Another three hours came to pass. Nothing changed, and we were almost at the edge of Illsy’s territory. As for how I knew this, it was rather strange, but I simply felt it. It was the same feeling one would have upon getting ready to leave their own home. I didn’t know how much more we had until we went past it, I just knew it was getting close.
In an effort to try to forget Illsy and accept my new life, I tried to close my eyes and stop thinking about him.
Flashes of him smiling, embracing me, kissing me, the moment of our embrace, they all returned to me with increased stubbornness each time I tried to push them away. I could clear my mind for a moment, but then I thought about him again and my heart was starting to beat fast and my stomach to feel funny. I couldn’t take Illsy out of my mind.
Did he curse me? I thought, but then I let out a sigh. I knew what that was. Only I could have the luck of falling in love with a man after I left him, but I think… I believe he is a man worth falling in love with, especially when looking at the alternative, Dankyun. Sigh… If there is any god out there, please, listen to my prayer and make sure Illsy and the rest are safe. Please… I looked up at the sky.
“We’re not that far now, princess.” said Dankyun, believing that I was just bored with the journey.
Of course, this man only knew the quiet and easy to bully Ayuseya. Illsy knew and cared more for the real me.
Nothing to do now… nothing but wait and… I thought, but then something hit me and made me fall off the horse.
Dankyun jumped back and caught me before I hit the ground. All the soldiers stopped in their tracks.
“What happened?” he asked surprised, but he was holding me too tight. It hurt.
I shook my head.
“It looked like she was hit by something.” said Tuberculus who pulled his horse close.
“Hit by something?” Dankyun furrowed his brow and looked at the trees around us.
His first reaction was to search the surrounding area for a hidden enemy. He even made a sign to two of his soldiers to check it out. They did as ordered and jumped off their horses. While they searched, the other soldiers made a wall around us.
Even I was confused by what was happening.
“I don’t believe it’s someone from my academy.” said Tuberculus, making sure he didn’t ignite Dankyun’s wrath again.
“It better not be.”
I gulped and waited patiently on my knees for something to happen, but the forest was silent. A second attack never came, but everyone still held their guard up, since they couldn’t explain what happened to me. Even I didn’t know.
“There’s no one in the forest, master.” said one of the soldiers after they returned, but it was only then when I noticed what they were.
The two soldiers were actually two very beautiful el’doraw women. Their dark skin that changed with their emotions, dark hair, and long pointy ears like Shanteya’s defined their species, but they were wearing similar armor as the regular soldiers had on them. It was a surprise to see he had followers of another species.
“Either they left or the Dungeon Lord came after us. I doubt this to be the case though, but I’ve seen him use a spell capable of grabbing someone no matter how powerful their magic armor was.” he told us as he pulled me up and looked back on the road.
I don’t think Illsy is here… I thought as I looked around for a sign, but there was nothing up there between the branches of the trees or up in the sky.
“Move with caution.” ordered Dankyun and pulled me up.
It hurts… I thought, but I could only wince and follow him.
I made two steps and then I bumped into an invisible wall. It was applied only on me, the others were unaffected by this force.
“What’s this?” asked Dankyun surprised.
I shook my head. I had no idea either.
He waved his hand around, but there was nothing there, however, when he pulled me towards him, I bumped into a flat surface. There was something there, but none of us knew what it could be.
“How strange.” said Tuberculus rubbing his chin.
“What’s the meaning of this old man?” asked Dankyun as he unsheathed his sword and pointed it at him.
“There’s no need to get violent, I have no idea either. It’s the first time I’m seeing such a peculiar barrier.” he replied calmly.
“Tsk! Have you two ever seen or heard of anything like this before?” he glared at the two el’doraw women.
They looked at each other for a moment and then looked back at him and shook their heads. I was starting to get the feeling that it was another of Illsy’s mysterious abilities. If he could dispel my curses, who knew what else he could do.
Not good! I’m thinking about him again! I closed my eyes and tried to get him out of my mind.
“Princess Ayuseya? Are you feeling alright?” Dankyun asked.
He startled me, and I quickly opened my eyes. My reply was a forced smile and a nod of my head. After that, I looked around and touched the barrier, trying to see where it might start or end, but it went from the ground up, all the way to the sky. Neither going left nor right helped. It was like a giant invisible wall.
“Hm, I wonder…” said Dankyun as he took out a Dungeon Level Detection Stone.
