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55: The Goddess and the Black Fog

 'Now listen here, you two. Prophecies are holy things you cannot refuse once you receive. What's more, White Knight and Black Knight are jobs that tread into the domain of the divine, the strongest jobs any human could hope to obtain.'

Suddenly sat down on a bench in the temple, the food and water they brought placed on the table between in front of them, Rudel and Aleist received a lecture from the goddess. On their unprecedented displeasure towards her prophecy, she sat on the bench in her half-transparent state as she tried to persuade them.

"Even if you tell me that, I'm going to become a dragoon, so this white knight thing is just a bother."

As Rudel still didn't seem satisfied, the goddess was troubled to no ends.

"... In the first place, even if we're forced into a job by a goddess who comes out with candy, you know. More importantly, shouldn't I normally be getting the strongest 'Hero' job?"

As Aleist was stuck up on the hero part, he gave an explanation of the perks.

"You want to be a hero so badly, Aleist?"

"I definitely want Hero! Hero is generally the strongest class. They can elevate the abilities of the party as a whole, and they have their own unique magic and special skills. Unlike status up and down magic, on top of being able to use special effects, they're perpetually active skills that don't even use up any mana."

Seeing Aleist explain full of confidence, the goddess spoke as she ate up the food on the table Aleist had brought in.

"? There doth already be a hero out there, so I cannot prophesize another."

"Oh my."

"Say what!?"

Surprised as she was at the two's reactions, the goddess went on.

'There is already a hero. And for Hero and White Knight and Black Knight, there can only be one in the world. These three existences hold such power that their numbers are limited. So just accept it already.'

Aleist held his head. In the game, the protagonist was the only one who could become a hero, and it was a necessary job in order to fight the last boss. On a challenge run, he had been able to clear the game while remaining a magic knight, but after coming to this world, Aleist's reality left him full of anxiety.

So there, Aleist asked the goddess about the white and black knights.

"White Knight and Black Knight? They didn't exist in the game, but what sort of classes are they?"

'White Knight be the title of holy knight bestowed onto only the most virtuous of warriors. Black Knight doth be the remnants of a knight who wields about thy powerful abilities... the two jobs are fated to contest one another, and history speaks of many an intense conflict between them. By the way, this country was one raised by a black knight who attained victory.'

Surprisingly enough, it seemed that Courtois was a country founded by a Black Knight. It didn't feel bad to be called a virtuous warrior, but after hearing that much, he ended up asking the goddess.

"In that case, will becoming a White Knight have me shunned from the country? I want to become a dragoon in these lands... I think I really will turn down the White Knight position."

'That is all in the past, so it is no problem! And the White and Black Knight of the time were brothers. The maddened younger brother turned Black Knight, while the older brother did try to save him and failed. Born of the same house, 'twas the tragedy of two brothers whose talents turned to wrath... the mere remembrance makes a fair maiden of me...'

As the goddess hung her head, the two tried sending some gentle words to her.

"Did something happen? Izumi told me that talking takes a load off your mind, so why don't you tell us?"

"No, it might be something we're not supposed to hear. Mrs. Goddess, if it's too painful, you don't have to..."

'The sorrowful competitions of those two dashing brothers... me and my fellow goddesses would place bets every day on who was going to win. Arguing over who was the giver and who was the receiver, those were some good memories.'

The two of them were fed up at the goddess' slackening smile. While saying her prophecies were absolute, by the very fact she was lured by candy into giving them, could it be she wasn't anything too powerful to begin with? Even Rudel was growing irritated.

"Putting this goddess' memories aside, I want to become a dragoon. So I'll pretend I never heard about this White Knight tale. Let's go, Aleist."

"Eh!? What am I going to do with my Black Knight!?"

Grabbing Aleist's arm, Rudel tried to leave the temple, when the half-transparent goddess grabbed his legs to stop him. But perhaps she was lacking in strength, as she was only pulled along by Rudel's stride... Her initial attitude dying away, she was gradually bursting into normal conversation.

"Please wait! That would be troubling! My objective is to lead those who receive my prophecies. If I cannot do that, the other goddesses will laugh at me!"

"I understand your circumstances, but this is one thing I cannot concede! If it's anything else, I might concede, so I'll have you take back your White Knight Prophecy."

"Rudel, my Black Knight too... more importantly, the Goddess' tone is strange. She was quite a popular one in game, so I'm kinda disappointed here..."

When she bestowed a divine prophecy, they both wanted her to take it back. She didn't know why, but the goddess was growing discouraged. In-game, one would find themselves in her care a number of times to change jobs, and from her word use and attitude, she was popular as the, 'Granny'. While semi-transparent, her gold hair grew to her back, and her abundant breast put her in the top ranks of the game.

Her appearance was in her teens, but her words and attitude gave her the pet name granny... yet even so, she enjoyed her own popularity niche.

Aleist had even felt some secret dissatisfaction that she was never a capture target, but perhaps cooled by the goddess' attitude, he had lost interest.

'It's not like I'm doing this because I want to! In the first place, it's because the Black Knight blamed the White Knight's death on me that this temple fell to decline, and after the Black Knight died, no one ever came... I'm lonely!!! I want people to respect me! I want to bestow the greatest of jobs! And yet, and yet...'

His heart hurting at the crying goddess Rudel stopped his feet and tried talking to her again... it had already grown dark outside, and he was considering spending the night at the temple.

As talks started back up, the goddess had completely lost her initial olden tone. All that was left was a girl using words appropriate for her age.

