The city of Areisler was located north of a territory that was under the direct control of the royal family.
It was a special area in that it was an autonomous region controlled by the Grand Cathedral of Areisler.
That Grand Cathedral was the very same body who governed all the churches within the kingdom. Since all priests who could perform the rite of blessing for Gifts belonged to the churches, the Grand Cathedral was undeniably a powerful entity. Even the royal family and prominent nobles would find it difficult to oppose them.
“What is the meaning of this? Why is it that none of them have returned yet?”
The one to express such frustration was Aldera, the head of the Grand Cathedral.
He was a man in his mid-sixties. He has held and abused his position for nearly 20 years now. He spends most of his day sitting down his obese body—to the point where simply standing up took considerable effort—in a luxurious sofa while garbed in opulent vestments.
Young and beautiful women, whom he meticulously picked himself, attended to him all day around.
The only movements he did for himself were pretty much messily devouring the endlessly-served food and occasionally barking orders to his subordinates in between bites. It was no wonder to anyone how he got so fat.
He was so self-indulgent he didn’t at all look like a person who served the gods. However, due to his position, no one could ever admonish him for it. At least, not to his face.
But at the moment, he was extremely anxious about something: the wasteland village in the northern region of the former Albert territory.
He found it puzzling that it was still referred to as a village when it supposedly had grown into a megacity, but what concerned him more was the rumors about an unsanctioned church which was granting just about anybody Gifts.
Such a church could explain the rapid growth of the said village.
Gifts were powerful things.
As such, there were risks involved in giving it to someone as well.
In the event that an evil person were to obtain a powerful Gift, it could mean disaster. For that reason, the church had been limiting who would receive the rite of blessing. Or so the church asserts.
While there was some degree of truth to that, the main reason for limiting the recipients of blessings was so that its value would increase, thereby also increasing amount donated to the church. If some even penniless commoners had access to blessings, the church would have a hard time justifying their demand for large offerings.
Obviously, the nobles also benefited from the commoners’ lack of access to Gifts. Only a few had objected to the ways the church did things.
And so, as far as the Grand Cathedral was concerned, an unauthorized entity that was handing out Gifts left and right couldn’t be ignored.
They had sent multiple people to investigate the wasteland village, but even now, not a single one of them have returned. Not even a report has turned up.
“What are those fools doing? Can’t they even manage to send a report…”
While fuming, Aldera’s pig-like body shook.
“Arrgh, enough with this slow approach! It’s just a village, so why the hell am I being so cautious!? I should just openly probe the place from top to bottom!”
Late as it was, Aldera was now thinking that doing a careful covert investigation was a mistake.
“I had received several incredulous reports, so I had decided to play it safe and avoid provoking that place, but what is there to be afraid of!? We’re the Grand Cathedral of Areisler, for crying out loud! Even nobles and the royal family bow down to us! Not to mention, if they’ve been harboring an unofficial priest, they’ve been committing nothing short of blasphemy to the gods! They must be eliminated! Oi, summon Cain!”
Upon hearing Aldera’s command, a female attendant rushed out of the room.
A few minutes later, a man who looked like he was in the middle of his forties entered the room.
“You called for me, Your Eminence?”
The one who knelt before Aldera was Cain, the high-ranked priest who also served as Aldera’s righthand man.
Cain had a stern face and a bald head. So, rather than a priest, he looked more like a gang member.
“Cain, go to that wasteland village and search the place thoroughly, turn it upside down if you have to! If you find any evidence of a heretical church or priest, put them to the sword at once!”
“As you command.”
Like that, the Grand Cathedral of Areisler sent a large-scale investigation group toward the village in the wasteland.
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