Another day, another exhausting load from work.
Sighing heavily, Yuri sluggishly maneuvered his way down the main road.
Readjusting the handle of his small pouch, he brought a hand close to his mouth and emitted a loud yawn. After a long week and a half of meeting up with clients from overseas and completing their requests through a series of combat or manual delivery, the young leader of the renowned guild, Brave Vesperia, declared that it was best to suspend their duties momentarily in exchange for a few days of peace and relaxation. Through the unanimous agreement between the three members, the proposal was official.
The dark-haired swordsman lifted his chin, and as the view of a familiar house slowly materialized, the corners of his lips quirked up. “Come on, Repede,” He ushered his faithful dog who eagerly responded back with an enthusiastic bark and quickened his pace to follow after his owner.
Once they’ve reached the main entrance of the house, Yuri slowed down and sighed in relief. Wasting no time, he proceeded to knock on the surface of the door.
To distinguish a friend or family member among the strangers, he recommended a special knock—two short taps, a pause, then three long taps. As he did so, he couldn’t help but laugh to himself when his ears picked up a mixture of responses on the other side—a trio of footsteps shuffling about, cries of glee and delight as they approached the door accompanied with anxious wails and the creaking of the wooden floorboards.
Taking a step back, Yuri grinned as he watched the door in front of him burst open. He closed his eyes for a moment, allowing himself to be covered in the warm glow radiating from the lights of the living room.
“Daddy, Daddy!” A high-pitch squeal erupted, causing him to crack one of his eyes open and lower his head to discover his first-born daughter, Eve, stare back at him with a toothy smile. “You’re home!” With sheer excitement, she jumped forward and tackled him directly on the chest. “Yay!”
Recovering quickly, Yuri burst into a fit of laughter. From the corner of his eye, he noticed a blob of dark salmon hair popped out from behind the door. Recognizing him immediately to be Owain, Yuri crouched to his knees and jerked his head. “Owain, I’m home,” He greeted his son, and with his other arm wrapped around his daughter, used his other available one to gently usher him to come forward.
At his nod, the boy beamed. “Daddy!” He suddenly cried, tears leaking from his large ebony eyes as he hurriedly rushed in to join his older sister in the embrace. “I missed you!”
Yuri smiled, ruffling their hair playfully before leaning in to give him a quick peck on the temple. “I missed you guys too,” He answered back, withdrawing back and planting a kiss on his daughter’s forehead as well.
Three puppies emerged from the door to greet their father, who hurriedly stepped in and licked the sides of their faces. The puppies barked and wailed continuously as if reenacting the same welcome as the toddlers.
Hearing his name, the swordsman’s grin lengthened.
Peering up, he found himself in the presence of his wife, locking eyes with lustrous seafoam. Perched on her right arm was their third child and second daughter, Ann, who was merely a few months old and seemed to be preoccupied with chewing on the teething ring.
Approaching her husband, she slightly bent down on her knees and with her other hand, reached out to caress the side of his cheek. “Welcome home,” Estelle said softly, leaning in to give him a sweet kiss on the lips.
Breaking away, Yuri chuckled. “Thanks,” He replied, and then fixed his attention onto his baby daughter. “Hey, Ann,” He greeted her, inclining his head a bit forward to brush the tip of his nose against hers.
To his surprise, Ann looked on, briefly crossing her eyes together as she caught sight of him.
“Ah…” She spoke, then removed one of her hands from the teething ring and smacked Yuri on the face with her tiny hand filled with drool.
Watching this, Estelle laughed joyfully. “Sweetie,” She cooed to the baby as she gently withdrew the latter’s drool-filled hand away from her husband. “Don’t do that,”
Despite the saliva smeared on his nose, Yuri grinned. “Already a troublemaker, aren’t you?” He commented, wiggling his eyebrows. Averting his focus on his wife, who spotted him eyeing her, he took the opportunity to slowly close the gap between them, hoping to gain another kiss from her…
Blinking, the married couple stopped what they were doing and turned to find their two children who wore distasteful expressions on their faces.
“Mommy and Daddy are kissing again!” Eve exclaimed, shuddering in disgust. Sticking out her tongue, she added, “Yuck, yuck!”
