πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️ Lucia Side Story 6.1 to the Ending Complete Chapters πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️

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LUCIA
Side Story 6.1 - In Another Future – Damian


Side Story 6.1: In Another Future – Damian

IN ANOTHER FUTURE – DAMIAN (1)


“I have done my part in declaring you as my successor. The rest is up to you. Graduate. Then this place is yours.”


The six year old Damian believed in his father’s promise and entered the Academy. He fiercely strove to graduate, as it was the only means towards achieving his goal of taking over his father’s position. No matter what was around him, his eyes never strayed. Because he wanted the meaning of his existence to be recognized.


When Damian was 13, he was informed that the Duke of Taran had gotten married. Damian didn’t think the news was anything special and merely noted it in his memory. A few months later, Damian was notified that he had been registered into legal status and received a portrait of the new Duchess/ his step-mother along with the news. The woman drawn in the painting was dressed in showy clothing and for some reason, both her expressions and posture looked rigid.


‘His Grace the Duke’s standards are lower than I thought.’


By Damian’s standards, the woman could never classify as a beauty.


‘A mother…is it?’


Since his status had become legal, it meant the Duchess was now his mother. However, Damian didn’t really feel like it meant much. Even if he met the Duchess in person, it was unlikely for him to be able to call her mother. Then again, he was sure the Duchess wouldn’t want to be called by such a title. The Duchess hadn’t even had her own children, yet she was dirtied by the likes of an illegitimate child. It was obvious to him how humiliated the Duchess would feel.


He had gained a new family, but he felt no joy. Anyways, he would only meet the Duchess after he graduated from the Academy. And even if they met, he would be glad if the Duchess simply ignored him instead of trying to harm him.


* * *


Damian didn’t pay anymore attention to the Duke’s marriage. He was focused only on studying. Although he was always ranked first, at other times, he was just an unremarkable student. There were guys who tried to pick fights with him when he was young but as they got older, they lost interest in Damian, who had nothing but excellent grades.


Damian was always alone. He wasn’t interested in anything other than his grades. He never once thought he needed a friend. He thought he felt no loneliness even though he was alone. But without even realizing it, the walls of solitude around Damian were growing higher and thicker. The boy who already didn’t smile much, gradually forgot how to smile.


Finally, when he finished all of his studies at the Academy and held his diploma in his hand, Damian felt a sense of emptiness rather than a sense of accomplishment. The result of what he consistently clung to for more than a decade was nothing more than a piece of paper. He believed he could prove his existence when he graduated but it was merely false hope.


‘I…Why did I want to become the Duke?’


The boy who only ran forward without reserve began to look back when he became a young man.


‘I wanted to receive father’s recognition.’


He wanted to be praised; he wanted to be told he had done well. However, after sending Damian to the Academy at six, his father didn’t even send a brief letter till he graduated.


‘It didn’t have to be me.’


The Duke didn’t choose Damian as his successor because of Damian himself, but because Damian was his only child. It wouldn’t matter if the position of ‘young lord’ went to the son the Duchess might have someday instead of Damian.


The winter he was seventeen, Damian realized something.


He was alone.
______________

LUCIA
Side Story 6.2 - In Another Future – Damian

Story 6.2: In Another Future – Damian


IN ANOTHER FUTURE – DAMIAN (2)


The swinging blade made a dull sound as it reaped a life. As Damian stared at the neck flying the air, he thought to himself that the drops of blood on his face were exceptionally hot. He had learned to have this kind of mental state when destroying barbarians.


“We are done after we finish up here, young master.”


“Good job.”


Damian showed his appreciation for the knight in charge of the miscellaneous clean-up, then he turned to take a wide look around. Dead bodies with parts missing were scattered all over the place. The knights were moving around to gather the bodies in one place and were piling up firewood in preparation to burn them.


When Damian turned twenty, he began to go to subjugate barbarians. And ever since then, he stayed in Roam. The Duke’s days were extremely busy as the king’s closest aide and he could not leave the capital, so naturally, father and son lived apart from each other.


“Wait.”


Damian approached the knights that were moving two bodies. Even from a distance, it was obvious the two corpses had very different physique and it bothered him for some reason.


When he drew closer, he realized that it wasn’t only their physiques that were different; there was a considerable age difference between the two bodies. It was a middle-aged man and a young man who had just come of age. And their very similar facial features told anyone that they were related somehow. They had protected each other, the father for the child, and the child for the father and they were dried tears and blood around the rims of their eyes.


“Young master, do you have a different order or…?”


The knight carefully asked after seeing Damian stand there silently, looking at the corpses for a while.


“…No. I’ll leave the rest to you. I shall return first.”


When Damian turned around and quickly walked to his leased horse, the knight hurriedly ran after him.


“Young master, it is dangerous to move separately. We are in the middle of the barbarian land and…”


“Didn’t you say there are no movements in the vicinity?”


“That is correct, but one can never know.”


Damian hopped on the horse despite the knight’s protests.


“I want to hurl. The smell of blood is especially nauseating today.”


Damian held the horse and kicked the horse’s side in one swift motion. Seeing Damian’s back becoming distant in the blink of an eye, the knight quickly called for a nearby knight to join and followed after the young master.


After running with the two knights for a while, Damian felt something strange, so he slowed down and came to a stop. The knights followed suit and came up to Damian.


“Young master, is something the matter?”


“…We’re surrounded.”


“What?”


The knights were startled and looked around in a hurry. There were no signs of people around but Damian was born with sharp senses so he could sense the movements of a group slowly narrowing around them. Their suppressed bloodthirst could be felt in the air as they carefully approached like a pack of wolves round up prey.


‘Dozens…no, more than that?’


