Little introduction to original story.
In manhwa Saver by Lee Eun Young we follow the story of Lena Ha, nineteen year old girl who had quite difficult short childhood and has many things on her head far more important than normal high-school life or idiotic love relationships more similar to mere infatuations. She is no delicate ditzy flower admired by many without any real reason behind it. The only thing that fits usual shojo stereotype is fact that she IS a beautiful young woman followed and admired by many men AND women equally. Lena is aloof person, completely unaware of her influence who keeps everyone on safe distance since life taught her in a hard way that usually everyone has some hidden reasons and agendas and nothing is freely given in this world.
She is an unacknowledged bastard child of the president of a large company in Korea and through many ordeals from the very young age she had to face scorns and bitter reality of adult world. Even though she never was officially acknowledged, her father's circle, his associates and various business partners are well aware of her existence and family situation. She seems like cold and rude at times person but she has valid reasons for that.
Our protagonist in the beginning was raised as a boy by her mom who tried to win back her lover - Lena's dad - who chose to follow his career and marry influential woman who could help him with achieving his current position, and thus left his previous love behind. Lena was supposed to behave like proper male successor of the president of huge Korean company with all consequences coming from that and through her achievements both in sports and education her mother wanted for her to surpass her peers and thus catch interest of the man who left them. Lena's mom put her ambition and desires in her child pushing it as far as she could. That was until our protagonist's hard efforts were ignored together with her very existence.
Only then the entire charade ended.
We meet our protagonist during her high-school days when she is viewed as intelligent, charismatic but cold at the same time young woman admired and envied by many, teachers included. She is captain of Kendo Club and wields sword with as much ease as she fluently speaks two foreign languages to the point of being asked for help with them. Her teachers can rely on her and often comments that the only thing she sucks in are human relationships.
In short she fulfilled every possible objectives put in front of her by her mother.
Since Lena's mom stubbornly yearns for any contact with the man who abandoned her despite fact that he has a family of his own, she is constantly harassed by jealous lawful wife to the point of open violence. Even though our heroine detests this weakness and lack of pride of her mother she always protects her and in the time of need she is ready to kneel and beg her father for things for her mom.
Because of events of one conversation right after another visit of her father's wife and pandemonium she left behind her, Lena confronts the man who sired her and once again lowers her head while asking him to visit mom. That's when the man while throwing in her face fact she is female and thus no matter what she achieved she is of no use to him, he turns her world upside down. She detested him her entire live and yet deep down she yearned for his acknowledgement and all her efforts were for nothing.
She is filled with hatred but more toward the fact that it was her gender which destroyed the last illusions she still nursed not to the father's announcement since somehow he didn't surprise her with it. In this chaotic state while warring with internal turmoil she encounters rich guy from Kendo Club who lost to her and was humiliated in the process. Since she doesn't fight back not caring anymore about anything, together with his pals he intends to have some fun with her to pay her back. That's when strange new transfer-student interferes and changes Lena. Once rescued she no more sees him as annoying almost stalker like before but allows him to get closer to her and for the first time in her life she opens up to someone.
Time flies by and together with Hyun-min who saved her they became a couple. This normal atmosphere of high-school life in modern times lasts only till the day that they discover that they are half-siblings and Hyun-min is no other than lawful son of the same company president who caused Lena so much pain - her own father. Because of various reasons and mostly because of lawful wife's rage and fury Hyun-min during brawl between grown-up men and member of Kendo club who decided to fight alongside their leader he ends up in coma and on the brink of death after saving Lena from surprise attack of hoodlums sent after her by his mother. This situations enrages his mother even more and she sends true professional assassins after Lena and her mother. In the end the woman who raised Lena for nineteen years is murdered with the very katana her daughter possessed, a young girl who informed Hyun-min's mom about their relationship out of jealousy since she too was in love with Lena, as atonement takes her place and while in disguise dies in place of our heroine.
In the end Lena hunted by killers is heavily injured and jumps into rived vowing to avenge those close to her who died because of her.
And that's when our real story begins.
While losing consciousness Lena is being transferred to another realm, very similar to our own but much younger, into the Middle Ages to the country similar to our Scotland. In this parallel world she is nursed back to health by little girl called Maria and a strange man named Gideon who turns out to be prophet of some kinds who predicted her coming into this realm and moreover expects that she'll be able to save it. Of course he never told her that since some things she has to discover on her own and more importantly through her own free decisions she has to find certain people with unusual bond with her. Lena is consumed by her pain of recent tragedy and the only thing she can think about is finding the way to return to modern world at all cost to avenge people important to her.
In the meantime she is healing, since medieval times are rather dangerous for lonely women on the advice of Gideon she is disguised as a male named Ley, and slowly she is wondering just how to return to her world. Since people here strangely speak English she is able to understand them, since she kept bloodied katana used to murder her mom she is armed, the only thing she has no idea about is how to get back.
