Chapter 73: The Hanging Gardens of Ghazalia
The homeland of the elves had the right to be called hanging gardens.
The gardens were located deep in the mountains. A dense place where humans could feel almost suffocated. It was a mysterious sight. It made us feel illusionary because it looked like we walked in a city with clouds as a foothold.
The city that poets were once invited to write about its splendor and awe. The city was regarded as the only city in this world where both the graceful and the bizarre held hands. This place was the so-called home of the elves.
The hanging gardens of Ghazalia.
The city splendor was so great that it looked like it was one with the nature. They were alive together, as in a harmonious breath. Upon seeing this, a large sigh came from my mouth. A sigh of amazement. Both of my eyebrows rose naturally and my eyes were wide open.
This whole sight was in ruins when I saw it for the first time during my previous life. Only one word could describe this place. Fantastic. It was indeed a fantastic sight. The whole scenery reminded me of an old storytelling book where it described where the gods landed on earth once.
My cheeks quivered in spite of my unusual impression.
A strong wind hit my cheeks. The feeling was strangely cold. Why did it get cold in the top of the mountain despite being closer to the sun? I wondered about that.
「The answer of the Elf King has finally arrived…It says that he prepared a warm welcome for us.」
Matia’s well-known voice echoed while she enjoyed the scenery while smoking tobacco from the horse-drawn carriage. The messenger who went to the hanging gardens had finally returned.
Her voice was so soft that her tone was unusually calm.
「Hmm…It’s quite surprising. I thought that things would be difficult since the elves are known to hate human beings. To be honest, I thought that we’d face several drawbacks with this negotiation.」
Filaret spoke with sharp lips when she heard the messenger’s memo.
Indeed, it was surprising. Honestly, I had the same thoughts as Filaret. I believed that things wouldn’t go this smoothly for us.
Or rather, I thought that they would want us to get out of their sight. I believed that, and yet, the depths of my own heart told me otherwise.
Then, the palpitations of my heart slowed down momentarily. But, suddenly, my fingertips trembled when I recalled some memories from my past life. Memories that were engraved in the roots of my heart.
「If we can meet him, then we should meet him. We must carry things on. 」
Caria jumped out of the carriage to speak those words. Her silver hair shook at her movement. Apparently, we had an order to get off the carriage in order to proceed into the city. Well, we could offend them if we did the opposite.
「Ah, by the way, did you hear about the name of this so-called King of Elves? 」
A question was suddenly thrown from behind Matia. Everyone wondered about that. Yes, the name of the Elf King.
「…He’s called Fin Lagias. I heard about it. So, how should we approach that fella with this negotiation?」
A rude reply was thrown in the air. Caria was a woman known for spitting poison when she opened her mouth.
Fin Lagias. “Fin” was the word that meant “king”. So, to be precise, he was King Lagias.
No doubt about it. That name was the name of the king who gave humanity cooperation, and sent Eldith to the rescue party during the Journey of Salvation.
It seemed that my brain, which was not accurate at times, remembered that much.
Speaking of which, there should be no problem whatsoever. I thought differently moments ago, but I didn’t remember that this king was passionate with humans. Strange casual thoughts crossed through my head.
From history, there was no doubt that this king was a friendly king. Depending on the conditions, if the negotiations were successful, it was highly likely that we’d form an alliance with the elves. That meant that an unbreakable cooperation could be forged between us.
If it ended up good, we could make a big public announcement for the neighboring countries that we had set up a successful cooperation with the elves.
During this time, only a small part of the ruling class was involved with the elven people. The elf’s nomenclature was still widely unknown. We could only hear awe-inspiring tales of the elves from the common people in the streets. In that case, inflicting fear could lead into an increase of morale from the Heraldic soldiers and a subsequent demoralization of the enemy forces.
Yes, as long as it worked, there wouldn’t be any problems. I sighed quietly, spitting out optimistic fantasies and forsaking pessimistic delusions.
「Cathedral Knight, Garras Gargantia. 」
At first, Ariene couldn’t recognize that person because he had his back towards her. But, she had a hunch. Therefore, she opened her mouth and called his name. Shortly after, that person turned around when he heard her voice.
「Hmm…What’s wrong. Ah, it’s you Lady Songstress. What do you want? Yeah, I, the Cathedral Knight Garras Gargantia, am surely here.」
This man spoke jokingly as he put his hand on his chest. His expression and gesture seemed to be very frivolous, one wouldn’t believe that he was a senior Cathedral Knight. Ariene shook her feet while narrowing her golden eyes.
Although his skills were undoubtedly the best among the knights of the main religion, he was a man quite different from his folks. The Prime Cathedral Knight, Garras Gargantia. Of course, there was no doubt that his name brought lot of awe and envy.
His armor and footwear were made of white silver. That particular aspect gave him a holy dignity and high status that could intimidate his own enemies. And yet, that attire was somewhat unbecoming of him. Those distinguished looks didn’t actually match with his peculiar taste of playfulness.
