Home Post 483-chapter-83


She was surprisingly composed.

“I understand, Tarhan must have done it properly. I just wanted to know the location. I am… the mother, so…”

Ironically, it was he who felt his throat tightening as if it were being constricted.

Tarhan tensed his body, leaning slightly to hope that this contagious emotion wouldn’t transfer to her. His tightly shut eyes didn’t open. Now, he could feel the emotion that had risen through his spine, furrowing his brow and flowing outward through his forehead.

It was awkward and uncomfortable.

The baby was already dead.

If she knew he was having such thoughts, she would probably turn away coldly right away, though he sincerely thought so.

…No, he had to think that way.

He wanted to stop the woman in front of him who kept wanting to dredge up things he never wanted to remember.

This woman was always like that…

She wanted to face directly the memories that he wanted to avoid, those wriggling worms of memories.

Even though she got entangled in them, she stubbornly did not know how to turn away.

Every time, he wanted to grab this woman’s small head and shake her awake. He wanted to cover her eyes and ears. No, he’d rather just put this small woman into his body altogether so that she wouldn’t hear or see anything.

So that she wouldn’t hurt or cry.

Still, he always failed. When it came to this woman, his memories of success were vague.

Tarhan recalled the woman who started asking about the baby’s grave again. A throbbing headache filled his mind and made him clench his teeth.

Old Lady Piache continued to speak.

“You’re still young.”

Since that day, she spoke like a spell. It was the same now. Old Lady Piache continued to poke the fire, casually throwing words.

“You’re still young.”

Every time, his judgment twisted horribly. It felt as if the Old Lady was rummaging through him with a heated iron. Tarhan felt like he was gradually falling under the spell of those words that sounded like an incantation.

Old Lady Piache was right. As she said, they were still young, and babies died every day. It wasn’t anything special.

Still, he couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by this anger. It had been over a fortnight since Enya had given birth. He heard that Kahanti survived. Old Lady Piache didn’t explicitly bring up the matter, but he, too, had eyes to see and ears to hear.

The chieftain he brought back had survived. Though still unconscious, he was clearly breathing.

…While the baby born to his woman died, his enemy was still alive.

Whether he opened his eyes or closed them, the memories of that night lingered in his mind like a haunting specter. The gazes of the people surrounding them were filled with disdain, hateful indifference, and cruel rejection.

Tarhan struggled with the realization.

What kind of existence they were in the tribe he devoted his life to every day. To her, he really hadn’t done anything. Despite all the effort, he was still just a failure.

With sunken and twisted eyes, Tarhan fixed his gaze on the burning flames.

“…There will be another child.”

Continuing to talk about their youth and the inevitable return of a child, Tarhan turned away from Piache, who repeated those optimistic words like a parrot.

He uttered in a desolate voice.

“I’ve never wanted a child. Not once.”

Not even once.


* * *


It was midnight.

The gentle rain that had been falling all night lightly drenched the ground.

Tarhan opened his eyes while leaning against the wall. It had been days since he had slept leaning against the wall. It felt like he hadn’t been lying down, and even if he did, it didn’t feel like he had slept.

Tarhan quickly realized why he had opened his closed eyes. The sound of Enya’s breathing, which he should have heard, was absent. Except for the faint sound of Piache’s snoring, the surroundings were eerily quiet.

He blinked a few times and realized that her place, where she should have been lying, was empty. The fur blanket was neatly spread, with the tip folded.

At that moment, his heart sank into the ground with a thud.

He staggered in fear and stood up. He didn’t know with what mind he had left Piache’s house and crossed the open field.

Tarhan mindlessly pushed through the tall grass up to his knees, searching for her. His stiffened head turned anxiously, looking around for her. There was a bitter taste in his tense mouth. Cold sweat began to accumulate as he repeatedly clenched and unclenched his hands, muttering that it couldn’t be true, that it couldn’t be what he was thinking.

And there she was.

In the middle of the field, a solitary shadow sat there.

Enya sat motionless, enduring the rain that continued all night long. In her hands, a small dagger was held tightly. The hand gripping the knife had torn open from the firm hold, and along with rainwater, blood flowed down her fingers.

He stood, watching over her like roots were growing into the ground.

At that moment, he couldn’t move his body as he wished. In the moonlight that brightly illuminated the night sky, her hollow white belly was revealed. Traces of her swollen belly still vividly remained like scars.

