The innermost reaches of the Slaine Theocracy.
Very few people were allowed into this inviolable sanctum.
The first was the highest-ranked member of the Theocracy; the Pontifex Maximus.
Next were the Cardinals, the highest appointment holders of the six sects that were devoted to the Six Gods. Incidentally, each of them (aside from the one belonging to the same sect as the current Pontifex Maximus) was a potential candidate to be the next Pontifex Maximus.
The Cardinal of Fire -- Berenice Nagua Sandeni.
She was the sole female among them. She was over 50 years old, and a little plump, possibly due to her age. Her well-fed face bore a motherly smile which put all who looked upon it at ease.
The Cardinal of Water -- Ginedine Delan Gwerfe.
He was a shrivelled old man. He was so old that one could not tell his exact age, and his skin was a dusty brown. Although people worried about his health, none could exceed his intellect.
The Cardinal of Wind -- Dominic Ire Partouche.
He looked like a kindly old man, but he was originally of the Sunlight Scripture, and had exterminated many heteromorphic beings during his time as a holy warrior. His wrath was like a wildfire while his murderous intent was like chilling frost.
The Cardinal of Earth -- Raymond Zag Lauransan.
He was a keen-eyed man and the youngest of his present company. That said, he was still in his mid-40s, though his energy made that fact difficult to believe. He was a former member of the Black Scripture who had served for 15 years -- a hero who had defended his nation.
The Cardinal of Light -- Ivon Jasna Dracrowa.
His narrow eyes and skinny frame made him look like a sinister person, but that was definitely not the case. Everyone here knew the reason. As a user of divine magic, he ranked at or near the top of all the people present.
The Cardinal of Darkness -- Maximilian Oreio Lagier.
He was surrounded by countless books that hovered in the air, supported by improved versions of the [Floating Board] spell. He wore round glasses, and he had originally been a priest from the judiciary. Hence, many of the books levitating next to him pertained to the law.
In addition, there were the heads of the Judicial Branch, the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch of the Theocracy’s government. There was the head of the research institute which handled magical research. In addition, there was the Grand Marshal, the highest appointment-holder in the military.
These 12 people comprised the highest executive authority of the Slaine Theocracy.
After entering the room, they took up cleaning tools and began cleaning the room. Some of them got rid of dust with feather dusters. Some of them wiped with dry cloths, while other wiped with wet cloths. Someone used a magic item to vacuum up dust.
There was no wastefulness in their movements, and they cleaned the room with well-practiced movements.
Not a single one of these people -- who stood at the pinnacle of the Slaine Theocracy -- was slacking off. Sweat gushed from their foreheads, their beautiful and pristine robes were stained by dust, and none of them stopped in their efforts until the room was spotless.
The room had been quite clean before they started working on it. Now, it seemed to glow.
None of them thought to wipe off their sweat. Instead, they lined up in front of the six statues -- which appeared to be defending this room -- and lowered their heads.
“Today, we give thanks to the gods that human beings like ourselves are still alive.”
After the Pontifex Maximus said those words, everyone repeated them after him.
“Thus do we offer our thanks.”
They raised their deeply bowed heads and stored their cleaning equipment in the corner of the room. Then, they cast [Clean] spells, cleaning their clothes and their equipment, and the towels they used to wipe away their sweat smelled sweet.
It was a trivial matter to clean dirt and dust with a first-tier spell. Widening that spell would allow the entire room to be cleaned with ease. However, there was nobody among them who was sacrilegious enough to do so in this sacred room.
After cleaning themselves, they took their seats at the round table.
This included the Pontifex Maximus of the Slaine Theocracy.
At this table, everyone was equal. There were no superiors or inferiors here. Everyone was a collaborator and a comrade. Indeed, all this was for the glory of mankind.
“Then, let us begin the meeting.”
The organizer of this meeting was the Cardinal of Earth, Raymond Zag Lauransan.
“Our first topic is the seizure of the Kingdom’s Fortress City E-Rantel and its surrounding area as the heart of the Sorcerous Kingdom of Ainz Ooal Gown, a fortnight ago.”
There was nothing that could possibly be any more important than the sudden advent of this mysterious nation.