Even though she only got into 'Saver world' some people seem to know about her existence and think of her as of The Child of The Prophecy. Soon after she regains her strength the village where she ended up is raided by vicious men seeking for young black-haired girl - her. The villagers were annihilated, young girls fitting description kidnapped and all that seems to be Lena's fault, though she isn't aware of that yet.
She was able to save little girl Maria, and for the first time in her life she killed someone, though she felt absolutely nothing, no feeling of dread, no feeling of guilt or remorse and that's what perhaps plagued her the most - the lack of guilty conscience. In the end Lena decides to follow aggressors and rescue a young girl named Edith who accompanied her and like that girl from modern times even fell in love with her, or more like with male 'Ley' Lena was pretending to be. Plagued by her memories and vowing that she won't let history repeat itself once again our protagonist moves out.
After being caught by slave traders she has to win her freedom in fight, she infiltrates Glasgow castle with only few men at her side only to rescue Edith, she faces the death and pain and learns that everything from the annihilation of village, through keeping young girl alive had only one purpose - to capture HER.
While saving Edith, the girl is killed since she served her purpose and lured rumoured Child of the Prophecy, and something breaks within Lena.
Our heroine learns the name of the true mastermind behind massacre of village and kidnapping girls and decided to put away her own issues for good and focus on here and now. The only tip Gideon gave her as parting gift was comment that if she wants to return to her world has to find young King of Tamir Kingdom and help him. With that in mind she intends to avenge people from this world and more importantly plans bring justice to the man who orchestrated it all - Yuriel from feared Jegger Tribe. She never suspected that the man she was supposed to help will have bigger role in her life from now on.
She travels through the country and meet various people who with time will become important to her just as Gideon predicted.
A runaway bored out of his mind teenage prince who intends to see real world outside the castle walls with his very eyes secretly followed by assassins.
A honourable knight consumed by need of revenge and at the same time filled with strong sense of duty, with secret mission of protecting Child of the Prophecy entrusted to him even though he has no idea how supposed 'child' looks like.
A male courtesan sent by bloodthirsty young queen whom he hates to the bone, to collect rumoured Child of the Prophecy for her private amusement in the beginning hesitating between killing his target and letting him live.
A petit girl wielding bow as is she was born with it, even younger than runaway prince who intends to avenge her beloved ones and fellow villagers all wiped out because of sick sense of love of one influential man.
Together those four with Lena create strange at first fellowship which with time changes into real friendship stronger than any mere bound before.
Lena meets royals of this world, leads people in battles who readily follow her as natural-born leader, she goes on war, becomes unusual emissary and bargains with mysterious tribe where people age differently from others and have strange powers.
This world is similar to the one she came from and yet it's completely different. Here you can meet a wandering spirit of long dead queen or a 'doppelgänger' of your beloved person so similar as if he was his twin, here people can heal with touch, their prophecies are true, some can travel through time and space while others can communicate with animals...
Definitely causing the normal modern rationally thinking person a strong headache...
Here Lena learns that in truth THIS world is her own, here she was born and from this realm was sent to the 'future'...
Here she has a family... and perhaps she has powers of her own though she is unaware of them yet...
And here she has to kill a woman who lurks behind shadows and pull strings while openly wearing mask of benevolent sovereign.
A woman who intends to possess King of Tamir no matter what and may learn how to travel though realms and destroy not only her own world but also bring misfortune to other...
This fanfic follows the ending of original Saver, picks up where author of this manhwa had to end it - that's why if you haven't read that work it'll be really hard to get attached to characters and plot may be too chaotic and random. I highly recommend reading it first before taking this fanfic into consideration.
Everything seemed to be over. Finally, the threat of Eleanor and her ominous 'awakening' has been stopped. After years… too many years under reign of the Bloody Queen, the Kingdom of Kabul could take a slow, deep breath of relief.
It was hard to believe how fast news about HER death has spread… The word passed from mouth to mouth. Soldiers, rebels, their unexpected allies, commoners and nobles, citizens of Sevia… First as a rumour it circulated, getting louder and louder, a shy ray of hope, the silent whisper of long awaited freedom…
So much blood…
So many deaths…
So many sacrifices…
...And the beginning of new age...
'SHE is dead' – the most frequently mentioned sentence inflected in every possible way. The battle cries started to calm down, the fight slowly came to an end. Most of the Queen soldiers, exhausted by unexpected fury which suddenly arose once again in their adversaries, seeing growing chaos in their own lines started to give up their weapons and turn themselves in rebels hands.
All Queen Personal Guards were killed. Those few still alive nobles from The Council, who supported Eleanor, tried to escape Sevia. The ones who weren't killed on act, were temporary imprisoned and awaited their trails in the very dungeons they used before to oppress their political opponents.
This long fight finally came to an end. Initially shy, sporadic cheers with each second became louder and louder until they filled whole city. From the harbour with quartering fleet, through main city squares overcrowded with citizens welcoming rebels, to the darkest place – the silent witness of the most furious battle – The Palace.
