Chapter 13 – The talk with Claire
I was speechless hearing her say something so unexpected. My heart beat turned disarray. Why did Eugene’s name come out from Claire’s mouth? And to boot, it’s about her ancestor from 500 years ago.
“I want you to take a look at this”
Claire then took out a something small from within her bag, and showed it to Liz.
“This is our family heirloom. One that Eugene Haward held beside him and treasured all his life.”
What Claire held out was a ring. A silver ring with a blue jewel.
As soon as she saw it, Liz’s heart squeezed so hard that it turned painful. Her throat started to shiver from within. Her feelings mixed between seeing her expectations met and wanting to reject the unbelievable truth.
(No way.. But.. What if…)
The jewel’s color.. A refreshing blue of the morning sky. The color of Cecil’s eyes. Perfectly the same color as what I saw every day in my previous life through the mirror.
Looking at the inner side of the ring with a shaking hand, the words ‘To Cecil’ was definitely carved within it.
(This is not a dream?)
But in reality the undeniable proof was now shown by the ring within her hand.
(Why? Why? How…?)
Doubts arose one after another as her head turned blank.
Moments before Eugene went to the Haward house, she recalled the words he said to Cecil then.
“I’ll present to you a ring when I come back. A ring with a blue jewel, the same color with your eyes, Cecil”…
(So he really did prepare it…)
A ring presented to the person he would wed. A ring for his beloved…
Her hearts squeezing her so tightly, tears fell.
Then, even though Eugene was wed to someone else, he did not forget about Cecil… Then Cecil really did exist in his heart, even if it’s only a little. That one fact was enough for me to thank the gods for, and how glad I am about this.
Wrapping up the fragile-like ring within both her palm, Claire’s eyes opened wide, surprised to see the weeping Liz. And then she let out a relived smile.
“I’m glad. I knew I should talk to you about this. This ring is usually kept inside the cabinet in my parent’s room and must not be taken out and no one else other than our family members knew about it. I’ve told you before about how I can’t use any powerful magic although I’m a magic holder, right? But then I was called here as a priestess candidate… And, I know this seems weird, but I felt that I had to bring that ring together with me.”
Claire then smiled with a proud expression on her face. As if for once in her life, she being a magic holder has a meaning.
“This ring was owned by Eugene but the one who insisted that this ring to be handed down was his son, Dio Haward. And it seems Eugene asked a favor to bury the ring together in his grave but his son, Dio, did not oblige to it. Dio then passed it down to his children, which is, Eugene’s grandchildren.”
‘We know not what happens in a hundred years, but one day, there will definitely appear the person who befits this ring. So never let go of this ring until then’
As if reminiscing something from far away, she then slowly continued.
“Dio Haward too was a magic holder with black hair and eyes. Well, the same as me.. Although his magic powers were not of much use, but he definitely had it”
Liz had to take in so much that she could not speak back, but gradually she voiced out.
“…So Eugene had lived happy with his son Dio then”**
Eugene was surrounded by a great son and grandchildren and lived a happy life. Of course there’s this feeling of regret and sadness, and deep down I probably hated how unfair this is. But I’m truly glad that Eugene was happy. Cecil, the previous me, am so glad that the person I loved all my life until my death was happy.
Liz then wiped off the tears and showed a smile, but Claire shook her head to the sides.
“That’s not true. Dio is not Eugene’s real son. He’s a distant relative which Eugene adopted.”
Liz slowly opened her eyes. She felt her heart skip a small beat.
Claire then continued.
“Eugene Haward did not get married all his life. He was a bachelor throughout. Betrayed by his lover, but he could not forget her or somewhere along the lines. That’s what I heard long ago from my great grandmother but I’m not sure if it’s the truth. But because nobles hold their lineage so dear, Eugene was quickly opposed when he said that he would not marry but he did not budge at all”
(….What? What do you mean?)
My thoughts could not catch up. My thought process turned numb that I could not think at all. Didn’t Eugene marry with the lady from the Gurd house who despised Cecil so much? But the Haward house’s butler said so to Cecil, and even the lady herself.
(It’s all a lie?)
So Eugene did not marry with the Gurd lady. So he took over the Haward household while staying single. But if that’s so, it does not explain this ring dedicated to Cecil. If he did not forget about Cecil and loved her so much all his life, he could have send a letter or try to meet her.
But he did not return back to Cecil’s side. And not even a single letter.
Cecil caught an epidemic soon after she visited the Haward house, and died soon after, but she still stayed at the house where the two lived together since before.
And, what did she mean by ‘betrayed by his lover’? Cecil did not once betrayed him. On the contrary, Eugene was the one who betrayed her, and even so she still thought of him. What’s this about?
In front of the confused Liz, Claire made a laugh as if she remembered something.
“That ring, you see, although we were told to never let go of it, there were instances along this 500 years to sell it away. First was around 200 years ago when the Haward house fell from our noble status into commoners. Although the ring was not particularly of valuable price, anything that could sell was better than nothing.
The next was around a decade ago, when I was around 7 or 8. My father was a gardener then and he was scammed by an acquaintance and made to bear a huge debt. Although my parents did not mention how much, but I’m sure it was probably so huge that me and my siblings would’ve been sold for. And when we thought that we’re done for, a mysterious person with a scar on his face wearing a black hood in his twenties dashingly appeared and saved us. Our debts are cleared like it never existed, and the person who scammed my father never appeared before us anymore.
Unfortunately my parents does not know who the man in the hood was, and could not find him no matter how. But me and my family is deeply thankful for his deeds.
Sorry, it seems the conversation got derailed. And I’ve heard how the ring was almost relinquished some way or another.
To think that this was so important to you, Liz. Seems like the person who Dio Haward said about how ‘there will definitely appear the person who befits this ring’ is Liz. I’m so glad my ancestors did not let go of it.”
Claire handed over the ring happily and made a satisfied smile. Liz made a big nod in response.
“A very important thing that cleared away a 500 year doubt. Thank you Claire, for bringing this ring, for giving me this ring, truly, thank you”
“That’s too much- It’s just that, I knew that my parents were burdened that I was a magic holder, but they were so happy when I was chosen to be a priestess candidate. And it seems that I being born had a great meaning after all.
But it’s all in vain after my holy seed not budding.. and truthfully, it burdened my heart so much that I don’t know how to face my parents. But the ring made it all matter and, now I know that me being a magic holder is not meaningless. So, I’m sure I can go back home proud.”
With a cheerful smile on Claire’s face, Liz could only nod repeatedly in affirmation and say ‘Yup, yup’
The two then stood up together. But then, Claire made an apologetic expression.
“Although I handed over the ring to you, but the story about my ancestor was like a folklore I heard from my great grandmother and so I’m quite vague about it. I’m sorry”
“It’s enough for me” as Liz shook her head to the side with a smile and said. Besides-
The unstopping rain since morning cleared up and the sun’s light shone right through the window.
As Liz tightly clasped on the ring, her bright red eyes lit with fire and she made a smile.
“Since I’m now going to meet with someone who knows all the details”