SYS (Novel) Chapter 244

C244 - Villain (1)

The events unfolded like this on the previous night.

"Lani, you must frame me." That was the first thing Vitura said when Jin returned to the Holy Kingdom with the survivors.

He devised a way to swiftly and flawlessly rid the Holy Kingdom of invaders and traitors while Jin was away.

No, devising wouldn't be the right word. He had resolved to do so with determination.

"Lord Vitura, what do you mean all of a sudden?"

"Lord Jin has brought us witnesses and evidence. And right now, more eyes are watching the land than ever before due to the Manifestation Festival. This is an opportunity we will never have again. If we want to eradicate them once and for all, we need a villain to bear the blame."

"Are you joking?," Lani asked with a trembling voice, but Vitura shook his head.

"No, I have already made up my mind."

"Why do you have to do this? We have undeniable witnesses and the record from the holy society of the Dawn Carriage that martyred herself in suffering. There's no need for you to go down with them, Sir Vitura. We have enough already."

"Those are wishful words, Lani Salome. Did you truly believe it would be so easy to reclaim the kingdom from a giant clan that has the world under their control? Did you think that would be enough?"

"And why not! Whether it's the Zipple clan or Kinzelo, or no matter how powerful they may be, how can they deny the state of the survivors that will be revealed to the world? And if Lord Jin is correct, the Zipple clan will undoubtedly act accordingly, if only for the sake of Karl Zipple, and-"

"Of course, Lord Jin's assistance alone would be enough to give them trouble. But what will happen afterwards? They will pull out a few key individuals as scapegoats and devour this land once again like pests."

"Even if that happens, I can't let you be branded a traitor, Sir Vitura! That is unacceptable."

Silence followed. Lani's anxious breath was more noticeable in the absence of sound.

"Lani Salome, what do you think the Holy Kingdom needs right now?"

Lani couldn't answer.

"The kingdom needs a leader. Someone to help them believe that the Holy Kingdom is not yet finished. They need a symbol of hope. We need a leader to arise at this moment. One who will punish the traitors in front of everyone and proclaim that the Holy Kingdom should only be ruled by the children of Ayula."

"And you're telling me to assume that role?"

"Yes."

Sigh. "I understand what you mean. If that's the case, then you should mark me as the traitor and become the leader, Sir Vitura."

"Lani."

"Let's be frank. If we're going to compare the two of us, I haven't contributed anything to this land. All I did was receive the love of your people solely for being the daughter of the holy king. What right do I have to lead the people? I have no such capacity."

"My dear friend, Miklan. He adopted you to raise you as the Holy Queen, from the very beginning."

"My father has never mentioned anything like that to me."

"I can swear on the name of Ayula. Miklan received the prophecy from Ayula that you will become the Holy Queen."

"What do you mean by that...?"

"Take a look at this." Vitura pulled out a notebook from his inner pocket.

It was Miklan's diary. There was not a single mention of governance and state in the diary. It only contained his personal feelings and religious reflections. Somewhere in the middle of the pages, there was an anecdote related to Lani and Ayula's prophecy.

Lani sighed.

It was impossible to mistake Miklan's handwriting.

"So, if you can't accept my words, then take it as the will of Ayula and accept it. You have always obeyed Ayula's word better than anyone else."

"Even if our God himself has chosen me, this is not right. This cannot be."

"I am already well known as the longtime advocate for the Zipple clan, and indeed, I have pretended to do their bidding for a long time. Overthrow me, and with that, show them that Ayula's volcano still grows strong."

"There must be another way, Sir Vitura."

It was much harder for Lani to accept this plan because she had always disliked Vitura before the Holy King was kidnapped.

In her eyes, Vitura was not a loyal subject of the kingdom. He was the first to defect to the side of the Zipple clan, the greatest political enemy of her father, and a plague to the Holy Kingdom.

But in reality, Vitura was a friend of Miklan like no other and the most loyal of men who volunteered to play the villain and keep watch over his enemies inside and outside the Kingdom.

Lani could never thank him or earn his forgiveness enough even if she had her whole life to repay it. But to ask him to allow her to continue playing the villain and bear such a heavy burden to the end?

"I can't do it, Sir Vitura."

"No, you can. In fact, you should be the one to come to your senses here. You also know that there is no better way, don't you? Even Lord Jin, who has no affiliation with us, fought a difficult battle for the sake of the Holy Kingdom. Ending me is not difficult compared to what he has done for us."

"But who will know of his sacrifice, besides us? Instead, they will only point and jeer at you. Your name will go down in history as a horrible traitor!"

"Must we desire rewards for doing good, seek reputation for defending our beliefs, or calculate our gains when choosing martyrdom? Ayula and the great Saints have never taught such lessons."

"But..."

"Lani Salome! Stop acting like a child. Don't disappoint me any further. Endure your suffering, as I do. Don't mock my determination out of fear of minor hardships."

Lani eventually dropped to the ground and broke into tears. She clutched her chest in frustration, banged her head on the ground, and screamed.

At that moment, Jin and Murakan saw Lani's body glow with its own light. It was so brief that they almost thought it was an illusion.

Vitura patted her back and then turned his gaze to Jin.

Jin and Murakan did not interrupt their conversation. While they listened, they also racked their brains to see if there was a better solution than the one Vitura had proposed.

If they found one, they would mention it. Unfortunately, Vitura's sacrifice was clearly the most powerful way to stabilize the Holy Kingdom.

Jin was only an unrelated outsider.

Nevertheless, Jin also thought that Vitura's sacrifice was tragic. For his own sake, it would have been much better for him to seek asylum in Hufester after exposing the truth or fully side with the Zipple clan once and for all.

But it would be a great disrespect to neglect the determination of this man with unwavering will.

