Chapter 293 The Night before
The week quickly passed, and now it was finally time for the investigation team to set out on their journey.
Roland called Barov, Carter, and Iron Axe over to the castle and informed them that he would be leaving Border Town for two days. During his departure, they were to continue carrying out the affairs of the town in accordance with the general plans and regulation.
Of course, his declaration was met with unanimous opposition from the three of them. Carter wanted to perform his duty as the Chief Knight and stand guard at the Prince’s side; Iron Axe asked that a team of one hundred soldiers be dispatched as an escort; Barov used the excuse that Roland was needed to review and approve some important decrees that the City Hall would be releasing, making it necessary that he remained in the castle. This went on, until he finally felt he had no other alternative than to put out a lord’s airs and command everyone to act in accordance with his orders.
“Your Highness, I do not understand. In the end, what is so important about these circumstances, that you personally must go?” Barov asked in confusion.
“This is a matter which concerns the Western Territory… so much that it might even decide the life or death of the Kingdom of Graycastle,” Roland said, then was silent for a moment before opening his mouth once more, “And only I have the ability to make the best judgment .”
“You cannot… tell us the particular cause?”
“For the time being I can’t, but there will come a day when you will understand.” He shook his head. “Also, this trip is a secret operation; you are not allowed to reveal this information to anyone.”
The fact that the Devils headquarters was merely about two hundred kilometers west of the Western Border, the very Devils who had once destroyed the Holy City of Taqila and forced the last defenders to the edge of the mainland, and turned the wildlands into a forbidden area no one even dared to set a foot, is all too frightening to say out loud.
For me it is tolerable, after all, I got a lot out of all the extermination movies I saw, even so, the thought still makes me feel numb; for them however, I’m afraid that others cannot simply accept something like that. Once the news is leaked, it will only turn into more trouble. In case it was to causes a panic among my subjects, it might even lead to many people fleeing from the Western Territory.
Thus, at present, it is not the right time to declare the truth.
After finishing all political affairs, Roland and the witches entered the hot air balloon, and lifted off, leaving the castle front yard and heading into the sky, in the directions of the snow-capped mountain.
“Your Royal Highness, if we assume that it was indeed the Church who has been fighting against the Devils four hundred years ago, does that make them good or bad?” Since discovering the existence of the Devils, it seemed that Sylvie had become preoccupied by some troubles.
“Of course they are still bad,” Roland didn’t even get to open his mouth before Nightingale gave her answer. “Have you ever seen a good person hunting a witch for no reason? In the case that we really were the Devils minions, all of us sisters would know about it. But there isn’t even a bit of relationship between us witches and the Devils, the demonic bite is also a complete myth.
However, the other person still observed Roland, seemingly waiting to hear his answer.
He thought for a while then started to speak, “First of all, it is still not confirmed that it was the Church who had fought against the Devils. If they had indeed made such great sacrifices, for what reason would they conceal all the information about it and destroy the past? This news would have been the best way for them to expand their base of believers. I am afraid that we can only answer the questions truthfully if we are able to find more clues about the past. Also, good and evil cannot be distinguished so easily; it is always dependent on the place you are standing at.” Roland paused for a moment to give her a smile, then he asked, “However, I believe what you really wanted to know was, if I would go to the Church to fight with them against the Devils, isn’t that right?”
“I…” Sylvie wanted to say something, but in the end, she couldn’t deny it.
“The Church and I are incompatible, even if there were any witches, I would not be able to stand on the same side as them,” he said, “That is even more now that I have all of you by my side.”
“I also want to speak,” Nightingale said, showed a complacent smile. “Even if it was the Church who had fought the Devils before, they still lost, or might even have suffered some other kind of crushing defeat. In His Highness words, ‘if you do not know who is going to win or lose, for what reason would you want to rely on the losing side’?”
“… I see,” Sylvie nodded gently, and her uneasiness seeming to loosen up somewhat.
Time passed. And when dusk fell, the group of people were vaguely able to see the contours of the snow-capped mountain.
It is indeed incomparable huge, Roland thought, even I have seldom seen such a towering peak with my own eyes. There doesn’t exist any other similar mountains within the mountain range, it’s as if the earth doesn’t have any inclination to rise in general, leaving only one road leading to the skies. The overcast mountain wall occupied more than half of the horizon, if we’d wanted to bypass the mountains by land, I am afraid we would have to spend several months to do so.
The selected camping site was located at the top of a mountain nearer to the sea, making it easy for them to observe the movement around them. Furthermore, it was also far enough from the Concealing Forest, to ensure that it would be impossible for any beast to sneak up on the camp.
After gnawing at their rations, everyone began to set up their tent. Due to the limited weight capacity of the hot air balloon, they were only able to take a single large tent with them. Therefore, Roland showing a noble character and unquestionable integrity, offered the witches the use of the tent and decided that he would sleep in the basket while Maggie decided to take a tree – since, if she turned into a bird, she was able to sleep while standing.
He discovered that in the end, he was still too thin skinned, making it impossible for him to crowd into the tent to sleep together with the witches. Even when Wendy and Soraya suggested that they would take the basket so that the Prince could sleep in the tent, he still refused them.
While they were arranging their accommodations, Sylvie was the only one who was warily staring at Roland, her gaze was so intense that in the end he didn’t know whether he was supposed to laugh or cry.
After arranging the night vigil, every one of them entered the tent one after another. Due to the uneven bottom of the basket, Roland had some problems falling asleep. Thus he sat on a rock while facing the sea, stared blankly at the moonlight that was sparkling on the sea’s surface.
At this time, he heard some subtle footsteps coming from behind.
When the Prince turned around, he discovered that it was Anna.
Previously, back when he had been attending school, he’d always had some anticipation that “maybe something is going to happen” within his heart when he went on social travel. And even though most of the endings ended with delusion, this never prevented him from looking forward to the next event.
However, when it came true, Roland found out that contrary to his expectation, his heartbeat sped up even more. Feigning as if nothing was out of the ordinary, he lifted an eyebrow and asked, “What happened, can’t you fall asleep?”
“No,” Anna said bluntly, “I merely want to accompany you.”
“That’s it?” He coughed twice, “Thanks.”
“It should be me thanking you,” Anna said as she smiled. The silver moonlight sparkled on her face, emitting a faint radiance; her peaceful blue eyes seems to be deeper than the sea, “Those words you said to Sylvie… although she did not thank you, I could still see that her mood had become a lot better.”
“Are you happy for her?”
“No,” she shook her head. “I’m happy about my choice.”
Roland asked startled, “What… choice?”
Instead of answering, Anna closed her eyes and kissed him on the cheek. After a long time, she whispered, “Good night, Your Highness.”
This can be regarded as “something has happened”… right?
Seeing her back disappear into the tent, Roland stretched his body to his heart’s content, the moment he intended to return to the basket to sleep, a pair of invisible hands took hold of his face. The area in front of him was obviously empty, yet he once again felt a soft touch, but this time, it was on the other side. “I also thank you, Your Highness, for doing so much for us witches.”