Chapter 248 Sudden change
Even during the hot summer, the ice at the top of Hermes’ plateau never melted.
Standing on the top of the heaven tower and looking at the far distance, Mayne merely saw a mixture of two colors of the green grass and the white snow from the wilderness behind the walls, resembling a scar left behind by war during the Months of Demons. Within this climate it was impossible to grow any sort of crops, so all the food they consumed in the New Holy City came from Old Holy City that was at the foot of the plateau and brought up by some animal drawn carts.
After staying in the city for more than a decade, Mayne had already become accustomed to the omnipresent cold of Hermes.
“This time it will only be the two of us?” Tayfun pushed the door open and stepped in, “Furthermore, shouldn’t we hold the meeting in the secret room?”
“Don’t tell me that you are fond of being shut into that narrow place?”
“No… of course not,” the old Bishop touched his white beard. “If it wasn’t for Heather being in charge of all the rules and proclaiming the commandments over and over, I would be only too eager to exchange information at this spot each time. Even if she became lost in the gossip of the city talk again, I would at least be able to enjoy the scenery of the Holy City below. And…” He smiled and said, “I never expected someone like her who is always punctually, to not return on time.”
“Perhaps she had met with some difficulty,” Mayne said, going back to the table to take a place. “Or perhaps she is already on her way back.”
“Maybe…” Tayfun curled his lips, “You really should not help her look for an excuse, everyone should be able to send word even during their travels, these are words she had often said herself. Even if you are in trouble, you should always report to us first. Furthermore, she isn’t alone in the capital of the Kingdom of Endless Winter, so sending a messenger wouldn’t take any more effort than raising a finger would’ve.”
“Let’s leave that matter for later,” Mayne said, then pushed three letters over to Tayfun. “We seem to have a problem.”
“There’s trouble?” The latter became startled, but then sat down across of the round table, spreading out the letters, “Are this all bad news?”
“Yes,” he took a deep breath, “It’s so bad, that it can’t get any worse.”
Tayfun lost his smile and began to carefully read the first letter, “… the spread of the demonic plague has been stopped and the whereabouts of Faceless is unknown? Wait a moment, what is the demonic plague?”
“It is the result of the Pivotal Secret Area’s latest research, you do not need to know all of the details, you must only know that it can be regarded as a rapidly infectious disease,” Mayne simplified. In fact, according to what Grandmaster Crow Eye had said, it was a kind of micro-demonic beast, that after special cultivation would mutate to directly attack the human body, and the Holy Elixir able to restrain the disease were also demonic beasts, merely with an even more smaller body. “The cause of the disease cannot be directly observed with the eyes, and thus cannot be healed through conventional methods, and there should only be one kind of person that can stop the demonic plague.”
“Is that a witch?” Tayfun quickly thought of the answer.
“Moreover, it should be more than one.”
After reading the letter, the old Bishop hit with his fist on the table, “This idiot, what was he thinking? Not even mention that he wanted to let the rats encircle and annihilate the mercenaries, he had even sent out Faceless? In the end, isn’t he even aware of the fact how important a pure witch is for us?”
“His plan wasn’t wrong,” Mayne frowned, “If the numbers in the letter aren’t a lie, then a thousand rats should have been enough to annihilate those one hundred mercenaries. However, the other side seems to have powerful long-range crossbows, which can be continuously fired. Regarding this matter, I remember that Priest Taylor who was stationed in Longsong Stronghold had also mentioned that those weapons were the reason why Duke Ryan had lost his battle against a group of miners, the other side’s crossbow were simply too powerful. A shield could significantly reduce the power of a crossbow bolt, but rats don’t have any such equipment.”
“Granted that it was right to send out those dregs, he should still have never easily sent out Faceless!” Tayfun answered enraged, “I’m afraid that after Heather comes back she will fly into a terrible rage, being able to grow a pure witch, furthermore, one with such a rare ability. The training alone is already very energy consuming. From a certain attitude, they are even more valuable than the God’s Punishment Army.”
“But whether it is a witch or the God’s Punishment Army, in the end, their final goal is to annihilate the enemy, and gaining victory.” Mayne slowly said, “Losing some of them during this process is inevitable.”
“Don’t tell me you are thinking of keeping Priest Ferry?”
“Do not forget the law of the Church,” Mayne’s voice sank, “Just viewing the outcome is the way the aristocracy loves to handle such matter. Although this was clearly a failure of Priest Ferry, but his motive and plan didn’t have many issues, it was just that the enemy was so much stronger than expected. Of course, he will be punished, but the specific punishment we will have to be considered further.”
“But Heather won’t see it like this,” Tayfun said, then shook his head and opened the second letter. “Don’t forget that she is responsible for arbitration of the Church.”
“I’ll inform her of it personally.”
Not long after, the old Bishop turned the over the letter in his hands, not daring to believe its words: “Timothy’s militia troops have committed a sneak attack on the Church in Longsong Stronghold, and even cleanly killed off all of our Priests? He must have gone insane!”
