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“It’s wonderful to see such a lively boy. I’m certain he has a long life ahead of him.”
The number of visitors to take a look at the newborns and hold them has increased. Today Cardinal Hohenheim has shown up, smiling brightly while holding Friedrich.
Seeing his smile, I can’t imagine him to be the devil His Majesty makes him out to be.
“Elise, is your health holding up?”
“That’s great to hear.”
Since this world doesn’t possess the field of gynecology, many women fall ill after childbirth. Cardinal Hohenheim has dispatched priests capable of healing in Elise’s case, and Elise herself is an excellent healer as well, so there should be no need to worry on that front. And yet, Cardinal Hohenheim seems concerned about his granddaughter.
“Having a healthy heir is great news. Friedrich looks like he’ll become a magnificent Earl Baumeister in the future.”
If she had given birth to a girl, the pressure on Elise to bear another child would have been enormous. Cardinal Hohenheim appears to be relieved that his granddaughter didn’t have to experience this.
“It’s a pleasure to see that the other children are doing fine as well. It looks like they can be held up, so I think we should hold the true baptism for them soon.”
If a child is born on this continent, it’s a fixed custom for its parents to take it to a nearby church and get it baptized. Back at my parents’ home, Meister-dono was responsible for the baptism ceremony.
Probably because I’m Earl Baumeister, my children will immediately receive the high-ranking, true baptism.
“I plan to entrust it to Fritz as the priest in charge of the true baptism, and Samuel as his assistant.”
Fritz is the name of Elise’s dad. He hasn’t been appointed as cardinal yet, but he has a fairly high standing within the church. Given that one won’t be nominated as cardinal below an age of 50, it’s not like Elise’s dad has issues with his career.
The church is an organization where the higher ranks are always clogged up because of the many old people belonging to it. Because it’s an occupation anyone can perform as long as they can preach, unlike being a soldier in the army for example, people tend to delay their retirement by a lot.
Also, Samuel is the name of Elise’s older brother. He’s the next family head of the Viscount Hohenheim House after their father, and an important personage among the young folks of the church.
“Father and elder brother are going to do it?”
“Well, it’s inevitable.”
If they were to leave it to the wrong person, it’d have the potential that the secret about my children’s mana would get leaked. That worry vanishes if the whole ceremony is performed by people related to Cardinal Hohenheim.
“But, Grandfather, will you not garner a lot of criticism if you do something like that?”
Cardinal Hohenheim is aiming to become the next pope. Elise seems to be worried that he might get blamed by his rivals if he bluntly favors his relatives on this.
“I don’t particularly mind. I won’t put my great-grandchild at risk. Besides, I’ve decided to not run for the position of pope.”
“Is that alright with you, Grandfather?”
Cardinal Hohenheim becoming the pope should be the dearest wish of the Viscount Hohenheim House. Elise can’t hide her surprise over him declaring that he won’t run for this position anymore.
“I’m getting old as well. Also, it’ll actually become a problem if I were to be pope. Because I’m the grandfather-in-law of your husband.”
My heir Friedrich is going to marry a woman from the royal family, and my daughter Anna is going to become the wife of the next crown prince. If Cardinal Hohenheim were to become pope under these circumstances…people would become wary of him…
“Thank you very much for doing this out of concern for us.”
“Never mind. It’s natural for everyone to aim for the position of pope once they enter the church. But, after actually having watched the pope from close-by, I don’t really feel all that eager to take that position.”
Well, it certainly sounds like a tough job. Since you’re always watched by others, even if you hate it, you cannot afford to fool around or blather drunkenly.
“Besides, son-in-law, you’ll learn to understand that there’s no true faith to be found the higher you climb in the ranks.”
And yet I suppose it’s impossible to get rid of the church since the people need some spiritual support. Cardinal Hohenheim, who has comprehended various things over the years, might be a religionist in the truest sense.
“I’ll later inform you about the date for the baptism. After all, the true baptism must be carried out at the church headquarters.”
Cardinal Hohenheom leaves his celebratory gifts behind, returning to the capital. Afterwards, the date was decided to be around a week later.
On the appointed day, I head to the capital with 『Teleport』, taking my wives and children along. Since the babies can already be held in arms, there’s no issue with their mothers carrying them.
“Earl Baumeister-sama, Elise-sama, congratulations on the birth of your successor.”
Once we arrive at Viscount Hohenheim’s mansion with 『Teleport』, we’re immediately greeted by Sebastian.
“For Earl Baumeister-sama and Elise-sama to have become parents means that I have grown old as well.”
“Sebastian, you don’t really look like you’ve changed, though.”
“But you cannot win against age…is something I have started to think at some point.”
And yet, Sebastian looks to me like the role model of a butler, as usual.
“Now, let us hurry and secretly head over to the church.”
The true baptism is scheduled to be held so that as few other clergymen as possible learn of it. Sebastian leads us from the Hohenheim mansion, using back alleys.
“Is everyone except for those concerned completely excluded albeit it being a true baptism?”
“Yes, because it’s troublesome in various ways.”
