Chapter 55:

See You Soon

The Consequence of Saving the World

Labour fills the coffers, journey fills the soul.

Mum used to say that to me. In her younger days, she travelled throughout all of Fallcross before meeting that scumbag I called dad. She loved exploring new places, and I think I finally understand what she meant by that quote.

Even though I was on a trip back home, it had been an enriching experience. I had several close shaves, such as with Rolf and the Dire Wolf attack, which thankfully didn’t happen again in my later hunting excursions. Despite that, both instances made me look deeper within myself and how I could be better for the people around me.

To think that in just seven days, Sereya and Ain have become friends. If anything, they were the ones who’ve grown more than me. I could recall having to go out of my way just to repair the awkward atmosphere between them during the first few days of this journey. Now, I occasionally catch myself getting jealous for not being able to join their conversations!

To think that all this would come to an end tomorrow—I couldn’t help but feel empty inside.

As I lay on my bedroll blanketed by my own thoughts, I removed my necklace. With my hand outstretched, I stared at the plain, metal square at the end of the chain. It was missing its bottom half.

I still remembered Eveline forcing mum to buy the exact same necklace for her since she didn’t have one. When hers broke, I was somehow able to break off the bottom half of the pendant just so that both of ours were broken identically. Needless to say, with how furious mum was, they were the last pieces of accessories that she ever gave to us.

Last pieces, huh.

This was bad. My eyes were watering up.

Truth be told, trying to fall asleep ever since I learned mum was gone was a nightly struggle. Luckily, Sereya was a heavy sleeper, so my rustling didn’t bother her. I managed to stop myself from crying in my sleep so far, but I guessed that this was the night which I failed.

Tomorrow, I’d have to say goodbye to Ain and Anita. At times, seeing the two of them laughing and arguing with each other felt like a hole was being opened in my heart. These were the moments that I’d no longer have with mum.

I didn’t even have the chance to say goodbye.

As my breathing started to grow uneven and louder, my hand tried to suppress the noise by covering my mouth. Two small streams began to soak the sides of my face. I shut my eyes and wiped my face with my hands—didn’t want my bedroll to get wet.

In the midst of this, my heart stopped momentarily when I saw a hand enter the tent through the flap in the opening.


Crap. My crying wasn’t loud at all—there was no way I would wake her up from a tent away!

“Yeah, what’s up?” as I responded, I did whatever I could to remove any sign of weeping on me. There was no point trying to feign being asleep at this stage.

Ain’s head peered in. She, too, seemed restless. Even though it was dark, my eyes have adjusted enough to tell that it wasn’t my crying that woke her up—she simply never fell asleep to begin with.

As she stepped inside, the little girl asked, “You couldn’t sleep as well?”

“Yeah, but it’s normal for me, don’t worry about it. You should head back and sleep. You’re still young—you don’t want to end up like me now, right?”

She shook her head defiantly. The little girl walked in and sat beside me.

As she huddled up by the side, a sense of deja vu also paid me a visit. Several days ago, this stubborn rebel anchored down at the same spot as she refused to eat Sereya’s breakfast. It was only after a villainous pep talk did her perspective and the state of her empty stomach changed.

“Uncle, can you tell me why you couldn’t sleep?”

It was a simple question—one that I already had the answer for in my head the whole time. Yet, it was so difficult to tell it as it is.

“Not too long ago, I learned that my mum passed away. I’m still trying to get used to it of course, but it hurts. I wasn’t able to say goodbye to her, spend time with her, or even do my part as her son. At night when I try to sleep, these regrets keep me awake.”

“Oh…” her hand quickly covered her mouth in shock, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked that.”

“It’s fine. So tell me—what’s keeping you awake, Ain?”

“Err, it’s better I don’t say. After what you told me, I’ll feel horrible if I told you mine.”

“Don’t be. It’s not like you’re purposely trying to stay awake, right? So don’t feel bad if something keeps you up at night.”

With the mood being this dour, I suddenly thought of something great to share.

“You know, when I was your age, there was a time when I couldn’t sleep as well. I lived on a farm you see, and we raised a lot of animals—horses, cows, chickens. The farm animals were my closest friends, and I’d spend so much time just talking with them, even though they obviously couldn’t understand what I said.

But when I got a bit older, I realised some of the chickens go missing from time to time. I told my mum that we should go look for them, but then she said, ‘Huh? Didn’t you know we’ve been eating them all this while?’

I got so upset. My mum was killing my friends and making me eat them all along. At night, I couldn’t sleep because I thought the souls of the chickens would haunt me, since I let them die.”

Ain’s giggles were growing louder and louder, so much so that I had to shush her. Sereya rolled to her side and faced us, causing us to be petrified.

After a few seconds of complete stillness, we eased up again once we were certain that she was still completely knocked out.

“So yeah,” I whispered, “I couldn’t fall asleep because chickens haunted me. There’s no way your reason for not being able to sleep could be worse than that, so feel free to tell me.”

She thought for a bit. There was a mix of shame and sadness on her face as she struggled to find where to start.

“Promise me you won’t tell anyone else—even Sereya.”

She stuck out her pinky to me. I responded by wrapping mine with hers. Though, it was more like pinky swallowed hers up though, due to the size difference.

“You know how my mum and me couldn't join the rest of the pilgrimage because I was sick? I faked it.

I found this whole ‘Lord Evan’ thing stupid. I really didn’t want to go. So when we did go, and then of all people, it was Sereya who was our escort, I became even angrier.

But then you were there, and you kept going out of your way just to make me feel better, even though you didn’t have to. Sometimes, I even think you planned out everything at the pilgrim camp just to help me and Sereya make up.

We've only known each other for a week, but I really think of you as an uncle who has known me my whole life. This past week, I’ve gone from really upset to really happy because of you, you know? I really, really, really want you to stay with me, mum and dad forever, you know?”

As her tears began to gush out, I patted her on the back to console her.

“So when you said you couldn’t sleep because not being able to say goodbye hurts, I didn’t want to tell this to you, because saying goodbye hurts, too, and I don’t want to do it!”

The poor girl hugged me as she cried. I didn’t know I meant so much to her.

She may be naughty, rude and a pain to deal with at times, but I wished I could stay with her, too. Sadly, I knew for a fact that that wouldn’t be possible. I had to look for mum and Eveline no matter what.

“You idiot.”

Crap! Sereya woke up!

“You’re making it sound like you’ll never see him again. There’s nothing to stop us from visiting you from time to time, you know that right?”

She was half-awake, fully annoyed, but in Ain’s moment of weakness, she was showing exactly the caring side that I adored her for.

“But still! But still!” the little girl struggled to argue as she was also fighting against her tears.

I patted her on the head, “Ain, remember when you told me that you weren’t going to cry because my arm broke, but you’ll smile because I saved your life? Well, I’m going to smile because I met you, and I want you to do the same too.”

Amidst her flowing tears and shortness of breath, she tried her best to smile at me.

“And as Sereya said, we’re not saying goodbye. True friends don’t say goodbye. They say, ‘see you soon.’”

Ain nodded repeatedly. She slowly moved away from me.

“Let’s go get you washed up. I need to take a breather outside now that this came over here and woke me up.”

They said that a person is at their worst when they just wake up. Sereya’s kindness just proved that she was better than anyone else.

Just before she stepped out of the tent to accompany Ain, she turned around and said:

“See you soon, huh? That’s a beautiful way of putting it.

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