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Chapter 116: Trap

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: Scribble Hub

Why have I come?

Smart people shouldn’t be asking that question. Only an idiot would not know what she was doing here. Demuur wasn’t stupid, so obviously he was testing her…

But there wasn’t a need to test her. Demuur was doing something pointless, so he was pretty dumb after all.

“I’m here to see one of your priests—Arvel. I was asking about him the other day.”

“Why? What for?” Demuur’s voice was as raspy as ever.

Camilla’s mouth twitched. These questions were so pointless. She had no idea why Demuur insisted on asking them when they both knew the answer. Idly, she wondered if he was up to something, and the thought of her possibly dancing in yet another person’s palms made her mood drop like a rock.

Being manipulated never felt good and while she had recently begun taking interest in playing with strings, it only made her hate being on the puppet attached to the strings more.

As her mood soured, Demuur’s voice sounded more and more grating. With some effort, she calmed herself down. Below that threshold, her emotions were as human as any, if a bit dulled.

On the second thought, whatever Demuur was up to, his questions gave her more opportunities to accomplish her own goals. Trying to convince herself that she was the one taking advantage of him, Camilla relaxed her expression that she had previously frozen and made her voice more amicable.

She smiled. “Well, not to brag, but I did contribute a lot to the capture of the research subject he’s working on and saved his life, no? It shouldn’t be too much to ask that I be allowed to ask him for a progress report…right?”

Camilla emphasized her last word, looking around at the archpriests and trainees around her. Unsurprisingly, Justin was also there, having come later than the full archpriests.

Although they had the numbers advantage, Camilla wasn’t that worried.

Passing over Justin, not making eye contact and giving indication that there was any special relationship between them, she surveyed the expressions of everyone.

At her words, they revealed nothing pertaining to their thoughts on their face. Neither did any of them say anything. Instead, they looked toward Demuur.

Internally, Camilla’s lips curled in satisfaction. Evidently, they treated Demuur as the leader when the bishop wasn’t around. Speaking of the bishop, where was he? Think himself too important to come see her?

Receiving no reply, Camilla fixed her gaze back on Demuur. Her gaze had taken no longer than a few seconds and she looked back just in time for Demuur to finish gathering his thoughts and reply, neither quickly nor slowly.

“Well yes, naturally,” he said. He turned and nodded at a young man behind him. His own apprentice, it seemed.

The man nodded back and headed toward a door on the sides of the cathedral.

Demuur turned back, his face full of benevolence. “It will probably take a while. Father Arvel gets quite invested in his research, you see, and it takes much to rouse him.”

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The way he worded it made it sound like an excuse, but if this old man thought that that was all it would take to get her angry, he had another thing coming.

Camilla knew that Arvel was exactly as he described. Worse, probably, since once he got going, he was even willing to forgo food and water.

Without waiting for a reply, he stepped aside and waved the other archpriests away. As one, with almost unnatural unity, they backed away. He smiled at Camilla again. “I apologize for the reception you received. No point in standing around while we wait, though. There’s a room for guests inside. Please.” He made a welcoming motion, bowing slightly despite his advanced age and probably less-than-stellar back.

Combined with his unnaturalness, if Demuur wasn’t up to something, then Camilla wasn’t an undead either. Despite her suspicions, she nodded and stepped forward.

Her sleeve suddenly caught on something behind her and she looked behind her. Kagriss was hanging onto her sleeve, not wanting her to go any further into the cathedral. She shook her head almost imperceptibly.

At the same time, she felt a tiny feeling of negativity from within her through her bond with Kagriss, a signal for her to not continue any further.

Camilla paused. Did Kagriss sense something?

She expanded her own lifesense in a hurry to check, but the templars nearby hadn’t moved at all. If the templars weren’t moving, then there was nothing wrong yet…

Likely, Kagriss felt that something was up, just as she herself did. But those instincts were exactly why she had to continue. Camilla wanted to see if the canaries would sing.

Gently pulling away, she followed after Demuur deeper into the cathedral. Behind her, Kagriss remained where she stood.

Suddenly, one of the other archpriests spoke for the first time. “Are you not going in as well?”

Of course, he was talking to Kagriss, who hadn’t moved. Kagriss turned around to look at him. Then she looked at Camilla who was moving further and further away and chased after him.

Suddenly, her head whipped around to stare at the archpriest, just in time to see the archpriest that spoke breathe a sigh of relief that caught in his throat when he saw her looking. She narrowed her eyes.

At the same time, there was movement in her lifesense where the bright stars that represented the immense lifeforce possessed by templars began to converge on their position. Most of them were circling around on the outside of the cathedral.

If she continued heading inside, then the entrance will be blocked by the arriving templars. They’ll be trapped inside.

Kagriss stopped, refusing to go another step. Of course, she was still in full view of the outside, having not yet stepped away from the doorway. She glared at the archpriest that had spoken to her.

Camilla had been right.

