THE BEGINNING OF ALL STORIES(5)
Sturdy arms wrapped around her and supported her. Evangeline leaned against his chest, drinking the soup she was fed, then she grinned. She was surprised at herself, who was now used to being served by him.
“Kid. If you call me, say something.”
Pfft. Evangeline burst into laughter. He still called an old lady full of wrinkles, kid. Perhaps because he treated her like a child, Evangeline subconsciously spoke the way she did when she was young and acted like a spoilt child. The Madam who was known as the iron lady was nowhere to be found.
“You know, a long time ago. If I said I was sick, would you have indulged me, even a little bit?”
“Sorry. That was unnecessary.”
“…I likely won’t have much of a choice. I can’t abandon a patient.”
Evangeline stared at him while he avoided her eyes like he was embarrassed. He had not changed at all. He was still the young and beautiful young man he was when she first met him. This mysterious man, with pitch-black hair and dark eyes, was her puppy love as a young girl, her fluttering love as a maiden learning about love and the one who gave her heart-wrenching pain as a woman who had experienced life.
Evangeline looked down at her wrinkled hand. Even when she was very excited like she had returned to being a young, healthy maiden, she woke up from her delusion when she looked down at her hand filled with signs of age. This was why she didn’t want to see him. She didn’t want to show her old, unattractive self to him, who was still as beautiful as ever.
However, whether it was her anger toward her son who brought her here arbitrarily, or the resentment that surged when she saw him after a long time, they all disappeared in less than a day. She was so happy, every day seemed like a dream.
“I was an idiot. I should have cried that I was sick and dying soon to Cael-nim.”
“Fake sickness won’t work.”
“Aha. You don’t know how good I am at faking sickness. I’m sure you won’t even notice.”
“Are you faking it now?”
“Who knows. What do you think?”
Cael stroked her cheek lightly and mumbled.
“…I hope so.”
“Is there anything else you want to eat?”
As he changed topic while put away the soup bowl, Evangeline also acted like she didn’t know anything.
“Orange juice. A very sweet one.”
“…We have very sour oranges.”
Evangeline smiled and replied.
“Then I’ll have sour orange juice.”
He placed Evangeline carefully in bed and got up. Evangeline sighed with regret when his body temperature suddenly moved away. She felt sad, watching his back as he walked to the door, and unknowingly called out to him.
“Is there something else you need?”
“…I don’t like my juice too sour.”
She was just grumbling but he thought about it seriously and said, ‘I’ll add honey then’. Evangeline couldn’t believe his affectionate consideration for herself, and even after he was gone, she was grinning to herself.
She knew he didn’t feel the same as her. He was presumably listening to the wishes of a dying person and even though she knew he was likely just sympathizing with the young girl he had a connection with in the past, her heart raced whenever she saw him. Even if it was sympathy, she was happy with it. She was thankful that he held her and didn’t turn away from her.
“I love you…”
It was a confession that was always in her heart, but she could never say it to him. When she was young, she was afraid of rejection, so she was unable to say it, and when she reunited with him, bearing another man’s child, she didn’t dare to. Now, it was impossible for her to say it when she was old and dying.
She was happily waiting for the orange juice he would bring for her, then she heaved a huge sigh, lamentfully. Sleep was overwhelming her senses, bringing her to exhaustion. She had experience this drowsy feeling so many times, so she knew what it was.
After her father-in-law’s death, endless greedy hands stretched towards her, because as her son’s guardian, she had become the real master of the family. How many times did she escape the throes of death? Eventually, she was unable to avoid the last black hand that came for her.
[It’s impossible to know when the poison will attack. But…if the poison attacks again and you fall into a deep sleep, it will be your last.]
Back then, she had calmly listened to the doctor’s death sentence. Although her son was holding and screaming at the doctor, Evangeline was at ease. She had always lived with an empty heart that she could never fill. No matter how hard she tried, nothing could take root. Now she was tired of this life, where she carried the notice of being poisoned like an armor. She didn’t have much of an attachment to life so she didn’t fear the approaching death.
