Chapter 1: Cale's wish.
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.
Knowing what he needed to wake up made things easier for him, after all he was not planning on leaving his father alone and that wish became his anchor to reality, something he noticed after experiencing the slumber three times already was that the dream grew more desirable, the first time he had only wished to meet with his mother again, so he had seen her however they did not talk, in fact, the first time his mother only welcomed him with open arms staying still with open arms but did not move making it simple to tell it was a dream.
The second time his mother actively embraced him, hold him close and asked him to stayed with her, promising love but yet again the flower field broke the illusion, he had never been there before it was a sight out of a dream, exactly, a cursed nightmare disguising as a dream.
But so far, the most tempting one was the third time, the field had vanished, replacing it was the state’s mansion a daily background he was accustomed to, moreover his day went the same as in reality, Ron woke him up, dressed him and told him his schedule for the day and assuming everything was normal he went down to the dinning room expecting to be alone but once he opened the door a familiar cheeky smile greeted him.
“What took you so long dear?” The red headed woman teased him reaching out for him.
For a brief instant everything was perfect, he wasn’t eating alone this time, someone was there waiting for him, that single thought threw his mind into chaos, he had figured out he was dreaming but it took him longer than before, the environment, the people even the food they felt way too real.
His footsteps were light, he sat across his mother and watched her every move, it was like such a familiar yet unfamiliar sight, two years had passed already but the woman of his dreams remained young, Drew received his gaze and smiled back and extend his arms over the table, she was gesturing him to grabbed her hands, they used to do it before it went against etiquette, something meaningless for them.
He put his hands on hers, unlike when he has younger, he reached just fine.
Cale believed for a moment that all the misfortunes that had happened were a bad nightmare that was coming to an end, nonetheless there was something missing, the employees, the maids, Ron and his mother were there but his father was nowhere to be found, his life line was acting out again, pulling him like a silver thread.
He woke up.
Ron was by his side, ready to help him move being inactive was not good for the body but somehow, he wasn’t hurting like last time, that mislead him to think this time he had sleep less, he was amuse when discovered he was out for a week, what he did not know was that Ron had been giving him massages periodically helping his body and as a consequence his physical condition was good enough for him to stood up almost immediately.
Also, thanks to the third slumber he came to certain conclusions, the most significant being that aside from the lapses the dreams grew stronger trying to lure him to never leave, also the periods in between the episodes could also increase, there was evidence of this as the period from the second to the third were a year apart while the period between the first to the second were six months, however, it was still unknow if the slumber lapse could decrease Cale theorized the possibilities, but decided not getting his hopes high.
Two times in two years was a pretty good rate, the third and the fourth time were identical, now Cale was twelve.
But the burden over his shoulders was none of what a normal twelve-year-old could managed, he was the heir of the Henituse’s county and there were responsibilities that came along the title, he had to fulfill the people expectations while dealing secretly with a disease, somedays he was scared of sleeping he was terrified of drowsiness, all in all, it felt tolerable.
His father was back on his tracks it had been three years and Deruth returned to his old positive self, focusing his attention on Cale and the state, but now he was searching for something else, his son was young and needed a maternal figure also Deruth himself needed to move on Drew wouldn’t want them to be alone, of course it was not his priority it was just an intention building inside him like the missing piece that could filled the hole his wife left behind, but right now he would give his son all he thought he needed.
Soon the mornings returned to what they used to be, father and son would spend time in the dinning room and went on with his days later, each time Cale entered the room he expected to see his mother, he knew it was impossible but his mind always returned to his dreams they were engraved into his brain like a scar but as he observed his father, he knew he was where he was supposed to be, everything was slowly changing back and Cale felt better, his father was there for him and vice versa, furthermore he had Ron to rely on and feeling loved his loneliness dimmish day after day, and soon he turned fourteen.
He was sick and tired of the same dream replaying each time he fell into the sleep coma, another two years, another two falls, still his dream was the same as the third time and he was getting used to it, proving his hypothesis to be correct, the sleep coma lapse could decrease, as it occurred with the sixth time, he only slept three days, it was a good sign the disease cannot be cured, however it could be managed.
The soft briss kissed his face and the tender rays of sun bathed the state, it was a beautiful winter morning, Ron woke him as any other day but he felt something was wrong, Ron’s eyes were slightly shaking, so much so that one who didn’t know him well would not perceive it, but Cale did, he read his expression thoughtfully but couldn’t catch what he had seen before, maybe he was tired, but as Ron continued with the daily schedule his eyes shook again.
“Young master, the lord has summoned you to his office”
Now, that was weird, why would his father called for him, especially since they returned to having breakfast together, if it had to do with his classes or something related, he would just mention it there, so it was a relevant matter, Cale felt cold sweet run down his nape ‘Did he figured out?’ it had to be something urgent but each and every suspicion trail back to the same thought.
He was deep in his concerns and turned to Ron with a grim expression which made his assumptions clear, Ron only shook his head, he had no idea of what was happening either, both of them rushed with the daily routine, they couldn’t let the Count wait, before stepping inside the office Cale breathed deeply, he was telling himself that he had to come clean with his father, his condition had improved significatively, he was not at immediate danger so he could apace Deruth in case of being necessary, he swallowed and weakly knock the wooden door.
The door closed silently behind his back, Cale walked to the center of the room and stopped right in front his father’s desk, his white face was even paler up close, his father greeted him without looking at him, his gaze was fixed on a document he had on his hand, as the minutes passed his anxiousness built more and more, Deruth let down his work and stared at him after some time, suddenly a cheerful smiled was visible, Cale tilted his head slightly, that smiled made him realized that the man in front of him had no clue whatsoever of his son’s condition.
The pale face gain color and his heart calmed down, he began to wonder why he was there but he heard soon enough, another knocking could be heard and Deruth´s smiled became even wider, he gave the new guest permission to enter and the door started opening letting a woman silhouette turned into a woman itself. The woman appearance was unpolluted, not a single strand of her hair was out of the high tight bun, she had an stern expression but her lips were discreetly twitching upwards, of course not even Deruth noticed, as for Cale he was at lost of words, he didn’t understood why that woman’s presence was relevant for him to be summoned, perhaps she was a new tutor, the clothes she had on made his status know, they were not the clothes of a normal citizen she had to be a low rank nobility or at least be somewhat wealthy, many ideas were weaving inside Cale, until his father cut them at once.
“Son please greet the Countess of the Henituse state” Cale couldn’t help but to stir his eyes wide open, new Countess meant Deruth’s wife.
“Well, she will be the Countess in a month or so, she stopped by to meet you don’t be shy and say hello.”
They talk over how the two of them have met a couple of years ago, obviously the mutual feeling took time to appear but both of them were in love, at least for them it didn’t seemed to be a rushed decision, they have pondered over again and again, with the only inconvenience being that Cale didn’t knew about anything, the woman was quite nice but inside him deep down he felt betrayed, he was content for his father but at the same time something was twisting, the woman, Violan, talked about how she was happy to finally met him, she told him that next time she would introduce his children and as she pronounced the word step-sibling Cale´s mind clouded over.
He remain attentive, but his train of thought had crashed long ago, definitely it was not the best way to let your child know you are going to remarried and most definitively the joyfulness that envelop him had blind him to the point he thought a fourteen year old boy could comprehend the sudden appearance of another woman when he had never had the chance to actually mourn over his deceased mother, Violan was ignorant of the fact and assumed Deruth had already told him about remarrying and only the introduction wa left.
For both Deruth and Violan the conversation end on the right note as Cale seemed to accept it quite well, truth be told if they hadn’t overlooked his bloodless face, they would have summoned a physician, Violan bit farewell a little after the conversation finished, she promised to take care of everything related to the wedding. Deruth was ready to asked Cale for his opinion when Cale cut him off, he changed the subject subtlety. “Father, I’m glad you call for me I have something to asked you” After the stressing situation, he felt his eyelids getting heavy and drowsiness took over his body his time was running out.
“Speak your mind”
“I was hoping to get some vacations, may I go to the winter house for a while?”
Deruth meditate on it for a bit, his son had worked a lot recently he deserved some peace before the things get moved again, he concede and his son inform him that he would be going right away, he excused himself saying that he had planned them already but he’d hurried as he did not want to missed the weeding forcing a hollow smile, he dismissed himself and exited while dragging his feet.
Ron was waiting him outside the office, he noticed his young master messed up condition right away, his assumptions of Deruth knowing dissipated else he wouldn’t let him room around on such a poor state.
“…To the winter house”
They were a lot of eyes on him, he couldn’t pass out in front of the house servants so he mustered all of his strength to get to the carriage once inside he didn’t fight it anymore, he dropped on the spot, Ron supported his head, only god knew how long he would be out this time.
You have no idea of how much I hate Deruth, well is not hate I'm just uncomfortable with his no-apologies to Cale.
Chapter 3: Winter nights
I agree with a comment of chapter 2: rejoice Beacrox now you have a younger brother!
Smooth was not a word fitted to describe the carriage’s march, the ground underneath was uneven and the snow made the road dangerous, but the carriage didn’t stop the young boy on it was unconscious and all the movement went unnoticed, everything around him went unnoticed.
His eyelids fluttered open, his head was resting on a lap, his first thought was that the old man placed him there to prevent any damage that could be done by the bumpy travel, however Ron was not adept of using skirts, uneasy Cale turned his head founding the owner of that comfortable lap, silken red locks as red as his own framed the ageless face of a beautiful woman, his mother placed her fingers on top of his head brushing his hair softly, her warm hands transmitted the mild love he craved so desperately, he moved his head following the hand he wanted that longed caress, the only one on the family that gave love through touch was gone and he did missed her hugs, her head patting and simple holding her hands.
He closed his eyes again and turned around clenching to his mother snuggling into her dress, for the first time he cried his heart out.
Ron was getting worried, his young master breathing turned heavy and his cheeks resembled his hair, the sealed tension he had gather over the last years and his inactive grievance hit his body at once, he was crying and moaning, Ron pulled his torso up leaning him against his own chest, doing so helped him regulate his breathing.
Ron heard the things that were said inside the office, he was loyal but even he questioned the lord, a new wife. After five years of the former Countess' death, it was only natural for them to move on, but moving on and searching for a replacement were two different things.He had no doubt about the lord’s feelings toward his new partner but clearly, he couldn’t understand what it meant for his son.
Upset, that word describe his mood fairly well, he was upset the lord didn’t realized how much his own son was struggling, he also blamed the current situation to his lack of touch, there were hundreds of ways he could prepare him and there were several opportunities to let them know, but he just jumped ahead expecting a good turn of events.
Ron could comprehend losing someone so dear to you that your sanity almost breaks, waiting endlessly for someone who is never going to come back, the circumstances were different and the causes behind also were words apart, but never for the past fourteen years he had search for somebody else, his new life revolt his son and his puppy young master, although vengeance was his fuel he never lost sight of his family, something the lord had done apparently without any remorse or hopefully ignorant of what he was doing, he had noticed how Deruth flinched at Cale’s red hair and how he sometimes avoid him on purpose, he resemble his deceased wife so much that he become a painful reminder one that he could just tossed aside, he loved him but couldn't stand it.
Cale’s limp head swinged side to side due to the erratic path, Ron fixed his position and kept his young master head from moving abruptly, the crying had stop but he was grasping tightly to his clothes still unconscious as if he would never let go, Ron didn’t have to be a genius to understand that in his dream he was with his mother.
After a two-hour trip the finally get to the destination, the winter house, it was smaller than the summer house but the two story building was cozy and worthy of the Henituse’s wealth, the front door was made of polished mahogany, and the marble stone walls have a banner with the family crest on them, at first glance it was a terrible construction for the cold weather, however inside the floor was covered with carpets that worked along different magic devices making the rooms unbelievably warm, the furnace as the front door were made with the finest mahogany with some gold touches.
As they had arrived without a prior notice the servants were nowhere to be seen, a fortunate occurrence as the young master was already out, Ron carried him inside the residence and as for the carriage driver it was none other than Beacrox his son, knowing that his master was not going to arrive awake he needed someone he could trust and no one was better than his beloved son, his first reaction to the passed out Cale let his father reassured himself that he was the right choice, even though he flinched and his expressionless face showed concern he wasn’t asking questions, he help them opening the doors they come across until the reach the last room on the second floor, the room covered all the necessities a noble could have, the floor had the same carpets that the lobby, the queen sizes bed had soft fur blankets, and the bathroom had one of the biggest bathtubs at the winter house made out of porcelain.
Ron placed his young master on the bed and covered him under the fur right up his neck, relieved that he was no longer sweating, and now a child-like smile was visible, that meant the dream had begun. When Cale opened his eyes, he was in the familiar winter suit, his gaze venturing the room inspecting it when someone called out for him.
“You have a fever, why don’t you rest more?”
The voice owner was his mother, she was looking at him with a concerned expression that matched her tone, Cale managed a soft smile, his head felt heavy as if forming a single idea were a difficult task, the only thing he could think about was the woman and his current situation, that blankness left him docile and willing, he fell asleep once more.
He hadn’t realized that everything was a lie as he was no longer focusing on the real world.
Two weeks and a half later a letter arrived it was from the Count, he was telling them to returned before the ceremony that would take place the following week, however Ron and Beacrox could only stare at the words written with empty souls, his young master had yet to wake up and worse than that for the last few days they were occasions his breathing had abruptly stopped if it weren’t for how they had been by his side ready to give him first aide, he most definitely would be death.
