After a few days, when yet another bunch of cities and towns had been attacked by the Black Nightmare Army, panic and fear was already surfacing within the Church.
"Where on earth are they hiding?"
The bishop stood in the quiet room of St. Peter's Cathedral. His face was worn out, with eyes sunken deeper than before. The disappearance of the Black Nightmare Army had always caused them enough grief, and during this period of time, they had searched every location they could think of, but to no avail. Instead, right under their eyes, various places in the kingdom were being attacked. It was basically as though the enemy was laughing at their helplessness.
At this, he was unable to even muster up the feeling of anger; there was only dumbfoundedness in him.
How could it be?
They had carefully studied those few cities that the Black Nightmare Army had attacked, trying to find out a pattern from there, but… The more they researched, the more scared they felt. From the eastern regions of the kingdom, to the center of the land, the Black Nightmare Army had appeared continuously, at high frequency; and as for the distances of a few hundred miles in between, it seemed as though they only needed a few hours to cross them easily.
This was impossible… At least, according to his understanding, this was not something that a human army could achieve. Adding in the fact of how elusive the Black Nightmare Army was, the bishop even felt that they might be facing an army of spirits.
"We've searched every place. There is no sign of them having set up camp, and even the tracks of their moving army are very scarce," a Holy Knight knelt on the ground to report, "Unless they are hiding underground. Otherwise, no one would be able to do this."
"Underground? Which underground would be able to hide an army?"
"...I don't know."
The bishop could not help but close his eyes and massage his head. He felt that this was probably the only possibility left, but if the Black Nightmare Army was truly hidden underground, then it would be even more difficult to find them.
The immense amount of manpower and tools that they would need to start an excavation was not something they could easily afford at the moment. More importantly, if their direction was wrong, all of their efforts would go to waste.
"Honorable bishop, we… What do we do now?"
Seeing how quiet the bishop was for a while, the Holy Knight hesitated, before opening his mouth to ask the question.
"Of course we have to drag that bunch of rebels out! You're already extremely lucky to still be alive. If this gets delayed further, who is going to handle His Highness the Pope?" the Bishop answered without thinking.
"Then how do we find them?"
The bishop took a deep breath. He lowered his head, and was silent for a long time before he looked up again, suddenly speaking in a low voice, "Then… there is only this solution left."
The Holy Knight was slightly startled. Then, putting on a solemn expression, he gave a deep nod, and turned to leave.
A few days later.
Under Pearl Lake, in the command tent of the Black Nightmare Army, Benjamin read the battle reports of the past few days with a perplexed look on his face. He suddenly turned to look at Morris, who was beside him.
"Don't you feel that the circumstances of the battles we've fought these few days are rather strange?"
Hearing that, Morris took the battle reports and browsed through them for a short while, asking, "Do you feel it's been too smooth?"
"It's not about whether it's been smooth or not, it's just, it shouldn't be that the Church isn't reacting at all," Benjamin frowned as he spoke, "Even though we're doing our best to mess up the order of our attacks, but it has been so many days that it's impossible for the Church to still be unable to figure out a bit of the pattern. But from the reports I've just read, they've prepared absolutely nothing."
The battle reports stated that the three target cities they had attacked yesterday had so few soldiers guarding the city that it was pathetic, and there had been less than ten priests in the church. This was definitely strange, given the stressful situation now.
It was not a big problem, and Benjamin felt that he might be overthinking the matter, but… there might really be a trick.
"If it's the Church I knew back then, there would surely be a scheme hidden in the dark," Morris said after thinking for a while, "however… so many years have passed. To be honest, I don't even know what has become of the Church now."
Benjamin massaged his temples, mulling the matter for a moment, before saying, "How about this, I'll make extra preparations. Bring some people and create another secret escape tunnel, just in case."
"I'm merely in charge of tool production, I'm not responsible for this."
"Just take some people and get it done, it's not like you have to do it yourself, you just need to direct them."
Morris held his head helplessly, speechless for quite a few moments, before he said, "Whatever, then… I've come over this time to report about our progress on cracking St. Peter's Cathedral."
Hearing that, Benjamin's eyes lit up. "You've solved it?"
"The architectural design of the cathedral is complex and intricate, so I've not been able to crack it completely. However, if one day, we are able to invade Havenwright, bring this with you. Along with that key of yours, you can cause it to be temporarily ineffective, for half an hour."
Saying thus, he slowly took out a black cross from his pocket, and handed it to Benjamin.
Benjamin received it, and looked at it curiously for a while. This cross seemed to be completely made out of metal, with strange patterns carved into the back. Because of its pitch black color, the aura that it gave off was completely different from that of the Church's crosses.
Holding it in his hand, it felt gloomy, as though large amounts of dark elements have been condensed inside.
"I only need to use it, and I can cause the barrier protecting the city of Havenwright to be ineffective, and even resist the force field in the cathedral that strengthens divine arts?" Benjamin asked.
Morris nodded, saying, "Its usage is to completely negate the powers of St. Peter's Cathedral, so of course it can. However, this thing can only be used once, and if you wish to activate it, you have to use the key that enabled passage into the Realm of God through the interior of the cathedral. Because of that, I suggest you only use it at the most critical moment."
Benjamin smiled, and carefully put the cross away.
He could still remember, as though the memory was fresh, encountering the force field inside St. Peter's Cathedral during the time he had slipped in. Under the fortification of the force field, the dozen over bishops had been able to snare him; if Grant had been there as well, he would have been a goner. It was only by solving this problem that it was possible for them to completely destroy the Church.
He would utilize this half an hour well.
In actual fact, the Black Nightmare Army, having progressed thus far, had become strong and stronger in battle, with an abundance of rations and complete sets of armaments. After calculating the number of royal soldiers and priests they had killed, Benjamin was slowly beginning to feel that the power of the Church had weakened a lot. They could now confront the Church face to face!
If they could find the right opportunity, they would be able to attack a city, set up their headquarters and officially begin to revolt.
This was just in time, too. They were beginning to tire of the underground.
Thus, after Morris had left, Benjamin began to plan, in his heart, the movement of the Black Nightmare Army from the underground to the surface. They needed an incident, a name, to announce to the entire Kingdom of Helius in a powerful manner that they were going to use force to drag the Church down from its altar.
As for what incident…
Benjamin gave it some thought, and suddenly stood up to leave the tent. He arrived once more at the warehouse district of the camp.
In the deepest area of a remote warehouse, he found a large, metal box, and opened it. Inside the pitch black box was an ice coffin, and lying within that ice coffin was the completely preserved body of the King.
Although it had been quite a while since he was killed by Grant, and Benjamin had also organized a private funeral for him, but he had still kept the body and brought it with him, until this day.
It was time for it to be of use.
"So disgusting to want even a corpse. When did you start indulging in such heavy tastes?" The System suddenly emerged, speaking in a weird and disdainful manner.
"...You're the one with a brain full of depravity," Benjamin shook his head, saying, "I've kept the body because the time has not yet come for him to be buried."
"And a true King needs a proper and grand funeral, one that everyone in the Kingdom will know about."