They rested on a nameless, uninhabited island on the way. And so by the time they reached Midland four hours later, the sun had already come down. There was no doubt that if Chiharu were with them, she would have been very excited to be on that island. And the Midland castle too. It looked quite beautiful as it floated dimly in the back of the city, as lights began to appear.
No matter what Maki saw, she couldn’t help but wonder what Chiharu would have done. How happy would she have been? Such thoughts were accompanied by a painful throb in her chest.
However, by the time that they reached the castle, Maki, Edwy, Sauro and Saikania were all exhausted.
After being let down, Maki approached Sauro and Saikania. She saw how their shoulders heaved up and down, and was reminded of how much more tired they were in comparison.
“Sauro, Saikania. Are you alright?”
“I’m totally fine.”
He did not look fine. But as Maki wobbled on her feet, someone from the castle came running towards them.
“Sauro, Saikania. Leave the explanations to us. You two should rest for tomorrow.”
“I’m sorry, Edwy. But thank you.”
And so the two were taken to lodging made especially for birds.
“Edwy. And if it isn’t Maki.”
After hearing word that Chiharu had been taken inland, dwarves and beastkin had come from the three territories. And so the people of the castle had their hands full in dealing with them.
Once Edwy and Maki finished talking, Arthur let out a deep sigh.
“This problem is much bigger than just the Saintesses now.”
Edwy nodded quietly.
“It would be simple enough if we only had to punish the criminals for what they did. But apparently, it was people in the inland castle who planned this. But I don’t believe that Kenneth, who is ill, would do such a thing. And Norfe is too young. In other words…”
“The culprit is Lord Adol.”
“I believe so. But we have no proof.”
The wrinkles between Arthur’s eyebrows deepened.
“I have not seen Kenneth ever since he fell ill. And so I left them to their devices, believing that they would handle their own problems. And now I am paying the price.”
“Who is Kenneth?”
Maki asked. It was such a surprising question that the other two went silent for a moment.
“The inland king. He is very sickly, and has not been seen in public for nearly ten years now. After all, he didn’t even attend your unveiling.”
“I only saw him once, when I was very young.”
“In other words, he is Norfe’s father.”
The two nodded. So the fake name she had used in the dwarf lands was also the name of the king. Maki chuckled to herself.
“We’ve heard news that Chiharu is already inland, and is currently resting in some mountain.”
“It’s very frustrating to know we are on the same continent, but cannot do anything.”
“Yes. It seems that they are waiting for nightfall.”
“In that case, you should get some rest while you can, Maki. Sera will attend you, so please notify us if you hear anything.”
Maki was honestly so tired, that she didn’t have time to show how happy she was to meet Sera again. And so she just ate a light meal and fell asleep. Sera usually would have left her alone, but for this night, she watched over Maki as she slept.
“You poor things. They were told that they just had to be here, but this generation of Saintesses are working too hard. But Maki and Chiharu are so kind that they do not say no when asked to do something. However, that is no excuse to push so much work onto them.”
She muttered. And then she quietly started to prepare the tea for when Maki woke up.
As for Edwy and Arhtur, there was no time to rest.
“Father, I intend on infiltrating the inland country with Maki after this. As I am sure that Lord Adol will feign ignorance, anyway.”
“Indeed. You should do that. I will wait for Aeris, and once we are ready, we will head there by airship.”
“You are going too, father! That is very…”
“After being contacted, I have already sent out soldiers. They would surely have crossed the border by now. It’s the same with Lowland. They will be sending out airships as well. And their king is also going.”
Edwy was stunned.
“And of course, the future elf king, one of the dwarf princes, and Zynis, from the beast territories are coming as well.”
“Wait a minute. Why Zynis?”
“For a long time, he left everything to Leia and ran around the world. But it seems he is finally accepting his role as the next representative. And so he is heading inland to represent the beastkin.”
Things were happening on such a large scale.
“The merfolk said they will be heading towards the castle from the mirror lake.”
“Hmm. Normally, we should not intervene in whatever schemes are occuring within the inland government. But it’s a different matter when the Saintesses are involved. And I am worried about Kenneth and Norfe. I will go and pretend to be visiting a sick friend.”
Arthur rarely left the castle. Being king kept him very busy. That’s why his eyebrows were always furrowed.
Yet this matter was big enough to make him leave.
“We can easily handle Lord Adol and his cronies. The problem is whether or not Chiharu is safe, and whether the inland people will understand.”
As Arthur muttered this, they received word from Sera.
“Saintess Chiharu has moved.”
“I see. We’ll head out at once.”
Arthur and Edwy rushed to Maki’s room. When they asked for permission to enter, Sera let them in immediately. Maki was sitting up in her bed with a hand squeezed to her chest.
“There is a gazer outside with a message. Could you tell the guards that they must not shoot at it?”
Arthur gave the order.
“After hiding in the mountain, she was wrapped up again, and taken to a castle.”
This was the shocking news that Maki had heard. So the culprit really was Lord Adol. Apparently, Chiharu had been taken under the castle and locked up in an iron cell. But she was being fed. This information came to her in real time.
As for this iron cell, it was connected to a cave with gazers. So Chiharu had been taken there in order to make magic stones.
And then there was Norfe and Alan.
After all of the reports were finished, Maki sighed.
“She said there is nothing she can do now, so she’s going to sleep. That’s so like her.”
“Thank you for getting us this information.”
Arthur also let out a deep sigh.
“Then we should work together with Norfe and Alan, and try to rescue Chiharu directly.”
“And we will use force to expose Adol’s crimes. I’m just glad that Norfe wasn’t involved in them. We can get rid of the danger all at once.”
Arthur and Edwy nodded.
“In order to do that, Maki. You need to…”
“Rest. Yes, I will. Just like Chiharu.”
And so people were to gather to the inland country.