Novel Name : Dear Anonymous Sponsor

Dear Anonymous Sponsor - Chapter 1

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Translated by: Miss Lassie
01 Jude from Wortherford Nursery
It was Christmas in the middle of winter. On a quiet night when thick snow blanketed the surface, a car’s headlights crossed the rough road in a rural village.
Wrapped in an oversized fur coat, Judith held her breath. She could faintly hear the sound of a Christmas carol over the noise of the car engine running on the snowy road. The clear and resonant chime of the handbells went well with the occasion.
The ride felt soft and comfortable as if she was riding in Santa’s sled, thanks to the luxurious coat dense with animal fur keeping her body warm. However, they didn’t do anything to calm her restless heart wrought with anxiety.
She rolled her eyes nervously.
‘What time is it?’
The sun had set a while ago. Was it past midnight already?
It was still snowing outside the window, and the streetlights lit up the car’s path like patches of spotlights. There were no human footprints nor marks of a car’s wheels on the snow-covered road. It might be because the snow had been falling for hours, coating the streets with a pile of thick sleet, or maybe because it was a road less traveled by that no one passes there.
‘I’ve never had such a dull Christmas.’
Judith wanted to enjoy the holidays’ excitement, such as snow, carols, gifts, and other things people have and do on that day. But of course, it couldn’t have worked out. She had never gotten a Christmas present ever, and she won’t be getting one in the future too.
Judith was a war orphan from the Kingdom of Kilgeny who belonged to the Oberon Allies, conquered by the Alliance of Allies in the Great World War.
She was a little more fortunate than the other orphans.
Judith recalled the news she received from the hospital before she crossed the Great Sea.
“A distant relative of Miss Krauser has expressed his intention to be her sponsor.”
Even if she racked her brain and recalled her memories, she couldn’t think of a relative who would want to sponsor her. But this unfamiliar middle-aged man who came to visit told her that it didn’t matter if she didn’t have any past recollection of this said sponsor.
“He wants Miss Krauser to settle in the neutral Federal State of Baja.”
Accepting the offer didn’t mean that she believed she has blood ties with the sponsor. She didn’t want to cross the sea and settle in the Federal State only to rely on someone she didn’t know for the rest of her life. She just wanted to get out of that terrible place as soon as possible.
The damn war was still not over. The hospital where Judith was confined was less than twenty kilometers away from the battlefield’s frontlines, where bullets and grenades scattered everywhere. The roar of the transport planes and landmines exploding from a distance was commonplace.
Every day, seriously injured soldiers poured into the hospital. There wasn’t a day where you couldn’t hear screams of pain in the ward, corridors, and tents. Dozens of people were wrapped in linens and placed in coffins each day.
The terrible stench of death had spread everywhere.
She lived thinking it might be her turn tomorrow.
“The sponsor will protect Miss Krauser’s safety. He wants you to flee to the Federal State to study, enter a good university, and lead a decent and normal life.”
“Yes. A normal and safe life.”
It sounded like salvation to her. Even if it were the devil’s offer, she would’ve taken it like it was her lifeline.
Judith followed the lawyer who picked her up and boarded a train carrying prisoners of the war. The train ran for three days and nights, smelled of gunpowder, and arrived at a port filled with the sea’s salty scent.
It took her half a year to fill out the asylum application documents and wait for approval from the Federal State.
After completing the process, Judith boarded the first compartment of a passenger ship crossing the ocean. The boat docked on the port of an unfamiliar continent after sailing for fifteen days. Before she could take a few steps away from the harbor, someone caught her hand and immediately led her into a car.
So far, it had been running for fifteen hours already.
The mysterious driver carrying her and the accompanying person sitting next to her was silent. They only opened their mouths less than ten times the whole day.
The man sitting next to her talked even less, and the driver would only glance at her sometimes. It’s nearly impossible for a person to keep their mouth shut for more than ten hours, so the driver spoke with the man in the backseat from time to time.
“I’m glad there aren’t a bunch of flies today. If this keeps us, we will be arriving before sunrise.”
A bunch of flies. Is that a term for someone expecting to get chased?
The driver glanced at the backseat in the rearview mirror. Judith averted her eyes to the area where he threw his gaze.
The man sitting next to her had his arms crossed. His slanted legs were long, making the backseat looked cramped.
