Sometimes, gut instinct beats deep analysis. Trying to understand a god can give mere mortals nightmares…
The Pope’s Torment
「I8, read it.」
My conclusion I reached in the end, was to have I8 inspect the contents. In the case that there is some harmful trap activated by reading it, then it can simply be settled by sacrificing I8. Noticing my expectations, I8 also froze for a moment, then silently picked up the book and began to review the contents. Due to the cloth with symbol of an eye that represents the Kinma Unit, I cannot see his expression but I’m sure that man is prepared to face the worst. For the members of the Kinma Unit, they must be prepared to accept death at any time.
「Sajin, please tell me what you know about that girl.」
Until I8 has finished reading the book, I must ask Sajin about that girl.
「Sure. She’s Wakaba Hiiro-san. She was my classmate in my previous life. And on top of that she’s the most beautiful girl in the school!」
From Sajin’s words I gained an unexpected sense of unease. What is bothering me? Beautiful girl? Because Sajin called that girl a beautiful girl? Strange. From my perception, I did not think she had any particularly outstanding features.
After considering that far, I shuddered. Because I couldn’t clearly recall that girl’s face.
「Sajin, were you able to see that girl’s face clearly?」
「Huh? Why are you asking something so obvious? Finally gone senile?」
What is the meaning of this? Even if I try to dig into my memory, the only thing I can remember about that girl is whiteness. Even though I have the Record skill.
Then, does this mean that my perception was obstructed in some manner? However, for what reason? In addition, why was Sajin not affected? Was some technique used so that only particular people are affected? Alternatively, is it because that Sajin knew that girl originally and the technique did not affect him? Either way, I don’t understand the significance. Does this mean that if Sajin had also been affected by the perception obstruction, then he wouldn’t have been able to realise she was a reincarnator? In that case, what should I do? Alternatively, should I attempt to break through the perception obstruction? I don’t know. In the end my thoughts are no better than conjecture. It seems I won’t be able to determine that girl’s intentions. All I know is that her concealment ability is so formidable that I couldn’t even realise that such a technique was being employed. Putting aside the matter of her disguising herself as her previous existence, I guess it’s possible that her special skill relates to an ability with illusions.
「Wakaba-san is a flawlessly beautiful girl to the extent of being the personification of a “cool beauty”, like, so much so that you’d think she’d popped out from the world of manga or something, you see. Her appearance is like what you’d expect of a celebrity right? It seems that she wore glasses because she herself didn’t want to stand out, but even then that couldn’t conceal her beauty you know. Those glasses were definitely just for show. Her figure is crazy awesome too. Totally showcases what the “Golden Ratio” really means, yeah. Also, her hair! Super smooth, long straight hair! Like you could see an angel’s halo about, or rather she is an angel for real! Her black hair was great, but Wakaba-san’s pure white hair just then was also real ni-i-ce. She felt unreal before, but that glittering white hair was totally fantasy-like, divine basically. Wow, just totally wow.」
What’s up with this guy?
「Are you in love with her?」
「No way man! This sentiment is nothing so lowly! This is what you call worship!」
Even as a joke, you’re at the very center of the greatest religion of this world, and you’re speaking of worshiping an ordinary person and not god? I must surely have made a mistake in his training in some way.
「I see. That’s enough about her appearance. What about the crucial aspects of her character?」
For an instant I was unable to grasp what he meant, and it seemed like my considerations were vanishing into thin air. You don’t know? To say that you don’t know after all that blather, what is going on?
「Her mysteriousness is also part of Wakaba-san’s appeal!」
「Fool. That doesn’t explain anything.」
「Because Wakaba-san didn’t involve herself with others. Taciturn and expressionless. No clue as to what she was thinking about. We could only look at her from afar, that’s just how enigmatic a beautiful girl she was. That alone was enough to satisfy us, you see.」
It seems Sajin has the expression of having gained some kind of enlightenment. It seems that after all, that I might have erred with my personnel selection. I now feel that it might be better to recall Yurin from the academy in the Anareich Kingdom and have her be trained for dark ops.
「Your Holiness, I have finished reading.」
While I am feeling disgust towards Sajin’s foolishness, I8 raises his voice.
「Hrm. There’s no change in your condition?」
「Correct. Based on my use of Appraisal, I am not afflicted by any strangeness in my status. So long as there’s no delayed reaction, I don’t believe there is any direct harm」
「Based on those remarks, it sounds like there could be indirect harm though?」
「The contents, are incredibly unique. Possibly harmful.」
I8 gives an evasive reply. Hrm? That reaction was unexpected. I8 is an excellent man even amongst the dark ops. For whether the contents are dangerous or not, it’s unusual for him to use such uncertain words.
「I8, speak your opinion frankly. Does it seem likely to you that I should read the contents of this book directly?」
「Yes. If the contents written here are correct, then in my humble opinion the only one who can pass judgement on them is Your Holiness.」
「Is it an urgent matter? If not then I could read a written copy.」
「It is my personal opinion that the sooner it is looked into the better. However, taking into account the possibility of a delayed reaction trap being applied, it may be better to use a written copy.」
After a moment’s thought, I snatch the book from I8’s hands, and start to read. The probability of a trap was low from the beginning. This is a person who has easily penetrated the very center of the heavily guarded Divine Word Religion. Even without using a roundabout method of a trap, assassination would be simple enough. If something should happen to me, then it means that was all I ever amounted to. If my life comes to an end, there are subordinates who can inherit my will. Should the occasion arise, provisions for transfer of control are always ready for when someone becomes pope.
However, in a different sense this book is something incredible. I am only just about able to stop myself from wanting to clutch my head.
「Why a spider?」
Sajin mutters that while peering at the book from the side. If the contents of the book is incredible, then what’s scribbled in the margins is also incredible.
「Did Wakaba-san have such a playful side to her as well?」
「Idiot. This is a hidden message.」
At first glance, it appears to be a cute drawing of a spider, but this is an important message. Firstly, the spider’s body is white. Speaking of a spider, the first thing that comes to mind is the one known as the oldest Divine Beast, but her family is black bodied. Also, with no sickle-like feet either. A monster with a white body and sickle-like feet. As a holder of the Record skill, like I did just before, I am able to recall the strife that monster caused.
「The Nightmare of the Labyrinth.」
The mysterious monster with a connection to the Divine Word Religion. That is what this drawing represents.
The Record skill has shown up before, eg in S24.
“Angel’s halo” – this phrase in Japanese can also mean “the glow of freshly washed or treated hair”.