When Nightingale finished, the room returned to silence, only with the occasional crackle of candle flame.
Roland had a serious look on his face, for he finally understood what the witches were.
Most of the witches' awakenings occurred during the Months of Demons, and it was on that day that the Gates of Hell were opened. Generally, the time when witches reached adulthood was a dividing line. If a girl had not yet awakened by her 18th birthday, then it was unlikely she would become a witch. However, the one who awoke before her 18th birthday would suffer the Demonic Torture on her awakening day every year thenceforth.
It seemed that the pain was hard to understand by normal people. As Nightingale spoke about this part, her voice trembled. According to her personal experience, it was like something was trying to escape from you. Each blood vessel and tendon was in distending pain. In the end, blood would seep through your skin and eyeballs would protrude out...
If you could survive, the body would slowly recover after four or five days of rest, or you would die in this torture miserably.
Nightingale had witnessed the deaths of many companions. Their body lost the energy to support the power and turned into a mass of bulging meatball. Blood mixed with viscera burst out of the body's holes, and then the air turned into black mist. Spray after spray would continue until nothing was left but sections of scarred flesh.
It was why witches were regarded as the embodiment of demons.
Ordinary people were terrified when seeing it, and who would care what caused the death? Plus the church added fuel to the fire, claiming that this was what would happen to demons. Over time, the witches became the spokespeople of evil.
No matter how outsiders saw it, this torture was real, and it was for this reason that the lives of witches were generally short. As time went on, it got more and more difficult, and as such, many of the witches chose to end their own life.
The demonic torture when a witch hit adulthood at the age of 18 was the most difficult hurdle to pass. In fact, prior to this point, the magic within them was incomplete, it was only after reaching adulthood that their power was stabilized. After the magic had stabilized, it would also see an increase, and new branches of the abilities could even be created.
Unfortunately, the process of stabilization was extremely painful. The torture of the magical power was so strong that the ordinary adult could not take it, and many witches would die on that day.
Hearing that, Roland was silent for a long time before he whispered, "According to the ancient books, the witches have to find Holy Mountain where they will receive eternal peace and save them from demonic torture. Is that true?"
"No one knows. Holy Mountain only appeared in the legend. However, if we bring them to the Witches Cooperation Association camp, they'll have a better chance to survive. Over there, they would not have to hide themselves and could live freely. The physical suffering will be much less than that of the past."
Roland was vexed because Anna and Nana played an important role in his plan, but he could not bear that they would take tremendous risk for the sake of his plan. "Anna is downstairs. I'll call her over, and if she is willing to go, you can take her with you. As for Nana, I won't see her until tomorrow," he said in a weak voice.
"Thank you for your understanding, it seems I didn't misjudge you," Nightingale said as she stood up to give her regards.
At this time, Anna had not yet slept, and when Roland called her, she was copying something at a desk. Seeing Roland she looked surprised. When she was asked to go to his chamber, she followed him without saying a word.
When she found there was another person in his room, the girl was shocked. Roland took her hand and introduced them briefly, and then the three sat down around a roundtable. Nightingale repeated what she had said before. "In the camp, there are many people like you, and they'll be your sisters."
"This seems to be the case, Miss Anna. Although I signed a contract of employment with you, in the event of life-threatening circumstances, I must respect your opinion. If you agree..."
"I'm not going."
Roland was stunned. "What did you say?"
"I said I'm not going." Anna quickly interrupted. "I want to stay here."
"Anna, I'm not lying to you." Nightingale frowned. "I can feel the soaring magic power in your body is close to maturity. Your day of adulthood will come two months into the Months of Demons. The earlier you come to the camp, the safer you'll be. "
She paid no attention to Nightingale, but turned her head and looked at Roland.
"Your Highness, do you remember when you asked me if I'd like to go back to Karl's College with Nana and learn with the other children?"
"At that time I did not respond. But what you said after... I don't care whether to live like a normal person." Anna's voice was smooth and natural. "I just want to stay with His Royal Highness, nothing more."
Roland had thought he had understood Anna's mind, but now he realized that he did not understand it at all.
He could not see any emotions in her eyes. It was neither dependency nor love. There was nothing to see... only deep, bottomless tranquility.
He remembered the first time they met. Back then her eyes also looked as calm as they were now.
The difference was that at this moment her face was full of life, like a blooming flower. Still, she did not fear death, nor did she await it.
"The demonic torture won't kill me," said Anna, "and I'll beat it."
Nightingale closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Alright, I understand."
"So then, will you leave us alone?" asked Roland.
"No, I'll stay here," she said, pulling on her hood and standing up. "Regardless, the camp won't move until the end of the Months of Demons."
"Why?" Roland was shocked. Did she actually plan to watch them throughout the whole winter?
"I don't think that the chicks who haven't yet seen adulthood will understand its danger. I've hung over the edge of death and witnessed the loss of my companions. When that day comes, I'll help her. If..." Nightingale shrugged. "If she should not survive, I have experience in dealing with the funeral."
She went to the door, unsheathed her dagger, and kneeled once again in front of Roland. "Then I shall take my leave," she said, and her body gradually disappeared into the dark. The mist did not even leave the slightest trace.
"Is this Nightingale's ability?" Roland pondered. "Her silent voice simply makes her a natural assassin. And from how she threw that dagger, she had obviously had the relevant training. Apart from being a group of the same type of people, did the Witch Cooperation Association also assist her with the training? Or was it that she had possessed the skills from her life prior to joining them?"
The information available about the group was simply too little, and Roland could find nothing useful in his memories. However, Roland had a feeling that he would meet yet again with the group, as long as he continued searching for witches.
"It's late. Go back to bed," Roland said as he patted the girl's head.
To his surprise, Anna pushed away his hand, and left without saying a word.
As she shut the door, the lights were cut off behind her and she was left wrapped in shadow. She gently leaned against the door, and the calmness left her as her eyes filled with tears.
She raised her head with her arms in front of her face, and whispered with a voice that no one could hear.
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