Chapter 186: Bestowed Crossroads
The air felt terribly cold, perhaps because the fort of Garoua Maria was made of stones.
Even though I was just sitting still in the room, the cold air still pierced my cheeks. I pushed that cold air into my lungs, turned it into a big sigh, and exhaled it into the air. A white mist came out my mouth and slowly disappeared.
No good. I was already at my limit. It was impossible for me to stay still in such a room.
At least I should drink ale to warm my body, but the pottery jar placed on the table did not show a drop of liquid when turned upside down. I had to stay in this chilly room without any coziness.
Largud Ann, one of Saint Matia’s right arms, made me a strange proposal.
“Lord Hero, can you stay in this room for a while?”
Ann said it was due to the discipline of the Heraldic Order.
It seemed that the fact that I left Garoua Maria without telling anyone created an uproar, more so when the mercenary city of Belfein fell. Of course, I did not know the details of the content itself, but I heard that even Matia changed her expression. I did not see much of her authoritarian persona in Belfein except when I acted against her wishes.
Ann said it would be a problem if someone tried to do the same thing as I did.
For me it did not matter what kind of anarchy I did, as long as I did it for myself at the highest level. However, an organization could not work with individuals who acted rashly like me. Eventually, the organization would fall apart with no structural directives. All of this felt extremely unfamiliar to me. I never belonged to an organization before.
Therefore, it seemed that they wanted to take some form of confinement. Apart from that, I did not have anything to do. At least for now. I just nodded with a light feeling that it wouldn’t be a big problem to stay cramped in this chilly room. What kind punishment awaited me?
No, they were punishing me already. They did not give me a single drop of ale. No, of course, in the name of decency, they wouldn’t give ale that easily. Not after everything I had done. Even so, at least they could’ve given me my chewing tobacco.
When I moved my shoulders up and down, and I let out a hollow, white mist from my mouth, something occurred to me. Maybe I should sleep. Sleeping would be the best choice to endure this cold. When I thought so, I heard the sound of someone knocking on the door.
「Lord Hero. Did I make you wait for too long? 」
At the same time as I heard the knocking sound, a voice echoed into the room. I could guess who was standing in the other side of the door. No matter where I looked in this vast world, there was only one person who called me a hero.
「Yeah, you did. It would’ve been great if you brought me wine or ale as a souvenir.」
The door opened while making a creaking noise. Beyond the door stood Largud Ann.
Although the tone of her voice did not change, I noticed the dark circles under her eyes. It showed that the amount of work she had to do was exhausting her body.
Indeed, it seemed that the number of human resources who could perform political affairs was not sufficient as usual.
Even in the Heraldic Order, which respected knowledge, only a few people could run the organization. Among them, I heard that Ann, was one of Matia’s right arms, and had an unimaginable pile of political affairs under her shoulders. A great deal of work for her petite body.
I narrowed my eyes. I felt an unpleasant premonition running on my fingertips. After all, she was responsible for a lot of matters in the organization. Why did she want to visit me in a state of confinement?
If she wanted to make sure that I would not escape again, she could send some soldiers to monitor my movements. So why this?
「Unfortunately, I didn’t bring any alcohol, Lord Hero. But if it’s a souvenir that you want, then I have the perfect one for you.」
Ann said those words but I didn’t see anything in her hands. Her lips and cheeks distorted upon saying those words and her eyebrows curved up. I stroked my chin with my fingertips while thinking about this strange occasion, prompting Ann’s words to continue.
「…The Great Holy Church began to make its move. In the Gharast Kingdom, the mobilization of soldiers is proceeding at a feverish pace, even in this cold weather.」
My heart palpitated fast upon hearing Ann’s words. Before, I felt the cold air weakening my body. But her words made my blood boil with heat and my body suddenly woke up.
「Hey, hey. Are you sane? How can you talk about such things when I don’t have any alcohol with me? Did you know that I didn’t sleep well too?」
I replied to Ann’s words immediately. I further narrowed my eyes as I bit the edge of my lips.
Early. Much faster than I had imagined. I thought that the Great Holy Church would not start preparing soldiers until their minions began to feel some warmth in their bones.
It was extremely difficult and expensive to march in the cold season, especially when the landscape was covered in a white sheet. They had to prepare warm clothing to warm their bodies, and they would need to consume alcohol much faster than in normal times. If they ran out of warmth or alcohol, the morale of the soldiers and mercenaries gathered for the war, aside from the elite, would crumble. Besides, if the snow caught the foot and the advance delayed as a result, the troops would disperse or die. All their efforts would be in vain.
Of course, it was not that there haven’t been any cases of marching in the cold season. However, it was not the right time to fight. The conditions were too harsh.
「Right now, Lady Matia is calling everyone to devise a countermeasure. Lord Hero…」
「…I understand. I don’t know what I can do. But should I go too, right?」
Even without knowing what she’d say, I felt some impatience growing in me after ending her phrase abruptly. Something twisted my viscera.
However, if this talk was about that content itself, then I fully understood that Ann was acting as a messenger herself.
There was no way that Heraldics could remain calm after hearing that the Great Holy Church was preparing to lift their heavy hips in order to cut off our necks. There was no doubt that if the information disseminated poorly, there would be unnecessary confusion. Of course, I couldn’t stay calm too.
After all, the Great Holy Church once defeated the power of the Heraldic Order, and it stopped its roots from growing.
Back then, during the old journey, Saint Matia died along with the defeat of the Heraldic Order, using the underground temple as her coffin. That was a fact that once happened and an unavoidable ending, as she could not bear to see her organization fall.
I clenched my back teeth. I noticed that my fingertips, which were once cold, becoming slightly hot now.
No good. I could not let that happen again. I didn’t want to follow the same historical path as before. The whole process now was different, but if the Heraldic Order faced the same brutal ending, it would not be strange to think that the same ending awaited for me too.
It would be hard to accept if I returned to the end of my journey without obtaining anything, such as dignity, power or even my loved one. Ah, I didn’t want to return to that life no matter what. People often ridiculed me of being lowly. Yes, it did bother me largely. Yet, at the same time, it did not matter to me if they ridiculed me like a dwarf.
However, I didn’t want to go back to that time when I gave up on everything without doing anything with my hands. That was my true intention. The words from the depths of my heart. The sobbing of my soul.
If the existence of Heraldic Order followed the same path as before, I was sure that it would tie me to my previous life too. I felt that reality somewhere deep in my chest.
I prepared to leave the room while placing the treasure sword around my waist. At that time, Ann’s voice shook my earlobes again.
「…Lord Hero. No. Lord Lugis. You don’t have to attend that meeting. 」
A voice that did not resonate as usual. Yes, a tone with a low pitch that crawled somewhere on the ground. At least, I did not remember hearing such tone from Ann’s voice before.
Ohhh maybe Ann is the only one who dislikes Lugis…
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