Home Post 831-chapter-87


The man known as Senu, his bandages frayed and meticulously wrapped around his arms, held Enya and turned around.

At the entrance of the cave, leprosy patients were gathered in small groups. They seemed wary of the woman unconscious in Senu’s arms, looking almost ready to flee at any moment despite her frail appearance.

Among them, a boy with messy hair, less wrapped in bandages, hesitantly asked Senu.

“Se, Senu. Is that woman…?”

Senu nodded to the boy, Jahan.

“Yes. It seems she’s the one we’ve been thinking of.”

This caused a murmur among the patients crowded at the narrow entrance of the cave. One patient spoke up in a sharp voice.

“They said she was ‘that man’s’ woman, but she looks more ordinary than I imagined. Ugh, look at the mud in her hair.”

“Move aside, Silanda. I want to see as well.”

“She’s not dead, is she?”

Silanda, seemingly on edge like a cat with its fur on end, slowly approached.

“We might have to cut her hair off. It’s become such a mess, completely beyond repair.”

“Hair grows back. It’s not like she’s a patient like us.”

Senu sighed deeply at the group chattering about Enya, then spoke up.

“Instead of just talking, why not come and help? I can’t carry her inside by myself.”

When Senu motioned, Jahan, the short boy, promptly approached and supported Enya’s legs. Catching a glimpse of her face through the pushed-aside hair, he blushed slightly.

“Well, she’s not quite as the rumors say, but still quite pretty…”

Eventually, others also began to help Senu move Enya deeper into the cave. Even though they were frail patients, they struggled to carry the small and light woman.


The patients of the leprosy cave, all tense, whispered to each other as they watched the people moving the woman.

“Make way, make way.”

Jahan waved his hands at them, ordering in a business-like manner.

“Get out of the way. Don’t want anyone’s rotten arm falling off. Shoo, shoo.”

The cave was quite deep.

They continued to support Enya’s limp body while moving deeper inside. Senu’s eyes, silently carrying the motionless woman, darkened oddly.


* * *


The area was filled with a burning smell. It was too pungent to be just from a hearth fire. The air was hot and stifling, enough to make sweat beads form even while standing still.

Enya coughed and opened her eyes to the acrid smoke.

“Are you coming around?”

Startled by the unexpectedly gentle voice directed at her, she quickly sat up. Amid the excessive silence and darkness, there was a figure sitting next to her.

She was startled by the approaching hand.

The hand, nothing but bony joints and dangling muscles, had reached out to Enya. Startled, she almost screamed again.

Shh. Please, no screaming.”

Senu quickly pleaded with her.


Enya covered her mouth, and her eyes widened at the sound.

The surroundings were silent and pitch-dark. She sensed the man with his face partly hidden by bandages, where eyebrows should be, arching greatly. After a moment, she realized it was an attempt at a smile.

“I’m sorry for startling you.”

His voice was polite. It sounded vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t place it. Faint candlelight allowed her to make out his appearance. The man, his limbs and torso completely wrapped in bandages, emitted an indescribable smell. No, it seemed more like the smell of the entire cave.

…Something burning, something rotting.

Enya felt dizzy but tried her best not to show any discomfort.

“Is she awake?”

Enya swiftly turned her head towards the source of the voice. Figures began to emerge from the darkness.

Shocked, she stared at their forms.

Under the dim light, the approaching figures in white were each covered in bandages on their faces, arms, and legs. It was clear that these were patients, and there were more than just one or two.

“I am Senu.”

The man near her spoke.

Enya just stared blankly at the man in front of her after hearing the name.

“I….represent the leprosy patients here.”

Senu sat up straight, resting his fist on his knee. Understanding her confusion, he attempted another smile. Of course, where his mouth should be, there was only a black void between the bandages, so it was hard to be sure it was a smile.

Enya stared intently at him.

“Do you find it funny that leprosy patients have a representative?”

When a sharp voice came from somewhere, she quickly turned towards the source of the sound. A woman, clearly a female figure, was leaning against the wall, glaring at her.


Senu softly admonished her in a gentle tone.

Leprosy patients.

Enya finally realized the source of the bandages on the people’s faces and limbs, and the unique smell that filled her nostrils.

Leprosy, an epidemic that had killed many, still lingered.

And in a cave like this…

But what shocked her most was the man in front of her, who identified himself as Senu.

Senu was known to be Servia’s eldest son, who was said to have died during the Zeferuna War. Enya felt as if she was hearing Servia’s haunting voice again, the voice that had once pierced her ears like a dagger.

— You will remember my sacrifice, the sacrifice of my eldest son Senu for Aquilea!

