Alleluia does her best to stifle her giggle. Not because of any worry of getting caught, but rather because of Canta’s ice-cold glare that shoots towards her, daring her to say a single word.
“As if you look any better,” he hisses under his breath, staring at the priestess’ habit that she’s also wearing. Alleluia spins around, arching her backside out towards him.
“You don’t think so?” she asks playfully, pressing herself against him.
“Shut up,” says Canta, averting his gaze and pushing her away. “We don’t have time for that right now.”
“I think you look great in a dress, honey,” compliments Alleluia, grabbing his hand.
He pulls his hand away. “Priestesses don’t hold hands,” he says, looking at her upset expression. “And it’s not a dress, it’s a habit,” explains Canta, gesturing to their outfits.
“It looks like a dress to me,” she says, bending down and pulling the fabric of his habit upwards as her cold hand runs up his leg. He swipes her away, pulling the fabric back down.
“We’re in a cathedral!”
“It’s an evil-cathedral,” argues Alleluia. “So it’s okay now!”
Canta has no arguments against that, actually, so he chooses to ignore it. “Come on! Let’s go, put your bag on,” he says.
“Okay,” replies Alleluia, letting him wind her crank one last time before she puts on the disguise-bag. “But keep the habit when we’re done here,” she says, looking over her shoulder, holding her hands to her face as she pretends to be flustered. “We can grab a whip on our way out too!”
“It’s because of degenerates like you that there’s a demon-king,” notes Canta, grabbing her hand out of instinct, but then letting go a second later as he looks around the side-room of the nunnery.
“I’ve only become what you’ve turned me into,” she says. “I was pure and virtuous before you stained me,” she explains dramatically. Canta rolls his eyes. A group of priestesses walks by, giggling about something as they continue some conversation. “I’ll catch up in a bit! I gotta do a cart-run.” One of them breaks off from the group, stepping into the room and grabbing hold of a large, metal cart, full of old clothes. She stops, lifting her head and looking at them for a moment.
The priestess tilts her head, blinking. “You two look familiar,” she says, quizzically. “Have we met?”
“Uh… yeah,” lies Canta, trying to come up with some believable lie as he pulls the hood of the habit tighter around the edges of his face, tucking away the last of his white hair. “We met at the sin-eater’s party a few months ago.”
The priestess blinks, looking up towards the ceiling and then hitting her fist into her open palm. “AH!” she exclaims, realizing something. “Now I remember you!” says the priestess, delighted. “Man! You two took that like champs that night! Ten rounds is already a lot for two people, but twenty?” she asks, leaning in and lifting her eyebrows. “You were really good,” she notes smugly, remembering something that Canta clearly doesn’t. “We’re having another ‘fun’ night tonight, if you want to join,” says the priestess, winking and walking back to the cart.
Canta blinks, staring at Alleluia somewhat confused. But then he turns his head, seeing the opportunity. “Should we do the cart-run for you?” he asks. “We’re going that way anyways.”
“Huh?” she looks at them and then at the cart. “Sure, if you let me go first tonight,” she says. “I want top!” explains the priestess, looking at Alleluia, who crosses her arms.
Canta lifts a finger, pointing at her. “You can’t make a demand when somebody offers to do something nice,” he says snarkily.
“Can’t I?” she asks coyly, pushing the cart their way. “See you later!” The priestess waves over her shoulder, sauntering away back down the hall and walking off towards the left, towards the chambers.
Canta waits a moment, until the sounds of her steps fade away. “What the fuck was that?” he asks, rubbing his head.
“Don’t worry about it, sunflower,” says Alleluia, nudging him towards the cart. “She got us mixed up with someone else.”
“I really want to know though,” he sighs, grabbing the cart and pushing it out of the door.
He remembers this from their time here. Once a day, a priestess would roll a cart around each floor of the cathedral and gather up all of the clothes that needed to be washed. This is of course, the perfect cover. Even better, there are guard’s chambers in the back of the cathedral, behind the bishop’s hall and that just so happens to be exactly where they needed to go, because that’s where the connection to the castle grounds is.
“Well…” Alleluia looks around, leaning over to whisper into his ear. He listens intently.
“Wait. All of them? Aren’t there like a hundred of them?” he asks. She nods. “And it isn’t against any church rules or anything?” She shakes her head. “In one room? All of them?”
“As long as it’s only the priestesses. About once or twice a week.”
“Damn,” he says, blinking. He really had no idea this kind of stuff was going on here outside of their own room and the several broom closets they had found.
“Yeah,” says Alleluia. “They asked me if we wanted to join sometime. I guess as the sin-eater, you don’t count,” she says quietly, looking around the empty hallway. “Of course I said no.”
“Of course,” says Canta, his fingers clenching the cart. Pure heart. Clean mind. Maybe in his next life because as of right now, he’s a one-woman man. “Come on, this way,” he says, doing his best not to dwell on the facts, no matter how they might be trying to squirm into his brain. Focus. Focus.
They turn towards the great hall, sticking to the right-hand wall, behind the many columns as they make their way through with the cart. Canta spares a gaze at the mechanical bishop who is where he always is, but then quickly lowers his gaze and keeps walking.
They just need to get through this hall and through the set of guard’s quarters ahead of them and they’re gonna arrive. He can already taste the demon-king.
“My, my,” says bishop Zacaries Montero. “Sin-eater, it’s been a while.” Canta freezes, the cart coming to a sudden halt as he turns his head, looking back at the bishop who is staring their way through the pillars, from atop his throne.
