Chapter 48 Cadiz Summer Festival
The summer solstice sun did not seem like it wished to set, and it was bright even in the evening. The port of Cádiz was rocky, and there were countless people on the craggy stones. Each holding a small boat-shaped piece of wood in their hand, lighting a short candle, and launching their boats out to the pulling waves.
People who released boats with a smile. People who send them crying. People who pray with their eyes closed as the boats drift away.
Everyone seemed to be having conversations with the departed souls who visit only while the candles burn.
The inner parts of the harbor were sandy and grassy.
Simple stalls were lined up with grilled meat, fruit, sweet baked goods, fruit juice, accessories, and simple toys. All kinds of things were sold.
Nonna was so intent on walking around looking at the food stalls that I feared I would lose sight of her if I didn’t hold her hand.
(Ah, if it is this crowded, nobody would find us), I felt relieved in a strange way, and I also thought, (Why am I comforting myself with that?).
People congregated tightly in that narrow row of stalls and it became terribly crowded. After deliberating for a long time, Nonna finally decided on fried round bread with plenty of beet sugar sprinkled on them.
“Mommy, it’s sweet and delicious!”
Saying that, she handed me the half-eaten bread. I took a small bite.
“Yeah! It’s delicious!”
Nonna smiled happily when I answered that. Recently, her front teeth fell out, ruining her beauty, but she was still lovely.
When I looked in the direction Nonna was pointing at, I saw that the low tide was about to reach its peak, and many people were simultaneously floating small boats out to the sea.
Nonna with beet sugar around her mouth stared at the sea. Probably more than 1,000 small boats carrying candles slowly sailed offshore.
“Shall we release a boat too, Nonna?”
I bought two boat-shaped pieces of wood that were sold all along the area and had them light a candle. Nonna and I proceeded to the rocky area, cupping the fire with our hands so it wouldn’t go out.
“You’ll get hurt if you fall. Watch your step.”
As the crashing waves soaked our shoes, Nonna and I joined the people around us in releasing our boat. The boat, which was about the size of two palms, drifted toward the sea little by little while swaying.
I spoke silently to the candle on my boat, moving only my mouth.
(Father, mother, Emily. I miss you. I want to see you. I’ve been working hard all this while, but I’m a little tired now.)
It was as if a hot mass had clogged the back of my throat, and tears poured down. There were many people around me, but I crouched down and sobbed as I watched the boat drift away.
A surprising amount of tears flowed down.
Nonna rubbed my back with her small hand.
“I’m sorry, Nonna. I’ll stop crying now.”
“It’s okay. Mommy can cry too.”
While squatting down, I wiped my tears with my hands and took a few deep breaths.
“Shall we buy some souvenirs home?”
I smiled and talked to Nonna, but she was looking up behind me with a dumbfounded face.
When I quickly turned around, the Commander was standing diagonally behind me.
Nonna jumped at Commander.
“Jeff! Jeff!” Commander lifted the clinging Nonna with his left arm, and he hugged my shoulders and helped me stand up.
“I thought I’d have to come here for years until I found you. But I actually found you in the first year.”
His voice still sounded good.
I had to say something and apologize, but all I could do was cry like a child.
Commander said to a man with a solid physique.
“I’m sorry, but I’ll be going home first.”
“Yes, thank you for your hard work. This year is very much easier because of Security Director’s help. Have a good evening.”
The man sent us off with a gentle smile. Commander showed us to a small house.
“This is my home.”
“I’m no longer a commander. Now I’m the Security Director of the duchy.”
After saying that and making us sit on the sofa, Commander turned to an elderly woman who seemed to be a servant.
“I’ll do the rest, so you can go home now.”
Nonna sat with her head bobbing up and down. She was probably tired from all the excitement. I took off Nonna’s wig, and Commander lightly picked up Nonna and laid her down on a bench, then covered her with a thin summer blanket.
Commander sat next to me, his large body leaning against me, and without saying a word, locked me in his wide chest and didn’t move.
“I’m glad you’re safe. I was so worried that something happened to you.”
“I’m … sorry.”
“No, you don’t have to apologize. I don’t want you to apologize. More importantly, what should I start with? I have a lot to tell you.”
Commander held me close to his chest and held me firmly in his arms as he told me many things.
That the assassination squad came from Haggle, that I was pronounced dead, and that the Ashbury ruling elite knew my true identity. That Mrs. Yorana and the others were safe.
“I understood when I heard that you were the ace of the special forces.”
Hearing that, I couldn’t look up.
“So you don’t have to run away anymore. Victoria Sellers is dead. From now on, you can live in peace. If you’re worried about accidentally meeting someone you know, you can live here in Cadiz. Foreigners come and go in Hayden’s harbor but they never come to Cadiz because it’s a half-farming, half-fishing town. Except for the summer solstice, there are only locals here. Let’s live here with me. I travel to the Security Director office from here.”
I asked him what had been on my mind for some time.
“Jeff, why did you leave the Knight Order and come here? It’s my fault, right?”
“No. It’s not your fault. Actually, I vaguely suspected that you ran away from an organization. That’s why I was originally thinking of quitting the Knight Order to live with you. But you disappeared so I ended up working here. In the end, I would have quit regardless of whether you were there or not.”
Really? If I didn’t get involved with him … After thinking that far, I panicked. That’s right! The ship!
When I said, “Oh no! The ship home!”.
“If there is a place you want to contact, I will send a messenger.” Commander, no, Jeff didn’t let me go.
“I don’t want to regret it anymore. How much I regretted receiving that letter. How angry I was with myself that I did not talk to you sooner. If you’re still worried to stay in Cadiz, the three of us can move into the mountains. I can make a living as a hunter.”
“Victoria, where have you been and what have you been doing? Was there any danger? Please tell me.”
“Jeff, before I tell you that, there’s something I want you to know.”
I straightened my back and looked straight into Jeff’s face.
My body trembled with apprehension from what I was about to say.
“When I entered the training school at the age of eight, I was forced to throw away my name and was given the name of an agent, Chloe. I have not used my name for 20 years since then, but my real name is Anna. Anna Dale. That’s my precious name that my father and mother gave me.”