"Then how did you do it?”
"Huhu, I have my methods. In fact, this pilgrimage was decided without any advance notice."
Lancelot and Leisha tilted their heads. If she didn't want to have a knights division with her, couldn’t she have just not gone on a pilgrimage? When Lancelot, the man known for his common sense, as well as Leisha, tilted their heads, Hillis realized that her explanation was lacking.
"Oh, in our temple, high-ranking priests with some status must go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land at least once in their lives. Usually, people go before they become high-ranking priests or grow too old, but I was too young to go.”
No matter how much education Lancelot received at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he wouldn’t know all these trivial rules.
Hillis continued to brag about her story, "So then I thought. How can I get rid of these annoying knights?"
In fact, the more personnel that came with her, the more comfortable the pilgrimage would have been. However, Hillis's personality was so free-spirited that if there were many servants around her, she would have felt uncomfortable.
Hillis's personality was thought of by others to be that of a living saint, except for her few close aides. That's why she had to be careful of her words and actions. Technically, Hillis was indeed a living saint, but her personality was far from what people thought of a living saint.
"After much consideration, it seemed the best way was to announce that I was going on a pilgrimage, convene the knights division, then run away before creating the itinerary."
It sounded easy, but in reality, it was only successful after winning a heated discussion against the pope and other elderly high-ranking priests.
As she continued to chat about her story, Hillis opened the window in the wagon and spoke, "Now soon, the Holy Land Zaha-"
The sudden sound of an explosion buried Hillis's words. Just as the blast occurred, the carriage stopped abruptly. This caused its occupants to fall to the front of the carriage due to inertia.
Hillis came to her senses quickly and urgently asked through the window, "What happened?"
"It's an attack! Miss Saintess, please don't come out!”
Hearing the paladin from outside, Leisha and Lancelot wielded their weapons and went out of the carriage.
"Danger!" Thinking that it was too dangerous, Hillis tried to stop them but recalled that they were Crows.
She forgot this fact because they looked so different from what she had imagined.
Unable to do anything else, Hillis knelt down in the middle of the carriage and prayed. "My one and only Lord Mother, please give your children a merciful hand and heal your children’s wounds-"
With a series of prayers, Hillis’s body lit up and blessed the paladins outside the carriage. As various blessings and healing spells constantly encircled the bodies of the paladins, they drew their swords and shouted.
"Our God is with us!"
It was the birth of a true cockroach.
* * *
Attacked just shortly before reaching the Holy Land, Zaharam, the paladins halted and looked around. The ambush party seemed to be a battalion-level force containing many magicians. The paladins clenched their teeth when they saw the ambushing magicians on top of the sandhill, focusing on their clothes in particular.
"Curse those black magicians!"
For generations, black magicians were despised as enemies of most religions.
According to religious passages such as the Holy Scripture, black magicians were descendants of those who sinned and drove out God from the world. For power, they betrayed God, the one responsible for creating the world and who lived alongside them.
Of course, it was not possible to know if this was true or not based on old passages, but putting that aside, they were a group who performed human sacrifices and created undead. For this mockery of life, black magicians were treated as public enemies of the world.
The paladins raised their mana and stared at the enemies with their blood boiling. Sensing this change, Mac felt a sense of excitement. He shuddered at the paladin’s power, which was at a completely different level from last night. Suppressing his pure desire to fight the paladins, he deflected the magic flying towards him.
The paladins’ fighting power differed markedly depending on whether or not they had a priest's support. Given that Vibrio and her men were able to stall Bloody and William when supported by Fernando and considering that Hillis had greater holy power than the pope, these paladins could be regarded as comparable to members of a battle race.
As the leader of the paladins started chanting, the other paladins responded with a chant.
"Strong! Invincible! Strongest!"
The leader of the paladins gave an order. "1st, 2nd, and 3rd squad stay here. The rest are charging with me!"
Nine of the thirteen paladins remained, and the other four charged on their camels towards the group of people shooting magic from the sandhill. Normally, a force of only four people could have been ignored, but since Hillis's support was concentrated on those four, they had to be treated as a powerful force.
Mac drove the camel he was riding and charged with the paladins, as he said, "I'm coming, too! Lancelot, I leave Miss in your care!"
Lancelot drew his sword. He made for a very delicate figure with his weapon, not at all appearing dependable. However, Lancelot spent his childhood with Den and was more than caught up in Doomstone's education. After being forced to endure Doomstone’s education to play with Den, Lancelot was at least as strong as a normal Crow.
