Chapter 18:

The Great Cathedral of the Six

Magic and the Black Cloaks

"Prince Winter, How do you like our country so far?"

At the moment, Winter was walking through the Great Cathedral of the Six with Pope Ayland giving him a personal tour. He understood his position as a person of power but even this almost felt like too much here, mostly because of how close the Pope was at times. General Lumina's warning was still bouncing back into his mind every now and then as he was trying to keep in mind that there might some sort of attraction to him from the holy person.

"Hm... I can't really say, most of the time I'm at a place I can't tell you about. The capital city here is quite beautiful though. Big buildings, a lot of diversity between the people, and plenty of places to stop and take pictures or have fun." Winter nodded his head.

He was in uniform but no cloak. The difference between the Executioner uniform and officer uniforms was pretty minuscule which was just another way to have Black Cloaks blend in with the fellow soldiers. As you could probably guess, the most recognizable feature to tell if someone was an Executioner was the cloak along with a uniform.

"I'm glad to hear you enjoy our city. I also thank your contributions to our war, from how General Lumina addressed you, I think you might be one of her favorites to bring around."

"Well, me and my second in command, Kazami. We're a very good pair for each other."

"...I would imagine so. Is there anything you would like to learn?"

"Yes, do women have more magical power in this country?"

He's been wondering this ever since he saw that his class was a majority of women. He didn't really care ultimately, a good soldier, leader, or anything else, their gender didn't matter as long as they were good at their job. But, he was interested in if he was correct in his theory that women are more naturally gifted in this country.

"Oh? You've taken notice then."

"Yeah. Besides me, I only have three other men in my class. The Pople, Queen, and Grand General are also all women. I had guessed that women are more magically gifted in this country which led to them taking higher positions of power."

"Oh! Then you'd be completely right, actually. For whatever reason, women are just a bit more magically gifted than men. That's why it's more usual to see men in the general army and women in specialized magic roles. General Lumina used to be a soldier herself but rose through the ranks pretty quickly thanks to her magnificent plans. I was selected by the Cardinals to become the next Pope thanks to my great Holy Magic ability and the people's choice. Queen Acilia was the next in line for succession since she was the only child of the King when he passed."

"Hm, interesting. Thank you for the information, Pope-"


"If we're doing that, please, just call me Winter."

She nodded along to his request, "Well, Winter. I hope you don't mind me asking but do you mind being my protection during the Summer Festival?" Her nonchalant delivery was almost perfect but Winter's eyebrows shot up as he slicked back his dreads momentarily.

"I can't make a decision like that by myself, you would have to ask General Lumina."

"Well, to improve our country's political relations, Prince Winter, would you mind accompanying me for a day during the Summer Festival?"

Now he was really stuck and his face was saying it. His eyes were opened and no smile was on his face, she was really pushing this and to a request like that, he couldn't exactly say no.

"Well, I-"

They had to stop in their tracks as the door they were about to go through opened and the person Winter didn't expect to see any more today was standing before him.

"Akari?" He asked purely confused as to what she was doing here.

"Ah, Ma- Winter!" She moved out of the way and let them into the main hall which was mostly empty except for a few people taking pictures of the artwork and nuns wandering around.

"Captain Kazami. What are you doing here? I thought General Lumina was going to be keeping you all day?" Clare took up a defensive tone with Akari who started walking alongside the pair.

It was moments like this that Winter wished he was born as a girl instead of a guy. This situation was entirely foreign to him, he only had one idea as to why Akari would be here, Lumina sent her to interfere with Clare's plans.

"Ah, I'm sorry to intrude but General Lumina has appointed me as your guard for the foreseeable future. More than likely, until after the festival."

"When people said she thought ten steps ahead, they weren't kidding..." Winter mumbled to himself.

"What was that?" Clare asked bringing her attention back to Winter and not Akari who wasn't going away anytime soon.

"Oh, I was just saying since my second is here to protect you, I'll have to decline your protection job. For the other one, I may be able to spare some time that day, I would imagine I'm not going to be doing very much fighting and more Prince work that week so I might be able to see you then."

The smile that was brought back to the blonde-haired beauty was almost too radiant to stare at. Quite literally, her light magic activated with her elated emotions and she was glowing until she cut off her magic.

But on top of the actually radiant smile when the two thought about it, the Pope was a beautiful woman.

She had a slender frame which was largely covered by her robes while her long blonde hair was mostly exposed thanks to her not wearing anything on her head. White strands were throughout her hair with the most noticeable bunch being a mix on the right side of her bangs.

Shiny red eyes and gentle expressions would surely make her a hit in anyone's books.

"Thank you for taking it into consideration. I'll be awaiting to see you then!" She was hiding the excitement in her voice but both Akari and Winter took out their cells as a vibration came from them.

Staring down at the screen, Clare was confused why they both went so serious in a matter of a moment.

"Eh? Is something happening?"

"Nothing that you should worry about," Winter said then stuffed his cell back into his pocket.

"The Cathedral guard will have to do my job for a while. We have something coming up."

Military business was happening right in front of the Pope as the two jogged off trying not to cause trouble for anyone in the hall. You could say that Clare was somewhat upset at the interruption to the point she brought out her own cell then set up a magical connection and ringed General Lumina to pick the hell up.

"...The hell are you calling me for?"

Clare took a seat on the bench she was standing near and put on an annoyed expression.

"Did you just call those two away to get them from me?"

