Listening to the stuttering explanation of the guard captain, Rhode finally understood the little girl's life experience.
She was indeed a resident who was born and raised in High Cliff Village. However, her birth wasn't a result of love but was a result of a horrible story from more than ten years ago. A long time ago, there was a beautiful, well-known young lady in this village. Many young men had crushes on her, but she would reject them all. And after she had slowly grown older to an age suitable for marriage, her parents started to worry and hurried their daughter to find a good man. But, her answer gave them a huge shock.
"I already have someone who I love."
Everyone was stunned. They were very clear of her life. She usually didn't even leave the village and had rejected the confessions from every men in the village. Logically speaking, she shouldn't have anyone that she loved. Her parents didn't believe her words and demanded her for the man's name, but the obedient young lady resisted their inquiries time and time again. Feeling helpless, her parents could only lock her up in her room and not let her leave.
But after this happened, odd things started happening.
Although they locked their daughter up in her room, every time when night fell, their daughter would suddenly disappear without any trace. Initially, they thought their daughter had left home in anger and hurriedly activated the whole village to search for her. However, they didn't manage even to find a trace of her. Just as they dragged their tired bodies back home, they found their daughter sleeping quietly on her bed, appearing as suddenly as she disappeared, as if she didn't leave before. And when they woke up their daughter, she would say that she had been sleeping all these while without leaving the room.
Both parents thought they might have made a mistake. However, the same incident kept repeating itself which made them panic. In the end, they requested the guidance of a respected bishop to check on her, and after the bishop's careful examination, he said something that frightened everyone.
This maiden had been possessed by a devil!
This result shocked many people. Never could they imagine how this maiden managed to be possessed by a devil. But no matter what, they helplessly begged the bishop to help them drive the devil away from the maiden's body.
But what happened afterward, nobody knew.
The only thing they knew was, the very next morning, the villagers once again gathered in the front door of the maiden's home. The whole house was coated in pitch black as if been burnt down by flames. At the side of the house laid the horrifying corpses of the bishop and the two elderly. The maiden's body covered by fresh blood, quietly sleeping between the bodies.
The villagers didn't know what to do. When the maiden woke up, she started to bite anyone she saw, just like a crazy wild dog. The villagers could only choose to lock her up in the cellar while thinking of a better solution.
But ever since this day, maiden's stomach started to grow bigger and bigger.
She was pregnant.
After three months, the maiden gave birth to a baby girl. However, the maiden had already expended all her life energy. After the villagers came to the cellar after hearing the cries of a baby, they witnessed the maiden's stinking, rotted and pitch black corpse.
Of course, no one wished to adopt this baby. They were afraid to end up like that old elderly couple. In the beginning, they chose to leave the baby in the deep mountains and let her die on her own. But odd things started to happen again. The next day, as they opened their doors, they would discover the baby in the middle of the square, alive.
This made the villagers fearful, and they wished to kill her. But they were afraid of getting the curse after doing so. Everyone pushed the responsibility around, but no one was willing to do it. They had seen the terrifying scene of the old couple's death, so nobody hoped to end up the same.
Eventually, the village chief stood out and adopted this baby.
As the little girl grew up, the villagers' fear did not dissipate but was intensified instead. Nobody taught her how to write, but was able to write beautiful words. Her voice was crisp and sweet but would occasionally blabber some unknown language. This deepened the villagers' fear of this monster. They treated her as a disaster and made her stay in an abandoned wine cellar. At the same time, they wouldn't allow their children to come into contact with the little girl. In their eyes, one of these days, this little girl would become like her mother.
Rhode frowned when he listened to the explanation. Marlene and Anne were also stunned by the story. Marlene, as a mage, naturally expressed disdain and anger to the ignorance of the villagers. And as for Anne, she could understand the feelings of the little girl ---- just like herself, she was abandoned in the mountains by others and grew up with beasts. She angrily puffed her cheeks and stared at the guard captain with her sharp, beast-like eyes. The guard captain didn't dare to look them in the eye and lowered his head as he stared at the ground. On the side, Lize cupped her hands and placed them on her chest. She lowered her head and started to quietly pray.
"So, what's with the mask on her face?"
The guard captain paused to think for a while and continued, "About this... this... I heard from the village chief. This girl was weird. She had been saying baffling things that could not be understood. Like, "You're the next target" or something like that... then that person would find themselves to be under the attack of the undead. Everyone felt it was her doing, so they made a mask and bound it on her face, preventing her from speaking. After doing so, no undead creature would attack us."
"So it was useless in the end, wasn't it?"
Marlene stopped the guard captain's words abruptly.
"If that was the 'solution', we wouldn't be needed here, right?"
Marlene sneered. Facing her sarcastic remark, the guard captain didn't have anything better to say. He could only smile and lowered his head.
"In other words, that mask was just to stop her from speaking? Are there other meaning to it?"
"No, nothing else..."
"Okay, I understand now."
"So then..." Rhode nodded and stretched out his hand, "Key."
After hearing Rhode's orders, the guard captain and village chief were surprised.
"Didn't you hear me? Give me the key. One of you should have the keys to the mask."
"It's with me, but Sir, if we get cursed by..."
"That's your concern, not mine. Now, hand the key over."
Rhode's eyes turned cold.
"Or maybe I'll just retrieve it from your corpse."
It was a direct threat.
The village chief's body shivered a little as he quickly reached into his pocket and respectfully gave a small copper key to Rhode. Rhode received the key and passed it to Marlene.
"Remove the mask from the little girl and get her something to eat."
Following Rhode's orders, the village chief led them to a pub that Rhode designated as the mercenaries resting point. At the same time, the little girl tagged along behind the group. After witnessing how the villagers treated her, no matter if it was Rhode or the three maidens, no one was willing to let her out of their sights.
"Yes, Mr. Rhode."
Marlene took the key and hurriedly stood up. She nodded to Rhode and quickly beckoned the little girl to follow. Anne and Lize accompanied her out. Since there was an opportunity to avoid those irritating villagers, naturally they would choose to back off.
In an instant, the entire pub hall was deserted with the exception of Rhode and Celia. He was sitting on the chair nonchalantly while Celia silently stood behind him. In front of him, stood an old man filled with sweat, and a guard captain who was looking towards the floor.
After noticing the angel standing behind Rhode, their doubts about Rhode's identity were washed away. Her pristine, white wings spread open, shining brilliantly under the sunlight that peeked through the windows, releasing a radiant aura.
"Now we can talk about the undead creatures... or maybe, you have other matters?"
Rhode looked at the village chief expressionlessly.
Hearing Rhode's question, the old man shivered and raised his head a little to look at Rhode. He lowered his head again and gritted his teeth before speaking, albeit having a slight stutter in his voice.
"T-This... dear Sir, please forgive my rudeness... May I ask, where did you come from?"
"The Northern Mountains."
Rhode casually answered and frowned, showing a slightly irritated look on his face.
"Is there any problem?"
"N-No no no, no problem at all."
The old man once again lowered his head, and hurriedly continued, "Just... that... did any of your family members visited here before?"
Rhode shot down his inquiry, his tone obviously reflecting his impatience and irrelevance to the issues at hand. He thought the old man's questions were silly.
"Is this all you want to ask?"
"Yes, I am very sorry..."
The old man wiped his sweat and took a few steps back, indirectly signifying that his turn to speak was over. Rhode observed him for a while and turned his head toward the guard captain.
"Next, let's talk about the undead creatures."
The guard captain began his explanations.