With his eyes closed, his side profile looked calm and rough, and his mouth shut in a stubborn straight line as if a thick pen had drawn it. A wool flat cap hid his dark red hair. He looked like he was in his mid-twenties.
He was already in the backseat before Judith got into the car. There was no change in his sitting position even after sitting there for more than ten hours.
They have been in the car for a long time, but the man still smelled of the cool air outside. It reminded her of the scent of winter.
Meanwhile, the driver kept on talking.
“We could’ve taken her straight to Waltz. Why do we have to drive her to Kinsley? Hmm…”
“Stop talking about useless things and speed up.”
The man cut him off coldly. His eyelids which had been closed for a while slowly opened.
He felt Judith’s gaze at him, and he slightly tilted his head towards her. Only then was she able to see his face.
A long scar fell obliquely from his right temple to his cheek. Even though he had such a beautiful face, his fierce eyes and flaws made him look wild and intense.
The brim of his hat cast a shadow on his eyes, making it difficult to discern their color. No, maybe because his eyes were cold and didn’t contain a single emotion.
The corner of his mouth rose when he saw her reaction.
“You keep saying weird things that scare the lady.”
His words were friendly, but there was no hint of gentleness in his tone nor eyes.
If physically sharpened eyes were possible, he would’ve already pierced her skin with his intense gaze. She felt like he could see right through her. There was an image of two black guns and someone’s opaque silhouette overlapping with the face of another man that she couldn’t see.
“Kilgeny is mine…”
The sound of gunshots rang loudly in the quietness. She turned her head the moment she saw the gun aimed at her.
Judith raised her hand reflexively to her neck. A thread-thin metal chain got caught in her fingers. It was a souvenir from her sister, Lieselotte, who was her only family member. The sound of her voice lingered in her ears like a hallucination.
“Stay alive, and you must not let anyone see you.”
She wanted to apologize to Liese because someone had already caught her. It took a while for her brown eyes, which were glazed with despair, to regain focus.
‘But I’m still alive.’
She was going to do her best to survive. It was the reason why she came to this strange and unfamiliar land. Judith twisted her torso and closed her eyes. She tried to ignore the uncomfortable gaze that fell on her, praying that her sponsor was a kind and generous person.
Inside a car in the middle of winter, silence fell again.
Judith passed out at some point, and when she opened her eyes, cold wind mixed with snow hit her face. The car door was open.
A soft voice spoke from behind.
“Get off.”
“Are we here?”
Judith grabbed her seat and pushed herself forward. Her legs felt numb after being in the same position for hours. She barely put her heel on the frozen footstool when she slipped and fell to the ground.
Just before she hit the ground, a pair of arms supported her waist and cushioned her fall. She was so careless that she almost hit her face between the person’s neck and shoulder.
She closed her eyes in embarrassment and peeked over her savior’s shoulders.
She didn’t notice it at first because he was sitting down, but the man who sat next to her in the car earlier was tall and had a physique strong enough to carry a skinny girl like her. She could feel his strong forearm even beneath his thick wool coat. His breath touched her ear, that she had slight goosebumps all over her body.
His harsh voice awakened her from a daze.
“Can’t you walk? You got off well from the ferry earlier.”
“No! My legs are just a little numb. I’ll walk…”
Judith quickly escaped the man’s arms, and this time, she got her footing accurately. She slept uncomfortably with her head against the window earlier, so she fixed her hair and brushed the tangled locks and unzipped the hem of her coat neatly. Judith stood with her feet together, straightened her spine, and raised her chin.
“I’m ready.”
She looked like royalty about to go through the guillotine by the revolutionary army. However, her rolled fists were trembling in nervousness. The man saw it, and the corner of his lips rose, but Judith didn’t notice it. She was busy trying to keep herself from stuttering when she spoke.
“Can I see my sponsor now?”
Just in time, she heard a bell rang somewhere. A door opened, and the faint sound of a Christmas carol got louder. Only then did Judith look up to where she had arrived.
A five-story building stacked with red bricks towered over her. Two poplar trees covered with snow like whipped cream dotted the building on both sides. Warm orange light streamed from the arched windows with their frames dappled with poinsettia flowers.
On the porch was a nameplate decorated with cute bells and fir branches hanging on the front door. Judith read the text, moving her lips silently.
Wortherford Nursery
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