She didn't say anything, but when their eyes met, she smiled.
「Alexis-sama! Would you like to take a walk?」
She invited him for a walk, so Alexis decided to take a morning bath to cleanse himself and then go for a walk with Fransisca in the fort.
As they walked down the corridor for the walk, she put her arm around Alexis in a good mood. In the past, she would not have done such a thing. She had never flirted aggressively in public.
As expected, she was getting a lot of stares from passing soldiers and servants.
However, since everyone knows that Alexis has officially joined the Sagrado royal family, no one seems surprised.
However, when they walk arm in arm like this, Alexis notices that Fransisca is a surprisingly public-spirited person.
（...I guess she doesn't usually do this kind of thing...）
Alexis suddenly remembers that Fransisca used to ask him to kiss her. And indeed, she had never done anything like that.
They had never been lovers in any way. There was never a time when they were lovers, so perhaps it is natural for her to be so...
Now, while they were leisurely strolling around, they came to the fort courtyard.
It was still early in the morning, so no one was there.
Alexis was sitting on a chair in the courtyard with Fransisca pulling his arm.
Fransisca sat down as Alexis did and suddenly opened her mouth.
「We haven't talked yet, have we?」
Alexis turns to Fransisca, who smiles slightly and says, "Sagrado, I mean."
Even in this sweet atmosphere, she must have been thinking about her country—After all, she is a serious priestess at heart, no matter what she does.
「I promise to tell you everything. In fact, you have qualified for the title of Priest-King by tying the knot with me. Then I must tell you. Everything that is hidden from the public—to you—to the new Priest-King, I must finally tell it.」
Alexis nodded, his face tightening.
Then, she began to speak slowly to Alexis.
* * *
This was back when the ancient magical civilization was still thriving.
Among the great mages was Gorlois Sagrado.
He was extremely afraid of death and wanted a world without death. He believed the world would be a paradise if death, disease, and strife were eliminated.
To achieve this goal, he conducted study after study after study. His research resulted in something called "Avalon," boundary magic.
Avalon has the property of keeping souls in place. Those who enter Avalon become eternal bodies, gain eternal life, and can live forever in a paradise of freedom where they are not trapped by the God of the underworld.
Believing this, he led many people to Avalon and finally entered Avalon himself.
「Indeed, it was a paradise at that time. In Avalon, no one knew old age. The nation that took in Avalon prospered there. But...」
Fransisca paused for a moment and then spoke.
「...it was a place of attraction for the souls of the dead of all kinds. Eventually, the souls that escaped from the underworld began to gather in Avalon. And it made the God of the underworld angry.」
"...The god of the underworld?" Alexis asks back.
He feels that the story is finally getting more religious.
Fransisca nods to Alexis, "Yes."
「The God of the underworld—we call Him the Moon God now. The existence of Avalon is blasphemy against death and has provoked the wrath of the God of the underworld」
Beyond that, Fransisca spoke of the transformation of "Avalon."
It was no longer a paradise but a den of monsters.
At first, being cursed by the God of the underworld, Gorlois' spirit went mad, and his body became God's property. Gorlois himself was expelled from his body, but he was not allowed to go to the underworld, and he became a spirit and continued to wander around Avalon with his insane spirit.
The God who obtained Avalon from Gorlois changed the nature of its boundary magic and gave form to the soul without a body. As a result, monsters were born and slaughtered the people of Paradise, one after another.
None of the people of Avalon could resist. They could not escape. Because there was no way out of Avalon.
At the same time, it seems that problems were happening outside of Avalon.
For those who decided to stay behind instead of going to Avalon, the existence of Avalon was a hindrance and unnecessary.
The jet-blackness, which was said not to spread, has spread and is about to swallow even the nations that chose not to enter Avalon.
「It was Gorlois's child who was made responsible for that.」
So says Fransisca.
No one wants to go to Avalon, knowing there is no way back there. But if they did nothing, the whole world would be swallowed up.
And so, the child, who was asked to go to Avalon to request Gorlois to stop the spread of the blackness, created an artifact that would allow him to go to Avalon and return safely.
「And this is it. The Living Stone—the royal treasure of Sagrado」
Fransisca showed Alexis the pendant she was wearing.
「It was created for the safe passage through the one-way Paradise of Avalon and back again」
At that time, Gorlois's child attached a key to the pendant so that no one but Gorlois's relatives could use the pendant. This was to prevent third parties from using it without permission.
At that time, many people wanted to go to Avalon and bring back their families. In reality, however, it takes Gorlois's knowledge to safely go through Avalon.
It was necessary for Gorlois' child to do so so that he would not go hastily, lest they take the pendant away from him.
The child was going to find his father, bring him out, persuade him, and bring Avalon to a close.
But what he saw was not Paradise but hell.
Eventually, the child succeeded in controlling Avalon by going to his parents—or actually, to the God of the underworld in his parents' body—and making a pact with God.
But by then, most of the world had already been swallowed up by the jet blackness.
「...It was a curse. A sin. A punishment inflicted on the descendants who would come after us from generation to generation. But if we do not comfort the God of the underworld in this way, he cannot forgive what our ancestors have done」
As Fransisca spoke, Alexis was aware.
No, he had been aware of it since he first heard Gorlois' full name.
「So, Sagrado Kingdom is...?」
"Yes," nodded Fransisca.
「We, the descendants of Gorlois, created this kingdom as a form of atonement to God」
Alexis is silent.
Fransisca mutters to Alexis, "We had no choice."
「It was Avalon that destroyed the ancient magical civilization. I hear that all the others abandoned the land that was then swallowed up by the blackness and fled for their lives with only their bodies, leading a primitive life. There was no one else to do it but us...」
This is precisely why Sagrado is the oldest kingdom.
At that time, only Gorlois' child, who had a pact with God, could build a kingdom on the land left by the converging Avalon.
Ironically, the pact became an obstacle, but it also became a force.
A world that has lost everything—a world that has left most of its civilization in the misty lands of Avalon.
In that world, the Sagrado kingdom soon became a kingdom of priests, where people began to gather and flourish.
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