Chapter 1: Kind and Cruel (8)
We had rushed Sigren to my room since we needed to treat him as soon as possible. I glanced at where he lay on my bed, finally cleaned up of the expansive smudges of dirt, I could now observe how pallid his complexion actually was and the extent of his injuries. Imagining the big angry scar that split his abdomen in two, like the healer had described, made my heart seize up. I had always known that the battlefield was a turbulent, merciless and unforgiving place but despite seeing the piles of bodies littered throughout, the reality of the situation- the true meaning of war was only beginning to set in now.
The sight of Sigren’s unmoving figure among the corpses of demons and other soldiers had left me shaken, like a snowglobe experiencing a blizzard in its dome, its usually peaceful atmosphere shattered. Due to the presence of my memories from my previous life, I could never really bring myself to think of myself as a child. Thus, I actively aided the war effort and visited the battlefield to fight against the monsters. Looking at Sigren, the male lead of this novel lying helplessly in my bed with the only sign that he was alive being the slight rise and fall of his chest, I realized the reality of my situation right now. I was a child, if not in mind then most certainly in body. How many other children were on the battlefield?
I anxiously awaited the healer’s judgment with bated breath. Various medical personnel had been buzzing in and out of my room for the past two days, checking up on Sigren’s condition and giving me tips on how to care for him properly. Nothing conclusive had been said about his state until now, the healer’s verdict would determine the fate of this world. If Sigren died, it would be the end of the world as we knew it. It was make or break.
“It was a very serious and critical injury, especially on one so young. However, he has fortunately passed the critical period. Although he’s not out of the woods just yet, I predict that with rest and good care from here on out, he will quickly get better. If there are any problems or you have any concerns whatsoever, please do not hesitate to call me, my lady.”The healer reported, his posture finally relaxing as he then began to pack up his equipment. The stress left my body like the air from a balloon, as I slumped back in a plush chair by Sigren’s bedside. Arm covering my eyes, I let out a long, drawn out sigh. The crisis of the utter annihilation that faced this world had been averted! Even though his fever had not receded and he still remained unconscious, he would live. For now, I consoled myself with that fact.
The sound of the door softly slamming shut echoed in the silence of the room. The healer had left. I pulled myself straight and looked at Sigren attentively. In his deep slumber, he remained undisturbed by my keen gaze. The boy lying in front of me seemed like Sleeping Beauty or Snow White from the fairy tales, cursed to rest in an unbreakable slumber. He looked so young and so very fragile asleep, defenseless. I couldn’t believe that the boy in front of me was the hero who would save this world.
“At this time, isn’t Sigren about fourteen years old?” I racked my mind trying to recall some facts about Sigren in his youth. No matter how hard I tried to force it out of my memory, I kept coming up blank. To be quite honest, I hadn’t thought much about it when writing the novel. There was very little exposition on Sigren’s childhood since I had been more focused on the actual main storyline. Thus, I had only set up a few lines and never gone in detail about it. It was rarely mentioned in the book, the action packed original storyline being more than sufficient to retain a reader’s interest. I knew nothing about Sigren and his childhood other than the few, sparse facts that I had mentioned, I was clueless as to all the other aspects that I had neglected to write in the novel. There was one thing I knew for sure though. At this time, the fact that he was the prince of the empire was still unknown to all the characters in the novel. It was a plot point that would be revealed down the line…so, right now, the only person with this knowledge was me.
For solidarity’s sake, I went over the facts I did know. Sigren’s childhood was rough, and most definitely not a happy one. Like a worn down road, memory lane for Sigren was not a good trip- there were countless bumps and obstacles and trials that he had to face. The root of his problems began with the fact that he was an illegitimate child, born from a commoner mother. People regarded his existence as a stain on the majesty and nobility of the royal house and also as a potential threat to the line of succession. The aristocracy wanted to kill him before he started getting any grand ideas and coveting what could never be his- the throne. Threats and assasination attempts came flying towards him from every direction as if he was caught in a hailstorm. In addition, because his mother was a mere commoner, she couldn’t do anything to protect him since she had no power. She could only shield him with her life. That was what ultimately happened- his mother tried to seek asylum in another country in order to protect him. However, instead of receiving protection, his mother was killed.
That was the reason that Sigren, at such an early age, was left all alone in this big and dangerous world. There was only one way to save his life. He ran away to Heilon, situated at the desolate north of the country. Heilon, due to its location at the border, is almost always stuck in a military state. It is a place plagued with monsters- there’s no use for luxury, the gossip that proliferated the capital and spread like wildfire or anything inefficient, the only matter given importance in Heilon was defence against the monsters. Here, strength and usefulness were valued. The people who sought to end his life didn’t have any influence in this territory. Furthermore, Abel was a person who recognized his talent for the sword and took Sigren under his wing, taking him as a disciple.
That was the tragic story of Sigren’s childhood. Only the parts which I remembered were prearranged and unavoidable. The total sum of his traumatic experiences was conveyed in just a couple of offhand sentences. In the novel, the character’s past was just a setting, something that could be used to justify their personality and understand them. It was in fact, a very common theme for a character in a fantasy novel, so much so that it had become a trope. Looking at the boy in front of me, I felt very guilty. He was a living, breathing human being who was going through so much- just because a painful backstory was yet another method authors used to strengthen the characters they wrote
It was my fault, although only indirectly since I had no idea of the consequences. I couldn’t regard him with the clinical gaze I had viewed this world through since I had arrived here.
I gently stroked Sigren’s soft hair. Ugh, you must have suffered a lot. I’m very sorry.
I had planned to leave this place when the time was right. However, I had come across Sigren sooner than I had expected. In the meantime, while staying here, I would treat him kindly. While I couldn’t ignore the story that had already been written, no one knew the events that had transpired in the original plot. Although the storyline dictated that he would kill me in the future, a fact that I was painfully aware of as I looked upon his tranquil countenance, that future could always be diverted. So, I had no intention of becoming his enemy and confronting him like the original Fiona. It was necessary to be friendly terms with him in order to have a better outcome than the original Fiona. The future had to change.
This sister will take care of you with a sincere heart, so please be nice when you grow up. No, in fact, there’s not even a need to be nice, just please be merciful and spare my life.
I exhaled a deep sigh, then buried my face in the soft blankets on the edge of the bed. I felt like my batteries were drained. I had been running on the last dregs of my energy for the past two days. I hadn’t left Sigren’s bedside since his treatment had started. I couldn’t sleep well since I was too concerned about his condition and the fate of the world. After all, I couldn’t leave a patient who was so heavily injured alone. Anyway, let’s think about this matter sometime later. I’ll close my eyes just for a moment…
The thought trailed off, unfinished. I had already begun my descent into unconsciousness. My mind totally empty, it was as if Morpheus himself had cast a sleeping spell- I was out like a light.