Episode 132- Forbidden Secret: Tribute Figures
Previous episode: There was an explosion on one of the hallway options. Aernest almost busted his ears but protected it in time. They arrived at the forbidden room and came across at least a hundred stone figures. Unknown enemies have popped up and are fighting Duke Marleigh and the two hidden guards. Euria blocked an attack aimed at Eugene with her egg attacks and everyone managed to get into safety… But… came across a group of identical-looking women. (Damn, that’s a long summary…)
Musician Hal’s lips trembling from fear made everyone worried. Crown Prince Nexiel walked to him slowly and asked with a worried voice, “What’s wrong? Why do you look like that all of a sudden?” Musician Hal was ghostly pale and looked very… frightened.
Hal’s eyes were shaking as he slowly but surely scanned across the room, especially the women in this room.
“Le…Lea…” he stuttered, almost falling to the ground once that name came out of his mouth.
“Wait… W, what do you me-?” Crown Prince Nexiel stuttered as he rubbed his eyes. He didn’t want to believe his eyes but the women really had… similar appearances and ambiance! But Lea? … Just then, the truth immediately hit him.
Everyone else showed a confused face before their faces turned into one of realization. They gasped in shock, “What?!”
Like Hal, everyone scanned across the women’s faces meticulously.
Eugene sucked in her breath, “Is this…” for real?
Dea and Con’s eyes flashed with horror. They had once met Lady Lea back when she came to his town with Commander Kal. Her appearance was very memorable, especially her lovely conduct. And even if it had already been seven years, there was no way they would forget Lady Lea’s ambiance and appearance.
And in front of them were Lady Lea’s exact copies,
“…They look like Lady Lea.” Dea hesitantly confirmed.
Eugene’s eyebrows were scrunched as she watched some of the women whispering to each other. Suddenly, one of them walked to them. Curiosity and concern were written on her face as she approached them.
“Excuse me, is everyone alright?” she asked. Her voice was gentle and beautiful.
Her voice made Hal, Dea, and Con shudder and trembled in horror! Their eyes were widened with fear as they stared at the woman in shock!
‘Even the voice?’ Eugene glanced at Hal, Dea, Con, and back to the woman.
Suddenly, a voice shouted to them, specifically to the curious lady in front of them, “Lise!”
The lady in front of the children flinched before turning back, “Come back here! You know you shouldn’t talk with strangers, especially men!” another voice shouted.
Lise frowned, “But…” Sparkles were shining in her dark orbs.
The same voice threatened, “Do you want to get punished by the lord? Come back here now!” She seemed uneasy as if she was afraid of the consequences if they were found talking to other people by this person they referred to as “lord”. Who the master is… everyone had an inkling.
Hal’s teeth gritted as his eyes welled up in tears, “So… So the stone forbidden room was this… It was this! That bastard, how dare he! How dare he do this inhumane act? How can he?… How can he do this to these innocent people!? H, he’s not human!” his fists were clenched tightly as he voiced out how disgusted he felt!
Eugene pursed her lips and sighed, “……”.
Lise’s eyes widened as she listened in the group. She frowned and could help but ask, “Are you talking about our husband?” Her voice was hard as if she disliked whatever was said earlier by them.
Eugene and the children glanced towards each other, not only did they not know how to reply, they didn’t know where to begin.
In the awkward silence, Con spoke out very suddenly, “He’s dead.” His voice was nonchalant and bland, unintentionally sounding as if he was sarcastic.
Lise’s eyes widened in horror and she stepped back in wariness, “You.. You! How dare you curse my husband?!” her hands were brought to her mouth and she glared at him.
Eugene didn’t fully understand why she was reacting this way and repeated for Lise, “He’s gone. Dead.” Like Con, she spoke blandly and nonchalantly. ‘Besides, you should curse him!’ she thought quietly but didn’t say.
Not just Lise, but the other women in the room also gasped in shock. As they stared at Con and Eugene, their gaze went from terror to horror to animosity.
“How dare you!!” one woman shouted!
“What do you, a child, know?!”
One by one, the women started to point fingers and question the children’s motives!
“Who are you to curse at our husband! You mannerless children!”
Con stared at the woman whose eyes were filled with tears but were glaring at him and replied, “His subordinate.” Again, he replied monotonically.
