~ Chapter 108: Orphans (Part 1) ~
[Alkelios' point of view]
We followed the young Amadeus through the busy streets of Mathias Town, and for every step we took we felt as though we were moving closer and closer to some abandoned hellhole where no speck of civilization could be found, an abandoned twilight zone.
From the outside, it didn't look like there were that many problems with this place. The nice buildings at the edge were made in such a way that the passing visitors could simply ignore or walk past these contorted and confusing hidden streets. The guards immediately tossed us a weird gaze the moment we followed young Amadeus into one of these narrow streets, while a greedy smile formed on the lips of those who looked like ruffians and scoundrels.
There was a big difference between those two types of individuals and the poor folk who had no choice but to make a living in this god forgotten place, and that was the look in their eyes. One gazed upon the world through the spectrum of opportunity and money, while the others through that of desperation and suffering. The poor people who were living here wanted to have what he had by earning it or by having the chance of being reborn into one of our families. The poor didn't think about robbery, they just wanted salvation from their suffering state.
As such, I knew well enough onto whom to cast my killing intent and towards whom to direct my compassion.
“The first time I came to a place like this, I couldn't believe it myself in what sort of horrible conditions these people lived.” said Ildea as she looked around with eyes that reflect her pity for them.
“They didn't attack you?” asked Kalderan.
“No.” Ildea shook her head. “I already looked like a woman who was cast off by the gods, poorer than they were and barely hanging by a thread to life. They had nothing to rob from me.” she explained.
“If anyone tries, I shall stop them.” declared Coshun.
“Thank you.” she replied with a soft smile at him.
Meanwhile, Risha was holding onto Tamara's hand, who was staying close to me. She had her cute brown ears flattened on her head since she knew that in the eyes of these folk, she was just another prized possession they could sell off to some rich slave trader. With Coshun around, however, they probably thought they couldn't stand a chance if they dared to attack us, so they could only glare at us from afar or try to scheme of a way to get her away from us.
“Are we there yet?” asked the impatient Kalderan.
“Not far now, mister. Just around that corner.” Amadeus replied and pointed at the end of the street.
The houses were looking even worse over here. One of them was half-burned to the ground and only the porch was left intact with half of its front door dangling in the wind on its one remaining hinge. Next to it were the remains of a dead horse from which only the bones remained. Some sort of rodent was munching on them, but it didn't seem to be a rat, it was too big and scruffy, plus it had a forked tongue like a snake.
The house at the corner reminded me of an abandoned haunted mansion that could barely withstand its own weight. It was very spooky, but I couldn't help but wonder how all of these buildings ended up like this. They had to have some sort of story behind them, but what I really wanted to ask was why would the people who lived inside didn't bother to take care of it?
Maybe because he saw me staring at that house, Amadeus told me “That place belongs to the Black Company. During the day there's not much activity going around here, but at night, there's this big scary mister who asks for a password from those who want to go in.”
“Hm?” I cast a long glance at the building.
“That place must be a black market auction house.” said Coshun.
“Auction House?” I raised an eyebrow at him.
“Yes, but for illegal stuff like forbidden items, magic, or even noble blood slaves. Although it's technically legal to sell and buy slaves in this kingdom, it's illegal to do this with someone who comes from a noble family. They fear that if a foreigner gets their hands on a noble, they could get their hands on this country as well through their blood connection.” he replied.
“Isn't that a bit ridiculous?” I asked.
“It is, but who do you think bothers to check this out. Just like it was back on our world for most people. It didn't matter if someone was truly evil, they just needed to look the part to help you point at them.” said Kalderan.
“I guess I know the feeling...” I said as I looked up at the sky.
There were those moments back on the Dragon Continent when I realized that being a human being in a land where draconians ruled was a bit scary. True, I was far weaker than a lot of them back then, but this didn't stop even some of the strongest to look with worry and fear at me. Those who suffered in that great tragedy 42 years ago held a bit of fear for mankind in general. Although, now that I have seen this part of the world as well, I can firmly say that they had nothing to fear. Unless they were dragged around in a slave collar, there was no way the mighty dragons and dragonesses of the Dragon Continent could be restrained by these weak humans.
Those who attacked Albeyater back then were definitely not among the weakest mankind had to offer, and the fact that out of all of them only one human Breakthrough-er came here showed that the human kingdoms lacked the confidence that this campaign would be a success.
If they did send more than one Breakthrough-er, or as the humans call them Heroes or Awakened, then maybe the Draketerus lands would still be under their dominion and the three day war would have become something like a thirty year war. The Embryger Empire might have had a good excuse with this to send over their armies and establish dominance over a much weaker and badly organized Albeyater Kingdom that was unable to protect its borders anymore.
If that would have happened, it was hard for me to picture myself as becoming Seryanna's husband. It would have been literally impossible for me to become what I was today. Although, maybe that God-like would have sent me to some other country like Shion, Ozur, or Novarak, which were to the far East of the continent. Or maybe to Olvia or Parand, which were to far South.
