Before you get to read it, I have few things to say. 1. This isn't nice heartwarming story, it has painful and depresive tones, and it contains... well, some disturbing scenes, so please stay away if you feel like it is not for you. 2. This story was originally meant to be continued, but I no longer feel like I would have time to finish it. So I turned first (and only) chapter into something like one-shot. I really don't plan to continue this, and it would take miracle for me to do so. Therefore I feel like I can leave it here. 3.(added in edit): My grammar is not good. Especially articles (a, the) are my bane. Sorry if it's hard to read. So, here it is: Spoiler: Memoirs of The Mad Pope Entry 1 Slowly, I walk away from the capital city. I will need to start hiding my face in nearby future. Currently, there’s probably big bounty on my head. After all, I had murdered the Hero, which should make me most wanted criminal of all times. I thought that after killing Hero, I would feel relief and would not mind being killed. But for some reason, I was not able to just give myself in and let them kill me. I escaped. I planned for that very moment of killing Hero, and never really thought about what to do after that. But after the deed was done, instead of feeling happiness, I felt empty. Four days ago, I was Pope, married to previous Pope's daughter, woman who was my childhood friend and with child on its way. Few months ago, Hero managed to kill Demon Lord, which led to demons retreating over the mountains, leaving their land for us, and peace was at hand. With my position as Pope, only second to king or maybe even his equal, having married my childhood friend who I loved, people would certainly find no reason for me to complain. So how did I end up like this then, you ask? Why did I give up this bright future? To answer this question, I will have to tell the tale right from the start... I was born in a village high in mountains of Holy Kingdom. My father gave me name Milon, but later, in church, I received holy name Amon which I used from there on. Name of the village I grew up... I can't really remember, as I did not live there that long. At the age of seven, delegation of priests passed through village, checking for potential priest candidates. "W-w-what?!" "T-that must be some kind of error!" "That's even more holy energy than the pope has!" So I, at the age of seven, was taken away from my parents, who were given great financial compensation. At that time, I was crying but few years after that, I realized that having me leave there was for the best. It meant that my younger brother would be able to go to school, and my big sister could marry well, thanks to money they received. I have not seen them since. I have even forgotten village's name. I was taken into family of Pope Arnold, and it was decided I would become next Pope. Pope Arnold also had daughter of same age, who, because of her father, was to become my wife when I take position of Pope. Her name was Anna. She also had talent in terms of holy energy, but only at level similar to her father. She had only about amount of ordinary priest, which was not that weird, after all, she was only seven. Mine talent, on the other hand, was monstrous. "With power of his holy magic, it will be easy to win war against demons, and finally chase them away for the sake of peace." high ranked holy knights, priests and paladins who knew about me whispered to each other with delighted voices. My existence was kept secret, since if demons ever learned about my existence, it would be dangerous for me who was still just a child. However, that dream of Holy Kingdom was quickly shattered. While my barrier magic was very good and healing magic was extremely strong, I was completely unable to use offensive holy magic. It was rare condition that usually only very weak priests suffered from, and it would not be weird for me to be thrown out from pope's family after this weakness of mine was revealed. Yet pope didn't throw me out and nothing changed about my position. At first, higher church officials were trying to convince pope to dismiss me. However because my healing magic overcame highest used rank when I was only eleven, and when I projected city barrier it was much more sturdy than even Pope Arnold would be able to manage, I was accepted by them little by little. Even if it was impossible for me to harm their enemies, to be able to protect capital by raising shield would be enough, they thought. I had such a great life, and amount of holy energy I held was growing every day. War with demons was at dead point and neither side was able to move well, so it seemed like this battle-less state would solidify into peace. Well, peace with demons would mean that we would have armies look at each other from fortresses, while neither side was able to move, nothing more, since demons were evil creatures, who would attack us whenever they’ve got a chance. I enjoyed my time with Anna who I have completely fallen for. We would often visit shops in noble district, drink tea, walk in park, hold our hands, and kiss. She would also help me when I visited orphanages to feed children. Nothing more was allowed until marriage and both of us were too religiously brought up to consider going against it. Or at least I thought so. But these careless times were about to end. Without any