223 – Escape (5)
Baran returned home late at night, after dealing with all the guests.
As soon as he entered the house, someone called out his name.
It was the voice of Lora, to whom he had promised marriage.
Startled by her voice, Baran rushed into the house.
“What’s the matter?”
Yet Lora was standing in the room, looking perfectly healthy.
She merely stood there, gasping in surprise and looking down at something.
“…Why are you like this?”
His relief was short-lived.
Baran approached Lora.
She was looking down at a small postcard.
“…This…it was here when I came home.”
It had been a while since Baran had practiced reading and writing with Berg’s help.
He still couldn’t read fluently, but he had attained a certain level of ability.
Lora was also a woman who knew her letters.
First, the surprised girl speaks.
“… Baran, don’t be alarmed.”
“What is it?”
As she handed over the postcard, Lora spoke.
‘Sorry for not being able to attend the wedding.’
Baran’s body stiffened at those words.
It was as if Berg had come back to life and told him himself.
For a moment, Baran felt his throat tighten.
But that feeling was short-lived.
Baran knew better than anyone that Berg was dead.
Whoever played this kind of prank, nothing but anger welled up inside him.
The postcard seemed to disgrace the connection he had with Berg.
Their relationship shouldn’t have been treated as a joke like this.
Their memories, saving each other countless times at the crossroads of life and death, hadn’t gone anywhere.
In the end, Baran couldn’t hold back his anger and stepped outside.
He was determined to find whoever was responsible for this.
But as soon as he left the house, Baran saw numerous crew members approaching him.
Everyone was holding up torches and coming towards him.
Gael, panting heavily, also ran to him.
“…What’s going on?”
Confused, Baran momentarily forgot his anger and asked.
“…Sir Shien has disappeared.”
But as if that wasn’t the end of the story, Gael continued.
“…Sir Ner and Sir Arwin as well.”
I had secretly hidden in the village of Stockfin during the night.
There was one last thing I had to do.
However, I felt that there was not much time left for me in this place due to the chaos rising in the village.
It seemed that Shien, Ner, and Arwin had left with Flint’s help.
I bit my tongue.
I was filled with regret as the moment of farewell approached.
Honestly, I wanted to stay here for a while longer.
There was still so much I wanted to say to Adam.
…But perhaps I didn’t realize that this was my bad habit.
From Noble mtl dot com
The habit of not letting people go.
Maybe it was time to let him go now.
From now on, there would be no reason for me to return to this place.
There was no other place where my face was as well known as it was here.
That meant one thing.
I would not see Adam, who had stayed here all his life, ever again.
This was the end.
I looked down at Adam’s gravestone.
The epitaph still remained empty.
But now, at last, I knew what words should fill it.
Was it because I had avenged my brother, or was it because I was leaving to find happiness?
I didn’t know the reason…but the words I had left for my brother were so simple and straightforward.
In fact, there would be another time to talk about complicated stories.
I picked up a stone nearby.
With that, I began to etch the letters one by one onto the empty gravestone.
I engraved all the letters, and then shook my hand, throwing the stone away.
And then, quietly looking down at Adam’s grave, I placed my hand on it.
The cold touch of his tomb.
Upon reflecting, quite some time had passed since he left my side.
Probably, the age at which he met his death and my current age were similar.
I knelt on one knee in front of Adam’s grave.
Silently, I leaned forward and rested my forehead against the tombstone.
It was my last farewell to my brother.
As I opened my mouth to speak my last words, the emotions I had been trying to suppress seemed to waver.
All the memories I had made with him, from the moment we met, came flooding back.
‘Do you want to be a mercenary with me?’
‘Hey! You’ll die if you do that!’
I gave a light chuckle.
My hand, which had been unable to let go for a long time, slowly began to loosen its grip.
I was slowly letting go of Adam, who had been my benefactor and a steadfast friend.
At the same time, a tear trickled down my cheek.