At some point, Enya raised the knife high with both hands.

A breeze blew, causing her waiting hair to flutter. Without knowing what to do, Tarhan froze as if the thing Enya had stabbed was at his own throat.

The dagger stopped abruptly without touching the surface of her skin.

Instead, blood dripping from her hand, which held the knife, painted the white belly red. Blood mixed with rainwater flowed down the belly, passed through the navel, flowed through the gap between her legs, and streamed down the white thighs.

Huuuh, huaaaahh…!

The rain gradually intensified.

Enya, with her arms wrapped around her belly, curled up like an egg and wailed without restraint. She continued to cry as if her heart might burst right there.

It was a wail that tore at the heart of the person looking.


In Tarhan’s eyes, blood vessels burst as he watched the scene. He stood there like the rotting stump of a tree, clenching his fists tightly.

Throughout the night, rain washed away all the dust and air of the field.

As dawn approached and the sun began to pour through the gaps in the forest, the rain ceased.

Enya got up.

She wiped her blood and dirt-stained hands and face in the stream flowing nearby. As if unaware of the tears shed, she straightened her clothes and then limped back home.

From that day on, Enya sat on the edge of the bed and began crafting something.

The dry fingers were intertwining thin straw and her own hair. For the next few days, she tirelessly twisted the straw, huddled over her bed, muttering that it was nothing when Piache asked about her work.

Whatever she made, she concealed it within the folds of her clothing.

Tarhan knew that the finished product was treated as treasure and was stored in a chest by her. However, he never asked about it. He never mentioned the events of that day. She never visited the baby’s grave again.

It was as if the subject would explode if touched and split open like a ripe fruit.

The events of that day never resurfaced from the depths of his memory.


* * *


Now, Tarhan’s eyes keenly observed the grave in front of him, like those of a wild wolf.

The lone figure of the warrior, who had deserted the Allied Forces and crossed the plain alone, was as solid as a fortified citadel built layer upon layer.

Nothing seemed capable of breaking through the wall this man had built over the long years.

As the wind blew, it ruffled the somewhat unkempt hair of the man.

On the grave where the man was watching over, there were dolls.

There were two dolls made of hair and straw. Next to the doll that had been kept in Enya’s chest for several years, the other doll, a newly made one, lay there.

The man looking at his son’s grave showed no sign of movement.

Around the mound made of the soil on the fertile land, lush grass had sprung up.

Even after several years, the spot remained untouched by insects or monsters, thanks to the anti-magic charms placed.

It didn’t take much time to identify whose hair was used as the primary material for the newly made doll. The thin, soft, reddish-brown hair, indistinguishable from dry straw, belonged to the mother of this grave’s owner.

“…Enya is dead?”

In Tarhan’s twisted voice, like smoke from burning dry grass, the elderly woman standing behind him trembled.

Piache gazed up with shaking eyes at the massive back of the grown man, who could never be called a boy again.

“Tar, Tarhan.”

In the span of a few years, the old lady’s wrinkles had deepened, and traces of hardship were etched on the elderly face. The emerging emotion was a subtle mix of fear.

Who would believe that this man, who once was a boy similar in height to Piache, a rough and young boy who endured insults and kicks as if it were a daily meal, was now the same person?

A very distant past. It happened long before he became the chieftain who fed and led the entire Aquilea.

A boy who traversed the rugged fields every day, from the crack of dawn until sunset, to fetch his mother’s medicine after enduring exhausting tasks.

A boy who, who lived with a young girl in Aquilea, was treated no better than a slave. In the midst of the mockery and ridicule from the men who sneered at him like a lunatic, he always stood at the forefront, risking his life and crawling towards a slightly better position.

The memories of those times, all the hardships, now seemed as if they were just the delusions of Piache alone.

That’s how enormous, formidable, and sturdy the man in front of her appeared.
Tarhan, who remained motionless, exuded an overwhelming presence. Piache’s aged body, which had once confidently declared itself invulnerable to almost anything, was trembling.

“I, I can’t explain it…other than she’s dead. The leper’s den, the den was already a mess. Corpses rolling around… the child’s hair was cut off. There was blood…”

Piache stumbled and hesitated, trying to describe the situation from that time, towards the man who stood upright at the man’s back like the devil.

“I, I don’t know for sure… but when that wretched woman Avisak said that she would follow you along with the Perugian army, Enya was already missing.”