Vol. 1 Chapter 2.1Humiliation
Translated by Wook
Edited by Wook
The iron bars opened and I was once again being pushed into the prison room. More than a few hours haven’t even passed since they last saw me, but the voices are bursting with joy. I tried to smile back at them, but nausea came to me first along with dizziness.
The ventless warehouse-like room is filled with about thirty female prisoners, with not enough space to move about inside. Not only are they unable to go to the bathroom properly, some of them even have seasickness, so the place is so filthy no matter where you look. As someone who had just drunk the outside air for a while, the smell was completely disgusting.
I eventually spat out and made my prison room dirtier.
“What do you think?”
Maria patted me on my back and asked me quietly. She was a prisoner of Al Caféz, and somehow we got on the same ship again. The time when I got re-arrested and the time when she, whose punishment had not been decided before, was sentenced to go to Monte Island, coincidentally overlapped. Should I call this relationship a good one or a bad one?
I frowned as I wiped my mouth.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean Ian Connor. Didn’t you say he came for an interview?”
“So what did he say?”
“That it would be better not to think about escaping.”
Maria laughed, voluntarily showing her rotting teeth through her split lips. People in good condition should be able to notice their conditions before something goes way too wrong, but there is no way a prisoner is allowed such a luxury. I once asked if she’d like me to pull it out with tongs, but Maria swept her gray hair and refused by saying that it wouldn’t be too long before she dies anyway.
“What were you expecting?”
“What else would it be? A young and pretty prisoner went to the commander’s room, who is also young and amazingly handsome, so my imaginations keep going wild. But really, tell me in detail.”
“Young and pretty? Even though I look this awful?”
I laughed while sweeping my tangled hair behind my ears. Maria shrugged her shoulders and knitted her eyebrows.
“In any case, the youngest among us is still a correct statement to describe you. Did nothing really happen?”
“What should’ve happened? Ian Connor touching a filthy prisoner because he’s in need of a woman?”
“Women are all the same anyway. It was like that in Al Caféz. I’ve lived long enough, and since I’m already old, I don’t mind living in a modest cell and going out as just a body. But it’s not like that for you, isn’t it?”
[The literal translation is something like “It’s a pussy anyway-“ which is way too vulgar, just letting you know…]
I’m telling you, Maria has always been this way. It doesn’t matter if she rots all her life in prison because she’s old, but I’m young and she’s using my youth as an excuse to urge me to do something every time. She was the one who pushed my back whenever I felt weak or when I wanted to give up. Digging that tunnel for five years at Al Caféz would have been impossible without her help.
I sighed as I looked around at the other prisoners who were listening to our conversation with anticipation.
“… There are monsters in the sea.”
“So you want to give up?”
Maria stared at me sharply. Her wrinkled fingertips soon began to tremble. I glanced at her as she got agitated. I wasn’t stupid enough to think that she was helping me out because she loved or cared about me.
On the outside, it was me who was called the Witch of Al Caféz, but in reality, it was Maria who suited the nickname better. If the guards were the ones who ruled outside the cells, she was the one who ruled inside the cells. Anyone who fell out of Maria’s favor would not be able to fulfill their sentences and die in prison.
I, as a newcomer whom Maria liked from the very start, was a rare case. The reason was simple. Because I had escaped from Perine Women’s Prison before I got re-arrested and transferred to Al Caféz. And then she caught me when I was digging under the toilet at Al Caféz.
My prison life after I escaped Perine Women’s Prison and became a prisoner again was rather smooth. I got along better with everyone at Al Caféz, which was said to be worse and tougher than Perine Women’s Prison. The prisoners treated me nicely. At first, the strange favor felt weird, but later on, I could understand why.
“Are you giving up!”
I shook my head clear, and relief immediately flooded in Maria’s eyes.
“I broke out twice. There is nothing that can’t be done thrice. I should at least try.”
They all wanted my victory. After crippling the pride of the Imperial Army, all I wanted to do was to hide, hoping to live a leisurely life somewhere. On charges of killing my husband. Two jailbreaking experiences. The target of the guards’ level 1 alert. All those conditions were plausible to make me their idol.
“You thought well. Here, smoke.”
Maria gave me a cigarette. A smile was plastered all over my face at the unexpected gift. After all, like a real Witch of Al Caféz, she had good talent. It must have been difficult to obtain because we were inside a ship. I lit it and bit the cigarette in my mouth.
Gray smoke rose. I thought of Hindley in that hazy air. He was such a headache, and I had not smoked then. He often tried to make me bite a cigarette, but I shook my head every time because I hated the smell so much.
