Special thanks to all patrons~
[Casual Supporter: mjkj, SkVt, Mark S]
[Original Mania Level 1: Greg S, Kiradien, Sami, ZeroDeviation]
[Original Mania Level 2: Bradford M, DJay, Katrion, N0VERCL0CKER, Sean D, An_Reader89]
[Original Mania Level 3: Fenderson, sch, Mac]
[Original Mania Level 5: Andrew M, Katherine, Kaifen, Kyle M, Dalyn O]
[Double Degree Level 1: e, Abbi, Bryan R]
[Double Degree Level 2: Ditimiss]
[Double Degree Level 3: Browser]
[Library Owner: Rory S]
And special thanks to Gackt1 for never missing in the duty of commenting in each chapter! Join Gackt1 and start commenting in every chapter from now on! XD
The Tower of Exile
I thought that inside this secluded tower would be full of anguished laments of criminals and elves who were banished here, but…
Once we entered the tower, there really wasn’t any sign of life here too.
That crossed out the probability that this was a dungeon meant to keep very heinous criminals. The prison for that purpose should be in another place, then.
“That made sense. No wonder we were just given one set of meal,” Carbuncle said in response to my analysis.
“I thought they had already given the other prisoners meals or that this one is separate… Right, who could be living here anyway?” I tilted my head in confusion.
What kind of a person or a thing would need to be exiled here, all alone?
Is it really Oriel?
But isn’t this too extreme especially if it’s Oriel?
“Why not upgrade this place anyway? It’s just too old and desolate…,” I muttered as we walked up the stairs as per the instructions.
“Well, this place is indeed old. It’s reeking of ancient protection magic. Perhaps that is exactly why they keep this place as it is and hold whoever is here,” Carbuncle suddenly said something that I didn’t even know or expect.
“Eh? Ancient protection magic, huh?”
“I heard that ancient magic is strong, so alright…,” I said in understanding.
But that just made me more curious as to who would be here and why this person could be here in the first place.
On a closer look, although this place was indeed old, it wasn’t too shabby or too run down. Renovation could make this place even better in a more modern sense, but there seemed to be nothing wrong with this tower… It just stood out because it was old and the exterior seemed like it was too dilapidated. The interior was just fine, but old.
They could have paid more attention to the exterior too, couldn’t they?
Or they intentionally did that so people would think that this tower was already neglected with nothing important in it?
It made more sense, then.
“Still, we’re about to find out who is in here… Care to guess who it might be, Kuu-chan?” I asked Carbuncle as it was so unpleasant being so silent with only our footsteps resounding. It made me feel unsettled.
“Oriel?” Carbuncle uttered a name that I wished would be the person living here indeed.
Then, Carbuncle stretched her hands and said, “If it’s indeed her, then our mission is just too easy! I need more challenge!”
I stopped walking due to my shock upon hearing her words and quickly said, “Shuush, don’t jinx that, Kuu-chan!”
“I’m just saying. Won’t you feel that way too?”
“Uh, well, true… Other than the ‘I need more challenge part’. It’d be too easy… Too good to be true, although I will be very happy as the sooner we solve this matter, the better it will be,” I really had a mixed feeling about this.
People always said that ‘if it’s too good to be true, then it is,’ so, what do I need to prepare for this time?
“Why do we need to take up all these stairs? Why not put a teleportation portal anyway?” Carbuncle complained.
“Maybe because they didn’t want the one residing here to be able to use that?” I answered instantly.
“Oh, make sense,” Carbuncle dropped the subject that didn’t even last for five solid seconds.
After walking up the stairs that felt like eternity and feeling exhausted, we finally reached the uppermost floor of the tower.
Now I understand why the senior maid insisted for us to do this job instead…
I just hope there’s nothing scary inside that’s actually the real reason why this job is passed on to us…
The big door had many locks that could only be opened from outside. Carbuncle and I unlocked the door and opened it.
To our surprise, there was another door that was just made of bars—detention door—so we could see the inside of the room already.
Inside was a simple room that looked like a living quarter with a simple table and chair set. There was an empty tray and set of eating utensils on top of that table. There was a small chamber with its door open, making it possible for me to tell that it was a simple bathroom. A small bookshelf full of books was also there in this room.
“Oh, this room looks normal enough, or should I say, humane enough?” Carbuncle mentioned what I had been thinking too.
We opened the detention door to see the room better and I quickly saw another door that was similar to the one we opened just now. It was closely shut with many locks outside.
“The door should lead to a room or bedroom where the sole inhabitant of this tower lives, right?” I asked as I stared at the door.
“Should be,” Carbuncle said as she looked around the room.
