Title: My Friend, the Pope (in-training) - Part 8: Georgo
Fandom: The Legend of Sun Knight
Summary: Grisia wasn't chosen as the Sun Knight. This is the legend of the strongest Pope in all history. AU.
Notes: A slightly longer chapter!
Part 8: Georgo
If our circumstances had been any different, I probably wouldn't have been able to stand him. Most of the times, I still didn't. We were truly too similar to get along very well.
But I couldn't deny that there was something about him that I couldn't help but admire.
This was how we met.
During character development lessons, my teacher always prattled on and on about how the Earth Knight should behave. Never speak a single sentence without stuttering. Blush madly in the presence of all females, no matter if they looked uglier than dragons. Smile abashedly and duck your head during conversations. Appear friendly and honest, but most importantly, sincere! That's the easiest way to win people's trust!
Yeah, yeah, I get it already. If I smiled any more foolishly than I already did, I might as well call myself the Leaf Knight.
That day was no different from usual. I was gazing up at the ceiling as if it was the most interesting thing in the world, waiting for my teacher to finish nagging. On and on he went without a single pause or stutter. By now, he wasn't even looking my way, or else he'd probably nag some more about how I wasn't being respectful.
Then came two knocks that finally put an end to the endless lecture. They were positively divine knocks, and my mood lifted when the door opened to reveal a cleric from the Sanctuary of the God of Light. She was quite cute with her wavy hair and petite figure.
With how the story's going, you might think this was him, but nope, I haven't gotten to that part yet. It was just that she was kind of involved, just like many others, even though I didn't know about it right away. All I knew was that my teacher had arranged for her to come.
The one good thing about character development lessons was that my teacher often had me practice with female clerics. And during these times, my teacher would have to pretend to stutter, which meant he couldn't lecture me as much. A total win-win.
The lectures were downright boring, but actually putting what was required of me into action was fascinating.
Stutter, blush, and duck my head, huh? Easy!
And majorly addicting.
"H-Hello," I greeted her and stuck my eyes to the floor. After a slight pause, I glanced up. I'd be damned if I didn't appear hesitant after doing that!
The cleric smiled brightly and curtsied. "Pleased to meet you, young Earth Knight."
Young Earth Knight.
Heh, that's me now. Young Earth Knight. That really had a nice ring to it. Who knew I'd get chosen? Truth to be told, I had been surprised by my teacher's choice. I wasn't the least bit honest or shy, and I certainly had no problems speaking with girls. But somehow, my teacher thought I'd be a good fit. At least, I had an honest-looking face, he had told me. As long as I didn't smirk.
When I learned that I had to stutter all the time, I half wanted to call it quits. This wasn't just a one time thing. This was my entire life we were talking about here. Stuttering my entire life! I'd always look like a bumbling idiot, like someone without any confidence at all. Putting so much effort into looking like a fool wasn't worth it.
But when I actually put it into practice, I found it to be surprisingly easy. And even rewarding. Tricking people into trusting me -- I could get used to it.
"How are y-you?" I asked.
She murmured that she was doing well, thank you for asking. We easily got into a pleasant conversation. We talked about our lessons and even about some of our favorite foods.
"I wonder if I should learn how to make cheesecake..."
"C-Cheesecake?" I asked. "That s-sounds delicious. If y-you want, you should g-give it a try."
She nodded absentmindedly. "He's always carrying around cheesecake lately. He must enjoy it a lot, right?"
Bah, so she already has a guy she likes!
Disgruntled, I gathered a thick layer of holy element, wishing I could compress it into a small ball to relieve stress, but I didn't nearly have good enough control for that.
The cover story was that she was here to help me practice healing spells, but the real practice was for me to hone my skills at appearing "honest." It was actually getting hard not to lose my cool. For some reason, even gathering holy element reminded her of the cheesecake guy -- she brightened at the sight and rambled on about his amazing holy light capabilities.
Just who was this guy, seriously? It wasn't that I wanted to brag, but my holy light capabilities weren't half bad. I could already cast some damn good defensive spells. Could he beat that, huh?
We continued practicing, and I silently cheered whenever our hands touched. Hah, take that, cheesecake guy! Her hand was nice and soft, completely unlike hands rough with callouses from endless hours of training with a sword.
My teacher had probably never imagined this result, that I would be so enamored with the girls he had me practice with. It was true that I'd learned how to stutter very well, but what was even truer was that I discovered how pleasant girls were to be around.
The first girl my teacher had me practice with had smelled like wildflowers, and she was just as pretty as one. The second girl had a cute little giggle and a nervous habit of twisting her hair around her index finger. The third girl had a love of challenges, and she'd even challenged me to see how much holy light I could gather.
