35 Chapter 34
"Are you happy now? Killing yourself on purpose."
The bomb Carl drops leaves everyone speechless.
"Lord Valentine, what is Carl talking about?" I ask, my voice quivering. It's too much to take in. I was killed as a sacrifice for a dark curse. The fact that Lord Valentine no longer has a body to return to in his own world. The fact that he will stay here with me forever. And now this?
"Don't listen to Carl. He is just complaining because I gained immortality without going through the things he had to go through," Lord Valentine says teasingly.
"Hey, Vale's princess, do you know why his mother gave up so easily in the end?"
Come to think of it his mother did give up surprisingly easily. She was insistent to bring Lord Valentine home, but in the end she just... gave up. Like she admitted defeat.
I eye the two men in front of me suspiciously. Suddenly I'm afraid to hear the truth.
"In order to send your soul to a different universe..."
"Please tell me the truth," I say at the same time.
Lord Valentine wants to say something but in the end he hangs his head down in defeat.
"He exhausted his power to send your soul to a different universe. The power that could originally be used to save himself. The power that could break the curse that was put on him."
"That's why... that's why your mother said it's fate," I mutter softly. "So it's all my fault in the end."
"No, please don't blame yourself, Ianthe. It's all my choice. I'd rather you live." Lord Valentine grabs my hand and gives it a squeeze.
"That's right, it's definitely not your fault. It might take time for his power to recover, but he could ask for help. But he didn't. He wanted to leave this world, he wanted to stay in yours. That's why he voluntarily chose to neglect the chance to break the curse until it's too late. That's why he voluntarily neglected the safety of his own body even if he knew Hugo was going to assassinate him that day when his soul was not in his body," Carl drawls in a sarcastic tone.
The cryptic advice Carl gave last time rings in my head. "Carl warned you! You didn't listen! Why?" I demand. I want to cry, so everything is my fault, isn't it?
"I thought you would understand me Carl," Lord Valentine says wistfully.
"I don't condone on committing suicide."
"I did not. I'm just... I'm just grabbing the opportunity in front of me. I'm still alive!"
"Why?" I ask. I still don't understand. Why did Lord Valentine give up his life in his original world voluntarily when I was forced out of it? Won't he miss his family, his friend?
Lord Valentine squeezes my hand and looks up. His eyes are filled with sadness and despair. "I am... I am not happy over there." His voice quivers.
He takes a deep breath and continues, "As you could see, my mother places a lot of pressure on me. In our world, becoming an immortal mage is a huge honor. It also means power. It reflects on your family. And my family, even though it's once a powerful family with a number of immortal mages, has been dwindling. It has been hundreds of years since someone from my family has achieved the status of immortal mage."
"And you mother believed you would be the one to revive the family's name."
Lord Valentine nods. "Not only that. Carl's mother and my mother are twins. They have been competing non-stop ever since they're born. Everyone knows my aunt gave birth to a genius. That's why my mother bet everything she had on me."
"And she succeeded," Carl adds. "Vale is also a genius. Given another ten years he would have become an immortal mage, just like me."
"No, my mother did not want that." Lord Valentine laughs dryly. "She wanted me to achieve what you did in much less time. She wanted me to become an immortal mage by 27. Two years from now. In that way I could beat you. She could beat her sister. My family's reputation will be revived."
"That's impossible. The youngest age a person ever became an immortal mage is 26. And she is a super genius. Some even said Natasha was goddess reincarnated. That's too ambitious," Carl says.
By this train of thought, how old is Carl? He seems to be the same age as Lord Valentine!
As if reading my thoughts, Lord Valentine says, "Carl is 30, a very old man."
"Mages, even mortal ones, have longer age span than normal human because of the magic they study. Thirty something is nothing. His mother is nearly seventy."
That's not possible! Lord Valentine's mother looks as if she is in her early thirties! And I thought it's because of beauty spells and expensive cosmetics.
"Why are we talking about age all of a sudden?" Lord Valentine asks, clearly confused. "Right. I am not happy over there. I have such a huge burden over my shoulder. And to make things worse my mother decided it's time for me to marry. If I marry a similarly powerful witch, she might help me with advancing my power. Just like how Carl has Irene."
"That's ridiculous. Irene isn't a genius. The only spell she could do exceptionally well is the shape-shifting spell. And mind you it's to shift into a bird."
"I don't want to marry for power. It's not fair for both the potential bride and myself." Lord Valentine smiles bitterly. "I contemplate faking my death and running away. And then that... incident occurred. That just seemed to be a too good to be true opportunity, so I grabbed it. If I stay there, I don't know what will become of me. I am suffocating. I feel like I am sinking."
This is not the Lord Valentine I have come to know. He should be shining like a star, not being shrouded in darkness and despair. Without thinking, I give Lord Valentine an embrace in the hope of comforting him.
I am staying by your side, so please do not despair.
Lord Valentine is definitely shocked by my advance, but after a second he returns my embrace.
"Thank you, Ianthe," he whispers.
When I pull myself away with my face as red as a tomato, I realize Carl has disappeared. A note is left on the couch. I pick it up and read it out loud, "Thank me, Vale."
"Thank him? I don't understand." What does Lord Valentine have to thank him for?
Lord Valentine bursts out laughing. "So it's all his plan. It seems like I have to return his favor."
"I am not following. Thank him for what?"
Lord Valentine pulls me into his embrace again and says with a sweet smile hanging on his mouth, "Thank him for this."