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    The next morning, Liev woke up in much better condition and immediately tidied up the bedding. He neatly folded the blankets and pulled back the curtains on the window, he could see the interior at a glance. The house was as rough as the dishes left behind yesterday. However, the warmth emanating from the fireplace was more than welcome, filling the room with a comforting heat. Liev suspected that firewood had been replenished while he was asleep. 

    Even though it was uncomfortable to receive such hospitality from a stranger, there was no choice. Liev had to express his gratitude properly. With some remaining travel funds, he could stay here until he found a suitable place to rely on. Opening the door while envisioning his future plans, Liev entered a simple living room. The man who noticed Liev’s presence took the initiative to lightly greet him. 

    “Are you awake? How’s your body? Can you move around a bit?” 

    Liev first opened his mouth to answer the man’s question. 

    “…..” 

    But for some reason, his body wouldn’t listen. No matter how he moved his mouth, the only sound he heard seemed to be the sound of blocked air and no voice came out. 

    “……” 

    Confused and unable to say anything, Liev wrapped his hand around his neck tightly. The man, realizing that Liev couldn’t speak, quickly set aside what he was holding and approached. 

    “Why are you doing that? Do you want some water?” Without waiting for an answer, the man poured water from a bottle on the table and handed it to Liev. 

    “Take your time to drink, and then we can talk. There’s no rush.” 

    Liev hurriedly drank the water the man handed him, but no matter how thirsty he was, his voice still wouldn’t come out. The man, noticing Liev’s predicament, spoke with a worried expression. 

    “There didn’t seem to be any side effects of Pladerium that could make you lose your voice… Did you go through something so difficult that you couldn’t handle it on your own?” 

    Ah, it was only now that Liev realized he hadn’t suffered any physical damage but was temporarily speechless due to the shock from what happened.

    It was incredibly absurd. He had abandoned Renard but even if he lost his voice due to shock, it wasn’t him who experienced it but Renard. What right did he have? At the same time, the image of Renard holding his bleeding arm flashed in his mind once again. He didn’t mean for that to happen. He really didn’t mean that. Continuing to blame himself like an excuse, Liev couldn’t breathe, and tears streamed down his cheeks. At that moment, the man draped a thick blanket over Liev’s shoulders and spoke. 

    “For now, go back inside and rest. I don’t know what happened, but it seems you need some time.” 

    Then he gently pushed Liev’s back, and the man sat him down on the bed again and brought him a fresh cup of water. 

    “I plan to stay here until the end of winter. You might find a reason to leave on your own but until then you can stay here, so don’t worry.” 

    He was a strange person. Unless there was some purpose, why would someone be so kind? Just as Liev couldn’t comprehend it, he realized that what he was doing now mirrored what he had done for Renard. 

    What right did he have to find this kindness, when he a fugitive, was benefiting from someone else’s generosity. Liev finally laid back on the bed, and the tears stopped flowing. Maybe the man was right, all he needed was time. Would he be able to look back on this as a passing incident someday? For now, escaping into sleep was the only way to avoid the complicated thoughts. 

    *** 

    It was almost a week before Liev could function properly. During this time, the man allowed Liev to have his own time, first providing him necessities and sharing meals he prepared for him. A week passed like this until Liev finally ventured into the living room again. 

    After seeing that Liev was feeling much better, the man immediately shared his story. He is a hunter who moves from region to region depending on the season, hunts small animals, and manages the lodge where hunters stay. He had no family to support or colleagues to work with, so he was always alone. The man waved his hand several times at Liev’s thanks, saying it was his natural duty to save passersby who were about to die in a forest, but Liev could not have felt at ease. 

    Liev felt the need to do something helpful. In his anxious state, whenever the man left, he began to tidy up the old cabin little by little. The man was reluctant, saying that he had no intention of using him as a young servant, but the man began to entrust tasks to Liev as he regained his strength. It seemed that the man let it be because he understood that Liev wouldn’t feel at ease otherwise. 

    As the seasons changed, Liev found himself capable of simple communication, though fluent conversation remained difficult. He still stumbled in his speech, and his appearance was far from presentable, with unkempt hair and a hunched posture. Nevertheless, he could be considered a decent worker, doing his share of the chores. 

    On a noticeable warmer day, the man took Liev down to the village. After a haircut and new clothes, Liev revealed a handsome face that drew compliments from the hair shop assistant. 

    “Oh my, your son is so handsome. You must be so proud.” 

    The words of the hairdresser were thrown with a chuckle, and a colleague tugged on his sleeve, seemingly trying to convey something. Despite the man’s attempt to lower his voice, Liev caught fragments of the conversation. 

    “What are you talking about? It’s Mr. Lambert. You know, he lost his family in an accident five years ago. 

    Though he spoke in hushed tones, bits and pieces of the story reached Liev’s ears. Awkwardly turning his head and pretending not to hear, Liev felt that the man had already noticed. 

    Returning to the cabin, Liev heard the untold story from the man. Just five years ago, he was the head of a happy family with two daughters and a wife, leading a respectable life as a middle-class doctor. However, a tragic accident took his entire family away in an instant. 

    The person who robbed him of his family was a terminally ill patient. One late night, while everyone was asleep, he received a call about a child suffering from a high fever. In a rush to leave the house, the terminally ill patient set fire to the house. The escape route, the front door, and the windows were all sealed with nails, preventing them from running away. Soldiers arrived in a hurry to extinguish the fire, but it was already too late. 

    It would have been better if he died together with his family instead of being absent at that time. If he hadn’t been a doctor, such an incident might not have happened. Consumed by unbearable guilt, he abandoned everything and lived as a barbarian in the wild. Those who sympathized with him knew his story and slowly began to point fingers at him. Feeling disillusioned with humanity, he escaped into the forest and, through the introduction of a hunter he had once helped when he was a doctor, found himself working as a hunter. 

    This man had also experienced the loss of everything. Perhaps that’s why he immediately understood Liev’s situation. Liev, too, had lost a loved one and was left empty and alone. 

    “If I had a youngest son, he would have been about the same as your age.” 

    If you add the time he lived as Suhyuk to the time he lived as Liev, he would be around the age of the man but definitely not the age of his son. Suhyuk decided to accept the continued kindness offered out of sympathy. If it could be consolation for the man who had lost his family and Liev could be of some help to him, why not? 

    So, Liev became the assistant to Herman Lambert, the lodgekeeper and hunter. Liev introduced himself to people as a distant relative from a faraway place and settled down. As time passed once again, this, too, was a life no different from the countless extras who existed in this world. 

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