~ Chapter 147: Facing the Devil from her Past (Part 2) ~
As I walked down these corridors, I was made to remember of the time when I was young. My earliest memories were of me playing outside together with my mother. The sun was bright and there were a lot of lovely flowers around me. It was such a beautiful and pleasant sight, and through the eyes of a child, it was no different than paradise itself. Mother, she was having tea together with a friend of hers. Father was up in his study, and I was holding a white ball in my hands.
I think I was two years old at that time, or maybe three? I was so young back then that I didn't even know what magic or an el'doraw was. All I knew was that it was normal for some people in the house to make shiny and sparkly things appear out of thin air.
As I grew up, my life was filled with the innocence of a little girl. I dreamed of beautiful dresses and tried to mimic mother when we had tea. Father made funny faces when I pulled his mustache, and I had a maid who took care of my every need. It was a beautiful life.
My debut into society was supposed to take place when I reached the age of twelve. Mother was already preparing for that moment because she wanted that day to feel truly special to me. Unfortunately, I would never get the chance to experience it. Even now, I still wondered how it would have been like to participate at such an event if on that accursed night I wouldn’t have been taken away by that dreadful man.
I did ask my sister-wives if any of them knew, unfortunately, we all had our fair share of a troubled past, and from what I had gathered so far, it was no short of a miracle that we managed to survive until today. Nanya could have died so many times in her youth, and her most dangerous moment was after Dankyun betrayed her. Ayuseya would have ended up as that monster's slave and died shortly after if she didn't meet Illsy on that faithful night. Tamara's fate was one of pain and suffering if we didn't find her, and Zoreya had her own fair share of deadly encounters. Overall, it looked as though our very existence into this world was tied closely to that of Illsy.
It was a bit frightening to think that one single moment of hesitation from him was all it would take for all us to have met our doom.
But even so, none of my sister-wives experienced the absolute horror and brutality that I was met with as a young girl. When I was ten, I was kidnapped from my parents' home and then forced to sacrifice my virginity to a dark god. From then on, my life was nothing but misery and torture. There was no mercy for me and no desire to keep me away from being subjects to horrors no child should ever be... It was absolutely horrible, and even now, after so many years had passed, I could still feel that pain in my heart.
Beaten, raped, tortured, mutilated, subdued and forced to experience all sort of inhuman treatments, that was my daily life. My mind fractured and broken apart little by little to the point where death didn't seem like such a bad thing.
This was also the reason why I could be so merciless when killing the assassins from Phantom Rage. In my eyes, they were the same as the monsters who did all those horrible things to me back then. To them I was but one thing and one thing only, an item that was to be used until someone or something broke me. Then they could just dispose of me like I was nothing. As for why I was so sure of it, well... I wasn't the only one who suffered from this cruel fate. Together with me there were at least ten others that I knew of who were brought to the guild by El'maru.
It seemed as though he enjoyed this performance of his. The girls even had a name for him: The Collector.
What he collected though weren't old books or rusty ancient coins. He collected our innocence, our purity, our minds, our hopes, and our dreams.
Out of all the girls in my group back then, I was one of the few lucky ones to have survived. Everyone else died along the way either from accidents during combat training or because they were abused too much by some drunk bastard.
“Sigh... such horrible things to remember.” I told myself as I stopped for a moment and closed my eyes.
How I wished I could just wipe away all those memories and start life anew, without that pain, without that fear and horror eating away at my heart, but in doing so, I would need to forget about Anette and Bachus, about Illsy and my sister-wives too... Such a thing was not something I wished to give up even if it meant to gain the chance of having a normal el'doraw life in the Mondravia Kingdom.
That was also why tonight I had to make sure to end this chapter of my life. El'maru was the rope that still tied me down to my past, to my horrors from my childhood.
“Hey! Who goes there?!” the guard at the end asked.
“[Wind Scythe]” I said and then the man's head rolled down on the floor while his blood from his still beating heart was sprayed out like a fountain.
Walking past him, I entered the secret lair where El'maru Rokan was hiding.
Just one second after I stepped through the door, all the six individuals that could be found here died, cut down by my spells. I then slipped into the shadows and moved deeper into the this assassin's lair. At each turn of the road, there was someone whose neck was twisted by me, whose heart was stabbed by me, whose words were muffled into the silence of the night as I crushed his windpipe.
There was no mercy to be given to these bastards, and it mattered not if my opponent was a woman or man. They all had stained their hands with the blood of innocents. Their deaths here were the justice the souls of their victims demanded. As for my own crimes, I had a life of sharing and giving to do through which I hoped the gods would forgive me.
Around fifteen minutes after I entered this lair, I was finally standing in front of the door behind which El'maru was hiding. Behind me were the corpses of his guards and the one messenger who was late by a second with bringing him the news of my arrival. This place was surprisingly huge, and thankfully there weren't any slaves or captured victims I had to worry about after I was done with that bastard.
“It's finally time... to confront my fears.” I told myself as I took a step closer to his door.
My hand, however, stopped just a moment before I could turn the knob. It was shaking.
I grabbed it with my other hand and then held it to my chest. I closed my eyes and tried to calm down, to relax. All of this rage and anger wouldn't do me any good, but it was so hard to control myself. The man who ruined my life, who took away what was most precious to me, who turned me into a killer and tossed me at his men to have their way with me, that despicable bastard was right there, behind this door.
Even so... why am I afraid? I wondered.
