyna seem modest. It was easily the size of two watermelons, and it wasn’t covered up by much. Although she was dressed in ceremonial robes, black and red in color, she had an extensive amount of cleavage on display. She didn’t show any bit of embarrassment, as she looked me up and down.
She noticed my eyes locked on her chest, and a small, almost imperceptible smirk appeared on her face. “Hello, Deek Deekson. I’ve been waiting for you.”
“Ah… well, it’s not like you’ve given me a choice.”
I managed to shake my gaze from the appearance of her massive tits, especially after being glared at by the girls. I reminded myself that this woman was the enemy. Who knew what evil plans the Church was concocting!
“Would you like something to drink?” she asked, glancing back to the escort Priest, who nodded and went to a small bar to prepare something. “Wine? Tea? Or… Milk?”
My eyes couldn’t help but drop down to her tits again. Her smile grew slightly wider, and I felt an elbow in my stomach.
“N-no… rather, I just want to know why the Church went to such an effort to bring me here? My interaction with the Church has been minimal at best. I’ve done nothing I can remember to upset you.”
Well, other than the clockwork dragon, but why would I mention that at a time like this? Rather, I felt like playing dumb was my best move at the moment. The woman behind the desk was calm, looking me up and down one more time with a bit of interest.
“You may call me Mary.”
“Like… the virgin?”
“Oh my… how bold.”
“No, I mean…” I tried to defend myself but then shook my head so I didn’t get flustered. “Rather, why am I here?”
She sat back, pursing her lips thoughtfully. “You don’t trust the Church very much, do you?”
Of course, the church was always the bad guy. How could I trust them? They captured Carmine. They forced me here. They were trying to use a clockwork dragon! They tossed Salicia and Carmine into slavery! Who knew what else they had done?
“Do I have a reason to?” I decided to answer with another question.
She leaned forward, her chest bouncing as it flopped on the desk, even though she wasn’t leaning very far. How did she write with those things in the way?
“Do you know anything about the Church?”
“Only what I have heard from others,” I responded shortly.
“Oh?” She raised an eyebrow and then took the glass that the priest handed her.
I noticed he hadn’t made me anything. She drank the cup slowly, seeming completely unrushed.
“So, is there anything I should know?” I asked, feeling a bit annoyed.
“There have been many religions over the years, but only ours has become the main religion. We believe in the Mother and the Daughter. However, in recent years, the Church has become… divided. It has come to a point where things might very well come to war.”
“The church… is at war?”
She nodded sadly. “It might be, very soon. There are several sects that have broken off. The sect here in Aberis has a great deal of reverence for the Mother. We worship birth, leadership, ideals, and nourishment. The other sect favors the Daughter. They lean towards youth and innovation. Of course, over the years of this conflict, both sides have recruited many numbers. And the support finally settled on a specific feature of the Mother and the Daughter. This is the central source of our conflict now, and the choice that we haven’t been able to settle in a thousand years to this very day.”
I raised an eyebrow. “What is that?”
“Big chests over flat chests.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Ah! Let me officially introduce my church!” She stood up and then bowed, her giant breasts smashing on the table as she did so. “I am Archbishop Mary, of the Church of Big Titties!”