The Devil's Cage Chapter 1430
Chapter 1430 Split. Defend
Update 10 months ago
Wuu, Wuu Wuu!
Three rushed horn sounds later, the messy and overstaffed convoy fell into a panic. The civilians and merchants looked behind them in fear.
The only fortunate thing was that the knights that rode past the convoy on both sides quickly calmed everyone down, suppressing the panic.
The people followed the knights’ commands, transforming the entire convoy into a simple defense line. The women would hide with the children and start to pray to their own God, and the men picked up weapons and formed the last line of defense.
The prayers soon spread throughout the entire convoy, expelling the panic and filling everyone’s hearts with peace and anticipation.
The people believed their Gods would not abandon them, just like how the Gods led them away from Naveya City.
Even this time, their Gods would not let them down!
Beliefs were always this miraculous, it would cover up things that one could see but was unwilling to believe.
However, not everyone survived based on beliefs, at least not Atrina, the deacon from Thorn Temple.
From the moment she plotted to get the position of a priest so that she could steal the ‘Holy Thorn Grail,’ one could imagine what her beliefs were. Atrina looked behind the convoy with a worried face.
The knights of various temples had ridden back to engage the monsters, but she didn’t feel happy at all because she knew this was an ill omen, an omen about a convoy suffering relentless attacks by monsters on their trail.
She could even picture the scene where the entire convoy was to fall under the fangs of the monsters, getting devoured one by one.
“Arin, are you alright?”
“Did you think about him again?”
“Don’t worry, he will be fine.”
Lilith called Atrina by her nickname and looked at her with worry.
Lilith, the priest from Love Temple, obviously had misunderstood Atrina’s expression. Atrina didn’t want to explain herself either because it was the face she should be showing right now.
Without the support of that man, the only thing she could hold onto were the gifts he left behind. At least it would make her life in the future a little better because that man was one of the few souls who volunteered to stay back and fight the Devourer. He was also the strongest one among all.
Anyone would still be shaken by the memories about that single blow from the sword that could cut the sky in half.
Had the blow from the sword not happened, the outcome of that battle would have taken a very different turn.
As for them?
Aside from escaping the grasp of the Devourer, even death would be considered merciful to them.
Unfortunately, the man who delivered the sky-shaking blow had died.
Until now, Atrina still didn’t understand his choice.
“He had the chance to leave, and yet he chose to stay back and fight.”
“Men are really hot-blooded, so hot that they become a bunch of morons!” Atrina mumbled to herself.
“Sir Ryan isn’t a moron, he is… a hero!” Lilith heard the mumbles and voiced her opinion, but it was very soft. She didn’t want to smear salt over her friend’s wound.
Atrina shook her head at Lilith. She knew this girl who she could call a friend was very naive in certain aspects; otherwise, she wouldn’t have become the disciple of Love Temple’s archpriest. However, her position had determined that Atrina could not tell her the truth behind the incident.
Even if Atrina did, no one would believe her, right?
Atrina glanced over the people around her, their gazes were full of respect, not from herself but because of that man.
“The monsters have been beaten back!”
“The monsters have been beaten back!”
The cheers suddenly swept away the dense atmosphere surrounding the convoy.
Atrina and Lilith both heaved sighs of relief, but Atrina’s expression quickly turned heavy.
She saw a lot of wounded knights, even more than she expected. What was worse was the number of casualties in the fight, a lot of the knights gave their lives to protect the convoy.
Without further ado, Atrina took the medical box that she prepared earlier and ran towards the injured knights.
Having that man’s gift didn’t guarantee her a smooth ride in life. Atrina still had to work hard for something.
Lilith, on the other hand, was more straightforward, all she hoped for was less death in the convoy.
The rest of the convoy started to help with the aftermath of the battle, while the discussion in the large wagon carried on.
“The enemies are strong. Only the knights can harm them,” said the archpriest of War Temple.
His words were intended for Thorn Temple and Hunter Temple’s archpriests.
The topic seemed a little off, but the hidden meaning between the lines was saying: splitting up in front of a powerful enemy wasn’t a good idea.
“The divine message shall not be disobeyed,” said the archpriest of Hunter Temple in a heavy tone.