However, far too few people knew the details of the situation. Most of what they knew was little more than hearsay.
For starters, they knew that the Sorcerer King was an undead creature, that he was an extremely powerful magic caster who had obliterated the Royal Army, that he controlled an army of the dead, that there was a Death Knight among those undead, and so on.
Raymond, who commanded the Six Scriptures, reported these details in his capacity as the meeting’s organizer.
Just then, someone spoke out:
“I knew we shouldn’t have let it happen, we should have intervened in that war!”
“...What are you saying? Open battle against a magic caster who controls a Death Knight is extremely dangerous. Didn’t we all agree on that earlier? You might have objected then, but don’t try to overturn our previous decision… Although, I didn’t think he would actually establish a nation.”
The group nodded one after the other.
“What does the Empire plan to do? They’re allies of the Sorcerous Kingdom and they’ve endorsed the founding of that nation, so does that mean they’re officially collaborators now? Or are they being controlled by magic?”
“I doubt it. Paradyne’s there.”
“Then, I guess we made a mistake in thinking that Emperor could be trusted.”
“...Well, a more important problem is the fact that he’s one of the few talented individuals who isn’t being properly utilized. Should we begin the plan to draw him to our side?”
After a brief clapping of hands, the debate which was about to heat up promptly cooled down.
“--Thousand Mile Astrologer was observing the battle between the Empire and the Kingdom. However, there’s been a slight problem, so the report was delayed. I beg your forgiveness.”
The problem in question probably referred to the fact that she had locked herself in her room and had been in there for quite some time. At least, that was what everyone thought.
“Then, we shall distribute the records of what she saw. These have not been verified by others; they’re just her account of what she saw of the Sorcerer King’s army at the battlefield.”
How troublesome, everyone thought, though they did not say it. They took the records and studied them.
They stopped after the last piece of paper. They went over the same part over and over again. They had the same stiff expressions and their faces slowly grew pale.
Raymond smiled to see the changes in their expressions. He had been through the same thing that was happening to them now, and he was glad because misery loved company.
And then, as though to represent everyone else, Maximilian shouted. His mouth opened so wide that his glasses fell off, but he did not seem to care about that.
“Impossible! How could anything like this possibly exist?!”
“I told you earlier, didn’t I? This is just a description of what she claimed to have seen.”
Maximilian shut up in the face of Raymond’s cold response.
He was panting like he had just been sprinting. As Maximilian struggled to get his breathing back under control, Berenice decided to ask another question, to see if someone shared her opinions.
“Can you say that again? Is this actually real?”
“If everyone here still believes the word of “Thousand Mile Astrologer”, then it is.”
With pained looks on their faces, they all looked back to the papers they were holding.
They had all stopped at the same place -- the composition of the Sorcerer King’s army.
“Hundreds of Death Knights (at least 200), hundreds of Soul Eaters (at least 300)... is it? If they went berserk, it won’t matter if it’s the Kingdom, the Empire, the City-State Alliance or the Holy Kingdom -- they’d all be destroyed!”
“...As would we. If these things swarmed us, we’d need centuries to recover from the damage.”
Death Knights. Difficulty estimated at 100 or higher. They were able to create Squire Zombies which could themselves make other Zombies. The Zombies themselves did not have much combat power, but they might lead to the spawning of stronger undead.
Soul Eaters. Difficulty estimated at 100 to 150. They were undead with point-blank area-of-effect abilities. They could consume the souls of the deceased for sustenance and grew stronger the more souls they ate. They radiated an aura of fear. Without at least a 3rd-tier magic caster, even facing them was impossible.
All of them were undead on a level that could destroy a city or a small country singlehandedly.
“Was she mistaken? Maybe the Sorcerer King noticed our surveillance and used illusions to confuse us.”
Ivon put that possibility forward as he stretched out his withered, branch-like arms.
“Oh”, the surrounding people murmured, but Raymond shattered that possibility.
“The Black Scripture knows of many monsters. While it is true she might not have the full picture of things, she -- Thousand Mile Astrologer -- was in charge of providing intelligence support to her team. There is no way she could have been mistaken. In addition, we have verified sightings of Death Knights and Soul Eaters in the capital of the Sorcerous Kingdom -- the former city of E-Rantel.”
