Release that Witch

Chapter 10 The Stonemason

Chapter 10: The Stonemason



The weather had been bad all week, and the sky was always gray. Karl van Bate’s mood was just like the weather: gloomy to the extreme.

As he walked down the wet stone street, people greeted him from time to time—Karl ran a school in this town. Unlike the Kingdom of Graycastle, where only the children of noble could go to school, here he taught r the children of ordinary people. Therefore, he had a very high reputation in Border Town. "Hey, Mr. van Bate, good morning."

"Sir, is my son doing all right?"

"When are you free, Karl? Let’s go fishing together."

Usually, Karl would always smile and respond to them, but today he just nodded, never saying a word.

He had just witnessed Anna’s hanging, so in his eyes there was a crack in the once-perfect world—or this crack had begun to form since his departing from Graycastle , but he deliberately turned a blind eye. He used his busy work to numb himself, and to a certain extent, he even used the innocent smile of the students to mend this crack.

"Until Anna died," he thought, "the world had not changed." But after the hanging, the crack not only did not disappear but expanded.

His memories of Anna stopped at half a year ago. She didn’t stand out of her class of more than thirty students with her normal appearance and few words, but there was something about her that impressed Karl deeply.

It was her passion for knowledge. No matter what he taught, whether it was characters or history, she could always remember it on her first try. Even if it was the boring history and evolution of the religion, she could read about it all day. He had also seen the young lady help to take care of her neighbor’s sheep--sitting down in the sun, Anna would carefully brush the sheep’s hair, like someone would with a baby. He still remembered her sweet smile very clearly, and no matter how, he could not think of her as a sinister and evil person.

Then, after the fire on Anna' street and her mother unfortunately passed away, Anna never came back to school. He never saw her again until a week ago, when she was proved to be a witch and hanged in the town square.

"Tempted by the devil? An unclean person? Evil? All lies!" He began to doubt the Holy Church and the knowledge they imparted for the first time in his life.

He didn’t know if Anna had been a witch or not, but she was never evil! If a teenage girl, ignorant of the world and full of curiosity, could be called evil, and then the administrative officials of the Kingdom of Graycastle were from hell and possessed by the devil too! In order to save several hundred gold royals, they deliberately switched out the stone material used to build a theater, leading to its collapse and the death of more than thirty stonemasons.

But were they hanged? Not even one! The judge finally ruled that the leader of the stonemasons was unsuitable for his job, and he was punished into exile, while the Mason Guild was forced to disband. Karl, who knew the true story, fled the Kingdom of Graycastle, followed the road to the West, and eventually arrived in Border Town.

He managed to establish a school with a lot of students, got to know his new neighbors, and find new friends, but the Graycastle officers’ crime was always engraved in his mind. Now, he felt the world was mocking him once again. - Could the Gods in Heaven really recognize what was evil?

The last straw for Karl was Nana.

Nana and Anna were so different that one could even say they were the complete opposite. After class you could always see her playing with birds or rolling around in the grass. If you asked what she was doing, she would giggle for a while before answering that she was looking at a fight between a grasshopper and ants.

Nana was always smiling; it seemed to be in her nature. She was completely oblivious of the world’s sorrows, and at least at school, she could continue smiling without a care. Karl was even curious if she had ever cried since she was born.

Two days ago, Nana suddenly came to him with tears in her eyes and asked, "Teacher, will I be hanged like Anna?"

This told him that his student, Nana Pine, had become a witch.

"Ah, isn’t that Mr. van Bate? Come over here and help us read what it says."

Karl felt someone pull his sleeve and looked up to find that he had arrived at the town square. Many people stood around the bulletin board, and when they heard van Bate’s name, they all made a path for him.

"You came just in time, sir. Please help us read it."

"Yeah, Meg was supposed to read this to us, but he got a stomachache and had to go to the toilet, but he still isn’t back yet."

Usually, he would have nodded with a smile and explained in detail the contents of the bulletin board to everybody who listened. However, Karl found this impossible—the smiles and enthusiasm of these people were earnest, but this made it even more difficult to bear than if they were all pretending.

The notice about Anna’s hanging had also been placed here, and everyone had also discussed it this cheerily. "In a sense, you were all her murderer," he thought, "and your ignorance and fear had killed her."

Karl suppressed his emotions, took a deep breath and walked in front of the announcement list.

"The prince calls for hands to help with the construction of new buildings for Border Town, and a variety of different kinds of jobs are available," he said.

"But I’m also one of her killers, so why do I deserve to blame them? Wasn’t I the one who taught them that witches were evil?" Karl had a bitter taste in his mouth. "Look at what I’ve taught these children. I followed every word of the Church’s doctrine, and I thought I was teaching them well, damn it!"

"Stone grinder, male, 20 years to 40 years old, strong and healthy, salary is 25 bronze royals per day."

"Mud craftsmen, no gender limitations, over 18 years old, must have experience in masonry, salary is 45 bronze royals per day."

"Handyman, male, over 18 years old, salary is 12 bronze royals per day."


No, he had to do something. If Anna’s death was irreversible, at least he couldn’t let Nana die. Karl heard his inner voice shout, "When the Mason Guild collapsed, you didn’t do anything; when Anna was hanged, you didn’t do anything. Are you also not going to do anything and watch this lovely child being dragged up to the gallows?"

But what could he do? Could he escape with Nana out of Border Town? He had his own family, a family who traveled with him from Graycastle. Would he make them leave again just when their lives were getting better? Would Nana herself, who was born into a rich family, be able to leave her comfortable life?

"Stonemason, no gender limitations, no age limitations, long-term position for anyone who has participated in construction for the government, salary is one gold royal per month."

"Additional Term: People with rich experience and excellent performance may be granted an official position."

After hearing the notice, the people became even noisier, "One gold royal per month is even better than the salary for the stronghold cavalry!"

"But can you do it? If you can’t even build a mud pile, can you build a fortress?"

"Don’t just stare at it. Even the first few positions aren’t bad. If you get paid every day, you’ll earn the same amount as a hunter."

"Indeed, hunting is a life-threatening job, and the Misty Forest is a really dangerous place."

Karl van Bate did not pay attention to this chatter and only concentrated on the seal and signature at the foot of the notice. It was the autograph of Roland Wimbledon, the Fourth Prince.

Did the prince not know that the Months of the Demons were already coming? Whatever he wanted to build, it was not a good time to start now. It seemed His Highness knew nothing about constructions, so if he could become a stonemason and catch his attention… Karl had suddenly an idea. Perhaps through this recruitment, he could meet the prince himself, Border Town’s highest ruler.

Karl gulped in fear. Could he convince the prince that witches were not evil? There were rumors of His Highness’ unique ideas, so he should be different from ordinary people, and he also hated the Church deeply. "Maybe I can do it!" he thought. "Although Anna’s hanging was ordered by Prince Roland, everyone could tell that he was not willing to do it."

The prince himself was still in his early twenties, which should make it easier to understand, that these young girls were incapable of being evil.

Of course, there was a possibility that Karl would be branded as a Witch Helper and have to go to the gallows with the witches. The Church’s law stipulated that anyone who protected a witch or begged for leniency should be regarded as the devil’s minion.

He could only hope that the prince’s hate for the Church also extended to its laws.

Karl prayed in his heart.

Even though he did not know which God to pray to, he closed his eyes and prayed for a blessing.

For the sake of the dead Anna, for the sake of Nana, who was still alive, and for the sake of his own heart to stop breaking, he decided to take the risk.

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