Enticed by surprising response from Sevia and its inhabitants, little group stood on the battlements watching the birth of new age. Shinning with first rays of beautiful rising sun, they tried to steal few precious moments of peace. Exhausted, scratched, with minor and serious injuries, they simply stood while listening to the voice of the city lying beneath them. In this short moment their life was at its fullest. The culmination. Years of efforts, so many sacrifices, blood which has been spilled... it finally paid off.
Slim figure of black-haired exotic woman was framed by first rays of the day. She stood close to the group of strangers, who unexpectedly joined rebel forces and helped to overthrow Eleanor. Deeply lost in her thoughts she seemed to be unaware of the man holding her hand standing next to her. Suddenly, woman winked several times as if to hide tears and with serious expression tried to enter building behind her. She didn't even make one step when she frowned and looked down to notice their intertwined fingers.
"Erm… could you please let go of my hand? It's hard to move freely that way…. "
"I don't think it's a good idea" he calmly answered "whenever I lose sight of you, even just for a second, you tend to disappear and show up in the weirdest places. No…. I'd rather stay that way."
"Wh… Listen, we can't hold hands all day. The Queen is no threat anymore, I don't plan to leave now. Anyway, I don't even know where I could go now…" little embarrassed she started to persuade "Besides, it's not like I'm going to disappear in thin air…khm…probably…" she muttered under her nose.
"The answer is still no" firm voice.
Wh… What is this kind of situation?! Woman thought. I don't have time for this kind of games…. It's not over yet… What was this saying again? 'The best way of defence is attack'?… She braced herself.
"Wait a moment… Just who do you think you are? I don't recall letting you treat me like your property. .GO."
The meaningful pause.
"I perfectly know who I am. I think it's time for you to start getting used to fact that I WILL have place in your life."
For a second she became speechless.
WHAT? Where did it come from? Anyway… How dare he?! I asked politely, I explained it rationally, didn't I? What's wrong with him?
"Listen, and listen carefully because I will not repeat myself… I belong to no one but myself. IF I let anyone into my life it'll be MINE decision to make. I appreciate all you've done, but there is still some place I have to go and holding hands will only get in a way not to mention that it'll disturb my fighting skills" said in even calm tone, the true threat.
"Soooo, if we explained everything, LET. GO. OF. MY. HAND… pretty please". Last words echoed filled with so much sweetness, that even blind man would catch a sarcasm.
For a few moments everyone gathered on battlements silently holding their breaths watched this unexpected duel of will. The man thought ironically – If I push her too far too soon I may end up chasing after her through the whole bloody continent…. But… I really don't want to let her go, who knows what may happen. The riot is still loud dawn there. Heh… She is truly independent woman with strong personality…
The longer I'm by her side, the more she reminds me of a cat. Man snorted to his bitter-sweet thoughts. She goes wherever she wants… does whatever she decides to do… speak frankly despite social standing of her converser… We spent enough time together, for me to learn that she will come on her own accord or not at all. Difficult decision… Damn, why she has to be so stubborn? On the other hand… it doesn't mean I can't go with her wherever she is heading to. Reluctantly man let go of her hand.
"I'll let you go anywhere you want to, but under one condition. I'll go with you, don't " – he raised his hand to stop her objection – "don't even try to tell me I can't. This is MY decision. I made up my mind. It still is too dangerous to wander alone" – he folded his arms and smiled broadly filled with all his confidence – "We'll go together or you'll not go anywhere at all. Definitely not alone, not anymore. Period. Now, where were we? Ah… YOUR decision?"
The black eyes shortly widened with surprise and again narrowed, as if she saw him for the very first time. Her eyes carefully appraised his face.
"Sometimes I tend to forget how bossy you can be with all this kingship stuff… Seriously… You will 'let me go'? Together or not at all? Or what? You will chain me to you?" the open mockery.
Long… too long pause…
"…that's some idea…."
It was the second time this stubborn man made her speechless, it took her few seconds to recover. Finally she lost her temper and snapped.
"Are you nuts? Maybe you forgot to mention that you have some kind of mental dysfunction?!"
Vastly relieved if not little amused by her vivid response and absolute honesty, which seemed unchanged despite being under tender care of the Kabul Queen and her 'medicine', he calmly interjected "Dys-what? Nah, it doesn't matter. I was merely jesting, calm down, well? Your decision?"
Calm down, just calm down Lena, ignore him. Woman bit her lower lip and took long deep breath closing her eyes briefly, as if to find composure and patience worthy of saint. She knew she would need it, and need it bad, seeing king was apparently in one of his specific moods.
"…. Nobody is going to forbid or tell you what to do…Do as you wish, SIRE" last word sounded almost like a curse. The woman turned on her heel and headed towards the entrance heavily stomping.
If there were any door she would have probably shut them in front of my nose right now – man smiled smugly to himself and with brisk step followed her satisfied with his little victory.
