257-Meeting with the Pope

 A clattering sound came from behind me.
 Turning around, I could see the Great Sacred Gate slowly being opened.

 The holy knights, who had been stunned, closed their eyes and covered the ring of the Alliance Pearl with their left hand as they prayed.

Come in, Nonconformist Anos Voldigord. Come in, Nonconformist Anos Voldigord, and may your salvation be yours.

 The fleshly voice of Pope Gorloana echoed from behind the Great Sacred Gate.
 It sounded strangely reverberant.

 Stepping out loosely, me and Arcana walked to the other side of the Great Sacred Gate.
 Inside the Chanting Hall (Seika-Saeden), there are several pillars shaped like tuning forks standing in a row.

 They are magic tools.
 Each one of them contains a magical power as much as the gems from the mythical era.

 There was a clatter, and the Great Sacred Gate was closed again.
 Every time I stepped on the floor, the sound of my footsteps echoed loudly.

 Walking straight ahead, in the center of the many layers of tuning fork pillars surrounding it, there was a dragon man dressed in a blue vestments.

 It was probably the Pope.
 His hair is neither short nor long, and his neutral face is indistinguishable from that of a man or woman.

 If it was a man, it would be a beautiful young man, and if it was a woman, it would be an immensely beautiful woman.
 He kneels down and puts his left hand over the pearl of selection on his right hand and prays.

'It is a pleasure to meet you, Anos. And Arcana, God of Selection. I am Gorloana, Pope of Geordal.

 The Pope says, in his prayerful stance.
 His voice echoes loudly in the choir hall.

 I walk straight up to Gorloana's eyes.

'This is Anos Voldigord,'

 He holds out his hand.
 But instead of shaking hands, the Pope keeps his hands crossed.

'Please forgive me. I am the Pope of Geordal. I am no adversary to stop praying for this country at any time.'

It was an impolite greeting.

 I kneeled down to meet Gorloana's gaze and crossed my hands in the same way.
 Arcana stood behind me.

''You said you wanted to know about the Selection Judge, and then where (if anywhere) the trace god Lieberschneid was.

Yeah. The latter is the real deal.

 Then, after a pause, the Pope replied.

The God of Traces, who controls records and memories, rests in Geordar, my country. It is the great order that brings salvation to the depths of the earth. It will not awaken until its time comes.

'Hmm. But it's better to get up and unwind once in a while so you can sleep easy. And that will help your salvation.

 Without changing his expression, Gorloana says.

'If you wake the sleeping gods, you have no idea what kind of disaster you're going to cause.

I'm not afraid of a god who only looks back on the past. I will soothe him and tuck him back in, even if he is a little cranky in his sleep.

'Lieberschneid can recreate the traces of the world. The deepest wounds inflicted on this world, the scourge of which the gods can cause.

It's not much. The point is, what more calamity do we need to defeat it with?

 At my words, the Pope falls silent.

'I know you. I was in the Holy See Room when you first came to Aebelast Anzeta.

 And that's what the Holy Knight Gazelle of Geordal was for.
 It is not so surprising that a selector closely related to Ahide was present at that place.

'I also know that you are more than equal to God, having overcome the judgment of the Almighty's sword, Levine Girma, and are more than equal to God.

 Gorloana's speech intensifies.

'However, does that give us a good reason to wake the trace gods? If you say that the Lieberschneid is insignificant, then there is no need to rely on this God, either. If you are relying on this god, shouldn't you treat him with a certain amount of courtesy?

You have a point. So here's the thing. If the sleeping Lieberschneid wakes up convinced, he has no problem with it.

 For a moment, there was an air of stunned amazement from Gorloana.

''How do you intend to convince the sleeping god?''

'We'll think about that. At least I promise not to wake them up. Then I have no problem with it.

 Smiling, I stare at the Pope's neat face.

'So, where is the trace god?'

 Slightly, the Pope loses his posture and turns his head towards me.

'If you're going to go that far, where (if any) do you know?

I know. However, what is left of the Traces of God is revealed in a book that has been handed down to the Pope alone for generations. If you do not believe in the Doctrine of Giordar, I would not be able to teach you.

 After affirming this, Gorloana continued.

'However, Anos the Nonconformist. If you mean in exchange for your god, I will tell you.

