King Darios XIII was initially depressed when Cardinal Aldera requested an audience with him. After all, even as king, he was powerless against the cardinal and had to concede on multiple points in the past.
Cardinal Aldera was an especially haughty and greedy individual. He was the kind of person that King Darios wanted to distance himself from as much as possible.
Fortunately, the cardinal has gotten too fat that he hasn’t made a visit to the palace in the recent years.
However, on the appointed day, the Aldera that appeared before King Darios was a slim one. So much so that King Darios thought it was another person.
Moreover, unlike before where Aldera dressed gaudily, his present attire was simple and subdued but still good enough for an audience with a king.
“A-are you really Cardinal Aldera…?”
After kneeling down, Cardinal Aldera(?) spoke to dispel King Darios’s doubts.
“Your majesty, it’s a pleasure to see you once again. Yes, there is no mistake. I am truly Cardinal Aldera of the Grand Cathedral of Areisler.”
Even the cardinal’s way of talking was completely like another person’s. Notably, haughtiness was absent from his words.
Moreover, it was thought to be impossible for the cardinal kneel down before somebody, even the king, yet here he was doing so unprompted.
It was only his voice that remained mostly the same. It has changed a little—likely due to his major weight loss—but it was unmistakably the voice of Cardinal Aldera.
“What, what has happened to you?”
King Darios was beginning to worry that the cardinal might have been possessed by something.
However, with a cheery face, Cardinal Aldera responded.
“Your majesty, I have been reborn.”
“Until recently, I have been dazzled by money and power. I have lived shamelessly, especially as a man serving the gods…Thankfully, I have seen the error of my ways and deeply regret being like that.”
It was certainly true that the churches were corrupted and it was no exaggeration to say that the most corrupt of them all was Cardinal Aldera.
Yet now, against all odds, that same Cardinal Aldera has apparently had a massive change of heart.
“I am completely ashamed for letting myself get fat like I was some pig. Moreover, I am deeply sorry about being so discourteous to you, your majesty, multiple times in the past.”
Cardinal Aldera said so with a deep bow.
King Darios was baffled once again.
“All that aside for the moment, I have come before your majesty to discuss an important matter.”
“What is this important matter?”
While wondering what could be more important than discussing about Cardinal Aldera’s transformation, King Darios listened in with a blank face.
And when he heard what Cardinal Aldera had to say, he was baffled all over again.
“All churches including the Grand Cathedral of Areisler shall henceforth no longer ask for offerings of any kind in exchange for the rite of blessing. The rite shall now be available for everyone, no matter their lot in life.”
◇ ◇ ◇
After Cardinal Aldera left the village, he apparently went straight to the royal capital and met with the king.
The result of that meeting was that offerings were no longer needed in order to receive the rite of blessing.
In other words, even if one wasn’t a noble or a wealthy person, they would still have access to a blessing.
When the king negotiated about making the rite free before, the Cathedral of Areisler was supposedly against the idea. Yet now, Areisler was one to propose it.
The king has also expressed his surprise in Cardinal Aldera’s transformation.
“Furthermore, just as he declared to us the other day, the church in our village is finally recognized as an official church. Alongside that, I am also now recognized as a real priest.”
Millia informed me so.
Until now, the church I arbitrarily built with my Gift wasn’t authorized to function by the Grand Cathedral of Areisler. Of course, Millia was also not recognized as a priest by them.
As a so-called heretical church, it would have meant trouble if we got discovered by the other churches. In fact, after enough villagers and travelers were going in and out of the village, we decided to move our activities underground.
“Now that we don’t have to worry anymore, let’s move the church somewhere it can be noticed more easily. Oh, and let’s also make it grander than what it currently is. It needs to be bigger and grander if it’s to be the religious center of the kingdom, after all.”
“The religious center of the kingdom?”
“It’s nothing. Forget I said anything.”
Last I checked, the religious center within the kingdom was still be the Grand Cathedral of Areisler…
“At any rate, any idea why Cardinal Aldera changed so much? The king said it was like he met with a completely different person…”
“I don’t know for sure…but maybe he just heard the voices of the gods?”