Chapter 41 - The last trap

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"You know what we have to do. We must kill every one of those devil worshipers so our friends and family won't ever know their terror!" Alonso shouted, making sure everyone could hear him. At the same time, he looked around to the men and women by his side. "We'll give our lives to protect our homes!"

Though it was clear everyone would rather end the fight here and go home, their eyes shone with determination as they heard the lord's encouraging words.

Even Faela couldn't hide she didn't enjoy the idea of going down that mine to fight those terrible enemies in such tight space. Even so, despite all the fear, no one looked back.

One day of rest wasn't anywhere near close erasing the terror of them. But that was a good short speech, my wielder. They know they have to kill all the worshipers, but after facing that many at once, it's hard to ask anyone to fight them again, especially in this place, Tetsuko thought as she turned her attention to one of the sealed entrances of the mines. Even I can't sense how many are still alive inside here...

They had no time to count all the dead worshipers on the surface of the mountain. Not when they had to deal with the ones trapped underneath. Despite the natural and the manmade labyrinth, it was a matter of time until the worshipers could escape.

According to the report from the doctor, the worshiper they had captured still had strength even after three whole days without food or water. Only then it stopped trying to escape, though it was more conserving energy than exhausted.

Since they couldn't wait for the worshipers to die out of food and water, nor could they trapped them inside, since a single one of them was enough to break any boulder, the soldiers had to kill last one of them.

If I could at least sense how many worshipers are still alive... But everything feels off... Like I'm trying to listen to someone under water... The soul in the sword knew the reason. The raw living metal on the mountain was reacting to her senses. No matter how much she concentrated, it was as if she was listening to echoes, and couldn't tell how many worshipers were left alive.

I can't even sense the paths inside the mountain... That was making her more than uneasy. If there are more priest of high priest down there... And if the Grand priest is still alive... Even a sword like her shiver at the idea of facing such person in battle. I doubt Alonso can fight that worshiper, but if he does, I can get even stronger...

When Alonso confirmed the men and women were as ready as they could ever be, he looked at the soldiers holding the threads made of living metal that went inside the mines. The Lord remained still for a moment, the beads of sweat coming down his forehead. Then nodded.

The soldiers concentrated and poured their energies into the metallic threads. Tetsuko focused on the threads and followed those energies.

The threads created a huge net inside the mines, and at specific places, were connected to several hollow spheres made of iron with cracks sealed with living metal. As the energy went through the threads and spread around, the living metal vibrated. As the seal broke, the poisonous gas inside the spheres was released.

Even with her senses impaired, the soul in the sword could feel as the gas filled the hallways and dead ends of the labyrinth mine slowly. Those worshipers might be closer to monsters than humans, but there's no way they can stay without breathing for long...

According to Alonso, the gas wasn't deadly. But not only it was painful, it numbed the muscles. They use that for torturing, Tetsuko realized after her wielder explained to her. It'd be better to use a deadly one, but they don't have enough material for that here...

They made the gas by putting a plant inside the hollow iron sphere with a cord on fire then sealed the openings with melted living metal. The fire would burn the plant which e exhaled the noxious substance.

Alonso, Faela and all the soldiers waited in silence.

After a long time, they could see the dark yellowish gas seeping through the gaps between the rocks used to seal the many entrances of the mine.

So it's this far already, the soul in the sword thought as the soldiers took a step back. Soon we'll be inside the caves... Fighting those monsters again... As Tetsuko imagined her edge slicing the flesh of the Worshipers, she could feel her energy pulsating faster. She craved another fight with a high priest more than she liked, but there was nothing she could do. I am a sword, after all.

Though he didn't look at her, Alonso's grip around her handle tightened.

She could help but chuckle. Don't blame me, my wielder. I'm but a weapon. I was made to be used, for killing or for protecting, she projected her thoughts to him.

The swordsman said nothing, glancing down at her with an empty expression for a moment before watching the entrance again.

As the dark yellowish gas grew thin, without any order, the soldiers placed a cloth over their mouths and noses as extra protection. Even Alonso and Faela did the same.

Then the gas vanished in the air and there was no trace of it.

It's time.

The same men and women who were in charge of the threads walked closer to the entrances. Just like with the threads, they poured their energy and the shards of living metal reacted to it. As it vibrated, the rocks cracked and crumbled. Now there were spaces wide enough for the soldiers to enter.

Alonso and Faela exchanged tense looks. Then they looked at the other commanders. Without any word from anyone, each took their squad and picked an entrance.

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