Rococo stood side by side with other ladies. They were all dressed up glamorously, but Rococo was the most gorgeous, attracting the eyes of a guard nearby. A tall man came in through a side door, glanced at each lady, and stopped in front of Rococo. The man lifted her chin to take a closer look at her beauty.
Minister: Your hair is as red as fire. It’s rare. I bet the landlord will love it...What’s your name?
Rococo responded with appropriate etiquette while maintaining eye contact.
Rococo: I’m Rococo, slave of Master Landlord. I’ll try my best to serve Master well.
Minister: You’re pretty, but your eyes look too sharp, not like a slave at all. I’m afraid you’re not suitable.
The minister let go of Rococo’s hand, picked the most petite lady and sent the remaining back. Rococo, however, was not satisfied the result. She decided she had to approach the landlord and find her way home. Thus, Rococo sneaked out without alerting the guard and headed to the city centre. She bumped into a young boy accidentally at a corner. The two looked painful, lying on the ground.
Rococo: I’m so sorry. Are you alright?
Guard: He’s gone that way! Get him!
Young Boy: Darn it! They’re coming. Follow me now!
The two escaped from the soldiers and rested under a tree behind the courtyard. Rococo looked closer at the young boy. He was handsome, around fifteen or sixteen years old. His look of innocence reminded Rococo of her past before being a slave. She had no idea why the boy was being chased by the guards, so she asked curiously.
Rococo: Why were you being chased?
Young Boy: I haven’t seen my friend for a long while. I was bored so I wanted to find her, but they didn’t let me out. That’s why I escaped.
Rococo: “Looks like he is a son of a noble. The guards are to keep him from making any troubles.”
Rococo: “If I bring him back, it may be a shortcut for me to approach the landlord…”
A flying red bird sang loudly all of a sudden. The echo drew the young boy’s attention. He looked at the bird out of curiosity, and then at Rococo’s hair.
Young Boy: The colour of the bird is similar to your hair. It’s red and beautiful! That’s the first time I’ve seen that!
Rococo: It’s a red goshawk. Their feathers are red in summer, but deep blue in winter.
Rococo: They’re close to humans. Give them some training and they can help you deliver letters.
Young Boy: Oh! Really? Interesting! Can you tell me more?
Because of his enthusiasm, Rococo shared lots of her interesting stories. The young boy was very attentive and asked lots of questions. For a moment, Rococo forgot about her current situation and worries and jabbered on about the past. It was not until the moon was out that She finally remembered her mission.
Rococo: I still have something to do. There is no time to waste anymore. Better get going.
Young Boy: I still want to listen. What are you up to? I can help. Then you can continue your stories.
Rococo: It’s not that simple. You can’t help me...because I want to meet the landlord!
Young Boy: Easy job! Mission accomplished. Um, I’m actually the landlord!
Requested by the landlord, Rococo became his playmate and lived in his castle. With his innocent looks, Rococo would never imagine he was the culprit of the slavery system, oppression and maiden’s death. Therefore, she decided to seek the truth from him. One day, the landlord summoned Rococo to his bedroom right after breakfast.
Young Boy: Rococo, please continue the stories.
Rococo: Master Landlord, before the stories, may I ask you about the situation in the city?
Young Boy: Yes. The minister said we’re building a new castle, so people will have jobs.
Young Boy: Everyone can earn a living and live happily.
The landlord said this with a sincere smile. He truly believed that the citizens were living well. Rococo had a complicated feeling in her heart. She used to feel hatred towards the landlord, but that feeling had completely vanished. Instead, she began to sympathize with this innocent child.
Rococo: Do you know this mute girl?
Landlord: I do, she’s a friend of mine. Yesterday I was looking for her. Do you know where she is?
Landlord: Let’s go and find her. We can have fun together!
Rococo: “Looks like he is innocent. I must find out who the culprit behind this is!”
Minister: I can’t believe the kid is fond of that red-hair lady. She is a sensitive one. I’m afraid things will get sour if the landlord discovers the truth.
Subordinate: The first blow is half the battle. We take care of her just like that mute girl… Who’s there?!
Rococo: “Phew! Finally get rid of them. The minister is the mastermind… I’ll never forgive him. I have to uncover the truth!”
Rococo went back to the landlord’ s bedroom and he immediately grabbed her arm.
Landlord: I’ve been looking for you. Let’s go on an adventure.
