Experimental Log Of The Crazy Lich - Chapter 265
The holy city of Istadi was one the most famous cities in all of Eich, with a long history and a unique religious culture that was famed throughout the lands. Every day, countless admirers of the Holy Light would come visit this divine capital, which was filled with Holy Light.
Although Istadi wasn’t a large city, a majority of its residents held divine job classes. This small city contained seven world-class churches and hundreds of small and medium-sized churches. They were all on the level of historical relics.
And, in this mountainside city, there was a famous flight of stairs carved into the side of the mountain. These were the famous Stairs of Holy Light, and every single moment one could see admirers of the Holy Light climbing up these steps. There was an endless number of beautiful sculptures lining both sides of these stairs, including those of ancient heroes, historical figures, and the most common of all: various people from legendary tales who had a strange variety of appearances.
However, more than three hundred years ago, there was one maniac who had managed to singlehandedly transform these famous Stairs of Holy Light into Stairs of Blood, and he didn’t even receive any form of divine punishment. From then on, the Stairs of Holy Light became the Stairs of Blood… alright, with so much explanation, everybody probably knows what Istadi is.
Istadi was the main headquarters of the Holy Church as well as the place where Holy Light had first descended. It was the origin of the Holy Church.
If you walked to the end of those famous white stone steps and arrived at the mountaintop, you would see a collection of seemingly shakily constructing buildings—the headquarters of the Holy Church. This was the most important area of the church and enjoyed more than half of all religious faith in the land. It could even be called the place where the most power was centralized in all of Eich—the Baen Holy Sanctuary.
In the past, those who passed by this area would walk slowly with their heads held high. The people who lived here would act as if they were born with the right to be proud—and, in fact, this was indeed the case. There would forever be conflicts between religious and divine authorities, and in that generation, even a powerful domain lord wouldn’t dare to antagonize a local head priest.
Perhaps a poor, old priest living nearby would be appreciated by some cardinal and turn into a major personage of some empire the very next day. Obviously, reality was always stranger than fiction, and this sort of thing was actually quite common. Today, however, everyone was in a hurry and spoke cautiously as they snuck peeks at the place filled with Holy Light.
"There’s still no result? All the cardinals have been inside for so long…"
At roughly three o’clock in the morning, the holy bell at the entrance of the Baen Holy Sanctuary had started ringing, which signified that every high-level church member and cardinal had to arrive here on time within thirty minutes. Although this bell wasn’t the warning bell that signified an immediate combat situation, the last such time this meeting bell had been rung was more than twenty years ago.
It was obvious that something major had happened. Even though they didn’t show it on the surface, many members of the Holy Church were secretly discussing amongst themselves, wondering what could have occurred. While the higher-ups were busy in their meeting rooms, numerous rumors had already started spreading through their subordinates.
"Could it be about that incident regarding the Northlands? After all, there have been so many rumors about that incident, and it’s greatly affected the Holy Church’s reputation."
"It can’t be. The divine message from the God of Holy Light confirmed that they’re now our allies. Would His Holiness the Pope dare go against a divine message?"
"Then what could it be about? What major incident could cause all the higher-ups to be summoned? It’s basically just like the Holy War against Kasen twenty years ago…"
The priest who was speaking trailed off at the end as he broke out into a cold sweat. For mid and low-ranked people like him, a Holy War was not good news at all.
Perhaps glory and the victory loot from combat would make the higher-ups overjoyed, while the glory from a Holy War would also rouse fervent believers who were willing to sacrifice everything, but for ordinary members of the church, a Holy War meant endless amounts of death. Any amount of gold and glory would be preceded by a mountainous pile of corpses. And it was only natural for there to not only be the corpses of heretics but the corpses of believers as well.
"They’ve come out;they’ve come out!"
"It’s His Holiness the Pope!"
When the white-robed Pope Caloma came out, his typical peaceful appearance was nowhere to be seen. That grim look on his face was the best announcement of all, causing everyone in the plaza to fall silent. The numerous cardinals and high priests that followed after him all had differing expressions: some looked serious and didn’t say a word, while others were angry to the point that their faces were red. Of course, there were some that were pretending to be serious but had yet to notice how their mouths were imperceptibly arcing upwards.
From the standpoints of mortals, the recently ascended Pope Caloma was already in his sixties and could be considered an elderly man with not much time left in him. However, in history, except for the popes that died of unnatural causes, most popes would be able to complete at least two terms, with each term lasting ten years. As for where the popes went after their terms were completed, perhaps only the new pope after them would know.
