“It was only by chance that I survived.”
Unlike Albert, who was still just a child at that time, his older brothers were already fully grown adults.
In their eyes, Albert wasn’t anyone worth their attention, but was still a nemesis that they could kill at any given time.
His brothers sent assassins to Albert before, and they even tried to poison him, but it wasn’t a frequent occurrence.
Those older brothers thought that the first priority was to kill each other first, as they were more immediate threats.
Before Albert had been born, their household was very affluent thanks to the gold vein discovered in one of their mines.
The count, who knew nothing but honor, experienced a new world as he enjoyed this newfound wealth that he never had before in his life.
It was then that Albert was born.
“I still have memories of my childhood.”
The warm voices of his father and mother. A house that was as beautiful as the house he had once seen in a fairytale book. Two older brothers who took care of him well.
He knew what happiness was.
However, it did not last long.
The gold vein in that mine was a limited resource.
His family spent a lot of money without any regard to future plans, and they had gotten accustomed to a life of extravagance. Once the household’s financial situation had changed, they couldn’t adapt at all.
Far from making better use of what’s left of their money, they were all busy taking care of their selfish desires.
Albert’s parents started gambling.
As the days went by, their obsession with money intensified. The family began seeing each other as enemies.
Blood was not thicker than money or power.
His mother locked herself in her room, blaming Albert for everything because ‘everything went wrong after he was born.’ Some time later, she started frequenting the black market, then died of the epidemic.
His older brothers laughed at his swordsmanship, yet were also busy making plans to kill each other.
Greed festering in their eyes, they did not hesitate to order Albert, the youngest child, to go out and make money.
Eventually, everything came to an end. Albert was left alone.
Everything became too much to bear just for the simple fact that he had once gotten a taste of what happiness felt like.
“So I ran away.”
When faced with so many unbearable things, running away was not something to be ashamed of. It’s one way of surviving.
“While asking myself, ‘Is a life like this worth living at all?’ I threw myself into that lake.”
As Albert talked about his weakness, his expression was exceedingly calm.
Perhaps he needed to distract himself for a moment, and so he picked up the spoon in front of him on the table. As he stirred the soup, his movements were slow.
Then, he opened his lips to speak once more.
“There is a village where winter never ceases.”
Listening to his story made me realize one thing.
The lake that Albert was talking about would be in the village where I’d be staying during my month away from him.
It matched with what Liam said before, that it was a place where winter was always present.
“I thought that it was the perfect day to die. And it actually was.”
Contemplative, the look in his eyes sank. The hint of darkness that could be seen in his gaze showed how he had once given up on life.
That he had once collapsed and knelt down in the face of despair.
I couldn’t help but know how he was feeling. I had also gone through the same thing.
Better yet, it’s more accurate to say that it’s harder not to think in that way. Although, the only difference was that I never acted on it, unlike him.
“…Until she saved me.”
He smiled at me. It wasn’t the usual smile, nor was it a smile that expressed his happiness.
It looked like the usual smile, but since I had gotten better at understanding him, I saw clearly how this smile contained a multitude of mixed emotions.
My heart broke even further.
Because, more than I had ever expected, the expression that Albert had now showed just how much he had been hurt, and how much he had despaired.
“Isn’t that funny? The people who gave birth to me, who raised me, were the very same people who became jealous and tried to kill me. On the other hand, a woman who I met for the first time that day gave me salvation.”
His voice was monotonous, and yet it carried agitation, repressed tears. He’s trying not to let it show.
This was his childhood, which no one else could ever see.
The man in front of me now was not a prince, nor a king. He was just Albert Grey.
From the way he breathed slowly, the weight of his despair could be heard loud and clear.
“I blamed her. I cried and asked her why she saved me.”
“But she silently accepted my resentment and called me by my name.”
If she had known Albert’s name, then it’s clear that she had been keeping a close eye on him.
And I could feel that she had an insurmountable amount of affection for Albert.
“Perhaps she was afraid that I would try to take my own life again, but she brought meaning to my life by giving me a gift once a day.”
It may be thanks to her that Albert, who had met such a person, was so much sweeter and even more of a beautiful person than Albert in the novel.
“She told me that if I continue to live, happiness will come to me someday. She told me to live because the day will come when I’d think, ‘I’m lucky to be alive’.”
He remembered that person vividly because she touched his heart this much.
Her, the benefactor who saved Albert and gave his life new meaning.
“She said that there will definitely be a day when the pain that I’m feeling would feel like nothing.”
It was the kind of love and affection that Albert would never forget.
“She gave me hope, and I couldn’t help but cling to it.”
It was the light that appeared when he thought that all hope had been lost.
“And so, I became determined. To live.”
His eyes were filled with the light of life. As though the memories he felt at that time had resurfaced.
That person was a benefactor who I feel endlessly grateful towards and who I could not dare to be jealous of, but I couldn’t help but to think of one thing.
If only I met Albert.
If only I met Albert when he was a child—to give new meaning to his life, to make him even just a little happier.
Comments for chapter "Chapter 167"
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