It sounded like a warning, but also like advice.
Lil wanted to ask what he meant by ‘stupid choices’ but she bit her tongue out of fear for Ed giving the correct answer.
Although she was just holding back her words, the corners of her eyes warmed up as if she was also holding back tears.
‘I must truly be out of my mind…’
Lil cried quietly in the hope that Ed wouldn’t notice.
Little by little, so there would be no tears to wipe away.
“Did you hear me”
She tried her best not to sniff.
If she made such a suspicious sound, Ed would definitely notice as their bodies were so close.
Lil didn’t want him to see her tears, runny nose, or any traces of redness on her face.
Her sorrow was a river that she would eventually drown in.
She had no choice but to be submerged in a place she’s never been able to escape from.
It was nothing new for Lil.
‘Stop calling me.’
As she was drowning, she couldn’t make a sound.
She tried to calm down, but she couldn’t stop her chest from trembling louder and louder.
A racing heart and choking breath.
Her shaking shoulders, unable to overcome her sadness, could be sensed even in her drunken state.
When she couldn’t calm her body down, Lil turned around and hugged herself.
She wanted to curl up as small as possible, so no one would be able to recognise her.
Though she’s unsure, it seems that Ed had called her again.
Instead of answering, Lil kept repeating the same sentence over and over again .
‘…Don’t call me, stop calling me…’
Before long, her mind faded away as it usually does when she cries heavily.
Lil was becoming more and more oblivious to whether she was getting overwhelmed by her drunkenness, or whether her body was drowning in the river and losing consciousness…
Ed’s fingers that approached her round, curved shoulders, held back.
He hesitated, not knowing what to do with the suddenly sobbing Lil.
His anguish reached its peak and his hand went forward and backward dozens of times.
Of course, Lil remained silent.
She’s crying, but her screams didn’t make it out.
Like a person buried underwater.
It was only natural that he couldn’t hear her shouting with all her heart and soul deep below the surface of the water.
There was no sound or movement, making her even more pitiful.
‘How many tears have you already shed in order for your body to remain so calm and silent when you soak yourself in sorrow’
Ed withdrew his hand bitterly.
‘Comfort without depth will be nothing more than a hindrance…’
He gave up his clumsy attempt of consolation and sat back facing the sea.
The waves were cold and raging.
Ed buried himself in the sound of the waves rushing back and forth…
‘How long has it been I’m slowly starting to worry about her.
It must’ve been about half an hour now, but I can’t tell if she has fallen asleep or if she’s still crying as there’s no movement from her.’
Ed could guess the reason for Lil’s sadness, but he shouldn’t intervene too hastily.
He was well aware of his careless personality.
Also, he wasn’t close enough to Lil yet.
Despite the fact that she appeared to have opened her mind a little, it was still too early as she hadn’t dropped her guard completely.
However, Ed started to get concerned about Lil’s body temperature if he left her be like that.
So he decided to make up a lie.
“Captain, it’s high tide.
You’ll get your feet wet if you stay like this any longer.”
Without getting a reaction, it appeared that another ten minutes had gone by.
During that time, Ed had been staring at the hem of Lil’s shirt swaying in the wind.
Her back looked extremely narrow.
She was wearing a shirt that was larger than her body size, but instead of it concealing her body, it was emphasising it.
Her thin arms left her sleeves almost empty, making her look even more petite.
The pitiful woman was being stroked by the night’s touch, looking like an abandoned painting left behind in an atelier.
The night was drawn with black brushstrokes, covering the canvas in complete darkness.
A handful of stars were thrown over the painting, creating a dense flash of light.
It wasn’t pure white, more like a duller ivory colour that fell endlessly across the vast night sky, exquisitely placed by the soft tip of the brush.
‘It’s such a simple image, so why is it so sad I feel the area surrounding my chest tightening when I stare at it.’
Ed blinked his eyes and shook his head when Lil, who was like a dot left behind by a brush, flinched.
Ed got on his knees and crawled towards the lonely painting.
It was only when he got very close that he could see her profile.
He wasn’t sure about what he was seeing at first due to the darkness, but her black hair fluttered over her face.
Ed lowered his torso and checked her silent breathing.
Her regular, short bursts of breath indicated she seemed to be asleep.
He then gently gathered her waving hair and brushed it over her shrunken shoulder.
It seemed that she had indeed fallen asleep.
Otherwise, such a level of closeness wouldn’t have been allowed if she was awake.
Ed lingered on her calm face until he himself lost some sense of reality.
With the harmony of intricate curves, her beautiful face was near perfect.
However, now that he’d seen the dreadful misery she was harbouring within, Ed could no longer see Lil as just an object of admiration.
Ed and Lil shared the same journey.
But Ed had never been hindered in his search for enlightenment, something he now regarded as the truth.
Numerous books and evidence passed through his hands, as well as historical materials and oral traditions dating back to ancient times, have shaped him into the man he’s today.
However, as Lil said, she had never earned a formal education outside of a woman’s liberal arts and it didn’t appear that she’d been allowed to read what she wanted.
Ed didn’t know what kind of bone and flesh-cutting realisation there was until Lil, who had no tangible evidence in her hands, used the word ‘self-evident’ for everything she believed in.
‘It’s impossible for her to sound self-evident from nothing….The problem might’ve started there, a person who speaks as naturally as breathing has lived throughout history without any words.
One’s conviction could grow bigger with the day, but there was nothing to say.
I can’t even comprehend what kind of conflicting anguish Liloa is carrying.
I’m not sure if I should consider her lucky or pitiful that she hasn’t gone insane yet.
Can you even call it fortunate to be sane while going through such hell’
Ed also had the experience of raising his flag on the mountain peak of truth that he finally reached after a long journey.
He roared with joy when he conquered the summit that no one had reached before.
‘I felt like my body would explode if I didn’t shout it out loud somewhere.
But Liloa is still, too still.
Perhaps because her seeds were secretly planted in a land where they shouldn’t be sowed.
That’s why she’s overly cautious, stoic and a bit clumsy.
And although Liloa has earned the right to scream and get a little more thrilled, the way she’s now is as if she were a nameless explorer, who returned without a mark, and it therefore would be regarded as if she had never climbed to the highest peak in the first place.
In fact, I’m surprised that Liloa is still like this, even after becoming a pirate captain.
I can guess that this patience is probably a habit from her past life because Lil Schweiz has no reason to be bound by any patience.
But looking at Liloa, she’s still enduring…’
There wasn’t much he could cite as a cause, so Ed picked the only person who’s connected to Lil’s past and present.
Ed didn’t exactly know why Lil and Cesar were together.
He didn’t even know whether or not Cesar was involved in the incident that triggered the rumour that Lil was ‘dead or missing without a trace’.
Nevertheless, what he does know is that in this situation Cesar is the one behind Lil’s stagnation.
‘It’s frustrating that I don’t know the whole story yet, but if I dig a little more, I may find out.
Should I wake her’
As soon as he thought that, the pitting of sand could be heard.
It was difficult to hide the sound of footsteps on a sandy beach.
Ed looked up at his approaching opponent.
According to the shadow, it was a powerful man walking with a terrifying momentum.
He could even hear the breathing of someone who was clearly angry.
There was no need to guess the man’s identity.
Ed leapt up in anticipation of a fist flying toward him, however, Cesar only gnashed his teeth like a furious beast.
“What are you doing!”