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After Story: The Whereabouts of the Photograph (Second Part)
In a cave, far away from the royal capital, a man was groaning as he compared three sheets of smooth paper.
There were people who would commit crime in any place and any age.
The grass on the other side always looked greener, so they would covet it and things developed further from there.
People searched for food, money, and abundant land.
Such jealousy and desires increased as the gap between the rich and poor increased, making it easier for people to commit crimes.
Although things had greatly improved thanks to Saint Elrise, there was still a wide gap between the rich and the poor of Billberry Kingdom, and it drove the poor to envy the rich.
Although it wasn’t always the case… a group of people who envied the rich joining forces to form a bandit group that targeted the rich was not an unusual circumstance.
The people huddled in this cave were a bandit group who called themselves the “Blue Bat.”
They were a bandit group that had formed before Elrise came to power.
They didn’t like the fact that only the privileged had access to delicious food even as other less fortunate people starved and died each day.
It was unacceptable to them that the small amount of food they harvested with their blood, sweat, and tears was stolen in the form of tax by people who made no efforts of their own to survive.
The people who harbored such resentment eventually gathered and united to show those over privileged people who were the boss. That was how it began.
It only took for about half a month of robbing the food that was taken away as tax and returning it to the poor… for their group to grow considerably.
As they saw the stolen food, someone among the bandits said,
“We are the ones who had to risk our lives to take back the food, so why must we give it back to those who did nothing?”
Then someone also said,
“These are things that we gained through our own efforts. It’s natural for us to get a cut in return.”
They could earn food without growing it. They could eat without starving.
They learned that taste. They learned such happiness.
They stopped feeding the poor and began to monopolize everything.
Not only that, if they found out that the rich were too tightly guarded, then they began to attack the poor instead.
Their initial purpose was lost, and they were reduced to people who only did everything to fulfill their own desires.
Perhaps it was because they’d lived such a life for a long time. Even after Elrise came into power and changed the world, they still didn’t change their way of life.
Be it potatoes, sweet potatoes, soybeans… an abundant land to grow crops, grains and vegetables that could be easily grown, and drinkable water… In the current world, everyone began to enjoy such things.
Even so, they still didn’t change. At that point, they could no longer return to being farmers.
After all, they had already tasted a life that was focused on the easy way out. They could no longer forget the taste of food that they’d gained without having to work.
That was the reason they continued to rob, targeting the well-dressed people who’d passed by that day as well.
But they had miscalculated that day while they’d been trying to steal as usual.
The first miscalculation was that the one they’d attacked was a trained soldier out of all people.
Although the “Blue Bat” group was already well accustomed to a rough life of banditry for many years, they were still just a group of farmers.
That was why it was normally out of question for them to attack a soldier, and most especially a knight. It was something they had to avoid at all cost.
However, that soldier that passed that day dressed like a merchant.
This was something the bandits had no way of knowing… but this soldier was one of regular liaisons sent to inform the Great Saint Elrise about the status of the outside world.
The location of the forest that Elrise lived in was treated as confidential information.
Because if the place where Elrise lived was revealed, people would gather, regardless if they were good or bad, and would disturb her peaceful life.
Therefore, the soldiers who were sent to meet Elrise also disguised themselves to hide the fact they were the castle’s soldiers.
This fact backfired on both the soldier and the bandits.
The second miscalculation was the fact that the things they’d stolen after a lot of effort weren’t anything important to begin with.
The leader of the bandit group looked at the objects they’d gained at the expense of several comrades—three pieces of smooth paper.
Depicted on the paper was a portrait that was far too elaborate, as if the scenery had been cut out as it was…It made him wonder, was it really a portrait? Anyway, there was scenery reflected there.
Considering how elaborate the landscape was, which would usually be impossible to achieve, it was probably a valuable work of art.
However, unlike with objects that had an easily understood value like gold and jewels, they had no idea where to sell such objects, even if it was sellable.
And the third miscalculation—there was the fact that, unwittingly, they had actually stepped on an enormous landmine.
“…Hm? Is there an earthquake?”
The leader of the bandits, who’d been looking at the picture, noticed the ground was shaking, and looked up.
It was a decently strong earthquake. Moreover, it didn’t feel like a normal earthquake.
The ground shook once, then settled down, and then shook once again.
It shook at regular intervals, as if someone was stepping on an unstable wood floor.
“B-boss! O-oooo-outside! Outside!”
“Aah? What’s wrong?”
As his minion entered the cave in a panic, he told the chief to look outside.
What the heck? thought the leader of the bandit as he obediently listened to the words of his subordinates and stood up.
The strange earthquakes were still going on, and actually, it felt like it was getting stronger and stronger.
There was no doubt that something unusual was taking place. Because of that, he went outside.
And he saw. The thing that was approaching them—the figure of a gigantic golem!
