Northwest of Soliana, in the outskirts of the nation, behind hills which rose ever so wildly, was a town. All around it were vast fields of wheat, their stalks swayed peacefully along the warm summer breeze, forming the illusion of an endless golden sea.
It was a peaceful place far away from war and other conflicts that humanity participated in. A quiet place where people lived their lives doing honest jobs in farms, vineyards, and ranches.
All of that was during a time when the towns population was just at a level where almost everyone was at the very least acquainted with each other.
There had been an uptick on the refugees and settlers that made their way here in order to flee the empires wars that had been ravaging the other side of the continent this past decades.
Now there were also the town square which regularly hold bazaars, clinic, winery, a bustling marketplace, blacksmiths, jewelers, and the inns, for the occasional vagabonds and peddlers, which transformed the small, and somewhat meager, village into a lively town.
For better or for worse, the kingdom had even sent a baron to serve as governor and administrate the land and other nearby villages.
My mother and I were among those that settled during the first waves of migration in this town. Unlike many of the other peasant settlers though, we were supposedly powerful nobles of a kingdom from someplace somewhere.
Or at least, thats what my mother would always say whenever she gets unhappy about our current situation.
Because unlike her grand stories, our current living situation is actually pretty miserable to say the least. Despite one of the earliest migrants to the town, we were actually dirt poor- Living in a wooden, run-down shack at some far corner of the town.
Because of that, I had to work jobs at a very early age just to have enough money to put food in the table. Ive fetched water, herd geese, sheep or cows, walked and watered the farms horses, fished, hunt game, and now I gather fruits, nuts, berries, and herbs.
”Johannes, youve gathered a lot again today. ” A middle-aged man with graying hair looked at me who was walking back with two filled basket after hours of foraging in the woods deep behind the hills.
”… ” I didn say anything and just laid them down on top of a wooden box resting just outside his house
The mans name is Basil, the owner of the towns winery, and just like us they weren also an original resident of this town. They came here over 30 years ago and had properly integrated themselves ever since.
Among those that Ive worked under, Ive had the longest tenure under him. Not because he was nice or anything, but because his wages was somewhat decent compared to the amount of work that I actually had to do, as such Ive been working in the winery for over five years now.
After a day of work, he gave me the fruits of my labor, 10 shekels, which was enough to provide for me and my mother for about two days if we budget it properly.
I bowed and walked outside the winerys premises, looking at its sturdy stone walls and shingle roof tiles once more. I couldn help but think of how secure it looked, but I quickly shook those thoughts off before walking back home just before the sun completely set.
On the way home, I saw many people preparing for the sun to retire beyond the horizon. People closing up shop with the exception of a few businesses, like the inns. Young couples walking together down the street, kids wanting to play with their friends even after dark, and their parents that are urgently calling for them to go back home.
All three of those, Ive yet to experience mysel, and the latter two, I probably never will.
After a few left turns, I finally arrived to a dark corner of the town slightly hidden by the overgrown bushes and trees in the surroundings. There wasn even a proper road leading up to here, just a narrow trail of ground where the grass didn live.
Located at the end of it was our run down shack, barely held together by planks and nails. The roof was falling apart and there were multiple holes in the wall, just able to provide the barest minimum when it comes to both privacy and security.
In fact, my mothers reputation as a witch probably did more to protect us than whatever this collection of wooden planks could ever offer.
Then looking on some corner of this miserable house, there were some unused brewing equipment and empty potion bottles that lined our dusty wooden shelves. There used to be a time when my mother could make all sorts of different potions and concoctions, and we would sell that for money.
That was more than a decade ago, because at some point she suddenly just forgot all her brewing skills or that she even brewed at all, and since then I had to rely on myself to bring money to the table.
”Esteemed Mother, Im home. ” Not only am I speaking in a completely different language, I also have to put on these stiff formalities every time I had to refer to my mother. Other people might have found it a bother, but its just not worth the trouble I would get into for not uttering two simple words.
Meanwhile, our house was so small that right after going through the front door the bed was already visible. No, actually we didn even have a bed. We don have enough for such luxuries. We only had a mattress, which I stole by the way, and just laid it down the floor and Mom was just laying there, her eyes unfocused, just staring at the roof.
Despite the fact that shes probably not taken proper care of her appearance in years, my mother still retained the appearance of an angel. Sure her silver hair was messy, with multiple strands visibly sticking out her head, but even that couldn reduce the charms of the beautiful face carved underneath it.
Her slender figure and moonlight skin, stood all the tests that was put against it. Whether it was time, poverty, stress, or that she herself refused to take good care of her body- none of it seemed to matter. In fact, her hair that now reached down to her knees, because of her not cutting it for several years, only gave her a more ethereal appearance.
Now, it might seem weird that I, as her son, overly praise my mothers physical appearance like that. But if I don do say it, then I won have anything positive to say about her. It is literally the only thing which i could somewhat praise her for.
Because, despite having the appearance of an angel, she as a person couldn be more different.
Shes not smart, shes not nice, and its not like shes a hard-worker. Shes paranoid. Shes vindictive and blames anyone but herself. Shes irritable, someone whose mood constantly fluctuated from one extreme end to the other, and worst of all, shes extremely entitled.
Shes got nothing going for her at all.
