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[Level 1: Michelle, Bryan W, Anita S, Riley R, Blasefall]
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I was always alone.
The earliest memory I had was when I lived in the small and cramped orphanage. The adults over there called me “Firis”—they said that there was a writing embroidered on the clothes I wore when I was found in the middle of a forest. They said that I was around one-year-old, and that I was glancing here and there, seemingly looking for someone.
But who was I looking for? I couldn’t remember.
Also, the writing “Firis” might be embroidered on the clothes I wore, but has anyone think that it might not be my name? However, even if I continued to ponder, I would never find out.
Was I abandoned by my parents? If yes, why? If no, why wasn’t there anyone looking for me?
In the orphanage, it seemed that there was shortage of food—but I didn’t realize it until later in my life. I thought it was normal to eat only a little. No wonder many of the children were so skinny. I was also included.
I didn’t really pay any attention to time, but after living like that for quite some time, until one day, several children including me were sent off to somewhere else. Then, I spent my days working in the magical stone mine. Many years must have passed by, as the other kids who worked together with me all succumbed to the drawback they got from being in the magical stone mine, which contained dense amount of magical energy.
Ah, so, the magical energy in the magical stone mine was harmful if you stayed there for a long time?
So I thought as I saw another one of us collapsed. The other people who were brought here together with me had all disappeared, but I still remained.
Until one day, we somehow managed to break free. Without nowhere to go, I ended up living in the slums.
Then, that fateful day happened.
“Young lass, stand up and let me take a good look at you.”
A man carrying noble aura suddenly passed by the slum I was living in, and I wasn’t sure if I managed to induce his fury or what—but he asked me to stand. So I obediently did it.
“Mm, not bad. What’s your name?”
“How old are you?”
“…I don’t know,” I shook my head. After all, it was the truth.
“Hm? Well, it doesn’t matter. Do you want to work for me?”
“In exchange, you won’t need to be worried of shelter or food.”
Thinking that it was a good idea, I followed that man.
Starting from that moment, I became a maid in the noble house of Hartmann family. A kind senior named Chloe treated me warmly and for the first time, I thought that maybe, this was how it felt to have a friend?
Back then, I didn’t dare to get close to any of my coworkers. Because they’d disappear eventually. Perhaps… this wasn’t so bad.
However, the nobleman that picked me up—Boris Pax Hartmann—he was actually a bad guy… Apparently, it wasn’t only me, but there were other young maids who suffered at his hands. But to me… I wasn’t starving. I wasn’t getting beaten. I didn’t have to work 24/7 and didn’t have to live in the dirty dungeon. …This… is certainly better… right?
Even Hillde-sama—Boris-sama’s wife—turned a blind eye to all this. It seemed like she didn’t care, as long as she could live luxuriously as a noble wife of a duke.
But my thought was too naïve. In the end, after some time working in the Hartmann’s house, life started to grow inside my own body. It felt too surreal that I wasn’t sure what I should do. Even Chloe seemed to be the one more worried than me.
“Oh my… Firis, what to do? You should have told me earlier… but now it’s too late… You’re already pregnant with a child… what to do?”
“…Even if I told you, there was nothing we could do about it, right?”
“That is… We can try to escape—”
“Chloe, those who escaped were all annihilated.”
“…You’re right. But, Firis…”
“To me, as long as I could live well with shelter and food, it’s enough… but… I had never thought that…”
That I would have a child.
My own child?
…I’m going to become a mother?
I will have a family?
Thinking about it, I couldn’t help but touch my flat belly. I wonder how does it feel having a family?
“But what should we do? If they found out about it, would they let you go? Wouldn’t they kill you and the child right away? I’m not sure what Boris-sama will think about it, but Hillde-sama will certainly not… Firis, as long as you can continue to live, then it’s better than having you and that child die, so let me get some medicine to—”
“I’m going to give birth to this child.”
“This is my… family. I don’t want to… abandon my child,” I said. Mm, yes, I know how it feels to be abandoned… though I’m not sure if I was really abandoned or…? It didn’t matter, though.
