At this moment, Vincent had a somewhat despondent appearance. His own priest robes had already completely burned down in his confrontation with Waning Moon Apostle Buck. Thus, he had changed into a hooded black robe.
Of course, this was to be expected of those ordinary priest robes. It would really be strange if those clothes managed to survive that Destructive-rank explosion.
As for the current clothes he wore... It was thanks to Buck himself, who now only existed as ashes.
The black robes worn by the Waning Moon Apostle was a high quality transcendent object magically enhanced over thirty times, and various Destructive-rank techniques invisible to the human eye acted on every single corner of this robe constantly.
The material of this robe was also rather special and had an astonishing defensive capability for it to come out unscathed from the center of a Destructive-rank explosion.
Unfortunately, Buck had been blown up from the inside by Vincent back then and this garb wasn't capable of preventing it.
It was this black robe torn from Buck's body that allowed Vincent to successfully escape the Church of Dome and their transcendent beings while he was at his weakest.
After almost a day spent in hiding and adjusting, Vincent had more or less understood his new body that had been transformed by the 'Sun's Core' as well as his new power.
The 'Sun's Core' was that miniature sun-like object he had received from the young girl within his dream. After being thoroughly transformed, he had gained the boundless knowledge contained within it and understood the changes within his body.
Firstly the book, Sun Scripture, had already become one with him. The runes that fell off the pages of the book were the Sun's powers.
As of now, he still couldn't fully control these powers and currently could only use three.
The first was [Sun's Praise]. This was the ability he unleashed right at the beginning. He actually possessed this power when he first got hold of Sun Scripture, and this was what subconsciously caused Hyman's self-combustion during his assassination attempt.
When Vincent had been surrounded with no means of escape, he had thoroughly activated Sun Scripture as well as this ability. At that time, he obtained energy bestowed by the Sun in the form of that huge fiery ball which killed Vanessa.
The second was [Status Domination]. This was the reason behind the natural suppression of the Moon's divine powers as most of the Moon's own power originated from the Sun. It was especially so since the false god worshiped by the Church of the Dome didn't have its own foundation, and all the stolen power was just like oil barrels waiting to be ignited.
Buck had died to this ability, and Vanessa's death was largely due to [Status Domination] as well.
The third was [Activated Blaze Body]. After receiving the 'Sun's Core', Vincent was destined to no longer be human.
His heart had already been replaced by the Sun's Core and his entire body was now like the sun — a combination of boiling lava, heated mist, solar flares and spots. His surface was like a semi-fluid magma, while his insides was a hot solid gold.
His other organs no longer existed, or rather, had been replaced.
Using this ability would make him appear like a humanoid sun or a living flame.
But of course, under most normal circumstances, Vincent could still retain his normal human image.
Originally, Sun Scripture which had been given by the bookstore owner wasn't that powerful. But after the Sun's Core was obtained, it was like fuel had been added to a flame which now blazed out of control.
The mere Sun's Core had immediately pushed him up to Pandemonium-rank.
Pandemonium-rank was not to be underestimated. According to the Truth Union's APDS classification, Pandemonium-rank was defined as a transcendent being capable of causing mass panic.
This broad definition included people like Ji Zhixiu, the leader of a new hunter group, as well as the remaining five apostles of the Church of the Dome. These were all well-known beings that already far surpassed most transcendent beings.
However, under most circumstances, it wouldn't be difficult for Vincent to hit a low-level Destructive-rank if he were to use this ability.
Just that this would lead to him entering a temporary duration of weakness.
Moreover, it wouldn't be like this where he was able to recover in just a day — in the previous emergency, he had used the 'Sun's Core' to replenish his strength, causing it to shrink a little. In layman terms, this was like shortening his life for a temporary power boost.
But it isn't enough! I can only fend off one Destructive-rank, but the Church has the Saintesses of the Light and Dark as well as the Supreme-rank pope, Rodney!
They are only holding back out of fear right now. If they were to react and realize that I'm not as strong as I seem... They will definitely try to kill me at all costs!
My own power alone is far from enough!
After a night of reflection, his burning anger had cooled and Vincent was now much calmer than before.
He knew very well that his present advantage was just a temporary illusion.
