Release that Witch Chapter 383
Inside the Tower of Babel at Hermes Cathedral.
The newly-crowned Supreme Pontiff, Mayne, was quietly listening to the reports of the three Bishops in the secret room.
Aside from the elder Bishop Tayfun, the other two were newly-promoted Archbishops, Soli Darl and Ell, who came from the Verdict Army and Tribunal respectively. The former had been a gallant and heroic Presiding Judge who had gained a stellar reputation over the course of more than 25 years of service in the army, and the latter had been Heather's adjutant and was also widely respected.
"The intake of orphans from the Kingdom of Everwinter has been very successful during this year's Months of Demons. The nobles of every major city have fully yielded to the church. At present, the number of orphans sent to the Holy City is already three times more than the planned," Tayfun said with a sigh. "This is the only piece of good news recently."
The nobles were always like this—as soon as they saw that the situation was not advantageous to them, they would change sides faster than they drank water. Mayne nodded and replied, "This is only the first year, and there will be more and more in the future. If we're able to take over the whole continent, our yearly intake could fill up an entirely new city."
"I hope so." Tayfun sighed deeply. "How many times has this place been attacked by demonic beasts since the heavy snow began to fall?"
"Six times," Soli replied.
"Six times... and hundreds of Verdict Warriors have already died on the frontline," Tayfun said in a heavy tone. "The God's Punishment Army has also lost ten of its personnel, and the demonic beasts' offensive will only become fiercer next year."
"This is easier than fighting the demons," Ell said and gestured with his hands. "Although I haven't personally witnessed the might of the demons, the Holy Book describes them as invincible. Is it really necessary to defend this place to the death?"
"What on earth do you mean?!" Soli frowned upon hearing Ell's words. "God gives us our direction and strength. As his disciples, how can we not stick to our faith and run away instead?"
"Stop quarreling," Mayne said, thumping his scepter on the ground. "After working with Heather for more than ten years, Ell has been affected by her loose-lipped temperament." As he watched Soli and Ell bicker, he could not help thinking about the partnership between Tayfun and Heather in the old times. He glanced at the old Bishop, only to discover that the latter was glancing back at him, as if they were thinking about the same thing. "Our ultimate goal is to sustain the human race, and the only way to do so is to defeat our enemies."
"Understood, Your Holiness." The two Bishops bowed their heads in respect.
Although, even he himself was not sure if they could defeat the demons by maintaining their position and defending Hermes.
Mayne suddenly thought about O'Brien's entrustment and felt his shoulders grow heavy.
The Fearful Beasts of Hell had already appeared, and the demons would arrive in five years. Mayne would get to witness the next Battle of Divine Will while he was alive, but unlike O'Brien, he would not be able to entrust his duties to a successor. He could neither sleep nor eat well whenever he thought about this.
In truth, he had also thought about leaving a way out for himself. When Garcia's Blacksail Fleet was captured, Mayne did not order the ships to be burned nor execute all of the rebels, but instead locked them behind bars. Apart from executing a few of the fleet leaders together with a large number of scapegoats who were actually commoners living in the slums, most of the fleet crew were kept alive and were presently locked up in the harbor of the Kingdom of Everwinter by Mayne's most trusted subordinates.
If the defensive line is completely broken, the Fjords will become the final refuge—even though retreating to those islands will mean that Mankind is near extinction and has no chance of redemption, at least I'll be able to live out the rest of my life.
After all, hasn't Mankind already done everything it could and not been able to defeat its enemies in two attempts?"
In the subsequent discussions regarding how the church should expand and how to stabilize the governance of the Kingdom of Wolfheart, Mayne did not pay much attention. He waited until the three bishops finished discussing before saying absent-mindedly, "We'll do as you three have said. That'll be it for today's meeting."
"Yes, Your Holiness." The three bishops hurriedly stood up and bowed.
Mayne left the secret room and made his way towards the Pivotal Secret Area together with his guards.
According to the plan, a new batch of Verdict Army soldiers were to be converted to members of the God's Punishment Army today. This was what he was truly concerned about. Whether it was standing their ground or retreating, these powerful warriors were guaranteed to follow his orders.
However, before this, he had to handle another problem.
He passed through the stone steps and entered the Pivotal Secret Area. Then, he turned into the long prison corridor that was situated in the middle of the area. The last time he was here, it was to secretly execute the King of Graycastle, Wimbledon III.
The long corridor was extremely deserted. The rosin torches that were placed on both sides of the corridor emitted a dim yellow light. The far end of the corridor was covered in darkness as if it was the entrance to a bottomless abyss. Many people who had been imprisoned here never saw sunlight ever again.
Mayne walked towards cell No. 85 and signaled to his guards to open the door.
The thick wooden door gave out a harsh grinding sound. Then, fits of wailing and crying were suddenly heard. When the cell door was closed again, these fits were shut out on the outside.
Through the iron railings, Mayne saw Zero's figure.
The Pure Witch's back was facing the entrance. Her upper body was bare, while she was handcuffed to an iron bar overhead that forced her to tiptoe at all times. A dozen fresh lash marks were visible on her white-skinned back, but the streams of blood that flowed downwards had already solidified.
"How does the tribunal's Sermon Whip feel?" Mayne asked. "I hope that this teaches you the meaning of obedience."
"Uh..." Zero groaned softly as if she had just awakened from a dream and turned her head meekly. "So the Supreme Pontiff has come. Do you mean obedience towards you, or towards other bishops?"
Her frivolous tone made Mayne frown. However, his displeasure diminished when he reminded himself that he was currently the Supreme Pontiff, which was very different from his previous position as a bishop. "After this lesson, she should understand that I can decide whether she lives or dies." "Obedience towards me. And when I ask you to assist another bishop to complete a mission, you have to obey his orders."
"Is that all?" She asked noncommittally. "If this is what you demand, I'll agree to it."
"Release her handcuffs," Mayne ordered a guard.
Having been handcuffed up high for a long time, Zero's hands seemed to be dislocated, and they dropped down as though they did not have an ounce of energy left. The Pope picked up Zero's clothes using his scepter and tossed them on her shoulder. "I have a task for you. Follow me."
Zero allowed her clothes to dangle on her shoulder and nonchalantly followed Mayne out of the long prison corridor.
"This year's Months of Demons could be as long as five months. This is a daunting challenge for the Holy City, and even more so for other places that are affected by the Months of Demons." Mayne walked to the border of the Trap Area, and then passed through a narrow iron-walled passageway and arrived in front of the elevator cage once again. Ever since he was crowned as the Pope, he had been busy with the various matters of the church. This was the first time he stepped foot in this place as the ruler. "I order you to follow the other Pure Witches to the Kingdom of Graycastle and kill the rebels Timothy and Roland Wimbledon by taking advantage of the disorder brought about by the heavy snow. Is that understood?"
As the door of the elevator cage closed, the clicking sound of the capstan rotation was heard overhead and the elevator began to descend slowly. But Mayne didn't hear Zero's reply.
"Damn, the whipping hasn't taught her to obey." With a sullen face, Mayne turned to look at Zero, only to see her smiling with a dangerous glint in her eyes.
Then, he saw a beam of bright light heading straight at him.