The power on Damian’s side was only that of three people. No matter how skilled a knight was, there was a limit to overcoming an absolute inferiority in numbers.


‘I guess this is it.’


Damian’s expression was calm as he predicted the end of his short life. He looked up at the sky; it was particularly clear today, without a cloud in sight. He had heard that when the end approached, you would see the person you missed the most drawn in the sky. Damian stared at the sky for a good while, then he smiled bitterly and lowered his head.



Nothing was drawn.


* * *


The Duke of Taran rushed to Roam upon receiving the terrible news of Damian Taran’s death. He met his son for the first time in a very long while, but his son’s body was already cold.


After the funeral of the young lord, the Duke of Taran gathered the entire power of his family and declared war against the barbarians. No one was able to stop the Duke of Taran’s quest for the price of his son’s life.


The conquest of the northern barbarians ended in a year, being more of a unilateral massacre than an actual war. Countless barbarians were killed, regardless of age or gender. The bodies formed mountains and rivers of blood. The repulsive smell of burning bodies rode on the wind and covered the entire barbarian land. And so, the vast barbarian land became a territory with no owner.


It was like a vast, empty piece of land had suddenly dropped from the sky causing many countries to drool over it. A vast territory was a necessary condition to be reborn as a prosperous country. Heated competition for the land began to break out all over the place.


It was a prelude to an enormous war which was later called the Second Continental War.
_______________

LUCIA
Side Story 7.1 - The Beginning of All Stories

Story 7.1: The Beginning of All Stories

THE BEGINNING OF ALL STORIES (1)


He was born the third son of the Hawkes family of the Madoh Empire. The Hawkes family was a distinguished household known for its outstanding bloodline that had produced great magicians for generations. In a world where innate magical power was a measure of power and authority, the Hawkes family stood in a position to preside over order.


However, he was a variant that didn’t deserve to bear the name of the great Hawkes family. He had poor magical power from birth and it didn’t get better even when he got older. While his parents and siblings walked the path of first-class magicians, he was unable to cast the magic for even a small flame and fell behind.


His parents and his siblings considered him to be the shame of their family. He was neglected by his parents and was a target of harassment for his siblings. His siblings’ malicious pranks grew worse over time and got to the extent that it threatened his life.


When he woke up after being in a coma for a couple of days, he was banished from the house. His parents didn’t want useless gossip to arise about siblings killing each other, so they decided to erase the issue from the root. So under the pretext of recuperation, he left on exile to a family-owned remote villa. This happened when he was ten.


He had been abandoned but now, he could enjoy a much calmer life. The old villa was so remote that people in his family almost couldn’t find it and it became his home. There was no one to torment him and nobody who saw him as a bug.


The residents of the nearby village had never seen a noble personage before and were afraid due to all the terrible rumors surrounding the appearance of a noble but gradually forgot their fear when he caused no harm.


Although his magical power wasn’t anything to write home about, he was very knowledgeable, so he was able to provide the solution to many difficult problems. The residents gradually forgot their fear of nobility and as more time passed, they began to follow the wise young noble.


He could not use magic, but he did not slack on getting knowledge into his head. He truly enjoyed reading books, gaining new knowledge, and exploring truths with unlimited imagination. Once he got lost in thought, he never realized the passing of the day nor the rising of the sun; he was simply absorbed into it. His knowledge was endlessly deep in every way, apart from his lowly magic.


* * *


He was immersed in a world of infinite imagination. In his head was a space made for questing for the truth. In his mind, his thoughts split and spread like the roots of a tree.


“Young master!”


He was startled awake by a fierce scream. He felt like he was just about to have something in his grasp, so it was really a pity. He frowned at the plump middle-aged woman beside him.


“Martha! I told you not to disturb me.”


“I wouldn’t if you behaved with moderation. You’ve been like this since last night and the sun is already high in the sky today! Whatever you do, I don’t care, but you have to eat!”


Martha exclaimed.


Seeing Martha giving him a stern look with her hands on her waist, he smiled dispiritedly. Martha was obsessed with making sure he was eating properly and did not tolerate him skipping more than two meals.


‘I won’t die even if I don’t eat. Why can’t she understand?’


Even though his magical power was meagre, his innate bloodline was so exceptional that he would be fine even if he went starving for a week. However, Martha thought the young master she had been taking care of since he was a child was very weak, so even though he was now fifteen years old, he was still treated as a child.



“Alright, I got it. I’ll go eat.”


He grumblingly rose to his feet. Although he was interrupted, he couldn’t get mad at Martha. For him, who had been abandoned by both his parents and siblings, Martha was his only family. He had never once thought Martha was lowly because she was a villager.


* * *


“Why is the young master still not here? It’s way past mealtime.”


Martha mumbled to herself and went to find the young master. No matter how old he got, the young master’s bad habits showed no signs of getting better. She had to chase him around to eat like a four year old, and even then, he only ate one meal.


Martha felt a great sense of responsibility towards making sure the young master ate properly. Martha looked for the young master in places he was likely to be. Fortunately, there were only a few places that he visited frequently. Most of the time, he was in his study, and if the weather was warm, he walked around the backyard or sometimes, he went a little farther and sat under the tree on the low hill behind the villa.


Since he wasn’t in the study or the backyard, there was only one place left. As she climbed the hill, she met another villager to happened to be passing by.


“The young master is sitting up there.”


The person knew who Martha was looking for, so they immediately told her where the young master was.


Martha walked faster and reached the top of the hill. And there, she found the young master sitting back, under the huge tree, with his eyes closed. He probably wasn’t sleeping. The young master was always in this position when he was lost in his thoughts.


