I Became The Pope, Now What?
Chapter 239: 239. Anger In Sanctum Council

A war between two nobles was common. A war between two high nobles was rare but understandable. But a war between two kingdoms was something nobody ever wished to see.

Because such wars don't just leave a trail of blood but also tears. They devastate the economies and ruin social harmony and the standard of living. Moreover, they ruin the industries and break apart the supply chain.

It was the reason why the Holy Land never wished to see a war in the lands lived on by the followers of Solis because more deaths meant more bloodlings and the weakening of the continent as a whole when the war against Beastaria resumed.

Inside the Holy Land, everything was in chaos in the upper decision-making body. Frustration and anger were common among the members of the Sanctum Council, which now met every day, sometimes more than once a day.

"We must straighten these two problem kingdoms." The Pope ordered the men. He appeared calm, but his voice contained a dangerous aura. "They have continuously created trouble for us. In the past, it was the Queen of Gracia, and now it's the King of Riveria."

"The murder is real, your holiness. That's the reason for this war." Saint Seer spoke.

But the Pope didn't care about who killed whom. "Saint Wazir, I gave you the entire Eastern Sol to govern and ensure peace lasts while I focused completely on breaking the Masan Empire apart. Yet you failed to do such a simple thing? We have Masan conspiracies running amok in our backyard. How did you fail so spectacularly?"

Saint Wazir seemed prepared as he passed on a few pages to each member. "It contains information about the recent actions of King Riveria. He is about to die of old age and yet married another woman to produce a strong heir, a widow Baroness who gave birth to an Arch Wizard talent holder son five years ago. He has reduced the taxes and donations to the Faith as well. He has restricted the access of Bright Mothers and Clergymen in his city. I also suspect he's in contact with Anti-Light.

"I do not accuse the whole family. But the King has gone completely senile since his son's disappearance in the Holy Land. I believe he has given up faith and holds anti-Solis ideas. I remained silent as I gathered clues through various spy channels with the help of Saint Seer. But now we have the complete picture."

Saint Seer also enunciated. "Something is certainly happening in his administration. I don't think he should remain as the King any longer, as he threatens the authority of the Holy Land."

The Pope looked at Saint Keymaster, the chief economist of the Holy Land, Cardinal Helix Steelworth. "Saint Keymaster, what's the projected loss if the two kingdoms go to war?"

Saint Keymaster was a man with a big brain and didn't speak much. His head was usually just filled with numbers and projected growth of various industries. Albeit, he was still a strong clergyman when it came to magical prowess.

The most striking feature about him was his expressionless face at all times. Even with his striking red hair, blue eyes, and thin and tall body, he didn't stand out.

"Your holiness, the loss will be more significant in terms of human resources than just monetary assets. Due to this war, every non-war-related industry will be destroyed. Without men to work the fields, the crops will suffer and start a food shortage crisis. Moreover, the deaths of strong men will make society afterwards more lawless and unholy.

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"We shall return to a position worse than what it was when his holiness stopped the thousand-year war. I project that the economy of both kingdoms will shrink by more than seventy per cent, and the human population will reduce by half in the long run. The loss of powerhouses will be even greater."

Everyone in the room uncomfortably shifted in their seats. The Pope was busy for the past few months trying to break Masan apart into pieces and increase the trouble for the Empire by empowering the Warsong Kingdom. Yet, it turns out, their home turf was not safe either, and a shadow plot appeared to be in motion that none of them had any idea about.

The Pope looked at Saint Seer. "Any news on the internal investigation? What else has the Masan Empire plotted in the northern Duchies? We can't have the Count Jartel situation again."

To the shock of many, Saint Seer had a conflicted look. "Your holiness, I'm afraid I'm at my wit's end. I found no more plots, but I did learn who was behind it all. The Shadow of Masan is the reason for many messes recently created. Nobody knows his real name or what he looks like. He's somewhat of a legend around the entire Sol.

"He goes by many names. Future Seer, God's Listener, Overseer, Mask of Mystery and many more. He's famed for being the greatest spy ever to live, for his plots don't just go a year but decades deep. Unfortunately, there is no way to ascertain what he's up to—we don't even know if it's a man. Recently, he went by the name Sir Walder, the Prima of deceased Count Jartel—the mastermind behind the downfall of the entire Duchy of Colorwood."

Boom!

The Pope slammed his fist on the stone table, sending cracks like spiderwebs as he stood up. "Incompetence, that's all I see here. While I focus on the Empire, Anti-Light and Beastaria, you Saints can't manage two little kingdoms."

Heads hung low in shame for disappointing the supreme authority of the faith.

But Saint Wazir still dared to speak. "Your holiness, I'm afraid our own laws stop us from taking any drastic measures. Articles 12 and 12B. We cannot meddle in noble matters nor enter the right places to influence the right decisions."