The tears that had seemed to stop, unable to believe that he was really gone, finally flowed.
I had pondered for a long time about what to say, but as always, our farewell was brief and curt.
‘…See you later.’
And so, I bade my final farewell to Adam.
Then, I rose from my spot.
At the same time, I began to move.
It was time to meet my wives.
Baran had searched all of Stockfine, but he could not find anyone.
Not Cien, nor Ner, nor Arwin.
Everyone seemed to have disappeared.
He was submerged in confusion.
It was a mystery that they had all vanished in an instant, and it was also a mystery that he couldn’t find them anywhere.
It was as if they had disappeared deliberately.
Baran began to feel an intense sense of guilt.
What would Berg think if he saw this situation?
No one was able to protect the family he entrusted them with.
Barran ran around everywhere again.
His colleagues from the Scarlet Flame already turned the village upside down, but he didn’t stop.
“It’s not here!”
Yet, nobody could find them.
In such a situation, the only place they hadn’t searched in the village was the communal graveyard.
So many people had gathered to mourn Berg, and they had temporarily restricted entry to the area.
Even considering that there weren’t many places to hide, the only remaining place was there.
Gail seemed to have the same thought by his side.
“…should we check the-“
Barran immediately responded.
Perhaps the three of them were in front of Berg’s tombstone.
They might all be huddled together there to mourn him.
Barran reopened the closed area.
The torchlight began to flicker in the darkened communal graveyard.
Barran felt sorry for disturbing the rest of his colleagues, but everyone would understand his feelings at this moment.
However, Gail and Barran, who went into the communal graveyard, let out a deep sigh.
They couldn’t find anyone in front of Berg’s grave.
Barran couldn’t look straight at Berg’s grave site.
As if making excuses, he whispered in front of Berg’s tombstone.
“…I’ll find them soon.”
Of course, it wasn’t as if the buried Berg was sleeping here, but it felt as if he were listening.
The moment they turned the torch, they found something.
Even in the darkness, the change was all too visible.
It was because he had seen it endlessly in his daily life that he could react sensitively to the difference.
It was the change that had occurred in Adam’s tomb, which was right next to Berg’s grave.
At the same time that Baran noticed the change, Gale slowly approached him.
Baran almost dropped the torch in that moment.
He stared at the tombstone of Captain Adam filled with short phrases in disbelief.
Just a few days ago, he had seen it empty with his own eyes.
In that short time, someone had filled it in like this.
“…This… This is…”
Gale whispered, momentarily kneeling in front of it.
Then he continued to deny the truth as if he couldn’t believe it.
Seeing Gale like this, Baran took out a postcard from his pocket.
It was the postcard he had received earlier.
This time, it was different words he heard.
Perhaps he could call it a joke once, but no one would play a joke on Captain Adam’s tombstone.
‘Sorry I can’t attend the wedding.’
Baran handed the postcard to Gale.
Gale’s expression deepened even more upon seeing the postcard.
“…When… did this… postcard…”
“I found it earlier on. It was placed in my house. I thought it was a joke, but…”
Gale let out a hollow laugh that seemed like he was about to cry.
For a while, Gale trembled as he looked back and forth between Adam’s tombstone and the postcard and said,
“…This is… Berg’s handwriting…”
Baran slowly blinked his eyes too.
Suddenly, everything seemed to fall perfectly into place.
Why Sien, Ner, and Arwin had been alright in a heartbeat.
And why they had all disappeared together.
Who had delivered this postcard?
Who had engraved the epitaph on Adam’s tombstone?
“How on earth…!”
Gale raised her voice gradually as she asked.
However, the “how” was not important.
…Unbelievable as it may be, all traces pointed towards one fact.
Baran knelt down.
In fact, he had not confirmed Bergh’s cremation himself.
“…Is he still alive?”
Baran looked down at Adam’s tombstone again.
He read the simple inscription once more.
‘My eternal brother.
Adam, rest here.’