The weather was shockingly good on the day of the saint’s debut.
This was probably what people meant by a clear blue sky.
I had taken a few days off from purifying to accumulate holy power and had gotten plenty of sleep in preparation for today. Even in top form, I had to squint in the bright morning sunlight.
Giving a big yawn, I shaved before putting on clothes.
What I would be wearing today wasn’t the ordinary navy blue knight uniform, but the formal attire for ceremonial use.
It had the same navy blue fabric but was embroidered with a gold thread and was complemented with a similarly embroidered red-lined mantle. I thought the golden rope and tassel ornaments together with a sword put in a beautiful scabbard created a sparkling finish.
Anyone could look good with the right clothes.
Even an old man in formal attire.
I hoped I looked good enough to at least blend into my surroundings.
After putting on the shirt, pants, and outer garment, I turned my gaze to the ornaments.
Since I didn’t know what the complete form looked like, I didn’t know where to put what.
Moreover, I didn’t even know how to wear a sword.
In the village, even though I often went out hunting, it was with a spear and bow.
I had brought a dagger for dismembering the catch, but I fastened it at the back of my belt.
It was probably different with a long sword.
As I was arranging the ornaments on the bed before doing anything else, Wieland came over.
He had already changed into formal attire and looked 20% more dazzling than usual.
His presence was radiant despite the lack of holy power.
If he stood next to Emilia in her pure white uniform, they would probably look divine together.
“Shall I help you?”
“O–oh, then please…”
I realized I had been staring when Wieland spoke up and looked away while panicking inwardly.
When a beautiful person dressed up, their attractiveness was on another level.
At today’s debut, most of the attention will probably be on Wieland and Emilia.
I could see it in front of me how people’s eyes were drawn toward the two.
It would be tough for an old man like me to stay in that picturesque scene, but since I wouldn’t attract any attention, I felt better about it.
I hope they would continue to draw everyone’s eyes in that manner.
Thinking I didn’t matter in that scene, Wieland was quickly proceeding with preparing me.
He attached the rope-shaped ornament to my shoulder and button while the tassel was put on my shoulder. The gold fittings I didn’t know what use they had were used to fasten the mantle.
Although I stared at him arranging everything, I didn’t think I could do it all by myself.
Let’s hope there won’t be a next time this happens.
After finishing attaching the various ornaments and hanging the sword on my waist, Wieland ultimately touched my hair.
Although I had checked if I had bedhair, it seemed it hadn’t been enough.
He started by saying, “Properly speaking, this should be done by a hair specialist” before combing my hair and rubbing a hair product into it.
I probably had to pay attention to my appearance since I was wearing a knight uniform and was under the direct command of the Saintess.
It was a lot of trouble they had to go through.
As I relaxed and surrendered to Wieland’s careful hands taking care of my delicate hair, he eventually removed his hands.
In the mirror, there was a me 50% better looking than before.
Because of my clothing and hair, I felt like I had changed from an old tired man to a neat old man.
Maybe I even looked like a knight when looking from the distance.
The effect of the formal attire was outstanding.
After I gave my gratitude to Wieland, I heard a loud voice outside.
It seemed like the parade was starting at last.
An orchestra commenced the parade, and then it changed to white knights.
The uniform looked quite similar to the one Wieland wore before, but it was probably not formal wear.
The ornaments were more muted than ours, but the whiteness of the clothing was radiant.
Following them were the knights under the direct command of the Saintess, wearing navy blue formal attire.
At the front was Gildo, the previous head knight.
Except for me and Wieland sitting in the carriage, the rest of the knights rode on horses, forming a formation around it.
I wonder just how much practice it took for everything to be this consistent?
This certainly showed what the elite was made of.
As I was amazed at the level of skills the knights exhibited that even I, an amateur, could see, the carriage started moving.
Emilia’s shoulders began to immediately tremble, and she clenched her hands in her lap.
She seemed to be awfully nervous.
“Are you alright?”
“Your–Zeph… I am alright… Just a little nervous.”
“Don’t overdo it. It should be fine if you just smile… Though if I say that, a scary knight will be angry with me.”
Like Wieland or Wieland.
