Zero no Tsukaima:Volume11 Chapter7
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 Chapter Seven: The Pope Of Romalia
Seeing the guest who came to the royal reception room, Henrietta could only stare in blank surprise.
His dark-purple priest robes and high cylindrical hat symbolized the highest authority among all of Halkeginia’s priesthood… in other words – he was the Pope of Romalia.
Because he held a position higher than any king in Halkeginia, Henrietta invited him to take the most honorable seat.
However, the young man’s face did not suit well with the priest clothes that he wore. His gentle eyes, sculpturesque nose, and well-shaped lips formed into an ever-present smile - beauty that made everyone turn to look. Even if one searched all the theaters in Halkeginia, it would be difficult to find an actor as beautiful as him.
To Henrietta, it seemed that his smile was filled with godlike affection.
“Doing well, Henrietta-dono?”
Ashamed, Henrietta snapped out of her trance.
“I am sorry, Your Holiness. I was deeply moved by your holy power.”
His hair, like thin gold threads, shivered as the Pope of Romalia laughed.
“Call me Vittorio. I don’t like such formal manners. Treat me like a regular priest of the country.”
“That is gracious of you. I am very sorry I could not attend the enthronement ceremony.”
Vittorio Serevare St. Aegis the 32nd had been enthroned three years ago. Though it was a custom for each of Halkeginia’s royal families to attend the ceremony, Henrietta had caught a cold and was not able to be there.
St. Aegis the 32nd… the one who succeeded the name of "Founder's Shield," the thirty-second Pope. A very young person who had just passed twenty years of age, and though Henrietta had heard rumors that he was a very handsome person, she didn’t think it would be to that degree.
“I don't mind. Enthronement is just a ceremony. You still follow God and are the Founder's pious servant; that is enough for me.”
It is said that despite his young age, St. Aegis the 32nd received ardent support from the Romalian citizens. The reason for that was because there was a special liberal feeling that surrounded him. To a degree, Henrietta could relate to that, as she could not feel anything haughty in this young Pope either.
However… though nice, it was a really unexpected visit.
St. Aegis the 32nd announced his visit to Tristain just two days before. The palace went in an uproar preparing for the sudden guest. After all, the Pope’s visits were very rare.
The last time the Pope had come as a guest was for the coronation of the King, her father.
So the reason for such a sudden visit of St. Aegis the 32nd was a mystery.
During the rushed dinner between the Queen and the Prime Minister Mazarin, Henrietta discussed the problems regarding the reception.
“However, as expected from the rumored Halkeginia’s Flower, Henrietta-dono is really beautiful. I am extremely honored to meet you. If I were not the priest, I would ask you to dance.”
“Can I ask something?”
“Can I learn the reason for such an unexpected visit?”
Surely, he did not come here just to have idle chat.
St. Aegis the 32nd gave a deep sigh.
“Henrietta-dono, what do you think about the prior campaign?”
The war in Albion. The league of nobles who introduced themselves as Reconquista, the destruction of Albion’s royal family, the war started by the union of all nobles who did not rely on a monarchic government and sought the Holy Land…
The war between Reconquista and the united Tristain-Germania army, the sudden intervention of Gallia, which ended in the victory of the Allied Forces…
The war that took away Henrietta’s beloved.
She did not want to recall that difficult war.
Henrietta lowered her head in sadness.
“It was a sad war.”
“I would not want to repeat such a war a second time, I think.”
St. Aegis the 32nd nodded approvingly.
“Seems like Henrietta–dono is my friend.”
“What do you mean?”
“It means that I agree. I too was grieved at heart by such a war. I was determined to let the militia participate as well, as soon as possible, because I wanted this useless war to be over with.”
Useless war… at such words, Henrietta's heart reacted strongly.
“Is it because it was not profitable?”
St. Aegis the 32nd gave a big nod.
“It is as Henrietta-dono says. Such conflict has no benefit. I am always troubled because of this. We are all Founder Brimir's pious servants, so why should we fight against each other?”
Henrietta answered in a constrained voice.
“Though I am immature as a politician… I think that as long as people have desires, wars will never be over.”