It’s possible that other church staff would tenaciously approach us about marriages, if they heard of the baptism. If such people were accompanied by excellent magicians, it’d immediately get exposed that all my children possess mana.
Given that Cardinal Hohenheim, a big shot within the church, is going to witness the baptism, no one will be able to fault it, even if it’s carried out in private.
For these reasons, it’s been decided to hold the baptism in absolute secrecy.
“Won’t there be any complaints from the pope?”
“As for that…I hear that His Grace the Pope’s health has recently deteriorated…”
“He’s already quite advanced in age, after all.”
“Well, he was already an old man when he was inaugurated.”
Elise is worried about the pope’s health whereas Erw believes it to not be strange for his condition to be bad, considering his advanced age.
“…Huh? Doesn’t that mean it’s a fairly precarious situation?”
“Please do not worry, Earl Baumeister-sama. His Grace is currently recuperating at a medical facility in the outskirts of the capital. Attracted by that, many of the church leaders have assembled in the outskirts as well.”
Sebastian, telling me to not worry…it’s a situation where it’s possible that they must decide on a new pope, so I feel like it’s anything but worry-free…
“Since Milord has no intent to become the next pope, those hoping to get lucky are very happily bustling around at the medical facility. Milord mentioned that this is convenient for us since they won’t obstruct the baptism.”
I can imagine that the church’s top brass and the priests holding voting rights are moving about to campaign for themselves to be elected as next pope. I guess Cardinal Hohenheim plans to use that opportunity to get the true baptism for my children done.
After being led through the city by Sebastian, we enter the headquarters, but as everyone seems to really have gathered around the pope, we don’t meet anyone over here.
“Son-in-law, this way.”
We entered the sanctuary after getting guided there by Cardinal Hohenheim. Only Elise’s dad and brother waited for us there.
“I’ll watch. Sebastian, you may assist them.”
Young apprentice priests are often employed as ceremonial assistants during a true baptism, but it looks like Sebastian is going to take care of that part today. Still, as might be expected of Sebastian. For him to be able to even perform such a ceremony; that’s definitely different from what normal butlers are capable of.
“Just as I thought, my grandchild is such a cutie.”
“Elise, thanks for the adorable nephew.”
“Hurry up, Fritz, Samuel.”
“I know without you telling me, Grandfather.”
As Elise’s dad and brother are looking at Friedrich, they end up cautioned by Cardinal Hohenheim.
The ceremony itself didn’t take that much time, and everyone got baptized in less than 30 minutes. After it’s finished, all that’s left is to return to the Hohenheim mansion.
“Son-in-law, please spare me some of your time.”
After seeing Elise and the rest of my family off, I head to a building within the headquarters I haven’t entered so far after being invited by Cardinal Hohenheim. Once we enter, an old woman in a priest garb is waiting there for us.
“Sorry for calling you over today, Emily.”
“I definitely hadn’t expected for you to ask a favor from me.”
“It was for the sake of making the true baptism of my great-grandchild succeed.”
“You mean, in order to carry out the baptism in secret, right?”
“Son-in-law, many call me devil in society, but the person in front of me is a real devil.”
“As usual, you completely lack any delicacy when it comes to women, don’t you?”
Going by her appearance, I think she’s a member of the church’s top brass. Considering the way she deals with Cardinal Hohenheim, she should be a fairly high-ranking clergywoman.
“My son-in-law has little to nothing to do with the church. He has been cooperating with us, but he lacks any faith.”
“Isn’t that fine? Many people have actually been saved by Earl Baumeister-dono’s benevolence. It’s not unusual for nobles to talk big, but then fail on following up on donations.”
Oka───ay, this is a conversation where either seems to probe the other’s intention. It looks like I’ve been brought to some crazy place.
“Oh, I forgot to introduce her. This woman is Emily Kempfeldt. Like me, she’s a cardinal.”
“I’ve heard many rumors about you, Earl Baumeister-dono.”
Emily seems to be of the same generation as Cardinal Hohenheim. Still, it’s amazing for a woman to have reached the position of cardinal. The church has many female members, but the top brass is filled with nothing but men.
“Every once in a while you’ll find a female cardinal, but they’re rare. They must have luck and ability. Emily is blessed with both of them.”
Is it okay to owe a favor for the baptism to such a person?
“Now then, if you ask why I’ve brought you here, son-in-law…it’s for the sake of your children’s safety. Please cooperate with us.”
How’s meeting her connected to the safety of my children?
“I guess I need to briefly explain the situation…”
If Cardinal Hohenheim were to become pope, it’s possible that he’d be boycotted in the worst case as people would believe him to hold too much power. Therefore he’s given up on becoming pope. However, the second he announced this, the pope fell sick.
Thus the situation immediately entered the stage where the next pope would be decided by vote, but Cardinal Hohenheim, who had been the strongest contender so far, had already declared that he wouldn’t run. Accordingly, the folks, who had apparently given up because they knew they wouldn’t have any chance, all announced their candidacy, gathered at the facility where the pope is recuperating, and have been asking the priests, who are visiting the sick pope, for their support during the election, causing a huge uproar.
