A Chance Encounter
Our preparations had been going smoothly, and in the blink of an eye, the day of the Pope’s arrival soon came.
The air was refreshing, the sky was clear, and the sun was shining its bright and warm rays against the earth.
The security officers, including Claire-sama, had gathered around the gate towards the west side of the Imperial City to welcome the Pope.
Lily-sama seemed to be preoccupied with another task, so she was elsewhere.
Yuu-sama and Misha were among the others that came to do the welcoming as well.
“She’s running quite late……”
Claire-sama murmured, as the Pope was close to being an hour late now.
Just like in 21st century Japan, it wasn’t as if we had scheduled everything down to every minute, but with the amount of time that had already passed, it was getting to the point where we were concerned that something may have happened.
“Are you worried?”
“Of course I am. There are rumors of somebody wanting to assassi…… ahem, I mean, there are certain rumors regarding the Pope floating around, right?”
Although Claire-sama had intended to say “assassinate”, she quickly corrected herself.
Even though the other security officers were already aware of the circumstances, it still wasn’t a good idea to say something that would attract too much unwanted attention.
“There’s a chance that she might’ve just slept in.”
“She isn’t you, Rei. The Pope would never do something so clumsy.”
Claire-sama still appeared to be in an irritable mood.
“How cruel. Even though I always wake up so early in the mornings to prepare our meals.”
I covered my face as I pretended to cry.
“W-Wait, no, I’m sorry, Rei. I am always grateful for everything that you do. What I said just now was a slip of the tongue. I take back everything I said and I apologize. So please don’t cry anymore――”
“No, that hurt my feelings! I won’t stop crying until Claire-sama gives me a kiss!”
I continued to pretend that I was sobbing.
“W-What are you saying? It’s one thing if we were at home, but I can’t just kiss you when we’re surrounded by so many people.”
“Iーdon’tーcareー! Until you give me a kiss, I won’t forgive youuu~”
Just when I was starting to get invested in my little temper tantrum act,
“…… Rei. You’re not actually crying, are you?”
Ah, Claire-sama’s eyes were laser focused on me.
“Don’t just brush it off with a ‘tee-hee’. What are you even doing, fooling around like this? We’re in the middle of an important job right now.”
“I’m doing it precisely because we’re in the middle of an important job, Claire-sama.”
I said after dropping the act.
“Maybe being too optimistic is a bit questionable, but at the very least, we can’t allow ourselves to be too pessimistic. This is something I read in a book once, but in situations like this where you can’t help but assume the worst, the trick is to act positively anyway.”
“That’s easier said than done, though……”
“Well then, let’s think about it for a bit. What would be considered the worst case scenario right now?”
“Probably learning that the Pope has already passed away.”
“On that note, what is the most optimistic course of action we can take?”
“We could send somebody to check up on her.”
Right as we were in the middle of our conversation,
“This is urgent! The Pope and her party are currently being ambushed by a swarm of monsters! They require emergency reinforcements!”
Suddenly, the atmosphere became strained.
“How big are the enemy’s numbers!?”
Claire-sama asked sharply.
“There are around ten monsters at a medium threat level!”
“Let’s send out units one through three from our security force as reinforcements. The rest shall stay here to guard the gate.”
The reinforcements were organized at Claire-sama’s instructions.
“Could you go with them as well, Rei?”
“If those are your orders.”
I went to go accompany the reinforcements.
The group consisted of roughly around fifty monks that belonged to the Empire’s churches, and approximately a hundred Imperial soldiers.
With the exception of myself, the rest of the exchange students from Bauer were left behind to keep watch.
With the boost that our wind magic users applied to our entire group of reinforcements, we were able to rush through the roads at tremendously high speeds.
“I see them!”
Somebody from our group called out.
The Pope’s party was surrounded by monsters.
It seemed like they were struggling to endure their current situation in their phalanx formation.
The officers of our reinforcement group sent out orders to each unit.
Although magic users made up a majority of the units, it seemed that there were some people that could wield a sword.
Those who were able to contest in melee combat were in the frontline, while the magic users fired magical bullets from the backline.
The monsters appeared to be so focused on the enemies in front of them that they were too slow to react to the assault coming from behind them.
Approximately thirty percent of the monsters were defeated.
“Let’s follow up on that!”
The escort guards that accompanied the Pope moved in to form a pincer attack.
The monsters were being destroyed at a rapid rate.
Once the last one was taken down, the escort guards were heard breathing sighs of relief.
Sensing that there was a dark shadow creeping up towards the guard from behind, I shot an ice arrow in that direction.
“Tch…… Looks like there’s someone that’s got good intuition here.”
The dark shadow that dodged my attack was flying in the sky using the large wings on its back.
“I don’t care what you humans call me, but my name is Plato. Remember it.”
“Plato!? Isn’t he one of the Three Great Archdukes!?”
Unlike Arist, the demon appeared to be covered in beast hide instead of clothing, and it seemed that he was one of the Three Great Archdukes.
Whether it was his tone or the air he gave off, he seemed to be much more crude than Arist.
