"Lucian, you were uncontactable during your seven years in the army. Freya was involved in a car accident and is now paralyzed. She was driven out by the family. She's alone and living a miserable life."
Lucian Gray and his mother were gathered before his father's tombstone on the outskirts of Sioux.
Lucian could not help the full-body shudder that ran through him. There was an unconcealable horror expressed through his eyes. He turned to his mother, Lilian Seymour, and asked, "How is that possible, Mom? I haven't heard anything when I was in the troops"
"Much has happened in the seven years you've been gone. She kept writing to you a year after you left but every letter seemed to have disappeared into nothing. There was no news."
She's confined to a wheelchair, lonely, and unable to return home.
What has Freya experienced while I've been gone? Seven years
"It doesn't matter even if you're kicked out of the family, Lucian. I, Freya, am not afraid of anything. I'll give up everything I have as long as you love me. It doesn't matter what difficulties lie ahead, I won't be afraid as long as I have you by my side."
"Promise me that you would never leave me no matter what."
His eyes reddened as tears of guilt began to build up at the mere thought of Freya's words.
Lucian had been the eldest son of the Gray family of Sioux seven years ago. His father was a well-known big shot not just within the city. He could stand toe-to-toe with those of Hohenwald. What awaited him, however, was a spectacular setup where he died horribly in the streets. His cause of death was a mystery. Both he and his mother were expelled from the family following the incident with nothing to their names. They were reduced to the bottom rung of society.
Freya, who was in love with Lucian, was not just a pretty face at school. She was the eldest daughter of the Harrison family. She continued to shine following her graduation and became vice president of the Harrison Group following the success of a large-scale project that was worth millions. Freya and he were people who belonged to different worlds.
She, regardless of her family's opposition, chose to give everything up to marry him in secret with papers to show for it.
When the Harrisons learned of the matter, the head of the family was furious and forcibly separated the two by taking her away.
Lucian decided to join the army after wallowing in his misery for a while in hopes that he would be able to make a name for himself by defending the country at the front lines. He wanted their union to be blessed.
His rare talents were quickly unearthed after he joined the military. He had become part of the special forces within the year. He cut off all contact with the outside world and was secretly deployed to the northern borders.
He fought bravely, won his battles, slain foreign invaders, quashed the traitors in their ranks, and safeguarded Vandergrift in the seven years.
King Vandergrift himself had personally canonized him as the Infernal War God!
"There's also something else I have to tell you, Lucian. You and Fay have a seven"
His phone began to ring before Lilian could finish. It was an unfamiliar number.
"Hello? Is this Lucian Gray? I heard you were leaving the army and returning home. Divorce my Mom. I don't want a father as heartless as you. I feel ashamed just thinking about it"
"I can take care of Mom just fine. I don't need you being my father."
There was a childish voice tinged with determination and hatred on the phone. They did not hesitate to hang up without waiting for him to respond. He tried to call them back only to find that the phone had been switched off.
His breaths quickened as he processed the words. He felt nervous.
I don't need a you being my father.
He turned his attention back to his mother. "Mom, I I have a daughter?"
"That's right." Lilian sighed and nodded. "Freya secretly gave birth a year after you left. This angered Old Mr. Harrison and led to her being driven out of her home. She came here with her three-month-old daughter to look for you. She tried to establish contact for two years but nothing came of it. She left discouraged. She got into a car accident not two years later and has been paralyzed since"
"Both Freya and Minnie were thrown out of the family after the accident. Minnie had to be the one to set up a stall in the market to earn money just so they could live. I've been doing my best to offer them a modest contribution as well to make up for all we've done to her."
"There are also local hoodlums who often pick on Minnie and demand protection money. They often beat her up too."
Lucian's head went blank at the revelation.
Freya birthed him a daughter and was now an invalid. The mother-daughter duo was thrown out of their home and relied on a seven-year-old to earn their keep.
Tears rolled down his cheeks in a flood of guilt. Freya had given everything up for love and had to birth the product of their love in secret.
