~ Chapter 138: The horrors of Drakaros (Part 4) ~
Opiates? Ah yes... there are some hallucinogens that use Magic Plants. How foolish of me... As someone in my position, I should have thought of the dark side of society as well... Did I look away out of fear? I wondered as I saw him walk away If I kill him here... then... for a moment, this thought appeared, but I stopped myself before I did the deed. Shaking my head, I thought No. Even if I kill this draconian, there will be another to take his place. I then looked down at the crying girl. These children will never be safe unless I do something about it... unless someone fights for them.
The little girl continued to cry over her mother's body. There was nothing anyone could do about her now.
“I'm going to bury her.” I told the child.
“What's your name, child?” I asked as I picked up the body of the woman. This smell she gives off... Was she forced to please a man before she took her life? I wondered.
“Ayu... Ayu Albastrea.” she said with a low voice without taking her eyes off her mother.
“Ayu? That's an unusual name.” I remarked.
“Commoners... they aren't allowed to give themselves the names of nobles, but mommy... she really wanted to because she once saw Princess Ayuseya at a celebration.” she sniffled “She worked as the maid of a noble back then... the same one who became my father. We ran away last year so that he wouldn't touch me once I grew of age.” she told me through her tears.
“What?” I said surprised.
I couldn't believe that the dead woman I was carrying in my arms decided to name her child after me.
Can this pain be any worse? I wondered as I felt my heart being squeezed by needles of guilt.
“Why her and not someone else?” I asked.
“At the celebration, mommy made a mistake and spilled a drink on a noblewoman's dress. She got mad, but Princess Ayuseya defended mommy... Mommy thought that Princess Ayuseya wasn't like the other nobles, that she was going to help us... Princess Ayuseya didn't help mommy, she was just like the other nobles.” she sniffled.
That... hurts... I thought, but in that situation I doubt I could have done anything without literally blowing away my cover and causing a big scene. Besides, if this woman had become addicted to drugs and was selling her own body into prostitution, then things turned for the worse for her, and I doubt anything I could have done could have saved her.
“Do you hate her?” I asked.
“No...” the child shook her head. “Mommy told me not to hate anyone... no matter how I think they wronged me. Besides, I heard the rumors as well... The Princesses and Princes are just for decoration. They hold no power even in front of the nobles.” she said.
“That is true... Sometimes though, no matter how much someone desires to help you, they can't, especially when a country is rotten to the core like this one. Princess Ayuseya fled Teslov, didn't she?” I asked as I continued to make my way towards the outside of the city, where people like this girl's mother could be buried without worrying about others disturbing her corpse.
“I don't know...” she replied.
We walked in silence for a while, and when we got near the gates, I asked “Would you blame her for the death of your mother if you had the chance to speak with her?”
“No... I would blame the evil men who made mother do those things... who pushed her to...” she didn't finish her words and started to sniffle again.
“Hey, you! What are you doing with that thing?” one of the guards asked when he saw me approaching the gates.
“Taking her outside for a proper burial.” I replied.
“Burial? She's a commoner, right? Just toss her in the fertilizer pile with the rest of them. It's to the left as you go past the gates.” he told me.
I looked into the draconian's man and despite the curse words I wanted to toss his ways, I replied with a simple and polite “Thank you.”
After we left Drakaros, I continued to walk until we were a good distance away from the walls.
“Will this place do?” I asked.
“For what?” Ayu asked me with teary eyes.
“For your mother's grave. It's a wild and free land where her soul can rest. Rather than a fertilizer pile or some dark alley back there, I think this place would suit her better.” I showed her a soft smile.
Ayu looked around and noticed that we were quite a bit of a distance away from the city as well as from the nearest road, meaning that besides us, there wouldn't be anyone else who would know that this was a grave.
“Yes... mommy would have liked it.” she nodded and then her tears started to flow down her cheeks again.
“It's alright to cry... It's your final goodbye, after all.” I said as I began to prepare for her burial.
Although this was the first time I ever did one, I had read in books how it was done and I also learned from Zoreya a little bit about it. Even I knew how to cast a simply purification spell to keep the body from turning into an undead.
First, I dug a hole into the ground that was 6 meters deep. At such a depth, no monster or predator could reach her. Afterwards, I prepared the woman's body by washing it with magic and sewing up the wound in her chest. I then dressed her up in one of my dresses, and with some of the wood I had in my Storage Crystal, I made her an coffin.
While I did all of this, the little girl watched me with tears in her eyes. She didn't even realize how uncommon was everything that I did or the fact that someone couldn't dig a hole that deep that fast. All that Ayu cared about was the fact that this was the last time she was going to see her mother's face.
After I prepared the body, I cast the purification spell on it and then placed it carefully in the coffin with her hands crossing over her chest.
“Mommy looks so pretty... the prettiest she looked in her entire life.” Ayu said with a soft smile as she gently touched the cheek of her mother. “Goodbye, mommy. Ayu promises to be a good girl and grow up to be someone you can be proud of. Ayu promises to live for you as well... no matter the pain and hardship.” then her tears flowed down her cheeks once more “Ayu... Ayu will miss you, mommy!”
