Cry, Even Better If You Beg - Chapter 138
The fever further simmered down, so the time for Leyla’s full consciousness to return won’t be long now. With her health gradually improving, she had taken to sleeping like a log most of the time in her recovery.
But for the most part, Kyle continued to fret over her condition and the baby’s, even when he knew the worst had already come to pass. He knew this because while he was still a novice as a medical student, he had been shadowing his father for a long time. He knew there could still be further complications that could spring up with a patient like Leyla. The fever itself would have taken a great toll on her mental and physical health.
“Uncle…” she moaned, tossing and turning in bed as she called out for her dead uncle. She must be dreaming of the past again, he mused. All Kyle could do was to stay by Leyla’s side, at best.
But the question remained. As soon as her condition gets better, what should he do next?
The answer he’d immediately concluded made Kyle’s stomach churn uncomfortably.
It is pure cruelty to leave Leyla by the Duke’s side like this. But Kyle was only more certain that the man would never let Leyla go. He would go to such lengths just to keep her with him.
Should he run away with Leyla, then? Make a break for it now, and ask forgiveness later for acting so rashly.
But where would they go?
In this time of war, nowhere was safe. The Duke would only be more likely to get himself in a position to raid where they were to reside, and he’d be branded a deserter, sentenced to die for abandoning his post.
Not to mention Leyla was with child. The travel alone could stress her so much either to an early grave, or early labor.
“Uncle Bill, help us.” Kyle quietly pleaded into the wind, raising his head to look up at the ceiling in despair.
What would Uncle Bill do?
He didn’t know. No matter how much he gave it thought, his mind came up blank on any possible solution.
All he knew was one thing, though.
He needed to flee with Leyla, far away from here. He never wanted to subject her to more of the treatment she got at the hands of the Duke.
He needed to come up with a way to escape. There was no other choice left for him.
For Leyla’s sake, and the baby’s, they needed to leave Matthias.
The door of the room opened as soon as he wanted to tear out a handful of hair from his head. And when Kyle turned to look at who’d entered, there he was as expected.
Matthias von Herhardt.
Kyle made a deliberate discourtesy of not greeting, not that the Duke even noticed anyway.
He didn’t even spare a look at Kyle. His eyes already resolutely trailed on Leyla’s recovering form. In a few short strides, Matthias was back at Leyla’s side, stroking her cheeks as though he wasn’t the one responsible for making her like this.
He hated the Duke’s eyes and hands, and how they roamed shamelessly over Leyla’s body.
“I have something to discuss with you.” the Duke spoke up first, interrupting Kyle’s murderous thoughts of him.
Kyle clenched his jaw and nodded tersely.
“So speak.” he offered rather rudely, but the Duke did not react.
“Not here,” Matthias told him as he swept Leyla’s baby hair behind her ears, and finally straightened up once more.
“But leaving Leyla alone-” Kyle began to protest when the door swung open and revealed a young nursing officer who had just entered, immediately cutting off Kyle’s concerns.
Confused at the sudden newcomer, Kyle could only look back dumbly at the Duke.
“I think this is adequate to ease your concerns,” Matthias coolly pointed out, “So come, Etman, there are things I need to discuss with you.”
“I don’t have anything to talk about with Major Herhardt.” Kyle spat, unwilling to follow any more commands from such a monster.
“This is not a request, Private Etman.” Matthias stared at him indifferently, “It’s an order by your direct superior, anything less than obedience is strictly forbidden.”
Matthias’ gaze on Kyle hardened as he pulled rank once more, making Kyle snap his lips shut in an attempt to mitigate instigating the Duke’s ire. Talking back would only prove more troublesome in the future. Leyla needed him, so for now, Kyle will hold his tongue.
But before Kyle could even answer back, Matthias turned on his heels and left the room. Kyle hesitated for a moment before he eventually got up and followed suit.
The discussion between the two men lasted longer than anticipated as soon as they began a baffling conversation.
One that Kyle Etman never expected from a cruel man.
The atmosphere of the meeting held at the 6th Army Command was quite friendly. Military plans prepared for years in preparation for the war were going smoothly, and the important goal of occupying Sienna was achieved early on. It was an achievement that mocked the people who tried so hard to avoid participating in the war at all.
“Since the 4th Army is advancing to the western front, we have decided to keep the unit here as a reserve force to stabilize the rear supply line around the occupied area for the time being.” The commander standing in front of the map said forcefully.
General von Delman, who possessed a lithe body, and wore glasses, looked very fit for someone well over sixty.
“We need to overpower the troublesome guerrillas properly.”
His eyes narrowed as his fingers went up the supply road from Berg to the southern part of Lovita to the end of the baton on the map laid out in the middle of the meeting.
