Volume 2, Part 5, The Papacy
Chapter 0359 The Place Known as The Papacy
The next day.
Hugh McGrath, commander of the Kingdom Delegation, went to the Papal Palace with a group of escorts.
The escorts were Niels, Etho, Amon, Ryo, Harold, Gowan, and Zeke.
“This is Hugh McGrath, commander of the Knightley Kingdom Delegation. I’m here to congratulate Cardinal Graham on his appointment. We have an appointment.”
The group was immediately ushered inside the Papal Palace.
Not to the room near the front where they usually meet with Cardinal Oskar, but quite far back…
A place where entry was probably restricted to just church officials.
The only people who came and went were those dressed in church robes.
“If we were to be suddenly attacked, we would be in serious trouble!”
Ryo, looking happy for some reason, commented on the predicament with glee.
“Why do you sound so happy?”
Niels retorted right away.
Ryo appreciated that he was playing the straight guy role as well as Abel these days.
And Etho stifled a laugh, while Amon chuckled.
The three from Room 11 wisely listened without changing their expressions…
“Don’t be so ominous, Ryo.”
It was Hugh who chided him in a very sane manner.
Of the eight, the one with the most common sense was the strong-faced, bulky commander….
He looks like a muscle-head at first glance, but he is a man of common sense, with quite a decent head on his shoulders…
The room to which the group was ushered was surprisingly spacious.
It was about the size of a school gymnasium.
The size of two basketball courts.
Inside the room, there was a conference desk that could seat twenty people and a lounge suite that could seat more than ten people.
And at the far end of the room was an office desk and a person…
It was Graham, who had become a cardinal.
“Good to see you, Master McGrath. Guys. …Hmm?”
Saying that, Graham looked at the group quizzically.
Then he continued.
“Forgive me, but… did you encounter the strange monster again?”
Etho answered Graham’s question.
The other five nodded.
Hugh’s eyes widened in surprise.
Of course, he had heard the report that the group had met a supernatural being, but he couldn’t fathom how Graham could tell.
“One minute. <Evil Search>.”
Graham chanted, and after a moment nodded a few times.
“Yup, it’s the same one as before. Let’s get rid of it with Holy Incense. Luckily enough, it’s being burned right there.”
No idea why it was being burned, but it was good news for the group.
There must be some deeper reason that the group didn’t know… but somehow, it seemed imprudent to ask now, so even Ryo decided to keep quiet.
“This Holy Incense can also purify poison. Even in this room, one can just as easily be poisoned. I keep it burning all the time because there could be invisible poison gas. And this Holy Incense can also prevent eavesdropping by magic and other means. It’s quite handy.”
And with a smile to boot.
He was smiling… even though his own life might be in danger.
“Are you… all right?”
Hugh asked worriedly.
“Well, it can’t be helped. That’s just the way this place is.”
Graham’s smile now turned into a grimace.
“It’s a far cry from what Founder New envisioned.”
Graham shook his head slightly.
“Especially since I’m a newcomer, my power base is weaker than that of the other cardinals. I don’t even have what they call an assassination squad.”
“A clergyman with an assassination squad…”
Hugh shook his head and muttered in response to Graham’s explanation.
Of course, it was not in condemnation.
While he could accept the gap between the ideal and the reality, he lamented how far it was from the ideal.
“Among individuals, laws, contracts, and agreements serve to protect faith. But among those in power, faith is upheld only by force…”
Hearing Ryo’s muttering, Graham’s eyes widened in slight surprise and he said.
“Yes, it’s exactly as you say, Ryo-san. Did you perhaps take a lesson on the principles surrounding seizing power from somewhere?”
“Oh no… it was just in a book I found in a library in my hometown a long time ago.”
“A library with books on the mindset of those in power…”
Harold’s muttering was heard only by Zeke next to him.
Zeke nodded in agreement.
Of course, the passage that Ryo recited was from Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’.
Since it’s titled The Prince, it is only natural that it should contain some of the principles of monarchs…
“First and foremost, and promptly, one must lay the groundwork. It is essential to be prepared to do the same things that others have prepared for a long time, and to do them without delay upon assuming office… was also one of the passages written there.”
“Yes… exactly. So, upon assuming the Cardinal’s office, I brought in some of my old acquaintances. Among them were the magicians who were with us during my Roman Party days.”
At Ryo’s words, Cardinal Graham nodded and continued.
Roman… party members who worked alongside the Hero Roman…
Hugh thought of each one of them.
He knew Maurice the Scout because she had snuck into Hugh’s room.
Gordon, the fire-attribute magician; Alicia, the wind-attribute magician; Bellrock, the earth-attribute magician… and Ash Khan, the enchanter.
All are first-rate adventurers.
Hero Roman had secretly defected to the Central Countries with the Demon Lord, but those who remained behind were powerful members still.
Gathering powerful pawns in one’s camp is a natural course of action for those vying for power…
Hugh thought to himself and shook his head in his mind.
“I believe you will be officially notified by the end of the day that I will be replacing Cardinal Oskar as the point man in the negotiations with the Central Countries Mission.”
“Is that so?”
Hugh asked, surprised at Graham’s words.
“Well, I am acquainted with Master McGrath as well as His Majesty the former Emperor of the Debuhi Empire, so I guess you could say I am the right person for the job. So, I am sure we will be seeing each other a lot, and I look forward to working with you.”
“Of course, my pleasure.”
The group left Graham’s office and went out into the hallway.
It was a corridor on the third floor.
Through the window, they could see the courtyard.
Ryo suddenly looked at the courtyard.
Only to find a familiar face walking in the courtyard.
Surrounded by four monks.
Yup, Neil Andersen, with whom he discussed alchemy heartily in the Republic.
It was him.
There was no mistaking him.
(I thought he said he was going to the Dark Continent… did he change his plans?)
He had no way of knowing what brought the change.
Just, it bugged Ryo a little…