Chapter 41:

Mourning in the Night

The Consequence of Saving the World

There was only one thing in my head that kept me going forward—the thought of getting as far away as possible from camp, so that no one will hear me grieve.

If I stopped now, the massive, invisible weight that I was carrying would crush me. If I fell down, I don’t think I could get up. A few times now, I’ve stumbled and tripped—not because I was blind in this total darkness, but because I was blind from my tear-soaked eyes.

I couldn’t imagine how pathetic I must’ve looked as I dragged my feet across the forest floor. The crickets’ songs felt like they were there to spite me—the noise they made was on the verge of making my head explode.


My bellow pierced through the leaves and the branches. While the crickets stopped, the voices in my head didn’t.

What’s the point of posing as a Hero if you couldn’t even save mum?

What kind of horrible son must you be for not burying your own dead mother?

What have you done for the Goddess to punish you so?

A cacophony of voices, all sounding similar to mine, ripped apart at my psyche with their incessant questioning. The logical side of me was starting to crumble—my mind’s way of coping with the pain was to pass the blame of mum’s death onto me. The fact was that this was beyond my control. Heck, mum probably died long ago when Hanasuke was still active. Even knowing that, my head couldn’t stop torturing me in a futile attempt to soothe my shattered soul.

With every step that I take, I felt the area around my chest tightening. The breathlessness I was feeling was getting more and more severe. The hole in my heart was bleeding hope.

Why are you alive?

The questions in my mind began to cross into unsafe territory. I just wished I could turn off my brain. Just stop thinking. Maybe that way, it wouldn’t hurt so much.

Enough. Get a hold of yourself, Evan.

I shook my head in an attempt to dispel my thoughts. However, as my mind started to clear, two streams started to flow down my cheeks. The harder I tried to wipe, the more I started to gasp and wheeze in an attempt to reclaim the air robbed from my bawling. I was like a sailor on a doomed vessel—every time I patched one hole, another one opened anew.

Eventually, my legs surrendered. My knees plopped lifelessly into the ground. My body was so numb from my emotional distress, I couldn’t feel the pain from the impact.

I wasn’t sure if I was far away enough from camp, but I couldn’t move any further. Since this was as far as I could go, I went ahead with what I originally planned to do.

Fighting against my tears and erratic breathing, I inhaled and shouted as hard as I could.

Nothing came out of my gaping mouth, not even my breath. I yelled so loud, there was not a single sound. The only thing I could hear was my pain.

That was strange. I thought I would’ve felt better, but I didn’t. Why did it hurt so bad?

Why mum, must you leave me all alone?

My body finally succumbed to my broken state. Everything from my waist up started to fall forwards. Before I could reach the ground, something prevented me from falling all the way down.

Sereya held me from behind, her single arm wrapping around my chest as I could feel her head on my shoulder.

“It’s okay to let it all out,” she told me.

Whether it was her presence or her words, it caused something to open inside of me. I could feel the air in my breath again. I took another deep breath and yelled to the sky.

It was the scream of my soul. There was sound this time. What started as a harsh yawp devolved into ugly crying.

“Don’t hold anything back. It’s okay to cry.”

Even without Sereya’s permission, I was overwhelmed by the pent-up emotion inside. My face was getting drenched from all the sobbing. The ground below me turned from soil into mud as a result.

“Why? Why must mum leave me all alone? I don’t want you to leave me!”

As a new wave of sorrow washed over me, I pulled Sereya’s arm away from my body, giving me space to turn around and face her. I grabbed her hand with both of mine.

“There has to be a way, a spell, something to bring her back, right? Ordis must know something, right? We have to go see him right n—”

“No Evan, I’m sorry.”

“You’re one of the Seven Heroes, you could save her! You’re just not trying hard enough!”

“Evan, wake up! She’s gone,” Sereya insisted, putting a stop to all my wishful thinking.

I sat there, empty and dejected. The realisation that I’d never see my mum again hit me. Despite that, my crying had slowed down. I cried so much that I was running out of tears. Even my throat was dry.

“Sereya, I’m not sure what’s the point of going back to Breven anymore. I really don’t know what to do with my life.”

“What about your sister?”

I was scared. I feared that Eveline had also met with the same fate. Still, the thought that my sister might still be out there filled me with newfound energy.

“I need to find out what happened to her,” I could finally answer without being interrupted by my crying.

Seeing the flame rekindle in my eyes, Sereya nodded her head in support.

“I’ll help out too. She’ll be alright.”

“But what if she—”

Before my doubt and tears could fully reform, she placed a finger over my lips.

“Leave the mourning of tomorrow for tomorrow. You’re already hurt enough.”

My words were stuck in my throat, caught between my breaths and the lack thereof. I could only nod repeatedly as I wait for it to clear.

Eveline should be twenty-two by now. Thinking about it, it wasn't that strange for her to ‘not appear on record’ as Anita mentioned. If I was the sister of someone who was worshipped as a god, I too, would not want people to know we’re related.

Even though my body was still crying and wheezing, my mind had returned to normal. The thought of my sister was like a grindstone that resharpened my mind. The negative thoughts that had uprooted themselves before had been slashed and scattered.

“It’s not just my sister, I need to find out what happened to mum,” I affirmed to my partner, who agreed with my goals.

According to Anita, the Evanists were looking for where she was buried. The least I could do for her was to stop others from turning her grave to another holy site for a false god.

I wasn’t sure if the people I knew back home would still recognise me as the son of Farhana Constantine and not the son of the Goddess, but I needed to try. There had to be some of the old folks who still ought to be there. Hopefully, they’ll know what happened.

As I regained my sense of purpose, my composure followed suit as well. My eyes were still red, but they were no longer leaking. The pain was still there and probably will be for days to come, but it was bearable, I think.

“Sereya, I’m sorry,” I apologised.

“No, what are you saying? It’s okay for men to cry. Crying doesn’t make you less of a man, not crying makes you less of a human.”

Her advice was music to my ears, but that wasn’t why I was apologising.

“No, I told you that I’ll bring you to see mum, but now, I don’t think I can do that anymore.”

“You can,” she assured, “We’ll find your mum and your sister. Then the three of us can pay our respects together. Even though she’s in a better place, I still want to thank your mum for bringing such an amazing person to this world.”

It wasn’t her compliment that made me feel better, it was the fact that I could feel cringe once more that filled my heart with joy.

“Wait till you meet my sister, Eveline. I promise you, she’ll blow you away.”

“Oh? And what did she do to deserve that pedestal?”

I could feel a smile taking shape on my lips as I declared, “She fought against Remus Whiteaxe with nothing but a wooden sword.”

Seeing Sereya’s eyes widen in disbelief filled me with pride, “You’re joking, right?”

“Nope. A twelve-year old Eveline challenged Remus Whiteaxe who still had Diphaxia. This was in the Memory Dive, but it still counts.”

“Hmm, then hopefully she can teach me a thing or two about sword fighting,” the master swordswoman admitted. I wasn’t sure if she was being humble or being serious.

“Maybe you can tell me more about it another time,” she continued, “Let’s head back to camp.”

As Sereya held my hand and guided me in this darkness, I silently swore that I’ll fulfil my duties not as a Hero, but as a son and elder brother.