Breaking the Paradigm | Chapter 9 | Infinite Confidence
Infinite Confidence

Breaking the Paradigm

Chapter 9

Infinite Confidence

Chapter 9

Infinite Confidence

Time seemed to stretch on endlessly. The servants vanished, appearing only fleetingly before retreating into the shadows. An air of inevitability hung over us, and even before His Holiness returned alone, I knew the truth.

"What about my father?" I asked, my voice devoid of hope.

The head of the academy shook his head heavily and embraced me. Our sobs reverberated through the house. I already knew why the security service hadn't come for me, why the senator hadn't returned from the council alive, but I still asked:

"The seal of blood?"

His Holiness, with some calmness restored, confirmed my suspicions with a solemn shake of his head, muttering, 'Son of a bitch, fooled me again.' It was then, as if he had just received news of his childhood friend's death, that he cried like a child. Words fail to describe the stark contrast between this broken old man and the proud figure who had ordered us to flee in a truck laden with fertilizer just hours before. With no reason left to hold back, tears streamed down my face uncontrollably.

I cannot tell you how long we wept, nor did anyone, not even the girls, dare to intrude on our private grief. After some time, His Holiness regained a modicum of composure and spoke to me:

"Val has granted us some time, but you need to make decisions, all three of you. Give me a moment and summon the girls. I'll be waiting for you in the library."

In shared silence, the girls and I expressed our sympathy before shedding more tears together. As I glanced around, I noticed David, my father's loyal butler, weeping in a corner. I embraced him tightly, and then... but you already know what happened next. Eventually, Fia, Clio, and I made our way to the library, where His Holiness, now composed, awaited us. Though aged and wearied, his eyes still red from tears, he exuded an indescribable confidence. Perhaps it was his posture, the way he held his whiskey glass, or something else altogether, but that unwavering assurance was exactly what I needed.

"Much is unfolding with great haste," His Holiness began with unwavering resolve, "but we—Val and I—anticipated these moves by the system even before they made their first advance. Although it was Val's responsibility to disclose all this, it changes very little. Only now did I truly understand the significance of His Holiness's muttered words, 'Son of a bitch, fooled me again.' It was he who was meant to seal my life at the cost of his own. Of course, the girls did not comprehend the weight of that phrase, but like me, they did not dare interrupt His Holiness's words. He continued, as if nothing out of the ordinary had been uttered.

"I am aware that these few days have completely transformed your lives, the lives of each one of us. The trials you have faced are only the beginning, and unfortunately, there will be many more tears to shed. So, I want each of you to decide if you are prepared for what lies ahead. It matters not to me whether you choose to fight or adapt, to flee or remain, to stay together or part ways. I will support all three of you in whatever decision you make. Before we proceed, I want you to contemplate carefully and share your intentions at this juncture. I emphasize, this stage concerns whether you choose to stay or depart. Should any of you decide to leave the country, Val and I have long devised an evacuation plan.

"We..." Clio began, her voice quivering.

"No, my fairy, think it over, weigh everything. I'll wait," His Holiness interjected, attempting to rise, but Clio would not allow it.

"Father, forgive my earlier missteps. It's not 'we,' but I do not require any further time. I know without a doubt that I will not go anywhere, and I know with certainty that I will not adapt."

"I adapted and endured for five long years," Fia began, her cheeks flushed crimson. She continued, undeterred, "I realized I had chosen the wrong path, feeling myself sinking into the mire of gray routine. I convinced myself it was necessary and sank even deeper. By pure chance, I discovered Clio and Ace's activities, which became the lifeline that pulled me from the quagmire. I never wish to find myself in that swamp again. You can't cling to a lifeline twice. I'm staying put, and I will never surrender again."

Lost in my thoughts, I pondered my father, whom I had callously consigned to the sacrificial altar. The very same altar upon which he laid down his life to save mine. All eyes were on me, the weight of their gazes pressing upon me. Eventually, Clio grew impatient and called out, 'Ace.' The atmosphere seemed too tense, and my own mind was already fraught with tension. Thus, I decided to lighten the mood with a feeble jest.

"Are you waiting for me? Where would I go without these two? Especially after last night."

"You idiot," Clio said, enveloping me in a warm embrace.

"Oh, you little scoundrel," His Holiness chimed in, bursting into hearty laughter. His contagious mirth was irresistible, compelling not only us but even my father's aged butler, who had stood silently in the corner, to emit a few disguised coughs. "Well, now that the decision has been made and my tale will no longer influence it, I shall regale you with the complete story of Val, me, and Niki."

"Mother?" Fia asked softly, her tear-filled eyes fixed on His Holiness.

"Yes, my dear child, your mother plays a pivotal role in this tale," His Holiness replied, his warmth embracing Fia. He continued, "I have much to share, so sit back, and I'll pour myself a whiskey."

"I'll have a glass too."

"Me too."

"Count me in."

I rose, poured drinks for everyone, and readied myself to listen to His Holiness.

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