<Chapter 38. The Peddler and the Adventurer - 5>
According to the Pope of the Sun God religion, several religions existed on the surface. These religions each served a different god, and the most powerful of these religions was the Magic God religion, while the Sun God religion had declined the most.
There were also the subordinate gods who followed them. They flourished in some areas, so it was difficult to know about all of them.
Lee Shin Woo tilted his head as he listened to the Pope. If there were so many of them, then who had sent the heroes to the Underground Empire, and what were these other gods doing, despite the world being on the brink of destruction?
"You should stop there."
But before Lee Shin Woo voiced his concerns, the Pope spoke firmly and stopped him.
"Going any further is forbidden. You cannot question the reason for the gods' existences."
"I suppose it's not important right now. It's that the influence of the Sun God religion has waned, is it not?"
The Pope nodded his head solemnly and added.
"It's embarrassing, but we don't have enough people. The daylight, which occupies half the day, the radiance that fosters the growth of all creation, and the fire that accompanied the birth of civilization. We lack followers, even when our God reigns over all this..."
"I see. I was born in the countryside, so I'm not really knowledgeable on the subject."
"...What's worse, our own followers are no exception. The remains of the Sun God Temple is essentially a symbol of our religion. Although the central pillar was stolen, we couldn't find the perpetrator. Does that make any sense?"
That was strange. He felt like he'd heard about this before. Lee Shin Woo did his very best to reply as relaxed as he could, so that his anxiety wouldn't show.
"Your security must've been lax."
"Though a part of it may be that the perpetrator was skilled, even so, our paladins were guarding the ruins, so no one should've been able to get through. We thought it may be a revelation from the Sun God, but... anyone with a brain could tell you it wasn't. It was truly humiliating."
"...You went through a lot."
While comforting the Pope, Lee Shin Woo was inwardly cursing. To think that Lee Shin Woo had paid Pleine 350 million Perium for stolen goods! The Pope, who couldn't come to know that the pillar had become a part of the Titan Golem, sighed deeply and continued.
"We'll slowly decline and eventually be left as part of history. That's what we expected to happen to us. I thought that perhaps I would be the final pope. However, that's when you showed up."
"It was perfect timing. The Sun God hasn't abandoned you all."
"Haha, it does seem that way. The Sun God has given us one last chance."
At this point, the two's eyes glimmered unusually. Now, they would get to the main point.
"I told you already, but our power has diminished significantly. But the fame and authority we've accrued over hundreds of years hasn't. If you're truly as skilled as you say, then we can give you wings. Will you help us revive our order?"
"You said it yourself, that your order has declined. I think it's too much to hope for one man to resurrect your order."
"But keep this in mind. The moment people see you, they'll consider you the Sun God's hero. It's both authority and recognition. We can rise up again if we're given the chance. More firmly, and more radiantly than ever before."
Then, the Pope added.
"You accepted the title of the Sun God's hero. Obviously, the Emperor doesn't appoint people of the religious order. If you want to 'go far', then there's no other way than to align with us."
"I'm confident that I can do it on my own. Hmm... But I suppose there's no reason to reject your offer."
At that time, Lee Shin Woo paused and acted like he was thinking deeply about it. However, he never intended to reject the Pope's offer. Since there was no better support in cementing his position than a religious order.
He wondered how much they could support him, but he would be able to find that out slowly, starting now.
"Alright. First off, please tell me more about the Sun God religion, as well as how you'd like to use me. In detail."
"Ok, we'll do it your way. It'll definitely be a 'trade' that's worthwhile for the both of us."
The Pope gave a presentation for the next 30 minutes or so. As he'd thought, the Pope had a progressive way of thinking and at the same time, looked at his religious order like a business. He was a good fit for Lee Shin Woo, as he didn't believe in the Sun God.
"So, unconquered dungeons."
Above all, the 'method' he suggested was something that Lee Shin Woo approved of.
"Exactly. In this flourishing Empire, there's only one thing that concerns the public: the unconquered dungeons. If our order actively conquers these dungeons, then your name, and by extension, ours, will became more widespread."
He was right, as the matter with the dungeon countercurrent would indicate. Kuroa's Glory, which was protected by the golems and possessed plentiful food and a variety of industries... was an attractive commercial city, yet had been put in danger from a mere level 5 dungeon countercurrent. The reason Kay had become so popular and was called the Sun God's hero was because he had taken care of the dungeon countercurrent in such a short period of time.
Moreover, conquering dungeons aligned with Lee Shin Woo's quest of gaining high level bones and becoming stronger. Rem had found a few dungeons as well, but he couldn't be satisfied with just a handful of dungeons.