Fortunately, Vincent was eventually able to make it to the bookstore this time.
Upon stepping in and hearing the bookstore owner's "Welcome," Vincent couldn't help but heave a sigh of relief. All his frayed nerves (even though he no longer had nerves) immediately eased up and he felt a wave of exhaustion sweeping through his body.
Even though he didn't know where this sense of security came from, just the thought of the bookstore owner's warm and kind smile made him feel at ease even if he was being besieged from all sides.
It had only been a few days since he was last here, but it seemed like a lifetime ago.
Vincent pulled his hood back and 'looked' over.
His eyes had been vaporized the moment he received the Sun's Core and was now filled with only light and heat. Opening his eyes would unleash an eruption of light from his eyes, so he chose to keep them shut with the blindfold back on.
As always, the bookstore owner was seated at the counter flipping through a book. "Welcome" was entirely a reflex and he now closed the book and looked up.
When he saw Vincent, Lin Jie frowned and sat up straight. "Father, welcome back... You don't look too well."
Lin Jie had chosen his words carefully. Vincent didn't seem in good shape and was even a little haggard. Moreover, he seemed really tense, exuding an air of determination as if a fire had been ignited within him.
From Lin Jie's experience, only one thing could cause a person to undergo such a transformation.
And that was hatred!
Moreover, Vincent had only been gone a few days and his priest robes were already gone when he returned.
Just the Church's use of abusive substances weren't enough to make a priest who had been a believer for many years turn his back on the faith. Evidently, he might have encountered something even more seditious.
Lin Jie had previously suggested for Vincent to hide the truth and first report his own situation as a test. Theoretically speaking, this had the lowest risk, but it wasn't impossible for Vincent to encounter problems during this process.
And perhaps that happened. The Church might have caught on and tried controlling him or perhaps did something even more deranged that invoked such intense feelings of hatred.
Which caused him to eventually betray the Church and flee to the bookstore.
Lin Jie put aside his book, folded his arms and made a guess, "You've gotten out... Has the Church of the Dome done something to you and the people around you?"
Mu'en took the initiative and poured two cups of tea which she placed on the counter.
"I'm sorry that it took up a bit of time." Vincent grimaced, closing the door before going over and taking a seat.
He couldn't help sneaking a glance at Mu'en. Now that they were in close proximity, he was even more certain that this was the young girl in his dream and there was definitely a sense of familiarity between them.
Just like... A family member he could trust completely.
For Vincent who had just lost someone close, this was akin to encountering an oasis in the middle of a desert and it somewhat soothed his hateful heart.
If that's so, then she's probably the real Moon.
At this moment, Mu'en also met Vincent's gaze that was behind the black cloth and gave a nod which could be seen as official confirmation.
"Huuu...." Vincent exhaled sharply. The bookstore owner was probably helping her from the shadows and had intentionally made Colin next door reckon that something was amiss.
This in turn led to Vincent's attempted exorcism of the bookstore which developed into a step-by-step guidance that made him discover the Church of the Dome's true nature.
It's a really profound and far-sighted opening move.
But speaking of neighbors... There no longer seems to be an audio-visual store next door and I don't sense any life inside.
Indeed, the bookstore has already gotten rid of that ordinary man after making use of him.
"The Church of the Dome was using Holy Moon Essence to control members of the clergy, and..." Vincent shut his eyes. "The old priest who was like a father to me and who baptized me was killed by them...
"He died because of me. It wouldn't have had to end this way if only I had been more sensible then."
But there were no longer any what-ifs and Vincent didn't dare think about what it could have been.
When he had arrived then, the Waning Crescent Apostle had followed shortly after. He had clearly gone straight to the Chapel of Charity, meaning that their objective was the old priest.
If Vincent hadn't gone there, they might have used the old priest as a hostage and the consequences could be even worse.
Lin Jie was appalled. Even though he had already assumed the worst of them, he hadn't imagined the Church of the Dome to be this brutal.
Indiscriminate killing without the slightest of scruples.
But on further thought as well as what he'd been learning occasionally over the past few years, Lin Jie understood that the Church of the Dome was the largest faith in Norzin and in some ways could be even more terrifying than Rolle Resource Development.
