Chapter 137 Secret Meeting
When he opened the thick wooden door, the light fragrance of straw hit him in the face, Archbishop Mayne liked this mixed smell of herbs and spicy candles, especially in a space which had no windows for ventilation. Every time he smelled this combination of scents, his mind became clear and he felt at peace.
The chamber wasn’t particularly large, it offered just enough space for one round table and four chairs. The other two archbishops were already seated on their chairs, while the chair facing the wooden door was still empty. The Pope’s physical condition had been deteriorating in recent times, it was almost half a year ago, since the last time he had shown himself in front of anyone. Only for cases that were too difficult to solve by themselves would he leave Hermes’ underground castle, seeking the answers for himself.
“It seems everyone is there, so let’s get started,” Mayne announced. he then bolted the door and sat between the other two, “Archbishop Tayfun, what are the last reports from the Kingdom of Eternal Winter?”
“Besides some former nobles, there are only a few other places where they still rebel against our rule, ‘au contraire’ it seems the civilians are even welcoming us to take over the kingdom.” Tayfun explained while stroking his beard, “Of course, those stubborn nobles, holding on to the dreams of their past glory, will be eradicated soon enough.”
“That’s sounds really good” Heather licked her lips. “In the case that you let me hold the next trial, the civilians will all become more aware of how ugly and dirty the former nobility were, but unfortunately, I still have a lot of things I still have to do here, so I can’t go to the Kingdom’s of Eternal Winter’s King’s City.”
Mayne ignored her words, and instead spoke to Tayfun, “We have to fill those vacant positions of power, as soon as possible with our own people. During the years that have passed, the Church has trained a lot of skilled people and now the time has finally arrived that we can use them.” However, the Kingdom of Eternal Winter has forever been the kingdom in which our Church had the biggest influence, but if we are able to ride on this wave, we will be able to handle the Wolfsheart Kingdom and the Kingdom of Dawn a lot sooner.
“That seems only natural.”
“What should happen with the nobility who have always relied on the Church, or to the ones who always turns in the direction the wind blows?” Heather asked, “the reason why the Church was able to attract so many good believers, was because we didn’t ask for their lineage, but for their actual skills. However, those idiots would shake the foundation of our entire Church… so my idea is…” She made a gesture of slicing open her neck.
“In the beginning we still have to use them, to reduce the resistance we received, but after the kingdom has become stable, we can talk about them then.” Regarding this point, they had deliberately decided to ask the Pope, “the church can provide them with the same authority equivalent to their title, but this position can not be inherited by their future generations. After all, our end goal is to destroy the kingship, so don’t be anxious for the moment, Lady Heather.”
Heather had been born poor and before she had been accepted by the Church, she had suffered from hunger and living a homeless life. But with a naturally keen mind and gift of extraordinary judgment of the human character, she had climbed up in the ranks until she had reached the position she held today. Mayne was well aware of her dislike for the nobility, but for the moment it was more important to look at the overall situation.
“What is the actual situation within the Kingdom of Graycastle?” Mayne asked.
“Our spy network reported that after his defeat, King Timothy didn’t come back to King’s City and instead went to directly stay within the Eastern Territory.” Replied Tayfun.
“A smart choice,” Heather snapped her fingers, “he has taken Duke Frances with him to challenge the Queen of Clearwater, yet the Duke died during their attack and now he immediately went back to the east and divided the Duke’s territory to stabilize the morale of his soldiers and at the same time to win over the other nobles, Gee… the royal family doesn’t only consist of fools.”
“In this way, we can save a lot of trouble, let the High Priest of the Kingdom of Graycastle get in contact with him. Timothy’s situation has become so precarious; he won’t be able to refuse our offer. We will reduce Port of Clearwater’s drug supply by 30% and with this balancing the strength between those two. This situation will be handled by you Tayfun,” Mayne decided, “After two years’ there won’t be any soldiers in the kingdom left to stop our conquest.”
“You can rest assured,” Tayfun nodded. “But … there is something wrong with the situation at the Longsong Stronghold in the Western territory.”
“What is the problem?”
“The 4th Prince Roland, after his victory against Duke Ryan, he immediately went back to Border Town, and furthermore he didn’t answer to High Priest Taylor’s offer, doesn’t he have any intention of fighting for the throne?”
“Well … what are your thoughts about it?” Mayne asked while looking in Heather’s direction.
The latter just shrugged: “What else can I say… What were the rumors about him again? He has a nasty character, is incompetence, has neither any learning nor skills to speak of and he’s also known to be greedy. How was it possible that such a person could win against the Longsong Stronghold? The answer to this question is very simple, he deceived everyone, whether it was the other nobles or us.”
“You mean …” Mayne frowned.
