Argan, the empire of the holy morning, was the land of wizards who had defended the continent against the light dragon. Its most noble princess, Elizabeth, was a prisoner of the barbarian kingdom of Ugel, which had invaded and conquered the empire with its superior military force. The empire was mercilessly torn apart by the Northern League, which had been keeping them in check.
As the Argans were defeated and enslaved, most were presented to the barbarians of Ugel, while others were taken to the northwest of Van Yela or the east of They. Elizabeth had been spared because her younger brother, the last emperor of Argan, had disguised her as a commoner and smuggled her out of the imperial castle.
“You have to go, sister. It’s better for you to stay alive even if you become a slave than to be killed here,” Andrei had told her. As the only surviving member of Argan’s imperial family and the heir to the throne, Elizabeth had to survive at all costs. “If my sister is alive, Argan has not been defeated. Remember that,” Andrei had said before they parted ways.
Elise knew that her dear brother had likely died the day the imperial castle fell. His decision to push his sister away and sacrifice his own life was a testament to his pride as the great Emperor of Argan, choosing death over capture. At that time, Elise wished she had stayed by her brother’s side.
Now, Elise crouched in the darkness, her sight unable to reach even an inch in front of her. Her hands and feet were tied, her mouth gagged, and a filthy cloth covered her eyes. She had no idea where she was or what would happen to her in the future.
Elise had managed to cross the Argan border without any weapons or tools, relying solely on her own skills and cunning. But she was caught while attempting to cross into Regal, Argan’s ally, through the meadows. Unfortunately, she was met by the army of the Van Yella Empire, who had likely played a major role in defeating Argan’s allies.
The three escorts who were disguised as commoners and fleeing alongside Elise were immediately beheaded on the spot. Elise was the only one left alive, and she knew why. As a young and beautiful woman from the defeated country, she would likely be sold into slavery rather than killed. Eight out of ten of Argan’s women, known for their beauty, were sold into slavery instead of being killed. Her situation would be no different.
As she was tied up and waiting for her fate to be decided, Elise couldn’t help but think that it might be better to take her own life rather than face the insults and abuse of the enemy. But then she remembered the last words of her brother Andrei: “My sister has to live. Come alive and build my grave.” Elise knew that she couldn’t give up, not when her brother’s last wish was for her to survive and honor his memory. She resolved to live on, even if it meant enduring slavery or worse, as long as it meant she could eventually return to Argan and give her brother the proper burial he deserved. Even if she died, she must die in the land of Argan.
As she lay there with her eyes closed, Elise’s body became more attuned to her surroundings due to the cloth covering her eyes. She could hear the sound of someone approaching, and her muscles tensed in anticipation. Desperately, she struggled against the ropes binding her hands behind her back.
Elise came from a long line of powerful mages in Argan, a mysterious and almost mythical power that had all but disappeared from the continent. Every few generations, a wizard would be born into the Argan lineage, and the current emperor was rumored to be one such wizard.
Elise thought of the magic formulas that her brother Andrei had carved into her skin. He had placed one deep in her left forearm, one under her left wing bone, one on her spine, and one on the back of her left ankle and knee. In total, her body was marked with five magic circles. Andrei had told her to place her hands on the circles and recite his name, but Elise knew that it wouldn’t do any good. With her hands and feet tied up like this, she was completely at the mercy of her captors.
Suddenly, the door to her cell creaked open and someone entered.
“Is she an Argan woman?” a voice asked.
“Yes. She must have been caught as a runaway near the border,” another voice replied.
“Take off her blindfold. I need to look at her face to get a quote,” the first voice said.
As the blindfold was roughly removed from Elise’s face, she was confronted with the sight of a group of soldiers standing in front of her. One of them, a man in colorful armor, reached out and grabbed her chin, examining her face with a lecherous expression.
“Is it special?” he asked, leering at her.
Elise struggled to avoid his touch, but the more she fought, the more it seemed to excite the man’s sadism. He smirked and grabbed her cheek, saying, “Her hair is silver, so she looks like a silver fox. This isn’t too bad either. It smells good. B*tch like this is fun to subdue. Bring this to my dwelling tonight.”
Elise’s fury boiled over at the man’s words and she glared at him with all the hatred she could muster.
But it seemed that her fate had already been sealed. She was one of many Argan women who would be sold into slavery in the Van Yela Empire.