Chapter 350: A Doll and Scorpion
The Protector Jace Brackenberry took a small breath, inhaling the cold air into his lungs. Then, without changing his expression, Brackenberry looked at the woman in front of him.
Naturally, Olivia Belch’s gently curled hair caught his gaze. Olivia stared at Brackenberry with a calm, elegant smile. On the other hand, Brackenberry raised his eyebrows at the sight.
Even though she was still young, there was no sign of hesitation in her face. But it didn’t mean she was a grown up either. If anything, she should be described as sophisticated.
There was an atmosphere in her that showed she was strangely accustomed to this kind of situation. Did she go through that much experience, or was she originally that kind of person? Brackenberry was sure he didn’t get this impression before, at least when he met her with her father.
Olivia drew a gentle line on her lips and opened.
「I apologize for taking your precious time, Protector Brackenberry. There’s something I really want to talk to you about.」
Brackenberry responded by pulling his chin lightly toward Olivia, who professed those words with respect.
Brackenberry’s pale face showed no trace of emotion. The impatience and frustration in his chest were completely absent.
Only his fingertips bounced slightly. Yet, Brackenberry felt a hint of his sensitive mind.
「I see, but I don’t have time. Even so, let me ask you what you want. It must be important since you came here with your own two feet.」
Though it was not apparent in his tone of voice or demeanor, there was a clear alarm in Brackenberry’s mind. Yes, a warning.
His sharp gaze occasionally pierced Olivia’s cheeks.
…The timing was strangely suspicious.
Brackenberry didn’t believe in superstitions. Rather, the words of fortune tellers that spoke of omens of misfortune or the arrival of good luck were nothing but nonsense to Brackenberry. He truly hated those words.
Many military men believed in fate, whether it brought good or bad luck, but Brackenberry had always avoided believing in such things.
The reason for this disbelief was that a commander should not lead the soldiers as if in a dream. A commander must have his mind sane in a certain reality.
A soldier had a family, parents, and children. A soldier had someone to love. Only after receiving a military patent, the commander had the right to give orders to those soldiers. Brackenberry believed that, in order to lead those precious lives, a commander should have his mind freed from the misconceptions of good fortune and misfortune.
Today, however, Brackenberry was tempted to believe in such omens. The woman in front of him brought something ominous. He had that intuition.
There was a sign that the bottom of his stomach was loosely rubbed.
It was the same during the council hall at the government-designated area of the Royal Castle. Olivia’s words changed the course of the scene, which was slightly tilted toward Brackenberry’s plan.
Even though it was the King who made the final declaration, it was Olivia who changed the situation. And so it was now. She visited him just before he was about to meet the King.
Even if it was an important official, or even if it was the visit of a senior aristocrat, Brackenberry could not afford to spare time due to the current crisis that befell the kingdom. The position, however, was different from that of a saint’s accomplice.
Even though Brackenberry needed every second of his time, he couldn’t avoid this person. It was really a bad timing.
After receiving that gaze from Brackenberry, Olivia still strengthened her torso and rolled her words.
「It’s about the Bastion Beast Zebrililith. Protector, I have heard that your response toward this magical beast is going to be your highest priority.」
Brackenberry replied to those words without showing emotions. His eyelids only blinked sightly.
「Of course. Aristocrats who don’t move in the face of a national crisis are not aristocrats, and those who don’t stand in front of the enemy are not soldiers.」
“What did this woman come to ask?” Such words inadvertently appeared in Brackenberry’s mind.
It was different from what Brackenberry had heard in the talks about the Heraldics or about sending envoys to various countries. It was even different from when he occasionally but rarely engaged in politics. “I don’t know. What is this talk?”
Olivia was an unmistakable senior aristocrat despite being so young. She came here herself when there shouldn’t be any reasons for that. Was it for the benefit of the Belch Family? Or…did she come to see Brackenberry because someone of a higher status got involved somehow?
Brackenberry’s vigilance created a distinct color in his eyes. Ahead of this gaze, Olivia said with a smile.
「…I would like you to withdraw from this matter. Zebrililith has been recognized as an unmistakable Great Evil Beast. If so, it is an enemy of the Great Holy Church. Jurisdiction will be transferred to the Cathedral.」
Olivia spoke, saying that this decision was what His Holiness the Pope, and also the Holy Saint, would like. Brackenberry could see that her round eyes were looking straight at him.
During a moment, a breathtaking void engulfed the whole office.
It was at this point that Brackenberry realized. He was not sure at first, but now it was different.
He certainly picked the scheme with his fingertips.
“…This woman is an enemy. She wears the skin of a woman like a precious doll, but she holds the mind of a cunning scorpion.”
Just as Olivia said, the existence of a Great Evil Beast was to be dealt by the Great Holy Church, and then exterminated. Since the time when the savior god Altius destroyed the Great Demon, that pledge had continued.
As expected, there was no law that bound countries to follow that pledge, but the countries affected by the Great Holy Church had vowed to follow its doctrine. Therefore, a certain amount of restraint was to be exerted.
But even so, how could Brackenberry withdraw now in the face of that disaster? How could the future of the country be entrusted to the Cathedral that was so stiff and unmoving?
Brackenberry already understood the expectations of the Cathedral. Perhaps they were using this opportunity to increase their influence over the Gharast Kingdom. Olivia also benefitted from the influence of the Saint.
However, that was no longer the behavior of a Gharast noble. It was the behavior of a salesperson.
Brackenberry raised his eyes and stretched his elbows lightly. Many layers of words piled up in the depths of his thoughts, and he chose the best one among them.
「That’s just words. Neither Lords nor the Cathedral have the authority to give me orders…not even the Pope or the Holy Saint. Only His Majesty the King can give me orders.」
And then, Brackenberry continued, opening his lips with a great momentum.
「I said that I would listen to your words, Olivia Belch, a noble from Gharast, but I don’t remember hearing the words of a Cathedral envoy. You’re wasting your time.」
While saying so, Brackenberry stood up without making a sound. “Let’s finish it here”, he said with his strong attitude.
His gaze became hard and cold to the point of freezing his opponent. The atmosphere he emitted was filled with hostility. It was too heavy even for a veteran hero to endure.
Olivia replied to his menacing stance, while lowering her eyebrows slightly.
「His Majesty the King is now speaking with the Holy Saint. I’m sure His Majesty will be able to accept it.」
Brackenberry opened his eyes for a moment while listening to her voice behind his back. “Impossible. There’s no way the King will make that judgment.”
“What we’re facing now is an undeniable national crisis, and the nation has a duty to protect its people. The aristocrats have a responsibility to fulfill their duties.”
Brackenberry knew King Ameraitz personally, who was once wise, and thus wiser than anyone else. However old he may be, Brackenberry was convinced that the King was not foolish.
However, there was something in Brackenberry’s heart that was making a fuss at the bottom of his viscera. Something indescribably eerie. He felt a strange premonition that this woman managed to steal an irreparable time.
Brackenberry made his legs run in a hurry.
Ohhh, Olivia is quite cunning, isn’t she? She fooled Brackenberry…He realized it too late.