Crown Prince Nexiel turned to Con and turned back to the women, “The Crown Prince of Zene.”
The women became quiet in an instant. They gasped as they looked at each other. Some burst out crying, and some did not want to believe the children’s identity.
Tears streamed down Lise’s face as she tried to deny his words, “How do we belie-”
“You dare not to?”
Before Lise could finish her words, Crown Prince Nexiel cut in and glared at her. His face was filled with authority and stared at her as if he was going to execute her for questioning his identity.
Eugene patted Euria on her shoulders and sighed. Seeing the boy become serious and harsh with Lea surprised her. She had forgotten that the boy beside her was the Crown Prince of Zene. He was so blended in with them that she didn’t exactly see him as a person with higher authority.
Lise jolted from fear and her head lowered, “But… I… I…” Her body began to tremble as she stuttered, “M, my… My apologies, Your Highness, Crown Prince.” In the end, she chose to apologize.
Like Lise, the women in the room regret doubting the Crown Prince and they fell to the floor to kneel, “We apologize for our rudeness, Your Highness.” The women’s expressions revealed that they were terrified that the Crown Prince would put them to death for offending. Some faces were ghastly pale, and some were green as if they fainted to fright.
Eugene’s lips twitched when she saw the expression on the Crown Prince’s faces. She wanted to snort so bad but held it in. At this moment, the Crown Prince looked as if he was constipated. As if he did not expect such a reaction when pretending to someone who was above others.
He did not mean for the women to kneel to him or be frightened of him. All he wanted was for them to believe that Kal had died. He did not expect such a huge reaction and quickly dismissed them nicely, “Please stand up.”
Lise’s eyes were stained red as she sniffed to try to control her tears, “Why… But how? Lord Kal is very strong.”
“….” No one knew what to say or what to tell them. All these women clearly looked up to ‘Lord Kal’ and did not think of him negatively. The children didn’t know how the women would react if they told them the truth.
Suddenly, in a hesitant but soft voice, the woman by the name of Lise asked, “Is it… Is it possible to see Lord Kal?” She did not want to go against the Crown Prince, but she had to see Kal’s body to truly believe him.
No one said anything but they suddenly remembered the terrible situation they were in. They were too flustered with these women appearing out of nowhere that they forgot why they had to escape here in the first place.
Crown Prince Nexiel immediately shook his head, “No. Not right now. It’s very dangerous outside, and we must not leave.” Not a second after he finished speaking, a loud bang outside was heard. It sounded as if someone had crashed into the door to this room.
The women jolted in shock as worry plastered their faces. They move their gaze from the door to the children as they realize why this group of children randomly gathered in this room. Though there were many questions they wanted to ask, they didn’t dare say anything and chose to stay quiet.
Just then, Euria who was silent this whole time walked forward. She walked towards Lise who had her head lowered and stopped right in front of her.
“….Euria?” Aernest hesitantly called out to her as he blinked his eyes that were filled with confusion. What was this sister of his doing?
“……” Eugene was confused as well. Her eyebrows were furrowed as she stared at Euria’s back with a discern expression.
Euria moved in closer to Lise, stepped back, and began to scan across the room slowly.
Crown Prince Nexiel, who found Euria’s actions odd, called out, “What’s wrong?”
Euria did not glance at the Crown Prince and walked back to Eugene’s side, “It smells like roses here, hehehe!” she laughed happily as she hugged Eugene’s arm.
“……” (Crown Prince)
“……” Eugene rolled her eyes and looked at Euria with an ‘Are-you-serious?’ look. ‘Is this the right situation to go around sniffing people’s hair? A person who was crying at that!’
“Say… Why were you curious about the stone figures?” Duke Marleigh and Eugene’s reaction to the stone figures were suspicious. He didn’t get a chance to ask back then since the enemies stormed in unexpectedly, but now that they were safe, he had to ask.
Eugene hummed and turned to him, “Well…” she dragged, “Because they looked suspicious?”
Crown Prince Nexiel frowned, “Suspicious? Not beautiful?”
Eugene blinked and didn’t know how to reply. They were for sure not beautiful. Unexpectedly her eyes met Lise’s who was staring at her.
Crown Prince Nexiel turned to Eugene and urged her with a slight annoyance, “Don’t reply in such a roundabout way and tell me.” He paused and continued, “ Is there something wrong with the stone figures?”