Beacrox had asked his father after the first week seeing that the young master was not waking at all, the explanation of what was happening let him realize why both his father and the young master had hidden his sickness and at the same time it amuse him how both of them were capable of keeping it a secret from all the people at the manor on the other hand, now his father and him were scared of him not coming back, for him it was a weird feeling he was not closed with him as his father was but it was unfair for such a young existence to diapered just like a candle flame that was going against the wind, even when they had forced fed and periodically him he had lost several pounds and they were dark eyebags decorating his paler face, his dry lips were cracking and despite his emaciated condition he was smiling innocently.
Cale grab her hand, the last week had been joyful, they spent most of the time inside playing hide and seek, running and even learning, every second together was precious the time slowed down as if this moments were worth of stopping the whole world, there was no pain, no needless suffering, he couldn’t remember any sorrow making him drunk on excitement, he never wanted to leave because of the soft winter night breeze, come to think of it, did he ever have a place to returned to? wasn’t this the place where he belonged? questions like that made their way through his mind preventing him from actually processing what was happening.
Until one day they visited the night market on the village near to the winter house she had buy him a blue snowdrop necklace with a red flower on the middle, telling him that it didn’t matter how much it snowed the spring would always return and for some reason his heart throb his mind which until then was foggy, cleared.
‘Is a dream?’
“What’s wrong dear you look pale, did you catch another cold?” The red headed panicked.
‘Right… mother is dead’
He was thinking straight again when he noticed the fake world trembled. However nothing pulled him out, was there someone waiting? They were but they weren't the people Cale was expecting, he threw himself out by sheer will, The anchor chain had broken.
“You are going to leave me again?” She mumbled, but no one was listening. Cale had already left.
Darkness was all he could see as if this had swallowed him, his senses were coming back but his extremities did not listen to him and he couldn’t open his eyes, he knew he was awake but nothing was working as if he was tied up, his lips were the only thing that he could move and he bit them hoping the pain could helped him fully awake still he felt nothing he was sure he was biting harshly but there was not even a slight pression, his mouth filled with an iron taste, he was bleeding but his attention shifted to the sudden sensation of his leg moving on it’s own, someone was folding and unfolding it repeatedly and after certain interval both legs where lifted together, after focusing on the movements he relaxed a little and tried to lift his eyelids in a successful attempt, the light filtering through the window made him squint.
He let a long sight out, making the person who was there astonished, he felt his leg being dropped and heard the door burst open followed by a joyful scream.
“He is awake!” however that voice didn’t belong to an old man it sounded younger.
Running steps were coming in his direction and from the door emerged the old man and his son, both were looking at him with shaking eyes a reaction that Cale concluded did not suited them well, as always, his throat was hurting and had muscle pain, but Ron quickly helped him sit, his body was weaker than any other time before, he could see his wrists were thinner and his skin was so white he made out where were his veins, giving the impression he would break even at a petal imperceptible touch.
The two people standing in front of him seemed relieved, he fixed his gaze on Beacrox but then turned away, it was too much to asked Ron to deal with this alone besides his son was a trustworthy person, it was just as his father when it came to discretion so it was fine if he knew, now hiding his condition would be easier, father and son were competent and close like family so that was enough for him.
After drinking some lemon tea he hated but was good for him according to his butler, Ron handed Deruth’s letter and the first thing to stand out was the date, according to it he had been asleep for at least two weeks, the lapse had grown larger, then came the date of the wedding ceremony it was too close and his looks weren't good enough.
Three weeks and two days, Ron told him everything that happened except for the part of him clinging to him and the near death experience he had the day before. He had five days to recover after all he couldn’t be absent also that day he would meet his new relatives, his head was getting complicated, he looked himself on the mirror it was a mess, his red hair was not tangled due to Ron brushed it when he was unconscious but it was longer framing his now slimmer face and contrasting with the dark eyebags he definitely looked like a ghost.
Beacrox treat him with utmost care a rare thing to him but it wasn't half bad, he nuturish him with balanced dishes and Ron helped him back on his feet it took him half a day to walk although a bit awkward he managed to room around the winter house still he looked like a beggar who hadn't had any decent meal for years.
The days passed in the blink of an eye and even though he wasn't as good as new he was decent enough.
They returned to the state one day before of the ceremony, even tough Cale’s condition had improved he still looked skinnier to the point it was noticeable; the carriage ride was slow contrary to how it had rushed out, before when they were running away, now it seemed uncomfortable coming back even Ron had an awkward look.
After a few hours they arrived and a joyful face greeted them, Deruth himself had come to receive his son. Maybe he was blind as he didn’t protest after having Cale’s looks in front of him, however he flinched when his eyes met with his red and now longer hair, he looked like a male version of Drew, even like Drew’s brother, he resembled him a little tough.
They got inside right away. There were two young kids waiting on the lobby, one of them was only two years younger than him while the girl was just a three year old baby, they were close and expecting him with a smile, the boy had a shy smile whereas the baby girl was smiling bright at him, after all his mother had told them they would have a bigger brother and both were anxious to meet him.
Cale felt weird, for some reason those kids looked more like his father than like him, their hair was the same ash brown and their eyes were oddly similar, but he couldn’t openly show his astonishment, this was an important moment for the future so he smiled back at them, it was a good opportunity he always wished for siblings and now he had them, it didn't really matter if they were not blood related even when it was awkward at least for him, .Both the children in front of him were seemed happy, his father asked him to show them around and they toured over the mansion, while they followed him with expectant eyes.
Cale reached the back garden filled with roses his mother had planted all of them were as red as her hair.The baby girl got closer and tried grabbing a flower but the thorns cut her flesh and she started crying, his brother took care of her, while Cale mind was focused on the blooded stained stem; they were only a few drops but it reminded him of the day he had tried to grab the roses and ended likewise, that time his mother had dealt with the torn encrusted on his hand. He hadn’t cried like the baby girl but he felt pain, remembering was painful.Would his old memories be buried by new ones? Would he be able to forget? He brushed those scary thoughts aside. It was a little bit late but he asked anyway.
“My name is Cale and yours?” He grabbed her hands and swiftly pulled out the thorn, making eye contact and smiling softly.
“She is Lily Henituse” The older brother answered for her “And I am Basen Henituse”.
His last name sounded so distant when he pronounced it, and suddenly he realised, this was happening, they were now part of the Henituse’s household, well they would be starting tomorrow he didn't knew how to feel, many emotions were collaiding inside him, in the end the only real thing he could sense was a knot on his throat, it would take him time to assimilate but they were apparently nice children, and they were happy with this ordeal, so who was him to deny them a name that wasn’t his to give.
The sunset mingled with his hair and Lily enjoyed the sight. She thought that his new brother was part of the sun, such a childish idea crossed by Basen's mind as well, truth be told they were excited to have a new home and new family members.
What Cale did not know was that his younger sister Lily actually shared some blood with him as she was a daughter born between his father and his new stepmother that meant two years after his mother’s dead his father had not only found another woman, but he had also a child with her before marriage .Deruth had postponed it because he concluded it was too soon for his son to know and now everything was good (according to his own perception), he would tell Cale after the ceremony.
The day arrived. Ron helped Cale to get ready. He was the one giving his father the rings so he needed to be as impeccable as his stepmother. He was wearing a black suit, with a flower pattern vest and an ascot tie, his red bright hair was tied on a low ponytail with a black silk ribbon leaving his forehead uncovered. He was young and handsome, of course his eye bags were covered with makeup so nobody could see them.
The ceremony end well it was a joyous occasion, however, Cale was absent in mind he just fulfilled his part and let it slide, his new sibling were on him all the time, it was not bad he now had two children following him around, the two of the were cute, Basen was on the serious side while Lily was as lively as a child could be they were starting on the right feet.
Days later a package was sent to the house, it was a big family portrait with all of them in it, Cale looked at himself, then at the others, surprisingly they all share the same ash brown hair and had similar eyes except for him, his red hair stood out as a wine stain, he shared some features with his father but it was almost imperceptible, he thought that if his family were a puzzle he would be a piece that couldn’t fit anywhere, a piece from a different puzzle all together, that conception would remain with him for the years to come.
The same day the portrait arrived he was summoned to his father's office unknowing that a bomb was about to blow off.
The reunion was nothing out of the ordinary; his father asked him about his lessons and how were his vacations, but suddenly Deruth tensed up and mechanically asked him.
“What do you think about your siblings?”
There was nothing much to think about they were agreeable, also it was fun to spend time with them although Cale had noticed how the servants treated Basen, contrary to his younger sister and himself the employees seemed to mock Basen behind his back, maybe it was because he was not a direct descendant of Deruth but if that were the case they would treat Lily the same way and they didn’t, there was something fishy on that and to prevent it Cale had spent most of his time relating with his new family his cousins were against him since he was younger after his mother’s dead all because he was the only inheritor known to the Henituses’s fortune so if he were to disappear as there was no other successor the title would go to the closest relative; in this case his cousins now there were other candidates but as he had grown being trashed over he could understand the feeling of being left out.
Also after knowing they were other people with whom he could share the burden make him lighter, he had to be prepared for a future where he could die before his own father so having someone to replace him in case of it being necessary, was on equal terms reassuring and scary, but he had to steal himself for the possibilities, that was why he was covering Basen, he was probably going to be the heir anyway.
“I like them, they are nice with me” he answered curtly.
Deruth smiled unconsciously, if he liked them it meant that this family had the chance to become closer, he thought about if it was really necessary to tell him about it but he had made up his mind, he had the right to know, after all it would be a big problem if any other informed him.
“And what do you think about Lily?” Deruth inquired trying to lead the conversation to where he wanted.
“She is cute” For some reason he wasn't in the right mood for this conversation, he liked them but it was not as if he had completely gotten used to their presence.
Cale turned to the window, the day was sunny and the weather was perfect to be outside something he wanted to do right now, Deruth swallowed he couldn’t get his thoughts right the words were stumbling trying to be spoken but nothing came out, he didn't have the courage and instead resolved he would tell him eventually. He focused on his son looking at him without any other thing in mind. He discerned his son was thinner than before and somehow seemed extremely fatigued, the usual sparkle that remind of his mother was not there anymore. He attributed it to the last busy days but decided that he would keep an eye on him.
After what he believed to be an uncomfortable silence Cale dismissed himself, he walked leisurely out of the office, his father was acting strange but in the end he wasn't concerned, if it was nothing important then everything was alright.
When he returned to his chamber Ron was waiting for him, lately Cale was seeing him as a therapeutic person he already knew he was reliable but now he also felt a sensation of peace when he was there, his relationship with his son had also build up, Ron greeted him with his bening smile, and helped him undress, their conversation always revolt on if he was fine, he sounded like an overprotective grandfather and Cale liked it.
His routine had a few changes, he had a new training partner, Basen was taking classes along him, he deemed this new air refreshing but they would split up after the last course, and he would come back to his room until dinner, it was not that he like his room better than being outside but he was avoiding the employees it had been two years already since his last slumber surprisingly the period extended, he was sixteen years old now, however he was preparing just in case, his butler was preparing for it as well, even Beacrox was getting ready in case he was needed to drive the carriage urgently. While he was walking to his room he heard two maids talking. They were, according to them, whispering even so they were so loud that he could listen perfectly.
“How does the lord let that bastard take the same courses as our young master?” A loud nasal voice appeared to be upset.
“I know right, is not as if he were his real son like the little lady” Another equally loud voice answered.
“Do you think the lord is thinking about making Basen the next head of the household?” Now the annoyance had become real curiosity.
“Who knows young master Cale is always disappearing out of the blue, but taking away the inheritance right from him would be weird, he is his legitimate son after all” Cale stayed in the shadows listening to the quite revealing conversation, and he learned two aching truths.
The first one was although Basen was treated poorly he was being considered to be a competidor of his father title, he had made up his mind on that one, but realizing that other people were replacing him was shocking he thought that he had to make it clear that he was abdicating the position, obviously that was not the case, still he was alright with it, he was going to do it even if Basen was not recognized as a candidate.
However the most unexpected fact was what hit him hard on the back, his father had lied him, Lily was his blood related half sister, it made sense why she was treated better than Basen and sometimes even better than himself, she was the daughter of Deruth and Violan who he had just married a year ago, that could meant everything but one thing was clear, his father not only had found a replacement for his mother, he had found her earlier than he let on but he waited three years to marry her, forget betrayal someone had just stab him in the back, his eyes trembled and his mouth was getting dry, he knew what was about to happen but the rage burning inside him was stronger, he stormed to his father office now he was going to speak his mind loud and clear.
The doors burst open accompanied by a harsh crash, Deruth look up startled by the sound, he could see his son rushing to his desk so fast that he didn’t mind closing the doors after him, his frown made evident of what he was going to say, so Deruth ordered the servants inside the room to exit and close the door for him then he braced himself ready for whatever his son was going to talk, Cale was clenching his fist so hard his nails were almost piercing through his pale skin, he didn’t wait to the servants exiting, he spit what was on his mind.
“How could you!” His teenager voice cracked but it did not matter to him.
The door closed with a thud.
He was not angry because of Deruth having a daughter he was enraged because he had not told him about it neither about finding another person he loved, as if he wasn’t important enough he had the right to know before everything pile up like a fast ball aiming for his lungs, but not only had he keep it a secret he had throw everything at once expecting him to understand it right away, true he had no right to complained he had been hiding thing from him too but it was not because he not trust him, it was because he didn’t want to worry him with something that was beyond his control.
The things that Deruth held from him were things he would eventually find out but if he had told him beforehand he wouldn’t be feeling them like a sudden weight on his shoulders.
“Not only you didn’t tell me you were going to remarry… actually you told me nothing at all! Did you just expect me to be alright with everything? or you didn’t spare a second to think about me?..”
“Cale…” he was about to intercede but Cale didn’t allow him to, it was his turn to speak.
“... Have you ever thought about how I felt?” He stopped talking and his eyes were getting teary if he said anything else he would cry.
