Chapter 179: The Ways of the World
Night fell. The autumn breeze was bleak, and a pale moon was embedded in the night sky, half blocked by the church spire. Nemo stood in front of the Clementine Cathedral, looking at the orange lights in the magnificent building.
The atmosphere was good and looked suitable for a final battle at first glance. Nemo tugged his collar with his left hand, trying to calm down, and stuffed a cold sandwich into his mouth with his right hand. The little spider actively crawled into the gap in the collar, and as soon as Bagelmaurus started combing its feather with its beak, it received a plain instruction.
"You act with Ann, Bagemaurus," Nemo muffled as he stuffed the rest of the sandwich completely into his mouth.
The female warrior took out a flask and just finished filling it with wine. She sighed and stuffed the flask back into her belt irritably. "Thanks, Nemo."
"I knew it would be like this," The gray parrot, who has restored itself to its normal color, complained sadly. "You found another demon and now you don’t want me! I didn’t cause any trouble at the academy. This spider is an intermediate at most— Where am I not good enough, huh?"
"You’re too big. We’re going to meet the Pope of the Laddism Church, and I don’t know if there will be any advanced detection mechanism there. Your power is too strong. In case the concealment spell I imposed on you is discovered… the scene would get ugly," Nemo responded sincerely.
The gray parrot hummed dissatisfied, staring hard at Nemo’s collar, as if determined to pull the little spider out with its gaze.
Ann rarely would pass up the opportunity to tease. However, she just silently took out a few pieces of brown sugar from the side bag of her belt and threw it at Bagelmaurus. The latter caught them steadily, and then reluctantly moved to Ann’s shoulder.
"I’m going to inquire about something, and when you’re done here, remember to contact me with the communication crystal."
Nemo wiped his hands with a handkerchief, looked at the cathedral in front of him for a while, and moved in the direction of Oliver. The latter’s face was equally as nervous. Oliver stretched out a trembling hand and wiped away the crumbs of bread stained on Nemo’s gray and black robe.
Compared to the two people who seemed so nervous that they were about to vomit, Jesse and Adrian were relatively calm.
"You’re at least also a big shot. Seriously, Mr. Light, what are you so nervous about?" Jesse’s tone was exasperated.
"Can’t help it." Nemo’s face tightened.
When Ann left, the four members of Tumbleweed were officially ushered into the meeting room. Oliver was so nervous that he tripped over the threshold. Unfortunately, the object of his nervousness didn’t look half as nervous— The old Pope yawned in the bright magical light. He was wearing a light blue pointed nightcap that was buttoned unruly on his head, and the plainest of ecclesiastical robe. After that long yawn, the elderly Pope Quinn leaned onto the soft satin pillow and carefully added milk to his tea.
There was no Knights of Judgement in the room, only a tall and thin footman standing quietly in the corner. His strength wasn’t weak, but he wasn’t a match for them. Seeing everyone stepping into the room, the footman made a polite guiding gesture and pointed them to the couch against the wall. The stone table in front of the couch was filled with warm honey water and fruits cut into small pieces.
Oliver: "…" This is completely different from the meeting with the Pope he imagined.
"Young people have so much spirit." The Pope of the Laddism Church narrowed his eyes. "Old people go to bed early. Alas, we met again, Mr. Dylan. Your speed is much faster than I thought."
"Do you still have those kinds of snacks like last time?" Jesse rubbed his hands with interest.
"Dear Philly, go and prepare a few plates of refreshments for Tumbleweed, thank you." The pope waved his hand at the footman.
He didn’t expect that the first sentence his team member uttered was to beg for food. Oliver looked sadly at the ceiling. After sweeping to the portrait of Zenni on there, he resolutely retracted his gaze.
"Ann Savage and the bird are not here? Well, it doesn’t matter. The leader of the team is… Let me see, Oliver Lopez?" the Pope said lightly as he sipped his tea.
Oliver sat upright on the sofa abruptly.
"Don’t be nervous. After all, someone had commissioned the Mercenary Guild to investigate you. I have a good relationship with President Pollack." The old man put down the teacup and glanced at Nemo who was sitting to the side. "You’ve done a lot of things in the Great Isamel’s Labyrinth. Not long ago, Horizon submitted the briefings. The content is quite interesting."
"Then you should already know, Lord Quinn. Our leader broke the Sword of Ruinous Fire, so I didn’t have time for it to recognize me— The requirement of the Sword of Ruinous Fire is that there is no guilt or confusion, right? I’m actually very confident to be a candidate for the Hero. Such a shame." The snacks plate was placed on the edge of the fruit plate, and Jesse grabbed a piece and chewed it gracefully. "This is really delicious, Adri. Don’t you want a piece?"
The former knight commander stood solemnly by the sofa, without any intention of sitting down or answering. Nemo lowered his shoulders, trying to make himself look less eye-catching.
"I’m afraid it’s not just the problem of the Ruinous Fire. Destroying the dragon breath stone orb and splitting space. No matter what, it’s much more serious than the Ruinous Fire. Of course, I’m not saying the destruction of the Ruinous Fire isn’t serious— It did cost us a small fortune to have it put there in the first place."
