Vincent had grown up in the Church of the Dome. His childhood was spent in a church-funded orphanage, and like many of his peers, he went on to become a member of the clergy in service of the church.
In his youth, after he received his baptism and became an official priest, Vincent had worked at the Chapel of Charity, helping the poor and living a simple life with the elder priest.
The old priest's name was Terrence, an ordinary yet great man in the eyes of Vincent for his selflessness in providing medical treatment for the poor.
Even though Terrence's standards of divine arts was considered a bottom tier Abnormal-rank, his medical skills were highly consummate.
The Chapel of Charity was a wooden structure rarely seen amongst chapels, for they were poor. Basically, it was just an ordinary wooden cabin, suffering from leaky roofs and moth infestations. The place was as dilapidated as it seemed and the living conditions here were sometimes even worse than what the poor folk who came had.
However, Terrence didn't let this discourage him and would often spur on the clergy members under him by saying stuff like "It's our responsibility to help others" and "With the Moon watching over us, gratitude is the best form of reward.”
While some may be inspired at first, over time most clergy members here would gradually be unable to endure the intolerable conditions and chose to be transferred to another chapel.
Even Vincent who had been with the old priest the longest had done so as well. However, he did have the ability to leave and bless even more believers.
The old priest had a great impact on Vincent's childhood. So, when Vincent performed his own priest duties, he would always do the best he could, unlike other colleagues that would shun or avoid their duties. Therefore, Vincent was well-loved by the faithful and gained quite a reputation in the Seventh Parish.
If there was any one place in the world where Vincent would feel absolutely at ease, it would be this tiny Chapel of Charity.
Perhaps the old priest Terrence might not believe Vincent, but he would definitely protect him.
I'll hide for a night and leave immediately. No, just till I've healed enough to be able to move freely. I mustn't implicate Father Terrence, but I have to tell him about the Holy Moon Essence to keep him on his toes so that he wouldn't be controlled…
Vincent leaned against the door, panting. Shouts and hurried knocking were heard in the distance as people were woken up and the lights of houses turned on in succession.
Vincent's heart sank. As a priest, he knew that there were orders issued to deal with the crime of heresy. The parish was sealed, and people were being informed of the situation.
These sounds were from miles away, but it was as if the voices were coming from beside Vincent.
Vincent understood that his body was completely different now as he touched his eye that was still burning with pain.
Though his vision was dark, he could tell where the lights were being turned on.
No one understood the power of the Church of the Dome like he did... And now, he was fighting against such a colossal behemoth.
The sound of chains being unfastened came from behind the door. Even though the slums were so bad that the church didn't have anything worth coveting, it still had to be locked up properly.
The door opened and Terrence came out while hastily putting on his shoddy priest robes. He was startled to see a black figure lying by the door.
The old priest recognized the child whom he had guided. Then, he noticed the blood, wounds, and the two gaping holes in his face where eyes used to be.
"Vincent, what happened to you?!
“Did you encounter a dream beast, malignant spirit, or did an exorcism fail? Or did you come across that heretic that caused the entire parish to be put on lockdown?!"
The old priest helped Vincent up hurriedly and moved him into the church, laying him down on a long bench.
The old priest had vast experience with medical treatment and immediately brought out a first aid kit which he used to tend to Vincent's injuries, combining the treatment with some divine power.
But very quickly, he realized something was amiss.
The wounds on Vincent's body were healing at a rapid rate that could be seen with the naked eyes. Divine power merely hastened this progress as bone and flesh grew, interweaving together and forming a visually frightening effect.
However, the charred and blackened wounds crusted and hardened like parched earth, and a faint red-gold light glowed faintly from all the cracks, lighting up and going out in a slow cycle.
It was as if every organ in his body had come alive and was steadily breathing...
Terence backed away and knocked over the firstaid case. "Vincent, my child. What... What is going on?"
This was definitely not how a believer of the moon was supposed to be like. The moon had always been dark, tranquil, and mysterious. It definitely wouldn't have such explosive representation.
He recalled the shouts from outside about a heretic apparent on the loose a while ago and an unbelievable conjecture came into his mind.
The small chapel fell into silence. Outside, people had already started to gather and some were knocking on the chapel doors.
Terrence had unlocked the door earlier. All he had to do was give the word and the people outside would start pouring in.
In this silence, Vincent could sense the old priest's gaze.
Perhaps it was fear, or maybe it was disappointment...
He opened his mouth, but his throat was parched and he was suddenly afraid to tell the truth.
The old priest had lived his whole life doing good because of his staunch faith. He firmly believed that the moon would bring peace and harmony to people. He was committed to spreading the gospel of the moon, getting the common folk to believe, and having the moon wash away their inner sins so that... the world would be a better place.
If the old priest believed Vincent, it would negate the meaning of everything he had done before.
Vincent got down from the bench and knelt before the old priest. With his head bowed, he choked up. "I have failed your expectations of me and betrayed the Moon. The apostate heretic wanted by the Church... is me."
Terrence nearly fainted. With a trembling, angry, and despondent stare, he took a few deep breaths and slapped Vincent's shoulder.
"Do you expect me to cover up for your crimes, as I covered for your mischief in the past?!
"I am a believer of the Moon!"
Vincent lowered his head further, allowing the old priest to shove him more.
"Remember! This... This is the last time."
Terrence grabbed Vincent by the collar angrily, seeming as if he had aged 10 years. Looking into Vincent's empty eye sockets, Terrence pushed him towards the prayer room with frustration.
"Go in! Hide!
"If you are discovered, I will give you up right away!"
Vincent had long known that the old priest would help him, but he couldn't feel glad. He turned back and said, "I will leave very soon, but there's something I have to tell you..."
There was a flash of dark light, and the color of blood covered Vincent's field of vision.
Vincent's gaze froze momentarily as blood splattered on his face. Wisps of hot air rose from the gashing wound on his chest.
The Waning Crescent Apostle Buck floated in midair, a black mask covering his face, revealing only the icy cold eyes of his. With the massive black scythe in his hands, he looked just like a grim reaper coming to claim a soul as chains went up, sealing up the entire room.
The old priest's head rolled into the corner, streaks of tears still fresh from his dim, sad eyes.