Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
It was more than a thousand years ago that The Vanaheim Theocracy, which is one of the countries of the Vanir Three Kingdoms, was established.
It was a time when there wasn’t a race called the “long-eared race” in the Central Continent yet.
People with beautiful looks came to the Central Continent from the Western Continent. They gave various knowledge to the indigenous “humans.”
The people who followed their advice transformed the deserted lands and watered the dry lands to create greenery. Furthermore, the long-eared race used their special powers to save the humans from the threat of the “monsters” and teach them how to fight.
People soon began to revere the long-eared race as messengers of the gods, and people began to gather one after another from all over the world.
The group became a village, the village became a city, the city became a country, and that country eventually called itself Vanaheim Theocracy.
The newly emerged nation was seen as a threat by neighboring countries, and war broke out.
However, the human army, led by the long-eared race, was strong and succeeded in repelling the invading nations. When their own people were harmed, they would sometimes attack in retaliation.
As a result of these repeated battles, Vanaheim’s territory expanded at an astonishing extent, and the southern part of the Central Continent came under its control.
However, the prosperity did not last long. This was because the time had come for the demon race to come to power.
Even with the power of the long-eared race, who were revered as gods, they were unable to save the people from the threat of the demon race, and their territory was carved up, bit by bit.
Eventually, to counter the demon race threat, a four-race coalition consisting of the beastman, the long-eared race, the human race, and the dwarf race was formed. However, at the end of the war, the alliance was dissolved due to a disagreement between the humans and the long-eared race.
The rift between the two races remained unresolved even after the humans’ victory over the demon race.
Then, during the reign of the Third Emperor of the Grantz, a decisive rupture between the two races was born.
The human race began to ostracize other races, many nations fell, and their compatriots were killed.
The Vanaheim Theocracy, deeply pained by this, offered a helping hand to the persecuted and gave their lands to the persecuted to establish their own state.
These were Nara Knightdom and Kvasir Priestdom.
To counter the threat of the Great Grantz Empire, the three nations later joined hands to create the Vanir Three Kingdoms.
Because of this, even now, a thousand years later, they continue to hate the Great Grantz Empire for its exclusion of other races. Because of their longevity, their hatred never withered.
The Vanaheim Theocracy survived turbulent times, despite being exposed to numerous threats.
Although it lost its former vigor, it still exerted tremendous influence over neighboring countries and was listed as one of the major powers on the Central Continent.
The Vanaheim Theocracy, which developed a unique culture, had no king but was ruled by the Pope, who was chosen by the “Fairy King.”
Its capital city was a city called Van, and in the center of the city stood the Cathedral of Vana Weiss, where the “fairy believers” worshiped every day. The historical building, in which many talented architects were involved in its construction and renovation, watched over the city of Van with a solemn atmosphere.
Perhaps because of this, the city had a solemn atmosphere, and those who visited Van for the first time may feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the atmosphere.
However, if one stayed in Van for a long time, one will find that it was a surprisingly relaxed city. The tropical climate may not be the most pleasant, but the people were cheerful and friendly, even to strangers.
The many tourist attractions were also characteristic of the city, with people of all races coming in and out of the city, and merchants selling their specialties were also abundant.
Today’s Van, however, was more lively than usual. The number of people also filled the aisles, their feet all pointing to the same place.
The Cathedral of Vana Weiss―today, a mass was to be held.
The people were there so as not to miss the opportunity to meet the Pope, who rarely appeared in public. Even though he only appeared for a few seconds, people still tried to take advantage of this good fortune.
The Pope, who was the center of the conversation, was walking down the corridor of the Galta Palace, the Pope’s residence adjacent to the Cathedral of Vana Weiss.
He was led by a hooded figure in white robes decorated with golden ornaments, followed by a number of the long-eared race.
One of the long-eared race, who had been following him, spoke to the person walking at the center of the group, the Pope.
“Cardinal Snorri, what is it?”
“I have just received a report. The Grantz are on the verge of recapturing Felzen.”
“Is that so… it looks like things are going according to plan.”
The Pope nodded, and Cardinal Snorri began his report without hesitation.
“Also, we have received repeated requests for reinforcements from the kings of the Six Kingdoms―Tigris, Urpeth, and Scorpius, but what do we do about them?”
“Even if we help them, their debt will be more than they can bear. It won’t change that the Six Kingdoms are in a predicament. Let them hope for the best until they complete their role. Let them cling to hope.”
The Pope spun a solemn voice from his mouth, which was tied in a straight line and exposed to the outside world.
