Release that Witch Chapter 603
Zero stood on the top floor of the Tower of Babel and peered down at the bustling Holy City of Hermes.
The number of church believers who came to the highland this year had doubled from the previous year, so had that of the new Judgement Army. The Kingdom of Everwinter alone supplied close to 20,000 people to the church. This allowed the manpower lost in the battles against demonic beasts and the Kingdom of Wolfheart to be quickly replenished. In fact, the numbers now exceeded that of before the war.
In a way, the only right decision that His Holiness O'Brien could make now was to unify the four kingdoms. Should Kingdom of Graycastle and Kingdom of Dawn fall into the hands of Holy City, the church would undoubtedly reach greater heights than ever before.
However, this was not enough for Zero. She felt that while the church would be more than capable of governing the secular kingdoms, it would still not be able to compare with the Union, which owned fertile plains.
The church will have to do more if it desires victory in the Battle of Divine Will.
"Isn't it supposed to be Isabella's turn?" Zero suddenly heard Tayfun's voice from behind her. She turned around and saw the three archbishops enter the hall.
"His Holiness has sent her to Kingdom of Dawn on a monitoring mission." She bowed slightly to pay her respects. "I'll be hosting the meeting in her place today."
"Is Supreme Pontiff really so busy?" El shrugged her shoulders. "No time to see us even?"
"Be careful with your attitude, El." Soli Daal frowned. "His Holiness has his own plans. You have no right to question him."
"I wasn't being serious."
"Considering his position, he's indeed very busy." Tayfun laughed. "When His Holiness O'Brien was still around, I often heard Mayne and Heather complain like this too."
"Indeed so." Zero beckoned to the three archbishops to follow her. Then she walked over to the small table in front of the window and said, "Let's hold the meeting here."
"Not in the secret chamber?"
"The church's situation is fantastic right now. Who would dare to eavesdrop on us and divulge what we say?" Zero replied calmly. "Even the most obstinate nobles know which side to pick."
"But there will always be people who like to go against the flow." Although Tayfun did not really approve her explanation, he did not insist on going to the secret chamber. Neither did the other two seem to mind.
"Are you referring to the fourth Prince of Graycastle?"
"Who else could I be talking about?" The old man sat down, drank a mouthful of tea, and grumbled on. "Our attempts to surround the Western Region have failed. Not only the pure witches but also the priests, have all come to run back to Hermes. This is utterly absurd!"
"It was His Holiness who allowed them to return," Zero explained assuredly.
"You mean... Mayne?" Tayfun was surprised.
"When one step is slow, the other steps will be slow too." She nodded. "Ever since Silverstrip was killed at Fallen Dragon Ridge, we've fallen behind Roland Wimbledon. As we only received the news three months after it happened, it was obvious that it would be too late to send out reinforcements. So, there's no need to blame the pure witches. If they remained in Graycastle, they would have easily been targeted by Roland."
"Is there really no need to punish them? I would have liked to take this opportunity to hone Emma's temper." Soli raised his eyebrows. "She's always questioning my orders."
"That means your orders have a lot of errors and contradictions for sure." El quipped. "We all know that it's very difficult for a Judgement Warrior to use his brain."
Before Soli had the chance to retort, Zero quickly chimed in. "It would be beneficial for you to listen to her questions. As for how you discipline your pure, I shan't comment as long as you don't be too harsh on her. Every pure witch is a precious asset of the church."
"Yes, Lady Zero."
"However... why did Roland seize the God's Stones of Retaliation?" Tayfun mumbled. "Could it be because of Silverstrip and Storm that he detected the pure witches' presence?"
"Or, maybe, he knew long ago." Zero did not provide a definite answer. "We now know that he started recruiting witches very early on, and also built up relations with the people of Sleeping Island. Witches have all kinds of strange and powerful abilities, and thus it's not surprising if they found out information about the church."
"After seizing such a large amount of God's Stones, there's no sign of him putting them up for sale. This doesn't bode well."
