We had to climb a very high fleet of stairs to reach the archbishops office. It was virtually like climbing a tower. On all four sides of the hollow square shaped building from a bird’s eye view were towers, connected by aisles. The archbishop leisurely walked ahead of me. I started to pant gently from behind. I don’t get it. How is the archbishop fat when he has to walk this tiring path daily? It doesn’t match up. If it didn’t look like he was walking a familiar path, I would’ve suspected him of luring me high up to push me down.
Nier followed behind me. The archbishop didn’t bring anyone with him. I noticed that the church had their own combat force inside the church. They were troops wearing armour and cloth capes. It reminded me of the crusades’ three main knight platoons. It’s just that there are guns in this era. Surely these troops have practical skills.
Even if we were to get into a fight, I trust that Nier can take on multiple of them all at once alone. However, the archbishop didn’t look like he was trying to get into a conflict with me. Regardless of what the case may be, up until now, all of the clergies have treated me with courtesy. Nothing looked suspicious.
Underneath the large statue of god was overflowing devotion and conviction. Had I not been told about the church, I would’ve been shocked by the church. Heck, I would’ve worshipped the church for being so upright. But I now feel that the church is hiding something frightening. Who knows how many corrupt things are happening behind their upright facade.
We finally arrived. The archbishop pulled the door open, looked at me and with a smile said: “Please enter, your majesty. But will your bodyguard be coming in when there is no need for her to?”
“I am his majesty’s bodyguard and must stay by his majesty’s side unless there are special circumstances.” Nier looked at the archbishop without fear and a stern expression. She said: “I must always stay by his majesty’s side.”
“That wouldn’t be such a good idea since my conversation with his majesty should be kept secret, especially when his majesty shares his woes. His majesty is not the only one I treat this way. This applies for everyone no matter who they are. Sometimes one’s woes are filthy and evil, and since secrets could be revealed by those who hear it, it must be kept secret.”
The archbishop revealed a laid back smile and continued, “I am doing this to protect his majesty’s secrets. I believe that his majesty has some desires he would not want for others to know.”
“I will not reveal his majesty’s conversation!” Nier angrily continued, “I am his majesty’s bodyguard, his majesty’s trusted existence! I know that I must keep his majesty’s secret, I don’t need you to tell me that! I am aware that!”
The archbishop looked at Nier and nonchalantly asked: “Is that right? But I only see the Valkyries coat of arms. I don’t see anything to signify his majesty’s trust. You are a Valkyrie. Would you be able to keep the secret if her majesty were to ask?”
Everything Nier just said disappeared with the wind. She looked at the archbishop blankly and was on the verge of grinding her teeth, but she had nothing to rebuff with because he was right. She isn’t my bodyguard. She’s a Valkyrie. I looked at Nier and could see that she too understood that.
If I want to continue with my investigation, I can’t let Nier come along. There’s no way Nier will help me, and to the contrary, will ruin my efforts. I’ve already come this far. There’s no danger. A fatty shouldn’t be a threat for me. I touched my gun at my waist. Nier turned to look at me as if she was waiting for me to ask her to follow me.
“Nier, wait for me outside. I’ll be out right away.”
“I’ll be out right away.”
Nier looked at me with astonishment. Her expression revealed her anger as if I lied to her. However, she couldn’t argue back. She clenched her teeth and stood at the door. The archbishop nodded with satisfaction. He then smiled and made an invitational hand gesture for me to enter the room.
It was a very small attic. On all four sides were tall bookshelves. There was only one tiny window where you could see the flower garden outside. However, the flower garden was now empty with only soil left behind. The window was directly opposite the door. In front was a desk with a pile of parchments on it. On two sides of the desk were chairs. At this moment, the archbishop had seated himself in the chair by the window. He then said: “Please sit, your majesty.”
I walked up to the seat in front of him and sat down. His face wasn’t very visible due to the sunlight. He smiled as he looked at me and said: “Don’t worry, my child. Please share with me your woes now. Sometimes, we can feel a lot better by letting it out, even if we are helpless.”
I looked at the archbishop’s face. I couldn’t see it clearly because the sun was behind him. I didn’t know what expression he was wearing or what he was thinking. I didn’t speak out. I looked at the messy pile of parchments in front of me and pondered how I should word my questions to find out what I wanted to know. What I want to know is if they were responsible for repossessing the copper coins on the market, their involvement with the orphanage and about Mera.
Asking too much at once is the equivalent of a death-wish. I need to find an appropriate moment to bring up the topic.
“Are you thinking, your majesty? Since that is the case, allow me to guess.”
He didn’t give me any time though. He smiled and shifted his hands underneath the table. I began to stand up and reach for my gun behind me. I went into a fight-or-flight response mode. I’m confident that I can kill him at this distance if he pulls out a blade or something. I’m not worried with Nier on guard outside and there’s no way to hide someone in here.
He took out a small box from underneath the table and handed it to me. I froze up for a second and looked at it blankly. He smiled, noticed my anxious state, and then opened up the box.
Inside were shiny gold coins. The gold coins were placed neatly and filled the entire small box. I looked at the small box blankly. While it was just a small box, inside were at least a few hundred gold coins. The archbishop placed the box in front of me, and then stood up and said: “I heard that you had been visiting the orphanage frequently recently. As an outstanding prince that is concerned about his people, you should do something. But you should be aware that the land is the church’s everything. You must have been busy recently for their sake I presume. If I am not wrong, that is your concern. The church is not cold-blooded. Even if we are a church, we too have times when we have inadequate finances. Relying on donations alone is not always sufficient……”
I looked at him with a cold stare and asked: “Is accumulating wealth through unfair means your idea of donations? Are you certain that their donations are voluntary?”
He looked at me, smiled and replied: “Of course. Our believers believe that they can erase their sins with money so they donate. These donations were all voluntary.”
“Are you talking about this here?”
“Do you have suspicions about our finances, your majesty?” The archbishop chuckled. He then blinked his eyes and continued, “Of course, we can let you check our finances. We can let you examine our land and every gold coin. If you cannot find anything, I hope that you will apologise before god for your disrespect.”
He still wore his smile, but I could see that he was laid-back from his eyes. I looked at him and clenched my teeth. Seeing how he’s so confident, there’s either no issue, or the issue had been completely erased. What shall I do now? If I give up now after coming all the way here, all my effort up until now will be wasted.
There must be problem. I firmly believe that I’ll find something.