I let her cry for a few minutes before I closed off the coffin.
While saying a short prayer to the gods above for the soul of this unfortunate draconian woman, I lowered her into the ground. Ayu threw in the first fist of dirt and then I used magic to push in the rest. A slab of stone cut with the help of my sword acted as a gravestone. On it, I wrote a simple: 'Here lies the beloved mother of Ayu. May her soul rest in peace.'
The little girl mourned for another hour and then with a final goodbye, she turned her back at her mother's grave.
“What will I do from now on?” she asked as she clenched her fists and looked at the ground.
“What you did until now: survive.” I answered as I placed my hand on top of her head.
“But without mommy... I...” she sniffled.
“Even without your mother by your side, you can grow strong, but it is true that you might need a bit of help turning your life around.” I said and then closed my eyes for a second.
I can't take her with me to the Pleyades Palace because the nobles there will surely use her as a hostage against me as soon as they will be given the chance. I thought.
Taking out 20 Gold Coins out of my Storage Crystal, I looked straight into her eyes and told her “I'm going to give you two choices. What you do is up to you.”
“Your first choice is to use this money as you see fit to start a new life in this kingdom.” I showed her the money, and her eye grew of big of surprise “You can go to another town or pay for lodging in a better area until you can find yourself a good job. You could even start your own business if you think you can. Your second choice, however, is a bit more difficult.” I let her hold the money “You can use these coins to head to Illsyorea, where you can forge a new and most likely a better life than you would in Teslov.” I explained.
“Illsyorea?” she asked with a confused look on her face.
“On Illsyorea lives Princess Ayuseya together with her family. They govern the island with a gentle hand, in a way which you will not see anywhere else in the world. If you have a dream, then that's the place where you can achieve it. Best of all, education on the island is mandatory, so even if you are a poor commoner, you will be accepted into their school and taught how to read and write at least.” I explained.
“Princess Ayuseya? So... she really did abandoned us?” Ayu asked.
“No...” I shook my head “She didn't want to abandon you, it's just that adults have their own share of problems, especially when politics are involved. I would go so far as to say that she had no choice but to flee Teslov at that time. But do know this, that if she didn't had the courage to leave Teslov, she wouldn't have ever been able to help build that small heaven for people like you.” I showed her a soft smile and then patted her on the head.
After I reached the age of twelve, I had been invited to countless parties by the nobles living in Drakaros. I could attend only a handful of them every year, so my presence was always treated as something special. Looking back now, Ayu's mother must have met me at one of those parties.
Now that I think about it, those nobles were all looking at me with disgusting lecherous eyes. They were probably thinking that they could get a taste of my innocence once I was tossed into a Ball. Back then, however, I was only told that I was attending these parties in the hope of strengthening the relationships between the Royal Family and the nobles they ruled over. Telling such a lie was far better for the young me than the disgusting truth which would have made me run away in fear. I thought.
“Ayu, think carefully about what you want to do. This decision will shape your entire future. Do what you think will be best for the future you. Once you tell me what you wish to do, I'll take you to a nearby town and pay for a room at the inn as well as a hot bath for you. From there, you can go to the Adventurers Guild and request an escort to Port Callira or hop onto a merchant's caravan that's heading there.” I explained.
“It will be my choice...” the little girl looked down at her own dirty hands and furrowed her brow.
While she thought about it, I took out a table and a chair. I placed them next to us and then sat down. From within my Storage Crystal, I took out my writing tools and then began to write a letter addressed to the Deus Family. This way, no matter whom she first bumped into on the Island, they would know that she was under the protection of a Deus.
After I was done with it, I sealed the letter and handed it over to Ayu.
“Take this. When you reach Illsyorea, tell anyone there that you have a letter for a Deus and ask them to tell you where you can find the school.” I told her.
Ayu took the letter and looked at it for a long moment.
“What do you want to do?” I asked her.
Looking up at me, she then told me “I want to meet the Princess mommy looked up to. I want to go to Illsyorea.”
There was a newfound glimmer of hope and strength in her eyes.
“I'm sure you will, and she will also be happy to meet you.” I told her and then gently patted her on the head. “Now, let's get you someplace safe.” I said and picked her up.
It took me only half an hour to reach Milatana Village. There, I looked for the inn and after talking with the innkeeper for a bit, I was told that there was indeed a caravan that was going to leave in two days for Mendrakar City. I got Ayu a spot on the caravan and also payed the innkeeper a few extra coins to watch over the girl and teach her anything she might need to know to survive her long journey ahead.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
I know some of you are troubled by my typos and at times grammar mistakes. I do edit it to the best of my abilities before posting it, but some things just slip through for various reason (mostly because before editing it, the whole chapter is a mess). However, if you have fun looking for them, go ahead and let me know where they are. On my discord server, there's a special channel just for that: help_author_edit
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