ere his instructions.

Of course, I refused at first.
Deceiving the Saint is like spitting in the face of God.
I couldn’t do something that awful.
I said I would forget what I’d heard and begged him for a different task.
When I clung to his robes, the noble rang a bell and called for Helena in a bored tone, unmoved by my hysterics.

…Why was Helena here? And why dressed as a maid? Before I could voice my questions, the noble coldly instructed her, “Increase the poison.”

“What?” I cried.

“Yes.” Helena agreed.

The noble gave his terrible instructions without hesitation and Helena affirmed it with a smile.
For refusing, I was locked up, and the next time I was released to see my mother, she’d deteriorated to the point where she couldn’t get out of bed.


“Emilia, Don’t look at me like that.
Helena was kind enough to come all the way here to help take care of me.
I’m sure I’ll recover soon.” As soon as my mother fell asleep again, Helena appeared without a sound.
She had two glasses in her hands.

“There’s poison in one, and an antidote in the other.
It’s up to you which one I give your mother.” Hearing this, I fell to my knees with tears in my eyes.

Even if I had to deceive God, I would save my mother.
That was all that mattered to me.


Arriving at the temple, I entered the innermost room: the one empty except for the image of God illuminated by light.
I knelt before the image.
Even if the Appraisal could be forged, God would know the truth.
I knew I’d be caught and punished.

So I prayed for my mother.
It’s all my fault, so please save her.

The noble said that if I went to the temple as a Saint, he wouldn’t do anything to her.
Even if I failed, he would protect my mother’s life as long as I never revealed his identity.
But after everything, I’m not stupid enough to take his word for it.
Failure could result in the death of my mother.

I planned to explain everything honestly if I were caught.
And in exchange, I would ask the Saint to help my mother.
The nobleman would be captured and my mother would be free.
I had no other choice but to bet on the slight possibility the Saint would listen.

“I read about your circumstances in the report.”

“It’s true that I tried to deceive God, I’m so sorry.”

“No, no.
It’s only natural that you want to protect your mother.”

Hearing the calm voice of the Saint, the tear I had been holding back dripped down my nose.
It splattered loudly on the cold floor.
The only things I could see as I looked down and sobbed were my hands in chains and the knees of the Saint who sat without hesitation on the floor of the cell.

You are more precious that anyone else in the world, so why would you come speak to me? Why come here and sit on the cold, damp floor just to see me, the worst kind of sinner? Why would you want to listen to me.

“… I didn’t mean to make you cry, but – Well, you may have heard, but your mother is safe because you told the truth.”

“Thank you so much!” I’d been hoping for it but never heard confirmation.
I wanted to believe she was safe, but I’d also been afraid of bad news.
Tears overflowed as if a dam had broken.
After a long hesitation, a big hand stretched out and awkwardly stroked my head.
His warm hand patted me as if I were a crying child and the warmth of his touch only made me cry harder.

The Saint continued to caress my head until I stopped crying.
He didn’t say anything, even though it was awkward, and stayed close to me until I’d calmed down.
He was kind, no wonder he’d been chosen by God.

I was sure my mother will be fine.
If it’s him, my mother wouldn’t be implicated in my sins.
And that my mother would be taken care of until she recovered.
I wouldn’t forget his kindness.

“Okay, Emilia.
Do you swear you’ve told me the truth?”

I will accept punishment for my sins.”

“Even if the punishment is worse than dying?”

“I’m prepared.” Since I’d deceived the Saint, it was only natural I’d be sentenced to death.
I didn’t think I even wanted to die painlessly.
I deserved to suffer, suffer, suffer before I died, so great was my sin.
The only mercy I needed was the knowledge my mother was safe.

Accepting whatever came next, I stared straight into the Saint’s eyes.
They were the same warm dark brown color as his hair, the same color as the trunk of the sacred tree, and my heart calmed looking at him.

“I see.
Then, please become the Saint instead of me.”

“Eeeh?” The sound that came from my mouth was one I didn’t know I was capable of making.
I could only wonder if I’d heard him wrong.

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