Pope Caloma was quite obviously in a bad mood as everyone looked at him, filled with questions. He didn’t intend to mince words and directly tore apart a golden scroll. The next moment, a thin and short old man transformed into a huge divine figure that floated in the sky. This elderly voice resounded in thunderclaps, and nobody in the city of Istadi was able to ignore it.
"Orloss from the Bardi Empire has allied himself with evil undead and sacrificed one million citizens of Port Victoria to the undead, an extraordinarily wicked act. After conversing amongst ourselves and listening to the will of the God of Holy Light, we, the Holy Church, hereby declare in the name of the God of Holy Light that Orloss Mossivory Saint Milan is an evil heretic. The Bardi Royal Family’s title of ‘Saint’ in their name is hereby revoked, and Orloss shall be considered the enemy of the Holy Church henceforth!"
The pope inhaled deeply, as if to remove any final shreds of hesitation, and he grit his teeth as he declared the most important part of his announcement.
"Evil is right beside us, and I, Caloma the First, declare with my authority as the pope that there shall be a Holy War! All those that believe in the Holy Light shall fight for the sake of Holy Light and justice and become the mortal enemies of Orloss and his evil undead allies."
It wasn’t a long declaration, but it shocked everyone who heard it. The Bardi Empire was no small country. Any disagreements with the Northlands were actually unimportant, as mega-empires were the main powers in Eich. For the Bardi Emperor to be declared a heretic while he was still in power meant that the entire country had been declared heretical.
While it was indeed true that the Bardi Empire hadn’t been very friendly towards the Holy Light in recent times, it still maintained at least a surface level of respect. Exiling the Holy Church didn’t mean that they were making the Holy Church an outright enemy. But declaring a Holy War now meant that all the believers of the Holy Light would become the Bardi Empire’s mortal enemies.
Of course, this was only in theory. Against an entity as powerful as the Bardi Empire, nobody would casually go fight them without enough benefits on the line. Unless the Holy Church acted as the vanguard and started creating an anti-Bardi Empire army, perhaps each major country would only criticize the Bardi Empire a little but take zero action.
And for those countries that had direct benefits on the line regarding the Bardi Empire, such as the Mage Country, this would be an easy excuse to declare an all-out war against the Bardi Empire.
The most pitiful countries were the small countries nearest to the Bardi Empire. If they were part of the Holy Light religion, then they would be forced to pick a side. And if they picked the side of Holy Light, the Bardi Empire’s army would probably be on their doorstep the very next day.
After the Holy Church made their declaration, the human countries were highly likely to begin a vicious internal war of their own right before the Eternal Holy War was about to begin, no matter the reason. This was doubtlessly something that most people wouldn’t want, but if Orloss continued allying himself with the Undead Emperors, then it was highly likely to happen regardless.
And if this battle really did break out, Port Victoria, which had already became part of the Undead Plane, would no longer be considered important. The battle between the human mega-empires would probably cause several times more casualties than the number of humans that died at Port Victoria.
"…This is so scary. It’s even more unacceptable than the Holy War from twenty years ago. A mega-empire has actually been declared heretical! Is there going to be a world war?"
"That’s not possible. Even the Holy Church might not be able to accept such a large-scale battle. It’s not four hundred years ago, when the Holy Church was at its mightiest. The mega-empires won’t fight with their all for the sake of the Holy Church."
However, some more perceptive individuals were able to hear what Pope Caloma didn’t say, rather than what he said.
"Orloss was the only one he declared a heretic. He also didn’t mention any specific time to attack the Bardi Empire."
Back in the day, the entire Mist Kingdom had been declared heretical. Only declaring the Bardi Emperor Orloss to be a heretic doubtlessly meant that there was still room for negotiation. As long as the Bardi Emperor was changed before an army set out to attack him, then there would naturally be no more need to attack the Bardi Empire on the grounds that they were heretics. Not to mention that there was also no specific time stated to attack the Bardi Empire or organizations named to attack it, which undoubtedly left plenty of room for mediation in regards to time as well.
"This is probably a method to divide the Bardi Empire and force the nobles there to rebel. But with Orloss’ powerful iron grasp over his own country, it’s difficult to say if it’ll be of any use."
Two days later, when this news arrived in the Bardi Empire, it indeed caused many waves despite the fact that the Bardi government attempted to suppress this piece of news. Unfortunately, Orloss’ position as Emperor remained as solid as it had always been. Any domain lords that dared to resist against him had long since been killed by him decades ago, and all power was centralized in his hands. Even if there were still those that had their ambitions, what could they do?
But, some things would be difficult if not impossible to suppress for forever. There were quite a large number of Holy Light believers that kept their belief secret in the Bardi Empire, and Orloss would have to start paying more attention to his own safety whenever he went out.
