~ Chapter 88: Fires at the docks (Part 1) ~
[Seryanna's point of view]
I flew straight towards Sagar, stopping for nothing on the way. Tanarotte was right behind me, and I was surprised to see that she was able to keep up with me. Within my arms I carried the sleeping Shelly, who was covered in a warm blanket. Her bleeding had stopped thanks to the potion she was given, but she was still in dire need of healer. My own healing spells were far too weak and far too dangerous to use when I didn't know what her actual condition was.
As I carried her like this, a frightening thought crossed my mind: What if instead of Shelly it was my own child? What if at that time I would have no healers around me to help me take care of his or her wounds?
Just thinking about it sent a chill down my spine. While my armor and maybe Alkelios' luck would protect us, this didn't mean that we had to depend on it for all situations. A few years ago, I wouldn't have had any need to think about learning to cast more powerful healing spells. I mostly relied on finding someone who could do it for me.
Back then, I was just a Knight among many. My power was average at best. My connections to those in power were not that great but not nonexistent either. If I hadn't met Alkelios, I would have been sharing a bed with Draejan right now and maybe carrying his egg. My duty as a Knight would have vanished at the time when we took our vows before Drakartus, and from a warrior I would have been turned into a housewife. Considering what I already knew of Draejan, I would have probably been a Matriarch in name only, while he would run everything from the shadows.
If Alkelios never appeared before us dragons or if by some unfortunate twist of fate, he would have died in that forest, then all of us would have not known the happiness and hope he offered us.
I for one would probably never have known what it meant to love and desire to be held in his arms. The Queen's fate would have been sealed, the Kingdom would have slowly become a vassal state of the Embryger Empire. My grandfather would have met a painful death, and my little sister would have still continued to live as an outcast. Kataryna would have continued to live in loneliness, hidden in that cave of hers, and Princess Elleyzabelle would have been married off to some foreign noble in order to strengthen Albeyater Kingdom's relationships.
Yet, the fact that Alkelios gave us the chance for a better life did not excuse us from continuing to strive to become better and perfect ourselves. For me, as well, this was a fact I may have unintentionally ignored up until now.
When Kataryna trained me, I never actually gave much thought about my own power, my influence in this world, my ability to change my own fate and that of those around me. My dream had always been to be a Knight and serve the Royal Family, but now, I couldn't afford to limit myself to such a level.
If I had my own Knight Order trained as I wished, then maybe this kidnapping wouldn't have taken place? Or maybe my knights would have noticed something I did not? I thought and then remembered the three dragons I had been training in my spare time.
I found the act of training my own troops to be rather enjoyable. It felt good to witness their progress.
Despite all of this... I didn't even catch their names. I thought.
Letting out a sigh and looking down at Shelly, I raised a question to the dragoness who had been following me on my way to the capital.
“Tanarotte, do you think this kidnapping would have been prevented if there had been more troops to guard the palace?”
“Hm? Isn't that a rather silly question? Of course we would have had a better chance of preventing it! I mean one thing is to sneak within the Seyendraugher Palace in Drakaria and another is to sneak in the Ruvus Palace in Sagar.” she replied in a nonchalant tone of voice.
“Is that so?”
“Yes, why do you ask?”
“I'm just wondering... that's all.” I replied, but within my heart, there were two bleeding wounds that had just formed.
The truth spoken by this dragoness hurt, and I couldn't help but feel like I was to blame for poor Shelly's kidnapping. If only I had more dragons to look out for the things I couldn't see. If only I had known how to properly heal others.
“Mew~ Mama... bad man... hurts...” Shelly called out in her sleep.
“It's alright little one. No one is going to hurt you.” I replied and nuzzled her.
I wasn't her mother, but my comforting words seemed to have worked just as well.
In another half an hour we would have reached Sagar and then land right in front of the Palace. The guards rushed around us to see what was the commotion about, but when they saw little Shelly, their face turned to one of grief.
“Where's your best healer?” I asked one of them.
“That would be Madam Leanna. We'll take you to her.” he replied and then saluted.
“I'll go inform his Majesty of your return.” another guard said.
“And I'll go tell Mistress that we're back!” said Tanarotte.
The guard guided me inside the palace and led me to a room located on the second floor to the right. The room was filled with all sort of herbs and potions, books scattered everywhere, and a naked relliar woman sleeping on the floor curled up in a ball and muttering something about alcohol pancakes.
She was over twenty years old by my estimate, and her fur was white and shiny. Her hair was blond and her whiskers twitched cutely. Normally, seeing her like this, I would have wanted to jump on her and start petting her, but with Shelly in this state, I couldn't think of such things.
The guard who escorted me here let out a heavy sigh and then picked up a bucket of water that had been strategically placed next to the door.
“Give me a second, I'll wake her up.” he said and then dumped the water on the poor naked relliar woman.
“NYAGYA!!!” she let out a weird scream and then jumped on the ceiling, using her claws to hold her weight up there.
Looking up at the soaked relliar who was breathing fast and looking around with big eyes, searching for danger, I couldn't help but notice the countless other claw marks there.
Is this something common around here? I wondered.
“Professor Leanna, we need your help! Princess Eshantiel was brought back and her condition doesn't seem to be good!” the guard called out to her.
