Chapter 72: The Fool Tower
Seiya and I followed the crow beast man. He was heading to the royal palace.
When I approached the restricted area, I noticed that the Tarmine’s royal palace was in ruins. It probably became this damaged because of the previous war between humans and the Demon King’s army. We walked past the gates guarded by armored beast men, and then we arrived at the royal garden in front of the ruined palace.
…Did I live here when I was a…human being?
I looked closely at the unkempt garden that was no longer beautiful. Everything was devastated and wild weeds grew everywhere. But, I didn’t remember anything about this place. I stood in front of a huge royal palace that was probably my previous home. Yet, I didn’t feel any emotion or attachment for this place.
The Great Goddess Isister and Aria were extremely worried about me. They feared that my soul would react incessantly when I arrived to this place. They believed that unwanted emotions would cloud my judgment. Nonetheless, I felt relieved that none of that happened to me so far. It would be troublesome if my memory returned and I became overly emotional. If that happened, I would be a hindrance to Seiya’s strategical plans.
While I was engrossed by those thoughts, Seiya followed the crow beast man and entered the royal palace. When I tried to follow them hurryingly…
「Hey. You come this way. 」
Before I knew it, a horse beast man pulled my arm.
…Eh!? I wasn’t supposed to enter the royal palace as well!?
「Glu! Glu, glu, glu! 」
As fish-men cannot talk, I tried to gesture with my fishy hands while pointing to the royal palace and to myself alternatively. The horse beast man noticed that I tried to speak with him. When he saw my intentions, he explained the following.
「You certainly passed the enlistment test. 」
I thought “Yes!”, so I nodded in agreement.
「You are now a member of the Beast Emperor’s party. 」
「You are strong. 」
「But, you are…a stinky fish. 」
「His Majesty the Grand Lion hates fish-men. It’s unfortunate, but I can’t let you enter the royal palace.」
Wait!! What the hell was that supposed to mean!!
「Even so, you are a strong beast man that passed the enlistment test. So, I will give you an important task.」
And then, the horse beast man pointed to the tower that stood far away from the royal palace.
「That’s the “Fool Tower”. I’ll be taking you to the top of that high place. 」
When we entered the ground floor of the high tower, I noticed that a long spiral staircase continued until the top. It was a very tall tower by the looks of it. I wondered if it was originally a watchtower to protect the Tarmine’s royal palace from external enemies.
「You can make this place your new home. 」
He introduced me to a small room at the end of the first floor. When he opened the door for me, I saw that this room had enough space for one person to relax. There were also desks, chairs, and a bed inside of this room.
After that, the horse beast man began to climb up the long spiral staircase. I followed the horse beast man silently through the stairs. As expected of a strong beast man like himself. He walked up without stopping. He sure did have a strong physical strength. When my legs started to become dumb after climbing that insane amount of stairs, the spiral staircase came to an end at the top of the tower.
There was nothing at the top of the tower, except for a wooden door at the center. I wondered if this place was my supposed task. It looked as if they were guarding something inside. Maybe I would have to keep watch and make turns with other watch beast men. The horse beast man pulled a key from his pocket and asked me while he tried to open the door.
「Do you know why we call this tower the “Fool Tower”? 」
「Because there is a fool living in here. A fool without pain. 」
When the door opened, I saw an old woman sitting in a dimly lit, narrow room. She had handcuffs on her wrists and iron balls were chained on her feet. She was dressed like a sinner because of her rag cloth. Yet, she had a slight dignified expression on her tired-looking face.
「This is Carmilla, the Queen of the old Tarmine Kingdom. 」
My eyes became widely open when I heard the words of the horse beast man.
The Queen!? She…She was alive!! I thought that everyone from the royal family was murdered!!
…I thought that she would be much younger. Still, she was very thin, her face was full of wrinkles, and she had a lot of grey hair. Queen Carmilla looked like an old woman in her sixties.
「This Queen is the only human of the royal palace that it’s currently alive. His Majesty the Grand Lion spared her life temporarily. But, this is bothersome. I’ll be thankful if she decided to jump from the tower to commit suicide.」
The Queen, who heard the whispering of the horse beast man, told him arrogantly.
「I will not commit suicide. I am a priestess who values life. 」
Her voice trembled, but I could feel a strong spirit in her words. The horse beast man showed me a table on the corner of the room. There were various strange tools such as needles and grilles lined up on that table.
「I’ve been doing all sorts of torture. But, this woman doesn’t feel any pain. 」
Then, he put his hands on my shoulders.
「Listen. Your job is to hurt this woman. 」
「Call me if she shows a little pain. His Majesty the Grand Lion will surely be delighted.」
What…Was I instructed to be a torture instigator!? What a horrible job this turned out to be…
The horse beast man spoke happily without knowing that my heart was conflicted.
「Well, you can do many things to her if you want. But, don’t kill her. And remember, she has to eat once a day.」
After a brief explanation, the horse beast man opened the door and left the room.
