Translating Japanese Web Novels to English

WM V2 Extra 13

Extra 13 <Intermission> The Papal Election

Translator: Jay_Forestieri

Editor: Tseirp

 

The Union quarters of the Western Countries Delegation.

Former King Roberto Pirlo, the delegation leader, was conversing with the head of the guards, Groen.

 

“The papal election starts tomorrow, doesn’t it?”

“Yes. All the cardinals and archbishops will be isolated in a place called the Tower of Silence and will vote to select the new pope. The pope is chosen from among the cardinals, but the archbishops also have voting rights. The cardinal who receives the majority of votes from the entire group will become the next pope. However, the process can take up to a month.”

“I recall the last election took more than three weeks, didn’t it? It’s tough… especially for old folks like me.”

 

Roberto Pirlo said with a wry smile.

Groen, having nothing to add, simply shook his head in silence.

 

“Choosing people, whether for the delegation leader or the pope, is always a difficult task.”

 

 

The next day.

All the cardinals and archbishops gathered in the Tower of Silence within the Papal Palace.

For the papal election to select the 101st pope.

 

Originally, there were twelve cardinals and twenty-four archbishops.

However, two cardinals were already missing.

 

Cardinal Camilo had been stripped of his clerical status after beheading the pope with an axe.

And Cardinal Sacharias was killed by adventurers from the Central Countries after becoming something other than human.

 

Thus, there were only ten cardinals present.

Among them, three cardinals were considered the main contenders:

 

Cardinal Oskar, Cardinal Adolfito, and the potential dark horse, Cardinal Graham.

 

These are the three.

 

 

Graham was highly regarded for his efforts during the papal inauguration.

Earning praise not only from the archbishops but also from the general clergy.

 

However, he was considered too young.

At forty-three, he is significantly younger than the average age of the archbishops, which is fifty….

 

 

There are supposed to be twenty-four archbishops, but there are currently three vacancies.

 

The oldest among the remaining twenty-one archbishops, Archbishop Baudelaire, will preside over the papal election.

 

The process is simple.

 

The thirty participants, excluding the presiding Archbishop Baudelaire, write the name of the cardinal they deem suitable for the papacy on a ballot and place it in a ballot box.

Both cardinals and archbishops have one vote each.

 

The cardinal who secures the majority of votes becomes the 101st Pope.

 

If no one obtains a majority, the voting is repeated.

Until someone does.

The voting sessions occur once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

 

Outside of voting hours, members gather to discuss and strategize… to compete… secure more votes for their preferred candidates.

 

 

The results of the first round of voting were read aloud by Archbishop Baudelaire.

 

“Cardinal Oskar: twelve votes, Cardinal Adolfito: eleven votes, Cardinal Graham: five votes, blank votes: two. No candidate has secured a majority.”

 

A slight murmur spread through the assembly.

 

Both cardinals and archbishops had made their predictions before gathering.

And most had anticipated that no one would secure a majority in the first round.

 

The outcome matched expectations.

Neither the frontrunner Cardinal Oskar nor his primary opponent Cardinal Adolfito had a decisive lead, and their near-equal tallies were anticipated.

 

Both sides knew their next steps:

 

To secure the two blank votes.

And to persuade members of Graham’s camp to join their side.

 

Although the voting was anonymous.

The participants could make educated guesses about the affiliations.

 

Each side knew its supporters.

And could guess the opposition based on prior movements within the Papal Palace.

Thus, the remaining voters were likely the holders of the blank votes and members of Graham’s camp.

 

 

The question then was how the leaders would maneuver.

Specifically, what actions would Cardinal Oskar and Cardinal Adolfito take?

 

 

Cardinal Adolfito acted decisively.

He approached Graham, who was seated and sipping plain hot water.

 

“Your Eminence Graham, might I have a word with you?”

“Your Eminence Adolfito, what brings you here?”

Those eavesdropping couldn’t help but think that “What beings you here” was a disingenuous question… given the circumstances.

 

Adolfito went straight to the heart of the matter.

If Cardinal Graham were to join Adolfito’s camp, his five votes would be added.