“I don’t want to kill, Chloe,” I continued.
“Firis… I… I didn’t mean to… I was also against killing anyone, but… if they were to find out about it, wouldn’t they also kill you? Saving a life is still better than having two lives gone like that…,” Chloe seemed like she was about to cry.
…How funny, although I was the one who should be worried, but for some reason, I was calmer than Chloe.
“Chloe, I’m going to be fine. If I have to die along with this child, then that’s surely my fate. I will accompany this child to the other world, then,” I calmly assured Chloe, but why did her complexion turn worse?
“Firis… I already thought of you as my own family,” she pleaded.
I was stunned at her words. If I remembered correctly, when I first started working here, Chloe only had a small daughter as her family. But when she was of age to go to school, Chloe sent her off to a school with a dormitory there. I understand her thoughts.
She probably didn’t want her daughter to be affected by the nasty things happening here. After all, Chloe only had her daughter as her deceased husband’s memento.
I certainly had no blood relation to Chloe or her husband, or even her daughter. So, one could be considered as a family even without the blood relation?
In the end, I had to spend quite a long time convincing Chloe. She finally let me to do what I wanted, albeit she was being reluctant.
Unexpectedly, instead of getting killed, Boris-sama agreed to letting me give birth to the child. He also convinced Hillde-sama to welcome the child. Yes, I could give birth to this child as long as I agreed to let him be acknowledged as the Hartmann family’s second child.
Yes, that meant… this child won’t recognize me as his mother. He would know that his mother was Hillde-sama… I was only able to become the child’s wet nurse and maid… but that meant, I still could be by this child’s side. So, it’s okay.
At that time, I saw hint of disdain flashed in Hillde-sama’s eyes as she unwillingly said ‘yes’… and at that exact moment, I knew that things won’t be that great for the child that was in my womb. His “mother” would definitely make things difficult for him in the future.
…Well, that’s understandable, though.
Apparently, Boris-sama and Hillde-sama’s only child, Dius-sama was quite sickly these days, and Boris-sama was worried that he’d be without an heir. Hillde-sama injured her body when she gave birth to Dius-sama, so she couldn’t bear any more children…
Boris-sama could have taken another wife, but for some reason, he didn’t. We all assumed that he could just ‘play’ to his heart’s desire so why bother? Plus, it seemed like he didn’t like being bound to someone else, and rumor said that he was quite reluctant when he got married, but it couldn’t be helped. We could see this theory might be true by observing Boris-sama and Hillde-sama’s relationship.
In addition, even if Dius-sama would be fine and that he’d be the heir to the Hartmann family, Boris-sama thought that having another child would be good. The Hartmann family had no branch family, so building one would be beneficial.
I felt upset when I thought that they treated my child as a spare, or as a mere tool to them… but I had no choice but to endure, if I wanted myself and this child to live.
After I gave birth to a son, luckily enough, his appearance looked similar to the rest of the Hartmann family—but I felt like his blue eye resembled mine so much, though there were some of the Hartmann ancestors possessing blue eyes as well.
“His name would be Icarus Valkyane Hartmann,” Boris-sama announced.
“Icarus suits him very well,” Hillde-sama said with a hint of mocking.
How could I not know? Icarus was well-known as the man who fell because he dared to fly close to the sun. The name served as a warning, so that this child wouldn’t go beyond his limitations—as he was nothing but an illegitimate child.
I hated them for giving a name with such a meaning to my child. I hated myself for being powerless to do anything.
“…Valkyane… Kyan… Ah, Cyan… your eye color is cyan… All right, let’s call you Cyan,” I said as I held my baby in my arms.
It was strange. It felt surreal when I was pregnant with him, but after looking at him, I felt some kind of warmth from within myself. Is this how it feels being a mother?
“Mm, good child,” I lightly kissed him. Ah, he smiled. How cute.
…but I could only act like a mother to him for a short while. After he grew up, I should know my place as his maid.
It was excruciating to watch as he grew up and I had to watch my distance. When I saw him crying because of Hillde-sama or Dius-sama’s coldness. When I saw him asking why his mother wouldn’t want him.
