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Chapter 7 – A Certain Pope’s Plans
The Holy Anri Thearchy.
A young religious nation formed from one of the corners of the Kingdom of Fortera, it had two national symbols.
The first was the temple-cum-dungeon, the “Holy Land of the Evil God”.
With five terranean floors and thirty-one subterranean floors, it was a massive labyrinth where each day, adventurers would risk their liv-… risk their money.
Even following the conclusion of the Three Gods War, the number of challengers saw no end.
To begin with, a dungeon was a chance to get rich quickly for adventurers. Not only did this dungeons contain numerous treasures, if they defeated the dungeon master, further fame and fortune would result.
Naturally, high risk accompanied that high return, but this particular dungeon boasted safety so great that to date, not a single person had ever died there. At the same time, it was also the most difficult dungeon in the world.
As a result of the Gods of Light and Darkness ordering their respective races to conquer it, its fame or perhaps infamy had skyrocketed. Now, adventurers from across the world gathered to challenge it.
Of course, you could say that for the merchants and inn owners in the vicinity of the temple, this crowd was a group of suckers.
And so, the Holy Anri Thearchy whose main industry was tourism, continued to grow at an abnormal speed.
As for the other symbol──
“OHHH! Anri-sama! Our God! Please listen to our prayers!”
A blonde young man in luxurious vestments was kneeling in fervent prayer.
And the one he was praying to was the figure of the nation’s patron god, Evil God Anri.
Indeed. ‘Figure’. Not the person herself.
The man was kneeling in prayer before a statue of Evil God Anri.
Because worshipping an idol was not outlawed in this nation, praying to a statue was not particularly strange. However, the problem was the size of the statue in question.
Its height rivalled that of the five story temple next to it.
A statue swiftly constructed in the Pope’s zeal, the Giant Anri Statue.
Incidentally, it goes without saying but the man currently praying to the statue was the very Pope who constructed it.
Every morning and night, without fail, he would offer his prayers to this statue.
This statue was surrounded by a fence, and drawing near it was strictly forbidden. This was a direct order from Evil God Anri herself, and even the Pope was not permitted to approach the feet of the statue.
Because the Giant Anri Statue was based on Anri clad in her Black Rose Dress, standing at its feet would give them quite an eyeful.
Because the Pope had carefully reproduced even the finest details.
“Phew, any morning where I can pray to Anri-sama is a refreshing one. Huhu, building this statue was the right choice.”
Wiping away his sweat, the Pope gave himself a thumbs up.
Like he said, the nations’ reception of this statue was exceedingly positive. To begin with, the country was a gathering of devout worshippers, so they rejoiced at the construction of the statue, and even without this piety, the statue itself was brilliantly made.
It was so brilliantly made that a certain girl could no longer walk about unmasked.
The one who had created the plans for this perfect statue was none other than the Pope, and now that the Giant Anri Statue was complete, it was time to move onto his other plans.
“It’s time to bring the Grassroots Anri-sama Plan to the next stage.”
Hearing the voice from outside, Anri unconsciously brought a hand to her brow.
There was no need to even guess who the man running her way was.
Rather, there could only be one person.
Perhaps because meeting with the divine Anri was difficult, at every matter the Pope would come rushing to report at the Black Rose Mansion.
Because he helped with the construction of this mansion, she would feel uncomfortable about being too cold with him and never turned him away, but it seemed that it mightn’t have been the best decision.
“Pleaaseeeee haaaaaveeee aaaaaaa looooookkkkk!!!”
She could feel a headache forming.
His reports could be roughly grouped into three: the status of the country, the status of the missionary work, and then miscellaneous reports. Amongst these three, the last one was the root of the most problems, as she had painfully experienced herself.
And from how he was behaving now, it seemed that today’s report would be one of the troubling ones.
“Please have a look, Anri-sama!”
Opening the doors and making himself seen, that was the very first thing he said.
“What’s going on?”
Under her mask, Anri’s face had cramped up, but she tried to sound as calm as she could.
“Huhuhu, it is finally ready! The main force behind the Grassroots Anri-sama Plan, the Miniature Anri Statue!”
With those words, the Pope produced a palm-sized sculpture. The design was the same as the dress-clad Giant Anri Statue, but despite its small size the details were delicately reproduced. Truly splendid quality.
So high was its quality that any art enthusiasts in this world would have surely paid top price to obtain it.
But to Anri who had knowledge of another world, she could only see it as a figurine.
“How is it? Is it not splendid?”
“What exactly are you planning to do with this?”
The Pope had happily asked for her impressions, but she simply felt her face cramping up further.
“Naturally we will distribute one to every follower so that they may offer prayer whenever they want. In the future, I plan to have these sent beyond our borders as well.”
Finding that her hunch was dead-on, Anri shook her head and decided to stop his crazy plan early in its tracks.
Having a figurine of herself distributed to thousands, tens of thousands of people was nothing but a nightmare to her.
“I won’t all-…”
“The preparations are ready to produce a hundred a day. I suspect it will not be long before every believer has one.”
“You’re already at the mass-production stage!?”
Because it had progressed so much further than she had imagined, Anri let out a rare scream of shock.
But perhaps the Pope took her surprise to be pleasant surprise, because he smiled proudly.
“I cannot continue at such a snail’s pace. I must quickly prepare for manufacture of more designs…! Well then, please excuse me!”
With that declaration, the Pope left as quickly as he had come.
Left behind, Anri could only let out a sigh of resignation.