The First Meeting
The day after Lishe-sama asked us to act as bodyguards, we started our preparations.
It was a ton of work having to deploy various people, review our shift schedules, and double-check the floor plans of the meeting hall for the upcoming visit.
Of course, we were taking a break from school.
Contrary to what I expected, it seemed that, conveniently, we were going to be credited for our contributions.
I was incredibly grateful for that.
However, since exams would still be taking place just like usual, we would have to make up for the parts that we missed on our own time.
“I am Hildegard Eichrodt. Please feel free to call me Hilda.”
At last, we were able to become acquainted with the final love interest from RevoLily.
Since she was acting as a security officer for the Empire, she came over to greet us.
Naturally, the Church wasn’t the only party that required tight security during the visit.
Especially since the Empress would be in attendance as well.
And the security officer that would be representing the Empire was none other than Hilda.
One of the Empire’s strengths was that it boasted an extremely powerful military.
As a result of prioritizing the development of magical technology and techniques, the Empire ended up becoming the most advanced nation when it came to magic.
It was the complete opposite of Bauer.
If it weren’t for Dorothea, perhaps the Empire’s Magical Technology Department would’ve ended becoming the entire backbone of the Empire.
And Hilda happened to be somebody who was strongly affiliated with the Magical Technology Department.
Hilda appeared to be an incredibly capable person, and she also wore a monocle, which was rare to see on women.
Her silver hair and red eyes reminded me of Lily-sama, but instead of giving off the impression of a small animal, Hilda seemed rather fear-inducing.
According to Philine,
“Hilda may look scary, but in reality, she’s actually a really kind person.”
However, I knew of Hilda’s true nature thanks to the knowledge I acquired from RevoLily.
Since she was extremely ambitious, she was the type of person who would resort to using any means necessary in order to achieve her goals.
To Hilda, Philine was just another stepping stone in order to further her own career.
Hilda was just keeping her true nature hidden from Philine.
“This is the security plan that we came up with on the Empire’s side. Please double-check it.”
Despite her quirks, Hilda was indisputably an incredibly capable and hardworking person.
We had decided to use one of the rooms in the town hall as our conference space for our joint security department meetings, and were gathered here for the first time.
The room was quite spacious and allowed for people to move in and out freely.
There were a number of chairs and desks neatly lined up, and there was a lot of necessary information related to security taped along the walls.
“Thank you, Hilda. Here’s the plan that we’ve drafted out on behalf of the Church. Let’s take a look at everything together.”
On the Church’s side, Claire-sama was the one who struggled the most.
Since it was a job that she was unfamiliar with, the Church paired her up with other staff members and their most experienced one, Lily-sama.
As a result of having the support of such a reliable ally, the plan that they created ended up being well-received and allowed us to proceed smoothly.
“Will we be able to worship the Pope face-to-face this time around?”
“I apologize, but actually, the Pope does not like to show herself in front of other people, so……”
That was part of the reason why Claire-sama and I were so surprised when we saw her face for the first time.
Generally, there were no opportunities for regular people to come in contact with the Pope.
Even while meeting or conversing with other people, she was usually well-hidden behind a curtain.
Whenever she was required to travel, she would be transported in a portable shrine, so nobody would be able to get a good look at her appearance.
“I see…… It’s going to be a pain trying to get Her Majesty to accept this.”
What Hilda was trying to say was that Dorothea didn’t like the idea of having the Pope hide her face during their upcoming meeting. Most likely, she would admonish the Pope for doing something so unnecessary, which may turn out to be troublesome.
If we just kept silent about it, there was a chance that she was going to forcibly cut the curtain down herself.
“Dorothea has a short-temper, after all. Even the staff members that are in charge of putting the conference together are trembling with fear.”
Hilda shrugged, although her face didn’t match how troubled her tone was making her out to be.
When I pointed that out, Hilda said:
“Well, it’s not like Her Majesty Dorothea is so politically unaware that she would resort to using force against the Pope under these circumstances. Right now, if she ended up garnering the hatred of all of the Faith’s followers, the Empire would immediately be forced into a tough situation.”
“You have a lot of trust in Her Majesty, don’t you?”
“Of course. Her Majesty loves rationality. Unless the situation calls for it, she would never act rudely towards the Pope.”
“Please rest assured,” Hilda added with a smile.
It probably doesn’t matter, but this was exactly the reason why I felt a bit unsettled.
“By the way, what do you think of Philine-sama? You’ve met her already, correct?”
“Yes. She is a very kind person, to the point where I wouldn’t have expected her to be the daughter of somebody as stern as Her Majesty Dorothea.”
“Fufu, everybody says the same thing. However, I think they’re actually surprisingly similar.”