Martha drew closer, planning to call out really loud in order to drag the young master out of his thoughts but when she got close enough and saw the gentle expression on his face, she stopped. It was unknown what the young master was thinking about but there was a smile playing on his lips.


Martha didn’t want to disrupt his good mood, so she decided to just sit down. But perhaps she felt a little peeved for she sat down quite loudly but the young master didn’t seem to hear a thing and didn’t move an inch. Then again, this was the same person she had to scream out several times before he finally heard her and woke up, so this was expected.


‘He’s grown a lot, hasn’t he?’


Martha look in the image of the grown-up young master anew. As the young master was already eighteen years old, there were no signs of a young boy on his visage. His black hair, which couldn’t be found among common people like herself, reminded her of the difference between them.


Martha was amazed every time she saw the young master’s black hair and black eyes. And she forgot that the young master was one of those scary noble people. The young master was a good man with a warm heart.


‘He’s a pitiful person.’


Martha just couldn’t understand the behavior of the nobles who abandoned their child or brother without any hesitation. If your child was weak, then you should protect them and care for them even more. Wasn’t that how a parent should act?


‘Despite all that, he grew up very well.’


Martha was filled with satisfaction every time she saw the young master who had grown up graciously. The village maidens who didn’t know their place were eyeing the young master, but they shouldn’t even bother trying for the impossible. He wasn’t someone that those thoughtless rural girls should desire. The young master was going to have a virtuous and beautiful woman as his wife, have a son and daughter, and live happily ever after.


After watching the young master with contentment for some time, signs of boredom began to show on Martha’s face. She had been sitting there without doing anything for a while, so she was feeling impatient plus she was hungry. In the end, Martha couldn’t bear it and called out.


“Young master.”


As expected, he was too lost to hear anything even if she called out once or twice. So Martha yelled.


“Young master!”


He opened his eyes like he had been startled awake.


“Martha. Is it time for lunch already?”


“It’s a good while past that actually. I’ve been waiting for you, young master. Do you know how hungry I am?”


“That’s why I said you should go ahead and eat first.”


“What’s the fun in eating alone?”


“…Do you eat for fun?”


He got up. Martha was the type to reply with two words when you said one word so he had learnt to just say he understood no matter what, otherwise he would just get caught up in Martha’s nagging.
_________________

LUCIA
Side Story 7.2 - The Beginning of All Stories

THE BEGINNING OF ALL STORIES(2)


The space of truth in his mind expanded infinitely over time. He added knowledge and created new knowledge in the seemingly endless space, filling it with the truths pursued by pioneers and explored unknown area, never explored before.


He lay down in bed to sleep but the thought that suddenly sprang into his mind made him fall into contemplation. He couldn’t sense the sun rising in the sky or the day darkening to night. He felt like he was floating aimlessly, like the air around him had changed into a space with no gravity.


‘Ah…!’


He lamented and abruptly opened his eyes. His eyes flickered with a golden light. He was overwhelmed with an indescribable sense of joy and looked down at his trembling hands. There was a faint light lingering around his hands. The change that had shown up on his body felt very mysterious to him, so he carefully closed his hands, opened them, then flipped them back and forth to examine them.


The light coming from his hands gradually began to spread all over his body. And the energy streaming from the light gradually began to gush forth and wrapped around him, as if wanting to swallow him.


Pop! There was no actual sound, but he could feel the sound of something popping all over his body. And a golden beam of light burst from his body, piercing the ceiling and into the skies. Like that, he lost consciousness.


It was the awakening of a Great Archmage.


* * *


When he opened his eyes, he found unfamiliar people gathered around the bed he was in. As he sluggishly sat up, a luxuriously dressed woman began to speak to him.


“You’re up. How do you feel?”


He frowned, wondering who this familiar but unfamiliar woman was. When he didn’t reply, the woman’s face darkened, and she spoke like she was embarrassed.


“Aren’t you going to greet your mother after seeing her in a long time?”


Mother? He barely managed to remember. Was this woman his mother? The mother in his memory always looked coldly at him with thinly veiled contempt. His mother was ashamed whenever she saw his young self because she couldn’t believe she had given birth to such a useless thing.


“Don’t rush the child too much, he just woke up.”


A man beside the woman added, and because of the woman who introduced herself as his mother, he quickly remembered who the man was. It was his father. The father who always clicked his tongue icily whenever he saw him, was now talking as if he was very worried about him. It was a strange sight.


“There has been no precedent of magic power manifesting late like in your case. Everyone saw your pillar of light. It was really beautiful. I am very proud of you, my son.”


Ahh. He finally understood what was going on. He looked at his hand and clenched his fist. He could feel strong power coursing through his entire body. The energy was so powerful and bottomless, it felt like he could have the entire world in his grasp.


The child, who was abandoned for his uselessness, was actually a radiant jewel covered in mud. When the mold trapping him was taken off, and his true self was revealed, they came to find the child they had abandoned. He couldn’t hold back at all and burst into laughter.


His parents were initially pleased to see him laugh but as they noticed the madness in his laughter, their expression slowly hardened. It was only when the people around him began to exchange serious glances that he stopped laughing. His expression was extremely cold.


“Where is this…no, where is Martha?”


Martha? Who was that? No one knew who he was looking for.


He had already forgotten this fact, but Martha was a commoner. It was a title with the meaning ‘animal’ in it, a lowly thing. Perhaps they didn’t even know that a commoner had a name. He felt uneasy for some reason.



“I’m talking about the commoner who waits on me. The old woman.”


“You do not need to be served by a commoner any longer.”


“Agreed. You can’t have such a lowly thing around you.”


“I said! Where is Martha?!”


“If you’re talking about the lowly thing that dared to stop us from taking you, it has received the appropriate punishment.”


