~ Chapter 142: A long-awaited reunion (Part 1) ~
[Ayuseya's point of view]
What I saw in that room located deep down underneath the Pleyades Palace was downright sickening. Those draconian women were chained up like animals and used for the sole purpose of producing more babies. They couldn't even tell when someone entered the room and there was no spark of intelligence in their eyes. I feared that they had all been placed in a vegetable state where only the most basic functions of their brains remained functional.
Not even a Dungeon was so cruel and mad as to use what could only be described as a female draconian breeding farm. It was unnatural, it was barbaric, it was pure evil.
I barely managed to return to my room while constantly feeling the urge to puke and the desire to rampage and destroy everything in my sight. The thought that all those women down there were my very own blood relatives only made it worse. It was a wonder I wasn't spotted by the guards or managed to accidentally bump into one of the servants wandering around the palace corridors.
The horrible image of those poor draconian women being chained up and kept in a vegetative state was burned into my mind like a curse I was never going to get rid of.
Upon entering my room, I was a bit careless and accidentally broke off the handle of the door. The metal was simply squished in my grip, and I found myself unable to let it go. I kept squeezing and squeezing, imagining that what I held in my hand was the head of the one responsible for this.
A sharp feeling of pain was what pulled me out of this strange trance drenched in the essence of wrath.
“I'm bleeding...” I said to myself.
As I relaxed my grip and opened my palm, the handle fell on the ground with a dull sound. The pain that I felt was the result of me digging my nails into my palm.
A weak smile formed on my lips as I became aware of how upset and mad I was at what I had seen. Well, who wouldn't be after seeing their own family members being treated like animals with the sole purpose of breeding? How many cousins, sisters, or step mothers were in there? Were there more than 2000 women? And what happened to the boys? Were they killed or maybe sacrificed like my mother had planned to do to my child?
It hurts... I thought as I clenched my chest and sat down while leaning with my back against the door.
This pain was the result of me feeling guilty about their situation, feeling remorse for having not known about them and simply abandoning them for a better life.
Then again, maybe aspiring to live better, to be free, to be loved wasn't the problem?
I kept thinking about these heavy questions late into the night.
The following day, I found myself sleeping at the door while still wearing the same clothes I had on when I went to spy on the city.
What woke me up was the loud banging on the door behind me.
“In a moment, I'm changing.” I replied with a weak tone in my voice.
“Hurry up!” the disgruntled voice of a man came from the other side.
It shocked me to hear him show me so little disrespect, but then I remembered that there were draconian women in this castle who had it far worse than me, the livestock below.
I changed at my own pace, casting off the leather armor for a beautiful light-green and bright-yellow dress, which Illsy made for me a few months ago. It had all sorts of enchantments on it to make it powerful enough to survive the stress applied on it by my Over Supreme moves.
Upon catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, a soft smile appeared on my lips as I was reminded of my beloved husband.
“My love, I miss you...” I whispered.
Putting on a more serious expression, I went to the door and reached out for the handle, but it was gone. I immediately remembered that in my rage, I accidentally broke it last night.
I should get rid of this. I thought as I absorbed the remains in my Storage Crystal and then forced the door open with brute strength.
The metal of the lock bent and the wood creaked until it snapped open with a loud bang.
On the other side a soldier was waiting for me, and I could read the surprise on his face. He wasn't expecting such a display of strength, but maybe he had yet to realize what I did. From his side, the door didn't present any damages.
“Oh my, the hinges must be getting old and rusty.” I tried to joke it off.
“Ah yes... Erm, Princess Vellezya Pleyades has granted you permission to visit her. It would be wise not to leave her Highness waiting.” so he said, but the look in his eyes was one of both disrespect and disgust.
I showed him a smile and then looked into his eyes with all the killing intent I could muster. The air changed around as I released the pressure of my very presence. Although limited in range, it was all focused on this one draconian here.
Sensing the danger, the man stepped back, trembling from head to toe. He couldn't even control his bowels anymore as he released everything in his pants. I took a step forward, and he shrieked like a little girl.
“If you ever again dare to show this sort of disrespectful attitude towards me or my sister, I will personally send your remains to your family... piece... by... piece...” and then I walked away.
