Speak softly, and carry a BIG stick.
Informal Conference ⑤
Author’s note: Oni’s point of view.
Sorry Shiro-san, but I’m going to make use of this situation. I had Sophia-san explain to me just what kind of religion the Divine Word Religion is like while we were waiting. Inferring from there, and based on the words of the old man who called himself the pope, I have concluded that the Divine Word Religion has a deep understanding of the world System. If that’s the case, then I will be able to learn about the current state of the world from them.
My current information only comes from Taboo, and what Shiro-san informed me of. Even if there’s nothing false in the information from Taboo, I cannot declare that there’s nothing false in the information from Shiro-san. I’m currently in a valuable position to be able to ask the opinion of a third party, so I have no other option but to make use of this.
Having said that, if I give excessive preference to my self-interest, then it would be bad if that leads to a situation where Shiro-san’s negotiations are undermined. It’s because of Shiro-san’s good will that I’m able to have my current life, and it could even be said that I owe her my life. If I incur Shiro-san’s displeasure here, at best I’ll face expulsion. At worst I may be killed. It would be great if I can understand Shiro-san’s true intentions from this conference, but it would be bad if that results in me forfeiting my life. Somehow, while sounding out Shiro-san, I must avoid offending her, and at the same time avoid giving an advantage to the Divine Word Religion, while advancing the negotiations. This seems to be, a pretty impossible task.
In my previous life I was nothing more than a high school student, and in this world I’ve been more like a feral child who has spent little time in decent circumstances. Meanwhile, the opponents I have to take on, are Shiro-san who calls herself an Administrator of the world, and the head of the Divine Word Religion that is the biggest religion amongst the humans, of all things. Perhaps the degree of difficulty is a bit extreme.
To be honest, I don’t even know to what degree Shiro-san will tolerate things, so it is essential to promote the negotiations carefully. Depending on the situation, I might have to abandon ascertaining Shiro-san’s real intentions, and simply concentrate on the conversation with the Divine Word Religion. Well, when push comes to shove I’m sure the Divine Word Religion will support Shiro-san, so I’m not too worried. What I need to pay attention to, is how far I can probe into Shiro-san’s plans. That’s what I need to make sure of.
「With regards to the abrasion of the souls, to what extent does the Divine Word Religion comprehend this?」
Let’s begin by pressing them in this area. I don’t know to what extent the Divine Word Religion comprehends this, and what I do know only comes from the information that Shiro-san provided. What is correct, what is incorrect? I can’t even determine that.
I examine Shiro-san’s countenance. No change. Does this mean that it’s okay for me to continue? Because Shiro-san’s expression didn’t change it’s hard to read her.
「The Divine Word Religion has concluded that it is not in a critical situation.」
Hm? Something feels out of place in the pope’s words. By that, perhaps this means that they haven’t comprehend anything at all about the abrasion of the souls?
If what Shiro-san said is true, then it’s possible that a large number of people have already been sent to the afterlife, from soul abrasion. At any rate, the very people I had massacred when I was imprisoned in Wrath, had been isolated for that specific reason after all. Them being isolated was said to be due to the involvement of that other person called a god, that man in black who one-sidedly beat me up. That being the case, it’s highly probable that it is the truth. If that is a falsehood instead, then I can expose it by confirming it with that man in black directly. Considering the risk, there’s no way that she involved someone else in a lie. Or perhaps she expected me to think that way, or perhaps she thinks I won’t get the chance to meet that man in black, or perhaps that man in black is an accomplice – there’s so many ways it can all be denied, but once I start doubting everything there’s no end to it all.
Assuming that the story about the abrasion of the souls of the residents of this world is true, then the pope’s words show a distinct lack of understanding about the current situation. With the situation getting close to the final stages as shown by the large number of humans who have already been sent to the afterlife, they are overly lacking in a sense of crisis. That being the case, maybe they are entirely ignorant of this matter then?
「Not in a critical situation, huh. Even though it is possible that over ten thousand people have already been sent to the afterlife?」
The pope’s eyes begin to shake about. They become calm again in just an instant though, but the only one to manage that was the pope. The other members of the Divine Word Religion cannot conceal their discomposure.
Maybe I erred. I tossed away this perfect card in the opening round, when the Divine Word Religion had no clue. Moreover, without anything being negotiated in return.
If that’s all then it’s okay. The problem is, in the case where Shiro-san intentionally withheld this information from the Divine Word Religion. That would mean that I’ve arbitrarily handed over valuable information.
I quickly glance to the side. Shiro-san hasn’t moved. In that case, am I still safe? I have not incurred Shiro-san’s wrath just yet. I have not handed over some information that will undermine the negotiations. Or at least, I hope not…
To think not being able to read someone’s expression would be so bad for the heart, all the more so because the person is Shiro-san.
「Is that, really true?」
Maybe he concluded that there’s no use in keeping up appearances, as the pope asks in a grave voice.
「Administrator Gyuriedistodiez is involved in this matter. In his name, I shall take this occasion to swear that it is the truth.」
Instead of me, Shiro-san answers the pope’s query. If that man in black’s name has come up, then it surely means that it is the truth. No matter what kind of Administrator he may be, I cannot believe that he would make up such a lie to deceive us. I can also guess that from the sharp gleam in the pope’s eyes.
「I wish to ask for your exact opinion. Shiro-sama, in your diagnosis, how long will this world last for?」
The pope makes the inquiry.
「It will surely collapse soon.」
To the pope’s query, the reply that Shiro-san gave was quite ambiguous. Rather than giving a precise value, she said “soon”. That was also the style used in the book that she handed to me. While not being a lie, it’s not the full truth either. That’s how the words can be taken.
「Can you not inform us of a specific value?」
It seems that the pope also thought the same way as me. While he did not use a severe tone of voice, there seemed to be an audible undertone that evading this would not be tolerated.
「You are surely laying the blame at the wrong door to ask me that.」
The pope’s words, were completely dismissed.
「Please do not misunderstand, but in the first place I am an outsider to this world. While I might be lending a hand to save this world out of kindness, by all rights it you people who should be expected to resolve this no matter what. If you are getting flustered by an outsider like me informing you of the crisis at this late stage, then even if I told you that the world would end tomorrow you would surely be unable to do anything except run around like headless chickens.」
Those words seemed to be dripping with sarcasm that “can’t you even notice the world in crisis when even an outsider knows?”
Just to be clear about one thing – everyone is speaking using polite speech styles. The pope is generally being both polite and humble in his speech.