Elias was being oddly cooperative when the party returned to the castle and Hilda informed her elder sister about their new 'guest'. Helga wasted no time throwing him into a prison cell; she didn't even bother to interrogate him. And Elias didn't fight or even object. He might have been fatigued, but that didn't explain his sudden mellow demeanor.
"I don't know what you're up to," Elle said to him from beyond the prison bars. "But I'm sure it's nothing good."
"Heh," his lips curved into a smile. "I just thought I'd pay my long lost sister a visit. I didn't expect you to be here, ruining my good name."
"Your name is as filthy as you are," Elle said bravely. "Your sister's better off not knowing she has a man like you for a brother."
"I'm well aware of Elias," a deep female voice spoke up and Elle turned to see Helga escorting Ia into the cell ward.
Now that Elle got a clear look at the woman, it was obvious she was a Dormaeus what with her dark hair and custom eye markings. She carried herself with a sense of worth, purpose, and strength, but without the haughty aura her brothers flaunted.
"It's good to see you awake Elle," Ia smiled at her. "Forgive my absence. I had political matters to attend to and only recently was able to return."
"I-It's nice to meet you," Elle curtseyed politely.
"Now," Ia's smile faded quickly as she turned to Elias. "To what unfortunate circumstance do I owe your visitation?"
"Is that any way to greet your elder brother?" Elias asked.
"We may be of the same blood, but you are not my brother. Rumors travel quickly even in Noric and your reputation paints you as nothing more than a monster."
"I don't deny it
I am a horrible creature
which is why I decided to come here
I want redemption for my misdeeds," Elias said solemnly. He appeared genuine, but Elle wasn't falling for it.
"Find your redemption in prison," Ia said coldly and turned to leave.
"How is being locked away going to cleanse my soul?" Elias wrapped his hands around the cell bars with tears in his eyes. "I came to Noric to get a second chance! Only you can grant me this, my sister! Please! I know we have no bond, but I know you can help me atone for my sins."
The look on Ia's face told Elle she was seriously considering his words.
"He's lying!" Elle stomped her foot down. "Lady Ia, I know this man. He'll stop at nothing to kill Mias!"
?" The name still seemed foreign to Ia.
"Mathias," Elias clarified. "I had trouble making 'th' sounds when I was younger so I shortened his name to preserve my dignity when I called for him."
"Is that so?" Ia looked down at Elle. "I know we are strangers, but your accusations seem earnest. Would you deem him a threat to me and my people?"
"Yes! He's a blood thirsty killer! He slaughtered his younger brothers for fun! He's tried to kill me, my friends, and Mias!"
Elias suddenly burst into tears and sank down to the stone floor of his cell, weeping. "I don't deny this
Mathias didn't survive his wounds!"
What?" Elle's eyes widened.
"I recovered sooner than I expected
I returned to his manor to finish the job and he
he was already gone!"
" Elle began to tremble. She feared it was true given there'd been no word of the sorcerer in two weeks now.
"If only I were!" Elias sobbed. "For so long I dreamt of his death, but now that he's passed I feel hollow inside! My father manipulated me into hating the brother I loved so dearly! With him dead, not even hate remains! How can I ever be forgiven for being so weak?!"
Ia opened the cell door and quickly threw her arms around her elder brother. "I will help you. If there is any hope for you, we'll find it together, my brother."
Elle sunk to her knees. "No
he can't be
"I'm so sorry
" Elias looked at her, his dark eyes still brimmed with tears and his expression pained and remorseful.
! You're lying
! You must be lying!" Elle couldn't fight it any longer. She believed his words and broke down into tears.
" Fionos sniffled as he took his ear away from Elle's chamber door. "She hasn't stopped crying
"She must have really loved him
" Hilda said sadly. "We can't even imagine that heartache, Fio."
"Can't we do anything for her?"
"We just have to give her some time to grieve," Hilda patted the fawn's head. "It's painful, but it'll become easier to cope with as time passes."
"How can we trust this Elias guy though? Elle said he was a bad man
"Whether that's true or not remains to be seen, but my sisters did finally catch word that Mathias Dormaeus is dead."
"You really think faking your own death is going to detour Elias?" Berenos asked Mias as he watched the sorcerer finish his healing spell to repair the last of his wounds.
"Perhaps not, but it gives me the element of surprise for once," Mias smirked before collapsing backward onto his bed, exhausted from healing. "Any word yet
"We'd be incredibly lucky if we found her this quickly. Even with Leadbury tracking her, the world's a big place," Berenos said. It'd only been a week since Leadbury along with Abernos and Viola set out in search of Elle. Her human scent had vanished, but the traces of Mias' magic gave them some hope of finding her. "You have no idea where you might have sent her?"
" he forced himself upright. "Ready the horses
We need to get to Noric as soon as possible
"There's no way you're ready to travel yet."
"We'll take the carriage
I can rest on the ride up there
Berenos heaved a sigh. "You should be grateful I'm helpful by nature. Fine. I'll ready the horses."
Mias smiled, "Thank you Berenos."
Berenos stiffened up and his eyes widened.
"Did you just
"That would be the polite response, yes?" He said dryly.
"You must have injured your head," Berenos commented. "We should prolong travel then. I think you may have brain damage."
"Ready the damn horses," Mias said with some embarrassment over his attempt to be courteous.
Berenos chuckled. "That's better."