The answer came from the mouth of a certain man. He remembered this man. It was his brother, the one who tormented him viciously and the party responsible to putting him close to the jaws of death. The man smiled crookedly and spoke in a mocking manner.


“I see you didn’t learn properly because you lived with such a lowly thing. How rude of you to raise your voice at your parents.”


“By appropriate punishment…do you mean you kill her?”


The man scowled.


“Saying it that way isn’t right.”


“I asked if you killed her.”


“I merely passed down punishment. Commoners are originally awfully weak.”


Something snapped in his head and he closed his eyes. His heart froze over but at the same time, it began to burn with hot rage. When his eyes opened again, they were filled with golden light. He felt the power in his body boil and overflow. He indifferently watched as shock filled the gazes of the people around him and he unleashed all of his power.


* * *


“We hereby command you to forfeit the family name of Hawkes, and to be banished forever.”


He was given the most severe punishment for killing more than ten people, his parents and brother included. He was harshly punished to wander a desolate land with nothing but his body.


A restraint hung from his neck. It was a stigma showing that he was a criminal and it could never be removed for the duration of his punishment. Since his crime was so severe, he received a life-time sentence, which meant he would never be able to take it off, in addition, expulsion magic had been added to his restraint. The criminal wearing this restraint could not approach any borders where the influence of the Madoh Empire reached.


He accepted his punishment. Not because he acknowledged his crime, but because he had no attachment towards his family and the country he was born and raised in.


There were the commoners who weren’t treated as people simply because they weren’t born with power, and then there were the imperials who saw themselves as gods and would never pass down the punishment of death no matter how serious the crime was. He felt something was wrong with this world.


No matter how powerful your magical power was, you would die if you didn’t eat. When imperials who were used to being waited on for everything got banished, they couldn’t last long and would starve to death. Outside the borders of the Madoh Empire was a wild wasteland filled only with beasts.


He walked on endlessly in his exile. The knowledge he gained from being around commoners from a young age helped him survive. He knew how to distinguish between some edible weeds and using a mousetrap he made, he caught rat for food.


He continued to contemplate and explore endlessly, only stopping to eat and sleep. He grew thinner and his skin became rough due to exposure to wind and rain, but his gaze grew deeper. One day, he chanced upon a building that was falling apart. It was a temple made of stone and he guessed it was made in ancient history. He decided to settle down and live there. It seemed to have been built with a solid foundation because the basic structure was still remaining.


The pendant-shaped restraint on his neck wasn’t one that restricted his ability, so his magic power grew more powerful over time. He used his magic to make a stone doll and controlled it to renovate the temple into a mansion. The doll he made was gradually able to perform more detailed instructions and was able to do basic tasks such as cooking and cleaning.


Since he no longer had to worry about his survival, he spent all his time studying magic. It did not matter if there were no books or experimental materials with him. There was already boundless knowledge in his head and everything around him could become test material.


As he lived estranged from the world, not noticing the passage of time, he suddenly discovered something strange. He had casually taken a look at his face and realized he looked very young, around twenty years of age. He hadn’t counted the days, but he knew that at least 10 years had passed. He wasn’t sure how, but time was leaving him untouched. Now, even the flow of time could not disrupt his passion for learning.


One day, he broke the sturdy wall surrounding him and gained new, tremendous power.


He found himself in a place that could be described at pure-white, or pitch-dark. He was standing on a golden path that stretched out for miles with no end in sight. He slowly walked along the path and watched as countless fragments of time flashed by him. Day, months, and decades of time swiftly flew by. Absurdly colossal events left afterimages in his head in the blink of an eye.


He saw a future in which the Madoh Empire disappeared and the magic in the world dispersed. A future was coming where the commoners found a new country and ruled the world, a future where the imperials were trampled by the commoners whom they disdained so much and not even a trace of them was left.


The restraint around his neck could no longer restrict him. He could take it off if he wanted to and return to the Empire at any time. But he continued his life as a hermit.


He had no attachment to life but the more he knew, the more he couldn’t abandon his desire to see the end of the seemingly infinite truth. And so, he prepared for the day things would end. He set up a barrier around the vicinity of the mansion and gathered magical power. The barrier would protect him and the mansion even if the magic power in the world dispersed in the distant future.


Then a very long time passed; a time so long that he couldn’t even guess it.
____________
LUCIA 
Side Story 7.3 - The Beginning of All Stories


THE BEGINNING OF ALL STORIES(3)


He was enjoying an early morning bath. Today like usual, he was soaking in a bath full of warm water with his eyes closed. Upon detecting the sign of an intruder touching the barrier, he frowned and clicked his tongue. It was definitely that fearless and impudent little girl.


One day, a little girl got through the barrier that thoroughly prevented all intrusion and she had even entered the mansion. The barrier didn’t work on the child at all. He tried his best to figure out why but eventually had to conclude that there was a minute loophole akin to a variable somewhere in the dense membrane.


The problem was the little girl. He had left her alone since she wasn’t exactly causing any harm but ever since then, she had been coming and going frequently as if this was her own house.


After he was done having a relaxed bath, he came out. His senses caught an energy signal moving around restlessly in the dining room. He put on clothes and went down to the dining room.


“Cael-nim!”


Seeing the woman with a bright smile on her face, he stopped.


“You haven’t had breakfast yet, right? I brought a few dishes you’ll like.”


He looked at the chattering woman with a new gaze. When did that tiny little girl grow so big? She was no longer a young child. The little kid dressed in bright and beautiful clothes had at some point, become a full-fledged young lady.


When he merely stood there, watching her without saying anything, Evangeline studied his face.


“…Are you angry? Because I moved around as I liked…?”


Cael stared at Evangeline for a moment then he snorted.


