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“The harpoons were aimed at our wings, but, one of them deviated mid-air and was coming for my chest. Seeing this, my husband rushed to protect me, dying in my place…” → Sara
She stopped for a moment, feeling like she just swallowed her own tongue. After taking a deep breath, she continued narrating her story.
“After that, I was took as a slave by the demons then transported to the Nostrung continent. He died in my place… Guch…” → Sara
She started crying silently while she felt her heart ache, clasping her wings together at her chest.
“… Sigh…” → Andrew
Andrew raised his hand toward Sara and caressed her head slowly.
Sara was surprised by Andrew actions and looked at him with wide-open and teary eyes. Nevertheless, she left him to caress her head, feeling the warmth coming from his rough palm.
“… I… was a soldier at the borders between Nostrung and Eihwaz.” → Andrew
Andrew started narrating his life while caressing Sara’s head. His voice heavy, while his eyes deep.
“I never liked training… I would try to laze around every time I had the possibility when the commander wasn’t looking, I was the laidback-type… I was from a village near the borders and married a woman from that village… We loved each other and we thought of making a child. One day, I had to go to the borders to patrol again… I left my pregnant wife home, while I left towards the borders… As always, I felt like patrolling around the borders was a waste of time. The last beast that appeared was 5 years ago, the chances of appearing one while I was on patrol were close to 0… Or at least… that’s what I thought.” → Andrew
Andrew retracted his palm, looking at the sunset that almost disappeared, with incredible pain and guilt in his eyes. Sara was shocked when she saw the painful emotions in his eyes, making Andrew look like a tired old man who wished to end his life but couldn’t. With an even heavier voice he continued, narrating everything and trying not to swallow his own tongue.
“While I was on guard, I fell asleep right beside a ravine under a tree, not caring for the world. The ravine was the viewing point toward the Eihwaz continent and also the only point from where a beast could appear… After some time, I opened my eyes and saw in front of me a pack of huge demonic beasts of the tiger family. I can remember even now, the blood-red claws and fangs, the blood-shot eyes and the red with black strippers fur… it was a demonic beast of the most savage species, the Blood-Sucking Tiger. When I saw them I panicked at first, attracting the attention of the beasts. Because I didn’t train enough, I wasn’t able to fight them alone, being pushed down the ravine and falling on sharp stone, splitting the muscles on my back. The doctors had to mow my back so it could heal… the end result is an ugly scar on my back, from my right shoulder to my left hip.” → Andrew
When Shen wanted to heal everyone, Andrew was the only one who stood back, saying he had no problems, not being able to get rid of his past and sins.
After I recovered, I heard the news. The beasts that were left by me to run away, attacked a nearby village, the exact village in which my wife and not even born child resided… I rushed there even though my back was bleeding. I rushed there only to see a view from Hell…” → Andrew
Andrew’s eyes darkened and blood-shot while his voice trembled.
“The houses were flattened, the fences destroyed and the villagers…. no survivors. Everyone had missing body-parts and died with a face full of terror while being drained of blood. I rushed to my home only to find it completely destroyed and… Gulp” → Andrew
Andrew felt like vomiting, his face ghastly white. Even so, he continued to say.
“And to find my wife… with her stomach ripped open-mphf…” → Andrew
Andrew’s mouth was covered by blue feathers, not being able to say another word.
“Enough!… Please….” → Sara
Sara was shaking all over. Her face was drenched in tears and even whiter than Andrew’s. Her stomach was revolving while her heart ached again.
“I’m sorry! I’m extremely sorry! I never thought you had so much pain and sufferings behind your indifferent look, yet I made you uncover such terrifying scars… I’m so sorry…” → Sara
Sara cried again, this time for Andrew. A sour smell in her nose while a cold wind made her tremble from head to toe.
Andrew looked with pained eyes at Sara, his face full of grief.
“Now you understand what kind of worthless person I am… After I got summoned in front of my superiors, they said I have two choices… Either I kill myself by jumping again from the same ravine, this time head-first to be sure I’ll die. Or, I become a slave, working for free for someone else completely willingly. When I said I wished to die while fighting the beasts, they said the beasts were already taken care of, making my only wish of revenge disappear up in smoke… The ravine failed once so I thought to at least be useful in a way to someone. I chose to become a slave, working for someone else till I’ll drop somewhere besides the road… When Lord Shen rescued me, it meant nothing to me at that time… I was only thinking: ‘Oh… a new master now…’ I tried to be as useful and do whatever he wished from me… that’s how I ended up here and that’s why I won’t show any more relaxation in this life… I’ve relaxed enough in my early years.” → Andrew
Andrew said with a dark face then turned around to patrol on the walls.
Sara looked at his back as he walked away. She felt grievance in her heart for him, his large back looked as if a mountain of guilt and self-blame were on top of it, while a shadow of loneliness covered his strong spirit.
“Andrew… At least, please stay healthy… Don’t overdo it…” → Sara
Sara then said in a hushed voice.