Giving Adolfito a total of sixteen votes, thus securing a majority and electing him as Pope.

 

This was Adolfito’s aim.

 

 

“In the afternoon vote, I would like you to cast your vote for me.”

Adolfito said directly.

 

Hearing this, Graham’s expression showed slight surprise.

It was half an act, but half genuine as well.

 

 

As Graham had once explained to Ryo, Cardinal Adolfito was the most skilled in backroom dealings within the Church.

He was adept at espionage, as evidenced by his surveillance of Ryo.

 

Graham was surprised that someone like Adolfito, who was known for his scheming, approached him straightforwardly.

This was the method that the ostensibly upright Cardinal Oskar would typically employ….

 

“Well… that puts me in a difficult position. I have people who support me, and I cannot betray their expectations.”

“With all due respect, Your Eminence, you have five votes. That is not enough to win. Shouldn’t you make the most of those votes?”

“So, if I vote for you, you will ensure that we are treated favorably after you become Pope?”

“That will be as God wills…”

 

 

Adolfito replied, evading a definitive promise.

Graham chuckled inwardly at the predictable answer.

 

 

“However, wouldn’t the same apply if I supported Cardinal Oskar?”

“Cardinal Oscar drinks only pure water.”

Adolfito replied without changing his expression.

 

In other words, Oskar would not reward anyone for their votes or treat them favorably after becoming Pope.

 

 

Graham thought this was likely true.

 

 

Cardinal Oskar was known for his integrity.

No one denied that.

 

The question was whether a person with such integrity could effectively lead the vast Western Church.

 

Ordinary believers and clergy might say it was not a problem.

However, as priests, bishops, and archbishops rise in rank, they are increasingly confronted with the complexity of the world.

 

 

The gap between ideals and reality.

 

It might be the gap between God and humans.

This is precisely the position of clergy.

 

“Your Eminence Adolfito, please allow me some time to think.”

Graham said, parting ways with Adolfito.

 

 

In the afternoon, the voting results were read aloud by Archbishop Baudelaire.

“Cardinal Oskar: twelve votes, Cardinal Adolfito: thirteen votes, Cardinal Graham: five votes. No candidate has secured a majority.”

 

Adolfito’s camp had succeeded in securing the two blank votes from the morning.

 

 

Graham’s most trusted archbishop approached him.

“Your Eminence, what shall we do?”

Archbishop Stefania asked.

 

Stefania was the only woman among the cardinals and archbishops.

She was also the head of the Inquisition.

Naturally, she was part of Graham’s camp.

 

“I want to observe a bit longer. I feel something is off.”

“Something off?”

“Yeah. I’m not sure why… it might be something about this Tower of Silence. Something feels strange…. So, I think it would be wise for us to spend the nights together, all five of us. We can’t leave the tower during the election, and everyone will be discussing amongst themselves, but… I feel it would be best if we stayed in the same room at night.”

“…You’re concerned about assassination, aren’t you?”

Stefania’s eyes gleamed.

 

 

During the papal election, all the cardinals and archbishops of the Western Church gather in this Tower of Silence.

In other words, the entire leadership of the Western Church is here.

 

If someone wanted to inflict significant damage on the Church, attacking during this time would be most effective…

 

While not publicly acknowledged, cardinals and archbishops have been assassinated in the Tower of Silence during past papal elections.

Official records state they died of illness or accidents…

Whether these were the actions of external forces or rival candidates, no one knows.

 

 

“If I wanted to destroy the Church, I would release a golem into the Tower of Silence during the election.”

“A golem…”

“Even one ‘Holy Knight’ would likely slaughter most of the cardinals and archbishops.”

Holy Knights are combat golems maintained by the Western Church.

It is said that a single one has the strength of five B-rank adventurers.

 

Most cardinals and archbishops are not accustomed to combat…

 

 

The Tower of Silence is a three-storey stone building with over a hundred small rooms, ten medium rooms, and two large rooms.

 

The small rooms are truly small, about the size of a four-and-a-half-tatami mat space.

Usually, clergy members seek solitude here for meditation.

