Chapter 267 The fated ending
Mayne passed through the gloomy corridors before he rode the hanging cage into the depths, arriving at the secret temple inside the gigantic cavity.
His Excellency O’Brien was already waiting at the doorway.
He seemed to have aged since the last time he’d seen him. He had wrinkles spreading out like a spider web from the corners of his inwardly sunken eyes and over his cheeks. However, his smile was still just as soft and filled with concern. Mayne couldn’t keep his eyes from becoming wet at the sight. He quickly sunk to his knees, "Your Holiness, we -”
"Rise, child," the Pope's voice was both gentle and calm. "I’ve heard that you've run into some trouble. Follow me to the hall and we can talk.”
Today wasn’t the Day of Conversion, so the hall’s walls weren’t decorated with as many candles as stars in the sky this time. Instead, only a few candles had been placed over in the corner. The Pope returned to his Lord’s seat, breathing out in relief after he sat. "Explain, just what happened outside."
Mayne fully realized the heaviness of His Holiness O’Brien's responsibility. It wasn’t that His Holiness couldn’t find out news from outside of the Holy City, simply that he did not have enough time to pay attention to trivial matter. As a result of this, the three Archbishops were then established, and would coordinate themselves to manage all of the religious affairs. Making sure that they avoid bothering His Holiness with their matter as much as possible, but the current troublesome situation was something he was unable to solve by himself.
Mayne sharply began to narrate the matters at hand, one piece of news at a time from beginning to end.
"Heather is dead..." After listening to everything, O’Brian remained silent for a very long time, then released a long sigh before saying, "She possessed a keen sense of observation and she was both a clever and devout little girl, I’ve seen her as she slowly grew up...”
"Feel free to grief, Your Holiness."
"The murderer must be punished," the Pope nodded. "How is the current situation, are Garcia and the Wolfsheart Kingdom mutually helping each other? Isn't the new poison showing any effect?"
"During the attack and capture of the Broken Tooth Castle it already showed its effect. After a month passed, all of the stronghold’s defenders had fallen dead, and the Army of Judges could quickly storm the city. They were unable to find almost any living soul within the residential areas. However, for the attack on Wolfsheart City, it seems the poison wasn’t able to have the same influence and the enemy still remains tenaciously resistant.” Mayne reported.
"You made two mistakes," O’Brien slowly said. "The disease caused by the poison will lead to death within seven to ten days. You should have taken advantage of the illness’ first appearance to attack, then quickly rescued and given medical treatment to the residents inside the city. This would’ve significantly reduced their hostility. Do not forget that what we need the most is to get as much of the population as possible, not a ghost city.
"The second point is that you waited one month until you attacked, although by doing it in this way, you were able to reduce the casualties to a minimum, you also gave the enemy enough time to respond, which allowed them enough time to find a way to cure the disease. The essence of the new poison was the magic to transform demonic beasts. According to what the Canon of Magic says, there are more than 70 kinds of abilities that can restrain the infections, and also more than 30 types which can exterminate it. In the end, it isn’t surprising for there to be such a witch within a city filled with tens of thousands of people.”
"You mean, they colluded with witches–"
"In the end, when facing a life and death crisis, no one will care whether they are the Devil’s minions or not," the Pope muttered.
"No matter if those witches took the initiative to come out by themselves, or if they were unmasked and forced to treat the plague, both possibilities sound like bad news for the Church. If they really can stop the momentum of our attack, it is inevitable that the witches’ reputation is bound to undergo some dramatic changes, even so far... that they could be regarded as heroes.”
"This is all my fault," Mayne said while lowering his head.
"It certainly was a mistake, but not a grave one. The reason you used this tactic was to reduce the losses of our Army of Judges and God’s Punishment Army," O'Brien used his scepter to knock Mayne on the shoulder, "Furthermore, the fact that Graycastle’s 3rd Princess Garcia and the Wolfsheart Kingdom are working together is also an opportunity for us.”
"Op…portunity?" the Bishop asked shocked.
"That’s right! This way we will have the opportunity to catch everything in one net," O'Brien stood up, "You, come with me."