But now I feel that it was sweet. As expected, you will never know how the world works. After tasting the smell for a while, I suddenly came up with a question.
“But that commander, Ian Connor. Was he originally a pilot?”
Maria replied, and I asked further.
“He must have made a lot of achievements in the war and should be able to get a job in the government, so what is he doing here? It’s not even a job under the Air Force.”
“Let’s see. Did he get relegated because he’s broken somewhere?”
“He looked fine.”
I frowned because Ian Connor and the word “broken” didn’t match. His limbs were fine. He didn’t lack any arms, nor did he limp. It wasn’t like he got an awkwardly attached prosthetic to the nose either. There were so many wounded soldiers who set their foot on Imperial Street, but Ian Connor was still standing in front of me in perfect shape.
“Just because he’s not losing anything visible, doesn’t mean he’s not broken.
“I don’t know the exact thing. How should I know? But war is so nasty that it twists people in some way. There aren’t many people who can be fine after going through that pandemonium. I’ve seen a lot. I can’t pinpoint where they became weird, but they just changed.”
Maria put her finger on my head and turned it around. She is over sixty, which means she had also gone through an old war that took place before I was born. But it was a story that couldn’t be easily understood.
“It won’t be Ian Connor. That man seems to be born brave, and he made a lot of achievements. Everyone says so.”
“Being broken has nothing to do with that.”
Maria grinned and started to stab my side.
“You know? I have a great idea. Once he sleeps with you, do you think he’d let you have a retrial?”
What kind of empty hope is this? Why would anyone have such a ridiculous delusion? Moreover, it’s not like there’s any chance for me to be freed. I shouted out of my senses.
“It’s Ian Connor! Ian Connor!”
“Men are all the same.”
Of course, I agreed with that point. In fact, until I was called into his cabin for an interview, I had thought similarly. But all I had planned was to get him off guard and steal the keys from his belt.
But then I realized after seeing him in person. He was a man that couldn’t be worked on in that way. Even if I manage to pull him and succeed in sleeping together for a night, he won’t be giving me any spoon like that stupid guard at Al Caféz.
“You’d be better off once you wash. Why don’t you clean up a bit right now? You’re so dirty.”
Maria grabbed my cheek and turned it around. I stuck out my lips like a crucian carp and met her face right on. To be blunt, it was kind of annoying, but even so, it did lessen the shock I’ve gotten from the sight Ian Connor showed me, which would have irritated Maria otherwise.
“I told you that’s not the problem.”
“If not this, do you have any other plans?”
“… To be honest, I’m not sure what to do.”
Let’s say I succeed in getting the key. It is still impossible to cross a sea full of monsters with a single lifeboat without a power engine. I don’t think there’s any other way either. Maria’s expression turned rigid and she began to squeeze my head with her fingers.
“I am thinking. So please let me think about it a bit more.”
Maria couldn’t stand it and took the cigarette she told me to smoke before from my mouth. Maria was clever, quick-witted, determined, and good in execution. She was good at politics in the prison, but she lacked patience. She knew her way in jail, but her character was not one of a jailbreaker.
If she had been a little more patient, Maria would have been the most famous escapee in the Empire, not me. After rushing me, there was a sound of a bouncing ball, which I did not know where it was coming from, on the floor.
“I’m merely standing still.”
“Well, I obviously am not the one who’s making those sounds.”
Maria glanced at me in displeasure. It turned out that the place where the sound came from was outside, not inside. I turned my head with a puzzled look.
And there I saw a child on the other side of the bars. Running here and there, hiding, then looking around her surroundings, as if playing spy. The soldiers who were supposed to be watching us had not yet returned, even though their shifts had started some time ago. They took their time, thinking that it was okay because the iron bars were locked. It was a common occurrence between the time gap when eating there and running this way.
Looks like that kid sneaked her way here in that time gap…
“Whose child is it? How did she get down here?”
“I don’t know. She brought my cigarettes too.”
“What did you threaten her with? Can you even do that?”
“Stop freaking out. What do you mean threaten? I merely asked for it.”
Her hair was well combed and braided into both sides. Her appearance was clean, and there were not any wounds on her body. Nobody would think it’s a neglected child, even if she pretended to be one. I soon realized that the child’s clothes were pretty high-end as well.
It was a child of the upper class. which means it should be the child of some tourists on the first floor of this ship.
Who is the guardian? Why would they let her come to such a dangerous place? I hold onto the bar and whistled.