Even though I spoke so lightly so only Emilia would hear me, Wieland raised his eyebrows at me.
How was he able to hear me even in the midst of these loud cheers?
His ears were too sharp.
“...To get angry would be disrespectful. I was simply surprised that Zeph could tell someone else to not push themselves.”
“See, he’s scary, right?”
I shrugged my shoulders at Wieland’s frowning, and Emilia let out a laugh.
When she did, the golden ornaments swayed and sparkled in the sunlight. Combined with her pure white clothes, it looked like she was collecting sunlight.
…To make me the saint instead of this girl, God had a strange way of thinking.
After circling the capital, the carriage returned to the plaza in front of the temple.
The plaza was a round place widening in the middle of the main street leading straight to the temple. Several pillars were lined up to surround it with various fine decorations visible to the eye.
However, what drew one’s eyes the most in that place was most likely the chalk tower.
It was an elegant three-story tower shaped like a round gimlet with the top cut off. There were seats enough to accommodate ten people at the top, its size was that impressive.
Shining brightly on top of the tower was a white statue gazing up at the sky.
Emilia knelt across from the statue with twelve knights surrounding her, me included, and the solemn ceremony commenced.
Emilia’s voice reverberated in the place as it had fallen silent.
The scripture was spoken sounding like a bell chiming, making me wonder if even the wind was listening to her.
The plaza was so silent it was unbelievable that so many people had gathered there, and I spoke the scripture along with her in a quiet voice while I intertwined my holy power with my words.
I imagined spinning a spider web.
First, I stretched the threads in a radial pattern, then I added more thread to each separately. Repeating this process, I finished weaving a fine cloth.
As the holy power was infused in the entire capital, not leaving a single person out, it came to an end.
A prayer to God.
The purification of the capital.
Finally, blessings to the people.
By doing everything in one go, a large amount of holy power was used, but I think it went pretty well.
Looking down at the plaza, the area around me shone brightly, giving the feeling that the blessing was in effect.
They would surely be less frequently attacked by demonic beasts and not as likely injured or contract any illnesses.
When Emilia stood up slowly, an abrupt cheer broke out.
She turned to me with a relieved smile, and I couldn’t help but return it.
I was tense and nervous the entire time, but it seemed to have ended without any problems.
Following Emilia to the edge of the tower, I saw people filing the ground under us.
“Long live the Saintess!”
Cheers and applause erupted, spreading like ripples on the water's surface.
Everyone was smiling with flushed cheeks because of the excitement.
People, people, people.
People shining and sparkling from the blessing waved their hands happily and swung their bodies in greeting.
The cheers were so loud the earth shook and hit my eardrums.
It was purely by chance that I noticed something in the midst of the excitement.
The blessings that should have spread out like a web were completely empty.
Like black ink dripping on white paper, or like holes in clothing.
It was something ominous and unsettling, making me uneasy. But the moment I turned my attention to it, it dispersed almost at the same time.
The target of the shot was Emilia who was waving with a smile.
It was aimed in a straight line right for her heart. My body moved before I had the time to think.
I pulled Emilia’s arm to me and hugged her in my arms to block her.
At the same time, there was a strong impact on my back, and I felt the heat before the pain.
Something had come flying, piercing through my mantle and clothes, and penetrating my flesh deeply.
If it had hit Emilia, she wouldn’t have come out of it safe.
Emilia drew a shark breath while Wieland shouted.
Even though I’ve kept telling him to call me by my name because he’s a colleague, which he recently started doing, he must have been too flustered and forgotten.
I stopped Wieland who was about to run to me with a look and gently let Emilia go.
Probably from seeing something piercing my back, she turned pale and started trembling, but at least it didn’t seem like she was hurt.
Since I couldn’t sense that ominous presence anymore, it was probably right to assume that we were safe now.
It was really close.
“I’m fine, so smile,”
I said with an awkward laugh, then slowly turned my back to the place.
The fact that the Saintess has been targeted at her debut must be kept a secret.
No one should notice that blood was spilled in this holy place.
I straightened my back and walked forward, and as soon as I was out of sight, I collapsed.
The numbness had spread from my back to the rest of my body and it had already become difficult for me to stand up.