As told by Chezare, five days later, Ardis was branded a heretic by the church. There was a huge shock for the people in capital hearing that Ardis who is the Three Great Demons Subjugator and the champion of the Lotus Cup being branded a heretic.
There’re people who thought it was impossible, just as they thought, or could it really be like that. While various people was having various kind of reaction, the news of Ardis being branded a heretic continued to spread in the capital.
The praises for Ardis’s contribution and the respect for his strength by young uns quickly overturned into negativeness. It was like a strong infectious disease spreading throughout the capital.
However, the silver lining was that there were also many who still stood on Ardis’s side. After all, unlike in Thoria, he had brought great benefits to the capital by subjugating the Three Great Demons, winning the war with the Empire, and also winning in the Lotus Cup as the first outsider.
Although they couldn’t directly oppose the church’s branding, Ardis felt a little better knowing there are lesser people than expected seeing him negatively. Despite so, Ardis cannot walk in the capital without covering his face, so he was wearing a suitable robe that he bought in order to hide him entirely.
Entering one of the tavern in the entertainment district, Ardis let himself up to the second floor without even looking for the owner of the bar. In an atmosphere that seems like it’s often used for incognito meetings, Ardis opened the door to his destination room after a knock.
There was a person in advance.
「Yo. To think that we will have to meet like this in secret. 」
A voice called out to Ardis as he got into the room.
「I mean, I could’ve visited the Duke’s residency though? 」
「Please spare us from that. No matter how milord is powerful within nobles, it’ll be a huge matter having a church branded heretic visit us in broad daylight.」
It was none other than the guard captain of the Duke Nyrestia house, Moore・Greystar. There was no one else besides them here.
Unlike their idle chatter in the Duke’s residency, they couldn’t let their guard down here. They conversed while standing in a position that allows them to easily move at any time.
「On top of that, there’s apparently a group at our place too. Seems like――」
「They’re waiting to ambush me if I visit there, right. 」
Ardis continued Moore’s sentence. Moore nodded wordlessly.
「Did the Duke said anything? 」
「He would contact the church to try to resolve it, so stay put for a while, apparently. 」
「I’m more believable than the church? 」
「Well, that’s impossible normally right. 」
Moore agreed with Ardis who showed a surprised expression.
「Rather than that. 」
Moore folded his arms and had a bitter expression.
「You will tell me the truth right? Since milord is going all this way out to cover for you. You won’t do anything to betray that right? 」
「……What do you want to know? 」
Finding it hard to refuse, Ardis asked after a while of hesitation.
「The reason behind the branding, the twins. Are you really raising them in secret? 」
「……There wasn’t a Goddess in that world. So there’s no teaching that the twins are evil beings. There’s no reason for me to eradicate them, and in my eyes, they’re only children. 」
「In other words, it’s the truth? 」
「What if it is? 」
Ardis asked intimidatingly.
「No need to be so cautious. At the very least, I know you’re from another world. I’m not that narrow-minded to push our world’s values to someone from another world. I and milord aren’t devout believers either. Majority of the folks in the capital are also similar. Leaving aside remote villages, especially people in capital are not that devout. There’re also people who are just saying so in front of the church. Only the church, some nobles or devout believers would be noisy about it. 」
Is that so, as Ardis closed his eyes.
「Well, just stay put for the time being. Milord said this too, with time, he should be able to do something about it. 」
「I’m curious, why is the Duke willing to do this much? Sure, we knew each other for quite a while, but I’m just a normal mercenary in the Duke’s eyes right? 」
「Ah――, that’s……. Ojou-sama is……」
Moore’s eyes were swimming.
「Minerva is? 」
「She’s very agitated. Insisting that you’re not an apostle of the Evil God at all cost, she’s almost on her way to march into the church. 」
「Make sure you stop her. 」
If something like that happened, it would be an even more absurd news. Undoubtedly, it will ruin all her future marriage prospects completely.
「Of course. It’ll be bad for her reputation. A lot of resources were spent for her Cleansing Rite, if rumors of her going against the church went out in just a month, then all of master’s planning will be for naught. 」
Of course, the Duke and Moore knew about it as well. Although Minerva herself wouldn’t be willing, she would be put under surveillance and restrictions for the time being.
「I see, I understand the situation now. I will stay put for the time being. Sorry for Minerva but, her lessons will be put on hold for the time being. 」
「Are your savings fine? 」
「No problem. I have been doing subjugation requests so far. It’ll probably last for about a year. 」
It’s not the first time that bad rumors spread about Ardis. However, rather than rumors spreading within the Thoria territorial army in the past, it is now officially backed by the church.
The severity is totally different. However, thanks to a warning from Chezare, Ardis had time to prepare.
