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Chapter 15: Catastrophe (4)
[Hena’s POV]

I didn’t want to believe it.

I blinked several times, trying to deny what I had seen.

I hoped I had seen wrong.

Everything should’ve been a grim hallucination of this wicked year. It would have sufficed if it were just a bad dream.

I would have apologized over and over again, hoping that once he came to his senses, the young master would be well.

But nothing changed.

The young master was still bleeding profusely, and Razen, covered in wounds, was supporting him.

I hated this cruel reality.

My throat was choked up, and I could hardly speak properly.

Gulp, gulp.

Only after pushing through my constricted throat did something resembling words finally escape my lips.

“Ah, no... Not the young master. Please, no!”

His injuries were too severe.

It had to be the throat, of all places.

The throat through which Master Terion’s precious breath and beautiful voice once flowed.

How painful it must be for him.

He never showed it, suffering even from the smallest wounds.

He was also the type to fear blood so much that he would never look directly at his injuries.

I could see Master Terion’s hands trembling.

I wanted to hold them if it were alright, but I needed to stop the bleeding.

It felt as if the world was turning upside down. The air around me choked my breath, heavy with despair.

Did he notice how I was feeling? The young master’s hand moved slightly.

Yes. He was still alive.

I managed to steady my heart.

Let’s do what we can now.

“Razen. If you can move, could you call the lady? She must be hiding in the basement. There are bandages and herbs nearby.”

“Okay. I’ll be quick.”

Should I wait for Razen to return?

I couldn’t afford to. Not even a moment could be wasted. I had to attend to the young master’s wounds immediately.

I ripped my garment.

Fortunately, it tore into a usable shape.

I immediately started bandaging the wound on his nape.

Again and again.

I wrapped and pressed it repeatedly.

Once Razen and the lady returned, and after I entrusted Razen to her,

I kept cleaning the young master’s blood and trying to stop the bleeding, even as Razen was being bandaged.

All the while, the relentless red blood soaked my hands.

No matter how much I wiped, the blood seemed endless.

I had to somehow close the wound, but it was too large and deep.

The pain seemed to radiate visibly.

Suddenly, a pained groan escaped the young master’s lips.

My heart sank.

The air around felt heavy.

I couldn’t lift my head.

“The blood, the blood won’t stop. No, what do we do? Our young master... Ah, oh... sob.”

I shouldn’t cry. Tears would only blur my vision.

But I couldn’t hold back.

The guilt of staining my hands with the young master’s blood was unbearable.

Unable to treat him like this, I wiped away my tears.

The blood from my hands touched my face, feeling as if the young master’s warmth was transferring to me.

With blood on my hands and face, it felt as if I had killed the young master myself.

I’m sorry, young master. I’m so sorry.

It should have been me who died.

You should not be lying here like this.

Such a fate would be more fitting for a lowly maid like me.

“It must hurt a lot. It must be frightening. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault... I’m sorry for being no help.”

I wish I could take your place in suffering.

It’s excruciating to see you like this, and it feels like my heart is being torn apart. I wish I could bear your pain.

Cruel fate, I haven’t been one to pray often.

I know I have been a faithless believer. So I won’t ask for much.

Just save the young master, somehow. I will gladly accept any consequence.

Even if it means my body shatters a thousand, ten thousand times, even if I have to wander in agony through hell forever.

If it allows the young master to rise again, I am willing to do anything.

You didn’t do anything when my parents died. You remained silent even when I climbed to the mansion’s window to end my life.

It was always the young master, not the divine, who saved me.

And now he is the one who is suffering. He is far more precious than someone like me.

If things continue this way, the young master might even die.

Please. Please, help.

Anyone, please help the young master.

Take anything from me, just please don’t take him away.

“Young master, young master... Ah, sob. Sob…”

As much as I hate to admit it, I must acknowledge it.

I have been of no help to the young master.

All I know is how to tend to minor wounds. For serious injuries like these, I was only taught to call for the nearest soldier or knight.