He forgot their promise and disappeared from her life in her most difficult moment.
How much despair could she have been in?
His hands curled into fists. "How dare they treat them that way!" His veins rippled with anger.
Driven out of their home
A fatherless child who's abused in the streets.
His eyes were bloodshot as he roared into the sky. She was only a seven-year-old child who not only had to earn money to support both herself and her mother and had to suffer the abuse thrown her way. He was going to kill those who hurt his wife and daughter. He was going to make sure that he wasn't even going to leave a body behind for a proper burial.
"What are you doing, Lucian?"
Lilian immediately asked as Lucian sped away.
"I'm going to Freya and Minnie. I owe them far too much Far too much!"
He left the cemetery and rushed back to the city in a blaze of glory.
Meanwhile, at a lively marketplace.
"My jewelry is pretty. I went to the next city over with my Mom to get it."
"Take a look, Miss. It'll look nice on you."
Minnie was in a patchwork of a dress and calling to the people in the streets in her child-like voice. Every time she'd pass a woman by, she would actively sell her products to them. Her eyes demonstrated a maturity that did not match her age.
She was well-known in the marketplace as the seven-year-old girl with a paralyzed mother trying to earn a living.
Many girls passing through would buy a few jewelry pieces to support her. Minnie was the stubborn sort that refused money given for free.
Freya was in her wheelchair, gaze dull as she watched her daughter. She couldn't help the tears rolling down her cheeks.
She's unable to provide Minnie with a good life as a mother and instead had to rely on her just to survive. She felt it better if she were dead rather than alive. If it weren't for Minnie, she would've committed suicide.
"Look who it is. The fatherless child and her mother are out here again? How much did you earn today? Got enough to feed yourselves hopefully."
A man with his hair swept back dressed in a suit came up to the girl with a wicked smile.
"What are you doing here, Calvin?"
Anger surfaced in Freya's eyes.
Calvin Harrison, her uncle's son, was the spendthrift of the family. He was the one who planned the accident that ruined her. Freya had shone far too brightly in the business world and threatened his position. It contributed to the reason why he would so thoroughly destroy her.
"Why can't I be here? It's not like this marketplace is yours."
He crushed a jewelry piece underfoot and laughed. "Hahaha, I'm so sorry. I accidentally broke one. But that's okay. I have lots of money. Here."
He took out a wad of cash from his wallet and threw the stack on Minnie's head while cursing, "Kneel! Do it and this is all yours. This should be more than enough to last you for a few months, right?"
"I don't want it."
Minnie bit back.
"Being mouthy now, huh?"
He smirked and backhanded th girl, sending her sprawling to the ground.
Chapter 2 I Hate You
The wheelchair-bound Freya could only cry out in anguish. She was unable to lift even a single finger. "I'm warning you, Calvin! Touch Minnie again and I'll call the cops!"
"You're threatening me?"
Calvin cursed and kicked her wheelchair over, sending her toppling over into a pool of mud.
He began to repeatedly kick the woman. "How dare you threaten me? Do you think you're still the high and lofty Ms. Harrison? Let's see you fight back now!"
"You stop it!"
Minnie threw herself in front of Freya and weathered a few blows. She gritted her teeth and refused to make a sound. She instead jabbered on, "You can hit me. Don't hit my Mommy. Stop hitting her She's ill. Just hit me instead"
Freya felt so useless as she lay on the floor. She couldn't even stand up and do anything but watch her daughter be beaten. She couldn't even protect her own daughter.
"Help! Please save my daughter!"
She begged for help from the crowd of onlookers.
"Let's just see them try. I'm the son of the Harrison family. Everyone who crosses me will wish they were dead!" He roared with fury.
This scared everyone in the crowd. No one stepped forward to help the mother-daughter duo. The man was from a powerful family after all. The rest of them were just ordinary citizens who couldn't afford to poke the hornet's nest.
"Ahhh!" She cried out in despair, "I hate you, Lucian Gray! I hate you!"
I hate you!