“Fate grinds us harshly like brambles over our body, but we need to prevail and cut the thorns to form a new path! I believe Lady Vanessa and her judgment!” Einderson also genuinely believed in his God.
Their beliefs were rooted deep in their souls, so the choices made were almost inevitable!
“Well, I wish everyone a safe journey.”
The archpriest of Harvest Temple stood up and greeted everyone else.
The group exchanged gazes before parting ways, as friends and a blessing to each other.
Deep down in their hearts, they knew, after this parting, there was only a slim chance for them to ever meet again in the future.
Einderson sighed and walked down the wagon.
The new elderly archpriest of Thorn Temple adjusted his emotions and gathered everyone affiliated with Thorn Temple.
“We shall head north. Tell the believers of Lady Vanessa that they will once again be tested by fate,” said Einderson.
“The others aren’t going with us?” Atrina asked in shock.
“Other than Love Temple and Melody Temple, the others… will have their own ways to go. It isn’t something that we can stop, just like how they didn’t stop us—if you want to say your goodbyes, please hurry everyone, we are running out of time,” Einderson added.
Looking at the heavy-hearted crowd dispersing, the elderly priest couldn’t help but sigh again.
He was deeply regretting his decision. Had he been stern and stayed behind in the city, allowing Ryan to lead this group, their believers might be in a better condition.
At least the morale wouldn’t be this low, and would not have to worry about being chased by monsters.
Ryan’s strength was enough to frighten the monsters away.
He was less than an ordinary knight at the moment. Without Lady Vanessa’s support, what could he do? The messy thoughts in his mind caused the old priest’s heart to sink further, and he couldn’t even show his distress.
When the entire convoy split into three groups, Einderson sighed once again when he looked at his group, which was the smallest of them all.
“North! We will head all the way north! Let us move right away!”
There weren’t any encouraging words because those who joined this particular group had no need for encouragement.
Although the numbers were fewer than expected, Einderson had lost heart to hold those who changed their beliefs responsible anymore. What he had to do was be accountable to the people who followed behind him.
After getting on the wagon, Einderson took out a cowhide map and opened it up. The map was given to him by Lady Thorn before he left Naveya. The map stated where the hidden temple was in the north and also listed the possible dangers the group might face on the way there.
“Arya Outpost, Yort Fields, Smochker Hills, Weiss Valley, Rinya Mountains.”
As Einderson’s finger moved along the labeled locations, he read out the locations that Lady Thorn listed out and wanted them to be careful of.
Then, Einderson called for Atrina.
“Yes, Lord Archpriest?” Atrina then boarded the wagon.
“How many men do we have left that can participate in a battle?” Einderson asked.
“Including those who followed us from the start, after the battle back there, not more than 300 men. I didn’t include those from Love and Melody, though,” Atrina answered.
Following the well-known deeds of Hero Ryan, Atrina, who already had a certain position in Thorn Temple, was promoted even higher in the current convoy.
In simple words, other than Archpriest Einderson, Atrina had already become the second in command of Thorn Temple.
Einderson showed exceptional trust in Hero Ryan’s lover as well.
Therefore, without hiding, Einderson showed Atrina the cowhide map.
“What is this?”
Atrina was jolted for a moment before she reacted to the map. Her face was surprised, and when she finished looking at the map, her face turned heavy.
“Arya Outpost, the location closest to us can be our temporary base for us to regroup and readjust.”
“But after Yort Fields…”
Atrina then looked at Einderson, hoping for some guidance.
The road beyond Arya Outpost and towards Yort Fields were officially out of Naveya City’s territory. Compared to Naveya City’s ‘completeness’, Yort Fields had more than a dozen lords commanding different regions; the lands there were flat and long, a common merchant convoy would have to spend around four weeks to cross without any accidents and given the speed of their convoy, they would have to spend at least five to six weeks.
The long traveling period would be enough for the monsters on their tail to eat their entire convoy.
And if they wanted to buy time for the convoy to move north, they would have to set up a defense line in Arya Outpost, blocking the path of the monsters.
More precisely, they would have to sacrifice themselves to feed the monsters, stalling them, filling their stomach so that the majority of the convoy had enough time to move.
In other words, abandoned pawns.
