Chapter 0366 Holy Sword
That day, Roberto Pirlo, the head of the Union Delegation, had visited the neighboring Kingdom Delegation quarters early in the morning, which was quite unusual.
He met directly with Hugh, the head of the Kingdom Delegation, to discuss some matters, including the matter of the covert surveillance.
Groen, the captain of Roberto Pirlo’s guards, was outside the Kingdom quarters.
Going back and forth between the adjacent Union quarters and the Kingdom quarters.
It was completely by chance that the three from ‘Room 10’ witnessed the scene.
A single knight getting attacked by four men dressed in black.
Moreover, the knight looked familiar to them.
“The captain of that former King’s guards?”
“Groen, I believe he’s called.”
“I’ve seen him practicing, he’s quite skilled with the sword.”
Niels, Etho, and Amon were running toward Groen as they said that.
However, Groen, who was so skilled with the sword that Amon admired him, was struck down in an instant.
The four men who had struck him down took Groen’s sword and tried to run away.
Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, swoosh.
Etho fired a series of arrows from the rapid-fire crossbow attached to his left arm as they ran.
Piercing the left hamstring of one of the men.
And pierced the back of another.
The other two arrows missed.
The accuracy of the arrows was quite good, even though they were fired in motion.
The man who was hit in the left leg fell over.
And Niels kicked the man in the head as he passed him, knocking him out.
Perhaps they saw the scene of Groen being attacked.
Several Kingdom guards were chasing after the three as well.
They appeared to be members of the C-rank party ‘Tenzan’.
They left the capture of the one knocked out cold to them.
The three members of ‘Room 10’ followed the three men in black without slowing down.
Turning through several alleys.
The three of them noticed that the roads were getting narrower and narrower with each turn.
That was not a good sign.
If the road gets narrower, a simple obstacle could block the way….
And sure enough….
Several planks that were leaning against each other were knocked down, obstructing the three of them.
But in that moment.
Etho stopped momentarily, and in a single breath, aimed and fired an arrow that shot through the arm of the man holding the bag containing Groen’s sword.
On top of that….
It contained gunpowder.
The man’s arm didn’t get blown off, but as expected, the bag containing the sword fell to the ground on impact.
The men hurriedly tried to pick up the bag.
The men prioritized retrieving the sword over escaping….
“The sword is that important, huh.”
The man who was about to retrieve it was startled by the voice.
They ought to have left the three pursuers behind on the other side of the collapsed planks, but one of them, an agile-looking swordsman, was on their side of the collapsed planks.
It was Amon.
He had dodged the planks by doing a wall run and landed on the spot with movements reminiscent of an acrobat.
Amon sliced through the <Fireball> released by one of the men in black with a swing of his sword.
In concert with the magic, another of the black-clad assailants came at Amon with a dagger he had taken out of his pocket.
Amon dodged the dagger’s side sweep with fine footwork.
Keeping a reasonably safe distance.
And not simply dodging by a hair’s breadth.
Because assailants like them probably have poison coated on their daggers.
Amon, too, had gained experience and was able to determine when to evade with just a paper-thin margin or evade by a comfortable amount.
However, the wider the distance, the later the timing for a counterattack.
That couldn’t be helped.
And there was no need to rush.
Time was on his side.
The three men in black were now in a hurry because they were running out of time.
They were anxious to retrieve the bag containing Groen’s sword lying on the ground as soon as possible and make their escape.
Because the more time that passes, the greater the possibility of pursuers coming after them….
First, after scattering the planks that blocked the way, Niels joined the fray.
“Good job holding out, Amon.”
“Please. Blowing through all those planks, that’s amazing too.”
Niels praised him and Amon returned the praise.
“It’s also to make it easier for those making their way here.”
Niels realized it as well.
The more time passes, the more advantageous it was for them.
A momentary stalemate ensued.
The first to make a move was, as expected, the men in black.
“<Fireball>, <Fireball>, <Fireball>.”
Three consecutive shots of fireballs.
One shot each at Niels, Amon, and Etho.
