Chapter 243: The Witch and the Wicked Devil
The strong wind hit Philos Trait’s cheeks. Dust soared in the air and her formal wear clinging to her body shook slightly.
Apparently, it was windy today. It made her think as if fairies were playing with the air. With a clerk and an escort behind her, Philos Trait walked to the Heraldic camp.
Was it because of her white eye, or because of the Great Holy Church’s garb? Philos Trait knew that curious gazes pierced her appearance. Although it felt uncomfortable, it was still understandable. Everybody would feel the same when encountering a rare opponent. It was also extremely rare for people from the Great Holy Church to see Heraldics walking in front of them, and for that matter, even elves heard in folklore. Everything, from decorations and ornaments, was different from the values of Philos Trait, or from the Great Holy Church.
Was this a different race or a different culture? Philos Trait’s white eye sparkled on the monocle, with some kind of straightforward admiration. Until now, she has had countless opportunities to leave the city of Philos, but she had never seen a different culture or even a different race. Her line of sight flickered involuntarily.
However, that curiosity was probably to dispel the tension lurking at the bottom of her viscera. Her throat swallowed the spit for several times, but her thirst didn’t go away.
「We have arrived at the place of negotiations, Ruler Philos Trait. 」
The guide soldiers saluted with their arms around their chests, paving the way. There was a big tent in front of Philos Trait. Perhaps, those people were here. Something that resembled numbness hit Philos Trait’s toes. An unmistakable impatience and tension smoldered in her stomach.
She took one breath so that the surroundings wouldn’t notice. Then, she entered the Great Tent, lightly following the guide soldiers.
"…Here they are, unmistakably, the Witch of the Heraldic Order and the man whom people called the Great Evil."
As negotiated in advance, the parties were to be comprised of three individuals. Perhaps, the witch Matia was the one sitting in the center.
A huge sparkle covered her big eyes like madness. The devotion of her faith was unmistakable. It was that of a human being who was called a saint. Besides, the refinement of her behavior attracted people’s gaze well.
It was clear that the Heraldic Order enshrined her as a saint, earning the name of witch by the people of the Great Holy Church.
Philos Trait wondered if the petite woman to the left was the witch’s secretary. Even in the slightest words where they exchanged greetings, her intelligence could not be completely hidden away. For her to be allowed to stand in such an important negotiation proved that she had great capabilities.
Then, finally, Philos Trait glanced at the witch’s right side. He talked without trying to hide his rudeness, making her eyes narrow as a result.
This man was the Great Evil, the Lord of Vice, the traitor Lugis. Philos Trait’s eyes were as sharp as a blade while staring at him. He professed a few words, but Philos Trait had no idea what was going around in his skull.
Philos Trait’s shoulders seemed to be shrugging. That villainous behavior that cut off the helmets of the soldiers she saw on the battlefield, and the figure of the horse’s hooves smashing the soldiers’ skulls. Then, even though she had given up her life to die honorably, he ignored her and humiliated her soon after. All those scenes reappeared in the back of Philos Trait’s eyelids.
Philos Trait desperately restrained the hot breath that was about to leak out of her lips. The indignation that she had seen and despised was about to climb out of her throat. However, the man behaved as if he had not met her on the battlefield and just stared at her. Apparently, he declared her as someone not worth remembering. She was seen as a fool.
Philos Trait heard that the human being Lugis was appointed as the Great Evil by the hero recognized by the Cathedral, and was given the name of Lord of Vice by His Eminence the Pope.
Only the big evil, the Great Devil Vrilligant, whose heart was crushed by the god Altius during the mythical era, was once given such title. People said that Altius reigned as the only god by decapitating the wicked devil. What kind of person became the analogy to the greatest evil of all time?
There was that slight curiosity in Philos Trait’s chest, and also great vigilance and resentment. Concerns that she might be fooling herself in this negotiation spread in her mind.
Rumors also gathered in Philos Trait’s ears that it was this man who seized the real power of the Heraldic Order and controlled the army. If Philos Trait were to sign a contract with the witch instead, would she be trampled by the wicked devil later on? In order to avoid such fate, she had to make a sure contract instead of a vague one. No matter what happened here, the survival of her people was a must, even if the negotiators were with the witch and with the wicked devil.
As opposed to Philos Trait’s concerns, the negotiations went as smoothly as ever.
Matia the witch and the girl named Largud Ann presented to Philos Trait a proposal for an alliance. The city of Philos did not kneel as a subordinate of the Heraldic Order, but sought a position as a collaborator instead. From the contents of the parchment that was sent earlier, the contents of this negotiation became quite softened.
What they required was supplies, secure accommodation, and a way to provide information. Perhaps, the provision of supplies meant requisitioning of weapons and armor by removing the threat.
There were some parts hard to be swallowed, but it was by no means unacceptable. Also, Philos Trait distorted her white eye upon hearing such pleasant proposal. If the request was too strong, it would have been possible to cancel the negotiation at once and encourage the other party to make concessions, but this was something that Philos Trait didn’t expect.
Philos Trait thought that the location of the autonomous city of Philos would be a location that they would like to incorporate into their power.
Whether or not the Heraldic religion marched on to the royal capital of the Gharast Kingdom, they would never overlook the city of Philos, which was the stepping stone. If they continued to march, Philos would be bitten behind it, but if they withdrew without any intervention, Philos would become a front-line base for the upcoming battle with the Great Holy Church after the long cold season. That was certain.
Therefore, there was no way for the Heraldic religion to overlook the city of Philos. If Philos Trait accepted the conditions, she and her city would be welcomed as allies, but if she couldn’t accept those conditions, she and her city would be surely destroyed by them.
Philos Trait narrowed her eyes while exchanging words with them and circling her thoughts in her skull.
To be honest, it was a good request. Not to mention the contents of the alliance, especially the part where the alliance partner was not the city of Philos itself but the individual Philos Trait. With this content, it would be the individual ruler who formed an alliance with the Heraldic religion, and even if the Heraldic religion was later swallowed by the Great Holy Church, the individual would be punished but the city spared. These contents allowed the possibility of protecting the autonomy. Of course, it was certainly a thin possibility, but at least, it was not a completely impossible scenario.
Philos Trait didn’t know if it was the witch Matia or a picture drawn by someone else, but they seemed to be much more intelligent than what she heard from rumors.
Words flew around in the middle of the Great Tent, and negotiations continued between the Heraldic religion and Philos Trait. In the meantime, Philos Trait became worried about Lugis, who hardly uttered a word and turned his gaze towards her. The negotiations themselves were proceeding smoothly, but Philos Trait wondered if he wanted her head on a spear.
However, Lugis did not open his lips and stared at Philos Trait’s face with curiosity. What was going on? It was true that her monocle and white eye looked unusual and strange, but it was not something that people wanted to see with curiosity. Rather, people looked immediately away from it because they felt fear and disgust.
Feeling intimidated from that strong gaze, Philos Trait’s face turned towards Lugis. Matia and Ann also turned their eyes to Lugis, as they noticed the ongoing tension.
After a small sigh, Lugis finally opened his lips, as if forced into it after silence engulfed the surroundings.
「You were not born with that eye, am I right? You don’t have to answer to this question if you don’t want to.」
Lugis spoke, as if it were nothing special. Philos Trait found her eyebrows bouncing up.