But the god of fate was so incredibly cruel. Why was she allowed to meet him again? Why did she want to live?
It was only when death drew near that Evangeline realized how great of a blessing it was to humans. She felt sad, knowing he was stuck walking down time in the future, and perhaps for eternity. She felt like she vaguely realized why he tried to push her away.
I’m sorry. For leaving you who’s alone, all alone in this world again.
‘Don’t forgive me for being selfish till the end. But what can I do? The fact that I can close my eyes next to you…makes me so happy…’
Evangeline slowly sank into a deep sleep that was akin to a sweet poison.
* * *
Cael entered the room with the juice he had squeezed from the oranges himself. He took a little to taste and it tasted both sweet and sour, so he didn’t feel the need to add honey.
She was sleeping.
He placed the juice on the bedside table, then he picked up her arm, wanting to cover her properly with the blanket. Her slender arm was strangely heavy, and his heart sank in his chest as he was seized with a terrifying feeling.
He stood still, and very slowly, turned his gaze to her face. Her complexion was pale, her eyes were closed, and her face was at peace.
Even though he was calling her name for the first time, she did not respond. His fingers trembled slightly as he brought his hand to her wrist to take her pulse.
Moments later, he sank to his knees and collapsed on the floor beside the bed.
He couldn’t bear the pain gripping his heart, and gasped for breath, tearing at his chest with both hands. It felt like all the blood in his body was boiling. He couldn’t breathe.
Clear water covered his black irises and fell to the ground. And at the same time, a golden aura began to swirl in his black eyes. The golden energy quickly traveled from his eyes to his veins, passing through his heart before spreading all over his body and he was soon covered in golden light.
Crack! He heard the sound of his frozen heart breaking. Only after losing her did he realize his true feelings. His heart which was frozen from the pain of losing Martha, thawed when he realized his love for her. Perhaps his heart had slowly been thawing without him even realizing it.
He found himself standing in a place that could be described as pure-white or pitch black. This wasn’t the first time. He had been here once, a very long time ago. No matter how hard he tried, he had never been able to come here again apart from that one time, but now, it called him again.
He walked along the golden path. Time flew by next to him. In the midst of time filled with innumerable events and intertwined people, he found a certain woman. A woman he was seeing for the first time, held the pendant on his neck in her hand.
Wanting to know why this woman had his pendant, he followed along the woman’s time. An old man appeared in the woman’s life and he resembled Baden in one way or another. The old man held a newborn baby in his arms and smiled, saying.
‘Dear child, how do you look so much like your grandmother?’
The blonde, amber-eyed newborn baby he held looked a lot like Evangeline.
‘I thought hard about the undeserved request you made for me to name her. The first ancestor of the Baden family said he could not exist without his mother and left a will dedicating all his affection and admiration to his mother. I heard she was someone with a small stature but a mighty spirit. I would like to give her name to the baby.’
Upon hearing the child’s name, Cael’s eyes flashed open. The golden energy coiling in the air around him, disappeared into the pendant like it was being sucked inside. Even the light pouring from his body disappeared.
Cael took a long, deep breath, trying to control the turbulent emotions rushing into him. Tears flowed from his closed eyes, staining his cheeks.
Was god mocking him for not believing in it or was it showing mercy for his pitiful arrogance? He witnessed miracles and saw destinies. He read the entrancing future of her descendants who looked like her in a very distant future.
Cael stood up and kissed the back of her hand politely as if performing a grand ceremony. Then he took off the pendant which he had never once removed from his body. It was initially a restraint that signified he was a criminal but after he gained new power, the pendant functioned as the nucleus of his magic and it was no different from his life-force.
He waved his finger slightly and the flowing air turned into a wind and the wind became a knife, cutting Evangeline’s finger slightly. Red blood dripped from the cut and onto the pendant.
“Your blood will be both a seal and a key.”
As soon as his muttering came to an end, the pendant trembled like a living being and glowed with a faint light. Then suddenly its movement stopped, and all light disappeared. It became a very old and ordinary, blackish pendant.