“… We still need you…” → Sara
Andrew stopped in his track, he didn’t look back but said.
“As long as I’m still needed, I won’t go anywhere… Don’t worry.” → Andrew
He continued to patrol, his face as indifferent as always.
Sara looked with a sad face at him. She turned back and wished to leave when she saw the fairy leader, Tama climbing up the stairs slowly.
“M-Miss Tama, how come you’re here?” → Sara
Sara was surprised to see her on the wall and hastily helped her get up. She then remembered she had her face drenched in tears. She hastily tried to hide her face, feeling a little bit embarrassed.
“I wished to see the sunset. That banquet is too much of a nuisance for someone my age.” → Tama
Tama smiled lightly. The fairies aged the slowest, she looked 14 years old while being 165, being one of the oldest persons beside the old dragoon general Gerome, which was 187 years old and the mouse old man Mingzhi which was 280 years old.
“I-I see…” → Sara
Sara smiled wryly. In this world, a young adult is till the age of 50, from 50 to 150 you’re an adult and from 150 to up, you’re an elder. From 0 to 25 you’re still a child or youth.
The only race whose body matures faster than the others is the spirit-fox, looking like in their prime till they reach the age of an elder, while the race that remains forever young is the Fairy which would only age inside and the fox-spirits which would look the same after reaching the pinnacle of adulthood, having the same appearance but the organs aging like normal.
“… Sir Andrew is truly a poor soul.” → Tama
Tama shook her head slowly with a bitter face while looking in the distance at him.
Sara was shocked by what Tama just said. She looked at her with wide eyes, waiting for her to continue.
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“I’m sorry, I didn’t wish to eavesdrop to Andrew’s story. I happened to walk around the wall when I heard Andrew’s voice.” → Tama
Tama said with a sad smile, she heard his story in full. She then looked at Sara and said.
“Sara, you’re the only person to whom Andrew said what was inside his heart. It seems you were able to win some of his trust, unlike us to whom he locked his heart away. He might not know it, but by telling you what was inside his heart, he also gave out a signal of help. However much he wants to punish himself, his heart wishes to be free from all the guilt and sadness.” → Tama
“Me… Help Andrew? How?” → Sara
Sara was surprised by what Tama said, she wanted to save Andrew from all that blame but didn’t know what to do.
“Sara. To help him, you must first wish to open his heart to you. You know what that means? It means you first need to open yours to his.” → Tama
Tama said with a serious face then continued.
“You must get over your loss and make Andrew do the same. For a human like him, living alone is the most painful torture someone could get. Loneliness for a big heart is the deadliest poison, and you also know that. If you’ll be able to help him, he will also reach out and help you out right back. So Sara, do you still wish to help him?” → Tama
“Open Andrew’s heart…? Isn’t that the same as making him fall for me?” → Sara
Sara asked with a slight blush on her face. Then she remembered her husband’s face and her heart fell once again.
“… I don’t think I’m the one for him… My love is already dead…” → Sara
“… I understand about your loss… I lost my entire village together with my family to the bandits. They burned down the entire forest while my loved ones were either killed or sold as slaves inside the demonic continent… Even now I still have no idea how my people are doing and I still pray that they either had a peaceful death or are under a great master like ours. However, I am aware that I won’t be able to see them again… something is telling me this. But together with the loss of my loved ones, I don’t wish to have my heart lost as well. I want to look forward and live the rest of my life with no regrets, and if possible, for them as well.” → Tama
Tama said with clear eyes and a sad smile while remembering the past.
“It might sound heartless, but with age, you’ll understand that praying for the dead while looking forward is the right thing to do. Never forget the ones who loved you and died, but don’t get dragged down by them either. Sometimes you must look forward, even if others might think you’re heartless, you must live your life. Keep on mourning the dead and when will you live, Sara?” → Tama
Tama asked with a look of worry and sympathy. She wished to see everyone happy, especially the young ones who still had a long life to live in front.
Sara was able to understand what Tama said. She was right, she needed to go on, getting lost in the past is not a wise decision. You can repent for your mistakes but making a black heart because of this is not the right decision. Even if is painful, you need to let go.
“Uhh~ Waah~!” → Sara
She cried out while releasing the pain inside her own heart, falling on her knees and hugging Tama with her blue wings.
“Let it all out, little Sara…” → Tama
Tama hugged her back and caressed her head with a loving smile. She felt how Sara resembled her own little granddaughter who tried to be independent but still wished to be pampered by her grandmother, letting out a light laugh at this recollection.
On the other part of the fortress, where Andrew patrolled the walls with heavy steps.
“Sir Andrew.” → Gerome
Gerome walked on top of the wall beside Andrew, both of them looking towards the East, watching the blue Moon in the sky.
“It’s not nice to eavesdrop on someone else’s conversation, sir Gerome.” → Andrew
Andrew said with an indifferent voice and face, having his hands crossed over his chest.
“Hohoho~. Did you detect me? I was sure to learn the shadow magic from the demons to perfection. I forgot what you learned was the lightning element, making me an easy target. Hoho~ my mistake.” → Gerome
Gregor laughed then looked at Andrew with a calm face.