That was answered by several defeated sighs.
All they could do was acknowledge the point in voices full of fatigue, and then they continued discussing the matter.
“What should we do? What is the best course of action for ourselves, as the protectors of mankind? What can we do about 500 monsters, each of which can destroy a nation by themselves?”
“So their forces are equivalent to 500 small countries… that’s insane, right? How badly could that country upset the balance between nations?”
“The question is, what does the Sorcerer King intend to do with that kind of military power? If he just intends to have them defend his territory, it won’t be a problem in the short term.”
“How could that be? It’s far too much just for defense. Also, isn’t the Sorcerer King one of the undead, who hate the living? I’m sure he’ll use his power to assault the neighboring countries.”
“It doesn’t matter how the Sorcerer King intends to use his military strength. What matters is what we can do about it.”
It was a valid opinion, and the direction of the meeting began to turn.
“Then… can the Black Scripture deal with it? That’s the most important thing.”
They were the Slaine Theocracy’s final ace in the hole, a special forces unit composed of heroes. One could think of them as adamantite-ranked adventurers, but there was a critical difference between the two, that of their equipment.
The gods had left divine equipment behind in this world, but adventurers would need to go on epic quests, the likes of which were the stuff of heroic sagas, all just to obtain a single piece of their panoply.
In contrast, each member of the Black Scripture possessed multiple articles of such gear.
If even they could not handle a threat like this, then they could still conduct a grand ritual to summon the highest-ranked angel to deal with the problem.
Surely the most exalted of angels would be able to triumph over Death Knights and Soul Eaters. However, the sheer number of foes made them very uneasy.
All eyes went to Raymond.
He chuckled. Some people smiled in response to his laughter, but those smiles froze on their faces as they heard what he said next:
“It’s impossible. I say this as a former 3rd Seat of the Black Scripture; anyone who expects us to face 500 of them must be an absolute madman. It would have been bad enough even if they were only present in equal numbers. No, if not for this, why would Thousand Mile Astrologer have locked herself up in despair? However…”
The nature of his smile changed.
“It’s different for the God-kin.”
“Ohh,” went the sounds of rejoicing.
“The two of them should be able to deal with an army of Death Knights and Soul Eaters. Of course, just in case, we still need to give them the best backup we can.”
“So it’ll be fine with those two.”
“Well, that’s a relief.”
Amidst this jubilation, only Ginedine went “hmph”. Sensing the weighty air of fatigue around him, everyone quietened down.
“...You’re not telling us everything, are you?”
“Ginedine, what are you getting at?”
“The law does not prohibit false testimony and obscuring the truth in this place, but we are colleagues serving under the same flag and lying is a grave offense. If you agree with this, let me ask you one more time: What are you hiding?”
“Ginedine. What’s wrong with you? Why are you saying this?”
“Dominic, I have a question. Why did Thousand Mile Astrologer lock herself away?”
Knowing that nobody could answer that question, he continued to speak.
“She did so out of despair. Or perhaps she must have suffered some sort of shock. It’s true that an army of the dead is frightening. However, she’s a member of the Black Scripture. Do you really think she would go into hiding just because of that? ... It’s because she saw something that even the God-kin could not beat. This report isn’t complete, is it?”
Everyone looked at Raymond and Ginedine.
“..What are you trying to achieve by hiding that point? I trust you. I know you’re not the sort of man who would use the Scriptures for his own gain. But why are you not revealing this?”
“Well done. As expected of you, Ginedine. I simply wanted to explore the possibilities… then, I’ll say it. Agonizing over this problem alone would simply give me an ulcer, so I’d be glad to share it with all you gentlemen here.”
Raymond looked at his seated audience.
“How much do you know of the battle between the Kingdom and the Empire -- no, between the Kingdom and the Sorcerous Kingdom?”
The person who answered on their behalf was the Pontifex Maximus.
“I heard that the Sorcerer King used a powerful spell. As a result, the Royal Army routed and was defeated. Because of that, they abided by the requests made before the battle and ceded E-Rantel to the Sorcerous Kingdom for the founding of a nation. That’s all.”
