I was ready to face a downpour of blood, but I never thought the downpour would come so soon. The villagers didn’t even often send food, so I couldn’t explain why they cared if Xia was still there or not every day.
Nier nudged me awake before dawn. She held her long sword in her hand and vigilantly looked at the door: “Something is going on at the entrance of the shrine. It appears the villagers have come. They’re currently gathered at the door. They’re making a ruckus, but they don’t dare to approach.”
I nodded. I couldn’t get any deep sleep, anyway. Nier added, “If possible, please allow me to use force should they barge in, Your Majesty. If they barge in, they will become a threat for you and Ying; therefore, please allow me to kill all those who barge in. I guarantee not a single person will get in for as long as I’m guarding the door.”
“Let’s go take a look first. Don’t hurt the villagers, as Ying will definitely dislike it.”
I then heard Ying’s voice. It was the first time I heard Ying cry: “Xia?!”
Then, I heard the friction of cloth and the floor. I didn’t know what happened over where Ying and Xia were, but Lucia was there, so there shouldn’t have been an issue. I needed to go to the door to stop the villagers, which was perfect timing, since I happened to have something to say to them, too. I stood up. I hadn’t drawn my revolver in a long time. I hoped it still functioned after being waterlogged. Nier and I went to the door.
The main door of the shrine was a timber door. The truth was you could easily knock it down with a single charge. There were flames as bright as daylight outside. There were so many of them you’d suspect a forest was on fire. The people outside loudly shouted Xia’s name and demanded we hand her over.
I glanced at Nier, and she looked back at me: “Sorry, Your Majesty. I may not be able to follow your order to not harm the villagers, because I must ensure your safety. If they threaten you, I shall not hesitate to act.”
“Even if Ying will retaliate?”
“I’ll kill her, too, in that event.”
Nier twirled her wrist. Her gaze contained a hint of craving for battle. Nier was the same as Elizabeth. They both couldn’t fight the urge to exchange blows with somebody when they notice the person was skilled. Perhaps Nier was the strongest Valkyrie due to her insane craving for battle.
I smiled: “If you can defeat Ying, then do as you please. That said, you’ve seen how Ying fights. Why do I suddenly feel as though you deliberately want to fight her?”
“Maybe. However, my fighting spirit is stronger this time thanks to you.”
I pulled open the door to the courtyard. Nier drew her sword and swung it. The person at the forefront was just about to shout and charge in, but her sword swung down right toward the tip of his nose. Her sharp blade sat mere millimetres away from the tip of his nose. He dropped to the ground. After shrieking, he backed down and almost knocked the people around him off the slope. He staggered to his feet and hid in the rear while trembling. He completely lost his bravado from before.
Nier’s blade was at the door. I stood behind her sword and watched the crowd that was too scared to speak a word after her swing. I chuckled: “What’s the matter? You have business to be rushing to the shrine en masse?”
The people below looked at Nier and fearfully looked at her sword. Not one of them dared to utter a word. That was their nature. That was how humanity’s nature. They’re bold enough to do incomparably cruel things to a girl. They blinded her, restrained her hands, deprived her of food and water, and treated her as though she was livestock, yet when face to face with a young girl holding a long sword, not one of them dared to step up and say a word. They were so cowardly it was hilarious and so hypocritical that it was repulsive.
“If you don’t have any business, don’t crowd around at the door. You’ve even lit up torches. It’s not going to be good if you burn the shrine by accident now. Also, how are people inside going to sleep if you’re so rowdy?”
I looked at the people outside with a ridiculing smile, and then pressed my hand on the door. Somebody finally shouted, “Hand Xia over!”
“Yeah!! Hand Xia over! Hand Xia over!”
Once one of them shouted, the others followed suit. I watched them first then I extended my hand forth and thundered, “Who was the first to say that?! Step out!”
All of them fell silent in an instant.
“I asked you: who was the first one to shout?!! Don’t you want Xia? Who was the first one to shout? Step out yourself. Step out, and let me see who you are. Show some courage, and step out. Tell me why you suspect Ying took Xia away.”
Nobody responded or looked at me. I snickered: “You were so ruthless to a girl. You dug her eyes out and abused her as if she was livestock. Aren’t you all tough? Aren’t you all angry? Show me your courage and anger now. Show me the viciousness you imposed on Xia. You’re right. I was, indeed, the one who took Xia away. You don’t need to ask me why. I took her away simply because I can’t accept you people abusing an innocent young girl!”
“What do you know?!!” A man suddenly rushed over. He looked very sturdy. He leapt over and grabbed my collar: “Do you know how my kid died?! That woman beheaded him with her sabre! You know… Ah!! Argh!!”
A blade flashed past my eyes before he could finish. Next instant, his hand was still on my collar, but he, himself, was grabbing his arm, shrieking as he collapsed to the ground. A patch of warm blood splattered on my face. Nier pulled her sword back and continued watching the crowd. The blood on her sword trickled onto the ground. The crowd shrieked. That man held his arm short a hand as he rolled on the ground.
Tone frigid, I said, “There’s no way my bodyguard wouldn’t retaliate if you lay your hands on me. I’m not Ying. I don’t have any positive impressions of you people. I don’t have an ounce of a positive feeling for you useless sacks of shit who’d dare to hurt a girl and insult Ying, who protects you. My bodyguard, here, can kill all of you. Ying may have hurt you, but did Xia do anything to you? There’s no way I’m handing her to you after you beasts abused her her!”
“It has nothing to do with you, you outsider!”
“Ying is also an outsider! Your lives have nothing to do with her!! I’m the same as Ying. I can’t watch a person suffer misfortune. The only difference is that Ying thinks you’re unfortunate, while I think she’s very unfortunate!”
I yanked the hand off my collar and threw it aside: “You’re not worthy of Ying’s protection. You’re not worthy of her kindness. I can’t believe the disgusting treatment you imposed. I’m taking Xia today. If you want to snatch her back, it’ll depend on whether you’re alive or not.”
“No,” said Ying, voice solemn.
I looked over my shoulder to see Ying carrying Xia toward us. Xia was dressed in clothes that resembled clothing for a corpse. Ying didn’t look at me but the villagers. She slowly placed Xia onto the ground. Then, she slowly knelt down onto the ground and bowed her head the same way she apologised to me that day. She apologised, “I am very sorry. I have caused you all trouble… Please take Xia… I am very…. sorry…”