Side Story 1 – A Certain Religion’s Fall
“The founding of a nation that worships the Evil God, you say…?”
The meeting between the higher echelons of the Luxiria Theocracy grew stormy.
The cause was that the cultists that they had sent the Order of the Sacred Light to subjugate the other day had declared the establishment of a country.
However, given how obvious it was that the meeting would grow wild after this announcement, the situation could hardly be called surprising.
There was a square desk in the conference room, and sitting around the north, south, east and west sides were the top brass of the Theocracy.
On the north side, furthest from the entrance, sat the members from the Papal Board, who controlled the affairs of the Theocracy, a Cardinal and two Archbishops.
On the east side sat the members from the Magisterium, who governed the dogma of the Church of Sacred Light, a Cardinal and two Archbishops.
On the west side sat the members from the Eparchia, who governed the parishes including matters of foreign diplomacy, a Cardinal and two Archbishops.
Finally, on the south side sat members from the Presbyterium, who governed the training of priests and the like, a Cardinal and two Archbishops.
And then behind the Papal Board, in the most prestigious seat, furthest back, sat the incumbent Pope.
Together, these thirteen people composed the higher echelons of the Luxiria Theocracy, as well as the top brass of the Human Race’s greatest religion, the Church of Sacred Light.
Each one had their own attendants standing behind them, and I too was one of them; somebody allowed to be here as the attendant to one of the Archbishops from the Presbyterium. However, in my case, the one who originally should have been here had “by chance” fallen ill, so I was actually here as a replacement.
“ABSOLUTE NONSENSE! Who would acknowledge something like that!”
“To begin with, even the very existence of the Evil God is questionable!”
The ones who screamed were the members of the Magisterium.
From the eyes of they who governed the dogma of our Church, the “Establishment of the Evil God Nation” was understandably difficult to accept.
But what did they mean by the existence of the “Evil God” being questionable? …Or so I might have wondered in the past.
To begin with, the concept of the “Evil God” was something loudly insisted by those of the Magisterium, so doubting the existence of the Evil God was at odds with the claim they made themselves.
But if you knew the circumstances of what happened behind-the-scenes, the meaning of their words would be immediately clear.
──To think that the insistence of the Church regarding the existence of the “Evil God” was based on falsehoods…
An imaginary enemy woven into the dogma to agitate the fear of the believers, and thereby increase their dependence on the Church… Was their aim──although the ones who implemented this were their predecessors from generations ago──something along these lines?
Of course, to the high level members gathered here, that much was common sense, and as a result they couldn’t simply accept the fact that the “Evil God” truly existed.
“There was a report regarding the sighting of the true Evil God from the Forteran Army in their spearhead of the Order of Sacred Light, but…”
“Ridiculous. Likely an excuse created by the cowards who fled after mistaking something else for it. There is no worth in trusting impious people who tried to haggle their contribution to the Church.”
Among them, the youngest member, an Archbishop──though already in the prime of life──gave the report from Fortera, but the Cardinal of the Eparchia ignored it as nonsense.
Having said that, that Archbishop himself didn’t seem to actually believe it, and showed no sign of displeasure at having his remark repudiated.
“Well, at this point, whether the Evil God is an impostor, or the real thing is not of importance, for what we ought to do has not changed in the slightest.”
“Exactly as you say. Just the words ‘country of Evil God worshippers’ is the same as declaring hostility against us… no, against all of the Human Race.”
Hearing the statement from Cardinal of the Presbyterium, the Cardinal of the Papal Board agreed. And it seems that this was the same amongst all the members gathered here.
Of course, including the Pope sitting at the back.
“As servants who serve Sacred Goddess-sama, we cannot accept such a declaration. Obvious though it may be, there appear to be no objections.”
The aged Pope rose from his seat, and made his declaration as he overlooked the gathering of leaders.
“Then, Your Eminence…”
“Declare our rejection of the announcement under my name. Further, call for the agreement of the other nations.”
“As you wish.”
The Cardinal of the Papal Board accepted the edict from the Pope, and so ended the meeting.
“What is Fortera thinking!?”
Hearing Fortera’s reaction to the Pope’s earlier proclamation, an urgent, special meeting was called.
To begin with, this kind of meeting was supposed to only be held at a certain time, once per year, and calling for a second meeting in such little time was extremely unusual.
However, considering the circumstances, it could be said that calling a meeting was natural.
Not only had the Kingdom of Fortera had rejected the Theocracy’s appeal and declared neutrality towards the Evil God Nation’s declaration, but they brought attention to the dishonesty of the Church’s upper echelons──in other words, the people in this room, and furthermore showed their hostility by declaring the formation of a new sect.
It was not the case that nobody had ever opposed the headquarters of the Church, Luxiria, but an entire nation taking a position of hostility had never been seen before in history.
Of course, were this simply a rejection of the Church of Sacred Light, then they would have antagonised the other nations who had the Church as their state faith, and ostracised themselves.
However, they rejected not the Church of Sacred Light itself, but complained about the corruption of the current leaders, and formed a new sect based around devotions to the teachings──the Origin Faction.
