I Became The Pope, Now What? - Chapter 613
Sylvester chose to start with his training right away. So he went home earlier that day and made dinner while waiting for Xavia. He even ordered some good old pizza from The Bard's restaurant, which had just reopened again. The main branch had relocated inside the Holy Land, near the Pope's Palace. It became the place where new dishes were made and tested, and all the accounting and money storing was done.
"I'll be eating dinner earlier for the next five nights. I have work waiting at the Pope's Palace, so I'll be sleeping there for a while," he informed Xavia once she returned from work. "No need to worry for me; I'll only be getting stronger from now."
She apologetically rushed to help Sylvester place the food on the table, "Then I will come home sooner and prepare dinner. You don't have to do this, Max. You're the Pope now. You have better things to do than cook."
"Haha, but Mum, it's the mundane things that keep me grounded. Why do you think so many nobles fall into corruption and evil? It's because they lose touch with reality and forget how to live an ordinary life. I have centuries ahead, and I can't afford to become that way," he explained, giving her a brief lesson in a way, and finally sat down to eat.
Xavia sighed and served food onto his plate, "Sometimes it feels like you're my Mum, not the other way. You're too wise for your age."
"That's why I'm the Pope," Sylvester cheekily replied and dug in.
Soon, Zeke also came back from his job at the School of Dawn and sat down to eat with them. A few minutes later, Sylvester picked up his luggage and headed out. He brought Miraj as well, since this time, he was going to train for nine months inside the void of the Elder God. And he hoped to train Miraj as well so the furry otherworldly cat could learn how to fight. After all, he wasn't going to be there forever.
The streets were empty, and there was no one to disturb his leisurely bicycle ride. The cool nightly breeze in the brightly lit streets was a treat that he would often miss. The worry for what was to come always kept his mind preoccupied, causing him to ignore the beauty of nature around him.
Eventually, he arrived at the Pope's Palace. It still had staff working to maintain the building, cleaning areas, doing some repairs, and other clerical staff preparing reports for the next day. Being a low-level Priest in the administration department wasn't an easy job. But it sure was much safer, as the Priests outside manned small monasteries and were likely to be attacked during times of war or a robbery.
He greeted everyone who crossed his path and silently went downstairs, below the levels only he was allowed. Then, using the key, he entered the mysterious door. Why was it there in the first place, or who put it there? He had no clue.
"You have returned early." The majestic voice of the Elder God resonated.
"Desperation leads to many things, Nehilius," Sylvester replied and began explaining everything he needed in the next few nights—years he was going to spend there. "...I need to become strong enough to pose a challenge to a Supreme Wizard."
The Elder God's voice held a hint of rejoicing and caution, "I never demanded you to spend more time here because excessive exertion here can be life-threatening. Your mortal vessel, crafted of flesh and fluid, may not withstand the harsh training environments."
Sylvester shrugged, having no other way but to try. "I know, so please be careful with what you allow me to train. You're an Elder God. You must know something that can help me. Anything—No matter how painful."
"Bring the blood of a dragon with you next time you come. I shall instruct you in the first stage of body mutation," The Elder god replied and started with the training. "If you desire to battle a Supreme Wizard who commands the dark elemental energies as his foundation, then you must amplify your light magic. I shall guide you in mastering it — but whether you can stand against him rests solely upon you."
Sylvester raised his hands, "I'm fine with that. As long as there's a chance, I'll latch onto it. Let's start then."
"Yes, let us begin."
Darkness flickered before Sylvester, and in an instant, he found himself standing on a sandy shore on an unfamiliar planet. Everything was dark there; the sea before him had black water, and he saw a landmass with massive palaces made of dark material in the distance. Even the sky was filled with ashen dark clouds, with soundless white thunder flickering within them, illuminating the world.
"Where am I?" He asked.
Elder God's voice started to explain, "This planet revolves around a Darkstar, conceived through the adverse fusion of a dying star and a formidable source of dark elemental magic, potent enough to transmute the star—you find yourself standing. As eons passed, the Darkstar formed planetary bodies in its vicinity, including the one under your feet at this very moment.
"The inhabitants of this world are renowned for their mastery over dark elemental powers, reaching pinnacles of prowess as Grand Wizards or perhaps even ascending beyond that prestigious rank. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves the annihilation of this realm utilizing solely the force of Light magic, for I have imposed limitations on all other means."
Sylvester didn't like it one bit, "How many are there?"
"The planet's population is six billion."
"You want me to commit genocide on an entire planet?"
With a sense of ridicule, the Elder God rebuked him, "There was no life in this realm until a mere moment ago. I conjured them for your training. From nothing, I forged their civilization, filled with memories of a grand lore. This is the might of an Elder God, mortal—this is the trajectory you've elected."
Sylvester sighed, eventually prepared to do it, "At least remove all the children from the planet and make the species look repulsive and repugnant."
With that, the Elder God's voice retreated, leaving Sylvester with nothing but the armor and sword he had brought. Miraj also sat on his shoulder, but he had a task as well.
