The Immortal Witch's Death Wish
[ First, I'd like to apologize for my extended absence. I took quite the mental health leave. This caused many roadblocks or even struggle getting the need to even write a chapter. But rest-assured. I'm back, with many new chapters for all of you c: ]
“H-heyy, brother!! Brother! Look!!” The child said beaming with a bright smile that spread from ear to ear. The painting he held in front of him was just a simple word, but it projected every piece of emotion from it. It told a whole sentence from just that one word alone. No, the word itself wasn’t quite written right.
The child was not yet old enough to write down the words properly, but that was okay. After-all, he was a genius. The painting that stood before his older brother now was one showing the word “lov”. Improperly spelled, yet it exuded every ounce of that word.
It told him of his appreciation for his older brother, and how much he looked up to him. He didn’t have the heart to correct the lad of his spelling. “Aye.” He patted the kid’s head. “You never cease to amaze me… you know that right?”
“Mhm. Of course I’ll be strong! I learned from you Oren.”
Oren couldn’t help but smile at the compliment. “But… you must be strong and stay this happy… always keep smiling.”
“Even if it isn’t genuine. People need someone like that.”
Oren’s smile faded away after he said those words. That’s right, the two brightest children in the village, raised under the great lord Ozun himself, should always show how happy they were that they received such an honor. Even if that happiness was tainted.
“After-all, the whole village puts so much respect on the family’s name and crest. It is important that they see that we’re happy. If not even we are happy, then who can be?”
His younger brother nodded. “Yes! That’s very true!”
Oren nodded. “Now, let’s get back to finishing the transcriptions.”
His face soured into a pout. “But I want to go take a break alreadyyy….”
It was beginning to shift into day time. The sun was slowly starting to peak out from underneath the horizon. Oren knew that he shouldn’t be finishing off so early, but at the sight of his younger brother’s puppy eyes, he finally caved in.
“Alright alright…Just -”
“Yayyy! ALRIGHT LETS GO!! LETS GO LETS GO LETS GO!!”
“Hey- calm down. Keep it quieter!”
“Lets go…” he fell into a hush.
The door to their studies opened slowly. Tiptoeing as silently as he could, he carried the younger brother on his shoulders. The floors in the estate were luckily all concrete or carpeted, making for an easier escape.
“Going somewhere, young masters?”
Bah! They’ve been caught. He had expected them to be asleep as they sometimes do. However, it seemed this time around,their luck had gone dry. The Butler, Owen, scowled. “You really must take better precautions. If your father catches wind of the recent slackery, you know how he will treat you.”
“Are you saying you may end up telling on poor little Zari here?”
Just like everyone else, there was a falter in his resolve and he eventually caved in. With a defeated slump of his composure, he finally caved in and spoke. “Fine, just make sure it’s fast. These days, Lord Ozun’s been working much harder for his results.”
There was a grimm look on his face once he pondered the importance of that statement. He nodded.
At this time, the foolish Zari could not begin to understand the impact of those statements. He wave it aside as adult speak.
The morning breeze greeted them eagerly. The tongues of wind pulled against their clothing-- a refreshing breakaway from the humid atmosphere. The birds serenaded the village. Surprisingly, for how early it was, there was a constant flurry of motion. It’s often easy for people to forget the amount of work villagers put into maintaining their daily lives.
The tanner, Rubon, had already removed the hides from days past. He thoroughly washed them in his metal washbin. Several of the merchants association would be coming soon for his best items to be transported to the main city. As of recent, business had not exactly been successful. Between the demon invasion, the economic fallout, and the problems with succession, there was very little activity on the markets.
Still, he’d make do with what he had. As his eyes locked onto the two Ozun children arriving he quickly stood up and waved.
Oren waved back at the man, Zari still resting on his shoulders.
“Oh! You’ve sure grown a lot taller, huh Zari?”
Zari excitedly nodded. “Mhm! And I’ll still be growing!”