Such an action was far more dangerous to the people in this room than simple opposition.
“The Origin Faction…? Rejecting our dogma? What nonsense.”
“It is likely mostly out of revenge for our earlier deployment of the Order.”
The Cardinal of the Magisterium openly frowned at the report. The report was the same as disgracing the Magisterium, so it was understandable.
The Cardinal of the Eparchia seemed unhappy as well, but that was due to another reason.
“And so, what was the impact on the other nations?”
“We tried to suppress the news, but it spread quite far. Too openly suppressing it would be liable to have the opposite effect, so we cannot help but act cautiously.”
“I suppose that cannot be helped either… EEI! So irritating!”
What the members of the Eparchia were agonising over was the information control of the announcement by the Kingdom of Fortera regarding the dishonesty of the higher-ups of the Church. From rampant bribery and abuse of power, to even the forgery of dogma – the many years of dishonesty were all made public at once, and the Eparchia were completely busy with suppressing the distrust from the believers.
Of course, had this all been unfounded rumours, doing so would not have been so difficult. However, given that it was tacitly understood amongst the other countries that this was at least half-true, controlling the information was not an easy task.
The Luxiria Theocracy with its small population and land held an advantage over the other nations due to having the absolute authority of being the home to the headquarters of the Church of Sacred Light. Putting things another way, with this advantage becoming unstable, they were liable to lose their superiority in an instant.
“For now, I suppose there is nothing we can do but urge the other nations not to join the faction created by Fortera.”
“Indeed. Let us have the churches in the other nations manoeuvre. Directly dealing with the Kingdom of Fortera will need to be postponed, but I do not suppose we have a choice. If the sect spreads, it will become unmanageable, after all.”
Authority gives rise to rights, and rights give rise to authorities. With the old roots they have formed in various countries, manoeuvring with their connections should prove to be quite effective.
Of course, Fortera understands this as well, and will likely move to suppress it. I suspect that a fierce power struggle will begin behind the scenes.
However, when it comes to the number of personnel they can mobilise, I cannot help but say that the Theocracy has the advantage.
As long as there is no major incident to overturn this situation, it will be difficult for the Kingdom of Fortera to gain the advantage.
It is because they understand this, that the people gathered here were unhappy, but relatively calm.
“It-, It cannot be… Why would Sacred Goddess-sama…?”
One day, a little while after the previous meeting, the situation suddenly changed.
An unprecedented situation where Sacred Goddess Sophia made a revelation to all of the Human Race, and in merely one night, the situation in all the nations took a complete change.
The contents of the revelation included the existence of the Dark God, previously unknown to the Human Race; the “Evil God”, who was different to the one known by the Human Race; and the fact that the Human Race needed to conquer a dungeon in order for her to win the 3-way power struggle between the gods.
Had the revelation been received only by a small minority then it may have been tidied away as lies, but now that the entire Human Race had received the revelation, nobody in this room had the power to make them believe it was false.
And at the same time, this also spelt a major dilemma for the Luxiria Theocracy.
By the hand of none the very Sacred Goddess that they worshipped, in part thought it might have been, their dogma was denied. What’s more, the part that was denied coincided with Fortera’s claims.
If one part of Fortera’s claims were confirmed, then it would naturally make people suspect that the rest of the claims were true as well. The rest of the claims… in other words, the claims regarding the corruption of the upper echelons of the Church of Sacred Light. It’s very likely that all of the Sacred Goddess’s followers believe that Fortera’s claims were correct.
“This is bad. At this rate…”
“We must urgently come up with some countermeasure.”
“But even if you say that, what are we to do. In this situation, taking a firm measure against Fortera would likely backfire on us. Manouevring against the problem country has been forbidden as well.”
Hearing the Cardinal of the Papal Board say that, the others in the room fell silent as well. Just as he said, making some declaration about mobilising the Order of Sacred Light would instead heighten suspicion towards them.
Even the option of diverting dissatisfaction towards the “Evil God Nation” had been prohibited by none other than the Sacred Goddess herself.
“It cannot be helped. It seems that we have no choice but to admit to our mistakes in the dogma in regards to the Forteran claims about the Evil God.”
While the room was wrapped in silence, a voice called out from behind the members of the Papal Board.
“But, Your Eminence…”
“Now that Sacred Goddess-sama has affirmed Fortera’s claims, we cannot firmly object. Of course, we will deny the other claims, and must endeavour to abate the damage even a little.”
It was this moment that the Church of Sacred Light, that had thus far ruled humanity from the background, was forced to compromise, as well as the moment that they acknowledged a small, but substantial defeat.
I am sure that the Kingdom of Fortera will not let this chance go, and will use this critical moment to persecute them.
The winter had come for the Luxiria Theocracy, that had held its influence for a long, long time.
“And that concludes the report.”
“Well done. Hu hu hu, the Sacred Goddess’ relevation has given us an advantage. While they are embroiled in their factional disputes, let us plan the strengthening of our nation, for it is the will of Anri-sama.”
“By your will.”
“Now then, the coming days shall be busy. We must not let up on our missionary work either. And the construction of that must go ahead.”