How could he know that I was his mother?
‘Your mother is here, and she loves you more than anything…’ how I wished I could tell him that.
But I knew I shouldn’t, so I did my best to show him my care, in the ways I could. It felt so great having him smile at me and call my name sweetly. I was content with just that.
…Despite all this, Cyan accidentally found out the truth. That I was his biological mother all along. I thought he’d be upset, but instead, he was happy…?
He wasn’t disappointed and confused, but he was happy?
“Can I call you [mom]?”
With my slightly trembling hands, I stroked Cyan as I said with a hoarse voice, “…only in private.”
Because it would be bad if he calls me that way in front of the others. Others would find out. Boris-sama and Hillde-sama would be so angry. More importantly, it would especially be bad for Cyan.
He’s my own son, but he shouldn’t call me ‘mom’.
“Mom!! I’m so happy!!”
Seeing his delightful face and his sweet voice as he called me ‘Mom,’ I feel like it doesn’t really matter.
“Sorry for keeping it from you… I didn’t mean it, but since things would turn bad…”
Looking at Cyan’s genuine questioning eyes, I felt a sudden headache.
…This is indeed a problem.
Chloe and I spent the whole night trying to simplify things so that Cyan would understand. Thankfully, as Cyan was originally a bright child, he quickly understood things and promised that he’d keep it as secret, and that he would only address me like that in private.
The funny thing was… Cyan secretly hoped that he had another father that loved and pampered him, too. He quickly imagined that he might be adopted to Hartmann family due to some kind of reason that was ridiculous.
Boris might treat Dius better, but he didn’t completely disregard Cyan as well. Although I must say that he might care about Cyan as Boris thought of Cyan as a useful pawn.
I noticed that nobles often treat their children as nothing than mere pawns, but… I didn’t understand how they could do so. I could never view Cyan as such.
If this was another thing that differed between nobles and commoners… then I wonder which one is better, being born into a wealthy noble family, or being born into a poor commoner family that’s warmer? Or is it better to just be all alone just like how I was? I couldn’t really compare them.
That night, when I asked Chloe of Cyan’s happy reaction instead of confusion and anger, Chloe laughed and told me that it was obvious, as Cyan spent most of his days with me and that he bonded more with me than with Hillde-sama. Nevertheless, I guess this result was for the best.
From that day onwards, Cyan no longer seemed to care about Hillde’s impression of him. He stopped wanting to get closer to Hillde and he seemed to be more cheerful. On the other hand, he didn’t hold back in rushing off to me and launching his surprise hug to me. After the bedtime stories, he even wanted me to kiss his forehead…
Seeing his expectant eyes, I could no longer hold back. He already found out that I was his mother, and he only asked that in private, so why not give him that?
I gently pressed my lips on his forehead—just like how I did when he was still a baby. Cyan giggled happily.
“Firis, I love you!”
“…I love you too, Cyan.”
I finally could say it in front of him. This felt liberating. And warm.
Cyan was stunned for a moment, not expecting me to reply. But in a short moment, a smile showed in his whole face as he sweetly said, “I love you very much, Mommy!”
Since we became closer as a real mother and son, Chloe often joked on how Cyan would grow up to have a mother complex. I denied it with my whole heart, obviously.
Since that day, things turned up to be happier for us. But that didn’t mean it would erase every grievance and hardship from our life. As years passed by, I thought that the small amount of happiness was able to compromise for any hardship we encountered.
For some reason, Dius-sama liked to find some troubles with Cyan. He liked to tease and bully Cyan, but Cyan could endure… Only when Dius-sama tried to shift his target to me or the other servant working for him would Cyan get angry. And that got us into troubles… but I was proud of Cyan for his endurance and kindness.
Sadly, since Cyan entered the same school as Dius-sama, the school which was exclusive for nobles… and as a result of Dius-sama’s treatment of Cyan, Cyan didn’t really have any friend.
