After Chiharu sent them the information about Norfe’s imprisonment, Maki and the others thought about what they should do.
“Chiharu said that if it were only her alone, they would likely not do anything to her. After all, they had gone through so much trouble to abduct her. But she doubts that Norfe will just be kept in the imprison. And she thinks that he knows this as well. It’s just about what excuse they’ll use now…”
“We must act quickly then.”
Edwy nodded as Maki talked with a grim expression.
Leaving the birdfolk and the merfolk aside, he could not not understand why Maki was worried about Norfe.
Chiharu was what was important. That was all. Norfe may be royalty, but this was just some internal struggle in their country. Not only that, but he was also one of the people who had hurt the Saintesses. Why was she worried about someone who had said such horrible things to them?
However, if that’s what Maki and Chiharu wanted to do, then he had to accept it.
“Apparently, he asked Arthur for help. So maybe we should join Arthur before moving.”
“No, if we’re going to move, it should be now.”
Said Amia, who looked so relaxed even though they were in the middle of the mountains.
“We should assume that they already know what the birdfolk are doing. And this Adol person is likely making plans. Since he says that the prince has locked himself in the room and taken the king hostage, he will probably make it so that the prince dies in the ensuing struggle. However, Adol is the younger brother of that weak king, isn’t he? I did not think that he was the ambitious type.”
“You know him, Amia?”
“All human royals come to visit the merfolk king when they are young. Edwy and Norfe probably don’t remember, as they were too young. Chouze as well.”
“But you looked like you didn’t recognize Edwy and Kaider?”
“Oh, I remembered them. I just wasn’t interested.”
What a terrible thing to say.
“In other words, we should act as quickly as possible?”
“I don’t really care about what happens to this Norfe human, but it will be very bad if Chiharu is somehow hurt amidst the chaos.”
The merfolk chief was too honest. And so Maki and the others decided to split up into two groups. One would rescue the king by entering his room from the castle roof, while another team would rescue Chiharu. Apparently, there were several escape exits from the king’s room.
“They say that they were made as emergency exits, but I’d be more scared about them being used during invasions.”
Maki said with a tilt of her head. In spite of the situation, Edwy sounded like he was having fun as he replied.
“Well, I’ve never actually heard of such escape routes being used. My father thinks the dwarves just made them for fun.”
Edwy said that he often played in these escape routes as a child.
“Uh, I thought only the king was supposed to know about them?”
“Ahh, well, I am his son.”
Maki had assumed that it was one of those secrets that are to be passed down to the first-born child alone, and only right before the death of the king. Regardless, they had learned about the secret passage through Norfe, and they would use it to rescue the king before Arthur and the others arrived.
Right before dawn, as numerous birdfolk flew in the air and distracted the castle soldiers, Maki and the others descended quietly on the castle roof. Edwy quickly found the passage to the king’s room. And while he looked back at Maki with a worried expression, he continued on.
Maki remained on the roof. Here, she saw familiar faces.
“Maki. It’s been a while.”
“It really has!”
As the three remembered the times they shared together, she also saw faces that brought less joy.
“There’s Chouze and…those birdfolk.
Maki didn’t remember their names, but she clenched her fists.
Thud. In spite of clenching her fists, it was her leg that moved. But what would have been a clean roundhouse kick was blocked by Amia.
“Amia, don’t stop me! They are the ones who abducted Chiharu!”
“Maki, I understand how you feel, but you’ll only regret it if you hit someone who can’t fight back.”
Maki looked at them with realization. Not only were their wings folded back and tied up, but so were their hands and feet.
“We rarely change our forms, we can put away our wings and become like humans. And so we tied them up like this so they would not be able to escape.”
Orne said with a bitter expression.
“As for Chouze, she is a child who doesn’t know anything. So we secured her before she could become a hostage.”
Puel explained. Maki told herself that all of this could wait until later. Just then, Edwy and several others came out from the secret passage. They were carrying someone.
As the king was lowered onto the ground, Chouze ran up to him.
“You’ve grown into a lady…”
Chouze could not say anything.
“It’s a bit strange that you can live in the same castle and now see each other, but that can be discussed later.”
Maki said to no one in particular, and then she walked up to them.
“Um, excuse me. Yes.”
She pushed past Chouze and slapped the king’s shoulder.
“What are you doing to the king!”
People shouted, but the birdfolk and merfolk restrained them.
“Just a few more times. Bear with me.”
“Ah, yes. You must be the Saintess.”
Slap. Slap. After a few more hits, Maki stood up with satisfaction.
“I got rid of all the miasma in your body. But it doesn’t mean you’ll get well immediately. You’ll have to stay warm and get some rest. Now…”
Edwy, Sauro, Amia, and Alan, who had come out of the king’s room. All of them gathered around Maki.
“Hey, Sauro. You can’t go through the passage with those wings. And Amia, you are a chief. What are you doing here?”
Maki was surprised as she thought they were going to go with the human soldiers. And then she looked at Sauro and was even more surprised.
“Hey, Sauro. Your wings are gone!”
He was just a normal handsome man now! Saikania was laughing, but there was no time for that.
“Well, it’s not very balanced, but that can’t be helped. My power is the same without the wings anyway. Now, let’s go.”
Just then, the tied up birdfolk started to struggle. It seemed like they had something to say. Sauro looked at them coldly.
“Take off the gag.”
He said. And Orne took the gag off of one of them.
“Sauro, stop! You know how painful the underground is for us! I heard that the Saintess is under the temple. And you already used so much power to erase your wings!”
Sauro looked exasperated as he signaled to Orne to put the gag back on.
“I don’t need wings if they are getting in the way of what is important. And I do not care about my own pain if someone important to me is in pain.”
It wasn’t that he didn’t care about his wings. But Maki had to repress the emotion and feeling of gratitude that welled up within her, and go and save Chiharu.
“Yes. Let’s go!”
Wait for us! Chiharu!