Of course, my anger and wrath couldn't be subdued with just that. I still had to find the bastard who made the farm below. I had to make sure his end won't be a pleasant one and if he was already dead, I had to destroy his grave and ruin his name. I had to do something... anything to release my anger, my wrath.
Maybe I should reconsider about what I want to do with this country... I don't want to rule it, but... I wonder if my sister can? I thought.
I had known Vellezya since she was a baby. The little draconian girl often came to visit me and join me during a social gathering. Even now I could still remember the many fun moments we had together. As children, we were surprisingly close to each other. There was no sense of rivalry or hate between us, or at the very least, that was I had always believed.
Right now, as I was getting closer to her room, I couldn't help but wonder just how much she had changed over the past several years. Would she still smile when she saw me? Would she still hug me and ask how I was? Would she still eagerly show me the many plants she had planted and grown with her own two hands?
I feared the possibility that she may have been corrupted by the many nobles here, turned into their puppet with no free will. Even so, it was a possibility I had to accept just as much as I accepted the possibility of nothing to have changed between us.
In front of her room were four maids and two guards standing straight with their hands on the hilts of their swords, awaiting diligently for their master's call. As soon as they saw me, they tossed me a glare of disgust, but I ignored them. They were so weak that if I slapped them lightly for this act of disrespect towards me and those I represented, there was a good chance I would accidentally kill them.
All of a sudden, I feel like am walking on the fine line between betraying Illsyore by acting against his dream and the freedom of releasing this pent up anger of mine... I can't betray Illsy... I have to stay calm. His dream is far more important to me than this silly act of revenge. Keep your calm, Ayuseya. You can do this! I told myself right before I knocked on the door.
“Come in...” this weak reply belonged to the draconian woman I held dear in my memories, but when I opened the door, I was shocked by what I saw.
Vellezya was almost unrecognizable. Wearing a thin white gown and laying in bed in a sitting position, she greeted me with an ever gentle smile. The dark circles under her eyes told me that she hasn't been sleeping well recently, but this was the least of the more concerning matters.
The draconian was all skin and bones. Her presence was so weak it felt as though I was looking at an illusion cast by magic. The skin on her hands was cracked, and her hair was falling off. The scales on her cheeks were losing their color, and she gave off the feeling of a very tired woman, someone who had worked for days without rest.
“Vellezya?” I asked.
“Yes, my dear sister. I apologize... If it were possible, I would have met you in different circumstances, maybe at a cup of tea? But now...!” she coughed two times and when she removed her hand from her mouth, she wiped the blood with a handkerchief. “I-I'm sorry...” she said with her weakly smile.
Seeing her like this released a terrible pain within my chest. My breath was cut, and I couldn't maintain my rigid and stoic appearance. I couldn't show her my composed face, as tears flowed down my cheeks, and I rushed to her bedside.
This was my sister who was in pain. It was my little sister who would often show me a curious gaze and an energetic smile. Seeing her like this, so weak, and in pain, I couldn't do it, I couldn't keep up my 'princess act'.
“Vellezya!” I cried out as I embraced her.
“Sister Ayuseya... It's good to see you...” she replied.
“I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!” I cried.
“Sister Ayuseya, there's no need to... apologize. You... did nothing wrong.” she spoke through heavy breaths and patted my head, trying to chase away the pain that coiled itself within my heart.
This pain was most likely caused by the guilt I felt for not having brought her with me, for dumping all of my responsibilities on her shoulders, and also for abandoning her. If I knew back then that she would end up like this, I probably wouldn't have left.
Yet, as I cried while holding her in my arms, I remembered the horrible scene I witnessed on that hidden floor. There was no way my little sister knew of it, and I seriously doubted the more older and powerful nobles of Teslov were unaware of it. Within this Kingdom, chances were that my only ally was this weakened draconian woman in my embrace, who appeared as though she was ready to take her last breath every time she parted her lips to whisper a word.
“Vellezya...” I said when my tears stopped flowing down my cheeks.
“Yes, sister?” she asked.
“Do you hate me?” I closed my eyes as I said these words.
A part of me felt as though it wanted to run away, to flee from hearing the answer that in one way could break my heart, while in the other relieve me of this pain. It was a bet which I was willing to take in order to see if there was still anyone left within this palace who cared for me or if I had been abandoned by them completely.
