“The Royal Palace…..?”
How would someone who used to work for the palace end up in this sort of place…..
“I didn’t agree with a couple of powerful people and when I voiced my objections all that did was earn their ire. They blinded me and then threw me in here.”
“What sort…. of objections did you have?” I ask, noticing that my voice trembled a bit as I spoke.
“What’s your name?”
“I see. Alicia….. What a nice name. I’m Will… Just Will,” he says, lightly ruffling my hair.
I wonder if he can tell what sort of face I’m making right now; a very composed, serious expression.
“Alicia, you might not understand this yet, but just because we have always done something a certain way and it’s worked up until now, doesn’t mean we should limit ourselves to only that method. Do you know what it means to reflect on the past?”
Even though I can tell he’s waiting for my response, the words seem to catch in my throat.
“To reflect on the past doesn’t mean to validate the good things that our ancestors did and just continue to use them. Rather than adopt ancient strategies that worked long ago, we should be learning from them, improving them. It means to develop and grow as a people and as a country after learning from the mistakes that have been made throughout history.”
Without realizing it, while listening to his explanation, tears had started to fall from my eyes.
Grandpa Will gently wipes them off my cheeks for me.
“You’re a bright kid. In order to make wise choices, it’s indeed vital to gather knowledge on a wide variety of subjects, but never forget that knowledge without wisdom holds no meaning.”
“Grandpa Will, because of the palace….. Do you hate nobles now?”
At my question, his face hardens.
“I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t. Even now, I feel the vestiges of my old self calling to me in my dreams, tantalizing me with the colorful world from my memories. But the moment that I’ve finally grasped that world, the blackness rushes back in and I’m once again left in total darkness. Those moments still torment me from time to time. But I don’t regret it, and I can look past those feelings. I still don’t think that what I did was wrong. And I believe that there will come a time when others will realize that as well. Thanks to that, I’m able to continue living on with pride.”
I’m starting to feel ashamed of myself. Because for the first time in my 8 years of life, I finally understand how truly blessed I am.
My tears start falling faster. I’m crying full force now, sobbing. I know it’s shameful to cry like this, but I can’t seem to stop.
This man had his eyes ruined just because he angered someone with a similar noble status to mine, and in contrast I’ve just been living my life obliviously, and for what? Trying to become a villainess? After hearing his story, I can’t help but feel small and ignorant. I have so many feelings swirling helplessly within me that I can’t contain them and so the tears continue to fall.
Without saying anything, Grandpa Will just puts his arms around me, patting my back comfortingly. I swear, I’ll never forget this warmth that he’s showing me for the rest of my life.
I don’t want to conceal my aspirations to become a villainess, so I tell him everything.
In the process, I also explain the reason that I came here today…..
Grandpa Will just listens quietly to me as I talk.
And when I had finally finished explaining everything, he merely smiles gently at me and pats my head.
“What a clever child you are,” he tells me as a couple of tears start to roll down my cheeks again.
I’m sure I look like an absolute mess right now. I wonder if I’ll even be able to open my eyes tomorrow morning after all this crying I’ve been doing.
“So you’ve been learning how to use a sword and reading countless books every day in order to become a villainess…..”
I give him a huge nod.
Grandpa Will smiles broadly at that, the lines around his eyes crinkling.
“Never lose that ambition of yours.”
Surprisingly, he’s actually okay with me wanting to become a villainess…. to the point of endorsing it? I wonder why…..
A villainess is a bad person, you know. She’s someone who won’t care what happens to others as long as she, herself, is doing well…..
“You should go home now.”
“I’ll come again.”
At my quick reply, Grandpa Will’s expression turns troubled.
“It would be better if you didn’t come back.”
“No. I still want to talk with you more, Grandpa Will.”
Although he still looks a bit worried, he can’t help but smile a bit at my words. So instead of telling me not to come again, all he says is, “Thank you.”
I wonder if he’s already realized how stubborn I am, and that once I’ve made up my mind to do something I’ll definitely make sure to see it through until the end.
On that note, I leave Grandpa Will’s house and head back towards the mist.
As soon as I get outside, I’m once again accosted by the awful smell. I cover my nose with my hand in an attempt to avoid the stench as much as possible while I walk.
After a few minutes, I’ve walked into and through the fog, and find myself back in the woods. I carry my extinguished lantern, and start running back towards home.
At this point, my eyes had already become accustomed to the darkness, and as I make my way back I notice that the terror I had felt while coming here is completely gone now. And as I run home, I think more about what I had just seen.
In a few words, that impoverished village is just a place of decay and despair.
I would rather not go there again in the future, but I want to talk more with Grandpa Will. Since, of all of my acquaintance, I definitely think that he’s the wisest person I’ve ever met.
T/N: Lol, she was very non-descriptive of what “tell him everything” means…. I can’t decide if that includes talk of her past life or not XD What do you guys think??
P.S. and minor spoiler…. Time skip next chapter!! Say your goodbyes to 8-year-old Alicia!! I can’t wait for the next manga chapter! I love seeing the characters’ looks evolve over time ❤