The people in the city were in turmoil.
The countdown to destruction suddenly announced by somebody who had introduced herself as the Demon Queen was more than enough to terrify ordinary powerless people.
“H-Hey, did you see that…?”
“You saw that too? What the heck was that… In an instant, such a big mountain…”
“Mom, I’m scared…”
“It’s okay… Everything’s okay…”
At the moment there was hardly any panic, but I knew it was only a matter of time.
Fear is contagious, it gets amplified and spreads.
“F-For now, why don’t we hand over that Claire girl?”
“I-I know her! She’s a former noble from the Bauer Kingdom!”
“But if I recall correctly, she’s the ally of the people who overthrew the corrupt aristocracy–”
“Who cares about that!? If we don’t hand her over, we’ll be turned into ice–”
While the people were being led astray by the Demon Queen’s threat–
‘Don’t be frightened.’
A voice resounded like rain that permeated into earth.
“W-What is it this time!?”
‘Forgive me for making an address so abruptly. My name is Claris Répète III. I’m the Pope of the Spirit Church.’
“Wait, the Pope?”
At first, people couldn’t hide their confusion as a voice flowed into their heads again shortly after the Demon Queen’s proclamation.
However, that voice didn’t press people.
Slowly, slowly it spun words.
‘The words of the person who claimed to be the Demon Queen must have been terrifying. My heart aches when I think of the shock you must have felt. I’m sure you must be very anxious.’
The voice of the person who introduced herself as the Pope sounded detached, but its tone strangely calmed the heart.
The voice continued.
‘However, don’t be deceived. Don’t follow the voice of the wicked. Remember the second verse of the third chapter of the Spirit Church scripture.’
— Thou shalt not be lured by the voice of the devil. It’s the fastest way to ruin.
It was the most famous verse from the scripture that even those who weren’t ardent believers knew.
They remember the norms they have cultivated, nourished, and protected.
The justice that has taken root among people in a simple but sure way can bring them back from momentary turmoil.
‘The Demon Queen said to hand Claire François over to her. Why was that? Why would the Demon Queen ask to have her handed over?’
The Pope continued to sow doubt about the Demon Queen’s words.
“Is it true what the Demon Queen said?”
“Isn’t there something strange about her request?”
‘Why would someone with so much power need to ask for our help? Can’t she simply find and kidnap Claire François herself?’
The power of the Demon Queen, which had become an object of fear, was now put into question because of the Demon Queen’s strange request.
People noticed it.
‘Indeed. The Demon Queen can’t do it. Why? That’s because she – Claire François is the only one who can defeat the Demon Queen.’
It was a lie that the Pope and us came up with together, but it was exceptionally effective.
The people’s face, that had been plunged into despair by the mighty display of power, regained hope.
‘Claire François is an obstacle to the Demon Queen. If not for her, the Demon Queen could do whatever she wanted. Don’t be misled. The moment she’s handed over, it will be the end of us, humanity.’
The Pope emphasized.
That handing Claire-sama over was the worst move.
“In the land to the east, the Naa Empire is currently at war with demons. The Demon Queen has taken residence there and is planning to destroy humanity. People, please listen. We must stay united now.’
The Pope’s voice became slightly heated.
‘This is not the war of the Naa Empire alone. This is the final battle with survival of mankind at stake. We must win this battle at all cost.’
“This isn’t somebody else’s problem.”
“This is the fight of all of mankind,” the Pope said.
‘I know very well that not every person has the strength to take up the sword. But even the most powerless people have the strength to fight.’
Everybody wondered what strength she was talking about.
‘It’s courage. It’s the heart to fight against the wicked, the strong will to not give in to fear. Believing your neighbors, believing in tomorrow, rejecting evil is a battle that anyone can fight and win.’
Even if you can’t wield a sword or use magic, you can still fight.
“Now, rise up. You don’t have to do it alone. Families, friends, partners, people you meet along the way. Let’s rise up together.’
After a short pause, the Pope finally declared.
‘As the Pope, I declare the beginning of the Holy War.’
‘Was that good enough, Rei Taylor?’
“It was perfect, Pope.”
When the Pope asked me that after finishing her speech, I raised my thumb up in approval.
On the video of the city that TAIM was showing, we could see that people, encouraged by the address, were cheering.
The telepathic speech was a great success.
Now, me and TAIM were talking through telepathy facilitated by TAIM.
Unlike the speech for the people, it was a video call.
‘I didn’t do much. The manuscript I’d received was simply excellent.’
“Not at all. Pope, your speech was wonderful too.”
The Pope’s facial muscles were dead like always, but she somehow looked happy.
“Well, I admit the manuscript was good. It was a masterpiece by the three mankind’s greatest agitators.”
“Who are those agitators?”
‘Couldn’t you put it a bit more nicely, Rei?’
I thought I’d praised them, but all three expressed their dissatisfaction.
It was Claire-sama, Philine, and Dor-sama.
The manuscript was the collaboration between the three of them.
Claire-sama created the draft, Philine added the Spirit Church flavor, and Dor-sama put the finishing touches resulting in a perfect manuscript.
If that manuscript didn’t inspire people, I didn’t know what would.
By the way, Dor-sama was on his way back to Bauer, so we got TAIM to keep him on the line.
“It appears there are some people in Bauer who want to join the Holy War. What do you think, Sein?”
Suddenly hearing a voice from behind, I turned around to see Rod-sama calling His Majesty Sein.
Sein-sama was also calling from a distance like Dor-sama.
‘… No. I’m certain that recruiting volunteers from the general public at a time like this is not a good idea.’
