Chapter 216 Demonic Plague
During the following two days, Theo moved non-stop between Margaret’s Chamber of Commerce and King’s City’s suburbs.
Margaret would provide the fleet for the transportation of the refugees while the First Army, who would be disguised as mercenaries, would arrive at the canal’s pier at the appointed time to arrange the screening and embarking.
As for the dissemination of information, Theo wasn’t worried that Black Hammer would handle such a task relaxedly after swallowing such attractive bait. Letting street rats do such work was much more convenient than giving it to outsiders. Although their range of activity was limited to the Northern District, the refugees would certainly spread the news amongst themselves. Furthermore, he couldn’t handle them all at once anyway. Prior to this, His Royal Highness had explicitly explained to him that this was a task which could be done over time by sending one ship after another.
On the day of the fleet’s arrival, nearly one thousand destitute and homeless people had come to the pier, much more than Theo had expected. If he had relied on the First Army to promote the journey, Theo believed that if 100 people had come, it would already have been considered a good result.
According to His Royal Highness's screening requirements, the children were allowed to embark on the ships first, followed by the children's families, and finally, the other adults. As for elderly citizens... Theo discovered that there were almost no people with gray hair in the crowd. Perhaps they didn't want to risk going to a remote and unknown place, or they might have been unable to escape from the Eastern Region to King's City since the beginning .
After the first fleet of ten single-mast ships left the pier with 500 people on board, the rest of the waiting refugees were driven back to the camp, but they all took the news with them that "the fleet will return".
Thinking that he could easily succeed in completing the first of His Highness’ tasks, he did not expect that he would encounter a severe problem soon after the merchant fleet brought away the second batch of people.
A strange illness had suddenly broken out in King’s City.
The first deceased to be discovered had laid at the roadside, his body covered with many black spots, and his teeth fallen off. His skin had also broken open in many places, and the blood flowing out of those places had changed color – turning black like the blood of witches who were devoured by the terror of the demonic bite. But this time, the deceased was not a woman, but rather a male resident of the Northern District.
Not long after, several corpses with the same symptoms were discovered one after another. Furthermore, some of the people who came into contact with the corpses also began to grow dark spots. Whether it was herbal treatment or cold compresses, nothing was able to subdue the illness. Even when using bloodletting treatment, their blood which was usually red had now turned black, as if having been mixed with a large amount of ink.
Soon, fear spread through the masses, which steadily increased the amount of people who went to the Church to pray, but everything was useless. Every day, more and more people showing those black spots would appear, and even people with the same symptoms were discovered in the fugitives outside of the city.
Finally, the High Priest of the Church appeared in front of the praying masses and declared that all this was a plot by the witches to spread the Devil's power, infecting other innocent people this way. Furthermore, the priest said that at present, any treatment was unable to resist the power of the Devil, and the people who fall to the corrosion will die under extreme pain. However, the Church would never idly sit by; they had already developed the Holy Elixir, which was powerful enough to drive the Devil back to Hell.
This statement let the infected people once more see a glimmer of hope. Every day, they would sit in front of the church's door, waiting for the release of the Holy Elixir.
Although Theo had strong doubts regarding the Church's claims, he temporarily stopped the shipping off of the refugees to provide for every contingency.
"Why do you want to stop?" Black Hammer asked, extremely puzzled, "Why aren’t we rushing to send those people away before they become eroded by the Devil’s spirit? Do you want them to stay in the city to become seeds for the witches?”
"This is the wish of the people above," Theo answered impatiently. "They are just ordinary fugitives. If the West is also infected by this evil force, how will the kingdom then look like?"
"Uh -" Black Hammer slightly stannered, "But what happens to the Western Region doesn’t matter to us at all. Sir Theo, how about this? We just don’t hear the opinion of the people above and simply drag them away. Think about it, this is such a demonic illness– one touch and you will are infected. I simply can’t stay here and wait for the devil to come, even if a wall is separating them from us.”
“As if we haven’t heard them?" Theo asked coldly. "Just like me, you also only have one head!”
After he left the pub, he went to the next shop marked with Margaret's Caravan emblem, and revealed his token.
"I must see your boss. The sooner, the better."
It didn't take long until he could meet with the female merchant in a secret room of the shop.
"The disease definitely has nothing to do with the witches," Margaret began, "If they could release such a demonic power, the God's Stone of Retaliation would be powerless, and they would have already turned Hermes into a deadzone.
"I also think the same, but this is still a pressing matter that has to be reported to His Royal Highness. Although there have been no symptoms of black spots on the two groups of people who embarked to Border Town, it seems that this disease does not manifest itself on the spot. In case some people on the ships were infected by this evil force, Border Town must prepare for it immediately." Theo pulled a folded letter out of a pocket, "I need your help to send the message back to His Highness as quickly as possible."
"Naturally," she nodded. "Information transmission between merchants has always been the fastest."
After several days of sailing, Lucia wanted to vomit.
During the past month, it seemed she had been always fleeing— first from the Eastern Region to King’s City, then from King’s City to the Western Region. The reason for the former was that she had been driven out of her home, while for the latter was because she had finally come to see a glimmer of hope again.
"Elder sister... water, I am thirsty..."
Bell gave a painful moan and reached out, grabbing Lucia’s arm.
"Alright, I'll go and fetch you some water."
Lucia grabbed the bag on hand and staggered out of the cabin, lying flat at the lowest point of the ship and reaching out with her arm to soak the bag in the river water. Her stomach acid bubbled up again, in the end making it impossible for her to contain it, and with a wow sound the vomit flew out. She also spit the last of the gravel left in her stomach out, not only through her mouth, but also through her nostrils. She forcefully suppressed the urge to burst into tears, clenched her teeth, and rubbed her face with the back of her hand, then continued to soak the bag in the river. When the bag was finally filled with water, she carefully held it in her arms and trotted back to the cabin.
"The water is here, open your mouth."
However, Bell’s face again appeared to be a bit worse than before. Her cheeks weren’t covered with their normal flush and her forehead was also terribly hot. She tightly clenched her lips, only intermittently releasing moaning noises.
With no other option than forcing her mouth open, Lucia twisted the water bag so that the water droplets would directly fall into her sister’s mouth.
"You are too close to her. The dark spots have already reached her neck, she cannot hold on for much longer." A weak middle-aged man who was also in the cabin said, "We will die here, you have to think of yourself.
Shortly after they had left King’s City on the ship, some people had begun to suffer from a terrifying disease. First, their whole body would become unusually hot, followed by the emergence of dark spots on their skin. Within three to four days, the illness would begin to worsen. Not only had the infected fallen into a coma, but the people who came in contact with them also caught the disease. Therefore, on the fifth day, the fleet had cleaned out a sailboat specifically for the transportation of the patients. Lucia guessed the reason why the other side hasd’t just thrown the sick refugees into the river was because there were also some infected people on their side.
After the first dark spots were discovered on Bell’s body, Lucia didn’t listen to any discouraging words from others and decided that she would follow her younger sister onto the ship of sickness.
In order to take care of young Bell, she had almost not slept for an entire two days.
However, Lucia had still not given up. She believed that as long as they were able to reach the Western Region, all would change for the better.
If the rumors were right... the Witch Cooperation Association would be her final hope.
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