8-10 minutes 05.12.2022
"Also… It doesn't matter whether he was crazy or sane. Now, no one would stand for that truth and no one would be willing to believe it. That period of history has long been reduced to ashes without even a chance to sugarcoat it."
Lin Jie crossed his arms as he usually did and sighed. "The former kingdom and its people have long faded. Even Candela's soul has perished forever, leaving only a blurry memory. Regardless of the case, a king who slaughtered his own people and destroyed his country would always be viewed as a lunatic."
When they had first met, Candela hadn't even bothered to refute and just directly acknowledged that he had gone insane and was the source of the so-called 'Great Pestilence'.
It was probably because once the truth was revealed, the Ancient Elven Kingdom, which was a beautiful symbol in various myths and legends, would instantly crumble and appear as an evil, terrifying, weak, and selfish existence.
Presumably, Candela didn't want his kingdom to be viewed this way in the eyes of those that came after.
Unfortunately, since there wasn't any record of such a possibility in the resources provided by the Truth Union, this probably meant that... the vestigial clans that knew the truth hadn't defended Candela at all.
The sins of the kingdom's people were ultimately borne solely by their king.
Lin Jie couldn't help recalling how Candela had repeatedly emphasized that everything that happened was all because of his own sins.
Because of his arrogance, he had gone crazy looking at the gods. He was the one that slaughtered his people and the one who destroyed Alfords. Therefore, he did not desire redemption, nor did he feel that he could atone for his sins. Instead, he was willing to endure endless torture.
But if he had never gone mad, what was it that had bound him, tortured him, and exiled his soul?
Perhaps… it was just the guilt he felt.
As the king of this kingdom, failing to protect this land and its people was his sin. Candela blamed it on his own incompetence and thus felt that the culprit and cause of everything had been himself.
Or perhaps, the memories of Candela, who was trapped in the sword for eons, had long faded. All that remained was eternal guilt and the words of the outside world that labeled him a sinner.
And eventually, even he believed that.
It must have really been utterly miserable...
Silver said in a hushed voice, "'The Exile', Candela, was trapped in the sacred sword that killed him because of his obsession—in fact, the one that exiled him was actually himself all along."
Lin Jie silently summoned the sacred sword from his own dream realm and placed it across his knees. Brushing his fingers across the sharp blade, Lin Jie uttered, "But he was a good king."
There wasn't any reaction of the sacred soul. The resentment accumulated for tens of thousands of years had dissipated along with Candela's soul back then. All that remained was an icy cold weapon that naturally wouldn't respond at all.
However, the memories that Candela had once imparted to Lin Jie started to bubble at this moment. The second part of those memories that seemed to have always been shrouded by a dark fog suddenly became clear in an instant.
"Your Majesty, I'm sorry... There's no other way! We just aren't able to resist the darkness if it's not like this! We are left with no choice..."
"The whole lot of you ought to die! How dare you all..."
"Would you rather watch Alfords be destroyed? Didn't you attempt to... The god in the depths of darkness is an existence that simply can't be stopped. Didn't you... fail too? Heh, or rather, even you can't see 'him'."
"That's right. What we are doing is the only way we can save Alfords!"
"Your Majesty, you need to learn to choose. For the sake of survival, some sacrifices are necessary. We know how great your kindness and benevolence is, but… you see, they willingly became test subjects for Alfords. Their wishes were to contribute to the kingdom with their own strength.
"Are you going to let them down?"
"Enough… I'll delve deeper into the darkness again. Don't say another word."
"My King, you're back…"
"All of you lied to me, why?"
"I'm sorry, ahem… Your Majesty, did you succeed?"
"It's okay, don't blame yourself. You've already done very well... Your Majesty, you are a great king... It's just that we aren't good subjects. Our apologies for having to let you see this embarrassing sight."
"But given your mercy, you'll definitely listen to our last request."
"—please kill us."
"I am Candela, the last king of Alfords. I am willing to pay any price to seek the protection of the Primordial Witches.
"Please protect my scattered people... and allow them to go on living."
Lin Jie's eyes were closed as he felt a burning sensation on the white ring-shaped mark on his wrist, causing him to subconsciously reach out and press down on that area of skin.
This mark was transformed from the crown that Candela had given to him in the dream. It was the symbol of the elf king.
The memories that gradually became clear helped him piece together that period of history.
So it was like this... Lin Jie thought to himself. I've misunderstood Candela's subjects. They were really at their wits end because it wasn't just the innocent folk that were affected, but the officials themselves too.
He recalled the image in his memory of the huge, bloated monstrosities begging their king to kill when Candela returned to the imperial capital.
Come to think of it, they're the ones who actually went mad. Candela, who was sane from the beginning till the end, must have been in so much pain when he swung his sword to kill them.
The mark on Lin Jie's wrist gradually subsided, but the fluctuating emotions Candela had felt at the time he killed himself converged into a hint of doubt.
Protection of the Primordial Witches?
Yet, in Candela's memory what had descended before him wasn't witches in the usual sense... but for grotesque forms that were more deformed and twisted than strange monsters.
Their voices seemed to be normal female ones, although there were some vague reverberations...
Lin Jie didn't know whether he was imagining things, but hadn't one of those voices sounded somewhat familiar?
Lin Jie's mind went to work, but he wasn't able to determine it right away. After all, voices that sounded alike were many, and it might just be that this one was a little similar.
Mm… In short, the price Candela had to pay was to never divulge the truth to his people so that the elves would completely become followers of the witches.
That had been his original intent, so he naturally agreed at once.
However, that eventually became tens of thousands of years of self-torture. I wonder if he would have hesitated in hindsight?
Silver suddenly interjected slyly, "Candela's Mark? This is the symbol of the Elf King, and he gave it to you willingly. In fact, it's equivalent to the handover of the throne. If you can find the elven survivors, they might be willing to honor you as King."
Lin Jie's lips twitched slightly. "Forget it. I'm just a bookstore owner. I can handle books, but can I manage people? I don't want to end up like Candela."
"I know you're lazy," was Silver's gentle reply. She paused for a bit before continuing, "I won't be showing up here for quite some time after this. You can use your own dream realm to devour this dream. That way, you can enter even without the dreamcatcher."
Lin Jie was surprised. "Where are you going?"
"It's a secret~" answered Silver coyly.
Lin Jie: "..."
Silver smiled at Lin Jie and said, "But I promise I'll see you again soon."
It can be hard to make great work when its stolen from tinyurl.com/37k7u89t.
Lin Jie still wanted to say more, but he felt the cold, soft touch on his forehead and was momentarily speechless.
Lin Jie opened his eyes, waking up from his dream.
The dreamcatcher hanging above him turned into ashes as the faint rays of morning sun hit it, dissipating without a trace and leaving nothing behind.
Lin Jie smacked his lips as he recalled what he had dreamed. Then he froze. Didn't that voice seem to be really similar to Silver's?