“And the number of deaths?”
The Pontifex Maximus simply shook his head at Raymond.
“I don’t know. That news has not reached me yet. It should be the same for the rest of you, right?”
“Yes. Priests and traders don’t go to E-Rantel now that it has become the heart of the Sorcerous Kingdom, with an undead king. So all we hear are rumors of unknown provenance.”
“So we need the Scriptures -- this sort of thing is better suited to the Clearwater Scripture than the Windflower Scripture, right?”
“Yes, which is why only the commander of the Six Scriptures -- namely, you -- knows the truth. All we learned is what little leaked out.”
“...I see. Then, release the full, unabridged version of what Thousand Mile Astrologer saw during that battle to us.”
After reading the rest of the report, the room filled with the silence of despair.
Feeling that this could not be allowed to go on, Ivon raised a question:
“I see, I see. ...You were afraid our hearts would stop if we saw this first, right?”
“Not really. Your hearts are strong enough to sprout hair. I was simply afraid that if I opened with this, none of you would believe it.”
Ivon nodded, unable to refute that.
“It’s true that we would have doubted this if we had seen this first. We would not have believed it at all. But after understanding the reality of the Sorcerer King’s army, we have no choice but to believe.”
“Still… I don’t want to believe this. With just one spell, he killed over half of the Royal Army. During this battle, the Kingdom mobilized 260’000 men. Half of that would be at least 130’000 people, right? I heard the Royal Army was defeated, but this…”
“Only she saw it, right? It’s not uncommon for death tolls and casualty counts to be exaggerated…”
“Even so, the description of wiping out an entire wing of the Royal Army with one spell means over 80’000 deaths. And then there’s the hideous monsters summoned from those sacrifices…”
“I can’t deny what she’s seen any more. This is magic of the gods. 11th tier magic, I believe? That should be it.”
“The advent of the gods.”
“What’s written here is similar to the description of that god… is it possible He has descended from the heavens once more?”
“Impossible. The oral traditions state that the God of Death, Surshana-sama, was slain by the damnable Eight Greed Kings.This must be something else. And if Surshana-sama had actually descended once more, that person would surely have told us. After all, that person is Surshana-sama’s first follower.”
“Then, it’s come at last?’
“Probably, yes. After 200 years.”
“It should be correct, judging by the oral traditions. It might appear somewhere on the continent.”
“Their national power increased so slowly because those piles of trash messed up so much of the plan.”
“Those idiots in the Kingdom…”
Everyone had looks of hatred in their eyes as they heard those words.
The Kingdom was the most geographically secure country of all. Because of that, the Slaine Theocracy had assisted them in the hopes that the Kingdom would become the nation which would save mankind. By breeding large quantities of humans on safe and fertile land, many talented individuals would also appear, who could be groomed into heroes that could resist non-human invasions. However, peace and prosperity caused them to fall into degeneracy, and the Kingdom rotted from within.
What was more troubling was how they produced narcotics and exported them to the other promising country, the Empire.
Thus, the Theocracy had changed their plan.
Their backup plan was to allow the Empire to devour the Kingdom, and then educate the talented individuals within the Empire.
The reason why the Theocracy did not conquer the Kingdom themselves was because they would then become neighbors with the Republic, which might lead to a dangerous movement within the people to destroy the Republic.
The basic tenet of the Theocracy was that humanity was chosen by the gods, and all other races had to be exterminated.
Thus, they inculcated an attitude in the people that they were surrounded by enemies and that they had no choice but to work together. This was the only way they could focus their national power and become a strong country. However, if they became neighbors with the Republic, there was a chance that their philosophy might lead them in a dangerous direction.
Everyone here understood that they could only plan the future of the Slaine Theocracy by knowing the strength of their country, those of the other countries, and which matters to prioritize. However, the common folk would shout for war with the Republic in order to destroy the enemies of mankind.
That would be disastrous.
The Republic was very strong.
To be precise, the danger lay with one of the councillors of the Republic, the Platinum Dragon Lord, child of the Dragon Emperor. If they did battle with him, the mightiest of the Dragon Lords, they ran the risk of their country being reduced to scorched earth. But what of the people who did not know that? What would they think? They would see enemies to destroy, yet all they could do was bite their nails and wait.
