It didn't take many seconds for the courtyard to be filled with guards, monks and nuns. They had been alarmed by the scream, but aside from that, they didn't have the slightest clue, as to what was going on. Ash quickly decided to use that to his advantage, and left the scene.
He ran towards Angela's lab, since he figured being as far away from the crime scene as possible wouldn't hurt his survival chances.
He ran, and he ran as the sun was slowly setting. He didn't know how long Evitagen had sat there, under the tree, in Ash's body, but he knew it had been a long time, since it was a little past noon, when he left Angela's lab.
He arrived at the door, and knocked on it, desperately hoping for Angela to answer. Luckily for Ash, she did so very quickly.
"Are you alright, Ash? What's going on? I heard commotion in the courtyard"
Ash couldn't help but be a little happy that she was showing concern for him. He also knew, that he couldn't stay for long, since Angela would most likely not let him leave if she found out what Evitagen had done, using his body.
"It doesn't seem to be anything too serious. Someone fainted, but the healers are handling the situation flawlessly" Ash said, trying his absolute hardest to sound convincing, despite how desperate he felt in the situation.
Ash then proceeded to stack five gold coins on Angela's table. Evitagen wanted Ash to 'clean up', but it seemed as if that would be near impossible. Instead, getting as far away from the church, thus not getting caught seemed like the more realistic plan.
"Your ransom. I see" Angela looked sad for second, but brightened up quickly.
"I'll use my authority as a High Priestess to release you. Now, I better go speak to Wilfred. You paid the ransom, so he can't argue. Please wait here".
'Not that easy, huh?' Ash thought to himself.
"Angela, Wilfred was the one who fainted, so could you do the paperwork, and then work the rest out with him later?" Ash was shaking visibly at this point.
'Shit! If she doesn't buy this, I'm dead. She's not stupid, she'll connect the dots'.
"Huh.. So Wilfred was the one? I always told him to hold off with the wine, once in a while. Sure I'll sign it" She said, and gave Ash a heartwarming smile.
Angela opened a wooden drawer under her desk, pulled out the papers and proceeded to sign them.
"Here you go Ash. I truly hope we'll see each other again. Remember me well!"
Ash only caught the last bit on the way out, as he was charging towards the church's gate.
Trees, bushes, the roses he used to tend to. All of it was flying by, as Ash was speeding towards the gate. Commotion could be heard in the distance. Word of Wilfred's death had probably reached everyone now. The gate was drawing closer and closer.
Now for the last part of his escape.
'Gotta get past the guards. Should be easy. Unless they heard about Pig, of course'.
There were two guards standing at the gate. They didn't seem to be on alert, since they seemed to be on break. Ash highly doubted they would get break-time, if they knew there was a murderer on the loose. He decided to head toward the guards.
"Oy slave! What the hell are you doing here? Go polish some silverware" One of the guards said. He had a piece of bread and some ale stuck in his impressive beard.
"I've just gotten my release papers signed by High Priestess Angela. I am no longer anyone's slave" Ash answered.
The two guards stopped laughing. The rude one stretched out his hand, wishing to see the papers.
"This is clearly- wait. This ain't fake? Oy, let the elf bastard through" The guard said, clearly disappointed.
The guards at the church never got to see any action, since no crimes were ever committed there. It was a place of peace, and even criminals respected that. The guards would often have to start fights themselves, unless they wanted to die from boredom.
Ash would have laughed at the guards, but the situation required him to not cause any problems, since he was trying to escape secretly.
"Thank you good sirs." Ash said, and ran into the forest that surrounded the church.
'Freedom. At last' Ash thought.
He ran for almost an hour, before he felt safe enough to sit down. He leaned on a huge tree. His stomach was growling.
"Ugh, I should've brought food" Ash murmured, angry at himself.
"Is that a request?"
Ash turned around with his knife drawn. It was Evitagen.
"I apologize, if I frightened you, Mr. Tsuga, but I decided to stop by to tell you that you've cleared the conditions. Your payment has been received" Evitagen continued.
"How..? How are you here?!" Ash was dumbfounded. Up until this point, Evitagen had always brought Ash to him. Never the other way around.
Evitagen tilted his way in a strange, bird-like fashion.
"You didn't think I borrowed your body just for the sake of fun , did you now?" Evitagen asked, chuckling slightly.
Ash found Evitagen's way of never answering questions supremely annoying. How would he ever get anywhere with a guy like that?
Evitagen, who had apparently been hoping for some kind of response, decided to continue where he left off.
"No, I went to gather power. I don't exactly belong in this world, so I borrow a bit of life force from here and there. I hope that answers your question, Mr. Tsuga" Evitagen said, once again proving himself to be able to read Ash's mind, like an open book.
"Call me Ash. Your formality is starting to piss me off".
Evitagen laughed. Then he pulled out a piece of bread, from one of his obscenely colorful suit's pockets. He handed the bread to Ash.
"For your stomach, Ash".
Ash simply sighed in response, took the bread and started walking, accompanied by the masked demon, Evitagen.
And so, the unusual party of two ventured deeper into the forest. One of them oblivious of the dangers to come.
⌊End of Church Arc⌉