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The Person Being Held Captive…
I was so surprised when I saw the person being held on a solitary captive here. If it wasn’t the royal family’s secret which should be Oriel, Celeste’s mother… it should be the most heinous criminal or things like that.
My guess was off.
Or was it?
But the person right in front of me was totally unexpected in a sense that I wouldn’t have imagined such a person would be here.
“…You’re just a girl…,” I muttered, half-disappointed and half-curious.
The person being held captive here was just a very young elf girl wearing a very simple dress, with four metal rings firmly locking themselves on the girl’s four limbs. The girl was currently all curled up in the corner behind the bed, trembling as she tried to peek at us through the gaps around her fingers. Her light green hair was unkempt and was so long that it added to another hiding materials that the girl could use.
She is 100% not Oriel, but who is she and why is she here?
“Who are you? Why are you here?” Carbuncle seemed as curious as I was, and she voiced out her question right away.
“No… Hurry and go away from me!” The girl didn’t seem to register what we were asking about and only shouted the same thing again.
“We won’t harm you,” I quickly reassured the poor girl.
I guess she had the right to be scared since two older girls suddenly barged into her room like this…
“No, that’s not it…,” the girl mumbled as she desperately tried to go away from us.
Carbuncle had wanted to move closer to the girl, but I stopped her.
The girl was like a small animal. The more we tried to approach her, the more she would cower and run. It would be best if we were to maintain our distance first. Maybe she’d calm down for a proper conversation that time.
“Can you tell me who you are and why you’re here? We’re not your enemy, promise,” I said.
However, the girl didn’t calm down and still trembled as she said, “Hurry and leave, never enter this room again!”
“But we don’t understand why a small girl like you is here,” Carbuncle said.
“J-just go away, or you’ll be killed!” The girl said with a hint of urgency.
“Killed? By who or what?” I asked as I looked all over the room in alert.
“I-I’m cursed! I will kill you two, so please don’t come closer to me!” The girl was now close to tears and said in agitation.
Due to her being agitated, she accidentally bumped into the bedside and something fell to the floor with a crisp sound.
Before we could even react, suddenly there was a foreign voice that sounded like a transmission.
“Eneida, what’s the matter?”
“…?” I quickly turned to see the source of the voice—a pretty tiara with a transparent jewel adorned in the middle of it fell to the ground. My heart almost dropped as I couldn’t imagine the possibility that such a beautiful tiara would break away since it fell… Thankfully it was sturdy enough not to fall apart, but…
The jewel can transmit messages?
I glanced at the girl, who was as surprised as me upon hearing the voice. Thus, she remained speechless, making me unsure whether or not the addressed name—Eneida—was hers.
“Eneida, are you okay?!”
I literally had chills running down my spine when the same voice was heard again, this time clearer as if it wasn’t through a transmission, and it was even… close to us?
All three of us in the room quickly turned around to where we heard the voice from.
Lo and behold, in the living quarter that we just left where not a single soul could be seen, there was suddenly a familiar face inside.
I thought to what Carbuncle said about this building being imbued with ancient protective magic… And there was no teleportation route anywhere… So how?
But at this moment, what confused me the most wasn’t that. It was more about the identity of the person who suddenly appeared here out of nowhere.
Tidy greenish yellow hair and lavender eyes that I wouldn’t mistake for anyone else. It was none other than the young prince of Cielle, Manasye himself.
However, I was even more surprised when I locked eyes with him.
Based on my observation on him so far and based on what I had heard about him, he was a timid prince. But now, his eyes weren’t timid at all. It was all alert and contained a little bit of hostility towards me.
“Manasye?!” The captive girl called out the prince’s name after identifying him, and I was surprised by how the two children addressed each other. It seemed that the two of them had a good relationship?
Close enough if I must say.
“You two… Get back here right now!!” Manasye said with a stern voice.
At the same time, a ball of light was forming on his hand, seemingly ready to attack us at any time.
To think that a timid person like him could go to such an extent, that spoke volume about the importance of this girl to him.
“Heh, you wanna fight? Let’s go!” Carbuncle prepared herself by swinging her arms as if she was getting ready to break some bones, which set me on alarm.
“Carbuncle, wait, don’t!” I quickly held the reckless Carbuncle back.
Now’s not the time to be picking fight with the prince of Cielle kingdom, out of everyone else here!!
“Alright, alright,” Carbuncle said as she dropped her arms back and said, “We’ll do as you say but you have to explain things to us.”
…In a demeaning manner.
That doesn’t help at all, Kuu-chan!!!
Sure enough, the little prince answered in a not-so-friendly way back, “What for? You’re the ones who need to explain things. Didn’t you get the rule of not disturbing whoever is in this room?”
Carbuncle opened her mouth, seemingly wanting to answer, but I quickly shoved my hand to make her shut up, since I knew anything that would come out of her mouth would be offensive.
I took over from hereon.
“Uhm… We are just concerned… If there’s a person living here, wouldn’t it be lonely…? And if there’s something we can do to help, we want to do it.”
After hearing my words, the ball of light grew smaller in size, the prince’s expression loosened and his fighting stance just loosened as well.
It was a success, but he still looked at us with distrust and doubt as he asked cautiously, “Really?”
I think we just need one last push here to convince him.
I raised my right hand and said solemnly, “I swear to the gods, to Aion-sama, that our intentions are genuine and sincerely based on a desire to help.”
Finally, I felt as if the tension around us dissipated as Manasye completely diminished the ball of light magic he readied before.