Meanwhile, Owain covered the upper part of his face to avoid the intimate scene and nodded in agreement with his sister. “Please do it somewhere else…” He muttered, with the tips of his ears burning crimson.
Exchanging quick glances, Yuri and Estelle laughed.
“Let’s go in,” The pink-haired woman suggested to which the others wholeheartedly agreed. Rising from the ground, she tightened her grip around their baby daughter’s waist. “Let me take this,” She said, seizing the handle of his small pouch that was beginning to loosen from his grip. “It’s time for Ann to go to sleep,” She began, “Would it be alright if you could watch Eve and Owain for a while?”
Yuri nodded. “Of course,”
Estelle smiled sweetly. “Thank you,” Twirling around, she headed inside.
Yuri observed her retreating figure, her long pink hair gently swaying to her movements. Trailing behind her were the three puppies along with Repede who followed them in tow.
With a smile, Yuri hastily stood up.
“Alright, you heard your mom,” He began, directing his attention on his children. Slightly crouching his knees, he took them by surprise by sweeping them into his arms. Seconds later, awed transformed their faces as they emitted loud squeals, clenching tightly on each corresponding sides of the swordsman’s half-opened collar. Closing the door with the back of his foot, Yuri ambled his way to the general direction of the couch in the living room. “There we go!” And playfully threw them on the comforts of the couch.
“Yay!” Eve cheered, “Again, Daddy! Again!”
Owain shook his head in agreement, his ebony eyes twinkling.
Yuri released a low chuckle. “No can do, kiddos,” He said, earning groans and pouty looks from them. Seating himself between the children, he extended his arms on the railings of the couch and leaned back, sighing heavily. “Maybe next time, okay?”
Eve and Owain nodded.
“Were you good today?” He began, initiating a conversation.
As always, Eve was the first one to speak. “Uh-huh! Mommy was busy in her office and taking care of Ann so Owain and I played around with the dogs!”
“We also helped water the garden and cleaned the dining table,” Owain went on, smiling bashfully as he received an approval pat on the head.
“That’s great,” Yuri expressed, acknowledging their efforts with his usual smirk. “Keep up the good work then,” A pause. “By the way, did any of your Aunts or Uncles came to visit?”
Eve and Owain shook their heads in unison.
“Uncle Raven dropped by!” Eve began to explain as she recalled the older man’s time with them. “And told us lots of interesting!”
Registering her words, Yuri quirked an eyebrow. “Oh? What kinds of stuff?” Knowing Raven, there were bounds of things that he would discuss, whether it be inappropriate or not. Inside, he secretly wished that that wasn’t the case. Then again, this was Raven they were talking about. He furrowed his eyebrows, growing restless. “Can you tell Daddy about it?”
Thankfully, his children obliged to his request.
“Uncle Raven said to us that we were accidents…” Eve began, staring at her father innocently. “What did he mean by that?”
Yuri’s eyes widened, his mouth partly opened.
He brought a hand and raked through his shoulder-length hair, groaning. Of all the things that Raven could’ve told them, why did it have to be this?
“Where’s your Uncle?” He asked, though made sure to retain his calm composure. “Is he lounging at the inn?”
Owain shrugged his tiny shoulders. “We don’t know. He left after Mommy came back from buying groceries,” He explained, oblivious of his father’s twitching eyebrow. “He also smelled kind of funny though…”
Yuri shaped his hands into fists. He clicked his tongue, already formulating different ways to beat the living daylights out of the old man. As he hardened his expression, he failed to notice his two children looking at him with worrisome eyes.
Eve pulled the hem of his collar, forcing Yuri to return to reality.
Lowering his head, his eyes softened. “What’s up, Eve?”
“What did Uncle Raven mean by that, Daddy?”
“About us being accidents,” Eve pressed on, her voice growing soft. “What does that mean? Can you tell us?”
Yuri swallowed the saliva thickly, uncertain of whether he should answer her or not. He turned his head to glance at his son and unsurprisingly, he bore a strikingly similar expression as his older sister.
The curiosity embedded in their large eyes…traits which they clearly inherited from a certain princess.