Actually, the content of the second letter came from two sources, one was the report of the strongholds Acting Duke Petrov and one was information that was sent by one of the local believers. All in all, it was certain that a military force from outside the Western Region had sneak-attacked the stronghold, and also looted the church. Not only had they used the Berserk Pills themselves, their main target was also the drugs that had been stored within the church… Therefore, it was a bit unclear from where the troops had come. They could not only be sent by the new King Timothy, they could also have been sent from the Queen of Clear Water Garcia. But after comparing both sides, it was clear that the former possibility was much more likely.
As for the latter’s message, Mayne had felt that it was a bit odd. According to the report sent by Petrov, after burning down the church, and withdrawing from the stronghold the other side had immediately gone missing without a trace, but shouldn’t they have been intercepted by the group of envoys? At this time the delegation should already have arrived in Border Town, making it impossible that the two groups haven’t met yet.
Seeing that Mayne wasn’t saying a word, Tayfun soon also became aware of this point and immediately took up the first letter to read it again. Soon the wrinkles on his forehead began to form deep ditches, “Is it… possible that after getting rid of the envoys Roland Wimbledon pushed all the blame onto his elder brother Timothy?”
“We might as well speculate,” the Archbishop said, after a moment of silence. “Roland intended to obtain the group of low-cost population, thereupon he had assigned witches to treat the demonic plague and sent all of the refugees back to the Western Territory. Thus, in order to avert the envoys from becoming aware of him keeping witches, he sent his knights out to raid the envoy’s camp, not even giving them the opportunity to send out a pigeon and placed all of the blame on the stronghold attackers. After all, the Acting Duke depends on the support of Roland Wimbledon, so providing him with assistance to pass off a fake as genuine is also something which should be right. Of course… all this is merely our own speculation, but the disappearance of the messenger group is indeed too suspicious, and currently we have no energy to send out another group of messengers.”
“If it was like this, we should send out troops to punish his arrogance immediately,” Tayfun said coldly, “Even if the event of the disappearance of the envoys has nothing to do with him, being able to clean up the witches within the Western Territory is already worth it.”
Mayne didn’t offer a response, instead, he merely pointed to the third letter, “We should put off our discussion until you have read the third letter.”
Throwing a questioning gaze towards Mayne, Tayfun opened the letter. Soon, his hands began to tremble, until he finally was almost unable to hold the thin paper, “How can there be so many witches within the Fjord, and what’s more, they have destroyed all of the churches there? Then this letter is…”
“From the Sea Dragon Bay, which was the last bastion of our Church to fall,” Mayne closed his eyes, and sank into the chair, his tone suddenly full of fatigue, “There is only one possibility if a large group of witches have emerged without any fore-warning in the Fjord, they must have immigrated from the mainland in the past.” Moreover, the letter even mentioned the appearance of an extraordinary, yet within the law and decrees of the Church, it is clearly regulated that once any traces of activity of an extraordinary witch is found, it has the precedence to dispatch the God’s Punishment Army to seize her. Yet the islands of the Fjord were simply too far away, and furthermore, the current battle with the Wolfsheart Kingdom is at an anxious moment, which makes it impossible for us to take into account the affair of the other side of the shore.
“Must we, or mustn’t we ask the Supreme Pontiff for instructions?” Tayfun asked.
“…” Mayne slightly shook his head, forcing down the over and over rolling feeling of powerlessly within his heart. Maybe this was the Church’s test given by God, only after cutting their way through the thistles and thorns would they be able to see God’s true intentions. Opening his eyes, he had finally recovered his former serene state, “The matters of the Holy Church of Hermes shall be handed by you and Heather.”
“Don’t tell me that you want to go to the Fjord?” The old bishop stared at him with wide open eyes.
“I will lead one hundred soldiers of the God’s Punishment Army together with some of the pure witches, to thoroughly clean out the Western Territory of the Kingdom of Graycastle, afterward I will take the opportunity to deal with the witches in the Fjord.”
“But the law says…”
Mayne immediately interrupted him, “That’s only the case when an extraordinary was found within the borders of the Four Kingdoms, but now she is separated from us by the sea and furthermore also had nothing to do with our plans. Do not forget, that in the end, we are only doing this to obtain more land and a larger population, so that we can continue to expand the size of the God’s Punishment Army. And by now, it became clear that the 4th Prince is a hindrance on the path to archive the goals.”
“But…” the moment Tayfun intended to interrupts, loud footsteps could be heard from outside of the hall, startling both men, who both coincidentally turned towards the door.
Only to see the door fly open with a loud bump, and a magistrate rushing into the room in a helter-skelter manner, “Bad news, Your Excellencies, bad news!”
“Speak a little calmer,” Mayne shouted, “Report slowly what you have to say.”
“Her Excellency Heather has sent an emergency letter, a large fleet has landed on the coast of the Kingdom of Endless Winter, and by now a large force of the enemy is besieging King’s City, the situation is imminently dangerous. The other’s sea-faring vessels are all uniformly sailing under black sails, and a blue flag of a sailboat and a crown that is flying at the mast.” The magistrate seemed to be extremely anxious, “The delivered news states, that two city gates have already fallen into the enemy’s hands and Her Excellency Heather is doing everything she can to resist with the help of the followers. However, besides the enemy’s large number, they are also using the Berserker Pills!”
“What?” For a long moment, Mayne couldn’t believe his own ears. Black sails, a sailboat with a crown…
The enemy was actually the Black Sail Fleet of the Queendom of Clear Water!