“Good gracious! What to say! Look, it’s not because I’m surprised.”
Sensing something like cynicism in the man’s frivolous manner of speaking, Eleonora threw the folding fan, which she held, at him. She aimed for his face but hit his belly. The fan easily dropped to the ground. There’s no doubt that she was able to inflict slight pain to his bulging, fat belly. He grits his teeth to the limit.
“It cannot be helped even if you get angry at this humble priest. Ah, knock off the throwing of baked sweets. As this humble priest will indifferently eat even things that fell to the ground, it will just show the search for fodder by a pig which grew fat, won’t it? You hate that, right? Something ridiculous like that.”
In that case, I want to erase that faint smile of his first, Eleonora desired, but his expression likely won’t change even if there’s just the head left of him, she judges. Even so, shall I try to fire him…? She hesitated for a brief moment, but calmed herself down by tasting some tea. It’s no good. If I kill this man, it will result in the church becoming my enemy.
Being a bishop of the eastern church, he is the man who controls the central diocese in the Asuria Kingdom. The church staff in the royal capital, and the territories of the Four Marquis, are all his subordinates. The scope of his influence reaches far and wide, and also deeply. Having connections to the miracle research division, there’s no mistake that he will be chosen as the next Archbishop of the East.
And he is also the man who, in the past, ordered Salomon’s burning at the stake during the “Festival of the Holy Flames.” Since he is a person who rose to fame inside the church due to those achievements, he is a deeply connected partner of Eleonora.
“… Can’t you handle it somehow even now?” (Eleonora)
“Hoo? You telling me to make a unit, which earned unprecedented military gains, depart to the front to act as forlorn force once more? Drop that, it makes no sense. They have their bodies basked in the ovations of the officers and men right now, don’t they? I wouldn’t know what would happen if we made them depart forcibly. To begin with, you don’t possess the right to order the Royal Guard Unit, do you? Right? Give up on it.” (Joakim)
Eleonora was disgusted by each and every single of his expressions and gestures. It’s unreasonable to tell her to not harbour any killing intent towards him, on the days where his lip service was pointed at her, as if she’s a little girl, in addition to him making his flesh droop and scattering his sweat around. She grabbed a small knife from the silverware on impulse, but that was stopped by a hand which was extended from behind her.
“Wrong, Eleonora. That’s wrong.”
“… I know.” (Eleonora)
She exhales her fury. Being comforted by the cool hand of her husband, Eleonora calmed herself slowly. It was correct to have my husband accompany me on the occasion of meeting with Beck, she thinks. His existence, which follows her quietly in crucial times, was something indispensable for Eleonora.
“Look, a harmonious married couple is nice. I believe that it can be seen as a form of god’s esteemed divine protection, yes.” (Joakim)
“… You wouldn’t be able to get married even without your job.” (Eleonora)
“No, no! Not at all! Aren’t there marriages for ugly men while being such? Otherwise it would have been impossible for this humble priest to be born into this world in the first place. Because the world has been created well and carefully. The fact of this humble priest’s existence serves as proof of god’s existence. Well, how wonderful.” (Joakim)
Anger wells up within her just after she calmed herself. Eleonora withstood it by keeping her consciousness focussed on the palm of her husband. I can’t tolerate this man called Beck no matter what it takes. I believe it wasn’t like that when I met him for the first time, but since that execution by fire, he has this manner which makes me wonder each time why he got so conceited. It was Eleonora’s misfortune that this man has settled down in the capital as the contact person of the church. However, intervening in the church’s affair is impossible even for the King.
The church has evolved into the third power of the continent. It’s also the oldest power on the continent if one peruses history.
The Asuria Kingdom and the Eberia Empire aren’t capable of wielding their power without the church’s goodwill. The church exists since ancient times when small countries crowded the continent. Even during the establishment of hegemony in the west, and even at the creation of royalty in the east, the church secured its role as the state religion of both countries by accomplishing important contributions in both cases. From the church’s point of view, the kingdom and the empire are no more than newcomers on the continent.
However, those who are furious, are furious after all. Sending the tea into her belly while she’s boiling, she put her breathing in order to once again denunciate the pig in front of her eyes. She is angry.
“Are you not capable of using the empire’s army?” (Eleonora)
“Look, that has become difficult. It’s not like we told them a lie with the information regarding the Royal Guard Unit, but… if you look at the results now, a lie is a lie and it turned into a big lie. Quite the complaints appeared as well. It seems that they ended up becoming obstinate in their attitude, too. Given that the church over there has no trust in the church over here… right?” (Joakim)
His way of revealing his tongue for a fleeting moment was disgusting. However, even Eleonora can agree with the content of his words.
