The entrance to the cave was located to the north of Neverwinter. It could be found in the juncture between the city and the mountain range. On the nearby hillside, there was the ever-busy mining and furnace areas.
Near the foot of the mountain, a solid concrete wall appeared in front of everybody. Although there were many facilities still under construction, this place had already become the most heavily guarded area in Neverwinter. There was a watch tower on each one of its corners and wired netting lining the top of it. There was also a machine gun blockhouse on each side of the gate.
The guards saluted Roland as he walked through the gate and into the yard.
Upon walking into the yard, he faintly felt as if he had traveled back to the modern world.
What he saw in here was definitely not supposed to be in this era. There was a huge cave that had its entrance covered with concrete. The cave was over ten meters wide and over 5 meters tall. The two grand iron doors were oversized compared to the entrance and their thickness reached an astonishing one meter. They were not solid poured but were rather jointed by several layers of steel plates. This was on par with many doors at modern military strongholds.
Since the iron doors weighed so much, the entrance had to be modified and slideways were installed on the ground to support the doors. Even with the slideways, they could not be pulled open by manpower alone.
Due to this, one of the two steam engines in the yard was used to provide the driving force to move the doors.
If the demonic beasts broke the defensive line set up by the Taquila witches, as long as the relic of gods got retrieved, these two doors could block any following demonic beasts outside.
Standing in front of the doors that were as big as a multi-layered building, Roland could feel their solidness. Almost 1/3 of Neverwinter's winter steel output was used to build these two doors. Their simple rectangular shape might seem easy to produce, but their size alone required a higher level of skill.
On the day the doors were installed, Roland had witnessed the scene as they were opened and shut. Listening to the toneless roar of the steam engine, the harsh grating on the sliding tracks, and watching the slowly closing doors, Roland felt as if he was in charge of the entrance that protected them from doomsday.
On each side of the two iron doors, there was half a line of words. Combined together, they meant the Third Border City.
Roland and the crowd of people that followed him walked into the cave. The light suddenly dimmed.
Phyllis took out the Stone of Lighting and walked in the front of the team. She began to lead everybody down the deep cave.
"Your Majesty, I don't quite get why you call this place the Third Border City." Wendy said with bewilderment, "If the outside Border Area is the first Border City, then where is the second Border City?"
"Because the third is the proper title," Roland replied.
"Anyway, don't you think the number three goes quite well with a stronghold? Besides, it doesn't matter what name we give it. What matters is people can remember it," Roland said with his hands laid out.
"Alright, as long as you like it," Wendy said, twitching her mouth.
After they stopped talking, the only sounds in the cave were the echoing footsteps and water dripping.
Due to the lack of spraymecs, only the floor of the cave was paved with concrete. On the two sides of the floor was a ditch and a mine railway. If materials and food were needed, they would be transported by carts hauled by the other engine at the entrance. Roland had heard from Phyllis that the God's Punishment Witches were once interested in measuring the power of the machine, and they found out that even five of them pulling a rope together could not stop the steam engine from dragging them forward.
Since the walls and ceiling of the cave could not be covered with concrete, leaking became inevitable. Luckily, the temperature inside of the mountain would not get too low so the water inside would not freeze. While devouring worms would leave a trail of mucus behind while crawling forward, when its mucus dried out, it would glue the dirt together as if smearing a layer of paste on the surface of the walls and ceiling. Because of this, there was no danger that the cave would collapse.
After about a half an hour's walk, the cave got brighter.
"We're almost there." Phyllis slowed down. "Your Majesty, do you need..."
Roland knew what she wanted to say and interrupted her. "It's ok. Take me there now."
The God's Punishment Witch turned back and looked meaningfully at Roland, "... Ok, I understand."
Upon exiting the narrow cave, they entered a large cavern. In front of them was a spacious dome building that was the size of a football field. Throughout the cavern, tens of light beams were projected onto the dome and cast bright spots on the floor. With the help of this light, people would not feel oppressed in this area even though they were deep under the mountains. Besides the witches, the First Army was also dispatched to guard this place. Each of the soldiers had been examined by Nightingale personally to make sure they were Roland's strongest supporters.
The deeper into the dome they went in, the more they got away from this light. In the center of the spacious dome, there was only a few rhombus shaped magic cores. They were the three Taquila Senior Witches... or in other words, original carriers.
Roland walked to the three of them with a smile on his face. He stuck out his right hand toward the leading blob monster. "Finally we could meet. You must be Pasha, aren't you?"
At that moment, Roland could feel someone panting behind him and felt that a hand was on his shoulder. Undoubtedly, if anything went wrong, Nightingale would drag him into the Mist instantly.
The blob being fell silent for a while then a familiar voice sounded, "I'm surprised, Your Majesty. Before today, we've only been communicating through the Illusion Core. Perhaps the illusionary images weren't that frightening, but at this moment, in front of me, the calmness you're showing is astonishing. To be honest, you're the first one who's seen this shell and reacted as if nothing had happened. Even when the Taquila witches first saw this form, they weren't as calm as you are. I'm curious, aren't you afraid at all?" She paused, reached out a tentacle, and gently tangled it with Roland's hand. "But you're right. I'm Pasha. Thanks for supporting the Taquila witches."
"He hasn't supported us. It's hard to say whether the group of common people he sent are meant to help or supervise us," a cold consciousness came in. "It won't be too late to tell him after he finishes exploring the big snow mountain."
"Alethea! We made an agreement!" a third voice interrupted.
"Alright. I'll shut up."
It seemed the other two were Alethea and Celine, who often appeared beside Pasha. Roland did not mind their tones. Firstly, those ancient witches had lived in an era where witches were superior and so it would be difficult for them to change their mindset. Secondly, compared to having their attitudes changed, he wished more to make some substantial gains.
"The Fjords' most famous explorer once said that fear comes from unknown. No matter how you look, your souls belong to Taquila witches," Roland said, smiling, "and I'm no stranger to the latter. Agatha has become an essential member of the Witch Union and a beloved and trusted member at that."
Roland noticed that Pasha's tentacle was rather coarse and the surface of it was not as dry as it looked. The surface of her tentacle felt moist. Perhaps it was because she constantly crawled in the dirt. Roland could clearly feel the warmth beneath her skin. This giant blob in front of him was, undoubtably, a fresh lifeform.
"...I see," Pasha's voice sounded sentimental, "and you're right. Our cooperation had begun long ago."
"Faced with the threats of the demons, everybody should let go of past prejudices and try hard to join hands." After some short casual conversation, Roland came to the main subject. "The relics of gods have arrived, right? Can I have a look at the things that determine mankind's lives?"
Pasha waved the main tentacles on top of her head. "Of course. Come with me."