Duke Fabino had run into trouble.
The bandits in the Lonely Forest were growing more and more confident. They were basically attacking every day now, ambushing the various merchants that passed by.
But this was not the most troublesome aspect.
The most troublesome aspect was the Moon Goddess Church.
The group of warriors sent from Plum Blossom territory hadn’t arrived even after all this time. Now, he was beginning to wonder if they had been crushed in the Lonely Forest as well.
The Plum Territory had already sent over people to determine exactly what had happened, and to determine how restitutions would be made over the loss of life they had suffered.
But they were members of a church located in Plum Territory, so why were they coming to Fabino to seek restitutions?
Fabino felt incredibly wronged. He had no intention of paying for this. After all, the cost of making up the losses suffered by a Church was not a small sum, as their appetites had always been great. Furthermore, they had failed in their mission, and the bandits were still hale and hearty. Why did he need to pay for a botched job?
The Moon Goddess Church, however, viewed the situation differently. They believed that the losses they had sustained were due to the mission they had undertaken on Fabino’s behalf. As such, it was only right that Fabino would bear the costs of such an expedition.
As a result, both sides entered a stalemate.
This alone would not have been such a big deal. However, the local Church was also getting involved. Fabino’s duchy fell under the Winter God Church area of influence. Even though they were not as powerful as the Moon Goddess Church, they still had their own bottom line. Why was the Moon Goddess Church doing business outside of their territory?
As such, the Winter God Church also began to put pressure on Fabino, giving him quite the headache.
“I shouldn’t have agreed to let the Moon Goddess Church’s contingent cross the border.”
Frost knew that even though Duke Fabino wasn’t cursing him directly, he was complaining quite a bit.
After all, he had been the one to make this proposal in the first place.
Even so, this was exactly what he wanted.
Frost calmly said, “Father, there is no need for you to stew over matters like this. Let me take care of it for you.”
“How are you going to take care of it? Right now, two different Churches are both making trouble for me. What will you do?” Fabino asked with some curiosity.
“Simple. Have them devour each other,” Frost replied.
“Forget about it. That’s just not possible,” Fabino waved his hand dismissively.
With the Eternal Treaty in place, the gods rarely fought amongst each other. Most of the time, they focused on recovering, waiting for the day of their return.
Wanting to get the Churches to fight against each other would not be easy.
But that didn’t mean it would be impossible.
Frost said, “Under normal circumstances, you’re right that this would not be possible. But now, the Moon Goddess Church has lost two clergymen and four holy warriors. This is not a small loss. As such, they must find someone to bear the cost for them.”
“That’s why they came knocking on our doorstep!”
“But they all know that you are not the real culprit. All you did was invite them, so your responsibility to bear the financial burden is relatively low.”
“But the Winter God Church is not the real culprit.”
“They can be.”
“What?” Fabino was stunned.
Frost said, “The Moon Goddess Church performed a mission outside of their jurisdiction. The Winter God Church believed that this was infringing on their profits and aided the bandits in secret, causing the Moon Goddess Church’s expedition to be fully lost. They are the real culprits.”
“You’re insane!” Fabino immediately leapt to his feet. “You want to frame the Winter God Church?”
“Why not?” Fabino countered. “Father, have you not had enough of doing the bidding of these self-important churches? Even though you are a duke, it seems to me that they are the real leaders. Every year, forty percent of your profits need to be rendered to them, but what have they done for us in return? Nothing! They are just taking our money for free! If we go to them asking for aid, they extort us even further. We pay the price for dealing with any of the problems we face, but they reap all the benefits. Isn’t that outrageous?”
Fabino was rendered speechless by Frost’s tirade.
After a long time, he said, “There’s nothing we can do. This is just reality. The churches are responsible for carrying out the will of the gods.”
“The gods have no time to care about such things. All they want is faith and the masses, not believers. Actually, you control the believers. If a calamity strikes, and the number of believers drastically decreases, only then will the gods take notice. And all of this depends on you! It’s the churches who need you, not the other way around.”
“But they can change leaders.”
“They don’t have the authority to do so.”
“But they do have the ability.”
“So we’ll make them lose that ability - such as if they don’t have time to take care of such matters.”
Fabino fell silent.
After a long time, he said, “What are the odds of success?”
“What’s important is not the odds of success, but the fact that the Fabino duchy will not be implicated in any way,” Frost replied.
This was true. As long as they carried out this mission secretly, neither failure nor success would implicate them.
He said, “You take care of it, my son.”
Frost bowed his head. “Understood, Father.”
Fabino let out a long sigh of relief as he watched his son step out of his study, but his gaze shrank ever so slightly.
Who would believe that a seven-year-old was capable of coming up with such an intricate plan?
This kind of individual would definitely be terrifying in the future.
Fortunately, he was his son.
Fabino believed that, no matter how much Frost grew in the future or how much he accomplished, he would never harm himself.
Because he was his own son!
This was the faith that allowed him to trust Frost unconditionally.
