Star Church, Pope Elena’s office. There are two unusual guests visiting today.
They are dressed in the robes of the Star Church and they make an effort to disguise themselves as believers. Aside from the woman, the man’s robe is disproportionate to his large build, which makes him stand out.
“…….I think so every time, but having you wear church robes is really unnatural. It’s well known that you’re from the Ranger’s Guild. Anyone can see that it’s unnatural.”
Elena says so while being exasperated, but the big man in the robe – Bogan – shakes his head.
“It’s all about the posture in this sort of thing. We brazenly march into the star tower, it’s all about the face. People have to have a suitable posture or they can’t get in.”
“Then why don’t you correct your language? I’m the Pope, after all.”
Elena returns to her proper way of speech. A dignified tone of voice she uses only in public. She only shows her true self around those of which she can let her guard down around.
“I’m not very good with respectful language.”
“In that can you can just practice”
“Haha, it’s useless to say such a thing to this bear. All the nourishment that should go to his head goes to his body.”
“What? Do have some problem with what I said? Tell me, I’ll listen.”
The red-haired woman, Ranger’s guild’s guildmaster, Klau, glares at him, and Bogan hurriedly straightens his back.
“No, n-nothing in particular. Yeah. It was just your imagination.”
Bogan behaves strangely and averts his eyes.
Elena desperately tries to holds back her laughter. It’s hard to maintain her dignity as Pope, because these two are always like this.
“You’re still whipped as usual, Bogan.”
“Haha, not only that, I’m getting my face trampled.”
“No, it’s nothing.”
Klau put her hand on the whip on her waist, and Bogan cowers back.
Elena makes a bitter smile at his completely broken form.
Even though they are like this, their marriage is good and they have three children, the world is a strange place. Maybe they have just the right amount of differences.
“Let’s leave the trivialities aside. We didn’t come here today to play around. You requested us to do a secret investigation on Ilgachev. I called you here because an unexpected person got involved.”
“…what does that mean?”
Elena had not only asked the head of the Inquisition, but also Klau to conduct an secret investigation. That is because she can’t rule out the possibility that the Inquisitor is colluding with Ilgachev. Ikona is trustworthy, but she can’t be so sure about his subordinates.
“They’ve been sneaking into his house and attending secret meetings. I’ve been working hard, so I have a rough idea of who they are.”
“…That is, who the hell are they? Please tell me.”
Elena asks, and Klau comes closer to whisper in her ear. She predicts that they are various troublesome people.
“First of all, Ilgachev’s children. And those conservative bishops.”
“Isn’t that to be expected. I don’t believe it to be particularly strange.”
“Now comes the crucial part. The head of the Art House, Reken, and the clergyman, Binzu. They got caught in the net.”
Elena unconsciously raises her voice at the unexpected names.
When it comes to Reken, the head of the Art House, he’s been estranged from the Star Church. Elena had only met him once.
He’s supposed to be the administrator of the ward, but that’s just a formality. Currently, the Star Church has substantial control over it.
And Clergyman Binzu is a man renowned for his advanced medical treatment, utilizing his original healing arts. He is said to be able to not only heal his patients, but also mend their spirits. He is admired by many because he never takes medical fees from the poor.
The number of patients he has helped is probably too numerous to count. Elena also recognized his achievements and intended to prepare a position of a bishop for him.
“My intuition is telling me that the cardinal is trying to do something. He’s meeting with his associates more and more often, and he’s becoming more vigilant.”
“It’s regrettable, but we can’t interfere at the moment. Besides, although they have fallen, Reken is still the head of the Art House.”
“Then, you’ll just leave it as is.”
“No, Clergyman Binzu is from the Star Church. He does not belong to any faction. There is no reason for him to repeatedly visit cardinal Ilgachev. I’ve never heard of them being close to each other. It seems very suspicious.”
“……Then, will you drag him in?”
