Zero no Tsukaima:Volume13 Chapter1
Chapter 1: Romalia
The Holy Empire of Romalia.
One of the oldest countries in Halkeginia, often shortened to the “Holy Empire”, was a city-state located directly south of Gallia on the Ausonia peninsula.
The land of the Romalian Empire, ruled by a disciple of Founder Brimir, St. Forsythe, was only a single city-state at first. However, this esteemed “holy empire” then sought after expansion, and one-by-one annexed the other city-states around it.
During King Julio Cesar’s reign, his influence finally left the peninsula and occupied half of Gallia’s lands.
However… that king’s reign did not continue for long.
After being expelled from Gallia’s lands, the annexed regions went through a cycle of independence and re-annexation. Finally at the end of the wars, the greatest regions of the Romalian Empire had been scattered.
From then on, each region individually developed its own beliefs, especially towards that of diplomacy for Romalia. In other words, their roots became completely different. It was more similar to that of the Germanian Imperialism of Northern Halkeginia.
Inferior to the other major powers of Halkeginia, Romalia instead applied themselves as the “center of Brimir’s teachings” as their main point as an established country.
Romalia was the resting place of Founder Brimir, so it was natural for St. Forsythe to build a country to protect his grave.
The descendents utilized this historical fact as the biggest reason to turn the city of Romalia into sacred ground. This was how the holy capital was established.
As a result, Romalia became a holy city-state where a huge temple was erected, which became the Forsythe shrine. For generations, the king was called the “Pope,” and all of his clergymen and followers stood at the top.
“…Really, every time I come to this country, the architecture and themes just jump out at me.”
Queen Henrietta of Tristain peeked out the window of her horse-drawn carriage, gazing at the streets of Romalia.
It was the month of Sol, the week of Freya and the day of Ösel, this world’s equivalent to May 7th.
It was around the time of the huge commotion involving Tiffania’s transfer to the Academy of Magic…
In this religious city of Romalia, priests throughout Halkeginia “flooded the land with holy light”. These holy servants were wrapped in clothing that shimmered brightly as they walked around while devout followers exchanged warm greetings with them…
The city was filled with rich smiles as the priests guided the religious followers of Brimir down the right path, in which the Pope passed down the teachings of being a “servant of the people as well as God’s servant…”
This idealistic view, while practiced mainly in this part of the Ausonia peninsula, was held in belief by a majority of the people of Halkeginia, who seldom ever left the city or village they were born in…
“These commoners are flooding in from every land. Aren’t they just acting however they felt like? Instead of “idealistic views,” it seemed more like an example of a city of cave dwellers.”
Henrietta mumbled with a sigh.
On the streets, the followers that flowed in from Halkeginia lined up in front of a pot of soup being distributed by the Salvation knights of the Maltius brigade. These people had made their way to this city, but they had no job, nothing to do, and barely any food and clothing.
Behind the followers were numerous stone pillars of Ionic style which led to a luxurious temple in the distance. Fancily robed priests chatted as they passed through the door into the temple.
The new followers had no choice but to sing praises of worship - thought Henrietta. The townspeople were barely surviving on a cup of soup, while the priests were dressed up lavishly and enjoying various forms of luxury…
When she was a child, she had visited this city and had not noticed this. There were rows of grand temples lined up for every religion. Shining stained glass and sculptures, crafted into the greatest of masterpieces, had completely captivated her attention back then.
A movement in front of her caught her attention. In front of her sat an uncomfortable looking Captain Agnes of the Musketeer Corps, who shrunk back in her seat.
“What is the matter, Captain?”
“Nothing… I’m not used to this appearance…”
Instead of her usual chain-mail, Agnes was clothed in a dress fit for a noblewoman. Under that appearance, combining with her fair facial features, she looked every bit like a lady from a good family.
However… her sharp warrior-like eyes were piercing through the gentle appearance she was dressed in.
Combined with the sheathed blade that adorned her side… the Captain of the Musketeer Corps had quite an irregular appearance. Henrietta smiled towards her.
