Rococo opened her eyes and saw an entirely unfamiliar place — the walls were covered in dust, and water was dripping from between the bricks and onto her face. Her mind was filled with questions as she sat up with difficulty. Just then, she discovered that she was no longer wearing her elegant clothing but instead was only wearing a ragged piece of cloth. This sudden observation shocked her and snapped her back to reality where she finally realized that she was lying in a cell.

        “What...What’s happening?” Rococo could not comprehend the situation. She banged on the door: “Anyone there? Help! Get me out of here!” Just then, the door opened, causing Rococo to lose her balance. Before she could get on her feet again, she felt a forceful kick in her abdomen, prompting her to vomit indistinguishable fluid. Her body naturally writhed to ease the pain, but her suffering was not over yet...

        The guard grabbed her by her hair and dragged her out of the cell. She struggled with all her might, but to no avail. She yelled, “Where are you taking me?!” However, the guard did not respond at all, not to the struggling and not even the yelling. Blinding light suddenly shone upon them. The guard threw Rococo onto a deserted land and ordered, “Slave! You’ll be responsible for moving stones starting from today! Chop chop!” He said while kicking her. “Wait! My name is Rococo. You can check my address. I am not a slave!” She begged sincerely, only to be slapped in the face.

        “If you talk again, I’ll cut off your tongue!” Feeling dizzy, Rococo dared not struggle again.

        It was midnight. Rococo was eventually brought back to her cell. Never having experienced such hard work, she collapsed from pain and fatigue, her consciousness starting to fade. She did not know how long she had been asleep for when she suddenly felt someone gently wiping the sweat on her forehead. ‘It must have been a nightmare...’ Rococo thought to herself but as she opened her eyes, she could not see her mother’s familiar face. It was an unknown maiden...The maiden was wearing a dress as white as snow, her face was delicate, and she was wiping Rococo’s sweat with her clothes. Rococo looked at her in bemusement; she was wearing such elegant clothing but at the same time, locked up in this cell.

        “’re...caught in here?” The maiden shook her head.

        “But you’re a slave too?” The maiden nodded.

        Rococo pointed at her own throat and the maiden nodded again as an acknowledgement that she was unable to speak. Rococo then asked, “Because your tongue is...?” The maiden smiled bitterly — they both knew the answer. Just like that, they began to communicate. Rococo told the maiden where she came from, and what kind of life she had led. In their conversation, Rococo learned that slavery was still dominant in this place. Living as a slave was no different from being an animal. They were now in the landlord’s property and it was because the landlord needed more slaves to construct his new castle that numerous slaves were bought to speed up the production. The maiden in front of Rococo was also one of them. Just then, Rococo thought back to the day when she returned home. She was about to open her door when she was suddenly jumped from behind, and when she awoke, she was already inside this cell. ‘I must have been sold to this place. I need to find a way out!’

        Since then, she searched for ways to escape. In her pretense of working, she examined the castle’s surroundings...Rococo found a strange hole on one of the walls and according to her fast estimation, it was big enough for her to climb out of the castle. Just as she was about to start moving, a voice rang from behind her, “Slacking off, huh? Looks like you don’t want your dinner tonight.” Rococo was scared off her feet by the sudden voice, but to avoid suspicion, she carefully stood up and answered, “I’m just looking for an appropriate stone to build the castle. You know, they say they’re lacking smaller ones.” While she explained, Rococo randomly picked a stone: “This one should work just fine!” With no reason to stay, Rococo ran off the scene.

        The next day, Rococo was ordered to take care of unwanted stones. Just as she thought she was never going to see the hole she had discovered the day before, she was actually brought right to it. It turned out that the hole was blocked by rubble and they needed someone with a smaller body to take care of it. The guards ordered Rococo to handle it. She rolled up her sleeves before crawling into the hole. With difficulty, she clambered through the hole picking up stones as she pressed on. After quite some time and effort, she finally reached the other end of the hole. Rococo stood up as excitement filled her; she witnessed that she was actually outside the castle. She immediately covered her mouth, as she was afraid if she would let out a scream of joy and draw the guards’ attention. However, her delight soon turned into despair — the castle was surrounded by a bottomless chasm! Rococo threw one of the stones she had picked up into the chasm. She watched as it completely disappeared in the darkness and despite the long wait, she could not hear the sound of it hitting the ground...Rococo looked around, but there was nothing that could help her cross the chasm. While she was annoyed, she heard calls of other slaves from inside the castle. She knew it was time to return before the others became suspicious of her, so she hurriedly ran back into the castle.

        Food was served, but Rococo had no desire to eat. All that was on her mind was desperation. She thought she had found her hope, a way to leave, but it was all a futile effort. Sheer desperation began to build up — she was starting to think that maybe only “death” was true liberation...

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