It was almost inevitable and obvious, though, because with more and more monsters gathering on their tail, losing Arya Outpost was a matter of time.
Once the defense line was broken, Atrina and Einderson knew what would happen.
So, who would be the abandon pawn?
“Atrina, any suggestions?” Einderson asked.
With a considerable age, Einderson was blessed with many life experiences, but no matter how experienced he was, he was helpless against the situation at hand.
Who stayed behind, who would die.
It was hard for Einderson to choose since the butcher’s knife was in his hand.
So he hoped for more suggestions, but what followed shocked the archpriest.
“I’ll stay!” Atrina said with determination.
“Atrina, don’t misunderstand my meaning. I ask for you to discuss this, not…”
“I know! But other than me, is there someone else more suitable for the job? Staying back at Arya Outpost proves to a narrow escape from death. Without a person with a suitable identity, it will not be convincing enough, even with Lady Vanessa’s blessing, it won’t change anything.”
“So I am the most suitable candidate in this convoy other than you, my lord. You have to lead them to the north, which leaves me as the most suitable person.”
Atrina interrupted Einderson and said seriously.
Einderson went quiet as he looked at Atrina. In the end, the old priest sighed again.
“Is this because of… Ryan?” Einderson asked softly.
Atrina was shaken; she didn’t say anything, but the sorrow on her face was evident.
“Ryan and you… I’ll respect your decision.” Einderson tried to comfort Atrina, but when the words escaped his mouth, he realized he couldn’t say it.
Anything else seems without meaning in front of life and death.
Just like after Archpriest Sirontu and Officiant Barrion died in battle, Ryan and he inherited the position of archpriest and officiant, respectively. Then, Ryan chose to stay behind. Thus the archpriest position was passed to the officiant, meaning Einderson had two roles to play.
But… the burden seemed a little heavy, to the point that it suffocated him.
Whenever he thought about the pair of lovers, Ryan and Atrina dying, he felt his head sank in pain.
Atrina left the wagon, leaving Einderson kneeling down on one knee in the empty carriage. He was praying for the pair of lovers.
“The path of bramble is your test.”
“The pain on your body will bring forth a sublime soul.”
“When you arrive, everything will turn into blessings of fate.”
“May the Bird of Thorn sing endlessly.”
The Bird of Thorn only sings once in its life, during its death.
From the moment the bird left its nest, it had been searching for the Thorn Tree persistently.
And when it finally had its wish granted, it plunged its petite body onto the longest, sharpest thorn. It sang with blood and tears—the alluring and pure melody made every other sound in the mortal realm sounded dull and bland.
Once the song ended, the Bird of Thorn would die. It gave its body to the song.
Einderson hoped that the ending may change, at least…
At least the bird wouldn’t be that lonely.
Einderson then started to write something after picking up a quill pen, a thought came to his mind.
Meanwhile, outside the wagon, Atrina’s eyes showed hesitancy.
Staying back and covering the convoy’s retreat was something that she would never do. What she really wanted to do was use the convoy as bait to create a chance for her to escape.
I am not wrong!
She told herself, but the guilt beat against her conscience.
As the convoy got closer to Arya Outpost, her guilt grew stronger.
And when the convoy finally entered the outpost to rest and readjust, the people of the convoy looked at her with gazes of respect; the guilt almost drowned her alive at the moment.
“Sister Arin… Thank you. I finally knew why Ryan chose you,” Lilith told Atrina.
Before dawn and the moment before the convoy depart for Yort Fields after resting for half a night, Lilith found Atrina.
Lilith gave the protection charm she knitted all night to Atrina and gave her the sincerest blessing.
Atrina, who received the tri-colored protection charm, really wanted to say something out of instinct, but she swallowed it back into her gut before the sentence even formed.
I live for myself only, sorry.
With apologies in her heart, Atrina saw the convoy off, and when the convoy almost went out of sight, Atrina turned around to the direction of Naveya CIty.
She was like saying goodbye to her past, to her old self, but…
At the next moment…she widened her eyes!
A black line appeared on the horizon! A black line consisting of numerous monsters!
Like a raging wave in the sea, the monsters were charging towards Arya Outpost, where Atrina was.