"There are dungeons nearby that have been neglected because no one lives near them, or dungeons that have been ignored because the people around them are all dead... Those dungeons are managed by periodically suppressing the monsters that come flooding out of them. But if all of the monsters come out with the boss, like in this instance, then there's a chance that an entire city will fall."
"Then why are they left alone?"
"Because we lack time, money, and people!"
He said ardently. They were lacking in everything!
"The biggest problem amongst them is people. Level 6s don't grow on trees. The Emperor's knights and magicians, as well as each religion's paladins and priests have their hands full doing their jobs. Plus, they could die in the dungeon. Whenever the matter is brought up, the higher ups probably reject it."
Lee Shin Woo gazed at the Pope with an expression that said 'Then what about me?', and the Pope replied calmly.
"We don't have the luxury of playing fair. We've already picked a few of our paladins and priests to assist you in your dungeon conquests. That's their priority right now. They've even written their last wills and testaments."
Human rights were being violated in the name of religion! Lee Shin Woo looked at the Pope condemningly and asked.
"You seem strong yourself, so why don't you go?"
"I've concealed my identity and have my hands full already. Just because I'm a pope doesn't mean I can just sit back on the balcony and drink wine all day."
Considering how the Pope kept talking and talking about the situation, he must really want to sit back on the balcony and drink wine. How did this religious order decline so much? Lee Shin Woo felt slightly bitter.
"Anyway, keep listening. Your name won't become more renowned by blindly conquering dungeons. That's where we come in. We advertise your abilities on a large scale, publicizing what dungeons you’ve conquered and how you did it. In addition, we emphasize the strength of our paladins and our priests, drawing people's interest. We can't lie, but it's not that hard to exaggerate things. If results follow, then this contract will definitely succeed."
"Haha. It's quite the aggressive plan."
"This is our struggle. Will it just end in our struggle, or will it turn into a great success? That all depends on you."
The Sun God religion had gone from a commercial business to an entertainment business! But if it all went according to the Pope's plan, then Lee Shin Woo's position in the Magic Empire would strengthen. As he thought, this Pope meant business.
'They're not only giving me info on the unconquered dungeons, but support as well. I suppose I can't say that the golems possess all the information in the Empire. Alright. These are conditions too good to say no to.'
The plan was of the 'high risk, high return' variety. However, Lee Shin Woo had looked forward to fighting strong opponents over everything else once he came to the surface, so he could say that there was 'no risk'. But there was no reason to tell the Pope this, so Lee Shin Woo continued while acting calmly.
"Repeatedly attacking unconquered dungeons, dungeons that are so dangerous that no one has laid a finger on them... Ultimately, the plan relies entirely on me subjecting myself to incredible danger. Besides the fame, is there anything else that I get out of this?"
"The loot is all yours. I'd like some of the Perium, but you can have it all if you don't want to give us any."
"I'll divide the Perium amongst my team members. I'll take all the loot, but I'll give you equivalent Perium in return."
"I appreciate it. Hmm, aside from that, there's authority. I'll give you the position that is under or equal to the Pope, the position of 'Saint'. This title is only conferred when someone of extraordinary strength appears. Of course, I'd be ok with giving you the title of Pope, but..."
"No thank you. I can't even sit on a balcony and drink wine all day."
"I knew you'd say that."
The Pope's voice became a bit quieter.
"...Oh, I heard that Lawrence, the peddler, is hosting an auction. Wine, right? I wonder how great the wine could be. I'm not really asking for any. I just wanted to see how valuable the auctioned product would be in advance. I really don't want to drink it, but it'd be troublesome if we stake our reputation on a business selling a strange product."
Lee Shin Woo's expression became tepid. Is that so? This person was like Pleine, huh. So this was why he had been so amiable... But since he was the Pope of the Sun God religion, he was a valuable customer! He couldn't let his opportunity go.
"To be honest, I have a bottle on me from Lawrence."
"You'll become the shop's sponsor, so I'll sell it to you at a special price."
The Pope froze when he said 'special price'. Lee Shin Woo took out a bottle of Kerr Century Elemental 451 and popped the cap off. He placed the bottle under the Pope's nose and the Pope shook. It seemed like he really liked it.
"I'll buy it! At your special price!"
"It's 77,000 Perium, Customer."
"Thank you very much, Customer. Ah, there's a balcony over there."
The Pope was finally able to drink wine on a balcony. After he drank the entire bottle, he decided to wholeheartedly support Lawrence’s shop.Previous Chapter Next Chapter