Chapter 0365 The Four Bishops
The next day.
Ryo delivered documents to the Papal Palace at nine o’clock as usual before returning to the Kingdom Delegation quarters.
Soon after, he headed to the neighboring Union Delegation quarters.
As they were fellow delegations from the Central Countries and shared a reasonable amount of information, they frequently went back and forth between each other’s quarters.
Not Ryo, of course, but the civilian officials.
So, it didn’t ring any alarms when Ryo headed for the Union quarters.
Just that what he told the receptionist was a little eye-catching.
“I am from the Kingdom Delegation and would like to speak to His Majesty Roberto Pirlo, Commander of the Union Delegation.”
The accommodations allocated to the three Central Powers were originally actual lodgings.
They were rented by the Papacy for the duration of their stay.
Therefore, there was a reception desk at the quarters.
However, the person mounting the reception desk was a member of the Union Delegation.
“Excuse me, but do you have an appointment with His Majesty?”
It seemed that the person at the reception desk wasn’t an adventurer… seeing as their response was somewhat refined.
Ryo had such a rude impression.
“No, I don’t. However, if you tell him that Ryo, the adventurer of the Kingdom, would like to see him, His Majesty will definitely ask you to bring me to him.”
Ryo said confidently.
((How can you always say that so confidently…))
Somehow, he heard another ‘Majesty’s’ dismayed voice.
((Abel may not know this, but even in negotiations between countries, in the end, the success or failure of such negotiations may depend on the personal relationship of trust between the top leaders. So, it’s better than to have a proper relationship.))
((…I feel like Ryo is more suitable to be the head of the country.))
((Then I’m afraid you’ve got me all wrong. I don’t have the endurance to survive being drowned in paperwork like Abel.))
((Yeah, on that note, I’m confident I won’t lose even to you, Ryo…))
Abel replied with a deep sigh.
As Ryo waited at the reception desk, a knight came down the stairs.
He remembered him as the captain of His Majesty Roberto Pirlo’s guards…
“I am Groen, the captain of His Majesty’s guards. Please come with me, Sir Ryo.”
Saying that, he turned and started walking ahead.
Ryo followed him.
The central room on the fourth floor.
“Ah, Lord Ryo. This is a rare surprise. Please come in.”
As Ryo entered the room, the former king, Roberto Pirlo, stood to welcome him.
It was not so much a reception for an adventurer as for the Kingdom’s premier duke.
“Hmm. So you don’t know who, but someone from our delegation is being watched by Archbishop Goon’s men.”
Roberto Pirlo nodded once, brought his hand to his chin, and pondered.
“Uh… as a matter of fact, we’ve received similar reports.”
“Groen, please elaborate.”
Roberto Pirlo urged Guard Captain Groen, who was standing in the corner of the room to explain the situation.
“In the last ten days or so, we have been aware that apart from the surveillance by the ‘Reception Section’, a more covert surveillance is being conducted in the shadows. There are four observers. And the target of the surveillance is most likely you, Your Majesty.”
The Union Delegation was aware that it was being monitored.
If the target of surveillance is the Commander, it may indeed be easy to notice.
As the most heavily guarded person in the group.
“Well, I am used to being watched and targeted.”
Roberto Pirlo laughed as he said that.
Yup, it was said that when he was still king, Lord Aubrey, the Governor of the Union, was always trying to kill him…
Whether that was true or not was anyone’s guess.
Only Lord Aubrey would know.
“But… having heard the report, I can’t help but find it a bit off.”
“Eh? How do you mean…?”
“Mm…. Believe me, I know what it feels like to be the target of surveillance or an assassination. As someone who survived those tumultuous plots for half a century, I can easily sniff out stuff like that. But this time, I’m not feeling that sting, that pressure… none of it. I’m probably not their target, so maybe something I possess. Or something in my vicinity… perhaps.”
To be under constant surveillance and assassination for half a century…
That’s a world that Ryo cannot even imagine.
An opinion based on his tremendous experience… that was not something to be ignored.
“So, it’s highly likely that… they are after Your Majesty’s belongings.”
“Yeah. But, I am one of the heads of this mission. Would you go after the belongings of someone like that? If it becomes public, the negotiations will break down. And I don’t have anything in my possession that they would go to such lengths to take.”
Roberto Pirlo chuckled as he said that.
He naturally didn’t bring anything that could be called a national treasure.
To begin with, most such things have been taken by the current king…
“I just don’t get it…”
Ryo said with a small shake of his head, and Roberto Pirlo agreed, shaking his head.
The day after Ryo met with His Majesty Roberto Pirlo.
As usual, he delivered documents to Cardinal Graham.