He turned his attention over to Repede who laid across the carpet flooring, his puppies lying around him in a circle. Although his eyes remained closed, it was the slight twitching of his ears that made it apparent that he was pretending to sleep and was also listening intently to their conversation.
Massaging his forehead, he looked up to face the ceiling. Well, here goes nothing.
“So…” He trailed off, closing his eyes as he tried to come up with an appropriate response to their question. Clearing his throat, he settled along with, “Okay, let’s make things clear. Whatever your Uncle says, it’s not always true,” A pause. “And to answer your question…”
Yuri drew in a sharp breath. He quickly turned his head elsewhere, trying to avoid the intense stares of his children and Repede. “Accidents…they happen out of nowhere,”
Eve and Owain bobbed their heads, inching a little closer to him to listen more.
“What your Uncle Raven was trying to tell you was how miraculous your births were to him,” As soon as he said those words, Yuri had the urge to slap himself across the face. “You came to this world, not knowing of the dangers and the possible threats that lie ahead…and for your Uncle Raven and everyone else, including your mom and I, we wanna do whatever we can to protect you,”
Bright smiles adorned their chubby faces.
“Then…how were we born?” Owain asked out of the blue.
The swordsman forced a grin. “Well, you see…uh…” He trailed off, and once again, found himself at a dead end. “When two people love each other very much, they… perform this ritual,”
Eve’s eyes shimmered with interest. “What kind of ritual?”
“You know, something that’ll make you guys come into existence,” Yuri drawled out, and from a distance, he could’ve sworn that he heard Repede scoff at his explanation.
“How do you do the ritual?”
Ignoring the burning sensation on his cheeks, he quickly replied back, “I’ll tell you guys once you get older,”
“I don't get it. How come Mommy got a big belly?” Owain pressed on, furrowing his eyebrows. “And then Ann came out of her?”
“Mommy probably did the ritual!” Eve interrupted, coming to the rescue. “And you can’t do it unless it’s with somebody you love the most so she definitely did it with Daddy!” She explained away with excitement in her voice. “Come on, don’t tell me you forgot!” Suddenly, she gasped and shot her arm up. “Oh, oh! I have a question!” She squeaked, bouncing up and down from her seat. “When you met Mommy, was it an accident?”
Yuri’s eyes widened, once again startled by how incredibly bright she was. For a mere six-year-old, Eve was definitely exhibiting strong signs of her intelligence—as expected of her being a daughter of Estelle.
“You…could say that,” He mumbled, thinking it over.
Closing his eyes, he recalled the first time he encountered his wife. He couldn’t help but chuckle when he realized how, as weird as it sounded, it was their connections to Flynn that brought them closer to one another. And with his long streak of bad fortunes, meeting Estelle was something that he couldn’t help but feel grateful for. If he hadn’t bumped into her and nearly gotten himself killed when she threw that expensive vase at him, he wouldn’t have ventured off beyond the barriers to escort her while pursuing his mission for the missing aque blastia for the community in the Lower Quarter.
Even after he finished his task and was set to go home, he didn’t have the heart to say good-bye to Estelle and his new companions. Back then, all he had were Flynn, Hanks, and a few others in the Lower Quarter he’d considered his friends and family.
Then there was the fate of the world at stake.
The Empire and guilds would’ve continuously been at odds with each other, waging a war that would never have happened nor widened the gap of their overbearing hatred. Most importantly, Duke and the accidental encounters Yuri and his friends would occasionally have that would gradually lessen his revenge and put faith on humanity would’ve never happened. No, he wouldn’t hold any remorse on annihilating the entire human race for the good of the Entelexeia.
Karol—he wouldn’t become the courageous, confident young leader or contributed to the foundations of their guild, Brave Vesperia. If he and Estelle hadn’t accidentally bumped him during their trek in the Quoi Woods, he wouldn’t be able to join their team, prove to everyone and his previous guild, Hunting Blades, that he wasn’t useless and awaken his fighting spirit, growing rapidly to become a promising fighter.