"Nothing is certain." She thumped the table so as to gather everyone's attention. "This is the reason why His Holiness has asked you to come today. The intelligence agency of the Pivotal Secret Area has recently discovered that there have been unusual patterns of grain purchases in Coldwind Ridge lately. Furthermore, the number of ships passing through the north of Redwater City is unprecedented. It's reported that at least one or two ships are sighted every day. Yet, our lookout in Silver City has not seen these ships sailing towards King's City or Sanwan River.
"..." The three archbishops looked at each other in puzzlement. "Where did those ships go?"
"The three of you have been busy reclaiming the war supplies deployed at Kingdom of Dawn. Hence it's perfectly normal if you haven't been paying attention to the situation in Kingdom of Graycastle," Zero said plainly. "After eliminating the east and west sides, there's only one place they can go—Deepvalley Town in the Northern Region. "That place has the only tributary connected to Redwater River. It's also the nearest town to Coldwind Ridge in the north of Kingdom of Graycastle."
By tapping on the Queen of Clearwater's memory, she perfectly understood the distribution of cities and towns in Kingdom of Graycastle. "In other words, Roland Wimbledon is amassing his resources in the Northern Region. I don't have to tell you what he wants to do."
None of the three archbishops were fools, and they quickly understood what Zero meant. However, understanding and believing were two different things. "Wait a minute, do you really think Roland is intending to invade Hermes?"
"It's not what I think. It's what the intelligence agency concluded from its analysis, and His Holiness has agreed with this conjecture. It's understandable that Roland is feeling confident after his victory in King's City and thinks he can do the same in Hermes. While it's true that his snow power weapons are far superior to Timothy's weapons, we aren't ill-prepared. That's why His Holiness has permitted the church's personnel in Kingdom of Graycastle to retreat temporarily." Zero shrugged her shoulders. "The nobles there are completely unable to prevent him from clearing out all of the churches in his territory now that he's ready to publicly declare us his enemy."
"He's mad!" Soli muttered under his breath.
"The entire Wimbledon family is a bunch of lunatics." El swallowed her saliva. "Garcia was like that, now Roland's like that."
"This information is of great significance. We should further confirm it." Tayfun said, and meditated for a moment before he continued, "How about I send my pure witches to Coldwind Ridge to find out more?"
"There's no need for that." Zero shot down his suggestion. "We'll invade Graycastle sooner or later, so it actually saves us trouble that Roland is gathering his troops. This way, we don't have to attack city after city, like what happened in Kingdom of Wolfheart. We just have to defeat Roland and the war will be over." She glanced toward Tayfun. "How long more will the preparation of supplies take?"
The old bishop answered in a deep voice, "Around two weeks."
"How if we dispatch an advance force of roughly 1,000 men? Together with 300 God's Punishment Army soldiers."
"We can dispatch a force of this size tomorrow."
"Great." Zero got off her seat. "Rather than wait for Roland to trouble us, it's better that we target and seize Coldwind Ridge preemptively. Isn't he amassing grains over there? Perhaps we could even make up for our loss of God's Stones. Soli Daal, you shall be in charge of this advance force. I want you to take down Coldwind Ridge within three days."
However, she did not receive an immediate reply.
The three archbishops seemed to ponder for a moment before Tayfun asked, "Is this your idea or His Holiness Mayne's?
"..." Zero suddenly felt a surge of anger well up in her heart. "These idiots." As the true heir recognized by O'Brien, and the legitimate successor of the Union, she felt insulted to be doubted by a few mortals. She did her best to suppress her anger and pretended to be unconcerned. Laughing, she replied, "Of course it's His Holiness' decision. You may ask him personally if you have any questions. But, there's a lot of work to be done in the Pivotal Secret Area. Unless there's something truly important, it's best that you don't disturb his work there."
"Yes, we humbly abide by His Holiness' wishes." The three archbishops placed their hands on their hearts and declared.