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«Under the Oak Tree (Web Novel) - Chapter 406

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Chapter 406

This chapter is updated by Novels.pl

Maxi willed herself to remain standing despite her trembling legs. Up in the tribune gallery, she could see the monsters fleeing after their failed attack.

“W-We must go after-“

Her exclamation was cut off by a violent coughing fit. Acrid smoke burned her throat as flames engulfed the wooden pillars, pews, and altar. Though the blaze did not spread to the other parts of the stone edifice, the air within the sweltering nave was filled with ash. Maxi covered her face with her sleeve and frantically blinked her bloodshot eyes.

In that short time, the monsters were already at the stairs leading out of the shrine. A panicked urgency gripped Maxi. If they allowed the monsters to get away, Riftan’s battle with the cavalry of dullahans would not end. Even as she stood here, she knew her husband was engaged in a violent fray outside the city.

She needed the Temple Knight to pursue the monsters without having to worry about her. The moment she turned her head to tell Kuahel this, she saw a dark line shoot past her with a metallic zing. Before she could identify what it was, the man pressing her shoulder down stepped forward and yanked his other arm back. With a sharp shriek, a lizardman dropped from the gallery.

Maxi hastily covered her mouth and nose to avoid inhaling the dense cloud of ash. Though her vision was blurred with tears, she saw Kuahel spinning the hook attached to his steel chain.

A heartbeat later, the hook, propelled like a boomerang, pierced another monster standing on the second-floor balustrade. Kuahel forcefully yanked the steel chain, and the monster was helplessly pulled along like a fish caught on a hook, its scaly head severed from its large, agile body.

All of this happened in the blink of an eye. Having finished off two lizardmen without breaking a sweat, Kuahel turned his gaze to Maxi and asked, “Are you all right?”

After mechanically bobbing her head, Maxi forced her rigid body into action and made her way over to his side. As the dust settled, it revealed a limp corpse next to the altar, covered in ash. The lizardman’s black, scaly head had rolled down the steps of the dais while the second lifeless carcass was sprawled on the choir stalls. The hook had pierced the monster’s heart, giving it a quick death.

While Maxi vacantly took in the scene, the Temple Knight wiped the blood on his blade and said impassively, “Are there any more?”

Maxi snapped to attention and hastily began the tracing spell. Dark energy glowed in the air. Realizing that the necromancy spell was still in place, she shook her head with a hardened expression.

“Th-These weren’t the necromancers. There should be more of them hiding somewhere in the city.”

Kuahel gave her a long look before asking, “Do you think you can locate them?”

She hesitated before nodding determinedly. Though she was low on mana, she was still capable of scouring the vicinity.

Desperately hoping that the necromance was nearby, Maxi carefully began the search. Fortunately, she quickly located the origin of the dark magic. Straightening, she pointed to the corridor at the end of the aisle.

“I-It’s that way.”

The Temple Knight did not waste any time. As Maxi scampered after him, she heightened her senses to keep track of the flow of dark magic. The barely perceptible mana thread gradually became clearer as they passed through the ruined back garden. As if sensing the ominous energy as well, the clergyman placed his hand on his sword.

“How much mana do you have left?” he asked warily…

“I-I won’t be able to summon a shield as strong as the last one, but…I am still capable of casting basic defensive spells.”

Kuahel looked at her over his shoulder before turning his gaze back to the front. “From here on, you are to stay behind me no matter what.”

With that, he strode into the dark temple. Maxi stuck close to him and readied herself to cast a barrier. Before long, a circular altar surrounded by six pillars appeared at the end of the corridor. Maxi froze in place when she saw the small doll standing before the altar. Bending over it was a mysterious, robed figure. It slowly raised its head. revealing a pale face covered with silver scales beneath its hood.

Maxi tensed as soon as she saw it. The monster looked almost human with its small frame, round face, narrow chin, slender nose, and small ears. She was processing its strange appearance when it opened its mouth to let out a strange sound.

“You are too late.”

It took a few seconds for her to realize that the monster had spoken in the official language of the Seven Kingdoms.

It regarded them with its red, mineral-like yes, then repeated, “You are too late. Our King will be awakened soon.”

It spoke with the awkwardness of a parrot mimicking human speech for the first time. Maxi felt her blood run cold. The monster slowly turned away from them as if it had been waiting here just to convey those words.