Rita—she would’ve continued to be a shut-in and without her acknowledgment, would continue to receive a list of allegations and accusations, possibly close to being house-arrested as a result to the particular thief who took her identity as the genius mage, Mordio. If she hadn’t met him nor Estelle, she wouldn’t learn to step out from her comfort zone, be able to trust others, befriend her first friend and eventually find a place she truly belongs—Brave Vesperia.
Raven—he would’ve continued on with his shady assignments as a spy for both the Imperial Knights and for the guilds at Headquarters. He would’ve taken a pivotal role for initiating the war between Zaphias and Dahngrest, and quite possibly, once his job as Alexei’s puppet was fulfilled, would’ve been more than glad to end himself afterward. And that would be it for the old man.
Judith—she would’ve continued on with her sole mission to eliminate as many blastia as she possibly could. Without having been able to befriend Yuri and the others, the female Krityan wouldn’t be able to open her eyes and realize how she couldn’t do everything on her own, learn to reach out for help and support, and to realize that this whole time, what she truly desired was to be with people to call her family again.
Patty—once again, their meetings were accidental and without venturing further in his journey, she would’ve continued to be discriminated and looked down by the people around her due to her background as the rumored granddaughter of Aifread. With her identity finally revealed as the legendary pirate herself, she wouldn’t have the heart to continue sailing nor come into terms with the memories she’d lost, creating new ones together with her friends instead of remaining uncertain and be haunted by what she’d lost.
Yuri himself—it was obvious that once he retrieved the aque blastia from the thief, he would return to the Lower Quarter and spend the rest of his life there…and then what? Nothing else would matter to him, except for his determination to want to continue supporting his community in any way he can, knowing that inside, he knew that this wasn’t what he wanted his life to be. He wouldn’t have taken the risks and ventured off on his own and by then, it would’ve been already too late.
Flynn would lecture him to no end and as always, their arguments would escalate into full-on brawls that Hanks would often intrude and stop them midway. And probably halfway in his lonesome life, Hanks’s prediction of him dying in a ditch would actually happen…born alone and die alone, forgotten and unrecognized by those around him with nothing else to remember him by except for the sword he carried.
At the same time, Flynn wouldn’t become the Commandant. No, he would remain as a knight in one of the brigands and nothing more. And Alexei would still be alive and with Estelle residing in the castle, chances are that his entire plan of capturing her and using her as his tool to bring forth the Shrine of Zaude would come true.
Yuri inhaled a deep breath, furrowing his eyebrows as he stared down at the floor.
Now that he thought about it, everything—including the journey and the future he was living in now wouldn’t have happened if he never encountered her.
Tracing back to the beginning of it all, it slowly dawned to Yuri that yes—it was definitely Estelle who was the main root of everything. If he hadn’t met her in the castle, he would never befriend the people he knew now and would’ve returned back to the Capital, alone and probably wasting his time idly sitting on the window…as if waiting for something to happen.
And there was no doubt in his mind that in an alternative life, Yuri would’ve met Estelle through Flynn, possibly as his childhood friend’s fiancée and from there, the attraction between the two of them would never exist. She would’ve been the mother of Flynn’s children, or worse, become the next Empress of the Capital City of Zaphias—forever bound in the castle she considers as a prison for the rest of her life, which he knew that she never wanted to commit to.
Her dreams of becoming an author for children would’ve been easily discarded to pave way for her role as the puppet for the Council members, become prohibited from traveling overseas and her ideal place to live which was Halure would’ve never become into fruition. All her dreams and accomplishments she’d done, and practicing how to decide for herself…it would never happen in the first place if she never accidentally met him.
For a person who longed to live the adventures in her books, Estelle slowly became the glue of their group and quite possibly, the main reason behind Yuri’s journey. And it wasn’t just him, but the others in the guild, especially Rita and Judith would share the same answer as him. It’s as if the princess herself was truly the journey with no clear destination—the spirit of freedom and second chances. And who would’ve thought, that this whole adventure would never happen if he never met her?
That without her, Yuri and their friends would never be where they are now or went on to advance their careers and fully develop their characters as a whole?
If anything, they felt utterly grateful and in debt with the princess.