"Remember the bullets and cannonballs I made you swallow? Try to throw them precisely at the targets, with as much speed as possible. If you can do that, then I know you'll be the world's greatest living weapon," Sylvester instructed Miraj. "Now fly in the sky, don't let the enemies track you—but stay close."
"Aye, aye, Maxy!" Miraj was excited to finally be able to fight. "I will make rivers of their blood and then drink them!"
'Where does he learn these lines?' Sylvester wondered and focused on the landmass ahead.
He already felt some movement and knew the enemies would undoubtedly attack him, the otherworldly invader.
"Let's do this!"
As Sylvester spilled his blood and sweat, training to become stronger to fight a foe no one knew about, life in the realm continued as usual. As the sunlight approached the lands, people woke up throughout East Sol and headed to work. However, life had changed for many since Sylvester had begun to exert influence across the world.
In the Duchy of Zon, farmers were suffering due to a poor harvest. And since people had less money, the internal economy of the duchy was in shambles. The small traders tried to expand and export their goods, only to be disheartened by the investment required to do so.
That was when parchments fell from the sky, talking about a money-lending business and its licensing. Quickly, farmers and business owners rushed to Rosewood Barony, where Sylvester's friend from school, Henry, operated his money-lending business.
Having done it for almost a decade, he easily managed the outflow of gold as loans. He also handled the barony as the regent, since the heir was yet to come of age. With an army at his disposal, he easily dealt with any runaways who couldn't pay back the loans.
However, something strange happened this time. The Duchy of Zon saw a sudden spike in spending, and the farmers paid their taxes, fixed their lands, bought the newly introduced fertilizers from the Highland Kingdom, and business owners sealed deals with trade convoys.
Within a few months, Zon's economy began to soar. And with that, except for the farmers, everyone else repaid the loan taken from Sylvester's company, with interest. It was the greatest single big profit. Following that event, Henry wrote books titled 'Economy of Scale' and 'Economy of Crowd,' co-authored by Sylvester, who planned to contribute a few things and make improvements.
"Joice, it appears we need to pay a visit to the Holy Land and personally show our gratitude," Duke of Zon, Zephyr Vas Zon, declared in the noble castle. "He saved us from emptying our coffers in hopes of saving the economy and people."
The Duke had a different Prima now, as Count Leopold from the old times had passed away, "Have you met the Pope before, Your Highness?"
Duke Zephyr smiled and gulped the glass of wine in his hand, "Once—I saw him lead the Jartel family's battle. Against all odds, he won with his wits and light. It was a moment of awakening for me, Count Joice. There are some people you simply cannot afford to offend."
Count Joice felt shaken enough that he simply turned on his heels, "I shall instruct the commanders to prepare the convoy."
Meanwhile, in Raftel County, not far away, stood a distinctive three-story cubical building by a major roadway connected with the waterway. The building was white in color and had strange red cross-shaped signs around it.
Lines of people walked in, and more walked out. Most with happy faces, but some downhearted. It was a crowded space, evident from the view. But there was order among them, and the building's guards managed the crowd.
The men and women with white coats and masks on their faces moved from person to person, jotting down notes and sending a few to special rooms.
"May the Lord bless His Holiness. After coming here, my knee doesn't hurt at all."
"My back stopped aching."
"My tumor was removed last month, and I've never been healthier."
"Long may Pope Sylvester live—He's the brilliant light of our world."
Such words were more common in the building hallway than insects on the ground. Every visitor in that building was a patient, and the official name of the place was Grace Hospital, a place opened in partnership with Count Raftel, Sylvester's close follower.
"Things are going well. What's the status of the other two hospitals?" Count Raftel observed the building from a distance while riding a horse, "His Holiness wants all of Sol to be covered with these magnificent buildings."
Accompanying him was Baron Strongarm, another close follower of Sylvester, "The timber from my land is being processed swiftly, but it's the delay from your iron processing factories that are dawdling it. The building frames are up, but furnishing them with benches, beds, and instruments is taking time."
Raftel sighed and rubbed his face, "There's too much demand. I have no complaints against His Holiness, but he sure drowned us in work. I haven't seen my son in three days."
"Haha." The brawny Baron Strongarm chuckled. "Likewise, my Lord. But, we should be the ones pitying His Holiness. There's no doubt he's working even harder than us—that's the kind of man he is."
"Indeed," Raftel replied, smiling from the heart. "I owe him my life, my wealth, and my happiness—If we can lessen his burden even a bit, I'm more than willing to work harder."
"I feel bad for Lady Melinda," Strongarm jokingly said.
But Raftel facepalmed himself, "My friend, who do you think forces me to work this much? More than me, she feels indebted to His Holiness. Because of the Bard's blessing, she could become a mother."
"Indeed. We all owe him too much," muttered Strongarm, staring at the happy faces coming from the hospital.
Truly, the world seemed almost unrecognizable now. When was the last time something was done for commoners other than forcing them to bow?
"You know what, Strongarm? When I heard him sing and saw that halo of light for the first time, I felt warmth in my heart and imagined a bright future ahead." Count Raftel muttered dreamily. "I think... we're living in it."
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