— Had that child lived and stayed healthy as planned, this filthy blood of Kartantina would never have led Aquilea!

Servia, kneeling before the elders in a despicable manner, defending Gernan. At that moment, no one could contest her decision who had sacrificed her eldest son, Senu, in the war.

She stared at Senu in shock.

Only then did she start to notice something beyond the crumbling skin between the bandages.

Senu was alive.

…Servia’s eldest son, who was believed dead and had propelled her to the pinnacle of power, was alive.

“You seem shocked.”

Senu, noticing that she had recognized him, muttered bitterly.

“As soon as my mother realized I had leprosy… she built this cave.”

As he began to confess calmly, Enya was too shocked to respond.

“After staging my death as bait in the Zeferuna plains, I headed to this cave. People think I sacrificed myself for the tribe, but…”

His voice remained calm.

“Since the day my death became known, I have been living in this leprosy cave.”

Enya didn’t know how to react, her mouth agape. An indescribable emotion overwhelmed her.

Leprosy was also the reason her adoptive mother and sister had died.

And what about her own life? People mistaking her festering leg for symptoms of leprosy shunned her, some even throwing filth and garbage at her. Perhaps the very reason for a lifetime of rejection was right in front of her eyes.

At that moment, Enya was speechless.

“It must be confusing.”

Senu spoke to the bewildered Enya. His expression was deeply shadowed by guilt. He murmured self-deprecatingly.

“I understand if you resent me because of my mother’s actions.”


Enya still looked at Senu in disbelief.

The foul smell of medicinal herbs applied to the ruptured, pus-flowing wounds, covered by filthy bandages. The view of the leprosy cave, like a prison without any light, unfolded before her eyes.

Her vision wavered.

Shock and anger gave way to a surprising new emotion… compassion. During the Zeferuna War, Enya and Tarhan were merely young, still residing in the abandoned fields. So, Senu’s confinement in this cave dated back a very long time.

“So you’ve been here since then…”

Senu answered in a voice filled with gloom.

“Yes, I’ve been living here ever since.”

Only then did she grasp the meaning behind the words Servia had once hurled at her like a dagger.

“I will show you my hell.”

Enya closed her eyes, feeling overwhelmed. It was unbelievable. Servia had deceived all of Aquilea until now, hiding her eldest son, who had been celebrated as a hero, in this sunless cave for so long.

In shock, she barely managed to speak.

“Why, why are you helping me?”

It was clear that Servia had intended for the cave’s inhabitants to kill her. There seemed to be no other purpose.

Enya glanced down at her own appearance. Although she was still muddy and dirty, her wounds were treated with a strange-smelling medicine. She cast a suspicious glance at the composed man sitting before her.

What could be his motive?

Noticing her thoughts, Senu muttered with a bitter smile.

“You suspect me. I understand. I know what my mother has done to you. News from the tribe even reaches this cave.”

Then, he spoke softly in a soothing tone.

“I have something to show you.”

Senu’s fist twitched slightly.

“This is something I’ve been preparing for a very long time, in secret from my mother.”

Enya’s heart began to race uncontrollably. Why would someone who chose a life more painful than death for decades want to share with her the things he had been orchestrating in secret from the mother who pushed him into this pit?

Receiving her silent question, Senu finally spoke.

“I don’t want to rot away in this cave… watching everything while just sitting back.”

This time, his voice trembled ever so slightly.

As if talking to himself, he whispered.

“Ever since I fell into this cave, I’ve been waiting for this moment.”


* * *


As Senu led her, the cave was very deep.

“We call this place the Rabbit Hole.”

The short boy, who introduced himself as Jahan, eagerly showed her around and followed closely behind Senu.

“A total of thirty-two of us live together in this cave.”

The boy seemed unusually excited for a visitor like never before in the Rabbit Hole.

“That’s where we keep the herbs, and over there, the storeroom for the food that comes in every fortnight…”

A grim voice added from behind. It was the woman called Silanda.

“Calling it a storeroom implies there’s food to store. Right now, it’s no different than a rat’s nest. When was the last time we received any supplies from the outside?”

“Come on, Silanda. We should at least keep up appearances! We’re introducing our cave to an outsider.”

Jahan grumbled at Silanda, sounding annoyed with a sister. Then, he mumbled awkwardly to Enya.

“But we don’t starve here. We grow plants that don’t need sunlight, and while water is always scarce, we have a well. We even get to eat meat occasionally. There’s a livestock pen down below. It was all Senu’s planning. Without him, all of us that was already miserable from our illness would have starved to death here.”



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