 The magic of the Arcana that was behind him wavered slightly.

'Would you trade the contents of the scripture, which must not be taught to anyone but the Pope, for an unnamed god?

If the trace gods are the gods that bring about the salvation of the earth's depths, then Arcana is the god necessary for the new birth of the earth. He is the reincarnation of Militia, the creator god, who created this world.

 My gaze turns grim.

 After I built the wall, Militia, the creator god, was reincarnated to shed her god's name. And you mean to tell me she lived as Arcana?

 But if that's the case, what about my sister in my dream?

 Well, I'm not sure what to believe about him.
 I'm not sure how much I want to know about it, and it doesn't look like I have a foolishly honest personality like Diedrich does.

 If he is lying, then he must have a reason to conspire to make Arcana a Militia.

'Where did you get that?'

"Almighty brilliance, from Eques.

 I suppose that means you asked God, but it doesn't sound like you're going to elaborate.

Can I help you?

I'm afraid I have an appointment with Arcana. I would not miss it.

I knew you would say that.

 Gorloana says in a beautiful, sing-songy voice.

But Arcana was originally the god of Zioldar. The Almighty Glittering Eques won't be able to help us if it's still seized from us.

"Dragon's Son. It is not so; I am not deprived. I am not deprived, but I am with him of my own accord. He is the one who is worthy to fight with me in this selective judgement.

 Arcana says.

'Is it the will of God to make him an agent?'

'That is not true. I am fighting with him to end this selective judgment. This divine ordinance for the sole purpose of maintaining order is wrong. All along, we have been wrong. We must make it right.

 Gorloana gave him a grim look.
 Then she shook her head quietly from side to side.

'God of selection, Arcana. Let me offer you a compliment, with no disrespect. In abandoning your name, you must have forgotten your role as a god. I beg you to reconsider once again. You should not make such a decision until you have regained your memory of that name.

'How can it be a sin to disobey the order? What is God if he leaves the evil order intact?

 Instantly, Gorloana replies, "To disobey the order is to be a god that does not pine.

"To disobey the order is to be a god who will not be worshipped. Let us fall into the hands of Genudunub, the god of disobedience.

 Quietly, Arcana says.

'Who would be hurt by that?'

'I will be hurt. All the congregation of Geordal will be saddened.

 Hearing that, Arcana made a sad expression.

''Hmm. O Gorloana. It's not a child. That's the least you can do. You don't have to tell me every single thing that God does when there is no real harm in it.

 Slightly, the Pope turned to me.

'You believe in God, don't you?

Yes, that is why I pray and hope for you. Do you think there is a believer who does not lament that God has fallen to the earth?

Nonsense. I am disgusted to hear that it is only faith that cries out to God and clings to Him. Not only do you pray, but you try to be prayed to once in a while.

 I'll kick Gorloana's words to the curb.

'I understand your disbelief in God. But please do not forget. To this day, we have given our hearts and our lives to this nonsense that you speak of.

 In a clean tone, the Pope says.

'You said until Arcana regains her name and memory. Just as well. Then you have a reason to wake the trace gods, don't you?

 When I ask that question, Gorloana falls silent as if she were thinking.

'Yes. I understand. If you will return Arcana to Geordal, I will restore its name and memory to the order of the trace gods.'

I don't understand. I told you no.

'Non-conformists. This is a concession.

 Gently, Gorloana informed him.

'Is it a concession to take Arcana away from me?

'In your circumstances, you violate the commandments, touch the scriptures, and cause trace gods. By nature, you should be afraid to even speak of it. If you put Arcana back where it belongs, you are not only forgiving your sins, but you are also granting that wish. If this is not a concession, what do you say?

 Golloana says cheerfully.

'If you're serious, I question your sanity. If it is a negotiation, you'll have to do a little better. If you want to go back, Arcana will return on its own. 'Is it Geordal's teaching that we should manipulate the gods to do what we want for our own reasons?'

'I told you that I was yielding, sir. If it is any other matter, we will obey God's will and not interfere. But you said that you and Arcana would end the Selective Judgment.

That's why you don't want it.

 She opens her eyes, but with her hands crossed in prayer, Gorloana stares at me.

'The Selection Judgment is the most sacred ceremony in Geordal. The dragonborn become gods and protect their congregation. It is the Great Redemption Judgment that has been handed down through the earth for generations.