“Is this the first time?”


When he sat down at the set table and picked up a fork, Evangeline giggled and quickly scuttled over to him. Then she filled his empty glass with water and began to serve the food.


“Just for me? What about yours, kid?”


“I already ate, so don’t mind me. And I’m not ‘kid’. I have a name, you know. Evangeline. I’ve told you so many times now.”


Evangeline sourly watched as he began to eat without even replying then her gaze turned prideful and filled with joy. She felt like she understood what it meant to feel full just by watching someone else eat.


* * *


“I’m getting married.”


Cael stared at Evangeline, who had shut her mouth right after suddenly spitting out such a phrase. Was she already at that age? When did the tomboy that used to run around everywhere begin to walk and cover her mouth slightly when she laughed instead of grinning widely?


“I am yet to see the face of the man who will become my husband. I have to leave home and live in my husband’s house. It’s very far from here.”


“…Right.”


“I won’t be able to come see you ever again, Cael-nim.”


“…I see.”


Evangeline’s amber eyes quivered as she looked at him as though she was pleading.


“Should I live here?”


“…”


“I am quite useful. I can cook very well, I can clean, do laundry, I can do everything. If I’m here, Cael-nim won’t even need to lift a finger. Ah wait. No. You’ll need to at least use a finger to call me.”


Cael had noticed that the little kid had at some point started to look at him with the eyes of a woman. He knew but he acted like he didn’t. Because he couldn’t return her heart even if he knew. If he were to truly be honest, perhaps he was afraid that if Evangeline knew he was aware of her secret feelings, he would have to cut her off because he couldn’t accept her heart and because of that, she would not come to see him again.




“…Kid.”


When Cael gave a troubled sigh, Evangeline actually smiled sweetly.


“You’re surprised because I said something strange, right? It’s just, I felt sad thinking I won’t see you again.”


“…”


Evangeline spun around and quickly walked to the door like she was running. She grabbed the door and stood without moving for a while then she said,


“Did you know? You’ve never called me properly by my name.”


Her head was turned so he couldn’t see her face, but her voice trembled at the end. As if she was holding back her tears. Cael couldn’t even imagine how the kid who always smiled at him looked when she was holding back her tears.


Evangeline went out the door without looking back. Cael’s heart felt empty as he stood, staring at the tightly shut door for a long time. It felt like the door would open again anytime soon and Evangeline would jump in, calling out ‘Cael-nim’.


However, both the next day and the day after the next, the door did not open.


* * *


Evangeline, whom he thought he would never see again, re-appeared in front of him. She looked very exhausted and thin, holding a very swollen belly.


“I’m sorry, Cael-nim. I couldn’t think of anywhere else to go but here.”


Her eyes seemed like they would burst with tears at any moment, but Evangeline smiled, refusing to show her tears.


Evangeline’s father, who used his daughter in a political marriage to solidify his power base, had led an army and destroyed his in-law’s family. Her heartless father did not care about his daughter or about the young life growing in her stomach. For Evangeline’s father, his daughter was nothing but a means to be used in political battle.


Evangeline barely managed to escape. If Evangeline was alone, her father would have let her leave since she was at least his child. However, the pregnancy of his daughter meant she was nothing but a seed of trouble. So Evangeline was pursued by a very persistent party.


After losing her only guard who protected her loyally, Evangeline felt death drawing closer and closer. She ran away because she wanted to live but she felt it was in vain, not knowing why she wanted to live like this. As she thought of death, there was someone whose face she wanted to see at least one last time. As so, she decided on her final destination.


People called it the Devil’s forest. Only Evangeline could enter this place where no one else entered and left alive. When she saw him again, Evangeline smiled. And she made a brazen excuse, saying she came to find him in order to save the life of herself and her baby in her stomach. She would have rather he coldly turned away and ignored her. However, he silently accepted her inside.


* * *


The baby was born. It was a boy. Evangeline asked Cael to name the boy and asked him to be the child’s godfather.


‘I want to have your child.’


The feelings she couldn’t bear to expose were buried at the bottom of her heart. Someone like her, who had born another man shouldn’t even dream of making such a shameless confession. Just the fact that she lived depending on him meant she owed him a debt she could never repay.


“Baden.”


Cael named the baby after a great king that had appeared way back in history, long before the world changed. And he became the godfather of Baden.

_______________

LUCIA
Side Story 7.4 - The Beginning of All Stories

THE BEGINNING OF ALL STORIES(4)


The child grew rapidly every day. He sat, crawled, walked and soon started running. He spoke and learned to write. Cael taught the child everything he knew without reserve. The bright child absorbed Cael’s teachings and grew up, going from a little boy to a young man.


Around the child’s 16th birthday, the people Evangeline’s husband’s family sent looking for her, had searched everywhere and even entered the devil’s forest. Her father-in-law, whom she thought to be dead, was alive. He retained his life but one of his arm and leg was cut off, so he was unable to move around properly. Her father-in-law was looking for the only remaining bloodline of his dead son.


People who entered the devil’s forest normally got obstructed by the barrier so they would be endlessly lost, collapse from exhaustion and starved to death. Cael usually didn’t care what happened to the people who entered the forest and left them to their devices but knowing they were looking for Evangeline, he opened the barrier. And he erased traces of himself in order not to appear before them.


“Ahh! Milady. So you were safe. The young master is so grown-up!”


The vassals who had gone to search for their madam and young master by their lord’s order, were thrilled to see Baden. Baden, who had just grown out his adolescence, looked so much like his late father and grandfather that there was no doubt to be made.


“You must have suffered so much. Come with us, Milady. You must be rewarded for your hard work and troubles in raising the young master. The young master will inherit everything from the lord in the future and he’ll become the master of the family.”