Even the rumor about Cyan being an illegitimate child was leaked within the school—I assumed it was a rumor that Dius-sama purposely leaked in order to make Cyan all alone. After all, the noble children were reluctant to befriend someone of a bad position like Cyan.
Though the Hartmann family wanted to hide that fact the most, it was leaked by the next heir of the family… how ironic. But Dius-sama didn’t get any punishment. Hillde-sama vented everything to us. And Boris-sama only tried to control the situation so that nobody would oppose the Hartmann family due to this rumor—even if it was by force.
Thus, the secret was more or less protected. The Hartmann family seemed to notice how Cyan didn’t seem to be so surprised upon hearing the rumor that Dius-sama spread. Not that Dius-sama exactly pointed me as Cyan’s mother, though. But I got a hunch that they already knew that Cyan knew the truth. And they didn’t seem to make a fuss out of it. That’s good.
When Cyan turned nine years old, two joyous events happened. The first one was that an old gardener brought her daughter in as a new maid, and because her age was close to Cyan, they quickly became friends. I guess she was Cyan’s first friend.
Looking at the two’s interactions, I sometimes couldn’t help but imagine about Cyan’s future. One day, he’d marry someone. I wonder if his future wife would love him and treat him well? If it’s Cyan, I don’t have any doubt that he’ll be able to treat his wife right. But… Cyan was seen as an “asset”. I’m sure his betrothal and marriage would be arranged by Boris-sama…
No matter what, I hope he’d be happy in the future. I failed giving him a complete and happy family… so I wish at least, he’d form his own happy family in the future.
The second joyous event that happened was… the addition of a new member in our small family. It happened when Cyan and I were allowed to go out to town to buy necessary items such as Cyan’s new stationaries and clothes. In a secluded alleyway, we accidentally found a creature on the verge of dying.
We brought it home and nursed it—thankfully, since it was a water beast, Cyan and I could help in nourishing its power back.
“Firis, there’s something that I’ve been curious of,” Cyan suddenly said, as I was tending to the little creature—that we named “Phyllo”. Since his voice was ‘pii pii’, we tried to find good names that started with “Pi” or “Py” or anything that sounded like it. In the end, we picked the name “Phyllo”—a modification of the name “Philo”—which meant [a friend].
“What is it, Cyan?”
“How strong is your water magic? Can you do other magic, too?”
“…I’m not sure, Cyan. Maybe it’s not that strong. I’ve never really learned magic, and it was by coincidence that I found out about my water magic affinity.”
Cyan then started to guess that I might be very strong in magic and that maybe… we could just escape and live happily. With a strong magic, nobody could disturb us. I laughed it off.
After all, I easily got tired after doing any strenuous activity—and that involved casting powerful or long-acting magic. I remembered that my condition was much better back when I was younger… could this be the effect of aging?
Upon hearing this, Cyan was sulking in his disappointment.
“Pii? Pii pii!!” Phyllo sensed Cyan’s bad mood and tried to cheer him up.
Looking at their interaction, I felt like the name “Phyllo” was really suitable. I hoped that Phyllo would be able to accompany Cyan and protect him.
And yes, Phyllo indeed stayed with us for a long time—though Phyllo didn’t become my or Cyan’s contracted Familiar, it felt like he was already our little contracted beast. Phyllo turned up to be so attached to me that I felt like having another child, fufu. It didn’t feel bad, though.
“Let’s protect Cyan together, Phyllo.”
Oddly enough, it felt as if Phyllo took up the role of Cyan’s big brother here. I wonder if this hierarchy would be turned over when Cyan grew up? I’m looking forward to that day.
The second joyous event might be everlasting, but that wasn’t the same with the first joyous event.
Seeing that Cyan finally made his friend, Dius-sama interfered. At first, his teasing and bullying were ‘mild’—then it turned worse and worse… until finally, his bullying ended up harming Cyan’s only friend. She almost became crippled…
Several days after that, the gardener quitted the job and left together with her daughter.
I couldn’t forget Cyan’s tears that day, and how he seemed to be so resolute in distancing himself from the others. As nothing good would come from associating themselves with him, so he believed.
