Release that Witch Chapter 608
Soli Daal satisfactorily went through the broken castle gate and entered the castle of Coldwind Town.
Just three days to take Coldwind Ridge? Apart from the two days he spent on the road, it only took him several minutes to break through the little town's city wall. Of course, that muddy fence could hardly be called a city wall. The few guards just fled without making any official resistance after two of them were slashed by the Judgement Army and fell to the ground.
Is this the town guarding the border area?
Kingdom of Graycastle is nothing more powerful than that.
The only thing that upset him was when the church army was only halfway down the mountain, smoke came out of the Beacon Tower below as if they had known the church army was coming to attack the town.
Although sooner or later residents in the other domains of the Northern Region would be alerted, what made Soli angry was the disrespect the townsmen held toward the church—they had treated the army from Holy City as enemies beforehand, which showed their long-held sacrilege. Soli dispatched a squad of Judgement Army to head to the Beacon Tower, in order to arrest some soldiers for interrogation before hanging them.
"This way please, my lord." The knight leading the way said in a trembling voice. With swords putting on their necks, those knights did not show any courage, nor did they try to protect their lord. Instead, they instantly knelt down and pledged alliance to the church.
Those soldiers without a belief are just ugly, weak, and hapless. They're nothing compared with the Judgement Warriors who fight for the deities.
After killing several guards on the way, the Judgement Army broke into the study of the Lord of Coldwind Ridge and sealed every window which might serve as an exit, although Soli did not think the lord had the courage to escape through a window at all. Soli slowly walked into the study, looking at the lord gradually slump on a chair with a pale face.
"Good afternoon, Lord Kevan Matten."
"How, how dare you break into Coldwind Ridge... Does Holy City want to make enemy with Kingdom of Graycastle openly?"
"He's done," Soli thought, "Fear has completely possessed him." Through the decades of defending against demonic beasts at Hermes, the archbishop had developed a unique ability, which was to relish fear. Some people could convert fear into the desire of survival, while others would only be devoured by fear. Converting fear into the desire of survival was regarded as the essential quality for a Judgement Warrior to be promoted to a member of the God's Punishment Army. Those who were devoured by fear would be eventually obsolete in the endless atrocious wars.
Kevan was obviously among the latter.
"That's right. Haven't you known it long before?"
"What? No! I don't know what you mean..."
"It's too late to regret, my lord." Soli interrupted him. "You offered high prices for grains and forbade merchants to go to Holy City. Don't tell me you did that on a whim. The King of Graycastle wants to turn Coldwind Ridge into an outpost for the war against Holy City. So, naturally, you can't blame us for an early counterattack."
"This is a groundless accusation." Kevan shook his head repeatedly. "I didn't do any of what you accused me of. The king has never sent ambassadors to Coldwind Ridge, not to mention to launch an attack against Hermes!"
"It's OK that you don't admit. Supreme Pontiff has his method to find out the information he wants in your head. It'll do you no good if things have to go that far. So, you'd better tell me everything you know now."
"I, I really didn't do that. You can't wrongfully accuse me." He shrunk his obese body a bit and said, "I'm the Lord of Coldwind Ridge, an Earl of Kingdom of Graycastle! What you did has violated the 'Agreement on the Months of the Demons'!"
"Enough. You deserve it."
Soli Daal waved his hand in dread. The Judgement Warriors immediately dragged Kevan out of the study.
After the archbishop sat on the lord's chair, he vaguely felt something was wrong. "The lord has obviously been destructed by fear, why did he refuse to confess? Is he so loyal to Roland Wimbledon that he would rather be interrogated in Holy City than disclose the king's plan?"
At that moment, a chief justice went into the room. "Milord Bishop, Pitsos has sealed the granary, but..."
"There isn't much food there, probably only enough to last the townsmen for one or two months. There is no way it could sustain a large army."
"Are you sure?" Soli frowned immediately.
"Pitsos searched every corner of the granary and asked the keepers. They said recently there was not a large amount of grain coming in and the wheat there was just the stock from last year," The chief justice reported in full detail.
"Why was there news about offering high prices for grains in the town?" Soli meditated for a while. "Go ask the merchants."
"Yes." The chief justice nodded. "Besides, we did a thorough search of the garrison camps in the west of the town. Most of the rooms there are empty. The surrendered knights said since the border army was completely annihilated at Hermes, no new soldiers have been recruited."
"That means Coldwind Ridge isn't ready for a war, which contradicts the information that Zero supplied." The archbishop's brows deepened. After a long silence, he ordered. "There must be believers of the church in this town. Call them together and ask about the changes in Coldwind Ridge in the last two months in detail. Question the local Rats and those who voluntarily submitted to the church. I want to know what's going on as soon as possible!"
The chief justice bowed and said, "I'll go ask them right away."
Soli leaned back on the chair and deeply sighed. The plan of attacking Kingdom of Graycastle had been made a long time ago. The process and the result did not matter, but yet he did not like any accidents.
What went wrong?
The next day, the chief justice put a report on the archbishop's desk, which was full of information he collected.
Soli opened it and went through the testimonies on the first page. "Two local merchants offered high prices for grains. Did they hoard wheat as much as 5,000 pecks?"
"That's only the two merchants' testimony." The chief justice said in a low voice. "After getting the information, I searched their houses right away. I did find a large quantity of grain, but it sufficed to requirement of only one person. In their basements, there are merely 100 pecks of grain in total. Besides, there was no one in their houses. I guess all fled after they saw the beacon fire."
"Do you mean... collusion?" Soli immediately got what he meant.
"Yes, my lord. Only when they collude with the peddlers outside the town, pretend to sell grains to those pedlers then secretly transport the grains back, could they create such a false image."
"Where do these pedlers come from?"
"From all the other towns in the Northern Region, such as Deepvalley Town, City of Evernight, Wuthering Castle... The purchase at high prices started a month ago. At first, not many people paid attention to it. Later on, the trade volume increased so much that it drew merchants' attention. We've put all the pedlers in the town into custody, but failed to find those who were in charge of transporting the grains."
If they're in collusion, there is a small chance of capturing them. Yet... what did they do this for? Just to draw the attention of Holy City to make Supreme Pontiff attack at an earlier date?
Soli skipped to the last few pages of the report, and then a piece of information caught his eyes.
"Are the patrollers on the Beacon Tower... dead?"