“I did not originally expect them to do anything other than serve as bait. After things have gone according to plan, we can cut off all contact.”
“Well, then, let it be―the next report I received from the free peoples was that everything was ready.”
“Tell them to wait a little longer. There is still time for the Grantz to get deeper and deeper into the west.”
Walking down the corridor that leads from the Galta Palace to the Cathedral of Vanna Weiss, the Pope paused and opened his mouth as if remembering something.
“More importantly, how is the situation in the north?”
“It is quiet. A calm before the storm… or should I put it that way?”
Perhaps satisfied with Cardinal Snorri’s words, the Pope smiled at the corners of his mouth and began to walk again.
“I see that they are waiting to see what will happen, just as we are.”
“On the surface, all of them are pretending to be unconcerned, but if the lion shows any sign of weakness, all the nations will pounce on it at once. The balance of power will change in the blink of an eye.”
“Then, let us carefully assess the situation so that we will not be left behind.”
Cardinal Snorri nodded his head. He then opened the double-glazed windows that led to the balcony.
A breeze instantly filled the corridor with warmth, and the cheers shook the air and echoed through their bodies.
The Pope stepped forward, and the crowd in the courtyard filled his vision. They were all waving their hands toward the Pope and cheering.
The cheers grew louder as the Pope also waved his hand, smiled, and flashed his affection.
“Pope, I think it’s time for you to go.”
The Pope nodded his head as Cardinal Snorri spoke to him from behind. His presence on the balcony would only be momentary. If he was exposed for a long time, his rare presence would diminish.
He could only be seen at special times.
This was what attracted public support and created believers.
The enthusiasm spread from person to person, more frenzied, more passionate, more fanatical, and like an infectious disease, it spread explosively and cannot be easily stopped.
Those who were buoyed by the enthusiasm would begin to seek out the medicine.
As long as there was a cure―the Pope―the Vanir Three Kingdoms would be bound together by a stronger bond.
When the Pope returned to the corridor, the windows would be closed. Then, a clear difference in temperature was created between the outside and the inside.
Outside, the heat still showed no sign of cooling down, but inside, the heat was gone, and the air was beginning to cool. The cardinals who had gathered around the Pope bowed their heads in unison.
“Thank you for your hard work. Please rest for a while.”
At Cardinal Snorri’s request, the Pope turned to the other cardinals and began to walk away.
With his back to them, the Pope’s mouth, hidden by his hood, was twisted as if he was disgusted by something. The Pope continued walking for a while, but when he returned to the Galta Palace, he searched for signs of his surroundings, and after confirming that no one was there, he clicked his tongue.
“Worthless. There is no one so foolish as people who worship false images. It makes me want to vomit…”
The Pope raised his hand. He withdrew his hand with force as if to draw something to him.
And the sound of a bell rang out of nowhere.
The space where the Pope’s hand had been a moment ago began to distort and swirl, and a staff appeared slowly. It settled naturally into the Pope’s hand, echoing the sound of the bell.
“Those who cling to the old gods are also fools. Those who do not wish to live by their own strength are nothing but an abomination.”
The Pope paused in front of a room with a richly decorated door.
It was a sanctuary that only the Pope was allowed to enter.
――It was the “Great Dome” where the “Fairy King” resides.
The Pope opened the door with a familiar look and entered without hesitation.
“I have to purify everything. Don’t think about anything. Just crush others in order to live.”
The light pouring in from the atrium brightly illuminated the bookshelves that occupied all four sides of the room, bringing out the charm of the artworks collected from all over the world.
In the center of the room, an intricately crafted wooden altar, resides. A trench dug around it was filled with spring water.
However, anyone looking at the altar would have noticed something strange.
The statue in the center of the altar was headless, and the flowers that would have bloomed at its feet were withered.
The Pope, perhaps not thinking anything of it, stepped forward without hesitation and looked up at the statue.
“Now is the time for chaos, don’t you think?”
The Pope muttered gleefully and kicked the head of the statue, which was lying at his feet.
The statue’s head rolled down the corridor, making a loud noise, and stopped moving when it collided with a bookcase.
“Hey――… “Fairy King, how do you feel now?”
Poking the headless statue with the tip of his staff, the Pope continued to ask, even though there was no reply.
“Soon, the long-awaited reign of the long-eared race may come.”
There was no reply.
With a bored look on his face, the Pope taps the tip of his staff on the floor.
A pleasant sound echoed, and at the same time, the Pope disappeared without a sound.