Release that Witch Chapter 824
As he approached the front, he could clearly see the group of refugees without the telescope.
Men, women, old men, and children. They were all ragged and staggering, looking weak and frail. They were even weaker than common militia, not to mention the Judgement Army.
Nail was more sure about his judgment.
But he knew that the church had a pill which could enhance the taker's physical strength within a second. Considering that they might use the Berserk Pills, Nail told his squad members to hold up the heavy machine guns within the suppressing shooting range before he approached alone and shouted, "This is the border defense line of the Kingdom of Graycastle. You're forbidden to step forward. Freeze, or we'll fire!"
Apparently, those people also saw him. They did not stop moving; instead, they accelerated their pace in excitement.
Nail shot twice upward and repeated his warning, but they continued to run toward him.
"Mr. Nail, come back!" Cried the veteran behind him. "They don't even know what flintlocks are. They won't stop no matter how loud you shout!"
Hearing that, Nail hurriedly shouted that he would shoot arrows, and those people finally responded. Nevertheless, after a moment's hesitation, they continued to move forward and waved both hands toward the First Army, yelling while running.
He could only tell that they were crying for help.
"No, stop!" Nail was still trying to stop them until he was dragged back to the defensive line by his teammates. When those people crossed the first line of stakes, flames spurted from the two blockhouses at the same time. Whistling bullets flew overhead and fell near the stakes, splashing snow dust and submerging their cries.
There was immediately a mist of blood among the crowd.
This time they finally stopped moving forward.
Except for the refugees who had been shot and fell, the others fell on their knees one after another and then threw themselves down in the snow. Terrified as they were, they did not turn around. It seemed that they were more afraid of some even more dreadful things behind them.
"Stop! Stop! Don't fire!" Nail took off his jacket, got up and waved toward the blockhouses, risking being hit by a stray bullet. The machine gun squads finally released their triggers. Probably they noticed his strange move, two more squads left the blockhouses and approached the front line.
Walking through the still-smoky field, a five-man squad held the rifles, followed Nail and slowly approached the strangers. Those strangers were trembling but dared not to move again in spite of the chilling snow.
"Where are you from?"
No one answered.
"Haven't you heard the question of our squad leader?" cried the veteran. "If you don't answer it, you'll be treated as spies and hanged."
"My, my, my... my lord," someone finally spoke this time. "We... we all came from Hermes."
"So you're believers of the church?" Nail asked, frowning.
"Yes... No, no, we aren't," answered the man, banging his head on the ground again and again. "In the past, we were deceived by the church. But we regret now! The deities did not protect the church. We were wrong. Please give us some food."
His words stirred up the crowd. They begged, "My lord, please, please give us some oatmeal. My child is starving!"
"The army of the church was after us. We had to drop our luggage."
"My lord, I haven't eaten anything for three days."
"So they would rather be shot by machine guns than run away?" Nail thought. He could not bear to look at the withered faces and bleeding bodies. After they fled from the Holy City, Graycastle was their only hope to survive. He reached his dried food in his waist pocket and was about to throw it to them while a veteran grabbed him by his wrist.
"Hey, what're you doing?"
"Give them some food."
"Are you sure? These guys are believers of the church." The veteran lowered his voice and stressed, "They're our enemies."
"But now they aren't. Didn't you hear it? They admitted that they had been deceived."
"Hmm, deceived?" The veteran replied disdainfully, "When they can't survive, they'll even worship demons. Compared with those Judgement Army soldiers fighting for the church, these people are just timid drifters."
"Head, Uncle Sang is right. Maybe they made the weapons and armors used by the church army."
"Who knows whether they've hurt the First Army?"
"They deserve it. That's what they'll end up with since they've fought against His Majesty. I'll definitely not give any food to them."