Niels and Amon both slashed theirs, and Etho repelled his with <Magic Barrier> that he generated earlier.
The attack was not intended to inflict damage.
The moment they were fired, another of the men in black leaped at the bag that was lying on the ground.
An arrow pierced the man’s neck.
Etho was aiming for that.
He knew there was a chance they planned to distract them with a diversionary attack and then pick it up while at it.
“Guess the thought to retreat never crossed their minds.”
The other man in black couldn’t finish his chant.
Amon jumped in and slit his throat.
At the same time, Niels also slashed at the other man.
Niels wields a heavy sword.
Each blow is remarkably heavy.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that his sword pace is slow.
He’s a B-rank swordsman.
With room for growth.
At the third successive strike, the man in black must have already realized that he couldn’t hold on much longer.
At the fourth successive strike, his dagger was sent flying, and as he was about to receive the fifth strike, he closed his eyes.
He had accepted death.
At the last minute, Niels twisted his wrist and struck the back of the man’s head with the flat side of his sword instead of lopping his head right off.
The man in black passed out.
“I hope we get something out of him.”
Niels said as he sheathed his sword.
“And me and Etho ended up killing two of them…”
Amon said, scratching his head.
“We knocked one of them out just now, so we got two of them alive, that’s good enough, right?”
Though Etho is a priest….
As the three were having that discussion, those trailing behind caught up.
In the lead was Groen, the owner of the sword.
“It’s in that bag.”
Etho said, and Groen scrambled after it and pulled the sword out of the bag.
His words leaked out unintentionally, and he embraced it with tears streaming down his face.
It seemed to be a very precious sword.
After hugging it for a moment, he stood up and bowed his head deeply.
“Thank you for getting it back. I got careless and was caught off guard…”
“Don’t mention it, we only caught a glimpse of them from afar, but… there were four of them so it’s understandable. They were quite skilled in martial arts.”
Niels comforted him.
“It’s a sword I inherited from my now deceased Lord. I’m so relieved…”
Groen said and hugged the sword again.
Both Niels and Amon could understand how much he cherished his beloved sword.
The two of them looked on with smiles on their faces.
“So you’re telling me that Groen’s sword was the target of the surveillance on us for the past few days.”
“It appears so.”
Commander Hugh’s room in the Kingdom Delegation quarters.
And as might be expected, it was fitted with a conference room where meetings of a dozen or more people could be held.
There were eight people gathered there, including Hugh, former king Roberto Pirlo, Guard Captain Groen, the three from Room 10, Gladys, the negotiator from the Ministry of Military Affairs, and her deputy, Ashley.
Incidentally, Ryo had not yet returned from the Papal Palace….
“Well, it’s a good thing they didn’t kill him and take it. Since the easiest way to obtain the holy sword is to kill the owner.”
“So, they went directly after the holy sword instead of killing to get it…. Now, why did they do that?”
Roberto Pirlo and Hugh were talking about the case.
“Groen’s sword is indeed a holy sword, but… not one that is worth that much…”
“Your Majesty, with all due respect, it is very valuable to me!”
Groen rebutted Roberto Pirlo’s words, leaning forward unusually.
“I-I know that. I know you value it a lot. It is the sword that Baron Luke Rochecaux passed down to you, is it not? But if put on the market, I don’t think it’s a sword that could go for more than, say…”
“I will not sell it!”
Groen further refuted Roberto Pirlo’s explanation.
The sword was a memento of the late baron, whom he once served.
“Well, generally speaking, holy swords aren’t put up for sale. A sword that can’t be used unless it approves of the wielder… is not fit to be merchandise. A magic sword would fare better.”
Roberto Pirlo nodded at Hugh’s words.
Gladys, the military negotiator, who had been quietly listening to these conversations, spoke.
“What kind of ability does Mr. Groen’s sword possess?”
Holy swords and magic swords each have their characteristics.
Hugh’s holy sword Galahad, for example, blocks the ability to regenerate.
In general, the characteristics of holy swords are all usually unorthodox….