“Huh?” she blinked surprised and then locked eyes with me. “Eshantiel grew scales?” she tilted her head to the left, but considering the fact that she was hanging upside down from the ceiling, it looked weird to me.
“Is this really alright?” I asked the guard.
“Don't worry about her. She's just so focused on finding new remedies and experimenting with healing potions that she often forgets even to change her clothes after taking a bath. More than once she had greeted nobles and even his Majesty in this manner. Everyone already got used to this virgin woman who knows not the word 'shame'.” he said with a sigh.
“What are you saying to people, nya?” she replied with her face flushed as she was trying to get down.
“Are you stuck again?” the guard asked.
“N-nooo?” she looked away.
“One moment.” the guard replied and then picked up what looked like a big wooden hook, which was strategically placed next to the bucket of water.
Using that tool, she peeled the naked professor off the ceiling.
The woman landed with a grace worthy of an acrobat, and I would have been impressed if she didn't do it while naked.
“Is she really alright?” I asked the guard.
“Yes, she'll fix up the Princess in a jiffy!” he replied and then walked outside.
“Nya~ This is so embarrassing.” Leanna said with a wry smile.
“Please leave aside this foolishness and have a look at the Princess.” I told her.
“Ah! Right away, nyanya!” she said.
“Is it really necessary for you to use 'nya' in your speech when not even this child does it?” I asked even though I thought it to be just a bit cute.
“Nya? Yes, nya! It makes me unique, nya!” she said.
“Doesn't walking around naked make you plenty of special?” I asked as I handed the Princess over to her.
“Nya! Don't say that! I'm not some cheap woman, you know? I just focus too much on things and sometimes forget unimportant stuff like clothes, food, or to breathe!” she replied.
“That last one is dangerous.” I remarked.
“Nya! No worries, that guard often comes to my rescue! He's my childhood friend, nya!” she said proudly while sticking up her bare chest.
“Please put on some clothes.” I said.
“Why, nya? We're all women here.” she said.
“His Majesty might arrive any moment now.” I told her.
“Ah, that would be a problem, nya. Last time he saw me like this, he got a nosebleed for some reason and then a black eye from his wife, nya.” she said tilting her head to the left.
Isn't all of that because of you? Really now, is Shelly safe with this sort of scatterbrain looking out for her? I wondered.
After Leanna got dressed, she began to inspect the relliar Princess and then used a powerful healing spell on her. It was the type which I couldn't even hope to cast any time too soon, but it was enough to cause all of the bruises and cuts on the child's body to disappear. In just a few short moments, the young one was healed and was now resting with a white sheet covering her body.
“Nya, I can't do anything about the fur, nya. It will grow back, in time, nya. But it's awful what happened to her, nya. Four broken ribs, internal bleeding, cuts and bruises all over her body, mutilation, and even several infected wounds.” Leanna said and then shook her head “Whoever did this, I hope he died, nya.”
“He and all of his accomplices have been burnt to a cinder.” I replied with a growl.
“That's good, nya! But leaving aside the obvious torture, I was worried that she might have been forced to take in the seed of a man, but it looks like you got there before they did anything of the sort.” said as she looked up at me.
“That's good. A child of her age should not experience such things... I cannot even begin to understand why they would do something like this to her.” I said.
“Nya! What you say is true, but their minds don't work like that. I have studied many cases of nobles and peasants who abuse those younger than them. If the relliars are anything like the humans, then all of this doesn't happen because they are inherently evil but rather because certain events in their lives and the lack of proper guidance pushed them into believing that such acts are what define pleasure and power for them. For those sort of people, abusing those weaker than them grants them the satisfaction of feeling empowered over another individual's life. It's complicated, nya, but all you should know is that the Princess is safe for now!” she showed me a bright smile and patted my shoulder.
Although I didn't understand most of what she was trying to say, what I did understand was that these savages had not been born this way but rather they had been raised this way.
At that moment, his Majesty entered the room. The expression on his face and the ragged breathing told me that he ran all the way over here. As Shelly's parent, he was no doubt quite worried about her.
“Lady Draketerus, my daughter...” he said.
“Over here. The good healer Leanna took care of her.” I said as I stepped aside.
“Eshantiel!” he called out and rushed to the little girl's bedside.
She didn't reply, she was still sleeping.
Not long afterwards, Princess Elleyzabelle arrived together with Kataryna.
“Good job, my Knight.” she said with a smile.
For the first time since I acquired the title, hearing these words felt heavy upon my heart. Once more, I remembered those stray thoughts of mine as I was flying over here from the Silvertooth Forest.
“Thank you, your Highness. Now, if you will excuse me, and with your permission, I wish to go to Donmar Port and destroy the vessels the humans arrived with. I have reason to believe they are meant to be used to carry relliar slaves in their holds back to the Akutan Empire.” I said in a formal tone of voice.
“Your Majesty, King Ruvus, what do you think?” Elleyzabelle asked after a moment of pause.
“She has my permission to hunt down those wretched humans by any means necessary!” he declared in a harsh tone of voice.
“As you wish.” I made a bow and then walked towards the exit.
“I'll come with you, just to make sure that you don't burn down the whole port.” Kataryna offered as she followed me.
“What about me, Mistress?” Tanarotte asked.
“You and the other knights remain here and guard Princess Elleyzabelle with your lives!” she ordered.
“Yes!” the dragoness replied joyfully.
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!
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