I’d heard that it was rare to encounter any demons, but wasn’t this already considered a string of battles by now?
“Now then, witness my power! And then die!”
Plato waved his club-like weapon around before slamming it against the ground.
The earth undulated, causing all of us humans to fall on our bottoms, which rendered us useless for a moment.
As Plato raised his hand in the air, drill-shaped stones protruded from the ground.
What he used was Earth Spike, a medium level earth magic spell; however, the number of spikes that were created was abnormally high.
The number of Plato’s incredibly twisted Earth Spikes totalled to more than a hundred.
In the short amount of time before the drill-shaped stones could pierce anybody, I quickly casted a spell that converted his earth magic into soft mud.
No matter how high my magical aptitude was, having to convert over a hundred earth spikes was no easy feat, but I still managed to destroy all of them.
“Well, aren’t you something else? I see, you must be Rei Taylor, right? You’re one of those kids that Arist allowed to escape.”
As I suddenly felt the effects of using up all of my magic energy kicking in, Plato seemed to have his gaze fixed on me.
This is bad.
“That bastard Arist probably got caught off his guard or something and failed to finish the job, but I’m not gonna make the same mistake. I’ll be very sure to kill you properly.”
Plato picked his club back up, and as he swung it, he suddenly rushed towards us.
“We won’t let you!”
There were a number of guards that stood tall in Plato’s way, bracing themselves with their spears, brandishing their swords and casting their magic.
However, Plato plowed through everything, and before they could even react, he sent every single one of the soldiers that blocked his way flying.
“I’ve got you now!”
Plato, who was right before my very eyes, wore a confident smile on his face like he’d already won the battle, and swung his club at me.
I managed to freeze Plato while he was mid-swing with his club.
Like Plato did before, I casted my Earth Spikes, in hopes of being able to shatter him into pieces.
I followed up with my favorite spell, Cocytus.
“Damn, that’s dangerous.”
However, before the Earth Spikes could land a hit on him, Plato managed to escape from the ice.
After he brute forced his way out, he used his wings to fly into the sky.
“Would you look at that…… Right after I pointed out that I wouldn’t let my guard down too. Humans are a pretty scary bunch after all, geez.”
Plato shot a glare towards us while he was still hovering in the air.
“But, you know, aren’t you close to your limit now? Unlike demons, you humans have such a tiny magical capacity, after all. After using all of that magic in succession, you probably don’t have that much left in you, right?”
Unfortunately, Plato was right.
After casting over a hundred spells at once, being forced to dispel his attacks and using two advanced level magic abilities, my magical energy had been exhausted.
I wasn’t completely drained yet, but I could probably only fit in one or two attacks at most that would do any sort of damage to him.
This is bad.
Right when I started thinking of ways to withdraw, a majestic voice resounded in the battlefield.
“Be filled with light.”
The area was wrapped with light.
As if it had mass, the light felt warm and soft and it seemed like a surge of power ran through everything it touched.
The fallen soldiers were rising one after the other.
Even I could feel that my magical energy had completely recovered.
“This is the Pope’s blessing! Everybody, we will not be defeated here! Let us take the victory from the demons!”
Somebody who appeared to be a priest called out from right next to where the Pope’s portable shrine stood.
At the same time, the escort guards, monks and soldiers all let out a war cry.
Was this…… a ranged healing ability?
Is this even magic?
“Tch…… I wasn’t able to kill you off, huh. Well, whatever, I was only here to say hello anyway. Farewell.”
After seeing us make a full recovery, Plato quickly turned his heel and escaped.
“Are you running away?”
“Heh, you tryna make a cheap provocation there? Instead of running your mouth, I’d like to hear you try and say that once you can actually fight me on equal footing.”
I wanted to defeat him right now, but Plato didn’t fall for my provocation.
After spitting out a scoff, he retreated and flew towards the east.
“Was that the Pope’s power just now……?”
“It’s a miracle……”
The soldiers were overflowing with praise for the Pope.
Well, that was to be expected.
Especially since we were in a position where we were close to being completely annihilated.
The Pope’s magic saved us from total defeat and left a tremendous impact on the soldiers.
“Rei Taylor, please come over here.”
The priest that filled the soldiers with encouragement called for me.
I tilted my head in confusion, unsure of what they wanted from me, but for the time being, I did as I was told.
“Thank you for buying us all of that time. The Pope’s magic can cover a large radius, but it takes quite a bit of time just to charge it up.”
The priest―― who sort of looked familiar somehow―― praised me for my hard work.
“No, if anything, we were the ones who were saved. The Pope’s magic is really amazing, isn’t it?”
“―― That isn’t true.”
The voice was heard from inside of the portable shrine.
“It’s fine, Bishop Lorna. I will have to show my face to her eventually either way.”
The curtain from the portable shrine was raised.
A girl whose face was exactly like mine, although the air she gave off was completely different, emerged.
“Nice to meet you, Rei Taylor. I am the Pope.”
With an unchanging expression and a surprisingly flat voice, the girl claimed to go by the name of Claris Répète III.