I heard Manasye heaved a sigh as he said, “Then… please step away from Eneida. Come here and we will talk.”
Carbuncle and I glanced at the captive girl who apparently went by the name Eneida, who had stopped shivering and only tried to go as far as possible from us. We then walked out of the room.
“Close the bar door,” Manasye told us after we went to the living quarters.
“Eh…,” I reflexively said, but I still closed the door anyway.
As we closed the bar door, I could see Eneida seemingly feeling relieved.
Then, Manasye walked closer to the detention door and looked at Eneida as he asked, “Are you alright, Eneida?”
“Yeah, I’m alright. But more importantly, are the two girls alright?” Eneida asked in concern.
I nodded as I didn’t feel anything wrong, and so did Carbuncle.
“They seem to be alright,” Manasye said.
“Still, please monitor them closer just in case…,” Eneida said, looking aggrieved.
“Don’t worry about it,” Carbuncle said as she had a cocky expression on her face.
“More importantly, pri—”
As I was about to address the prince, he suddenly shot me a glare and shook his head.
I quickly understood that he might haven’t divulged to Eneida that he was the prince of Cielle kingdom and Eneida might have no idea about Manasye’s position too.
“Uh, how do I address you again?” I asked the prince.
“Just Manasye is fine. What’s your name?” Manasye asked us back.
“My name is Escha. And this girl here is Kuu,” I introduced myself and Carbuncle.
“Are you guys the new maids?” He asked.
“Yeah,” I nodded without batting an eyelid.
“No wonder,” Manasye said.
“Uhm, about Eneida…?” I asked, unsure how to open this conversation.
“I’m… I’m cursed. Anyone that comes close to me will get ill and die,” Eneida’s voice could be heard.
“Huh…?” I tilted my head in confusion.
“I didn’t feel anything at all,” Carbuncle said, also puzzled.
“It’s alright, you didn’t have direct contact with her and were only near her for a short time. Moreover, you’re in Tower of Exile and Eneida’s wearing protective anklets on her limbs,” Manasye explained.
“Thank goodness…,” Eneida heaved a sigh of relief.
“Is it true?” I asked, still in disbelief.
“It is,” Eneida quickly said without any hint of hesitation at all.
“I don’t know the full details of it, but yes… I think she has a curse that drains others’ life forces and it’s uncontrollable,” Manasye said with a voice tinged with concern.
“But she is my dear friend and I want to help her. I want to give her normal life back,” Manasye said with determination.
“Give a normal life back to her… So you’re saying that it hasn’t always been like this?” Carbuncle asked.
“Y-yes… I… It started not too long ago,” Eneida said.
“What caused it?” I asked.
“I’m not sure myself. I-it just happened,” Eneida said, seemingly reluctant to share the full details of her life, but that was understandable.
But I was sure that if she could have thought of something that may have triggered it, she wouldn’t still be locked here.
“I’m not sure how we can help, but we will try our best, so please tell us everything that you know of,” I said solemnly.
“Without going too much into the details… Eneida had a strong life magic before. She helped people instead of draining life forces from them. However, an accident happened that injured her and from that moment, suddenly her life magic turned into a curse,” Manasye explained.
“So the root cause of it might be the accident,” Carbuncle said.
“What accident was it?” I asked.
“Uhm… I only fell from the cliff… It injured me but there’s nothing that can trigger the curse, as far as I know,” Eneida said.
“Hmm… Was it severe?” I asked again.
“I lost my consciousness and when I woke up…,” Eneida didn’t continue, but I could already guess what she wanted to say.
“I see… It’s odd but we will try looking into it,” I said, “In the meantime, we can come here often to deliver food and talk with you.”
Eneida and Manasye turned to look at us in surprise as Eneida asked, “Really?” with a voice that tried to hold back her happiness.
“Yeah. I can’t bear leaving you alone here,” I said with a smile.
“Aren’t you scared of her condition?” Manasye was the one who asked this question.
“It is indeed scary. But then again, her curse isn’t her fault. I’m sure she doesn’t wish for it too. It isn’t right for her to be punished for something she can’t control,” I said.
Flashback of my lonely life as Reinst played in the back of my mind.
I knew how loneliness felt. I knew how it felt being kept at a distance by others.
This girl looks so kind, innocent, and young. How long has it been since she’s been living a lonely life like this?
It pained me to look at her trying to hold back her happiness when she heard that we had wanted to accompany her. She surely didn’t want to be too happy only to have her happiness robbed away. For she had thought it was impossible to keep that happiness going.
“You two are the first ones to say that…,” Manasye looked stunned.
“I’m glad I am not the only one to feel this way,” he then smiled as he looked at us sincerely and continued, “With this, we are all friends going towards the same mission, aren’t we?”
“Yes,” Carbuncle quickly accepted Manasye’s words.
“Is it… alright to be friends?” I hesitated knowing Manasye’s status.
“It is!” Manasye assertively said, his expression seemed to say, ‘Why is it not alright?’
“Okay then… Thank you for being my friends,” I said.
“It should be my thanks for wanting to be Eneida and I’s friends,” Manasye said.
Though it wasn’t Oriel that was held captive here, if we could get closer to Manasye, we might be able to gather some important information in order to accomplish what we’ve come here for.
We didn’t come here or do this for naught.
Looking at the innocent eyes of the prince, I felt a little guilty since this friendship was based on a lie. We also got the perk of becoming friends with the prince of the Cielle kingdom, who might be the key needed for our mission, but…
My feeling of wanting to help Eneida was sincere.
At least I could guarantee that.