“It suits you.”
“Please don’t tease me.”
With a gloomy tone, Agnes mumbled.
“I shouldn’t be the one to do this. There was no reason for me to wear these fancy clothes and come all the way to Romalia.”
“I need an attendant. You can also double as an escort. Very convenient indeed…”
“I’m only good with a blade. How can I possibly pass as an attendant?”
“As the Captain of the Imperial Guards say, only waving a sword or wand around is not a job. Depending on the time and place, even those of noble standing must lend a hand to a guest. If you won’t do the honor of this, I will be very troubled.”
Henrietta replied with a tone that suggested that her decision was final. However, Agnes just couldn’t accept the circumstance.
“What about Cardinal Mazarin? Usually, isn’t it his role as prime minister to be the attendant…?”
“Beside him, is there anyone that I can trust to be there in my absence?”
‘Well that’s true…’ mumbled Agnes as she looked uneasy and desperate to continue arguing.
“But if I don’t carry a sword or gun with me, I will feel insecure.”
“There is no way around it. It is the law of this country.”
To pass through the outer gates of the Romalian capital, even military escorts such as Agnes would have to remove her sword. While keeping it inside the luggage that was loaded onto their carriage was permissible, the religious capital did not allow the carrying of weaponry on hand. It was a regulation unique to Romalia. Even the crystal wand that Henrietta usually held onto had also been stored inside of her bag.
“But in the event of an emergency, I cannot protect your Majesty.”
Henrietta motioned to the obviously unsatisfied Agnes to look out the window. Outside, there were knights clad in white robes riding majestic unicorns. On either side of the carriage, they were keeping a close watch on the guest of honor as they escorted the carriage.
Around their necks were sacred charms. Also, a large symbol of the Founder holding out his hand was embroidered onto the chest of the white robes in silver thread.
“The Romalian Templar Knight Squadron will protect us.”
These knights were the only ones who could carry arms in the religious capital. They were the elite of the elites.
The Romalian Templar Knights… they defined the highest standard of the loyalty among various military organizations in each of the major Halkeginian powers.
These men would truly “fight to the death” if the Pope wished them to. To a devout believer of Brimir, their white clothing was a symbol of light. To heretics, it was a symbol of terror. There is nothing more troublesome than an enemy that doesn’t fear death.
Agnes’s face slightly clouded with worry.
“I can’t imagine them going as far as risking their lives to protect a new believer such as myself.”
Henrietta was not shaken by Agnes’s words that contained a bit of self-mockery.
“God more or less turns a blind eye to the concept of discrimination.”
She calmly said something that would make the priests from Romalia faint immediately if they'd heard it.
Behind Queen Henrietta’s carriage were a line of carriages for her personal attendants, family members and members of the government. The very best musketeers and mages were assigned to guard each one of these carriages.
For this particular attendance of the ceremony, these people had to travel across the ocean by boat all the way to Romalia. An invitation letter was sent to Saito and company when they met up with Tiffania, but somehow that letter came back to Henrietta. In the end, she had barely missed them as they returned from Albion with Tiffania.
While it would take only three days to sail through the sky of Gallia, Henrietta feared that relation with Gallia was becoming sour. Because of this, a considerable detour using a sea route was chosen instead. This resulted in a week of travel before arriving.
However… the ceremony was scheduled to occur 20 days later.
“If it’s ok with you, as an attendant I want to ask you something…”
“Why is it that we arrived for the ceremony 20 days early?”
“The visit for the ceremony is an excuse. We will be holding secret negotiations at this time.”
“With the Pope… right?”
Agnes looked down deep in contemplation.
“What is the matter, Captain?”
Henrietta asked with a worried voice, in which Agnes looked up.
“…It's nothing. I was just lost in thought. Please excuse me.”