It was so strange to feel fear towards someone you absolutely knew was far slower and weaker than yourself. But when I thought back at that moment from when I was ten years old, when he loomed over me with a smile that sent chills down my spine and then took away my innocence... I was filled with both fear and rage. I was afraid of him, but this fear was merely the figment of that horrible moment, a shadow of my past, nothing more and nothing less.
It was difficult... so difficult to get past this fear. It still hurt. My heart was screaming in agony just thinking that I was going to see that man. I didn't want to do it, I just wanted to run away, but... if I did that, then he would win, and I couldn't have that.
“Illsy faced his own darkness, so why shouldn't I? I'm afraid? Then so what, I can get over it.” I told myself and then placed my hand on the door knob.
With a slow turn, the door creaked and then I pushed it open.
The light from inside washed over me, and I took a step through. It was almost as if I was entering the biggest arena in this world, and there, I was going to fight against a veteran warrior against whom even Illsy would have trouble standing up. The battle in my mind was akin to that between gods, yet in it, for some reason, I found myself on the losing side, gazing up at the eyes of the monstrous El’maru, grinding my teeth in vexation for having failed to defeat him.
When I stepped inside the room, I closed my eyes for just a fraction of a moment, but when I opened them, I saw this el'doraw who robbed me of almost 30 years of life and replaced them with nothing but suffering and torture.
I gulped and stood firm at the door.
“You… You are… Broken Doll, right?” the el'doraw scoffed as he leaned against his desk and narrowed his eyes at me.
At first single glance, he looked no older than a human in his thirties, but we, el'doraw, aged slowly just like the elves. With a broad smirk on his face, he looked down at me as though he was spitting on a pathetic bandit who stumbled on his own legs when he tried to rob him. His clothes were made of the best leathers and fabrics money could buy. Even a prince would find it difficult to acquire them, but this was only the case for the Sorone Continent. My clothes and those made by Illsy, in general, were far better than his in any way imaginable. His weapon of choice was a short sword with a handle decorated in jewels and engraved lines of gold that formed a wave-like pattern.
The density of the Magic Armor around him was... weak, but his presence was monstrous. It was as if I was looking at the most terrible being in this entire existence, yet... I didn't tremble.
Looking down at my hands I realized that I was touching my golden ring.
Illsy... even here and now, you are protecting me just like you promised. I thought and a soft smile formed on my lips.
“A shikak like you returned to me. Oh, my~! I am humbly honored!” El'maru made a bow before me, but there was no respect in his movements just blunt mockery.
I didn't answer and continued to look at him while I also carefully studied this room from the corners of my eyes.
His desk was made out of a tree with red bark. There were two bookcases here, one to my left and the other to my right, both identical in terms of looks, position, and books placed upon their shelves. Obviously, one or both of them were fake. Above each of them was a chandelier. Two of them in one room was a bit too much and the lightning crystals on top didn't seem to work. They had to be traps, it was the only explanation.
On the floor, between me and El'maru was a red carpet in the form of a square. If one took a step on it, they would find themselves plunging into a hole. What gave away this trap was the fact that if one looked carefully at the rug, they would see that it was bent downwards at the middle, almost as if there was nothing underneath it.
If one jumped over the rug, they would find themselves facing El'maru's sword. Or at the very least, that was the first impression, but right past the bookcases, on both walls you could see a row of tiny holes. This was an arrow trap with the trigger being the floor slates between them. A simple mechanism fashioned in such a way that a weight heavier than that of a stone slab could easily trigger it. Once this happened, the victim would then be covered in arrows shot from the left and right wall.
A Master Rank Adventurer's Magic Armor would end up shattered by any of these traps, while an Emperor Rank Adventurer would find his weakened and vulnerable to any following attacks. That was El'maru's objective with these set of traps. There was no way for someone below Godlike Rank to reach him without actually going through these traps and risk their own Magic Armor crumbling before his sword at the end, and to top it off, there was also a barrier between him and his opponent. The thin straight line in the floor tiles was what gave it away.
The barrier was probably there just to mock those who were below Emperor Rank and still had the strength for one last move.
“What? Are you out of words? Ah, yes, were you one of those we cut out her vocal cords or did we burn it with a hot metal rod? I can't remember.” El'maru said as he rubbed his chin and looked up at the chandeliers.
I turned my gaze to the bookcase behind him. There were several important documents there, but the scratch marks on the walls next to it was a dead giveaway of it being just an overly decorated sliding door.
When I finally turned my gaze to face El'maru, I looked straight into his dark-brown eyes. He disgusted me and the fear of my younger self was still there. I could feel it, that overwhelming emotion was like a little girl who hid behind me, trembling just by standing close to that monster. This fear was so real to me that it even made me forget about the fact that this el'doraw couldn't even harm me now no matter how hard he tried.
I knew this. I knew I was more powerful than him. I knew that I wasn't that little girl anymore, but... this fear... it was still there...
In this room, in front of this monster, I was still that helpless ten years old little girl who was hurt and tortured by him. The moment of that horror was still one of my most darkest memories. It haunted me and hurt me every time I thought back to it, but... just like Illsy did with his own Darkness, I had to do the same with mine.
I just have to accept it... and not let it control me. I have the power to choose if I am to live in that fear or not. No one will take away this choice from me. It was mine from the beginning and it will be mine until the end. The only one who can block my sight from gazing upon it properly is me alone. I thought and then took a deep breath in.
Using the circulation of Magic Energy in my body, I did a quick meditation through which I calmed down my frightened heart. This el'doraw before me would not dare to move least he wished to divulge his traps to me. Of course, I was going to pretend as though I had never noticed his scheme, and simply appeared to him as lost in thought.
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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