Azhure: This is the final part of this Pilot, and thank you for reading it thus far.
Voice: And what about that implication you’ve been talking about a few parts back!? Also, what took you so long!?
Azhure: Well, I planned on having it as a conversation between Alicia Bell and Amelia Rickens at an unspecified year in Manegia right after this Pilot’s conclusion. And in regards to that, I took the opportunity to dump even more lore into that conversation.
Suffice to say, I was already 1000 words in with 400 words worth of notes left as I thought of not splitting this Pilot into a fifth part which is why it took so long to upload this part.
So because it took so long to write the conversation, I finally decided to move the conversation into its own chapter. Again, sorry for keeping you waiting.
It was as if the altercation with count Hamburg’s cavalry was but a dream as the caravan marched further south in the eastern half of Erdale. By this point, the caravan had passed all human kingdoms Fia knew of from what the Rosa village elders taught her and her first-hand experience as a slave tossed around the better part of Erdale’s land.
It must be a kingdom further south the elders didn’t know. The map they have is old by human standards, Fia mused. What kind of kingdom would-
“I-Is that the Dark Forest?” one of the slaves in Fia’s cage, an elderly elf, not the same elder in Fia’s village, whispered in alarm.
In an instant, Fia jerked her head towards where the caravan was going and widened her eyes. Green leaves that were so dark, you could mistake it for black adorning the thick wall of trees leaving no light shining below it. One could easily spot it from afar under the sunlight that when one looked at it, one could only describe it as nothing else than a ‘Dark Forest’ and was named as such.
However, it was a name people like the elderly elf would remember. If you break through the forest, you will find a peninsula; go further south to the end of it, and there, at the edge of the sea, you can see an island.
An island of demons.
“The Dark Forest? …T-The Forest of Demons!?”
“The forest that’s all but black where demons hide!”
During the Demon King’s Invasion, the demons used the peninsula behind the Dark Forest as the staging ground for their invasion. When the hero party led the final charge to drive the demons out of the continent once and for all, the demons used the forest as their natural wall, hiding in darkness as their eyes can see through it.
It was the bloodiest battle of the invasion before assaulting the Demon Island itself. One of the elders of Rosa village who participated in that battle told her how the demons used the shadows to infiltrate their ranks and ambush them, cutting their allies before sinking back into the darkness.
Anyone who could provide light, magic or not, was particularly prioritized to maintain the darkness. It took everything the hero party had short of burning the entire forest, which was considered multiple times, to punch through the demons’ last line of defense before finally expelling them from the peninsula.
And the merchants are going into the forest!? Fia almost let an audible gasp. Sure, the demons may not be lurking in the forest anymore, but…
“A~nd they’re panicking,” Mitch said cooly on his horse. “Are they always like this, Jack?” he turned to his friend.
“Only if there is someone who recognizes the forest,” Jack shrugged. “If not, it’ll be when we’re going in.”
Fia felt the chain around her neck tightening. Hearing the two guards’ banter, she had a bad feeling about this. Chloe also sensed an awful foreboding and clutched to the elf tightly.
“This is Special Immigration Agent Group number eleven,” Zack discretely spoke. “We are reaching the Dark Forest border, requesting access.”
Fia turned to see him repeating what he spoke before ending it with an “Over” to a small black box along with some buzzing sound. If that wasn’t weird enough, what he called the caravan would be. Special immigration? What’s that? she thought. And he calls the forest by its true name?
“Access granted, proceed through channel fifteen. The border guards will escort you.” Answering Fia’s question, the black box let out a reply, also repeated, much to her surprise. What kind of magic tool was that? “What’s the status of the immigrants? Over.” Immigrants? Them?
“We have one visibly sick immigrant, a cat beast girl around nine years old,” Zack continued to speak to the box. Chloe? “Otherwise, all immigrants are accounted for. Priority immigrant Fia of Rosa village is secured, notify the commissioner. Over.”
“Affirmative,” the black box replied. “Also, welcome back. Over and out.”
Priority… immigrant? Fia blinked. This was getting stranger. If what she heard was correct, not only will Chloe be treated by a doctor but the merchant also called her a priority immigrant. Was this ‘commissioner’ the client?
RUSTLE RUSTLE RUSTLE
Fia had no time to ponder these questions as the caravan reached the forest. A sound of foliage was heard as there was suddenly a pathway wide enough for the caravan to go through appearing inside the forest.
