It was morning time, and three days before the meeting between the Pope and Dorothea was scheduled to take place.
I’d somehow managed to fulfill my role as a shadow warrior.
As usual, I’d have a few minor slip-ups here and there, but I was slowly starting to get used to this sort of lifestyle.
“But I still can’t get used to the meals here.”
Despite being at the top of the Spirit Church’s hierarchy, the Pope’s diet was extremely light.
It was a simple meal that consisted of a lightly seasoned cream soup made with some sort of cooked beans and a bowl made of hard bread, a side of boiled eggs and some fruit.
It was similar to the diet that Claire-sama and I lived off of for a while immediately following the revolution.
On another note, it wasn’t like the Church prohibited eating animal meat or anything, but perhaps it was something that they practiced.
“Now then, allow me to taste test for any poison.”
The woman who brought the food in said as she prepared to take a bite.
This was one of the reasons why the diet felt so light.
Since the Pope was considered VIP status worldwide, and because there was somebody currently targeting her life, all of her meals had to be taste-tested beforehand.
You might think that those potential toxins could just be detoxified with water magic, but the Empire set a sort of precedent when they introduced cantarella.
I was able to cleanse the old type of cantarella that was used in an attempt to assassinate Sein-sama, but there was the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to do the same with the newer type of cantarella that Louis used before, or perhaps there was an even more evolved version of it by now.
Even something as versatile and all-powerful as magic had its limits.
The person who was checking for poison was a nun who personally waited upon me.
It seemed that her name was Sandrine-san.
Apparently, she was a devout follower of the Pope, so she had been at this job ever since she was young.
From the looks of it, she appeared to be a regular nun, and roughly about the same height as me.
She had gentle eyes and seemed to be a very kind woman of about twenty-something years old.
She was a bit on the thinner side, but perhaps that was due to the light diet around here.
Speaking of which, I had never seen a single person on the heavier side among the church officials either.
“…… It seems to be fine. Please enjoy your meal.”
Sandrine-san said after taking a single bite before returning to my side.
“Thank you, Sandrine.”
When I thanked her, she replied with, “This is just a part of my job, after all,” while wearing a gentle smile on her face.
As I brought the soup to my mouth, a subtle feeling of guilt weighed upon me.
Sandrine-san had not been informed of our role swapping.
And yet, for the sake of the Pope, she risked her life once again today to check for any toxins.
If, for example, she were to die by that poison, the person she would be saving was not the Pope that she had always loved and respected, but a complete stranger.
I felt very sorry for her.
“You’ll be meeting with Lishe-sama today. She wanted to have one last discussion before the conference that is taking place in three days.”
This was partly due to our role swapping, but the number of people that could meet with me directly was limited.
All of the clerical work was handled by Lishe-sama.
Lishe-sama was somebody capable of that sort of job.
In addition to making all of the meeting preparations for the Pope and providing me with all sorts of necessary information, she also reported on how the real Pope, Claire-sama, Mei and Alea were doing.
Thanks to her, I was about to carry out my performance as a shadow warrior with a peace of mind.
I finished my meal while I listened to the rest of the schedule for today’s business.
“Maybe I should put in some suggestions to add more variety to the menu,” I thought to myself as I got changed.
I felt a little depressed that I had to wear this heavy robe again today.
“Your Holiness, it looks like you’ve put on a little bit of weight.”
Sandrine-san’s words startled me a little bit.
Although our faces were identical, as expected, our bodies were somewhat different.
“That must be because the food in the Empire is good. They don’t want to take any chances with the Pope in case anything happens, so surely, they are offering you the best service.”
Thankfully, Sandrine-san covered up for me.
That was close.
“Let me get that button on the back for you.”
Sandrine-san looped around to my backside.
Not that this matters, but this was the kind of robe that you wouldn’t be able to put on by yourself.
Maybe it could be done if it was fastened with a zipper, but the buttons on the back were unreachable.
“I wonder if you can buy zippers from Blume,” I wondered to myself when I heard a whisper from behind me.
“I am grateful for being bestowed the honor of being allowed to touch Your Holiness.”
Every time Sandrine-san needed to touch my body, while disguised as the Pope, she would always express her gratitude towards God while kissing her rosary.
She was probably doing that right now as well.
However, she was taking a long time today.
Right as I started to wonder what was going on, I suddenly felt strong magic being used behind me.
The moment I tried to turn around, there was something firm against my neck that made it difficult to breathe.
Something that was thin and string-like seemed to be wrapped around it.
My need for an answer quickly started to disappear as my mind began to focus on how to get out of the situation first.
The truth can come later.
The first thing I needed to do was to save my own life.
I mustered whatever little power I had and shot a stone behind me, which sent Sandrine’s body backward.
Her body slammed against a wall.
“Haah…… hah……. haah……!”
