|Author: TypeAxiom||Original Source: Scribble Hub|
They headed out soon after they finished preparing formations for more unwelcome guests. They had no idea how or when the Church planned on making contact with them, but since the Church probably wanted to talk to them more than they wanted to talk to the Church, there was no reason to sit around and wait.
‘What do you want to do?” Camilla asked.
Kagriss was about to push the decision back to Camilla, but then she realized that since Camilla was asking her, being modest and giving a nonanswer probably won’t make Camilla very happy.
With plenty of money left over, they could afford almost anything. However, just because they had the money didn’t mean there were many things to buy.
There simply weren’t many things to do, as there weren’t much free time. As far as Kagriss knew from what Camilla told her, the way most people passed the time was gossip, drinking their off days away, gambled or simply napping. Of course, during that conversation, Camilla had been rather upset and negative about humanity, so perhaps that might not be the best example to use.
Working her mind to come up with something, Kagriss finally settled on continuing what they did the day before, which was looking in the open market and browsing the stores.
They probably won’t buy much, though. They had no need for new clothes, no home to buy furniture and housewares for, and no interest in little trinkets except a pair of matching hair pins that they put on for each other.
It wasn’t until after midday did they finally receive guests from the Church. A priest in plain clothes that Camilla had detected following them earlier that day, replacing someone who had tailed them when they first exited the inn, met with someone.
Shortly after, two templars and an archpriest beckoned toward them, indicating that they wanted to talk. To Camilla’s surprise, one of them was Lucienne.
Evidently the Church still didn’t know about the massacre in the slums and Lucienne’s relation to it, or else the Church wouldn’t be allowing them to meet so easily.
Or was it specifically because the Church knew about Lucienne and suspected her that they sent her as a test? The Church wasn’t dumb and it wouldn’t be wise to underestimate them after all.
Camilla didn’t recognize the other templar. The other templar looked young, just a bit older than Lucienne, which made him the right age to have been made a full templar after Camilla left.
Of the three Church personnel, the archpriest was by far the oldest and Camilla knew him. The man’s hair was already whitening despite living his whole life blessed by holy magic, attesting to his age.
The Church made the right choice in choosing Demuur Rossana for attending this meeting. If Pavlor was the archpriest in the Moltrost branch with the highest area offense, then this old man here was the best at dueling with magic thanks to his experience and specialty.
Demuur was one of the few archpriests that stood a chance against a templar in a head on fight, which made him all the more dangerous as an undead. Was he busy doing something else when the Orlog hunting team was formed?
Had this man gone, Orlog would’ve been captured or killed long before Camilla got anywhere close.
Camilla reached out and touched Kagriss’s hand. “Look out for the archpriest. He’s trouble if push comes to shove. If you can, keep him busy while I take care of Lucienne and the other one, and then I’ll come help you.”
Her tone was tinged with worry, but it was cold. When referring to Lucienne, there wasn’t a hint of any intention to show mercy, even if they now knew each other to some extent.
Kagriss didn’t like it but she nodded. Lucienne was the first templar that she ever got to know and she had a fairly good impression of her.
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If they had met in different circumstances and not as essentially enemies on different sides of the racial line, she felt she could be friends with her. Lucienne reminded her a bit of Anne but a bit more coolheaded.
Fortunately, while Lucienne had a neutral expression on her face befitting of a templar on duty, there was a glint in her eyes that would not have been there had she been hostile.
Her whole body seemed to be relaxed instead of tense and ready for a fight.
Even the old man that Camilla told her to watch out was squinting slightly, crow’s feet clearly visible on the corners of his eyes.
With a nudge of Camilla’s head, they entered a nearby eating place a bit on the fancier side. They all took a seat in the corner of the establishment and when a server came out, they all ordered drinks. All the Church members had a tab while Camilla and Kagriss shared one.
Since the Church came anonymously wearing casual clothing and padding for protection at best, Camilla was ironically the person who stood out the most thanks to her dress.
Sitting with her back to the wall, ready to wreck a hole behind her at a moment’s notice if something went wrong, Camilla poured herself and Kagriss glasses of wine.
She peered over her drink at Demuur, since he seemed to be the person with the most say while Lucienne and the other templar was mainly here to be bodyguards.
“So? What do you want?”
