Chapter 80 - Lantern Against the Wind
The letter had confirmed the king’s desire to go to war with his cousins, as well as his plan to kill Lydia. Gareth knew that the cunning Lydia wasn’t the kind of woman to sit back until she was ambushed. The problem was that Gareth had no intention of intervening in the fight within the royal family. His only concern was the unidentified force.
‘If I have to make a move… If I have to join hands with someone…’
Gareth showed an indifferent smile at that moment and ordered his men, “We’ll go back to the castle first thing in the morning.”
* * *
After returning to the estate, Gareth visited a local tavern to let his men rave about their tales of heroism during the past few days they had been out hunting the wolves and the outlaws. Gareth was only able to return to the castle after his men had fallen asleep. He briefly observed the quiet hall before going upstairs to the second floor where Lydia’s room was.
Elena raised her head, fully alert, when she heard the sound of someone climbing the stairs to the second floor. She hadn’t been able to sleep for the past four days during Gareth’s absence. Elena’s heart pounded violently when she recognized Gareth’s footsteps; it was as if to show her anticipation for his return. She quickly got out of bed and came out of the room looking for him. She heard a quiet creak signaling that a door was opening and unknowingly walked towards Lydia’s room and stood still in front of the door.
“I’ve been waiting for you, Gareth. Please comfort me,” Lydia spoke in a pitiful voice on the other side of the door. Elena could only stand in front of the door with a pale face and listen.
“Give me a big hug. Please help me get through the sorrow of losing my child…”
Elena couldn’t hear Gareth’s voice, but what she had heard was enough for her to conclude what was going to happen. Elena turned away and returned to Gareth’s room. She threw on a thin coat and quietly went down to the hall. She moved carefully between the people who were asleep in the hall then went into the kitchen, eventually leaving through the back door.
Elena paused and looked at the silver landscape in front of her that glittered in the darkness; it was from the snow that had fallen continuously for the past three days. It was still snowing outside, and the combination of the frosty weather and the cold wind scratched Elena’s face.
The wind began to shake her lamp, telling her to let Gareth go.
“You can’t control people’s minds as you please, Gareth,” Elena muttered quietly. No matter how cold he was to her, no matter how many times he told her not to put meaning into their relationship, she couldn’t help herself.
Gareth was the wind that shook Elena. She couldn’t let him go even though he was slowly killing her, for her heart wouldn’t let him go. Gareth had already taken up a prominent amount of space in her heart and was living inside her. Elena loved everything about Gareth and wanted to be loved back in the same way. It was the reason why she had tried so desperately until now.
Elena hugged herself tightly. “But I’ll let you go now, Gareth.”
Elena exhaled deeply before slowly moving forward. The wind constantly shook her lamp and grew stronger as she moved further away from the castle, making her shudder. Elena was shaking dangerously by the time she passed through the noisy village filled with sounds of barking dogs. When she stood in front of the unfinished rampart for a brief moment and then crossed them, the wind finally extinguished her lamp.
* * *
The next day at dawn, Madel came into the kitchen, rubbing her body that had become stiff overnight from the cold.
“My goodness, it’s so cold in here. How is it still snowing?”
Even though the fireplace was lit in the hall, the place was too spacious to be warm. Madel shivered from the freezing cold, realizing that it was especially cold this morning. She sniffled as she stood up and approached the fireplace.
“What, did the fire go out?”
There were no embers left over in the fireplace. It seemed that no one had taken care of the fireplace early in the morning. Grumbling, Madel pushed some firewood into the pit and started a fire. This had never happened before, as someone would always restart the fire by putting in more firewood at the crack of dawn. However, that wasn’t the case this morning. After relighting the fireplace, Madel busily moved to the kitchen.