The old part of Romalia was surrounded by castle walls. The stone paving that was built in ancient times were aligned in an orderly pattern. It was very different from the disorderly feeling of Tristania or the capital city of Gallia, Lutèce, in which the aging of their walls showed both periods of prosperity and turmoil. The clean, pearl-like stone walls here seemed to stretch on endlessly. This abnormally clean impression left a feeling of purity in the air.
“It truly is a beautiful city.”
Agnes broke the silence with her thoughts of Romalia. Without any reply, an apparently anxious Henrietta silently fiddled with the ends of her fingers.
Since it was a surprise imperial visit before the actual ceremony, there were no flags flown beside the driver of the carriages to indicate the importance of the inhabitants. Simply with the presence of the Templar knights escorting the carriage, the city’s inhabitants knew that it had to be a person of high societal standing.
On top of that, the three carriages carrying the delegates were taking up the entire width of the main road.
Further down the road, six large towers rose in the distance. The tower in the middle was much larger, with the other five towers arranged in the shape of a five-pointed star around it.
This shape looked very similar to the one at Tristain’s Academy of Magic. This can be expected since the construction of the academy was modeled after the motif of the Romalian holy capital.
All of the Templar knights that were escorting the carriages advanced towards the gate in unison. Along both sides of the gate, they dismounted and formed a gallant line, holding their sacred armaments up like magic wands. The sunlight made them glitter like silver decorations that magnificently adorned the cathedral’s gates.
“…looks like we have arrived.”
Henrietta mumbled. Agnes looked out the window briefly with a sigh.
“Is that the Romalian cathedral? It looks similar to the Academy of Magic… it could almost be its twin.”
It was certainly very similar in shape, even down to the height of the main tower and its five accompanying towers.
The guards, who were clad in white, approached next to the door of the queen’s carriage, and saluted her by crossing both of their hands across their chests. This meant everything to them in practicing the work of their religion.
However, despite their arrival, none of the priests or nobles stepped out of the carriages. The guards that were next to the carriages also remained in position without taking a single step.
‘Why was that?’ Agnes wondered. Then, an impressive song of praise began, which started with a wave of the wand by the conductor to the holy choir, who were in front of the entrance.
It was apparently a welcoming for the surprise visit by the queen, Romalian style.
“I guess we are supposed to remain here and listen to the song.”
Young boys, whose pure singing voices had not changed yet, soothed the travel-wearied Henrietta’s heart and body with their song. The song couldn’t have been conducted better even if St. Aegis the 32nd himself did it, Henrietta thought to herself.
When the song ended, the conductor, a young boy, faced towards them.
It was a handsome young boy with whitish-blond hair.
His left and right eye-colors were different. Odd eyes… in Halkeginia it was called ‘moon eyes’. Usually, it was a bad omen. Still, to have a boy like him become the conductor of the choir, what circumstances did he have to go through?
Henrietta stuck her hand out of the window and waved at the choir as a gesture of appreciation of their hospitality. The boy conductor placed his hand over his chest and bowed to her. As he remained bowed, he approached the carriage. It was like the gesture of a military nobleman.
Then, he respectfully took her hand, like he was handling a gem, and brought it to his lips.
“Welcome to Romalia. I am your host, Julio Caesar.”
It was the person who saw Saito off in Albion before his battle against 70,000.
Henrietta, who was struck by his charming and refined gestures, spoke from inside the carriage.
“You are a priest, right?”
“That is correct, your Majesty.”
“Despite that, you have the mannerisms like that of a nobleman. No, that was quite rude of me.”
Julio had a smirk on his face.
“It is because I have lived my entire life in the military. During the previous battles, I was but a mere footman in the lowest ranks of your Majesty.”
“Oh, is that so?”
A gloomy expression flashed on Henrietta’s face for a moment. Sad memories that she didn’t want to think about resurfaced, but she pushed them aside and continued the conversation.
“I offer you my thanks. It was a tough battle. You have done well.”
“Thankful words that really touch me. Well then, please come in, my master has been waiting for you.”
As Julio opened the door of the carriage, he took Henrietta’s hand.
