Chapter 86 The Choice of the Witches
Leaves didn’t know how long she could still hold on. Her return to the camp in the Impassable Mountain Range from the wildland took her nearly half a month. In order to avoid detection by demonic beasts, she carefully hid inside the thick and solid trunk of a tree to confirm that there were no demonic beast activity within the vicinity before running to the next place to hide. Despite her worry of the slow marching speed, she had no other choice. Once she was detected by demonic beasts, she wouldn’t be able to survive alone.
More than a dozen sisters had fallen under the attack of the Devils, and the sisters who survived weren’t good at fighting. During the time when Ironhand jumped into the crowd and started his massacre, they had scattered in all directions, but in the end, there were only a few who were still alive and able to come back to the camp. Thinking of all the death, the pain within Leaves’ heart didn’t stop.
The action of having to always hide herself during the escape consumed a large amount of magic power, thus she was only able to cover a distance of ten miles daily. In particular, she always had to save enough power to survive the night. Since all of the rations she had at hand were eaten, she also had to look for wild fruits to sate her constant hunger. In addition, the heat spell within her Witches Cooperation Association emblem had also run out of power, so she could only use bark to wrap tightly around herself . Every time she thought about the deaths of the young witches, who weren’t even allowed to mature and who she had promised to protect, she couldn’t stop her tears from falling.
And as if all of this wasn’t enough, during one night, when she was wrapped in her tree trunk she was constantly attacked by the demon’s bite – after the constant attack of mental and physical blows, she had completely forgotten about this. Suddenly, she felt as if her chest was torn open, and the pain quickly spread throughout her whole body. The pain attacked her so suddenly that she almost instantly lost her consciousness. She was only able to fight back when she bit her tongue tasted the blood flowing in her mouth. Under the constant torture, Leaves thought of giving up several times, but the thought of the possibility that more than twenty fleeing sisters, with serious injuries which only she was able to heal, were waiting in the camp for her return gave her the power to fight against the bite.
Fortunately, she didn’t have to suffer for a long time under the demon’s bite. When she finally broke out from the suffering, she discovered that the tree trunk surrounding her body had a huge gap. Even worse, it was wet with her blood. So in order for the smell of her not to be discovered by demonic beasts she had to fight against the pain and exhaustion and take off her clothes before fleeing to another tree. At the same time, she grew some green leaves on a bare branch and sewed warm clothes out of them. Under the guidance of her magic, the branch became a needle and the leaves veins became her thread.
During her escape, she couldn’t eat either cooked food or drink warm water. When she finally entered the Impassable Mountain Range, she even added two additional layers of leaves to her clothes, tightly wrapping both her hands and feet, but all this wasn’t enough against the rapidly falling temperature and the ankle-deep snow, resulting in frostbite at her toes. So with this way of stopping and dragging on, with no feeling in her feet, she finally managed to return to the camp.
At the moment she saw the familiar figure of one of her sisters, Leaves fell to the ground, unconscious.
When she woke up two days later, due to the long time that her feet had been exposed to the low temperatures, her injuries had become so serious that even her own herbal medicine couldn’t stop the spreading gangrene. They had no other choice than to take the last resort and cut off two toes from both her right and left foot.
These sacrifice didn’t bother Leaves much, since she was able to survive. Compared to those sisters who had never come back, she was very lucky. However, when she saw that her surviving sisters’ arms were all wrapped in white clothes, great sorrow spread out uncontrollably from the bottom of her heart.
At the moment of departure, there was already only forty-two sisters, but now there were only six survivors.
When Leaves was finally able to calm down, she asked the others how they they fared.
As she already knew, during their fight with the devils, the witches with abilities incapable of combat took the opportunity to escape to the camp in the Impassable Mountain Range. During their first night, they were attacked by demonic beasts – a group consisting of wild boar species. Everyone who was unable to fight had to flee once more. The fact that they were already attacked again by a group of demonic beasts was clearly a bad omen, but there was nothing they could do against it. The next morning, after a new attack from wolf-like shaped demonic beasts, only eight witches were able to escape. Fortunately, after they had entered the Impassable Mountain Range, the demonic beasts weren’t able to keep up.
When they had finally reached the camp some days ago, two sisters were attacked by the demon’s bite. Maybe it was because the traumatic experiences of the last few days were too great and the future prospect was too dark, but they didn’t have the will to fight and weren’t able to survive the demon’s bite. Since there was no battle witch who was able to come back, everyone had thought that they had died under the hands of the devils, so no one had expected that Leaves would come back.
Finally, someone asked, "So... what happened to our other sisters? Scarlet, Windseeker, and furthermore our mentor Cara, did they survive like you?"
Leaves shook her head and whispered, "I am the only one who survived."
"Do you..." Scroll quietly began to speak, but since she could already guess the answer she said instead, "Then you have a good rest. Also…" She hesitated for a moment, "Leaves, there is one more point.”
"What?" asked Leaves, exhausted.
"When you were in a coma, we sisters had talked and come to the conclusion that in the case that Cara doesn’t come back, we hope that you will take the position of our mentor."
Suddenly being asked this question, Leaves became distracted so she closed her eyes to think. Well, yes, our Witch Cooperation Association has suffered such a fatal blow, if we do not immediately select a new leader, I'm afraid we will soon fall apart. But the purpose of our society was to seek the Holy Mountain and obtain freedom and peace. Now the search for the Holy Mountain is over. No, the "Holy Mountain" itself is a hoax. It does not exist in the Impassable Mountain Range, nor in the wild lands. Then, why should our society continue to exist?
Leaves’ mind was in total chaos. Even so, she wasn’t looking at them, but she could still feel the eyes of her sisters, waiting for her answer. Her sisters needed a person to lead them and guide them forward, someone who hadn’t already given up.
After long silence, Leaves finally spoke, "We... will go looking for Nightingale."
Hearing her decision, the other sisters began to shout in disorder.
"What, why should we go looking for her?"
"Do you mean we should also go to Border Town?"
"What if she lied to us?"
"Wendy is there too."
"She might have died long ago."
Having enough of the chaos, Scroll clapped her hands, let the others quiet down, and then she asked Leaves, "What should we do if what Nightingale said is also a hoax?”
"You can wait outside of the town, far enough to be safe," answered Leaves as she opened her eyes, "Let me find out the situation first before determining if Nightingale had lied. So, for now, I will take the post of Mentor, but if... if I die in town, Scroll will take over command and lead the sisters to safety."
"But I..." began Scroll, but she was soon interrupted by Leaves.
"I know your ability is not suitable for fighting, and your ability is not much help for the daily operation of the camp. But now I understand that the strength of the ability isn’t important for the rank of leader." The Mentor should be a guide, instead of being the strongest, but unfortunately, it is too late for us now. If the cautious and patient Wendy was our Mentor, wouldn’t the outcome have been complete different? "You and Wendy were the first to join the Witch Cooperation Association, so you are already an elder sister. You crossed the whole kingdom on your march from the east to reach the Impassable Mountain Range, so you have a lot of experience. You are cautious, and you don’t think you are better than everyone else. So, there is no one who is better suited to be the mentor of us sisters than you.
Afterwards, Scroll was silent for a moment until she said, "...What if what Nightingale said is true?”
"Then there is no reason why our Witch Cooperation Association should exist any longer," Leaves slowly explained, "after all, that would mean Border Town is our ‘Holy Mountain’!"
TN: Please no spoilers! I will delete every comment which contains spoilers!
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