The older man laughed and waved him off “Make sure you grow bigger than your brother. Then next time you can carry him on your shoulders.
“I can do it right now!” He flexed his dainty arms. The old man simply waved them off. “Woah put those away, young man.” The sarcasm in his voice was apparent enough for Oren to pick up on, yet it flew entirely over the kid’s head.
They waved the old man off and continued down their trek. The young woman Hes was already awake, tending to her flora. She had a lovely array littered around her house. The contrast of colors made her home stand out more than ever. This was of course, much to the dismay of her husband, who tried with great effort to maintain a rough brutish demeanor. She greeted them as they passed by.
“Ah! Zari, Oren! Can you guys give me a hand?”
Yet another old lady beckoned to them, the miller’s wife. They eagerly accepted and carried the two buckets of water she had just withdrawn from the well. Zari carried his own.
They mainly walked in silence as the lady carried her own 60lb bags of rice. Suddenly a strange question was posed.
“Oren… why is dad always mean to you?”
This caught Oren by surprise. “Hm? Where are you getting this from?”
“It’s just… I don’t think I remember him ever treating you well.. Unlike me.”
“It’s not like that...Zari. Father is just… he’s like that to everyone.”
“You’re just special is all.”
Zari looked up, kind of shocked. “What do you mean?”
“You’re the golden child…” There seemed to be a hint of animosity in his voice, one that could be easily missed if you were not paying attention. “And I’ve missed the chance a while ago.”
The old lady quickly interrupted. “What are you boys talking about? Excited because of the news?”
This was clearly not the topic of the conversation, but yet she had easily managed to shift the tone from something so heavy.
“They say a group of S-ranked adventurers are coming through this way. They’ll be heading from the capital city on their way to No-man’s land.”
Both Zari and Oren were starstruck. This was a location that no one passes through. It would end up being the biggest thing that had occurred in this city ever. He tried to control his breathing… perhaps… if done rightly, he can finally do it. He can escape this place with them. Both him, and his brother.
They dropped everything off at the lady’s house and couldn’t contain their excitement the entire way through.
After several more tours around the village and walking, the two brothers had finally had their fill of the outside. It was now time to return to the estate.
The doors swung open, and a tall slender figure met them at the entrance. It was one of the butlers, Rogl Helsert. The two Helsert brothers had been attending to them for as long as he could remember. The look that was on his face just now, was clearly hinting at trouble. “Zari, you can go along to your room and finish your studies.”
Zari nodded and went off. Oren was still met at the door. “Oren... I trust I don’t have to say this… but your father wants to speak with you.”
They walked down the halls silently. “.... Rogl.”
Rogl nodded, yet remained silent. It was his way of telling him, the punishment would be worse than expected. He braced himself for the expulsion that was about to occur.
The doors to his father’s quarters opened slowly. The shades were all down, muffling the morning light. Within this dark room, the towering figure of his own father could be seen. His shadow casted a heavy print upon the ground. The door shut behind him slowly.
“Come… have a seat.”
He complied silently.
“Are you angry with me?”
“......” It was better to remain quiet. Even if his answer was to be no.
“I’ve been thinking for a while… Perhaps you resent me. Or is it your brother you resent?”
There was an uneasy silence still in the room. He could not speak. He dared not speak. If he did- if he did… it would be all over.
Lord Ozun continued to dip his quil into the jar of ink. He continued to write on his ledger. After that, he said nothing more. The silence was tantamount to death itself.
“Rogl. You may leave us.”
The butler nodded and promptly excused himself from the room. As the door thudded close, there was nothing but silence. Silence, and the etching of the man’s pen. He was not once spared a look as his father continued the rest of his actions.
He was finally finished with this parchment and grabbed another stack of papers from his pile. Again, he began to work on his approvals, signatures, and responses. The older brother’s eyes shifted around the room nervously.
