PDM Chapter 54
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Rafnel grabbed my dress in anger, and then beat her chest.
“No way. No way…”
My heartbeat sped up, my whole body trembled, and my mind went dark, unable to think.
Rafnel was outraged for a long time, but soon, she lowered her hand as if exhausted. She looked around then stared at me with a more subdued expression.
Soon, she crawled impossibly slow toward me and cupped my face. I could see my face in her dark pupil, my face as white as a sheet of paper. Like black and white, I felt that our feelings were reversed.
“Duke, my dear Duke.”
“Don’t be sad, I won’t forgive the people who killed you.” Rafnel patted my cheek with her rough, calloused fingertips.
“I’ll let you hear a desperate cry in the fire,” Rafnel whispered, but I could barely hear it because my mind was too distracted. “Today, Duke. Today.”
Then Rafnel bowed her head and shrugged her shoulders as she started laughing to herself. She seemed utterly insane. She and I both.
I was struggling to breathe, so I slapped Rafnel’s hand and wrapped my face tightly with both hands. I hid my face and closed my eyes, and soon calmed down.
If what she said was true, then this was all just an illusion stemming from Carje’s greed, who was nothing more than a con artist.
Yes, looking back, people who went to Quetray forest but no one returned. Were there ever claims that they saw the hourglass? When the crowd that filled the inn’s dining room suddenly flashed through my mind, I understood– all those who didn’t return were there.
I… what had I been after?
When I realized my only hope had deceived me, it felt like my heart had been ripped out. Despair and anger filled the emptiness.
What was I going to do? How could I live? My body slowly fell to the floor, and when the top of my head touched the ground, I was enveloped in the filthy feeling of being thrown into the mud.
As if my soul had escaped, my sobbing breath escaped through the cracks of my hands. Would I live the rest of my life thinking of Kyle, my child, and my father?
Then, a person I had forgotten suddenly came to mind.
What about Brother? I still didn’t know if he was dead or alive, but now it was different that I knew about the hourglass’s existence, or the lack thereof. I vaguely thought he lived somewhere, but maybe not. What if Brother was here? What if Carje led him into the forest and abandoned him there?
I felt like I had been hit in the back of the head.
Similarly to what Rafnel did to me a while ago, I grabbed her by the shoulders and rocked her back and forth, Rafnel shaking helplessly with a sleepy expression on her face. It was as if her body was left here and her soul was sent to another dimension.
I stuttered and said the name that was now buried in my memory. It was a name I thought I would never be able to get out of my mouth again.
“Heinbell, Heinbell Carena!” The name came out of my mouth without hesitation after years. “Do you know Heinbell Carena? Is he here, too?”
Rafnel blinked her glazed eyes repeatedly, yet she didn’t speak. While waiting for her answer, my heart burned.
It was hard to get an answer from someone who had lost her mind. Just what happened in that prison? I bit my lips hard, hesitated, then, with a guilty mind, said, “Sister.”
At that one word, a bonfire flickered, and a reddish tint appeared in Rafnel’s eyes. The soul, which had slowly disappeared, returned.
“What happened in prison?”
“I don’t know… I don’t know…”
Rafnel shuddered as if not wanting to recall. I grabbed her shoulder again as she walked away.
Rafnel shook her head at my shrill voice.
“I-I said I was leaving the inn, and this strange drug…”
After stuttering, she covered her mouth as if she was about to get sick. She bowed her head to the floor, groaning and gagging. Reflexively, I wrapped my arms around her shoulders and held her in my arms.
“A hallucinogen, maybe?”
My jaw dropped in surprise. If that were the case, it’s no wonder she was confused. I turned to look at the tightly closed door, as if Carje was there.
Of these many believers, there must be those who, like Rafnel, have come to know the truth. How would he deal with that kind of person within the fence? A hallucinogenic drug to make them lose their mind.
What could be easier than this to control a rebel? It was a method that was very suitable for someone like him.
I couldn’t believe everything Rafnel had said, but if all of her claims were true, then Carje was dividing the class and extorting the goods.
No high-ranking official would be interested in Tigra, where the rogues or asylum seekers were likely to stay. So it would have been easy for Carje to run like a fish in water.
Ha. I scoffed and covered my mouth. By the way, where was Takan? If he’s in prison… I felt the chills as if a rake scoured my back.
I remembered Carje’s gleaming eyes as he looked at Takan. What if Takan was imprisoned because of me?
‘There’s no forest.’
Kyle’s words rang in my head and I groaned. Kyle, I should have listened to him. Did he know? No. If he did, he would have searched for Tigra and its followers, not the forest.
I closed my eyes tightly, then opened them at the rushing regret. My ego had become a self-inflicted beast.
“Calm down,” I whispered and shook my head. Now that I was in a situation that could put Takan in danger, regardless of my brother’s life or death, could I afford to fall into despair and regret?
My pulse thumped heavily in my ears as I tried to calm my heart. I needed to find Takan. I clenched my fists and opened my eyes.
I lifted Rafnel’s torso and wrapped the bandage around her because her slip of the tongue could stop me from meeting Takan. Unlike the duke’s residence, I couldn’t be free as long as I was in this inn.
She sat still like a madman until I wrapped the bandages around her eyes.
I took the lantern and moved toward the window, looking at the window sill to look for the entrance to the inn.
It wasn’t until I swept across the place countless times that I could find it. There. When I squinted and looked in all directions, I saw the brick threshold I had crossed from the entrance.
“Please, please, please be there.”
I hurriedly stared at the other side of the threshold, but unfortunately, the horse, supposedly tied to the tree, was gone. The weapons, too.
Haa. As I groaned and lowered my head, the dark brown hair that had escaped from my robe fell like fallen leaves. At that moment, I could hear someone climbing up the stairs. I raised my head and stared at the door.
“It’s unbelievable. The trainee is in the resting room.”
“Didn’t you see it? It was pure sapphire. It is a virtue that is worthy of accumulation. It was nothing compared to the minerals you dedicated to Quetray.”
I could hear women’s voices through the door.
“D*mn it, it was the most valuable thing in my d*mn husband’s keepsake!”
A roar of voices echoed, then someone shouted, “I’m so angry. I want to punch that girl to feel better!”
“What? Are you insane?”
“Why not! She’s a trainee at best.”
Thud–! I heard a slam and a creak on the floor that drew closer to the door. I took a deep breath and gripped my hood.
Creak–, Thud–. The women opened and closed the doors in search of me.
“It’s all right. I won’t go alone,” Rafnel suddenly muttered to herself, and the sound stopped. Rafnel sat like a stone and mumbled, “It’s okay, it’s okay, Duke. Don’t be sad.”
It sounded like a chant from a deluded person.
“The red thread broke off at the door. Could she be there?”
A heightened voice echoed outside the door, and they drew closer, using Rafnel as a landmark.
I hurriedly got Rafnel up and took a couple of steps back. The thread around her wrist gradually tightened.
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