“My sword annihilates spiritual bodies, so I’ve heard. However, I have never experienced using that effect before…”
“I dare say… that’s one characteristic that limits the range of its use.”
Groen answered, Gladys nodded and said in response, and then continued.
“My holy sword Kurikara is also said to be the Evil Crushing Sword, but… not sure in what situations exactly it comes in handy…”
Honestly… their abilities are all quite unorthodox….
“Now then, what to do?”
Roberto Pirlo’s muttering also represented the feelings of everyone present….
Meanwhile, Ryo left the Papal Palace after informing Graham of his discussions with three of the Pope’s four bishops.
That took quite a while.
After Ryo left, a knock sounded in Graham’s room.
Graham said, and the door opened and a woman entered.
“It’s been a while, Cardinal Graham.”
“Indeed, Archbishop Stefania.”
She looked to be in her mid-twenties.
But her composure was not one that someone in their mid-twenties could possibly possess.
In fact, Graham knew the real age of the woman in front of him.
Because she was once his subordinate.
And now she was in the position he once occupied.
“Now this is quite unusual, for the head of the Inquisition to pay me a visit.”
Graham, former head of the Inquisition.
Stefania, the current head of the Inquisition.
When Graham joined the Hero Party, he recommended her as his successor and the Church approved.
Six years have passed since then.
The Inquisition, as the name implies, is an institution that inquires into ‘heresy’.
However, the Inquisition does not currently use the torturous methods of the Inquisition in Earth’s history.
They did at a time, but not anymore….
Nowadays, the Inquisition is conducted in a much smarter manner… with the use of medicine, magic, and alchemy.
The Inquisition building stands adjacent to the west side of the Papal Palace, connected to it by a corridor… but people seldom pass through it.
No one goes there from the Papal Palace, and no one comes from the Inquisition.
For any clergyman, the Inquisition is like a haunted mansion they’re not particularly keen on approaching.
The head of such a place.
“So? Why are you here today?”
Graham asked, reaching for the coffee in front of him.
“I’m here to talk to you about a man named Ryo, an adventurer from the Kingdom, who has been visiting you.”
Stefania said, and Graham responded softly.
“He could turn on the Church. I would like to bring him before the Inquisition.”
“Hmm…. Of course, he is an adventurer from the Central Countries, so he is a heretic in the eyes of the Church?”
“You know quite well. That, that’s not what I meant.”
Graham teased her a little, and Stefania replied with a frown.
“So basically, you want to extract the information that Ryo-san has. And possibly erase his memories… or manipulate him at will… is that what you mean?”
Graham explained and Stefania nodded.
It was one of the Inquisition’s favorite method.
“No one can prevent the Inquisition from wanting to bring a case before the Inquisition. Not even a cardinal like me, of course. But you had better think about it.”
Graham’s tone didn’t change.
Nor did his expression.
The only thing that changed was the look in his eyes.
“Because he’s an adventurer from the Kingdom you mean. Sorry, but that’s not enough to change our stance on the matter. It will certainly put a strain on the negotiations. I understand that. But faith takes precedence over everything else.”
Hearing that, Graham shook his head slightly.
“You got me all wrong. Sure, he’s an adventurer from the Kingdom, and if you touch him, it’ll surely put pressure on the negotiations. Or rather, it will break down totally. But that’s not what I’m talking about.”
“Then what do you mean?”
“If you touch him, the Church will collapse.”
Graham said without changing his expression or tone.
Hearing this, Stefania tilted her head.
She did not seem to understand.
“Master Graham, are you saying that you will turn against us and that the Church will split up?”
Graham shook his head again.
Then he felt a sense of hopelessness.
How to go about conveying something she won’t understand even if he told her.
Graham called out, sounding distressed for the first time.
She was about to make a terrible mistake… but there was nothing he could do to stop her.
“As you know, the Inquisition is under no restriction from anyone. Therefore, I am bringing the Kingdom Adventurer, Ryo, before the Inquisition.”
After saying that, Stefania got up and left.
“No restriction from anyone also means no protection from anyone, you know… Stefania.”
Graham muttered sadly.