This pathetic sound leaked from his lips.
Even as his brain understood what was happening in front of him, his mind refused to acknowledge it.
The size was about 20 meters? No, perhaps it reached 30 meters?
The rock giant moved slowly… but was somehow amazingly fast due to how wide each of its steps were, and it continued to approach them.
There was no earthquake. What he’d thought to be an earthquake turned out to be shockwaves from the giant’s footsteps.
“What the hell is that… a demon?”
“Let’s escape, boss! It’s too dangerous to stay here!”
They had no idea what the heck that rock giant was.
But at this rate, there was no doubt they might get caved in.
However, despair struck the moment they tried to escape.
On their right side, there was a wall approaching them.
And it wasn’t a normal wall either. It was a wall of iron formed by a formation of armed soldiers.
These armed soldiers lined up, exuding a murderous intent as they trampled the earth.
“T-the kingdom’s soldiers?!”
“NO! Those flags… they belongs to Billberry Kingdom and Lutin Kingdom?! There’s also the Phenol Republic’s flag!”
The soldiers that were approaching the cave were not just your typical group of soldiers.
They were forces that belonged to a coalition of multiple nations.
They had different armaments, different coats of arms, different kings, different flags… these soldiers from various affiliations had come together and were approaching the cave at a steady pace, granting their allies tremendous relief… and their enemies despair.
“What is it this time?!”
“T-there’s also something coming over there…”
If it was a wall of soldiers approaching from the right, there was another wall approaching from the left.
This time, these people were priests wearing holy robes.
—The punitive force of the Church of the Saint.
The Church of the Saint wasn’t just a place to receive the prayers of people and get injuries and afflictions healed.
It would sometimes serve as an asylum for people, and sometimes, as a place of condemnation for those who crossed the Saint.
And all of them were magical experts who’d undergone rigorous training.
The Church of the Saint, which has expanded rapidly ever since Elrise came to power, was sending their forces to condemn these unscrupulous people.
“Ah, awa, awawawa…”
“B-Boss… A-are we going to die here…?”
“W-www-why it ended up like this… Were our crimes that big?!”
They’d definitely committed crimes.
If one were to ask people if they would be considered good or evil, those people would definitely say they were the latter. There was no doubt about that.
But even then, did they do anything that would cause forces of this scale to hunt them?
Of course, other people doing crimes didn’t absolve them of their own… but at the same time, there were other bandit groups around the same size and activity or larger who committed greater evils.
Why did they have to face forces of a scale that would be tantamount to the Witch’s subjugation?! They had no idea what it was that caused them to suffer so.
The giant continued to approach, and the bandits could see its feet.
There were several guard knights walking a short distance ahead of the giant.
They were led by the former Prime Knight Leila Scott; these knights were warriors who’d trained themselves to be at the very forefront of the clash against the Witch.
Walking beside Leila was Vernell, who’d gained strength through his training and has now grown stronger than Leila.
He carried his great sword on his shoulder and each step they took brought them closer to the bandits.
Why did it become this big of a deal?
It was because, among the things that were lost during the bandit’s attack, was “Elrise’s photo.”
First of all, the photo itself was a valuable item in this world.
After all, it was an OOP art1 that came from an item that was miraculously excavated from a great nation from a thousand years ago… which was the camera.
Moreover, Elrise used up the film before she’d passed it on to Aiz, so it was possible that no new photos could be taken from that point forward.
Additionally, if it was a photo of Elrise, then its worth naturally skyrocketed.
It might allow them to maintain a keepsake with the appearance of the Great Saint who’d saved the world from a thousand years’ of despair and to store it for future generations. Such a treasure was in the hands of bandits who had no idea of its worth. There was no way they could keep silent.
Supple thought as he advanced with his giant golem,
It has to be taken as soon as possible and secured at all costs! It must be protected from any kind of deterioration and discoloration; perhaps I can ask help from Alfrea-sama to seal it if necessary. And I must definitely protect it from other people!
Leila thought as she led the knights,
For the portrait of my beloved Saint to be in hands of lowly bandits, it is absolutely unacceptable.
I feel a chill when I think of how they are probably touching and staring at it without any respect.
I have to secure it at all costs!
The archbishop thought as he led the Church of Saint’s unit,
The church must pass down the appearance of Great Saint Elrise to future generations. And that photo will make it possible.
That photo must be secured by the church at all costs. We must do everything to ensure that it doesn’t fall into the hands of another nation.
I have to take it before the others!
The soldiers thought,
We don’t care how the people on top think. However, it was the Great Saint who granted us the current peaceful state of this world… even if it isn’t actually the person herself, and it’s just a paper that contains her image. Knowing that such a thing is being handled so carelessly pisses us off.
People had their respective thoughts and considerations… However, there was one thing they agreed with.