Deruth let a low sight and placed his head on his palms.
“I was alone, your mother is the woman I have loved the most in my life, losing her tore me apart.... He once again was cut up.
“...And what do you think it did to me?” Cale was no longer shouting, his voice didn’t tremble as before but it was filled with more sorrow and contempt than ever
“ ...I’m leaving” His words were dragging, but the resolve behind them did not falter.
“ ...Give... me some... time...”
The emotional speech died out.
Where would he run to?
Who wants to kill Deruth with me?
Ron and Beacrox anticipated when they heard Cale had stormed into the lord’s office the whole mansion was fusing about it, Ron told his son to get ready, as he went to check on the young master, when he found him Cale was moving forward aided by the walls instead of walking normally he was dragging himself, without the wall he would fall.
He eyes were empty and his emotionless face make him looked like a doll, something inanimate, even so he react to the footsteps approaching him as he looked up his gaze met with his confident butler and for a brief second the emotions returned to him and a longing smiled could be seen but it didn’t last while trying to walk to him his strength failed him and his knees buckle falling forward, Ron catched him effortlessly and as his eyelid were to close he spoke softly.
“We will be waiting for you” A single tear fell before closing his eyes for what he expected to be a long time.
Ron stealthily got him outside where Beacrox was already waiting on a plain supplies carriage, Cale had not asked for a leaving so they had no other choice than to smuggle him out, He placed him on the wooden planch and covered him with the jute sacks that were used to bring back the food, then he sat beside his son, as this was a regular task nobody found it to be weird, they crossed the front door without delay, they had prepared for this and now they weren’t going to screw it up, Beacrox ride to the villa that was closest to the wall separating the state of the forest of darkness.
It was a tiny country side village and the people that lived there were secluded from the estate so in case the news of the missing son of the count leaked it would not reach the villa, also it was not suspicious for few hunters to arrive at a good but dangerous hunting spot, so the villagers would not be on guard.
Beacrox and Ron went to the only inn available, after registering Beacrox returned to the supply car and carried Cale as if he were a potato sack he was covered by one so it was only natural to act as if he were one, to the public eye both of them were only a father and son duo going out for a hunt, nobody catch a glimpse of Cale, by the secrecy of their movements it almost seemed as if they have kidnapped him, however it wasn’t very far from the truth.
Beacrox was focusing on transporting him as gently as possible, so he didn’t perceive the young black haired man who was following his every move.
They rented two single rooms as they were not doubles and they couldn't sleep on one because it would be suspicious, who would want to sleep on the floor when there were rooms to spare.
The inn was by no means as comfortable as the winter house but it was silent and the few employees were respectful, also they lacked manpower to clean the rooms so it was perfect to go undercover, Ron and Beacrox were not planning on leaving Cale’s room unprotected.
The potato sack was lowered carefully, the red headed was sleeping soundly it was unsettling how vulnerable he looked, Before when they escape to the winter house Beacrox had not noticed, it didn’t matter how much the carriage shook there was no way to awake him, now as he carried him he was certain that even if he were to drop him he would remain senseless, just by the slow visible movement of his chest you could tell he was alive else he would pass as a mannequin.
Unlike two years ago his breathing was soft like he would wake on a moment unnoticed, he was stable in general, the physician have warned them it was an unpredictable sickness, they could only prayed for a short sleep coma, they have left a letter but his family would worried if he didn’t returned for a long time.
Back at the manor, Deruth decided to check on his son, the conversation they had was vivid on his mind, it was his fault he had tossed his child aside since god knows when.
He knock the door and waited, nobody answered he consider his son didn't wanted to see him if that were the case Ron would have informed him however Ron wasn’t there either, after not hearing nothing he let himself in, the empty room felt bigger that he remembered it had been ages since put a foot inside Cale’s room, unessines was washing over him, it was already dark outside but his son was nowhere to be seen.
He wandered around hoping to get a clue on where his son was, a letter, well a note was waiting for him on Cale’s bed.
I’ll be back, I’m taking Ron and Beacrox with me don’t worry.
Deruth recognized the writing, his son had written it, he had asked him time nonetheless Deruth thought he was referring to leave him be not that he would go without a word.
He returned to his office and summoned the guards, he assured them no rest until they found Cale’s whereabouts, he would let him be when he knew he was safe.
Cale was taking a stroll, he was sixteen year old yet due to his sickness he confined to his chambers his curiosity lead him to the busy streets rain city had to offer, the bustling main road entranced him, aimlessly looking his surroundings, someone was calling him, he followed the sound, the voice was guiding him showing him the best spots on the city and lead him to a hill were all the buildings were visible, unaware of nothing else than the beautiful view he felt a tap on his shoulder.
“You are late” Eric Wheelsman was nagging him, furrowed brows and all.
Have they scheduled a meeting? He couldn’t remember.
Eric Wheelsman, was a childhood friend of his, they used to play together when they were younger but had grown distant as the years passed by. He recalled their pranks as if it were yesterday although both enjoyed it Eric always was reluctant, he was such a goody two shoes that Cale couldn’t help but laugh at the warm memories, Eric tilted his head confused his friend had always been such a troublemaker that he learned to be wary of his mischief smile. Two days, then three and then four. Ron and Beacrox took turns to nurse him, they had gotten used to it by now and were grateful that this case was something they would call a slight slumber, so far Cale had no trouble aside from being unconscious, his body was not deteriorating as fast as before.
On the night of the fourth day Beacrox left the window open. Because the summer heat make it unbearable to close it, then he left the room it was shift time, he closed the door behind him and as he exited the room, a quiet shadow infiltrated.
The black eyed man stared at the sleeping red headed, he sensed danger from the two men that arrived four days ago so he had observe them from afar, he found out that they were actually three immediately he wondered why they have hidden the third one, until he realized the boy with them was unconscious, perhaps they kidnapped him?
The boy was wearing expensive clothes and even when he was asleep he had a refined atmosphere, that was why the young looking man decided to check on him.
As far as he could tell he had been like that for days now, had they been drugging him for him to remain still? He tried to wake him up, shaking him, patting his cheeks slightly but he was as limp as the beginning, it did not make any difference, maybe he had wait longer, his gut feeling was telling him it was fine to leave him with them still what if they were dangerous he knew for a fact they have a bloody smell, he would come with a way of waking him later, right now he was going to take him away, he grab the stranger and placed on his back, for a boy his age he sure was thin, as he was to jump outside a chilling murderous aura was felt.
The oldest man arrived just in time, he close the gap between rapidly, then he moved passed the black eyed man to close the window, the younger one hurried and close the door silently, his eyes were shining furiously whereas the old man eyes were cold enough to freeze death, they had cornered the stranger yet he show no signs of being scared rather his gaze showed determination.
“Hand him over” The unidentified man thought it was such a cliche villain phrase and let out a small chuckle.
Meanwhile Cale let a heartfelt laugh, his outing with his friend was more enjoyable than the last two years of his life, he acknowledge the envy he had for common children they didn’t have to weight such responsibilities and were not chained to a place however he thought he was being selfish he had been luckier than many as he was borned the son of a lord but sometime he felt miserable, he didn’t have friends nor people of his age he could talk to. it had been long since he lost contact with Eric, he recalled when he was fifteen, he started drinking as he desire to lost himself for a while, it was frustrating he couldn’t get drunk unless he drank nonstop, his alcohol tolerance was unnecessarily high however funnily enough his face turned red with just two glasses so sometimes he pretended to be drunk and let go of his worries and lash against the scum he found on his way, Ron had always disapprove of this in some sort of twisted way his butler was more worried about him than any other. When he started his drinking habits his father sent his half brother instead of him to the nobility gatherings, he didn’t mind, that was part of his plan, he wanted his brother to be the next successor but for whatever the reason Violan opposed the idea.
“Hey are you listening?” Eric called the absent minded Cale and smiled when his eyes met his, they were soulless his dilated pupils showed how much under the illusion he was, the fake Eric was delighted maybe this time he was going to get him.
It was surprising how the young boy only wanted loved, many other were obsessed with power or drunk for money, however this guy wanted nothing more than happiness, that was why it was so hard to lured him, he need to comprehend exactly what he crave, else he would awake like he had done so far, as the ilusion world had flaws and the kid was witty on a certain way it was more interesting like this.
‘Such a selfless soul’ He thought it was funny.
The boy on his back suddenly was fighting for air and his limbs were slightly shaking, as if his body was trying to shake him awake.
Cale’s body curled forward, his heart hurting and his head throbbing, Eric supported him astonished, this little boy sure was entertaining his body was reacting to take him out.
Ron hurried, he needed to retrieve his young master, who had sent this man? He was skilled to trick a master assassin and high grade swordsman, there was no way this was a coincidence, but nobody else knew about his condition.
“What did you do to him?” The young man was glaring, thinking of an escape route.
“...What?” the man next to the door put on a confused expression “What the hell are you talking about?”
Now the one perplexed was the other, haven’t they kidnapped him? On that second of doubt Ron approached him and quickly took the boy back, then carry him to the bed again but he didn't laid him instead he support him straightening his back, he was making easier for him to gasp air and as a miracle Cale woke up, still trembling and confused he grasp his shirt near the heart which was beating as to break his rib cage, Ron realized he was having an anxiety attack, he cradle him and helped him steady his breath.
Beacrox was on guard while this happened he was between the bed and the speechless stranger, a couple of minutes after, the gasps silenced and the trembling cesed.
“Who are you?” The black haired man asked, confused. After watching all he understood they were nursing him instead of trying to hurt him.
“What?” Beacrox was a loss of words.
The man in front of them explained the situation, and how he had believed they were bad guys trying to blackmail some rich family. Cale who was now awake and listening laugh at the dumb misunderstanding.
“...You look like villains” Cale chuckled hoarsely before closing his eyes “...I’m tired…”
He snuggled and slept some more, unknowingly he was exhausted. Ron laid and covered him.
“I’m Choi Han, sorry for the misunderstanding”
That punk was apologizing as if it wasn’t a big deal, Ron told he that he didn’t have to worry that they would returned as soon his young master awoke again yet Choi Han was curious about the kid, he was sure he had not waken up for four days, maybe he could help him some way, so he asked about it, Ron was getting to the conclusion it was best to kill any witness and that punk was getting on his nerve, he was not going to let him spilled the beans, confirming that Cale was sleeping soundly he took out his dual daggers and Beacrox prepared a pair of gloves, he did not have his great sword with him but he could fence himself well.
They fought until dawn, that punk was more skilled than he let on and even when they were aiming for his life, he didn’t falter and only left shallow cuts, was he being merciful? Or simply he felt pity for the kid? Whatever the reason, he didn’t hurt them badly.
“...Stop it, you are noisy...” Cale leaned on the bedrest, his little action got everyone's attention.
Beacrox gave him a glass of water, he felt emotional due to the confrontation with his father he was expecting the worse or at least a long coma, but the young master returned earlier, much to their relieve both forgot about the man behind them and provided the child with the usual after-slumber-check-up well they have called it that, they would massage his muscles and according to the slumber duration they would support him to walk, also Beacrox would cook for him as soon as he opened his eyes while Ron brew him fresh lemon tea, it was his payback for the distress he experienced.
The black haired man, Choi Han, approached them. He was looking at the kid's condition as well. when he was leaving Cale stopped him asking where he was going and Beacrox returned to guard the door, Choi Han furrowed his brows, he could run away if he truly wanted but he didn’t mean them harm, to him they were two scary men taking care of a defenseless boy that according to his judgement was around the same age he was when he got to this crazy world, maybe that was why he empathized with his situation, he not really knew what was wrong with him but if it was something to kill for it had to be serious, however he was not planning to let them do.
“You should have realized by now that you can’t kill me” He spoke innocently yet he was ready for another atack.
“Kill you?” Cale’s stoic face was replaced by one of amusement.
His gaze that was on Choi Han moved to Ron who was there with his usual bening smile, as if he couldn't even hurt a fly still Cale was aware of his vicious nature so he just scoffed when their eyes met.
Choi Han who was watching such development remained silent, the boy smirked like he had not expected it.
“Allow me to apologize on their behalf, they tend to overreact when it comes to me...” Now that he talked Choi Han reaffirmed his hypothesis, he had to be a noble, he was composed disregarding this kind of situation. “...So you thought I had been abducted? Well that is a big misunderstanding, as you can see I’m sick they are taking care of me that’s all”
“Young master…” Ron was about to say something but Cale cut him off.
“I’m back” Ron opened and closed his mouth multiple times as if he was trying to say something and after some consideration he could only say one thing.
Cale smiled back however his mind was running chaotically he couldn’t remember his dream at all actually he had not noticed he was dreaming until he woke up, an awkward moment he could not dreamt of greeted him, chills run down his spine and his mouth went dry, his hands underneath the blanket were slightly trembling, he calmed himself down he would try to recall things later, right now he had to deal with the boy that seemed his age but was stronger than both Ron and Beacrox.
Choi Han is a big hearted dork.
Chapter 6: A new friend
Sorry if it was a little shorter i have anoying exams coming next week so i had to keep it short to study.
As alwasy thanks for reading it and if you want to go hunt Deruth down count me in.
“Why are you telling me about this? Is it something you should chatter about so openly?” Choi Han sat on the chair next to the bed.
Ron gaze was stuck on him and could be read saying ‘Such a rude punk’
Choi Han pretended he had not seen it, and returned to the redhead who had an artificial kind of smile.
“It doesn't matter as you don’t know who i am nor are you curious. That is enough for me, and if you wished me harm I’ll be already dead. Am I wrong?”