However, the elderly Orloss simply maintained his same routine as always, eating and sleeping as usual. Those who knew about the situation were impressed with his mental fortitude. While the Bardi Empire appeared calm on the surface, the most panicked were actually the high-level undead from the Undead Plane.
"Why are they reacting so fiercely? It’s the opposite of what we expected!"
Perhaps it was because of that incident in the Northlands, the one that had caused the Holy Church to lose some of their reputation. This had naturally damaged Pope Caloma’s reputation along with it, which possibly made him want to search for some way to save face. Perhaps it was that the incident at Port Victoria was truly too vicious, which angered Pope Caloma into taking such drastic action. An analogy for what had happened would be if two poker players were playing against each other and still testing each other out, when one player unexpectedly went all-in, putting all his chips on the bet, greatly shocking the other player who was utterly unprepared.
Even the cardinals that Pope Caloma summoned didn’t expect their pope to take such drastic action, so of course it was the same for the undead visitors. Their "cooperation" with Orloss had just begun, and they hadn’t even put most of their plans in motion yet, but they had already elicited such a fierce reaction from the entirety of human society and the Gods’ churches.
What the undead expected was that the pope should have looked more at the big picture and do his best to condemn what had happened while sending out scouts and diplomats to slowly gather information in an attempt to smooth things out. Instead, Pope Caloma had risked all-out war with a mega-empire right from the very start, taking a hard stance.
"Damn it! Is this pope insane? Did we dig up his ancestors’ graves?"
"This is bad! Increase the rate at which we carry out our plans! Otherwise the Undead Emperors will have our heads!"
While all the countries were reeling in shock at Pope Caloma’s astonishing declaration, my party was currently at the Bardi Empire’s border, relaxed and preparing to enter.
When Little Red had sent that idiot who had challenged her flying with a single slap, a veteran from that idiot’s mercenary troop challenged her next. He, in turn, was also sent flying with a single slap, and in the end, the arguments became worse and worse and deep grudges were formed… Fine, I made that up. None of that could have possibly happened.
Veteran mercenaries wouldn’t possibly be so idiotic to become redshirts. If they made such a mess of things, causing both sides to have deep grudges when the intention was merely to test the waters and causing them to anger someone beyond their abilities to handle, then such a rash mercenary group wouldn’t have survived until today.
Not to mention, the leaders of both mercenary groups were both personally present. In such a situation, it would be even more ridiculous if they acted too much out of hand.
"The silver-ranked Cassandra was sent flying with a single slap? That ranger must be at least of the Gold rank."
"…Even the Eagle of Sulo mercenary group leader Juste was sent flying with a single slap, and his Epic weapon Meteor Sword was knocked out of his hands by his empty-handed opponent. He’s a veteran weaponmaster with hundreds of battles under his belt. A Gold rank? You think that black-haired woman is merely a Gold rank?"
"A Legend, then? No, Captain Juste has also fought with Legend-ranked warriors before and has never lost that badly. That means this woman must be a Saint-ranked warrior at the minimum. With such a young Saint-ranked warrior under his command, just who is that young master?"
‘Young master’ referred to a certain young-appearing mage, who only drank tea and chatted all day. The job class known as a mage was one which required the accumulation of knowledge. Other job classes could take shortcuts and level up speedily, but it was practically impossible for mages to take shortcuts. His shiny and blue archmage robe indicated that not only was he rich, but he was also quite confident in his own safety.
The mercenaries weren’t blind and had long since discovered that the Silver Coin Squad was led by this young man who lazed about and did nothing all day. With the excellent abilities shown by this squad’s members, rumors reappeared that this adventuring team consisted of a young and rich noble together with his servants, maids, and concubines.
Add on the fact that people were bored and made up stuff to add on to the rumors, and the rumors started sounding more and more real. Eaglestorm became a loyal butler, Cohen a manservant, Beifeng a clown, the caped Lilith a mage bodyguard, and the two elves were treated as female elven slaves that only a noble family could afford. As for Harloys… well, in a way, they weren’t wrong about their guess. She was indeed a pet, just not the type that they were thinking of.
"Oh my, that Rolo fellow stays on the carriage all day even when it’s light outside. Such depravity makes me so envious—I mean enraged!"
"Those elves and that cat girl always get on that carriage for several hours at a time. That guy has limitless stamina?"
Cough—cough—although their lecherous smiles were rather obvious, at least they had some brains and didn’t count the Saint-ranked Little Red in my so-called harem. She was still treated as my bodyguard. Otherwise, if the "pride of dragons" reared its head, all of those lechers would certainly have been burned to ash.