Although she was thanking them for finding her, inwardly, Evangeline couldn’t be happy. Why did he let these people in? She momentarily resented him, then she heaped curses at herself.


‘Wow, you must be so thick-faced. You don’t even have any shame. You’ve lived in his care so long, how much longer are you going to trouble him?’


Cael didn’t even appear before Evangeline. After flipping through the mansion for a few days, looking for him, the tired Evangeline cried at the empty air.


“I’ll leave, Cael-nim. Just let me say goodbye for the last time. Please.”


However, Cael never showed up at the end.


* * *


Cael watched from afar as the group of people left with Evangeline and Baden in their midst. He did not even let her say her last goodbye. But it wasn’t because he was worried that her heart would waver, but because he feared he would hold onto to her and not let go.


‘Our times are different, Evangeline.’


He was living in a different flow of time. He would remain as he was even if hundreds of years pass but she would grow old and die someday.


The incoming future filled Cael with dread. He had no confidence in being able to watch her die. He chose to run away from his fear.


* * *


“Mother.”


At that voice, Evangeline, who had been blankly staring out the window from her spot on the bed, turned her head. Seeing her son with his wife, she smiled faintly.


“When did you come in?”


“What were you thinking about that you didn’t even notice us come in?”


“When you get old, you tend to think a lot. I know you must be busy, there’s no need to go out of your way to greet me in the morning.”


“No, mother. I should greet you even when you’re at home. And, I have good news today.”


The mansion that his mother lived in as a child was put up for sale, so Baden had purchased it. His mother’s family had already collapsed and scattered without a trace, but he felt his mother missed her hometown sometimes. So he arranged it as a gift for his mother.



“That house…?”


His mother’s pale face brightened up for a change. Baden was happy to see that his thinking was on the right track.


“Yes. It’s very old, so it has to be renovated. Would you like to go see it after the renovations?”


“Sure, that would be nice.”


After leaving his mother’s room, Baden sighed heavily and spoke to his wife.


“When my mother goes to her hometown, I would like for us to go along and be with her for the time being.”


“Okay. I will arrange for that.”


Baden could vaguely sense that his mother was not just missing her hometown.


‘Godfather.’


His mother had continued to long for that person. He wasn’t aware as a child but when he thought about it now, his mother sometimes stared into the distance with sadness in her eyes. He felt like now, he knew who was beyond that gaze.


* * *


Cael was sitting in a daze. Normally, he looked like he wasn’t doing anything to an outside eye, but he would be creating and destroying a boundless world repeatedly in his mind. However, nowadays, he increasingly just sat absentmindedly, not thinking about anything. That is, ever since Evangeline and Baden left.


Suddenly, he flinched in surprise and sprang to his feet. The sensation of the intruder touching his barrier was familiar to him. He thoughtlessly ran outside.


“Godfather.”


The young man had become a grown man. Having inherited Evangeline’s blood, Baden was also not affected by the barrier. Cael blankly gazed at Baden, and at the slender woman Baden was holding.


“We haven’t seen in a long time. You’re still as I remember.”


“…Baden.”


“I’m here to ask a favor for my mother.”


Cael stared at Evangeline, the woman in Baden’s arms. Her appearance had changed due to age, but he recognized her in one glance.


“She’s in a deep sleep. I guess mother will probably be angry when she wakes up. After all, I didn’t ask her wishes and brought her here on my own.”


“…Go back.”


“My mother doesn’t have much time left.”


Cael, who was turning around, froze on the spot.


“Mother was poisoned. I’ve looked into every means, but we’ve already gone through every step possible. The poison Mother took has unique ingredients, so when the poison attacks, she falls into a deep sleep. According to the doctor, she will eventually fall asleep one day and never wake up.”


“…”


“The poison attacked a few days ago and mother woke up after two days. The doctor said the next poison attack would be the last. Godfather. My mother’s last moments…I hope you can be with her.”


His godfather’s expression was indifferent, and he stood there, not saying anything, but Baden thought his godfather looked very heart-broken.


‘She’ll be angry, for sure.’


Even the big buffed men in the family were desperate to rouse his thin mother’s spirits. She was a woman who was called ‘the Iron Lady’, and someone who raised the family with her own two hands. Once she learnt of this, his mother would probably slap the cheeks of her shameful son who made such a decision on his own.


‘That’s why, mother, I’m running away because I’m scared you’ll beat me up.’


Baden wasn’t sure if his decision was really for his mother. His mother held a desperate longing for his godfather in her heart, but she gave up on meeting him a long time ago. After she was poisoned and knew the end was approaching, she seemed to have given up completely.


But despite that, he couldn’t help but do this. Even though he knew it was cruel to both his mother and his godfather, Baden made a selfish decision for his own sake. He felt like if he didn’t do this, he would beat his chest in regret when his mother passed away. So he secretly put sleeping pills in his mother’s tea. He got the doctor’s advice and adjusted the amount so that it wouldn’t harm his mother.


Baden put his mother in his godfather’s arms. It was closer to forcing her into his arms, but his godfather didn’t shake him off and merely took his mother into his embrace, like she was a treasure.


As this was probably the last time he would see the two of them like this in his life, Baden memorized the sight, then he turned around.
__________________

LUCIA
Side Story 7.5 - The Beginning of All Stories

THE BEGINNING OF ALL STORIES(5)


Sturdy arms wrapped around her and supported her. Evangeline leaned against his chest, drinking the soup she was fed, then she grinned. She was surprised at herself, who was now used to being served by him.


“Cael-nim.”


“Yeah?”


“…”


“Kid. If you call me, say something.”