"Do you think he was joking back then, about the chain part I mean?" young, cheerful despite events of the day, boy asked the tall man with dark hair and eagle-like eyes.
"… Well… I can't tell. He seemed pretty serious to me at that moment… When on earth all this happened?! I didn't notice, that King Lucien had those kind of feelings for Ley, not to mention this intense…"
"Don't blame yourself, you're just getting old… Ouch!...Cid that hurt! Why did you hit my head?! I'm a prince!" – agitated boy started to massage hurting spot – "You have never done that before…"
"I guess you could call it Ley's bad influence on me. Come Sean, let's go after them, who knows in what will she get entangled this time. Michael, are you coming?"
Man with beautiful features and long silver hair let himself fell into melancholy. For a few moments he watched sun still mostly hidden below the horizon.
"We'll not lose them. I know where she is going. Sharris, I suppose you too know, don't you?" he looked down to the youngest one, petite blond girl wielding bow with professionals grip.
"I'd rather never see this place ever again, but you're right Michael. She's heading there. Let's go... the sooner we end this the better." resignation clear in her voice.
"Cid, why all of them speak in riddles? Do you know where are we going?" irritated Sean asked.
"No, Sean, I don't know. But Michael, is it safe? There is still uproar in the city…"
"Don't worry, It's probably the most deserted place in whole Sevia. Filled with ghost, old... and the new one... Anyway you'll see it soon enough... you'll know what I meant."
"Come Bisal, let's follow them" young man with scar on his face turned to hooded figure standing next to him.
"Do you think it's wise my Prince?"
"What are you talking about? It's fun being around her. Many things happens, who knows how the day may end? I can't wait to see how will she react, I really don't want to miss the show. Besides, we should watch over her, Father is going to skin me alive if something bad happens to her, now that we finally found her…" man couldn't hide slight grimace.
"True enough my Prince, true enough… " hooded man sighed with resignation.
They didn't go far inside, when they saw a figure of kneeling man holding in his arms a dead body.
"…Daniel….." simple name escaped Leys lips. The man raised his head in slow motion as if not exactly human and stared at black-haired woman. Then smiled sadly "…Ley…. So it's done…" gradually the smile turned bitter and somewhat defeated "who could predict that by leaving message about your whereabouts for your friends I will sign death sentence on the very last member of my family… my ruthless brother…."
"Why? It's true, isn't it? If I didn't tell Kamiel, there would be no way your friends could react so fast." Shade of anger and pain sounded in his strained voice. "But I have to thank you, he had to be stopped one way or another… In the end it was you who avenged us by killing Eleanor, and for that alone you have my gratitude" bitterness filled his eyes, which seemed to be unable to shed any more tears.
"Don't blame yourself for doing a noble thing. Even though you stayed loyal to your brother, you couldn't simply watch misery of others, you even protected me from him" Ley came closer until she stood beside him. "It's not your fault. Aren't you a little bit conceited? Yuriel made his decision long time ago, even before we met."
"It doesn't change the fact that he's dead and I'm all alone now Ley. He made his choices and so did I… so did I…." His voice trailed off as he glanced at cold body in his arms.
"Alone? As if… Are you saying, you'll abandon your brethren? It certainly isn't like you… Listen… Your tribe hunted me for years like some rare animal. You sure killed, spied and brought destruction, but… it doesn't have to be that way anymore..."
"All this time while I was in Yuriel's hands, you protected me, Kamiel saved Sharris and Lydia… There is good in you… I… I don't regret killing Yuriel, that was inevitable, moreover he brought this upon himself. But that doesn't mean I don't regret causing you pain. You're different from your brother. I'm sure there are more members of your tribe who are tired with all this bloodshed…" Ley fell silent for a moment.
"..In fact…" she paused trying to find the most honest words "I do understand Yuriel. From what I learned, Jegger Tribe was persecuted for sins committed so long time ago by your ancestors, that nearly nobody remembers it anymore."
"You were discriminated because of your heritage almost by everyone… Yuriel.. in order to protect his people and younger beloved brother, with time became monster himself. And even I could see he truly loved you. If he didn't I doubt anything possibly could've kept him away from me if he desired so at that time. But for you… for you he withdrew."
"As I see it, with time he became stronger, crueller. In the end he allied with the most powerful politic intriguer – Eleanor and even with the Earl." She stopped for a moment before she said aloud the conclusion to what she came some time ago with considerable trouble.
"The more ruthless he acted, the colder inside he became. His sins without shred of doubt are unforgivable and horrific… even so… somewhat, to my utter frustration and perhaps fear I suppose" uncomfortable shadow of grimace passed over woman's features "I can easily put myself in his shoes. He wanted at all cost to create safe place for his tribe, which with time you could call home… He failed, because he has chosen wrong path… Death and revenge cause only more pain and destruction."
"It took me a while to understand it myself. It's impossible to create anything with foundation stained with blood." Girl slowly kneeled beside Daniel.
