Chapter 168 – God’s Acolyte
============== Veronica’s POV ==============
The Lernaia Hydra became berserk after getting injured. Multiple dragon heads roared in fury, chasing after the remaining squires who fled after seeing Amman killed, as well as attacking Veronica with renewed vigor in order to vanquish the insignificant insects who challenged it.
The squires were already pushed to the limits just to distract the monstrous dragon heads to buy Amman time in casting his spell, but his death immediately sent their morale to the pits. Their formation was crushed in an instant when more dragon heads appeared. Many of them were bitten in half by the dragon heads that appeared out of nowhere, and it was as though the forest had become hell with shrieks and screams filling the area.
Veronica’s brows were furrowed greatly and she kept using her Sword Energy to parry the Lernaia Hydra’s attacks, but it was not the death of the knights or even her own safety that confused her.
It was Amman’s death.
When she saw Brendel’s eyes, her heart seemed to stop beating for a moment, because she did not think Brendel would actually risk his own life to kill an Archbishop from the Holy Cathedral of Fire.
It was a faction that held a powerful rule over the kingdoms that had allied with it, which naturally included Aouine and the Kirrlutz Empire. Even if the high ranking Cardinals in Kirrlutz were able to wield the right to speak for the Holy Cathedral of Fire, they would never go against the colossal faction.
The authority from the Holy Cathedral of Fire had long entered the populace’s hearts, and everyone feared and revered them. Anyone who stood against the Cathedral would be standing against the entire Fire Alliance.
Other than the Holy Wars that appeared over the eras, no one dared to challenge the Cathedral.
Veronica’s position was indeed higher than Amman, but she would never dare to kill him. The Empire would never split off from the Fire Alliance over a commander.
“That fool…..” Veronica gritted her teeth and gripped her sword so tightly that her fingers became white.
This event that happened today had to be buried in her heart forever.
She took a deep breath.
It was complicated because the source of today’s events could be traced back to Faena, and the reason of inciting Amman to attack Brendel was due to a stupid rock that the girl wanted.
The internal strife between the Kirrlutz Empire and Aouine led to the death of an Archbishop.
If the news of Amman’s death ended up spreading, then it would be a question about the authority of the Holy Cathedral of Fire if they did not retaliate against this transgression. Any kingdom which did not desire to be placed under ‘Divine’ authority, would start to act in the shadows. It was sufficient to make a political shakedown because the Holy Cathedral of Fire’s authority would be questioned if they did not act.
The Emperor from Kirrlutz might have even thought about it before, a secession from the Fire Alliance.
Thus, the concluding result might end up as accusing Veronica and the others who made their way to the Green Tower of false charges and subjecting them to a ‘sacred judgment’. Even Veronica had to shudder when she came to that conclusion. When she finally created some space for herself, she glanced around and realized that Brendel was nowhere to be found.
But it was a given that Brendel died from being impaled by the dragon’s head, and she figured that the red-haired girl must have brought his corpse away from the forest. It was a pity. The youth’s headstrong personality had won her admiration, and she could not help but remember the time when she was young.
It was not as if she was willing to submit to the world’s unfairness.
It was a pity, that he had to be someone from Aouine.
================ Scarlett’s POV =============
Scarlett carried the unconscious Brendel past the place where they came from where she lost her halberd. She followed Brendel’s instructions, moving to the south and crossing over the valley, to reach the ancient ridge outside the Loop of Trade Winds.
In order to reach the ‘Safe Zone’ Brendel had talked about, she had not slept for two days, but Brendel’s breathing was becoming weaker and weaker, making her uneasy and constantly questioning if she was traveling in the wrong direction. In order to keep her spirits up, she spoke to the unconscious Brendel about various topics, but he never once answered her.
Her heart felt empty and she did not know how she could face the fact that Brendel might stop breathing forever at any given time. Bleak thoughts constantly flashed in her mind, and she even started to whimper with teary eyes at a certain point in time. She even felt that someone was watching her all the time.
The more she walked to the south, the fewer trees appeared before her eyes. The dark green vegetation had become a dull yellow. Even though the location was shrouded in an endless night where there was no sun, the occasional flashes of light from the Mana in the clouds illuminated the area from time to time.
The grass in the area was distributed in patches like a balding man’s hair. Naked rocks jutted out from the dark soil, with trees far apart from each other in the distant. The road was completely silent ahead.
In her exhaustion, she lost count of the hours and was unable to tell if it had been more than two days, but she finally found the place where Brendel was speaking off. It was a gigantic boulder lying in the midst of an empty clearing. There seemed to be a slight glow on the rocks, and there was an air of divinity around it.
