The Secret Passage
Norfe and Alan watched the suspicious bundle being carried in, and once the birdfolk were gone, they rushed out of their hiding place. There was a gaping hole where Lord Adol had entered, and it connected to a staircase that led underground.
“What is my uncle trying to do…”
“Well, it can’t be anything good.”
He said scoldingly. However, it wasn’t as if Norfe was not suspicious. He decided to go down and check, but Alan stopped him.
“Don’t do it! What if they see you?”
“See me? We’ll just talk.”
“Norfe, think about this. Do you think Lord Adol will talk to you honestly?”
Lord Adol had taken control of official business after his father became ill. And while his recent actions had been questionable, Norfe still believed that they could come to an understanding if they talked.
“You know how he is with you. He’ll make some excuse and that will be it. Besides, what if he is doing something, and you expose him. Will the people in the castle believe you or him?”
Alan’s words stung Norfe. It would not be an understatement to say that the castle was currently filled with Lord Adol’s men. But what could he do? He had only just reached adulthood.
“I know that it’s because you didn’t want to face the situation, that you obeyed every order that was sent your way. However, you cannot do that now. You must find a way to do something without Lord Adol learning of it.”
Alan said. Norfe suddenly remembered something.
“From father’s room…”
However, this was information that could only be shared with the direct members of the royal family. And so Norfe hesitated to say it in front of Alan.
“Norfe. You can trust me.”
Yes, who cared about such old rules? His uncle was prepared to take over. Norfe had given up, thinking that the people didn’t care who was king. And so there was no point in caring about such things now.
“Let’s head to my father’s room.”
“The king’s room. Very well.”
And so the two rushed to the king’s room. There were two guards standing in front of the door.
“How is my father?”
“Your Highness. His Majesty is likely resting.”
“I want to go inside.”
The guard pretended to hesitate for a moment. However, who should he allow to enter if not the king’s own son? And so the guards stepped away from the door.
“Father, I’m coming in.”
It was an emergency. He knocked on the door and entered. While it was late in the night, the lights were still on, and the king was sitting up in his bed and reading.
“Norfe. This is unusual.”
His voice was weak and raspy. Norfe had not visited in a while, as he was worried about disturbing his father’s rest. No, perhaps that was only an excuse, and the real reason was that he had not wanted to see his father.
Norfe rushed to his father’s bedside and kneeled. Then he grabbed his father’s hand.
“What? You are acting like a child.”
Apparently, the king remembered who Alan was. Upon hearing this, Norfe raised his head in realization.
“It’s an emergency. Something is happening below the temple.”
“The temple? No, you don’t even need to explain. You wouldn’t have come here unless it was serious.”
The king said. And then he pointed to the tapestry.
“It’s over there.”
Norfe took Alan and they rushed down to the underground through the secret passage behind the tapestry. He had heard that this led underground. However, he had intended on learning about where it connected to after he became king. And so he didn’t know where exactly it would lead, but he had no choice but to go and find out.
After a while, the stairs hit a dead end. Alan pressed his ear against the wall.
“I can’t hear any speaking voices. Also, don’t you feel so much gloomier here compared to the king’s room?”
“Yes, it’s as if…”
What was he going to say? Norfe kept the word deep in his heart after thinking it.
“It’s like before the Saintesses were summoned?”
“Alan, you… No, nevermind that. Will it open if we push?”
They put their shoulders and hands on the wall and started to push. However, they quickly stopped.
“Wait, it opens surprisingly easily. We just need to use our hands.”
“Yes. Hey, there is even a handle.”
He held it and pushed it so that it wouldn’t make any sound. That being said, there was still a scraping noise.
“There’s a light on. I feel as if we went deeper down than the temple. But is this still part of it?”
Alan asked. Norfe shook his head.
“The texture of the walls is different. Alright, let’s open it.”
What lay on the other side, was a small room. There were iron bars as well.
“Is this a prison? Who would have thought that there was a prison under the castle. And there is someone here.”
“You. You’re the orange girl!”
Norfe couldn’t help but shout.
“No, I’m not! Well, maybe I am.”
Chiharu retorted without thinking as well. And she immediately regretted the admission.
“Why are you in an underground prison?”
“So you really didn’t know about this. In any case, it was Lord Adol who said that I have to be here.”
Chiharu answered weakly to Norfe’s question. She wasn’t expecting much, but she couldn’t help but wish that someone more reliable had come. Then she suddenly raised her head.
“Orange girl, we aren’t even moving.”
“I’m not talking about you! But you should also stay still!”
While they looked confused, her eyes moved around the room.
“Norfe, return to the passage!”
“I won’t! The orange girl will be attacked!”
Alan shouted. Norfe blocked Chiharu through the iron bars and faced the monsters.
“What are you doing… I wanted to continue to hate you…”
The prince had come down here for some reason, and while he was completely useless, he was acting based on impulse. And so he had completely forgotten that the orange girl was a Saintess, or that she could purify miasma. And yet he was still trying to protect her.
But then why had he been so unpleasant at the Midland castle? Even if he denied it, it was true that it was what drove Maki and Chiharu from the castle. And so she could not help but let out a deep sigh.
“Alright, you. I’m fine. You as well.”
Chiharu said to them.
“But the monsters!”
“Don’t worry. You know it, don’t you? That I’m a Saintess.”
Norfe kept his eyes on the monsters while checking to see Chiharu’s hair in the corner of his vision.
“The black hair. So you were wearing a wig.”
“I had my reasons. It’s fine. They won’t hurt a Saintess. And I told them not to harm you.”
“You can speak with monsters?”
Alan asked with a surprised expression.
“It’s not so much speaking, as understanding each other’s emotions. Yes, but maybe it is like talking.”
“Now, please listen. Why are there monsters inland? And below the castle?”
Chiharu looked at Alan. It was surprising that the calmest person here was the attendant.