“We can’t make any thoughtless actions because of his popularity. But I will order Ikona to conduct a investigation. If there is nothing, that is fine. We can’t hesitate to quickly nip a potential disaster in the bud before it grows. When the need arises, we must use forceful means.”
“The Inquisitor who can make children stop crying. Ikona is excellent, but he has a stubborn head on his shoulders. Make sure to tell him to hide his elegant tail. That sort of fool can make a blunder sometimes.”
“……Had Ikona heard this, he’d be foaming from his mouth from rage.”
He reminds her of an honest, middle-aged man. Ikona is certainly talented and capable, but he has a flaw of being stuck in the present.
He is known for his ability to earnestly work hard on the things in front of him, but he lacks the ability to think ahead.
“You seem anxious somehow. ……That’s right, I’ll lend you my idiot. Since all he does is snore all day. This big-headed guy can show him the ropes for the secret investigations.”
“H-Hey. Is this idiot supposed to be me!? I don’t have time for this! Every day you shove me around and I take care of the housework! I don’t have time to snore!!”
“Who else would it be, you stupid oaf! Even though you’re an idiot who can’t even poach one novice warrior! After this stray bear pompously left while saying to leave it to you!”
“Wa-Wait, calm down and listen to me. That person is special. If that kind of brutal and merciless demon comes here, my body will be in serious trouble. You’re like that already――”
“I’m like what? Look me in the eyes and say it again!”
“N-No, it’s nothing! This foolish stray bear is sorry!”
Klau roars at him, and Bogan quickly backs down. The next time he talked back, she would probably slap him. A slap, or rather, something closer to a hand sword. Elena had seen it before. The stout Bogan had fainted from the blow. Her mind had been shaken.
“――And that is why, Elena, I’m going to lend you this idiot. His body is big and his head is bad, but he’s surprisingly good at teaching people things. He might be more useful than some stray dog.”
“Is that really all right? Isn’t it similar to teaching ranger skills for free?”
“I don’t mind. It isn’t anything other than the basics. It might help us avoid trouble.”
“……I understand. I’ll take you up on your offer. Bogan, you have it rough. I have a little sympathy for you.”
“You’re the only one who says that. As expected of the Pope. So big-hearted.”
“I’m not very happy about that kind of praise. However, about what you said.”
Ikona’s serious and difficult personality will definitely not fit well with the bold and crude Bogan. However, Bogan’s skills as a ranger are first-class. There are no downsides to letting him teach the techniques used for secret investigations. All that’s left is to get Ikona’s consent.
While she was thinking of a good reason, Elena pulls out a “certain drug” from a drawer. Maybe she was not paying attention.
She unconsciously picks it up and when she starts to bite into it, she stops. Both of the pair’s gazes are focused on her as if reproaching her.
“……Elena. How many times have we not told you not to use that again? I got rid of it all, so where the hell did you get it from!”
“……A, t-that’s not it. This, I just forgot to throw it away. Th-That, just now, it was just a habit.”
A short-lasting drug with a calming effect. It is made from the dried and finely chopped leaves of plants that grow in the underground maze.
Too much of it can lead to coma and, in severe cases, death.
It is anh expensive plant due to its rarity, so there is usually no reason to worry about taking too much. But, Elena is the Pope. It was easy for her to come up with that much money.
After this was discovered by Klau and her former educator, Nicaragh, they confiscated it and prohibited her from taking it. It was banned only recently. It was found out through a report from the believer who was entrusted with buying it, she had been taking it while disguising it as candy. He is a pious and tight-lipped person, but he was concerned at the increasing frequency of purchases. Naturally, this story was not made public.
“Hand over all of it right now. I told you to use something less effective. Use it little by little, and stop by yourself.”
Klau urges her on, but Elena doesn’t move her hands.
Since she started using it, Elena has been able to escape the severe headaches. She feels calmer and is able to focus on her duties.
As long as she doesn’t take it in large doses she won’t have any problems. Besides, Elena is the Pope. She doesn’t need to follow anyone’s orders.
