Successfully Snagging A Crazy Stepfather! - Chapter 1
“No . . . Mama please, please don’t die . . .”
My mother couldn’t even answer my desperate plea.
Even though I had seen my mother die nine times already, I still couldn’t get used to it.
Drops of tears trickled down to the back of her still, motionless hand.
“Mama . . .”
As her breathing became more shallow, her pallor became even more pale.
It was the tenth life. And this time, too, my mother was going to die. I crawled and moved a rug that was much bigger than my body, while the knights who were supposed to be guarding us were still away.
“Mama, wait for a little bit . . . I’ll save you!”
My mother’s breathing was so weak that it seemed like she was going to take her final breath any second now.
While moving the rug away, I ran to my mother’s side and placed my ear over her chest.
Ba-dump, ba-dump, ba-dump.
She’s still alive.
However, because my mother still had a fever, even when I dragged myself over to her side, she still couldn’t regain her consciousness.
“Stay with me . . . just . . . just a little more . . .”
Soon, I was able to push the rug aside, and there appeared an incomplete magic circle.
I took out from my pocket the pebble that I cherished deeply and used it to complete the circle.
“It hurts . . .”
My hands were getting sore because of the jagged surface, protruding stones scratching me as I drew.
But there was no time to lose.
The sound of heavy footsteps from afar gradually drew closer, and it prompted me to move faster. However, because my arms were as thin as a branch, my body did not move according to my will at all.
Blood dripped from my hand for every stroke I drew on the jagged floor.
“Come on. Come on! I have to . . . I have to save Mama!”
I shifted my gaze towards my mother, who was sleeping on the floor with only thin curtains as her blanket.
My hands hurt so much. It hurt so much that I couldn’t stop myself from crying.
Thump, thump, thump.
I had to finish this quickly, but my hands kept shaking.
‘Snap out of it. Get a hold of yourself.’
I’d been drawing this magic circle for a month just for this moment. I wouldn’t be able to afford to stop now.
I couldn’t finish drawing the circle under the shabby rug in time. My mother would die again today.
“Mama . . . I’ll never lose you again, Mama . . .”
Tears flowed down my cheeks.
“Don’t just cry like an idiot. I can save her. This time, I’m going to save her.”
My hands were numb. The footsteps were getting closer.
“She’s avoiding me because she’s ‘sick’? Who does she think she is, the Empress? How foolish!”
“But Your Majesty, she’s on her deathbed. Please control yourself.”
“. . . Damn it, she was quite useful. If she doesn’t pull through, then I can still use that bastard child!”
It was the voice that never failed to give me goosebumps.
The Emperor was near. If he came to this place, then we’d be hit by him again. He was angry right now, and his footsteps grew louder and louder.
I glanced at my mother. She was as white as a sheet.
I put down the stone and used my bloodied hands to draw on the floor instead.
All I had to do was draw the complete circle.
“I-I did it!”
The roughly drawn circle was big enough for both me and my mother. As I hurried to my mother’s side, I held her hand tightly with one hand, and placed my other hand on the floor.
Then, a brilliant light enveloped us.
Whether they noticed the light or not at that moment, the door was forced open with a tremendous sound.
“What is this . . . !”
But it was too late.
Even if they came in now, they wouldn’t be able to stop us.
“You f*cking wench! Don’t you dare escape! You’re mine!”
“No! I belong to my Mama!”
“Damn it, grab her now! Get rid of the magic circle!”
All kinds of magic were automatically supposed to have been nullified inside the Imperial Palace, but finally, a magic circle had been successfully activated.
Because of this, none of the Emperor’s men approached us.
Moreover, they couldn’t come close or launch any attacks because of the magic circle around us.
“Get her! Get her now! Unless you want to die in her place!”
The Emperor and his knights rushed to us, but when a rift in time and space opened between us, their hands only got injured.
“Good! You all deserve to get hurt after bullying us!”
There was a strong force behind my words, and they resounded in the air as they rang loudly in the ears of those who tried to catch us.
I yelled goodbye to the Emperor who I hoped I would never see ever again.
It would have been better if I could get my revenge on him, but for now, running away was more important.
The Emperor wouldn’t give up until the end, but as he shouted, his voice already sounded far away. Before I knew it, the space that surrounded us became distorted.
It was a perfect success.
I finally got out with my mother!
I opened my eyes to a dazzling light and found that we had arrived at our destination.
Right now, we’re in a different place from the shabby room we were in just a second ago—that shabby room where there was nothing but a settee with a broken leg, a broken window where cold wind blew in, and curtains that were used as blankets.
Where they were now was completely different. It was an unknown place that had a warm fireplace, and there was a distinct scent that smelled of paper and books.
“Ah . . . !”