Rococo: Master Landlord, I’m about to tell you my story...a story of a slave…
It was a raining day with cold wind. In this freezing weather, nearly a hundred of ragged and emaciated slaves were carrying heavy stones and moving to the upside of the castle at dawn. There were guards with whips and swords on both sides to monitor their work.
Guard: Master Landlord wants the new castle to be built by next month!
Guard: With such turtle-like speed, you’ll have no rest before it’s finished!
Guard: You slaves! Speed up and stop goofing off!
One of the slaves in the queue could not stand the cold and fell on the ground. The guard was about to whip her, but an old slave promptly begged for her mercy.
Old Man: Master, she’s not even ten. Please...show mercy——Ahh!
Guard: No talking! Back to work! Otherwise there’ll be no food for you today! As for you...what a beauty! Come with me.
The guard pulled the weak girl up and brought her to a hidden corner. Right as he tried to rape her, Rococo sneaked behind and knocked him down with a huge rock! Rococo moved the fainted girl under a tree and went back to the landlord. She noticed the innocence on his face had vanished, with his eyes were full of sorrow.
Rococo: Master Landlord, this is our story.
Landlord: ...I hate it Rococo...I want to rewrite it.
Landlord: Rewrite it into a happy ending story. Will you help me?
Rococo: Of course!
Minister: Humph! You’ll never have this chance!
The minister led a dozen of soldiers to surround the landlord and Rococo.
Minister: As expected, it’s you...The landlord has been bewitched by the lady. Get her and protect our landlord!
Facing a large number of soldiers, Rococo was caught by them quickly while the landlord was brought to the minister.
Rococo: Dang it! Release the landlord!
Minister: Humph! You still want to bewitch the landlord. Soldier! Kill her——
Landlord: Killing her would be too easy for her. Bring her back to the slave camp. She’ll learn how to behave.
Rococo: “He must have said it to save my life… ”
Minister: Um...Master Landlord is right. Bring her back to the camp!
Rococo was brought back to the slave camp to live inhuman life again. However, she had not given up hope yet. Her fury was even stronger since then.
Rococo: “I’ve got to save the landlord and release all the slaves!”
In the slave camp, Rococo actively approached different slave leaders and explained the landlord’s situation to them. She had called for their help to eliminate this absurd slavery system. All the slaves, however, refused out of fear. Until one day, the minister came to the camp with soldiers and made an announcement about extending their working hours, which stirred up much controversy.
Slave Leader: Master, it would be too cruel. The weather is getting colder these days.
Slave Leader: We’ve already suffered hunger and diseases. If the situation continues, we won’t make it through this winter.
Minister: ...So what? We can recruit more slaves to compensate for it.
Slave Leader: So...we are consumables. Don’t you think you should treat us like humans!?
Minister: You better understand your situation! I pay to buy you all. You’re my assets! How I use you is none of your concern!
Slave Leader: You’re gonna force us to die!
Slave Leader: We are human as well, of flesh and blood! We’re not meant to sacrifice our lives for you!
Minister: Soldier! Kill the rebel!
Slave Leader: I...don’t deserve this…
The slave leader was killed by the soldier with a spear through his body. The blood spilled over the barren land, leaving a fearsome trail.
Minister: If anyone disagrees, they will end like him!
After the conversation, the minister and the soldiers left. The slaves stepped forwards to check on the injuries of their leader, who was choked by the blood in his trachea. He looked pale, but his eyes were filled with fighting will. The leader looked at Rococo, who was kneeling down in front of him.
Slave Leader: You're right...I shouldn't have refused your request. I’m such a fool...I thought at least I can survive if I obey...but...
Rococo: That man doesn’t treat us like humans. He drains our lives to work for him!
Rococo: We’ll end up in fatigued or dead, but we can change our fate if we unite!
Slave Leader: Everyone listen...I hope you can help her as best as you can, and change our fate…
The slave leader stopped whispering. His sorrowful life had finally come to an end. Rococo wiped her tears and stood up. Her long, red hair swayed in the air, just like fire, kindling the will of the slaves.
Rococo: We’re not underdogs. To get back our dignity, the slavery system must be overthrown!
Rococo and the slaves split up. They took up different duties: collecting materials, mapping routes of the castle, scouting out the rest time of the minister and so on. The plan was on schedule. One day morning, Rococo went to the top of the castle. A red shadow flew across the sky and landed on her arm. It was the skinny red goshawk, with a small iron tube tied on its right leg. Rococo opened it and took out a slip of paper. She smiled.