What would the Ruler of Temperance do to save the world…?
On a different note, I have a short holiday coming up, booked some time ago. The timing isn’t great given that there’s only 2 chapters left in this mini-arc but I need a break. The translations will re-start sometime next week and I’ll try to catch up with the raws again.
Informal Conference ⑧
Author’s note: Oni’s point of view.
「Please wait a moment. From what you are saying, the Goddess Religion will come to know that the Divine Word’s god and the Goddess are the same being. However, that will not necessarily happen though?」
To be honest, I had no intention of cutting into the conversation, but I raised that question without thinking. Before the conference I had heard just a bit about the Goddess from Sophia-san. She had only heard about the Goddess Religion in a short period when she was a baby though, so she’s not well-informed about the doctrine. However, just from the name alone I can guess that they worship the Goddess. So unlike the Divine Word Religion, they don’t know that the Divine Word’s god and the Goddess are the same being either.
From the pope’s words, it’s as though it’s being suggested that it will naturally become common knowledge. Otherwise, even if the Divine Word’s god changed over, it should not be synonymous with the death of the Goddess.
「I am sure it will. Because we plan to make it common knowledge.」
To my question, the pope readily answered. What does he mean?
「Well, I am sure there are many things that you want to ask, but for now please listen to what I have to say. Starting from our conclusion, at the time when the Goddess-sama has died, so that the power relationship between the Divine Word Religion and the Goddess Religion will not reverse, the power of the Goddess Religion must weaken as soon as possible, or otherwise the Divine Word Religion will inevitably be absorbed by them. Dragging Sophia-jou’s hometown into war could be called one of the steps for that.」
Many things have been skipped over, but it seems that is the conclusion.
「In other words, it means you’re afraid of losing your own social position huh?」
Sophia-san asks the pope that question in a low voice.
「If you think that, then I shall offer up my head immediately. If that will appease your enmity, I would be happy to approve of such an agreement.」
For an instant, I was not able to understand the meaning of those words. I could probably say the same for nearly everyone in this place. After a delayed pause the Divine Word Religion members in the room had a startled expression, and Sophia-san exposed a stupid looking expression of blank amazement. Only Shiro-san showed no change in expression.
「What is the matter? I shall not resist. Please feel free to go ahead without further ado.」
In the pope’s calm tone of voice, there was no sense of him saying it in jest. It gives the feeling that he really is willing to offer his head right here. A strange hush fills the room.
「Just what, are you planning?」
After a while, Sophia-san finally squeezes that out in a hoarse voice.
「I am not planning anything, I have always resolved myself to submit my life at any time, that is all.」
The ones who responded to those words, was not Sophia-san, but the other Divine Word Religion members. Various lines such as “it would be troubling for you to not be here”, “cut out this foolishness”, “if you are going to offer your head then take mine instead” were thrown at the pope and Sophia-san. Those words are ignored by Sophia-san and the pope respectively, and continue to stare at each other without moving. The pope’s unwavering gaze proves his seriousness.
「Do you think I’d let you die painlessly?」
「It matters not to me. To me, death is merely a waypoint. No matter how many times I die, no matter how many times I am reborn, no matter how many times I lose my memory, I shall never deviate from my path.」
「If you die here, wouldn’t you become thrown from that path?」
「Even if I am not here the Divine Word Religion will continue to function. This place has been nurtured in order for that to happen. I do not believe that this organisation would falter, merely at the removal of one human.」
Sophia-san grinds her teeth. The pope’s determination is the real deal. For the sake of forging the pact, he is willing to die in this place without hesitation. That is, an indirect way of indicating that he would not stubbornly cling to his position and authority, I guess. For a human who would be readily willing to offer his own life as a bargaining chip, there is no way that he would stubbornly cling to something minor like his position.
「If the Goddess-sama passes away, and Black Dragon-sama replaces her, the authority of the Divine Word Religion will surely be diminished by no small amount. At that time, we cannot allow even a small chance for the Goddess Religion to come to prominence. Precisely because we can crush them at any time, it is permissible for the Goddess Religion to continue to exist, but what we cannot allow is for them to replace the Divine Word Religion as humanity’s largest sect. Not to a sect that would offer prayers to a departed god, and with no understanding of the System.」
The pope argues strongly but without passion.
「As for clinging to my position, I cannot deny that. If the Divine Word Religion falls, I believe that would lead to both the humans and the world being one step closer to ruin. It does not matter what happens to me personally, but I cannot allow the Divine Word Religion to fall. All the more so if the Goddess Religion takes over, given how they have forgotten the Goddess-sama’s ideals and become distorted.」
Regarding the Goddess Religion, I am not that knowledgeable. However, within the pope’s words, there was a faint disgust mixed in, but I’m sure it’s just my imagination.
「Until this moment and from this moment the Divine Word Religion, for the sake of the world, and consequently to protect the humans, shall move to action. If, it becomes a matter for the humans over the Divine Word Religion, then I would be glad to concede my position. But, if it is something that is judged to be negative to the humans, then I would not hesitate for an instant to remove it.」
In the end, what motivates this pope, is that judgement. For the humans. For that reason he would discard self-interest, or possibly even discard his own life, and even when he’s reborn he persists with that judgement.
「Even if it was someone who should protect the humans?」
「When a small number must be killed so that a large number can live, I will kill the small number without hesitation. When weighing up whether the Divine Word Religion should survive or whether the Goddess Religion should survive, on determining which would benefit the humans the most, I chose to kill the Goddess Religion. That is all there is to it.」
Sophia-san asked in a trembling voice, while the pope replied immediately and without hesitation.
「Slaughtering the people you should protect, what a joke.」
Like a poor loser, she spat out those words about a joke without smiling.
「That is precisely the reason why I must avoid piling up a mountain of corpses for no reason.」
At those words, I felt a mental shock like I had been struck in the head.
「I will not stop until both my body and even my soul are worn away. If the world can be saved before then, I am prepared to make my endless apologies in hell. Therefore, I beg you to please forgive me for now.」
I am terribly sorry. I killed your parents, took away your home and cost you your future.
On hearing those words, Sophia-san weakly looked up towards the heavens.