The substitute is too weak to be effective. Elena was a weak person by nature, it’s only thanks to the assistance of drugs that she is able to bear the pressure of her position.
Elena is reluctant, and Bogan forcefully snatches the bag.
“The effect from this is a little bit too potent. You aren’t a child anymore so we can’t be lenient. I’ll take that.”
“You’ll become a cripple one day. The pretense of sedatives sound great, but ultimately they’re just a way to escape from reality. They’re pleasant as long as they’re effective in numbing your emotions, but once it wears off you’re hit with the backlash. Use it often, and you’ll become too addicted to stop.”
Elena looks away and Klau gently pats her head.
“Elena. After all, you don’t suit this position. Isn’t it enough already? Let Nicaragua’s bald head take care of the troublesome matters. You’ve done plenty. No one can blame you.”
Elena almost unconsciously takes the hand of salvation that Klau offered her. However, she can’t give up.
“I can’t do that. I have a responsibility. If I disappear now, there will be great chaos. Also, the authenticity of the calamity is unclear. I have to make a decision about the Starball as well. Therefore, I can’t run away.”
“……I understand. But, tell me immediately once you can’t endure it anymore. Just because you were born as the Pope’s daughter doesn’t mean you have to be the Pope. You decide your own life yourself. If you don’t, you’ll surely regret it someday.”
“Thank you, Klau. Once everything is settled, I believe I’ll surely be indebted to you. At that time, please treat me well.”
“Oh, it would be great if Elena could help me with chores! My women don’t do anything! A quick substitute――”
“You stay quiet!”
Bogan receives a sudden whip lash. He cowers while holding his face, and attempts to hold back his cry of anguish.
Elena laughs while thinking how they still haven’t changed.
Klau, Bogan, and Nicaragua, who rescued her from the brainwashing ritual.
While she feels saved, she also feels that if she had just gone through the brainwashing she wouldn’t have to suffer this pressure.
She was elevated to the position of Pope without understanding the reason, and had to preach the existence of a god she didn’t comprehend to its followers. She doesn’t even know if the teachings are correct. But, she isn’t allowed to have doubts. A pope’s fate is to govern the Star Church.
When it’s all over, she will resign from the position of pope, and live her life freely. Like Klau and the others, unbound by anything. Elena lives in the present with that hope in mind.
But, she believes it likely won’t come true. Before that, she will most likely be crushed. She had that kind of belief.
The time was dusk. Reken had been invited to Ilgachev’s private residence, one of the largest in art.
There seemed to be a group of people snooping around these days, and the meetings became less frequent and smaller in size.
At the meeting, most of the conservative bishops were gathered and loudly pledged to support Ilgachev.
It’s not something he shared with them at heart. Naturally, Reken had no such conviction. His intention is to use them as much as possible. That applies to Ilgachev as well. Which side will get more benefit, you’ll never know until you see for yourself.
He looks at Ilgachev, who sits at the head of the table. There are gray hairs mixed on his hair, but his eyes are sharp and his appearance is full of confidence.
In fact, he is also a gifted sorcerer and an excellent mentor with numerous disciples. He has shown proof that his bloodline is not the reason for his position as the second in command of the church. Just as Pope Elena is a descendant of the red robe, Ilgachev is a descendant of the green robe.
“Well then, let’s begin at once. I have asked you all to gather together. Something important has come up that needs to be urgently brought to your attention.”
Ilgachev looks over them one by one, as if to overpower them. Reken takes the stare without turning away.
The people gathered today are cardinal Ilgachev, his children, Reken, and Binzu, who recently joined them.
“What sort of thing is that?”
A friendly looking man around his forties, Binzu, asks as he fixes his glasses.
Reken knew the name, too. A clergyman who is said to have the best healing arts in the city of Art. He has a good reputation for not receiving fees for treatment from the poor. It is said that he can heal not only physical illnesses, but even mental illnesses.