Yuri especially—when he was slowly losing the trust from Flynn, it was her who rekindled his flame, supported him and always stuck by his side, never questioned nor doubted about his vigilantism but rather, accepted him for who he truly was—broken, alone, and awfully flawed. A lone wolf, a motif that he would relentlessly remind himself of the solitary life he’s been through all these years, and how he preferred to do things by himself.
Remove the façade he’d forced himself to wear his whole life, this rush of coolness, nor the badass title of a fighter. Sure, he was mature and would constantly take on the role of the mentor toward his friends, but that was pretty much it. Kids like Karol would look up to him and view him as a role model, and while on the outside he would be grinning, inside, that thought scared him to the core.
What his initial belief regarding his murders was for the good of the people eventually earned him the title as a villain. And if this were a story, Flynn would be the shining hero who would slay the villain, and win the hearts of his followers and the princess…living happily ever after.
Yuri opened his eyes and turned to look at his daughter who wore a sorrowful expression. “Are you okay?”
Drawing in a sharp breath, the swordsman forced himself to muster a grin. “I’m fine,” He assured them, widening his grin as he patted his daughter and son’s head a few times. “Daddy’s just thinking about something, is all,”
“You still didn’t answer the question, Daddy,” Owain pointed out.
Confused, Yuri quirked an eyebrow. “…I didn’t?”
Owain nodded. “About you meeting Mommy,” The young boy explained, swinging his legs back and forth. “Was it an accident?”
Yuri frowned for a moment before shaking his head. “Your Mom and I did meet by chance…”
“Did you ever regret meeting her?”
A smile unconsciously appeared on his lips.
“No, I never did,” Yuri admitted, surprising his children, Repede and himself. “From the moment I met your mom, I had this strange feeling that I needed to stick with her a little more. And whenever it was time for us to split ways, I’ll find myself lost for some reason. I thought that maybe if I spend more time with her and with your Aunts and Uncles, maybe I’ll be able to find something out there. I wanted to experience everything, and travel everywhere, but it felt wrong when it wasn’t with your mom,”
“In my lowest point, your Mom was always there for me, supporting me and encouraging me to get back up and assure me that everything was gonna be alright,” Yuri recollected the time when it was him and Estelle alone in the town of Mantaic at night, and with Estelle’s declaration to remain with him and extending her gloved hand outward for him to take, for some reason, enclosing his own with hers felt right…and for a few brief seconds, he felt somewhat at peace.
Over time, he realized the errors of his ways and desired to atone for his past mistakes. He also realized that he hated doing things on his own. His thirst to live to heighten to a certain degree the more he spent time with Estelle and their new band of friends.
And that time when she begged for him to kill her on the spot, as much as he wanted to save her, he couldn’t bear the thought of hurting her…nor lose her in exchange for the world.
And so, Yuri sought out to find another alternative, anything that would spare her life. Because he knew that if something were to happen to her, he’ll never forgive himself for failing to save the only person who mattered more to him besides Flynn.
She was his light, his everything.
And if she was no longer around, then…what was the point of living?
This whole journey, together with her would be meaningless and a complete waste of time.
Yuri stopped himself from finishing that last train of thought, silently grateful that such an option never occurred.
“I’m glad I met your mom,” He admitted, lowering his head with a bittersweet smile. “I’m glad we traveled together, bonded and slowly became closer. I’m glad we reciprocated our feelings, became one and got married and then had you guys and Ann…” He heaved a deep breath and sighed. “I owe so much to your mom, you know. She gave me everything I ever wanted, a home and a family. And ever since I’ve met your mother, I’ve never felt lonely at all. Every single day, I’m always looking forward to the future, and that as long as I saw her smile and that she’s with me, nothing else matters,”
Eve and Owain simply gazed at their father, awe-struck by his speech.
Yuri crinkled his lips to produce a smile. He snuck a glance at Repede who raised his head and gave him a knowing look.
“I have a purpose in life now,” Yuri went on, removing his arms from the railings of the couch to wrap them around his children and held them close to his chest. “I have a future to look forward to. Just remember, that every person we meet in our lives, whether their role is big or small…we cross paths with them for a reason. Some may hurt us, betray us or make us upset, but it pushes us to get stronger and overcome obstacles. Some teach us lessons…not to change us, but for us to realize our mistakes and transform us into better people. And then there are some who would inspire us, and love us unconditionally and make us happy,”
Eve and Owain nodded silently, absorbing their father’s words.