Where he stood, the stone didn’t react, but as soon as he stepped over to my side, the rock activated and showed the number 86. Illsy was leveling quite fast, but how could that be possible?
“That accursed Dungeon Lord! He bound you somehow to his Dungeon Territory! AAARGH!” Dankyun screamed and punched a tree.
The trunk couldn’t handle such force and cracked in the middle. The ground shook, and part of it was uprooted. After another moment, the whole tree came falling down because of the crater left at the base. The two el’doraw women jumped up and kicked the tree at the same time, changing its fall towards the other side.
I watched surprised as they cut down with their bare hands a tree over 20 meters tall and with a thick trunk of over 1 meter in diameter. It was amazing, but at the same time frightening. In my entire life, I could barely snap a branch in half let alone cause a tree of that size to fall down in one hit.
I gulped and looked at him.
“What did he do?” he asked and glared back at me.
Do? What is he… I thought, and I looked down.
The black tattoo ring came into view, reminding me that I was one of Illsyore’s wives. I was a Godlike Dungeon Lord’s wife.
Is this… Is this the reason? I thought and then looked up at Dankyun.
He noticed the ring.
“What’s this? WHAT’S THIS?!” he shouted and grabbed my hand so tight that it hurt.
“Stop this. Please, you are hurting the poor girl.” Tuberculus tried to help me.
“You stay out of this old man… Actually…” he looked over at him and saw that he was out of the dungeon’s territory.
With a smirk on his lips, Dankyun snapped his fingers and one of the el’doraw appeared behind him. Tuberculus didn’t have the time to react, and the woman stabbed him in the back with a knife. She pulled it out and then kicked him in the wound, sending him flying off the horse and onto the ground, away from us.
Tuberculus groaned and tried to get up, but the woman moved fast and struck him hard in the middle of his chest, breaking through the armor he had put up and sending him flying into a nearby tree. His red blood stained the trunk and ground below.
Looking at my surprised face, Dankyun told me “What? I never intended to let him live. He was going to die either now or in half an hour or so from now.” he then looked back at the two women and spoke calmly. “Stab him one more time and toss him somewhere over there. Oh, but not in the heart. I want him to suffer. If the bleeding isn’t going to kill, the poison will.” he ordered and the el’doraw did as told.
I saw with horror how the woman walked past Dankyun, and without any remorse stabbed him with the same dagger right in his stomach and then dragged him away by his hair, while he squirmed in agony.
There was no doubt about it, the headmaster, the old man who welcomed me kindly to his academy, was going to die now. I felt bad for him and wished there was some way I could help him, but in front of Dankyun and his army, which not even Illsy could defeat, what was I to do?
My body trembled with fear just from the mere thought of it. I tried to calm myself down, to appear unshaken and dignified in front of them, but when Dankyun crouched down in front of me, my heart shrank. He looked into my eyes and then touched the cheek he had cut earlier, now healed of any wound. My fear of this monster was as clear as day to anyone who gazed upon me.
“Now, I’m going to give you your board and chalk, and you are going to tell me what exactly that Dungeon Lord did to you and how I can undo it.” he smiled.
A chill went down my spine.
How can I lie to him now? This wasn’t part of my plan… This… I thought as I looked at him in fear.
“Here you go.” he offered me the blackboard.
“I… I don’t need it.” I said and looked back at him.
It’s over anyway… I thought.
“W-What?” he said surprised.
Even the soldiers looked surprised at me. Everyone knew I was a mute, including Dankyun, who was the one who cursed me in the first place. It was obvious that this wasn’t something he expected to happen. One thing was removing the engagement between us and another to remove the curse I couldn’t even tell anyone about.
“There is someone there with a greater power than yours, Dankyun…” I told him.
Even if he defeated Illsy once, I still considered the dungeon far stronger than the monster before me for the simple reason that in my eyes, Illsy had everything Dankyun lacked: kindness, compassion, modesty, and most importantly… love. Maybe it was foolish to believe so, but I honestly didn’t care anymore.
“Princess, I’m glad you can talk, but how?” he asked with a forced smile, but his annoyance was at its peak.
He was shaken by this, he even ignored my words, but maybe I could use his moment of confusion towards my advantage? It was a long shot, but I had to try.
If this works, he should start fearing this ‘someone’ who can easily remove such extreme curses because they might surpass him as a Supreme. If it doesn’t, then I’m dead anyway. I can’t leave Illsy’s territory, and now I am free of my curses. There is no reason for my country to wish to marry me off to him now, and he knows that. I thought and with a gulp, I told him the following words:
“Yes. The curse you put upon me was removed in a matter of seconds.”
