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Chapter 133: Bloody Trial

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: Scribble Hub

With each step the lion took, the villagers backed up. The crowd of people parted before her as if an invisible force was pushing them away. Finally, the lion stood before the pair of holy mages hugging each other on the ground.

They looked up at her with awe-filled eyes.

A small woman jumped down from the lion’s back and dusted herself off. She looked around. “What’s going on here?” she demanded. “Someone explain?”

She is, of course, Camilla, and now she glared at everyone. Although she was shorter than almost everyone present including the other women, no one dared to make a wrong move. Of course, that reluctance kept them silent as well.

Amidst the calm and quiet before the storm, Lucienne and Kagriss jumped off as well. They knelt in front of the pair of mages. Lucienne gasped when she saw the fresh wounds on their faces and their ruined, ragged clothes.

“Camilla!” Kagriss called. She was the only one brave enough to call on the frosty former templar-commander right now.

Camilla swept her gaze across over the two girls and looked back at the gathered, frozen villagers. Her eyes hardened. “I asked a question!”

The villagers looked at one another, at the person to their right and the person to their left. In the end, no one wanted to say anything. With the murderous frenzy gone, replaced by a bucket of cold sweat that dripped down their backs, the sanity of the villagers returned and none of them wanted to be the person to stand out.

The bearded man who had been riling everyone up tried to make himself hidden, relieved beyond comparison that he had decided to come down from that platform when he did. Had he been just a few seconds later, he would’ve been caught by this group of newcomers.

But his blood chilled at Camilla’s next words.

“Alright then. Who’s in charge? Or rather, whose idea was this?”

Her tone booked no argument and the villagers rushed to provide her with information. This time, they had a clear target in mind, a person to be pushed out in front of the crowd to act as the scapegoat for this woman’s anger. It only took seconds for the bearded man to be found. As he tried to squeeze through the crowd and flee, someone grabbed hold of the back of his collar, dragging him back.

“Hey, let go!” he snapped, floundering, grabbing people around him and trying to escape, but everyone just brushed him off. Betrayed in an instant, he was helplessly dragged through the crowd. But before he could be dumped unceremoniously at the center, someone stepped forward.

“And who are you to ask all these questions?” the unknown man demanded. “Last I checked, this is our village. Who let you barge into our business?”

Camilla smiled mirthless. She slowly closed her eyes and before snapping them open in a fierce glare at the man. The man stiffened, grasping his chest before collapsing with a choking noise, coughing and gasping for breath.

A murmur of fear spread through the crowd and the villagers shrank away again as Camilla glared over them all. She patted Elyss’s side. “Who am I? I’m the person with the big lion. I let myself in, thank you very much. Now, is someone going to answer my question? This is the last time I’m asking this.”

Although she wasn’t here the first time Kagriss and the others talked with the twin mages, she heard all about it on the way here.

An attack by undead. Losing their parents and becoming orphans. Escaping from the undead before fleeing here, only inadvertently leading the zombies chasing them to attack this village.

By all accounts, these girls were pitiful. Camilla felt for them, and she had seen with her own eyes how despite overwhelming odds, these girls tried to fight back against the tide of zombies from the rooftops of the village.

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Victims of circumstances aside, they clearly had a sense of duty and morals.

For her to find them in this state brought a burning anger to her stomach.

It was ungrateful, and if there was one thing she despised, it was the ungrateful who knew not who helped them or bit the hand that fed them. How could they treat these girls who fought so hard for them like this?

But at the same time, it was the girls’ fault that the zombies were here in the first place, which is why Camilla left it at knocking that man out for his rudeness while she was in a bad mood.

With a start, Camilla realized that she had been prepared to kill him for such a minor offense and she shivered inside. When had she become someone who didn’t value the lives of others?

“Well?” A black flame sputtered to life at her fingertips when she snapped her fingers. The flame rumbled ominously, casting a dark light on her face.

Finally, when her patience neared its limits, a man was pushed forward out of the crowd. He fell to the ground. Then another popped out, held roughly upright by his compatriots. She looked at them and the crowd with disgusted eyes. Was there a need to be so rough and violent?

She took a deep breath to clear the negative emotions that seemed to gather within her and let it out slowly. However, while she felt better afterwards, it only made her seem more annoyed to the villagers that gathered around.

“Right.” She motioned for the two men to be brought up to her. The villagers obeyed without question. Kneeling down, the men looked up at her with their burrows furrowed in fear. “What’s going on?”

She looked from one man to the other. One of the men had a bushy beard and mustache with a portly build while the other was clean shaven and gaunt. It made them quite easy to tell apart.