"You can change this with your own strength. Nothing is decided yet. You can fulfil this dream of yours by choosing another path."
"Do you really believe there is still hope for my people, Ley?" Daniel snorted depreciatingly "We are almost extinct, for only what we had done for Eleanor, nobody is going to leave us alone, especially after this war…"
"When I was with Leone Tribe I 'convinced' their leader to accept the pact." her lips twitched with an involuntary smile at recollection "The pact says that all those members of your tribe, who didn't participate in the war, or don't want to do so ever again will be left alone. Of course after they atone their sins, that is. I have no intention to leave murderers running free… Nevertheless, I see no reason why other rulers wouldn't agree to this pact, if even mortal enemies such as Leone approved" complete conviction in her tone was truly either symbol how fearless she was or how stubborn she could be.
"Now that Yuriel is dead, your people are safe. I strongly believe that every man is the architect of his future. Your fate depends only on you and you alone..."
"You even helped us?" open surprise showed on his face "Why? Why are you doing all this, why are you saying those comforting words? After all what we have done to you? You should hate us..."
Girl stared at Yuriel's body drenched with blood from wounds she herself inflicted "...In the past... I was close to the line between good and evil, which your brother decided to cross. I could have become bloody monster just like him, if I haven't met some precious, and most of time annoying, people... What I want to say is...Maybe we are not so different from each other..."
Daniel went silent for a few moments, then looked down in his brother face "I will remember and treasure old days when we were still young and pure, my brother... Who would have thought that my most precious memories of you would be only from our childhood?"
"I want to honour memory, the sacrifice of my brother. I want to continue his mission by protecting what has left of our tribe, but ... I don't want to use any of his methods ever again... I believe there is another way... there has to be... What do I need to do Child of the Prophecy?" little mockingly, he raised his eyes to meet hers.
"This again? You're never going to leave this stupid folklore tale alone?" after brief, nearly resigned groan, black eyes had filled with sad melancholy gaze "First, leave Yuriel to members of your tribe, there will be time to bury him later. We won't be some kind of barbarians, without respect for death. Now take those you trust the most and come with me."
"Will we fight?"
"No, I don't think so. There will not be any need to do so. I just need some strong men to help me with something. Enough blood has been spilled today, come..."
After pregnant silence, Daniel closed eyes of his brother and stood "So be it. Sleep well my brother, may your wounded soul rest in peace wherever you went to. I hope you'll redeem all of your sins..."
Dark, so dark and gloomy. Even the entrance to the deepest pits of Eleanor private hell brought chills to the group standing in front of it.
"Damn, If I got goosebumps only standing here, what will await us inside? This place totally creeps me out..." man with low ponytail whispered to his companion with black beard.
"Only God may know. But she's going there..."
"...Yeah... who knew that the Zara's daughter whom Prince told us to guard to is the famous Child of The Prophecy. And we lost her back there! Jesus, good she is all right, otherwise we would probably had to go on emigration."
"Yup... an emigration would be the best outcome. I think Prince Sigfrid is still mad at us. If Lady Ley didn't tell him to leave it, he definitely would have done something to us." Man winced tormented by pictures he couldn't stop imagine after seeing furious expression of his liege.
"Shhh... don't be so loud, he still can change his mind!"
"Where on earth are we?" Sean asked Ley "It's frightening just to stand here not to mention entering. Am I a coward for being afraid of going deeper inside, Cid?" boy rubbed nervously his right arm.
Before Cid could answer calm, despite the situation, voice echoed "No... you're wise Sean...you're wise. Only naive idiot wouldn't feel any fear facing this door" Ley answered while trying to pull herself together and make first step. – Damn claustrophobia... - "You could call this place Queen private playground, but I think Hell would be the best description."
"Playground? Hell? What do you mean Ley?" confusion growing in his eyes he glanced from one person to another looking for reassuring answer.
"In this place Eleanor allowed herself to throw away civilized mask, so well-known to the world. Here she could be true to herself and openly gloat with power over human life and even death. Here she experimented, tortured and killed freely..."
"And WE are going in THERE? Why...?"
"I warned you not to follow me if you don't have enough motivation and strength. I need to go inside. Someone is waiting there for me." Girl absently explained too preoccupied with her inner fight.
"Ley! How could I let you go alone in there? I have to protect you. Besides if you disappear I don't know if I ever see you again... who will teach me then how to be a proper knight and ruler?" agitated Sean waved with his hands.
Some tension partly faded away. Girl smiled to herself. God how I needed this. "Listen everybody. I need to go in there no matter what, but you still have a choice. Now you know what kind of place is this. Nobody is going to force you, if you don't have enough strength – leave. Inside there will be no time for change of heart. This place is like huge maze, we can't allow ourselves to be separated. Decide."
Some looked at each other but nobody moved, suddenly little smiles brought by boy's remark left their faces. In instant people became serious once again. "It's your last chance...Anybody? Fine, move in dense column, don't wander around, is that clear? Good." Ley turned toward entrance and stared at it with knitted eyebrows.