“Information.” Demuur didn’t even hesitate, asking his question as if the conversation had long been rehearsed. He was so direct he didn’t even waste time with pleasantries, which was precisely how Camilla liked it.
However, it didn’t fit Camilla’s memories of him. Demuur was devious.
“Alternating then. I’ll go first.” Camilla took a sip of the wine to wet her tongue, snatching the initiative. “How’s Arvel?”
“…” The archpriest looked caught off guard. He hadn’t expected that to be the first question out of Camilla’s mouth. His mouth twitched. “Why do you care about his situation…?”
“He owes me his life, so naturally I seek returns on my investment,” Camilla said casually. Even if she hadn’t grown distant from Arvel, she wasn’t dumb enough to paint a target on his back. If possible, she’d want to distance Fleur and Anne as well from her, but it was too late for that.
The archpriest laughed at that. “Just an investment, huh? I thought that you might be different, seeing how…unique you are.”
Unique? What did Demuur mean? Although her expression didn’t change, having long frozen the muscles there before, Camilla was actually feeling a bit bewildered inside. Did the Church know about her holy magic? That was supposed to be her hidden ace.
She tried to keep her voice even. “And your answer?”
The archpriest gave her a second glance that made her heart thump. Despite her own experience, Demuur was a lot like Leland and they both had several decades on her. Still, that second glance was actually reassuring because it was the look of suspicion fading away.
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The old man had just been testing her and fishing for a reaction! He showed his true colors.
Feeling a bit miffed, Camilla waited for the archpriest to answer.
The old man had gotten just water and he drank it now, probably trying to annoy Camilla by making her impatient. Knowing what she did, Camilla refused to be baited.
Finally, after Camilla began to feel anger from her bond with Kagriss and had to grab her hand to calm her, the old man set down his cup and spoke. “You don’t need to worry at all about him. Contrary to being treated with suspicion, you could say he’s among the most important people in the Church right now. Thanks to you.”
“What do you mean?”
“The reason is twofold. One, he is indispensable in researching that monster you helped capture. Two, he is credited with forming relations with you, as you might be the first undead to ever approach and help us.”
Again, Camilla had to stop the relief from showing on her face. Arvel’s standing in the Church concerned not only himself but also Fleur and Anne’s safety.
It was good that he was safe.
Demuur’s voice interrupted her thoughts as he leaned forward eagerly. “Now it’s my turn. I would dearly appreciate it if you answered me honestly. Tell me, what are your goals?”
This time, it was Camilla’s turn to be confused by Demuur’s choice of questions. Instead of something that could be partially verified in order to ensure truth, Demuur was actually asking her for her goals?
She could say anything and Demuur would be none the wiser.
Suspicion was unavoidable. Was she missing something between the lines? Or was she overthinking it?
Regardless of what the question was about, she couldn’t allow herself to visibly hesitate. Truth or make up something?
In the end, Camilla decided to be truthful while omitting some information and sprinkling in some lies.
She took a deep breath and sighed, trying to look helpless and fed up. “You might not believe me, but I’m just trying to help you. My brethren are making these monstrosities which I believe to be wrong and against the natural order of things.”
The archpriest narrowed his eyes and this time even the deadpan male templar scoffed. Only Lucienne looked unperturbed.
“Against the natural order? Are you really saying that as an undead?”
“Of course. In my view, the undead are completely natural,” she said. And she wasn’t just paying lip service to undead either. After spending time with Kagriss and living as a zombie, Camilla no longer had the same biases against the undead as she once did.
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As far as she was concerned now, the undead was just another race. As long as there was a sufficient concentration of undead mana and a body, a new undead could form on its own. That new undead was its own unique creature, a seed of limitless potential that could evolve and gain power and a thinking mind.
She didn’t even resent the skeletons that tried to kill her.
It was only the monstrosities that must be created artificially that she considered abnormal. Camilla wished to destroy them at all costs, since nothing good came from their existence.
While that might be her new biases at play, she didn’t feel a need to change her opinions.
“They are a danger to both humans and undead. However, heedless of the threat they pose, some of my kind wish to create more of them. In other words, what I want is simply a cooperative relationship with the goal of stopping these monsters. An alliance and no more.”
Last night, I took a 6 hour exam. The professor said it would only take 2 hours, but I guess what he really meant was 2 + 4 hours. I wasn’t the only one that took that long, too.