Chapter 105: When Ignorance Is Bliss
There was a lingering silence following my words as my parents tried to process what I had just said.
“Coming to this world? What do you mean, Honey? You were born here… I-I don’t understand,” my mother replied as she reached out to me. She held my hands tightly, as if she was afraid I would wisp away if she didn’t.
My father, on the other hand, stared at me silently, waiting for me to continue. Taking a deep breath, I squeezed my mother’s hand and spoke with a comforting smile.
“Of course I was born here, Mom; I’m yours and Dad’s very own flesh and blood. Trust me, I remember better than anyone else when I was born,” I chuckled, arousing another confused look from my parents.
“I was transported, reborn… I’m not quite sure exactly what, but something happened and I was taken from my world and brought into this one.”
“Wai-wait a minute, Son… you’re going to have to back up—”
“Art, what are you talking about? Another world? A-are you okay? Did your master tell you this? Where is this coming from?” my mother cut in as she scooted closer, examining my head… probably for signs of a concussion.
“No, Mom. My master doesn’t know this; no one but you guys know any of this. I don’t know the correct term for this ‘phenomenon’ either. I’ve thought about this for a while but my best guess is that it’s something akin to a reincarnation,” I explained.
“Arthur, did something happen to you after they took you away? Did they hurt you in some way? Come here, let me try and heal—”
“Honey, the boy is fine. Arthur, go on,” my father encouraged, but my mother persisted.
“No, Rey, our son is not fine. He’s spouting nonsense about another world and reincarnation. Art, let me—”
“Alice! Let the boy speak.” My father snapped in a voice I’ve never heard before, stunning both my mother and I.
So I explained…
I described the world that I came from, the role that I played there, and the relationships that I had with an excruciating amount of details to make sure that they knew I couldn’t have made this up.
Throughout it all, my parents stayed silent for the most part. My father would ask questions here and there, but his face remained expressionless. My mother, however, was obviously shaken up; her face pale, the trembling of her hands increased as my story progressed.
I couldn’t tell how much time had pa.s.sed, but by the fact that I felt mild pangs of hunger in my stomach, it seemed like I had been talking for several hours.
“King Grey…” my father mumbled, running his fingers through his hair as he leaned back in his chair.
“So the fighting, your talent in magic—”
“Yeah, the ki system in my old world worked similarly to certain aspects of mana in this world,” I finished for him. “And as for the fighting… you get the idea.”
“Then ever since you were born, you were able to understand what we were saying? You remember everything?” my father asked, letting out a deep sigh.
I simply nodded in response.
“Hehe…” my mother chuckled.
My father and I both turned our gaze to her. To our surprise, my mother started laughing. My father wrapped his arm around her, but she just glanced us delusionally.
“I-I get it. This is all a joke, right? Hehe… Oh, my son. Art, you almost got us there, right Rey?” she said, smiling. However, neither of us responded and her smile faded, her eyes searched for any cues that would confirm her belief. When she couldn’t, she grabbed my hand as she stared at me with a look of desperation.
“This is a joke… right? Arthur Leywin, tell me this is a joke. You can’t really be… some former king that died and was transported into the mind of my unborn child, right? RIGHT?”
“I… don’t know exactly what happened, but I’m not joking,” I replied, unable to look her in the eyes.
“No… No, no, no. This… No, this isn’t happening. Rey, don’t tell me you believe all of this? Our son is sick; something must’ve happened to him while he was gone — no, something definitely happened. Rey, say something! Say that our son is sick!” My mother grabbed onto my father’s arm, pulling on his sleeve as tears started rolling down her pale face.
“Honey…” Wrapping his arm around her shoulder, my father held my mother close to his chest. He looked up at me and motioned me to leave the two of them alone.
I wanted to hug my mother, tell her that I was still her son, but I couldn’t muster up the courage to do either. Opening the tent, I walked out without saying anything, leaving my parents alone.
Elder Rinia, Windsom and my sister all looked at me as I walked towards them, but the look on my face probably stopped them from asking anything. Even my pouting sister held her tongue as I sat down next to her and the slumbering Sylvie in front of the fire.
Time pa.s.sed slowly, with my mind feeling like it was trying to swim through a particularly viscous syrup.
Was telling them the right decision? What did they think of me now? Did they still think of me as their son, or would they inevitably grow distant…
Noises blended together incoherently and everything besides the fire that I was staring at grew out of focus. Yet, my head immediately snapped back when the sound of the tent flap opening reached me.
My father came out of the tent, suddenly looking a lot older than before. I had expected my mother to come out right after, but my father shook his head.
“Ellie, can you stay with your mother inside the tent?” he asked, motioning for me to follow him.
“Here you go. Feel better, you p.o.o.p.” My sister stuck her tongue out as she carefully handed me my bond. I couldn’t help but feel a smile tug back on my lips as I watched her skip towards the tent.
Placing Sylvie atop my head, I followed my father into the tunnel Windsom and I had arrived through. I concentrated on the sounds of our echoing footsteps until my father finally decided to speak.
“Your mother… she’s sleeping right now,” he announced with a sigh.
“Is she okay?” I kept a few steps distance from my father, watching as he idly kicked a pebble as he walked.
“She was… in quite shock, to say the least.”
“So you guys believe me?”