Hundreds of troops and only five people clashed against each other. Despite dealing with an embarrassingly small number of enemies, the black magicians did not ignore the paladins. With every stroke of the sword, two or three of their men fell with a spurt of blood, making it impossible to ignore the paladins.
"Everyone take a power potion!" At the army commander’s cry, the soldiers took a potion in unison. Afterward, black mana started to slowly flow out from the soldiers' bodies.
The potion they drank was a kind of mana bursting potion, and once the duration of effect was over, they would be wracked with severe pain for a week. The pain was so intense that it could lead to soldiers committing suicide, unable to endure the pain. Even so, if they did not use it, they would have to worry about the soldiers being murdered.
Despite reinforcing the soldiers with the potion, the commander kept them from approaching the paladins and had them stab from a distance. The potion’s effect lasted three days anyway.
"Archers!" Upon this call, soldiers carrying bows loaded their arrows on the desert hill.
"Shoot!" At the commander's order, the flag bearer issued a red flag, and the arrows flew in unison toward the carriage where Hillis was located.
The paladins clenched their teeth as they saw the scene. For now, they just had to trust the paladins guarding Hillis and quickly break past the blockade to take care of the archers and black magicians.
Meanwhile, the paladins defending Hillis smiled and laughed at the flying arrows. It was a smile that only those who were prepared to die could make. They were determined to protect Hillis, even if they were to be burned alive.
"Squad 1! Get on top of the carriage! Squads 2 and 3 to the front!"
Squad 1’s paladins climbed onto the carriage and lifted their shields. Even if they became a hedgehog with arrows here, they wouldn't die unless Hillis’s support was cut off. They closed their eyes in the face of the rain of arrows and prepared themselves by raising their mana.
At that moment, a cry came from under the carriage. "Defense! Defense! Defense!"
Leisha lifted the magic wand she bought in Warrant and unfolded a triple shield that encircled the carriage and the paladins. The arrows bounced off the shield.
"Oh! Miss Crow!" The paladins exclaimed in joy.
Yet, in spite of their exclamation of joy, the indiscriminate baptism of arrows caused a crack in the shield. The magic was released without any proper preparation or chant, so it was unstable and wavered. Leisha knew this would occur, so she created three layers of shields.
Following one baptism of arrows, another came without delay, and a sharp sound was heard as the first shield broke.
Leisha took out a magic reagent and a seed from her pocket space and threw them, chanting, "The breath of life is benevolent! Grow!"
The seed that Leisha threw began to bud with Leisha’s chant. The bottle of magic reagent thrown out of the shield was broken by an arrow, soaking the sprout and causing it to grow rapidly suddenly. In an instant, the sprout turned into a tree in the air and was shot with arrows. Despite this obstruction, it continued to grow and fell to the ground heavily.
"It is the source of life, so shower it!"
Leisha's magic wand attracted all the water from the water veins in the vicinity. The large pool of water was slightly red as if it had also pulled in the blood of the black magicians and soldiers fighting a fierce battle ahead of the carriage.
With Leisha’s beckoning, the pool of water was shot at the tree currently spreading its roots in the desert. Pure water was best if possible, but considering the tree’s environment, the water mixed with impurities was also acceptable.
The water dried up rapidly as it soaked into the ground. The tree that Leisha created quickly absorbed it and expanded its body. In an instant, the huge tree grew big enough to replace Leisha's shield and became battered with arrows.
Seeing the tree that had grown large enough to hide the arrows from sight, the paladins cheered.
The paladins chanted, calling her “girl” like Mac.
"Don't call me Miss!" Wanting just to be called by her name like normal, she frowned and shouted, but the paladins did not listen at all.
Assuming that they called her this because of Mac, Leisha vowed to kick his shin when he got back.
As if sensing Leisha’s vow, Mac sneezed while he was working hard at the front lines.
"Got a cold, Brother Crow?" Asked the leader of the paladins, having just killed two soldiers in a single blow.
"No, I think some sand just went into my nose,” Mac answered leisurely before instantly slicing the necks of three soldiers.
"That's good. Even dogs don't catch a summer cold,” the paladins’ leader said.
"Hahaha, gosh. If I got a cold, I would be lower than a dog, Sir Paladin."
They joked and rotated as they killed the enemy.
“I’m Albatoss, Brother Crow.”
“Call me Mac, Sir Paladin."Previous Chapter Next Chapter