Release that Witch Chapter 605
What followed was a long period of silence.
Anna's eyes were not as tranquil as Roland had thought. As the couple gazed silently at each other, he saw the surging undercurrent beneath the cerulean surfaces. It was comprised of anxiety, fear, but above all, resolve. This was the reason why her expression was always looked so steely.
As time slid away quietly, the feeling became more and more intense.
Roland finally realized that he was not going to change her mind.
He closed his eyes and exhaled a long sigh.
"Alright, but you must agree to one request."
"You must never go on the frontline. You'll always remain in the rear."
"If something happens on the battlefield..." Roland wet his lips. "I'm saying, in case, I..."
"If something like that really happens, I'll leave the Northern Region immediately," Anna said without reserve.
Roland seemed stunned for a moment.
"Are you worried that I'll try to avenge you and end up giving away my life needlessly?" She stroked his cheeks gently. "Only Nightingale and Ashes would do something like that. As for myself, I'll return quickly to the Western Region, bring all of your loyalists to Sleeping Island and settle down there, while continuing to resist Holy City. Your Majesty, although I'd like to follow you into death, I know that you'll never be agreeable to that." As she talked about this, she paused for a moment before continuing, "I promise you that I'll walk your path for you until your ideal world becomes reality, where witches and normal people can live together freely."
Roland did not respond—there was no need to. Anna's growth had exceeded his expectations. This was already the best reward he attained for coming to this world.
She reached out her hands to unbutton Roland's shirt.
Nothing else needed to be said.
The couple kissed as they flipped onto the bed.
Blackfire pulled down the curtains, while clothes and blankets were tossed to one side. In this moment, Roland's and Anna's fates were firmly connected, with the stars in the sky serving witness.
Two days later, Roland delivered his final speech before setting off in the square.
The people who came after hearing the news crowded the square until it was almost watertight. After a year and a half of development, Border Town of old no longer existed and was replaced by the prosperous and bustling City of Neverwinter. This had brought about massive changes to the lives of the people. This also meant that Roland's reputation and popularity scaled to unprecedented heights.
"Good morning, my subjects." As he went on stage, cheers rained down on him overwhelmingly.
"Long live our king!"
"Long live Your Majesty Roland!"
The people needed neither encouragement nor echoes to boost their volume. They consciously and enthusiastically cheered with respect for their king and waved their hands in the air.
The furore only gradually subsided after a full seven minutes.
"All of you should already know." Roland looked around at the countless pairs of revering eyes below the stage, and spoke in a deep voice, "Our kingdom is about to fight a war of self-defense against an invader. The enemy is none other than the Holy City of Hermes, which has already annexed Kingdom of Everwinter and Kingdom of Wolfheart! Today, of the four kingdoms, only Kingdom of Graycastle and Kingdom of Dawn remain. Right now, they're targeting us!"
"I know that some of you used to believe in God and the church. There's nothing shameful about that! Your kindnesses were made use of and your hopes were cheated. Do you think I'll blame the victims instead of the liars and robbers? Of course not!" He raised his fist. "The church shall have to pay! Just by selling the God's Stones of Retaliation, they're able to make more than 100,000 gold royals per year—this money should belong to all of you!"
"Why? The reason is simple. The nobles were unwilling to fork out an extra sum of money to buy the God's Stones, and therefore this portion of expenses was transferred onto you through tax increases, property confiscation, and daylight robbery! And it's not only the God's Stones, but also the building of churches, the maintenance of resident priests and the holding of baptism ceremonies. I believe that none of you are unfamiliar with these things!"
The things that the masses most easily understood and hated were exploitation and oppression. The church's methods were not as flagrant as the nobles', but in the eyes of the highly-experienced Roland, it was not difficult at all to lay bare this thin layer of fig leaf while at the same time smearing the name of the church.
"The church promised that this sum of money would be exchanged for God's blessings, but what happened in the end? Before I came to this town, the people had little to eat and wear, and as such, famine and severe cold came during the Months of Demons every year and took away the lives of many. As for those who survived... Is it really because of the church's or God's aid? No, they did nothing!" Roland raised his voice a notch. "The only thing they're interested in is sucking your blood dry!"
The natives saw these things happening with their own eyes, while most of the refugees from other cities had similar experiences. The square erupted into an angry uproar as everyone attributed all of their past sufferings to the church.
"So, I'll never surrender, and more importantly, I won't lose to these bloodsuckers!" Roland waved his fist in the air and declared loudly. "The First Army will pulverize them so that nobody will dare to rob my subjects ever again. You won't ever have to worry about paying money to build churches or to 'atone for your sins'! These bullsh*t taxes won't exist in the new Kingdom of Graycastle!"
"Facts have proven that without the presence of the church, City of Neverwinter will become an even better place, and so will the other cities!"
"Everything that you have has been created by your own hands and your spirit, not those illusory things. That's why I have repeatedly emphasized the glory of labor! Only labor can create wealth, and you people are the most glorious of laborers. You should be proud of this. Without you, there won't be today's prosperous City of Neverwinter!"
He pressed his hands down as a gesture for the subjects to pause their cheers. "The First Army has set off for the Northern Region, and they'll be fighting against the church. If we're defeated, we'll lose everything that we own and return back to the impoverished times of old... Tell me, are you willing to return to the past?"
The answers he received were self-evident.
"No, Your Majesty, we'll fight the church until the end!"
"Kill all of them!"
"Chase them out of our kingdom!"
"I'll protect Your Majesty with my life!"
There were all kinds of responses, but their expressions were impressively identical—they were willing and ready to defend everything that they had that was hard-earned.
"Well said. I don't need you to engage the enemy in battle. That's the responsibility of the First Army. Neither do you have to pay extra taxes to support the war—that's what the enemy does to its people. All you have to do is to continue living your lives, and continue to participate in the construction and production of this city. This would be the greatest aid your kin fighting on the frontline can receive from you." Roland placed his right hand on his chest and saluted. "We must attain victory! Long live the Kingdom of Graycastle!"
"Long live this kingdom!"
The people repeatedly chanted these two phrases, even long after Roland had made his departure.
In the afternoon the same day, the last batch of soldiers boarded the paddle steamers. "The Roland", serving as the flagship, tooted to signal the beginning of the journey.
The destination was Deepvalley Town!