The sky was crying an apology while the winds seem to be playing around carrying the black raindrops filling the muddy roads where a carriage was passing, the passenger inside would never reach her destination and she knew it, it was not a tragedy but an inevitable event that she was willing to pull off with a sad smile acknowledging the only regret in her life, she could never forgive herself for leaving them behind but she was confident that as long as they had each other everything would be fine.
After his mother's death Cale tried his best to comfort his father even when he wanted to be comforted as well, he knew that Deruth was worse or at least he thought he was worse but soon reality proof him wrong.
He remembered the beginning of his constant struggle.
The first time he felt asleep he was eight years old and his mother was there amidst a blooming field welcoming him with open arms begging him to stay, after all mother and son shouldn't be apart it was a mother's duty to protect and raise their children why wouldn’t she wanted to do the same, she was so enticing as a mirage in the desert making you believed the water was near promising desirable rest and protection.
Cale was young but he wasn’t by any means naïve, he knew fairly well that his mother couldn’t be alive it was a fact and even if he wanted to be otherwise there was nothing he could do to change it by understanding reality as it was he was able to wake up again, his eyes met with another pair of eyes that where inspecting him from head to toe, it was Ron, his all-time butler somehow he seemed nervous, a rare emotion to be found on his usual benign expression noticing the wariness of the old man he couldn’t help but to asked.
“Young master you were asleep for two days”
More than the sudden concerned voice he was surprised for him it was a few minutes of a pleasant dream, how could he had been out for two whole days something was wrong the butler and himself notice it pretty quick but the most astonishing thing was that his father was nowhere to be found, Ron was diligent so it was obvious that he had inform the count right away the first day, so why he wasn’t there with him? Deruth had lock up in his chambers and was not eating and barely had a pair of hours worth of sleep so he just assumed his son was mourning the same way as him due to the dear lost it was not rare to grief by sleeping a lot or practically not doing it, in his father’s case going passed the days without eating or sleeping was his way.
But it wasn’t the same way for Cale he knew that he needed to be aware his father needed him so he wouldn’t throw that responsibility away maybe he was more tired than what he felt or maybe he just dozed off on a rare but deep slumber, he was worried but didn’t want to alarm his poor father if it was a onetime occurrence so he let it be it was not the end of the world sleeping more than usual and he was fine for some time.
Months had gone by but he still took care of Deruth the best way he could, he comforted him assuring that he was there for him while trying to lessen the weight over his shoulders, he had enough with losing the love of his life so he didn’t want him to struggle more with the state affairs as Cale was young, he couldn’t take over but he found his ways doing it so, the peaceful atmosphere which once reign over the county returned little by little.
But he couldn’t relax at all, he fell asleep a second time, it had been almost half a year since the first one but the dream was the same as the first time.
She was there again pulling him closer holding him into her embrace, an embrace that he had missed so dearly that he never wanted to be out of it, he could feel the warmth, listen to her beating heart and the humming lullaby she used to sing him, he closed his eyes feeling her fingers tracing gently along his hair, every time she touched him was bewitching as if begging him to never leave her side, Cale was eager to fulfill the pledge but his thoughts wander back to his lonely father.
“You are safe now dear” She mumbled
“But what about father?” He forced himself to asked.
“He will join us soon enough”
That shook him awake, leaving Deruth alone was not an option he couldn’t do that to him, so he gathered strength and open his eyes once more.
He was on his bed but his body was aching he tried to speak but his throat was sore, he notices a man sitting by the bedside that man’s upper body was clutched over the bed and his hand was placed over Cale’s hand, a faint smile appeared at the now nine-year-old boy face, he tried to sit but let out a grunt his aching was worse than he had thought.
Deruth startled awake sensing his hand being moved away, he straightened his back and heard a pain filled moan, his son was trying to sit himself, he rushed to help him tears were falling down with a sense of relief, Cale face him frowning his brows, he didn’t understand immediately but he figured it out after a couple of minutes, it had happened again and now it was worrisome if he had sleep to the point his body felt numb it meant this time was more than two days.
“D…don’t strain yourself”his nose was running and his trembling voice sounded more like a whimper than an advice. With his help Cale finally changed his position, Deruth’s hands were shakings as much as his voice, he was sobbing unrestrained as there was no one, other than Cale, Deruth and Ron who was standing close in case something happened.
‘How long have I been asleep?’