His courteous way of speaking and his pleasant atmosphere are enough to earn the trust of his patients.
“A person possessing the crest of calamity has appeared. Exactly in accordance to what was written in the prophecy. They are still sealed in chains for now, but there is no telling when they will awaken. The collapse of the Shrine of Woe was also an omen.”
The children are lost for words. Some of them turn pale and start trembling.
While watching the scene, Reken recalls what Ilgachev told him about the contents of the prophecy.
The first stage is the collapse of the Shrine of Woe. After that, the fool, the source of the disaster, appears. This is the second stage. And finally, together with the wicked white bird, they will spread calamity over the world, and bring about death to the righteous.
(TN: The fool as in the tarot card)
This is the general course of events written down in the prophecy. This knowledge is restricted to only a few adherents. It isn’t made available to the public.
Guard the Shrine of Woe, and kill the fool who is responsible for the calamity. By any means necessary, don’t allow them to awaken, is the stern warning given by the prophecy.
Reken doesn’t completely believe the prophecy, though he doesn’t let it show on his face. It is indeed a dubious story, based on nothing but idle gossip.
It was probably made up by members of the church, who wanted a suitable justification for completing the Starball.
But, as far as they are concerned, this is a grave situation, with humanity being on the brink of destruction.
“That person has already entered the city, and insolently calls itself something the likes of a hero. They are quiet for now, but before long they will reveal their true nature as a bloodthirsty beast.. ――There’s not a moment to lose!”
Ilgachev raises his voice, and his children strongly agree.
“There’s no time like the present to take action.”
“Ilgachev, you make the decision. Our intentions are as one.”
Looking around at them with satisfaction, Ilgachev shakes his head.
“Nevertheless, I don’t want to cause a pointless dispute. I am going to urge Elena to change her mind just one more time. She was misled by falsehoods, we must complete the Starball at once. Our goal is to complete the Starball, and bring the star god down to this world. And to prevent the approaching calamity before it happens.”
“However, Ilgachev, the Inquisitors have been snooping around us lately. We don’t have much time left. In the unlikely event that they resort to tough measures, we would be delayed.”
One of his children expresses his opinion. It’s true, the surveillance is getting tighter lately. It seems that Reken has also been deemed a part of the group, a man who looks like an inquisitor has started prowling in front of his estate. He’s letting them do what they want, because it doesn’t matter if they suspect him now.
“That is not a problem. Elena will never take such a reckless action. Or rather, it is more accurate to say that she isn’t able to. That person is not capable of making big decisions by herself. She believes that it’s for the best to maintain the status quo. Otherwise, the Starball would have already been destroyed by Nicaragua’s delusional words.”
“In that case, we must finish the Starball, why doesn’t she listen to our opinion?”
“But, that person is a legitimate descendant of the red robe. She merely lost her way for now, surely, this time she’ll make the right decision. ――But, if that doesn’t happen, it is unavoidable. We have no choice but to take the last resort.”
Ilgachev glances at Binzu.
“Leave everything to me. It’s not quite on par with the rite of succession, but I am able to heal the mind. That means I am also able to interfere with it. It’s an inhumane act, and I would like to avoid using it if possible.”
“Sacrifices must be kept to a minimum. If a person in the position of a Pope is unable to fulfill his mission, they must take responsibility for it. Originally, this is all caused by Nicaragua’s thoughtless obstruction of the rite of succession. When all this is over, that fool will definitely get what he deserves.”
Ilgachev bites his lip to control his irritation. He had made two miscalculations.
The first was the untimely death of the previous Pope. He suspected assassination, but no proof of it had come up. In order to hold back the confusion among the believers, Cardinal Ilgachev was so busy that he missed the indiscretions of his predecessor’s close aides. He was unable to perform the succession ritual in a perfect way.
The second was the betrayal of Bishop Nicaragh. He failed to realize the real goal of Nicaragh, who was reliably working as a conservative.