Nail took a deep breath and made a gesture to tell them to be quiet. He said, "Listen to me. We all know what Border Town was like before His Majesty came. At that time everyone was deceived by the church. But His Majesty didn't abandon us or treat us as betrayers. Then how could we despise them? Of course, I agree that we should spare none of those who committed a crime. Give them some food, and then bring them for interrogation. That's what we should do."
"And His Majesty once said in his book that the Kingdom of Graycastle is a whole. As long as someone isn't guilty and is willing to pay allegiance to Graycastle, he should be treated as a subject of the king, rather than being persecuted and excluded." Nail continued to say, "If there are innocent people among them and we watch them die in front us, aren't we against His Majesty's wish?"
The crowd fell into silence for a moment. Then the veteran grinned and said, "Head Nail, now I know why Sir Blair chose you as our squad leader. You've become so different since you went to school. In the past, you always stumbled when speaking in front of a crowd. If Iron Head knows it, he'll be proud of you."
Apparently, he did not agree with Nail's remark that "anyone who pays allegiance to Graycastle is the subject of Graycastle", but since everyone in the First Army admired King Roland, they did not oppose Nail's decision anymore. The veteran said, "But you can't directly throw food to them. That'll cause a chaos. Pick up some starving ones and order them to come up one by one."
As more and more soldiers came, Eagle Face, the deputy battalion commander who was in charge of Northern Region garrison, also came to the front line. This tall man, who had round eyes and a pointed mouth like a grey eagle of Western Region, was one of the excellent hunters who joined the Militia with Iron Axe. He asked, "Can someone explain what happened?"
Nail stepped forward and saluted, and then briefly told him the incident.
"Escaped from the Holy City?" Eagle Face asked thoughtfully. He ordered them to bring a refugee forward and said, "What happened in Hermes? If you tell me the situation in details, I can give you food."
"My, my lord..." The refugee nervously swallowed and replied, "The Cathedral of the New Holy City... collapsed..."
"What?" Nail was shocked for a moment. He had heard that the Hermes Cathedral was a symbol of the immortality of the church. Before the completion of His Majesty's Miracle Building, the tower had been the tallest building built by mankind. At the start of the defensive battle under the Coldwind Ridge, he also had dreamed to follow His Majesty into the Hermes Plateau and occupy the tower that could reach the skies in the legend. But this magnificent building... did not exist anymore?
"I heard that a big pit suddenly appeared below the church and the entire tower fell..." The refugees stumbled, "The Judgement Army blocked the scene, but a big building disappeared without a trace, and the mighty bang... Everyone knew what happened. The church is over, my lord, the deities no longer favor it. The outside residents have begun to flee. We were a little later, and then we ran into the Judgement Army who was chasing us. Among the hundreds of people, only we escaped..."
"That means the Holy City is a mess now?"
"A mess, a mess..." That man nodded and said, "Beside the Western Gate, the Southern and East Gates are also open and unguarded. Obviously, the guards have also run away. I heard that the situation in the old Holy City is even worse. I really haven't seen any caravans come into the city for a long time."
"Got it. You're excused."
After the soldiers took the men away, Eagle Face looked excited. "This is an unexpected good news. Maybe we'll occupy Hermes before the arrival of the army."
Nails naturally knew why the deputy battalion commander was glad about. If he became the first Commander to lead the army into the Holy City, it would undoubtedly be his great achievement. But Nail did not pay much attention to whether he would win more achievements; instead, he cared more about those refugees who had suffered hunger and coldness.
After Nail told his concern, Eagle Face looked at him thoughtfully and answered after a moment, " It's impossible for the camp to keep these outsiders. Give them some tents and food, and allow them to encamp in places where the heavy machine guns cover."
"In this utterly unsheltered field?" Nail said worriedly, "If the weather becomes worse and there is heavy rain or storm at night, they probably won't survive the night."
"As the head of the garrison in the Northern Region, I must give top priority to the safety of the First Army." Eagle Face was unmoved and said, "I will inform Duke Kant to accommodate them. Before the arrival of the helpers in Deepvalley Town, these people have to pray to have a good luck."