This is the final chapter in this mini-arc. A sting in the tail or…?
A little pre-translation note: in the spoken lines below the word “that” will come up a number of times without clear context. It’s generally being used to refer to a specific character indirectly. The word is not being specifically emphasised in the Japanese so I kept it that way here.
Informal Conference – hidden
Author’s note: The pope’s point of view.
I left the tidying up of the conference room to others, and headed towards my private room. I closed the door, confirmed that I was alone, then I sat down in a chair as if collapsing. My legs begin to shake, rather too late. I heave a massive sigh.
No matter how many times I experience it, I am still unused to the fear of death. I managed to survive this time, but I wonder what will happen in ten days time.
I am scared of death. But, beyond that, what really makes me anxious is if the world was destroyed while I was not around. At the conference I had boasted that it would be okay even if I wasn’t around, and in practice I’m sure the Divine Word Religion would not shake without me. Even still, I cannot shake the anxiety about something happening while I was not around.
I stimulated my shaking knees, then stood up, and picked up a particular wine bottle from the shelf. Normally I restrain myself, but I’m sure it is acceptable to open this after a day like today. That shows just how much I was cornered in mind and body by that short conference.
「Could you prepare two glasses?」
On turning around at the voice I suddenly heard, there was Black Dragon-sama elegantly sitting on a chair.
「It sure seems that even the likes of you, would be considerably terrified by that.」
「Peeping is hardly laudable.」
As I smoothly turned aside his jest with my honest opinion, Black Dragon-sama’s sweet smile became deeper. I swallowed a sigh before it could escape, prepared two glasses and sat down facing Black Dragon-sama. On pouring the wine I handed over a glass to Black Dragon-sama, and then poured my own glass.
「Well then, cheers!」
A sound resounded as we lightly tapped the two glasses together. I tipped the glass and poured the wine into my mouth, bringing stimulation to my aged throat. My first drink in a long time, seems to have been a bit too powerful a stimulus for my aged body.
「What did you think of that?」
For a while I silently concentrated on my glass, and Black Dragon-sama asked me that while pouring a second glass for himself.
「I do not know.」
I spoke that honestly. At the conference today, regarding that girl named Shiro who called herself an Administrator, I was not able to comprehend anything at all. As for what kind of personality she has, I could not even make a conjecture, and instead it was I who was being tested. The words she said at the end, “I have clearly witnessed your determination”, conveyed that truth more than anything. The one testing and the one being tested. It was like the manifestation of our power relationship right then and there.
「That figures. Even I don’t really understand that.」
Black Dragon-sama seemed to be in a good humour, smiling while swirling the wine.
「What that person said about being an Administrator, is it the truth?」
「It feels a bit unfair for me to reveal it, but very well. That is unmistakably an Administrator. Enough that she is even deeper into the System than me.」
While consenting to Black Dragon-sama’s words, at the same time I feel my tiredness increase.
「For that Administrator to take personal action, does it mean that the situation is that bad?」
「It’s bad indeed.」
Black Dragon-sama casually announced that, and put his hands on a third glass.
「However, don’t be so pessimistic about it. Will that succeed, or will I disappear instead? At the end of the day, those are the only two possibilities. While that proceeds according to the scenario she prepared, all I have to do is just pretend that I don’t know anything.」
When Black Dragon-sama said he might disappear, he indicated that he found that possibility to be pleasant somehow.
「You are okay with that?」
「About you becoming the next living pillar for the System.」
「Ahh. About that.」
「Indeed. After the Goddess-sama has passed on, you would lose your reason for staying in this world, surely. Much less to succeed in Goddess-sama’s role as well.」
「I’ve said this before, but after coming so far, it would be harder for me to abandon everything instead. Sariel would probably not wish for me to abandon things either. Besides, in a world without Sariel, there is no merit for me to be alive. In that case, to use this life of mine at the last for the sake of the world that Sariel loved, is not bad either.」
Even though he’s saying things here and there that worry me, even if I questioned him about it I’m sure this person would not talk about it. This person will not rely upon anyone. There has been nobody who would stand with him. Also, there has been nobody who he can depend upon. For these reasons, he is all alone. I don’t have the capabilities to stand with him either.
Perhaps that is why. For Black Dragon-sama to be in an unusually good mood. Because an existence that is worthy of standing beside him has appeared.
「That is fascinating. Do you know how that secretly refers to me?」
「Well now, I cannot even imagine.」
Dear me. To refer to an existence at the top of this world as “loser”. Is that audacious or what. Compared to the calm and neat image she had at the conference, that sounds like coming from a completely different person.
「I do have the self-awareness that being called so is inevitable. I have continued to avoid making choices. For that reason, I’ve lost the right to make choices after all this time. I will simply proceed according to the prepared scenario. Will that complete her scenario, or will she stumble along the way and fail? I shall watch to the end. Whatever the outcome may be I won’t mind.」
At Black Dragon-sama’s words, it can be inferred that Shiro-sama may accomplish something greater than I had thought. In addition, by telling that to me, he is likely indirectly indicating to me that I should not get in the way.
「In this scenario you mentioned, I can only pray that it is not something that will bring harm to the humans.」
With my response the matter is settled. Even if Black Dragon-sama is trying to warn me, if it is something that goes against the sake of humanity, then I cannot abide by it. I have already lost the right to make such choices. The choice to take an action that goes against the sake of humanity that is.
「I see. It’s been a treat.」
Before I knew it, the contents of the wine bottle had gone. I have only taken a single gulp from my first glass. It seems that the majority has been drunk by Black Dragon-sama. When I had noticed that fact, he had already vanished from the seat in front of me.
So yes, Kuro refers to Shiro as “that”. It could be considered rude but within the context maybe it implies a sense of mystery or wonder or otherness.
“Loser” – the word used here is “hetare”, which generally means something like “loser”. It can also mean “incompetent”, “lazy”, “good-for-nothing”, “weakling”. Shiro used this word to describe Kuro in chapter 255 – her little Q&A with Wrath.