For the sake of bringing the idea of church reformation to realization, he had dared to infiltrate the opposing faction. Or perhaps, he had changed his ideology along the way. He’s not sure which it is.
Because of the combination of these two things, Elena’s rite of succession was interrupted and failed. The 『will』 inherited by the generations of popes has come to an end.
“……Ilgachev, what shall we do about the bearer of the crest of calamity?”
Binzu asks with narrowed eyes. There is a dark shadow on his face, which had been calm until now. Is this his true nature? Reken can’t decide. There are many people in this city who conceal their blades with a smile. You should not judge a person by their appearance, he had been taught that many times over.
“Interference is unnecessary. Don’t get involved with the calamity, until the completion of the Starball. They have already defeated strong bounty targets. Including Russ Nubes. No mere human will stand a chance against them.”
“Well then, we’ll go over the plan for hereafter. Concerning the pending matters. We’re running out of time. We can’t afford to fail.”
Ilgachev announces so encouragingly. Everyone present nods and the meeting continues.
The long meeting was finally over and the session was starting to break up. It is already late in the evening and it is getting chilly.
Ilgachev headed towards the Starball room in the Star tower and took his children with him.
The Starball room is under Ilgachev’s jurisdiction, but it is currently sealed. Guards are watching over it, and strict precautions are taken to prevent it from being filled with demonic essence without permission. This is what Nicaragua suggested to Elena.
Only Reken and Binzu are left in this place. When Reken silently stands up, he hears a voice from the side.
“May I have a moment, Reken?”
“What can I do for you, Binzu?”
“Why are you helping Ilgachev with his plans?”
“……This, is sudden.”
Reken frowns. He’s wary of his probing into his true motive.
“I’m truly sorry. But, I was simply curious. I was wondering why the head of the Art house would cooperate with Ilgachev’s plans. It is well known that you have an “opinion” of the Star Church.”
“I just approved of his idea.”
“Is that right? What? You don’t have to be so cautious. Everyone has their own thoughts. Of course, I have as well.”
“……Ho. Is it fine for me to hear them?”
“I don’t mind. To tell you the truth, I don’t believe Ilgachev’s story. I don’t believe that god will descend when the Starball is complete.”
Binzu states his thoughts in a matter-of-fact manner. Reken is at a loss for words at the unexpected statement. It’s dangerous to express your thoughts here.
There is a possibility that he is trying to question Reken’s true intentions. At any rate, he isn’t able to mimic his careless behavior.
The man in front of him continues to talk without regard to Reken’s tension.
“Although, that Starball has a tremendous amount of magical power. That is certain. That’s right, a power that rivals that of a god. Until I saw it, I had no intention of cooperating. But seeing it from up close changed my mind. Isn’t it the same for you?”
Reken is silent. When he was approached with the plan, Reken planned to use it as evidence for blackmail. If he informed Pope Elena, she would be greatly indebted to him. But, he changed his mind when he was shown the keystone of the plan, the Starball. He was enthralled by the Starball, which emitted a dazzlingly beautiful light.
He went along with the plan for the opportunity to take the Starball for himself. He was convinced that only that is enough to free him from all bonds. That’s the power it possesses. The same thought as Reken’s, was certainly in Binzu’s mind.
I don’t care what sort of merit you found in it. Whoever holds the star ball when it is completed will ensure that my wish is attained. My longing to 『create a god』 will be fulfilled.
“Create a god……”
“Yes, I interpret the Starball as a thing to create a 『definite god』. Unfortunately, there is no god in this world. I say that from a clergyman’s viewpoint, I’ve been made keenly aware of that in my life. I have saved many lives, and witnessed just as many deaths over the past few decades. So I understand. That if there was a god, it wouldn’t allow this kind of inequality in the world.”
“The people that devote themselves for the sake of others roam on the brink of death, while the villains selfishly live long. This is truly inequality. An innocent infant passes away, a faithful and virtuous father goes mad and takes many lives. Is the father really to blame? I don’t think so. God should have offered aid.”
