Shadow Slave -
Chapter 135 Cohabitation
Chapter 135 Cohabitation
Harper led them through the castle, explaining small details about the rules and customs one had to follow once inside. He was a talkative and friendly guy, so Sunny quickly got the gist of it.
In general, it was very simple. They were free to do whatever they wanted unless it broke the basic rules of cohabitation, with a few small caveats. There were areas in the marble fortress open to everyone, and areas that only members of Gunlaug's host could enter. Those were marked by the symbol of a serpent coiled around a tall tower.
As they walked, Sunny noticed several crude tapestries with that symbol woven on them. The cloth of the tapestries was black, with a stylized white tower and a golden serpent embroidered in their center. He guessed that this represented the Dark City, the Bright Castle, and its lord respectively.
Apart from that, there wasn't much to know except for when and where to find food, water, and other necessities. The last thing Harper said was about how they should behave around other inhabitants of the fortress:
"People here are very nice, but you still must remember to have manners. Especially when you are interacting with the guards and the hunters. These guys protect us and risk their lives to provide for us, so they deserve our respect. If one of them… uh… if there's a misunderstanding, be mindful of their burdens. Yes."
Sunny threw a dark glance at the gaunt young man and translated that statement to "don't mess with Gunlaug's people, and if they are messing with you, just swallow it."
Meanwhile, he was able to catch a few glimpses of how people actually lived inside the castle. To Sunny's surprise, they didn't seem nearly as put down and miserable as he had expected. In fact, everyone seemed to be more or less fine, going about their business with mundane casualness.
Of course, there were signs of worry, stress and pressure on their faces, but the same could be said about people in the real world. All in all, the inhabitants of the castle looked surprisingly… ordinary.
'I guess humans can adapt to anything.'
And as Changing Star had taught him, adaptability was the greatest strength.
As long as there was some semblance of stability, humans would find a way. And it seemed as though the tyrannical master of the ancient fortress, hateful as he was, was providing the Sleepers trapped on the Forgotten Shore with that stability. Effie's words about how the bastard was the only thing holding this place together echoed in Sunny's mind.
'Perhaps he's a... necessary evil?'
Finally, they reached the westernmost tower of the castle. Indeed, it was mostly empty and quiet. Few people seemed to want to stay here, driven away by the unnerving vision of the Crimson Spire looming in the distance.
However, for the two of them, it was perfect. Cassie couldn't see at all, while Sunny was long accustomed to the presence of the Spire because of his sensitivity to shadows. Plus, right now, all the windows in the tower were closed, hiding it from sight.
Harper suddenly stopped and said in a somewhat embarrassed tone:
"Uh… I forgot to ask. Would you guys be needing one room or two?"
Without thinking too much, Sunny and Cassie answered at the same time:
Then, they froze and turned to each other with petrified expressions. Cassie blushed, while Sunny became even paler.
He didn't mean anything untoward by requesting a single room for the two of them. It's just that over the months spent camping together, being close to Cassie in case she needed help with something had become his habit. More importantly, he was unwilling to let her leave his sight even for a second in this unpredictable castle. He didn't trust anyone here.
But in these new circumstances, requesting a single room suggested a different meaning.
But there wasn't!
Clearing his throat, Sunny looked at Harper and said:
"Two rooms if they're next to each other. I that is not possible, then one."
The skittish young man scratched the back of his head, and then answered in a somewhat surprised tone:
"Uh… alright. I think I can find two adjacent rooms for you. Follow me."
With that, he began walking forward.
Sunny glanced at Cassy, then shook his head and followed behind Harper.
'She won't misunderstand. Right?'
Soon, they were standing in front of two sturdy wooden doors. Harper handed Sunny two iron keys and smiled.
"Here we are. The rooms are not very big, but they're really… uh… cozy. Enjoy your first night of safety, guys! You must have not felt safe in a long time. I know I never did before entering the castle. Thank heavens that time is behind me! Anyway, food will be served one hour after sunrise tomorrow, in the main hall of the Keep. See you there!"
With that, he glanced at them one last time, smiled sheepishly, and walked away.
Sunny and Cassie were left alone in awkward silence.
Still feeling a little embarrassed, Sunny sighed and said:
"I hope you didn't think that I was…"
Cassie suddenly giggled.
"I know. I just didn't expect it. Let me guess, you distrust every single person in this castle, and therefore are going to watch me like a hawk to scare them all away. Like an overprotective, mean, violent big brother. Right?"
With a smile, she turned her head this way and another, and then added:
"To be honest, I don't feel safe here either. So, thank you! Although I must say, this place seems almost like a hotel. My parents took me on a mountain vacation once, and we stayed at a really old hotel. Uh, what was it called… Overgaze? Overlook? Anyway, this place is exactly like that."
"Right? I've never been to a hotel, but that was my first thought as well."
Of course, that was if the hotel in question was populated by hundreds of Nightmare Spell carriers, with a murderous tyrant for an owner, and not a single police officer around to call for help if something happened.
Sunny had spent most of his life scared of the policemen and trying to avoid them at all costs.
But now, he actually missed them a lot.
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