Oliver’s face turned from blue to white.
"But you still came out to see us quickly." Jesse kicked Oliver in the calf so that he could recover. "If you only want to recover your losses or sanction us, we should be surrounded by heavily armed Knights of Judgement right now."
"Oh." Pope Quinn scratched his cheeks. The wrinkles on his face gathered together from his grin. "How perceptive, Mr. Dylan."
Oliver, who was so nervous that he was about to faint, woke up like a dream, and a strange courage in his heart made him take the initiative to speak for the first time. "You… plan to make a deal with us?"
There was no other possibility. What they did wasn’t a trivial matter. The Great Isamel Labyrinth could be regarded as one of the wonders of the entire surface. Without the huge dragon breath stone orb as the core, it was estimated that it could no longer operate with the same precision as before. As the Laddism Church who had the right to interpret miracles, it should stand to reason that they were eager to rip off their heads, but the Pope of the Laddism Church was sitting in front of them, drinking tea with excess milk in a leisurely manner.
Even if Pope Dawn Quinn’s reputation for kindness was well-known, he wouldn’t extend unwarranted kindness to a Black Chapter team that had caused so much disaster.
"Godwin Lopez contacted my researcher before giving the briefing." The old Pope didn’t directly answer Oliver’s question. "He wants to determine whether there may be other reasons for the damage of the dragon breath stone orb. Mr. Leader, your cousin is serious about minimizing the impact of this matter. Godwin is a nice young man, so naturally we’re happy to give him an answer."
Nemo gulped loudly and found the Pope’s gaze swept over. He hurriedly squeezed into the soft sofa, eager to crunch himself between the cushions.
"’Recently, the state of the dragon breath stone orb isn’t very stable. We need to check the information before we can answer you.’…Was what we replied for now. That’s why he didn’t mention this matter in the briefing."
Oliver held his breath.
"You have no idea what the dragon breath stone means, do you?" the old Pope sighed. "If you’re talking in terms of value, you’ve damaged perhaps a hundred flawless diamonds that’s about the same size. Now do you understand?"
Nemo’s eyes went black, and he subconsciously looked at Oliver sitting next to him. Oliver’s face had a tendency to turn from blue to white to purple.
"In other words, captain, if your behavior spreads out, this is an incredible power and notoriety," Jesse added enthusiastically. The plate of snacks had been wiped out by him in just this short while.
"And you suppressed the news… What do you want?" Oliver breathed carefully, trying to save his overwhelmed heart. Pope Quinn didn’t seem to like to answer questions directly and rather all he wanted was to be a pain in the ass.
"A favor," the old man happily said.
"……What? Uh, excuse me, what did you say just now?" Oliver suspected that he had heard it wrong.
"If I’m not mistaken, your power is not as simple as it seems. Take you for example, Mr. Lopez… or Mr. Ramon? I can’t see through your strength at all. It’s very interesting. And as far as my experience in seeing people over the past few decades, you are also a good young man, not like the nonsense rumors, so I want an agreement."
"I can help you hide the matter of the dragon breath stone orb, and the report will be based on the information disclosed by Horizon; you just destroyed the Sword of Ruinous Fire, and the space crack was likely to be a natural product created by the Great Isamel Labyrinth, and the Laddism Church will also add that you’ve stolen a gem from the Ruinous Fire."
The former knight commander looked at Jesse Dylan a little unexpectedly while the latter raised the corner of his mouth.
"In this way, your danger value will be ‘thieves’. Perhaps your Black Chapter level will be raised, but it won’t attract curious forces to eye you. If I, this old man, am not mistaken, you prefer a peaceful life rather than fighting and slaughtering."
"…What agreement do you want?"
"First, I hope that you and your teammates will not make any dangerous move against the surface and the judgement of ‘danger’ lies with me. Second, before the expedition, there will always be Black Chapters and the Holy Church playing vanguard to explore the way to the bottom of the Abyss. I’m not going to lie, I have cultivated a lot of lovely and capable young people, and the bad thing is that they are filled with bloodlust. Older people are easily soft-hearted, so I don’t want to see them die in vain in the Abyss, so at that time, I hope you and your team can act as guards for the Laddism Church. Are you willing?"
Oliver glanced at Nemo quickly, frowning slightly. "I…"
"Black Chapters of the snake level and above must participate as vanguards for the expedition, or they will be disqualified as Black Chapters," Adrian Cross said quietly. "But less than 30 years have passed since the last expedition, and no one knows when the next expedition will be."
"Indeed, so this contract has a deadline. You’re now 23 years old, so let’s have it be for another 30 years. If there’s no plan for an expedition on the surface within 30 years, this part of the agreement can be invalidated," the Pope said emotionally. "Oh, it’s a pity that I won’t live to that time."
"If we must participate as the vanguard in the expedition, then I’m willing to take care of the people from the Laddism Church. Everyone has no problem with that, right?"
