Tetsuko finally found where the culprit was. Now they can end this nightmare
“You found out who’s behind this?” Faela asked, not hiding her surprise. “How?”
I sensed them. When I devoured the energy, the smoke felt as part of me. I could sense the area it covered, Tetsuko explained, remembering how it was, trying to hold on to the sensation as the smoke dispersed slowly. I felt something powerful underneath the city.
Yeah. It wasn’t a monster like we’ve been fighting. It was an ancient and evil Celeste. The same as the Grand Priest.
“The Grand Priest,” Faela repeated, her face pale. After a moment, the fear was gone from her; there was only determination. “We need to tell Sergio.”
She climbed down from the bell tower and after explaining to Anna, they rushed back to the headquarters. By the time they arrived, the smoke covering the city had dispersed. But instead of light, there was only a moonless dark sky. Even though people had noticed, and were opening their windows to check, no one cheered.
It’s still better than that ominous smoke, Tetsuko thought.
“How did you find the culprit?” Sergio asked once he heard everything. Though he was still recovering from his injuries, he was organizing the patrols and the city guard.
“I found a trail leading to them,” Faela said. Though she was vague, she didn’t let it show on her voice.
“A trail? What trail?” Sergio looked her in the eyes. “Was it you who cleared the skies?”
“Do you trust me?”
The captain of the city guard looked down at the sword on the swordswoman’s waist. Then he looked at her again.
“I do,” he said at last. Then he turned to Camila. “Gather the soldiers. We’re going to settle this now.”
“Yes, sir!” she said and hurried to issue the order.
Soon all the soldiers had gathered in the headquarters. Though fear crossed their eyes when Sergio explained their next mission, none seemed likely to abandon it or run away. More than fear, they wanted to find the culprit behind the monsters’ attacks and protect their city.
I don’t know what’s down there, but it’s better to have people prepared than to have a bunch of cowards who’d leave in the first sign of danger.
“I cannot lead you like this,” the captain went on, wincing as he put more weight onto his crutch. Because of his injury, he couldn’t stand up for long. “But Faela can. None of you are stupid. You all know if it wasn’t her, a lot more people would’ve died. Listen to her as if she was me.”
The moment he gave the command to her, Faela took charge.
“I’ve found a trail leading to the culprit. It was the poisonous blood,” she said before anyone asked. “It led to the sewers. I know you’ve searched before, but I found something.”
At once, Camila stepped forward and spread open the map, holding high so everyone could see.
“The trail led to here,” Faela pointed to a place near the church with Tetsuko. She put her back once she felt her sword’s irritation. “There’s no route, so I believe the place was sealed. We’ll find the entrance and the culprit. We’ll stop these attacks for good today!”
Though there was doubt on their faces, the soldiers shouted with her. They trusted Faela, thanks to everything she had done so far.
With their goal set, everyone lined up to get their living metal swords and shields. Though they were battered and pierced by the crow’s attacks, the blacksmiths had been working nonstop to fix them as best they could. Even in that state, they were better than regular swords and shields.
Even with the clouds gone, no one stepped outside their homes but Faela could feel their gaze as she led the men and women towards the church.
The place was crowded with those who got hurt and whose houses were destroyed. Even so, they made room so the soldiers could get to the cellar and the entrance of the sewers. Before everything went dark, a few men and women lit their torches, driving away the darkness.
Even though everyone tried to be quiet, their footsteps and the metal clanking echoed as if they were running, announcing their presence. However, there was nothing else alive down here besides them.
“Did you guys clean the sewers?” Faela asked when they were closer to the sealed entrance. Even though she kept her voice low, it echoed on the walls, going beyond the lights and dying in the darkness.
“Only once. When the attacks began, Sergio thought we could find something down here,” a soldier explained.
As the soldiers geared up, Faela explained to the Tetsuko about the rats. In the sewers, where there were no predators, the animals tended to grow three times the size of those on the surface. Though they weren’t strong, in numbers, they could devour an entire human in the blink of an eye.
According to her, there aren’t a lot of animals who are like this. I remember the crocodile Nicolas rode is considered huge… But that animal wasn’t related to the worshipers. It existed before… Are these bigger rats the same?
As Tetsuko considered and guided Faela, they reached a long corridor with a dead end. The soldiers stood still as they watched as their commander ran a hand along the wall.
“Are you sure there’s something hidden around here?” one of the soldiers asked.
“Yes,” Faela whispered.
As her wielder walked, Tetsuko concentrated. Though her senses were still overwhelmed by all the energy she devoured from the smoke, she could sense what was behind the wall.
Here. Beyond this point, I can sense a stair leading even deeper.
Faela stopped, knocking on the stone wall. It sounded just like the others.
It’s thick. It’ll be hard to break it. The swordswoman glanced down at her sword with a blank face but Tetsuko understood what she wanted. I hate you. You might be my wielder, but as a blacksmith, I hate you.
With a faint smile, Faela took a step back, drew Tetsuko and stabbed the wall with her. The sword pierced the stone, her tip barely reaching the other side.
As Tetsuko became sharper, the swordswoman pulled to the side with one great swoop. The wall broke and the pieces fell on the ground.
Though she hated being used as a tool, Tetsuko couldn’t help but admire the cut. It was a clean slice. There’s no way I’m telling her that though.
While the soldiers were awestruck, Anna had a wry smile. She was the only one who knew how unhappy the soul in the sword was. Their expressions became even more surprised when the dust settled, revealing the stairs.
“I… I never knew…”
“All these years, all the times we came down here…”
There was a long tunnel at the bottom of the stairs. The air, which was already stale in the sewers, had a rotten smell.
As they walked, they all heard it. It started with low squeaks, but soon it grew. Then they saw the thin layer of water covering the floor, vibrating. A moment later, hundreds of rats appeared around the corner, running towards them.
They were the size of dogs, some even bigger. Their eyes were yellow, their teeth sharp, and their tails thick. Though there was no mark of the demon on them, Tetsuko felt something off on them. They’re infected. But they’re not like the monsters.
“It doesn’t matter,” Faela muttered, drawing her sword. The soldiers behind her did the same. “Let’s go!”
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