prior warning, one day, when everyone was already convinced that next for at least next decade, peace was inevitable; demon calling himself Demon Lord personally led army to attack us, in order to avoid the peace. Apparently, he had overthrown previous demon lord and unlike his predecessor, he had more personal power and more active approach to war. And we started losing. I was seventeen at that time, and I remember how suddenly, atmosphere of whole capital city changed. There was great panic caused by this incident. No one knew what to do. But His Holiness Pope Arnold, who was already like a father to me, revealed secret summoning holy magic, magic that was meant to be only used in greatest emergency. It would summon person from another world that would be blessed with power of God, the Hero. However, problem with this technique was that person who would be summoned had completely free will, and could use his power for either good or evil. Since there was possibility that Hero would turn against the country, this summoning was considered forbidden. But now, in order to save our nation, it was decided that it would be used. Price was high. While usually hundreds of priests would be necessary, thanks to my assistance, only I and Pope Arnold were necessary for ritual, but there was one more thing required to pay for summoning, something that Pope Arnold has not revealed to anyone. Single human sacrifice, the main caster of the spell. So without saying anything, leaving behind only his last will, his Holiness, Arnold III., has sacrificed his life in order to summon the Hero, dying at the moment ritual ended. And the Hero came into this world. Hero was a young black haired and slant-eyed man of about eighteen. Even though he was summoned suddenly, he was not confused. Apparently, he spent two weeks being guided and prepared by the God himself for his mission, before he was transported here. One of Hero's abilities was to pick three followers, who would have their powers increased due to god’s blessing. God has also advised, during their time together, to pick a Mage, Swordsman, and a Priest as his companions. Position of Mage was given to Sela Vitras, court magician, middle aged woman who was well known for her ice magic. Position of Swordsman was taken by first princess Hilse, who was, even though she was still in her early-twenties, considered one of best knights in kingdom. I volunteered to be priest. But I was rejected by king. It was important for me to take over position of Pope, was what he said. I wanted to go, because I was angry. Because of the attacking demons, person who was like father to me more than my real father had to sacrifice himself. But, since it was important for the new Pope to take the seat properly, I bit my tongue and agreed. So it was decided that one who was to join Hero's party as Priest was Anna. She wanted to stay with me, but it was obvious Hero would need support, and apart from me, she was one with greatest amount of holy power. And unlike me, she also could use holy power offensively, which made her much better for the role. With kisses and tears in eyes we parted, promising to meet again. From the very first battle, power of hero and 'companions' showed it's worth. Demons, who advanced ever since appearance of new Demon Lord were now pushed back, not only to previous borders, but even further, into the demon territory. I had lot of work as Pope, but when I had free time, I would go towards front lines to heal injured soldiers. I was afraid about Anna’s safety, cursing my inability to use offensive holy magic. I knew that if I was able to use offensive holy magic, there would be no need for her to go. Since it was impossible for me to use offensive holy magic, I asked some senior battle-priests to teach me sealing holy magic instead, and studied it on my own from books in church’s library. Sealing holy magic was magic to slow, bind or restrict use of abilities of enemies, and while it was not replacement of offensive holy magic, it would let me support others in fights. During my journeys to heal injured soldiers, I also passed through few former demon villages. Villages burned to ground with corpses mutilated, and once, I have even witnessed my guards killing demon mother and her child. At that time, I wanted to stop them, but somehow, voice froze inside of me. Probably, my desire for revenge for His Holiness Arnold III stopped me from ordering guards to spare them, and nightmare of seeing them killed cursed me for many weeks after. This war lasted for two years, and over those two years, I only met twice with Anna. However, finally, after defeating four Demon Generals, Demon Lord was slain by the Hero and demons were defeated. With grand victory, Hero and his companions returned to capital. Hero married second princess Hilse, who became prince's lover during their journey, and I was reunited with my childhood friend and love. War has changed her. She no longer smiled in way she used and her smiles were now rare and bitter. Since I wanted our marriage to be great in order for her to cheer up, I decided to have it prepared thoroughly, so that it would take place after six months. But then, I started to notice few suspicious things. When she talked with the Hero, I have once seen her smile in way she used, happy innocent smile. Since at that time, they talked about