Elven Forest (22)
I had been to the dungeon once before. The last time I went down there, I was left with my most painful memory. If we were to say that my heart has been wounded with blades, then that time would be the first blade wound I received to my heart. That was also the first time I held Mera in my arms. The first time I held her in my arms, however, I was covered in her blood. It was the first time I held her in my arms, but the warmth came from her blood spurting forth until she had none left to spill.
I was the one who dealt the fatal blow to her. I killed Mera with my own hands. I was the one who stained my body with her blood. Therefore, I still avoided the dungeon. Everybody has a memory they don’t want to recall or a place they don’t want to go near. Nevertheless, I ended up visiting it in the end.
I gently placed my hand on the damp wall. I was somewhat hesitant to descend the stairs. Lucia touched my hand and reassured, “Your Highness, there’s no need to feel nervous. I really dislike the moist and dark dungeon, as well, but since you have something to do, show some courage.”
“Why don’t you want to come with me when you know I don’t like it?”
“Didn’t I just tell you? I don’t like it down there.”
Lucia mischievously smiled then gave me a push downstairs. I let out a hopeless sigh.
I guess there weren’t any fans of the prison amongst the elves, which would explain why not even Mom visited it. That had to mean the place was a cruel place of torture for elves, then. As a half-elf, half-human, I didn’t mind it. I wasn’t fond of the place purely due to what happened in the past.
I descended. I formed a fireball on my hand. I learnt the spell from Mommy Vyvyan. With it, I didn’t need a fire torch. It wasn’t actually dark down there, in saying that. A light from somewhere provided the surroundings with a natural light. I grouchily erased my fireball.
“I beg you… please…”
As soon as I arrived below, something akin to a ball rolled over from the side, clung to my leg and wailed. She gave me a fright with her sudden appearance, which almost led to me shrieking. Nevertheless, I quickly realised it was the kid. I lowered my head to look at her filthy face. Her clothes were evidently torn and tattered, not due to friction but her tearing it herself. It was evident that she was mentally broken. I looked at the surrounding white walls. I still couldn’t figure out where the natural light came from.
I didn’t understand why elves were scared of the prison. I thought it was an incredibly comfortable environment compared to humanity’s dungeon. Moreover, food was decent. Mom didn’t abuse the girl. The food and water Mom provided was there, but it had been tipped over.
“I beg you… please… let me go… let me leave this place… I can hear the voice… I can hear voices everywhere I go… I don’t want to hear the voices anymore… I don’t want to hear them anymore! I… I’m sorry for what I did! I’m sorry… I beg you… please… take me away from here. You can even kill me if you want, but just please let me leave this place!!” The kid clung to me and cried until she looked unseemly.
I pulled her up from my leg. She cried as she waddled around in the air. She was similar to a dog leaping up. I didn’t ask her anything. Instead, I carried her upstairs.
“Your Highness, whoa, that quick?!”
Lucia was stunned to see me. Nevertheless, she was soon startled upon noticing that I was carrying the kid. She quickly came over to hold the kid. Perhaps it was due to her first time being a mother that Lucia carefully hugged the kid. She personally wiped the filth off the kid’s face. I had no idea where all the filth came from. Lucia continued by gently consoling her.
I sighed: “Lucia, why are you elves so scared of being down there? I don’t think it’s scary whatsoever. I’d say it’s pretty good compared to the dungeon in humanity’s Royal Palace. I’ve also been to the church’s dungeon. That’s what I’d call horrifying.”
Lucia fiddled with my ears then softly explained: “The truth is there’s magic down there; or rather, an ability that leaves behind a voice. You have different ears to us, which is why you can’t hear it. We, on the other hand, can hear it and it won’t ever stop. It’ll continue to repeat to us, ‘Do you know your sin?’ It’ll continue to repeat it perpetually no matter what we do. Not even covering our ears will help. For that reason, elves usually lose their sanity once they go down there.”
Feeling sorry for the crying kid, Lucia pulled her into her embrace. In a quiet voice, she opined, “Whatever the case is, she didn’t cause any serious harm to others, yet has to suffer this. I honestly feel that it’s excessive.”
“It’s pointless for you to tell me that… It was Mom who sent her here…”
“It’s enough now, right? This will be Nona and Vera in a few years’ time. If Nona and Vera err in the future, are you going to send them here, too?!”
“Ah… No…” I sighed. I rubbed my head afterwards.
“It should be enough now, right? Your Highness, has this not been enough of a punishment to her? It should be enough, shouldn’t it? So… so, let’s stop. She’s still a kid.”
I sighed: “I’m not too willing to forgive her solely because she she’s a kid… It’s too unfair. I think th-“
“But she hasn’t done anything that’s gone too far, has she? Despite what she did in the sealed-off forest, she didn’t harm anyone seriously. The worst damage she did was cause a few injuries. There’s no need to go so far as to kill her, is there? She… She’s just an ordinary dark elf. However, Mera… tch… Dark elves aren’t good news, but I think a child dark elf wouldn’t be so violent. We just need to treat her properly. Those were the mistakes of the dark elves. As long as we educate and take care of this girl, she won’t turn out the same way.”
Lucia’s gaze turned a little cold once she mentioned Mera. Lucia detested Mera to the core. In spite of what happened at the beginning, Lucia couldn’t forgive her for almost killing me at the end.
I sighed and rubbed Lucia’s head: “Since you’ve said that, mm… I don’t think that it’s impossible… It’s just that I’ll need to tell Mom. Additionally, I’m certain this girl can’t live inside the imperial palace. Do we have to take her to the North…? Mm… I don’t mind.”
“Let’s do that, then! I don’t want… I don’t want to kill a child. That’s a sin that God can’t forgive! She has a future! She still has a future!!!”