They held a monopoly in spiritual following and possessed a great number of believers. Killing someone and labeling the victim as an apostate could even have been met with praise and cheers.
"I'm sorry to hear that," said Lin Jie as he pushed over a cup of tea, noticing that Vincent didn't seem willing to talk about it.
After all, different people had different ways in which they dealt with joy and sorrow.
From Vincent's expression, Lin Jie was able to tell that what Vincent needed at this time wasn't consolation but validation and support instead.
"What are you going to do next? I can help you as best as I can. Uhm, and so will my assistant," said Lin Jie solemnly.
"The Church of the Dome must definitely be hiding even more unimaginable secrets if they are capable of doing something like that.
"They aren't deceiving just the clergy but the faithful masses of the entire Norzin.
"Many people must have been killed in silence and now... we might be the only ones who know the truth."
Such evil killing as and when they please... This church was simply a den of thieves. It's a frightening thought for them to have such a great presence in Norzin for so many years.
Mu’en nodded and said earnestly, with words in line with Walpurgis and Lin Jie's own, "They believe in a false moon, a beast that has stolen the Moon's power and name, while using it for hidden and evil means.
"We need to let the masses know the truth and bring down the Church of the Dome. That is the just cause."
Lin Jie glanced at Mu'en in surprise.
Ahh... Cute comrade Mu'en has learned how to speak so eloquently and can fill in the gaps of this to paint a complete picture of what's going on. A promising student indeed...
Lin Jie reckoned that Mu'en had secretly peeked at the book, Dark Ages: Rise & Fall of Alfords which he usually kept in his study.
What she had said was close enough to the book and thus, Lin Jie didn't counter her words.
"This is the just cause," repeated Vincent through gritted teeth. "I'll definitely make them pay!"
Lin Jie sighed. Hatred is a powerful tool indeed... He was still an honest and gentle priest just a few days ago, but it's like he's filled with vengeful fury right now.
"Don't get carried away by hatred, and don't let grief overwhelm your sensibility."
Lin Jie reached out for the bookshelf as he continued his preaching, "Calm down first, then try to think of a way. Right now, your current ability is far from enough. You have to seize an opportunity..."
Vincent took a deep breath, calming down the boiling lava within that was threatening to overflow. "Seize... an opportunity?"
"That's not the point. Here, take this," Lin Jie said as he pushed a book over. "You should calm down first."
As Vincent was momentarily stunned, Lin Jie had already shoved his book in front of Vincent and said, "What you need to do first is to hold on to yourself and find your purpose.
"You have a firm goal now, but you will find yourself at a loss once you accomplish your revenge. Do you get it?
"You need to find more things to do. Stuff that you can find support in for your future life.”
Gazing into the distance, Lin Jie dropped his enlightening line, "After all... Even the darkest of nights will end and the sun will rise."
Mhm, Father Vincent's mental state right now is probably like being stuck in an unseen mire without realizing anything is amiss.
In Lin Jie's scope of doling out chicken soup of the soul, he reckoned that Vincent would probably be utterly wasted if he were to go through and finish his revenge.
Revenge is one thing, but he mustn't lose himself in the process.
Thus, the most important thing right now was to let Vincent first set his sights further. Lin Jie chose a braille copy of The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway.
Reading books made one wise — Although the story itself was slightly depressive, the essence of it was a yearning for freedom, fairness as well as individuality and an indomitable and persevering spirit.
Lin Jie believed Vincent would be able to understand the meanings within it.
Vincent picked up the book and brushed his fingers over the cover as he listened to the bookstore owner's instructions. Deep down, he couldn't help feeling shocked yet confused.
His gaze fell on the book's title in warped characters, making him pause as a doubt crept up in his mind at this inappropriate time.
Do you really want me to calm down? You aren't encouraging me to take down the Church of the Dome instead?
All he saw was the words written on the title — Eternal Judgment.
Feeling inexplicably dazed, Vincent asked, "I should find some... more things to do thatI can find support in?"
Lin Jie took a sip of tea, feeling like he had just saved a lost little lamb.
He nodded encouragingly. "That's right. How about you try reading it?"