Three days later, the corpses of the Moon Goddess Church’s warriors were found.
Traces of the Winter God Church’s divine techniques were found nearby - techniques that only disciples of the Winter God Church could use.
The problem had suddenly become a very big one.
This implied that the Winter God Church had played a hand in killing the members of the Moon Goddess Church.
The Moon Goddess Church was enraged. A group of warriors was dispatched immediately to reckon with the Winter God Church, who vehemently denied any involvement.
Even though the Eternal Treaty existed, preventing the gods from fighting with one another, their disciples were not so restricted by the terms of the Treaty. Because the Moon Goddess Church’s influence was great, the disciples of the Winter God Church had no choice but to acquiesce to an investigation.
It was at this moment that a black-clothed young man appeared before one of the Moon Goddess Sect’s new bishops, Gambell.
“The fragrance of Cape Jasmine reminds me of autumn and fills my heart with a pleasant sensation. Tell your master that I very much appreciate his new creation.”
Gambell sat in front of a table made out of cherry wood, sniffing the fragrant tea in his cup as he spoke to a youth beside him.
Gambell preferred a tea that was bitter with a fragrant, nostalgic scent.
Unfortunately, it was difficult to find drinks matching such criteria. Apparently, the formula had been personally developed by this youth, whose name was Lille. It was impossible to buy his concoctions from anywhere else. Even Gambell had no choice but to treat the young man with respect.
Even if he secretly scorned the youth in his heart.
At least, until this happened.
The youth replied respectfully, “Being able to serve a bishop is my glory.”
“But your master still refuses to see me even once,” Gambell replied calmly. “Why should I trust someone whose face I have never seen before?”
“This......” A hesitant expression appeared on the youth’s face. “It’s not that my master doesn’t want to meet you. He has reasons for being incapable of doing so.
“Is that so? Then why should I have faith in any of his suggestions?” Gambell countered.
“You don’t need to have faith, Bishop,” the youth immediately replied. “As long as you say the word, my family’s master will take care of all of the plans. No danger will come to the Moon Goddess Church at all. You will be able to easily devour the Winter God Sect, and expand your influence even broader. The Moon Goddess will definitely reward you for your efforts.”
Gambell calmly replied, “Why should I trust that you can do it? And why should I believe that your master won’t betray me after the fact of the matter? If I am going to work with your master, show me some real sincerity.”
The youth still wanted to speak, but Gambell suddenly lifted his hand, causing the youth to freeze in place.
Gambell chuckled fiercely. “Did you think I couldn’t see through your disguise? Let me see what kind of person you really are.”
He made a grasping motion with his hand, as if ripping something off. A much smaller figure appeared before his eyes once the disguise had been torn off.
“A child?” Gambell was stunned.
Standing before him was a young child no more than seven or eight years old.
The child stared back at Gambell, his eyes wide in fear. “You......”
Gambell leaned in closer. “Hm? Your face is so familiar. How come I feel like I’ve seen you before?”
He looked the child up and down a few times before his eyes suddenly widened. “Frost! Frost Fabino, the genius of the Fabino family. Would you look at that? Frost Fabino has appeared in my temple...... By the Moon Goddess, are you here on Fabino’s orders? Fabino wants to overthrow the church in his duchy?”
Gambell’s eyes widened in disbelief. He felt that he had already guessed the truth.
“No, that’s not it! I made this decision myself!” Frost howled in despair. Even though he vehemently denied Gambell’s reasonings, his protests only served to deepen Gambell’s conviction that he was right.
“No wonder Fabino doesn’t dare reveal himself. If the Winter God Church were to catch wind of this, he’d be finished,” Gambell chuckled.
He wasn’t surprised at all to hear that Fabino wanted to overturn the church in his jurisdiction.
Every church was like a leech in the territory they ruled over. Conflicts between archbishops and nobles was common with all kinds of different strategies being employed in their altercations.
In some sense, these bishops and nobles were destined to face off against each other for the sake of profits. Cooperations, on the other hand, was much rarer.
As such, Gambell was not surprised that Fabino wanted to deal with the Winter God Church. The only thing that had caught him off guard was the fact that Fabino was willing to go to such great lengths to do so.
But it was true that this had created an opportunity.
An opportunity to expand the Moon Goddess’s influence.
The Eternal Treaty restricted the gods but not their disciples. Small skirmishes weren’t uncommon between different churches, but nothing big usually came out of them. After all, their leaders discouraged such actions.
But if one church struck first, the situation was completely different.
Using the Winter God Church’s unprovoked attack as a pretext for striking back was a great idea.
In fact, it was virtually perfect!
Greed flashed across Gambell’s eyes. “I like your plan very much. Go back and tell your father that I will agree to his proposal.”
The struggling Frost finally stopped. “Are you telling the truth?”
Gambell chuckled. “You are indeed still a child. A single sentence was enough to get you to reveal the truth. Yes, go and tell him that I am willing to work with him.”