Book 2: Chapter 108
“What did you think when you first heard the name Church of Eternal Life?”
“That it’s a cult.”
Min Ha-rin spoke in a blunt tone, and Kim Min-chul’s eyes widened.
Slei, on the other hand, burst into laughter. Min Ha-rin wondered briefly where that thin body found the energy to let out such a loud laugh.
This old man in front of her was the Bishop, the highest authority in the Church of Eternal Life. So she wanted to see how he would react if she insulted his religion in front of him.
It was very rude, but she couldn’t think of any other way. For Min Ha-rin, it was more important than anything else to figure out exactly what this mysterious religion was and how to get her younger siblings out of it.
“Actually, there was a cult that carried this name in the past. However, we are very different from them, and so is our path. Immortality is not something mortals can hope to achieve.”
“Then why do you call yourselves the Church of Eternal Life?”
“Eternal life, everlasting life… What do you think it means to have such a life? Does it end when your body dies? It doesn’t. As long as the soul doesn’t disappear, the being will not disappear. The same goes for the path we walk on. Everything will be reincarnated.”
Reincarnation was a religious term that was mainly used in Buddhism.
So when this old man in priestly robes said this word, it felt a bit strange.
“It seems to me that the Church of Eternal Life took concepts that belong to other religions and interpreted them as they please.”
“It’s natural for us to take from them. After all, we are latecomers. Religions that were created before we were knowledge worthy of their age. If the things that they say are the truth, it’s not unreasonable for us to say it as well.”
The old man’s stiff lips twisted slightly.
“But do you know the crucial difference between us and them?”
“Out of all religions, the Church of Eternal Life is the only one able to prove the existence of souls and the afterlife.”
Unable to understand, Min Ha-rin blinked for a while. Then, she shook her head and responded.
“Isn’t it just ‘if you believe in the God we believe in, you’ll go to heaven’ or something like that? I don’t see how that makes you different from other religions.”
“There are a lot of differences. Because we don’t have the gods that most religions believe in.”
“There are many religions in this world, but the holy power that they use doesn’t come from the God they believe in. Instead, it comes from their own faith and belief… In other words, their own willpower.”
“…and you are different?”
“That’s right. Because we borrow the power of the God we believe in.”
Slei once more before gesturing to Kim Min-chul behind him.
“Would you mind giving us a minute? I would like to speak to Min Ha-rin alone.”
“Pfft, don’t worry. No matter how old I am, I can still deal with this child.”
Kim Min-chul was reluctant, but he dared not disobey a direct order from the Bishop. With heavy steps, he left the room.
The door closed, and silence fell once again.
Slei let out a soft chuckle.
“What do you think of when you hear the word ‘God’?”
“…God, the Creator, the being who made all things.”
She didn’t believe in God.
Min Ha-rin swallowed her words before she could say them, but Slei was able to pick up on what she was thinking.
“Hmm. You’re an atheist. There used to be a lot of atheists in Korea.”
“Is that so?”
Nowadays, there were often crosses and other religious symbols wherever one looked, so she wasn’t aware of it.
However, before the advent of the Demons, the percentage of atheists in Korea was among the highest in the world.
“Omniscience and omnipotence. These are traits that only God is qualified to possess. In that sense, there can only be one being who can be called God in all universes. Most beings don’t know that fact, but we were able to recognise it.”
These words sounded strange to her, but Min Ha-rin chose not to point it out.
“The absolute being. The one true God. You’re not trying to say that’s you, are you?”
Most cult leaders tended to refer to themselves as God or claimed to be the sons of God who had inherited their blood.
The world was already broken. Crowds of wounded and desperate people wailed in the streets, their hearts and wills shattering at the slightest touch.
Ironically, this was the best time for religions to flourish.
Those who were injured, sick, or had lost their loved ones instinctively sought something to rely on.
Min Ha-rin never thought that religion was a bad thing. After all, she was happy that the wounded and ill could find shelter.
What she really hated were those who used the weak for their own means.
People who treated faith like a business, who were no better than trash.
Despite Min Ha-rin’s harsh tone and rude attitude, Slei remained calm.
“Of course not. I’m nothing more than a mortal who was lucky enough to sit on this seat through the hand of fate.”
His attitude took Min Ha-rin by surprise.
She could tell from his expression. This man wasn’t trying to be humble, nor was he pretentious. He genuinely thought so.
“Let’s get back to the main topic. The soul is our source, a repository of our memories, of our path so far. Generally, no being has the right to extinguish the soul, so it can be said to have some degree of immortality. So as long as our souls don’t disappear, our lives won’t disappear. Couldn’t that, then, be called eternal life?”
Slei stood up, his face slightly flushed and his breathing noticeably quicker.
It seemed that he was so excited that he could no longer contain it.
“But eternal life is also a poisoned holy grail. How long would it take for the blessing of eternal life to instead feel like a curse of eternal torture? A hundred years? A thousand? I don’t know because I haven’t lived that long… But I’m certain that it would be much shorter than I thought. So I thought, pondered, agonised about it before finally finding the answer. In order to live an eternal life, one must be accompanied by those one truly loves.”
Min Ha-rin’s eyes widened at the unexpected remark.
Slei let out a low laugh.
“Whether it’s your family, siblings, friends, or lovers, anyone will do. As long as there is someone to accompany you through the eons, the blessing will never become a curse.”
Slei’s expression changed as he muttered in a low voice.
“[Everlasting Life together with the ones you love]. That is the doctrine of our Church of Eternal Life.”
“…are you trying to say that if I entered the Church of Eternal Life, my siblings and I could be together forever?”
“It’s not just that. Didn’t I say earlier? We have proven the existence of souls and the afterlife.”
Min Ha-rin’s eyes suddenly went wide at those words.
“There’s no way…”
“We can also revive the dead.”
Min Ha-rin took a deep, heavy breath.
At that moment, the faces of Kim Min-chul, who had seemed strangely calm all this time, and Kim Sung-hyun, whom she’d loved dearly, appeared in Min Ha-rin’s mind.
“I didn’t force any of your younger siblings to join us. I simply told them one thing. In return for joining the Church of Eternal Life, you will be able to see your parents again.”
“…those kids have no memory of our parents.”
“That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want to meet them.”
Min Ha-rin belatedly realised that the defiance in her voice had become dull.
Perhaps Slei noticed it too.
He fixed his expression before speaking in a low, heavy tone.
“Ha-rin, don’t you want to see your dead parents again?”
* * *
Lukas realised that the person in front of him had the most powerful ‘soul eyes’ that he’d ever seen before.
It wasn’t just soul eyes. The power that he could feel from those eyes could not be described with just one term.
A white glow appeared in Lukas’ eyes. He started to examine the person’s eyes with Clairvoyance.
And soon, he received a startling result.
To Lukas’ surprise, even his Clairvoyance was unable to see through their eyes. Lukas looked at them properly once again.
Pure white eyes without even the slightest blemish stared back at him unblinkingly.
‘Soul… they called me a soul.’
It seemed that this person had mistaken him for a soul.
Lukas decided to use this misunderstanding to his benefit.
[I want to know your name.]
The person smiled and answered this absurd question without any hesitation.
“My name is Arid.”
(TL: T~T It’s so hard to not use gendered pronouns… Also… Did God make another religion again? Also, should I call it ‘soul eyes’ or ‘spirit eyes’?)