Choi Han scratched his cheek embarrassed, but he did not deny that if he were after the red haired’s life he’d be dead for sure, also it was true he had no idea who the kid was, of course it wouldn’t be difficult to find out, his hair color was unusual and he was a noble surely there could not be many who fitted his description. He stole furtive glances at the man who was supposed to be his butler but resembled an assassin more, their eyes met and Ron smiled back benignly like he had never tried to kill him in the first place yet his aura was chilling the room.
“Then you won’t be telling me your name I guess”
“There is not need for you to know, we will be staying here until I gather some physical strength and since I wasn’t asleep for that long, we should leave in around three days from now”
Choi Han flinched, if he was telling him that four days were not much he wondered what the boy considered to be long, his butler was accustomed and was prepared for all sorts of incidents and the child was abnormally calm whatever the circumstance, this was strange for a noble, according to what he had heard of nobility they were basically useless at least most of them, the villagers told him that the Henituse estate could be considered one of the good noble families however they warned him that outside were many nobles who were high on their titles and abused their power, still Choi Han did not care about the nobles he was planning on living peacefully on the quiet village for as long as he could.
Although he couldn’t deny he was interested on this people, all of them were unique, one thing he knew for sure was that either he had family problems or he didn't had a family, as Ron killing intent had proven this was a secret and even when the boy acted as if were nothing serious his companions showed severe concern, they had come to the village specifictly to not be bothered and somehow cover the child’s sickness.
“Ask whatever you want” Choi Han's troubled expression made Cale realize he was a decent guy and felt like talking to him.
Since he woke up he was eager to talk. It didn't matter with who but the boy looked one or two years older than him, perhaps wanting to have a friend let him open himself with a benevolent stranger who was worried for him.
Cale asked Ron to leave the room he prefered a one on one conversation and after some disapproving glances and some protest the old man exited the room but stood outside in case he was needed.
Choi Han asked his way it were the question on should expect when sick, if it was curable, if it was deadly and stuff along the line, with every answer he got his face turned darker and darker,
‘How could someone live on like that?’
When he reach the family topic he notice the child pressing his lips out of reflex as if he were holding back, he had touch his sore spot, he explained how his mother’s dead had trigger it, also how he believed his emotions played a role on each ‘slumber’ and that he had a fight with his father before the one he had just witness.
After all the talking he noticed Choi Han grimace, he was deep in thoughts.
“And that is it” He leaned on the bedrest with a satificed look, it was nice to talk about it instead of sealing it.
“...You have been through a lot, are you sure I should know?” He was full of doubts, staring right at him, how could he have such a relaxed expression and spoke so nonchalantly?.
After a while, he replied honestly.
“I don’t even know why I'm telling you, however you should be aware this is confidential and perhaps my life depends on it.” He exaggerated the last statement but he thought it was better to scare him a little, just in case.
The black haired man swallowed hard now he was getting involved deeper than he wanted but is what he got by barging in the middle of the night to help a complete stranger, still he did not regret it and probably he would do it again, also it was not his creed to trouble people unnecessarily, he decided he would take responsibility for his actions and would assist them as best as he could. For the next three days he would go and bring herbs that were good for regaining strength, he would share the food he got from the villagers or he would stay and chat with him.
He never told him his name, Ron and Beacrox always called him ‘young master’ so he started calling him like that too, Cale laugh a little about it, Choi Han forte was fighting and definitely not talking also he acted like a forenig most common folks would treat him with utter respect out of fear or at least be courteous, on the other hand the black haired man treat him like a neighbour next door, he like it it was as if had a friend, at the beginning it was hard for them to talk but soon they get used to one another Choi Han share his daily life, the bedriden boy would listen while trying to stand and walk around the little room.
The promised days went like water, Cale recovered faster as he hadn’t slept long, they were ready to depart and Choi Han bid them farewell expecting no to see them again or at least met under different circumstances, as for Cale, he couldn’t hide his embarrassment as he step inside of the potato sack they had brought him in with, he play dead for a few minutes until Ron told him it was fine, the butler’s lips were furtively twitching the same was true for his son, their young master really was cute, Cale noticed but feign ignorance as he was too flustered.
They sneaked in and went straight to Cale’s room which remain the same, he was away for a week so he expected to be dusty yet Deruth had order their servants to tidy it daily so it would be clean whenever his son returned, he was disappointed and preoccupied his guards search down every rock but couldn’t track him at all, as if he had vanished.
Deruth repent on not telling him the thing he had the right to know before anyone, his son spoke the truth, what kind of father was so blinded that he couldn’t understand how his son was struggling, he wasn’t there when his son needed him, quite the opposite, Cale was always the one to consoled him, he couldn’t recall him mourning any time other than the funeral, his young son steel himself to handle everything his dumb father throw him.
Deruth noticed the tired look on his face that didn’t match his young age, how much he made him worn himself out?
It was dinner time, his wife Violan, his younger son Basen and his only daughter Lily were already at the dining room and were waiting him, without Cale the dining process was quiet, his older son would often bicker about how the food tasted awful or throw a fit that the wine was of poor quality, he hated to admit it but his absence was peaceful and it horrify him how he had adapted to it so quickly.
He sat on the head of the table, the other head had the service placed but there was no one there, he let out a sight he wondered where could his son be, he hope he was doing fine and as he was having such thought the doors steadily opened, and a face he had not seen for over a week greeted him. Cale entered nonchalantly as if he had never run away, his pale face contrasted with his fire like hair, he was skinnier than when he left but overall healthy as his face showed no particular emotion, he sat across from his father, that was his place. Deruth was about to say something but stopped him with a small hand movement.
“Let us eat first”
Lily and Basen's jaws were hanging in surprise, they had been told that their brother would return in a month or so, it was a pleasant surprise for them. They didn’t chatter with him as much as they wanted but he had always been nice to them even when he changed when his father was near. Violan on the other hand had a bittersweet grimace, she believed it was her fault his stepson escape his home, still she was relieved that he was alright his red hair was a bit longer but he was as handsome as always, she sometimes wondered how his average looking husband had such a good looking son, she had married Deruth because she loved him and not because his appearance so she could thought that with the head up high, as for Deruth he wanted to ask so many thing but decided to remain silent for the time being.
The servants that where there rushed to the kitchen and brough other meal course, behind this back the maids were pestering Cale as an unfilial son and that they have expected him to never come back, they were openly showing their disagreement and when Ron heard them he just gave them a murderous smile disguised as his bening one and they shut up, they didn’t like Cale and found his butler to be extremely scary also he hold a higher position than them so he could fired them if they didn’t watch their mouths, even so they were confused on why he overprotected him, perhaps is was due he had raised him and had spent more time with him than his father.
Cale did not make a scene or whine about the wine, he ate in silence while Deruth asked Basen how he was going with the studies and Lily with the training, Violan was listening but was quietly eating as well, she was focusing on Cale to see if he was upset but the only thing she observed was exhaustion, at first glance he was the same as always but if you looked closer only could tell he was jaded.
Right after a peaceful dinner, Cale followed Deruth to his office as they had things to discuss. They entered together and sat facing each other, Cale was there to answer his father's questions so he waited, Deruth was expecting him to talk so he too waited, after an uncomfortable silence he understood Cale was not talking unless he asked him to, so Deuth was the one to break the silence.
“Where did you go?” He was concerned for him.
“Don’t worry about it, as you can see i returned well and alive” There was a hint of sarcasm in his answer.
He seemed to be the same as always but Deruth could tell that he had never intended to answer his questions and that he was telling him to conform with his returned, also his way of speaking made it clear, he was not trusting him anymore Cale’s heart had shut lock at least for him, he was drawing the line painfully obvious, he wanted to aisle himself once more as he felt he didn’t have much time left, of course Deruth didn’t knew.
“As for the successor matter let Basen do it, he will be a good lord” He said as he was leaving, as he had already opened the door some indiscret employees listen to his statement, he was giving up on the title by his own volition they had to inform every single soul in the state, well they didn’t had to but it was something they couldn’t help but gossip about.
Rumors did nothing but grow as Deruth respected his son’s decision, he sent his other son to the gathering more often than he was already doing in the eyes of the public Basen Henituse was going to be the next Count.
Basen was restless he had heard the groundless rumors that he was going to become the next Count Henituse, shameless, how could he stole a place that was rightfully his brother’s, he had learned many things and still lack many more but he had never aimed to be the successor he knew his spot was to assist him on the future if he allowed him, his mother share the same thoughts as him, he was going to share his feeling with him, the only problem was that now his brother was never home.
Lately he spent most of his days outside and that only fuel his long lasting title of the trash of the count's family, his younger brother wasn't blind he realized he acted that way for nobody to questions Basen's legitimacy, he was attracting all the bad attention showing himself as someone unfit to be the heir, but his mother, his sister and himself knew the real reason behind it, he told him it wasn't necessary but he pretended he had no idea what he was talking about, sure there was another justification for how he was acting since he was fifteen but Basen thought it was only for him, he firm his resolve, he was going to protect that dumb older brother of his.
Hopefully before it is too late...
Basen had never seen his older brother like that, he looked like he was in a dazed or was thinking about anything else than the present, when he was alone his expression show no emotion, not even discomfort when maids talk openly about how he was a shame for the whole household, aside from the emptiness in his self everything remain the same it was hard to notice if you were not looking for it but something was wrong, Basen had been observing him on silence and his brother either didn’t notice or didn’t care, when he was with the family he was normal but alone it was as if a puppet had lost his strings and became an empty shell, however Basen couldn’t witness the whole nightmare his brother was trapped in, when the doors of his chambers closed the real fear began.
It didn’t matter how hard he tried to remember his last dream, he couldn’t, not only he couldn’t it was as the more he tried to remember his memories tangled more, for some reason he thought it was dangerous, essentially if he knew he would have time to prepare himself for the next slumber, knowing what was trying to lure you make it easier to wake up, it was not the end of the world however it would be difficult to awake the next time and he would need to prepare for everything and draw the line between illusions and reality. As all of his dreams were related to his mother so the one he was missing probably was the same, but he was not convinced of that being the case.
He was getting nervous day by day and like throwing a rock to a pond, the waves were getting bigger and bigger, it started with minor anxiety but gradually was growing and he was terrified, he couldn’t sleep and when he finally could nightmares would keep him awake or he would wake up to the feeling of being unable to move his body and weird shadows greeting him as he could only moved his neck.
He was scared of dying but more importantly he was scared that even if he died he would not achieve peace, something was telling him that if he gave up and surrender to his fantasies he would be doomed, and being scared was enough for him to forbade sleeping as long as he could, even slight drowsiness put his nerves on edge and as a consequence he had perpetual dark clouds underneath his eyes, a mechanism he would use to keep himself awake was doing hours of exercise to keep his brain moving although he was tired and his muscles seemed to be breaking somehow it help him pretend to be fine.
He played along with his “trash” reputation and would go outside to drink his worries away, he spent less time with his family and would only see them on dinner as he was a good actor he could conceal his appearance as mere exhaustion, nobody seemed to believe him and often would ask if he was fine a question that almost seem ironic to him, the end was getting closer, he could tell.
Ron could tell too, something had happened his young master was withering at an alarming rate, before even when he aisle himself from others he would talk to him and that wasn’t the case anymore, Cale was trapped inside his own mind that made thing worse than what they already were it was a vicious cycle that knew no end, he was reaching a point were he was alive only because he was breathing, the only instance he would show emotions was when he was having an anxiety attack, all of his trapped fear would crush him at once, making it impossible to breath, he was tired and didn’t want to die like that, his own thoughts turn against him long ago as if to tell him that the only relive he would get was dying still on his own way he pulled himself together he had too it didn’t matter how much Ron or Beacrox took care of him if he wasn’t willing to live, and even then, sometimes it was tempting to leave everything behind and just give up, sometimes he couldn’t felt the sun’s warm rays even when he could see them, it was a contradictory and exasperating emotion but he wanted to be happy.
Then after six months of struggle he turned seventeen, the physician had told them he would hardly make it up to thirty but now he was wondering if he would even make it to his twenties and as if it were a wicked game he fell asleep a week later.
His head was a mess and couldn’t hold longer, the inevitable course of events was for him to sleep through meaningless resistance.
Ron and Beacrox proceed as the last time, Harris villa had proven to be a perfect place for them to vanish, also a young punk was more than willing to help them out in case of it being necessary, the condition of their young master who had worn himself out doing exercise to prevent sleepiness looked stronger than before but at the same time it was so frail that Beacrox treat him like glassware, it was enraging they couldn’t do anything to help him and had to witness how he was drifting away more and more.
When they arrived to the only inn on the village they were greeted by the daughter of the owner she remembered them and wished to have a conversation with them but she soon notice the heavy atmosphere that envelop the two men, they had a gloomy aura around them as they pulled their luggage inside, she had ponder the last time as well that the youngest carried a sack with particular attention perhaps it was an item of great importance or something of that sort, she didn’t spare more thoughts on it as a black haired young man beloved by all the village asked for the room of the strangers, last time they seemed to had develop a friendly relationship, maybe Choi Han had guided through the forest, because he knew the place better than anyone.
He had a concern expression he couldn’t cover up that alarmed the young girl but she told him as they knew each other.
‘Did something happen?’ She could only conjecture as she wasn’t really aware but she trusted Choi Han.
He entered the room without hesitation, instead of pacing outside it was better to know how ill his friend was, it was awkward to call an unconscious man that he barely knew a friend but he felt that he was someone he could understand to a certain degree and wished he could help him, the age gap was large but as someone who had no experience dealing with people he was as good as a teeneger same as Cale.
Cale was already laid on the humble bed, his eyes were closed and the eyebags were visible and his red hair was shorter than last time they met, and Choi Han could tell that he was taller than last time as well, his body seemed healthy while his veins were visible under his white skin.