His eyes focus on Ron as he mouthed his question, he didn’t want to said it out lout as his father was weeping over while holding him quite tightly, he was not going to let him go, he didn’t want to lose something so precious anymore although his heart throbbed each time he looked at his blood-like hair but he could not bear losing him as well.
‘One-week young master’ Ron mouthed back.
That explained the muscle pain and the sore throat.
Cale could feel his heart beating fast, he hated watching his father distressed because of him but it comforted him at the same time, it was weird but definitely it was better than when he didn’t show up.
As soon as Cale woke up, he discovered that the state was crowded with healers and physicians but nobody knew exactly what was affecting the young master, in fact, as they were unaware of the first occurrence it was impossible to receive an accurate diagnosis, Cale knew that he had to tell them it was not the first time but he decided against it, there would be time after the situation settled down it was not the right moment.
Few days after, everything returned to how it was, Cale made sure he was alone with Ron and started talking.
“Ron, you know that this is probably going to happen again”
“Young master with all due respect, why you did not tell them that it happened before?” He always claimed that he didn’t like his puppy-like master but deep down he knew he cared for the child as it was of its own.
“You cannot tell father about this, and if it were to happen again do not report it also bring me one of the physicians that were here last week, the one you deem worthy”
“I suppose you are not going to inform the lord, young master”
“Yes, please be as stealthy as possible”
Ron couldn’t help but to grin at the words of his young master, he ignored his real identity but was asking him as he knew he was capable of doing it and go unnoticed, still he was doubting for the first time in a very long time, was it really all righ to not inform the lord of young master’s condition? He would oblige by the time being but if the situation took a wrong turn, he would inform it immediately.
That same night a physician entered the state but no one noticed.
“Is the sleeping disease, young master, according to what you have told me I assume that your dreams were extremely enticing” The unnamed physician concluded.
The sleeping disease was thought to be a myth, it was rare and only a two percent of the population could develop it and regularly was triggered by a traumatic event, it was believed that the first time was the deadliest as the patient would face his most inner wish and had no way of knowing that perusing it would only cause them death.
And depending on the patient it would be a progressive slumber, for example, when he felt asleep the time would only increase, the first time was the deadliest but the shortest after that the lapse increase abnormally it could jump from days to months or even years, it was not an exact science since the disease had not been thoroughly investigated as not many people suffer from it and the only thing known was that it was a death sentence a slow and peaceful one to the person, but incredibly exhausting to the ones around the patient they have to endure nights where they couldn’t be sure if he would opened his eyes again and witness his body wither away until nothing was left.
The only thing that kept someone with the Sleeping disease was having an anchor strong enough to pull them out, Deruth had act as that said anchor both times allowing his return, also Cale realizing that everything was a dream played a part too.
“I’m afraid there is nothing else I can do for you apart from diagnostic it, I am so sorry young master”
The physician bowed his head, it was a regrettable situation the Henituse’s household heir would probably not make it past the thirties even if he was lucky, but on the other hand him knowing this could make the physician filthy rich if he traded with this secret, so as he thought no one was watching him, he let out a greedy smirk.
Ron, of course, caught on his disgusting expression, when Cale asked him for someone worthy he had search for the one with the best abilities but also for one he could dispose in case of being necessary, this physician in particular was known to be corrupt and not being willing to treat the common citizens even when they could afford his services also he have reports of harassing women but as he was rich he easily escape conviction and even execution, and adding to that long list he dared attempt scammed money from his young master, he was trash that wouldn’t be missed.
Obvious, Cale was ignorant of the vicious punishments that awaited that perverted soul as he send him off with a stoic expression and ordered Ron to pay for his silence, once his loyal butler returned with a suspicious red stained sleeve they resume his previous conversation.
“Young master I believed is better to inform the lord about this”
“Not even a word is to be told to my father, what good would it make anyway, is not like he has a cure a something this would only become another burden, is better for him to not know about this at all, only you and me should know.”
“…I understand I will do as you say”
Two years passed with them hiding Cale’s condition, the slumber came randomly so they had to be careful to hide it and unexpectedly it was easy, Deruth centered his life on the state affairs to heal his broken heart and they rarely were together the meals were not shared his father lived on his office except for the times he had to go to social gatherings.
The third time was a year after the second one, he was out for a week again, fortunately it seemed that Ron could take care easily of that much amount of time.