Polymath Redux Annex
Chapter 49 – Confronting the church directly
Within the world of ‘Aria’, ‘religion’ operated on a slightly different set of axioms than the one that Mordred had been familiar with. Rather than having various sectors and organizations claim that their deities were the ‘true’ one, it was more like a sports team. In this world of fantasy, ‘Gods’ were real and each country served under their patron deities. ‘The Church of Xagon’, followers of the Goddess ‘Xagon’, maintained its role as the state religion of the country of Xagontetia. Named after the praise of their goddess.
However, it had been centuries since any of the Gods had revealed themselves before mortals. As such, with the flow of time and no higher being to regulate it, the church and all its executives had fallen into hedonism and greed, plot and conspiracies. Claiming that they were doing the work of their Goddess, the church accrued and inordinate amount of wealth and power. Now, not even the Royal Family or the Granate Duchy could touch them.
Night had fallen. With the silver moon high above them as it shone down a pale light, Mordred stood before the large and ornate cathedral. Spanning several dozen metres to the sky, it was a gigantic eyesore to see such decorative trash littered in the middle of the town with such arrogance and pride. This was only one of such five other cathedrals scattered around the capital. He grimaced as he clicked his tongue. “Regalia,” he called out to his servant. The shadows around him swirled and animated to live as the figure of a woman formed at his command.
“My Lord, I sense that there are no guards outside of the cathedral’s perimeters,” she reported. Mordred’s own ‘intuition’ passive ability also confirmed this fact. He nodded and crept closer to one of the walls. There had been a small balcony from which he could covertly enter to scope out the situation inside.
With little effort, Mordred climbed up a smooth vertical surface that stretched for several dozen metres. With the use of a skill known as ‘silent movement’ any noise he made had been cancelled out for true stealth. Naturally, the balcony doors had been locked shut, but that had not been an obstacle. While ‘lock picking’ wasn’t a skill that existed in Hellgana, with his high ‘dexterity’ stat, it was easy to drive a thin piece of metal to unlock the door. He silently manipulated it open and entered the room, the only noise being that of the cold night air as it brushed into the room.
Moving past the room connected to the balcony, he came across another door. When he opened it, Mordred was greeted with a large auditorium-like area where the religious services would be held. The line between a place of worship and entertainment had been blurred in this space. His current location was on one of the upper stands, thus he had a clear view of everything that was going on down below.
At the middle of the stage were two familiar figures. Rena, while gagged and bound, hung over her unconscious daughter in a protective manner. Surrounding them were several hooded figures. They wore a kind of plated leather armour, ‘certainly much higher quality than average,’ even from a distance he could scope out the quality of their gear. That said, to Mordred even that kind of equipment was no different from toilet paper. They were all heavily armed and looked to be waiting for something.
At the forefront of the stage was a rather pudgy man. He wore baggy religious clothes, all extremely high-quality fabric for what this society could muster. His rounded gut bounced around as he moved across the stage with a loud thud. Upon his flabby double-chinned face was a grin that even sent chills down Mordred’s spine at how abominable it was. He had been waiting for something… someone one.
The doors to the church burst open to reveal a winded figure, ‘Yda’. Her silhouette moved up and down at the beat of her breaths. Her face was cast down and hidden in shadows, but through them her desperate blue eyes shone forward. She carefully approached the centre of the auditorium as she kept her eyes on the hooded and armed figures besides the pudgy man.
“Rena?! Charlotte!” she called out. Her voice echoed angrily around the building.
“Mmhda!” a muffled sound came from the centre of the stage.
“Rena!” Yda shouted back.
“Ah, Yda, how good to see you. I see you’ve been busy sinking your sticky hands all over the place recently,” the pudgy man spoke. His voice equally displeasing to listen to as the words vomited from his mouth.
Yda sharpened her glare to a point as she growled back, “Midas, you shitty bishop! What the hell are you doing this for?! We still have a bit of time left to pay you the amount you wanted! Why did you kidnap them?!” at her raised voice, the hooded soldiers moved forward to intimidate her, but was stopped by the pudgy bishop at the last second.
The bishop, ‘Midas’, shook his head with a dastardly grin. At that moment, his shadows shifted unnaturally, almost as if it were alive. This fact did not escape Mordred’s notice as he summoned, “Regalia…”
“I have noticed it too, my Lord,” Regalia appeared in a seiza position from Mordred’s shadows. “The feeling is similar, but I do not sense any kind of life form within his shadows. I am not sure if it is the same kind of existence as I am.”
‘Then could it be an exclusive magic native to this world?’ he thought. However, his speculation was cut short as the bishop began to speak. “Ah, Yda… tsk, tsk, tsk. You see, unfortunately for you, the plan has changed. I mean, it’s not like the money was even necessary to begin with. That kind of stuff was all just for pocket change really,” he laughed to himself. Half way though his speaxh, Mordred began to wonder if this man was secretly self-aware at how much of a mob villain he was being. It was like he knew what was going to happen to him and decided to fully embrace his evil role. ‘Almost admirable if it’s intentional,’ he praised. “Regardless, you are of no more use to me now that things have progressed this far.”
“You bastard… I’ll kill you!” Yda shouted as she moved a few steps forward, only stopped when two of the hooded church soldiers jumped down from the stage to confront her with weapons drawn.
The bishop spread his arms in a welcoming manner, “however, I am a venerable being. I shall give you one opportunity to save your dear friends.”
Yda clicked her tongue, but allowed him to continue. With how by the books his villainy was, Mordred couldn’t think that this was anything more than a trap.
“The task is simple enough, even you could do it… or rather, because it’s you it’s possible,” the bishop started to explain the task. “You see, there’s going to be a little celebration in two days’ time in the middle of the city square in the commons. The First Prince: Leon Mil Avis Chrom, has apparently successfully signed an alliance with the leader of Drakenholdt. To solidify this new relationship, the Dragon King and the Prince will come down to celebrate at the middle of the city.”
“You can’t be serious,” it was too obvious what the bishop wanted.
He smiled to reveal his half rotten teeth. “Since you are the ‘Rat Queen’ of this city, you should be the one most familiar with the layouts. Its vantages and escape routes. If it’s you, then perhaps there is a chance you can ‘save’ your friends.” The bishop took out a small crossbow bolt and tossed it to Yda’s feet. “That’s an enchanted bolt, poisoned too. The task is simple: we need that prince brat out of the picture. It’s just your everyday regicide. If you can manage this then I’ll let the woman and the brat go.”
Yda crouched down and picked up the small bolt. It churned lightly with some kind of unnerving dark magic. “… fuck you!” placing the bolt into her back pocket Yda left the church.
"I'm expecting a great spectacle, Yda!" the bishop shouted as his laugh haunted through the cathedral.