"Lord Jin?"

"Yes, Sir Vitura?"

"I am indebted to you in a great way that I cannot repay. I will never forget what you have done for the Holy Kingdom, even in my death."

"Unlike you, I have only done it with the promise of a future reward."

"Nevertheless, it hasn't been easy."

"Sir Vitura?"

"Yes, please speak."

"I will ensure that your family can live a peaceful life in Hufester."

If Vitura's plan succeeded, Lani would have no power to protect her family. It would not be right for the Holy Queen to take care of a traitor's family.

But Vitura's family would definitely not survive without external help. The Zipple clan would never let them live after their great loss.

The people of the Holy Kingdom would show Ayula's mercy and refrain from throwing stones at them, but they certainly wouldn't volunteer to protect a traitor's family.

"I wanted to express my gratitude, but here I am, indebted to you once again."

"I am a martial artist born and raised in the Garden of Swords. Please take it as my show of respect to a great martial artist."


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***

"What are these horrible heretics blaspheming about? Society of Creed Guardians! Bring them down once and for all!" Vitura shouted with anger in his voice.

The entire square fell silent at his disproportionate response.

Everyone felt that something was amiss. There were ten subjects who had clearly been subjected to biological experiments, the head of the Creed Guardians was too eager to label them as heretics, and there was shock and horror on the face of the fake Holy King.
All these things added up to the suspicion that quickly grew in people's minds.

Clunk, clunk, clunk!

The Sacred Knights of the Creed Guardians standing by Vitura immediately formed a formation.

People stood in front of Vitura and the Sacred Knights to block their path. The knights forcefully pushed them aside and made their way forward.

"Your Majesty! They are all heretics. Please, stay away from them! Golden Shield Knights, why don't you take action? Keep the heretics away from Your Majesty!"

The Golden Shield Knights did not move at Vitura's command. They stood guard around the carriage.

The fake Holy King couldn't hide his panic. Lani took the initiative, glaring at Vitura and shouted loudly.

"Why do you label them as heretics, Commander-in-Chief! And how dare you draw your sword before His Majesty gives the order. Stand down!"

Everyone gathered in the square knew about the political disputes between the Holy King and Vitura. Naturally, Vitura seemed like a Zeifl's lapdog desperately trying to cover up the incident.

"I am the Commander-in-Chief of the Sacred Knights. The right to judge heretics lies with me. If you have eyes to see, Lani Salome, take a look at them. Do those horrible beings appear as ordinary humans to you? It is clear that they have faced demons."

"That must be decided by His Majesty! Your Majesty, please order Sir Vitura to stand down."

Although the fake Holy King had Bouvard's help in transforming, he belonged to the Zipple clan, not the Kinzelo clan. Therefore, he didn't know how to respond.

"Your Majesty, I have told you many times. They are heretics. We must subdue them before they further tarnish the reputation of the Holy Kingdom and proceed with the consecration ceremony."

"Sir Vitura!"

"If you beat around the bush, you will be considered a heretic as well, Lani Salome. Get out of my way! Make way!"

Vitura and the Sacred Knights of the Creed Guardians headed towards the survivors.

When they were close enough, the Golden Shield Knights drew their swords and stood in their way.

"Do not come any closer, Sir Vitura."

"How dare you! You are under my direct command. How dare you stand in my way?"

Under his direct command.

Unlike the ones brought down when Vitura met Jin, these thirty Golden Shield Knights had remained loyal to the kingdom.

Their hearts felt heavy like a man cutting his own tongue when they had to raise their swords against Vitura.

Drawing a weapon without His Majesty's order itself constitutes treason. Sheathe your weapon immediately, Commander-in-Chief."

Ching!

Vitura fiercely swung his sword against the Golden Shield Knights.

Immediately, the Creed Guardians also began attacking and blood splattered.

Vitura lunged at the survivors like a demon-possessed, as if he could handle the aftermath of the incident with ease as long as he killed them.

Vitura and fifty Creed Guardians Knights, against Lani and thirty Golden Shield Knights.

It seemed like the battle would end in a draw, but Vitura soon displayed formidable skills befitting his position as Commander-in-Chief.

He forcefully pushed back the Golden Shield Knights and approached the survivors.

"Heretics, I will have your heads!"

The ten survivors gathered and closed in around the fake Holy King as Vitura approached.

Everything had been planned in advance. After a few seconds, the ten survivors yelled and surrounded the fake Holy King. Lani stood in front of the king.

And, of course, it was Vitura who reached Lani first. The Golden Shield Knights fought desperately to prevent the Creed Guardians from reaching Lani.

Lani's eyes met Vitura's.

It seemed like they were glaring at each other, but in their hearts, there was only sympathy.

"Lani, you too are a heretic, lass. Your punishment will be fulfilled in due time. Majesty, Your Majesty! I am here. Vitura has come to save you from the heretics!"

Klang!

Lani's and Vitura's swords clashed.

The choreographed sword exchange they had practiced all night began.

All Lani had to do was dodge and block his attacks, but Vitura had to deflect her while pretending to attack the survivors, all while making his way towards the fake Holy King.

Every time Lani stopped Vitura's sword, it felt like he was comforting her with the sword.

Everything will be fine. Everything will be fine, Lani.

Vitura's thrust sent Lani flying through the air and rolling on the ground. At that moment, the fake Holy King, the survivors, and Vitura were only two steps away.

Vitura passed by Lani and stabbed his sword again with madness radiating from his eyes.

What followed made it seem like Vitura had made a terrible mistake.

Vitura's sword pierced the fake Holy King's neck.

He trembled as if unable to believe the mistake he had just made. Still, he tried to swing his sword towards the survivors once again.

But before he could do so, Lani stood up. Her sword quickly approached Vitura's neck.

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