The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 46
The Marquis pulled out a pocket watch from his chest pocket. Tick tock. The clock hand was pointing to two in the afternoon. Normally, it was the time when he was called to the royal castle to discuss national affairs, or when he went outside to work.
It must not have been a perfect coincidence that the man kneeling in front of him came to visit him on such an exceptionally empty day. How long and how close had he been watching him?
Checking the time, the Marquis put the pocket watch back into his pocket. He looked up and looked at Edwin.
“It isn’t your style to talk in circles. Alright, what made you want to see me?”
“I would like to ask you for a favor.”
The Marquis raised one eyebrow and asked. How dare a slave, which occupies the very bottom of class society ask for a favor?
Still, he didn’t look timid or intimidated at all. Rather, he gave off an atmosphere as if he was convinced that the Marquis would grant his request unconditionally. Even though he was kneeling in front of him, somehow, it didn’t feel so different from the past when they were at eye level and talking confidently.
“What is that favor?”
Edwin paused for a moment at the Marquis’ question. Then, he lowered his head slightly.
“Please help me to meet Lord Duon.”
At Edwin’s words, the Marquis’s face contorted.
Duon. It was such a rare name. And among the people they knew in common, there was only one person with that name.
“That would be impossible.”
The Marquis turned it down with a straight face.
“Are you still not aware that your situation has changed? It may have been like that in the past, but now you are not someone he would dare to see.”
“I must see Lord Duon.”
“Ohho! That is not going to happen just because you’re stubborn!”
The Marquis raised his voice.
“And he won’t be happy to see you either. Didn’t I tell you how hard it was for him after your family became like that?”
“You have been quiet all this time. You didn’t cause any problems, and you just lived quietly as if you either didn’t exist or not. Everything is getting better, so why are you doing this all of a sudden?”
This time, his tone seemed like he was coaxing a sulky child. Please, I’m begging you, with the eyes begging him to give up on that will.
Edwin exhaled. Then he slowly cleared his mind. Once he spat it out, there was no turning back. He didn’t even know he was caught up in an uncontrollable storm. But he came this far knowing that, and he ended up standing here.
Edwin lifted his head and made eye contact with the Marquis. Eyes that have sunk as dark as the night sea. Although he was taking a low stance, he felt a strange sense of intimidation.
“Serronac? I know what prophecy she made.”
The moment he heard the name ‘Serronac’, the marquis’s body stiffened as if it had been stabbed by a sword. His face turned black.
“How, how do you…?”
His jaw, which was slightly opened, trembled.
“I am not trying to blame him. I don’t mean to question him. I just want to discuss something completely different from that.”
Edwin said. Unlike the stiff and rigid Marquis, his expression was so calm that it was like the surface of a calm lake.
“But if you knew about the prophecy.”
Edwin quietly made eye contact with the Marquis.
“Can you at least arrange a meeting with Lord Duon?”
He pretended to be asking, but it wasn’t a request.
Edwin was now demanding his rights from the Marquis.
* * *
Shaaaaa. The wind blew and shook the leaves of the great willow. It was as if they were dancing as they moved to and fro. Known to have stood in one place for over two hundred years, this willow tree was much taller than several adult males combined.
As the branches drooped down, rustling in the wind, a man with brown hair could be seen through the cracks. He was standing facing the willow tree.
He stroked the wooden pillar gently with one hand.
“Long time no see.”
He said, still facing the willow tree.
“Should I ask, ‘How have you been?”
Even though he knew he was obviously not doing well.
“Or should I apologize and say I’m sorry for not looking for you?”
He muttered to himself, closing his eyes and opening them. In the midst of the still silence, the occasional sound of the wind rustling the trees was heard. His neck, which had been listening to the sound, moved.
“I heard that you suffered a lot. With the fall of the Redford family, those who coveted the Sir must have rushed at you like hungry wild dogs.”
“It will not be enough to say that I have not thought about it. Sir must have felt disappointed at me.”
“It’s not like that, Lord Duon.”
Edwin, who was a little further away from Duon, answered.
“And now I have no titles. So, Sir Duon should not call me ‘Sir’ anymore.”
“Oh yes. It was.”
Brimdel’s only crown prince, who once called Edwin his best friend, smiled bitterly.
How can he forget? It was his father who took away the name and the whole life from Edwin. Besides, he, who was no other than a bystander, could not say that he was not responsible for it.
“Lord Duon. I have one thing I would like to ask of you.”
Edwin said, bowing his body low.
“Hugo McKenzie, the eldest son of Viscount Mackenzie, who is my current master, has been ordered to be drafted.”
“Ahh. It was inevitable because the Kustans crossed the border without notice. We had to gather the necessary troops in a short time.”
Duon, who was lost in thought, nodded and said.
“But don’t worry. If the Viscount’s son hadn’t been awarded the knighthood, he wouldn’t have been sent to battle in the first place. At the very least, he will be assigned to a clerical position near the capital.”
“Hugo is twelve years old now. I knew the age limit for conscripts was 16, am I wrong? Besides, he was sent to Bangola village and nowhere else.”
“Twelve years old? Bangola?”
This time, Duon made a surprised expression. No matter how tough the wartime situation, he had never heard of a 12-year-old child being drafted.
Moreover, as Edwin said, there was an age limit in selecting conscripts. And he was twelve, he was a lot younger than that. Besides, the son of a noble family, who did not even have a knighthood, was sent to the forefront, where the fiercest battle is currently taking place.
“That sounds a bit odd to me.”
Duon narrowed his brows and said.
“I’ll have to get someone to find out. If that statement turns out to be true, I will give him a hand so that he can be freed from his conscription duty.”
“Thank you. Lord Duon.”
At Duon’s words, Edwin bowed his head once more to thank him.
Duon gave an ambiguous expression. Was the man in front of him the type of person who went out to help others like this? Even if it was because of Viscount Mackenzie’s orders, he could tell from his tone and actions that Edwin was genuinely relieved.
It has been two years now. For two years, it was long and short, Edwin had lived a life completely different from the life he had ever known.
That, too, would have changed him. As if he had no choice but to change.
‘What should I say?’
Standing on the borderline between lies and truth, Duon hesitated.
“To be honest, I didn’t want to meet you. I was very afraid to stand face to face with you and see my reflection in your eyes.”
“You know that apologizing for something that I can’t change with my own strength just by saying I’m sorry will not do you any good in the end. And if I was given the power to change, I would gladly do it, because I know myself.”
Duon slowly turned to face Edwin.
Edwin’s hair shone like gold, standing in the bright sunlight. His appearance seemed more like a perfect statue than a living person. He easily caught the attention of those around him without saying a word. He resembles the appearances of the previous kings in the portraits.
As a child, he was jealous of Edwin, but as he grew older he recognized and cherished him. Edwin had been by his side for a very long time, and he was hoping that one day Edwin would help him achieve his dream of becoming a king.
“I heard you know about Serronac. About the prophecies she made.”
Duon first brought up the name like a taboo.