I liked all of them a whole lot more than the stinky boys of the 38th generation Twelve Holy Knights. Who would like to be around boys who had sweat dripping down their faces and dirt all over their clothes? Definitely not me. I especially did not enjoy it whenever I got paired up with Roland during swordsmanship lessons. He always won, and he never knew when to stop training. Not everyone likes to train so much, geez.
Girls were so much better. Cuter, too.
"Y-You're really nice. T-Thanks so much for practicing with m-me today," I said with a shy smile. I clasped her hand and gave it a squeeze to show my gratitude. Behind me, my teacher was glaring holes into my back.
She smiled back and said, "I had a good time! I think I'll go make some cheesecake now. Thanks for the advice!"
Damn that cheesecake guy!
Despite how much he irked me, guys didn't stay on my mind for long, so I easily forgot about him. But it was just my luck that I'd gotten on his radar. Some time later, I was happily chatting with a cleric and complimenting her on her healing spells when someone else seemed to have caught her attention.
The cleric looked past me and smiled widely at whoever was there.
It was then that I caught a whiff of vanilla mixed with cream cheese and graham crackers.
It was... the smell of cheesecake.
All of a sudden, it all came back to me, and I realized it had to be him, that dratted cheesecake guy with the "amazing holy light capabilities"! I could've been wrong, but my gut feeling told me it had to be him!
Whoever was behind me suddenly said, "The Earth Knight-in-training is an expert at defensive spells. You should get him to show you sometime."
Wait. Was he... complimenting me?
I finally turned, laying eyes on him for the first time in my life.
Like I had expected, the person behind me was holding cheesecake. However, I had not expected his features to look so fine that he could almost be mistaken for a girl. He had brilliant blond hair and stunning blue eyes framed by long eyelashes. Along with his smooth skin, he was the very definition of an effeminately beautiful boy.
If not for the presence of the cleric by our side, I would've scowled. What use was there for a guy to look so pretty?
When our gaze met, he smiled widely at me. "I've been wanting to make your acquaintance. I've heard so much about you! Want some cheesecake?"
He held the cheesecake out.
He had heard a lot about me? I bet it's the "whole continent knows" nonsense.
His question was directed at both me and the cleric. The latter nodded. "I'd love some."
I had wanted to get her to stay, so this was as good an excuse as any, and he knew it.
And so, we ended up sitting together at a table in the courtyard, eating cheesecake together. From his rather flimsy, robe-like clothes, I figured he wasn't a holy knight-in-training.
"Is this the first time you've met?" the cleric asked.
The cheesecake guy nodded and said to me, "I haven't introduced myself yet, have I? I'm Grisia, the pope-in-training."
Huh, so this was the next pope? Not what I was expecting.
"Georgo, the E-Earth Knight-in-training," I responded while keeping my image in mind.
Grisia nodded, golden hair almost blinding under the sun. So distracting. "I heard that it was thanks to you that I have this cheesecake!"
So that cleric from the other day had decided to make cheesecake after all.
"N-Nothing like that, I only g-gave her some encouragement."
Ugh, making small talk with a guy was no fun. I shoved a forkful of cheesecake into my mouth so I wouldn't have to talk with him anymore. It was quite creamy and a little on the sweet side. Bleh.
Suddenly, Grisia sighed and lowered his fork.
"What's wrong?" the cleric asked.
Startled, he waved his hand. "Oh nothing. The cheesecake tastes great, but..." He paused and tapped his finger against his cheek thoughtfully. "It's not quite sweet enough."
This wasn't sweet enough?!
He glanced at me. "Here, want some more?"
He then gave the rest of the cheesecake to me. Just because I had stuffed my mouth with cheesecake didn't mean I could eat an entire cheesecake all by myself, or that I would want to! Who could eat an entire cheesecake all by themselves?
Right after he gave me the cheesecake, he promptly pulled out yet another one. Where had he been hiding it?!
He took a bite of what looked to be blueberry cheesecake, and a wide smile immediately came over his face. He even closed his eyes to savor the taste. "Mm, perfect!"
The cleric giggled.
What a strange guy.
With Grisia occupied by his blueberry cheesecake, I was finally able to strike up a conversation with the cleric. This one giggled often and was easily amused by my words. I almost forgot Grisia was there until the cleric finished her slice of cheesecake. She thanked him for the cheesecake and got up to take her leave.
It was only then that I realized Grisia was still there. I hurriedly turned my head only to see blue eyes fixed on me, studying me intently.
"What?" I couldn't help snapping out, goose bumps rising all over my skin. Had he been staring at me this entire time? Realizing I'd sounded too blunt, I quickly added on, "U-Um, is there s-something on my face?"
