Zara was stunned. She never would have imagined that her once-lazy and carefree brother could undergo such a transformation in just six months. The arrogant, domineering young man she knew had been replaced by a humble and determined man. Her heart, still heavy with worry, was suddenly filled with relief and joy.
As they drove through Aurous Hill Old Town, they reached the house where Steven had lived with his parents when he was young. The once old and worn-down house was now completely new.
Deana had put a lot of effort into renovating and rebuilding the old house, bit by bit. Although everything looked the same as it did back then, it felt like time had been pulled back 20 years.
Living in this house was a relaxing and peaceful experience for Deana. She spent her days reading books, drinking tea, practicing calligraphy, and tending to the flowers and trees in the yard. She was content with this simple life.
During this time, Fitz had been on his pilgrimage and Zara was often busy with work, leaving Deana alone in the house. But for her, the solitude was satisfying.
Despite her worries for Fitz, Deana knew that Steven was punishing him for his mistakes.
Steven was not one to take things lightly, but she had faith that he would protect Fitz. Her confidence in Steven was not just based on her understanding of him, but also on her knowledge of his father, Bruce.
Bruce was a man who used both kindness and power, who spared his enemies who were not deserving of death. Though the journey to that temple was long and dangerous, with Fitz eating and sleeping in the open, Deana was confident that Steven would bring him back safely. Her trust in Steven was not misplaced, and he did bring Fitz back alive.
Despite forcing Fitz to go on a grueling pilgrimage, Steven was still secretly instructing the Wade family to protect him. And there was one thing she got right, when she overheard her daughter ask Steven to let her brother attend her father’s wedding, she knew Steven wouldn’t refuse. So, with a change of clothes, a set of toiletries, a jar of warm water, and a hearty meal, she waited for Fitz’s return home, all the while trying to suppress her excitement.
Normally, she was always calm and collected, but when she heard the sound of brakes outside, she couldn’t help but burst out the door, barely containing her anticipation.
As Zara’s car came to a stop outside, both Zara and Fitz emerged from the vehicle.
When Fitz caught sight of his mother waiting behind the wrought iron gate, he couldn’t hold back the tears that welled up in his eyes. As for Deana, she too felt the sting of emotion in her eyes.
Without wasting a moment, Fitz pushed open the gate and hurried towards his mother.
Morten fell to his knees, tears streaming down his face, and choked out the words, “Mom… I know I’m wrong!”
Deana was still troubled by her son’s crestfallen appearance, but when he suddenly knelt down to admit his mistake, she was taken aback.
She quickly helped him to his feet, her voice choked with emotion, and said, “Get up, my child. You did nothing wrong. Mom never blamed you.”
Deana had the same perspective on Fitz’s decision as her daughter Zara. After all, being part of a wealthy family was akin to living in an imperial palace. Fitz wasn’t trying to harm his mother and sister; he was just trying to protect himself and secure his future. It was a completely understandable course of action, and Deana could tolerate it.
Throughout history, both at home and abroad, numerous heirs to wealthy families and royal bloodlines had turned against their kin due to their interests, and such situations had become commonplace.
Despite still kneeling on the ground, tears streaming down his face, Fitz spoke with a steely resolve. “I disregarded the lives of my mother and younger sister and only thought about my own future. It was inhumane and unrighteous, unfaithful and unfilial.”
Deana replied sternly, “I understand why you did what you did, and I don’t blame you for it.”
But Fitz was not done, he continued to speak with conviction, his voice growing louder by the moment. “Right is right, and wrong is wrong! I can’t use my actions as an excuse. I could have chosen to stand by my mother and sister, and I could have fought for justice. Instead, I chose to prioritize my own interests and disregard your lives. And for that, I am deeply sorry.”
Deana fell silent for a moment, let out a soft sigh, and then spoke in a serious tone, “You made a mistake, and you’re acknowledging it now. That’s what counts. As a person who knows right from wrong, you’re living up to your name, Fitz. It’s such a relief for me to see you back.”
“Time is short, my son,” she continued. “You can’t just kneel here all day. We’ve prepared a bath for you, and after that, let’s sit down for a hearty meal and catch up.”
Zara stepped forward and added her voice to her mother’s, “That’s right, brother. It’s not easy for you to come back, so let’s make the most of our time together.”
With that, Fitz wiped away his tears and stood up. Morten followed his mother inside the old house where Steven used to live when he was young.
Deana led him straight to the bathroom, where the tub was already filled with water and toiletries and new clothes were neatly arranged on a nearby table.
Deana pointed him towards the stuff they bought, “Fitz, I have everything you need, including new clothes and toiletries, but no hair-cutting equipment. Your hair is already quite long, don’t you want to get it trimmed?”
Fitz shook his head resolutely, “No, I want to grow it out for three years.”
“Three years?” Deana’s eyes widened, “That’s a long time, especially given the harsh conditions of your journey. And taking care of such long hair won’t be easy.”
Fitz’s expression turned serious, “Mom, I met a couple on the road last month who were on a pilgrimage to the Temple, just like me. We only traveled together briefly, but during that time, they shared with me the story of their son who had died of leukemia. They were praying for his good rebirth in his next life, free from disease and suffering…”
“The couple talked about how their son had suffered before he died, and they felt helpless. They decided to grow out their hair for three years and then donate it to make wigs for children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy. I want to do the same for them.”
Deana’s eyes filled with tears as she processed what her son had just said. After raising him for over twenty years, she had always hoped that he would make something of himself. But this was beyond her wildest dreams.
Zara, who had been standing at the door, couldn’t hold back her tears either.
She spoke up, her voice choked with emotion. “Brother, why don’t I donate some money and start a charity fund in your name? We could use it to help those children with leukemia…”
Fitz turned to his sister, a gentle smile on his face, “Zara, that’s kind of you, but I don’t want my name associated with it. When I arrive at the Temple and complete my redemption, I will do my best to help those children myself.”
Zara looked at her brother, admiration in her eyes, “But it will take you a year to get there, won’t it?”
Fitz’s smile widened, “If I can travel as fast as I did yesterday, I might get there in eight months!”