Lovitans in the occupied territories kept resisting back by blocking roads or cutting telephone lines. Occasionally, attacks on supply vehicles or attacks on the Bergs were gaining momentum, which raised the commander’s anger.
“That’s why we shouldn’t get too complacent in managing these occupied areas.” General von Delman reiterated, with a small hint of regret.
He consistently expressed the need to rule the occupied area with fear, but the emperor and the crown prince felt otherwise and did not take stern orders to follow the rules specified in the international treaty.
Amongst the officers in the meeting was Matthias, who sat up straight and listened carefully to the commander’s explanation of future operations and plans.
If the situation on the battlefield remains unchanged, it is likely he will be stationed in Sienna for at least a few more weeks.
Which meant he only had a limited amount of time to send Leyla away within that same timeframe. His breathing turned ragged for a while at the thought of sending her away from him, but Matthias soon regained his composure.
“Major Herhardt.” The commander’s voice cut through sharply into his attention. He’d been grazing his eyes over the commanders in the meeting gaze as he looked through barracks when they landed on the Major.
“We need a messenger to report the situation to the rear units.” the commander began, “And thanks to the guerrillas, protected by the international treaty, making communication difficult, you’d be most suitable for the task.” He finished before his eyes narrowed challengingly at the Duke.
“Besides, aren’t you close friends to His Highness the Crown Prince?”
Regardless of what Matthias wanted, the commander had already made up his mind. He knew he couldn’t do anything to change the order.
The 8th Army in the rear units was directly led by the crown prince. He was the most difficult opponent to deal with, so choosing a messenger was also quite difficult.
“Yes, General.” Matthias accepted his orders without any protest, while his mind was already turning over plans. It would be good for Leyla to leave her room for a while. The fresh air might even do Matthias some good. “I’ll get to it at once.”
Satisfied with his compliance, the general nodded at him in the affirmative before continuing.
The task wasn’t something he would normally assign to a soldier like Major Herhardt. With the rumors going around as well, he was worried that the Major had gone insane from the war as well.
Fortunately, it seemed to be just that, rumors.
Changing his mind to give a lecture on the dignity of a noble officer, the commander concluded the meeting, finally concluding it a little early. At least this afternoon, the young officers of the Berg army would have to thank the enemy for this small respite. To be exact, to the guerrillas of the enemy country who gave him this ever-growing headache.
“This matter is urgent, so you must leave as soon as possible.” He finished with those parting words to Matthias. With a throbbing forehead, he left the conference room, effectively dismissing the meeting.
Matthias stood up from his seat, when the hat he’d been wearing, toppled off his head. When he stepped out of the building after his uniform was neat and fixed enough, the dazzling sunlight almost blinded him as stray rays hit his eyes.
The sun was high up in the sky today, and it made the world shine with it.
Matthias laughed mirthlessly at himself at the thought, was he projecting himself in nature? He wasn’t sure. However, even at that moment, his upright posture and eyes did not seem shaken at all.
“We’re all set for departure, Major.” announced the driver, who had rushed to his side.
Matthias, who nodded briefly, turned around before he climbed onto the mobile vehicle.
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The car carrying him soon left the square.
The strange child was still wandering in the forest and crying incessantly. Now the sound was close enough, she could hear it from the cabin.
Is he waiting for her mother? Looking for her?
Was someone looking for the child in return?
Leyla sat on a chair on the porch and pondered over it while enjoying the wind wisping past her gently. Leyla was well acquainted with the sadness of being abandoned by a mother, one that would not return no matter how long she waited.
If they were the same, she could only feel sorry for the child.
However, Leyla could not find it in herself to go looking for the child herself. She usually wasn’t so indifferent, but she feared what she’d find if she would.
“Oh, Uncle Bill!” Leyla exclaimed joyfully and leaped up to Uncle Bill, who came back with a fully-loaded cart. Her skirt fluttered as she skipped along the steps.
“There’s a child in the forest.” She informed him, and he nodded.
“All right. I see.” Uncle Bill replied thoughtfully as he was organizing his muddy tools.
“The child keeps crying,” She pointed out, as if Uncle Bill was deaf to its cries, and tilted her head at him, “What should we do?” She asked him nervously, waiting eagerly for his solution.
“I think they’re looking for their mom.” She piped up, as she stood by his side, watching him clean his tools. “Though it’s most likely they aren’t coming for them.” She finished, with a defeated sigh.
“Then you should go.” Uncle Bill finally piped up, and Leyla blinked at him in shock and confusion.
“Me?” she looked in the general direction of where she could hear the child crying. “But… I don’t know them.” She pointed out, aghast.
