~ Chapter 109: Keltaru's story (Part 4) ~
“Once we got out, we looked back and saw the disaster caused by Dankyun Alttoros. Where once stood our beautiful academy now only rubble and scorched ground remained. Teacher Zertan suggested that one of us should head back and check to see if there was anything left or at least put out the fires which were eating up the forest in one big circle. Teacher Paladinus and Rufus were against the idea and urged us all to make haste to the nearby city and inform the local authorities about the disaster that took place there.” I said.
“Of course, we were worried about her Highness, Princess Ayuseya Pleyades, but the last we saw of you was when you rode off together with Dankyun. The fact that he, a Supreme, destroyed the academy was undeniable. As we were, we couldn't stand a chance against him, so we decided to return to Teslov Kingdom and hope to inform the nobles there of what had transpired there.” said Soleya.
“Our journey back was rather treacherous and not without its peril. We used up some of our savings in order to pay for our fees, and we hunted for food whenever we could. However, when we reached the capital of Teslov, instead of a warm bed and a hot meal, what awaited us were the cold cells of the dungeon.” I looked up into Mistress Ayuseya's eyes.
“What happened?” she asked.
“The Council of Elders decided that we have failed in our duty to watch over her Highness, so we were 'punished' appropriately. All six of us and three other maids who remained in Teslov at your order were all sent to the dungeon below the palace.” I replied.
“We spent almost an entire year in there. Because I was a peasant's daughter... one of the guards thought it would be alright to have fun with me...” Soleya said with a bit of a tremble in the tone of her voice.
When I looked up at her, I could see the pain of those moments resurfacing. It wasn't anything uncommon for commoners like her to receive such a treatment from the guards, especially when she was quite a beautiful draconian woman.
“I'm sorry...” Mistress Ayuseya said as she lowered her head.
She had a pained look in her eyes.
“There's nothing to apologize for, your Highness. I was lucky I wasn't ovulating because otherwise, I would have already been a mother...” Soleya said and showed her a weak smile.
“If you wish, I could track down that man and...” Mistress Ayuseya offered a very dangerous proposition.
“You can't do anything, your Highness!” she retorted in a loud tone of voice, almost a shout “Besides, it's all in the past now. The guards were changed afterwards, and I never got to see him again. As it is it doesn't matter if a man or two had their way with me... It's all in the past...” Soleya closed her eyes and lowered her head, but her words still held her pain.
It wasn't like she could forget about what happened to her, even I was quite furious when I found out and cursed myself for being too weak to fight back, however, Soleya claimed she already forgot about him, or that was what she wanted us to believe. I doubted she forgave him, but she certainly didn't wish to hold onto such a terrifying memory.
“Is everything alright?” Savannah asked from where she was sitting.
“It's alright.” Illsyore replied.
“I'm sorry.” Soleya bowed her head.
“It's no problem, please continue.” Illsyore said with a smile.
I couldn't understand this man, but I had the feeling that he wasn't as terrifying as I initially thought him to be.
“Almost a year after we were imprisoned, news of Dankyun's arrest for crimes against the Shoraya Kingdom and the Teslov Royalty reached us as well. We weren't aware of it at that time, but the Teslov government worked together with the Shorayan government in order to apprehend this dangerous Supreme.” I said.
“But there was still a matter of us, Princess Ayuseya's maids, butlers, and personal bodyguards. They didn't know what to do with us at first because there were children of nobility among us as well, like Keltaru here, who is the son of the Dowesyl Viscount family from the Mondravia Kingdom on Sorone Continent. There was also Neya.” said Soleya as she pointed at me.
When she mentioned my name, I saw them looking at each other for a moment. Maybe they were thinking about this could mean in regard to international relationships? Nothing really, I wasn't that important. My role was something akin to a political hostage with the special title of 'disposable individual'.
“The decision was made in the end by the current King of Teslov, Ayuseya's younger brother.” I said.
“We were to be made slaves and then sold to the highest bidder. And so I happened... But unlike other slaves, we were treated preciously as a 'set of slaves', where having all of us meant obtaining a royal princess' maids, butlers, and bodyguards. This 'collection' status rose our price exponentially.” said Soleya.
“Until I bought you...” said Mistress Ayuseya.
“Indeed.” Soleya nodded.
“You said something about the current King being Ayuseya's younger brother? What's up with that?” Illsyore asked surprised.
“Maybe it would be better if I explained how big the Pleyades Royal Family is?” I asked.
“Please do.” he nodded.
