Chapter 194 Lily
Not long after the Prince returned to his office, Scroll, following after him, also entered the room.
“Your Highness, I’m sorry, Lily, that child… it was not on purpose.”
“I don’t mind what she said,” he smiled, “After all, she is still a little girl.”
“Only His Highness is so tolerant of us,” Scroll sighed. “At first, she wasn’t like this, but after she was deceived, it is hard for her to believe in ordinary people again.”
“Are you speaking about something that happened to her before she joined the Witch Cooperation Association?” Roland asked. “If I remember it correctly, it was one year ago that she had joined you.”
“You already know that I can feel the existence of magic, the closer I come to the source the more intense the feeling will become. Though it is not like Nightingale’s sense, that allows her to directly see the shape and color of the magic, I can atleast use it to detect new witches. So whenever we reached a new town, I will go to the local shelters or orphanages and pretend to be an aristocratic wife who wants to adopt a child, looking if I may be able to find an awakened sister,” she paused, “I found Lili in a shelter in a remote village, but when I expressed my intention of wanting to adopt her, I was rejected by the owner of the shelter, who declared that he would only sell the girls after they have become adults.”
“Why?” Roland already had his doubt. The last chance for a girl to awaken as a witch is on her day of adulthood, is that the reason?
“We were also surprised at that time, so we had Nightingale sneak into the shelter and search for books, records, and related information. Fortunately, the shelter was far from town so we could stay there for a long time.
“With Nightingale’s ability, why didn’t you just take Lili away, with her ability it shouldn’t have been too difficult, right?”
“It wouldn’t have been difficult,” Scroll nodded in responce, “With the exception of the God’s Stone of Retaliation that the operator wore, there was no other stone within the whole shelter, but we still couldn’t do that, after all, there was a precedent for that.”
“What precedent?” The Prince filled a cup of tea and handed it to Scroll.
“Thank you,” Scroll took the teacup. “At first, as soon as we detected a witch, we would take her by force, but after what happened in the Seawind Region we had to change our way of thinking. They thought of us as evil, so when we brought them to the camp of our Witch Cooperation Association, they wouldn’t listen to us or accept our explanation and would instead try to attack us. In the end, two of our sisters died, they were killed by Cara’s magical snake, ‘Death’. And since then, we would always carefully observe the witch over a period of time, and determine her situation and get to know her beliefs before we would take action. In case we were chased by the Church and had to act urgently, we… had no other choice than to give up on them.”
“So, the meeting between Nightingale and Wendy wasn’t by accident?”
“Of course not,” Scroll took another sip of her tea, smiled and shook her head, “The interval of becoming aware of Nightingales existence until Wendy made contact with her, more than one month’s time had passed; during which we also recruited other sisters, such as Red Pepper and Windseeker…” Speaking until here her expression turned blank, “Unfortunately, they are now buried in the wild lands. At that time, if we had only chosen to settle in Border Town, they could still be alive today.”
Roland also felt quite sorry for them. If the Witch Cooperation Association had decided to settle down in Border Town and had brought their more than 40 witches with them, I think it is entirely possible that we would already have entered modern life by now.
“But right now we weren’t speaking about them,” Scroll took a deep breath, “we were talking about Lily. During the search of the shelter as well as following the host’s tracks, we discovered an astonishing fact – the small country house was neither a real shelter, nor was it an establishment to screen for witches.”
“Then what was its purpose?”
“Its only purpose was to satisfy the owner’s selfish desire.” Even for a person with a good self-control like Scroll, when speaking these word her facial expression became somewhat dreary, “Every week the owner would go to the slums of Redwater City, abducting those vagrant girls, and deceive them by saying that he was a kind and selfless aristocrat, who had opened up a shelter in the suburb. Furthermore, his shelter would often be visited by powerful nobles who were looking for girls to be adopted as daughters. As long as they were selected, they would no longer need to worry about food and clothing for the rest of their life. Of course, not everyone would be deceived by his sweet words, but… after ten years of running, in addition to the 66 who still lived in the shelter, there were still several hundreds of names written in his books.”
“So many?” Roland frowned. “But you said that it was not such a big shelter.”
“Hundreds of them now only remain as names in those books. Most of them were already… dead,” she whispered. “During the last ten years, he had discovered three witches, who were all sold to the Church. While the other girls –who had better appearance– got dressed up nicely and then sold to people, who had a need of them. However, those for those who no one had any interest in were killed and buried in the woods behind the shelter.
“…” Hearing her story, the Prince didn’t know how to respond. At that moment he suddenly felt from his back, someone gently place their hands on his shoulders.
“The chances that a girl awakens to become a witch is not high, so after reducing the living cost, within all the years, he hadn’t earned more than 20 gold royals, based on the data we were able to gather from his accounting book. Because of those 20 gold royals, more than 300 women had lost their life in the woods, filling the pit in the woods with corpses.
“When Cara had interrogated him why he did this, he’d said, that it had never been his intention to earn gold royals, that was only to keep the shelter running. Because of this, he only sold them when they became adults, after all, a witch could be sold at a much higher price than an ordinary woman. His only goal was to enjoy the power to decide about life and death and to feel the pleasure of forcefully taking it away; giving him the feeling as if he had become their King.
“Afterwards, Cara killed him in anger, and when we later wanted to dispel the girls from their belief, most of them only glared at us as if we had taken away their chance of being adopted by a noble.”
At first the same was true for Lily, and only after Cara took her to the grove behind the building, where she then saw her friend was buried – a month ago the owner had lied and said that she was one of those lucky girls who were selected by a noble and with that could leave the shelter. Soon after seeing the several corpses in the already stinking pit, Lily threw up and turned into a total mess, fainting and falling into Cara’s arms. Later when she awoke her look had become stupefied, without any trace of spirit left in her eyes, she was only later under Wendy’s care that she was slowly able to recover. Since then, Lily is full of vigilance and distrust to ordinary people, especially the aristocracy. “Scroll explained, “But I believe that she will be able to slowly change her point of view. After all, you are also a member of the nobility.”
“So, that’s the reason,” in his heart Roland secretly sighed, after experiencing this kind of event, being able to once more cheer up, her spirit must be considerably tough.
Scroll went over to the kettle and filled up their two cups. Afterward, the room was silent for a long time until she said: “Your Highness, I have a question I want to ask you.“
“What question?” Seeing the serious expression on Scroll’s face, Roland got started.
“Nightingale, are you there?”
“Well,” Nightingale said, “Do you need me to leave?”
“No… you already know about it anyway,” Scroll shook her head, “so you can accompany me this time, and be my witness.”
“You previously said, that you are willing to take a witch as your wife and marry her, but I do not know if you know, that a witch is unable to conceive a child.” She paused, and after a moment she finally asked, “Your Highness, even if it is like this, is there still no change to your original intention?”