Release that Witch Chapter 374
It was reasonable to think that once he had cut ties with his family, the same applied to him returning to the Eltek territory. But Ferlin was not trying to find an answer for his own sake… but for the sake of his father.
That day, after the banquet, Sir Eltek not only talked about the person in the painting, but was also filled with emotions, saying that it was because of her kindness that the family was there, but also that this kindness was betrayed by his grandfather. Ferlin couldn't understand these words at the time, but his father's attitude remained fresh in his mind—deep shame for the actions his grandfather had taken.
But if it was shame, maybe there was still a chance for salvation. Perhaps, that woman he saw in the market, was a descendent of the family's benefactor.
He had left the family because of Irene, because he didn't want to be separated from her, but since he was the eldest son, his family couldn't accept him formally marrying to a commoner. This was simply a difference in ideology, it was not like the Eltek family couldn't afford to lose him.
After marrying Irene, he had not seen his father, Sir Eltek, even once, but every now and then, his mother would send a trusted servant to deliver some daily necessities along with a letter, always telling him that his father had already forgiven him.
It was for these reasons, that Ferlin chose to bring the news of what he saw, back to his father.
Due to the impact caused by the Months of Demons, the number of boats traveling between Border Town and the stronghold city had been drastically reduced. He had to wait three days for a ship to arrive from the stronghold, and then, adding the time it took for it to finish unloading its cargo, a week passed before he finally set foot in Longsong Stronghold.
As he got off the boat and walked onto the wharf, Ferlin immediately felt as if the city was abandoned. The snow on the ground was ankle high, and aside from a few alleys where traces of footprints still remained, the snow piling up in the streets made it clear that nobody had passed through those paths in a long time. Comparing this with Border Town, where people busily came and went even during the months of demons, it was hard to believe that this was the largest city of the western region.
The Eltek territory was located north of the stronghold, a village with 2000 acres of land. And even if the stronghold gave off this desolate vibe, the sight in the village was even more unbearable.
As he rode a carriage towards the Eltek's mansion, all he could see along the way was a world of demise—this year's snow that came ahead of time during autumn, had caught the majority of the poverty-stricken people unprepared, and with neither grains nor firewood stored in enough quantities, it was likely that at least half of them would not endure until the next spring. This was a common sight during the Months of Demons, but even then, it was something Ferlin just couldn't get used to.
After leaving a few scattered, roughly-built houses behind, Ferlin finally returned to that same gateway after so many years.
The garden's main gates were closed, and the front courtyard was covered with snow, but a few of the stone walkways were cleared out, showing that there were still people in the family who took care of the mansion.
He knocked on the iron gate loudly, and soon after, two guards came out of the mansion, one of which immediately recognized Ferlin's identity, and exclaimed with surprise, "You, you are… the eldest son of the Master."
"I want to see Sir Eltek," Ferlin said with a composed face.
Although everyone in the mansion knew that Morning Light had severed ties with the family, as a matter concerning the nobility, the guards dared not to make any assumption. The two men soon opened the iron gates, one led him to the reception room, while the other one went to inform the steward of the house.
Ferlin didn't actually expect, that the first family member he would meet after coming here would be his brother, Miso Eltek.
"You do not belong here, why did you come back?" Miso frowned as he looked at his older brother, "How did you come over? And where is your squire?"
"I'm not a knight anymore," Ferlin answered with a smile, "therefore, I no longer need a squire."
"Ah, I almost forgot, you were crushed by the Prince of Border Town, becoming his prisoner, but why did he release you?" Miso snorted, "Oh, did you come because you need money for the winter? I can spare some change, but then you will need to immediately leave."
The attitude his brother was taking made Ferlin let out a deep sigh, but it was not that difficult to understand—Miso Eltek had now become the first heir of the family, so it was natural not wanting to have his older brother come back in order to avoid complications.
"I am not here to receive money, and neither do I have the intention of fighting for the succession of the house," Morning Light's voice sounded deep, "The prince has hired me as a teacher, and I'm honestly happy with my current life."
"Teacher?" Miso repeated, a little surprised, "How come that I don't remember you having such a high education, enough to teach other nobles?"
"I'm not teaching the nobility, I teach those of the general population about how to read and write."
"You mean you teach commoners?" Miso said with a grin, "The lies you make up are becoming more and more interesting, has getting married to that commoner woman you were obsessed about finally affected your sanity?"
"Enough!" a loud and imposing shout came from behind, causing Miso to tremble in place. Ferlin turned his head towards the source of the voice, and found it belonged to his father, Sir Eltek. "Ms. Irene is not inferior in any way to the nobles, the only thing she lacks is a title, it would be rude for her if you continue."
"Father!" Miso shouted.
The lord paid no heed to his younger son and spoke, "I heard from the guard, do you have something to tell me?"
"Yes," Ferlin said as he bowed in courtesy.
"Then, let's go to my study."
Ferlin followed after his father and they both walked towards the study located on the second floor of the mansion. As they walked by the hallway, he took the opportunity to observe the portrait hanging from the wall, and the very same blue-haired woman appeared in from of him again—she had almost the exact appearance than the person he found at the town's market. And unlike the other portraits, the colors in this painting were very bright, and the details were much more refined, even the mole near the corner of her eye could be clearly recognized.
After they went into the study, his father was the first one to break the silence, "I saw your wife during the theater performances in autumn. Her semblance was very good, and her acting did not pale in comparison to Miss May's. Looks like you'll have a bright future together."
Ferlin suddenly felt moved, he never expected his father to be the one mentioning this, and before a moment of silence, he finally nodded, "Yes, we already have our own house in Border Town, and we intend to have a baby after this year's Months of Demons."
"That's good to hear," his father slowly took a sip from his tea, "It shouldn't have been easy to come back here from Border Town at this time of the year, what is this news you need to tell me?"
The mood of Morning Light immediately changed, "I met this woman in Border Town, she looks exactly like the person in the main hall's portrait."
As he heard these words, Sir Eltek trembled, almost spilling the contents of the cup, then he stared at his son and said, "What did you just say?"
"Rare blue hair, extremely beautiful, I'm sure I'm not mistaken," Ferlin said, "maybe she's a descendant of the person in the painting."
"Impossible! That person was—" he cut his words, and after shaking his head he continued, "She can't have children."
"So… it was like that?" Ferlin lowered his gaze, "Then, perhaps I was mistaken."
"You came all the way to Longsong Stronghold only to tell me this?"
"Yeah, because I remember that once… you expressed great regret towards her."
Sir Eltek looked downwards for a moment, "Did she really look identical to the portrait?"
"Apart from a slightly different hair length…" Ferlin tried to recall her image, "Everything else was exactly the same. You know, ever since the moment of my birth up until now, I've only seen that hair color in the portrait, so I obviously paid extra attention."
"She can't be a descendant of that person," his father hesitated to continue, "but she might be the person in the portrait herself."
His father's argument made Ferlin question the words his ears heard, an idea so inconceivable that was far beyond his own imagination, "The person herself? You mean… she's been alive for over 400 years?"
"I didn't want to tell you this," he rose from his seat and said, "She's a witch. And since she is a witch, anything is possible. Come, walk with me."
"The basement, I have something to show you," said his father, as if speaking work by word, "Something from our ancestors' heritage, a thing she left behind, a 'Relic'."