“Thank you for saving us from that dangerous situation earlier.”
We were back at the Church in the Imperial City.
There, we were having a meeting with the Pope.
Although I called it a meeting, the curtain in front of the Pope had already been lowered, so we were not actually able to see her face.
Claire-sama and I both kneeled before the Pope.
The other people that were by the Pope included Lishe-sama, who was standing closest to her; Yuu-sama, Misha, Lily-sama and several other church officials that had gathered around as well.
Everybody appeared to be quite tense, although perhaps that was because of the battle that had taken place.
Meanwhile, the Pope’s tone sounded very calm while she was expressing her gratitude towards us―― rather, it was more accurate to say that she sounded a bit robotic.
It was a voice with very little intonation, and almost no emotion behind it.
Despite that, it was a strange type of voice that didn’t make its listeners feel uncomfortable.
Her face looked just like mine, and the sound of our voices were identical, but the overall impression that she gave off was completely different.
“It fills me with honor to be able to meet with you here today. I am Claire François, the one in charge of security for the entire duration of this imperial visit. I am relieved that I was able to fulfill my duties.”
Claire-sama delivered her greeting.
Meanwhile, I was still bowing down.
“I have heard rumors about you, many of which have described you to be an incredibly capable individual. Everybody has been praising you left and right for your efforts for being the core of the security force this time around.”
“Thank you very much.”
Claire-sama spoke humbly.
As usual, Claire-sama was astonishingly perfect when it came to conducting herself like a proper lady in public.
I couldn’t even imagine that the Claire-sama who would often get worn down by Mei and Alea’s crying back at home was the same person that was standing in front of me right now.
Well, the same went for me as I would also get flustered whenever those two started crying.
“Your companion is incredibly strong, isn’t she? If it weren’t for Rei Taylor, most likely, I wouldn’t even be here right now.”
“Thank you for the compliment.”
Claire-sama and I bowed our heads deeply.
“I am sure you have heard this from Cardinal Lishe already, but it seems that somebody is after my life. Forgive me for saying this, but I cannot afford to lose my life just yet. If it is at all possible, please lend me your strength.”
The shadow from behind the curtain gave us a light bow.
The church officials started to stir up a buzz.
They probably weren’t used to seeing something like this.
“That goes without saying. I will do everything I can to the best of my abilities.”
“Thank you very much. Moving on, there is something else I would like to discuss with you all, so could everybody else with the exceptions of Cardinals Lishe and Yuu, as well as Lily and Misha leave?”
The Pope’s request caused the church officials to stir up another buzz.
“Did none of you hear what the Pope just said?”
Lishe-sama roared to the restless officials with a sagely tone to her voice.
When we received the request from her the other day, Lishe-sama had quite a soft tone to her voice, but in the end, I felt that seeing Lishe-sama like this suited her more.
Perhaps that was a bit prejudiced to say, though.
At Lishe-sama’s demand, the church officials left.
After making sure that the Pope’s designated attendants were gone, Lishe-sama opened her mouth.
“Now then, let’s have the Pope and Rei switch places here. Misha, please raise the curtain.”
The curtain that was separating us from the Pope was slowly being raised.
Behind it was a small figure, who was sitting on a small white chair.
It was the Pope, Claris Répète III, whom I had already seen earlier.
The Pope was wearing a white vestment with a gold-colored pattern embroidered on it.
“Your Holiness, since we will also need you two to trade clothes, I’m terribly sorry, but you will need to leave your seat.”
Without a single change in her expression, the Pope got up.
The Pope gracefully walked towards us.
This might just sound like self-flattery, but the Pope was beautiful.
Her face was supposed to be modeled after mine, but the aura that she exuded was quite mysterious.
You’d expect that her dignified and expressionless self would give off a very cold impression, but it actually gave off a divine impression instead.
Perhaps because she was the Pope, she had to be mindful of her own expressions.
As I was getting lost in my thoughts,
The Pope tripped.
She fell flat on her face too.
Claire-sama and I were so stunned that neither of us could even react fast enough to go and help her up – all we could do was watch.
The Pope got up like nothing had happened, and started gracefully walking towards us again with a composed look on her face.
And after a few steps, she fell over again.
She fell flat on her face this time too.
This time, Claire-sama returned to her senses quickly enough and rushed over to help her up.
The Pope, still expressionless, rose again with Claire-sama’s support.
“I apologize. I am not good with exercise.”
Even though she was just walking?
Usually, people wouldn’t call walking an exercise, right?
If you looked closely though, the Pope looked like she was dragging her robe around while she was walking.
There was no sweat on her forehead, but she seemed to be struggling quite a bit.
Rather than saying that her walking was graceful, perhaps taking little steps was actually the most she could do.
…… Was the Pope, perhaps, just extremely uncoordinated?
After she somehow managed to walk to us, the Pope was taking deep breaths.
It felt like she had just completed a task, when in reality, all she did was walk about a dozen meters.
“Now then, please get changed. Misha, Lily, if you will.”
Lily-sama rushed over to the Pope and began to remove pieces from her heavy robe, one by one.
As for me, after I took off my clothes, Misha handed me a vestment to get changed into.
Ah, it really was quite heavy.
Since the robe had heavy emphasis on its decorativeness, it was tailored in a way that it hindered movement around the joints, so it was unusually difficult to move around in.
Although the Pope may be uncoordinated, part of that was definitely because of the robe.
“Your Holiness, please wear this.”
I wasn’t about to give the Pope the same clothes that I had just taken off, so Claire-sama handed her a set of freshly washed clothes that we had brought from home instead.
“How do I wear this?”
The Pope tilted her head in confusion as she stared at the clothes, as if she was looking at something strange.
“L-Lily will change your clothes for you.”
“No, Lily. The Pope will have to live as Rei for the next little while. Please teach her how to change into those clothes instead.”
“Please do, Lily.”
It seemed that the Pope was quite sheltered, so there were various things in the world that she didn’t know.
Her lack of coordination was one such proof of that, and I suspected there was a possibility that she has never held anything heavier than a fork in her hands before.
Fortunately, the Pope had a good memory, so she was quickly able to learn how to change into everyday clothes.
The Pope, who was moving her limbs around like she was deeply fascinated, looked a little cute.
I wondered if that was considered praising myself again.
“This is very light, isn’t it? It’s very easy to move in, although it’s a bit cold.”
“If you are feeling cold, then please wear this jacket as well.”
“Claire, I’m going to be living as Rei for the time being, so you will have to change your tone with me too.”
“Ah…… Y-You’re right about that. In that case, wear this, Rei.”
With that said, the Pope put her sleeves in the jacket that she took from Claire-sama.
I usually spoke with a formal tone to Claire-sama anyway, so it wasn’t going to be that big of a change for the Pope.
“Well then, Rei…… Or not, Your Holiness, please be mindful of the way you speak and behave as well.”
Misha warned me.
“Is this actually going to be more annoying than I thought?” I wondered to myself, as I only started to regret things now.