The Road Home (Part 3)
I finally saw the magnificent city again. The last time I saw it was about half a year ago. Previously, I’d spend an entire month here with my mom and Lucia, but it felt distant to me upon seeing again.
The guard below the city wall respectfully saluted me, “Your Highness, Her Highness has already told us to take you back to the imperial palace once you arrive.”
The guards wouldn’t question my whereabouts. They allowed me and the White Deer King into the city. I shook my head: “Don’t rush; I still have something to do. I’ll head to the imperial palace once I’m finished with business. Don’t worry about me.”
Duargana felt foreign when I saw it, but after entering the city, the past vividly returned to me. Elves and humans had different concepts of time. For that reason, the elven city didn’t change in the slightest. The White Deer King trotted along the blue stone path with her head held high. It was clear that the White Deer King was elated to return. I didn’t plan to go and die, but since I was in Duargana, I needed to visit someone I was familiar with and was also my good friend.
I arrived at the village of the dark elves in the city. Elves didn’t like to come to the area, as they considered it to be an inauspicious and revolting place. Nobody wanted to live or do business in the area, either. Thus, Mommy Vyvyan hadn’t decided what to do with the place. As a result, it was desolate for the meantime. It hadn’t been a year, yet all except one house had become dilapidated.
I went up to Mera’s house. The flowers still bloomed. Everything remained in the same state as when I left. Mera nearly killed me, but Mommy Vyvyan fulfilled my request. A long time had passed; even so, her house was maintained as though it was still inhabited.
I went inside. There were no traces of someone living inside. Still, it was neat and tidy. I went into the bedroom. I was familiar with everything inside. The traces of Mera’s time in the house had already vanished long ago. Her scent was no longer detectable. Even her furniture had been swapped out. I knew they had to swap the furniture out owing to the poor condition of the originals, but I surprisingly lost the sense of nostalgia back then.
Mera once lived there, yet it surprisingly felt foreign to me when I visited again. As a matter of fact, I felt as if I was in foreign territory. I knew Mera lived in the home, and I knew who she was, but I couldn’t connect the two.
I didn’t lie down. After a short silence, I softly expressed, “Mera, I’ll visit you again. I don’t know how many more chances I’ll get to visit you, so I always try my best to visit you when I come back, but the traces of your life continue to disappear. I’m already feeling that it’s foreign to me.”
I choked on my emotions. I looked around at the silent house and asked myself, “If I forget to visit one day, will I never come again? I’ll forget you, won’t I…? I’m now a dragon, but my memory and mind hasn’t changed. Mera’s traces can no longer be found in her house, so how will I remember her in the future?”
I took out the small book in my shirt. Mera’s book of formulas was the most valuable asset she left me with, and it was the mark she left in this world. If I lost it, how was I going to remember her? Luna had returned to my side, but Mera no longer had anything.
The house sparked poignant memories. I desperately tried to recall the traces of Mera’s existence. I wanted to remember them more vividly to make the memory last longer. I wondered, “I might have very few chances to come back in the future. I won’t see her house, and if I don’t use pharmaceuticals, will I forget Mera forever?”
I walked over to Mera’s bed and carefully sat down. I pressed my hand down onto the bed sheet. Noticing something odd, I stood back up and stared at the mattress. I analysed, “There’s something bizarre about this mattress. Nobody would come into Mera’s house when I’m not present. To be precise, nobody would live here even if they did come in. They’re just cleaners, so they wouldn’t live here, but the mattress is warm for some reason.”
If I was an elf or a human, I definitely wouldn’t be able to detect it, but my scales were sensitive to heat. As soon as I touched the bed, I felt warmth, albeit faintly. Somebody apparently slept there and then did the bed before they left.
I tried to figure out what happened: “Somebody lives here? The elves wouldn’t live here, would they? Could it be a dark elf? That seems implausible. They were declared extinct when Mera died. Mommy Vyvyan couldn’t possibly have spared a single one. Mommy Vyvyan would’ve killed every last one of them, as they attacked me. Mommy Vyvyan wouldn’t slip up, so I don’t need to worry about that. So, who was it?”
I suddenly heard rumbling downstairs. I left the room. A guard nearly struck me with his spear. Well, he actually did make contact with his thrust, but my dragon scales protected me. Shocked, he shrieked and then threw his spear down and immediately dropped to his knees. I shook my head to indicate that I didn’t mind. Instead, I looked at a group of guards holding down a body. I queried, “What happened?”
“Sorry!! Your Highness!! I am very sorry! I did not think that it was you! I am very, very sorry!!”
I irritably pulled him up then questioned, “I asked, what happened?”
He lingered for a moment then straightened up: “The truth is… is… is that somebody trespassed on the property. It seems to be a tramp has been living here the entire time. However, due to this place being sealed off, no elves are permitted to reside here. It took us a long time to catch her. She is relatively ruthless. She has stabbed several of our comrades with her dagger. That was why I was very tense. I apologise. I apologise.”
I shook my head: “I’m all right.”
I looked at the girl donning a small and tattered cloak the guards were holding down: “What are you going to do with her?”
“We will probably lock her up for some time, and then arrange housing for her… As Her Highness is benevolent, I am sure she would handle it that way.”
In my mind: “If you ask me, if Mommy Vyvyan finds out that you stabbed me, you’ll die.”
I nodded” “That’s great. Do that. We should provide the homeless with a home. I won’t interfere with the matter, then.”
“I am very sorry, Your Highness.”
“I told you I’m all right.”