happier part of their journey, when they saved human slaves from demons and helped them escape, I thought nothing of it. But that was not the only suspicious thing. Few days after she returned, Anna started to try to 'seduce me' on evenings, when we were about to go to sleep. I would probably give in, after all I loved her and being apart for a long time, I was now very happy for every second we spent together, but something in way she acted made me feel uncomfortable. I however attributed this feeling of 'being uncomfortable' to my faith since it was one of divine commandments that only married couples should lay together, so I rejected her, telling her that we will do that after marriage. While it was true that it was commandment which was rarely followed, as Pope, I felt like I should follow it. Few days later, she started asking about date of our marriage. I noticed how weird her behavior was, and I started noticing many other things I have ignored until then. Before the war, she looked at me passionately at our dates, but now, way she looked at me changed. I could no longer feel any love from her at all. She would sometimes blankly stare at castle. And she was silent when there were Hero and princess together, but unusually cheerful when he was present and princess was not. When I started noticing this, I did my best to convince myself this was just my imagination. But then, on the second month after their return, I saw her throwing up in the morning, thinking she was away from my sight. Conclusion I arrived to was something I desperately wanted to be only my imagination. For next two months, I rejected all of her advances. She told me how much she wants to marry me, which I could only see as trying to make our marriage faster. Every day, I could see anxiety grow in her face. When I noticed her stomach was starting to bulge, I could no longer stay in denial. I could no longer pretend it was just my imagination. I now knew that she was Hero's former lover, and she was pregnant with his child. For two days, I stayed in closure, praying to God, asking him for answers, to guide me in this dark hour. After all, he gave advice to Hero what kind of companions he should take, so he should advise me, his closest servant, as well. But no response came. When I left the closure, I canceled grand marriage preparations, and had fast marriage organized instead. Three days later, we were married and when night came, we did the deed. I was hurting, though I did my best to hide it. While I was being eaten alive by mixture of darkest emotions, I smiled, I held her hand, I placed ring on her finger and I smiled. I kissed her, while forcing myself not to throw up, I embraced her gently, while I wanted to ask her why did she have to hurt me, and I spoke words of love, while I wanted to scream of how betrayed I felt. When Hero congratulated me, I forced myself to smile and thank him when I wanted to stab him in the eye with fork. When dance started, and she after three dances with me gave one to him, seeing her delight, I wanted to rip my own heart out. I still loved her, and I hated her at same time, because I could tell that she no longer loved me. If only I did not love her, it wouldn't hurt anymore. But I somehow endured it. At least on the surface. However, deep inside, I started to have delusions of killing and torturing Hero in the nastiest ways possible. But, even if I wanted to do it, I didn't have power to do so. Seeing love of other people now disgusted me. I still prayed to the God, but now, my prayers oscillated between begging him and cursing him. Month later, Anne's pregnancy was declared to Holy Kingdom. When congratulatory letters came, I had to leave the room to throw up. At that time, my soul was already corroded by darkness. But somehow, I endured the pain, I still worked and I still lived. During my prayer in Saint Arnold's garden, renamed after the statue of Arnold was placed in there, I noticed little bird hopping on the ground, with broken wing, unable to fly. It tried to run away from me, but I captured it nevertheless. I prepared to heal it, but suddenly I heard happy laughter of nearby couple and my mind returned to my twisted thoughts. As I casted Heal, something weird happened. Muscles of bird started growing, more and more, and not only muscles, even bones, and after mere moments, bird was dead. Its bone growth crushed its lungs, and it breathed its last breath. I watched death of bird with despair. No, my first thought was not 'I could kill Hero with this'. My first thought was 'What have I done?' I never killed an animal before, and I wanted to help this bird, not kill him. I felt horrified of what happened. After an hour or two, image of hero dying this way appeared, but it was suppressed very fast. Even if I had power to kill, I didn’t have will to do so. After all, I always helped people and never killed them, so it looked like I wouldn’t ever use this power. Until week later. Week later, I have decided to change my routine, and visit different park. It was park I used to avoid as it was much more popular with lovers, and it brought me back memories that were no longer comfortable to me. I walked there to try to ask patron of lovers, Saint Turoya, for advice. But I stopped as I noticed two figures. It would be hard to recognize them from this distance. After all, they had