Fueled and pushed by various people all over the place, the news of the King's funeral quickly spread throughout the entire kingdom.
Citizens everywhere were stunned. They had never thought that the body of the King had really been preserved in the hands of the Black Nightmare Army. Whatever it was, the cause of the King's death had been a topic of discussion amongst the people for too long, and they could finally get a proper explanation and answer after a few days. Because of that, many people ignored the ban issued by the Church completely, and set off towards Worchester in a hurry.
After their attack on Worchester had failed, the Church had issued an order that those who had any communications with the Black Nightmare Army would be regarded as traitors to the country.
However, the reality was that there were not many people left who took this ban seriously. The royal army had suffered heavy losses, so the Church had not even been able to send troops to seal off the traffic in the region surrounding Worchester. Every road was clear and without obstruction, so those who wanted could just go. Furthermore, the prestige of the Church had been heavily damaged by now. A mere verbal prohibition had, indeed, completely lost all deterrent force a long time ago.
Strictly speaking, the kingdom was still in a state of war so far and the region surrounding Worchester was not very safe. However, thanks to the Black Nightmare Society's secret propaganda, the people had already begun to build the impression that the Church was already nearing the end of their days, and was not far from destruction.
Nevertheless, it was at the time that Benjamin received a secret message.
"The royal army is starting to recruit soldiers again?"
He raised his eyebrows; he did not feel much surprise in his heart, actually. A recruitment drive was inevitable, even the Black Nightmare Army had started to recruit troops on a small scale to replenish their military strength and manpower. However, if he were to look at it from another perspective, the Church had suddenly begun to recruit soldiers although they were the side with an abundance of military strength. This meant that their large capital was about to be depleted, and they had been forced to take desperate measures.
Perhaps the Church would wage a battle to the death against them within two months after the recruitment drive for the royal army had ended.
Thinking about this, Benjamin felt an immense pressure. However... everything had to continue progressing, and they must not display any ignorance or timidity. Otherwise, if the enemy were to notice that the internal defenses of Worchester were lacking, things would become very problematic for them. Of course, at the same time, the Black Nightmare Army had to restore their fighting power as quickly as possible and prepare to face the Church's desperate fight to the end.
Also, there was only so much that could be done to raise their fighting power in such a short time.
Thus, Benjamin soon arrived at the city's specially designated Mage Research District.
"Runic weaponry that can be used by commoners, how much of that can this place produce now?"
Hearing that, Morris lifted his head and answered, "The amount being produced so far is still sufficient as supplies for the Academy's exclusive troops. You don't have to worry about this."
"No... That's not what I meant," Benjamin shook his head and explained, "I want the Black Nightmare Army to use the runic weaponry as well. Only then can we raise our fighting power within a short span of time, and be restored to our previous state."
Nevertheless, Morris shook his head and said, "How can it be that easy? The production process of runic weaponry is complicated, and I have little manpower here. It's impossible to provide additional supplied for another military troop.
"Then... how much in addition would you guys be able to produce at most?"
"A hundred and fifty men. That is our limit." Morris furrowed his eyebrows and thought for a while, before raising his hands up helplessly, saying, "There's not much we can do, runic weaponry are consumables. If they are used up, then they are no different from commoners. How is it easy, wishing to provide an army troop with equipment?"
Benjamin sighed and nodded, requesting for nothing more.
They would arm as many as they could.
He turned around and left to seek out Lance, after which he picked out a hundred and fifty elites from the Black Nightmare Army, getting them to join and train with the Academy's exclusive troop. At the same time, they had even given this epochal army troop a new name. They were called the Runic Combat Team.
Little by little, time passed. Very soon, on a morning marked with a light drizzle, a line of soldiers wearing white clothes slowly brought the coffin out from the city hall.
Meanwhile, both sides of the streets in the center of the city had already been filled with standing citizens that had hurried over from various places.
"Is that really... His Majesty?"
"Good heavens, it's really the remains of His Majesty! Word on the street is that the Pope killed His Majesty, could this news be true?"
The coffin was uncovered. With two wreaths of fresh flowers clustered around him, the King laid peacefully inside, dressed in fine clothes. His body had been preserved extremely well by relying on ice magic. The people could clearly see the familiar face, and immediately fell into discussions.
The band performed a heavy and melancholic song as they followed the coffin from behind, mourning along the streets with the procession.
Also, wherever the coffin of the King passed, the people would stop their discussion and lower their heads in quiet mourning. Although the Kingdom of Helius had already descended into such chaos, they still had exceptional respect in their hearts for the deceased King. Furthermore, if the King had really died in while resisting and fighting the Church, he deserved their honor and admiration even more.
Thus, the soldiers carried the coffin and slowly advanced. There were no citizens who did not quietly grieve after paying their respects to the remains of the King. The procession made its round inside the city for approximately more than two hours. They walked through the streets, big and small, in the entire city of Worchester, displaying the truth for several hundred thousands of nationals to see. Finally, they returned to the center of the City Square, in front of the city hall, and came to a gradual stop here.
Meanwhile, on a high stage that had just been set up in the City Square a few days ago, Benjamin held the script for his speech. He had already been waiting there for many hours.
As the coffin was gently laid onto the high stage, the band dispersed through the back, the soldiers stood on both sides, and the armed escorts fell into an organized line, as usual. The citizens of Worchester followed the procession from behind and were soon gathered in the City Square. Everyone raised their heads to look at Benjamin, not knowing what he was about to say.
Benjamin looked around at the people there and nodded. He opened his mouth and began to speak slowly.
"His Majesty had sacrificed himself for the future of the Kingdom of Helius. He is a hero."
Starting with those words, he soon repeated slowly the scene where Grant had killed the King, in a steady but grieving tone of voice. "At the time, I'd just escaped from Worchester with some people, and met with His Majesty in the forest outside the city. It turned out that the Pope had been following me. He'd suddenly appeared and attacked with fatal blows. I'd thought that he'd be charging at me. Never thought that he'd been rushing for His Majesty..."
The voice that had been amplified by magic did not just echo in this City Square, but also reverberated throughout the sky over the entire city of Worchester.
That was the truth. He did not need to weave any lies, and it was unnecessary for him to exaggerate anything or to add to the story. Every detail was retrieved from his memory, making it even more real and believable. The entire City Square was silent as his words were taken in by the ears of the citizens who had come to give their condolences. Many people had pulled out their handkerchiefs, quietly wiping the tears off their eyes and faces.
Finally, as his speech came to an end, Benjamin even walked to the side of the coffin and lowered his gaze to look at the deceased King, speaking slowly. "Right there, that wound... The Pope is exceptionally neat and fast with his attacks. Even until now, the scar on the area seared by Holy Light is still so clear and distinct."
While the coffin had been brought around the entire city, they had left the wound on the body uncovered on purpose. Therefore, everyone knew what he was talking about.
The murderer who had killed the King...
Out of the blue, there was a sudden voice calling out from the City Square. "Nonsense! Traces of Holy Light can't be used as evidence at all, I've long heard that the Academy of Magic had secretly learned the Divine Arts. This is most likely a wound they've faked themselves!"