There was no need to question it anymore, it was definitely the right place.
The girl half-climbed and half-crawled over to it. The exhaustion, anxiety, and tension finally overwhelmed her and she stumbled over a rock that was jutting out.
Brendel tumbled far away from her. Scarlett stood up from the ground with gritted teeth, ignoring the pain on her elbows and hands, rushing over to the youth in order to carry him. Liquid filled the youth’s clothes and she immediately knew that his injuries were infected, but there was nothing she could do.
The girl hesitatingly reached over Brendel’s chest. His heart was still beating, but it was so faint that she could hardly feel it. Scarlett could not help but cry with her hands covered over her cracked lips. She was cold and hungry too. There was another bag she had carried that she had tied to a tree, and she forgot to take it because she could think of running away from the Hydra.
The necessities of food and water in the bag were all left behind.
She cried for a while before she carried Brendel and placed him on the boulder. She did not dare to leave him behind and simply sat beside him in a daze, hoping for a miracle where her lord would just get better by himself.
But things did not go the way she hoped for as she fell asleep from exhaustion.
A few hours later, she woke up in a dizzy state and realized that the body’s youth was glowing.
But this situation was anything but good news. Mana was leaking out from Brendel’s body. This phenomenon would only happen to a Gold-ranker when they awakened their Element Power while approaching death.
If Brendel was awake, he would have declared it was over for him. However, Scarlett did not know what it signified and gingerly felt Brendel’s heart, only to discover that his body was as cold as the air around her. She started panicking, but she could not come up with an idea.
But right at that moment a voice suddenly came from behind her:
It was a woman’s voice.
Scarlett’s thoughts were momentarily halted, and she turned around with her guard up to see who it was. The only woman who was here could only be Veronica. But it surprised her to see a strange-looking woman walking closer towards them.
[No, to be more precise, the upper half body is a woman, and the lower half looks like some kind of living plant?]
Scarlett did not recognize who the strange woman was, but she recognized the unconscious girl that was wrapped around with vines and hanging behind the latter.
[This woman is most likely responsible for the disappearances of Dia and the nobles!]
She subconsciously tried to pull out her dagger, only to realize that she had lost it long ago.
Her teeth clenched and unclenched, and she looked warily at Andesha.
“Who are you?” She asked, her voice raspy and her throat dry enough to hurt.
Andesha studied Scarlett with great interest. The dangerous woman kept on smiling at her without even looking at Brendel at all.
“Little girl,” her voice had a little sex appeal to it, I seem to know you.
“I don’t recognize you.” Even though Scarlett felt dizzy, she used one hand to protect Brendel and replied to Andesha through gritted teeth.
“No, no,” Andesha’s eyes narrowed into slits and she shook her head, “what I mean to say is, you have a very familiar scent on your body.”
Scarlett did not respond, but Andesha’s smile became broader.
“I remember now, this scent is the Blood of Gods!” Her eyes brightened and she licked her lips: “Should I call you the Acolyte of Lightning?”
Scarlett’s expression warped, and her face turned as white as a sheet. The pain that the Blood of Gods gave to her was as sharp as a blade cutting into her. She could not forget that very day when she was killed by that member of the Tree Shepherd, then revived as a puppet only to wait for her soul to be completely destroyed. The nightmares that haunted her daily nearly drove her to the edge of insanity. If it was not for her lord, she knew that she would become a monster long ago, just like the Acolyte of Earth, Ekman.
She stared at Andesha with wide eyes, knowing very clearly in her heart that she was also likely to be a member of—
“The….. Tree Shepherds?” Scarlett was almost unable to breathe, but she squeezed out her words.
“Hah, you actually know of us. But if I think about it, it’s not really surprising,” Andesha replied, “since the Blood of Gods run through your veins, you’re naturally one of us.”
She tilted her head.
“But it’s a little strange. You seem to possess your own will.”
“I’m not an Acolyte!” Scarlett took in a deep breath and denied with great agitation: “I’m not part of you either!”
“Oh no, no, no, no,” Andesha looked at Scarlett, her expression becoming brighter and brighter, “it seems like this trip’s gain isn’t small at all, other than Kirrlutz’s little princess, I actually have an accidental windfall. A wandering Acolyte, hmmm, now who is it who gave you the Blood of Gods?”
Scarlett glared at her without answering.
“It’s fine, I will know of it eventually. Since from now onwards, little girl, you will be part of my victory spoils.”
“Never!” Scarlett shuddered.
“Really? But, it, is, not, up, to, you.”