Then, he took Agnes’s hand as well. At the other carriages, the delegates were each greeted by guides who took them to meet various members of Romalia’s government.Waving his hand to Henrietta and Agnes, he guided them ahead.
As they started walking towards the cathedral, Henrietta remembered the invitation that St. Aegis the 32nd had given her.
‘Come 20 days before the ceremony. May God’s miracle watch over you.’
What exactly was God’s miracle?
With mixed anxiety and expectations, Henrietta shivered lightly.
As Henrietta walked into the entranceway of the cathedral, she was bathed in the light of 7 colors, streaming through the gleaming stained-glass windows.
“…beautiful…” Julio let out his thought with a smirk.
Henrietta proceeded towards the inner sanctum, where she was surprised with the scene in front of her. Here gathered a crowd of poor people, many whom she had passed by on carriage, wrapped in blankets and staring up at the ceiling. The first floor of the cathedral was truly like an example of a poorhouse.
“These people are..?”
Henrietta questioned, as Julio replied to her.
“They are the refugees who came from the ruins of the Albion war. Until we can find proper arrangements for these people, they are staying here momentarily.”
“Under the orders of his Holiness, the Pope?”
Henrietta felt admiration for Pope Vittorio for this kind of treatment of the refugees. Even the church representatives were fervent about this. Needless to say, Romalia symbolized a cathedral that had open arms…
Julio spoke as if he was talking to himself.
“Unfortunately, Romalia is nothing like the 'kingdom of light' that these people have come to believe in. The world is full of contradictions. The Pope wishes to somehow sort through all of this contradictions for the truth.”
St. Aegis the 32nd, the Romalian Pope, currently was in the middle of a meeting in his office. While Henrietta had been sitting in the waiting room for quite some time, Julio’s wonderful conversations as her host kept her from being bored.
About 30 minutes later, the door opened and some children popped out, making Henrietta jump. While it wasn’t the most graceful of motions, she did manage to hold onto the portion of her dress wrapped in her hand.
“Chief, thank you very much.”
The child who appeared to be the eldest bowed his head, with the others around him following suit. After the bowing, the children left cheerfully without noticing the Queen of Tristain right next to the door.
“I was praised by Chief for my ‘good memory’.”
“Me too! Me too!”
As Henrietta and Agnes tried to hide their bewilderment, Julio prompted Henrietta to enter.
“Well then, please enter. My master awaits.”
The Pope’s audience chamber was in disarray. The office of the Pope, the highest official of the religious order… rather than that, it looked more like the city’s library or the room of an academy professor. The walls were tightly aligned with bookshelves, filled to the brim with collections of books. At a glance of the titles, it was not just titles of religious origins.
Most of them were in fact about historical records, especially those that revolved around wartimes or natural history.
There were even novels about dramas and comical stories mixed in.
On top of the large desk was more of the same type of books piled all around.
Lately, Romalia’s publishing office issued a book of the ‘true translation of the Founder’s prayers’. It was a book that recorded the exploits of the Founder, making it a sacred text.
Dusting off that particular book, a man with long hair, in his twenties, was there. For a moment, Henrietta mistook the man as some kind of servant. However, when she gazed upon his noble, fine facial features, she was taken aback.
At her voice, St. Aegis the 32nd, Vittorio Cervale turned around.
“If it isn’t Henrieta-dono. Please wait a moment. I’m in the middle of tidying up…”
Julio asked in a joyful tone.
“Your Holiness, if I may, hasn’t Queen Henrietta come all the way from Tristain to speak with you?”
“I know I know, Julio. But I promised to teach the children writing and arithmetic during this time.”
Calling the queen of another country to come all the way here and making her wait is pretty surprising… even more so for the reason of educating the city’s children!
Feeling neither disrespected nor angered, Henrietta was mostly just dumbfounded.
Henrietta stared at the peculiar, but strangely beautiful air that Vittorio held… she wondered just what kind of person the Pope of Romalia was.