“Please don’t make me ask twice,” she growled.

The bearded man flinched and she turned her attention on her. From his reaction, it seemed he was the one behind all this. But the one to speak wasn’t him but rather the gaunt-looking man, throwing his neighbor to the wolves.

“I’ll talk, I’ll talk!” he said. “He’s the one that caught those two and gathered them! After the attack ended, he looked for them and dragged them here!”

Camilla looked behind her at the two girls huddled on Elyss. After a moment, the girls nodded.

The temperature nearby dropped as a tiny bit of Camilla’s undead mana seeped out of her. “What were you doing when the zombies attacked?” she demanded.

The bearded man trembled. “I was… I was sharpening my axe at home!” he shouted. Camilla grabbed his collar and lifted him up, shaking him roughly like a burrowing dog would a rat.

“Speak the truth!”

“It’s true, it’s true!” he insisted. “I promise! I was going to come fight!”

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Although Camilla had her doubts, she didn’t have evidence on the contrary so she just dropped him. “Nonetheless, by the time you are finished sharpening your beloved axe, the walls will have fallen and the zombies broken through. Those girls were the one that plugged up the gaps and stemmed the damage. Instead of thanking them, you’re throwing things at them?”

The man punched the ground. “Damn right I did! They would’ve been the downfall of us all. We took them in and then the zombies attacked!”

“How are you so sure it was them?” Camilla asked.

“Because they said so themselves. They kept apologizing.”

Camilla fell silent. There really was no way to argue against that, and even if there was, it would probably be in bad faith.

When no reply came from her, a smug expression rose onto the bearded man’s face, leaving Camilla even more speechless. How could a man be so stupid and bad at self-preservation? Was kneeling in front of someone who had a giant lion backing her up the time to look so smug?

Good thing she wasn’t the kind of person who killed at the tiniest of slights, like some nobles are.

However, regardless of whether or not the girls did lead the zombies here, it wasn’t like they did it on purpose. And if they did all die to the zombies, at least the souls of the girls will accompany this village—or suffer a more horrible experience in life. In the end, everything turned out fine, or the people in the wrong became these villagers the moment they turned on the girls after the dangers were over.

She said as much, but the bearded man vehemently disagreed.

“Well, I’m afraid that’s too bad. I’m the judge here. You can yell and shout at them all you want, but the moment you began throwing things—” Camilla knelt down and picked up a rock before launching it at the man. The rock shot past him, grazing his face, and left a bloody mark. “—that’s when it became unacceptable.”

“But it wasn’t even me!” the bearded man shouted. “It was him! He wanted them executed!”

His thick finger pointed at the gaunt man kneeling next to him who had been silent the whole time. Now, named, the gaunt man looked up with his eyes wide and full of panic. That panic grew when Camilla turned her frosty gaze on him.

“I see. Executed, huh?”

She reached out and grabbed his head. “I just thought it was some especially severe bullying that went overboard, but execution? That’s a whole other story. Any last words?”

Camilla lifted the man up by his head. Somewhere in a dark corner of her mind, a small voice cried for her to stop, but she ignored it. The man grabbed her arm, pulling himself upwards to take the pressure off his neck. She lifted him higher and higher until he was off the ground, his legs kicking.

“Arrrgh! Help me! He-heeeelp!” he cried, but no one stepped out the circle of gathered villagers. Some of them even averted their gaze.

“Wait, don’t kill him!” one of the twins cried. Camillla couldn’t tell which.

“It really was our fault!”

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“That won’t do,” Camilla said, shaking her head. “Tell me, was there a need to kill them after the danger has already passed?Maybe I should’ve just taken them and left instead of bothering to kill all these zombies, hmm?”

“W-wait!”

“Wait for what? Those who put lives in such disregard have no room to talk, no?” she murmured. That little voice in her mind began to laugh and she smiled right along with it. She was such a hypocrite.

“No, please! I didn’t… do it because I want to kill them!” the man cried. His arms trembled from the effort of holding himself up. “It’s… argh!”

His desperate cries and heaving breaths were making it a bit too hard for Camilla to hear him talk so she lowered him just enough that he could touch the ground when standing on tiptoes.

The man breathed a sigh of relief and continued. “My intention was to save them!”

Camilla almost burst out laughing. She looked around. Not a single person was not shocked or surprised, including the two girls. Evidently, they weren’t clued in on the “saving.”

“Do tell?”

Fully aware of how ridiculous his claim was, the gaunt man took deep breath before he launched into his explanation. “Their original punishment was going to be exile. He was the one to come up with the idea.”

He pointed at the beard man.

“I fail to see how this helps your argument,” Camilla growled. “Is this a joke?”