The blond-haired kid, who was bouncing the ball, looked back. With a sound that was neither too loud nor too soft, I started yelling at him.
“You shouldn’t be here. Where are your parents?”
I gestured for her not to come close, but the child did not listen. Rather, she got more excited upon seeing me and ran right in front of the iron bars. I got anxious thinking about the dirty prison floor and the shit stains. A bad disease might spread, or the bad smell might spread to her nice clothes.
Contrary to my worries, the child quickly chatted as if the scene was not nauseating at all. Kids are different from adults, so if there’s something interesting, why would they care about it being a little dirty?
“I’m Lila Leeville. Nice to meet you.”
It was a name I had heard many times before.
“… Did you know Henry Leeville?”
“My uncle? Do you know my uncle?”
“I guess you can say that.”
We’ve met with a beggar-like relationship before.
That stupid bastard should have taken good care of his niece with the time he had used to watch out for me, as the probability of me ripping that bloke’s mouth apart was slimmer than the probability of this kid getting injured for going to the basement cell on Lake Vyez. I shook my head in dread.
“Don’t you know that you shouldn’t come here? This is not a kid’s playground. Go back to the deck to play or go back to your cabin. You can also call your uncle.”
“But I’ve already boasted about it to my friends. If I come here, I’ll be able to meet Rosén Walker.”
“Yup, Rosén Walker, the most famous prisoner in the Empire! The Witch of Al Caféz! Everyone said she’s on our ship!”
Of course, my name appeared on the front page of the newspaper so many times, but I wasn’t aware that apparently, I was famous enough that even these children would know me. Before I even had the chance to ask anything, the child began to tell me things in succession.
“I told everyone that I can go to the cell because my grandfather is the captain, but nobody believes me. I have to meet Rosén Walker before I get caught by my grandfather, so I’ll be able to tell the other kids.”
The captain’s granddaughter. She was much more precious than I expected. I became more anxious regarding the child. I don’t know what will happen if I get involved with a kid of this identity. It’d be better to send her off as soon as possible.
“I’m Rosén Walker. Now that we’ve met, you can go back and boast to your friends. Don’t stay here for too long.”
“You’re Rosén Walker? Really?”
The child let out a dolphin-like squeal. It was loud enough to alarm the guards of the situation and come down to the basement. If I wasn’t locked in here, I would’ve shut that little mouth myself.
“Will you please be quiet? If they find you here, you will probably end up getting a few slaps to the butt, but it won’t end with just that for me.”
I put a finger on my lips. The child closed her mouth and nodded her head. It wasn’t surprising that her eyes were still shining. I realized that it was a mistake to reveal my identity. I should have said that Rosén Walker was not here.
“Is it true that you dug a hole to escape the jail?”
“Yes, it’s true.”
“With a spoon? Is that possible?”
“With enough time and patience.”
“Wow! Everything in the newspaper was real!”
I tried to answer in a dry manner so the child would get bored. But what I’ve done so far has been very interesting. Even if you just recount the facts, they still sound so epic that if you spread them out they may become a best-seller in every bookstore.
“… Then, can you really use magic?”
The face that was looking forward to the answer was serious. I was about to say no, but Maria, who was listening to our conversation, stepped on my foot with an eager face. I frowned at her and soundlessly said ‘what?’ with my mouth. Maria then lowered her voice and whispered.
“Are you dumb? They say use whatever that can be used. Even if it’s a well-groomed kid, use it. She even brought me cigarettes before.”
“Aren’t you so proud to have a child bring you cigarettes?”
“Are you really the kid who has broken out of jail twice? When an opportunity comes, you have to catch it.”
“If it was Al Caféz, I would have asked for a spoon. But this is on the sea. Whatever she brings will be useless. Unless I tell her to steal the keys from her uncle’s boss.”
“Then tell her to steal the keys.”
A prison is a great place to drive people crazy. I, too, had been in a prison for a long time, but I still had enough reasonings to judge that whatever pipe dream Maria had inside her head was impossible. But since the kid has been down here, I can at least ask her a few questions. After looking at Maria pathetically, I lowered my voice and asked a more practical question.
“You said you’re Lila, right?”
“Yup, it’s Lila Leeville!”
“I have a few questions, will you answer them?”
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Hello, sorry for the long wait. Now we have a proper update schedule, which is once every 12 days as the chapters tend to be longer than average novels, so in June, it will be on the 1st, 13th, and 25th. Cheers! And don't forget the review, rate, bookmark, comment, the series on here or NU as that will certainly increase my motivation woooooo
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The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog