Chapter 96 Leaves
Leaves saw that there were people busy everywhere; she had never thought that she would ever return to a town in the secular world.
After crossing the border of Border Town, one story brick buildings which were covered in dust appeared one after another in front of her. Even though it was only half a year since she had fled into the Impassable Mountain Range, she still felt like she had just stepped into another world.
The Months of Demons just came to an end, so after passing the winter the townsfolk were short on food and clothing, and the complexion of their bodies should be very bad, at least this was what Leaves remembered when she had crossed the slums of Silver City and her journey to the West – everywhere where people who died from the cold or from hunger. And if they were living they still walked as if they were already corpses. With an empty gaze and a slow and unsteady movement.
But here, most people she saw were full of vitality, some were even drying fishes at the entryways of their houses’; some had climbed on top of their roofs to repair damaged tiles; other young men were carrying hoes and hammers. They talked and smiled to each other while walking to the north of the town. To prevent other people from trying to talk to her, Leaves pulled her hat down, as far as possible.
The castle stood at a very striking area, it was placed at the southwest corner on top of a hillside. There was no plants around her, so if she wanted to sneak into the castle it was quite difficult. Hiding herself in the trunk of a tree would be okay, but letting it stand up and walk would be too much.
For a witch, she really wasn’t good at hiding her body. So after carefully considering her options, Leaves thought that rather than hiding herself, she wanted to walk openly into the castle.
If Nightingale didn’t lie to her, then even if she entered through the main entrance she wouldn’t face any problems.
And in case Nightingale deceived her, deceived the Witch Cooperation Association, she was also self-confident enough that she would be able to flee from the two guards at the entry.
Of course, there was also the worst case scenario, that Nightingale had betrayed everyone and there weren’t any witches working for the prince. If that was the case she would in all likelihood die. As a top fighting witch, very few people would be able to escape if Nightingale wanted to kill them, she was probably even stronger than Cara. If they fought each other, it wasn’t certain who would win.
Leaves had already prepared herself for the worst case. If she was unable to come back, Scroll would take over the position as Mentor and lead her last sisters into their future – no matter where their destination laid, no matter where at which place they ended, no one knew the answer.
She slowly walked up the hill, coming close to the castle’s gate. And was soon noticed by the guards, who put their hands on the hilt of their swords, and one loudly snapped: “This is the Prince’s Palace, it’s no place for you, you should quickly go back!” He paused, and then added, “If there is something important you have to report, go straight to the left and follow the street until you reach the Town’s Hall, there are people who will receive you.”
Leaves took a deep breath, then she took off her hood. Not surprisingly, she saw a surprised look on their faces. When she saw that the other side had recovered their feelings, she bluntly said: “I am a witch.”
At the moment she said the sentence, she almost expected the other side to draw their swords. Yet the two guards just stared at each other, there was no ordinary man who could hide their feeling of disgust when they heard she was a witch, but their faces showed only curiosity. One of them even asked with interest, “You are a witch? What ability do you have?”
Hearing their response Leaves heart begun to beat faster, she was almost unable to hold her excitement back from breaking out. While trying to keep her voice calm she said: “I want to see Nightingale, Anna or Nana would also be okay.
In Nightingale’s story, the witches were frequent visitors to the castle. The prince didn’t restrict their freedom, only acting as their guardian, even letting them come and go as they pleased… But if Nightingale’s story wasn’t true, the guards surely had never heard of their names.
One guard turned to his partner, the one who had previously spoken out loud, patted his shoulder and said. “You will keep her here, and I’m going to inform His Royal Highness.”
Leaves watched him walk through the gate, soon disappearing in the direction of the garden.
While waiting for what would happen now, she thought about the probabilities. In the end, would Nightingale greet her like a sister, or were the guards at this moment surrounding her, or would she be attacked by a blade out of the shadow?
She found herself in a strange contradiction, obviously, she wanted to believe in Nightingale, but the closer she came to the answer, the more afraid she became of the thought to get disappointed. Maybe Nightingale was a secret agent? The Names of Anna and Nana weren’t made up by her, right? or…
For her, the time had never passed slower than at this moment! Every heartbeat was like a hundred years for her, for her, it was a very long time that she had to wait until her destiny was decided.
In the end, she didn’t know how long or how short the moment was she had to wait until she heard Nightingale’s voice – as if in a trance, she was unable to do anything, only asking herself if she heard it right.
A familiar figure emerged from the gate, bounced over and reached Leaves side almost at the same time as her voice. The next moment she was already wrapped in a warm hug.
“Leaves, welcome home!”
“This is my spare uniform, for the moment you can wear it,” said Nightingale who rummaged through her cupboard. “Here is the jacket, shoes… well, here is also a nightgown and bath towel.”
“Why are you in such a hurry,” Wendy shook her head with a smile on her face. “You only have to wait until His Highness is up, then she will get everything.”
Seeing how busy Nightingale was to help her, Leaves’ eyes became warm. She took a deep breath, trying to suppress her tears.
From the beginning Nightingale had never lied to them, there really existed a prince who treated witches nicely.
“Do you want to take a bath first?” asked Nightingale and placed the towel and bathrobe directly beside her. “At the moment His Royal Highness is taking a nap, when he finally wakes up he will gladly receive you. Right, were you able to find the Holy Mountain? How did you and the other sisters fare?
When this sentence was spoken, Leaves line of sight became suddenly blurred, unable to bear it any longer, she wrapped her arms around Nightingale, releasing the long suppressed pain inside her heart.
After having cried for a long time Nightingale’s chest had already become wet from the tears, but at least Leaves was finally able to calm down.
Then she began to tell them what had happened after their last meeting, telling them form all the suffering they had to bear. When it came to the point where her sisters were buried in the wild, she felt how Nightingale took her hand and squeezed it.
When Leaves’ story came to its end, Wendy’s look became very heavy, “I had never expected that Cara would bring the Witch Cooperation Association to its end… From the forty-two sisters only seven people… It was also my inescapable responsibility if I hadn’t stood firmly on Nightingale side…”
“It wasn’t your fault,” said the Nightingale sadly. “No one can predict the future; now the important part is to decide what to do next.” She looked at Leaves, “You said there were six other sisters who survived, where are they now?”
“They are at the entrance to the canyon waiting for a message from me. We previously made an appointment, if I’m unable to come back, Scroll will lead them away from here, maybe to the extreme south, perhaps even crossing the sea…”
“Then we will have to go to the canyon and get them,” said Nightingale excited. “I’ll leave now. Wendy will stay here and take care of you.”
“Wait a minute, what will you do if they don’t believe you? Leaves will have to go with you, just call Lightning to follow along. At the moment she should be training for her flight towards Longsong Stronghold. Take some horses with you, like this, our sisters can ride the last part of their road.” Wendy carefully urged.
“But His Highness… isn’t he still sleeping?” Leaves became stunned, “Don’t you need to get his approval first?
“Rest assured,” said Nightingale reassuringly, “If His Royal Highness knew about this, I am afraid he would went crazy from waiting.”