“You know… I was quite impatient as a child.” He finally rested his pen. “But I knew eventually that I would have to work on such a bothersome quality. Thus, I believe I’ve given you adequate time… answer me?”
“Are you angry with me?”
“Then is it your brother?”
“Do you despise him for being your greater?”
“N-no… it’s not like that. I-”
“Then WHAT IS IT?!”
“WHY DO YOU TRY SO HARD TO SQUANDER HIS POTENTIAL!”
“WHY?! DO YOU RESENT YOURSELF FOR BEING A FAILURE?!”
“Tha-at’s not it!!”
“Don’t you dare raise your voice at me, child.”
His towering figure now loomed over him upon standing up. Ozun was a man who was too forbearing. That was perhaps the only way one could describe him. Just now, it was as if a mountain had formed.
“It’s just… he shouldn’t have to live a life without having truly lived… not like myself.”
“....for something like that…. For Something Like That. You’ve continuously impeded on his progress?!”
His great hands slammed onto the desk. “You have no right. A failure like you has no right!”
Lord Ozun’s fingers quickly enveloped the young man’s throat, squeezing the life force out him. Oren could only hopelessly claw at the man’s hand, but to no avail. With one swift motion, Ozun launched the young man across the room. He flew with such force that his back crashed against the large double doors.
He squirmed in pain, writhing on the floor, struggling to regain his breath, yet his lungs would not even work. Not even a single breath could be heard. His screams were muffled by the fact that air wouldn’t even leave his body.
“Listen well…Oren. Your brother is not like you. If you can’t learn this…. Perhaps I need to give you a warning you can truly understand.”
Oren put his hands out, as if in an attempt to plead with the father. He could not speak.
At that moment, several seals appeared all over his body. The glow from the seals were like markings made of molten brands. There was only one second of realization between the glow, and the pain. The inscriptions made every cell in his body ring out with pain.
At that moment, his mind simply went blank. It wasn’t the initial pain that felt the worst, it was the come down from it. As the effect subsided, it was finally a pain his brain could tolerate to feel, and his screams escaped his lungs so fast that the noise was deafening. The hollowed out screams could be heard like a ghost calling out through the estate’s walls.
His body broke out in cold sweats as he continued to roll around in pain. There was nothing else he could do. His body simply moved on its own, attempting to distract the pain via other sensories.
As soon as his body began to even slow down a little bit, or come to grasps with himself, lord Ozun muttered yet again.
All over again, the pain shot through his body. Each time it continued, the threshold that he was able to feel was getting worse and worse. His lungs didn't even have enough time to catch its breath. His muscles tightened to the point where they ached.
“Stop– … sto..”
“Who are you to give me orders? Writhe”
“Wriithe. Writhe. Writhe. Writhe. Writhe. Writhe. Writhe. Writhe.”
The screams continued to fill the castle. His lip was bruised with blood trailing down and his head pounded. He could only hope to wait for one thing – Himself to fall unconscious. Either his breath would finally give away, or he would die. Either of these outcomes were welcomed.
“Don’t look at me with those disdainful eyes. Who gave you the right?”
“A failure like you should have simply been contempt staying within my household. With a roof over your head until the remainder of your days.”
“You will not interfere in my plans, nor your brother’s future any longer.”
“Should you do so…. You will truly die in a way that is befitting of you.”
Lord Ozun stopped himself. One more time and this man may truly just die. His consciousness was already faded a long while ago.
“Rogl. Get this insolent fool away from me. See to it that he remembers today.”
The door opened up to a disturbed Rogl. The appearance of Master Oren laying within his own vomit and drool, lip bloodied, fingernails torn from grasping at the floors. The gash on his head seemed to need treatment the most.
“-y…yes… right away.” The color from his face was as pale as a ghost. He quickly picked up the mangled son and carried him over his shoulder. “Come… I must get you looked at right away, master Oren.”
The grim feeling that clenched his stomach would never leave him