Chapter 17:

The General, The Pope, and The Queen

Magic and the Black Cloaks

"Pope Ayland, please do understand the position we're in as a country."

"Your Highness, I know what you mean but the people wouldn't like something like that. By the church's estimation, more people believe in the power of Six rather than the crown. I'm helping you by staying in my position."

At this very moment, the Queen and the Pope were having a deep conversation about power. The Queen was a deep believer in the fact she and her government had the most power in the system but the two-party system where she and the Pope shared the same power was becoming something of a nuisance.

It made decisions slow or too fast, not to mention the General of the Army was also a powerful voice around the country. The Queen was glad she kept to her own devices and stayed out of most political bouts, she only ever made a choice if she had to.

The military felt like its own entity sometimes which was another thing that had the Queen on the ropes from time to time. She and her government felt like they had the smallest amount of power out of the three which was bad seeing as this country was usually ruled by a party of one but the last few generations had the church becoming more powerful and when the people spoke, it'd be best to listen.

Just like what happened in the Breidal capital only a week or so ago, listening to the people was the most basic form of keeping a government together. When they outnumber you, it's best to conform and not resist, or else an uprising might be on your hands.

"The war with Breidal is over, other countries seeing you speak so much is calling my authority into question. The Glacia Kingdom to the West even said I was unnecessary!" The short-haired blonde Queen lightly hit her fist on the table.

"But, you know that's not true. The Six believed we were going to win so I had no say in any of the war, you led us politically while General Lumina did an excellent job guiding our soldiers through the mess. If anything, the only thing I did was keep the people's faith that we would win. Your Highness, may I say something that might offend you?"

The Queen's mildly upset face didn't change but she didn't say anything back, that usually meant go ahead.

"Okay then, Your Highness, I think you should worry more about your appearance here than what some small Kingdom to our West is saying."

The Queen let out a small exhale through her nose and said, "You might be right. But the fact of the matter is, I still believe the Church should steep down from its governmental roles. I don't care if you lead the people but I don't think religion has any place in that space." Her honest opinion came out which left the Pope searching for words again.

"...Once again, Your Highness, I have to decline. The people wouldn't like that, we're the closest thing they have to a voice while the general political side you're on listens to the people, we're the ones that push for the changes. Unless you are able to do what we do, we have our purpose and you have yours. I, and my followers, will not be stepping down." Though the Pope was very soft-spoken, she was adamant about her position.

The quiet nature of the room was also tense, truth be told, these two weren't on very good terms with each as people or as leaders. That wasn't ever shown to the public but internally, they mostly didn't like to interact with each other.

"If only you were more like your mother..."

Another thing here, both of these girls were awfully young for their positions. The Pope was elected into the papacy when her mother died last year, at the moment, she was only 24 while the Queen was 26.

She's been Queen since the age of 20 thanks to some very unfortunate circumstances with her father retiring from the position. She was more than prepared which is exactly why she's kept her position for so long, it worries her that things were shifting especially when such big events were coming around the corner in just a month or two.

"Speaking of my mother, you speak highly of her but think so little of me? Why do you... detest me?"

The Queen looked away from the prying eyes of the Pope, it wasn't a question she wanted to answer but could, it would quite literally bring everything to a stop if she were to say. Some things are better left unsaid and the queen feels like this is one of those moments.

"That I cannot say. But... Clare, I don't hate you."

"I don't think I'll ever understand you..."

The door opened to the meeting room and the person they were waiting for finally appeared. The silver-haired general walked into the office with two Executioners standing behind them, the Black Cloaks stood by the door but the Pope and the Queen were confused with the heavy defense.

"Her Holiness, Your Highness, we've- never mind. For now, I think we should focus on the Summer Festival coming up."

The General came in being polite which is why they were worried that they cut themselves off. Lumina was a quiet one but she was always a bit disrespectful when talking to others, even if she was below them.

"General Lumina, what do you mean by that? You can't come in here with Executioners, correctly address us for once in your life, and then cut yourself off." The Queen stood up giving a glare to the General who sat down and started spinning her officer hat on her finger.

"I'll tell you once we have more proof. But, we've finalized the country name change, haven't we?"

"We have. We're recognized internationally as United Ardent. I still don't know why you had to put united in there but it has been finalized since last night." The Queen folded her arms as the two others smiled.

"Good, whoever decided to name us the Empire, I would like to properly kick them in the face."

