THE BEGINNING OF ALL STORIES(4)
The child grew rapidly every day. He sat, crawled, walked and soon started running. He spoke and learned to write. Cael taught the child everything he knew without reserve. The bright child absorbed Cael’s teachings and grew up, going from a little boy to a young man.
Around the child’s 16th birthday, the people Evangeline’s husband’s family sent looking for her, had searched everywhere and even entered the devil’s forest. Her father-in-law, whom she thought to be dead, was alive. He retained his life but one of his arm and leg was cut off, so he was unable to move around properly. Her father-in-law was looking for the only remaining bloodline of his dead son.
People who entered the devil’s forest normally got obstructed by the barrier so they would be endlessly lost, collapse from exhaustion and starved to death. Cael usually didn’t care what happened to the people who entered the forest and left them to their devices but knowing they were looking for Evangeline, he opened the barrier. And he erased traces of himself in order not to appear before them.
“Ahh! Milady. So you were safe. The young master is so grown-up!”
The vassals who had gone to search for their madam and young master by their lord’s order, were thrilled to see Baden. Baden, who had just grown out his adolescence, looked so much like his late father and grandfather that there was no doubt to be made.
“You must have suffered so much. Come with us, Milady. You must be rewarded for your hard work and troubles in raising the young master. The young master will inherit everything from the lord in the future and he’ll become the master of the family.”
Although she was thanking them for finding her, inwardly, Evangeline couldn’t be happy. Why did he let these people in? She momentarily resented him, then she heaped curses at herself.
‘Wow, you must be so thick-faced. You don’t even have any shame. You’ve lived in his care so long, how much longer are you going to trouble him?’
Cael didn’t even appear before Evangeline. After flipping through the mansion for a few days, looking for him, the tired Evangeline cried at the empty air.
“I’ll leave, Cael-nim. Just let me say goodbye for the last time. Please.”
However, Cael never showed up at the end.
* * *
Cael watched from afar as the group of people left with Evangeline and Baden in their midst. He did not even let her say her last goodbye. But it wasn’t because he was worried that her heart would waver, but because he feared he would hold onto to her and not let go.
‘Our times are different, Evangeline.’
He was living in a different flow of time. He would remain as he was even if hundreds of years pass but she would grow old and die someday.
The incoming future filled Cael with dread. He had no confidence in being able to watch her die. He chose to run away from his fear.
* * *
At that voice, Evangeline, who had been blankly staring out the window from her spot on the bed, turned her head. Seeing her son with his wife, she smiled faintly.
“When did you come in?”
“What were you thinking about that you didn’t even notice us come in?”
“When you get old, you tend to think a lot. I know you must be busy, there’s no need to go out of your way to greet me in the morning.”
“No, mother. I should greet you even when you’re at home. And, I have good news today.”
The mansion that his mother lived in as a child was put up for sale, so Baden had purchased it. His mother’s family had already collapsed and scattered without a trace, but he felt his mother missed her hometown sometimes. So he arranged it as a gift for his mother.
His mother’s pale face brightened up for a change. Baden was happy to see that his thinking was on the right track.
“Yes. It’s very old, so it has to be renovated. Would you like to go see it after the renovations?”
“Sure, that would be nice.”
After leaving his mother’s room, Baden sighed heavily and spoke to his wife.
“When my mother goes to her hometown, I would like for us to go along and be with her for the time being.”
“Okay. I will arrange for that.”
Baden could vaguely sense that his mother was not just missing her hometown.
His mother had continued to long for that person. He wasn’t aware as a child but when he thought about it now, his mother sometimes stared into the distance with sadness in her eyes. He felt like now, he knew who was beyond that gaze.
* * *
Cael was sitting in a daze. Normally, he looked like he wasn’t doing anything to an outside eye, but he would be creating and destroying a boundless world repeatedly in his mind. However, nowadays, he increasingly just sat absentmindedly, not thinking about anything. That is, ever since Evangeline and Baden left.
Suddenly, he flinched in surprise and sprang to his feet. The sensation of the intruder touching his barrier was familiar to him. He thoughtlessly ran outside.
The young man had become a grown man. Having inherited Evangeline’s blood, Baden was also not affected by the barrier. Cael blankly gazed at Baden, and at the slender woman Baden was holding.
“We haven’t seen in a long time. You’re still as I remember.”
“I’m here to ask a favor for my mother.”
Cael stared at Evangeline, the woman in Baden’s arms. Her appearance had changed due to age, but he recognized her in one glance.
“She’s in a deep sleep. I guess mother will probably be angry when she wakes up. After all, I didn’t ask her wishes and brought her here on my own.”
“My mother doesn’t have much time left.”
Cael, who was turning around, froze on the spot.
“Mother was poisoned. I’ve looked into every means, but we’ve already gone through every step possible. The poison Mother took has unique ingredients, so when the poison attacks, she falls into a deep sleep. According to the doctor, she will eventually fall asleep one day and never wake up.”
“The poison attacked a few days ago and mother woke up after two days. The doctor said the next poison attack would be the last. Godfather. My mother’s last moments…I hope you can be with her.”
His godfather’s expression was indifferent, and he stood there, not saying anything, but Baden thought his godfather looked very heart-broken.
‘She’ll be angry, for sure.’
Even the big buffed men in the family were desperate to rouse his thin mother’s spirits. She was a woman who was called ‘the Iron Lady’, and someone who raised the family with her own two hands. Once she learnt of this, his mother would probably slap the cheeks of her shameful son who made such a decision on his own.
‘That’s why, mother, I’m running away because I’m scared you’ll beat me up.’
Baden wasn’t sure if his decision was really for his mother. His mother held a desperate longing for his godfather in her heart, but she gave up on meeting him a long time ago. After she was poisoned and knew the end was approaching, she seemed to have given up completely.
But despite that, he couldn’t help but do this. Even though he knew it was cruel to both his mother and his godfather, Baden made a selfish decision for his own sake. He felt like if he didn’t do this, he would beat his chest in regret when his mother passed away. So he secretly put sleeping pills in his mother’s tea. He got the doctor’s advice and adjusted the amount so that it wouldn’t harm his mother.
Baden put his mother in his godfather’s arms. It was closer to forcing her into his arms, but his godfather didn’t shake him off and merely took his mother into his embrace, like she was a treasure.
As this was probably the last time he would see the two of them like this in his life, Baden memorized the sight, then he turned around.