He was light headed, he could feel his heart beating but he was too drowsy to care, he was on his room back at the manor, Ron woke him but he was dizzy and couldn’t think straight and as he was walking down he felt the blood on his head drop to his feet abruptly, his body went limp and Ron supported him, as he was going down he could hear various maids gasp and footsteps rushing in later everything turned black.
When woke up his mother was nursing him, it felt right, she was supposed to be there, his red hair had some silver threads in it, his fair skin hide the pass of time, he was on her mid thirties and her hands were somewhat older and his forehead had a wrinkle caused by being worried, she was just as he remembered her or at least he thought she was, he had never seen her like that, she would had been like that if she had lived to that age, contrary than before she had aged but for Cale it was as if he was waking after collapsing to find his mother as any other child, his mind was clear but his memories were twisted, of course he couldn’t notice, all his preparation were useless if he couldn’t discern slight differences, the dream, as he had experienced before, was not perfect, it didn’t matter if it could mess with his memories how could he notice if he couldn’t remember.
Ron and Beacrox were there too to show that it was fine, he just needed to feel peace and let it swallow him, this time for sure he was not going to let him go.
A week went by in an instant, but Cale showed no sign of waking up, Ron and Beacrox take turns at night to check on him Choi Han help fed him, and often would brought medical herbs in hope they could help or he would talk to him telling him tales of his other world, he was not actually listen so it did not matter if he talk of his other world his main objective was to keep him company he was surprised as how much he could sleep, last time he had test his capability to sense outer stimuli as he tried to wake him up, it was obvious he couldn’t feel anything outside his dream, something that was confirm as Beacrox’s muscle massage did not wake him, said massage help his blood circulation, more than an assassin now that Choi Han watch him well he was like a modern physiotherapist.
Inside him Cale was living a normal life, he went to his heir lessons and often would go outside with his friend Eric, back at home someone was missing, his father was not there however the illusion have no problem on recreating people that was alive, case being Ron, Beacrox and Eric neither of them were dead but were present on his dream and would interact with him. So why was his father not there?
Yet for him it was normal because his father had died years ago on a carriage accident when he was coming back to the estate, his mother had took over the estate and had name Cale as the heir and he would be acknowledged as the lord as soon as he turned eighteen years old, that was natural, it was his responsibility on his mother was there to help him. As he reacted as everything was normal he was going deeper and deeper.
However when he was asleep in his dream, he could hear someone talking to him. It was a voice he was supposed to know, he had heard it somewhere before but when he thought about it his thoughts clouded but he attributed it to the drowsiness and didn’t pay attention to it.
He felt light as someone had take a weight of his shoulders and was ignorantly happy, it was a normal life nothing out of the ordinary he was loved and had thing to do, his anxiety did not existed and he had no fear, it was amazing how some memory manipulation could fixed him to some degree when it was this same curse that began it all.
Since the second month Cale had trouble breathing, he stopped breathing more than once, Ron couldn't rest for a week because his young master could die any minute it was not abruptly or violent, his chest remaining still and that was it, no struggle not a single gasp or sigh just cease of pulmonar activity.
Cale still heard the voice which grew anguish talk incoherence or sentences he could not hear clearly, until he caught one.
‘How long are you going to dream this time?’
Was he dreaming again? He felt something breaking he opened his eyes and the world surrounding him melted, as he was regaining consciousness someone gave him an ultimatum.
‘Next time will be the last one’ The eerie neutral tone gave him chills on his spine and felt a foreing pressure squeezing his heart. He had to get out, he had to run, he was frightened.
But he couldn’t lift a finger, his body was stuck trembling helplessly and couldn’t open his mouth, he felt so impotent and could only cry, letting out muffled sobs. His heavy breath let Choi Han, who was next to the bed, see he was awake.
He was back.
Choi Han knocked on the wall, the father and son duo were in the other room resting, they had discussed in advance to let the others know if Cale returned while they were away, in a heartbeat both get there.
After minutes that felt like ages, his fingers bend on his command, he was recovering control over himself, his erratic breath soothe, he was getting a grasp of reality when dreary eyes caught his attention, seeing the worn out room made him recognize where he was, Harris villa was a comfortable place where he didn’t need to act, nobody could tell he was the count’s son, as officially he wasn’t there, he adapt to the bright light by blinking a couple of times as his senses were gradually returning.
Slowly his arm reached out exploring the familiar situation, asking for water or assistance to sit him up. He knew rather well what followed it was unpleasant he couldn’t move let alone stand, it was a tedious but vital process one that he never got used to, being static made him uncomfortable as he felt like baggage.
For days he didn’t utter a word, it was unnecessary the people around him work like they ever did to fix him again, Choi Han talk to the now awake Cale engaging his mind with anecdotes to ease his pain, it was as if he had an older brother who looked after his sick little brother, he felt sheltered unconsciously letting his wounded soul heal a little bit. They asked nothing because they were aware it would overwhelm him.
Ron watched his young master relaxed expression for the first time in a while. He wanted to keep it like this, his son felt the same way. What could they do to protect him? Ron had meditated on it for a long time, maybe they had to tell his family, even when it was undesirable they had the right to know.
Another blissful month went by adding to the final number of four months, he had been away from home for four months, were Beacrox had sent letters forging Cale’s writing excusing themself saying they were seesighting outside the estate and they believed the letters blindly, Cale was uninterested and they prefer it if he liked to travel it was a good hobby to keep him busy.
However good things as well as bad things come to an end, for him good times gave the impression to last little to none, he eventually had to return.
He bade farewell to his friend knowing that if the situation didn't change he would meet him again.
Back home his parents welcomed him, Beacrox had told him which places he supposedly visited, so he prepare the charade his outing had recharge his will to live and lying was nothing to him, Deruth's eyes sparkled believing his son had a pleasant trip, his semblance was better than when he left.
Returning to the same stressful environment did nothing but cast his mind back to the eerie voice which started hunt his nights, like a soft whisper adventing the last breath he would take, in an attempt to silence the spooky remainder he chugged down to the bottom of every bottle he came across, drinking worked for a while but it was not enough even drunk he heard it coveting him, stalking his every move never leaving him alone, like a presence following him.
Eventually he needed something stronger the alcohol did not kick in anymore, searching for something more effective he found herbs that when ingested altered his consciousness to the degree where he could barely walk, stumbling as drunk but under a heavy daze that filled him with satisfaction, on more than one occasion, while being under the effects and rambling around the city, people would approach him trying to get advantage of him because of his expensive attire and vacant face, those would regret messing with him due to Ron frequent surveillance, as he couldn’t stopped Cale from deviant all he could do was ensure his safety, after almost a year of spiraling down and failing to protect him he started reasoning that maybe if they flee the estate his young master would recover, thinking of how he could help him he reach the conclusion it was time to come clean.
Nonetheless the opportunity to run away would vanish with the visit of their atypical friend.
It was late on the evening when the sun had already sank, a dark hooded figure jump over the walls of the estate, clothes soaked with blood and dirt, his dark eyes were deep as an endless black sea, his harden expresion hinted that something terrible had happened, the man infiltarted the manor as if it were easy, all the security and guards were fooled instantly, but the man slowed down his pace as he sense a familiar presence, peeking out from his hiding discreetly he observed a man almost tripping over the hall, the red-like-fire hair was familiar to him as well as the complexion of the red headed silhouette, he leave the shadows and approached the stumbling man.
He took a minute to asses his condition, they had met after almost a year but his condition was nowhere near as it had been the last time the saw each other, his body was somewhat average but some veins pop out visibly from his arms, the normally white part of his eyes had a yellow hint to it, and his vision was blurry, the man notice as Cale was squinting his eyes trying to discern who was next him but gave up seconds later, as he didn’t care or couldn’t smell the reek of blood the stranger was carrying
Choi Han wondered how someone could decay so fast, and his heart hurt watching how neglected his friend looked. Soon Ron appeared out of thin air and quickly immobilized him, the violent action made his hood fall, letting the old assassin recognize him.
This chapter depicts depression and anxiety.
If you ever feel or get self harming thoughts just remember that everything changes over time and that you are not alone, please keep fighting.
His black hair was partially covered with dried blood which obviously didn’t belong to him, his clothes were significantly ripped but rather than swords wounds it were more like he had run without stopped from the forest not caring for the uneven path or the branches that came along his way, he had a dirty essence lingering, an awful smell Ron recall dreadfully it was one that remind him of burned flesh, blood which was never meant to be spilled and the fall of the prideful Molan household, where he acted as the patriarch a position his son was supposed to inherit but now was merely a distant debt that was going to be collected with their dead, however his old grudge faded into the background for the time being as his child was going to passed out.
Choi Han, who broke free from the butler’s restraint, prevented the dazed looking Cale from falling, he hadn’t slept for the past few days, it was natural for him to collapse.
Sthealty as always Ron guided Choi Han who was carrying the fainted Cale to the chambers of the later, his room was thankfully clean but it was empty aside from the expensive bed, side drawers, desk and the luxurious wallpaper there was nothing more, had he arrived hours earlier he would be surrounded by countless empty bottles. It was a minimalistic way of living taking into consideration his wealthy family and how he was depicted as profligate in general, he expected count’s son to be a degenerate not the sick friend that visited him every time he had an episode.
He let him down carefully and turned to the butler, he couldn’t hide his astonishment he hadn’t anticipe meeting them like this, his dark semblant became a little brighter still he had urgent matters to attend to, restless, he had to inform quickly the count and track down those bastards and as he was turning to the door a hand stopped him, after checking Cale who was sleeping soundly Ron gaze turned hostile as the first time they encounter, Choi Han flinched their relationship was not so friendly but were on good terms, that peculiar glance ad to the distress he was already feeling.
“What the fuck happened?” Throwing his manners aside Ron asked.
Choi Han expression sank again, then he told him how Harris villa had been massacred, they were dead, all of them, the attackers hadn’t spare anyone even the kids were killed in cold blood, when he returned he found some of the assassins scattered talking all things that hold value, however they were professionals not burglars he could tell, his work was brutal but only left small tracks behind and all of the people remaining on the scene had the same uniform, unable to hold his anger Choi Han blacked out, when capable of registering again his blade was bloodied, he had hunt them all they weren’t people but wild beasts which tear down the home he had fight so hard to get, of course he felt no remorse whatsoever, in fact it was not enough his veins were popping out of rage, but he had to made propper graves and inform the authorities before hunting the rest of the organization down, that was why he had trespass into the manor and currently was searching the count they had to let them rest in peace.
Although his main priority were the people who gave him a place to be, his eyes were burning and he had a thirst for vengeance an emotion that the man in front of him understood fairly well, he had escaped to save his life and his son’s life who would had thought that the ones who cast them out would dare to run rampant near his new house, the old flame that was near extinction gain strength once more but when he thought of Cale he felt like vengeance was irrelevant how could he abandon a child who was forgotten, he couldn’t let his family die again. he remain silent and made up his mind the present was more important than a lingering past.
“Go inform the lord but you have to come right after, we have things to discuss” His tone was composed, he had calmed himself, and returned to the impeccable butler he was.
Ten years ago he would have followed the rude punk without hesitation, now he knew he would regret staying, but if he could give clues to Choi Han by telling him his own encounter with the secret organization he would gladly do so. He heard the door closing, then he proceeded to change his young master into his pijama and arrange the bed before putting him under the blankets while mumbling to himself.
“You are the right choice”
Ron had told him where the office was located as he didn’t had time to spare, he almost forgot about discretion and run openly through the halls with only his hood covering his face, the manor was huge and due to the late hour he didn’t cross his way with anybody until he was near the staircase to get to the second floor there he heard voices and when he decided it was better to ignore them he catch a glimpse of what they were talking.
“How can this be? the ungrateful son of the lord come back reeking of alcohol and stumbling again, is about time the lord punish him from disgracing the name of the Henituse family”
The maids were complaining about Cale out loud, again.
They had grown gutsy as they were not scolded even when they were discovered, of course they didn’t comprehend it was due to Cale’s request, any other noble would had fired them immediately but for him it didn’t matter if he had a bad reputation nobody would question naming Basen as the successor, his sudden disappearances or him not joining family dinners, to be honest it worked on his favor more than it did against him, Ron and Beacrox on the other hand were not so lenient with the bad mouthing, if they overheard his deadly stare would shut them up or when needed they would make them regret their loss tongue yet nobody was murdered, so far at least.
“I heard the count is planning on banish him as he doesn’t serve his purpose as the first son” It was a baseless rumor as it was mere gossip it didn’t have to be an absolute truth, however Choi Han was unaware of that fact, since the first time he make acquaintance of Cale he had conjecture his relationship with his family was not the ideal, after all why would he needed to hide his sickness if he had the support of his relatives? but he couldn’t have predicted his relationship was so rotten that his own father was preparing to get rid of him, simply because he didn’t fulfill his “function”.
Choi Han speed up, he now had more than one reason to see the count, maybe what he had listen was made up or maybe it was an exaggeration, like when he was told that the first son of the count was trash, it couldn’t be further than the true, as Cale was someone who constantly had to hold on to dear life but had not lost his kindness, perhaps that was the same case with th Count, as he reached the office and was about to enter, he heard the voice of a man it was vaguely similar to Cale’s.
“Then where are we going to send him? Are the preparations complete?” He opened his eyes wide and felt his blood boiling again, that son of a bitch didn’t care for his own child, even animals worried for the wellbeing of their offspring. Choi Han wasn’t on the right state of mind and couldn’t empathize being hated by blood related family, it was inconceivable, he had never experience it, sure he had face danger for decades but when he returned to the human world he had being accepted just like that, but for his friend it seemed that he was neglected and ignored by his own family the ones that should protect him the most were searching ways to send him away, maybe they did knew about his sickness and couldn’t care less as he didn’t “serve his purpose” rendering him as unnecessary.