Then, as he was walking down the corridor of the Papal Palace, guided by Monk Karle, someone approached him.
“You must be Sir Ryo of the Kingdom Delegation, correct?”
A voice called out to him from the side of the corridor.
A very calm voice.
When Ryo and Monk Karle turned toward the direction of the voice, they saw a group of three people.
Ryo felt Karle’s body tremble as soon as he saw them.
Karle lowered his head with a shaky voice.
“I am Ryo from the Kingdom of Knightley.”
Ryo answered and bowed his head.
At that point, he somehow knew who the three people in front of him were.
Since he knew one ‘bishop’ who had the same aura as them…
“Nice to meet you. Bishop Abelardo, Bishop Brigitta, and Bishop Dionisi.”
When Ryo called out the names of the three, the man who initially approached him smiled.
“You know our names, then I guess this shouldn’t take long. We’d very much like to have a chat with you. Could you spare us a moment of your time?”
It sounded like a request, but didn’t look like they would take no for an answer.
In other words, “Come with us now”.
“L-Lord Bishops, Sir Ryo is…”
“I’m sorry, Mont Karle, but please pass along the message to Cardinal Graham.”
The man who first approached Ryo said to Karle, smiling.
He was smiling… but exuding terror.
“Karle, I’ll be back after having a quick word with them. So please tell Mr. Graham that I went to have a chat with the four bishops and that it’s all good.”
Ryo said with a smile.
His was a smile without a trace of evil in it.
Karle managed to say and bowed his head.
Ryo was taken to the third floor on the other side of the courtyard… the room next to the corner room.
During that time, the four of them, including Ryo, were silent.
On the way, they passed several priests, all of whom bowed their heads reverently.
In the first place, the position of ‘bishop’ is not low.
With the Pope at the top, followed by cardinals, archbishops, and bishops…
Below that are priests, deacons, and others, but the number of people below the priests is abnormally large.
In the Western Church, no more than 0.001% of the clergy are bishops or higher….
Since this is the Papacy, even just being here makes you some kind of elite, but even so, the number of bishops and above is extremely small.
And among such top elite bishops, these ‘four bishops’ are exceptional.
After all, they are the four bishops who report directly to the Pope.
Moreover, those who are somewhat familiar with the happenings know what they do.
With that being the case, then it is obvious that it is better to bow down to them reverently!
Ryo watched the clergy bowing their heads as he thought of that.
Incidentally, the three didn’t bow at all to those who bowed their heads.
The single word that came to Ryo’s mind was ‘Arrogance’.
“Here, have a sit.”
Ryo entered the room and was asked to take a seat in the center of the room.
In front of Ryo was the calm man who had been talking since a few minutes ago.
To Ryo’s right, a deeply hooded woman.
To Ryo’s left, a man who is not fat but has a lot of muscles, judging from his visible neck.
That was the arrangement.
(It would have been better if the three of them were lined up in front of me…)
Ryo thought that.
Being semi-encircled was not a pleasant feeling.
I’m sure nothing is going to happen, but it’ll be too late if it does…
(<Dynamic Steam Mine II>)
He equipped a magic spell, like an automatic interception system, so to speak.
The vapor in the air around him automatically freezes when an enemy’s magic comes in range.
Even a physical attack such as a dagger would freeze still.
The <Dynamic Steam Mine II> is a version of the previously developed <Dynamic Steam Mine> that can also deal with physical attacks.
That gave Ryo some security.
“Since you know our names, I’m sure you know who among us is missing, don’t you?”
Ryo took the liberty of assuming that the man with the calm voice sitting in front of him… was probably Bishop Abelardo.
Of course, it was his habitual random guesses.
Abelardo, Brigitta, Cesare and Dionisi… initials are A, B, C and D, respectively….
In most cases, it stands to reason that the man starting with A would be the leader, a random guess.
So the man sitting in front and carrying on the conversation must be Bishop Abelardo, A!
“ By that, I suppose you mean Mr. Cesare. I handed him over to the Republican authorities, but I heard that he escaped. Makes me wonder which way he went…”
Ryo spoke softly.
He didn’t get irritated because they didn’t offer him coffee… or anything else to drink.
“Cesare is the weakest of us four bishops.”
Ryo’s question was silenced by Dionisi, who sat to his left.
But those words made Ryo rejoice, so much that he couldn’t care less about the point raised!
(I never would have thought that I would hear one of the greatest lines in modern Japan here! Though it’s Four Bishops instead of Four Heavenly Kings, but no sweat! Aww, how wonderful!)
Ryo was happy.
He was genuinely happy.
So, he couldn’t help but smile.
Well, to smile at this particular time, he can’t help but think that he’s been made a fool of…
But now that he thought about it, Ryo realized that was the first time he had heard someone yell since entering the Papal Palace.
