Chapter 42 - Inside the mines

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As they entered deeper down the mine, the light from the entrance grew smaller. Soon it was nothing but a faraway dot of light in the sea of darkness.

It was still there, showing the way back. However, when they reached the first turn, that dot vanished, and they were in the complete darkness. Without any order, a few soldiers lit the torches, blinding everyone for a moment.

When Alonso's eyes grew accustomed, he stared at the pale flame dancing meekly, his face empty. Though he said nothing and kept walking, the soul in his sword knew what he was thinking.

You're right, my wielder. Even those weak flames are huge targets in this darkness. But it can't be helped. Without seeing, you're all rats in a trap. No... we all are...

As the soldiers walked, each step they took echoed, making it seem as if hundreds of thousands of people were with them.

Even with her senses impaired due to the high concentration of raw living metal, Tetsuko could see how everyone was afraid. With each stone anyone stepped, with each rock the metal boots kicked accidentally, the soldiers looked around, their hands clasping hard on the handle of their weapons.

However, those were the only sounds. So far, they hadn't found anything. There was no trace of the worshipers.

When they turned around yet another corner, they stopped. In the middle of the corridor, there was light coming from the ceiling.

"It's here," someone said. Even though their voice was so low Tetsuko had no idea it was a man or a woman who spoke, it echoed as if the soldier had screamed.

Slowly, they got closer until they were under the light, looking up.

One of the traps on the surface... Worshipers fell here, Tetsuko realized. Then she looked around. No matter how much she tried, she couldn't sense anyone other than the soldiers and her wielder. Where are they? There should be at least some blood from the fall...

"W-we need to move," Alonso whispered after a while. Even he was having trouble hiding how nervous he was. "We can't keep still in one place for long."

None of the soldiers seemed eager to leave the little natural light they had found. Even so, they obeyed and soon the light vanished, and the torches were all they had to push away the darkness.

When they found a four way path, which was also the center of another pitfall from the surface, Alonso stopped. He looked in the other three directions, but before he could decide where to go, they heard a voice.

"Unworthy."

Despite being a whisper, it made everyone draw their weapons, the sound of metal filling the mine. The soldiers with the torched raised it to cast a light in the direction of the voice, but there was no one.

"Fake god," a voice came from their right.

"If they can't accept the True Gods," a worshiper said from their left.

"Death is the only way," spoke someone in the path they had come from.

We're surrounded, Tetsuko shouted to her wielder.

"Get ready! Stay in the formation as practiced!" the lord shouted, drawing his sword.

As his voice exploded in every direction, the soldiers obeyed at once, forming a circle at the center of the four way path. Those with swords remained in the inner part. The ones with shields in the outer part. And between them were the soldiers with a spear-like weapon.

Now it's time to test the naginatas, Tetsuko thought, her blacksmith's soul speaking louder than the blade inside her.

Since there was no time to figure out how to adapt the folding technique with living metal to create the spearhead, Tetsuko suggested making a naginata instead. Baltasar was more than intrigued by the idea, since he had never a weapon like that in this world.

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