Freya's eyes were filled with overwhelming anger. She screamed in anguish at the group of indifferent onlookers.
I hate that heartless man who ruined my life.
She had been a school belle. Her talents in running a business shone after her graduation. She successfully served as the president of the Harrison Group and was worth millions. Her future was one of endless possibilities.
Yet, she gave up everything she had for love and eloped to the countryside with Lucian and got married.
She gave everything she had to him but all she received in return was him being gone from her life.
She found out about her pregnancy only after the Harrisons had forcefully removed her from his side. The fetus was a product of the love between her and Lucian, which was why she concealed the truth that she had given birth to Minnie and incurred the wrath of the Harrison family. It made her the joke of Sioux. She lost her former glory overnight.
She didn't care. She brought the then three-month-old Minnie in search of him as a surprise only to hear that he had enlisted into the army.
She wrote letter after letter but it was as if they had all been swallowed up in the void. No news ever came back.
It had been seven years since then!
"Stop it, Calvin. Everyone here knows Freya and Minnie are well-known people who are suffering hardship. Stop picking on them."
A woman carrying a basket couldn't stand it anymore
"You want to die so badly, huh?"
He jabbed a finger in her face. "Trying to offend the Harrisons now, huh?"
The woman trembled in fright and retreated into the crowd. She was just an ordinary person who couldn't afford to go against a family like the Harrisons. She had no choice but to back down.
"I'm going to break her legs today. Let's see who can say anything about it."
"I am the law here." He snarled arrogantly.
"You've got guts."
Suddenly, there came an enraged yell from nearby.
Everyone turned to look to see a military vehicle drive up at a breakneck speed before stopping.
Lucian, who was in military boots and a dark green coat, jumped out of the car. His firm facial features exuded the air of a king. It was as if the air around them had stilled by his mere presence.
Freya, still lying in the ground, was shocked to see him. She had waited for seven long years. He was finally back.
Why did you even come back for?
She burst into tears as the light in her eyes went out. She lay motionless on the ground as if she were dead.
Minnie, who was lying protectively on top of Freya, noticed that something was wrong and looked up to see Lucian. She trembled when she noticed the familiarity. Icy anger surfaced in her eyes.
She understood in an instant that the man before her was her father that had gone off the grid for seven long years.
No. I don't have a father.
I'm a kid who doesn't have a father. Everyone knows that.
"Who are you?"
Calvin stared at Lucian and came to a realization. His words were mocking. "Oh And here I was wondering who you were. If it isn't the exiled Mr. Lucian himself. I heard you joined the army. Done with military services?"
He was looking at the mother-daughter duo lying in a heap on the floor.
Lucian didn't pay Calvin any attention. He could see Minnie's eyes clear with hatred for him. Guilt overcame him to see those eyes on a little girl.
He had wanted to avenge his family but Minnie's hatred and Freya's indifference stopped him in his tracks.
He was no longer a war god. He had become an irresponsible husband and father.
"Bullying my daughter?"
He glared at Calvin and spat through gritted teeth.
"Hehehehe." Calvin, with his hands folded across his chest, glanced condescendingly down at Minnie and guffawed. "Those were just a few kicks. Let's see her upset me again!"
"How dare you!"
Lucian, who'd been largely silent, let out a heart-wrenching scream as tears rolled down his cheeks.
He rushed up to Calvin at the speed of sound.
His fist connected with Calvin's chest.
Chapter 3 You're Not My Father
Calvin landed on the ground in a heap and coughed up blood. Lucian didn't let up. His fists continued to rain down on the man.
The beaten Calvin was frantically crying for mercy but Lucian had gone rogue. He didn't stop no matter how he begged. It took knocking Calvin unconscious for him to stop.
He turned around and looked at the mother-daughter duo, panting.
He shuddered at the sight of the hatred in the girl's eyes. He felt remorseful but didn't know what to do.
"Let's go, Minnie."
Freya said to her daughter. She didn't want to take another look at Lucian.
"Okay." Minnie nodded and used all her strength to help her back up into her wheelchair.
