"Mister Leguna, it's time to leave," a dark elf said as he knocked on the door and entered.
It's starting, huh? Leguna thought. He nodded. "Alright."
Leguna would be joining a dark elf banquet later. It wasn't just a normal banquet. Sala would be hosting a sacrificial ceremony during the banquet. She would be sacrificing the hearts of the surviving priestesses of House Andalir to Ross.
While killing devotees of the same deity usually incited the deity's wrath, Ross didn't mind. In fact, she encouraged her devotees to slaughter as they pleased, even their own. The way she saw it, only true strife could birth true power. Only the disciples that survived would be worthy enough to worship her.
That was a huge part why the dark elves were generally so savage.
Leguna cut off a small piece of meant, popped it into his mouth, then chewed. Before the banquet began, he had another discussion with Brani and the others. He also made sure of one thing: as long as Sala was still alive, their goals were still aligned. So, they decided to work together once more.
Eirinn was sitting beside Leguna. It was a household matter, after all, so Sala also invited Eirinn to join in. Leguna, however, knew that it wasn't so simple.
Dark elf banquets, unlike human ones, were silent and oppressive during the meal session. Leguna felt a little nervous, but he managed to calm down after counting the tricks he had up in his sleeves.
"Everyone…" Not long after the meal began, Sala stood up and looked around. "This is a momentous occasion for House Elvin. I'm sure you all know that our archnemesis, House Andalir, has just been exterminated. That's right, exterminated. They no longer exist."
Sala paused for dramatic effect and let her subordinates begin chattering. After it all ended, she continued, "This is my victory, as well as yours, and even more so House Elvin's. And now, it's time we share the fruits of our victory. Gassos!"
Gassos and a few other dark elf warriors came over, fully armed and geared. Their weapons glowed with all sorts of enchantments. Each warrior was escorting a female dark elf captive, all of them priestesses of House Andalir, but none of them particularly strong.
Leguna couldn't help frown at the sight. The women were all nude and there wasn't a part of them that was uninjured. Their dark skin glowed red and two of them had both their eyes dug out. One of her ears was torn off and her stomach been turned inside out.
He could imagine the kind of torture she had gone through during her detainment. Sala probably only told the guards no not kill them, so the low-level guards finally got a rare chance to do the high-class women. While Leguna hadn't seen it for himself, he could recall hearing the pained cries of the women near their jails. The dark elves didn't get sick of something as laborious as torture at all.
Sala nodded with satisfaction at the sight of the priestesses on the brink of death. She made a solemn prayer and a large stone platform in the center of the venue began moving. It gradually sunk into the ground and another smaller stone about the size of a single bed began rising.
Eirinn held her mouth in terror. The blood and organs on the stone platform were horrifying. The stone that should've been black was crimson. There were even chunks of rotten elven flesh, decomposed so badly it could not be distinguished from faeces. Leguna was certain of one thing, however: most humans would vomit at the most circumspect description of it.
This all incurred the rage of Leguna. He knew that if he hadn't been here to stop it, Eirinn would've been on that platform herself. She would be helplessly chained and have to watch her own mother dig out her heart, smiling. If her blood spilled on Sala's face, the deranged woman wouldn't have hesitated to lick and taste it.
[Calm down,] Gahrona reacted to his situation and hurriedly consoled.
[Don't worry, Teacher. I'm no longer that stupid kid that charges in just because I'm pissed,] he said before his emotional state returned to normal.
Eirinn seemed a little pale. The smell and sight of blood were things most people had trouble with. Even Leguna, familiar with slaughter as he was, was unnerved, to say nothing of a pure elf like Eirinn.
"Don't look if you can't stand it," he advised.
But she seemed stubbornly insistent, shooting Leguna a fierce glare at an angle only he could see before staring intently at the platform again, only to pale even further. Eventually, she couldn't resist the urge to hold her mouth.
"This girl…" Leguna was quite speechless.
[It's not like you don't know her personality. Saying that will only rile her up more,] Gahrona complained.
Sala wore a steel claw in her hand. It looked like an eagle's talons and curved to about a semicircle. There was even a handle in her hand. If Sala pulled on it with her fingers, the claw's talons would retract and make a grasping motion.
The shape and composition alone told Leguna all he needed to know about the tool. It was specially designed to dig hearts out. The rotten flesh on the tool also gave it away.
"Eirinn…" Sala turned to look at her daughter. "Come with me! This is dark elf culture. You must experience it."
Eirinn's lips turned white. She looked at the dark elf priestesses who were teetering on the edge of life and back at the platform at the tool in Sala's hand before shaking her head. She shook her head and said, "I'm sorry, mother, I can't do it…"
"What did you say?" she asked with a smile.
"I said…" she hesitated for a moment before loudly proclaiming, "I can't do it!"
Sala immediately put on a look of wrath.
She pointed her claw at Eirinn and yelled, "You ingrate! You are a lowly halfling! I'm giving you a chance to embrace and reintegrate into your heritage, yet you don't show any appreciation for it?"
"Doing this… is not right!"
Eirinn stood up.
"That means you want to go against my will," Sala said with a chuckle. She glanced at the unmoving Leguna, "Very well…"
"Madam Sala…" Leguna finally said, "I'd like to remind you not to forget your oath.
"Do you remember my words?" Sala said with a delighted smile, "I swore I wouldn't harm you before you exterminated House Andalir. You've done that, so my oath is fulfilled!"
"I knew this was how it'd turn out…" Leguna muttered.
He knew that woman would almost certainly go after Eirinn. He decided to give her one last chance since she was her mother, however.
"You're her mother, so let her go."
"Mother?" Sala laughed, gazing at the pitiful pair, "Eirinn's father used to be a powerful high-order magus."
The two listened confusedly.
"I met him and sought his power," she boasted, "So I used him and let him serve me. The fool did everything for me as if he was completely seduced, always trying to help me become House Elvin's matriarch."
All elves in the vicinity fell silent. They had heard about these rumors, but nobody dared question Sala about the truth.
"So, you abandoned him?" Leguna asked.
"Yes. Since he was no longer useful, there was no longer a need to keep him by my side," Sala said with the brightest smile, "But before I managed to kill him, this mangled child beside you begged to be delivered. I thought that she shouldn't have formed into a proper fetus yet based on dark elf pregnancy cycles, but it seemed that the cheap human part of her accelerated the pregnancy. For the sake of my life, I had no choice but to give birth to her."
"Then why did she have a scar on her face back then?" Leguna asked expressionlessly.
"It's simple. After giving birth, I had wanted to toss her into a brazier to burn her to death. I didn't think her pathetic father would save her and leave," Sala explained with a shrug, "So, do you understand now, Mister Leguna? I don't care about my 'daughter'. She's just a byproduct of my journey to becoming matriarch."Previous Chapter Next Chapter