vvan !!


Few Stitches And It Will Be Okay

        “It’s a bit tattered but I can work it out I guess.” said the man in his early half of 20s examining the old plush toy in his white gloved hands.

“Really?!” The child responded enthusiastically. His eyes were shaking in hope as he urged the gloved man to answer.

“Few stitches and it will be okay.” replied back as the young adult reassured the child. His green eyes were dripping honey while watching the child beam at the words. The child seemed to have lost a few baby teeth, so his smile seemed a bit uneven yet it was quite cute as it meant the child was growing healthy. It was a long corridor where the two were talking, the child was standing in front of a huge window that seemed to start at a hand span above the floor and finish two hand spans below the ceiling. It was a bit chilly afternoon in the Count’s mansion even though the fall was yet to come, the county's weather was always on the harsher side when it was compared to the central territories. It was a given when you think it was closer to the north side of the continent than the central part, where the capital was built near the ocean in the south.

“Then when can I have it back?” asked the child, eyeing the toy. “Will tomorrow noon suffice? I can come to fetch it after my lessons with Sir Mage?”

“That can’t be, Young Master. Tomorrow there will be an elder council meeting. What about I lend it to you tomorrow before your class?”

“Will it be done by then, isn't the toy really in a bad shape?”

“I have fast and accurate hands you see, that’s why the Count made me his aide. I will fix it like new and hand it to you tomorrow. Now, let’s get you to the nanny. She didn’t know you were here, did she?”

“Well…” Child said while averting in his eyes. The aide already seemed to know the answer as he asked the child and the child didn’t bother to deny it either since this was not a one-time occurrence. They started walking through the corridor to the main hall where they found a woman in panic, shouting the young master’s name while running here and there searching.

“I didn’t know you were so good at embroidery.” said the man mockingly who sat behind the big wooden desk at the center of the study. He didn’t raise his head from the papers on the desk, stamping seals and signing the papers while the other one who sat in a smaller but a similar desk with a needle and a thread in his hands, narrowing his green eyes behind rectangle shaped glasses.

“I have fast and accurate hands as to serve the lord with my ultimate capability. It’s a given that this aide is capable of using a needle with a thread.” replied the aide nonchalantly, continuing his handiwork of repairing the toy. “For the record, I have already finished what the lord gave me, so it’s my duty to attend to the young master’s request. I am no means slacking, you see.”

“Sometimes I think I have been pretty soft on you. How the hell are you talking to me, the Count of this land whom you pledged royalty to as your master?”

“With respect.” replied the aide in a beat. “With respect, obviously.”

“I am really curious about you being disrespectful then. It has to be pretty bizarre and extreme if this is the respect in your definition.” Count placed his pen to the pen holder on the desk while sorting the overseen papers in a stack. He got up from his seat and approached the aide who seemed to be extremely focused on his work.

“Don't we have a seamstress in the mansion? Why are you fixing my brother’s toy?” The Count seemed focused on the aide’s repetitive hand movements as well. “Should I make you a seamstress too?” He added watching the aide stuffing more cottons on the seemingly empty sides.

“Young master entrusted this work to me, so it only makes sense that I attend it. How am I a subject of the Count if I refused the requests of the Count’s blood?” Aide spoke in an indifferent tone while tying knots on the final stitch and cutting the excess string. He then proudly lifted the fixed toy in the air, turning it to left and right, up and down to look at it in different perspectives while The Count eyed him with an amused spark in his eyes. This aide of his was actually nothing more than an abandoned child when they first met each other on the beast subjugation at the same age of 12. He was with his dad, the Late Count who was a powerful swordmaster. He was known as the guardian of central plains, a title that had been handed down from generation to generation since the County’s first lord, their ancestor. So it meant that he would lead the subjugation every year and he brought his son with him, the sole successor at that time, to watch and learn by participating and fighting on the frontlines with his dad. That year winter was shorter than the previous years and since one thinks about the harsh winters of the border, they could think it's a nice thing if they never knew better. But early spring means early breeding season of the beasts and more offsprings born in winter that should have died during harsh weather, survived since the weather got warmer. And since no one was expecting that, some villages near the border got attacked even before subjugation. All of the attacks resulted in mass slaughters with little to no survivors. Conroy was one of them. And also, Conroy's village has the most survivors too. All thanks to Conroy who predicted what could happen when weather suddenly got warmer and took countermeasures around his village even though townspeople mocked him about being paranoid and told him to relax. That's how they met and how his father acknowledged the boy, took him with them and gave him the name "Conroy" meaning the wise advisor since he had no name as he was both commoner and orphan. Conroy and the Count enjoyed each other's companionship from the start, Count always liked how witty and honest Conroy was. So they grew up together as friends and Conroy pledged his royalty to the Count the moment he graduated from the royal academy, making their futures intervene as he became his aide. Conroy was Count's most valuable in many aspects. Friend, Companion, Subordinate… So he also smiled while gazing at his companion's proud face. The room felt a bit warmer.

