|Author: TypeAxiom||Original Source: Scribble Hub|
“There’s one. Two…three…” Camilla counted the archpriests, detecting them from their aura. Considering that the Church based in Moltrost had around fifteen archpriests the last time she checked, three wasn’t that much. The others must be out on missions or taking part in the Harvest Festival ceremonies in nearby regions.
Oh wait, there were four. Pavlor was still with them. Also, there was Justin who sort of counted, and more depending if there were other archpriests-in-training.
There were templars from the Cloud Order stationed in Moltrost as well.
“They’re not casting anything,” Kagriss noted.
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Camilla nodded. “Yes, but don’t let your guard down just yet.”
Bypassing the gate guards by following the advance team through a side entrance into the city, they entered the short tunnel that went through the wall. Camilla half expected the grated portculli to drop down on either side of the passage, trapping her and Kagriss within, but no such thing happened.
The whole time, none of the archpriests on the other side of the wall made any moves.
“Perhaps they’re just on guard against us, just as we’re on guard against them?” Kagriss suggested.
“Oh right!” They were entering a heavily populated city right now after all. If two knight-class undeads decided to rampage, there would be countless casualties before being subdued, so the archpriests were deployed ahead of time as countermeasures against being caught off guard.
With another explanation for the archpriests’ presence, Camilla allowed herself to relax.
Walking out from the shadows of the tunnel and into the sunlight once more, Camilla instantly pinpointed the three archpriests. She scanned the waiting clerics, making eye contact with each of them.
One of them narrowed their eyes as if telling her to not try anything and she just shrugged in return. After all, she had no intentions of doing something like wrecking the city in the first place.
Right now, she just wanted a warm bath and a bed to share with Kagriss, go out and show Kagriss everything she could. Even her self-imposed mission was currently secondary to her desires.
Now, what exactly will the Church do in reaction to her presence? Chase her out or tolerate her?
Their numbers supplemented by three templars, three archpriests, and a dozen more clerics, the team headed toward the heart of the city where the Church was. Despite there being so many new and interesting sights arounds, Kagriss no longer looked around with curiosity. Instead, she focused on being alert and ready for any sudden moves by the members of the Church.
When they neared the Church, the atmosphere changed. They had entered a consecration zone. It was a weak, but permanent one. While most people couldn’t feel it, it reduced sickness and made the people who lived within the zone healthier and more energetic, making the streets near the Church a hotspot for activity, as well as some of the wealthiest locations in the entire city of Moltrost.
It didn’t make Camilla and Kagriss feel very good, though. The zone irritated their bodies and suppressed their strength, at the same time empowering any holy magic cast within the zone.
If entering the city was still somewhat safe, heading deeper into a consecrated zone as known undead was a foolhardy decision. Nudging her horse closer to Kagriss, she leaned over and kept her voice to a minimum volume. Although templars and archpriests were watching, it didn’t matter.
“This is as far as we go. Any further and we weaken too much,” she said.
Kagriss nodded, indicating that she understood.
Camilla made eye contact with one of the templars before turning her horse away from the direction that the rest of the team were heading, moving toward the templar instead. She didn’t go to an archpriest because a templar would be more confident in their strength, so they’d be less on guard.
She also just liked templars more than she liked priests.
The two other templars stepped closer.
“What are you doing?” the templar asked as she got close. The voice behind the helmet was higher than Camilla expected from the templar’s height. There were plenty of tall women in the Cloud Order so it could be anyone, though. Not that Camilla remembered every single templar, especially the ones that stayed behind. It had been a two year gap.
Camilla dismounted, dropping down in front of the templar. “This is as far as I go. If anyone wants to talk to me, we can do it elsewhere instead of the cathedral.”
She couldn’t read the templar’s expression behind her helmet but the templar sounded displeased and more than a little cold and disdainful. “My orders are to accompany you to the cathedral.”
“Oh really? I don’t have any such orders. I’ll be leaving. These horses are templar horses, so I’ll return them to you.” Camilla patted the horse’s shoulder and unfastened some of the saddlebags, one which included the valuable spoils from the stag “Come on, Kagriss.”
With a thump, Kagriss landed next to her.
As they made to leave, the templar nodded to the other two and they formed a wall blocking the direction that Camilla was about to head in. By now, the three archpriests, with Pavlor making four, had stopped and were carefully monitoring the situation just in case things got violent.
The little commotion they made drew attention from the people who were watching the Church procession. Dozens of eyes fell on Camilla, Kagriss, and the three templars as they faced off.
“I can’t let you go.”
“Why not?” Camilla asked. “Why does it matter where I go?”
The templar looked around, and seeing so many people in earshot, she bit back what she was going to say. “You know why.”
“But I don’t. I won’t be a danger to anyone, so why make trouble? Are you trying to cause trouble?” Camilla made a dramatic sigh for everyone to see before she lowered her voice. “There’s so many people around. Are you sure…?”
“…are you threatening me?” the templar growled.
Camilla laughed a little and shook her head. “Not at all. It’s not a threat, merely a warning of what will happen if you insist on causing a scene. Remember, I have no ill will toward anyone here right now. Don’t make me change it, because the responsibility will be on you.”