Then again, this made me wonder about something else.
“Hey, Coshun?” I asked him.
“Yes? What is it?”
“Why is it called Eastern Draconian Language and not Western Draconian Language? Albeyater isn't exactly on the East coast of the Dragon Continent...” I looked back at him.
“Because Eastern Draconian is merely the name of the dialect which originated from the Eastern parts of the continent. There's also Western Draconian, which can mostly be found in the South-Western part of the continent. The areas around our ports in Albeyater also speak it. There's also Southern Draconian, Northern Draconian, and Center Draconian, which are spoken more often in the Embryger Empire.” he explained.
“Can you show me an example of Center Draconian?” I asked raising an eyebrow.
“Why certainly, kind dragon. I am but humbled to speak in Center Draconian as you can currently assert for yourself.” he said.
I looked him straight in the eyes and blinked twice.
“Isn't that just plain... noble speak?”
“No.” he shook his head. “The words are slightly different from those used in Eastern Draconian.”
“Huh?” I then looked at the others for confirmation.
“Hey, don't look at me, I can't tell the difference even if I wanted to.” Kalderan shrugged.
“I don't understand, you three just talked in a weird language.” Risha said.
“I don't understand either.” said Ildea.
“Naturally, humans don't think it's useful to study and learn the Draconian Language.” Coshun said with a wry smile in the Ten Swords Language.
“True.” the princess nodded.
“We're here.” Amadeus interrupted our small debate, and when I looked forward, I saw a house which I was 100% sure it was both a fire hazard and an earthquake hazard.
The house itself was leaning slightly towards the right. The doors and windows were cracked and crooked, letting the air come in. They weren't that good for keeping the cold out during those cold winters. The floor boards looked like they were going to break if either me or Coshun stepped on them, and there were two big spiders in the corners of the rooftop staring back at us with all of their eight eyes. If my guess was right, then those two arachnids were probably of a higher level than most ruffians around here.
“You live... in there?” I asked.
“Yes... I couldn't afford that much after my trip here...” the boy replied and lowered his head.
“Your trip here? From where?” Ildea was the one who asked.
“Akutan. We're... refugees.” the boy looked away as he said this.
“Why do I feel like they are the victims of human heroes?” Kalderan asked raising an eyebrow.
The boy didn't answer, but Ildea replied what was on my mind “Maybe they are. But this is not the right place to talk about it.” she then looked to our left at several individuals who kept looking at us in a strange way.
They knew we were not from these parts, and our gear denoted our strength, which was far above theirs. We could defend ourselves in a battle, but we couldn't avoid their stares.
“I agree. Lead us inside, Amadeus.” I told him.
The boy walked up to the door and slowly pushed it towards the inside. It creaked loudly, scaring off a bird that was perched up on the rooftop.
“Little sister! I'm back, and I've brought guests.” he called as soon as he stepped inside.
Ildea was the first to follow after him, she stepped carefully on the creaking wooden boards and entered the house. Risha soon followed, but she looked worried that the building might fall on top of us. Tamara, who was right next to her, didn't even flinch as she stepped on the porch and entered the house. Her steps were so light that not even one creak was heard, but when Kalderan walked after her, the house began to cry again.
Coshun tried to go in next, but the moment he made his first steps on the porch, the boards gave away under his weight and his foot was swallowed by the floor. He looked down once then tried to get out, but he ended up putting another hole in the floor with his other foot.
“This... will be impossible.” he grumbled and then flapped his wings two times to fly back and get out of the floor. “I'll... I'll stay outside and guard.” he said.
“Alright.” I nodded and then carefully stepped around the holes the big draconian made while praying in my mind that I won't make another pair.
After I entered, I saw that everyone was already in the next room, where the boy's little sister was most likely resting. I was imagining her to be around seven or eight years old since he looked to be around ten, so when I walked up to the door, I wasn't expecting to see a little girl of around twelve years old.
She's the little sister? I wondered and then looked at the boy, who was clearly younger than her.
The little girl had shoulder-length black hair and deep black eyes just like her brother, but she looked weak and sickly almost as if she was barely hanging by that last thread of life. She could barely hold her head up now and despite the state she was in, she still tried to show us a gentle smile.
“I've brought help, little sister...” Amadeus told her.
“T-Thank you... for... taking care... of my... older... brother... I... I'm... Drumora.” then she looked up at the little boy, but the question of why he was called the older one never popped up in our minds “Brother... you... are rude... spell... undo...” she told him.
Spell? I wondered and then we all looked at him.
The boy gazed back at us and bit his lower lip. He appeared to be unwilling to do it as if not knowing whether to trust us or not, but his little sister, with her skinny and weak hand touched his right cheek to let him know that it was alright.
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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