Chapter 156 Putting the picture together
Theo ascended a small hill, from here he could vaguely see the edge of Border Town and also the outline of the Lord’s Castle.
Finally, I’m back, he thought, previously in order to reach Silver City he had needed half a month, but the way back they only needed seven days, the longest time of which was spent on the road between Silver City and Redwater City. Although it seemed that Ashes didn’t care for it herself, Theo still chose scarcely used trails to reduce the possibility of being caught by the Church.
Ashes was the name he had gotten from his witch companion, but even after all this time Theo didn’t know if that name was her real one or not. During their travel, she was always dressed in a black robe and a great sword was wrapped in clothes on her back.
Her long black hair was tied into a simple tail, dangling down to her waist. Whether it was during the ride or their travel on a boat, she rarely put her focus on Theo. She always walked alone at the front, taking in the surrounding scenery. Probably for her, this trip to Border Town was just a relaxed and comfortable stroll sort of like a sightseeing tour.
Sometimes Theo would doubt his own judgment, was she really a soldier? She could easily stumble over the robe she wore, to keep such long hair was equivalent to showing plenty of holes in her defenses. Furthermore, from the beginning of their journey Ashes never seemed to be afraid of presenting her back to him, the part of her body that he saw from her the most, was always her back.
He didn’t believe that a witch would be able to trust other people so quickly, only letting him guess that she might be confident enough in her own abilities, that even a God’s Stone of Retaliation wouldn’t be a threat to her.
Theo circled the hillside, soon finding his goal, a flagpole with a red flag hanging on it. He went to the flagpole and dug a bundle out from the mud. Folded within it was a blue flag which was used as a replacement for the red flag. Afterward, he sat down on the ground and clasped his hands.
“That’s all you have to do?” Asked Ashes.
“At least that was what they had said,” Theo wiped away the sweat that had appeared on his forehead. “Go to the foot of the hill on the northeast side of the town. There you have to follow the stone trail until you reach a flagpole. When you arrived at the pole, you only need to replace the flying flag with the blue one buried beside the pole. We will see the flag and soon arrive at your location, so from then on you will only need to wait and we will come.”
Ashes nodded and then began to look for a relatively clean place to sit, she then reached out her hand in Theo’s direction, “Eat.”
“Uh…wait a moment!” Theo unlocked his backpack and took a piece of dried meat from inside it. He first tore it in half and threw one piece of it into his own mouth, while throwing the rest of the meat to Ashes.
Theo sighed when he saw the witch put the meat into her small mouth and began to chew. Who could have thought that in addition to her great sword, she did not even have one copper royal on her whole body. Even though she was totally penniless she still dared to swagger so much during their rush back to Border Town. During the whole way, all the accommodation and meals had been paid for by himself. The room’s in the inns had to be single bedrooms of the finest quality, and when they ate it could only be meat, dry food and things like portable foods. Furthermore, always had to eat the first half of it by himself before she would eat her part.
Probably with the exception of the time she was on the field, she was a very cautious person. However, wouldn’t the most prudent approach to safety be to prepare her own food?
“You always wanted to know where we are going; it is to the opposite part of the channel.” After swallowing the meat, Ashes suddenly said, “I am not sure if you’ve ever heard the rumors about the Fjords, but there are countless islands there. Some of them have a very dangerous environment, so those are always scarcely populated. We are going to settle on one of those islands and build homes on it that only belong to witches.”
“…” Theo was stunned, no matter how he had tried to inquire from her before, she had always been silent, so why had she suddenly taken the initiative by herself to bring up this matter?
“Are you surprised, are you asking yourself why I didn’t bring up this subject before?”
Ashes began to explain seriously. “There was the possibility that you were a liar, who would pretend to sleep but at night would instead run to the Church. But now the girls should have already reached halfway to their goal; they should already have entered the merchant ferry to the Fjord. So even if you tell them now, the Church will be unable to stop them. Also, I came here to take the other witches of the Witch Cooperation Association with me, so sooner or later the news will have already reached your ear, thus continuing to hide it has already become meaningless.”
“Even though I’ve already brought you to Border Town, you still cannot rule out the possibility that I’m a liar.”
“Yes, that’s true,” said Ashes, stressing every word, “But in the end, if we are unable to meet another witch, you will die here, together with everyone else who is trying to harm us witches.”
“All right,” Theo took a deep breath. “Can I ask you some other questions?”
Ashes thought for a moment, “Sure, but I can’t guarantee that I will answer.”
“Do you come from the Kingdom of Graycastle? I have never seen such eyes as yours before.” He decided to start to ask her about her origin first. This shouldn’t be any kind of sensitive information and at the same time it should reduce the wariness in her heart.
“I was born in the Kingdom of Endless Winter, but this has nothing to do with the color of my eyes. The moment I became a witch, my eyes turned into this pair of eyes you see now.”
“Kingdom of Endless Winter? That’s a long way between your kingdom and the Kingdom of Graycastle. There are even two other kingdoms between them, so how did you come to Silver City?”
“When I was young I was sold the Church, and then…” She paused. “I’ve been wandering from the monastery in the Old Holy City all the way to the Kingdom of Graycastle. Until I meet her, finally ending my wandering life.”
“She?” Theo asked curiously.
“Tilly Wimbledon,” Ashes answered, suddenly showing a warm expression on her face. “She took me in.”
The guard’s heart beat faster, when he had previously heard her saying the name Tilly, he had never thought that it was any sort of famous person. But now with the Wimbledon family name attached to it, the meaning became entirely different. Tilly Wimbledon was Roland Wimbledon’s sister, the 5th Princess of the Kingdom of Graycastle. So, when he asked her his next question, his voice quivered. “She, is she your leader?”
“Leader?” Ashes nodded. “To me, she is so much more; she is the most important person to me… someone that no one else could ever replace.”
When the night fell, the two lit up a bonfire.
Ashes took off her sword, raising it a little bit out of its cover, showing that the edge of the weapon was close to the width of her waist and also that it was covered with many marks of previous clashes. The grayish sword didn’t have any edge that was usually seen on a blade, and it weight alone was enough to squash any one person. For most people lifting this sword would already be an impossible task, but in her hands, it seemed to only be as heavy as a light blade.
How many blacksmiths had she robbed, in order to get enough material to forge a sword like that, ah, Theo thought, if the Prince and his witches delay for much longer, it is entirely possible that I will become the next victim of that sword.
“I heard that the Lord of Border Town is also a… Wimbledon,” he decided to find something to talk about. Otherwise, the waiting time seemed to be especially hard for him to bear.
“Roland Wimbledon,” she muttered, “I have seen him before.”
“What?” Theo opened his mouth.
“I was sheltered by Tilly and began to work as her guard in the palace. So there naturally was the opportunity to meet several of her brothers and sisters.” Ashes seem to already have a good understanding of the 4th Prince, “incompetent, arrogant, without any learning or skills. It was hard to believe that he was Tilly ‘s brother. Also… in some areas his courage wasn’t so small.”
To the end of her sentence, her tone had become colder.
Theo could not keep himself from shuddering. He had heard a lot of rumors of the Prince previous behavior. For example, he would always brag, was also fond of using cunning plots and things like molesting someone else’s maid. Although he had never used violence or threatened the other side, it was still hard to avoid someone in his position. Surely, he wouldn’t…
At this moment, Ashes suddenly stood up, staring into the direction of the road, “Someone has come, and they are more than one.”
Theo followed her gaze and he could also slowly see the outline of figures gradually appearing from the night’s darkness. The one who took the lead was the witch personally responsible for His Royal Highness’ security, Nightingale.