He didn't hesitate to rush up to Freya to help. The indifferent face covered in mud made his heart ache. The tears would not stop.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"
"I'm so sorry, Fay."
He took out a packet of tissues from his pocket.
"Here. Let me help you."
He gently wiped down her face. He never could've imagined that the one proud president of the Harrison Group would end up this way, paralyzed and wheelchair-bound and barely looking alive.
Freya remained impassive as she allowed him to wipe her face. There was not a single shred of emotion on her face.
It was a look only a woman who had given up would have.
"Hands off my Mom."
Minnie pushed him away.
Lucian fell back into the same pool of mud. His eyes were rimmed red as he watched his daughter. He picked up a gift that he had bought for her and said with a shaky voice, "Come here, sweetheart. Daddy will clean you up too."
"You are not my father."
Her eyes were calm despite the resentment burning in them. She began to speak as if she were an adult.
"If you are my father, where were you when my mother had a car accident, suffered a brain hemorrhage, and was on the operating table for three days and nights?"
"If you are my father, where were you when my mother was abandoned by her family and left to fend for herself in the streets with nothing to our names?"
"If you are my father, where were you when Mom was bullied?"
"If you are my father, where were you when Mom suffered a high fever with no money for treatment and I was left begging on my knees at the hospital with no one to turn to?"
"I can take care of Mom just fine. You're just getting in the way!"
Minnie's every word were knives that ruthlessly stabbed themselves into his heart. The ain suffocated him. He wanted to tell her how he'd been gone defending the country all these years and had no idea that they would fall to such hardship.
He knew any explanation would be futile. The hatred in her eyes told her everything he had to know. To Minnie, he was an irresponsible father and a dispensable person. She saw him as her enemy.
This was his first time meeting his daughter but it turned out to be a meeting between foes. It was a painful thing to experience as a father. He'd rather face a thousand mercenaries coming for his throat.
He had no idea what to do with a daughter that hated him to his core.
Guilt flooded his senses as tears rolled down his cheeks.
"Stop it, Minnie."
The silently sobbing Freya gently shook her head at her daughter. "I was the one who picked him. No one else is to blame."
"Let's go, Mom. I'll be the one to protect you. We don't need anyone else."
Minnie skillfully packed up the jewelry and shoved them into the cloth bag behind the wheelchair and left with Freya. She was merely seven but the way she wheeled the chair indicated that she had strength far greater than those her age.
Lucian screwed his eyes shut as the two departed. Tears continued to fall. He had never cried no matter how tired he was and how much suffering he went through back in the military and yet, he was crying in the face of his wife and daughter who hated him.
I'm so sorry, Freya Minnie
"I'm back now. Neither you nor your Mom will suffer again, Minnie."
Lucian immediately thought of something. He took out a card from his coat pocket, and said, "This is the money I earned as a soldier. It can buy you a lot of clothes, snacks, and even a house. I'll take care of both of you. Please allow me to do that."
There was a quiver in his voice.
He had no idea how to make up for the hurt he had caused them besides handing them his bank card.
Minnie only grew angrier. She slapped it away. "Keep it to your own! We don't need your money. Better a poor mom than a rich dad like you. I'll never forgive you no matter how rich you are. I'll buy Mom a house and more clothes. We don't need you"
"Let's go, Mom."
The girl wheeled the chair forward and took large strides away.
The tears did not stop as he knelt in the mud to stare at the card that Minnie had so vehemently rejected. Would she ever forgive her father?
He broke down under everyone's watchful eyes.
Yes, he was now the renowned Infernal War God in charge of millions of soldiers and wielded considerable power on all levels of society but what did it matter if he was unable to gain the forgiveness of both the woman he loved and his daughter?
What did it matter even if I have all this?
"I'm back, Faye, Minnie. No one will ever lay a finger on you again. I swear I'll do everything in my power to make up for what I've done. I'll give you everything you want no matter what. The world will be your oyster," he declared with eyes full of guilt.
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