“Unless you’ve suddenly developed a fond taste for sick gags, you have no reason to lie to us about this. Besides, it all makes sense now: the early awakening, your brilliance as a fighter and a mage… it all makes sense,” he replied.
“Are you okay?” My eyes stayed glued to the pebble bouncing on the uneven ground.
“Of course I’m not!” my father exclaimed, turning around.
“This isn’t easy news to swallow, Arthur. All of the memories we had as a family in the past, was that all a facade of how you thought the son we wanted would’ve been? How am I supposed to act around you now? You were once technically older than me, yet you’re here as my thirteen-year-old son!” he continued, looking at me desperately for answers. “A-And your mother… your mother nursed you as an infant! She mothered a middle-aged man thinking he was her own son!”
I stood silent, unable to reply. Everything he said was true after all. My father’s fists were clenched so tightly that blood was dripping between his fingers. His expression was ghastly; from the trembling frown on his face to his furrowed brows, his emotions were clearly visible on his face. Fear, anxiousness, frustration, and confusion… they were all there.
“I’m sorry, but are you really our son, Arthur? Or did you take over the unborn baby that would’ve been our son during your reincarnation, or whatever it is that happened to you!” He blurted. His eyes widened immediately as he covered his mouth his hand.
“I-I didn’t mean that,” he stammered. Letting out a deep breath, he whispered, “I’m sorry, Arthur… I’m just very confused right now.”
“Like I said earlier… the truth is, I really don’t know. I don’t know who or what brought me to this world, and why it did. You’re right, Da… Reynolds. I could’ve killed the fetus inside… I don’t know how this ‘process’ that brought me here works,” I stated cooly, swallowing back something particularly hard in my throat.
He winced when I addressed him as Reynolds and was about to say something, but just closed his mouth.
“I didn’t want to keep hiding this from you guys, but now I’m questioning whether I made the right choice,” I murmured, letting out a dry laugh.
“This is what I wanted to tell you guys for so long, but never had the courage to. I wanted to say this before I left.”
“Left? You’re leaving?” my father responded.
“Yeah, and I think that under the current circ.u.mstances, it’ll be good to spend some time apart,” I went on, a certain aloof edge filling my voice involuntarily.
“…How long will you be gone?” My father asked.
“At least a few years.”
“That long, huh?” he replied as he stared down, no sign of him stopping me or forbidding me to go.
Turning around, my chest was aching and my head was throbbing with an intensity I had never experienced before. Humans… no matter how powerful we could potentially be, we were still so fragile.
“You know, I never had any memories of family in my old world. Growing up in an environment where no one truly loved me, and in turn, being calloused and distant to everyone made me an unrivaled fighter, but a c.r.a.ppy person. Ever since coming to this world, the two of you, and later Ellie, taught me something I had never known. I may not be the strongest fighter or mage in this world, but I’m h.e.l.l of better person now than I ever would’ve been in my previous life. I’m sorry for the hurt I caused. Thank you for making me a better man… and thank you for loving me as your son.” Still with my back facing my father, I headed back to where Windsom was. I simply walked on, hearing the m.u.f.fled sobs of my father as he stayed behind, I struggled to keep my own tears in as well.
I got back to the main cave to see Windsom and Rinia discussing something. Elder Rinia was holding onto something wrapped in a blanket, and I could’ve sworn that it moved, but I chose to ignore it. Windsom had just taken his hand off whatever was bundled inside the blanket and noticed me approaching.
“I see you’ve wrapped things up. Are you ready?” Windsom’s glittering eyes studied my expression carefully as he got up.
“Yeah, let’s go.”
“Wait, aren’t you going to say goodbye to your family?” Rinia chimed, setting down the blanket carefully on her seat.
“No need. I’ve already sorted out everything I needed to here. I leave them in your care.” I gave her a curt bow and was about to follow after Windsom when Rinia grabbed me. Her eyes glowed with a mysterious hue as I silently waited for her to speak when she suddenly placed her hands on my cheeks.
“Arthur, please. Your expression is frightening, it is unbefitting of someone as kind hearted as you. I can only begin to understand the gravity of the upcoming battles that lay ahead of you, but do not fall back to your old ways. You know best that the deeper you go into that pit, the harder it will be to climb back out,” she said as her eyes faded back to normal. Slapping my cheeks gently, she turned me around and nudged me towards Windsom.
“Now go. I’ll take care of things here,” she said with a soft smile.
Windsom retrieved a disk-like object far too large to fit in his pocket and dropped it on the ground. Then, the asura p.r.i.c.ked his finger and let a drop of his blood fall on the disk. Immediately, it expanded and shot out a column of light that reached the ceiling.
My mind was still on what Rinia had just said when I turned around to Windsom and asked, “Was there something wrong with my expression?”
“Your expression reminded me of the Pantheon Asuras of Epheotus. They are a race of fine warriors that have learned to close off their emotions in order to fight with the most efficiency. A very useful technique indeed,” Windsom nodded in approval. “Now, let us go. Are you sure you have tied your loose ends here? I need your full concentration once we’re in Epheotus.”
I glanced at the cave one last time before taking a deep breath.
Hugging Sylvie tighter in my arms, I accepted Windsom’s hand as we stepped into the column of golden light.