The Papal Palace truly is one quiet place.
Religious institutions are commonly tranquil places…
Anyway, Dionisi, sitting to his left, was fuming.
He should probably say something…
“The weakest of the four bishops… was a great line, so I just…”
He said it very honestly.
Even Abelardo, sitting in front of him, was a bit wide-eyed and surprised.
Well, if Ryo was asked if that was the right line to say at that point in time, he probably would agree it wasn’t…
((You’ve got the absolutely, worst possible timing.))
A certain king in the distant royal capital made fun of him.
Dionisi stood up angrily and tried to throw out his right hand…
At that moment.
The sharp voice of Brigitta, the woman sitting on the right, struck Dionisi.
“There’s a trap laid out just so you know.”
The moment she said that, Brigitta’s smile flashed from under her hood.
“A trap… you say?”
Dionisi, taken by surprise, dangled his right hand loosely again.
Then he looked as if probing for something.
“Damn it, I don’t sense anything.”
But he muttered so in a soft and sharp tone.
“Interesting… very interesting.”
Brigitta’s voice was low but clear.
“It’s magic I’ve never seen before… does it… freezes? When a foreign object enters its range, it freezes and stops it in its tracks… kukuku, this is amazing.”
Brigitta uttered with a mixture of laughter, although still in a low voice.
As expected, Ryo was surprised by that.
Did she just see through the effect of a magic spell in its passive state?
(I don’t know the principle behind it, but that is one extraordinary ability…)
For the first time since entering the Papal Palace, Ryo felt an unspeakable fear.
Nor was it frustration.
An incomprehensible fear…
In such a situation, it is only a matter of gathering as much information as possible.
“That’s amazing! You’re right. It’s called <Dynamic Steam Mine>, and it automatically defends against hostile magic. I’m surprised you were able to deduce all that.”
Ryo disclosed the information himself.
He knew what was going to happen anyway.
It would be fortuitous if he could use it as bait to extract information.
Pawns to be taken work best just before they are taken.
“Dynamic Steam Mine… interesting name. Hostile magic…? Don’t you mean freeze people when they get close?”
Brigitta asked with a wicked smile behind her hood.
Because of the hood, only her mouth was visible… but it would have been even scarier if her eyes were visible as well…
But Ryo now had one guess.
(Maybe this woman can simulate, or rather, anticipate… maybe she can set the conditions and then paint a picture in her mind of what will happen afterward. I don’t know if that’s magic or a special skill.)
He thought he understood a little better.
His fear eased.
People, after all, seem to feel the greatest fear when they are bewildered or encounter something way beyond their comprehension.
It is the same principle as being afraid of ghosts and apparitions.
If you understand just a little, it in turn eases your fears, if only a little.
“How fascinating. No, I’m more interested in Sir Ryo than that magic.”
Ryo tilted his head at the words of Abelardo in front of him.
Did he say something funny?
“You’ve deciphered Bridget’s abilities just from this conversation, haven’t you?”
“Of course not, no way.”
Ryo, albeit astonished, denied Abelardo’s spot-on deduction.
Naturally, he knew that Abelardo wouldn’t believe him.
“A battle-junkie like Cesare would never stand a chance. No wonder he lost.”
Abelardo nodded his head slightly.
“Now that we know the kind of person you are, we’re just going to come out and ask. The reason we invited you to come here today, Sir Ryo, is to find out if you are going to wreak vengeance on the church or not.”
“At the very least, you were hostile towards the church back in the Republic.”
“Oh…. I don’t deny that… but even then, I was only defending myself. And I only spectated the war between the Republic and the Theocracy.”
Ryo gave a good explanation to Abelardo’s reference.
Basically, he just helped others and protected himself.
“In any case, we’ll eliminate Sir Ryo if you’re judged to be a threat to the church.”
“Uh… and who will decide whether I’m a threat or not?”
“His Holiness the Pope, of course.”
After saying that, Abelardo sat down and bowed deeply.
Not only Abelardo, but also Brigitte and Dionisi.
It seemed that their loyalty to the Pope was absolute.
In that regard, they were indeed, ‘bishops’, high-ranking clergymen.
“I see… I hope I’m not judged a threat I guess.”
“I guess. Because no matter how powerful a magician you are, Sir Ryo, you’re no match for us.”
When Ryo replied with a wonderful expression, Abelardo nodded his head placidly.
There was a sense of confidence backed by past achievements and a sense of pride as the force representing the church… the force behind the scenes.
For the sake of the Church and the Pope, it probably doesn’t matter whether it’s frontal or behind the scenes.
As long as they can be of service, so be it.
Some might call that fanaticism…