Thick rugs were laid on the floor, and small pieces of lumber crackled in the fire, giving off some warmth.
I finally arrived at where I intended to go.
“Who are you?”
A voice from out of nowhere drew my attention.
The owner of the room furrowed his brows, clearly surprised by two strangers who appeared suddenly.
“Ah . . .”
I stood up from the floor, mumbling.
The man who was looking at us was incredibly handsome, as if God himself paid special attention to sculpt his features. He had black hair and a large build; a man who looked like he didn’t need any morals but could still get away with it.
Wary of him for different reasons compared to the Emperor, I pointed a finger at him.
“Grand Duke Avelant! It’s you!”
A smile crept on my lips as I saw him nodding instead of answering.
“I came here right away. I found you, my Papa Candidate!”
“. . . What . . . ? Papa Candidate?”
“Yup! Please take care of Mama and me!”
I hugged my sleeping mother, who was still tucked into the tattered curtain blanket.
“Then I’ll make you Emperor!”
“Ha . . . ?”
“Because I’m strong!”
“This situation . . . How exactly should I take this?”
“While taking care of us and when I grow up, I’ll make you Emperor . . . because you want to be and because you’ll need me . . .”
Unfortunately, I lost consciousness right then.
My mana was considerable enough that I would be considered strong, but my small body would collapse after only using magic once.
It’s okay though.
I finally got away from the clutches of the fake father who abused both me and Mama. So I closed my eyes knowing that I would open them again to a future that was brand new.
* * *
I slept peacefully without any dreams, as if I were floating on my bed.
The first time I ever slept peacefully was when my father was killed off that one time. I was so happy I didn’t want to open my eyes.
Usually, when my mother and I would sleep, the knights who were stationed to watch us would often change shifts and kick us. It was natural for a person to fall ill when she couldn’t eat or sleep properly.
And yet to them, we ‘deserved’ this kind of treatment.
Because my fake father, the Emperor, abused us, it was natural for others to follow suit. And he even openly ordered others to abuse us.
Tonight, I slept for a long time. No one kicked me.
“Ah . . . this is nice.”
I hugged the blanket that was placed over me, drawing it closer to my body.
It was warm.
But it was a luxury that she couldn’t truly be comfortable with.
The moment I realized this, my eyes snapped open.
Whenever I’d feel that I was too comfortable, goosebumps would crawl all over my body. Bad things always happened when things seemingly worked out in her favor.
I clutched my chest and gasped out loud.
When I opened my eyes, what I saw was a ceiling covered in the elaborate patterns of wallpaper.
It wasn’t the ceiling that was full of cobwebs, looking as if it would collapse anytime.
As soon as I saw that it wasn’t the room I was used to, I jumped from the bed.
Then, I saw that the room was quiet. It was warm, and the atmosphere was tranquil.
Antique wallpapers, things that were neither torn nor frayed, a room entirely of things that weren’t broken.
“Why are you so surprised?”
A man was staring at me, and I winced at the sound of his unfamiliar voice.
“Ah . . . !”
I belatedly grounded myself to reality.
I thought it was all only a pleasant dream, but it really wasn’t. The man in front of me was Grand Duke Avelant.
When I warped here with my mother, I saw this man before I closed my eyes, but I thought my brain had only conjured a vivid illusion.
“It wasn’t a dream! I knew it, I’m amazing!”
“You appeared out of nowhere and thought it was only a dream?”
Sitting cross-legged opposite me, the man leaned forward and smirked.
With a gaze as cold as ice, he stared at me intently. His blue eyes were severe and sharp, not unlike a butcher’s.
Flinching from the intensity of his gaze, I shook it off and puffed out my chest. I pretended I was fine.
“So now that you’re awake, don’t you have something to say to me, Ms. Cat Burglar who made such a wonderful home invasion?”
It’s true that it’s a home invasion, but who’s the burglar here?
In the book that I read secretly, it said that I should never be intimidated in front of others.
Especially when it came to making deals. It wouldn’t be good to show any weaknesses to the opponent.
So I straightened my shoulders and raised my chin.
“Bebe isn’t a burglar! Bebe’s just . . . Bebe’s just here to make a deal!”
“You can use me. Let’s become a contractual family. In exchange, to me and my Ma . . . Ma . . . Mama!”
I tried to say everything I needed to say with conviction, but there was one person that should have been here but wasn’t here.
I looked around the room in a hurry. I thought my mother would be lying next to me since we always slept together, but she wasn’t there.
“The woman you came here with must be your mother.”
“What did you do to Mama! Give me back Mama!”
I hurriedly jumped to my feet.
But the nightgown I’d been changed into, which I didn’t even notice in my sleep, was longer than I imagined. I almost fell forward and tripped myself.