(Wester lands- City of Relanter)
(Governor's Mansion- Secret Basement)
The air was musky, stale and damp in the underground.
Lord Cain was a brutal man, and he wanted his slaves to know that they would never again see the light of day.
Claire held Elisa's hand as they carefully descended down the flight of stairs that led to the underground basement.
The former saintess let out a series of violent coughs but kept moving forward with a determined glint in her eyes.
She needed to reach her people.
Claire did not know Elisa's true thoughts, but she could tell that healing the dark elf slaves was a very important matter to the former saintess.
The dim lighting provided by the torches hung on the walls cast long shadows as they walked through the darkness.
As they neared the wooden door that led to the basement, the metallic scent of blood got stronger and stronger.
Lord Cain's corpse was still inside the room.
Claire slowed down her movements and tightened her grip on Elisa's palm.
She didn't want the kind-hearted girl to get frightened by the brutal scene on the other side of the door.
Elisa sensed Claire's hesitation and turned to her with a gentle smile. There was a strange emotion in her gaze that Claire could not recognise.
"Thank you for allowing me to come here," Elisa warmly spoke as she leaned in closer.
The former saintess mustered up all the courage in her heart and stood on her tip toes.
She lightly pressed a kiss against Claire's right cheek and then quickly moved back as if nothing had just happened.
Claire froze in shock as all she could think about was the warm sensation that brushed against the side of her face.
She thanked the gods above that the lighting in the underground was dim so that Elisa could not see the furious blush that was beginning to spread across her cheeks.
What was that? What just happened?
No… no… Claire don't overthink this…
Surely Elisa is just being friendly and you're misinterpreting this… I mean she is a high priestess….
Claire's thoughts were a mess and she barely reacted as Elisa strode past the stunned paladin and opened the door.
The warmly bubbly feeling in Elisa's heart instantly disappeared as she saw the horrific scenes in the basement.
Dozens of her people were locked in massive iron cages like mere cattle.
Scars, whip marks, bruises could be seen on their bodies.
The male dark elves had open wounds that were clearly infected as blood and pus oozed out of their injuries.
As for the female dark elves… their eyes stared lifelessly at her as she entered the room.
Not even the children had been spared as their ribs and bones could be seen against their bruised skin.
Starvation. Torture. Imprisonment.
This was all done by humanity.
Lord Cain's headless corpse lay on the ground in the middle of the room, but his dead body did little to quell the fury raging in Elisa's heart.
Elisa clenched her fist tightly and for a brief moment her eyes flashed crimson as a fierce hatred flowed through her veins.
She would kill them… SHE WOULD KILL THEM ALL!
Every last one of those filthy slave masters who bought and sold her people like livestock.
They would all die…
The former saintess stood still as a memory from a time long ago flashed across her mind. It was the day when she realised the depravity of the human race.
On that day Elisa had sworn a dark oath that she would free every last one of her people and punish the ones responsible for the tragedy.
To accomplish her goal, she was prepared to make a pact with the demon race to summon portals connected to hell.
Claire entered the room and saw the painful emotions in Elisa's eyes as she stared at the dark elf slaves.
It was the first time that she had seen such genuine anger on the face of the former saintess.
Claire quietly approached Elisa and stood by her side silently. There was nothing she could say or do in this moment.
Time slowed passed as neither girl said a word.
This somber atmosphere was broken by Elisa who could not resist asking the question in her heart.
"Why did he do this?" Elisa suddenly asked.
"You… I mean… us humans… why are we such monsters? Why do we commit brutal atrocities in the name of God?"
Claire let out a heavy sigh and carefully considered what to say in response. She looked through the original Claire's memories and also combined her knowledge of history.
"Humans… are complex," Claire spoke in a low tone.
"We are capable of saving lives and also taking them. Kind acts of charity and brutal acts of cruelty."
"Goodness, evil and everything in between."
"Sometimes it can seem as though there is nothing good about us. Especially when the worst of our race commit horrific crimes but… I genuinely believe that on the whole…"
"The good people outnumber the bad."
Elisa hummed softly and Claire knew that her words had reached her.
The former saintess pursed her lips together and did not bring up the topic again.
Instead, she focused on the matter at hand and turned to Claire to ask her for some help.
"Can you break the iron bars?" Elisa asked politely. Claire nodded confidently and reached for her sword.
She took a deep breath and swung her longsword casually in the direction of the iron cages.
Her blade faintly glowed a golden colour and the heavy iron bars were sliced apart like a hot knife passing through butter.
Elisa approached the trembling dark elves without hesitation, but Claire followed her to make sure that she wasn't in any danger.
The former saintess closed her eyes and offered a quiet prayer to the Lord of Light.
Holy magic burst out of her fingertips and enveloped the shivering dark elf slaves.
Elisa moved closer and placed her right hand on the forehead of the closest dark elf.
The wounds and bruises on his body instantly healed and he could feel an overwhelming surge of vitality.
The other dark elves in the room stared in confusion as the older ones among them could not understand what was happening.
Holy magic could not easily heal their kind and yet this mysterious human was curing their injuries with a simple touch.
What they did not know was that Elisa was secretly mixing a thread of dark magic in the holy light so that her healing ability would work on the dark elves.
Only a select group of dark elves were told that their princess had infiltrated human society so none of the slaves in the room knew of Elisa's true identity.
Elisa slowly moved from one dark elf to the next and repeated the process.
She spent the longest time with the children as she carefully checked their bodies for any hidden wounds.
The dark elves looked at her with suspicion and mistrust but at least none openly showed any aggression.
It helped that Claire's cold expression and the brutal way she had executed their tormentor was still fresh in their minds.
Meanwhile the knight that Claire had ordered to send word to Father Amos about the situation had finally arrived at the local temple.
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