Of course, everyone here could easily quash such resentment through force, but that would produce backlashes that would weaken their national power. In addition, they could not deny that a war might break out in the future.
Thus, the Theocracy could not share a border with the Republic, nor could they directly control the Kingdom. Even if they wanted to rule it from the shadows, the Kingdom was too large.
“Let’s consider the Sorcerer King first. To begin with, he should have been the one who destroyed the Sunlight Scripture, some time back.”
The air seemed to crackle and freeze.
“A magic caster with that name appeared in a nearby village with that name at almost the same time. I don’t think we’re mistaken, are we?”
“What about the Vampire that the Black Scripture encountered? A minion of the Sorcerer King?”
“It’s very possible, but I think it’s more likely that it was a being on the same level as the Sorcerer King, just like those people. Otherwise there’s no way to explain that power.”
“Indeed, so since we’re on the topic of multiple appearances, Jaldabaoth ought to be such a being, right? That would explain the power he wielded in the Kingdom, as well as the reason for a monster with that sort of power appearing all of a sudden.”
“Then how about Momon? He seems to have been chasing that Vampire, but if that prediction is correct, he should be a similar entity to the Sorcerer King. That would also explain why he was as strong as Jaldabaoth. The question is whether or not he’s an ally of the Sorcerer King…”
“Momon slew the Vampire and stood against Jaldabaoth. Given that they might be the same manner of creature yet opposing each other, it’s possible that they might still have been enemies then? After that, he negotiated a truce with the Sorcerer King and became his ally.”
“Then there’s only the question of why he killed the Vampire and opposed the Sorcerer King. Perhaps he killed it because it was controlled by the Supreme Treasure. Still, why would he oppose Jaldabaoth? ...If Momon was a comrade of the Sorcerer King, in what sort of scenario would he be Jaldabaoth’s enemy?”
“...Perhaps the Vampire and Jaldabaoth were working together, while the Sorcerer King and Momon were allied. Or there might be one where the Vampire, Jaldabaoth, the Sorcerer King and Momon were all enemies. There are also other possibilities. But there’s too little information to tell.”
“The worst-case scenario is all four of them being on the same side, but the likelihood of that is very low. Momon is too humble. Normally, someone with that much strength would flash it around much more. Yes, just like the Eight Greed Kings. Or perhaps, like our Gods.”
“I see. So the reason why he did not do that was because he was on the lookout for others. No, perhaps he was being watchful for others on the same level as him.”
“Then, since the Sorcerer King has taken the stage and begun building his nation, someone will be taking action to make up for the difference in fighting power. If Momon’s words are to be trusted, Honyopenyoko has a companion. We have to watch out for it, as well as Jaldabaoth.”
“This is all just conjecture at the moment. We just need to think about making contact with the Sorcerer King or Momon.”
“It’s too risky. It’s far too risky. We should instead go to the Empire and gain information from the people there, and then make contact with the Emperor.”
“That would be good, as long as the Emperor doesn’t wag his tail for the Sorcerer-King, that is.”
“It’s a gamble, but it can’t be helped. If we do nothing but cower in a corner, we’ll end up having to play catch-up with others.”
“Still, when you say a gamble… how much of a gamble? If we mess it up, it’ll become a casus belli to attack us, no? We should try to understand the Emperor’s stance on the matter before making contact.”
As everyone agreed on that proposal, someone else asked a reasonable question.
“...Still, have there been no revolts in E-Rantel, that city ruled by the undead? Have they all been killed? Or is there a perfect reign of terror in place?”
After hearing that question, hardly anyone could believe Raymond’s answer.
“According to our reports, it seems to be ruled in peace.”
Hah?! That sound did not fit these people at all, but it could not be helped that they made it.
“Hmhm. At my age, I do end up hearing things that aren’t there, but it seems my condition has suddenly worsened. Raymond, what was that about peace?”
“It looks like the sun’s going to come up from the north tomorrow. ”
“...All right, enough with jokes. If Raymond is telling the truth, that would be a truly unimaginable sight. Is our informant a madman or a satirist?”