hoods to hide their faces. I wouldn’t recognize that other person was Hero if I met him alone. But I would always recognize Anna, no matter how well she was masked. I hid myself not to alert them, and watch for more than an hour as they spoke. At the end, they kissed and each left their own way. At that moment, something inside me that was holding me together broke. Why have I even been doing all this for? I have married Anna so fast, in order to let her 'hide' what she did. Because of how I did it, I was sure she MUST have noticed I knew, I thought. I could have rejected her, and have her embarrassing secret revealed, yet I did this for her. My position as Pope was long since established, not even king would be able to replace me without civil war, and I did not need to marry her for any reason. I had done this for her, because I believed that reason she was pushing me into the marriage was that she had desire to put what happened in past aside, after all, she pleaded to make marriage preparations faster, so I thought she wanted to turn a new list. While I felt so betrayed, I believed I could somehow find goodwill in myself to forgive her. But she still... still... still… She kept betraying me even now. That evening, I bought a hood, and hiding my face, I drunk until darkness in the cheapest tavern I found. Only half drunk, I walked back around park of Saint Turoya. And there, seeing owl sitting on branch of tree, I pointed to it and 'healed' it. Its body twisted in pain, as muscles grew and its bones grew spikes that penetrated lungs and hearts. Then I focused on the whole park, and trees started growing and in way that their roots made them fall over or their trunks broke. Next day, when I saw scene of my vandalism, I did not feel much regret. I no longer cared. I started killing animals to practice, animals that I would usually heal, animals I used to help before. I tried to fully grasp my newfound ability. I even went into prison and personally executed half of prisoners to experiment some more. And then finally… Pregnancy of Princess Hilse was announced. King also announced that over next two years, he would slowly give his position to new king and his queen. That new king would be Hero and not the first prince, obviously. First prince wouldn’t be able to do anything about that, Hero had absolute popularity in army and populace. Even among nobles, only minority would support him. Or rather, even that minority who was on his side would not support him against someone who had backing of other nobles, commoners and army. At the celebration I made sure Hero would get best alcohol possible, and sat beside him, encouraging him to drink more. And then when he was drunk and he was at his most defenseless state, in the dining room, before eyes of king, queen, princess, and everyone important, except for Anna who I asked to help with healing in hospital, he asked me to heal his headache. And so I healed him. I healed him good. Placing my hand right on his forehead, I managed to penetrate his magic resistance which was lowered by alcohol. I knew from my tests on prisoners, that skilled warriors, priests or magicians were harder to affect, so I had to touch him directly, and it took entire quarter of my holy energy reservoir, to have his own ribs pierce his lungs and make him die slowly, as muscle mass kept expanding, breaking the bones on the way. He struggled, fell to the ground, and then, and after fifteen seconds of struggling, he was dead. Everyone was shocked. They were shocked because of his unusual death. No one would voice that I killed him, because that was just absurd even if it looked obvious, so their brains tried to find alternative explanations. First to break his shock was king. "Your holiness, what just happened?" he asked. "What happened, you ask? Is it not clear? I killed him." I declared. To be honest, that was the end of my plan. To kill him when he lets me touch him while he is drunk so I can decrease effect of his resistance. I had no idea what to do after this. I thought I was prepared for death. But something inside me, not the reason, nor an emotion, something more animistic, made me take step towards exit. And then another step. Before I realized my lips started moving on their own. "I will now leave this city, so excuse me." I said as I started walking out from room. It took few seconds before king ordered: "Guards!" But ten guardsmen, as they approached me and stepped within two meters range, suddenly stood still like statues, as I bound them with holy binding spell. I have felt temptation to kill them as well, but resisted it. I still had some remains of the conscience. Princess rushed towards me next. Even if she was pregnant, she was still a knight so she drew ornate sword and jumped at me. I quickly created body shaped barrier around me. To be honest, I expected my death; after all, she was the companion of Hero. But her attack was too weak. There was no divine power in it. Compared to ordinary knight, it was indeed somewhat stronger, but not to the point it would threaten me. Her powers as ‘companion’ disappeared with Hero's death and now she was just an ordinary knight, elite one, but just knight, and moreover pregnant one. After ten attacks, her sword broke, since my barrier was too hard and it was just decorative sword. Looking at her, she would probably try