They would ride out and bring a priest. Until then, all I knew was to push forward these ragged pieces and wipe away the blood.

Stupid, foolish maid.

I’ve spent my life serving my master, yet when it truly matters, I am utterly useless.

And yet I dared to speak of love.

I despised myself so much I couldn’t stand it.

My vision blurred again. Tears seemed to keep flowing.

The young master grasped my wrist.

“It’s okay, Hena.”

How can it be okay after all this?

You didn’t speak up in front of Razen because of your pride, but you suffered every day after training.

Why won’t you say you’re in pain now?

The lady was crying beside me. I cried too.

But it was as if all the sounds of the world had stopped, except for the young master’s voice.

“You can stop. It looks like I’m in for a tough time.”

Please don’t say that so calmly.

I’m terrified at the thought of you leaving.

You are everything to me. Without you, I have nothing.

“Hena, you’ve done enough.”

“I haven’t done anything!”

“No one could have done anything. For me, just having you here at the end... that’s enough.”

The young master was holding my arm. I could feel the strength of his grip weakening.

Please don’t let go. I don’t want this.

I would have done anything for you, young master.

I buried my affection, endured the pain, let go of my jealousy, and chiseled away at my own heart.

I could do it all because I was able to see you. Just seeing you was enough for me to persevere.

“Please don’t die. I don’t want to live in a world without you.”

“Hena.”

“It’s all my fault. I’m to blame for everything.”

“Why would this be your fault, Hena? Don’t say such things.”

No. It’s my fault.

Honestly, I didn’t hate life here.

I hated that you, young master, had to be in a place like this, but that was all.

Preparing meals for you every day, falling asleep in the bed next to yours, it made me happy.

The thought of always being with you excited me.

It was like the scenes I had dreamed of. A dream I shouldn’t have wished for.

I imagined us living together in a little house, having a cute child, and occasionally smiling and locking eyes.

So this must be my punishment.

Because I dared to dream such wicked dreams.

“Stop crying... Ah. I’m a bit cold.”

“Please, please. No. I don’t want this. Young master... please.”

“I’m sorry. Razen, please keep your promise.”

“Don’t worry and rest. I haven’t forgotten the promise.”

“Thank you…”

The young master let go of my hand.

Emotions overwhelmed me. Razen and the lady were watching as I broke down crying.

I cried so much I didn’t even realize when I had collapsed.

My eyes were swollen and painful.

When I woke up, the young master was lying peacefully. His eyes closed.

Not breathing.

I was by his side. Razen and the lady were nowhere to be seen.

It seemed like they had stepped out for a moment.

Had they gone to gather wood?

In the Grand Duchy of Eilencia, they cremate the bodies.

Razen was unwell, so he could have woken me, but perhaps he was being considerate.

He knew I loved the young master. Maybe he wanted to give me some time alone with him.

I tidied the young master’s hair.

It was something I always did, but today his hair felt stiff. Normally, I would make a shampoo from steeped petals, olive oil, and egg yolks.

That would soften it right away. He was always such a fine man.

“Yes, young master. I meant what I said to Razen. I loved you, but being by your side was enough for me. But now, I can say it.”

His skin was pale, and there was no warmth.

Still, it felt like there was a little warmth left, so I hugged him tightly.

“I love you, young master.”

I finally said what I wanted to.

“I loved you more than anyone else in this world. I loved you even though I knew it could never be. Every night I cherished every word you said to me. I would have loved you until my dying day.”

It was ironic.

The words I most wanted to say, why did I have to say them at the moment I least wanted to imagine?

“I really don’t want to let you go, young master.”

A world without you seems too cold.

I want to see your occasionally clumsy expressions.

Sometimes dignified, sometimes childlike, sometimes mature. I can’t live without the various faces you showed.

“I could not be connected with you through love.”

But, young master.

Do you know?

I still have one last chance to be with you.

“Just wait a little longer.”

I’ll be following you soon.

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