Now what? In this narrow space, only the fish-man and the Queen of the Tarmine Kingdom were left behind.
…This…This person was the mother of my previous human self…!?
I was staring fixedly at her, but I couldn’t remember anything at all. The memory of a soul was quite different from the memory of a brain. Nothing came to my mind no matter how much I tried to remember.
「…What are you looking at, you filthy fish. 」
Suddenly, I noticed that the Queen was looking at me with wrinkles between her eyes. The iron balls chained her legs. Nonetheless, she approached me by crawling on the floor.
「Do you have something to say? 」
「Ugh…Glu, glu! 」
I shook my head continuously. The Queen frowned.
「Ah, this fish stinks. Really, this fish stinks so badly. I see, so this is a new type of torture.」
No!! It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this!!
「You can’t speak any words other than “glu glu”. You’re a very creepy and smelly beast.」
The Queen pinched her nose and continued to talk.
「C’mon. Don’t keep staring at me like that and bring me some food. I’m hungry. 」
Fo…Food? Where could I get that? Let’s see…
Then, she yelled at me by using an unfriendly tone.
「My food was placed in your room on the first floor! Quickly! I’m going to eat you if you don’t hurry up!」
I tried to run away and jumped out of the Queen’s room.
…What a strong-willed person…! She had been tortured, and still, she had the courage to show that kind of attitude…! My mother was totally different than what I imagined her to be…!
When I returned to my assigned room on the first floor, I saw that they placed a loaf of bread on the top of my newly desk.
So, she only ate one piece of this a day. No wonder that she looked frail and was starving badly. By the way, I was starting to feel a bit hungry as well…
Then, I noticed a basket covered with a dust cloth right next to the bread.
Ah! This was probably my food!
But, after I took the cloth, I became speechless.
…It was two grilled arms of a human being.
*screams on her mind* How could I eat such a gruesome thing!! …Does that mean that…Ehhh…I won’t be able to eat any food for a while!? Oh no…
I sat down in the bed feeling quite discouraged. I took a big sigh.
Ah…I even got separated from Seiya. Wouldn’t it have been better for me if I waited quietly inside of the Cave Along? …No…No! I mustn’t have these sorts of thoughts! I am a goddess! This was the right time to show that I’m worthy! I must become a reliable comrade in a tough adventure like this one! That’s right! I could do many things as well! For example, try to learn about a secret path without putting our lives at risk, or try to look for rare items that could be useful for Seiya…!
While I thought deeply about my role, suddenly…
A fish fell to the floor from my crotch.
Astonishingly, the fish transformed into sand and began to draw some letters on the floor.
『I’ll say this just in case. Don’t think too much. You don’t have to do anything. 』
…I was looking at Seiya’s “Earth Magic Message” on the floor. He was cold-hearted as always.
This…This message was a warning! He was trying to prevent me from bringing any unnecessary trouble…Okay! Okay! I got it! Ah, that’s right! I see! So, this was another preparation from his meticulous plan!
Eventually, the letters disappeared, and a new message was written on the floor.
『Come to the royal garden in the evening. That’s all. 』
All of the scattering sand became one again and transformed back into a fish. That thing jumped to my legs abruptly and crawled vigorously to my crotch!
I shouted without thinking after feeling that weird sensation.
Da…Dangerous! Thank goodness that no one was nearby! But…But, where on earth did that fish go? It wouldn’t have entered a strange place, would it…?
I tried to look for it under my crouch, thinking “where is it?”. Suddenly…
A new fish fell down.
Ahhhh!? Another one came out from my crouch!? What…What did he want this time!?
Then, the fish looked at me and opened his mouth extremely wide.
That fish vomited an apple-like fruit from his mouth!
…Ah? What’s this…Eh, I see! Seiya prepared food in advance! He anticipated that we wouldn’t be able to eat properly while we were disguised as beast men!
I felt a little bit grateful for the thoughtfulness of my cautious hero…
Then, the weird fish vomited an orange-like fruit and stared at me with his creepy white eyes.
…This…This fish…I wondered why he looked at me like that…Did he want something…?
…On this moment, that fish formed a human arm and made me eat that fruit forcibly.
I grabbed the bread and went to the spiral staircase. When I arrived at the top of the tower, I opened the door of the Queen’s room.
「It took you a long time. 」
The Queen spoke to me with an irritating tone.
I immediately offered the bread to the Queen. She received it gladly and took a bite immediately. After a brief contentment, she spoke in a strict manner once again.
「Hmm. So, what are you planning to do? Are you going to torture me now? Are you going to stick a needle on my fingers? Or are you going to press a burning mark on my belly? …Well, I should tell you that everything you’ll do will be useless against me. You heard it, right? I don’t feel any pain.」
The Queen had a sarcastic smile on her face. After she said those words, I looked closely at her arms.
Burn marks. Cuts. She was full of bruises. My heart hurt after imagining the countless wounds that she might have under her clothes due to the repeated series of torture.