Eugene didn’t reply to the Crown Prince and focused on Lise’s whose expression changed when the Crown Prince mentioned stone figures.
Before Crown Prince Nexiel could snap, Eugene replied, “… They might not be just stones.” At that moment, Lise’s eyes widened as if she was shocked to hear what Eugene just said.
“…. What?” Crown Prince Nexiel furrowed his eyebrows and before he could continue to question Eugene, Eugene said, “Do you have something to say?” His eyes moved from Eugene to Lise who she had directed the question at.
Lise jolted at the sudden attention given to her and turned to her group. Her eyes conveyed many things to them before turning back to the children.
“They are tributes.” She replied with her head lowered.
“Tributes?” Crown Prince Nexiel frowned. That was the first time he’d ever heard the reason for the stone figures’ existence.
Lise nodded, “They are tributes for our dear sisters who have passed away” Her eyes were solemn and sad as she finished.
Eugene didn’t give her words much thought until it eventually dawned on her what “sisters” meant. ‘Sisters as in…’ Her eyes were widened.
“Kal’s wives?” Crown Prince Nexiel asked.
Crown Prince Nexiel stepped back as his hand slapped his forehead, “How many hundred…” He muttered quietly as horror filled his eyes. He had seen many stone figures moving around inside and outside the palace, not including the stone figures in the room he discovered today! If they were tributes then how many wives did Kal have?! Not even the King has this many men in his harem!
‘And also, why are the women so calm? Are they not one bit jealous?’ He did not understand Lise’s sad facial expression. Not one bit!
The more he learned about Kal’s true self, the more his brain ached with pain and anguish! How could he fail to notice that the man he had known from childhood was such a man? How has he never noticed that something was off?
“Do you know who they are crafted by?” Eugene asked suddenly. Lise, no-, everyone in this room seems to know a lot about the stone figures that Eugene felt that she could get all her questions answered through them.
Lise nodded confidently, “Yes of course!” She then turned towards the person on the furthest right side of the room and explained,
“All of the figures are made by this older sister! She is very talented in painting and crafting. Probably the most talented woman in all of Zene!” Lise’s voice was gentle and full of respect when she introduced the woman who stood at the corner of the room.
The children turned to the woman without much thought and were shocked. The woman Lise was talking about was the only woman in the room who looked different from the group of women. She looked like she didn’t belong to Kal’s harem and almost looked out of place. What surprised the children, even more, was how blended in she was and how they had never noticed her even though she should be standing out the most.
“Greetings and Blessings to Your Royal Highness. Hello, children.” Her voice was bland and barely audible.
Crown Prince Nexiel frowned, “Did you truly craft the stone figures?” he asked.
The woman nodded slowly.
“What is your name?” He asked again.
“I have no name, Your Royal Highness…” she replied with a soft smile.
Eugene furrowed her eyebrows as she stared at the woman with wariness in her eyes. There was something about this woman that felt odd and weird. Despite the dull appearance of this woman, Eugene felt her stomach churning when she accidentally met this woman’s eyes. It was strange, and her body was telling her to stay away from this woman at all cost. Not to mention, she had seen the insides of the hand she found by the training lake and knew that stone figures were basically stone corpses.
Crown Prince Nexiel continued, “Where do the tribute figures go to?” He, too, felt a sense of wariness towards the dull-looking woman however he didn’t want to let go of this topic and asked her directly.
The dull woman hesitated before replying, “Lord Kal keeps figures that are important to him, sells ones that are less important, and…” the woman gulped, “Buries the rest under the lake.” Her voice was soft as she replied.
Crown Prince Nexiel’s eyes widened! “Royal Lake?!” his voice raised as he questioned her!
“Yes?Yes.” The woman stuttered as she lowered her head.
Lise and the other women looked at the dull-looking woman in shock as they felt a chill go down their spines. It was the first time they’d learned that Kal sells their sisters’ tribute because… they’re less important to him.
Their hearts were racing wildly, and they wanted to scream at the top of their lungs that what the woman said was impossible! But… but, in such a short period, they’ve heard so many unbelievable things that those words could not flow out of their throats. They couldn’t bring themselves to deny the dull-looking woman’s claims, so all they could do was mutter inaudibly,
“Why…?” Why… would he do that? For what reasons?
“To be their last.” someone answered.
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