“We have chosen the wrong person, Lord Mayne,” she sneered. “He is the one who should have been on the main stage, not the 3r Princes Garcia.”
“That he was able to defeat the Duke truly showed his talent, but even if he was such a skilled person, without the resources he will be unable to fully display his skills.” Tayfun shook his head in disagreement, “Since he chose to return to that piece of desolate earth, it seems that he has given up on his chance to reach the throne, and because of this he won’t be causing any threat to our plan.”
“That’s seems to be correct, theoretically. But there is another interesting piece of information you shouldn’t overlook either,” Heather threw out a note, “This information was something I gathered with my personal eyes.”
Mayne spread open the note and quickly swept through it’s contents, “Witch?”
“Uh-huh, they’re one of those witch organizations. They call themselves the Witch Cooperation Association and claim for themselves to have a firm foothold in Border Town and now ask others sisters to also gather there. While this is only hearsay and could be a groundless accusation, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. We already know that the name isn’t fictional. We have already sent our Army of Judges against them once and after their defeat in the Eastern Forest, they crossed over the whole country, only to ultimately disappear somewhere west of Longsong Stronghold. Border Town is just west of Longsong Stronghold, directly next to the kingdom’s border and the foot of the Impassable Mountain Range. Two important powers situated at the same location, isn’t that a little too much of a coincidence?”
Witch Cooperation Association… I also have some impression of that name, during their whole journey they often had to face the Army of Judges and even after losing a lot of their staff they still insisted on moving in the direction of the Impassable Mountain Range. According to the information gathered from some of the tortured witches, it seemed they wanted to find the Holy Mountain, located somewhere to the west of the mountain range. It was just a suicidal move, so we did not put much energy into this matter. There are even similar witch organizations within the Kingdom of Dawn and the Wolfsheart Kingdom. They are always lurking within the cities, and after some time they suddenly rush in the direction of the Wild Lands, only to throw away their lives against an even stronger threat.”
“You mean, the Prince and the witch organization both hooked up?” After reading the news Tayfun’s face became a lot darker.
“Maybe, maybe not.” Heather smiled, “That is only a simple guess on my part. What do the witches fear the most? ‘Exposure’. And it is obvious that they will draw all the more attention when they use the name of their Witch Cooperation Association, but they still use the name for their underground message. Why is that?”
“Because it’s a familiar name to us,” Mayne said quietly. “However that’s also the same for the other witches.”
“Full marks!” exclaimed Heather clapping her hands, “This will effectively reduce the wild witches wariness, perhaps there will really be someone who could be attracted by this news and decides to go to Border Town to explore what the actual situation might be. It’s not hard to imagine this, since Border Town is without any member of the Church to overlook them, they would perhaps dare to do such a thing. We often say that it’s better to choose the lesser of two evils. Obviously, the other side has considered this and decided that the consequences of being unable to recruit witches is more serious than the consequences of them being exposed…” Here her voice became gloomy, “And I don’t like the feeling of being underestimated.”
“This isn’t a small problem,” Tayfun road angrily, “Once the witches have settled down, they will be able to fully display their capabilities without any fear, it’s also very likely that the so-called demon phage can also be avoided. This is exactly the reason why we encircle every settled down witch, only when we can force them into hiding or let them run into the exile, are we able to keep it a secret from them.
Mayne knew that the Tayfun side of the argument was right, a witch alone wasn’t a real threat to the Church, but as a group, it was a completely different matter altogether. And once they got rid of their identity as the “Devil’s messenger”, the Church’s propaganda would soon be exposed. Resulting in a great loss of influence for them, maybe even shaking the Church’s foundation.
He was now caught in a dilemma as they encountered such a possibility of whether they should send a large number Judges to encircle the witches’ base, but in the end Border Town was too far away from Hermes, and furthermore, the Church’s army should be attacking the Wolfsheart Kingdom soon. So, it was now too difficult to split off the manpower that they needed to wipe out this remote town. Coupled with the problem that if they were to send out such a large number of troops into the Kingdom of Graycastle, it was guaranteed that the nobility of the kingdom and of the other two countries would soon become vigilance, which could lead to a failure of the entire plan overall.
After much deliberation, they finally came to a decision.
“I will send a priest with ten Judges on a mission to Border Town, they should investigate this matter together with the High Priest. If the Witch Cooperation Association was acting independently from the Prince, the force should be strong enough to eliminate all the witches.”
“But what about if they are related to each other?” Heather asked.
The God’s Punishment Army was only allowed to march if they were led by Mayne himself or a few other high ranking members of the church, this rule had been personally made by the Pope. Remembering this he answered: “Then they should bring the news back to us and I will personally lead the God’s Punishment Army to march against Border Town.”