Michael came closer and stood beside here, softly whispered "You really don't have to do this right now..."
Distracted woman smiled at him, with this rare grin of hers, and patted his arm "Thank you, but I have to do this. I just can't let them stay there any second longer than it's really necessary. It's been too long already. They were probably trapped here for years. To leave them even one day longer would be just too cruel." Ley squeezed Michaels' arm and took deep breath as if before diving in deep pond, then she straightened her back and disappeared in menacing darkness expanding before them.
With each step they felt as if ceiling together with all those tons of soil and rock above was going to bury them alive at any moment. Suffocating heavy air drenched with overwhelming stench of blood and decay made choke even the bravest ones.
Only girl seemed unaffected too focused on her own breathing and horrible destination of their journey. Together with Michael, they led whole group deeper and deeper, down to the pits of hell created by truly devious human.
Drip... drip... drip...
"This dripping water is seriously unnerving Cid!" Sean grumbled "Why is it so cold? Agh... This is too much... Aaaaa! Ah, it was only drop of cold water, it hit my cheek" little embarrassed by his reaction Sean tried to clean himself "damn it scared me...Huh? Why is it so sticky?"
Alarmed by boys shriek man looked at him and his eyes widened with shock "Sean...this isn't water... this is... blood..."
Sean slowly looked at his fingers, then raised his eyes and opened his mouth, but no word could go through his clenched throat. Finally he managed to croak "L...LEY!"
Alarmed people stopped at once and quickly looked around trying to find possible danger. Boy raised his trembling finger and pointed at the ceiling.
Even the bravest ones, who saw almost every possible human cruelty during wars and riots couldn't stand this sight. Some chocked desperately trying to breath, several men cursed loudly but it was the only way they were able to react. Few tried even to plaster themselves on the nearest walls of narrow corridor only not to stand right under this massacre.
High above them, on hooks and chains, were hanging butchered bodies, some without leg or arm, some beheaded or gutted, few with re-attached limbs in the most grotesque poses... victims of Eleanor's insanity.
The realization was even more monstrous. All those dripping sounds which accompanied them most of their way was blood not water... Corps hardly resembled human beings anymore, the creepiest possible decoration. People might have started panic but even demanding voice calmed them in instant. Firm order given by composed woman, who didn't move even an inch "Silence! Don't panic, they are already dead, neither you can help them nor they can hurt you. Pull yourselves together, it's only beginning, we didn't go far inside and we have yet long way to our final destination. They're waiting for us."
"Waiting?" panicked male said in high voice "who in their right mind would be able to stand this and stay here even for a moment?!"
Ley stopped midway and slowly turned to the panic-monger "...who says they are here with their own will? Quit scaring others and yourself and just think for a second. The fear will kill you the most quickly." only the closest ones heard her last words "I hope it's not too late for them…"
After that incident column moved much slower. People carefully looked around beware of danger which still remained even after Queens' death. They saw terrible things, they couldn't later even describe. Everything was stained with blood, the nightmare which came true. You desperately want to wake up, but you can't. You are already awake…
One could wonder, when Queen had time to entertain herself so. Only now it came to Sigfrid that this was probably the place where Eleanor vent her anger for nearly a month before she acknowledged presence of his forces... Maybe he was truly lucky she got distracted this long. Gods only know how hard it would be fighting her from the very beginning, seeing how she loved to 'play'.
Exposed in weirdest poses multiple bodies laid almost everywhere. The oldest ones hardly had any flesh on skeletons. Eleanor mostly draped them on the walls. Silent witnesses of brutal torture and imaginable cruelty. The true evil.
With time travellers stopped reacting to new expositions. It was either grow indifferent or became insane. Finally, tired, numb and soaked with sweat, they reached a huge cave. Surprised by spots of light before them they stopped to take deep breath. It was several torches left in neuralgic points of this huge complex. It's hard to believe how several rays of light in overwhelming darkness can raise the spirit of a human being.
Men started to nervously talk to bring even the frailest imitation of normality. It was until they noticed dozens of lying and sitting figures half hidden in shadows, but still close to sources of light and warmth.
At first they thought that these were another corpses left by the Bloody Queen, posed in mockery of life.
"DEAR GOD! Bisal, they are still alive! This one over there just moved!" shocked Sigfrid pointed in direction of the closest torch.
"Lord have a mercy…. You're right Prince…."
Michael together with Ley and Sharris were the only ones who didn't seem surprised. They stood in silence consumed by their own memories from not so distant past.
"Ley… Who are these people? Why on earth they are trapped here?!" agitated Cid asked silent girl.
"…These women…they are her private collection. SHE… had as you call it black-hair-and-eyes-fetish. Who do they remind you when you look at them? They are all around the same age, similar features and of course hair…"
"Remind?... black hair?... No, you can't mean… You?!... she was looking for you?" Lucien interrupted.