Giving the Tower of Silence its name.

During the election, these rooms are used for discussions… sometimes under the guise of persuasion or recruitment….

 

The medium rooms are about the size of a school classroom.

It was one of these medium rooms that Graham suggested they spend the night in.

 

One of the large rooms is used as a dining hall during the papal election.

While the other is where the cardinals and archbishops gather to vote.

 

 

 

After dinner, each camp gathered to discuss.

Their strategies for the following days.

 

During the election, there are no assigned rooms.

The Tower of Silence allows everyone to spend their time as they please.

Some who have clearly declared their allegiance might spend the remaining time in meditation…

 

 

Graham’s faction consisted of Cardinal Graham, Archbishop Stefania, Archbishop Schlotter, Archbishop Balthasar, and Archbishop Goon.

 

The five of them gathered in one of the medium rooms with their bedding.

Which consisted of just a blanket and a pillow each provided by the church.

 

 

Archbishop Schlotter, like Stefania, was one of the youngest among the archbishops.

He had taken Graham’s place as archbishop when Graham was elevated to cardinal.

And had held the position for less than a year.

However, whether it’s been a year or ten, an archbishop’s vote holds equal weight.

 

“I will follow Your Eminence to the end.”

His gaze filled with a mix of admiration and fervor directed at Graham.

As a former vampire hunter and head of the Inquisition, Graham often garnered enthusiastic support from younger clergy members.

 

Archbishop Balthasar rarely spoke.

Almost as if he had taken a vow of silence.

However, Graham had no doubts about his loyalty.

 

Balthasar had been one of Graham’s direct subordinates during his time as head of the Inquisition and had survived many life-threatening situations alongside Stefania.

In the intrigue-ridden church, Balthasar was one of the few high-ranking clergy Graham could trust implicitly.

A simple nod from Balthasar was enough for Graham.

 

 

The last member, Archbishop Goon, was quite unique.

He would never betray Graham.

Not out of fervent loyalty like Schlotter.

Nor due to shared experiences like Balthasar.

 

But because his mind and body were completely dominated by Graham’s ‘smoke’.

 

To an outsider, Goon’s behavior appeared unchanged.

Calm and gentle, even a third party conversing with him would notice nothing amiss.

 

This subtlety highlighted Graham’s fearsome capabilities.

 

 

 

Late at night.

The door to their room silently opened, and the five were sleeping, sprawled in the center of the room.

 

The moment the intruder stepped in…

 

Clang, Clang.

 

Two knives flew from Stefania’s hand, who had awakened without anyone noticing, and the intruder deflected them while advancing.

He lunged at Graham, who had risen to one knee.

 

With a swift movement.

 

Graham drew the sword hidden in his staff.

 

The man’s right arm was severed in an instant.

However, he immediately grabbed the severed arm with his left and reattached it to the stump.

 

Before long, his right arm was reconnected.

 

“A vampire?”

Stefania muttered.

Though her tone was questioning, as if she wasn’t entirely sure.

 

 

“Everyone, do not attack, just defend yourselves. I will handle this.”

Graham instructed clearly.

The other four nodded.

 

The man, his eyes glowing red, focused solely on Graham.

Ignoring the others.

 

“If I’m your target, that makes things simpler.”

Graham said, almost laughing.

 

As if that were a signal, the man lunged forward.

 

His speed was extraordinary.

Both in movement and in his sword strikes.

 

A downward slash, a horizontal sweep, an upward diagonal cut, followed by another downward slash…

The relentless flurry of attacks was beyond human capability.

 

 

However…

 

 

“Wow…”

The one who involuntarily muttered that was the young Archbishop Schlotter.

 

The admiration was not for the intruder.

It was for Graham, who deflected all of the man’s extraordinary attacks.

 

And he did so with obvious ease.

As if he were measuring his opponent’s strength.

 

“I’ve got it figured out.”

Did anyone hear Graham’s muttering?

 

“Sure, your strength is great… but your technique is unrefined!”

In that instant, the man’s right arm was sliced off again.

He immediately grabbed it with his left hand.

