Duality II

A vast room came into view, with a ceiling that was high and broad. The walls were predominantly white, with extensive gold decorations and highlights. Luxurious, multicolored chandeliers ―made of precious gems from colors of the rainbow― hung from the ceiling, radiating feelings of decadence.

This was the heart of Temecula.

“Welcome slave. Congratulations on being accepted out of all the other candidates to serve the almighty one.”

The chubby man sitting on the throne bellowed out, his deep voice echoed the hall. Another man stood beside him, he was rather lean and wore a dashing white robe, which was probably enchanted with magic. His dark-brown eyes followed her movements like a careful hawk. 

Amae furrowed her brow at King Hurley’s introduction. But she stepped forward and bowed elegantly in front of her new owner.

“Thank you for accepting this humble servant into your vicinity. I am grateful that you offered me this opportunity.”

The application process took two months as the duo had to first live in Temecula to attain citizenship. Of course, the fees were overly pricey for adventurers. After the tedious paperwork, Amae started her maid career in some of the vilest places that were beyond horrific.

Never did she want to experience that again. The foul stenches… The layers of mold and feces… Wiping the bacteria-filled carpet…

Amae felt sickness coiled inside her stomach at those gross memories.

After her experiences, Amae came to a small understanding of what it was like to be a lower class. She felt empathy for the peasants — they had to endure what she thought was utterly disgusting for their entire life. And this was worse for slaves, who were treated like livestock and properties.

Slavery must be abolished in this city. And my big brother and I will be the one to make it happen.

No matter what it takes.

A group of magicians appeared in rows behind King Hurley, standing in a neat vertical line.

This wasn’t mentioned in the invitation.

King Hurley chuckled and rose from his throne confidently.

“Eama, I want you to meet my private special force, the Unpolites. All of them are handpicked and they are considered by many as one of the best combat squadrons in the world.”

“It is a great honor to meet the renowned Unpolites in person. I am in awe of their presence.”

Amae kept her bowing form, carefully examining the high-level mercenary mages. The circular glasses she wore pulsated for a microsecond and went to work.

“Recently, rumor has it that there is a high-level magician acting as an undercover spy.”

This is unexpected… Do they know about my true identity?

But how…?

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Am I compromised?

Amae’s heart froze for a second. She carefully reached into her side pocket, crushing a marble-sized stone with her fingers.

Instead of being accused, two people walked out from the side hall—

—A blonde-haired girl with a large steel chain on her neck was led out by a grinning guard.

Her face was swollen and bruised, and the skin was flecked with spots of dried blood. Her lips and eyelids were similarly injured, completely distorting her originally beauty, There were bruises and burn marks on the rest of her body, but the damage was worst on her face.

It was like watching an abusive owner dragging a beaten-up dog with a leash.

King Hurley then held onto the chain and smirked.

“With the help of Unpolites, I found the culprit.”

Amae felt an array of emotions exploding inside of her. The girl had a blank, lifeless expression on her face, as if she was merely a capsule without a soul. It was obvious that she had endured tortures beyond hell.

Why was King Hurley telling her all of this?

Did they really capture the wrong person?

What type of torture did this girl have to go through…?

Rage and ire flared inside of Amae’s very soul. She was furious at King Hurley and also at herself. Because of this operation, Amae had put an innocent life at risk.

I can’t allow this to happen. The plan needs to change.

“This is the might of Temecula and I want you to understand that before you serve me.” King Hurley kicked the slave and then casually sat back in his throne, dragging the collapsed girl along like a house pet. “Now why don’t you start by washing my feet, Eama? They’ve been dirtied by this filth.”

This is a test.

One of the guards brought a bowl of water and placed in front of King Hurley. Silent pressure filled the air slowly as all eyes pressed onto Amae, waiting for her response.

The thought of washing this bastard’s feet and then serving him for weeks to come, Amae knew she could not perform such duty. It was too much for her. Simply too much.

It’s time for plan B and improvise.

“I refuse.”

“Speak up.” The man who stood near King Hurley finally spoke. It was as if he was analyzing the entire situation. “If you are to express your disservice, then declare it out loud.”

“Very well, I refuse!”

“Oi oi, little maid. Do you have a screw loose in your brain? Just because you look pretty, doesn’t mean you’ll receive special treatment from King Hurley.”

The guard who led the girl out earlier snapped sharply, stepping forward and palming his hands into a fist.

Amae remained silent.

“Looks like the new maid does need some disciplining…” King Hurley cried out as the Unpolites nodded and snickered amongst themselves, “And I will make sure Eama understand that who is the boss tonight in my chamber.”

King Hurley waved his right hand in the air and barked a command.

“Guard A, seize Eama and strip her clothing.”

“Yes, your highness-!”

“Unforgivable…”

Amae muttered under her breath. Her anger had exceeded the bearable amount and was starting to leak out.

The guard smirked in a lewd manner as his hands wiggled.

These people don’t deserve to live.

He stood in front of Amae and reached out to her shoulder, grinning like a madman. Those fingers seemed to be moving eagerly.

No… These aren’t people…

They are scums and need to be eradicated from this world.

Before the guard could even touch her, Amae chanted a spell under her breath.

And then — the appendage tumbled to the ground.