Then, a figure emerged from the forest wearing all black, at a position that allowed Fia to see them despite a wagon in front of her cage. It looked rather form-fitting than the cloaks rogues would use to hide in the shadows, though it didn’t hide the bulkier parts where their tools were held.
On the figure’s hands was a black staff, but said staff had two appendages, the smaller one the figure held with their one hand while the other hand held the body of the staff; there was no Magic Ore at the tip, but rather a tube much like the contraptions the Blue Doves have.
However, those weren’t important. When looking up at the figure’s face whose lower half was covered in a black cloth, there was a strange pair of goggles resting at the front part of the figure’s rather intricate black helmet. But it was the helmet itself that was to be paid attention as it…
“I-It’s a demon!”
…has two protruding horns, a common trait of the most widely recognized demon sub-race, the horned demon.
“Fia…!” Chloe whispered in fear, clutching to the elf’s arm. Her ears were folded and her tail was curled up, trying to make herself as small as possible all while shivering in fright.
If the presence of the Forest of Demons wasn’t enough, then seeing an actual demon would get the slaves to murmur in nervousness. They can’t help it, from their treatment by the Blue Doves to the annihilation of the cavalry to this, it was an overflowing dam that was about to break.
Fia herself was no better, especially with the added information she doubt other slaves wouldn’t overhear. Why is there a demon here, escorting the Blue Doves!? Are they in leagues with them!?
Making the situation even worse, another figure, another border guard, emerged from the forest after the front wagons entered the forest. The guard wore the same black garb as the demon along with the same weird stave. Looking up, the guard wore the same black cloth, the same strange goggles resting at the front of the same black helmet except it had no protruding horns, and a pair of elongated ears, a common trait of one the most widely recognizable races, the elves.
Though the trees were cut down to create a pathway wide enough for two wagons to fit in, the road to the other side of the Forest of Demons was still shrouded in darkness as the trees at its sides shielded it from the light showing how dense the forest was.
Even so, the journey was relatively short and uneventful, much to Fia’s confusion. The border guards cast light magic from their staves as they escorted the caravan to the other side of the forest quite civilly. Fia doesn’t know what to make of it as an elf was guiding the caravan with a demon, all the while there were two cages with enslaved elves inside. Fia couldn’t discern what the elf border guard was thinking with their face covered.
Regardless, once the caravan exited the Forest of Demons, the border guards retreated back into the forest, the border of a kingdom in the peninsula near the Demon Island with said demons living with elves and humans. Where do Fia and the rest of the slaves fit in? Then again, humans even enslaved fellow humans.
“Alright, home sweet home!” Mitch said happily.
Then, Fia laid her eyes upon the first town of this kingdom except, it was even bigger than a city. The walls stretched for what must be miles away, and they looked better fortified than most cities. Passing through the gate, it was as if Fia was brought into a different world.
For one, there were horseless carriages, for a lack of a better term as it doesn’t even look like a typical carriage, running on magic as Fia sensed, never mind how they have enough mana to do so, all over the smooth black road with white stripes painted on the middle of it. Then there were all the buildings with architecture she has never seen before, some were even taller than the walls, along with all the magic tools she sensed that would put noble districts to shame.
“Ooh…” Chloe muttered. Even she couldn’t hold her awe.
The caravan had stopped after only traveling a short while into the city, and Fia looked to where it had halted. It was a large, rectangularly-shaped building that looked as if it has been renovated multiple times with multiple rows of glass windows lined up which was surreal as Fia has never seen this many glasses on a building if any at all as a slave.
In front of the building, but not directly in the way of the front entrance, there was a blue flag hanging on a steel flagpole, flying freely by the wind, showing ten white stars in an arc above an open book with a green cover surrounded by an olive branch. Above the entrance, there was a sign referring to this building’s name Fia doesn’t know what it meant.
URT Immigration Center
“All of you, step out in an orderly fashion and follow us!” Zack hollered as Fia was the first to step out of her cage along with Chloe – they were by the cage door. Surprisingly, the merchants didn’t chain them together as they got out, especially when it’s all of them that do – slave traders wouldn’t chain-link slaves with a rope or an actual metal chain if the trader wanted to inside cages to fit in more slaves, it’s only when a select number of them were taken out to be sold. Then again with the whole display, no slaves outside the cage would dare to make a run for it.