“Even though he hasn’t passed away yet…”
I feel like the position of those pushing for a vote will become quite bad if the current pope recovers…
“You need to know that the current pope isn’t conscious anymore, son-in-law. It’s a sickness where you don’t know when his heart might stop working.”
“I have also heard this piece of information. The healers are forcing his heart to keep beating by applying expensive, magic potions, but he seems to be in a state where they might stop administering the potions at any moment.”
These two are both devils, I’m sure. I mean they’re both at the top of the newest information even without actually being present at the medical facility.
“And how is that related to my children’s safety?”
“All of them are fringe candidates. Even if any of them would become pope through the vote, they wouldn’t hold any authority as pope anyway. For this reason, they might plot to win you over as means to obtain that authority.”
“I’m no priest though…”
I don’t have any spare time to help out as a priest either.
“You yourself not. But, your grandfather-in-law is the man closest to the pope, and your wife is a healer who’s referred to as Saintess. Elise-san’s standing is that of a priestess, but her reputation is nothing to scoff at.”
Thanks to Cardinal Kempfeldt’s explanation, I gradually begin to understand where this is going. A powerless pope would approach Cardinal Hohenheim, Elise, and me in order to strengthen his position.
That in itself would be difficult as my family is being protected by the royal family and high-ranking nobility, but I suppose it’d cause a huge confusion if the secret of my children got leaked thanks to the pope investigating various things.
“Egmund, all will be fine if you announce your candidacy.”
So Egmund was Cardinal Hohenheim’s name, huh? I haven’t known until now since he’s always been called Grandfather or Cardinal Hohenheim.
Still, seeing how those two call each other by name, were they actually lovers in the past?
“Don’t be unreasonable, Emily.”
“Any more would be my undoing, huh…? It can’t be helped then. So, what are you going to do? Are you going to endorse Potzal?”
“No, please become a candidate, Emily.”
“Me? That’s impossible.”
“Is it difficult for a woman to be inaugurated as pope?”
“Yep. Even just becoming a cardinal was a chore.”
According to Cardinal Kempfeldt, there have been no female popes so far. It appears a number in the single digits has run for the post, but not once became a woman the strongest contender.
By the way, the person called Potzal seems to be the number two in Cardinal Hohenheim’s faction.
“Potzal is only 52 years old, and has been assigned as cardinal recently. Besides, he’s a guy who coordinates things, making it impossible for him to exhibit his abilities under such circumstances.”
“I’m the same kind of person, you know?”
“Don’t lie, Emily. You hold the most authority among the historic, female cardinals, don’t you? After all, you’re a family member of the Kempfeldt Company.”
“Kempfeldt…ah, the number one lumber dealer in the Kingdom.”
I see. I suppose even as a woman her influence would be strong with such a backing.
“Let’s stop beating around the bush. I’ll endorse you, Emily. And then you’ll pass the post to Potzal later on.”
“I want to have some time to play with my great-grandchildren too, so I’ll do it for just five years.”
For some reason I ended up being allowed to witness the talk about church politics between Cardinal Hohenheim and Cardinal Kempfeldt from the beginning to the end.
“Friedrich, lookie, your grandpa is here for you.”
When we return to the Hohenheim mansion after the secret meeting finished, Elise’s dad is just holding Friedrich in his arms with a blissful expression. As expected, he’s doting on his grandson.
“Samuel, Emily is going to visit this mansion on private business.”
“Private business? There’s no way that’s true, is there?”
“What are you talking about? Aren’t Emily and I close childhood friends? It’s only normal for her to drop by when she’s got some time, no?”
Even though we’ve just parted after the secret meeting earlier, it sounds like that granny is going to visit soon. Of course it’s a pipe dream for her to only visit for some relaxed chat. I’m sure the main purpose of her visit will be a fishy talk about the strategies and schemes for the pope election.
“Cardinal Hohenheim and Cardinal Kempfeldt are childhood friends?”
“Yes, that is correct. Emily-sama has often played with me when I was younger, too.”
According to Elise’s explanation, both are childhood friends, have the same age, and played together almost every day during their childhood.
The heir of a Viscount house and the daughter of a wealthy merchant family. At some point there were even talks about Cardinal Kempfeldt marrying Cardinal Hohenheim, albeit as concubine.
“Given that Emily-sama was the family’s second daughter, her becoming Grandfather’s concubine would not have been much of a problem, but…”
With her elder sister’s sudden death, she had to urgently take a husband, resulting in the two not marrying in the end. Because the Kempfeldt family only had daughters, that granny had no choice but to inherit the family.
“Emily-sama then started to voluntarily help out at the church when she did not have to take care of the children or manage her family’s business.”
At first she was a volunteer, but with her husband, who had been adopted into the Kempfeldt family, having died young and her sons, who inherited the business, being able to stand on their own, she started to genuinely invest time into her work as priestess, Elise says.
“She joined the church well beyond an age of forty, and finally became a cardinal just recently. Son-in-law, you ought to pay special attention to her.”