“Yes, yes! I mean no, it’s not a joke, I promise! I suggested that if they shouldn’t be exiled since they’re a threat, then we shouldn’t let them go. But I also said that if they’re innocent, we let them go free!”

The villagers all nodded.

“So it was a vote,” Camilla said dryly and the villagers stopped nodding at once. “Any other words?”

The gaunt man hesitated. Then he looked at the bearded man out of the corner of his eye and swallowed. “You’re the one that sold me out first!” he muttered. “Don’t blame me!”

“W-what do you mean?”

“I’m going to say it! He was going to go after them and **** them after they’re gone! That’s the reason he wanted them exiled! So they wouldn’t be missed!”

The bearded man blanched, as did several others in the crowd. Gasps from all around and the temperature dropped yet again.

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“Y-you have no proof!”

“Kagriss,” Camilla growled, lowering the gaunt man. “Do you have a way to see if someone is telling the truth?”

“No. There is only torture.”

“Do it.”

Kagriss’s expression was just as cold as Camilla’s. She squeezed the hand of Ariel one more time and jumped off. Ariel’s face had turned just as white as the bearded man when she imagined the fate she and her sister might’ve had to suffer. Sariel hugged her comfortingly while Lucienne hovered protectively over them.

She was no less shocked than anyone else.

Kagriss walked over to the bearded man kneeling on the ground with long strides. The man trembled and scrambled back, falling onto his behind. “No, stop, get away from me! Someone stop her!”

As she walked, Kagriss spread her hands and black mist billowed out from her palms.

The villagers back away from the mist in fear and Kagriss ignored them as she covered the bearded man in her magic. The mana was densest around his head and Camilla could’ve sworn it went into his ears and nose. Even his mouth, when it opened in a silent scream.

The man’s eyes rolled up into his eyes.

After a few moments, Kagriss asked a single question. “Did you, or did you not, plan to **** Sariel and Ariel? Yes or no.”

The man’s mouth opened and closed a few times.

“Louder.”

“………yes………ye—”

It was loud enough this time that even Camilla could hear it. Before he could say it a second time, his life was ended in an instant without leaving time for anyone to complain. The blood of a headless corpse gathered in a puddle on the ground.

“Scum.” Even spitting in his direction meant acknowledging his existence for another second.

She glanced at the quivering man in her other hand. After considering her options, Camilla tossed the man at Elyss and the twins. “The two of you can decide what happens to him.”

They didn’t even hesitate.

“Just let him go!” they said at the same time.

Camilla shrugged. She didn’t care anyway.

“In that case, we’re done here.” She swept her gaze over the gathered humans. Some of them were still white, but others had a sickish color to them. The smell of vomit and the ammonia of urine made her turn off her sense of smell immediately. She really didn’t want to stay here for another second.

As far as she was concerned, they could deal with the trash they raised however they liked, and if their village was attacked by zombies again, she wouldn’t lift a single finger to help.

That was just how she was now. Because she had formed an emotional connection to the two twins, a tiny flame of admiration for her courage the first time she saw them, she would choose the wellbeing of those two over that of the entire village instantly.

It would’ve been the other way around before. No longer.

With Kagriss a step behind her, she stopped next to Elyss and looked up at the twin mages. They were older than Fleur and Anne, but not by much. However, their magic was unpolished, making them weaker than Fleur.

If left alone, they’d probably die.

“Will you come with us?” Camilla asked, smiling warmly. An expression completely opposite to the one shown to the villager.

The girls hesitated. Of course they would. She had just killed someone in cold blood right in front of them, after all. In the end, they both nodded at the same time. “I-if you’ll have people who will attract trouble like us…” Ariel added.

“Nonsense. You don’t attract trouble. At least, not any more than the rest of us,” Lucienne said, rubbing Ariel’s head.

“That’s right.”

Camilla gave the villagers one last glare. She didn’t even need a working brain to figure out who exactly put that idea in Ariel’s head.

Jumping onto Elyss’s back with Kagriss following close after, they left the village without so much as a second glance. On her way out, Elyss sharpened her claws on the village’s fallen front gate, leaving it ruined.

As they left the village, Camilla reassured them once again.

“Don’t worry. Don’t listen to what those no-gooders say. You guys don’t attract trouble, okay? The reason is simple…”


Axiom’s Note

If I ever rewrite this, I’m going to have to give Arvel more screen time.

Also, with every chapter that goes by, harem seems like a less and less valid option. For some reason Camilla just doesn’t take to having a harem very well. Anyone getting the same feel? It’s also not helped that I subconsciously pair off characters…


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