Chapter 326 Contact
"Is this the place where you landed last time?" Tilly asked, looking at the tall rocky cliff standing in front of them.
From the moment they had first seen the coastline, the Charming Beauty had followed it all the way westwards, until Ashes finally shouted for them to stop when they’ve reached the known beach.
"Yeah, take a look at them," Ashes said as she pointed at the top of a cliff.
Tilly followed the direction of Ashes’ finger with her gaze and saw an orange flag on both sides of the peak flapping in the wind.
"Although it was a sandy beach when came here last, those two flags prove that we haven’t taken the wrong road.”
"I also had the same impression," Old Jack said, the pipe as always still in his mouth, "But the last time they came, it was with a huge balloon which they had used to carry all the woman over the mountain. So, how are you planning to get over that?”
"Huge balloon?" Tilly asked curiously.
"That’s right, it can fly when it is filled with hot air," Ashes nodded in confirmation, "It is said that it’s one of His Highness' inventions. The principle behind it is to use the power from hot air to carry the balloon and the people inside up into the sky.”
The 5th Princess looked somewhat worried as she stated, "The court mentors have never taught us anything like that." She then spat out a mouthful of white air before continuing, "No matter, I will see him soon, and when I do I will naturally come to know the truth. Let’s go ashore.”
"Are you sure you don’t want to wait aboard until he comes to pick you up?" The captain asked, clearing his pipe from ashes, "How are you planning to cross the cliff?"
"Shiva will handle it," Tilly said smilingly.
Since it was a naturally formed coastline and no one really knew the depth of the seabed, the Charming Beauty couldn’t approach the shore. So the only way to send the people towards the sandbar was by using the landing boat.
When the group of witches stepped onto the thick snow, Tilly turned toward One Eyed Jack and said, "Mr. Captain, please wait here for three or four more days, Lotus and the others will also need your help returning to Sleeping Island.”
"Of course," the captain agreed immediately, "Without you witches on board, I wouldn’t dare to sail back, ah. Who knows whether those Sea Ghosts will attack again on our way back home.”
When everything was said, Tilly went to the edge of the cliff and used the flying magic stone with her ability to head straight to the top of the hilltop. Looking around, the terrain behind the mountain was much higher than the beach, it was almost at the same level as the hilltop. In other words, they would only have to go up and there would be no need for them to go down again to land. The height of the cliff was about fifty paces, and the magic consumption of the barrier would be increased when used against objects, but such a distance should still be no problem for Shiva. Having slowly come to land beside the four woman Tilly said, "Shiva, I will have to trouble you with those three."
"Yes, Lady Tilly," the latter said, showing a big smile while patting her chest. Then she summoned her invisible barrier. By now all of them were fully recovered after having rested for two days since last deflecting all the violent attacks from the sea monster. Waiting until all the people had stepped on top of her transparent barrier, she guided her magic, so that the barrier slowly rose up and soon they were above the hilltop.
Then, with Ashes’ guidance the group spent half a day until finally arriving at Border Town.
The first thing that caught Tilly’s eyes was a steel bridge with its unique shape. It spun across a wide river with only two bridge piers at the bottom to act as support. Its iron beams neatly arranged, without any unnecessary beam or additional decoration or patterns. The snow laying on top of the deck was in stark contrast to the exposed parts of the black bridge, giving it an initial impression of an air of grandeur.
"This bridge… is really huge," Breeze sighed, "In the end, how many iron ingots did they need in order to create a bridge like this?"
"It’s just a waste of materials. The traffic problem could have easily been solved with a pontoon bridge. What’s the point of building a bridge so high?" Ashes said, making it clear that she thought differently, "Border Town lays at the end of the route of merchant fleets, so which ship would want to travel to a river's origin to do business?"
“That’s the opinion of people who only have a superficial knowledge and experience,” Andrea said while elegantly shaking her index finger. "Even though I’m not a citizen of Graycastle, I can still see that the forest at the western side possesses a considerable value for reclamation. Even though there is no town there right now, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be one in the future. If you want to continue to expand your territory, it is a good choice to expand into an uninhabited area. At that time the pontoon bridge would only become a hindrance for the trading route, Lady Tilly’s brother can be considered as someone thinking more long-term than you are.”
Ashes raised her eyebrows, "Previously you called him a vulgar nobleman who loved barbaric cooking, but now you’ve already changed how you address him to Lady Tilly’s brother?”
"The two words ‘vulgar nobleman’ were added by you," the blond witch stated as she flung her hair away in a disdainful gesture, "In addition, thinking long-term and barbaric cooking doesn’t conflict, you shouldn’t try to stirring up enmity in front of Lady Tilly."
Tilly, however, didn’t care about this already common conflict between the two, her gaze instead was directed to the other side of the river.
There she had noticed an incredible phenomenon.
At this time the snow was still falling from the sky, the temperature no different than during the winter, so it was reasonable to say that it was a time the town’s people should be hiding in their own homes, either around the fire, or rolled up beneath the quilt. Even in King’s City, she had only ever seen a few people who had intensified their physical strength so as to elapse the bitter cold. If they wanted to keep their body warm, they would have to eat more than usual, not to mention the risk of catching a cold whenever they stepped out of the door. Therefore, apart from gathering the necessary food and drink, the overwhelming majority of civilians would always avoid any sort of action in the winter.
However, on the town’s riverside there were people constantly coming and going, some pushing carts, some carrying big bags on their back, all walking hurriedly as if they were working. Yet, Tilly could not see a whip holding overseer anywhere among them, that was to say, these people were completely voluntary at their work.
How can this be?
After crossing the iron bridge, they were immediately stopped by two guards armed with peculiar spears, the guards were wearing uniform clothes and looked full of energy. Their demeanor completely different from the common patrols in the big cities. "Stop, why have you come from the South?" One of them looked at them for a moment before asking, “Wait, are you… witches?”
This question left Tilly slightly stumped for words. Even though she was already aware that witches were living openly within the town, when personally hearing ordinary people asking such a question in such a calm manner, it still set off a bursts through her heart. "Yes, we are witches."
"It seems you want to join the Witch Alliance," the guard assumed laughingly. "Please wait here. I’ll report to the higher-ups immediately."
"Wait? No, this is –"
"That’s right. Then we will stay here and wait." Tilly stretched out her hand to interrupt Ashes, "Furthermore, can you tell me what those people there are busy with?”
"Oh them, they are repairing the dock. Due to the abrupt snow, there were a lot of things which have gotten messed up, but in the end I really don’t know much about what is going on over there.”
When the guard stepped back to his post, Ashes asked puzzled, "Why didn’t you inform him about your identity?”
"Aren’t you curious? Aren’t you wondering how he would receive a witch from another city?" Tilly told her with a wink.
It didn’t take long until a tall woman dressed completely in white to come over. She had long blonde hair and her looks were impeccable. Even without having seen her magic, Tilly could feel a piercing vigor coming from her body, just like a sharp unsheathed blade.
There was no doubt, that the woman in front of them was a combat witch, and a very powerful one at that.
"I really thought that you were new witches who want to join the Witch Alliance. Haven’t you already gone back to Sleeping Island?" She first said as she looked at Ashes, before sweeping her gaze over the rest of the crowd. When her eyes finally fell on Tilly she showed an expression of surprise for a moment before the sharp feeling suddenly disappeared, to be replaced by water-like warmth.
"Hello, my name Nightingale," she nodded in greeting. "I presume, you must be Tilly Wimbledon, His Highness Roland’s younger sister.”
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