Those whispers behind our backs were no secret to us despite the fact that they were trying to keep their voices low. The result was that when I pointed and laughed while rolling on the floor at the silly cat who was the only one they had "guessed correctly" about, I received an additional set of teeth marks on my head.
Getting back to the main topic at hand, no matter how speechless the process caused us to be, at least the other two major mercenary groups arrived at an accord to not antagonize this young noble out on a tour. Since this noble seemed like he was here simply to have fun, then let him have his fun.
After proving our power, everything else was naturally easier. Mercenaries that didn’t know whether they could live to see the next day were quite practical. When fighting with their lives on the line for the sake of money, benefits were much more important than honor. They were looking to start a fight simply for their reputations, since losing reputation meant losing money in their line of work. But they had calmed themselves down for the sake of their lives;it would obviously be suicidal if they continued antagonizing us. Besides, having an extra "mercenary group" around, which was strong and didn’t even want a cut of the guarding pay, seemed like an excellent deal no matter how they looked at it.
"It’s just a young guy playing around;let’s not take things so seriously. Besides, it’ll be bad if we antagonize some major noble."
Later, both mercenary group leaders even came over of their own volition to apologize to me. Some of their higher-ups even came over to chat with us to improve our relationship, but from how I saw it, their main goal was to find out who we really were, along with wanting to hire some people from under me.
I unhesitatingly decided to ignore them. If the bastards under my command had some people to amuse them, that would be for the best. Otherwise, if they got really bored, who knew what they would get up to.
Soon, however, I regretted my decision. Even though that Juste fellow was pretty stronh—he was at the Gold rank—he had zero conversational skills and still kept trying to joke around with us, which was unbearable.
"Haha, where was I last time? Right, my joke from last time. Why do undead homes always have one less room than other species’ homes? I bet you can’t guess, so let this uncle tell you. It’s the bathroom! They don’t even eat, so any bathrooms in their homes would definitely be nothing but decorations. Hahaha."
Even though Meteor Sword Juste looked like a straightforward middle-aged man, he kept telling the lamest of jokes. None of us laughed at all while his companions forced themselves to laugh twice just to appease him.
"Is there something wrong with your leader’s brain? Did Little Red beat him a little too much two days ago, causing him to become an idiot?"
Harloys had a venomous mouth as always with her comment, but surprisingly, the mercenaries from Juste’s group nodded and smiled wryly.
"He’s excellent as a captain, but he has a strange sense of humor. At any rate, none of us have any expectations from his jokes so we might as well laugh at them. Otherwise, there will be no end to them."
The person who said this in a low voice was a young mage from Jakardia. He was also the strategist for this mercenary group, but right now he could only smile wryly as he helplessly watched his boss.
Meanwhile, Juste, the master of unfunny jokes, apparently noticed that people didn’t find his joke to be funny so he worked his mind and came up with a brand new joke.
"Do you know which room is the best place to eat in at an undead’s home? Yep, that place is definitely the cleanest because it’s not even useful to them. The bathroom! Hahaha."
Alright, I didn’t know why he liked telling jokes about undead and bathrooms so much. However, judging by how Lilith and Harloys were both looking at him with displeasure, I knew that Juste was going to suffer for what he said in the future.
After all, both of them were undead that possessed the ability to eat like normal, and they probably needed to use the bathroom on occasion as well… Should I say that he deserves what he’s going to get?
He seemed to have noticed that nobody was laughing, so he thought things over and somehow came up with yet another joke.
"Right, have you heard about the story of the brave Dragonslaying Warrior and the Underground city? Once upon a time, there was a foolish red dragon who ate too much…"
This time, a certain long-haired woman ground her teeth. I finally laughed as I listened to this stale joke as I observed this master of shooting himself in the foot.
"Let me tell a joke as well. Once upon a time, there was an idiot who talked about slaying dragons in front of a dragon and undead toilet humor jokes in front of undead, and then… well, there’s nothing else left."
And right when we were about to enter the Bardi Empire, Pope Caloma’s declaration against Emperor Orloss had started to spread around all Eich. The Lagraz Kingdom’s Royalty were devout believers in the Holy Light, and they decided to answer the Holy Church’s summons and declare war against the Bardi Empire after some hesitation.
One day later, after the news spread, the Bardi Empire and Lagraz Kingdom formally became countries at war.
Basically, everything was unbeknownst to us while we were currently together with this merchant group from Lagraz, with the intention of entering the Bardi Empire to gather information.
[System Reminder: Relax. The Master of Shooting Himself in the Foot is a title that forever belongs to you. As another friendly reminder, you should probably go to the Fate God’s divine temple and attempt to change your own fate.]