Episode 11. Dawn or Darkness
The sensation of my eyes lifting brought a familiar chandelier into my vision.
I must have met my end at the hands of traitors…
Askaar scratched the back of his neck and blinked a couple of times. Then, sensing something out of the ordinary, he tugged at the cord and called his servant.
“Have you been calling, Your Majesty?”
“… “What year is today in the imperial calendar?”
When the servant brought him water to wash his face, the emperor didn’t bother to wash his face.
However, he was always a fickle man who never knew what he was going to do, so the servant didn’t even question the question, just rattled off the answer.
“March 1, 1822, Imperial year.”
The servant’s answer made Askaar lost in thought for a moment with a blank expression on his face.
The year I died was 1834, so it’s 12 years, then…
He furrowed his brow and rose to his feet. The bewildered servant watched him leave, unwashed and ready to go.
“Prepare the knights.”
“I am going to go to Antkal’s residence.”
As he spoke, Askaar had no right arm.
* * *
“How… how could Your Majesty….”
Askaar stared at Lourrane, who was on the floor of the cellar, holding her ankle.
He would have slashed her to death in a heartbeat, but strangely enough, his sword didn’t move.
“Please save me, please save me. Your Majesty, I dared to commit a deadly sin. Please, please… Please save me, please save me… I don’t want to die like this. please… please… .”
Askaar said, pulling her hand away in displeasure.
“…Where is Ashria?”
At his question, Lourrane made a dumbfounded face and narrowed her eyes.
“Where is Ashria?”
“Your Majesty, I don’t know how you could have taken her to……..”
“I don’t know, she’s afraid she’s been hidden away for fear of being taken by someone…
“I will spare your life if only Ashria is unharmed.”
“She is. …….”
“So bring her to me.”
Right in front of me.
He rumbled menacingly, and he scanned the basement, where the chill air hovered.
Unventilated air, stale and damp. Stark gray walls and the unpleasant stench of unknown potions.
On the gray walls, a few crude scribbles stood out, as if a child had drawn them on stone.
Askaar wordlessly ran his hand over the wall.
The name is written on the wall.
It wasn’t long before he heard a lark-like voice behind him.
His heart dropped to the floor at the sound of the unfamiliar yet familiar voice. He knew he should turn around, but his neck wouldn’t move because he was afraid to face her.
Then the child behind him grabbed the hem of his shirt with her tiny hand, urging him on.
The moment the child uttered the title, a surprised Lourraine slapped her hard on the back and scolded her.
“How dare you speak to him as if you know who he is.
Do you know what kind of person he is and you dare to do that….
The sound of a slap on the back of a child with nowhere to go made Askaar turn around.
The moment he met those dark eyes that looked so much like him, Askaar’s face contorted as the remnants of his past flooded in. When he met those eyes once more, his throat closed so tightly that he could only lick his lips, unable to spit out the words.
Ashria is out of breath the first time he holds her in his arms; Ashria is rolled around like a doll by countless knights; Ashria is tied up and f*cked by a horse in heat; Ashria crying out in flesh-searing pain.
The face in his memory, always stained with tears, weighed on his heart, demanding that he pay for his sins.
The child, no more than five years old, looked up at him curiously, not knowing what she was thinking.
For a long time, he remained as still as stone, staring at her, and then the little head shook its head, looking first at Lourrane and then at Askaar. The situation seemed very unfamiliar.
“… are you my daddy?”
The voice cut through the silence, and Askaar forced a smile.
“This is my blood.”
The small child’s eyes widened as Askaar spoke her name slowly. Hearing her name spoken by someone else seemed strange and foreign. It was almost endearing, Her cheeks were strangely flushed and her bright smile was quite lovely.
Askaar flashed her an affectionate smile he’d never shown her before and extended his one remaining arm.
“Let’s go, Daddy.”