“In what aspects, for example?”
“Philine-sama is very strong at her core. Although there are some things she gets tired of, there are other things that she gets very particular about and she becomes virtually immovable.”
Hilda was singing Philine’s praises.
Well, I could agree with that much.
“I hope all of you that came from Bauer can become good friends with Philine-sama. Especially you two, who were at the helm of the revolution.”
Hilda loosened up as she laughed.
When she did so, surprisingly, it felt like her cold demeanor melted away with it.
That same smile used to reel in a lot of players.
However, I wasn’t going to let myself get fooled.
Surely, Hilda was telling Philine the complete opposite of what she said to us.
She probably warned her and told her not to get too close to us.
She wanted herself to be at the top of Philine’s list, after all.
“Yes, of course. I would also like for us to get closer.”
In preparation for the exchange program with the Empire, Claire-sama studied Hilda’s personality in great detail.
As expected of Claire-sama, she was well-aware that Hilda was currently putting up a front.
She laughed, cleverly putting her diplomatic skills to use.
“By the way…… Is the Church aware of this as well? That there are rumors of somebody going after the Pope’s life.”
Hilda asked, lowering her tone a bit.
“I can assure you that whoever is behind it is not somebody from the Empire. As I mentioned before, the Empire has no plans of turning the Church into an enemy. Although Her Majesty Dorothea might feel humiliated that she is attending such a meeting in the first place, considering the Empire’s current standpoint, we have no choice but to accept it.”
The purpose of the Pope’s imperial visit this time was to deliver a reminder to the Empire, which was still invading other countries.
The Pope decided to pay the Empire a visit in order to warn them to not start a war that would cause the citizens to suffer.
In the background, Bauer, Sousa and Appalachia formed a three-way alliance in opposition to the Naa Empire, so the pieces that could start a war against all of the great powers were falling into place.
It wasn’t just the Naa Empire.
The Pope had already met with His Majesty Sein, and after the Empire, she was bound for Sousa and Appalachia as well.
According to Lily-sama, it seemed that the Pope was fearful of the rising tensions and increasingly high chances for a war to begin.
Dorothea easily could’ve refused the intervention from what she considered to be a religious shop, but the Empire’s current circumstances would not allow for that.
On top of having the Allied Forces against them, if the Empire were to make an enemy out of the Holy Spirit Church, no matter how powerful the Empire was, it would be impossible for them to handle.
“That’s why, I hope that as representatives of the Church, you will take this just as seriously. If anything were to happen to Her Holiness, the Empire will end up being the one to shoulder the consequences.”
“Regarding the whereabouts of your former Prime Minister, were you able to catch him?”
“About that…… I apologize. We are still in the middle of investigating the situation.”
It seemed that the Empire was aware of Salas’ jailbreak.
“Please…… If possible, you should try to capture him before the imperial visit takes place. The less to worry about, the better.”
“From what I’ve heard, apparently, an important figure in the Church has connections with the Prime Minister. Perhaps the person that is out to hurt the Pope is actually――”
“Hilda, that’s enough.”
Claire-sama interrupted Hilda before she could name the suspect.
“We are not fools. We will take proper countermeasures against the things that you have concerns about. Therefore, please do not jump to conclusions and declare your suspicions based on assumptions.”
“…… I apologize for being rude.”
Hilda slightly bowed her head as she spoke.
To begin with, Salas was somebody who had connections with the Empire.
I wondered if they were against us searching for him.
“No, it’s natural for you to be worried about these things as a security officer. I understand how you feel.”
“Thank you. Well then, let’s continue.”
The first meeting between the Church and the Empire ended without incident.
As expected, Claire-sama, who was in charge and poured a lot of work into everything, was dead-tired by the time we got back to our dormitory.
“…… Somehow, a lot of things outside of our expectations keep happening. Even though our initial goal was to ensnare the Empire.”
“It can’t be helped. The situation has deviated a lot from my previous knowledge, after all.”
I said to Claire-sama while combing Mei and Alea’s hair.
In terms of hairstyle, Mei’s was quite similar to mine, while Alea’s looked like Claire-sama’s.
When we first met them, Mei had short-hair and Alea had long-hair, so that was something that crossed my mind.
“In any case, we’ll have to do something about this. First, we’ll complete all of the tasks that are right in front of us one by one.”
“I’ll give you all of my support.”
After combing Mei and Alea’s hair, I went to do Claire-sama’s next.
Her split ends were becoming noticeable.
It was probably because of the stress.
“I’m counting on you.”
“Please leave it to me.”
In order to reduce Claire-sama’s stress, I had to give it my best.
I gave Claire-sama’s hair a countless number of kisses and renewed my determination.