"Possibly. I can't talk about it and you shouldn't worry. You'll see your Prince Charming and please don't fall in love with Captain Kazami too. I heard you snatched her file too."

Clare went silent at the general's words as she didn't know she had been caught so easily, "...Whatever do you mean? I wouldn't do that..."

"Yeah, whatever you polyamorous Pope."

"How rude can you be...?! Besides, the Six say love is love, they never put a limit on how many people you could love. Though, I still say having more than three people in a relationship is a bit weird. Like- I don't even wanna think about it."

"So, was me taking away your future spouses the only thing you called me for?"

"O-oh? You really think they'll be my future spouses...?" With a hint of blush on her face, she was mostly saying this to annoy Lumina which probably worked, "...Hello? Lumina?"

The General severed the connection causing Clare to chuckle lightly. But, afterward, she felt lonely once again as no one was there.

Thanks to being such a high-profile person, many people don't simply approach her, and gaining friends was also a problem. It was hard talking to people and she was worried throughout her conversation with Winter that she was boring him more than anything. She hoped in her mind that she was incorrect but she was snapped back to reality by one of her Cardinals taking a seat right next to her.

"I'm sorry to interrupt, Holy Mother, but shouldn't you be somewhere a little more private? Or at least have more security? The general public is taking great notice of you."

Clare didn't even realize that the people that were here were staring and taking pictures. This wouldn't be a problem if her guards were still with her but instead, they were just called off somewhere else.

"Well, I was with some... soldiers. They were just called away though." She had almost dropped the ball that the two completely normal-looking soldiers she was just with were Executioners.

"I see, I could keep your company while you're down here. I'm no soldier but I'm not half-bad at fighting myself."

"I doubt anyone would attack us while we're in the Capital Cathedral. But, I appreciate the thought, Cardinal Marie."

"You know my name...?"

Clare's face descended into confusion, why wouldn't she know the names and faces of her prime Cardinals that exist within the city with her? They were practically her little council, why she wouldn't know one is beyond her, possibly because this one was one of the more reserved ones. Though Clare knew she was always one to get her work done easily and swiftly.

"Why wouldn't I?" Clare asked while looking at the woman sitting to her left.

"I just... I just thought someone like you wouldn't recognize me. You're very busy, after all. I'm surprised to see you down here like this."

Short green hair and shy sounding, most Cardinals were confident and almost boastful but always devoted to their cause and religion. This girl almost seemed the opposite, still, Clare knew she was just as devoted as the rest of the Cardinals.

She was one of the people who appointed her as a Cardinal, after all.

"I was giving a tour to my guards."

"A personal tour by Her Holiness?!" The Cardinal put a hand over her mouth as she shouted that out loud.

"Now, now... you shouldn't yell things like that..." Clare was nervous as people probably would think anyone could get those.

From earlier, it was probably also time for Clare to head somewhere a little more secure. She stood up from her seat and turned to her Cardinal saying, "I think it's my time to head back to somewhere more private. I also have a few more things to do back in my office, if anything may happen, please don't be afraid to come and stop by." She smiled and Marie stood up as well.

"Please, let me walk you back then. Safety reasons!" From the nervousness in her voice and the anticipation on her face, Clare could tell that Marie wanted to walk her back for more than just safety reasons.

"Hm, I can tell this is just because you want to be with me longer, I admire that bravery, Cardinal Marie. Yes, you can walk me back, thank you for asking." Another bright smile was flashed at the Cardinal who was turning a little red in the face.

"I'm sorry Your Holiness for asking something so selfish. I'll be sure to put in extra work today for this!"

Clare almost wanted to say what she's asking really isn't selfish but she feels like Marie wouldn't even listen and go hard into her work anyway.

It was a calm walk back with Marie also having the chance to view parts of the cathedral she usually would have no reason to visit. With this being the central part that Clare would be in, it was so peaceful that it was almost melting away any stress Marie had in her, the spaces had a lot of nature, from flower gardens to small nature centers, everything about this section was glorious to the woman who had no business seeing it until now.

But, her gaze was separated from the Pope and where she lived, her mind was in bliss being able to stay with the person she's admired since joining the Order.

But, all good things must come to an end, it didn't take long for the girls to reach Clare's office where the Queen was waiting for her talking to the two guards who were well, guarding.

"Why is she here?"

Clare looked down at the Cardinal who sounds almost scary when she said that. Or was that surprise?

"I actually have no idea?"

Acilia took notice of them and met the two in the middle.

"Clare, I need to talk to you."

"Huh? You could've just called me or something. There was no need to come all the way down here. And why is the better question?"

The queen shook her head and lightly took the girl by the wrist and started pulling her along.

"We'll discuss it inside your office."

"Wait- you can't just-! I'm sorry to cut this short, but apparently, the needy Queen wants something! See you around Cardinal! May the Six bring peace upon you!" Clare was sorry that this meeting between them was coming to such a strange end.

The blank yet sad stare she gave as Clare was pulled away almost hit a hole right into Clare's heart. But, if the Queen was being so forceful, then this must be important so she can't ignore her.

"Oh, it's fine! May I see you again, Your Holiness! May the Six keep you safe!" She said nothing to the Queen and turned on her heels and started her walk out of the area.

She was glad she got to spend as much time as she did with the person she admires the most but still wishes it was a proper goodbye and not some interrupted nonsense. Thankfully, there was always a next time...