Fia wordlessly stepped into the building, startled by the glass doors sliding open on their own, with Chloe by her side. Inside, she found a pleasantly white hall, where she saw a female horned demon wearing glasses behind a wooden front desk across the hall among other furniture.
Is that a fairy!? Fia widened her eyes as she saw a petite girl with translucent wings floating to the horned demon with a bundle of parchments at hand, leaving a trail of mana as she went. No one has ever seen a fairy for the past century, not when every other race hunted these resurrecting beings down for the magic dust running through their bodies. Were the fairies thrown their lot to the demons? That fairy was interacting with the demon rather civilly.
Following the line of thought, it looked like every race that was known to history was here. From the short trip to this immigration center alone, she saw humans, elves, dwarves, beastmen, the aforementioned fairies, demons, and even the sea-dwelling seafolk on the surface and the supposedly extinct dragonmen going about their daily lives in harmony, and that’s not mentioning the numerous half-breeds littering the streets.
Fia even saw a completely unknown race that might be the descendants of Soul Weavers the elders warned about. They couldn’t be a sub-race of demons like orcs and goblins when they have plant parts sticking out of their lighter green than normal skin. The elders made it clear demons were not one of nature.
“Miss Fia.” Breaking her line of thought, Fia looked to who called her name and saw Zack right in front of her. “Look up,” he told her.
In reflex, Fia did as he told her, her ‘conditioning’ as a slave kicking in. Why does he want me to look up for? she thought.
“By the Constitution,” Zack then spoke, “all slaves stepping into these lands and waters are considered free.”
“…Huh!?” Fia lowered her head with widened eyes as the slave collar around her neck fell to the floor. She rubbed her neck with her free hand in disbelief as the chain marking her life in oppression for years was gone.
“Uh, wh-wha?” Chloe gaped her mouth open as she was officially completely confused.
“Well now, I hope your questions were alleviated after overhearing us for all this time. The same goes for all of you too,” Zack warmly smiled at the surprised crowd. In his hands were a rather bulky pair of scissors he had used to cut Fia’s collar.
“Yeah, we talked a lot,” Mitch smiled wryly.
“That’s your fault, Mitch,” Lisa deadpanned.
“Ergh!” A figurative arrow struck at the rookie guard’s ego.
“Try not to ruin the moment, guys,” Jack shook his head.
Ignoring the banter, Zack spread his arms wide and said the most memorable words of Fia’s life.
“Welcome to the United Races of Terra, our secret nation.”
This ‘United Races of Terra’ was an unusual king- Nation, Fia corrected herself, and a secret one at that. The immigration officer, as they called themselves, really emphasized the fact this URT was not a kingdom or empire of any kind and have a ‘president’ elected by the people as the leader in their brief description of this place, but one of them did say that the seafolk kept their monarch as the regional government in their province whatever that meant.
Also, as Fia had observed, URT was a place where all races can live together equally and because of that, they had hidden the existence of URT from the rest of the world since the end of the Great War when the nation was founded, as ludicrous as both, if not all of these statements sounded.
“Miss Fia of Rosa village, your ‘client’ will come for you shortly.”
After every slave had their collars removed, they were ushered to a different room where they were given decent clothes to replace their rags. Fia right now was wearing a white shirt with some illustration she couldn’t begin to describe and the bottom half of a red dress that was barely below her knees. Along with a pair of black slippers and white socks, it was unusually simple clothing yet comfortable to wear.
All the clothing people here wear was wildly different from each other, Fia mused. Some in the streets wear like what I’m wearing and then there’s the fairy from earlier wearing noble clothing. Well, it’s less gaudy than what nobles wear, but it’s more sophisticated than what the elders depicted her to wear.
Then, they were led to a white room with beds with metal frames and curtains, and unrecognizable contraptions, magic and not, which was apparently a doctor’s room as doctors were giving them ‘check-ups’ on their health while asking for their names and such. Chloe was still in that room the last time Fia checked as she was sick during the journey.
Incidentally, Fia was asked for her blood for a ‘Dee and A’ testing she couldn’t begin to understand even after the doctor explained it to her. She complied, but thinking about it now she realized it was suspicious at best and didn’t help the doctor who asked for her blood was a vampire.