“Currently, there's his Majesty, Braydan Pleyades, the King of Teslov and Mistress Ayuseya's younger brother by six years, who has six wives and 17 children with them. Then there's Vellezya Pleyades, the younger sister by four years. Last I heard, she had yet to accept any marriage proposal, or rather no suitable candidate could be found for her. These three make up the current main family. They have 12 uncles who are still alive and carry on the title of Duke. Each of them with at least two wives and at least one child to inherit their peerage. And these are only those who have survived so far.” I explained.
“I had another eight uncles and six aunts, but by now they have all fallen to the curse.” said Mistress Ayuseya.
“Their children live on. Mistress Ayuseya has 36 cousin, 12 of which have died because of the curse and 24 are married.” Soleya said.
“Wait a second? I thought only the main family carried the curse? What's up with these numbers?” Illsyore asked confused.
“Oh, we call the Main Family those who are first degree relatives to the current King, such as siblings or parents. Once the King dies and one of his children inherits the throne, their current ranks change to Duke and Duchess.” Mistress Ayuseya explained.
“Princesses are also more difficult to marry off, while the princes can have any number of wives.” I said.
“Considering that none of them reach the age of 30, I wouldn't be surprised if they intermarry as well if no new suitable wife or husband pops up.” pointed out teacher Nanya.
“They do... Some of the wives of my now dead uncles are actually their great or great great aunts. The dragonesses can maintain a high status and a good life in exchange for their children.” explained Mistress Ayuseya.
“The former King... was actually the step-father and uncle of her Highness...” said Soleya.
“Wait what?” Illsyore said surprised.
“Incest is practiced among many of the influential and powerful families in all the kingdoms and especially the royal families. All those who hold the rank of dukes are basically first or second degree relatives of the royal family. It's all for the sake of maintaining the blood purity.” explained teacher Nanya.
“Still, brother and sister?” Illsyore shook his head.
For those like me who were born in a noble family, we knew that such relationships were neither anything new or something that was looked down upon by others. In fact, people encouraged them as they would result in children with a 'purer blood'. Needless to say this wasn't the case for everyone... The lower ranks from nobility or the upstart nobles with commoner ancestry avoided and felt disgusted by such immoral acts.
“That's the most common and less... gross relationship.” teacher Nanya told Illsyore and then whispered something to him.
“Ugh! Great, now I have to teach all of those idiots about genetics and how unnatural and wrong such relationships are!” he shouted afterwards while raising his fist to the sky.
What is he so mad about? I wondered while looking at him confused.
“Alright, we should wrap this up before my husband goes on a wild rampage and erases the high nobles of this kingdom from existence.” Mistress Ayuseya let out a soft giggle.
“Such a thing...” Soleya muttered.
“For him, it's quite possible. The only reason he's not subjugating the Paramanium Empire or the Teslov Kingdom is simply because he doesn't want to, but even if both of them tried to fight him at the same time and with a surprise attack at that, they wouldn't be able to win.” teacher Nanya said with a shrug.
This Dungeon Lord really has that much power? I wondered, but I honestly found it hard to believe.
“Alright then! I'm going to go check up on the slave markets around here. How about we meet up at the South Gates?” Illsyore asked.
“I'm going to come with you...” teacher Nanya said, but then someone grabbed her tail and pulled her back.
“No, you are going to help me prepare the food.”
The one who spoke was the maid we often saw walking alone around Fellyore Magic Academy. But the air around her had changed considerably... Unlike back then, she gave out a strange pressure, and when our eyes met, I felt like I was looking into mother's eyes.
No, I'm imagining things, but why? I wondered and then saw her showing me a gentle smile.
It made my heart flutter for a moment, and I gulped.
“I don' wanna!” teacher Nanya complained like a child.
“Do not worry, I'm going to be by Illsy's side!” the blond woman named Zoreya declared.
“That's worse!” she complained again.
“Yes. Yes. Now start peeling potatoes!” the el'doraw woman ordered.
“But but but, Shanteya!” teacher Nanya complained while looking up at her with tearful eyes.
“Hm?” she showed her a gentle smile and then pinched the demoness' cheeks.
“Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!” she cried out.
“Who was it that bet her turn and lost? Hm?” Shanteya asked emanating a rather threatening aura.
“But but... ack! Their gone!” teacher Nanya noticed that the two have left the scene already.
Actually, we didn't even see when they left... They sort of just... vanished. I was getting the strange feeling that Mistress Ayuseya's group was made up only of ridiculous individuals, yet she didn't show to be bothered by this. On the contrary, she acted as though this was normal.
I would even go as far as to say that they all looked like one big happy family.
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