Release that Witch Chapter 583
When Anna opened her eyes, she saw that all around her was a fiery red. Scorching hot air blew directly at her face and scalded her skin.
The blazing flames were everywhere. Smoke billowed from the lower part of the shed and caused her to choke.
She heard cries from the back room, but was unsure if it was just a hallucination. As wood came into contact with the flames, they let out a crackling sound. Every now and then, she would notice sparks and splinters fall from overhead. She got off her haystack and tried to make her way towards the back room, but was quickly repelled by incoming heat waves.
Eventually, she scrambled her way out of the shed, and watched helplessly as her house was engulfed by the raging flames.
Her neighbors started to crowd around as well. Some tried to help put out the fire. However, the nearest water source was Redwater River, which was located outside the town. The few pots of water which they did their best to fetch had no effect on the fire at all.
After Anna rushed back and forth several times, she suddenly saw the figure of her father.
He had hurried back from the mines. He was still wearing his soiled coat and his face was covered with dark gray dust. He stood beside the house, which had been reduced to its wooden frames, and stared blankly at it.
As though she saw her tower of strength, Anna could no longer suppress the fear and panic in her heart, and tears began to roll down her face like pearls. She cried and screamed as she ran towards her father and held on to him tightly.
However, her father did not comfort her as she hoped.
"Where's your mother?" He grabbed her by the shoulder so violently that it caused her to squeal in pain. "And your brother!"
Anna shook her head, but did not expect that what followed would be a slap on the face.
"Did you actually escape alone? Why didn't you rescue them?"
"Damn, how can you only care about yourself?"
Anna suddenly sat bolt upright in her bed, panting heavily. The scolding voice continued to reverberate beside her ears and refused to go away.
This dream again.
She picked up a cup from the bedside table and gulped down the cold water. It took her quite a long time to recover fully.
On the first day of every month, Anna would dream of this scene. It was as if there was someone in her brain who had to constantly remind her of the past. She turned her head and examined the calendar on her desk. Today happened to be the last day of the first week of summer, and also the day of the month that the Witch Union distributed the salaries.
She washed herself simply and put on her clothes. Then she walked out of the castle and headed towards the Witch Building in the backyard.
"Sister Anna!" Ring grinned upon the sight of her. "You've come so early!"
"Good morning." Wendy greeted and laughed softly. "The weather today seems good. Will you still be going to the North Slope Mountain later?"
"Lady... Anna." Her two former classmates hurriedly bowed in respect.
"Call me Anna, just like the old times." She waved her hands, took a seat at one side of a long table, and pondered for a moment before answering. "I have some other things to do first. I'll only be going in the afternoon."
"Oh? That's rare." Wendy revealed a spirited expression. "Could it be that you and His Majesty Roland are..."
"Are they going shopping!" Ring shouted excitedly.
Pearl and Grayrabbit, who were listening on one side, laughed uncontrollably.
Anna shook her head in denial but did not say anything further.
Neither did Wendy continue to ask. She took out an envelope from a drawer and placed it in Anna's hands. "This is the month's salary. Two gold royals."
Witches did not have to prepare what they ate or wore, nor did they have to pay for rent or transport. They would even be given free prototypes of the luxury goods sold in the convenience market, and could request for more or newer items easily. Therefore, most witches felt that their salaries were not of much use, and did not understand why His Majesty insisted on paying them. Only Anna was able to guess why Roland did so. Furthermore, this measure inadvertently did her a favor.
She walked back to the castle hall while holding onto her salary envelope. When she reached, she saw that the Chief Knight, Carter Lannis, was already waiting there.
"Miss Anna." Carter stood up and greeted her. "Shall we proceed as usual?"
"Yes." She took a gold royal out of the envelope and handed it to the knight. "Let's go."
During the reconstruction of Border Town, the natives were each given a new lodging. Anna's father was no exception.
After he sold Anna for a price of 25 gold royals to the church, she never had any contact with him again.
From that moment, she no longer considered him her father.
However, there were some things which Anna could not completely walk away from.
For example, the gold royal which she let Carter pass to her father as the cost of living.
Like most poor people who suddenly received a windfall, her father did not hold on to the sale money for too long. Within half a year, he became penniless by gambling, as well as being a victim of fraud and theft. At that time, Anna was not yet well known, but her talent was spotted by natives when she used her fire abilities to mend the gaps in the city walls. Her father tried to depute a neighbor to visit Anna, but was invariably rejected and ridiculed. When Carter, who was then in charge of organizing the militia, heard about this matter, he disclosed it to Anna.
From then on, she knew that she had to do something in order to keep her father quiet.
She did not wish to see him cause trouble to Roland.
She walked with Carter to a quiet neighborhood in the east of the city and went up to the second floor of a building.
Carter turned his head back to face her. "Miss Anna, wait for me here."
"Sorry to trouble you."
"No, it's nothing much." He walked up to a door and knocked forcefully on it.
After a while, the door creaked open. "Ah... it's you, Knight Sir, I..."
"Why did you take so long to open the door, are you deaf!" Carter yelled. "Move aside and don't stand in the doorway."
Perhaps this is the way things should be.
Anna leaned against a wall along the corridor and heaved a sigh of relief.
In all honesty, she did not want to care about her once father at all, but she knew that matters would only get worse if she completely disregarded him. Furthermore, she could not approach him by herself, or else, this bigoted and conceited man would act as though he was still her father, and the deterrence effect would be lost.
Rather than pleading him not to do anything, it was better to let him know that there was now a world of difference in their societal status. As the renowned Chief Knight, Carter was considered to be a great noble among the commoners of the Border Area. By having him deliver the gold royal as hush money together with a few sentences of harsh warnings, it should be sufficient to keep the old man quiet, and thus ensure that there would be no trouble for Roland.
Anna did not understand this kind of relationship in the past.
After she was captured and imprisoned, she lost interest in everything and her world turned completely dead gray. It was only when Roland rescued her that her world became colorful again. After living in the castle for a period of time, she gradually understood the complex relationships between people, and also the reasons why her father was angry at her.
But she abhorred these kinds of convoluted things.
She could only be truly relaxed when she was with Roland.
Or when she was reading the books which recorded intriguing knowledge—although they appeared complicated and incomprehensible at first, after prolonged reading, one would discover that the relationships between different things were simple and direct, and would not change because of new interests or desires. She wondered why the real world did not turn out to be as clean and tidy as the formulas which explained its workings.
The door opened again. After a brief moment of flattering voices urging him to stay, Carter returned to her side and said, "Miss Anna, it's done."
"Okay." Anna could breathe a lot easier now that the matter was settled. "Don't tell His Majesty."
"Of course... I understand."
She nodded in approval and turned to walk downstairs.
Although she could never get rid of these terrible feelings, she knew that with Roland, the pleasant things in life would only keep increasing. She could not wait to proceed to the North Slope Mountain to continue her research work.
That was a place she was actually fond of.