"Hmm. Salvation sounds good. It sounds like a relief, but some of you are suffering for it. It wouldn't be much of a hassle to put an end to it.

There is no one who does not suffer in life. If the selectmen's tribunals go away, there will only be more of us to suffer.

'Let me tell you why. There is a God in the land even without the Selection Judge. There should be no harm in the lives of the dragonmen.

 Exhaling quietly, Gorloana lets out a serene voice.

'Yes, because it has been handed down by the scriptures.

What do you mean by that?

It is the will of Eques.

 Are you simply unable to tell us what is in the scriptures?
 Or is it that the scriptures do not even provide a basis for it?

You want to convince me, then choose your words accordingly.

 Then the Pope glared at me.
 I could see the anger in his gaze.

'Nonconformist who cannot understand the word of God, then I will speak to you in your own style.

 Golloana says in a strong tone.

''Please bear this in mind. The demon tribe that lives in peace and comfort on earth, should not come to the depths of the earth and behave as if they were their own person. We have our own teachings.

'People go mad when they know they're getting power they don't deserve. Both Ahide and Gazelle of your country came to kill me with joy. That's why they attacked Azation and attacked Dilheid. How will you blame me for invading my land, for letting your own people go free and praying to the gods? You don't mean to tell me you didn't know about this, do you?

 Perhaps at a loss for a reply, or perhaps not intending to argue, the Pope did not open his mouth at once.

'If it's only a matter of underground, you may do as you please. But I'm not going to leave you out of a game that might endanger Dillhade.

'I regret that Ahide invaded the earth. That was not necessary to the teaching. As the Pope who governs Geordal, I offer my deepest apologies.

 Golloana bows her head as she prays.

I swear to the gods in this place that this will not happen again. Geordal may have a grudge, but so do I. If you concede to me, I will not jump to conclusions about the selective judges.

 Exhaling quietly, Gorloana looks at me.

'Nonconformist, my dear. An apology is the maximum concession we can make. Of course, we do not wish to actively cause trouble. We swear that we will do our best to avoid breaking your laws as much as possible. However, we do ask for your understanding. There is no single thing that can supersede the teachings of God for us.

 Kuhn, I let out a laugh.

'You mean, like this? I'll give you some consideration, but I don't even have to compare it to the laws of Dirhade and other tiny things like the laws of Dirhade with the teachings of Geordar, which are tiny.

That's not what I said, sir.

Do you swear to do no harm to Dillhade for the sake of the selectmen?

How can I, myself, possibly see the will of the great God?

'When the time comes, you will not hesitate to raise the fire on Dillhade, will you? That's not a concession.

Well, I have a better solution for you.

 Gorloana gives him a clean look.

'Law. I won't hold my breath, but you can say it.

I suggest that Dirheid join Geordal for once.

 It sounds ridiculous, but the Pope is serious in his tone and expression.

"I believe that all problems can be solved by the Almighty Glittering Eques, as long as you believe in God.

I've got a better solution than that. How about this?

 Gorloana listens dubiously to my words.

'Let Geordal be annexed to Dirheid. If you come under my rule and continue to follow the Demon King, I will solve all the sorrows of this country and all the problems of this subterranean.

 With a pious look on his face, Gorloana said.

'That is what I call a foolish suggestion. We are believers in God. How can we follow anyone else?

Got it? It's the same for us.

 Gorloana closed her eyes and said a prayer.

'Sometimes it is unavoidable that nations cannot share with each other, people with each other. We just have to trust God and go this way.

 I'm telling you to go up in smoke, which means we'll invade any number of dillhades and other places as long as it's in line with God's teachings.

That's why I say we will destroy them. With the trivial judgments gone, there will be no danger of harm to the earth.

 Of course, the danger would not be completely eliminated, but it wouldn't pose much of a threat if we couldn't get help from the Selective God.

''With all due respect, we are still making concessions to a pagan country.

 With anger in his words, the Pope says

'If you ask for more, then you will be punished accordingly.

 Apparently, we've come to a conclusion.
 I stood up and looked down at Gorloana.

'Stand. I will destroy your god. If the Selecting Judges are so sacred, I'm inclined to admit a little of my point if I lose there.