Chapter 193: Determination
From leaving the arena and arriving at Pope-sama’s room, we did not encounter a single person.
I would say it’s a good thing if you asked me if it was good or bad but I couldn’t help but feel that it was intentional.
When we arrived at the Pope’s room and I knocked on the door, the door opened instead of the usual reply.
Estia was the one who opened the door.
I could easily tell who it was from the air around her but I first entered the Pope’s room.
Inside the room were Pope-sama, Estia, Fornoir and Rosa-san, without any signs of the attendants.
The interior of the room was desolate and I was surprised to see that unlike the usual setup where her figure is hidden from sight, Pope-sama was in front of my eyes.
In order to calm my confused mind, I decided to first report my return.
“Luciel, together with my retainers Nadia and Lydia, has returned safely.”
I knelt down on one knee and lowered my head as usual.
Nadia and Lydia most likely followed after me.
Then, shockingly, Pope-sama’s words began with an apology.
“Luciel, I’m sorry.”
” … About?”
I did not expect her to suddenly apologize so I was tongue-tied for a moment but I asked about what she was apologizing for.
“I don’t know where the rumors leaked out from but I was unable to defend you.”
Pope-sama lowered her head but I knew that there was a mastermind behind it since the rumors developed to this state so there was no need for her to apologize.
Instead, I’m interested to know what Pope-sama thought about how I was surrounded by the Knight Corp.
” … Does Pope-sama know about how I was surrounded by the Knight Corps at the large training ground?”
Who would imagine they would receive hostility during a pick-up? If I did not receive training from Shisho and Lionel in the labyrinth, I would probably have trembled in fear.
“I knew that you were transferred to the large training ground but I didn’t know that you were surrounded by the Knight Corps. Rosa came to inform me of the commotion within the church.”
Looking at Rosa-san, I could feel that she was somewhat tense, unlike her usual oba-san demeanor.
Then, Rosa-san asked me worriedly.
“Leaving that aside, Luciel-sama, are you alright? I’ll lend a hand anytime if you need to escape.”
I could tell that she heard of the rumors and was worried.
However, it seems like she has not heard from Pope-sama that I can now use magic again.
Thinking back, it’s definitely weird that there would be so many soldiers around during the night.
They would normally not know when the transfer would be and more importantly since it’s been a couple of decades since anybody has been to Nelldal, it’s highly likely that they have not been told of the place of return as well.
Thinking about that, it’s unlikely that I would fall into such a predicament as long as Pope-sama doesn’t reveal that information.
Pope-sama and Catherine-san were both acting strangely but I don’t sense any hostility from them so I was confused.
I could not show a timid attitude here so I changed to a smile to give a fearless impression.
“Escape? I won’t be escaping. Rosa-san, it’s not like I’ve committed any crimes?”
“You have not. But for better or for worse, rumors determines people’s impressions. It’s even more prominent when there’s malice mixed within the rumors.”
Rosa-san said that while looking as though she was recalling something.
That was strangely persuasive.
“Luciel, I understand your feelings but … by the way, where’s Catherine? I requested her to bring you here without raising any suspicions?”
Didn’t Pope-sama’s decision totally backfire? I guess it can’t be helped that I doubted her.
But I also can’t keep quiet about sending her flying so I honestly told them.
” … She was blocking my way with her sword drawn so I sent her flying. What’s strange were the looks of fear the Knight Corps were looking at me with.”
“What!? You sent that Catherine flying …”
Pope-sama showed a look of disbelief before she began thinking about something.
At that time, a shadow appeared beside me and bit my head without reading the atmosphere.
” … Fornoir, I’m home. If you don’t mind, could you please bite my head only at the end of everything?”
It was Fornoir who came to bite me.
I requested for her to stop biting but it didn’t look like she intends to stop play biting me.
It seems like she’s been under quite some stress.
I decided to let her have her way but she had a slight odor so I thought that it was the perfect chance to show them that I can use Holy Attribute Magic again so I used Purification.
When I did that, perhaps from the joy of receiving Purification after such a long time, she stopped biting me and instead rubbed her neck against me so I had to stand up to stroke her neck.
I felt that it was disrespectful in front of Pope-sama but I decided that it would be fine.
“It looks like Fornoir has grown attached to you … so Luciel, you think that there’s a mastermind behind this incident but do you have an educated guess?”
She was clearly changing the topic but I could not understand why she suddenly asked about the mastermind.