He had already arranged a way of contacting Moore, and also left the inn in advance as well.
Since the house where the twins and Nere is living is in a remote forest, Ardis would only appear in the capital if he’s buying the bare minimum supplies, and even if he does, he would cover himself fully with a robe.
It would’ve been a hurdle for any normal citizen, however, Ardis who lives outside the capital from the beginning and has enough savings is not that troubled.
However, that’s if the situation persists like this.
「But well, the problem if they’re willing sit tight as well. 」
「What is happening! 」
In the midst of the Holguin territory, the previous marquis of the territory threw a glass into the wall. The glass shattered into pieces smashing into the wall, and the wine scattered dyed the carpet on the ground.
「Even though he was branded a heretic, he’s still not found!? 」
His anger was directed towards the old servant who didn’t falter at all.
「He was last seen in the capital five days before the public announcement. There’s a possibility that he had left the capital for a long term request……」
「No, there’s no way! I have made sure there’s no request for that brat. ……Did the information leak somehow?」
No matter how secretive he was being, the matter involved the church, and even many shady organizations. With more people knowing about it, keeping it a secret will be more difficult naturally.
「Even though preparation was done in order to restrain him as soon as possible……! 」
The same time when the church branded him a heretic, the previous marquis had made sure to send hired mercenaries or the church’s inquisition army towards where the Countless Swords Sorcerer normally visits, his frequented inn, tavern, shops, and even Duke Nyrestia’s residency.
It would’ve been perfect if he was caught easily, or if he resisted against the inquisition army, then the previous marquis would be able to spread the news of him being a heretic and going against the Goddess’s jurisdiction.
The previous marquis would never forgive the person who had shamed him in the noble society, crushed his face, and forced him to live in seclusion. He must make sure to take his revenge.
Branding him as a heretic, ruining his fame, chasing him out of any human settlements, and finally die under humiliation and regrets. That’s what the previous marquis thought would befall the Countless Swords Sorcerer without doubts.
Despite so, the person himself wasn’t seen for the past five days after the announcement.
「Isn’t it fine even if he escaped realizing what would happen in advance. Being branded as a heretic is spread to other churches as well. He would have no choice but to live in the shadows in the future. 」
「I will not be satisfied with that much! 」
The previous marquis shut the old servant with that. It was irritating for the previous marquis to see that there’re many voices on the Countless Swords Sorcerer’s side.
「I don’t like it……, I don’t like it at all! 」
His unstable looking face distorted as he walked back and forth in the room. With his left hand on his right arm, his right hand supporting his chin, he muttered to no one.
「Come to think of it, that little brat, he’s living in the Corsas Forest……. Is he waiting for the situation to change? Although it’s unlikely that the branding would be reversed, with the Duke behind him, it’s not impossible……」
The previous marquis who was finding a way to corner the Countless Swords Sorcerer was suddenly struck with anxiousness.
「It might be a bad idea to sit and wait……. Is it better to thoroughly trample him immediately? It’s not strange to have him subjugated now since he’s branded a heretic. Maybe asking that priest would be good……」
The previous marquis recalled the priest that he has eyes on for the occasion this time, a priest with the special characteristic of having plump ears. The priest who believed the Countless Swords Sorcerer is an apostle of the Evil God without doubts had moved accordingly as he wished.
Not just unifying the voices within the church, getting the central church of the western continent to acknowledge the branding is praiseworthy of him. Of course, the priest had no idea that he was dancing on the previous marquis’s palm as a pawn.
Although any clergyman are hard to deal with, they’re also easy to be used since they’re normally devout and narrow-visioned.
「I have donated a lot. Make sure to be use of me. 」
The previous marquis had an eerie grin, as he instructed the old servant by his side. Pushing through his orders to the old servant who showed a difficult face, he recalled Lord Thoria who showed interest in the matter, and started calculating the possibility of getting help from Thoria.
The private soldiers of the previous marquis and the territorial army, then mercenaries who don’t like the Countless Swords Sorcerer, and also the inquisition army and reinforcement from Lord Thoria.
There’s a need to choose the best since their destination is in the Corsas Forest. Naturally, the people they can bring will be lesser. However, the opponent is all but one person.
Certainly his strength was proven in the Lotus Cup, but the Countless Swords Sorcerer won’t get by unscathed facing that many people.
The previous marquis thought that the story of him winning the war with the Empire was exaggerated. On top of that, he thought that protecting the twins would make the Countless Swords Sorcerer difficult to retaliate.
He heard from Lord Thoria that he has another female mercenary on his side but, just one mercenary more wouldn’t matter at all.
「Hmph, make sure to savor the consequences of shaming me. 」