Pfft. Evangeline burst into laughter. He still called an old lady full of wrinkles, kid. Perhaps because he treated her like a child, Evangeline subconsciously spoke the way she did when she was young and acted like a spoilt child. The Madam who was known as the iron lady was nowhere to be found.


“You know, a long time ago. If I said I was sick, would you have indulged me, even a little bit?”


“…”


“Sorry. That was unnecessary.”


“…I likely won’t have much of a choice. I can’t abandon a patient.”


Evangeline stared at him while he avoided her eyes like he was embarrassed. He had not changed at all. He was still the young and beautiful young man he was when she first met him. This mysterious man, with pitch-black hair and dark eyes, was her puppy love as a young girl, her fluttering love as a maiden learning about love and the one who gave her heart-wrenching pain as a woman who had experienced life.


Evangeline looked down at her wrinkled hand. Even when she was very excited like she had returned to being a young, healthy maiden, she woke up from her delusion when she looked down at her hand filled with signs of age. This was why she didn’t want to see him. She didn’t want to show her old, unattractive self to him, who was still as beautiful as ever.


However, whether it was her anger toward her son who brought her here arbitrarily, or the resentment that surged when she saw him after a long time, they all disappeared in less than a day. She was so happy, every day seemed like a dream.


“I was an idiot. I should have cried that I was sick and dying soon to Cael-nim.”


“Fake sickness won’t work.”


“Aha. You don’t know how good I am at faking sickness. I’m sure you won’t even notice.”


“Are you faking it now?”


“Who knows. What do you think?”


Cael stroked her cheek lightly and mumbled.


“…I hope so.”


“Hm?”


“Is there anything else you want to eat?”


As he changed topic while put away the soup bowl, Evangeline also acted like she didn’t know anything.


“Orange juice. A very sweet one.”


“…We have very sour oranges.”


Evangeline smiled and replied.


“Then I’ll have sour orange juice.”


He placed Evangeline carefully in bed and got up. Evangeline sighed with regret when his body temperature suddenly moved away. She felt sad, watching his back as he walked to the door, and unknowingly called out to him.


“Is there something else you need?”


“…I don’t like my juice too sour.”


She was just grumbling but he thought about it seriously and said, ‘I’ll add honey then’. Evangeline couldn’t believe his affectionate consideration for herself, and even after he was gone, she was grinning to herself.


“…Thank you.”


She knew he didn’t feel the same as her. He was presumably listening to the wishes of a dying person and even though she knew he was likely just sympathizing with the young girl he had a connection with in the past, her heart raced whenever she saw him. Even if it was sympathy, she was happy with it. She was thankful that he held her and didn’t turn away from her.



“I love you…”


It was a confession that was always in her heart, but she could never say it to him. When she was young, she was afraid of rejection, so she was unable to say it, and when she reunited with him, bearing another man’s child, she didn’t dare to. Now, it was impossible for her to say it when she was old and dying.


She was happily waiting for the orange juice he would bring for her, then she heaved a huge sigh, lamentfully. Sleep was overwhelming her senses, bringing her to exhaustion. She had experience this drowsy feeling so many times, so she knew what it was.


After her father-in-law’s death, endless greedy hands stretched towards her, because as her son’s guardian, she had become the real master of the family. How many times did she escape the throes of death? Eventually, she was unable to avoid the last black hand that came for her.


[It’s impossible to know when the poison will attack. But…if the poison attacks again and you fall into a deep sleep, it will be your last.]


Back then, she had calmly listened to the doctor’s death sentence. Although her son was holding and screaming at the doctor, Evangeline was at ease. She had always lived with an empty heart that she could never fill. No matter how hard she tried, nothing could take root. Now she was tired of this life, where she carried the notice of being poisoned like an armor. She didn’t have much of an attachment to life so she didn’t fear the approaching death.


But the god of fate was so incredibly cruel. Why was she allowed to meet him again? Why did she want to live?


‘Cael-nim…’


It was only when death drew near that Evangeline realized how great of a blessing it was to humans. She felt sad, knowing he was stuck walking down time in the future, and perhaps for eternity. She felt like she vaguely realized why he tried to push her away.


I’m sorry. For leaving you who’s alone, all alone in this world again.


‘Don’t forgive me for being selfish till the end. But what can I do? The fact that I can close my eyes next to you…makes me so happy…’


Evangeline slowly sank into a deep sleep that was akin to a sweet poison.


* * *


Cael entered the room with the juice he had squeezed from the oranges himself. He took a little to taste and it tasted both sweet and sour, so he didn’t feel the need to add honey.


She was sleeping.


He placed the juice on the bedside table, then he picked up her arm, wanting to cover her properly with the blanket. Her slender arm was strangely heavy, and his heart sank in his chest as he was seized with a terrifying feeling.


He stood still, and very slowly, turned his gaze to her face. Her complexion was pale, her eyes were closed, and her face was at peace.


“…Evangeline.”


Even though he was calling her name for the first time, she did not respond. His fingers trembled slightly as he brought his hand to her wrist to take her pulse.


Moments later, he sank to his knees and collapsed on the floor beside the bed.


“Hk…”


He couldn’t bear the pain gripping his heart, and gasped for breath, tearing at his chest with both hands. It felt like all the blood in his body was boiling. He couldn’t breathe.


Clear water covered his black irises and fell to the ground. And at the same time, a golden aura began to swirl in his black eyes. The golden energy quickly traveled from his eyes to his veins, passing through his heart before spreading all over his body and he was soon covered in golden light.


Crack! He heard the sound of his frozen heart breaking. Only after losing her did he realize his true feelings. His heart which was frozen from the pain of losing Martha, thawed when he realized his love for her. Perhaps his heart had slowly been thawing without him even realizing it.