“Dear Andrew, are you not tired of this self-torture?” → Gerome
“I don’t know what you mean by that.” → Andrew
“Hoho~ is that so? Then let me ask another question. Do you wish for Miss Sara to help you?” → Gerome
Gerome asked again, looking with a knowing eye at Andrew.
Andrew’s face turned serious then glanced at Gerome.
“I said all that only so she could understand what kind of person I am. I expect no help. Besides, she already has a husband and I can’t forget about my wife… Indeed, saying such things to her is my mistake, I regret it.” → Andrew
“But you don’t need to forget about your wife, though? And yes, she does has a husband who is also dead, am I right?” → Gerome
Gerome asked with a surprised face at the dense Andrew.
“What are you trying to say, old man?” → Andrew
Andrew felt irritated at the insensible comments and felt like leaving him to patrol some more.
“Oh my, your temper Andrew, Haha~. Listen here young man. I’m trying to tell you to listen to your heart for once. All this time you ran from good times and searched hardships and sufferings. Do you think you’ll repent if you kill yourself like this?” → Gerome
Gerome asked, this time with a serious face.
Andrew’s face darkened and asked.
“Then what do you wish me to do? I’m already only a slave, more than this would be to suicide… Is this what you’re asking me to do, Gerome?” → Andrew
“Oh but not at all. What I mean by “repent” is to go with the woman your heart is crying for and start things all over again.” → Gerome
Gerome said with a calm face while looking in the distance.
“What you’re doing right now is not repenting, but simply self-torture, which is stupid. You already know the mistakes you’ve made, I think is the time to start it over, this time doing it right.” → Gerome
Gerome said with clear eyes then looked at Andrew.
“Be a true man, Andrew. Do you think that your wife up in heavens and your unborn child would ever blame you if you helped a widow to feel the happiness that she couldn’t achieve anymore? If you truly wish to repent, then do your job as a man and accept Sara in your life, the one chosen by your heart and make her the happiest woman on Sario. Help her get over the pain and also you yourself try to look more forward.” → Gerome
Gerome said with a wide grin while closing his eyes, bathing his face to the blue rays of the moon and feeling the cold wind of autumn.
Andrew was silent, his eyes big, looking at Gerome as if he said the most absurd thing ever.
“Oh, that’s a healthy face. The always indifferent or serious one made me cramp all the time. Hohoho~. I’ll go back to the banquet and ask Miss Tama for a dance, excuse me now~.” → Gerome
Gerome excused himself with a happy face then jumped from atop the wall while making light steps.
“… Sir Gerome.” → Andrew
“Hm?” → Gerome
He turned around to see a rare smile on Andrew’s face, making the old man surprised.
“Oh my…” → Gerome
“Thank you… Mister Gerome.” → Andrew
Andrew made a sad smile and bowed his head respectfully.
Gerome said nothing but smiled and nodded back. He then continued his steps without saying anything.
Andrew walked forward on the wall, continuing his patrol when he saw Sara again, this time she had a serious and firm face on.
“Andrew… Would you please, dance with me?” → Sara
Sara said while looking with big eyes and a little blush on. She was expecting to get refused so her hopes weren’t that high, however.
“Very well, then. → Andrew
Andrew answered immediately.
How laughable, the woman asks the man for a dance. Good thing Gerome is not present, he would’ve laughed at my face for a good while. → Andrew
Andrew thought with self-ridicule while imagining Gerome holding his stomach from the laughter.
“ T-thought so… WAIT? YES?” → Sara
Sara was saddened at first, then stupefied by the fact that he actually accepted. Her eyes reverted instantly and stared at him with a small smile and big eyes.
“Hahaha~” → Andrew
For the first time, Andrew laughed, making Sara even more dazed.
Have I said something wrong? Is he thinking that I’m not serious? → Sara
“Sir Andrew. I truly wish to dance with you.” → Sara
She said again, this time being sure she said it right.
“Yes, I understand. Then please let me do the least thing a man is supposed to do and walk you at the banquet, Miss Sara.” → Andrew
Andrew made a refreshing smile while slowly bowing his head in a straight position.
Ah… I think I’ll try to listen to my heart at least this one time. If nothing works and I turn back to what I was before, then so be it. I’ll live my hell with no remorse. → Andrew
Andrew thought with a calm heart. He was ready to accept the best and the worst case scenario at the same time. This time, with a peaceful mind.
“Y-yes! Please do.” → Sara
Sara looked dazed at Andrew then she answered in a rush, giving her wing to Andrew.
Andrew took the left wing in his hand and held it with care. He looked in Sara’s surprised eyes and walked her to the banquet.
When they arrived, everyone stopped and looked with dumbfounded faces at the two. Everyone knew Andrew’s temperament and Sara’s tragedy. Seeing them together and holding hands… or better said hand and wing, made everyone stop from what they were doing for a second, starring in a daze.