Choi Han impulsively kicked the doors down, he had to see his face, he was claiming he was going to send his son away, what kind of expression would he had, the man with ash brown hair barely resemble the red headed, his hair, his handsome face and his factions in general were different from the average looking Count but the air and some details reveal their kinship.
The sudden intrusion of a man clad in black with hints of dark red almost brown stains and the particular smell of dead, alarm the Count and the man that he was talking to, deputy butler Hans was on charge of everything related to young master Cale, basically he was the spie/babysitter Deruth had assign him, he would inform the lord of the late activities of his son as well on what he wasted his money.
Both man jumped from their sits, and retreat to the furthest corner of the room putting some distance between them and the covered aggressor, their hearts were beating fast pumping pure adrenaline through their stream getting ready to fight or run, they were unarmed, not that it make any difference, Choi Han was a swordmaster so either way they were doomed, particularly the intruder’s gaze was fixed on the Count sensing that what he believed to be an assassin was after him, he gesture the deputy butler to escape and called for help, understanding the order Hans exited the room, Deruth’s hunch was true, Choi Han objective was right in front of him trapped like a rat.
Without missing a beat, he reduce the distance and reach the man's neck, he lift him with one hand and throw him across the room, Deruth was not exactly what you called a sportsman nor a fighter, he was trained in the basics of the sword but his speciality was the pen and making money rather than facing opponents one one one, to keep it simply he was defenseless however Choi Han was not aiming for his life, he was delivering punishment, one that fitted his sins, his son had suffer nonstop for years, surely he could endure a beating right?
Choi Han pounce on him, immobilizing him with his weight, when Deruth hit the floor, he grabbed the confused count by the shirt using one hand while the other clench into a fist which hit him repeatedly until his knuckles were bright red, after two or three hits his head fall limply back, he was conscious but had not strength to keep his head still, his nose was badly broken but is was nothing magic couldn’t cure especially someone as rich as him who could pay priests and healers readily, thinking of that Choi Han hold back only not to kill him, he got up swiftly and before Deruth could stand he kicked his stomach strongly enough to leave bruises, he repeated his action a few times making sure he would need time to recovered, with this he would briefly understand all the pain he inflicted his son. Should he break an arm too? not thinking it twice he landed a blow on the forearm Deruth was using to cover his wounded face, the sound of his bones breaking was not something he would easily forget.
After he finished venting his anger with the breathing punching bag, Choi Han was about to flee when a semiconscious and heavily bruised Count grab his ankle weakly, he knew he couldn’t stopped him, not caring at all and hoping he could make some time for his family to get protection or flee the estate he would gladly take the risk, after all he may be an absent father but he loved his wife and children, unfortunately his action was misinterpret as a shameless man begging for his life, Choi Han felt disgusted with the Count and with himself, he was aware of his dark side more than anyone and probably had gone insane long ago, the most he could do was pretend he wasn’t however when he refer to himself as insane he refer to his abnormal moral frame, he could differentiate good from evil but the line between them became blurry with actions that could be label as wrong or unfair, beating your friend’s parent to pulp. was one of those instances.
He stood still waiting for the man on the floor to end his foolish act yet Deruth hold for as long as he could, when Choi Han ran out of patience, he shook his hand off with a brusque step he would need the count’s help later so it was better if no one knew his identity for the time being, even so he would have a lot to explain to the assassin that was waiting him back on Cale’s room, he could not fool the perceptive old man and as Cale was a smart young man he would realize it was him as soon as he woke up, Choi Han fatal flaw was his poor acting skills, so deciding it was better to tell the true right away instead of feigning ignorance he returned where the sinister butler was.
Pandemonium broke loose in the manor, employees were running all directions due to Hans lack of discretion, on his defence he was panicked still manage to run as a bat out of hell to inform the guards thanks to him a brigade of elite soldiers were running towards the Count and common soldiers to watch over the rest of the family, each of them were locked on their rooms with a small brigade waiting outside as they didn’t have the concrete number of assailants and if they were more on halt, it was safer this way. Nonetheless the guards posted in front of Choi Han's destination stood no chance against him and didn’t even notice when he entered.
Ron on the other hand noticed him right away and faced him with an inquisitive expression that quickly shifted to one saying ‘I don't expect anything from you and still you manage to disappoint me’ avoiding his vicious glare he began relating what had happened, the butler stiffen up when he mention what he heard, was the count really planning on sending the young master away? He heard the rumor before but concluded his lord was incapable of doing so, but now listening to what he said it really seemed he was attempting to force Cale out, the butler felt guilty because if he were him he would have probably beaten him too.
He was at loss for words, and change the subject later he would go to the bottom of that business, right now he had to hide the idiot who attack the count on his own office not minding if he was seen or not as he had his face covered, his clothes were the only thing they had to take care of, sighting Ron head to Beacrox room, Cale was skinnier than Choi Han and his clothes were far too extravagant for a supposed villager who come to report an attack, before going he told Choi Han to stay as quiet as a dead rat, they had enough problems already.
Choi Han took the desk’s chair dragged it to the bedside and sat there, he thought he understood why the red headed looked so gone and why he was so mature for his age and childish at the same time, a bitter smile made way into his lips, he would explain his wrong doing when the other sober up. He leaned on the backrest hanging his head on the upper part and close his eyes, his day was exhausting and pain filled, needing rest he doze off, after ten minutes or so Ron returned with clean old clothes that belong to his son when he was younger, they were nothing fancy or sort the were plain and immaculate pieces of wardrobe, Beacrox was a clean freak even when they were unused they were frequently washed.
Without any regard Ron woke him up, sent the sleepy Choi Han to the bathroom with his new disguise in hand and waited for him outside, the cold shower jolted him and washed away his drowsiness. He changed faster than ever and returned refreshed and ready to hear what Ron had to say.
Ron told him how the Molan household met his end, how his son and him were persecuted and how they managed to escaped living from crumbs until they entered to the Henituse manor, how he was assigned to Cale when he was barely a newborn, how he redid his life but telling him, he never forgot his grudge, both were so immersed on the story that did not notice Cale was listening.
Next in the morning after the late night chaos had drown out, a sober and funcional Cale woke to found Choi Han sleeping on the chair next to his bed, his hair was messy and the cloths he used didn’t fit as they were bigger, all in all he passed as a poor citizen rather than an aggressor who stir panic on the household the night before.
Ron entered with lemon tea on one hand and an abnormally large breakfast, after all he had to feed both of them, when his eye met with Cale and was about to smile benignly he froze on the spot after hearing what he had to say.
“...You… go with him” His young master was telling him to leave.
“What?” He almost dropped the cup.
Cale looked him square on the eyes, the same eyes that always consider him a child longing for love were shaking unlike him, his young master had a firm expression.
“Go get your vengeance”
Although his outer appearance and voice were steady his inside were twisting and turning but he knew he had to set Ron and Beacrox free he had hindered them for a long time and now that another will popped up he could not tie them by himside.
He was done with this, the only feeling left on him was exhaustion, he wanted to rest, he was desperate and no longer cared if the devil ate his soul afterwards, he just wanted to rest, he was not needed anymore, he served no purpose, he was just tired.
I think I'll start publishing one chapter per week, my brain can't follow XD
His haggard appearance and his usual vacant eyes changed the moment he sent his most trusted ally away, a glimpse of sadness could be perceived, however his reasonableness didn’t change. It had been ten years, it was more than he deserved it was time to move out of their way although it meant be on his own from now on, he had made his mind the moment he understood he was just baggage, he could let his most precious people carry him around without knowing when was the last breath he would take or when would he close his eyes for the last time, freeing them now would also lift the weight of his life on them, he knew they could only stayed and watch from the side the least he could do for them was dying silently hoping it wouldn’t burden them.
“...You are free now… That’s all I can do for you “ His gaze sank a little contrary to his butler gaze which turned vicious, his head was spinning trying to process the nonsense his young master was spitting.
He had seen this cursed child struggle and grow on his own hiding his weakness pretending to be something he wasn’t and he regretted greatly that the only thing he could do for him was remaining by his side, he wondered many times if he could have done things better than he had, maybe if he told the Count about it Cale would had turned different, it was his negligence that brought all to this decadent state if his young master was telling him to leave it could only meant giving up on living, he was going to let it go in the worst way.
“I don’t think it is going to be possible, you see… I’m already attached to this place" An smile that could only be labeled as terrifying made his way up to the butler's face. It could be read as ‘You dare think I’m going to leave you?’
Cale couldn’t help but laugh, he was thankful to him but he had made his mind long ago and Ron being there only discourage his plans he was going to send him away either way and now a perfect chance had emerged, he knew he was being extremely selfish and ungrateful but he was done and didn’t want his friends to be there when it happen, a memory of him withering away was not how he wanted to be remembered.
“I’m going to be alright… besides he needs your help more than I do” Cale managed a bright smile. By this point he could act in the capital theater as his skills were unbeatable, however he couldn’t fool the man that had raised him.
“I beg to differ”
‘This old man sure is stubborn!’ His thoughts didn’t match his words; he said what the butler would need to hear in order to leave at ease yet he had no intention to fulfill his promise.
“If you are that worried… I… I’ll tell father about it.” Avoiding the avert gaze and holding his necessity to make a grimace instead he mustered a troubled expression. “Surely he won't let his own son die right?”
His way of talking made it look like he was talking of a stranger rather than his father but Ron understood how much courage he needed to come clean after nearly ten years of lies, he had made up his mind but facing his young master it seemed useless, he had been beside him for such long time and the same was true for Cale, he knew exactly what Ron wanted to hear and how he could shake his former conviction with mere sweet words.
“We’ll talk about it later…” Cale smiled inwardly while listening to Ron, he had succeeded however his smile was not one of achievement rather it was one of silent relief.
Both returned their attention to the sleeping boy on the chair, his position was uncomfortable enough to made Cale run his hand around his neck, nonetheless the blackhaired boy seemed to be comfortable as he was snoring soundly, it was his first proper rest after the nightmare he had gone through and Ron and Cale could see his somewhat frown eyebrows and his eyes running errant down his eyelids, clearly he was not having sweet dreams, knowing the sensation by mostly having nightmares when he wasn’t under the sleep coma, Cale decided it was wiser to wake him up, so he did.
When Choi Han opened his eyes his hands move to his blade out of reflex it wasn't until his eyes focus that he let go of it, the red headed was staring at his with a sort of awkward expression and remembering what he did last night he bowed his head down ashamed, he didn’t felt regret but he felt a strange uneasiness when he face Cale like he had done something wrong other than beating his father to pulp, he got the sensation that he was stealing something precious for the red head, maybe it was his well developed animal instinct because he actually was spot on even when he wasn’t aware of the conversation that was hold before he woke.
“I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have but before I noticed I had already beat him” Just as Cale had done with Ron’s gaze he was avoiding him.
Last night happenings were foggy for him as he was a bit high, to be honest when he watch Choi Han approaching he thought he was either dreaming or hallucinating, nothing unusual as on of the drug side effect was exactly hallucination, it kept him awake and productive but when reaching his limit he would started seeing things that weren’t there by now he was familiar with the sensation and didn’t surprise him anymore but when he sober up hour later he realize Choi Han was there and he heard what Ron told him and by the bloodied clothes it was rather obvious what had happened yet Cale couldn’t comprehend why he was apologizing out of the blue, he had said he beat someone and if he was as capable as he looked he probably beat that person to pulp instead of only beating it.
He looked towards the butler trying to figure out who was the poor bastard who got beaten, in the manor Chois Han only was acquainted with Ron, Beacrox and himself and he found it quite difficult to beat either of the father and son duo, analyzing Ron from head to toe he was unscattered so the same could be supposed for his son, in fact Choi Han was wearing baggy clothes that probably belonged to Beacrox so neither of them were the beaten on and as far as he could tell Choi Han was not the type to hit someone that didn’t deserved it, after all he was a guy that would barge in by thinking someone was abducted.
“Who did you beat?” He couldn’t help but ask.
Choi Han curled forward like a dog lowering his ears or a child being scolded, he did what he did in the heat of the moment and was not regretting his actions it was more like he was uncomfortable with the fact that such an awful man was his friend’s father, after contemplating what to say he only said two words, that sounded more like a pouting than anything.
“The Count” He didn’t say ‘your father’ or anything in that style because he didn’t think a man that neglected his family could be a father, not even in name.
However even when he would do it again, he expected a nagging from his friend yet he heard nothing, when he raised his head he saw a twisted kind of grin that showed his mixed emotions, on one hand he was guilty and on the other hand he seemed oddly pleased, almost as if he didn’t reckon how to feel, it was an internal turmoil he had every time his father was mention, he couldn’t say for sure what he regard him, Cale didn’t hate him it was true he resented him a little but it didn’t cross the threshold of despising him, when he was younger it was hard to avoid Count Deruth but as he grew older it almost was natural, the only time the share was the family dinner, now that he thought about it he had spend most time with Basen due to the successor lessons although they conversation was second to none it was undeniable and even sometimes Lily would check on him from the distance she was a mere child and his called hiding made it obvious she was looking for him.
Being taken aback by the red haired boy reaction Choi Han unconsciously tilted his head a sight was heard, Cale calmed down it was no the right moment to discovered how his weird relationship with his father worked, the main priority was to give his friend an alibi like he had never being there on the first place.
“Why are you here?” He needed to know everything, he had heard of Ron's background but he didn’t get to hear why his friend suddenly was there nor why he had beat his father.
Choi Han cleared his throat. It was going to be a long story, when he finished Cale felt nauseous and felt his heart being squeezed.