Escorted by guards, Mayne followed the Pope out of the Pivotal Secret Institution, and they slowly walked further into the depths of the cave. The gloomy rays of light coming from the immense God’s Punishment Stones illuminated the path beneath their feet – gradually, becoming darker and darker, until Mayne was no longer able to keep himself from looking back, only to see that the Pivotal Secret Temple and the God’s Punishment Stone was already great distance behind them. In the end, it even became necessary for the guards to light up torches to prevent them from stumbling over the rubble that was on the ground.
"We are… going where?"
"We are already there, child," His Holiness O’Brian halted his footsteps, breathing a bit hurriedly, "Sigh... I’m getting old, from just this short journey, I have already expended such a large amount of effort..."
A guard came up to support him, "Your Holiness, please permit me to carry you."
"That’s not necessary, a short break will be good enough," after saying this, the Pope stood in place and tried to catch his breath, he then commanded, "Light the brazier.”
At this moment the Bishop noticed that there were a few tall towers erected beside the stone road, but if the guards with their torches hadn’t stepped close to them, it would have been hard for the average person to find these hidden metal towers within the darkness.
The guards climbed the ladders and lit the oil in the basin at the top. It immediately produced several groups of dazzling flames. Mayne first had to narrowly squint his eyes and slowly adapt to the change in lighting, before he was able to look ahead.
In the flickering light, a dusty canvas appeared in front of everyone, it was tall and bulging, and was apparently covering a something large.
"It was originally planned that we would wait two more years before we took this out to help resist against the then even more fierce demonic beasts’ attacks, but it now seems we have to shift its appearance to an earlier date." O'Brien waved his hand then commanded, "Remove the cloth."
“This is..." When the canvas fell, Mayne couldn’t believe his eyes. Before him stood a huge, fierce some four-wheeled iron carriage; just its wheels were already taller than he was. It did not have the appearance of an ordinary carriage either. Rather, it had a ferocious looking horn-shaped metal ramp, the frame was made out of beast bones, and the areas between the frames had been closed with barbed bone shields, with a size of three to four large doors.
There were two perfectly straight iron poles with pointed ends, one on the left and one on the right, which extended through the openings in the shield and pointed forward, as if ready to fire off arrows. Moreover, another dozen of these metal poles were hanging from both sides of the iron carriage, each were as thick as his own thigh, with its dark and metallic luster shining under the brazier light.
"The canon called this, ‘Siege Beast’." The Pope walked to the side of the carriage and patted the hard iron poles, "It relies on magic power to operate, and needs the power of three to four witches for it to run smoothly. The Siege Beast’s striking distance is far beyond that of a trebuchet or ballista, and for the typical city wall, it is very difficult to resist the destructible power of these iron arrows. The giant trees they use to build ships with are the same as thin pieces of paper in front of this. No matter if it is for destroying the strong city walls of Wolfsheart City or to prevent the Black Sail Fleet from advancing further, would both be very easy if we make use of this."
"This… is it also a weapon developed by the secret temple?"
“No," O’Brian shook his head, “You should be able to guess, this comes from our enemies – it is from the Devil’s from hell. This is also why the Church hides the Siege Beast here deep within the cave. Remember, when you use it, be sure to hide your whereabouts as much as possible, don’t let any civilian see it.
"I understand," Mayne said as he lowered his head.
How it is possible for witches to be able to manipulate the Devil's weapon? Do they possess the same kind of magic as humans? He forced down all of his doubts and did not continue asking. Obviously, only after he became the new Pope would he be eligible to understand these things.
"Also, to avoid Garcia and the Wolf King from fleeing again, I will be dispatching two Purified Ones to aid you during combat," the Pope said.
"No one can escape from their grasp… Go forth, bring back the blood of those blasphemers for the sake of Heather’s farewell dinner.”
His Holiness is dispatching the Purified Ones! He was shocked to his core, the witches who were both raised and allowed to survive by the Church were called Purified Ones. But to become His Holiness’ subordinate, only the most powerful out of ten thousand was selected, like those who had abilities not even recorded within the Canon of Magic. Comparing them to the troops under Heather, Tayfun, and himself, would be like comparing the sky to the earth! With His Holiness now personally stating that they would be unable to escape, the ending of the two was already fated to happen.
"As you bid, Your Holiness," Mayne answered in excitement.
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