「Songstress? Please, don’t call me that name. Ah, more importantly…Sorry, but are you going somewhere? Based on your attire, you look prepared to leave.」
While Ariene spoke to him, she suddenly realized what she was doing and shook her head. She wondered what her reasoning was for stopping him before he left.
“Why did I stop Garras from leaving?”. Ariene was confused about herself. After all, her mouth opened spontaneously and she spilled his name immediately. Everything was done by her subconscious.
Upon hearing Ariene’s words, Garras shrugged his shoulders and opened his mouth. Likewise, that gesture didn’t match with the dignity of a Cathedral Knight.
「It’s a tedious business, you know. But, you always know everything, Lady Songstress.」
At first, he loosened his cheeks and spoke formally. But then, afterwards, he changed the topic to some light talk, and jested with Ariene.
Ariene sighed because she felt tired of his constant playfulness.
Apart from their positions in the Cathedral, Ariene was not particularly close to Garras. They only exchanged greetings when they met face to face. At best, they would chat just for a little moment. Ariene would call this man just her acquaintance.
Still, living in the Cathedral headquarters, where a few people were allowed to stay, one would call these relations close relationships. In a sense, they could be right. But, at the same time, they were not. It was hard to say.
Garras himself was an elusive man, but his skills and leadership were flawless.
At this time, several knights of the Cathedral headquarters walked through the corridors of the church equipped with armory. At that point, the purpose seemed obvious.
In other words, the tedious business was to subdue the Heraldic Order.
Ah, that’s right. They were going to defeat the rebellious Heraldic people, along with Lugis. Ariene’s eyes softly narrowed down. Her golden eyes gleaming dark.
「…Is that so. I see. So, you’re marching towards Garoua Maria for next few days.」
Ariene spoke with a slightly cold voice. Meanwhile, the sound of the wind whispered in the surroundings.
Garras shook his head silently and moved his shoulders. Then, he looked around discreetly, and approached her face afterwards.
「No, no, you’re wrong. It’s a special mission. It’s something that I cannot talk about but…The Cathedral tied its hands with the elven chief.」
Her eyes opened wide upon hearing his words. Elves. The elves were said to be the people of the forest, weren’t they? Why did the Cathedral want to tie hands with those people? Before Ariene could ask that question, the next words grabbed her brain violently. All that one could hear was the spit that she swallowed inside of her throat.
「…A magical messenger arrived here not too long ago. They’ve captured the mastermind witch, and that lowly traitor.」
However, Ariene’s consciousness was far off from Garras’ whispering words, which explained that the magic powers used by the elves were quite useful this time. Nonetheless, Ariene wasn’t interested in those words anymore. They were worthless to her.
Traitor. Yes, there was only one person who was currently called with that nomenclature by the Great Holy Church. A human was reflected in Ariene’s eyelids. Lugis, her childhood friend to whom she gave her handkerchief as a proof that they’d meet again.
Well, she should’ve understood why they assembled some knights of the Cathedral for a special endeavor. Ariene blinked her eyes. She felt an ominous feeling. She clearly understood the implications of that rebellion. Besides, the fact that the Cathedral summoned their best knight meant that his business was related with either the Heraldic witch or Lugis himself.
That’s why she called Garras’ name in the first place. She was hoping to hear some useful information about his dispatch.
Ariene took a deep breath. After all, the whole space seemed to shake inside of her head.
「…So, the execution will be held in the Elf Kingdom? 」
「No. I want to kill them in the spot, but I have different orders. So, I can’t do that. The High Priest wants them alive.」
That’s why Garras was the one chosen for this sensitive task. He was the most competent knight of the Cathedral. The higher ups thought that he’d succeed in bringing them alive. For a moment, Ariene felt on her thin eyes that Garras had lost all the frivolity upon announcing a seemingly relief-like news.
“I see, so they want to bring them alive.” Ariene clearly understood the reasoning behind this scheme.
Possibly, they would want to carry out the executions in the Cathedral headquarters, or most likely, in the capital of the Gharast Kingdom. Their executions could bring the suppression of the revolt of the Heraldic people, and at the same time, the consolidation of the authority of the main branch of the Great Holy Church, the Cathedral. Nevertheless, such a thing was irrelevant for Ariene. What mattered to her was something entirely different. Being alive was the most wonderful thing.
「Actually, I heard that that Buckingham fella wanted to be the one to take them here. However, I’m sure that he’d kill those two if he were the one in charge of this task…」
「…Cathedral Knight, Garras Gargantia. 」
Ariene interrupted Garras’ fuzzy mouth, and spoke with a graceful and kind-hearted smile on her face.
「I wish you a safe journey. And, if possible… 」
Her small lips quivered upon hearing this information. Yet, she felt quite pleased. Therefore, she made up her mind and showed a resolute facial expression to Garras.
「I hope that you’ll show me the traitor’s face when you bring him here. 」
Ohhh what a twist…
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