"So after you've given a prophecy, we can't change our jobs anymore?"

Rudel soothed the goddess, and after talks started up, they learned the goddess before their eyes barely had any abilities. No abilities, or rather, the goddess could only convey the inevitable.

"In the game, you could cancel, though..."

Even if he joined in on the conversation Aleist used words they couldn't comprehend, so both Rudel and the goddess were learning to ignore him.

'Yeah. My role is only to deliver the verdicts of a higher existence, I don't actually change jobs. And, the first people to come in so long denied me, so... urrgh.'

The goddess started crying again, and this time Aleist questioned her.

"In the game, you let me choose an occupation, and explained what was lacking, right? And when I came here a few years ago, you let me become a Magic Knight as I asked. Can't you do something about it this time?"

'... In your case, there were paths besides the magic knight one laid out before you, so I just guided you towards the one you wanted. But this time, Black Knight's all you've got, my condolences.'

Sticking her tongue out, she nailed it coldly into Aleist. It seemed the goddess had a low evaluation of him.

"What's with you, when you're just a candy-loving granny!"

'You said it again! You called me a granny twice. Last time you came, you called me granny and mocked me too. That's why you can't get a woman!'

"D-don't make fun of me! Even like this, I've been confessed to a number of times these past few months. I'm not like you!"

'But the girl you do like has no interest in you, right? I heard your conversation in front of the temple!'

"... Hah, calm down, you two. More importantly, about White and Black Knights. This is one thing I cannot concede. Becoming a dragoon is my dream."

"If I don't become a hero, I'll likely die in the near future. I'll lose to the imperial prince."

The imperial prince Aleist spoke of was Askewell. The inhuman prince trying to bring ruin to the kingdom... that was the last boss of the game, and the true colors of Askewell Aleist knew.

'Now listen here, you've both already received your prophecies, so you're a White Knight, and you're a Black Knight in training! There's no way for you to change it! As long as you both obey fate and fight one another, there won't be a problem. So act like gentlemen, gracefully accept it, and have it out on each other.'

"We have no real reason to fight. And no matter how hard you push it onto me, I'm aiming to be a dragoon."

Arguments continued within the temple, and as their unproductive quarrels went on, they didn't seem like they would be reaching a conclusion anytime soon. But the dim temple interior filled with an air of unrest. A black fog burst from Rudel and Aleist's feet, the darkness extinguishing the light of the candle. With the light out, the faint glow of the transparent goddess was all that remained to illuminate the halls...

'What's with this fog? I don't know anything about it!'

While she tried to shake it off, the black fog held a will as it coiled around the goddess. And a woman's voice resounded through the temple

'She may be a no-good goddess, but she has ample uses. While she doesn't boast much power, the very fact she is a goddess being her only redeeming feature, I shall make a marionette of her.'

'Don't joke around. Even like this, I'm a goddess...'

'A goddess without a name. Your role is merely to relay to humans events long determined, a messenger that falls short of a pigeon on the streets. And see where that's led you... the humans you told shall not follow your orders. The goddess of a rotten temple unable to fulfill her minimum responsibilities, and you still think you're necessary?'

The black fog's words silenced the goddess. Right, this goddess' name did not exist in the game. She didn't even have a setting. For she was a convenient goddess who would only appear when changing jobs...

'B-but I am...'

The goddess' semi-transparent eyes quivered. Her heart swayed as she thought over what the fog had to say. She had thought over the reason of her own existence many times before. Imparting one's job was her role, but humans would choose their own path and ascend to that position themselves.

Like Rudel there were those who chased their dreams, and those who gave up would become what was left. There were some who earned their occupations without even thinking about it. There were various sorts, but humans would find their place in life without going through her.

In this fallen temple, her existence was one only to wait for the time she eventually rotted away. Was she really a goddess? Without a name, and without even any to revere her... wouldn't it be fine if she didn't exist at all?

"Isn't this bad?"

As Aleist was left only able to listen to the conversation of the goddess and the fog, Rudel quietly lent an ear to their exchange. If there was any difference, it was that he was able to hear them out without panic.

Rudel thought. The black fog aiming for him, just what could it be... this fog that spoke of the world, couldn't it be involved with some sort of larger existence? Rudel thought as he watched over the goddess.

The way things were, his voice wouldn't reach. Rudel gripped the hilt of the sword Basyle had given him as a present.

'Thou, you, she who cannot decide herself is a goddess? Didn't you ever think it strange? Weren't there times you ever questioned it? You were never such a noble existence. You were only ever a half-transparent part of the system.'

'S-system? I-I, thy, thou art... ha aHAAAaaa!!!'

Once the black fog had completely gathered around the goddess, a light tempest blew through the temple. The benches were destroyed as they flew through the air, and the few ornaments remaining on the altar were smashed.

After a while, not in her teens, twenty-year-old black-haired goddess's blue eyes turned pale as she gave a grin and turned towards Rudel and Aleist.

"I don't really mind if you target me, but stop dragging in irrelevant people."

'Irrelevant? Are you an idiot... when it's your fault everything has gone amiss, when all you've done is steal away all that one was supposed to obtain!'

The goddess that had gained real substance from her semi-transparent form let out the black fog's voice from her mouth. But once she had said that much, Aleist walked up in front of Rudel.

"I can't stay hiding behind someone's back forever!"

Pulling his sword, Aleist channeled magic into it. Once his blade was clad in flames, Aleist took a step towards the goddess possessed by black fog.