Chapter 30 “One Hell Of A Messed Up Scene”
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While Inquisitor Vanna mused over the troubles ahead with the two drivers steering the hugely heavy mechanical spider, it soon folded its long metallic legs into its abdomen to allow the wheels underneath to glide it across the city streets.
Cultists who worship the sun god are a big problem for modern civilization — unfortunately, there was more than one similar plague out there.
There are always malicious eyes thrown from the depths of subspace to the human world, and there are always those stupid mortals who would try to infect those ominous forces. Between this collusion of ancient gods and mortals, there are also twisted items, forbidden heirs, and remnants of taint left from ancient times lurking in the depths of the city-state, always trying to move, always trying to pry the order of society apart.
Of all these threats, the Sun God’s followers were the ones who most alarmed and troubled the protectors of Pland.
They are not only cultists that randomly gathered together but the product of the lost history from the old world. Worst of all, these heretics had a structured “faith” in place, like the Church of the Deep Sea that Vanna was a part of.
This faith revolves around the “Era of Order” under the old sun, which was not only self-contained but even had a corresponding “true solar calendar”. Of course, the calendar wasn’t recognized by modern society. To these heretics, they are the descendants of an ancient civilization that has long been lost, and believe that the glorious ancient civilization will be revived one day.
As the Inquisitor of the Deep Sea Church, Vanna was not interested in the heresies of the cultists, but she wouldn’t ignore how stubborn and unified the followers of the Sun God were in their goals. The fact that they could survive one blow after another over countless years told the threat they posed to the city.
But their resurgence in Pland still surprised Vanna.
Since that unprecedented blow four years earlier, the Sun God believers here had been so badly wounded that, according to several investigations, the heretics must have moved their main members to the nearby island cities. Some are even believed to have moved farther north to the Frost Port city-state, leaving only the stubborn few basically unqualified to be in the inner circle of the cultists.
These minions hid in the sewers, relying entirely on their knowledge of the underworld and the little twisted blessing given to them by the Black Sun to evade the guardians. For four years, their numbers got smaller and smaller, and all they could do was cling to what little they had to survive.
But now, four years later, they suddenly gathered again and even dared to risk exposure to hold a sacrifice ceremony in the assembly hall… Who gave them the guts?
Or rather… was something big going to happen in this city-state? What reason could be worth it for these heretics to risk being snuffed out for good?
The vibration and noise of the steam core running in the mechanical spider’s body eventually forced Vannna to put the wild thoughts away for now. The task force had just entered the industrial zone where huge steam and hydrothermal pipes straddled the factory buildings. These were like giant blood vessels, connecting building to building through the sky, a marvel of human ingenuity in this modern age.
This picture brought back some bad memories for her though. The weather was similar to this one all those years ago – quiet with a slight breeze. It should’ve been peaceful for the slumbering residents of the city. Yet, it was a bloodied night, a nightmare. Her uncle had escaped from the fire with her on his back, and the streets were filled to the brim with the walking dead. Even now, Vanna would feel sick to the stomach at the disgusting stench of chemical grease oozing from the pipes…
Eventually, the flat road had ended and ahead was an abandoned area on the city’s outskirts with potholes and undulating roads. The two mechanical spiders could no longer have it easy by using their wheels and instead stretched out those long spider legs to walk on this uneven path.
It didn’t take long for the squad to reach an abandoned sewer entrance where a team of eight had already been on standby. They had cordoned off the nearby area to prevent unrelated personnel from approaching the entrance.
Vanna greeted them before following the person in charge of the scene directly into the depths. Once past some winding corridors and grimy paths of filthy goo, Vanna finally arrived at the secret meeting hall where more guardians and priest were already hard at work in purifying the place.
From what she saw, a makeshift altar was located in the middle of the assembly hall. The wooden stage seems to have been burned by flames from first glance, and on the high platform, one could see the blasphemous totem erected by the Sun God Cultists – the totem has been burned by the flames as well, but the basic structure remains intact.
At the same time, about a dozen cultists were crouched on the ground with their hands tied. Most of whom were trembling in fear and muttering some blasphemous prayers. But with the ceremonial site destroyed and the Storm Goddess already paying attention to this spot, these heretical prayers held no weight anymore.
Then not far from the altar, the remains of the victims found in nearby caves were carefully placed on linen cloths painted with runes. The morticians were examining the condition of each body and doing their job as expected.
That leaves the priests from the church itself. These clerics are all currently walking around the altar with incense burners strapped to some copper chains and letting the white smoke wisp into the air that promptly turned an ominous black when drawing near the altar. This process would take away the pollution and slowly erode the grip of the Black Sun little by little.
“Inquisitor, please come here. This is what we have found,” said the young guardian as he pointed at the corpse closest to the altar. “Please be careful. The ground here is not very clean.”
Vanna walked straight to the corpses, and after seeing the situation of one of them, she subconsciously frowned.
It was a cultist with a golden mask—no doubt the priest directly in charge of the sacrificial ritual on the blasphemous altar.
There’s a terrible hole in his chest.
“…… What’s going on?” Vanna frowned even harder, “Did this fanatic get too excited at the end of the ceremony and sacrifice himself? I hadn’t heard of cultists who worshipped the Black Sun doing such a custom.”
“This is exactly what is strange and bizarre about this – he did not sacrifice himself,” said the guardian who brought Vanna over. Shaking his head with a slightly odd expression on his face, “According to the description of the cultists caught at the scene… their ’emissary’ was sacrificed by a sacrifice…”
“Sacrificed by a sacrifice?” Vanna suddenly raised an eyebrow, “What is this crazy talk?”
“It’s indeed very much like crazy talk,” the guardian spread his hands helplessly, “in fact, by the time we arrived, most of the cultists here were already in a semi-mad state.”
“Already in a semi-mad state?”
“Yes, their sacrificial rituals obviously went terribly wrong. Many of them were infected with madness, and most had even begun to slash and kill each other. They all seemed to think of each other as if they were… some kind of ‘monster’ occupied by a terrible existence. It’s their frantic frenzy that alarmed the watchmen patrolling nearby, resulting in the exposure of this site… There were only a few left who could soberly answer our questions when we apprehended them. The ones that did insisted that the emissary had been sacrificed.”
“Caught in the madness? Hacking and killing each other? And think others are occupied monsters?” Vanna’s expression immediately became serious, “Have you checked? Is it the result of being polluted by the black sun?”
“There is no trace of outside contamination, but rather a spontaneous madness—the factors that caused the madness are rooted in their own mental world,” said the guardian. Then he raised his finger to a young lady in a long black dress walking among the cultists, “Ms. Heidi has arrived. If it is confirmed that these cultists are not contaminated by the black sun, we can only think of a way to resolve the issue using hypnosis.”