“Ah, fuck,” sighs Canta. A series of lances strike against the ground as the rows of guardsmen dissipate and block off all of the exits. “We might be about to die,” he says. “Stay here,” he says, walking towards the center of the room. “I’ll distract them, make a run for it when you can.”
The bishop stares at him, moonlight shining in through the stained glass windows high above his head.
“Sin-eater,” says the bishop.
The bishop looks at him. “Nice dress.”
“You’re one to talk,” snaps Canta back at him. “It’s a habit.”
“Yes, wearing dresses does seem to be a habit for you.”
Canta yells at him, pointing. “It’s not that kind of habit!”
The mechanical man looks at him, rising to his feet and then off of them, as the piston lifts him from, what Canta still insists, is a throne. “I heard you were being a dick,” says the bishop. “Pretty disappointing, really. You seemed better than the last guy.” He lifts a hand, stopping the guards from coming closer. They all fall back, returning to their positions. “I mean, degeneracy is one thing. But abducting and eating orphans is something else. A real dick move,” says bishop Zacaries Montero.
Canta narrows his eyes. “I don’t know what your people’s endgame is here, helping the demon-king, but the world is fucked!” exclaims Canta. “It’s a nightmare out there!”
“Helping the demon-king?” asks the bishop.
“- The only nightmare is hearing how you two burned and scoured the countryside on your murderous rampage,” says a familiar voice from the side. The palantinos, the woman who had been in charge of his physical training. Palantinos Salvador stands next to her, having arrived as well. “Hundreds are dead.”
“Huh?!” Canta lifts his arms. “How would we even have done that?! I don’t even know how to make a fire!” he argues. “You dumb fucks! There are demons everywhere! Half of you aren’t human!” he yells, raising his voice. His eyes are twitchy as he scans the room, one of his hands touching his face as he looks at the guards. Some of them are normal. Just humans. But some of them…
Some of them… He can see them with his eyes. They’re demons. He can tell by the way they tense up at his accusation. His gaze wanders back towards the two palatinos. Salvador is clearly human, but now, looking at the other one more closely…
Canta spins around towards the bishop. “You stupid, dress-wearing hunk of junk!” he yells. “You’ve got demons in your church!”
“I’ve got demons in my church?” asks the bishop, looking around the hall.
“You’ve got demons in your church!” reaffirms Canta.
“It’s true!” calls Alleluia’s voice reassuringly from the back.
“Thanks, honey!” he calls back to her. She gives a thumbs-up from behind the row of guards.
There is a sound of metal boots approaching him and of a sword being drawn and he turns and looks as the palatinos moves towards him, weapon at the ready. “Enough,” says the woman. Who is clearly a demon. No ifs ands or buts about it. “I won’t allow his holiness to be sullied by such slander!”
“FUCKING DEMONS!” yells Canta, for a lack of better words, his hands clenching his hair through his hood in frustration. He gets ready to lunge at the palatinos, to put an end to their scuffle once and for all. He’s stronger now, more skilled, more leveled, trained, experienced. He’s not only able to beat her in a fight, he’s able to dominate her in a fight. He’s sure of it. This is his moment. Here. Now.
The palatinos lurches, stumbling forward and grasping the blade of the sword sticking through her chest from behind. “FUCK!” yells Canta as he looks on mystified, confused, disappointed and also gleeful as the woman looks down at the metal sticking through her chest and then back around at the hand of palatinos Salvador.
“This is for Valenti,” he says, pulling out the sword with his boot against her back. In one quick motion, before she can finish falling, the blade cuts through the air a second time and her head comes off, just above the armor. It rolls down forward towards Canta’s feet, her long blond hair getting tangled and bloody. “That was for my wife.”
“Salvador…” says the bishop, looking at him. “Dick move.”
“She was a demon,” says Salvador.
“I FUCKING KNEW IT!” yells Canta, yelping back a step as the dead woman’s eyes open again, revealing a pair of black pupil’s.
“Oh…” says the bishop, looking around the room. All of the guardsmen seem to be stepping apart from each other, clearly none of them trusting the other now. “Uh, anyone who is a demon, please raise your hand,” requests the bishop.
A guard raises his hand. “Anyone who’s not a demon?”
“No, anyone who IS a demon,” affirms the bishop.
The man lowers his hand again. “Oh. Sorry. No.”
It's quiet for a moment as everyone stands there, exchanging nervous looks with each other. Breaking the tension, another guard steps forward and raises his hand off to the side. “I’m a demon.”
“I appreciate the honesty,” says the bishop, turning his way.
The guard with the raised hand nods. “Wouldn’t want to be a dick,” he says, before his body explodes, sending flesh and metal out in all directions, revealing some fetid, oozy corruption beneath that swallows the man next to him whole.
“Shit,” says the bishop.
All around the room, demons begin to reveal themselves. Bodies collapse and explode, rising anew as if pulling themselves out of rotten cocoons. The remaining guardsmen try to form a defensive line, but then another two explode in their midst as well. The entire hall is covered in viscera and blood as easily half of them weren’t human and the other half is quickly decimated.
Those that remain alive begin a desperate fight to protect the bishop.
“See?” says Canta, gesturing out towards the mess. “I told you!”
Bishop Zacaries Montero looks down at him. “You really look good in a dress, sin-eater.”
“Right?” asks Alleluia, taking the opportunity to cop a feel.
“Fuck off!” yells Canta at the both of them.