He found himself standing in a place that could be described as pure-white or pitch black. This wasn’t the first time. He had been here once, a very long time ago. No matter how hard he tried, he had never been able to come here again apart from that one time, but now, it called him again.


He walked along the golden path. Time flew by next to him. In the midst of time filled with innumerable events and intertwined people, he found a certain woman. A woman he was seeing for the first time, held the pendant on his neck in her hand.


Wanting to know why this woman had his pendant, he followed along the woman’s time. An old man appeared in the woman’s life and he resembled Baden in one way or another. The old man held a newborn baby in his arms and smiled, saying.


‘Dear child, how do you look so much like your grandmother?’


The blonde, amber-eyed newborn baby he held looked a lot like Evangeline.


‘I thought hard about the undeserved request you made for me to name her. The first ancestor of the Baden family said he could not exist without his mother and left a will dedicating all his affection and admiration to his mother. I heard she was someone with a small stature but a mighty spirit. I would like to give her name to the baby.’[1]


Evangeline.


Upon hearing the child’s name, Cael’s eyes flashed open. The golden energy coiling in the air around him, disappeared into the pendant like it was being sucked inside. Even the light pouring from his body disappeared.


Cael took a long, deep breath, trying to control the turbulent emotions rushing into him. Tears flowed from his closed eyes, staining his cheeks.


Was god mocking him for not believing in it or was it showing mercy for his pitiful arrogance? He witnessed miracles and saw destinies. He read the entrancing future of her descendants who looked like her in a very distant future.


Cael stood up and kissed the back of her hand politely as if performing a grand ceremony. Then he took off the pendant which he had never once removed from his body. It was initially a restraint that signified he was a criminal but after he gained new power, the pendant functioned as the nucleus of his magic and it was no different from his life-force.


He waved his finger slightly and the flowing air turned into a wind and the wind became a knife, cutting Evangeline’s finger slightly. Red blood dripped from the cut and onto the pendant.


“Your blood will be both a seal and a key.”


As soon as his muttering came to an end, the pendant trembled like a living being and glowed with a faint light. Then suddenly its movement stopped, and all light disappeared. It became a very old and ordinary, blackish pendant.

_______________

LUCIA
Side Story 7.6 (END) - The Beginning of All Stories

THE BEGINNING OF ALL STORIES(6)


“Godfather!”


Baden quickly ran over as soon as his subordinates told him that the ominous aura covering the devil’s forest had disappeared.


The man sitting on his knees by the bedside slowly turned his head. But his face wasn’t one that Baden knew.


The godfather Baden remembered was a mysterious man who never aged and remained the same from when he was a child till even decades later. But the youth of his godfather seemed to have disappeared overnight. His godfather was no longer a young man. Whoever saw him now would say he was obviously a middle-aged man.


“Baden.”


“Is…is it really you…godfather?”


“Say goodbye to your mother.”


“Huh? Mother…? Mother!”


Baden rushed to the bed and broke down wailing. Cael stood up stepped aside a little, waiting for Baden to sufficiently say goodbye to his mother.


When Baden proposed building his mother’s grave in this place, Cael shook his head.


“You should take her with you. If you make your mother’s grave here, no one will be able to check on her and it will soon be abandoned.”


“What about godfather…”


“As you can see, time has begun to flow for me.”


Baden swallowed hard. His godfather was aging quickly as if he was paying the price for maintaining his youth for so many years. When Baden saw him this morning, his godfather looked like a middle-aged man in his later years but in just a few hours, he looked like he had added 10 more years.


“I will escort you. Please come with me.”


“No. My grave will be here.”


“Then I should also…”


“Go.”


“Godfather.”


Cael placed his pendant in Baden’s hand.


“This pendant is connected with your mother’s soul. If your descendants ever find themselves in a crisis, it will be a great help to preserving your legacy.”


Baden took the pendant carefully and put it in his pocket, like it was very valuable. His godfather was a unique individual with a very mysterious set of ability that the average person couldn’t even imagine. A gift from his godfather would not be an ordinary thing.


“I have a request to make.”


“Yes, please. You can ask anything, godfather.”


“Don’t leave any word about me to your future generations. I don’t want to leave any trace of my existence behind.”


“…Yes.”


“Today will be the last day you and I see each other. Don’t ever come here again.”


“Godfather. To me, you were both my teacher and my father. A child abandoning his father is an unfilial act that I cannot consent to.”


“This is my last request. I do not want to show my end to anyone.”


“Godfather…”


Baden’s eyes were filled with tears like he would burst out crying at any moment and from his expression, Cael found the mischievous little boy who used play around him. Evangeline and Baden were miracles that occurred in his dried up life.


In this unpredictable huge world order, he was nothing but a weak and feeble existence. Out of everything he had pursued so desperately, this was the only truth he had gained.


He gave Baden a faint smile.


“Perhaps I am the same. I wish you were my son, Baden.”


Baden bawled like a child.


* * *


Baden didn’t want to leave at all but he had to quickly deal with his mother’s body, so he had no choice but to leave his godfather’s mansion.


When the funeral was over, about ten days had passed. Baden went back to the mansion but the huge building had collapsed and turned into sand. In addition, there was no sign of his godfather anywhere.


Baden felt so stunned that for an entire day, he merely sat down, looking at the pile of rubble.


Time passed and the curtains rose to a period of upheaval. Hundreds of divided forces destroyed each other, or swallowed the other up, growing bigger and bigger and unifying to create a country. Baden made a name for himself as a meticulous subject in the founding of Xenon and was bestowed a title and land. In this new country, Baden created a new family that carried his name.


This was the beginning of the Baden family.


{THE END}
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