I went shopping during the day then came back for dinner. There were four of us in the shrine. Naturally, we required more food. However, Nier and Lucia didn’t seem to be used to the food on the island. With that said, they didn’t complain, since they’d eat anything when they find themselves in a crisis. For example, Lucia would even eat grass – not that I hope she’d ever have to do that a second time.
I didn’t intend to tell Ying about my plan beforehand, because she’d definitely stop us. As a matter of fact, she might even stop us by force. Nier was right. There was no counterargument for what Ying said, as her heart was figuratively dead. She wouldn’t change her stance over a few words from us. In that case, there was no way Ying would be candid. It was precisely because Ying had given up on hope that nothing anybody said mattered to her. She knew her life wouldn’t change.
The only way for Ying to see hope again, was for Xia to appear before her. I guessed she might alter her opinion once she saw her sister. Perhaps their candid exchange of words could give Ying – who was living in despair – a desire to be reunited with her sister again. Having said that, I was aware we still had to kill the wyrm even if they reunited. Otherwise, the village would still be at the mercy of the wyrm.
It was impossible for Ying to forsake the village, for she neither hated nor resented the village. She only felt apologetic and that she owed atonement even if Xia did return to her side. As such, we had to slay the wyrm if we wanted Xia and Ying to be free. The question was how to kill it.
I didn’t even know how it looked. I needed more information on it if I was to slay it. I trusted the book Mera left with me would surely be useful, though. It was a creature with mana, so it was bound to have a weakness. The question was whether or not I could obtain the materials required for the mana dissolving potion. We could kiss the plan goodbye, otherwise.
“I need to pay the store owner a visit,” I decided.
After dinner in the evening, Ying went to bed. To avoid Ying noticing our disappearance, Lucia didn’t return after going to wash the dishes. Then, I left, leaving just Nier to keep her company. Afterwards, Nier exited, too.
When we gathered, the sun’s final rays vanished. The timing still wasn’t right, unfortunately. I knew few people were active at night. There were few villagers, so being outside at night wasn’t safe. Therefore, we needed to act in the middle of the night.
The three of us sat on the stone steps. Lucia hugged one of my arms and softly hummed an elven song. Lucia’s thinking was simple. By that I meant she’d loyally side with me and complete whatever task I assigned her irrespective of what it was or my goal. Everything would work out as long as she was by my side. She’d gladly endure any hardship no matter how emotionally taxing or painful it was. As long as she was by my side, we’d have the courage to continue to fight. She was a considerate and cute maiden.
Nier reached out to grab my shoulder. She was reluctant to let me fight the wyrm and cared even less for Ying. Nier was… Nier. She had no interest in anybody other than me. She only took care of Ying, because I told her to. She wanted to save Xia, because I want to save Xia. She wanted to fight the wyrm, because she was worried it’d attack us on our way home. I, on the other hand, genuinely wanted to help Ying – most probably because seeing Ying reminds me of my past self
I witnessed the danger of being kind in this turbulent world in the flesh, and it infuriated me. I probably wanted to help Ying in order to be accountable to my initial naïve self. I wanted to lay down flowers for that past me who believed the world was kind.
I didn’t want the ill will of others to destroy Ying as a result of her kindness. I wanted to leave the world with some kindness and protect her so that she could have the world she deserved; I even wanted to let her see her sister. With that said, that was the extent of it. I merely wanted to let Ying see her only family and let the innocent young Xia return to her sister’s side instead of being locked up in the darkness.
I gazed at the sky. The moon at night was almost full. It drifted between the clouds and focused its line downwards on this world.
It was brighter than usual, but it didn’t matter. I didn’t think it did. Lucia was a professional at operating at night, and the villagers weren’t sentries, nor did they maintain vigilance. The time was ripe.
“Let’s go,” I said.
The three of us got to our feet. Lucia drew her dagger at her waist, while Nier picked up her scabbard with her right hand. A single flick of a finger and her sword would be drawn. They positioned me in the centre. One of them took the front while the other took the rear. They vigilantly watched their surroundings as though we were sneaking into a heavily-guarded enemy fortress when standing in front of us was a shabby wooden fence it’d rot and drop at any given moment.