Just looking at the sudden summons that she received from him in Tristain, it was no mistake that a person such as him was unprecedented.
“For tidying, isn’t it better to call a servant to do it?”
Julio said with a bitter smile as he waved his hands at him. Julio’s attitude towards his master seemed to be overly familiar. This kind of relationship between a master and servant didn’t occur in Tristain or Gallia, so this also surprised Henrietta.
“I can’t leave this task to others. I have to organize the books myself. Otherwise, I won’t know where it is when I want to read it.”
That statement from the Pope was a bit strange, making a giggle escape from Henrietta’s mouth. After finally finishing arranging the book, the Pope turned towards the queen.
“Sorry for the long wait. I give you the warmest welcomes.”
Words could not describe the charm that was held within his smile. While he was barely in his twenties, his eyes shone with the saintly affection of a much more experienced person.
To claim the role of the Pope at such a young age, how much talent and effort was required?
With that in mind, he certainly had the credentials. If not, he wouldn’t have been able to wear the Pope’s Mitre.
Just how much talent does this Pope hold…?
Henrietta was curious to know what dreams and ambitions he held.
For what reason did he call her out for official government business, such that she had to breathlessly rush to Romalia?
“As a devout follower of Founder Brimir, I have arrived as his Holiness wishes.”
Henrietta deeply bowed her head.
Officially, there were only two people whose position reigned above her. One is King Joseph of Gallia… and the other is Vittorio. Therefore, it was proper etiquette for her to bow lowly.
“Please raise your head. Why, this hat has already been passed to the prime minister of your country. There is no need for such formalities.”
Vittorio quickly mouthed to her. That was the truth. The prime minister of Tristain who was dispatched from Romalia, Cardinal Mazarin, had been recognized as the next Pope. However, during the election assembly 3 years ago, Mazarin had turned down the request sent from Romalia.
For that reason, there were even groundless rumors about the usurpation of the government of Tristain. However, these rumors more or less cleared up after Henrietta’s coronation.
As for the true reason for his rejection, not even Queen Henrietta knew. Mazarin had never said a word about it.
“I am truly fond of Mazarin-dono. Now, your Highness, to make things simple, would you please pardon my request?”
Henrietta glanced back at Agnes, who hid behind her. Sensing that the main topic of the visit was at hand, she contemplated signaling Agnes to leave.
But, Vittorio shook his head.
“No, ‘Miss Escort’ here should also be present. In any case, it appears that the Miss is aware of the situation.”
Henrietta peered back at Agnes. Agnes, slightly blushing with discomfort, nodded in agreement. It was the first time that Henrietta had seen such an expression on the face of the Captain of the Musketeer Corps, which surprised her.
Not even regarding the pardon for his question, Henrietta was pondering of a good way to break the silence.
“Have you noticed the contradiction of this country’s beliefs?”
Vittorio instead asked Henrietta a question. A shocked expression hung on her face momentarily before she nodded seriously.
“It is as you see. While it is quite embarrassing, we are far from being the supposed ‘kingdom of light’ that we represent. On one hand, there are people who are lacking their daily bread while life goes on as the priests discuss about their own problems at each meeting. This is a world where faith is left on the ground and people everywhere focus on their own profits.”
“If a may say, your Holiness has the authority to…”
“I do realize that. Even so, I am already trying my best. Taking into account of each church in every region, I barely have control through the main cathedral. Each sect of the church has a duty to reach out to the poor and construct shelters to take them in. In order for the people to obtain bread cheaply, free cities bearing no taxation should be established. But instead, banter and ridicule from some new followers have not been few. What kind of trash are they spouting! New followers and those claiming heresy are just trying to give their share of complaints. It’s the same as if I was facing the Reconquista.”
The Pope was trying his best. That was not a lie. Henrietta remembered the poor in the cathedral and the children on her way here.
“I have personally received support from an orphanage.”
Julio said proudly.
Vittorio nodded and continued speaking.