“No, I’ve just returned so I still don’t know where and when these rumors began spreading … more importantly, I’ve been wondering since I entered this room but could you explain to me why this room has become so bare?”
When I asked, Estia … or more specifically the Darkness Spirit possessing her explained.
“Onee-sama and I have been leaking minute amounts of magical power that we couldn’t detect from this room. Because of that, it seemed like others outside could overhear all the conversations we’ve had inside this room.”
That means it was not Pope-sama’s concern that they were tapping into the magic communication bead that was the problem.
“Someone has been eavesdropping on this room?”
“It’s definite that the commotion within the church happened immediately after you reported that you would be coming back. When we investigated, we found a magic tool.”
As expected of a Spirit, she detected something.
Nevertheless, didn’t Pope-sama give out instructions? If not then won’t the attendants find it strange?
The Darkness Spirit passed me a baseball-like small communication bead that had a crack in it.
” … I see you’ve broken it.”
” … A lot happened. I investigated all the attendants with Darkness Magic but the perpetrator wasn’t among them.”
The attendants would definitely find it a pity when they see the current state of the room but I advanced the conversation.
“Pope-sama, what about those who enter and exit this room?”
“Those would be people above the Bishop rank and Knight Corp Captains as well as people from other countries who came for an audience.”
“It’s impossible to find the perpetrator huh … if there’s an unspecific large amount of people who enter and exit.”
“That’s right. And we don’t know when it began.”
Pope-sama cast her eyes down as she said that but I believe that for the incident this time, Pope-sama herself, albeit small, contributed to the problem too.
It seemed as though she doesn’t have any vision as to what to do, what to improve and what is needed to not let the same thing occur again.
At that time, I remembered the past.
Until I became an S-rank Healer, not to mention the Healer’s Guild, I did not even think that well of Healer as a job.
I speculate that Pope-sama is probably being manipulated by somebody.
Pope-sama was probably working hard too but I doubt that she grasped the movements of the Executive Department this time.
Even if Pope-sama remains as the leader like now, I would probably be embroiled in something similar in the future.
Normally, I would have two choices now, to call upon the authority I have or to really distance myself from this Healer’s Guild but …
“By the way, regarding my martial arts teacher, the Adventurer’s Guild guildmaster of the Meratoni Branch, Broad-san, he’s my retainer but have you heard anything about him?”
“I did not receive any information regarding him and I have not caught wind of the army moving so he should be fine.”
From Pope-sama’s words, I couldn’t help but think that even if there was information, it wouldn’t reach Pope-sama’s ears.
Giving up on that topic, I asked about the Knight Corps that directed that much hostility at me.
” … It maybe can’t be helped that the rumors about me spread but why did the majority of the Knights believe it?”
Rosa-san was the one who replied me.
“It’s because of jealousy. Becoming the core of the church at around 20 years of age, achieving the once thought to be impossible task of rebuilding Ienith and even killing a dragon, that’s why there were conversations even in the canteen about how maybe you have ties with the Evil God and the Demons.”
As before, she did not match my gaze as she talked while staring off into the distance.
“Even so, they chose to doubt a member of their own organization without knowing the truth?”
When I asked that, Rosa-san looked at me and said with a sad expression.
“Luciel-sama has two types of enemies in this church headquarters. The ones who make the legislations and the ones who hold confidence in their own Holy Attribute Magic. Regardless of the facts, it was the perfect timing to lay a trap when Luciel-sama was not around.”
Indeed, it was probably easy for people who knew that I’ve gone to Nelldal to frame me.
” … The person who thought of this strategy is quite cunning.”
“That’s right. As long as there’s malice mixed within the rumors, even if people do not immediately believe it, with a trigger, you would be doubted and once people doubt you, it will be extremely difficult to get them to trust you …”
“Who leads the Executive Department that commands the army including Catherine-san?”
“The ones Luciel are acquainted with in the Executive Department would be Bluetooth and Granhart.”
Bluetooth-san who was in charge of liaising between the various departments during the creation of the legislation and that straight-laced Granhart-san huh.
Granhart-san would likely not eavesdrop and if there’s anything he would probably come ask in person but if I remember correctly, Bluetooth-san stepped down from the seat of Priest Knight Captain due to injuries.
I have no idea where their motives lie.
I have an overwhelming lack of information.
In any case, Pope-sama would most likely continue to be nothing more than a decoration.
I took a deep breath and said merciless words to Pope-sama.
“From this day on, I will abdicate the position of S-rank Healer.”
I prayed that this would be a correct decision.
Thank you for reading.