“Accidents do and will happen, but you shouldn’t call them mistakes,”
Eve raised an eyebrow. “Then…what should we call them?”
Yuri pursed his lips, ruminating through his thoughts for a moment and chuckled, “Happy accidents,”
“Happy…accidents?” Owain repeated, which earned him a firm nod.
“That’s right,” Yuri affirmed with a cheeky grin.
His daughter slanted her head to the side. “So then, you and Mommy meeting was a happy one,”
“A really good one,” Yuri confirmed.
Listening to his words, Eve beamed. “Daddy, how much do you love Mommy?”
Yuri laughed. “There are three of you, right?” He points out, and when he received nods, he lengthened his grin. “I love your Mommy very, very much,”
“How big?” Eve suddenly asked and began to extend her chubby arms as much as she could. “Like this?”
Yuri thought for a moment before shaking his head.
“Is it as big as Ba’ul?” Owain wondered aloud, getting interested.
All Yuri could do was muster a grin and laughed. “Something like that,” He replied and adding in, “But you should know, that when it comes to your mom, I’ll gladly fight anyone who tries to take her away from us,” And when he peered up, his eyes slightly widened when he discovered his wife standing nearby, her hands covering her mouth and her seafoam eyes glistening with tears as she fought back the urge to sob right then and there.
Both Yuri and Estelle flinched in their spots as they watched Eve quickly jumped off the couch and raced off. Shortly after, Owain followed after his older sister, his expression etched with concern as he reached out to grab hold of their mother’s leg.
“Mommy, are you okay?”
“Please don’t cry, Mommy!”
Estelle sniffed, forcing a smile as she gently went down to her knees and welcomed them in a loving embrace. “Don’t worry,” She assured them, kissing them on their temples. “These are happy tears,”
Yuri smiled, his eyes softening as he quietly observed the scene in front of him. Something tugged him on the leg, causing him to lower his gaze. When he made contact with Repede, he raised an eyebrow. “What’s up?”
The dog jerked his head to the direction of his wife and children, urging him to join them. Realizing this, Yuri released a low chuckle. “Gotcha,” And rose up from his seat, and as he took a few steps forward, paused midway in his tracks to stretch out his arm and proceed to scratch the small area between Repede’s ears. “Thanks, Repede,”
“Woof!” Repede barked, sticking out his tongue before waddling back to tend to his sleeping puppies resting on the carpet flooring.
Inhaling a deep sigh, Yuri ambled his way over to his family, arriving just in time to witness his children beginning to fall asleep. “I’ll take Eve,” He insisted his wife who smiled and thanked him as she took Owain into her arms and stood back up on her feet.
Ever so carefully, he cradled his firstborn into his arms. Yuri smiled as he observed the little girl in his arms inclined her head to nuzzle along the crook of his neck and yawned loudly. “Night, Daddy…” She moaned, closing her eyes.
Yuri hummed, slightly tipping his head to touch her forehead. “Night, Eve,” Lifting his chin, he directed his sights on his wife who patiently waited for him on the steps of the staircase, with Owain already fast-asleep and drooling on her arm. As he walked over to her, he couldn’t help but widen his grin.
Closing the distance between them, Yuri made no hesitation to lean forward and capture her lips and to his delight, Estelle happily reciprocated. A few seconds later and they eventually broke off, their lips slightly tingling from their recent kiss.
“I love you,” He mouthed to her, never taking his eyes off of her.
Estelle cracked a sweet smile. “I love you,” She said as well and leaned again to give him another loving kiss.
Together, the married couple ascended the staircase, holding tightly of their children and with their dominant hands—Estelle’s right and Yuri’s left, seized together in unification.
For a long time, the swordsman desired for a second chance in life and as for the princess, she yearned for someone to show her the outside world. The two, both orphaned and without any family, hoped that one day, someone would come into their life by accident and stay on purpose.
It took a while, but in the end, they found it.
And for Yuri, he wouldn’t have it any other way.