"She already found me many years ago" woman corrected him through gritted teeth "look at their faces, arms, breasts or other parts of their bodies. Do you recognize this seal? It's Eleanor's symbol. She had habit of marking everything she considered as hers. She marked them with fire like some cattle" girl spat last word with disgust "She stole their humanity together with their senses. Michael show your palm, see? He has it too, she marked wherever she wanted she didn't prefer one body part." Sarcasm almost managed to cover raising fury and pain.
"Fire seal?... But what does it have with you?"
"Ley too has her own mark, Your Majesty." Michael explained quietly.
"How do you know I have one, Michael?" woman folded her arms and suspiciously watched him with narrowed eyes.
"Erm… The Tournament! I noticed it during tournament… she burned it on your lower back, correct?" Michael thanked for his fast reflex and sudden revelation.
Still unsure with his suspiciously too quick response she carefully studied his face "Yes… Indeed..." She decided to question him later about that.
"Wh…what? How? When?!" flustered king gripped Leys' arms in fierce hold "When did she do this to you?!" My god! Was it when I was drugged? This bloody bitch was enjoying herself while such horrendous act took place? If so, how truly useless I was… if Michael hasn't interfered…
Surprised by his fury and painful, almost desperate hold she gritted her teeth "Calm down! I can't even remember this. You could say I was first showpiece of this creepy collection. I was several months old baby back then for Christ Sake!" she hissed.
"Several months?! Infant?!" the king muttered bewildered "but…. That would make Eleanor what? Several years old kid?! How could this happen? How on earth you met her?"
The last question seemed to bother all people gathered there.
'"It's neither place nor time for this talk, Lucien. We'll do this later, after we finally leave this cursed place."
King calmed a little, tenderly squeezed her arms and lowered his hands until he reached hers "You are right…. It's not time and place for this conversation. But mark my word, you will not be able to avoid me and this topic like you did on ship last time." He nearly snapped at recollection "We'll have serious discussion later, promise me…"
Damn it, he is so for-sighted. "Fine, fine…" As if! "Now we have to take these women from here. They may be drugged, beware of smoke from the torches. You should take some pieces of fabric, soak it with water and cover your faces. Better safe than sorry. They might have also gone insane, watch out. We need to take all of them. We won't leave a single soul in this wrenched place. If they are too weak to walk alone we'll carry them. Any questions? None? Good, let's begin."
Group divided in few smaller, men prepared provisory scarves wetted in water from goatskins they took with them. It wasn't easy task, most of females didn't even react. They simply stared at empty space with strange intensity as if there really was something important.
Women looked at things no one but them could see with their broken minds. Some females reacted with blind animal fear to the men who tried to approach them and help stand up. In this kind of situations Ley and Sharris had first to come and calm them down. Whispering meaningless words in even, warm tone girls managed to convince women to accept men's help. In most cases it worked but it cost them a lot of time and effort. Even worse was completely no reaction, like empty shells or broken vase… Whenever you made them sit, they simply stayed with completely empty expression.
Finally, they moved out. The biggest problem apart from almost animal fear was total exhaustion of former prisoners. Women were tired, apathetic, on verge of starvation and dehydration. They more resembled skeletons than living creatures. The human column slowly moved forward, toward the shining light of the sun.
"Sir Wulf, what a surprising meeting at this late hour" Lucien courteously bowed his head "What brings you to my humble threshold?"
Older man entered room with Prince Sigfrid slipping through yet open door right behind him.
"Well, well... I am very popular person at the midnight as I see..." Lucien only raised his brow with little amusement at their conspiracy.
"King Lucien..." knight begun " I know both of you together with Prince Sigfrid came back very late tonight, but I need to speak with you."
"Very well." Young monarch slowly moved near fireplace and looked in buzzing flames then turned and studied one of the famous Twelve "How can I help you?"
"He wants to discuss succession issue I suppose" Sigfrid cheerfully interrupted " As for me, I don't have ANY objections." seeing Wulfs' surprised expression he smirked "I don't mind seeing her ascend Kabul Throne" unaffected with slight disapproval of their host, he sat comfortably in old chair in front of chimney and put his legs on table "She is perfect candidate for this position".
"I see that you already made yourself comfortable, Prince. She? Who are you talking about?"
"Yup it's pretty comfy" young man smiled broadly ignoring completely sarcastic remark "And of course we are talking about Ley" amused by Kings' lack of perspicacity or rather sheer stubbornness he shook his head slightly. "Our dear Sir Wulf for months has been successfully, to my despair, spreading some useful rumours using tale of Child of the Prophecy". He nodded in mockery salute to older knight. "I can't wait to see her expression when she discovers your plans. This gonna be fun..."