His Majesty Sein seemed to be negative towards his people participating in this Holy War.
‘… It’d be better to avoid people who get carried away in the heat of the moment from interfering at the frontline.’
“Who knows, maybe some of them will be prepared.”
‘Just being prepared and armed doesn’t make one a soldier. You need everyday training and a right mindset to fight.’
“You’re against it that much?”
‘People’s fear has grown weak in the heat of the moment, but the opponent is the Demon Queen who can even freeze a mountain. What if the gathered volunteers get frozen? Only trained soldiers won’t turn into a disorderly mob when faced with that.’
He had a point.
It’s not that easy to fight with your life at stake.
“I can’t deny that.”
‘It would be ideal to challenge the Demon Queen with a small elite force centered around Claire, so that she cannot use any large-scale attacks.’
‘I’m surprised. I didn’t take you for a strategian.’
‘… It’s not something as exaggerated as strategy. I just wasn’t as strong as my older brother or Yuu, so I had to look at everything from that perspective.’
His Majesty Sein was beyond humble, but his perspective was valuable.
He himself was capable above the average but was also able to see from the perspective of weak and powerless.
The perspective of calmly determining what ordinary people without the power to fight would do is especially important for a politician.
“Well, don’t be so negative. Let’s borrow power from wherever we can.”
‘What do you intend to do?’
“When you get back to Bauer, go to the laboratory of the First Corps. I’ve made some arrangements, so distribute what you find there to the people.”
‘Do you have some plan?’
“You could say that.”
Rod-sama chuckled as he said that.
Sein-sama shrugged his shoulders and continued.
‘… It’d be nice if mankind could declare a decisive battle against the Demon Queen on a large scale, but I want to avoid unnecessary sacrifices.’
“Do you think the Demon Queen would allow that?”
‘… I don’t know. She wants to destroy the world, so I wouldn’t count it out.’
“In the end, no matter what form, we’ll be handing Claire out.”
Rod-sama bitterly murmured.
‘… But still, we were able to protect her. I’d hate to see Rei and Claire crushed by the malice and feelings of guilt from people around them.’
“Ain’t we getting along unusually well?”
‘… It might be the first time.’
Seeing them say that and laugh, I thought that the distance between them finally faded, if not disappeared completely.
Pleased by it, I returned my attention to the conversation with Claire-sama and the Pope.
“In any case, we can now face the decisive battle without handing Claire-sama over.”
‘I will also participate in the decisive battle. I left the cathedral as soon as I received the news of the appearance of the Demon Queen, however, I regret not being in time for the attack on the Imperial Capital.’
The pope seemed truly regretful.
“You couldn’t do anything about the issue of geography. Let’s think about the future rather than what already happened. Pope, your area recovery is a terrific power. We’ll be relying on it.”
‘I will do what little I can.’
The Pope gave a small but dependable nod.
‘I’d like to focus on my travel, so I’ll finish the call now. If anything happens, please contact me through TAIM.’
‘Then Rei Taylor, see you later.’
“Ah, Pope, one more thing!”
The Pope tilted her head.
I straightened my posture and deeply bowed my head.
“I apologize for what TAIM did to you – people with the same face as mine. If the Demon Queen – that is, another me – hadn’t made such a foolish decision, you wouldn’t need to go through–.”
‘You’re wrong, Rei Taylor.’
The Pope interrupted my apology.
She then continued with a somehow soft voice.
‘It’s true that I was slightly surprised when I heard about my origins. I might have been a little angry when I heard that I was a byproduct in creating you.’
“But, that was wrong,” said the Pope.
‘It was fate. No matter what reason, I wouldn’t have been born without you. If not for you, I wouldn’t exist. I’m grateful to you now.’
“Besides,” the Pope continued.
‘You are also a human born because of the Demon Queen. What you should do is not to apologize to us, the spirits’ lost children, but to go complain to the Demon Queen with us.’
I was taken aback by the Pope’s uncharacteristically childish suggestion.
“Pope… Are you okay with that?”
‘Yes. Let’s tell her together that she’s a nuisance.’
Could the Pope be actually a pretty amusing person…?
‘Is that all you wanted?’
“Ah, yes. I’m sorry for keeping you.”
‘No, don’t worry about it. Then, I’ll see you when I get there.’
The telepathic call ended there.
“Rei, so you were worried about something like that.”
It was Claire-sama who said that with an exasperated expression.
Something like that must’ve referred to my feelings of guilt towards the spirits’ lost children.
“After all, isn’t it totally my fault?”
“If you put it that way, I also shoulder part of the blame.”
“No, I do!”
We made a fuss.
“P-Please, stop it, both of you. It’s the Demon Queen’s fault, isn’t it?”
It was Lily-sama, who seemed to be released from TAIM’s possession, who soothed us.
“Lily-sama, I’m sorry to you too. TAIM does whatever they want with your body.”
“N-No no! Lily is satisfied to be useful to Rei-san and others. But, Rei-san, if you want to do whatever you want with…”
“It’s nothing, Claire-sama! … Tch, how dare you show off.”
“Aaah…! Lily didn’t mean that…!”
Lily-sama teared up.
Yup, she’s cute, but I have Claire-sama.
Anyway, all we had to do was to defeat the Demon Queen.
It would be by no means easy, but still, we had no choice.
This time we had more comrades than during the revolution.
Moreover, there were strong people on humanity’s side.
I didn’t want to say something pessimistic, but if this didn’t work, I’d give up.
“Just you wait, me.”
Full of motivation to go strike the other me, I cracked my fingers.
Sephalia will be picking up the translation from here at https://sephalliblog.wordpress.com/