I had lost my mother when I read her letter back at the Fellyore Magic Academy. My father was a mysterious man I never got to know nor hear anything about, but he was definitely someone who earned the wrath of several of the high nobles in the Teslov Kingdom. That was why, I saw my little sister as my only family here, in this cold and wretched place.
The knowledge I had about Teslov's legislation as well as international law told me that it would have been impossible to save her in a legal way from the clutches of this kingdom. She had her own destiny, I had my own, and our paths were split back when I left Drakaros for Fellyore.
So with tears in my eyes, I waited patiently for her answer.
“Sister Ayuseya, I never once hated you...”
“B-But I left you here... alone.” I said, almost as if I was trying to convince myself of my own guilt.
“You followed your heart and left this place.” Vellezya stopped and then pulled out of my embrace so she could look into my teary eyes. “I heard what Dankyun did to you, sister. I felt awful for not noticing what sort of monster he was, but no matter what I or you would have said back then, it wouldn't have mattered. If you didn't leave, your fate might have been far worse.” she wiped off my tears and showed me her gentle smile. “I could never hate you sister because within the walls of this palace, you were the only one who treated me like family.”
“Sister...” I couldn't hold back my tears.
I had intended to come here and show her my dignified self, a draconian woman who refused to bend to the will of the selfish nobles within this kingdom. Someone who stood tall and proud even when everyone spat insults at her. Someone who refused to give up and carved her own path in her life, aiming for the moons and stars up in the sky. Yet, when I looked at my little sister, I felt as though all of my dignity, all of my strength faded away like dust in the wind.
There was no need to show her a mask, I just had to be myself, the same draconian woman with whom she played when she was young.
Vellezya didn't say another word, she let me cry as much as I needed while holding my right hand between hers as though she was holding a baby chick. Once my tears had stopped, and I regained my composure, she called the maids outside by the golden bell on the nightstand.
The two of them entered, and without even looking at us, they bowed their heads and waited for their orders.
“Please bring us some tea and cakes, the good kind.”
“Yes, your Highness.” the two turned around and like emotionless puppets left the room.
Once those two were gone, I reached into my Storage Crystal and pulled out a white crystal filled up completely with Magic Energy.
“You should use this.” I told her as I placed the precious item in her hand.
“What is this?” she asked confused.
“It's a Healing Crystal my husband made. If you use this, you should be able to recover some of your health. It won't remove the curse, but it will take care of any diseases or poisons you may have in your system.”
“If I can have just another day with my son, I'm willing do anything.” she nodded with a smile and then activated the spell.
In that instant, she was covered in a most beautiful white light of intense Magic Energy. It wasn't blinding, but within this enclosed room with half-pulled drapes over the windows, Vellezya shined like a star.
“Is everything alright in there?” one of the guards asked after knocking on the door.
They must have been startled by the sudden flow of Magic Energy the crystal gave off or maybe the bright light itself. In their eyes, it shouldn't have been possible for either of us to cast a spell, and they still thought of me as being a weakling, so my reply was a half-truth and half-lie.
“Yes, everything is in order. Just an innocent use of a minor Spell Crystal.” I replied as the light was calming down.
The guards didn't reply, but I could almost hear them saying that it was such a waste to use it. If they knew what sort of spell was installed in it, however, they would be awestruck.
With the light that covered Vellezya's body vanishing completely, I could see the major changes that took place. The cracks in her skin were gone, and she regained her healthy complexion. The dark circles under her eyes had vanished, and the air around her had changed. She wasn't giving off the sickly appearance anymore just that of a very skinny draconian woman.
With big eyes and parting lips, she looked at her hands. Then, carefully, she touched her face and felt her scales. For the first time since I entered this room, I also saw her tail moving under the bed sheets.
“My scales... they don't hurt anymore.” she said and then tears formed in the corners of her eyes. “I can stay longer by Brachen's side...” with a soft smile forming on her lips she looked at me “Thank you...”
I was happy to have helped my younger sister, but if nothing was done to change her current situation, then her joy would have been short-lived. Without the curse gone, she would be able to live for another two or three years at best, maybe six if I supplied her with Healing Crystals, but what would have been the point of that?
There had to be a better way.
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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