“Founder Brimir also acknowledged the existence of desire. When desire captivates a person, he is likely to stray away from the path of righteousness. That’s why self-control is beautiful. We, priests, vow celibacy and once a week devote ourselves to vegetarian ration in order to not forget self-control.”
“If all people could control themselves like his Holiness, there would be no wars in the world.”
“It is so, there would be none. However, I am a realist. Asking Halkeginia’s people to have as strong belief as Romalians would be a foolish demand to make, we know that well.”
“It is as his Holiness said – true faith sank to the ground because of the nature of the world.”
For a moment, the Pope closed his eyes to her words… and then looked up.
“This country is a very beautiful one. The colors that decorate the kingdom in spring, rich forests, gorgeous rivers, suiting the name of the Water Country… Romalia is poor in water. It makes one envious. And when such a beautiful country is involved in a war, I take it as blasphemy to God.”
“I think that it is my mission to defend the peace.”
Said Henrietta. It was slightly disappointing that the Pope of Romalia really had come for simple sightseeing and preaching about pacifism.
Taking a look at the clock on the wall, Henrietta tried to stand up.
“Well then, the room and the servants are prepared. Please stay here as long as you wish. In case you’ll want to explore the place, we’ll give you our guards.”
However, St. Aegis 32nd didn’t stand up.
“I came today to help Henrietta-dono accomplish her mission.”
St. Aegis the 32nd and Henrietta went to the royal courtyard. The courtyard of the palace was bathed with rays of springtime sunlight, and though its magnificence was not as great as Gallia's Palace of Lutèce, the flowerbeds were filled with various flowers in full bloom.
While walking through the path between the flowerbeds, St. Aegis the 32nd kept his silence.
“What did you want to show me?”
Breaking the silence, Henrietta asked. St. Aegis the 32nd noticed something in the corner of a flowerbed and squatted down.
“Please look here.”
There were ants.
"Aren't those ants?”
“Black ants, red ants – fighting for food.”
Indeed, small group of insects - the red and black ants - were fighting. The two kinds of ants were desperately competing against each other.
“Strife exists even between small creatures.”
St. Aegis the 32nd placed a hand between the insects, putting a barrier between the opposing parties of black and red ants.
Eventually the fight between the two groups ended, and both returned to their nests.
“The ants will not be able to understand that they have been arbitrated. It’s because my existence is bigger than they can perceive. A human has full power over the ants. If I wanted to, I could destroy the ant nest. Of course, I do not intend to do such a thing.”
“What do you want to say?”
“In short - power. For the preservation of peace, a huge power is necessary. A huge power that could arbitrate the two warring factions…”
“Where to get such power…”
As Henrietta started to say so, her eyes grew wider upon realization.
“That’s right. Henrietta-dono also knows about the legendary power…”
“I cannot understand, what do you mean?”
Henrietta tried to play dumb. But St. Aegis the 32nd continued to speak.
“The power given to us by God. The power that like water, has no color. A person’s mind can make it either white or black.”
“Your Holiness, ooh, Your Holiness…”
Henrietta shook her head.
“Do you know the Founder's element?”
“Yes. Great Founder Brimir himself divided this powerful power into four – it was entrusted to the treasures and the rings. The Ruby of Water and the Founder’s Prayer Book are what Tristain got.”
“Again, the people who should bear this power were also divided into four. Perhaps from the fear that the power would concentrate in one person's hands.”
Henrietta recalled Louise. And the ones similar to Louise - the supporter of Gallia, who had not revealed his true colors still. And the elf girl who lived quietly in Albion and whom she hadn’t met…
Was she alright?
She has Albion’s royal treasure, so she must be my cousin… Though we left her alone because she was happy living on her own… will she really be alright?
Thinking like this, Henrietta tried to focus back on the conversation.
“The Founder said it himself – ‘Four treasures, four rings, four familiars and four users – when all four of them are gathered in a single place, my Void will awake.’”
“What a frightening power.”
“Frightening you say? It is power given by God. It depends on the person whether it becomes white or black.”