“However, I am at my limit. If I force the clergymen to involve themselves any further, it may cause some internal discord. The end result may be the spilling of blood from fellow followers of Founder Brimir. I need to step up and put on the mantle of the Pope that the people have chosen for me. No matter how just the cause… people will not wish to sacrifice their own prosperity. Also, I can no longer remain quiet about these issues. How foolish is it to fight each other over matters such as differences in doctrines and class? Ultimately, all people are the sons of God.”
Henrietta nodded. She felt the same way.
Vittorio spread out both his arms.
“Why is it that our doctrine has fallen so low? Why has our own clergymen excused themselves from God in order to indulge in the benefits of this day and age?”
With a voice full of regret, Vittorio exclaimed. His back trembled. He bit his lip strongly as if the pain were distracting him from his own lack of power.
“…It is because I don’t have enough power..”
“Yes. It is like the last time I spoke with you about how ‘power is necessary’. We need to proudly show off the strength of the leader’s authority. To avoid being buried in unnecessary political strife and wars between the nobles and clergymen, we must demonstrate the true strength of God.”
“…is this about recovering the Holy Land from the elves?”
Vittorio nodded in confirmation.
“For the sake of awakening everyone to the true faith, there is no other option than to invoke ‘God’s miracle’ by recovering the Holy Land from the elves…”
That one phrase at the end of the letter that she had received earlier came back to mind.
Vittorio, at that point, turned around and faced towards one of his bookshelves. ‘Hump!’ he went with a blank expression, as his fingers grabbed a hold of the edge of the shelf, and he tried to slide it over.
However, he just didn’t have enough strength to move it at all. After sticking his tongue out at it, he motioned for his beloved Julio to come over.
“Julio. Please come give me a hand.”
“You should have requested me to in the first place.”
“Why, it wouldn’t do if I didn’t try it myself first.”
Both of them snickering at each other, they combined their power to slide the bookshelf over.
As the heavy object slid noisily, something behind it appeared…
Embedded in the wall was a large, elliptical-shaped mirror, 2 meters tall and about a meter wide.
“Is this the ‘miracle’?”
Henrietta asked, but Vittorio shook his head.
“No, the ‘miracle’ that I plan to use is not a material object. But even though you cannot touch it, that doesn’t mean that you cannot see it either.”
Vittorio prompted Julio to fetch his holy wand.
Julio picked up the small box that was placed on top of the table, containing a wand forged with holy materials, and respectfully presented it to Vittorio.Taking it into his hand, Vittorio chanted a spell in a low voice like a prayer.
Clear notes of a beautiful ballad that she had never heard before graced the ears of Henrietta.
[Eulu Il Quoqen Sil Mari…]
It looked like the Pope was offering a prayer to God.
How much time had passed?
It seemed to have been quite a while. But in reality, had five minutes even passed since the aria began?
After the spell was finished, Vittorio gently pointed the wand at the mirror, as if offering it a blessing.
As Henrietta stared at the mirror, it began to shine.
The light suddenly disappeared, and something was starting to be reflected in the mirror.
It was not the reflection of the current room.
Looking at the scene, Henrietta let out a cry.
It was the first time that Henrietta had ever been this frightened.
Vittorio muttered with satisfaction.
“This is the founder’s lineage… the ‘Void’.”
“In ancient times, spells were prayers offered to God. Through these prayers to God, we obtained the miracle of magic. With the downfall of faith, God hides from us in these present times. This is an undeniable reality. An ancient spell such as this is appropriate as a prayer connecting us with God.”
“Your Holiness, even you…”
Henrietta looked at Vittorio as she was still shaking.
“Yes, Henrietta-dono. With my destiny to turn the people into servants of God, I have been given the miracle of the Void from God.”
“Oh…! Your Majesty. Your Majesty.”
Under the blinding holy radiance, Henrietta could not help but bend down her knees.
“We have to gather them, in order to have a grand ‘prayer’ and then to call upon a grand miracle.”
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