As I was gasping for air, I examined Sandrine-san carefully.
Unlike before, she was no longer wearing a gentle expression.
Her eyes were devoid of light, and she was still holding onto her rosary.
Perhaps the string that was used for the chokehold came from that.
If it were a regular string, it would’ve snapped quite easily, so that was probably something specifically made for strangulation.
If you looked closely, the rosary seemed to be emitting some sort of suspicious light.
Could that be…… a magic tool……?
As if confirming my suspicions, Sandrine-san readjusted the string and lunged at me.
Her movements weren’t very fast, though.
Most likely, this girl chose this method of murder in order to take advantage of the real Pope’s lack of athletic ability.
“There we go…”
I grabbed hold of her right wrist and twisted her joints extremely hard.
Sandrine-san offered a little bit of resistance, but she quickly let go of her grasp on the string.
I pressed my finger against her forehead and forced Sandrine-san into a deep slumber with my water magic.
It was the same spell I used on Claire-sama back during the commoners’ movement.
My sleep spell was strong enough that it even made someone as powerful as Claire-sama pass out.
Since Sandrine-san was just an ordinary nun, she collapsed without any resistance.
For the time being, it seemed that I escaped from my predicament.
‘I should call for somebody,’ I thought to myself as I picked up Sandrine’s rosary.
The door was swung wide open and somebody flew right in.
“Are you hurt!? I thought I heard a loud noise coming from here!?”
Lishe-sama was out of breath.
She probably sprinted over here as quickly as possible.
“Ahh, I must’ve gotten myself cut when I bounced her back.”
In any case, it seemed that there were scars around my neck.
“Was this…… Sandrine’s doing?”
“Yes. However, it looked like she wasn’t in her right mind.”
“Is she still……?”
“Yes, all I did was make her pass out.”
All I thought was, until I could get an explanation out of her, I wasn’t going to take Sandrine’s life away.
“It left such red scars behind……. I am really sorry, I had looked into various types of weapons and hidden weapons, but……. to think that even a rosary could be used for this…”
Lishe-sama administered healing magic on me with a concerned look on her face.
‘Oh,’ I thought.
While still gripping onto the rosary, I slipped it into my robe.
I wanted to think that it was still too early to jump to conclusions.
As Lishe-sama continued, church officials began to gather into the room.
“Your Holiness, you were injured……!?”
“Is Sandrine the one behind this……”
It suddenly became noisy.
As Sandrine was coming to, she was being held down by armed priests.
“What exactly…… was I doing……”
“Sandrine, you are under arrest for attempting to murder the Pope.”
“!? No way…… I would never do such a horrid thing!”
Sandrine pleaded for her innocence.
However, even if she wasn’t aware of it herself, I learned the hard way that she was the perpetrator.
“You refuse to admit to your crimes even until the very end…… There is no need to wait for a trial. Let us come up with a verdict right now.”
Lishe-sama said something very frightening.
“Please wait. I have a lot of things I want to ask her.”
“That’s too easy going…… It is already as clear as day that this girl has committed a crime. Let us quickly――”
“Don’t worry about me, I am fine.”
I tried to communicate with Lishe-sama with my own words.
“She needs to be executed immediately!”
Instead, Lishe-sama pushed her judgment onto the Pope.
In that case, it couldn’t be helped.
“Are you refusing to listen to me, the Pope?”
I decided to jump to my last resort.
If this was a one-on-one discussion between Lishe-sama and myself, that sentence would have no effect on her; however, fortunately, we were somewhere in front of other people.
“……. I understand. I will obey your decision.”
For the first time, Lishe-sama prostrated at my feet.
Oh wow, this actually makes me feel really bad.
After that, Sandrine-san was taken away to be investigated by the Church.
According to her, she had no memory of what happened starting from when she was in the middle of helping me get changed.
It seemed that she was blaming herself for what happened, since, regardless of the reason, the fact that she tried to hurt the Pope was the objective truth, so she voluntarily sought out a sentence.
The investigation was definitely conducted by the Church and somebody from Bauer as well.
They didn’t believe that she was the sole perpetrator, and that she was keeping her mouth shut to protect the other people.
When Sandrine-san heard of how I intervened, she requested to meet with me.
“Why did you go so far for somebody like me, even though I tried to hurt you?”
She asked with tears in her eyes.
I couldn’t think of anything good to respond with, so,
“Isn’t that obvious? Because it was for you, Sandrine.”
I chose to say something like that instead, which caused her to be so moved that she started crying.
Your Holiness, if I just raised some sort of love interest flag for you, I’m sorry.
As for how we were going to deal with her, I strictly insisted that we were going to wait until we could gather more details regarding whoever was behind all of this.
One more thing,
“I should look into this as well.”
While keeping it hidden from Lishe-sama, I secretly handed over Sandrine-san’s rosary to Bauer officials for analysis.