Release that Witch - Chapter 614: Agatha's Prediction
“Most likely, the God’s Punishment Army was only successfully researched after Taquila fell completely. I don’t understand it much,” she replied, shaking her head. “But… it’s definitely not as simple as what the church priest said. At least, it doesn’t explain how a newly-crowned pope is able to take over control of the God’s Punishment Army from the previous pope.”
“Also, it’s very odd that a runaway God’s Punishment Army would actively advance towards the Barbarian Land.” Agatha continued after a brief pause, “The Barbarian Land that you people speak of should be the Fertile Plains of 400 years ago. There’s nothing there apart from the ruins of the holy city. And it’s too far-fetched to say that they were enticed by the demons.”
“Who knows.” Roland casually commented. “You’ve also seen that their blood is blue in color. They can’t be considered the same species as us.” He was not highly interested in what exactly attracted the God’s Punishment Army. What he most wanted to know at present was their Achilles’ heel, and how to effectively guard against an assault on his lines. As could be seen from the previous wave of spear throwing, the lack of fortifications made the God’s Punishment Army quite threatening. “If they’re truly vulnerable to noise, maybe Echo’s ability can…”
“I don’t approve of doing this.” The ancient witch rejected his idea. “There are a lot of risks that way.”
“Indeed, it’s quite risky to sneak close to their commander, but we can…”
“No, I’m not talking about Echo.” Agatha interrupted his words. “I’m talking about you.”
“Me?” Roland was surprised.
“If Echo is to sneak up to the commander, she would need Nightingale’s Mist. When so, you would be left without protection. The church would only need to send forth a pure witch with special abilities to claim your life easily,” she replied unhesitatingly. “Although you’re a normal person who’s weak and powerless, we can’t do without you at present if we’re to defeat the demons. So, protecting you is still the most important thing to do. We can’t take any kind of risk with that.”
“I really can’t tell if you’re praising or insulting me.” Roland laughed bitterly. “When that time comes, I’ll put on the God’s Stone of Retaliation.”
“The God’s Stone of Retaliation is only a means of insurance. It’s not a completely secure barrier.” Agatha stated bluntly. “Even Nightingale isn’t completely failsafe, but we don’t have a better way.”
“As long as I’m still alive, His Majesty won’t come under any harm.” Nightingale could not restrain herself from revealing her figure. It was apparent that she did not take kindly to Agatha’s words.
“I hope so.” The ancient witch did not dispute this point further. She turned to leave the study but stopped when she reached the door.
“What’s the matter?” Roland asked.
Agatha remained silent for a while before she replied, “I don’t know whether to talk about these things… Her immense power aside, the reason why Lady Alice was able to become Queen of Starfall City and also the Head of the Three Chairs was that her intelligence and methods were superior to most witches. On a few occasions, her decisions saved the Union from the verge of collapse. Without her, Taquila wouldn’t have survived until then. Many people believed that if she was born before the first Battle of Divine Will, she would have ended this hopeless war early on.”
“What’re you trying to say?”
She turned her head back and frowned slightly. “What I mean is, the powerful warriors in whom she placed her hopes of saving the witches shouldn’t have turned out this way.”
“You feel that the present God’s Punishment Army may not have been the same as the one 400 years ago?” Roland asked in surprise.
“The God’s Punishment Warriors aren’t afraid of magic power, never panic, and are extremely powerful. They indeed seem to possess a great advantage over the demons. But… they won’t be able to make the decisive difference. Furthermore, they need a commander wherever they go, and don’t have the ability to perform long-distance attacks. I feel that Lady Alice shouldn’t place high hopes on this kind of warriors.” Agatha sighed. “Of course, these are just my predictions. Only the church knows what exactly happened to the Union after Taquila fell.”
A long time after she left the room, Roland was still stuck in his thoughts.
Agatha’s words were indeed reasonable. Was it really possible that the God’s Punishment Army project, which required the Queen of Starfall City to pay such a huge price to carry out, was only intended to produce an expensive yet cumbersome killing machine?
Just as he was about to head out of the castle to get some fresh air, the Sigil of Listening that Nightingale was wearing suddenly rang.
“This is Lightning here. My position is in the northwest, in the sky above Coldwind Ridge! I’ve just observed that the enemy is now retreating. I repeat, the enemy is retreating!”
“They’re all running towards the holy city, coo!” Maggie added.
“I see.” Roland immediately summoned a guard from outside. “Inform Iron Axe, Edith, Duke Calvin and all members of the Adviser Department to report here for a meeting.”
“This is undoubtedly good news,” Roland thought excitedly. He had not thought that the church’s army would abandon Coldwind Ridge and retreat directly to the highland of Hermes. In this way, he would have a chance to evacuate all of the townspeople before the holy city recaptured Coldwind Ridge.
“They’re afraid.” Nightingale laughed.
“Perhaps so. But their retreat suggests that the church is unable to send out reinforcements on short notice.” Roland surmised while stroking his chin. “Our earlier predictions weren’t wrong. This contingent of more than 1,000 people was probably an advance force which the church came up with last-minute. If they don’t take the initiative to attack our lines, I really don’t know what to do with the church.”
When he decided to use this tactic, he had already in a sense decided to give up Coldwind Ridge. After all, it was much closer to Hermes. Now that he had the chance to prevent the townspeople from becoming victims of the Pill of Madness, he felt considerably relieved.
The relevant members quickly gathered in the reception room. Roland retold Lightning’s intelligence report to them and looked around at everyone present. “Are there any questions?”
“Your Majesty, why don’t you guard Coldwind Ridge directly?” Duke Calvin asked in puzzlement. “It’s strategically located, and there’s only one route that leads to the holy city. Isn’t it more advantageous than guarding the foot of the mountain?”
“It only appears so. In reality, it’s surrounded by mountains on three sides, and the slopes pass directly over its top. The enemy only needs to use a rope to infiltrate our line of defense.” Roland shrugged his shoulders. “We’ve discussed this in detail in City of Neverwinter. You can ask Edith for more specifics. Anyone else?”
Seeing that no one responded, he issued his order. “If so, the evacuation campaign will be carried out by the First Army. The grain reserves and gold royals can be left behind. Our concern is regarding the residents—whether by coercion or force, I don’t want a single person to be left behind in Coldwind Ridge. In addition, the local nobles may have a better persuasive effect. I’m referring particularly to the famous Pearl of the Northern Region.” He paused at this. “Iron Axe and Edith, you two will be in charge of this matter.”
“As you wish, Your Majesty.”
“As for the Adviser Department.” He glanced towards Earl Eltek and the others. “Your task is to assist the Duke of the Northern Region to make arrangements for the evacuated people. This will include computing the number of people, registering their identities, and finding food and lodging for them. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” the crowd replied in unison.
“Excellent, let’s begin immediately!” Roland thumped the table and exclaimed.