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236 The Archbishop’s Suspicions

 Hadro, archbishop of Tunaya's Brilliant White Church had been watching in secret all along.

Still, saying that he was 'watching in secret' wasn't quite right since the Silver Eagle Duchy was a very small territory and was a part of the Valla Empire on paper. That was the reason it wasn't valued much, which was why the Brilliant White Church didn't station a larger sacred corps here.

After the sacred corps dispatched to Sotimi had been wiped out by the undead orks and he learned about the zombie dragon from the Temple of Glory, Hadro promptly ordered all remaining sacred corps to defend Tunaya.

As such, he didn't pay much attention to the Players who arrived at Tunaya as 'reinforcements personally invited by Angora, heir of the Faust family'.

Their appearance was too lowly after all-their random assortment of equipment made it obvious that they were not a regular military force but a ragtag bunch no different from mercenaries. Moreover, some of their equipment looked completely unable to defend themselves...

Or would those silly anglerfish helms have some special ability?

Hadro had suspected that they might be the elite forces of another church's sacred corps deliberately disguising themselves as a ragtag army so that he would drop his guard, whereas their church would seize the opportunity to claim dominance in Tunaya which was not too important a city in the continent-in fact, many main religions in other cities had done the same: they would rescue the city in similar crises to gain support from the citizens, eventually claiming the peak position from major religions such as the Brilliant White Church and the Temple of Glory.

But he gave up on that idea after carefully observing them.

And that was because the Players had a completely different air to them even when compared to a ragtag army, let alone the elite forces of a church. One glance was enough to see that they had not gone through professional training, complete outsiders who couldn't stop giggling when they hear the bizarre confessions of other believers.

Comparing them to the Brilliant White Church's elites was demeaning-for the elites of Hadro's church, that is!

Perhaps Angora was thinking about using them as cannon fodder to delay the zombie dragon's attack on Tunaya as much as possible, so that the churches would have the time to divert champions from other bases here to save them.

That naturally made Hadro see the future duke in a different light.

To him, a liege who could steel his heart, use mercenaries as fodder to buy time for a better chance of winning was much better, when the alternative was a compassionate liege who hesitate in the face of horrific disasters out of concern over the lives of a few peasants.

After all, clerics were different from politicians because they had few paths ahead for them. Hadro himself might be tied to Tunaya for the rest of his life from the looks of things, or the Holy City of the Brilliant White Church wouldn't so casually grant him the title of archbishop.

In the Brilliant White Church, it was an open secret that archbishops assigned to a parish without special circumstances were never returning to the Holy City.

And since it was not as if there were many archbishops seated in the Holy City, there was no way out-of-towners like Hadro would be allowed back to the Holy City and make trouble for the other archbishops.

After all, staying in the Holy City meant being closer to their god compared to being other parishes, and having an easier time to gain the god's blessings...

That was why Hadro's being in Tunaya was both an insult and an honor. That being said, Angora's style did fit his appetite-once again, he considered luring Angora into the Brilliant White Church, and even take him in as an apprentice if need be!

Be that as it may, Angora's reaction was so vague that Hadro had the feeling that the Temple of Glory must have the future Silver Eagle Duke's ears to themselves. But since things had yet come to a definite end, he would spend time to change Angora's perspective so that the youth could see through the true face of the Temple of Glory, which in turn would make converting him easier.

Anyway, returning to the ragtag soldiers of unmatched hilarity.

Hadro had no idea what promise Angora had made to those soldiers to the point that they were so eager and cheerful even when they were up against the terrible dragon (Hadro considered the ragtag army to be fools with no vision from that point alone), but the dragon was definitely going to kill them all.

He had assumed that the ragtag bunch could buy half a day at best since the dragon was an overwhelming powerful being even amongst supernatural species. After all, even though they were undead revived from corpses, skeleton dragons, rotten dragons, and zombie dragons were still incredibly powerful-without a sacred choir or a guild of mages helping them, not even an elite force was a match for any dragon if they lacked the numbers.

Moreover, the short distance between the Kristoff Mountains and Tunaya would be an arm's throw for dragons since they could fly, taking them just half an hour to reach the city.

Even so, the word from believers sent out as scouts was that the seemingly inferior ragtag band had firmly held the Dead Red Dragon at the Kristoff Mountains for an entire day, and the beast had yet to leave the Wailing Trail even now!

That outcome was probably what the entire sacred corps of Hadro's church could amount to!

In reality, the archbishop didn't know that the Brilliant White Church's sacred corpses were much weaker and were swiftly wiped out when caught off guard as they ran into the zombie dragon. Sakasugi had actually been using its magic to observe the world's present condition, which in turn slowed its advance toward Tunaya-the Players would have been fighting the dragon in the city otherwise.

But that feat only affirmed Hadro's belief in his own theory: the ragtag bunch was definitely the sacred corps of another church and their best of the best of that, similar to the Brilliant White Church's rumored special forces consisting of ascetics such as the White Court's Wetwork Squadron or the Heretical Magistrates of the Thirteenth Partisans-and of course, there was no way the best of the best of some minor church could best those two Brilliant White Church outfits.

Be that as it may, the ragtag bunch remained rare champions, and it was a pity that the hierarchy of their churches would make the error of sending them to their deaths at the Kristoff Mountains, just to claim the place of top religion a measly city like Tunaya.

Hadro sneered at the thought.

Even if they did become the major religion, wouldn't their position be unstable without their champions covering for them?