When Eseria and Lamia arrived at the patriarchate before the designated time, they identified themselves at the reception desk in front of the building and a bishop, who seemed to be in charge, immediately appeared and led them inside the building. As they proceeded down the corridor, turning several corners, the bishop stopped in front of a door and urged them to come in.
Lamia bowed a little and then called out to Eseria.
「Eseria-sama, let me enter first.」
「Yeah, go on.」
She was secretly relieved upon seeing there’s a rectangular desk and two chairs in the room immediately after entering. She thought it should be prepared for them.
(Heh? This is an inquisition but they aren’t going to make us stand up….it looks like they’re planning to listen to us seriously.)
As Eseria sat on her chair, she carefully observed the bishops on the opposite side of them, especially the presiding bishop, who was in the prime of his life located diagonally in front of them. That bishop declared the start of the inquisition.
「Now that all the attendees are here, let’s start the inquisition meeting. The agenda is about the immoral books that have been on sale for about six months.」
And while the progress and contents are being told, Eseria was indifferently observing the attendees while listening.
(Yeah, I thought they would at least introduce themselves. I don’t even know how many big guys are here.)
Then, as if understanding what Eseria was thinking, Lamia whispered in a way that only Eseria can hear.
「The one on the center is Archbishop Killing, the archbishop of this patriarchate.」
「Thank you, Lamia-san.」
(Alright, we got him! He’s the one we need!)
After replying in a similar whisper, Eseria secretly boosted her spirit. Then, the inquisition proceeded.
「…..So, I have finished explaining the reason for holding the inquisition meeting, do the two summoned object?」
「No, there’s no objection.」
「It’s as you pointed out.」
Lamia and Eseria, who were asked, agreed immediately because they did not intend to escape the responsibility now but soon, objections arose from the surroundings.
「No, I’m not convinced! According to the messenger I sent, the author of the said book was Eseria van Sjogren, who is present, however, there’s no way such a child could write that book!」
「I agree with you. Lamia Wallace! I don’t know what kind of deceitful words you have used but, how dare you drag a legitimate duchess into such a disgraceful situation!」
「This is outrageous. Did you really think you could avoid punishment if you involve the Sjogren family? You are shallower than a crab!」
「Everyone! Shut up!」
While the bishops are criticizing Lamia, Eseria shouted in a high-pitched voice. They are surprised and involuntarily shut up.
After receiving their suspicious gaze, Eseria adjusted her breathing and calmly spoke.
「First of all, let me correct what you were saying. Lamia did not involve me. I first wrote the manuscript and brought it to the Wallace Company and had them publish it. It was Lamia-san who got involved.」
「Are you really saying that you write it yourself?」
While the other bishops were looking at each other and murmuring, Killing, the one sitting at the center, started to ask questions.
「Then, I want to ask Lady Eseria, what is your intention of writing such an immoral book?」
「Because I want to see you in person.」
「What did you say?」
「If a little girl like me suddenly asks for a visit to the upper echelons of the patriarchal church, would you meet me?」
Eseria laughed in self-deprecation while saying so but Killing responded with a confused expression.
「I can’t say it certainly but you can certainly meet lower bishops.」
「Don’t you know how much bribes are required until what I want to convey reaches the top? And at the end of the day, after spending tons of money, I’ll only receive a reply “I don’t want to listen to a child’s story”.」
The moment Eseria mentioned bribes, the room became quiet. Then, the bishops’ anger immediately erupted.
「Wh-what are you saying!?」
「How could you insult the church!!」
「Do you really think you could do anything just because you’re a duke’s daughter!?」
Then, he started speaking with Eseria again with a smile on his face.
「It seems like Lady Eseria has something important to tell us. It should be something laughable for those in the lower position but, it should be important enough for us to take seriously, right?」
「Yes, it is as the archbishop says.」
(As expected of the archbishop. The way his eyes read things is not bad. But that’s how he should be!)
Eseria felt intimidated but continued to talk with enthusiasm.
「By the way, what I’m going to talk about now is entirely my own idea. If you hear this from Duke Sjogren, who is my father, or Queen Magdalena, who is my aunt, I think all of you will entertain me but you’ll probably be on your highest guard guessing if there’s a political agenda behind it. 」
When Killing heard that, he frowned slightly.
「Which means, Eseria-sama wants to talk a little about politics? 」
「You can say that but I’ll be direct. Please have the church start a money lending business. 」
「…..money lending business」
「What are you saying?」
「To be more precise, using the political power, network, and financial power of the church, I want you to get his majesty’s approval to legislate a money lending business and with that approval, engage in official money lending business.」
All bishops are stunned. Eseria proceeded to talk more and more but as expected, Killing immediately tried to stop her.
「Lady Eseria, one moment, please. That’s…」
「There are people within the church who are lending money to commoners at high-interest rates and making a lot of money from it. It will be frowned upon if it’s become public but if it is properly institutionalized, you can openly show everyone that your profit is only small. It will increase the trust of people around you and in the long run, it will be beneficial to you.」
The room fell silent again at Eseria’s assertion. Then, from beside her, Lamia rebuked her in a panic.
「Eseria-sama! You can’t just tell the truth like that!」
「Ah, so it’s true after all.」
「You are not sure but you said it here?」
「Yes, I mean, evil priests are everywhere.」
「I don’t want to be here!」
Seeing Lamia complaining with teary eyes, Eseria replied like it was a norm. Killing smiled sarcastically and called out.
「My my….Lady Eseria seemed to have misunderstood. There’s no such person in our church.」
And Eseria replied with a similar sarcastic smile.
「If archbishop-sama says so, it must be the truth. Then, everyone, would you like to read this document first? Lamia, take it out.」
「As you wish.」
After taking it out of the bag, two clerics came and distributed the papers to the bishops from the left and right.