“Why would this sort of merciless thing happen? There is one answer, the god that people cling to, doesn’t exist in the first place.”
“……I see. I find it difficult to understand, but you seem to hold some quite radical and progressive views.”
Reken speaks ambiguously. Even as a joke, denying the existence of god in the mansion of Ilgachev, the cardinal of the Star church, is suicidal.
But, the madman’s words would not stop. He continues endlessly, as if he were chanting a prayer.
“People are weak. Everyone has worries and live while struggling against anxiety. We need someone to save us. That’s why we will complete the Starball and create a man made god. Most likely, Ilgachev intends to raise lady Elena to godhood.”
“…….Why lady Elena? Why wouldn’t he become a god? He’s a descendant of the green robe, there should be few who would object.”
“In that case, Ilgachev will not be saved. He too, seeks salvation. His obsession with the Starball is the embodiment of this. He doesn’t believe in anything, with the exception of the Starball and the prophecy. He seems to be a sad man, looking to god for salvation.”
Binzu declares so. The words of this man who has dealt with people, no matter who, carry a lot of weight. That is to say, that means that he could see through Reken as well. Reken felt something cold in Binzu’s words.
“……I’ve heard some valuable stories. As one would expect for the world renowned Binzu. I would like to hear your tale leisurely in the future. Not in this sort of place.
Reken requests to break off the conversation. He was afraid of falling into Binzu’s trap. It is no joke to have someone meddle with your mind.
“I’m sorry to confine you like this. I wanted someone to hear my thoughts. ……I am now going to wager my life and tackle the source of the calamity. As for the matter concerning lady Elena, I have entrusted it to my protégé, Costa. Even if I do not return, there will be no problems.
“……But we were reminded to not interfere with the person possessing the crest of calamity.”
Binzu widens his eyes at Reken’s words.
“That person may not be the only sprout of calamity. If you can pluck them, it’s best to deal with them first. Conveniently, that person is extremely weakened and recovering. I’ve confirmed it with my own eyes. If I’d known then, I could have defeated them.”
“……I object. There’s no need to make unnecessary provocation or aggravate the situation until the Starball is complete. For now, we should wait for the right opportunity.”
“I want to clear my friend’s, Russ Nubes’, regrets in this way.”
“Speaking of Russ Nubes, wasn’t he the bounty target who was defeated a few days ago?”
“Right, a sad father who clung to god and was abandoned. A genius who achieved the miracle of calling a soul, with the purpose of resurrecting his daughter. He was a good friend and a respectable researcher. His untimely death marked the end of my research. My life’s wish to create a perfect human being has now disappeared. So I felt I had to return the favor.”
Binzu sticks out his tongue similar to a reptile and shows a creepy smile. It seems that the true nature of the virtuous clergyman is here.
It’s true that he saved many human lives, but in reality, it’s impossible to know how many lives he used as research material.
His involvement isn’t worth worrying about, he didn’t want to get entangled in it. What is important is the revival of the Art house. That is all.
“At any rate, you seem determined. You may do as you please. It’s getting late, goodbye.”
“Reken. Don’t misunderstand. My research is always carried out with consent. And this time too, I was frequently able to get consent. In return for the relief of their worries, they offer me their cooperation. Now that I secured the assistance of the strongest human being in the world, I have nothing to fear from the source of the disaster. After all――”
Reken turns his head at the sound of his voice.
“I was able to borrow the power of one of the descendants of those three heroes! Who could be more suitable to drive away calamity! Crush the source of the calamity, and create a god with the Starball! Salvation appears to rescue the troubled! It can’t get any more magnificent than this!”
With the light of the candle shining on him, Binzu yells while laughing loudly.
Super Doctor B
For the last page the quality definitely dropped a bit since I wanted to get it done today. It’s too late here so I’ll just post this without fixing the text. If you see any phrases/terms written differently in a different way than before let me know and I’ll fix it.