The Captive King
Daniela and I continued down the slope. Surprisingly, there were steps, which we slowly and cautiously made our way down.
“Asagi, have you noticed it?”
“Hm? Ah, of course.”
“…Are you sure?”
Not at all.
“Hahhh… Listen, these stairs we are descending now. They are moving away from the cliffside.”
“So that means…this doesn’t connect to the valley floor?”
“Yes, it does not.”
So what was this hole made for… Well, I guess we were trying to find that out.
After we had gone down for quite a bit, the path became level. It really didn’t connect to the valley. Not only that but there were magic lanterns installed at equal intervals. I had no idea what to expect, but Daniela’s mind seemed to be swimming with possibilities as she muttered, ‘no…but…however…’ As she was somewhat preoccupied, I was staying on the alert for her. But my scouting abilities were not as good as hers, and I was a little worried.
After we had walked for about ten minutes, the path split into two. The path on the right went further in. The one on the left was another staircase that would take us downward. However, it too was in the opposite direction of the cliffs.
“Which one should choose?”
“Based on what?”
Daniela’s intuition. I trusted it. I had unprecedented trust in Daniela in general, so if she said it was her intuition, then I would believe her. Of course, I did have a tight grip on my sword hilt as we advanced. If something happened, I was the only one who would be able to protect her. Though, who knew if it would be necessary.
Twenty minutes passed since we went down the stairs. The stairs were wet from an underground spring or something, and we had to walk slowly to avoid slipping. That’s why it had taken so long. It would have probably not taken us half as long if we had walked normally. But we didn’t want to risk slipping and rolling down some stairs that seemed to go on forever.
When we reached the bottom, there was another path. It was just as I was thinking about how long it was, that things suddenly changed.
It was a man’s voice. I looked at Daniela and advanced, swords in hand. We both used Presence Detection and caught it at the same time. It was strange. Like it had appeared out of nowhere. Was it a kind of presence that is suddenly detected at a specific distance?
“There are such magic tools. They are used to fool people.”
That was interesting. I’m sure it could be used for all sorts of things. If you wanted to hide from someone or hide someone from others. Which was it this time…? We stood there for a moment before it became apparent.
It was a cell. The rock had been carved away and strong iron bars were set in them. On closer inspection, each iron bar had magic flowing in them. Perhaps this was what Daniela was talking about. And the person who was held inside of the cell was…
Yes, an orc. However, he was not just any orc. This one had pale skin and was able to talk in the human language.
“Help me! Get me out of here!”
“No, no, no, no. I’m not that stupid.”
“Please. There is no time!”
The orc pleaded as he came close enough to touch the bars. I had to think about this one.
“Daniela. What do you think?”
“…From our own experiences, I think it is evident that he is the abnormally evolved being.”
They tended to be able to talk and were highly intelligent.
“But if that’s the case, why is he in there?”
“I do not know… Perhaps he was betrayed by the others.”
The pale orc reacted to this.
“Yes, that is it. I was betrayed…by him! Him!”
Bam! He slammed a fist into the ground as his face twisted with anger.
“You must let me out of here so that I can kill him and free the others…”
“I see that you’re desperate, but I don’t understand the situation. Do you mind telling us?”
Thinking about it wasn’t helping. I didn’t intend on believing everything he said, but we would surely find something out by listening to him.
“…Of course. Yes, you would not know what to do if you don’t understand. Very well. Allow me to introduce myself. I am the king of the orcs. My name is Arthur.”
We weren’t off to a great start…was he going to tell me that he pulled the sword from the stone next…