The End of Your Arrogance - Prologue
Evelyn Maduse followed a knight into a shabby hut.
“You’re here?” A middle-aged man said from atop the knight’s back.
He was her father. Perhaps he had come to save her and her child. Her heart raced in anticipation and anxiety.
“F-father! How have y—”
“Take off your robe,” he interrupted her faltering speech.
Her hands trembled as she let the robe fall from her shoulders. He scrutinized her from head to foot. His daughter whom he hadn’t seen for such a long time. Yet, he looked upon her as though she was an object to be examined for damages.
“Leave the child here. Get remarried,” he ordered. “Your child’s blood is still worth something since it’s part of Ajauntice’s bloodline.”
“I heard that after what has come to transpire with your brother on the battlefield, your husband is going to divorce you when he finally returns. Everyone is pushing their daughters to him, acknowledging him as a war hero.”
That’s… no fault of me and my child. You are the one who betrayed him! The words gathered in her throat, but she restrained herself from uttering them. Instead, she fell onto the floor on her knees and begged her father for a shred of mercy.
“Father, please… let me and my child leave. We will go somewhere far away. You won’t even hear from us. It will be like we never existed at all.”
A sword was raised under Evelyn’s chin. Ayatollah Maduse sat there arrogantly while his daughter shed pleading tears.
“You worthless thing! You can’t even captivate a man’s heart!”
“It has been barely a month since we got married…”
Before she could finish her sentence, the sword struck her. She curled up on the floor in pain, breathing raggedly. Through the haze of agony, she tried to recall a man’s face. It was a blur.
One month. It had only been one month. They had spent just one hour together on their wedding day- the day they met for the first time. She had learnt about her pregnancy exactly a month after he set out to the field. Evelyn had gotten married at only twenty and given birth to a precious baby boy at twenty-one.
She had sent so many letters to her husband while he was away on the battlefield. Because of her patriarchal father, she had never learnt to read and write. Still, she had wanted her husband to know about her and his baby, so she had learnt to do it after all.
[The baby inside me moved for the first time.]
[It must be a baby boy. Do you have any names in mind?]
He had never replied. Not once.
She didn’t write letters anymore. She had stopped expecting any letters back, too. Evelyn sifted through books late at night to find an appropriate name for her baby boy. She wished only the best for him. She hoped he would grow up healthy and live freely like his name suggested. Livell Ajauntice.
The freest of them all. Unburdened.
Livell, my Liv. She repeated her son’s name to herself. She straightened her body feeling as though she might hurt him if she curled up.
“Do you know how much I had to compensate? You are so brazen for an illegitimate child. Speak of this no more and leave for your in-laws’ home to the East. A b*tch with a child doesn’t deserve to be called his fifth wife.”
Evelyn snorted despite herself. She wondered where the huge compensation had come from that he had offered her husband in exchange for her brother’s betrayal. It seemed he had sold his daughter, soon to be divorced, to a perverted old man.
“I will survive this,” Evelyn vowed to herself. I will survive this with my baby. She bit her lower lip so hard that she could taste blood.
The clacking of his dress shoes faded away as he left. Evelyn stood up from the floor and straightened her crumpled dress.
It was time to return to hell.
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