“The report states that the Death Knights are used as city guards, Elder Liches as public servants while Soul Eaters are used to pull cargo wagons.”
Everyone’s jaws dropped besides Raymond’s.
“Nonono, wait a minute. What? Could you say that again?”
In the face of Maximilian and his missing glasses, Raymond’s did not change his words as he repeated himself.
Haaah?! Once more, that same unfitting sound escaped them.
Each of them was an undead creature of jaw-dropping power. But now, that knight of the underworld maintained public order like a good little soldier, that lord of the labyrinth sat at a desk managing the flow of goods, and a monster that could slaughter an entire city did the job of a horse and its groom.
And such a country existed right on the other side of their borders.
“What the hell. What pit of hell did that come from?”
Undead were strolling about on the streets and managing the city. All they could imagine was that all the humans there were dead.
“No. The former residents of E-Rantel -- the current citizens of the Sorcerous Kingdom are living ordinary lives there. There was some confusion at first, but it is peaceful now.
“...It seems we have all been underestimating the Kingdom all this while.”
“Umu… how strong are their spirits?”
Just imagining the act of walking beside an undead creature which hated the living made everyone present shiver in fear.
That would be like living next to a starving monster. It would be normal for a regular person to be afraid.
“They’re probably putting up with it because they trust that great warrior, the heroic adventurer Momon the Black.”
Raymond related an account of what happened on the first day of the Sorcerer King’s rule over E-Rantel.
They all listened intently.
“As I thought. It’s impossible for Momon to have been the Sorcerer King’s companion.”
“Ara, isn’t that further proof of Momon and the Sorcerer King being in cahoots? They did show up at practically the same time, right?”
Mmm… Everyone held their heads in contemplation.
They felt that the chance of that was not insignificant, but there was honestly no way to tell.
“Is there a way to set Momon against the Sorcerer King? Perhaps if we used the people of E-Rantel, we could--”
“That’s dangerous, far too dangerous. If it goes poorly, we’ll make an enemy of Momon and the Sorcerer King at the same time.”
“You’re right. As it is, we’ve taken considerable losses. Though the dead have been revived, the Black Scripture will still be short on manpower, while the Sunlight Scripture is effectively dissolved. The Crown’s been stolen, the Miko Princess and Kaire are dead. It’ll take us at least 10 years to recover our strength. We can’t go around roasting meat next to a sleeping Dragon in this state.”
“Yes. We need to avoid opening up two fronts at the same time.”
At this moment, the hostility in the room seemed to swell.
“Those filthy traitors.”
“Those bastard elves.”
The Theocracy was currently at war with the Elves of the Great Southern Forest. Originally, the Theocracy and the elves had a cooperative relationship. But that relationship had been broken, and the Theocracy was now fighting the Elves with their own power.
They had built a forward base at Crescent Lake, seat of the Elven Capital. According to the plan, the Capital should have been destroyed in a few years, but that plan was slowly going off-script.
“How about a ceasefire with them for now?”
“Don’t be foolish. How much blood do you think has been spilled in the fighting up till now? Firstly, how can we not take revenge for that person?”
After saying this, the old man smiled bitterly.
He treated her as a child because of her appearance, but the fact was that she was older than anyone in this room.
“--How is she?”
“In the same room nearby, as always.”
“Umu, we need to give her a chance to avenge her mother.”
“Yes, otherwise it would be far too unfortunate. Her heart should probably be at ease after taking her revenge.”
Pained looks appeared on the faces of everyone present.
“..Frankly speaking, I take offense with the priests of the time. They raised a poor little girl with that sort of personality.”
“Well, if you want to say that, you might as well blame the barbarians of the forest. The Cardinals didn’t think it was good to snatch her away from her mother’s side.”
“...What a troublesome topic.”
“Still, if we deploy that girl, that Dragon Lord might respond in kind.”
“The power of the gods, Downfall of Castle and Country, will probably not work on that fellow who can use wild magic, unlike with the Catastrophe Dragon Lord. How about using it on the Sorcerer King?”
Silence descended over the meeting room. It was a proposal that they were thinking, but could not speak.
