Chapter 41 - The Fall Into Despair
Gareth’s hand traced Elena’s collarbone then trailed down to her breast as he whispered, “Elena, if Count Townsend dies, that means Logan will die as well.”
‘That means Logan will live as long as he doesn’t attack the Townsend estate,’ Elena thought but decided to believe Gareth’s words. She could still remember how Logan had trembled in fear in front of Gareth. Moreover, there was nothing she could do but trust Gareth. She was already acting as his wife, and could possibly be carrying his child. Elena had been doubtful of Gareth’s oath, but at least she could now trust him completely after seeing that his estate hadn’t been attacked even after a year of absence. This place attested to the power his name carried. Realizing this, Elena was now able to enjoy the peaceful scenery more comfortably.
Gareth grabbed the reins to Elena’s horse while she was busy taking in her surroundings and led the horse forward. ‘Everyone must be busy preparing to greet us at the castle, since Gote probably reached them by now.’ Gareth thought of Madel and her children, who had been looking after the castle ever since they started living there.
“This feels like a different world,” Elena gushed in excitement.
“Because it’s protected by the forest,” Gareth replied nonchalantly, then glanced back. He had left the castle untouched until now, but there was always a chance that he needed to start building some walls, since the king could make a move at any moment. Then, he would have to decide which side he would stand with. It was either that, or he would have to resist all the temptations to meddle and simply watch.
‘Still, it’s not a bad idea to build some defense,’ Gareth thought. He wouldn’t have to worry about his men becoming lazy as long as they stayed busy during the long winter. They would be cutting down large oak trees to construct a gate, digging deep moats around the castle walls, and then laying the foundation for the walls.
Gareth was immersed in such thoughts when Elena’s voice interrupted, “But your influence must be great. This place can remain peaceful, probably because of you.” She had unconsciously said those words after recalling her father, who had relatively little to no power to protect his people. Her father had never tried to think of any countermeasures against Logan’s attacks nor taken any initiatives; he only wished for the king’s salvation. Elena’s expression suddenly turned bitter as she realized the difference between the people who could protect themselves and their people versus those who relied on others.
“This place is safe,” Gareth said brusquely.
Elena smiled in return and asked, “Then they wouldn’t be wary of me, would they? When people live in poverty, their minds also become impoverished, causing them to easily become hostile towards strangers. I’ve been worried about that until now, but I’m relieved now that I’ve seen this place.”
Gareth furrowed his eyebrows and turned to Elena. This had been her first time leaving the Townsend estate to come to an unfamiliar one. She had never said anything about being worried before, and Gareth had never been interested in such thoughts.
“I’m glad to feel welcomed as well.” Elena smiled even more brightly when she saw the people greeting Gareth and his men. “Thank you, Gareth, for letting me experience this kind of peace.” Elena was truly grateful to have come to such a peaceful place as Gareth’s wife. In a place like this, she felt confident about being able to wait for Gareth’s return when he would travel far away for his commissions.
“Can I invite those people to our wedding?” Elena asked as she gestured towards the people greeting them, then continued with a joyful voice before Gareth could answer. “I’m so happy that our child will grow up in a safe place like this.”
Gareth ended up snatching the reins on Elena’s horse, his sudden action causing her to lose balance. Elena wobbled for a moment, then barely managed to regain stability by grabbing on to the horse’s mane.
“Elena,” Gareth said.
“Yes?” Elena stared at him as she held her breath, instinctively realizing that he was in a foul mood. An ominous feeling was creeping onto her.
“There will be no wedding.”
Elena couldn’t say anything for a moment as if her lips were glued together. She remembered that Gareth had definitely told her that there would be a wedding once she arrived at his estate. “Why?” Elena barely managed to choke out, her voice quivering.
“I don’t believe in God. I only believe in myself and my sword,” Gareth stated resolutely.
A deafening roar sounded in Elena’s ears. “B-but still…”
“I won’t repeat myself.”
A cold chill ran through Elena’s body. “Then what about our child? What are you going to do when our child is born? Are you not going to let God bless the baby?” Elena’s voice raised furiously without her realizing it. She had trusted Gareth and believed in his oath, but now she felt betrayed by his sudden words.
Gareth stared deep into Elena’s darkened eyes and spoke determinedly with a cold, quiet voice, “There won’t be any children.”
Elena snatched her horse’s reins roughly from Gareth’s hands. She was at a loss for words. She didn’t understand why Gareth was saying those things when he had already slept with her so many times. For all he knew, she could already be bearing his child.
“Does that mean you won’t accept my child as yours?” Elena barked, enraged. Elena and Gareth were not going to be considered husband and wife if they didn’t take a pledge in front of God. This meant that the child born between them was going to live a life with a dishonorable name. Elena’s heart began to beat uncontrollably. ‘This whole time, I tried so hard to satisfy him… so how could he say this… after bringing me all the way here…?’
“I’ll keep my word about protecting your family, Elena.”
“You son of a bitch. I shouldn’t have expected anything from a mercenary like you,” Elena ended up cursing under her breath.
“I’m doing this for you, Elena. I’m just asking you to obey me like you’ve been doing until now,” Gareth said.