“No, I’ll stay right here, thank you,” she said coldly, not bothering to hide her hostility.

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As her voice reached Camilla’s ears, Camilla stopped.

As she expected, the Church was still hostile toward her. Likely, they didn’t want to fight in full view of the public as if anyone got hurt, their reputation would plunder. Thus, they tried to lure them deeper into the cathedral that was protected and isolated by various formations, and trap them there while crushing them with numbers.

The smile on her face disappeared as she dropped her friendly act.

In front of her, Demuur’s own smile froze and Camilla thought she saw a hint of awkwardness on his face. Guilt from being caught?

“Well, since Kagriss prefers remaining outside, I can’t exactly leave her alone, can I?” she said. “I’ll wait right there. You have until sundown. Follow me.”

Everyone in the surrounding area was their hostage if the Church dared to make a move. This close to the Church, each and every human was someone wealthy or influential. The Church couldn’t afford to lose their financial support and goodwill.

Without another word, she strode toward Kagriss.

No one moved to stop her. How could they? Demuur was well in her range and even if he was powerful at dueling, undead warriors were fast. As fast as a holy knight boosted by enchantments.

Demuur won his duels against holy knights by taking advantage of the large starting distance dictated by dueling rules and maintaining it constantly until he won. Against an undead warrior, he couldn’t risk anything.

Even if he knew that if a fight really broke out, his death would be avenged, he didn’t want to die in the first place.

Sweat rolled down his temple and he had no choice but to follow. Even if he dragged his feet, Camilla simply stopped and gave him an icy cold look.

Inside, she savored Demuur’s discomfort. The look of fear in his eyes was ironic considering his arrogance. His long life brought him an immense amount of experience and gave him his current position, but it also made him treasure his current life all the more.

He’d never put his own life on the line, even if someone like Justin might if it meant that she would be eliminated in return.

Thank you, Demuur. She smiled as one of her goals was accomplished: affirming the Church’s position once and for all. Sadly, it seemed the Church didn’t seem to want to accept her olive branch. It honestly surprised her.

With Demuur’s status and position in the Church, as could be seen from how he was the de facto leader just then, the Church should’ve listened to his words. Last she checked, even the bishop respected Demuur to some extent. If Demuur bothered putting in a good word for her, then even if they didn’t want to form an alliance, they should’ve agreed to a ceasefire…

Perhaps she overestimated Demuur.

By the time she reached the entrance, there were several people standing just outside at the bottom of the stairs. Templars. But none of them were wearing armor with the exception of two.

Camilla merely scanned them before she looked beyond them at the people on the streets. The appearance of the templars gathered some stares.

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With those well-dressed people watching while standing so close, another layer of shackles around the Church manifested.

Taking Kagriss’s hand in her own, Camilla pulled her out of the cathedral before she crossed her arms. She grinned, mocking and victorious, while the Church could do nothing but watch.

The protestation she felt from Kagriss had long turned into a quiet satisfaction.

“Is Arvel not here yet?”

Right as her words fell, there was movement from inside the cathedral. Demuur’s trainee had returned with Arvel in tow.

Camilla had expected them to take longer and make her wait a bit, but…perhaps they couldn’t wait for a troublemaker like her to be gone? Demuur was glaring at her poisonously with almost as much distaste as Pavlor did.

No sign of his previous friendliness remained.

Not that Camilla had any sympathy for him.

Dragging his steps, Arvel came down the steps. As he neared, Camilla turned and walked further down. “Leave us,” she said.

Although the templars protested, an order from Demuur silenced them. Each of his words were cut off, squeezed past his teeth. “Do. As. She. Says.”

The templars backed off, leaving Arvel looking around in confusion. He lowered his voice. “Wow…what did you do?”

“Well, that’s not really important,” Camilla said. “Just pissed off some old men, you know?” She tried to put some of her old bantering tone back in her voice, but it came out kind of strange with her current voice.

Arvel didn’t seem to be buying it with his face so blank, so Camilla gave up. “Catch,” she muttered. Under the guise of turning his back on him, she discreetly tossed the cube from her sleeve into his hand.

“Find out who it is. I’m leaving soon, but I’ll be in touch…”

She couldn’t see what Arvel’s expression looked like with her back turned so she just continued on out loud to keep up appearances.

No matter what she asked about the captured Orlog monster, Arvel deflected the questions. But they were so overt that Camilla didn’t feel that Arvel was intentionally trying to hide information. The Church probably told him to keep quiet.

Camilla scoffed. Whatever.

She wasn’t here for information anyway. With both of her goals accomplished, Camilla turned and left without a second glance behind her. Holding hands with Kagriss, she was as carefree as could be, taking advantage of her proximity to the normal humans on the streets to escape from the giant barrier around the cathedral unscathed.

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Crossing over the outermost formation, they returned to the inn they stayed at and checked out. Gathering their things and buying a covered carriage with a team of two horses using their still-ample wealth, Camilla and Kagriss set out for the rurals outside of the city.

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