The three of us easily jumped over into the village. The two of them vigilantly pushed me down and checked their surroundings. They were ready to kill whoever they ran into; however, nobody in the village cared about us. There wasn’t even a dog in the village. The three of us reached the house without any hitches.
Lucia inspected the wall two-people tall with her eyes narrowed. She then clapped her hands together. She sheathed one dagger and dangled another from her mouth. She took two steps back, and then approached the wall. With a leap she jumped onto the wall and leapt over it as if she was a spider under the moonlight. Lucia landed inside softly the same way a cat would. We didn’t hear a thing from our side. But nonetheless, we were confident nobody would detect her.
“I’ll go in and take a look, too.”
Nier looked at the wall. She then took two steps back and leapt over it with a run up; however, she made a lot more noise and landed loudly – relatively speaking. I suspected Lucia drew her weapon upon hearing Nier’s landing…
Lucia soon somersaulted to a bed. Lucia then pulled, Nier, who was carrying a young girl on her back, up onto the wall. The two of them jumped down to the ground. Nier placed the young girl down to one side of the wall and whispered, “This is Xia. She no longer has her eyes and is very weak. All the food we saw inside was bad. I think it’s safe to assume they didn’t feed her on time.”
I nodded. The young girl in front of me was so thin you’d think she was firewood. She resembled a corpse covered in a white cloth underneath the moonlight. Her hands were bruised, so I assumed she had permanent scars as a result of the iron chains being too tight. I even suspected the girl was already dead. Her muscles had atrophied as a consequence being locked up for so long. I touched her face. She didn’t give any other reaction besides a gentle jerk. I hugged her. The feeling of hugging her made me want to cry.
I quietly said, “Let’s go.”
The four of us then swiftly left the village. We headed back up the stone steps and returned to the shrine.
“So, what are you planning to do, Your Highness?”
We didn’t let Ying know we had rescued Xia. We left her in the corridor. I suddenly found myself unsure of what to do. I suddenly realised that I wasn’t sure if Ying wanted to see Xia right now given Ying’s current state.
“Should I let the sisters see each other right away? I don’t think that’s for the best, but if they aren’t going to see each other, what did I rescue Xia for? Does Ying want to see Xia appear before her? Ying must’ve always felt guilty toward Xia, as well as the village. Would Ying truly be happy if she saw Xia now? Would she take the initiative to send Xia back? Further, will Ying be angry?
Will this completely break down the relationship between Ying and the village? If their relationship breaks down, Ying would likely oppose us and have us send Xia back. What would Xia think if she found out that her sister wanted to send her back? What’s the right course of action here?” I pondered.
Since I didn’t answer, Lucia added,” if the villagers discover Xia is missing, there’s no doubt they’ll come here to search for her. We can still send Xia back in time, and nobody will find out.”
“No, we can’t send her back. I can’t let them treat abuse a child any longer.”
Lucia proudly puffed her chest out upon hearing my resolute declaration. Nier, on the other hand, revealed a bitter look. Nier didn’t like to involve herself with things that didn’t concern her.
Lucia crouched down and held Xia’s hand. In a serious tone, she said, “Let Ying see her, then. Sisters wouldn’t be sad to see each other. Ying will surely be happy. There’s no sister who doesn’t want to see her sister. She’s just still feeling somewhat guilty. Once she sees Xia, she’ll be bound to feel guiltier. That’s precisely why we need to let Ying understand that, deep down, she wants to have Xia with her. That’s the only way she can live on without her guilt toward her sister. She’s guilty, as she can’t see Xia, and thereby has no way of pleading for mercy. I believe Xia misses Ying.”
“Because she quietly asked if I was Ying when I carried her in my arms when I rescued her. She will miss Ying and want to see her,” explained Lucia, with a hint of sadness. Tone sincere, she added, “I won’t say anything if you send Xia back now. I really hope the two of them can meet, nonetheless, because they’re too pitiable.”
“I, to the contrary, don’t feel we need to involve ourselves with their business.”
I stood up: “We’ve already gone this far, so there’s no other choice. Let’s let them meet when Ying wakes up tomorrow. Xia is innocent from beginning to end regardless of what Ying’s opinion happens to be. Xia shouldn’t be subjected to this sort of treatment even if Ying doesn’t want to see her!!”