Count rushed out of his bedroom, when it was near dawn. He opened his eyes to a cry, a small child's scream continued with weeping. It alarmed the whole mansion in an instant. Guards who were on the other wing of the second floor rushed to where the young master's room was, and saw the dead knights lying on the floor. Head's room was on the third floor, also on the opposite wing. So even the Count who headed down to the second floor was inhumanly fast since he was a swordmaster like his father, he arrived a beat later than the guards who halted at the sight that they saw after opening the door. Count made his way, slamming the door completely open even before looking inside. He was panting, eyes shaking due to fear of the possibilities, what if they hurt his little brother, what if he is late? But the view was something extremely different from what he expected.

There was a body near the bed, on the floor covered in black robes. A typical assassin camouflage, lying over a pool of blood. There was his little brother, who seemed uninjured, thanks gods and goddesses. But the reason for his brother's cry and the one who was responsible for the assassin's body over the pool of blood was there, near the bed and also on the floor. Conroy was in his daily attire, a green pants and a same colored green vest on top of a white shirt.

It was a white shirt, it seemed. Now the color around the neck was not white. It was flooded with red. And it got more and more intense every second, with the same red flooded from Conroy's lips, his blood.

"Ah…" a husky moan was the second thing that came from the blood stained lips.

It was a split second that the time stopped. Count was always known as a cold-blooded man. He also considered himself that way. But for a damn second that felt like an eternity, he was no better than the guards. It was his younger brother's call when he saw his older brother through the door.

"Brother! Do something!" Child screamed in anguish. "Brother Conroy-" he stopped because of the loud sobs that clogged up his throat "-is dying !". Count doesn't really know how he reached out to his dear friend, the friend who was bragging about his embroidery a few hours before, showing his handiwork. He was bickering with his master just a few hours before, saying that he is no slacker with an arrogant look on his face. His shirt was also white that time too.

"There was a man, *sobs* stan- standing-" Child continued while watching his brother checking the aide. "Brother C- *sobs* Conroy wanted to *sobs* give me my t-toy, and then- and then-" child broke out another scream when he saw his brother trying to apply pressure to the wound he found on Conroy's abdomen, giving orders to the knights who gained their composure when they saw their master run towards the injured aide. Some ran as soon as they gained their composure to fetch the mansion's doctor and some were trying to calm and get the young master out of the room according to the orders given. The young master struggled as the knight forcibly removed the child from the bed where he was holding the sheets like it was his lifeline. He wanted to be near the aide, brother Conroy. It seemed like if he took his eyes away from him, he would disappear at that moment.

As he finally got out of the Knight's grasp due to the Knight's will to handle the child gently and gave him an opening, he rushed towards the aide on the floor.

"Oh my…" a faint voice raised between harsh breathing and gasps escaping from the blood stained lips. Everyone on the scene returned their faces to the man with a pale face cramped in pain. A faint smile rose from the very same blood stained lips, eyes as affectionate as they were yesterday afternoon. He raised his hand that was holding something and dropped it on the child's lap with the very few energy he had. Child dropped his gaze on his lap where his eyes found the fixed toy looking anew.

"Few stitches…" said the aide while closing his green eyes, the smile spreading more and more on his face.

"...And it will be okay."