Sudden realization flashed shortly in Luciens' eyes This may cause some problems with my plans " I completely forgot..." little tiredly he rubbed his eyes "I only thought how to get her safely from Eleanor's clutches and after today's events in her underground domain... Ah… Now I recall, I heard some vague rumours but at first I ignored them since it was about some 'Child of the Prophecy' … that is until I heard you agreed to take action beside rebel forces after this little difference in your plans... Knowing her, I wouldn't be surprised if she simply refused" some bitter memories from not so distant cruise surfaced one again. She really knows how to crush man's pride…
"I don't understand, Prince..." confused Lord Wulf looked at king "what does that mean?"
"Apparently she is unaware of this whole scheme" Sigfrid chirpily explained "while she was in Queens' hands for these two weeks she was drugged almost the whole time. She doesn't remember anything from this period..."
"Is that true?!" that was quite unexpected, the only one who didn't know about rumours was the sole person about whom they were " But... we need to tell her... whole city is waiting with concern what tomorrow will bring... and the announcement... She has to learn about that!"
"I wouldn't do that if I was in your place, Sire" Sigfrid chuckled "besides you see, she is right now enjoying herself in the Baths with this little young girl with quite temper, Sharris was her name? I guess what we saw today has shaken this little one very much."
"I didn't know she was unaware" Lucien muttered to himself "how could this happen? When Eleanor used her drugs on me I had some blurry recollection of what had happened..."
Prince suddenly sobered and with mocking snarl said " Dear King, with all due respect, Eleanor wanted YOU. With Ley she wanted only perfect mindless puppet to show off and destroy rebels morale" he managed to calm himself a little "she didn't care if by overdosing drug, Ley would end up as a vegetable. It's a miracle she came back to herself. No matter how harmless drug seems, what truly matters is its' dose."
Lucien froze for a second, stung with angry but true words, then slowly sat on the bed as if he suddenly aged "Dear God... You're right... The Queen hated her almost from the first time she saw her..."
"But Your Majesties! We have to warn Lady Ley. Tomorrow..." worry marked with wrinkles Sir Wulfs' face.
"NO!" royals barked in unison.
"You see.." Lucien started "if you try to tell her now, she will take it as some kind of trap I suppose... You will never know if she still will be here next morning..."
"I agree with King in this matter" Prince quickly added "from what I observed during the short time we spent together, Ley hates to be forced to do anything. I had hard time convincing her to wear my younger sisters dress, not to mention that I had to blackmail her to take bodyguards." Man snorted " and let me tell you, she plainly refused the dress by the way…"
"Since whole city lives with hope that famous Child of the Prophecy – the saver of Kabul – is going to lead their nation she will take this as too much pressure and probably she will…"
"...flee." Lucien sighed heavily remembering how successfully she avoided him and only on small flagship. God knows what she would do with whole city at her disposition "The second she learn this she will disappear..."
"For sure" Sigfrid grimaced. If that happened Father would never forgive him.
Both young men nodded in agreement.
"But what do we do now?!" asked Sir Wulf little flustered "Kabul needs a true ruler not in near future but right now... If we don't act quickly Noble Families will stir another internal conflict for power, and there are still remnants of the Queen followers. We don't need another eruption of chaos... we do not have the luxury of time."
The room filled with silence and feverish thinking.
"It's too late today, we are all exhausted with last events... Let's keep it secret for a time being. She will learn about this soon enough anyway...' Winclef sighed heavily. And do whatever she wishes…
" 'Tomorrow' you mean dear King, tomorrow" Sigfrid grinned. Seeing serious expression on both men and worry which marked Lords' face with aging wrinkles he added helpfully "lets treat it as element of surprise attack. The less time she'll have for reaction the biggest chances that you will succeed with your plan, Sir Wulf. Besides it's not like we can keep it secret forever, not within this city anyway… Maybe you should've considered my proposition more carefully after all…" young man smirked.
"Is it really necessary?"
"YESS" once again monarchs seemed in complete agreement in this specific matter.
Sir Wulfs gaze followed from one ruler to another, there was no way he would hand over his homeland to Aran no matter how helpful they were during rebellion, but this kind of thing… Quite a gamble… "I certainly do not like this kind of idea, even though I see some advantages… Nevertheless, both of Your Majesties know her better than I do, therefore I shall trust Your judgement" older man admitted reluctantly.
"Holy words, Sir Wulf, holy words…" Both men sighed with relief, bracing themselves for what tomorrow would bring them.
This is prologue together with first chapter - the work of starved fan of Manhwa Saver who couldn't accept the original ending.
At first I uploaded this work only through Mangafox for other as addicted as me people in pdf format, then I created blog where coloured, with illustrations/maps etc. fanfic was available and now here I'm, posting it through (thanks to encouragement from those who like it up there) with hope that you'll enjoy it as much as I while writing it (which I'm still doing by the way) and discussing it through Mangafox forum.
I'm not sure if it's proper place for any tips where you'll find me most frequently, but even so please forgive this humble novice ^^'
1. Mangafox in thread Saver Preparations for fanfic (yup I know, V-E-R-Y inventive title)
2. Saver The New Journey by Lillend (blogspot)