Pides ran hurriedly when his eyes spotted a human-like figure lying still on the ground.
“Your Holiness?” Pides muttered out startlingly as he held up the limp body up into his arms, when he saw the long blond hair.
However, the old lady in priest uniform, whose eyes were closed and her face pale, couldn’t possibly be Sang-je. In fact, Pides had no idea who this lady was as there hardly had been any occasion for knights to come across with Anika, who had come into the palace to become a priest.
Although he can’t quite understand why her hair was blond, he had no doubt that this lady is powerful. Pides gave a gentle nudge at the old lady to wake her up. But since she showed no response, he decided to feel her pulse on her wrist.
Pides took his hand away with a start before he held his finger over her nostril to check her breathing. However, when he couldn’t feel any sign of breath from her, he placed his finger once again on the pulse on her neck.
“I can’t believe this…”
Looking much shocked, Pides slowly took his hand from her, realizing that the lady had long been dead.
Pides placed the old lady onto the floor and straightened the priest uniform she was wearing. He realized there was nothing else he could do for her. And now that he has confirmed her death, he would need to inform the other priests about it, so they could carry out necessary procedures to take care of her body.
“May your soul rest in peace and the grace of Mahar to be with you.”
Pides bowed his head respectfully at the old lady’s corpse. After that, he turned around from the body to inform others about this tragedy.
However, when he turned his head around, he flinched when his eyes caught a strangely prominent part on the wall. Somehow, he felt like its texture was different compared to other parts of the walls.
Curiously, Pides brought the lamp he left at the entrance of the prayer room to the wall, to take a closer look. It didn’t seem like it was made of stone nor soil. In fact, its color seemed to be changing when the light reflected differently. Beside that, he could see that it was artificially pitted on its surface.
‘This looks strange. Could it be some kind of sculpture?’
Pides, who leaned over to examine it from close distance, tilted his head before he turned away from it. But after having taken another peak at it over his shoulders, he grimaced in confusion. With that, he took a few steps back to get a full view of the prominent wall. Then all of sudden, its structure reminded him of something.
As far as he is concerned, he felt like it looked awfully similar to a reptile’s scale, despite the difference in their sizes. Assuming it really was a scale, he tried to size it up roughly by his eye. It seemed to him that it was almost as large as his arms shoulder width apart, or even larger. With that in mind, he tried to imagine the size of a beast with such a scale on its body.
He ended up shaking his head in disbelief, telling himself that such gigantic beasts couldn’t possibly exist in this world.
Once and for all, he left the prayer room without looking back.
As Pides sat on the wooden pile he was sent down in before and shook the rope as some kind of signal, the pulley started to operate right away. When he reached back on top, he told the priests, who had been awaiting his return, about what happened down in the prayer room.
“So, she has returned to God’s side.”
The priests, who offered their prayers in reverent voices, didn’t seem at all startled by the news. Watching the priests bustling about for preparations after they were finished with their prayers, Pides turned around to take his leave. Right then, the priest who had accompanied him to Sang-je’s prayer room earlier offered to see him out.
“It seems to me that you all have expected priest Anika’s death.” Pides asked casually in passing.
“Sadly, we have.”
“Was she ill or something?”
“No, not at all.”
Pides could easily tell the priest was reluctant to give him too much details. Nevertheless, Pides got the feeling that the priest was used to such deaths.
“Just for clarification, was she really a priest, Anika? Because her hair was….”
“Was it blond, perchance?”
“Yes, it was.”
“It’s evidence that priest Anika has safely returned to God’s side. It’s such a grace for an average person like myself to wish for.” The priest gave a nod, breaking into a smile.
“Are you saying it’s a phenomenon which occurs when a priest Anika passes away?”
“Yes, it is.”
Pides gave a nod as it sounded perfectly plausible without having to request any further explanation. In fact, Sang-je’s golden blond hair was a symbol of his holiness. And with Anika’s black hair representing their close relationship with God, it seemed pretty reasonable to interpret the change of priest Anika’s hair from black to blond, as evidence for her to have returned to God’s side.
“If so, how come such holy miracles are kept from the public? Or have I just stumbled upon a secret I shouldn’t have known?”
“No, it’s not a secret. However, we do try not to spread word out about it. Therefore, I must plead with you to keep what you have seen today just to yourself.”