“It’s okay… It’s not like I care…,” Cyan wiped his tears.
Mn, his words were contrary to his action.
“Having Firis alone is enough for me!”
But I don’t want you to only have me in your life. I want you to make many friends and be happy.
“Firis, wait for me to grow up and become strong. After that… I will be able to take you out of this house, and we will go see the world together!”
It was the promise that Cyan often stated to me ever since he found out that I was his mother. He mentioned that in order to cheer himself up—to remind himself of the dream he had in his mind.
We often imagined the future scenario where we would go to the sea, to the mountain… where we could free ourselves from the limited places we could go with our “chained wings”.
Traveling the world and seeing the world together with Cyan. How nice would it be? Is that possible, I wonder?
“Eeeh, so you two will leave me behind here?!” Chloe often joked around whenever she heard our conversation.
“Chloe will be joining us, too! You’re also part of the family!” Cyan quickly said.
“Oh, how nice would that be! But what should I do if both of you and my daughter ask me to go together with them?”
“Then just go with your daughter, Chloe! Humph, Chloe, you’re so mean!!” Cyan noticed that Chloe was only messing around with him, so he was sulking again.
“Haha, why don’t we go together instead?” Chloe tried to fix Cyan’s sullen face.
In the next moment, we were already discussing the places we’d like to visit or see.
No matter if Cyan could fulfill this promise or not, as long as I could watch as he grows up and becomes happy, then it’d be enough.
It’d be enough for me…
The cruel fate suddenly made sure its presence was known to me.
The fact that my body was deteriorating became more apparent.
I got tired even more quickly, I caught illnesses more easily, and… my body felt weaker and weaker.
…Do I not have much time left?
But Cyan was only ten. He was only ten when I had this bad premonition.
He was still so young, and that child—he had not many people in his life. He was especially very attached to me…
Is he going to be all right?
His frantic appearance when I suddenly collapsed in front of him made me determined to hide my weak and sickly appearance in front of him as much as possible.
My weakening body became Cyan’s worst fear. He couldn’t really calm himself when it came to my weakening body.
Cyan went as far as begging Boris-sama and the others to call a famous doctor to see me, after the doctor that went to see me was unable to help me.
Obviously, his request was rejected. His request for the expensive and good medicine was also rejected. His desperate and hopeless figure pained my heart the most.
It’s all right… Nothing can really be helped of it…
I understood my body’s condition the most. It was most likely a retribution that came too late. It was the effect of not paying any attention to my health back then. The result of my poor living condition.
So, it’s my own fault… Sorry that you have to be sad because of me…
Some time when Cyan was 12 years old, I spent more time lying on the bed. I wanted so much to at least be there when he turned 13, so at least I could see his figure during his coming-of-age ceremony, but…
“Firis… you have to get better! I promise that I will take you to see the world, right? So, please wait…”
I weakly smiled at Cyan as he tried to motivate me to get better. But that was useless. No matter how highly motivated I was, there was nothing that could be done.
For some reason, on this particular day, I could feel that the shadow of death was coming for me.
So… I couldn’t even see his figure on his coming-of-age ceremony? I couldn’t even see my own child’s adult figure…?
I still haven’t witnessed him obtaining his happiness…
But nothing else could be done…
At least… I had been preparing for this day to come, ever since my body felt weaker.
So that even if I were gone, he’d still remember that I loved him more than anything, and that I wanted him to be happy no matter what.
At least, I want Cyan to be able to live on and struggle until he finds his happiness.
I hope he won’t settle until he could procure his happiness.
So that at least he could finally be happy…
With my remaining strength, I sent a meaningful glance at Phyllo. Thankfully, he seemed to understand what I was getting add, as Phyllo turned to look at me with his determined look.
I felt safe entrusting Cyan and left that thing in Phyllo’s hands—ah, Phyllo didn’t have any hands… My bad…
“Mom, please get better soon, okay?”
I hope he’d meet someone in the future…
So at least he won’t feel lonely…
At the very least…
Even if I were not by his side.
Even if I were no longer here…
…Cyan, be happy…