Having explained to the templar what exactly she meant, she straightened and resumed her usual volume. “Anyways, you have your orders and I have my freedom to do what I wish. Excuse me.” She curtsied. Beckoning to Kagriss, she stepped around the templars and left amidst the gossiping cityfolk that were discussing the confrontation between the “noblewoman” and the templars.
When the two other templars tried to block her way, the female templar stopped them. “No, let them go…”
Already knowing that the templars were going to follow her, or at least send someone to follow her, Camilla figured she might as well deny the templars the satisfaction of even a consolation prize.
She suddenly stopped, turning to the templars, and using the friendliest voice she could muster, called out to them. “By the way, I haven’t decided where to stay yet. Would you like to follow me so you know? It’ll make it easier to arrange a meeting later if you do!”
The three walking suits of armor were watching her leave. They straightened at her voice, but her words made them freeze. Camilla could imagine how peeved they were under those suits of armor.
However, they put their heads together nonetheless, probably discussing her suggestion. They gesticulated wildly in their conversation, or more accurately, argument.
“What are they doing?” Kagriss asked. “Also, why did you invite them?” She looked dissatisfied, a faint pout on her face to accompany a small furrow in her brows that Camilla almost didn’t catch.
“Sorry, but they were going to come anyway. Might as well make them mad. “Camilla laughed. “They’re probably deciding which one of them should be the one to come with us.”
“Does it matter?” Kagriss asked, sighing, accepting that they’re going to at least have a third wheel, if not a fourth and a fifth. “Why are they so heated?”
“Who knows? However, for a lot of people, being told to do something that they were already going to do makes them not want to do it. I invited them, so now none of them wants to be the one to ‘obey’ me.”
A look of understanding came over Kagriss, and then her expression turned serious as if she learned a new lesson today. Camilla and Kagriss decided to wait a while for the templars’ argument to produce a loser.
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In the end, the same female templar that Camilla had talked to earlier was pushed forward by her colleagues, stumbling a little before she steadied herself. Camilla winced, hoping what she saw wasn’t actually what happened.
The push looked a bit forceful, more than just a friendly shove.
Regardless of what happened, she didn’t want to see the Cloud Knights fighting amongst themselves. Her expression softened as the female templar made her reluctant way toward them.
“Be nice to her…” she muttered.
Kagriss looked confused? “Eh? Um…okay,” she said, nodding although she really didn’t know what was going on. As the templar came up to them, she was surprisingly the first one to put out her hand.
“Hello. I’m Kagriss, a…” She caught herself at the last moment. “A spellcaster…”
Huh? Kagriss actually introduced herself first? Camilla did not expect that Kagriss would actually suddenly become so proactive, until she spotted Kagriss staring at her. Ah.
She smiled at Kagriss. Satisfied, Kagriss focused back on the templar, who watched the whole thing unfold. Camilla couldn’t see the templar’s face so she couldn’t tell what the woman was thinking, but she didn’t want to know either. It was probably something bad.
After the templar shook hands with Kagriss, Camilla put out her hand as well. “Camilla, warrior. And you are…?”
“Lucienne, templar,” the templar said curtly, not even bothering to take off her helmet. “Just so you know, I’m only here because of my orders to keep tabs on you, okay?”
Camilla had to force herself to maintain a poker face. The templar’s voice sounded young, and she acted young too. Was there a surer way to tell the other party that she was bothered by Camilla’s words?
Still, considering how pitiful the templar was for being used as the scapegoat by the other two, she decided to give her a break and not say anything. So she smiled. “I hope we get along, Lucienne.”
The templar just nodded.
Lucienne? Camilla didn’t remember her, not even a little familiarity. Perhaps Lucienne had become a full templar sometime in the last two years while she was gone.
Were the other two also new templars?
When Camilla looked back to see how the other templars were doing, she found that they were gone along with the archpriests and the rest of the procession.
They really left her behind. Was it because they’re confident in Lucienne’s strength or because they’re sure that Camilla and Kagriss won’t dare cause any trouble? It’s true that they have Fleur and Anne as possible hostages…
With the spectacle gone, most people returned to whatever they were doing and the street returned to normal—albeit still high, given that it was within the consecration zone—levels of activity.
Hardly anyone paid attention to their little three-man group now, something that Camilla liked. She clapped her hands lightly to catch the other twos’ attention. Since the templar was with them and not a threat by herself at all, Camilla figured she might as well treat her as a part of the team.
“What should we do now?” she asked the two women.
Kagriss, like always, had no opinion. She usually followed whatever Camilla did, which was a bit boring since Camilla also liked a more…bold Kagriss.
On the other hand, Lucienne was still in a bad mood. “Whatever you want. I’ll just follow you.”
“That’s another vote for ‘don’t care,’ then,” Camilla said, ignoring Lucienne’s tone. “In that case, I have something in mind, but it’s outside of the consecration zone. Thank goodness. Let’s go?”
When neither of the two responded, she suppressed a sigh. She was missing Fleur’s loudness and enthusiasm already.
Quiet whistling Finally, my long awaited slice of life! All this fighting can get tiring. Slice of life is king!