Nemo shook his head with a complicated expression. Jesse was eating happily so it seemed like he had no opinions. As for the former knight commander, Adrian was even more unlikely to have other ideas. Even if there was no such agreement, he would definitely not sit idly by and watch the people of the Laddism Church suffer.
"I agree." Oliver took a deep breath.
"Very good." Pope Quinn clapped his hands in satisfaction. "The contract will be done immediately. You only need to sign it. It’s just that if you violate the contract, I’ll disclose all information about you and your team. Please remember."
"…And Mr. Dylan, if you like that snack so much, you can take a few boxes with you."
"Lord Quinn, you’ll definitely become the most successful Pope in the history of the Laddism Church," Jesse exclaimed emotionally.
The old Pope really didn’t intend to keep them. Oliver took away the sterling silver runic seal that symbolized the agreement and served as a token, while Jesse carried away five boxes of snacks, walking with a little bounce in his steps.
"One box per person," he announced contentedly.
Nemo was silent on the side. Throughout the conversation, the Pope only glanced at him deeply at first, and then his gaze never fell on him again. Nemo wouldn’t really believe that this was the masking effect of the soft sofa. The old Pope deliberately ignored him.
He couldn’t figure out why.
But since the result was good, perhaps if was fine if he couldn’t. After all, he wasn’t Telaranea that had a curiosity so great that it was suffocating.
"Why?" Inside the Clementine Cathedral, someone helped him asked this question. Phillip, the footman, tore off the soft mask on his face, revealing the face of Felix, the Preceptor Bishop. "You just let them go like this? Their strength is too dangerous. Even if they are bound by this agreement, it’s likely to cause—"
"We’re not match for them."
"What do you mean?!"
"Adri is fine. I know that child’s abilities, but Oliver Lopez, Nemo Light, Jesse Dylan… Well, this is the first time in my life I have seen such monsters. Felix, with all of Alban’s strength, maybe you can deal with an Oliver Lopez. Nemo Light is a bit interesting. There’s too little information about him. I won’t comment for now, but Jesse Dylan… may be more dangerous than we thought."
"So I gave them two options. Either they get chased and stung by mosquitoes like stray dogs, or we become friends and give each other a little convenience. The latter is much more cost-effective. Don’t give me that expression, Felix. You know I’m a businessman. I’m not the emperor of Alban, and I’ll not do something as stupid as destroy a treasure if I can’t control it."
"But I’ve investigated Jesse Dylan. He’s called the ‘poisonous snake’ and has some talent for divination. There’s nothing special about it other than that. Why do you have this idea?"
"The admission letters of the Royal Military Academy of Clementine for those two, Mr. Light and Mr. Ramon. According to my sources, it was arranged by Mr. Dylan."
"This… Is there a problem? Although with the testing level of Clementine Academy, it’s not easy to fake them, but…"
"No." The smile on the old Pope’s face faded a bit. "That’s the problem. I specifically read those two letters. It’s real."
"You know how well our important bishops are protected, especially on a spiritual level, but Jesse Dylan manages to do it without leaving a trace. If I hadn’t seen it myself, those two letters would really be treated as fakes. Don’t look at Tumbleweed as just a group of young people. That’s not an opponent we should be entangle with. Don’t be too obsessed with them anymore. At my age, alas, some things are hard to get muddled by."
The Preceptor Bishop frowned. His face was mixed with shock and confusion.
"It’s not good to take the bull by the horns, dear Felix." The Pope stood up, straightened the nightcap on his bald head, and then put his hands behind his back. "Remember why you believe in Zenni in the first place. Faith, I still prefer it to be used as a walking stick than a weapon. If we get rid of everything that threaten us one by one— Then the world will assuredly become a particularly boring place."
At the same time, facing various inns that were completely booked, the four men of Tumbleweed were hunkered down under the bridge by the river, silently eating snacks and waiting for the sunrise. As soon as they left the church, they first contacted Ann, but the female warrior only whispered vaguely to indicate that she knew, and then hurriedly interrupted contact.
The only thing left in the snack box was crumbs just as the sun showed a little light. Oliver leaned on Nemo with his whole body as his head rocked back and forth uncontrollably looking like he was about to fall asleep.
The black badge on his chest suddenly vibrated.
Oliver, who was half asleep and half awake, rubbed his eyes and skillfully summoned the task light screen.
"Assigned task?" He shook his head to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.
"Assigned task. Assist the client in meeting with Delia Alastair," Nemo whispered softly, but still failed to control his voice that changed in tone due to shock. "Client, Ann Savage."
"…Remuneration… All arrears written off, plus all my personal property?!"
The author has something to say：
Congratulations to the two male protagonists who are about to leave the life of debt. *Applauds* (×
Yes! The pope of this novel is not a villain! He’s just an old man who sees things through _(:з"∠)_
I believe the Pope took the right direction. While a man of faith, he’s also shrewd and not fanatical. He knew their power and rather than trying to fight them, it was better to be on friendly terms. After all, in face of an unknown power that you don’t know if you could defeat or not and could potentially wipe out your entire church (I mean they did do to the Abyssal Church), it’s better to gamble on the safer route.