Kuahel hurled his hook at it, but the hurtling weapon bounded off an invisible barrier. The monster’s red gaze looked almost bemused for a moment before it shambled toward the exit.

Maxi could tell that Kuahel was furious. Gritting his teeth, he ran after the monster and brandished his sword. The monster swerved, but this time, it was not quick enough to evade the attack.

Dark blood began to gush from its arm. Gripping its dangling limb, the monster extended a silver hand. The air around them egan to thicken with red fog.

Sensing the ominous flow of magic, Maxi hastily grabbed the clergyman’s habit and pulled him back with all the force she could muster.

“I-It is a spell that causes decay. You mustn’t get close to the fog!”

Kuahel had been like a rabid hound ready to pounce, but Maxi’s warning made him stop in his tracks. The hem of his habit that had brushed the fog turned black as it eroded.

Maxi stuck close to Kuahel’s side and summoned a wind, but it did little to blow away the toxic fog. In fact, it continued to drift toward them. She would run out of mana at this rate. As she frantically glanced around, Kuahel suddenly pulled her back.

“We can climb up there.”

He pointed to a network of scaffolding set up for repairs. After urging her toward it, Kuahel grabbed Maxi by the waist and hoisted her up.

She promptly latched onto the wooden planks, but hauling herself above it was more difficult than she anticipated. Her legs flailed in the air while ehr top half draped over the planks. Kuahel placed her feet on his shoulders and pushed up.

Maxi finally managed to stagger upright. She bent down to help the knight, but Kuahel nimbly leaped up without assistance.

“We should be able to get out through there,” he said, pointing to a construction ladder propped against the wall.

Maxi looked up the length of the ladder, her eyes shining with fear. It stretched all the way to a window near the ceiling. Even if they could somehow clamber through, how on earth would they get down?

“We must hurry.”

The red fog had risen to just below their feet in the time she had been hesitating. As soon as she saw the creeping tendrils, she began climbing. Her arms and legs were shaking, but she knew that the fog would burn Kuahel if she paused for even a second.

Trying not to look down, she quickly climbed to the top of the sloppily-built scaffolding and swung her legs through the arched window, When she looked out, a fierce wind battered her face like a whip.

She glanced around as she brushed away the snow that bombarded her hair and eyes. The sky was already ink-black, and the snowstorm raging outside had only intensified.

Coming up behind her, Kuahel swung one leg over the window sill and pointed to a spot below them. “Do you think you can lower yourself down there?”

Maxi’s eyes grew wide as she looked down. She had not realized that the aisle roof was about seven kevettes (approx 210 centimeters) below them.

It was not a dangerous height, but a slip of the foot could easily send her rolling down the roof. After gazing down in terror, Maxi steeled herself.

“Y-Yes,” she said, nodding.

“I will help you descend, so try to lower your feet first.”

Gripping the window still with both hands, Maxi slid to the edge. Grasping the clergyman’s hand, she squeezed her eyes shut and slowly lowered herself. It felt like an eternity before her feet touched the roof.

She dropped to her knees and latched onto the protruding tiles with both hands. The fear of falling set her heart racing, and her back broke out in a cold sweat. Meanwhile, Kuahel jumped down like a man incapable of fear and heartlessly pulled her to her feet.

“Can you track down that monster?”

Maxi mustered what little mana she had left before shaking her head. “I-I think it has gone beyond the reach of my tracing spell.”

Kuahel furrowed his brow. He seemed furious with himself for letting the monster get away.

Maxi felt dejected as well. Since they had infiltrated the city to eliminate the necromancer, their failure to capture it meant their efforts had been for naught. She gazed despondently at the ramparts battered by the snowstorm.

“W-What should we do now?”

“First, we should lower the drawbridge and destroy the gate. After that, we must get out-“

Kuahel, surveying their surroundings with a hardened expression, suddenly went silent. When Maxi followed his gaze in puzzlement, she saw an expansive shadow advancing over the snow-obscured hill.

Could it be another legion of monsters? She watched the shadow in terror. Her eyes grew wide when she made out the hazy outline of a red banner billowing in the snow flurries, and her legs nearly gave out in relief. The army that had gone northwest had finally arrived.

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