But the next moment, his left arm was cut off as well.

Then his head was severed… and without a moment’s delay, the sword pierced his heart.

 

 

With a consecrated weapon, beheading and piercing the heart.

 

 

That’s the way to finish off a vampire.

 

However, Graham himself wasn’t fully convinced that the man before him was a vampire.

 

“There are several strange aspects to call him a vampire.”

“Your Eminence?”

Stefania must have heard Graham’s muttering.

She questioned him.

 

“No, it’s certain he’s close to a vampire… an evolved species? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Vampires’ bodies are unusually stable. In a sense, they are extremely difficult to evolve.”

Graham pondered further.

 

“Moreover, just now, he grabbed his severed arm with the other arm… but a vampire’s severed arm would reattach itself.”

“Ah, now that you mention it, indeed.”

“And vampires have incredible technique, even more so than strength. They live much longer than humans and have ample time to refine their skills. But this man was unrefined.”

“I see.”

 

Stefania nodded in agreement with Graham’s analysis.

 

 

Graham holds a doctorate in Vampire Studies.

Though never called by that name in the church, he is known as Dr. Graham at the church-affiliated university.

 

Drawing from that expertise, he analyzed the man before him…

“I don’t get it, there’s too little information.”

 

 

At that moment.

 

“Gyaaaaaaaaahhh!”

 

A scream echoed from the upper floor.

 

“All four of you, stay close to me!”

Graham said and started running.

 

 

 

Graham and his group arrived just as Cardinal Adolfito was pierced by a sword.

Perhaps he was protecting someone, as four others lay already fallen beside him.

 

Graham charged at the woman stabbing Adolfito.

 

She saw it and pulled out the sword, facing Graham.

Her face showed surprise.

 

“Why…”

She stopped short of completing her sentence.

 

“Wondering why I’m alive? Your comrade failed to kill me.”

“Tsk.”

At Graham’s reply, the woman clicked her tongue loudly.

 

She glanced around, then turned and started running at full speed.

Graham pursued.

But in terms of leg strength, she was far superior to a human.

 

She broke through a window, leaped to the ground, and fled beyond the premises.

 

 

Then another voice from the upper floor.

“Somebody, please!”

 

Graham, Stefania, and the others started running again.

As they confirmed that Cardinal Adolfito was being healed with magic by the archbishops…

 

 

 

In the medium room on the third floor were Cardinal Oskar and others…

But the assailant was already gone.

 

The archbishops were weeping over the bodies of Cardinal Oskar and three other cardinals.

 

 

“Hmm?”

Graham looked again at the bodies of Oskar and the three others.

 

“All cardinals?”

“Cardinal Adolfito might survive, but the four killed on the second floor were also cardinals.”

Stefania answered Graham’s muttering in a low voice.

 

Graham hadn’t realized it until then, but Stefania had noticed.

 

“I see. Including me, they intended to kill all the cardinals…”

The only surviving cardinals were Graham and the recuperating Adolfito.

 

“Whoever did this… seems to want a full-scale war with the church.”

 

 

 

“Cardinal Graham, twenty-two votes. Unanimous. The next pope will be Cardinal Graham.”

The moderator Archbishop Baudelaire declared.

 

After the attack, Cardinal Adolfito survived.

However, he declared himself unfit to serve as pope and expressed full support for Graham.

Those who supported Cardinal Oskar also declared their full support for Graham.

 

The archbishops believed the attackers were vampires.

At that point, the next pope was practically decided.

 

If a full-scale war with the vampires was imminent.

There was only one person to lead the Western Church.

 

Known as the vampire hunter, Cardinal Graham.

 

Too young to be pope?

In times of battle. The church should be led by someone young and untainted!

 

 

That day, the news of Graham’s appointment as the next pope spread throughout the Western Countries.

 

 

TLN: Please read my translations at tseirptranslations.com, I did not give permission to any site to host my translations. 

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1 Comment

  1. So someone wants him in charge, so that he will lead the Church in a war against what are supposedly Vampires, but sound more like another batch of Sacharias’ experiments?

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