Steam was coming out from the entrance. I took a deep breath. The air was very astringent. It looks like they purify the salt here. When I was about to enter, a person came out. Nier drew her sword. I pressed my hand on hers and watched the person coming out. What was surprising was that it was a girl dressed in simple clothing made from coarse cloth. She had her mouth covered with her hands. She narrowed her blue eyes to look at us, bowed deeply and finally said: “Thank you very much for your help.”
“I am Freya Vestalia. I am the eldest daughter of the Vestalia household. My family fell after my father passed away. The church then purchased us as labourers. You must be the prince, your majesty. When I heard shouting from where I was down below here, I took hot water and poured it into the entrance so that you would be able to find it. Thank you very much for coming to the rescue, your majesty.”
The young girl bowed elegantly. She looked at me with a look that was neither humble or arrogant. Normally speaking, the rescued party should be frightened or surprised, and cry to me. However, she didn’t shed a single tear, nor did she look scared. Instead, she looked at me calmly with the proud and calm demeanour of nobility.
I couldn’t help but respect her. Even though she was now a slave, she didn’t part with her dignity and pride as nobility deep down. I smiled, bowed and said: “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Vestalia. Your intelligence helped me find the entrance. Please stay above-ground now. Come with me to the palace afterwards to continue our conversation.”
“Your majesty, I have something I would like to speak to you about.”
She looked at me and calmly said: “I hope you can take me in. My home is gone. If you could take me in, I would be very grateful.”
“Take you in as my maid or my bodyguard?” I chuckled and said, “What do I get out of taking you in? I can promise to help you regain your status and money, but if you want to stay by my side, you need to be able to offer me help in some capacity.”
“I understand, therefore I can help you. If you wish to destroy the church, I can help you achieve that.” As she looked at me she continued, “I know you will not believe me, but please believe me because you and I both want to destroy the church.”
I looked at her eyes. She wasn’t tall. She had yet to become an adult. She was probably around fifteen years old. Her body was small, skinny, frail and relatively pretty. Her most lively body part was her eyes. She was but just a slave, a fallen noble. I didn’t trust her significance or reasons.
However, when I looked at her eyes, I could sense her resolve and confidence. Perhaps she really had a way. She makes me believe so. She’s not the type of kid who’s ignorant. Maybe she was smarter than many others. Maybe she really held the key to destroying the church.
She wasn’t rescued for the sake of being rescued, but for vengeance.
“Alright, I shall agree in that case. I want to destroy the church. Follow me for now. We share the same goal. We both want to destroy the church.”
I reached my hand out to stroke her head. Her hair which should’ve been as beautiful as mom’s was now covered in cobwebs and dust. She eloquently took a step back, saluted me and then said: “Thank you very much, your majesty. Please allow me to first tidy myself up. Below is where they purify the salt. There are two levels below it. I have never gone down below, but it should be where they imprison people. I occasionally hear cries from below.”
I nodded and led Nier down. Nier stretched her hand out and grabbed my cape. In a soft voice, she said: “Your majesty, the children……”
“Mmm, the children are probably down below. I’m not sure, but Nier, I promised you that I would definitely rescue those children.”
I reached my hand out to grab Nier’s slightly trembling hand. Nier froze up and then lowered her head. Seeing that we were close to our final ray of hope, Nier was now scared. She was scared that she wouldn’t see the children in the end. They were the only thing she wanted to protect, as well as being the only thing that could make her happy. Everything by Nier’s side had been stolen from her, her parents, foster parents and family. She was left with just the empress and her sword in the end.
She had strength, but she could never use it for herself. She could protect her master, but not anything else around her, not even the final ounce of warmth in her palms. She couldn’t hold onto her final ray of light. Nier was truly afraid this time.
After walking down the steps and taking a fire torch from the wall, I discovered that underground was a huge empty area. On one side were smashed plaster statues while in the centre was a huge pot that was virtually boiling. It looks like they smash the plaster, throw it into the pot and boil it. After that would be taking what remained which was salt water. After roast drying it, it would become salt. How complicated.
After walking along a big section, we came to a big door. I tried to push it but it was locked. It appears I need Alice.
I dragged Alice down again. Alice opened the door with a single punch. She then looked at me and grumbled: “Your majesty, I am her majesty’s bodyguard after all. I’ve had enough of these dirty jobs!”
I smiled and said to Alice; “Sorry, sorry. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.”
Alice looked at me and then said: “That child is plundering upstairs. Is that alright? Well there is nothing worth money here.”
“It’s fine. I don’t think she’s after money. She said she could help me destroy the church. Perhaps those are her preparations. I believe her, who has nothing, since there’s no point in betraying me.”
I grabbed Nier’s hands and descended the stairs. Alice watched us from behind and then suddenly called out to Nier: “Nier.”
“Don’t rely on his majesty too much, Nier. You will go back to being a Valkyrie from tomorrow onwards.”
Nier lowered her head and pursed her lips. Still, she didn’t let go of my hand she was holding onto tightly. She raised her head, looked at Alice, nodded and said: “I know, captain.”
Alice looked at her and replied: “Alright, that’s all. Be careful with his majesty down there. We don’t know what’s down there.”
I pulled Nier along and she went down further with me. There was a foul smell coming from below. It was the smell of rotten food and body excretions. There was even the smell of blood. I frowned and held the torch in front of me. I saw a cage in front. Nier drew her sword and vigilantly looked down.
When we got to the side of the cage, I found I’d stepped into some sticky liquid. At the same time, the smell of blood burst into the air. I felt a heavy burden in my heart. I moved the torch in front of the cage. Inside were a number of corpses. They were the corpses of elves. All of them were shot in the chest.
I grabbed Nier’s hand and ran down as fast as I could. Their blood had just solidified which means that they killed them just now to destroy the evidence. If they continue, then the children will be next. We should still be able to make it!
I heard gunshots down below. I ran downwards even faster. When I turned the corner I saw someone holding a sword with their back facing me. A few corpses slowly fell down in front of her.
I shouted, leapt over and wrapped my arms tightly around her to tackle her…… Wait…… this doesn’t feel right……
I was on top of mom. She looked at me and exclaimed with surprise. I looked at mom. I had my fist raised up and stopped awkwardly in mid-air. I didn’t know what to do. Nier ran over, looked at the empress and saluted her: “Your majesty.”
“Son… son… I can understand you being so happy that you want to hug mommy when you see mommy… but… but mommy is covered in blood right now……”
Don’t! Don’t! I wasn’t trying to hug you! Mom, don’t blush!