“...It’s not a bad idea, but the fact that we don’t know what sort of power the Sorcerer King’s subordinates possess makes me uneasy.”
“...If only it could charm without limit, there would be no problems.”
“How dare you! The gods gave their lives to protect us, humanity! And to think you would be dissatisfied with the secret treasures they left behind? The audacity!”
After the rebuke, the old man bowed his head deeply.
“Watch your tongue!”
“Then, back to the topic. We are all against using Downfall of Castle and Country on the Sorcerer King?”
“It’s too dangerous.”
“If the Catastrophe Dragon Lord appears, we could control it and use it as a vanguard…”
There was no point in hoping for what was not there.
“It can’t be helped. Should we send a messenger to talk with that Dragon Lord about the Elves?”
“Who knows what they’ll ask for?”
“Let’s just accept if the request isn’t too unreasonable. After all, it’s for the peace of that girl’s soul.”
There were no objections. Everyone here was deep in introspection.
A quiet chuckle rang out, and everyone’s eyes went to the person who made the sound.
“Fufu. Now that the people who knew the situation back then are all dead… well, you lot are quite a compassionate bunch.”
Those words might have felt insulting, but the tone was otherwise.
“...Our aim is to defend all of humanity from the other races, and all of humanity includes that girl. I think we can be forgiven for a little abuse of our offices if it’s to save a comrade.”
“..I have no reason to object if this does not result in any deaths.”
As he heard this , the Grand Marshal smiled bitterly.
“It would be better to directly distribute this knowledge rather than going by oral transmission, no? It’s all right if we’re going up against someone distinctive, but it’ll be dangerous if the other guy has gone to ground. Spreading that knowledge will also make it easier to gather information.”
This was a suggestion which had been made fairly often over the centuries. Naturally, it had been rejected each time.
“Our world is as fragile as a little boat which has been tossed into the ocean. The fewer people who know about it, the better. After all, there might be a typhoon every 100 years or so. Do you think people could sleep easily if they knew that? The fact is, the powerful cannot hide in the shadows for long. They will be very obvious, even if they try to live a normal life.”
“If that’s the case, what do you think that former Cardinal-dono will do?”
They all had complicated expressions on their faces.
“I’m not quite sure, but there’s a very high chance of movement… Perhaps there’s some kind of trump card in store.”
“Or maybe the former 9th Seat, Windstride, might know something...”
“How worrying. Is she close to us? Nothing is more troublesome than that…”
There were several sighs in the room.
“What about asking the retired members of the Black Scripture for help? That way we can restore our fighting strength, no, maintain our vigilance. We can send them to the Draconic Kingdom as reinforcements. The chances of them dying are very low.”
The Black Scripture was commonly assigned to very dangerous tasks, and so they had a very high attrition rate. However, as long as the corpses remained, they could be brought back to life. The problem was that resurrections drained a person’s lifeforce, and one would need to train for a long time to recover the strength they had before death. Thus, some people chose to retire instead.
There were also others who had retired due to their age, but no matter the reason, any retirees had priority on whatever post they wanted. While there were those who were content to live a degenerate, jobless lifestyle, there were very few of those. Most of them would not be able to bear the repeated looks from their wives and questions like “Daaaad, why haven’t you found a job yet--?” and thus they returned to work.
It would take a while to refamiliarize these people with the feel of actual combat, and there were those older ones who could not perform as they had in their prime due to age. Still, they were more reliable than most others.
“Just explain the situation to them and make our request. Don’t expect everyone to take up arms, though.”
“Of course. It would take a real bastard to put pressure on people who completed missions in the most dangerous places and then retired.”
“Yes. Just ask them. But if anyone agrees, pay them more than they expected.”
“If only they paid us at all.”
Self-deprecating chuckles echoed through the room.
Complaining about a lack of wages was a private joke for them.
In the Theocracy, salaries fell off after one rose past a certain rank. This was a form of self-purification, in order to ensure that people would not be motivated to rise through the ranks by greed. Thus, many of those who took high office did so because they were moved to serve their nation.
After the laughter stopped, the Pontifex Maximus spoke again:
“Then, everyone, let’s begin the next topic. Raymond, go ahead.”
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