I already sensed her amazingness when Cardinal Hohenheim mentioned her being his childhood friend, but it should be impossible to become a cardinal with such a late start if you don’t have the abilities to back it. Just as Elise’s dad says, it’s best to be careful around her.
“There’s also many people rumoring that father and Cardinal Kempfeldt have an affair.”
Considering the familiar chat between the two, I can fully understand that notion. Then again, only the two know the truth.
“Humph, what’s the point in bringing up such a silly rumor concerning some old geezer and hag?”
“Oh my, love at an old age is something you’ll also find mentioned in stories.”
“If you say such things, you’ll just spread even more weird rumors.”
“Just let people say whatever they want.”
At that point, Cardinal Kempfeldt is let through into the room by Sebastian. Her current attire is an elegant dress as appropriate for the wife of a merchant family. Her not wearing her cardinal’s garb right now is a display of her visiting Cardinal Hohenheim on private business.
“Elise, congratulations on the birth.”
“Thank you very much, Emily-sama.”
“For that tiny Elise to have become a mother…I sure have grown old. Oh right, that makes Egmund a great-grandfather.”
“Right back at you. Both of us are going to live happier if we don’t talk about our age, I believe.”
“You’ve got a point there. Could I have you show me the next Earl Baumeister, Friedrich-sama, right away?”
Once I lead Cardinal Kempfeldt to the room where Friedrich is sleeping, she immediately picks him up in her arms, but I must admit that her way of holding him looks very experienced.
“It’s only natural for me to be familiar with it after holding my own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.”
Come to think of it, she mentioned she’s given birth to children after getting married. I wonder what kind of man her husband was. The typical husband living with his wife’s parents?
Maybe him having died early…no, let’s not follow this line of thought any further.
“This boy is going to become a great successor, I’m sure.”
“Very well, I’ll cooperate with you.”
I see, so she needed a collateral for the cooperation.
“My great-granddaughter was born just last month. She’s called Stefanie.”
“Emily, I think you’re aware of it, but…”
“We’re merchants and commoners, so I can tell as much without you telling me.”
“You heard her, Son-in-law.”
Since it’s not like a girl, who was just recently born, can become my wife, they’re talking about her becoming Friedrich’s wife. Honestly, I wonder just how many wives my son is going to have around the time he’s grown up enough to know what’s going on around him…?
“It’s going to benefit both of our families. We’re a lumber dealer after all.”
Since the Baumeister Earldom is full of undeveloped areas, a plethora of trees are growing there. Given that we just need to fell what we need in our own backyard, we haven’t been importing any lumber whatsoever.
“It’s only natural for Roderich-san to have come up with something as basic as planning to export lumber to other fiefs once the earldom’s demand has settled down, isn’t it?”
“Well yeah…I’ve heard about plans in that direction.”
The kingdom has territories that lack big, old trees, so we can sell our lumber to such places for good money.
“It’s about time that you start paying close attention to illegal felling of trees. Since the access to your territory has been rapidly improving, it’s becoming easier to make a profit with something like that by the day.”
Roderich is also wary of illegal felling, but he’s struggling since we don’t have the know-how to prevent it.
“Our company is going to provide you with the necessary know-how.”
I doubt that a woman of Cardinal Kempfeldt’s caliber hasn’t noticed that I cannot accept the matter with Friedrich’s concubine unconditionally.
“Just like nobles consider their own houses first and foremost, merchants also value their own families above all. If we go bankrupt, many people will be out on the streets after all.”
When it comes to businesses at the scale of the Kempfeldt Company, they’re probably employing numbers of workers that rival those of high-ranking nobles.
“I might be partial here, but I think Stefanie is going to become a pretty girl. I’m certain Friedrich-sama is going to take a liking to her as well.”
However, I’ve got no way to confirm this with Friedrich as he’s still a baby who hangs at the breast of his mother after just having reached the state of being able to hold his head up.
I excused myself for a moment, and talked it over with Roderich, but he told me that I should accept the offer since it comes with beneficial terms.
With this, the number of Friedrich’s fiancées has grown to two.
“Friedrich, I think you’re going to become more popular than me.”
I feel like Friedrich answered, 『Guess so』. Is he possibly going to dash down the lane of high popularity, unlike me?
As I’m pondering about this, several priests rush into the mansion.
“Cardinal Hohenheim, Cardinal Kempfeldt, His Grace the Pope has returned to Our Father’s side.”
“So it’s begun.”
At last the election war over the next pope is going to start in earnest. As I’m doubtlessly going to be dragged into this mess, I can only pray that it comes to an end as fast as possible.
“Katharina, let’s go to the pope’s funeral together.”
“I’m slightly preoccupied…”
It’s been decided that the funeral for the pope will be held at the capital one week after the end of the True Baptism. I invited Katharina to accompany us to the funeral service, but for some reason she’s turned me down.
“You should show your face there as a noble.”
“It’s presumptuous for a paltry noble like me to pay my respects at the church’s headquarters.”
Even though she gleefully attends any events related to nobles, she considers it a pain when it comes to an event related to the church.
“Is there anyone else besides Elise who wants to come along?”
With not a single one stepping up, it’s pretty obvious that they don’t feel like going because of the ceremonious formality that’s to be expected.
“My social standing is too low for this.”
“Mine as well.”
“Elise-sama, please leave the care of Friedrich-sama to me.”
Ina, Luise, and Wilma decline right away for the same reason as Katharina.
“Clergymen are a troublesome lot, be it here or in the Empire. Also, as I’ve obtained a good social position that doesn’t require me to associate with the church, I can freely choose what to do, so I suppose I don’t have to attend something as bothersome as the funeral service of the pope.”
Therese, I don’t want to attend either, though.
“I might make some careless mistake, so it’s better for me to stay away from that ceremony.”
“I’m bad with the church, so…”
Katia and Lisa refuse as well, huh?
“It’s just a ceremony to send His Grace the Pope on his last journey…”
Because Elise is a good person by nature, she probably wants to attend the funeral out of her genuine wish to offer a prayer to the pope. Since he served as priest when we got married, she might also be driven by the idea that it’d be ungrateful to not do at least this much.
“Elise, you might say so, but since the attendees are all going to be bigshots, many people would be nervous to attend.”
After all, even royalty is going to show up…
On an emotional level, I’m also one of those who are going to feel overwhelmed, so I don’t want to participate if possible. Well, that option doesn’t exist though as I have to pick up Margrave Breithilde on the way.
“I cannot avoid participating because of my guard duty. It sure is going to become a mental strain…”
Since it’s pointless to keep complaining, I decide to entrust the care of my children to my wives and leave. The only ones going are Elise, Erw, and me. We’re scheduled to pick up Margrave Breithilde and Burkhart-san on the way.
Margrave Breithilde and Burkhart-san are both wearing ceremonial dresses today. It’s usually fine for magicians to attend a funeral in a robe, but that changes when it comes to the pope’s funeral.
Erw and I are wearing ceremonial dresses as well whereas Elise has put on a black priestess garb she doesn’t wear usually.
It fits her quite nicely as it’s quite chic unlike usual, but since I’d likely be told that I’m rude if I actually voice it out, I don’t say anything.
“What a pain.”
“Burkhart, please keep such talk to yourself at the church headquarters, okay?”
“I mean I regard it as troublesome as well.”
‘I could understand it if it was the king’s funeral, but the funeral of the pope is, well…but if you consider their influence, I can’t ignore it either…’ I think that’s the gist most of the nobles should feel about this funeral service.
“It’s a blessing that you’re here, Earl Baumeister. We can wrap this whole ordeal up without having to head to the capital well ahead of time.”
Even if they were to use a magic airship, they’d still need several days for the journey. In the eyes of Margrave Breithilde, who’s busy with running his margraviate and dealing with his vassals, it’d look like a total waste of time.
“If a young person dies, the funeral will be a sad one, but with the pope… how old was he again, Burkhart?”
“If I remember correctly, something around mid-eighty.”
“Nowadays popes don’t resign until they die.”
“Can they actually resign?”
“Certainly. If the person himself feels like it.”
Which reminds me, Cardinal Kempfeldt mentioned that she’d become pope for only five years.
“In the past, many popes graciously retired after several years. It’s a job that’s quite taxing. Trying to cling to your position even after having grown senile is pretty unpleasant.”
That’s another reason why clergymen have a somewhat questionable reputation.
“The next pope…I’ve heard Cardinal Hohenheim won’t run, so there exists no clear favorite. Have you heard anything, Earl Baumeister?”
Cardinal Hohenheim is now backing Cardinal Kempfeldt. Since I was told that it’s alright for me to talk about this fact, I explain the circumstances to Margrave Breithilde.
“I see. As expected, it’s best to not underestimate Cardinal Hohenheim.”
“Creator of the first female pope in history, huh?”
“I’m sure many will leap at that, but that’s not the crucial part here.”
It’s possible that he’ll trigger wariness by those around him as he’d hold too much power if he became the pope. Accordingly he endorses Cardinal Kempfeldt for the moment. Since Cardinal Kempfeldt doesn’t have as much backing as Cardinal Hohenheim, she’ll be forced to rely on Cardinal Hohenheim if she wants to do her job as pope smoothly.
Since she’s going to take the post as gap-filler, she isn’t unhappy with it, and her successor is going to be her friend Potzal who’s still young.
Cardinal Hohenheim won’t become pope himself, but I suppose he’s going to hold a strong influence over the next two popes. He’ll probably be regarded as the mastermind in the shadows by those related to the church.
“If the church can be put in order with that, you won’t hear any complaints from me. I don’t have any voting rights anyway.”
An honorary priest doesn’t have the right to cast a vote in the pope election. It’s because it’d strengthen the influence of royalty and nobility on the church if they allowed this.
“Elise-san, you do have a right to vote, don’t you?”
Given that she’s a priestess, she’s got a right to vote. Without me being aware of it, she had been promoted from being an assistance priestess.
“It sounds like the election is going to become quite turbulent…oops, it’s about time, I guess.”
Because the funeral is going to start soon, we transfer to the capital with 『Teleport』.
A space for condolence visits has been set up in front of the headquarters. The assistant priests over there are receiving the flowers and funeral offerings.
“(Wend, that’s a crazy amount of cash right there.)”
I block Erw’s mouth with my hand in a hurry.
“(Maybe they’re going to be in the black with funeral service.)”
“(They will be.)”
Erw can’t hide his surprise after hearing the truth from Margrave Breithilde.
“Even if they’re going to be in the black with the funeral service, the creation and sale of things like bronze statues and story collection of the deceased pope…all of these will be handed out for free, so they’re going to end up in the red. Well, I think they’re going to even the balance sooner or later since they’ll draw up and install monuments, build new churches that require the manufacture of stained glass, and other such things.”
So it means the pope’s death is also a kind of an economical measure which is going to bring in work for merchants and craftsmen.
“Earl Baumeister, how about we head inside any time now?”
Only few people are going to enter the main temple where the funeral service will be held, and most of them will be church leaders, royals, high-ranking nobles and their families. I also fall into that category, but it’s not like I’m happy about being able to get in there.
“(The condolence gifts are extravagant…)”
The offerings donated by those entering the temple among the earls amounts to 100,000 cents. Offerings with a value of 10 million Japanese Yen… According to Roderich, it seems to be appropriate to give such an amount of money. Moreover, higher ranks such as Margrave Breithilde donate 200,000 cents.
As it’s normal for wealthy merchants to donate a somewhat larger sum of money, some people with sharp tongues say that the popes are forced to stay at their post until their death since it yields a good profit to hold a funeral for them.
The funeral starts as scheduled, but since Cardinal Hohenheim and all the other cardinals begin to talk about the deceased pope, I become sleepy out of extreme boredom. Given that I’d earn a lot of criticism if I fell asleep in this place, I do my utmost to stay awake.
“(Erw, don’t fall asleep!)”
Erw immediately starts to nod off, so I quickly wake him by driving an elbow strike into his flank.
“(I’m so sleepy…wouldn’t it have been fine for me to accompany you until the temple as guard!?)”
“(In for a bronze coin, in for a gold coin.)”
“(Bah, you’re terrible, man!)”
Once the long memorial speeches come to an end, people step up in order, placing flowers into the pope’s coffin. The custom of additionally putting items the pope used while alive and his favorite food into the coffin reminds me of Japanese funeral services.
“(For such an old grandpa to have liked cookies above all else…)”
Erw says so, but it’s not like the pope could wolf down meat or drink barrels of wine in front of other people. Since it’d naturally garner heavy criticism if you put such things into his coffin, the bereaved family limits it to faultless sweets.
“(I want you to stuff my coffin with nothing but wine, okay?)”
“(I thought you’d say so, Burkhart-san…)”
“(Having to worry about public opinion even after death; clergymen sure have it tough.)”
Once the funeral service comes to an end, the coffin is carried outside the temple, heading straight for the crematorium.
In recent years it’s been recommended in the capital to burn the remains so as to not allow them to turn into undead. In the countryside people still bury their relatives in many regions, but it looks like cremation is gradually increasing around the capital.
“(I expected him to be buried because he was the pope.)”
“(Long ago, the corpse of a pope turned into a zombie. Because such events would trigger bad rumors about the church, they decided to go with cremation.)”
“(You’re quite knowledgeable about this, aren’t you?)”
“(Well, I was the one who had to burn that zombie.)”
It sounds kinda like a very secretive mission, but I suppose Burkhart-san has experienced all kinds of things in his past, too.
“(Even if you burn them, they’d turn into skeletons.)”
“(You use fire magic with a very high temperature so that this doesn’t happen.)
“(Hee, who’s going to do that…? Doushi?)”
The duty of cremating the pope’s coffin has unexpectedly fallen upon Doushi.
“(Is this going to be alright?)”
Or rather, I feel like they’ve got an issue with their personnel selection, seeing how this is a funeral for a pope…
“Here I go! Special Move: Burst Rising!”
“Why a special move?”
Although he should just have cremated it normally without going out of his way to yell something like that…
“I also feel like the spell’s power is too high…”
Even though it’s a bad idea to not leave a few bones behind, seeing how it’s a cremation…
Just as I’ve worried, there are no bones left among the ashes, although the cremation itself finished promptly. This led to the incident that young priests had to thoroughly comb through the ashes in search of any bone fragments.
Then again, the attendees couldn’t afford to laugh at this, and thus the whole funeral ended on a somewhat comical note.
“Doushi, you’ve gone too far.”
“You blathered something about a special move, but the pope was already dead…”
“Earl Baumeister, that comment is a bit…”
After the funeral, we joined up with Doushi, and went to drink tea at a nearby coffee shop. Looking closely, I can sporadically spot people who’ve also participated in the funeral service.
“Doushi, you’re really amazing to shout 『Special Move』 at such an occasion.”
“I have been called over because I am the Royal Head Wizard!”
That was a kind of revenge…or rather, he’s pretty gutsy to pull off something against the church.
“Now that the funeral is over, the election of the next pope is up.”
“So they choose through an election, eh?”
“I hear it’s been decided behind closed doors in the past, though.”
Since that method drew the displeasure of many priests, who were originally commoners, it was changed to an election at some point.
“Once they started to use an election, the ratio of commoner and noble priests finally evened out, it seems.”
However, because even the commoner-born popes had rich families or similar circumstances, many priests claimed that the situation hasn’t changed overly much. However, the believers appear to consider it better than before.
“The ratio of commoners among the people of priest rank or above, which is required to have the right to vote, amounts to 70%. It looks like a major point for any pope candidate depends on how well they can gain their support. I don’t have the right to vote, however.”
Nobles and merchants, who’ve become honorary priests by paying large sums of money, are excluded from voting. In other words, I cannot join the vote either.
“Doushi, you aren’t allowed to vote either, right?”
“No, I can vote! Because I am the Royal Head Wizard!”
I guess that rank means preferential treatment then… Still, shouldn’t they at least disallow people, who don’t believe in the religion in the slightest like him…to become honorary priests?
“Who are you going to choose?”
“I have absolutely no idea about the candidates!”
“Doushi, that’s nothing to brag about, you know…? I mean, for better or worse, you’re the Royal Head Magician,” Burkhart-san reprimands Doushi.
“There exists a plethora of things I must pay more attention to in this world! I will ask Elise and vote as I feel like.”
Doushi, I think it’s a bad idea to vote by gut feeling…
“It will be lonely for Elise and me to be the only ones to attend on the day of the election! Earl Baumeister, you accompany us as well!”
Because it’d require courage to turn him down here, I accepted my fate, and decided to accompany them.
“Today is the election day? Considering that, the preparations are…”
“Dear, it is not today. Today is the deadline for announcing your candidacy, so the candidates will hold introductory speeches.”
Three days after the funeral, Elise and I headed to the church headquarters once again. It looks like the pope candidates will introduce themselves in front of the church founder, said to sleep in the headquarters’ courtyard.
“They are going to announce their candidacy for next pope to the Great Founder.”
“Doushi won’t show up for this, will he…?”
“No, he won’t…”
Today morning Doushi called us with the MHCD, asking Elise to listen to the candidates for him. It seems like he’s also fine with choosing whoever Elise supports.
Rather, why did the church give Doushi the right to vote anyway?
“That means you actually have two votes, Elise.”
“Even two votes will not influence the result much…”
Given that more than 3,000 priests are eligible to vote, I suppose you can really call two votes insignificant.
“Since we’ve heard from Cardinal Hohenheim that Cardinal Kempfeldt is going to run, the question would be who else is going to become a candidate, right?”
“Because Grandfather endorses Emily-sama without running himself, I think Emily is very likely going to win this.”
The people belonging to Cardinal Hohenheim’s faction are likely all going to vote for Cardinal Kempfeldt.
“I think I will also vote for Emily-sama. Emily-sama is very zealous about volunteer work after all.”
Cardinal Kempfeldt, the actual owner of a big company, is currently the one pushing the most for voluntary activities in the church. She’s educating orphans and preparing jobs for them at her own company. It sounds like many of those working for her company have such a background.
She’s doing all of it for the sake of making a profit with her business, but as she’s also saving many people with this in reality, Cardinal Kempfeldt is quite popular among the masses. By the way, Cardinal Hohenheim is rather unpopular because he’s treated as devil by His Majesty.
“A lot more people have come forward as candidates than I have expected. It seems like Grandfather will be very busy with taking countermeasures.”
Several candidates with weak support bases have appeared, dividing up the poll votes. I guess this is going to hinder Cardinal Kempfeldt from easily winning. But, Cardinal Hohenheim’s faction is the strongest faction, so it doesn’t seem like she won’t be able to win…
“There exists a lot of people who announce their candidacy, even if they will no get elected.”
“For the sake of showing off their own authority?”
Even if they can’t win the election with 20% of the votes, it’d still mean that the candidate has the authority to rally 20%. Any new pope would also need to consider the rivaling factions to a certain extent.
“If the votes for the new pope are on the lower end, they will be regarded as weak.”
Different from the election deciding the Empire’s ruler, they can’t collect voting papers from the whole country many times over. There’s no rule stating that they’ll redo it as long a candidate doesn’t gather the majority of votes. I hear past popes even won the election with roughly 30% of the total votes.
Given that such popes don’t hold much authority, naturally, Cardinal Hohenheim is moving about to increase the votes for Cardinal Kempfeldt as much as possible.
“There’s four candidates, huh…?”
Besides Cardinal Kempfeldt, Cardinal Langjahr, Cardinal Bücher, and Cardinal Solger are also running.