She looked strong spirited. But, I wondered how much she had to endure until now. The Grand Lion was a vicious and evil being. If it were a normal person, I’m sure that they would beg for their own death… Choosing death would seem to be a better choice than enduring this endless horrible torture.
…I had no memory of my life as a human being. However, I felt pathetic after seeing how cruelly this old woman was treated. My divinity as a goddess was reacting badly.
Before I noticed it, I began to stroke the Queen’s hand.
「Wha…What’s wrong with this fish. 」
「No way, are you feeling sorry for me? You filthy beast. 」
When the Queen pushed my arm away from her, she looked awkwardly at me.
「…What a strange beast you are. 」
I had I weird sensation on my body afterwards. I hit the lower half of my stomach when the rummage increased.
On that occasion, a fish fell from my crouch, and the Queen stepped back hurryingly with an alarmed look.
「Hey, you!! What are you doing!? You gave birth to a fish all of a sudden!! 」
But, the fish that fell on the floor…
It vomited an orange. I gave it to the Queen.
「Glu, glu! 」
「Are you giving that to me? …But, is that thing…edible… 」
I peeled the orange straightaway. Then, I ate a little piece to show her that it wasn’t poisonous. After showing that it was safe, I gave it to the Queen.
「Glu! Glu, glu! 」
After she ate that orange, she said…
「…You really are a strange beast. 」
The Queen laughed a little bit. Her smiling face was truly gracious. How noble and kind she must have been from her tenure as Queen of this former Kingdom.
But, right on this moment. The Queen lost her smile and hardened her face when we heard a crying scream. That ominous sound reached the top of the tower, and my body trembled without stopping.
…What was that just now? It sounded like a human scream…!
The Queen slowly approached the window covered with an iron grid.
「Another human execution. 」
She spoke with a calm voice without showing much emotion.
「The Grand Lion locked me on this tower because the execution ground was visible from this room. Seeing others die before my eyes, and hurting me. That monster is trying to do anything he can to make me cry.」
Queen Carmilla laughed with a dry and impassive voice.
「It’s useless. My tears dried up a long time ago. 」
It was evening. Therefore, I went to the royal garden just as the Earth Magic Message instructed me to do.
I didn’t see anybody in the royal garden. No one was there, neither a dog beast man nor Seiya.
I wondered if I came little early. But, when I walked on a grassy corner of the garden…
My feet suddenly collapsed and I fell abruptly!
I fell with my bottom. When I looked up, I realized that I was inside of the Cave Along. Seiya, having returned to his original human form, was looking down on me.
「Hmm. You screamed “glu” when you fell over. It seems that your startling voice remained as a fish-man. I praise you for that.」
「Hey you!! Why can’t you be a little gentler when you push me inside!! 」
I asked Seiya after he returned my goddess’ form.
「…So, how has it been going for you? 」
「I’ve only done a few inspections inside and outside of the royal palace so far. Between those inspections, I practiced with other beast men. Tomorrow, I will proceed with the preparations. More importantly…」
Then, Seiya stared at me with sharp eyes.
「It seems that that tower you’re staying now houses an important prisoner, am I correct? 」
Gosh! He already knew about that! Information sure did spread quickly!
When I tried to say that, “she was my mother when I was a human being”…
「I don’t know who she is, and I’m not interested to find out. Lista, listen. You mustn’t get involved with that person more than necessary. There is a risk of things getting out of control if this keeps going on. Therefore, you shouldn’t do any unnecessary actions.」
「I saw your Earth Magic Message, you know. Don’t worry I won’t do anything at all.」
「I’ll tell you one important thing. “A motionless Lista is a good Lista”…Remember that.」
「Shouldn’t you say, “no news are good news”! Why do you always have to say rude things instead! What an insolent human you are!」
「I worry that you’ll do unnecessary things. Therefore, I have to constantly keep reminding you of that.」
Then, Seiya’s sharp eyes became icy.
「Don’t forget this is the home of the Grand Lion. In order to minimize the risk of suspicion, we shall meet again at the end of the preparations. Come to this place at the same time, three days from now. Until then, I will definitely formulate correctly the Six-Hexagram for the final stage. That’s all.」
After a brief conversation about the impeding “business”, we transformed to our beast men disguises with the art of change. An earth snake explored the surroundings and, after confirming our safety, we emerged from the underground on different locations and went separate ways.
After parting ways with Seiya, I went back to my room on the first floor of the Fool Tower and I laid my body on the bed.
…Ah…It seemed that Seiya wasn’t particularly worried about my well-being after all. He cared about me when we were in Geabrande…No…No! I shouldn’t let my mind get engrossed by those feelings anymore! Both Seiya and I were just “the goddess and the summoned hero”! Our relationship wasn’t deeper than that!
I went to sleep after clearing my mind. I only tried to think about the success of the upcoming Six-Hexagram strategy.
Thank you to the Patrons for the continued support!