“S-Sec-Seconds?!” he stuttered.
“And so was my family’s curse.” I added and squinted my eyes at him.
All the soldiers around me began to whisper among themselves when they heard this. Even the two el’doraw women who returned from dumping Tuberculus somewhere in the forest had a similar reaction. It was already known that not even the best healers on all three continents could do anything to remove this curse, but here I was proclaiming it was gone. The proof for it was the fact that I could speak, proving that my other curse had been removed. Still, it made me wonder just how many of all those around me actually knew I had two curses instead of one. For Dankyun, it was clear, but the others were just following orders.
“BUHAHAHA!” he burst into a loud laughter, silencing all the voices around him.
I blinked surprised and took a step back from him. He was laughing like a madman.
“You… Haha! You say you got rid of your curses?” he asked after he stopped.
“Y-Yes.” I replied.
“So… if you were to return, the kingdom would be saved as they say, right? I mean you would be able to strengthen the royal family again. Sigh! This is a good day! A good day indeed!” he said with a smile as he looked up at the sky.
For a moment, I thought my plan succeeded. If in his eyes, I stopped being a disgrace and instead became a proper draconian princess, maybe he would stop with his mad behavior and actually try to work with me to restore Teslov to the glory of the old. Unfortunately, I forgot that Dankyun may have had different plans in regard to how he could restore the power to the throne.
“I see, then… You cured your curses… I see, then… I just have to kill you and take another princess as my wife.”
Those words spoken with a frightening calm sent shivers down my spine all the way to the tip of my tail. I took a step back, I wanted to flee, but the soldiers formed a wall behind me.
“What’s this? You would betray your princess?” I asked.
“They never were yours to begin with, Princess Ayuseya.” said Dankyun as he approached me.
“Why would you do this, Dankyun? Why?” I asked as I clenched my dress.
My hands were trembling, and my heart was beating faster than ever. I was staring death in the eyes, and there was no way for me to escape its terrible claws.
“I simply hate the current royal family, and I want the throne.” he shrugged and then pointed his black sword at me. “I have just one final question. What do you want your last words to be?” he asked with a smile.
My final words? How cruel… I thought and closed my eyes for a moment. Yes, those would be right if they were supposed to be my last words… I opened my eyes and smiling at him, I said “I have just two things to say. Dankyun, you’re an idiot, and the man I love is Illsyore.”
“How foolish.” he shook his head and then prepared to attack me.
I closed my eyes. This was it… No matter how hard I tried to run away from him, no matter how fast I was, no matter where I went and who tried to protect me, Dankyun always managed to catch up to me. Maybe this was my fate? At least, I would die knowing I said those words which set my heart free of any pain and heavy chains…
“Ayuseya?” I heard his voice, but I couldn’t believe it.
“Ayuseya? Are you alright?” I heard it again.
No doubt it was Illsy’s voice. I opened my eyes, but instead of the forest, I saw the metal room where his crystal body was. Shanteya and Nanya were here as well, but what was important was that Illsy was here!
“I…” my voice wouldn’t come out. My eyes swelled with tears, and without caring who saw me, I jumped forward and embraced that big green crystal. “Illsy!” I cried.
“Yes! I’m here… I’m… Don’t worry. You’re safe, Ayuseya.” he spoke to me with a kind and gentle voice.
[Illsyore’s point of view]
An hour or so before I summoned Ayuseya back to the academy, I woke up from my sleep.
NO! Ayuseya! I screamed and reached out for her, but she wasn’t there anymore.
Everywhere I looked, all I could see was the darkness of my Inner Mind, but Shanteya wasn’t there to greet me as usual, causing me to be confused and scared for a moment.
Was it all just a nightmare? I wondered as I tried to settle down my breath and fast beating heart.
It felt too real to be a dream even if the last part was incredibly hazy. The only way I could be certain of this was to look for Ayuseya inside the darkness of my Inner Mind. My fear and worry came from the last thing I said before I fainted. Those words I said were strongly imprinted in my memory.
Ayuseya? Are you here? I shouted, but no reply was returned.
The light in the distance that normally appeared when I checked to see where she was didn’t appear.
Ayuseya wasn’t in my Inner Mind…
No! No! No! It can’t be! I said shaking my head.
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