After Aur returned from his trip, he couldn’t see Marybell within the summoning room. Nor could he see the appearance of the livestock. It’s likely that Lilu has taken them to different location and settled them in.
Sofia was staring at the only door in the summoning room and Aur was beckoning to the wall in the corner of the room. When Aur touches the wall, without any resistance whatsoever, his hand just passes through the wall. The wall itself was a form of illusion and it was a passageway that led to another place. Naturally, the door that seemed to be the only way out was a trap, and if intruders were to go past it, a pitfall trap equipped with spears at the bottom would await them.
This was just a precaution set up by Aur in case that this particular location had been discovered by chance.
Sofia didn’t even bat her eyelids at the fact that Aur had laid out such a contraption and merely followed behind him in silence. Her behaviour was as if she was like some sort of doll that didn’t possess any emotions or feelings.
「……Hey, Aur, this girl…… Doesn’t she seem a little weird to you?」
While walking next to Aur, Yunis talked to him in a whisper.
In response, Aur doesn’t even try to keep his voice down.
「…….I’m not sure but……Something about her injuries seem off…..」
Aur didn’t really pay much attention to Yunis’s worries and he continued walking without saying anything.
Aur, was a little interested in what kind evaluation Lilu would have of Sofia but for now he proceeded to bring Sofia inside of his room, and once he was inside he abruptly turned around and gave her an order.
When Aur frankly declares such an order, Sofia doesn’t even say a word and just strips of all of her clothing. Her movements were very smooth, there was neither fear nor shame within her actions. Sofia took all of the clothes off her body including all her underwear and was standing stark naked right in front of Aur. Aur used his sharp gaze to look at Sofia with scrutiny.
Yunis had an expression of pity on her face as she cast her eyes down. Sofia’s horrendous wounds were enough to make anybody avert their gaze.
There were numerous burn marks from the top of her forehead all the way down to the left half of her face, from the neck towards the left arm, from her left breast down to her waist, without an exception the left half of her body had been covered in severe burn marks.
To have received this many injuries and still survive, Aur was impressed at her tenacity wanting to live.
Having her whole body be exposed in such a manner, Sofia’s expression doesn’t change at all, nor did she try to hide it. When seeing that she was unfalteringly standing still, Aur felt like he was seeing an optical illusion of those detestable looking dolls that people made.
However, Aur was able to see through her facade and determine her true nature.
「…..You are beautiful」
When Aur muttered this to himself, Sofia’s cheeks trembled ever so slightly,
Indeed, if all you looked at was the right side of Sofia’s face and body, she was without a doubt a peerless beauty. She had long glossy, black hair and long narrow obsidian colored pupils. Her white skin was glamorous like a porcelain doll, her limbs were long and slender, and the parts of her body that were meant to jut out were curving out in the right places. It made Aur think of an exquisitely designed doll.
It was as if all that beauty existed in order to cover up the ugly side of her left body. The burned side of her scalp did not have any hair growing out of it, it and her eyelids and eyelashes were all burnt off as her eye sockets caved inwards displaying her hollow eyes. The side of her cheeks showed a thin layer of skin and a little bit of muscle sinew peeking out as well, her lips were cracked, dry and flabby as if blood would ooze out of it if you touched it.
Her skin was covered in a grotesque dark brown color and there were barely any smooth spots to be seen on the left side of her body, it was like looking at a decrepit old cow’s knee. Her left breast did not have the normal perky nipple, instead it was crumpled up like a piece of magma that had hardened up and only a small vestige of pigment colouring remained.
The amount of surface area that wasn’t filled with scars was very narrow. If the ugly side of her represented her true self, then it could also be thought that her beauty was only there to make her ugly side stand out.
「How did you get those wounds?」
Yunis looked towards Aur with an uneasy expression on her face. “Why would you want to ask such a thing?” that was the kind of words Yunis conveyed with her eyes.
「When I was a child, l covered myself in burning oil」
On the other hand, unlike Yunis, Sofia’s eyes did not even waver at such a question.
「And why did you do it?」
「Because I wanted to prevent the bandits from raping me, I poured it over myself」
Yunis’s eyes opened widely.
「The fact that there was no chaste village girls in the same age group as you, ready to be presented to me, is it because of these ‘bandits’?」
「Yes. At the very least, the good looking village girls were caught by the bandits, and they were either violated or killed. The only girls left within the village are either ugly girls and apart from them, my unsightly self」
Aur had a thin smile spread across his face. As per usual Sofia’s expression didn’t really change but her feelings were beginning to flow out with every word she continued to speak.
「I will take your sacrifice into account, and I will make sure that your village will never be attack by bandits any longer. Any insolent scoundrel who dares to aim their sights on your village, will be exterminated by my gargoyles」
Without any emotions, Sofia responded and nodded her head. It almost seemed like she didn’t care what would happen to the villagers.
「Do you know of a girl named Marybell? She was the one presented to me as a tribute before you arrived, she is around 4~5 years of age and she has fair blonde hair 」
「……That is probably her full name. I’ve only heard of a girl called Mary in the village」
For the first time now, Sofia was hesitant to speak. Yunis merely thought that Sofia didn’t know about Mary’s full name, but Aur had a different impression as to why she didn’t elaborate.
「Even though she is still quite young, being chosen as a tribute, she truly is beautiful isn’t she? Her skin is like silk and her hair seems to have basked in the light of the sun. After she reaches the age of 10, she would become a beautiful woman that anyone would want to obtain」
「Anyone would think that she is a lovely girl. Rain would avoid her and the sun would shine softly upon her skin, even the land and earth would form a gentle path for her. Sickness and beasts would not be able to bear hurting that girl, even a starved bandit will take pity in her and raise her up as their own」
When a powerful magician like Aur spoke, it was almost like he was determining a prophecy. And at the same time, it was like a sort spell. From now on, Marybell is probably going to grow under Aur’s protection and flourish.
「Are you jealous of her?」
All of a sudden Aur looked deeply into Sofia’s eyes. To this question, Sofia was at a loss for words.
「You are a cursed child, a detestable girl. Everyone wants to avoid you and keep away. Even ravenous bandits do not want you. The rice plants which are stepped beneath your feet will wither and die, the soil will harden with frost and cold, and the sun will be covered by clouds wherever you tread. That’s because the world hates your existence. You are like a frightening beast that lives in the dark, you are ugly and they fear you for it」
Sofia was firmly looking back straight into Aur’s eyes. However, her eyes were different from the lifeless eyes she displayed before, it was now filled with the color of her emotions.
「The people from the village probably fear you. This is not because of your repulsive figure. It is because they fear the girl who was able to pour boiling oil in order to protect herself. It is because they fear you who has been able to survive even though half of your body is burnt and deformed. They were terrified, of the you who has a human appearance, yet at the same time did not appear to be entirely human」
Sofia’s expression began to distort for the first time. Like a nightmarish doll, the ugly side of her face flabbily warped.
「…….Don’t you hate it?」
Her expression was not one of anger, sadness or even resentment.
「Yes, I hate it. Everything in this world」
It was a deep, warped smile.