The empire, which had complete victory in sight against the kingdom, became hostile towards the church after it supported the kingdom when it was in danger of collapse.
The church declared that all of the faults of the continent’s disturbances lied with the evil man. Due to that, both sides reached a cease-fire agreement, but while that might be true, it won’t turn into a reason for the empire to restore its trust in the church, she believes.
“… Humph, the imperial army is pathetic, too.” (Eleonora)
“It’s completely as you say. Well, there are some aspects where I should show sympathy though.” (Joakim)
“Such a thing… where do you have that?.”
Eleonora regretted having said something like that right away. The man in front of her eyes is a creature similar to a pig that wears the clothes of a bishop, but she sensed that the light of joy turned on in his eyes.
“That is, of course I have ((compassion)), too! This humble priest doesn’t stop showing sympathy, yes!” (Joakim)
His spit soars. Eleonora had goosebumps.
“Starting with the crown prince, weren’t prominent nobles, influential military commanders and elite forces altogether killed by the evil man? In fact, it’s praiseworthy to rebuild their military strength within ten-odd years and putting it in order, even if it’s paltry and incompetent compared to their past military strength… well, though they rebelled against the august kingdom from then on… they devoted immense effort while yearning for that. By no means did I plan in my wildest dreams to take the wind out of their sails in such a manner! Moreover, since it’s an attack by forces that hoist the flag of royalty, this might already be a nightmare! Yes!” (Joakim)
The pig, who rattles on, had apparently plenty of fun.
“Does that benefit the church as well? This is a slightly unacceptable situation, Your Highness! If I remember correctly, this humble priest did warn you, right? Putting aside if it’s about other matters, I told you to not do anything about the circumstances at the front-line without consulting with this humble priest! I did say that, didn’t I? I told you! And what did you do? As result of your sham strategy to crush the Royal Guard Unit in the Plains of Wandering Calamity, the exact opposite of your wish ended up happening, right!?” (Joakim)
The monster in front of her eyes seemed to be big. No, has the world been surrounded by monsters?
“You might have won if you made the Royal Guard Unit into a target for slander! But now they have become an unit which is carefully watched by the empire the most, as the kingdom’s heroic unit. Upsetting the flow of the battles with disorder, the empire strengthened its distrust towards the church! It’s a troublesome story, isn’t it, Your Highness the First Princess Eleonora! You made the war change into something unpredictable with your trivial obstinacy!” (Joakim)
I wonder what that is which was pushed out, Eleonora pondered. It was the index finger of the pig bishop, clogged up with meat and decorated with a ring.
“It appears that you hate Her Highness Princess Paulina quite a bit, but stop searching for the resolution of those emotions at the front-line. This is a demand from the church. If you want to do something to her, do it in a safe location inside the kingdom. I won’t help you, but shall this humble priest now offer you a suggestion on how to handle it in a slightly skilful manner? It’s because you have a degree of imprudence, too.” (Joakim)
“The assassin, which you hid in the front-line fortress, will be dealt with by our side”, she hears those words faintly. Eleonora didn’t know whether she is sitting or standing. The only certainty was the temperature of her husband’s hand. She clings onto it. She felt as if she would fall somewhere dreadful if she parted from this hand.
“Well, the church shares the opinion that these allies are an eyesore, thus it’s probably alright if we deal with them during their daily lives. Let’s work together with them for now. However, keep the harassing attitude. Since the story will end once they become isolated, well, it’s not like I like deliberately reeking of blood.” (Joakim)
At the end there was a sound of *zu zu*. There’s the sound of tea being slurped. In case of a pig that’s as similarly ill-mannered, the licking with the tongue while making splashing sounds is suitable, she thinks. I want to insult him like that. Sitting on a chair, Eleonora returned to herself. Unpleasant sweat flowed down her spine.
“Which reminds me, did you hear the amusing story?” (Joakim)
Beck said smoothly, before releasing the words from his open mouth. There’s a light of inquisitiveness in his eyes.
“It seems that an unofficial written questionnaire was delivered to the church from the empire before the outbreak of this time’s war. Its contents are thrilling. There are some untrue parts regarding the hero’s legend, and there are claims to clear up those passages in regards to their dramatized aspects. And it says that they will teach us the truth. Oh dear, it’s a truly accursed questionnaire.” (Joakim)
Eleonora’s field of vision warped effortlessly. Once she realized, she yelled.
“There’s something like falsehood, they say!? Dramatization, they say!? Hero-sama fought righteously and bravely! He saved the kingdom’s future in a graceful and proud manner! He was killed by everyone… everyone ganging up on him!! Without saving Hero-sama, everyone pushed him away to dangerous places… they kept him away from me! And he ended up getting killed! It’s already impossible for me to meet him! If that’s not the truth, what is then?!!” (Eleonora)
She stood up. Looking down on the foolish lump of meat, she continued.