Saint Seer agreed with that. "Unless the Holy Land initiates a State of Emergency, we cannot overrule these laws. We have reached a point where we have to send spies into our own monasteries."

The Pope went to the wall behind and opened a concealed compartment to take out some blank parchments. Then he returned to the table and started writing on them. "Emergency is something that commoners dread right now. It gives the clergymen too much power, and eventually, it leads to many vile men showing their true colours.

"No, as long as we can avert this crisis, we need not worry. Who is handling Riveria?"

At that point, the one man who remained quiet on all meetings and occasions spoke. Saint Sceptre, the right hand of the Pope. "Inquisitor High Lord is handling the war, your holiness."

The Pope nodded and finished writing the letter. "Good. Hand this to the Lord Inquisitor and tell him he has my authority to go to any length as long as we can avoid the war. Saint Sceptre, I also appoint you as the overall overseer of the conflict."

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"What about the Duke Daemon and the accusation of murders on him?" Saint Wazir questioned.

"As far as I remember, was it not Archpriest Sylvester handling it? I have faith in him—he can solve the crime in a given time. Focus more on the war first, then comes the rest. Make sure you handle it correctly this time, or else I will have to find a few replacements for these seats. Dismissed!"

The room immediately emptied, leaving only the Pope and Saint Sceptre behind.

The Pope sat back tiredly and looked at his friend, his right-hand man. "King Highland is a personal friend and a firm believer in faith, even more so after meeting Sylvester. The Sorrow Kingdom is lost; hopefully, the Patch will reassure its allegiance soon.

"But the two strongest of all are not helpful—We must find a permanent solution for these problem kingdoms."

Saint Sceptre rarely showed any emotions or expressions and always remained mysterious. Even now. "Worry not, your holiness. It appears your shining protege has a plan."

The Pope straightened his back. "Oh… care to explain?"

"He has left to meet Duke Conrad Fitz Riveria while he kept Princess Gracia beside himself."

"..."

"Bwahaha…" the Pope laughed heartily. "Good lad has finally started playing the game? Good, good… I should commence formally training him. Anyhow, let's discuss our next move for the Elf-Dragon war."

Northern Duchy of Riveria.

Crossing the wide Snake river, Sylvester entered the Sunflower fields. The land was as beautiful as he remembered it the last time, albeit the memories of a certain wannabe little bard were attached to the last journey. And that memory certainly spoiled the beauty of the place in his mind.

Since they entered the lands under the strict control of Duke Conrad, he had significantly reduced the possibility of an attack. Not to mention, Sylvester had kept a thousand Inquisitors with him as protection, and that number was enough to deter most.

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"Lady Aurora and Isabella, I will meet the Duke alone. Until then, you can go to the arena and watch fights and other competitions." Sylvester suggested.

He had informed them about his friendship with the Duke and had given them somewhat of an idea of what he wanted to do by meeting the Duke. They all knew it was best not to let those ideas appear on their lips.

So the two agreed immediately. Lady Aurora even had a plan. "Maybe I should enter the Arena myself and see how strong those boys are."

Though Isabella quickly stopped her. "You can't… that will ruin your name and social standing, my lady."

Bam!

Lady Aurora grabbed Isabella's neck between her elbows. "You little girl, how often have I told you to call me big sister? Hmph! I guess I will have to knock that word in your thick head."

"Big sis! Big sis! Big sis!" Isabella chirped instantly.

"Good." Lady Aurora let her go. "Though I'm still missing being called Big Sis by a certain someone."

Sylvester scoffed and focused on the road as he steered the carriage. "The deal was I'd call you either sister or just Aurora. After all, in the faith of the lord, and in the eyes of Solis, none are young or old—everyone's is as precious as gold."

Lady Aurora snorted and relaxed back in the roofed carriage. "I seriously hate your brain sometimes. How do you do this so easily? Shut people up by invoking the lord?"

Sylvester chuckled as he steered the carriage into the Fort's walls. "You get used to it after singing since the age of thirty days. Anyway, prepare yourself. Don't let your tongue slip, and Isabella, if anyone asks, you're just a Bright Mother named Grace."

After advising them, Sylvester stopped at the gates of the main fort of the Duke and only took a single horse to enter alone. He was wearing his full armour instead of the usual robes. The plan was to make it clear to the Duke that if need be—the church was very happy to go into war mode.

However, Sylvester was surprised by the fact that the Duke appeared near the gates of his castle. The ashen-blonde-haired tall, and the strong man seemed excited by the looks of his smile and rubbing hands—seemingly waiting for him.

'Ah… I smell hope and excitement. So he already knows why I'm here. Good for me.'

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