something insane like biting the barrier next, so I decided to act. Before, I felt like I don't care about anything, but now, for some reason, I fully realized she is carrying new life. And I did not want to kill it. So, raising my hand, I bound her feet with holy power. With her feet tied, she fell, so I did my best to soften her landing with instant barrier. "If anyone wants to die, they can follow me. I will be happy to help them cross to the other side and follow the Hero into afterlife." threat escaped my lips unwittingly. Then, I turned around and left. Even if my desire to live was screaming at me to run, and even though I slightly responded to it, I was so empty that instead of running, I was just walking away slowly. After I dealt with guards that were in that room, no other guards followed me. If king wanted to kill me, he would have to organize elite unit of many people, and that would take time. King was quite calculating person and would not send normal guards against me. "Why did you kill him, your holiness? Are you perhaps possessed by some kind of curse?" I turned around. Middle aged court magician was standing behind me. It was hero's companion, Mage, Sela Vitras. "You sound quite angry. Perhaps you are also carrying that brat's brat?" I ridiculed her without thinking. She blinked confused. "Well, it wouldn't be weird, since that would make you third one." Even if she understood, impact of those words left her paralyzed. "Well, see you. If you follow me, I will have to do to you what I did to him, so please, don’t force me and leave me alone." I said, as I turned back and started walking out of city again. She neither followed nor said anything. People around me, who knew nothing of what happened in palace, were bowing to me respectfully. I have healed many of them, so I was quite known. Since they didn't obstruct me, I did nothing to them either. Just a minute after I passed through gate and started walking Western Road I was stopped by another voice. "Amon, wait!" she finally came. I wanted to keep walking, but I stopped in my tracks. However I did not turn around. I didn't want to see her now. "What do you want, Anna?" I asked. "Why did you..." "Why did I kill your lover? Isn't it obvious? Where shall I start?" I expected her to say something but there was no response. "Because that brat inside of you is his. Because you wanted to trick me to think it's mine. Because after I realized it, and did fast marriage ceremony to let you keep your face, suffering silently, you would still go out to meet him." I started. She still remained silent. Everything I didn't say before, I finally could release now. "Because of difference between how you look at me and how you look at him. Because you two were making fool out of me behind my back. Because of his expression when he congratulated me on your pregnancy. Because of his nerve to act like a friend. And because I wanted to hurt you. Shall I continue?" There were still no words. Only steps of me were heard, as I once again started to walk away. I wanted her to ask me and beg me for forgiveness, but I knew she wouldn't do that, since I killed person she loved. I expected her to attack me with holy spell with anger, or scream at me, curse me, declare her hate, but there was nothing but silence. I killed people. First prisoners, and now I even killed the Hero. What he did to me might have been terrible, but was it really right to kill him? No, it wasn’t. I should feel the guilt, but instead of guilt, I felt indifferent. Yes, I committed terrible crime and unforgivable sin, so what? And since I didn't care, it would be easy to turn around and kill her even now. Slowly make her body break, part by part, hands, feet, arms, legs... But even if I feel desire to do it... I turn around, looking at her crying face. Those tears are certainly not tears of regretting pain she caused me. I am sure she is simply crying because I killed the Hero. I want to kill her… …yet I can't. Unlike with princess, it is not because of her child. It is because of her father. In her face, even if it is hard, I can see Pope Arnold. As repayment for what he had done for me, I will not kill her, even though I want to kill her as much as I wanted to kill Hero. I quickly cast holy seal on her, to make sure she can’t follow me, because I have no confidence that I will not kill her if she did. Few moments later, two of us are completely divided, as city’s holy barrier is activated. Very slow reaction of city defences, since even though I had been leaving the city with speed of a slug, it only activated now that I was out of city’s boundaries. I am quite sure they wanted to trap me inside, not outside. But it is very helpful, as Anna remained on the inside of barrier and can’t follow me. I don’t really want to face her, even with all respect I have for Arnold, I don’t think I would be able to stop myself from killing her were she to face me for the second time. Going away from the city, I walked unstopped. I walked, until the city was quite far away and then gave it one last look. Tears ran on my cheek as I laughed. To my surprise, I felt much lighter now that everything was out of me. But apart from that, I did feel nor happy nor sad. I felt empty like the coffin of king Morel II., who died on the ship that sank somewhere deep inside the ocean, and his body was never found.