“Power makes one corrupt. I learned it from my mother. I, myself, think so as well. If possible, I would like to leave it alone.”
“For how many years have we been involved in these useless fights?”
Henrietta was at a loss for words. She had to agree that the history of Halkeginia was a history of conflicts.
St. Aegis the 32nd took out something from his pocket. It was a colorful candy.
And threw it at the ants.
All the ants became crazy about the sudden blessing. They clung to the big candy. And they were not fighting against each other. Because there was plenty for them all, there was no need to fight.
“Together with the power, a common destination is needed. We already have it.”
“Something like this candy, do you understand?”
“The Holy Land.”
St. Aegis the 32nd said.
“…the Holy Land.”
It was Founder Brimir’s promised land guarded by elves. Though all kingdoms of Halkeginia united many times and aimed to recapture the land, it never ended in success…
“The Holy Land that is not free. That’s where we should aim our minds at. Without this aim there would be no true peace.”
“But… elves are strong…”
“They practice Ancient Magic. It is so. The Kings of Halkeginia have been defeated many times. However, they did not have the ‘Founder’s Void.’”
“…yet another war? This time with elves? But that’s not what you said before?! You said you wanted it to end!”
“The existence of such strong power would likely be enough to occupy the wise elves. You do not need to actually ‘use’ it, but rather to ‘show’ that you have it.”
St. Aegis the 32nd gave Henrietta an intense look. In those eyes there was not even a slight shadow of doubt in oneself. However, such absolute confidence in oneself could only be in a clergyman’s eyes.
“…is this what you wanted to show me?”
“Indeed. We can have a peaceful ‘negotiation’ with the elves. For that we need a great power… in other words, the Founder’s power is necessary.”
Henrietta felt herself attracted to the young Pope’s way of thinking. Without a doubt, it was realistic… and it sought for an ideal to pursue. But ideals and reality were two conflicting matters and the innumerable sufferings could be created when trying to combine them both.
That was the attitude she had right now.
But, she could not take a step forward.
She did not have the courage.
Seeing Henrietta like this, the pope smiled.
He smiled like a boy.
A boy who before growing up had grand ideals. These ideals, with the coming of age, are usually swallowed up by reality.
However this pope, looked… like a boy in adult's body.
“Your Holiness's words are too grand… I cannot judge their correctness at the moment. Can I ask for some time for consideration?”
“The thing that Henrietta-dono says is very understandable. However, there cannot be a long delay.”
“Gallia. Sadly, it is a country ruled by a man who has no faith. People’s happiness is dominated by his personal desires. Henrietta-dono, we need to ally our ideals together.”
In her mind, Henrietta recalled Joseph, King of Gallia. His attitude to take over the other nations in the conference. An ambitious person, who persecuted Louise on a number of occasions. The Duke of Orléans who was the younger brother of the true king was a tyrant. A cruel man who harmed his own niece Tabitha repeatedly…
“You saw how his mind works? If he was given the power of Void, we would not survive.”
Henrietta nodded. Really, she could do nothing but agree.
“As a Pope, a servant of the god and of all people of Halkeginia, I order you - take the ‘Void’ from that place, we cannot leave the amulet in the hands of a person who has no faith.”
Agnes quietly watched the queen and the pope's discussion in the courtyard. There were a lot of musketeers in the surroundings, guarding the place from a distance.
Once the discussion was over, Henrietta called Agnes with the small gesture.
Agnes kneeled down on one knee when facing the queen.
“Commander-dono, His Holiness, the Pope needs rest. Please guide him to his room.”
“As you wish.”
Standing up, Agnes turned towards the Pope.
“Your Holiness, please follow me.”
“Thank you very much for your efforts.”
Once looking up at St. Aegis the 32nd’s face, Agnes lost her tongue. Gone was her usual calm soldier mask, replaced by a pair of wide, glistening eyes.
“Is something the matter?”
Hearing the Pope’s gentle words, Agnes lowered her head in panic.
“F-Forgive my rudeness.”
Agnes, feeling like her heart was torn… started to walk. For a moment, she was reminded of her past, 20 years ago.
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