“I won’t forgive. I won’t permit anything and everything. Not just the empire, but the kingdom is repulsive, too. It’s intolerable that people, who should have died before Hero-sama, are living carefree lives. The nobles, the commoners, everyone… together they aren’t even valuable enough to make up for Hero-sama sacrificing his life for them! Everyone, it would be great if everyone was burned!!” (Eleonora)
There was a buzzing in her ears. She had a headache. In addition, mixed with a dizziness, just about everything lost its border line as it got hazy. Even so, her chest and cheeks were heated up by her rage. Eleonora didn’t stop.
“The empire is… the empire is sinful. It won’t do unless it’s destroyed. Since they became infidels while scorning Hero-sama, it’s wrong if they aren’t burned completely. I will intentionally wait for that. I don’t have any interest in a battlefield where Hero-sama doesn’t exist. It’s fine as long as there are only results. I won’t interrupt the conversation anymore. I only wish for victory.” (Eleonora)
She knew that a hand propped up her shoulder. It’s my husband. Eleonora surrendered herself to that hand and happily thought about being able to gently sit on the chair.
“It’s wrong if Paulina… that kid doesn’t suffer more. That kid’s sin is consistent with the empire’s sin. Though she doesn’t know anything… how much I suffered or how much I mourned, she isn’t aware of any of that… and yet, because of such wind ((of change))… it’s no good if she isn’t in distress.” (Eleonora)
There was a scenery Eleonora recalled in her brain. There was a sound she could hear.
It’s a memory of her having played with the very young Paulina. Eleonora didn’t hate that youngest princess who was like a stuffed doll that always lived as simpleton. Rather, it was a good relationship. Paulina didn’t talk back to her, unlike her younger sister right after her. She was comfortable around her, since Paulina listened to her obediently no matter what story it was. Eleonora made her listen to many stories. There were a lot of things she wanted to talk about. A lot of it was reminiscent talk about the hero.
However, that wasn’t Paulina’s attitude towards only Eleonora. She was a child who listened properly to anyone’s talking. Talk of her father the king, stories of the other younger sister, even the chatting of the maids, she listened obediently to all of them. That doesn’t mean that she ignored them. She listened to them while silently concentrating on what they said. Without interrupting with her own opinion, she was apparently absorbing the content she was told, just like that.
That’s why Eleonora wanted to try hearing it. Paulina’s story. Her thoughts. Trying to look for someone like a judge in that child, who heard the talk of even those who had a different opinion than that of Eleonora, Eleonora decided to ratify her own righteousness. It was only natural. That’s because the one who talked the most with Paulina was Eleonora.
However, when she went to listen to Paulina, the answer was completely different from what she had expected.
“The people aren’t disgusting. They are just living their lives.”
“Even if there are differences in what they wear, people are people. They eat and sleep. It’s the same.”
“There isn’t anything like a good war. War is war. Certainly it’s no more than that.”
Although Eleonora only reacted by saying “that’s not true” and “you don’t understand” even after listening, Paulina didn’t correct the statement of her own opinion. And, Eleonora ended up hearing it. That question. The only one she couldn’t approve of or wish for, that question.
“The hero as well as the evil man, undoubtedly they are identical, people. There’s no good or bad. Only, the side who killed the hero is the empire and the side who killed the evil man is the kingdom. However, if you ask which of them is important, it’s the evil man. After all, if the evil man didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have been born. I wouldn’t be able to eat delicious food.” (Paulina)
It wasn’t something she could forgive.
And at the same time she was scared.
Paulina doesn’t believe in everything of what Eleonora believes. Due to not believing, she is all the more resolute. Paulina is strong. Eleonora couldn’t understand that. She felt that she would break if she came to comprehend it. That’s why she doesn’t try to understand… she does no more than to reject it. It’s for the sake of her staying herself.
“Yes… it’s no good. If that kid doesn’t suffer, it will be painful for me. Therefore I will think about the method. Currently I got a bit worn-out, but… I will definitely ponder about it. A method where that child will suffer and become unable to live…” (Eleonora)
Her field of vision was gloomy. There was only something warm on her back. Being comforted by its body temperature, Eleonora slipped into the world of dreams. That was something very comfortable. Making sure to be covered, she fell into the darkness. At the last moment she felt like she heard someone’s voice. Since it was a cold voice, she decided to treat it as her imagination, and to forget about it. It said the following:
“At such point, huh? Please take care of the rest. Sorry for troubling you.” (Joakim)
Eleonora forgot those words.