”So how much did you earn today, Johannes? ” the first thing that Mom did was to ask me for todays wage
”7 shekels today, Your Majesty ” I told my mother, even though I actually made 10
”Thats quite a lot ” she sat up from the mattress and stretched out her palm towards me, before saying ”Okay, give me four. ”
I gave her the four shekels that she wanted, although begrudgingly. In my mind, I couldn help but thing what Queen would call four shekels a lot?. But of course, those thoughts could only exist in my mind.
Ive already tried to resist before and I ended up losing all of my earnings that day, with the addition of an aching body. After living with her for many years, Ive come to the realization that the best that I could do was cut my losses by lying about my wages.
”Wait… did you- ehem, did Your Majesty finish all the remaining mushroom soup? ” I noticed the empty cauldron just laying clumsily on the floor and sighed. That was supposed to be our dinner for tonight, but evidently my mother had other plans.
”Just cook another one ” she said, without even looking at me or getting off the mattress, instead she packed up the 4 Gil she got from me into her makeshift pouch. There was not even a trace of worry or guilt in her voice, like she didn know what was supposed to be wrong.
Unfortunately, the one thing she just never forgot is her supposed life as an empress. And like an empress, she still expects everything to be served to her in a silver platter and that things will always just magically work out for her.
”Well it looks like, we won be having dinner tonight. ” I was livid that my mother would be so careless with the food when I was trying to budget it as much as possible.
”Young man, Im not liking the tone which you
e speaking with. ” Mother didn like what she heard. The calm and relaxed tone that she had earlier instantly disappeared without a trace.
”I said we won be having dinner, because that was all that we had. ” I answered, trying my damnedest to not show any signs of fear towards her
”… ” Instead of answering, she remained silent and coldly stared at me, and that evoked more fear than any words could.
Finally, she stood up from the mattress and walked up to me. She was very tall for a woman and is at a height that a person who lacked nutrition during their childhood, would never be able to reach.
Even after all these years, she still was half-a-head taller than me. An improvement from when I was younger, when she used to tower over me. Shed always used the fact that she was bigger to scare me to submission when I was younger.
”The shops are closed already. ” I said
”Well thats not my problem is it? If you bought food on the way back this wouldn have been a problem in the first place. ”
Well, I didn expect someone to completely empty the cauldron which I had saved for dinner. but those words couldn leave my mouth, because I knew that the difference between the two of us was a lot more than just our physical stature.
Even now, I could already feel that mother was using her mana to exude pressure on my body.
Looking at her eyes, I saw mana so dense, that it was visible to naked eye, giving her irises a bone chilling cerulean glow as she glared at me coldly.
”… ” In the end, I was the one to avert my eyes.
I didn have a single fond memory anytime my mother used her mana in the middle of an argument. . Petty resistance was the most that I could muster against her, and even then I was still internally trembling.
I had the unfortunate experience of going against her one time she was extremely angry and my body still remembers that painful experience up to this day. My breathing was irregular and my heartbeat was fast. My body was instinctively telling me to back off, as childhood and adolescent memories of being physically beat down constantly resurfaced in my mind.
Seeing me lowering my head, she decided to stop pressuring me and said ”Go find something to cook, Im hungry ”, and ordered me to do something outside when darkness had already enveloped the town.
I thought I would be able to lie to her this time but just like all the other time I tried giving her a piece of my mind, she easily squashed any hope I had of ever going against her.
”Okay ” With extreme reluctance, I walked out and closed the door with a bang as I left.
The impact caused a few of the nails to come off and I heard a bellow from my mother as if she had something to say about my manners. But I was already quite the distance away and I wasn interested in listening to her sermons.
”Man, this **ing bitch.. ” This wasn the first time this had happened, but it didn make me any less angry.
Why was I born to this absolute nutcase of a mother? Im out here breaking my back working because she refuses to, and then she keeps 60% of the earning as Emergency and repair funds, when she hasn spent a single dime on actually fixing the house.
I can help but think of Basil and his wife, I heard that their daughter ran away from home because she and Basil got into a huge argument. Why couldn I have been born as their child instead?
At the very least, If I was their child, I would have saved them from the hurt of having their child running away from home.
Unlike my current situation…
I had tried to run away multiple times before, but she had always found me and dragged me back every time. So I had been stashing away my money to a box hidden deep in the woods. I had at least 1200 shekels in there by now, because of many years worth of labor. Once I cracked the two thousand mark I was planning to move to a different city.
But at the rate Im going, it would take me at least two more years before that can happen. Thats two more years of living with my parasite of a mother.
”Maybe 1200 is enough already? ” I was walking at the edge of the town and that is when I noticed a wooden caravan parked by the river bank.
At first, I wondered if my eyes were playing tricks on me but as I got closer and closer my elation increased as I recognized the familiar caravan. I broke out to a sprint while calling out to the man with long bright-colored garbs and a weird looking hat, who was sitting by a campfire.
”Who the ** is this noisy so late in the eveni- Oh shit, Johannes! ” I heard him initially cursing before he turned back and recognized who I was
”Since when were you back? ” Like a reunion between two old friends, I sat down beside the campfire with him and asked.
Huang was a wandering salesman of oriental descent that usually comes back to town every 1-2 years. He was about a decade older than me, but he was the closest thing I had to a friend and my main inspiration when it came to the idea of running away from home.
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