Rodney stared at the altar before him, reaching out for the silver placenta with shaky hands, ignoring the blood all over him.
As the whole thing occurred, the silver placenta seemed to wither and now its squirming had gotten weak.
The charred portion was covered by the blood gushing out and what seemed like wriggling flesh started to regrow, but at a very slow pace.
As he stared at it, Rodney's grim expression suddenly softened. He wanted to touch the silver placenta but he didn't dare to and instead circled the altar.
"Are you frightened?" asked Rodney in a soft gentle voice. "Who hurt you?
"Let your humble servant resolve your problem for you, please bestow me with your power once again..."
His voice was hoarse and slow. "Please, give them back to me..."
The silver placenta contracted violently several times, like a malformed heart. The blood gushing out and covering the charred part successfully formed fresh skin and healed the wound.
Only then did it emit the faint light once more.
Rodney's staff, as if in resonance, also lit up as well.
However the ornament representing the Waning Crescent didn't light up and remained dark.
Combined with the damage on the silver placenta, this meant it wasn't just a temporary loss, but rather the power of the Waning Crescent was completely taken from the Moon itself!
Rodney's heart sank as well, but he still maintained his kindly expression and spoke gently to the silver placenta. "You've done well. Your humble servant will remain devoted to you for all eternity, destroying all your enemies, and for your everlasting protection and grace.
He watched the gradually calming silver placenta for a while more, then turned and summoned the Saintess.
The Saintess' beautiful face was pale and her eyes were laden with fear. She knelt down and exclaimed with a trembling voice, "Your Holiness... I... I can't find Buck's soul. It's like he no longer exists, someone has completely erased his soul!"
Buck had been dispatched to pursue and kill Vincent.
He had gone up against the bookstore owner in this process... Which meant that the current situation was entirely caused by the bookstore owner.
He had thoroughly slain Buck, and even destroyed the divine power straight from its source!
What sort of being is he?!
The entire Norzin had been deathly calm even when he had done such a terrifying deed. Even a Supreme-rank would still have to spare quite a bit of effort to kill off a Destructive-rank.
Destructive-ranks got this name because they could easily cause widespread destruction to an entire region. But how had he now removed the existence of a Destructive-rank as easily as cutting up some vegetables?
Rodney's face turned very ugly. He waved her off and said, "Got it, you can go off."
The Saintess took her leave.
Following that, the Full Moon Apostle entered and gave a full recount of everything that had happened in the vicinity of the bookstore witnessed by the watchful eyes of so many onlookers.
Rodney got more startled and furious the more he listened. He gripped the staff so tightly that his hand turned pale and his knuckles protruded.
Were there Supreme-ranks in this world capable of casually annihilating Destructive-ranks?
Or could the bookstore owner have already reached a fabled level that didn't exist?
"Impossible! That sort of level can only exist within the dream realm. Primordial Witches, gods. These were all in the dream realm. Nobody has achieved such a level in the real world!
"Otherwise... The thing that I've been chasing my entire life is wrong. I cannot be wrong!" Rodney gnashed his teeth and rambled with bloodshot eyes.
"Of course you can't be wrong." A sudden voice said.
The voice was low, with a certain inexplicable magnetism and conviction.
Rodney turned his head and saw a black robed man standing in the corner. The man's face was blurred, as if shrouded by mist that only revealed his silver eyes. In the center of those black robes was a strange design that seemed full of magical power.
A long sword shrouded in flames.
Rodney immediately recited the name of the design in his mind—Path of the Flaming Sword.
The man in black strolled over and eyed the pope. "Rodney, are you so unsure of your ideals?"
"Of course I believe I'm right!" Rodney first refuted loudly, then hesitated for a moment. "But the bookstore owner, that Lin Jie fellow. What the h*ll is going on? Vincent's power completely counters the Church of the Dome. You've seen it yourself, we have no way of dealing with him. What about your side?"
Rodney continued in a huff, "Didn't you all say that you would help me?"
"Fool!" The man in black glared at him. "Do you want the Church of the Dome, or do you want power that surpasses Supreme-rank?"
Rodney shuddered, realizing this was no place for him to be angry, and returned to his senses. The Pope lowered his disheveled head and replied, "Power, of course."
The black robed man then muttered, "Then stop caring about everything else and focus on preparations for the ceremony to help the moon escape. As long as it can leave the dream realm, we will be able to move to the next step of widening the dream realm's fractures and gaining its power.
"We will continue supplying you with materials, but now everything has to be sped up. The Ash Chamber of Commerce's side is about to be exposed soon and you still want to mess around?
"Remember, your first duty is to help the moon emerge from the dream realm. Understood?"
Rodney nodded his head grudgingly. "Yes."
The black robed man went to the window and crossed his arms, gazing out into the dark night sky. "Lord Michael will take care of Lin Jie. He has foiled our plans twice already. As an enemy of Path of the Flaming Sword, we will naturally get rid of him.
"As for what Vincent intends to do, or what happens to the Church of the Dome, that is none of your business."
He turned around, revealing his sinister silver eyes. "Remember, we put you in this position of pope not to have you defend the Church of the Dome. You aren't qualified to do so."
Rodney recalled the identity of the man before him, one of the ten founders of the Path of the Flaming Sword, now codenamed 'Gabriel', the original pope that had founded the Church of the Dome at the beginning of the Third Era.
Compared to him, Rodney did indeed lack the qualifications...
The next day.
Claude worked all night and finally made it to the bookstore just as it opened for business.
The bookstore was the same as before, but there was one more person this time round.
The blindfolded priest was in much better spirits thanks to the newfound faith brought about by Eternal Doom, as well as the countermeasures he had come up with Mu'en in the dream.
The two had come to a consensus and decided to establish a new faith.
The congregation, though, would still need to be worked on and would especially require the cooperation of Secret Rite Tower.
After entering, Claude first greeted Boss Lin and thanked the bookstore owner for his help and cooperation.
Enthusiastic citizen Lin Jie replied with smiles all around, "It's nothing, it's nothing. Upholding justice is everyone's responsibility."
He then pointed to Vincent beside him and said, "This is the person involved, you can ask him for the specifics. I'm still open for business so you guys can head next door to talk."
"Mhm, I'm going to open an adjoining store next door," Lin Jie said with a wide smile. "Mu'en will be in charge."