Whatever it was, a few hours later, an immigration officer, a goblin, taller than what Fia’d imagined – in fact, some of the people here were unusually tall -, in a similar outfit as the fairy’s led Fia to this room, having her sitting on a metal bench and telling her those words in a professional manner for his sub-race. And with those words, she was reminded of the client.
Zack told us that we are no longer slaves, then what makes the client who wanted me? Fia pondered. Looking around, others were sitting on the other rows of the benches who were either ‘immigrants’ or ‘URT citizens’ based on what they were wearing – Fia did not waste the past few hours idle though clothing fashion wasn’t exactly a priority. It feels like they’re waiting for someone…
“Miss Fia,” the goblin interrupted her line of thought. “Your client is here.”
The goblin redirected Fia’s vision to where a woman just entered the room. It was an elf, wearing a white-sleeved jerkin that only extended to her waist and didn’t cover the middle over a light-green shirt with the white lower half of a dress that was above her knees and a pair of white slippers. The elf also carried what seemed to be a green satchel hunged over her shoulder and wore a white circular hat on top of her long silver hair and turquoise eyes.
“M-Mother!?” Fia gasped in disbelief. Was her eyes tricking her or was the client who wanted her was her own mother whom she was separated from all those years ago!?
“…Fia, is that you?” The woman too, stopped in place, checking if it was a dream.
“That voice…” Fia recognized. Even though it was years since she heard her mother’s voice, she could never forget it. “It is you, mother!”
“Ah… You’re really back. My little girl!” Fia’s mother held both of her hands over to her mouth as tears started to trickle down.
Slowly, Fia rose from her seat while her mother took another step. Then, they both rushed to each other and embraced.
“Mother! I missed you so much!” Fia cried, letting out all of her feelings bottled up to this very moment, hugging her mother tightly.
“Oh, Fia..! My baby girl…!” Fia’s mother hugged her daughter back, holding her as if she could lose her again if she let go.
There were still a lot of things Fia has yet to understand, and although the United Races of Terra had reunited her with her mother, she wouldn’t trust this nation just yet. Frankly, she was wary of it all and was didn’t like not knowing what it would bring. But for now, one thing was certain, Fia’s life was looking up from then on.
The goblin immigration officer meanwhile warmly smiled as he recorded all of this on a smartphone as Fia would later learn.
URT Immigration Center
For five years, missus Dela Rosa was separated from her daughter, Fia, by imperial slave traders. Thanks to Special Immigration Agent Group 11’s efforts, they have been reunited.
Never lose hope, you can still be reunited. #ProjectReunite
Find more information on how to submit a request to the Immigration Center to find your loved ones here.
Read full article here.
(Picture of Fia embracing her mother in tears with the ‘Project Reunite’ label at the bottom)
1h ago – 2k Likes
Like – Share
The Cat @cat05
I can’t imagine the relief for missus Rosa to find her daughter back. It must be hard being in URT while separated from your loved ones. #ProjectReunite
Dora Ores @DoraOres
I know the mother personally. Missus Rosa’s husband was killed when the imperials raided her village in Elvarn that separated her from her daughter. She was the one who encouraged me to submit my request to the immigration center that I was able to reunite with my husband. Congratulations on your reunion, missus Rosa, your husband will rest easily seeing you two back together.
Imagine knowing your child is out there in slavery for years not knowing still alive or not or worse and not being able to find them yourself. I applaud the Special Immigration Agents for doing great work reuniting the mother and daughter and countless other families and friends.
I know I’m not the only one crying. It warms my heart knowing the mother never lost hope of reuniting with her daughter.
Azhure: Disclaimer, I don’t use social media a lot. The one above is loosely based on a Twitter post I looked up randomly and since it’s another world I’m taking liberties. The comments are based on South China Morning Post’s Youtube comment sections on videos about parents in China reuniting with their children years after they were kidnapped IRL that are then modified for the context of the post above. You should look it up yourself with the keywords ‘scmp missing’.
Azhure: As a side note, as I wrote this part, I realized that after establishing Alicia’s and Owen’s birthdate (summer and early winter respectively), at the time book Alicia takes place, they were still 15. Not only that, when I went back to correct them, I noticed in early chapters that I messed up my dates badly with the rewrites I did.
Azhure: Yeah, I already fixed them before this part’s release and I don’t know if there are still more discrepancies. Anyway, after this will be the conversation between Alicia and Amelia I mentioned at the start of this part about URT and the implication. It should be published shortly as I was already halfway through it.