“Emma!” Someone yelled angrily. “Where are you, Emma!?”
She could hear her name being called in the distance. Emma caught her breath and picked up the pace. Her pursuers were catching up to her by the minute, but Emma had now slowed down from exhaustion. Two people spearheaded the manhunt for her, but she had already known that. And they weren’t the only ones after her. Earlier, before jumping out of the carriage and running away, she had seen other carriages behind her; there had been at least three or four long-haul carriages.
The heavy footsteps and groans of the ones who followed behind her seemed to be getting nearer, and the metal clanking of their swords echoed through the otherwise silent forest. I have to get out of here! Every minute, every second was precious.
A grim, subtle voice, sounding like a ghost’s whisper, flowed through the darkness to Emma’s ears. “Emma, come to your auntie,” her aunt called out. “This path is dangerous at night! Come back home with us! Aren’t you scared? Of all places!”
The sound of her name being screamed out loud, drifted through the valley, echoing in layers. As familiar voices repeatedly spoke, her head became dizzy and her stomach started grumbling. But she had no time for distractions now. She had to run far, far away. Because they were the main instigators of all this.
As the yelling voices drew closer, Emma, holding her breath, picked up a thick piece of wood that she’d kicked with her foot, and threw it as hard as she could. The tumbling branch hit a rock and cracked loudly before splintering over a bush. She thought there was a pause in the shouting, but then she heard a cry from a different direction.
“Emma?” Someone called out, in a tender, benevolent voice, which would be soothing to an innocent child. “Emma, let’s go back together!” It was Aunt Dora’s voice. No, former aunt to be exact.
“I guess you misunderstood something. Let’s go inside now! If it rains tonight, you will be walking around with a cold. You know your body is weak. Emma!”
Hearing the abominable voice, Emma bit her lip painfully to awaken her growing sense of needing to keep a distance from them. She is not my nanny. She is just a traitor now.
Emma had lost her mother at a young age. Since her father had been busy running an apothecary, she had relied on Dora as a mother, from the time she’d started babbling. Though somewhat old, Dora, more beautiful than anyone else, was a distant relative of Emma’s mother. And Emma, yearning for motherly love, used to imagine what her mother would be like, through Dora, who resembled her mother’s portrait hanging in the corridor.
Lying in Dora’s cozy arms, she had missed the touch, smell, and feel of her mother. When something happy or sad happened, she was comforted after burying herself in Dora’s arms, and she laughed or cried, wrapped in her soft flesh as she snuggled against her warm body. Aunt Dora had been like a real mother in Emma’s mind. That was only until half a day ago.
Emma did not doubt that she would spend the rest of her life with Dora. How can this all be a bogus lie? Even worse, Otto the butler is involved too! Emma fiercely tilted her head, as if to deny this reality, and soldiered on.
It was like an awful nightmare, she didn’t even want to think about it, but the lasting reality continued to play on, repeating in her mind.
The funeral of her father who had collapsed due to a sudden health issue was a month ago. Like a fortune teller, her father, who’d been running a pharmacy, had neglected to take care of his health. After falling once and suffering greatly, her father had looked sad as if he had had his tragic fate foretold.
He had started to gather his things bit by bit, and Emma had decided to leave Summerville and had settled in Polarville, where her uncle stayed.
Desmond, Emma’s father, had asked Phillip to look after his daughter and he’d happily agreed and had told her father not to worry about anything. Her father had then told her to rely on her uncle for everything until she got married and had also said that the Herman’s were going to settle down there.
Following her father’s stubbornness, Summerville’s largest apothecary, “Herman’s”, had been sold to a rival company. The money from the sale had been subsequently deposited into Polarville’s safe, for safekeeping, which was to be used as Emma’s living expenses and dowry in the future.
After the funeral, her uncle had left, first saying that there had been an urgent problem in Polarville and that she should take her time. Emma had settled her sorrow and scheduled her move as soon as the sale process of the mansion was completed.
She wondered now if all of this was happening because she had suddenly become an heiress who’d inherited a huge fortune. Even before she had left her hometown, she had thought that the atmosphere around her was strangely unstable, and something had happened in the carriage.
‘I’ll ask you nicely. Come forward with the certificate of deposit and safe key.’ Her aunt’s face had transformed into that of a thief.
‘Aunt Dora?’ Emma, who’d fallen asleep while on the rugged carriage trip, had been stunned to see her aunt threatening her with a scary look on her face, and pointing a dagger at her.
The windows which had glittered under the sunlight suddenly turned dark, and mountains appeared with not another human insight.
‘Au, auntie!’ She’d stammered in fright.
‘Who is your aunt? Well, I won’t hurt you if you listen to me for old times’ sake.’ Dora had said coldly. When Emma, who’d teared up like a child at the continuing threat, cried and begged for help, Dora briefly let her guard down, thinking it was all over.‘Otto, come this way. Now that I see the brat, I’ve finally thought of a good idea.’
As soon as she called Otto, who was sitting in the carriage seat, trying to intimidate Emma with dirty words and actions that were hard to explain, Emma, who was looking for a chance to escape, opened the door and ran away while Dora’s guard was down.