“That’s weird.”’ Uncle Bill, who was still looking at Leyla, burst into laughter, looking at her with a wide smile…
Yet it was equally sad.
“Leyla, do you not know them?” He questioned, “Think harder, you might be surprised to know how much you know about them.”
“Really?” She blinked at him, before frowning, huddling closer to her uncle, “So, who is it?”’
“Me? I don’t know.” Uncle Bill shrugged playfully at her, refusing to give her any clear answer.
“Go and meet them. You’ll find out when you see them.”
After saying that, Uncle Bill took his newly cleaned tools and entered the cabin.
She wanted to follow him, but Leyla eventually changed her mind and turned toward the forest path where the child’s cry could be heard.
As soon as she reached the clearing, she saw the child. It was a little boy crouched down on the side of the road in the summer forest where the birds would be singing, all snot-nosed and sniffling.
“Hello.” Leyla, who was hesitant about what to say, called out eventually in a friendly greeting. The child lifted his tear-soaked face and looked up at Leyla. His eyes were wide and blue, as clear and pretty as glass beads.
“Why are you alone?” She couldn’t help but ask, “Where’s your mom?”
Leyla carefully took another step closer, trying to appear friendly, but the child only looked at Leyla without sound or a peep from him.
Who the hell is this kid? She couldn’t help but wonder in confusion. The more she thought further about it, the child looked familiar. Yet different and unfamiliar at the same time.
Who was he?
Leyla suddenly stopped walking. Her heart was pounding and my breathing was disturbed. Leyla quickly whipped her head and looked at the cabin at the end of the road.
Today, yesterday, and tomorrow.
They were all melding together in an endless cycle.
Deep inside her, Leyla knew she would end up only here. Where every day was the beginning of summer. Here where the buds did not bloom, and the eggs in the water bird’s nest remained the same. The same was true of the rambunctious commotion up ahead with the return of Duke Herhardt, who’d finished his service on the overseas front.
In this peaceful time, Leyla wanted to go back to the early summer of her eighteenth year, and live in it forever!
So she shouldn’t know the child, but she had to look back, and see more of the child Uncle Bill swore she would recognize.
She has to go back. She still had to prepare dinner, and after that, she would study for the test with Kyle.
She thought she knew the child. She should know the child.
More specifically, she thought she knew who the child would end up to be, about 20 years later. Leyla looked at him, she saw him be just like the person she hated the most in the world.
And loved as much as she hated him.
Leyla approached the child hesitantly. As she approached, one step after another…
She felt her pick up her pace before she ran and scooped the child up in her arms, and sobbed relentlessly as she snuggled him close to her breast.
The wind around them shook the forest, whipping around the two ceaselessly. When she opened her eyes again, she was riding her bike on the road leading to Arvis again.
As she turned the corner of the street, a green-colored Platanus road unfolded. A tall man in the uniform of an officer of the Berg Empire was walking leisurely down the road.
At the moment when the sound of the chain winding harmonized with the sound of the wind shaking the leaves, Leyla’s bicycle passed by the man swiftly without a second thought.
But something in her urged her to look back. She’d regret it if she wouldn’t.
And so she did. Leyla looked back bewitched, even though she thought she shouldn’t give in to it. She made eye contact with the man who was looking at her.
The moment made her heart beat faster in her chest and muted all the sounds around her.
Leyla lost her balance.
How fortunate it was that the wheels of the fallen bicycle were spinning in vain endlessly. It was like a mirror of her, and she ended up stuck looking at it, she failed to completely notice him nearing her, until his shadows blanketed her fallen frame.
He approached her. And when she looked up, she knew at that moment everything would begin again for her too. This was her undoing, and her salvation.
So at the beginning of that summer, on such a beautiful day.
Leyla slowly opened her eyes in that clear memory. She stroked her belly first. The child responded immediately in soft fluttering kicks.
‘I’m sorry.’ She sat up and apologized several times. ‘I’m so sorry to say I don’t know you, baby.’
She took a deep breath, and raised her head, before she felt her heart jump much like it did that day.
It always would beat for him, and him alone. She had mistaken it, so wrongly to be terror or great anxiety around him. And maybe there were times it was that, but that wasn’t entirely true.
She knew it now, more certain than ever what she truly felt for him.
“Leyla!” Kyle, who’d just returned back into the room immediately rejoiced as he dropped to his knees beside where she lay.
“You’re awake!” He laughed joyfully, “You’re finally awake.” He praised.
“Oh this is great news.” He beamed at her, before holding up something for her to see. “I have some excellent news for you.”
Leyla looked back at him blankly, before looking down at what Kyle was pointing at. In his hands was a document…
and the seal on it, was the Duke’s.