—The bandits had to be crushed.
With no way to retreat, the “Blue Bat” bandit group immediately… chose the best course of action left to them.
That was: unconditional surrender…! They threw their weapons away and pressed their heads low against the floor to show they had no desire to resist!
Resist? They couldn’t even joke about it. They were sure that the moment they showed any signs of doing so, their wailing heads would be separated from their torsos.
Leila addressed the trembling bandits coldly as she pointed her sword at them.
“You stole something the other day… bring it here.”
They couldn’t say NO. And it must not be said. If they showed any sign of refusal, they would die in seconds.
The leader of the bandits did as Leila said and presented her with the three photos.
Lelia snatched the photos away… and after confirming it, her gaze grew colder.
“I see. So you wish for death.”
“There should be another piece of paper besides these. Choose. Bring it now or die.”
To be clear.
The leader of the bandit wasn’t hiding anything.
They really only took three photos away from that soldier the other day.
It was a photo that depicted the sea, a photo that depicted a beach, and a photo that depicted a bird… just these three.
Among them, there was no photo that depicted Elrise.
No matter how stupid the bandits were, they wouldn’t treat Elrise’s photo as “nothing important” if they actually had it, and they would immediately understand why these armies were chasing after them.
However, they didn’t understand. After all… They didn’t steal Elrise’s photo to begin with…!
“I see. Even if you are bandits, you at least find it heart wrenching to let go of an object that bears the appearance of Elrise-sama. I can understand such sentiments, but that is a foolish choice.”
“Hah…Eh…? No, w-we don’t have such a thing here…”
As the leader of the bandit heard Supple’s words, he finally understood why things turned out this way.
There was actually another picture that got stolen…! Moreover, of all things, it was one that depicted the image of the Great Saint! And only one such item existed in this world!
But even if they were told that, they couldn’t take out what they didn’t have.
As this exchange was happening, the soldiers and priests ransacked the bandits’ cave and took out all the things they’d stolen up until then.
But as expected, Elrise’s photo was not among them.
“It’s not here…”
“Are they hiding it…? I guess not. Then what does this mean…?”
After an hour of investigating and inspecting the bandits’ inventory, it turned out that they really didn’t know anything and that they weren’t in possession of Elrise’s photo.
Considering how scared they were, it was hard to think that they were lying.
In that case, where did the last picture… the most valuable one, disappear to?
Leila and others wondered about it, but in the meantime, they arrested all the bandits and threw them into prison as they continued to think about the lone picture that disappeared.
Deep inside the forest where the Propheter once lived and where the current dwelling of Elrise was.
A festival was being held in the settlement where guardians lived.
These guardians placed something in front of the altar, beat their drums, and danced with delight.
“Amas-tnias eht rof edutitarg!”
“Amas-tnias eht rof edutitarg!” “Amas-tnias eht rof edutitarg!”
“Amas-tnias eht rof edutitarg!”
The guardian in the middle chanted something, and the other guardians chanted the same thing back.
What they were doing at the moment was a prayer for a good harvest and a ritual of generous gratitude for their daily bread.
And there, displayed on the altar, was the girl they admired… the photo of Elrise, the current generation’s Prophet.
When Elrise requested that they develop the photos, they rejoiced when they found Elrise’s photo among them.
The guardians were a clan that worshiped the prophet. And they loved Elrise for bringing peace to the world.
Therefore, when Elrise became the Prophet, she became their symbol of worship.
For them, Elrise’s photo was a treasure that ought to be secured in a safe place.
That was why they kept Elrise’s photo for their own without any hesitation. Hey, you monkeys!
………At least, they eventually did show the photo to Elrise and ask for permission after the fact, so it was alright.
Elrise said “Aah, so the photo is with you” in surprise, but then said, “If you want it, you may keep it.”
Therefore, the guardians displayed the photo on the altar and worshiped it without hesitation.
The guardians’ happy voices echoed from the forest where they lived today as well.
Good evening, everyone. The Fake Saint light novel volume 3 was released today.
If you find it in a bookstore, I would be happy if you buy it.
And so, that’s the AF this time! We will wait for the next LN release for new chapters next time. Until then, there won’t be new chapters unless the author decides otherwise. Thank you for accompanying us!
Ah btw, only the people who didn’t find Supple suspicious at all on the previous chap may throw stones.
Want early access to Executed Sage, Melancholy of the Demon Army Officer, and I Was a Man Before Reincarnating, So I Refuse a Reverse Harem? Support the translator on Patreon!
Also, Tsukii has picked up a new series called “A Story of a Cannon Fodder who Firmly Believed He was the Protagonist, Misunderstood the Actual Protagonist as the Cannon Fodder, and Ended up Victorious!” The title really says it all. Early access to more chapters for this story is available on Patreon.