Chapter 3

Two days ago…

Pain. That was the first thing that came into his mind of total blankness. What was happening to him? That was the first question that he asked himself. He could feel the earth underneath his back in immense pain. He tried to open his eyes. Blurry and unfocused, he was blinded by the brightness just as he grasped the vagueness of trees and the sky beyond them.

The next time when he opened his eyes, he found himself in another place, iron bars in front of him. He couldn’t move an inch except for his head. His hands and legs were spread eagle, manacled, and chained to the hard surface behind him. He could not tell how much time had passed but could be an hour when the iron door opened and someone came in. The creature standing before him instantly disgusted him, and he didn't know why.

The one standing before him had black horns and bat wings. Demon, the word came into him out of nowhere. "What are you?" asked the demon to him. It was the golden question, wasn’t it? What was he? And who was he?

While he was asking himself countless questions in vain, the demons did the same. One after another, they entered his dungeon cell. With their claws and knives, they toyed with his flesh; as if some kind of meat, they cut him again and again.

They were hungry for his blood; one of them tried to lick the blood on the knife. A growl came out, not from the demons, but from him. The demons backed away; they seemed to sense something that made them afraid.

He would kill them. He'd kill each and every one of them slowly… and he'd enjoy it.

He found the wounds healed on their own almost instantly. Though he remembered nothing about himself, he knew humans did not heal that fast. He realized he had a basic knowledge about several things but himself.

An unknown amount of time later, one demon came into his cell, bringing an old woman with him. She was not a demon. She pressed her fingers on his temples for a while and said, "I can’t sense any magic in him. He could be a human."

"He is not! You are so useless. Just get out!"

"No need to be rude. I can go to any other auction house at anytime. I chose to work here."

"There are others witches and wizards in the city, you old hag,” growled the demon.

"I have a name. And you think runes can contain any race? Your boss can't discard me. He knows better than that," muttered the old woman, walking out of the cell.

A night had passed. Day and night were no different in here. There was only the dim light of torches coming from the hallway. He guessed it gave him time to figure out about himself, but he figured out nothing, not even his name.

It didn't matter, though. At least he could grasp that he was going to be sold at some kind of auction, so they wouldn't kill him anytime soon. He found that he was not afraid to die that much, but he thought dying would be a waste if there was a way to live.

As he expected, they finally came to release him from the wall. He had already decided it would be a waste of time and energy to attempt to escape when he knew nothing. There would be time to do something after they had sold him. He would probably pretend to be obedient at first. He would collect information. And then he would kill whoever bought him at the first opportunity.



Through the exit of the floor where the auction has just taken place, feeling less a princess than a prisoner, Elysia flies down to the ground along with the guards who would probably follow her if she went to the restroom. A gargoyle carriage is waiting, the four gargoyles looking wicked and mean, an iron cage settled behind them.

She swears under her breath. This is a mistake. She meant an ordinary carriage when she asked the guards to bring one. Not one with an iron cage.

“Your highness,” someone calls after her in a high-pitched voice, “ I am so greatly honored that you grace our establishment with your presence.” The owner of the voice is a portly male with reddish skin in brocade clothes and rings on every single one of his fingers. Bowing so low to Elysia, he wears an oily smile.

With today’s event, the entire city should know by now exactly who she is and what she is doing here. Great. She is almost hearing her mother’s nagging in her head. “Don’t draw too much attention to you, Elysia. Don’t be reckless.” What does she expect though? She is a princess. Why did her mother marry a king in the first place?

The one who is talking to her right now is the manager of the auction house, according to his introduction.

“I wish you haven’t troubled yourself, your highness, with the transportation. As you might have heard of it, we are well known to have the most secure and the best delivery service in the entire …” He can really talk, it would seem, but everything is about how great his establishment is. She kind of drifts away.

“My lord…!” he suddenly shouts after someone else. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to take my leave, your highness.”

“Not at all,” she answers, sighing inwardly, and looks away.

That’s when she notices him coming out of the building, restrained by the guards from the auction house. He is walking in regular strides, despite the push and the pull of the guards. He is standing out among the crowd, passersby are looking at him, but he doesn’t seem to care about the state he is in or the stares he is receiving. One mercenary whips him for no reason.

"Stop! My guards will take him from here.” She sounds angry to her ears, but why isn’t he angry? It might be her imagination, but she thinks he just smiled. What is with everyone and this smiling thing? Everyone seems to smile even when they are not in no state to smile.

Must be the exhaustion that makes her react out of her character. She better return to the palace first before she does something really stupid. She flies back to the palace, some of the royal guards following behind her without her asking.

A group of castles and gardens stretch over the hill that occupies a third of the city, but they are not visible at a distance, for being hidden behind the greyish fortification which is so tall that the clouds appear to be hanging around it.

Elysia enjoys flying; whenever she is in the air, she feels a flicker of freedom. The route back is too short for her liking.

Gliding down, she sees a human girl near a rosebush, her brown curls falling from her ponytail. Known each other for five years, Clara is closest to a friend for her.

Clara did not look to have noticed her presence, still interesting in the flowerless shrub for whatever reason she might have.

Elysia walks silently to her back. "Are they blooming anytime soon?"

"Oh heaven!!!" she jumps and turns back to look at Elysia with her big brown eyes. "You scared me! What are you doing behind my back, your highness?!"

"This is broad daylight. You shouldn't be this surprised…unless…you are secretly planning something?"

"What secret plan? Where have you been all morning, your highness? You look horrible, by the way. You look like you have had no meal and no wink of sleep for a week." Give or take, she takes about three seconds to speak about all these things.

Elysia has pondered before that if there is a competition or some sort of ranking for talking fast, Clara would be pretty famous.

"Really? I look that bad?" she asks.

Clara sighs, “You are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, your highness. But you are also the best at ruining your own beauty. Look at what you are wearing. And hair. Besides, your horns are not ugly at all, don’t mess up your hair to hide them.”

"Always nagging. You are worse than my mother. I’m exhausted. Let's go inside."

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