A room that’s simple enough to let the inhabitant live at least comfortably… Not a torture chamber. Perhaps Oriel is really here…!
So, they’re only exiling her, secluding her from others and from the public, but still let her live well instead of retaining her in a prison, huh?
“Let’s put the tray with new set of food here, and take this empty tray…,” I muttered as I exchanged the empty tray with the tray set we just brought in.
However, I didn’t hold the empty tray set we were supposed to take out. I put it aside next to the new tray of food.
Carbuncle happened to lock eyes with me at that time.
“Thinking of barging in, huh?” Carbuncle smirked.
Then, Carbuncle just gestured to me, ‘I’m with you on this!’
So, the two of us stared at the locked room before us.
There was still no sign of life, but someone should be here, or we won’t be delivering them some food.
“Excuse me…,” I decided to be polite and called out first.
If it was indeed Oriel inside, we wouldn’t want to barge in and have her think we’re the enemies, right?
But even after a long while, there was no response.
Still, I won’t give up!
“Uhm, I brought a change of food…”
Still no response.
“Do you need something else for the next time we come here?”
At this point, I wonder if the person inside was mute, deaf, or even worse, their tongue was cut off?!
If it was Oriel, it’d be too tragic!!!
We were told to only clean this living quarter if needed and not enter further, but…
“May I enter to clean the room there too?” I decided to boldly ask.
At this point, I’d be willing to try saying anything just to get a response from the person being held inside!!
“…Huh?” I definitely heard a voice from inside.
It felt as if the person inside was agitated and accidentally made a noise, either by bumping into something or the likes of it. It was barely audible, but it was definitely there… right?
“Kuu-chan…,” I turned to whisper at Carbuncle.
She seemed to understand what I wanted to ask about, so she nodded.
Good. I wasn’t hallucinating things.
“Let’s barge in,” Carbuncle smirked at me. I nodded back at her.
I felt as if I was a partner-in-crime to the notorious criminal, Carbuncle the great dragon!!
I shouldn’t be feeling this way, but I felt a little bit excited. Perhaps it’s because I’d find out who it might be inside and I had a feeling that whoever was inside, it’d be beneficial for us to find out.
We slowly made our way and opened the locks one by one.
A muffled female voice could be heard from beyond the door. She seemed to have heard the sound of locks unlocking and was agitated.
A female was inside…
Who might it be?
Still, we continued to unlock the remaining locks.
“N-no, stop! Don’t come in!” The female voice spoke again, now clearly more agitated than before.
But we paid no heed to that and opened the last lock on the large and heavy door.
…This felt wrong, but we had no other choice. We needed to find out something, anything about the Cielle kingdom’s royal family.
Any clue would help.
“Pardon us, but we need to enter to make sure of something,” I said after I wasn’t able to hold back on my feelings of guilt anymore.
But something is odd.
Why is it that she doesn’t welcome any guest?
What if we want to help her out of here?
Isn’t that good for her?
…Or she’s in a state where she doesn’t want anyone to see her ever… That’d be… the worst.
“No, please stay away…,” the voice turned quieter as if she was pleading…
But we opened the door anyway and sure enough, there was another detention door that acted as a barrier before we could enter the room.
So, we opened the lock of the detention door and entered the room.
Inside was a simple bedroom where one person could live… and although the bedroom was a bit messy, it wasn’t in a very bad condition.
However, the odd thing was… We couldn’t see anyone inside!!
“…Ghost?!” I could feel my face paling as I pointed inside the room with a trembling hand.
“No way. She must be hiding,” Carbuncle said after she seemed to have sniffed the room.
You are a dragon, not a dog!!
Carbuncle valiantly entered the room first although I was the one who opened the door first… Yep, I decided to tail behind her.
“Please… leave,” the trembling female voice could be heard again from somewhere inside the room.
Ah. So there’s indeed someone inside, but no figure can be seen. So, is it a ghost, apparition, or a real person?
“Uhm, we’re the new maids and we see that this room needs a bit of tidying up,” I said.
“I can do it myself. You two should leave.”
The owner of the voice insisted.
Carbuncle inhaled deeply as if she was preparing something. The moment she exhaled and opened her eyes, it was very firm.
“We need to make sure of something,” she said as she rushed up towards the back of the bed in a very fast speed.
I hurriedly followed after her.
At the same time as our hurried footsteps resounded, the other party seemed to be flustered and there was a sound of her backing away too.
Carbuncle’s instinct might be real… She knows the position of the hiding person!
Sure enough, in the corner behind the bed, we found a female elf hiding there and—
I widened my eyes in surprise upon seeing her.