When I opened my eyes, I was surrounded by darkness and I felt a throbbing pain at the back of my head which agitated my nerves. I was in complete darkness but I still felt sick from the rocking which was the equivalent of being caught in an Earthquake. I stared at the darkness around me for a long time before realising I was still alive.
I should be in the trunk of a horse carriage. I could feel the carriage rocking as well as hear the rhythm of the horse hooves. Am I being taken out of the city? No, that’s not possible. These people can’t possibly take me out of the city. If Nier returned to the palace, then the entire city should be on lockdown right now.
I can’t believe I got jumped by the guy selling candy. I thought it was somebody else. I was struck unconscious as soon as I turned around after buying the candy. I only managed to leave behind a clue for Nier during my last moment before completely passing out. People normally wouldn’t notice it, but if it’s Nier, she’ll definitely notice it.
Yes, I got caught like that… There wasn’t even an omen beforehand.
The wooden piece of plank I was lying on was suddenly yanked away and I screamed as I fell down. What the hell?! Are they dumping my body?! My hands and feet were still tied, and I still had a bag over my head. If I get dumped into a lake, I’ll drown for sure! Wait, wait, wait. I’ve been taught how to escape when tied up with rope before in class. First, I need to…
I fell to the ground with a thud. The air around turned incomparably damp and stinky. There was a stench as well as rust. Have I been thrown into the water?
“Take the bag off his head.”
I was aggressively pulled up from the ground and pinned up to the wall. Somebody aggressively ripped the bag off my head. A man dressed in a long black robe stood before me with his head down as he pinched my chin. His glasses reflected light. I’m sure you could see the reflection even in water. I could taste blood in my throat as he yanked my head upwards. I resisted and exclaimed: “Thatch!”
“Yes, it’s me.”
He aggressively let go and my head slammed against the wall behind me again. It hurt so bad I almost shed a tear. Two people stood by my sides with a long sword and hammer hanging from their belts which irritated my eyes. I looked at Thatch and said: “Since we’re already acquainted, how about letting me go? I won’t tell anyone what I know.”
“What are you talking about? Do you think I’m a retard?”
He aggressively charged over, reached his hand out and grabbed my hair. He then pressed my face against the ground and shouted: “Where’s that woman?! Where’s that woman that was with you?! Where has she taken the information to, huh?! Speak! Who have you told?! Staying silent won’t do jack shit since you’re dead meat. Now where’s that woman?!”
Every bone in my spinal column was crying and shrieking. You readers can try it out. Tie your hands behind you, kneel on the ground and press your face to ground. I don’t know if other people can do it, but I’m not that flexible. My arms felt like they were getting ripped off behind my back. I grit my teeth tightly. I don’t know where I got the courage from, but I cracked up laughing.
“Don’t kid yourself, mister. You don’t have the guts to kill me.”
It looks like I’ve got myself a death wish. But our soldiers have never submitted and would rather die than sell out, a fact which has remained consistent throughout history. I’m Chinese after all. I’m usually weak, but I’m no pushover when I get interrogated by the enemy.
He let go of my head and followed up with a kick causing my forehead to smash into a grey brick. After the thud, I almost passed out from the impact. He grabbed my hair and lifted my head. He moved his face closer to mine and viciously said: “I don’t have the guts to kill you? What the fuck gives you that idea?!”
“Because… Because you don’t know where Nier went. You don’t know what the consequences of killing me are, and there’s no point in killing me because the news is already going around. Oh, and now you’re guilty of kidnap as well. Would you rather be accused of murder instead of kidnapping, and get decapitated instead of just a prison sentence for the king of Castor who’s so far away? Further, if Nier hasn’t arrived yet, shouldn’t you be more concerned with finding out from me where we’ve taken the information to?”
He huffed and puffed as he looked at me furiously. It’s pointless for him to kill me. My identity is a mystery to him. If he killed me and I turned out to be the son of an important retainer, the consequences would be severe. What’s more, the news has already been passed on, so I hold no value. Killing me would only add to their troubles. Lastly, only I know where Nier went.
He aggressively let go. My gut was throbbing and I didn’t have the energy to stop myself from chucking up. I gave a cold laugh and lifted my head up to look at him. I was feeling light-headed and my eyes were heavy, but they had no reason to kill me.
“I can’t kill you? You should just fess up. Your funeral will be held after I meet my superior. Nobody will know if you die here. Lock him up in the dungeon and then find out where my superior is!”
Present time inside the palace.
“Is it his majesty’s order?”
Castell looked at the pendant in his hand and then nodded. He handed the pendant back to Nier and said: “I understand. I will go and make the preparations now.”
Nier took back the pendant, turned around and headed towards the inner court. Castell watched her white cape disappear when she turned the corner. He then clapped his hands and a few people who looked like merchants appeared from the shadows. They looked at Castell. Castell scanned them, then laughed and said: “Did you people see his majesty get kidnapped?”
“We did, and we also know where he was taken to. Do you want to go save him? Her majesty will favour you even more if you save him.”
Castell stretched his hand out to stop them. He then smiled and said: “Saving her son is something her majesty needs to do herself. We as servants shouldn’t fight her for the credit.”
“What of his majesty’s safety then?”
“They won’t dare to kill his majesty. I trust that they’ll go and ask their superiors for their input. When their superiors find out that they kidnapped the prince, they will probably wet themselves out of fear. I think that those old farts will immediately kill their own men, erase all their traces and then vanish, while the others won’t kill his majesty until they receive orders to do so. Instead of getting ourselves involved in such a meaningless matter, why not seize a few more trunks of coins instead? Take some men to go raid the Six Horse Carriages trade company. Fight them if you must to seize the coins. After that, spend some money at the money changers to collect their coins. We have the national treasury supporting us so don’t worry about spending, understood?”
The merchants left and Castell sat back into his chair. He played with the gold coin in his hand and fell into a daze as he looked at the empress’s face print on the coin.
Present time at some place.
“Hurry. Hurry you fatty. Get your stuff and let’s go. Her majesty should’ve caught wind of it by now. We don’t have heads to spare!!”
“I know! I know! It’s just that I can’t get my sword out…”
“I told you not to slash his chest and to slash his gut instead, but you wouldn’t listen. Let me do it… Look, I got it!”
“My, my, you really are a soldier. But what are we going to do with this moron, Thatch’s corpse?”
“Aren’t they just a bunch of corpses? Shove some weapons in their hands and pass it off as an internal conflict, now let’s go!”
“Okay, okay, okay.”
Present time at the inner court.
The empress calmly looked at Nier and drew her sword. She then stepped outside her room and clapped her hands.
“What is it, your majesty?”
“Alice, gather the second Valkyrie squad under your command and begin a search in the city. Kill anybody who’s interacted with Castor’s people. Also, lock the city down and order the guards to search every property. Kill anyone who doesn’t cooperate. Nier, take a team of Valkyries and find the prince’s whereabouts. I will allow you to ride your horse in the city. It doesn’t matter if you trample people to death. Pass my orders on. Order Kurt to prepare his platoon and notify the army at the border that we will attack Castor in a few days’ time. Spare no one from Castor. Slaughter them all.”
Alice nodded, and then turned around and left.
Nier who was kneeling on one knee, got up, unsheathed her sword and left.
The empress took in a deep breath and shouted: “Bring me my steed! I’ll dig up the entire city if that’s what it takes to see my son! If something happens to my son, I’ll erase Castor from this world!!”
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