“So the Harris Village is gone” There was sense of loss behind his words, he was barely there and each time he woke to the worn out room meant he was closer to never waking up again but in ten years getting to have a safe space was a great deal for him and for such place to suddenly disappear... was tough.
Burying his feeling again he understood Choi Han purpose, he was a nice guy and instead of tracking the killers down his objective was get the people who had welcomed him to have a proper burial, Cale thought that this course of action fit him better than beating people around, after a brief nod he told him he would take care of it, he would talk his father about it later and would introduce the balck haired boy as a friend he met in one of his supposed trips.
While he was busy thinking what to do someone knock the door, it was a light noise, with that Cale could infire it wasn’t a maid or servant as they would rudely hit the door like they find calling him a burdensome chore and vent their frustration with the poor wood, Cale sign Choi Han to hide in the bathroom, he couldn't get caught quickly he heed the order and aside from physically hiding he cover his presence just in case it was a soldier or a guard. Once they were sure he was out of sight Ron opened the door Cale sat on the edge of the bed still wearing his pijama, the person that had come to see him was no other than the countess Violan.
The countess was known for being the perfect example of a dignified noble, perfect management, wardrobe and hairstyle nowhere near her current aspect with eye bags and messy hair told how a difficult night she just went through, her husband was attacked in his own office and the perpetrator was yet to be found their children were under lock and key for the time being as nobody knew if it was really over. The countess was the only one that was allowed to go outside as she was the count’s representative while he was recovering she entered hastily and Ron exited the room understanding the conversation she wanted to have with Cale, he was aware of what was happening because he was informed beforehand but as he was supposed to ignore the state of the county he start his innocent facade, his butler was playing along, so far so good.
The woman that was always straight and confident seemed somewhat shook he was holding fairly well, of course she was worried but right now she needed to maintain her preoccupations under control, she had to ensure the children were alright she had already had check on Basen and Lily on his way here, his older son was the only one left even when they briefly interact with each other the countess hold dear to the boy who she knew was trying to push the succession right to his brother and always attempt to gather all the negative attention towards him, for her is was another of her children, the one who gave most and receive less.
“What’s going on mother?” His eyes were trembling and his voice cracked as if he was terrified, mentally he was wondering if he was overdoing it but he had to make sure he looked as ignorant as possible.
After clearing her throat and swallowing hard, she spoke.
“Someone infiltrated the manor and…” She pause for a second and came closer putting a hand over his shoulder like she was comforting him“...They hurt your father”
Violan observed her son’s reaction which turned chaotic, his frowning how he was opening and closing his mouth like he couldn’t find the right words to ask.
“Ho...how is he?” His stutter let the countess know how shaken he was, after all in her eyes Cale always put his family first although he wanted to dissimulate it she could tell.
“Fortunately he wasn’t critically wounded, he is recovering just fine and we called for a healer so he should be okay soon, for the next days is better to stay home in case the attacker returns, of course I order to place more guards and strengthen the security”
Their conversation continued for a while, she used this opportunity and was digging on how his son was doing and reaffirming to him Deruth was going to be fine and that he needed some rest and would be as good as new.
Cale nodded in relive before lifting his head like he remembered something.
“Mother, I forgot to notify you, a friend wrote to me, he wanted to pay a visit but as things are right now I don’t think it would be a good idea but he told me it was an urgent matter” For the first time in years he sounded like a child pouting.
Violan thought he was cute and it was the first time he called someone a friend. She was intrigued by who he was talking about.
“When he told you he was coming?”
“He told me he will arrive between today and tomorrow, it sound pretty serious and he have to meet my father right away”
Later that evening Choi Han enter the manor like a guest still wearing Beacrox old clothes looking like a clueless villager who was stiff because all the guards movements, certainly the boy wasn’t started by the many men present he was more concern with the dialogue Cale made him memorize in order not screw it over. He looked around. Last night he couldn’t, said action ended the guard's suspicions and he was sort of welcome. After all he was a friend of the trash, that itself didn’t make his guest trash but it tilted the scale, not precisely in his favor. Walking down the hall he received doubtful stares wondering if the red head was used to them.
‘Probably he has it worse’ He thought, shaking his head.
He was guided to the countess study, being the cause of the count's absence he had to ask for the Count whereabouts, Cale emphasized he needed to sound natural and Choi Han was sweating bullets repeatings what has told all the time until he got to his destination, inside Cale and the countess were waiting, the red head greeted him with a nostalgic expression even when they had been talking few hours prior Choi Han put on an awkward grin that matched his stiffness, the countess however attributed it to him being nervous to enter the estate manor once the introduction was over it was Choi Han’s turn.
Cale held a sight his friend could fight but definitely he couldn't act.
I'm back haha!
Chapter 10: Too late
This is chapter 10, the previous announcement was modified into chapter 9 so if you haven't read it please do
Thank you as always and just saying this isn't they final chapter so don't worry.
For a second the countess calm expression was replaced with one of concern which made Choi Han question his former reasoning, at least his wife was worried still it didn’t change the fact that he sucked as a father figure, perhaps he truly cared for his family and Choi Han action were the result of a misjudgement, then he remembered Cale’s afflicted reaction when he confessed him what he had done and let go on the matter.
After some reasonable excuses and making up he had a horse accident they carry on with their conversation without the presence or even the mention of the count, Violan was a top notch level actress as well which made Choi Han feel he was the only one lacking, pushing his bitter failure aside he explain the situation to the countess with a trembling voice due to the rage he was feeling, Violan listening to the end and only gave him a heavy nod, after hearing what he had to say she deemed that the word urgent was not worth to describe such a terrible situation, she studied Choi Han and Cale’s demeanor she notice her son’s pitiful gaze, he truly treasured Harris village and the sole friend he befriend there.
Without a second thought countess Violan dispatch a small troop to verify the story and start the burial procedure if they confirmed it, as Choi Han witness what happened further investigation was not needed and by looking at the eyes of the young boy who was the same age as her son she understand that his main objective was to give them a proper farewell rather than enlarging the process, they black haired boy blink twice, he couldn’t believe how quickly it was going, of course, if he had been a stranger instead of a close friend of her son Violan would take her time to investigate the whole ordeal, but as Cale vouched for him and her own evaluation was positive it was unnecessary even when it could came out as power abuse, she trusted her judgement and family more than enough to take actions on the matter.
The meeting ended an hour later, Choi Han semblant was a little brighter and was relieved that the injured count situation was not mentioned at all, he couldn’t have maintained a poker face if that were the case. Once outside he strolled back alongside Cale, the countess had given her permission for him to stay for as many days as needed, although he was planning on leaving right away he chose to stay one more day just to answer her hospitality.
They were walking down the aisle when Choi Han perceived malicious stares, none was directed to him as they had before, all the reapproaching gazes were directected to the red head, as he looked his face up close he realized he has noticed the bad intentions toward him but continue taking step after step like they were nothing, showing how used he was to received their cynical and burlesque critique.
He was an eyesore for all the workers excluding Beacrox, Ron and some servants, however no matter how hard they wanted to cast him out they were mere employees and the most they could do was bad mouthing him, few years ago they kept their voice low but now it almost seemed like a competition on who could made up the most bizarre rumor or who could mock him more, still those trashes sure were assholes but not imbeciles they kept their mouths shoot in front of the noble family and Cale trusted people, but when he was alone rooming the manor like this they bare their fangs out in the open for him to acknowledge he wasn’t welcomed in his own house yet for the young master served as a relaxing reminder, he wouldn’t leave lingering affection back when he was gone.
Choi Han on the other hand received the scornful eyes as a personal offence and glared back and like frightened animals in front of a predator they ran away in cold sweet. Cale let out a chuckle. His friend surely was amazing.
The black haired boy smiled innocently, Cale thought that it fit perfectly with his personality but not with his vicious skills and killer aura, the mere idea made him laugh louder, just for a while he let go of his worries. The servants left and now two smaller figures were following them with sparkling eyes, Choi Han had sensed them and let them be, they were inofensive.
Behind them on a hall corner Lily and Basen were peeking, both had a dumbly joyous expression, it was not for less, they had heard his older brother laugh for the first time, they doubted their ears but certainly he had laughed and showed an uncaracteristich demeanor. Last night chaos was fresh in their minds but when they heard his brother brought someone they were just too curious to let it slide and sneak out to take a look, they silently followed them to see what other new reaction they would find.
"You are dressed a little… Too flashy…" Choi Han noticed Cale's clothes were colorful and just by looking you could tell they were expensive, contrary to the dark and sober colors he wore when he ran to Harris village this strambotic display did suit him, well everything suited a handsome face however his personality wasn't reflected on them.
"You don't like it right, me neither" Cale answered while putting a bitter grin.
"It keeps people away, or at least it annoys them, it saves me the trouble to socialize, as it shows status and character, no one wants to come near me"
He wasn't dressed as a clown or anything that sort however he was fashy without coordination and as he had said one could believed he was an arrogant noble and mark the distance, who in his right mind would approach someone with a clear mark of 'extravagant and troublesome' attached to him, there was a time where Cale wanted friends then as he grew older he decided to distance himself with others as safety mechanism and unknowingly got used to loneliness more than he should have.
Cale was told to check on his father condition, they were walking to his bedroom, where he was resting and recovering, some ribs and one arm were broken during the beating thankfully there was no killing intend or serious injury intend else things would have met a catastrophic end, the Henituse household was known as one of the wealthiest neutral house in the Roan kingdom it wasn't surprising they were capable of bringing skilled healers right away, according to them it would take one day for the count's complete recovery.
Choi Han was well aware of where they were heading, on the back of his mind he hold hostility towards the man who made his friend miserable but he couldn't let his feelings get the best of him, he was already second guessing his course of action thanks to the countess obvious distress, he breath in and out cooling down, he would keep his ears open to the interaction between father and son then reach a conclusion.
The count’s chamber was worlds apart from Cale’s, the room was sober yet luxurious and was well furnished, the bed was a the middle stuck to the wall and had a drawer to each side same to his friend one however he had a tiny lounge a various working related stuff including a desk and a short table to greet the guest and cover discussion necessities , he seemed to work even in his room, his room was arranged more like a second office with a bed rather than a comfortable space to rest.
The count was seated with his back on the bedrest, he wa informed of his son visit and was waiting him, his broken arm was tightly wrap with bandages to hold it on place, the healers had already cure his ribs as they were cleanly broken they face no trouble rejoining them but as the arm was somewhat more serious they would took two sessions on treat it and aside some residual pain he was fine.
He smiled awkwardly, noticing Cale's worrisome expression, then we smiled brightly, knowing his family was alright and that he was the sole target put him at ease.
Their conversation revolved around on how he was doing, if there was no permanent damage and how he needed to be more careful in the future, all topics were addressed in a cheerful manner, the atmosphere remain uncomfortable as to portray their relationship and after dragging the health chatter at last Deruth question Choi Han’s identity which tense up the black haired boy, however Cale was calm as if his friend wasn’t the reason the count was lying, he proceed and explain his identity and mentioning the word friend the count’s expresion lighten even more.
After leaving the room Choi Han was looking down, shrugged with his fists clenched all had been a misjudgement, he wasn’t a trash father as he conclude neither he wanted to use hi son, he was just a really work orientated self center father, it was not a crime worth of a beating perhaps just a warning slap and monitoring not several broken bones, discerning his uneasiness Cale pat him on the shoulder as they continue walking to their final destination.
Choi Han was placed on an empty room next to Cale's, he appreciated the gesture, even when he told the countess he wasn’t staying for long she prepared a whole room for himself with all the basic necessities such as clean clothes, towels and blankets all high quality, a comfort he wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise, Cale told him to relax for a while he also told him that the burial work would start next day, the scout group sent by the countess had return bringing back the bad news and the confirmation of Choi Han story however they prefered start digging on broad daylight, that’s why they returned before the sunset.
Back on his room Ron was expecting his young master as they had talked this morning they had more to discussed about, the stubborn old man wouldn't agree on leaving him behind just like that he regard him as his youngest son and he would rather staying with him taking care of him and keeping him alive than pursuing his long awaited revenge but Cale had a well oiled tongue and had made up his mind long ago, the opportunity that arose was not one to be wasted.
He had already promised to talk with his father, then he proposed Beacrox coming once a year to report him on his condition, and assured Ron he had no plans on dying while they were away, a lie that didn't weight on him even a little, he thought than even if he died they would carry on and eventually forget about him, he understand losing someone dear but couldn't acknowledge the actual emotional burden it placed on others even when he had carried said burden for almost ten years, what he knew was that with his presence he tie them down and he wasn't needed in the long run adding that to his usual tiredness Cale concluded it to be the right answer, he wasn't scared of dying anymore nor he had something holding him back and the exhausting search for a purpose or a reason had him sick, he didn't have one nor the desire to find one, he was done with everything, he had given up long time ago.
When Ron heard him speak with that strong determination he wanted to believe him not knowing what his real intentions were, he finally agreed on leaving with Choi Han under the conditions of coming clean and using Beacrox as a messenger but instead of checking on him yearly he would go once every fourth months to which Cale didn't protest he knew without proper care he wouldn't last even two weeks if he fell asleep, now that he thought about it he had long so last due to Ron, Beacrox and even Choi Han efforts, he smiled inwardly, they had been so good to him that he was grateful but just for once he would be selfish.
Choi Han stayed with them for six days, that was the best parting gift Cale could have asked for, his days were enjoyable and he didn't need the drugs or alcohol to keep him awake, it was a nice sensation to enjoy life sober, thanks to the black haired boy Cale was free from the servants scrutiny and soon the manor returned to their old relaxed environment, the servants keep talking behind his back but it didn't matter, he was brighter thanks to Choi Han presence, as the day of his departure approach Cale began question his decision maybe if he went away with them things would get better but as he started thinking he reach the same conclusion over and over again, he was a burden, baggage even dead weight he couldn't asked them to carry him around, he had chose to set them free it was not right to second guess himself now, he stuck with his former choice and enjoy their last time together at his fullest regretting nothing, not even letting them go.
