Chapter 442: The Approval of God
Translator: TransN Editor: TransN
As he walked down the stairs to the bottom of the church, Tayfun felt an inexplicable chill.
In the eerily quiet church basement was the core secret of the church-the Hermes' underground castle.
It was the first time for him to come to this place.
"His Holiness Mayne really wanted to meet me here?" According to the convention, only the archbishop who was in line as the Pope was allowed into the Secret Area, but he was too old to be Mayne's successor.
"You've served the church for so many years and have worked together with His Holiness, so he trusts you deeply," Isabella said with a smile. "Also, past rules don't apply to war-times like these, and God's will shouldn't be hidden underground but used to guide the lost believers and lead us to face our final challenge."
"Is this... His Holiness's idea?"
"That's right," she said gently.
When they entered the Secret Area, they were greeted by two Judgement Warriors. "Milord Bishop, His Holiness is currently testing Magic Stones, so if you are carrying a God's Stone of Retaliation, please give it to me for now-it might affect the stones' magic power."
Tayfun nodded and handed a string of stones to the Judgement Warrior.
"His Holiness is right here, please follow me."
Isabella turned into a long passageway and pushed open the metal door at the end. Following the screech of the hinges, Tayfun saw another masked Pure Witch. She blocked the doorway like a ghost, her white skin peeking through the black silk covering her body, and she wore nothing else besides this chiffon. The most striking thing about the witch was her dull gray eyes that were different from those of ordinary people. They seemed to have whirlpools inside them that sucked him in if he looked for too long.
Tayfun subconsciously lowered his head.
It was only then that he noticed that she was barefoot and her toes were covered with flecks of red.
The archbishop recalled Isabella's sentence that "witches are completely different from regular women."
Damn it; are all these witches demon spirits?
Those delicate feet soon moved out of the way, and Tayfun heard Isabella's voice. "Milord?"
"Ahem." Tayfun broke out of his thoughts and walked into the room.
The room was not big, and even though the rosin torches on the walls were burning brightly, they didn't give off their usual sweet smell.
Four Pure Witches sat around a stone table and were fiddling with a clear stone, while the incumbent Pope, His Holiness Mayne, stood by the table.
Tayfun was about to kneel in respect, when Mayne grasped his arm and stopped him.
"There aren't any outsiders here, so there's no use for all this red tape." He smiled. "We go way back, Milord Tayfun."
In two months, Mayne's forehead had become much more wrinkled, and he had grown a few more strands of silver hair, but his humble tone was still the same.
"You can't do this..." Tayfun's heart suddenly felt warm. "Even if there aren't other believers here, I still have to follow the church's rules."
"And I make the rules." The Pope smiled nonchalantly. "Anyway... are things alright above ground? I originally wanted Isabella to bring me the news, but since you're here, you can report directly to me."
"Yes, Your Holiness." Tayfun nodded. After he shared the recent state of the church, he mentioned the order that Isabella had brought up earlier. "All of the resources we prepared up until now are specific to the Kingdom of Dawn, so adjusting our target will take a lot of effort. Why do you suddenly want to attack the Kingdom of Graycastle first?"
"That's also why I called you here." Mayne sighed. "The Kingdom of Graycastle is starting to show signs of decline because the Royal Decree on the Selection of Crown Prince and Pill of Madness are achieving their expected results. Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Dawn is in even more chaos, so both of them will eventually fall, and it doesn't really matter whom we attack first."
"I agree, but... Graycastle is still a formidable enemy."
"I have two reasons for changing our plan of attack," said the Pope slowly, clasping his hands behind his back. "The first is basically the reason why you're worried: The Kingdom of Graycastle is vast and rich in resources, which means it's a high-risk, high-return opponent. If we can make it a territory of the church earlier, our benefits will be much greater than if we conquer the Kingdom of Dawn. If I had ten more years, I would definitely act according to Lord O'Brien's plan, but we don't have enough time. The appearance of the Fearful Beast of Hell means that the Bloody Moon may appear even earlier than predicted in the Holy Book. In times like these, a little risk and more sacrifices will be worth it."
Tayfun nodded slightly, thinking, "This is a good reason, but the problem is... it doesn't seem Mayne will do it in this way."He continued, "And the second reason is..."
"Roland Wimbledon of the Western Region," the Pope said decisively.
"You mean... Prince Roland of the Kingdom of Graycastle?" Tayfun was shocked.
"By combining the past year's reports, I've discovered something incredible." Mayne patted the bishop's shoulder. "Both the church and the Kingdom of Graycastle failed in all their attacks against him. The first failure can be traced back to the one when Duke of the Western Region attacked him, and what did Roland have at the time? Nothing but a run-down small town. Outsiders think that he defeated the Duke's knightage by succumbing to the demons, but we all know that besides Extraordinaries, a few witches have nothing against knights equipped with God's Stones of Retaliation."
"Also, the reports have only become more and more confusing, such as the secret letter sent to the Holy City two months ago, which stated that King Timothy once sent 2,000 crazed soldiers to attack the Western Region and was immediately defeated. What does this mean?"
Tayfun couldn't help but gasp. "2,000 crazed soldiers! Even in Hermes, this is a considerable force."
"If these messages are read separately, they might seem normal, but when combined, they're very shocking-Roland Wimbledon has never lost a single battle!" the Pope said quietly. "Also, our reports show that his power is growing at a concerning pace, and he seems to be preparing for expansion. If we delay for another year, the entire Kingdom of Graycastle may fall into his hands, so it'll be even more costly to try to defeat him." He paused and turned to Tayfun. "There are a lot of matters to be dealt with in the Secret Area, and I have no time for the operation and expansion of the upper levels of the church, so I can only entrust them to you."
After the Archbishop left, the appearance of the room suddenly changed.
The torches on the wall, the Pure Witch who was studying the magic stones, and the stone table disappeared. The figure of the Pope also gradually faded, leaving only Isabella, Zero, and the woman in black.
"If you hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't have known that Prince Roland of Kingdom of Graycastle was so interesting," said Isabella. "Why do I get the feeling that he, rather than the church, is more likely to defeat the demons?"
"What does that mean?" asked the woman in black, frowning. "Do you want to betray the church?"
"Betray? Don't phrase it like that." Isabella shrugged. "Isn't the purpose of the church to ensure that human beings survive the Battle of Divine Will? If someone else can do this, I don't care who I serve."
"Stop fighting," said Zero. "Isabella isn't wrong. In the so-called Battle of Divine Will, only the final winner can be protected by God." She looked expressionlessly at the two witches. "As for who will receive the approval of God-the Union or a prince of the Kingdom of Graycastle, I think this war will give us the answer."