He only smiled mysteriously and bade goodbye to the cleric. I touched my cheeks and chin, thinking there might be some cream there or something, but nothing. Once the cleric left, I stood up too, intending to leave -- there was, after all, no reason for me to stay any longer, and he was freaking me out -- but Grisia grabbed hold of my hand to stop me.
"...What?" I snapped out again.
His hands were really soft, just like the hands of all those girls I'd held. Ugh, what am I thinking? I jerked my hand out of his grasp, but he didn't take offense and merely motioned for me to sit back down. There was no reason for me to listen to him either, but then I noticed something really absurd.
I blurted, "You ate the entire blueberry cheesecake?!"
After I shouted, he furrowed his brows and pointed in front of him. "Um, no? I have a slice left."
He only had a slice left! He had practically eaten the entire cheesecake!
I stared at him in disbelief.
He probably thought, since I was so shocked I was rooted to the spot, that this was as good a chance as any to start talking.
"Georgo, Earth-Knight-in-training. You have lessons twice a week with your teacher and swordsmanship lessons three times a week. You personally think you currently rank fifth or so among the Twelve Holy Knights-in-training. You've gotten pretty good at casting Light Shield, and your teacher has started teaching you how to cast the Shield of Earth too. You seem to enjoy snacks and tea, but I think that's probably a ruse."
So this was what he had meant by "he had heard so much about me." While it wasn't "the whole continent knows" stuff, it wasn't much more personal than that.
Or so I had thought.
"Want me to go on?" Without even waiting for an answer, he continued, "You have a habit of rubbing the back of your neck when you're bored, you don't particularly like mornings, you--"
"Wait, stop!" I cut him off before he could blab further. I stared at him suspiciously. "Are you a stalker?"
He returned my gaze with one of amusement. "No more stuttering?"
"H-Have you been s-sta -- forget this! You already heard me speak normally before this!" I growled.
"It's really quite amazing, the difference in your demeanor," Grisia said, impressed. "If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I might not have believed it."
That's why he had been staring?
"What in the world do you want?"
His lips quirked up, like he had been waiting for me to ask this very question. "Just a small favor."
He hummed. "As I've said, I've heard a lot about you. You really should be careful. Girls talk a lot, and they're very perceptive."
It could have been the girl who smelled just like wildflowers. Or the girl with the cute little giggle. Or the girl who loved challenges. Or the girl who wanted to make cheesecake. It could have been any... or all of them!
The realization hit me hard. I really hadn't been careful enough, had I? What exactly had I shared with them? Nothing incriminating... but I never thought it'd travel to someone else's ear.
"In any case, you sounded exactly like someone who I could use help from. You're really good at getting people to trust you. That public personality of yours will be very useful."
Well, flattery isn't going to get you anywhere. "Why would I want to help you?"
He blinked at me, as if it was completely obvious. "Let's not even talk about how you're not even stuttering in front of me right now, or how I know a ton about you. Helping me out would benefit you a lot."
He was totally blackmailing me. Hah, so this was my future Pope!
He gestured in front of him at the seat that the cleric had vacated, and then, with a smile, said, "You're welcome to join me again the next time I have cheesecake. Or," he paused, "you could say goodbye to spending time with any clerics at all."
"I'm just saying, it's my duty to look after my sisters, and I'm not sure I would want them to be around someone who isn't willing to help out with a tiny little favor."
He shrugged helplessly at me. I could only stare in disbelief.
As the pope-in-training, he really might be able to warn them all away from me.
With no other choice, I slowly sat back down. I nearly wanted to bark in laughter. This was my future pope. I had no words. With him around, surely no one would ever be able to take advantage of the Church of the God of Light.
Haha, this was too amusing!
Grisia grinned. "I'm glad you're seeing things my way now. First things first. You're friends with Roland, right?"
Well, that was an unexpected question. "Yeah."
The whole continent knows that the Sun Knight and the Earth Knight are the best of friends. I didn't particularly get along well with Roland, but he wasn't insufferable either. He was just too serious for me to follow his pace.
"Oh?" Grisia said in fake surprise. "Then, why is it that I never see you around him? If you were around more, you'd have seen me before."
Grisia shook his head at me. "You should work on that. No one is going to believe you're friends if you don't even hang around him."
"Fine, fine. Don't tell me that's the favor you want?"
Because that wasn't much of a favor at all. It was expected of me to be "friends" with Roland.
"It's related." He shrugged. "Have you noticed anything strange about Roland lately?"
Grisia frowned. "Well, you better start noticing now. There's something off about him, and I want you to find out what."
to be continued
A Grisia who can freely interact with girls. :') Such a strange thought...