Cardinal Langjahr is 75 years old, and seems to be of royal descent, albeit hailing from a branch family. Since he’s been active in the construction of churches for many years, he’s got a lot of influence among the workshops creating stained glasses and church decorations, as well as companies in the construction sector.
Cardinal Bücher is 73 years old. He hails from a noble family. He’s been working on printing and selling publications such as the scriptures. He’s someone with a strong pull in education since he has a lot of clout among bookstores, and workshops which edit, print and bind books.
Because Cardinal Solger is the leader of the paladin order, he doesn’t really look like a priest. His priest garb seems rather tight because of all his muscles. He was born a commoner. Currently he’s 68 years old, and as such, the youngest among the candidates. Then again, I only call him young at 68 years because we’re talking about the church here. That means he’s the military type who’s got a lot of influence with workshops selling equipment to the paladin order.
“(Somehow it looks like the presidential election of some political party…)”
Even though they’re supposed to decide the next pope with the democratic method of voting, it all smells so damn corrupt…
After having listened to the candidates’ speeches, Elise and I walked to Cardinal Hohenheim’s mansion. It appears he’s holding a party today to show his appreciation.
Being able to eat extravagant food sounds wonderful…yeah, as if…
As the party is sponsored by Cardinal Kempfeldt and co-sponsored by Cardinal Hohenheim, it’s super shady, no matter how you look at it. So far as it goes, it seems you have to pay for participating, but the fee is a laughable 10 cents.
I hear they’re planning to donate all of the income to support the construction of a nursery. That’s totally the party of politicians, no kidding…
“Sorry, but please attend just this gathering for us.”
I don’t have the right to vote, but since I’m Cardinal Hohenheim’s grandson-in-law, I guess it bears meaning for me to show my face at his party.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Earl Baumeister.”
“I am his wife, Elise.”
Elise and I keep greeting the party attendees while accompanying Cardinal Hohenheim. It’s a true pain in the ass, but this is also for the sake of my children’s future.
Children, Daddy is working hard for your sake together with Mum.
“The support of Cardinal Hohenheim, Earl Baumeister, and Saintess-sama, huh…? I’d say Cardinal Kempfeldt’s victory is pretty much set in stone.”
“All that’s left is to see how many votes the other three candidates are going to get.”
The party attendees are frequently coming and going.
As a matter of fact, the other candidates are also holding similar parties, and there are many people who apparently jump around between those parties.
“It looks like it’s a success, Emily.”
“It’s all thanks to our wonderful supporters.”
Once we went to greet Cardinal Kempfeldt together with Cardinal Hohenheim, I saw that many priestesses had gathered around her. I thought it’d just be elderly priestesses eligible to vote, but…there are also many girls among them who’re close to Elise and me in age.
“It’s nothing but cute girls, right Earl Baumeister?”
“Hey, Emily.” Cardinal Hohenheim immediately warns Cardinal Kempfeldt.
That’s because it seems as though she’s trying to force young women on me.
“Don’t worry, I don’t plan anything like that. Since your guard of Earl Baumeister is way too hard, many girls said that they want to see his face. The parents of these girls are our supporters, too.”
Being told so, Cardinal Hohenheim can’t really argue back…Cardinal Kempfeldt…is a fairly shrewd granny, isn’t she?
“Nice to meet you, I’m Leafa Kempfeldt.”
Moreover, several of Cardinal Kempfeldt’s granddaughters have casually been added to the throng as well. Given that it’s only normal to have young people help out at the church if it comes to a company as big as the Kempfeldt Company, this isn’t really unusual either.
“A new confectionery has opened up on Demumin Street.”
“Hee, what kind of sweets do they sell?”
“They’re specialized on Streuselkuchen, but the fruits used as filling are imported from the Baumeister Earldom. It’s really famous for being a lot more delicious than the Streuselkuchen of other stores.”
“I wasn’t aware of that.”
I hadn’t accumulated enough skill points to smoothly chat with girls at my age, but since they were talking about new confectioneries and restaurants in the capital, I had no problem to join in. Women like trying out food at various places. Because they’re regular girls except for the times when they’re helping at the church, they know alot about such topics.
Well, it’s also because they’ve researched my preferences well, though…
“How about visiting the place together in the future?”
“Recently I’ve been quite busy, but if I find some time, gladly.”
Ultimately I should keep positive responses at the level of lip service. Well, it’ll end with them getting blocked off by Roderich anyway since he organizes my schedule.
“Sorry for all the trouble, Son-in-law. Thanks to you, Cardinal Kempfeldt has scored an overwhelming victory. Well, my childhood friend is still as shrewd as ever though…”
Privately they’re close childhood friends, but inside the church, they’re also rivals. The part about them trying to send a woman to me as soon as they see a chance unexpectedly applies to both. They might suit each other well as a couple, if they marry.
“Dear, should we go back soon?”
Elise has conducted herself well as my first wife during the party. Although Cardinal Kempfeldt brought along many women, she faultlessly dealt with them. But, as might be expected, she wasn’t overly amused either. Even I, who’s not familiar with women, can tell as much.
Accordingly, I decided to go on a date with her before going back home.
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