Chapter 275: The Death Snow and the Journey
…How to overcome the age of dead snow.
Largud Ann said those words while bouncing her little lips. I narrowed my eyes while placing my fingers around my chin.
The age of dead snow, in other words, it was an age where the world became covered in unscrupulous white. It was also an age where the earth was handed over from the hands of humans to the hands of demonic beasts. In such an era when the world itself was transformed into demonic nature, there were only a few means that could be taken by small human hands. Rather, it was better to say that humans became powerless.
In the end, there was no choice but to store food and necessities and remain in the cities. After all, the demon beasts, which normally did not enter the sphere of human existence, showed their faces on the roads around the cities as if such places belonged to them during this time. Even children knew what would happen to them if they went out irresponsibly.
Of course, there were some exceptions.
For example, greedy merchants would walk from city to city despite the danger, selling things at prices several times higher than usual. Adventurers would also get countless of jobs and money by escorting such merchants. Besides, since citizens couldn’t go out of the cities, they had no choice but to pay high prices to adventurers if they wanted to operate any businesses. And if the dead snow continued for a long time, such things would inevitably occur.
A great number of adventurers said that the age of dead snow was a wonderful time, when jobs and money increased tremendously. But well, those were just the exceptions.
No one usually left the cities during this time, and neither kings nor lords let their soldiers roam on the snow. In the white snow, a group of humans would leave behind footprints. It meant invading the territory of demon beasts. Those creatures would undoubtedly roar and drive their fangs into the fragile bodies of humans, adding blood to the white snow.
It was the same for humans, who didn’t make a big fuss when they saw one or two demon beasts, but would take out an army if they saw a swarm of demon beasts appearing on the road. In the end it was the same thing for both sides.
What Ann said in the tent must have been based on that as well. I lightly bit the corner of my lip and listened.
「The time we gained by the death snow is on our side. Right now, we want to buy time and prepare ourselves. We will use Garoua Maria and Ghazalia as our main bases, and as for the supplies…」
Afterwards, Ann talked about the means of communication, the prediction of when the dead snow would melt, and the maintenance of the army. Sometimes, Caria and Eldith raised questions, but there were no objections, and Ann’s explanation progressed well.
Was it okay? In the age of dead snow, there weren’t many options that humans, and elves, could take. In a way, it couldn’t be helped. No matter what they said or thought about, they would come to the same general conclusion.
However, even though I listened to Ann’s words carefully, I felt a cloudy, boiling anxiety gripping my lungs. There was something heavy under my stomach.
After the Battle of Sanyo, I had learned one thing. That was the difference in scale between the Heraldic religion and the Great Holy Church. The proficiency of soldiers, the amount of supplies, the number of horses, and the list went on and on. I wondered how we could minimize this difference during the dead snow.
To be honest, it was not easy to minimize no matter how much we thought. Rather, no matter how much we struggled to fill the gap, it became unclear how much meaning it would have.
Of course, I understood it in my head, and I should have accepted it as such. After all, when I actually checked it with my own eyes, it rushed to me as a real feeling.
Was it really enough to simply confine ourselves in the city during the dead snow and train our soldiers and gather supplies? Perhaps, I should nurture my own soldiers in preparation. What a foolish idea.
After all, the Great Holy Church was a giant that could easily crush us. Moreover, we didn’t have the weapons to cut off their necks or the means to crush their heads. No matter what I thought, the shadow of impatience overtook my viscera.
…There was a tremendously high wall between the Heraldic Order and the Great Holy Church. Was there really a way to break it down?
I let out a sigh. For a moment, the white mist danced in the air. Those words quietly floated in my head.
But I never thought of saying them. After all, it was something that everyone in this place understood and felt. They were much smarter than I was. As for Matia and Eldith, they were probably looking ahead to the end of the dead snow.
Nevertheless, they did not say anything about whether we could really win against the Great Holy Church.
We all knew. If you had to do it, you had no choice but to do it. I completely forgot who said those words.
After all, this world had neither miraculous magic that repelled all inferiority, nor wonderful means to make everything roll smoothly. Both humans and elves had no choice but to stretch their hands forward while endangering their souls at some point. They had to do what they needed to do. The world was like that, and it was not gentle enough to give us a brighter path. In fact, it was much crueler than humans.
But if I were to say something a little extravagant, I would have liked at least one or two more scripts that gave me warmth.
Ann closed her lips and paused for a second. It seemed that she had already said most of what she had to say. Her large eyes gazed across the tent without a hint of fatigue.
「Also, the holy maiden of the Great Holy Church…shall we call her a witch in retaliation? The witch Ariene seems to continue her pilgrimage even during the dead snow. I’ve received direct information recently.」
After hearing the sound of that familiar name, the index finger that was gently stroking my chin bounced. My thoughts froze for a moment. My saliva rose up before I knew it. Somehow, Caria’s gaze hurt my cheeks.
After the scene in Belfein, I asked Ann if she could look up some information on Ariene. According to Filaret, she was like a Saint to the Great Holy Church, so there was no loss in investigating her.
Well, honestly, I wanted to grasp some information and maybe hold Ariene’s hand finally.
However, even with Ann’s help, the information about Ariene’s whereabouts was only found after she left the place. Moreover, the information about her destination was vague. Ann had heard that only divine revelation showed Ariene’s journey. It sounded like a fraud scheme if you listened to it normally, but in this case, no one could make fun of it.
A cold impatience enveloped my chest.
I recalled the person I met in Belfein who seemed to be Ariene. The appearance was clearly not normal, but rather abnormal in itself. There was even something or someone that seemed to play with it.
I still didn’t know what it was. However, since it took the form of Ariene, I wondered if something was happening to the real Ariene. It felt like Ariene’s handkerchief, which had been tucked away in my pocket chest, was faintly warming up.
Ann continued speaking.
「In terms of bargaining with the Great Holy Church, I think the most desirable form is to capture the witch, if possible. However, in order to do so… 」
I could see that Ann glanced at me with a strangely apologetic look. I blinked my eyelids involuntarily.
I asked her to conduct an investigation on Ariene, so I wondered if she was paying attention to my hidden intentions. In any case, why was I filled with a sense of responsibility? Why was I feeling rather strange about this?
I nodded lightly as if I didn’t care. And I had not told Ann, but I was still me and yes I had hidden intentions. I took a look into the big map and narrowed my eyes lightly.
Belfein was the first to be pointed on the map. She placed a stone on it. Then, she went southwest and then north. She put the stones one after another, but I couldn’t see any kind of regularity in the destinations. The size of the cities and the distances that reached them didn’t follow any pattern. Rather, it seemed that they were displaced somehow.
However, this did not mean that there was no purpose or link behind those lands. A silly idea went through my mind.
I felt a slight palpitation in my chest. I asked Ann where she thought Ariene was this time. If this was what I thought it was, if only.
「It looks like this is the location. 」
Ann’s tiny finger pointed to the western part of the Gharast Kingdom. While holding my lower lip with my finger, I looked at the entire map once more.
Yes, after seeing the map, I clenched my teeth. I could clearly see that something like sediment was gathering in the depths of my chest, and my viscera was becoming heavy and hard like stone. Was I felling frustrated or hopeful? There was an indescribable feeling in my skull.
…I see. It was a pilgrimage to give birth to a Saint, huh? It felt like I didn’t know.
Did everyone know about it? Or was it just me who wasn’t informed? I didn’t know what to say about this.
Can’t wait for Lugis’ next adventure! Where will he go next?
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