“Could you not touch me with your filthy hand?”

The dumbfounded guard looked at his now handless arm in complete surprise, and after a moment’s delay, he wailed out:

“Ahhhhhhhh! My, my haaaaaaaand—!”

Annoyed with his screaming, Amae summoned a mighty gust of wind, which slashed endlessly at the guard. Instantly, he flew vertically across the air and then crashed into a marble pillar with a loud THUD.

King Hurley turned towards his advisor and nodded.

♦ ♦ ♦

“Is everything going according to plan?” King Hurley nodded at his trusted right-hand man, Zenpy.

“Yes, your highness.”

He was glad that he had heeded his advisor’s cautionary plan. Otherwise, he would not have witnessed the sheer strength that Eama possessed. Even now, he found it unbelievable that a small girl was able to summon a spell of this level.

He knew something was suspicious. His gut had warned him. It was that sixth sense feeling that he had always relied on, saving him from the brink of death many times in the past.

“What do you mean according to plan?” The maid —Eama—asked, raising her brow. Her navy-blue eyes pulsated with rage ever since he brought out the slave. Despite her facial expression, the anger seemed to accentuate her beauty, making King Hurley even more excited.

“You are too naive to be an assassin. To think someone your age is trying to kill me, how utterly despicable. Now tell me, who sent you?”

“When did you find out about my identity? I know bringing the girl out was part of the test.”

The maid ignored his question and realized his intention. It seemed like she was not as impulsive as she seemed.

Now it was a battle of information-gathering.

“Does it matter?” 

King Hurley purposely avoided the question because he did not realize her true identity until minutes ago. He had played his cards right so far. 

“It doesn’t. I have no plans to negotiate with you.”

“Cheh! Negotiate?” A few of the Unpolites laughed at the current situation while King Hurley shook his head. “You aren’t exactly in the position to negotiate. Don’t worry darling, I’ll simply force the information out of you.”

King Hurley thought how much of a waste for a lovely maiden to be ruined. Perhaps after the battle, he will have the Unpolites restrain her with「Magical Cancelation Cuffs」like he did with the slave girl. Maybe even drag her along with a leash as an act of shame.

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And then he will some have wild fun with the young maid and have her become his personal mistress. Conquer her as he did with others.

The corner of King Hurley’s mouth twisted up in a lewd smile that bared his inner sexual desires.

“I’m not exactly an idiot, Eama. I used to be an adventurer myself, peaking at ‘Platinum-tier’ before I joined the Dark Triad. With their help, I created Temecula. This is my personal paradise.”

Eama’s eyes lit up at the sound of Dark Triad. It was only to be expected. He rarely shared his personal history with the infamous underground organization unless he knew it was over.

It was a masterful way to strike consternation deep into the hearts of his enemy — how a superior king like himself possessed divine insight and his enemy had to live with the fact knowing that they had been outsmarted. And that he had the backing of Dark Triad.

King Hurley began to laugh.

The crude laughter rang through the hall like the sound of victory. There was zero chance that Eama could win, even if she may possess some sort of super strength.

Against a group of elite magicians with decades of battle experience? There was no way a teenager could ever hope to win. Although the spell earlier was quite impressive, power meant nothing against numbers.

Not only that, Zenpy has the ability to nullify any magic spells below the 6th tier. With his trusty advisor standing beside him, he had no need to fear at the various possibilities that exist. Because technically speaking, he was invincible.

King Hurley raised his hand at Eama and announced in a confident voice, striking fear into the depth of her heart.

King Hurley raised his hand at Eama and announced in a confident voice, striking fear into the depth of her heart        

♦ ♦ ♦

Twelve strong men stepped forward from their position, forming a semicircle around the beautiful maid called Eama.

None of them were outfitted the same way. All of their equipment seemed to be customized and tailored to their own strengths and magical abilities. It was clear that they had hand-picked their weapons. The only thing matching were the capes they wore, proudly displaying the symbol of Temecula.

The casual way in which they were discussing how to deal with their victim sounded like they already had their prey in the bag.

Despite that, the maid stood firm. Behind her circular glasses, her expression indicated that she was absolutely confident in her power to win.

Absolutely preposterous, Zenpy thought to himself, watching the event quietly. Has she resigned to her fate… or does she have a triumph card?

Logically speaking, there was no way for her to win. It was an obvious twelve against one. Not to mention, the Unpolites were one of the most feared and powerful mercenary group in the world. From the Adventurer’s Guild perspective, they would be placed around the Diamond-tier.

The gathered elite magicians laughed coarsely and looked at the young maiden with lustful eyes, leering at her breasts that seemed to be developing. It was clear from their expressions that they were quite delighted in what was in front of them.

Nothing made his subordinates happier when they see the crumbling hopelessness expression on their opponent’s face. Zenpy could sense the carnal desires inside his men, waiting to be released.

If they were lucky, King Hurley would finish fast and get bored with Eama. That way, they could all take turns and have their way with her. That was the rule of Temecula — the weak will obey the strongest.

At this moment, all they needed to do was wait for the signal from their boss and then they would devour the helpless maid, like hungry wolves tearing apart a lone sheep.

  

『 Amae (01/26/20): I love/hate this arc with a passion.

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