"Such a despicable name, it doesn't make us look any good when at war, though we may be finished here, I'm sure that isn't the end of the fighting just yet." The Pope was the one to come out and say this but the others agreed.

"True, we won but there has been a small movement starting to appear in a Breidal city, we're not dictators so I haven't called any troops to put it down." Lumina shrugged and put her hat back on, she looked back to her Executioners to see that they still had their hoods on, "You two, I know I may wear a hat but you two should've taken your hoods off when in the presence of the Pope and Queen."

Her lax statement made the two unsure if they should or not, after all, an Executioner's face was a pretty unknown thing. Even when a clear look was given, there was an additional spell on the hoods to make the face somewhat unrecognizable and forgettable. Because of their very offensive jobs, enemies were plenty, both out of the country and in the country.

The two looked at each other and took off their hoods, and the room was surprised at the two under the hoods.

One was a Ralian Prince and the other was the daughter of a Duke.

"I present to you, Major Winter Flynt and Captain Akari Kazami. These two lovelies were a major part of... a lot of things, really. Definitely some of the strongest people in the army at the moment, that's why with no war going on, I have them on protection duty." the General grinned as her sharp silver eyes came back to the Queen.

"Wait, Prince Winter?!" The Pope was the one who first notice him.

"You know me?" Winter spoke up which made Akari almost smack him on instinct, she had raised her hand but stopped.

"No wait, you are a prince?"

"Now, you're the one speaking out of turn, idiot. Go back to being a statue."

Akari returned to her position while glaring at her superior.

"Of course, I know you! I had actually wanted to meet with you but the ongoing war made that really hard. General Lumina, do you mind if I borrow your guard for a while after this meeting?"

The General shrugged, "In the world of politics, he's ranks higher than me. He can do whatever, but we should really start moving on the Summer Festival next month."

With the thought back out there, the Pope whipped into shape while the Queen moved her attention away from Winter, or should I say glare from him to the meeting at hand.

The Summer Festival was a celebration held every year at the start of Summer, or more specifically, the first three months of Summer starting. This year's planning was a bit harder than usual thanks to the obvious thing that's been on their plate for the past two months and a half.

Using this Festival could provide a good proving ground to show they weren't the war-hungry country that some were making them out to be. Though they weren't blamed for the war starting, the steamrolling of Breidal in just about a month was worrisome for others.

The meeting conducting the Festival went very smoothly. The military would be providing security, the Queen would do most of the paperwork associated with getting everything, while the Church would hype the event up.

It took place in the massive capital city, if anything, once the announcement of when the Festival would be happening some shops and places would start setting up on their own.

Two weeks long with one of the main centerpieces being a warriors tournament that was open to anybody who wanted to enter. Fighting after the war may look somewhat wrong but it's been going since the founding of the country, they wouldn't stop it before, they won't stop it now.

Forty minutes had gone by and once things were wrapping up, General Lumina was the first one to get up.

"...Thank you for the time, ladies. Captain, we'll be going. Major, stay if you want." General Lumina let out a yawn and walked over to her Executioners, but pulled Winter down to whisper something to him, "Listen, this isn't confirmed or anything but the Pope might have a thing for strong fighters, you're one of the strongest, just be careful and don't do anything stupid..."

Winter nodded to the leader causing her to smile.

"Good. Captain, we'll be leaving."

Akari flipped her hood back up and opened the door leaving with the General.

The Pope gave a light smile toward Winter but it stopped when she noticed the Queen wasn't leaving the room. That would be problematic and awkward, she wanted a general conversation and also a private one, having someone who openly didn't like her hearing in on it would be plain uncomfortable.

"Oh, Major Flynt. Could you come with me?"

The Pope stood letting her robes fall down, the pure white and gold accent robe was quite beautiful but Winter flipped his hood back up.

"Of course, Your Holiness. Direct and I shall follow."

She walked over and Winter opened the door for her and gave one last look to the queen, she was glaring at him again. He didn't know why, he's never met her before, his and her country had no problems with each other, in reality, their relationship should be amazing seeing as he helped end the war.

Thinking that, he was absolutely baffled by the cold glare trying to pierce through him at the moment.

"Your Highness, I hope you have a good day." He said causing her to throw up a fake smile.

"You too, Prince Winter."

He felt like it's been forever since someone last called him that. Especially, someone of power, he paid her hostility no mind as he had something more important to do and that was protecting the Pope wherever she wanted to go.

He just hopes this doesn't devolve into some sort of adventure or him single handily having to rescue her from some sort of disaster...