He bade farewell with a sounding smile, a smile that Beacrox and Ron believed would wait them back when they were done, but they were wrong.
Few days later Deruth announced Basen assistance as his representative on Prince Alberu coming event they were told it was something big, as Cale perceived his complete erasure on the successor list his lip lift in satisfaction, the very next day Basen left to the capital, Cale was convinced Basen would be the next Count.
Now that there was no one protecting him the bad mouthing and other trashy action against him resume yet Cale remain light hearted as days went by he knew it was coming, the sudden drowsiness and stupor were near, like a child that pulls out a prank without being caught he secluded to his room with a child like smile and prepared for never opening his eyes again, the relieve of final rest was enough for him.
He laid comfortably in his bed with his entangled fingers placed softly on his lap, he thought it was rather fortunate to choose his last pose and soon after thinking such childish stuff, he drowned in his last wish, closing his eyes for good.
Two days passed without him going out of his room and the food delivered on his door was always retrieved untouched, Lily rushed to his father office she was worried and so was his mother both had been monitoring Cale from a far, Hans the deputy butler was given days off due to the assault and with Ron sudden disappearance no one was serving him, he was alone inside his room and ate nothing, however the servants were saying he was throwing a fit by locking himself.
Deruth was returning after a day-long trip and wasn't aware until his daughter went and told him what was going on.
Preoccupied he ran to his son chamber and hit the door and called his name repeatedly, there was no answer, hours went like that, they searched the master key but couldn't find it, after continuous answerless calls they decided to knocked the door down with a harsh sound the door fell and when the dust settled Deruth entered almost stumbling, he was followed by Violan both asked Lily to stay outside, they didn't know what had happened to Cale but it was better to be prepared for everything.
They found Cale laying with a dreamy expression, he wasn't moving and his breathing was so faint they initially thought he was dead, their hearts were beating arrhythmically as they tried to wake him up, Deruth shake him quite hysterically but it didn't matter how much he tried it wasn't working.
It was too late, Cale was gone.
His body was there but his consciousness was not, he was breathing and each breath could be the last, his body was limp, so horrifyingly limp that it almost looked like a breathing doll and not a human, it didn't matter how much his father moved him, he was not waking. Countess Violan had already run for the physicians who were on standby and brought them as quickly as she could, she understood right away that her son condition was abnormal, he didn't show any other symptom, like fever or visible pain, rather his face had a dreamy expression she had never seen, he wasn't sweating nor gasping for air. It was as if his body was slowly but surely shutting down, each and every nedeed function was decreasing until their eventual cease.
Lily who was asked to stay outside couldn't hide her anxiety contrary to her mother she didn't know what was happening she hadn't see his brother yet and watching his mother running alarmed her, her mother hold her grace in her very movement and for her to loss his calm demeanor was weird, something was happening and it instantly shift the entire atmosphere, rumors were spread like wildfire by the servants near Cale's chamber and by the ones who had helped knocked the door down, soon words like 'the young master is dead' or 'the young master committed suicide' were heard all over the mansion, and the worst of all was that Lily could heard them, she had gone behind her mother as she couldn't enter his brother's room, her best option was asked Violan but hearing the indiscreet servants speak joyfully of her brother's uncertain condition brought her to tears.
'They know nothing! And they dare!' Her mind was screaming to shut them but as they were her only source of information she kept listening, swearing to remember their faces, they had noticed her else they would had shut their trap sooner, ill speaking of a noble family could be considered as slander and even, according to the severity, treason and it could be punished with execution, however she knew her father was benevolent and it would only end in their immediate dismissal.
Before this incident, she had never heard a single servant bad mouthing his brother they were clever rats, which hide their contempt from the family and only displayed it in front of Cale, to keep it short they had two faces, one that served the count wholeheartedly and one that throwed poison and judge every action Cale took turning it into more sneering or disapproval. They never knew Cale's real intentions nor his gentle nature but Lily was aware, one time she had mustered courage to speak with him, her brother whom always seemed worn out didn't pushed her away and instead listen her silently with a puzzled expression which eventually turned into a soft smile, she knew that even when Cale denied it, he frequently sent her candies or other tasty desserts, she knew how Cale had gifted brother Basen a pen and the leather notebook he wanted, she knew so many things, but at the same time she knew nothing, she thought her brother enjoyed spending his days outside however after hearing what their servants had to said about him she wondered if her brother spent most of his time outside because he was running away from this toxic environment.
The shading continued for several minutes and Lily questioned the never ending saliva they had to spit non stop aggression towards a person that certainly had mess with them, even so the servants hated him like he had done the most crude deeds, humans without doubt are perplexing creatures they need to vent build up frustration and one of the most common methods was choosing a target, it didn't matter if said target has done nothing to them personally it was enough if he was vulnerable or had flaws easily exploitable.
Cale was the perfect description of both traits, he was perceived as the family's black sheep and his usual outings only fuel their superiority complex of 'If I was him I could do it better', their jealousy and constant necessity to release steam.
As time went by their original baseless actions turned into what they perceived as an enjoyable employees bonding activity but maybe due to Cale's mental fortitude it didn't matter how hard the maids and servants tried they never get a single crack into his demeanor, he would just listen and let go which eventually pissed them even more, truth be told they were some which remained neutral such as Hans.
He somewhat dislike his young master and before working with him he frame him to be an alcoholic good-for-nothing but when he came closer he find him to be more complex than what he believed him to be however his first hypothesis was not totally wrong, he was an alcoholic and even engaged with drugs but everytime he looked by the sides he could sense an unknown pressure, like he was dealing with more than he could handle adding to his dejected self in Hans eyes he was a pitiful person trying to hold up a strong and carefree facade, also how his main butler treated him like precious glassware arise some flags back on Hans mind, still it was mainly his own perception so he never informed the Count of any other thing and reported his actions as he was instructed and he thought that even if he didn't said his concerns out loud the Count probably was aware something was off with his son.
Lily returned to his brother's bedroom after listening enough bullshit, her heart was racing and when she arrived to the hall the room was she saw her mother pacing in front of the now non existent door, as she had rushed the medic personal had done so too, even out of breath they start assessing their young master condition, at first glance his body seemed healthy but as he had starved for two days he was relatively thinner with deep eye bags which made his cheekbones more prominent and cracked lips, as his father had proven before he didn't react to external stimuli, his porcelain like skin was even whiter his veins were visible in his forearms, it was not that they were popping out on the contrary it was because his skin was more paper like than ever.
Violan hugged Lily tightly, both of them were scared but prayed for the better outcome and after calming down Violan decided to leave Basen a message in their capital residence, if things escalated the wrong way it would be better to have all the family together.
Beside the physicians Deruth was the only one inside the room, he told Violan to wait outside in case of Lily's return, he knew his younger sister was capable of barging in without hesitation, she was young but was full of knight potential which made her brave and more cunning than what his brothers were still she was a child and emotionally speaking she wasn't ready for strong emotions, so far she had grown sheltered and loved, as the baby girl of the family she was spoiled more than anyone but she wasn't arrogant or rude and that fed the desire to spoil her, on the other hand Basen was well versed in the internal and administrative affairs, he work himself out to be accepted by onlookers as a part of to the family, he had a serious personality but in his older brother's point of view he was just a kid who wanted recognition and deserved so, he was also believed to be the next count, he didn't wanted but people treat him so, then Cale was the absent one, his siblings knew how capable he was but others felt he was lacking in many ways, like I have said before he was the black sheep but pretty intelligent one, he had pushed himself out of the successor line and cover up his condition for over a decade and now that was known it was only due to Cale's desire to die, he didn't need to hide it any longer.
Deruth watched how his son was not responding to anything and his heart sank deeper, his mouth was getting dry and could hide his trembling hands.
The physicians were shocked, the young master condition could be only described as the weird and almost mythological sleeping disease, it was too soon to give their verdict but it was highly likely, nothing was wrong with his organs nor he had any internal or external wound, he didn't react to pain as he didn't showed signs of feeling it. Books explain this symptoms as a sign that the brain and body where experiencing severance, if the patient received treatment and the right care the body functions could keep going like intended, otherwise the body would shut down after some days, as the mind was engaged with what they called an hallucination the capability of discern between real and fiction was needed to wake up, with the use of magic tools a person's life could be extended while under sleeping coma however this disease remain a mystery and was incurable.
Clearing his throat the head physician asked.
"Has the young master recently experienced a trauma or a severe head injury?" Clinically those were the main triggers for such calamity.
Deruth Shook his head, he knew fairly well that the recent incident was not enough to develop a trauma and according to Hans information Cale had never received any strong blow, on the contrary Hans remarked how overprotective Ron was with his son, he wouldn't have allowed it.
"Then had he experienced something like this before?"
Deep in thought Deruth nodded, remembering an old occurrence.
"...He was unconscious for two days when he was around eight years old, the physicians that I brought that time said it was due to the stress he was experiencing after losing his mother, my wife and former countess… Could it be related?" His voice was losing strength with every word he pronounced until his last question sounded like a hopeless whisper.
The group of physicians pondered for a while, cases where the episodes were so far apart from each other were unheard-of, usually the lapses became shorter but as it was an unpredictable disease nothing could be set on stone with it, however the possibility of having his second episode ten years later was dim, just to confirm all plausible scenarios he asked another question.
"Does he disappear frequently? I mean does he go away without prior notice? "
This time Deruth answered immediately.
"Yes, once or twice a year, his fond of traveling and usually takes Ron and Beacrox with him"
After a grave silence, the white robed individuals looked at each other with a dark gaze, if their hypothesis was correct, their young master would have been hiding his illness all along, explaining his locked down behavior and his closeness with Beacrox and Ron who were his travel buddies, with an overly amassed and blank expression the head of the group share their diagnostic.
After hearing Deruth crumbled to his knees, eyes wide open and his mind running prey of chaos, he wasn't dumb he had heard about the sleeping disease before but connecting dots he reach the same conclusion the physicians had reach, over ten years, ten years and he hadn't noticed anything, he knew his son's personality changed one hundred and eighty degrees, the joyful child grew to become a serious and tormented young man, but he played his character so damn well that for the people watching him, he was just a mindless spender and trash of the count's family, his father also believed his behavior was to push Basen forward on the heir line, even in his wildest nightmares, he couldn't ever expected his son to be sick and to cover it up for many years, now each action Cale took was looked under new light, he had purposely erased himself of the family preparing for when he would eventually vanish.
Deruth was aware of how complacent he had been until now, after his son draw the line he thought he had to limited himself to observe him from afar, years went by and the gap between them grew bigger day after day, their few interaction became awkward almost like talking to a weird next door neighbor rather than a father and son conversation, however Deruth always worried sent Hans to keep an eye on him, Ron also reported if commanded, he thought his son was scarred and needed time to heal and with his high demanding load of work he didn't notice how his son was slowly drowning to the point where he decided to go with the flow and let the dark waves swallow him whole.
If he recall his son lost weight progressively, his money was used to buy alcohol and other legal drugs, both stimulants to keep the mind going, looking back the signs were clear, how could he had remain ignorant for so long, truth be told he never thought his oldest son would leave him, they has their problems and their relationship wasn't smooth as he would wanted but since Cale was a child he always looked out for others rather than his own so Deruth thought he would never lose him, it didn't matter how much his relationship shattered he would always be by his side like he had done so far, but had Deruth been beside his son? No, he wasn't, his attention shifted to his new family and his work, thinking Cale would always remain; he abandoned him trusting his blood bond rather than his actual need for bonding.
Deruth lift Cale effortlessly and frowned, his son barely weight a thing, the room was dusty he was going to move Cale to another clean room, Violan and Lily were back outside waiting, watching Cale's limp body made Lily start crying she was expecting it or at least had some idea thanks to all the rumors she heard but contemplating such scene was worst than what she heard, Lily thought at first glance his brother was dead and almost fainted.
Following the advice he was given, Deruth sent people to the town to gather the expensive magic tools that promised to keep his son alive for months, after all Ron and Beacrox had done it without magic just with proper care and succeed to bring him back each time, with more resources the could extend his life even if he slept for years, he didn’t wanted to face it the truth but it was possible his son would never wake up.
The count wasn’t on the right state of mind, he didn't conceal his movements, even when he didn’t have many political adversaries as he remained neutral, it was wise to hide personal weakness or things that could stir panic in the population, words of an upcoming war could be heard already and when common citizens watch some soldiers quickly gathering magic tools their imagination went wild along the lines of prior rumors, by direct orders five soldiers move fast getting all they were asked.
A week later words of the oldest son of the count being sick were slowly spreading, Basen had already arrived to the capital and heard the message his mother sent right away, concluding he would assist to the Prince banquet and would returned right after, he would excuse himself after the northeastern nobles present him the sea line development proposal, he went on with his fast made plan and later he would be thankful to it.
While following the trace five black robed individuals enter Roan capital, three were the black eyed Choi Han, the master assassin Ron and his son Beacrox, however the two other were a beautiful redhead and a particularly tall young man, this friends they made along the way hold their own grudges against the secret organization, bond by hate they were searching down those bastards, on two days after they somehow managed to stop ten magic bomb from blowing up all Roan kingdoms Glory plaza.
I was thinking to divide the story into two parts mainly beacause the second part is more light hearted that what is currently happen but i'm still not sure, you can share your aopinion, however ogcale! story is reaching it's end muahahaha!
As always thank you for reading.