They continued packing their belongings into bags, and Kieran volunteered to take them down to the dining hall. The living room was overrun with bags filled with all their possessions. Kieran set down the last bag on the floor, out of breath from the effort. His mother, Anna, approached him, her gaze heavy with a gravity he had never seen before, and she gently stopped him.
- Kieran, I need to talk to you. Kieran felt his heart tighten at his mother's tone. He sat down on the couch, anxious, waiting to hear what was troubling her.
- What's going on, Mom?
- I'm not going with you. Kieran's eyes widened in surprise and confusion.
- What? Why? You're our mother, you have to come with us!
- I'd be nothing but a burden to feed. You have to take care of your sister, protect her. It's your duty now. Kieran shook his head, refusing to accept his mother's decision.
- But you're our mother, you can't leave us! We need you.
- I know it's hard to understand, but I can't put you in danger by staying here. You'll be safe in the capital. I'm proud of you, Kieran. You're strong and brave, you'll take care of Lizzy. Tears welled up in Kieran's eyes. He wanted to beg his mother to change her mind, but he knew she had already made her decision.
- I can't let you go, Mom. I can't do this without you.
- You're stronger than you think, my son. I know you'll do great things, just like your sister. I trust you, Kieran, but I need you to promise me you'll watch over your sister. Kieran grasped his mother's hand in his own, unable to contain his emotions.
- I promise I'll take care of Liz, Mom. But please, come with us. We're a family, we should stay together.
- My love, sometimes we have to make difficult choices to protect the ones we love. And that's what I'm doing right now. I'll always be in your heart, no matter what happens. Reluctantly, Kieran nodded, realizing that his mother had made her decision out of love and dedication to them.
- Okay, Mom. I promise I'll take care of Liz, I'll protect her with all my heart.
- I know you will, my son. I'm proud of you. Now, go get your sister and Ethan. You should hurry to leave. Kieran stood up, struggling to hold back his tears. He walked toward the door, but before leaving, he turned around one last time to his mother.
- I love you, Mom.
- I love you too, Kieran. Now go, take care of your sister.
Kieran wiped away his tears, trying to gather his courage. Ethan came downstairs and entered the living room, ready to go.
- Liz? Where is she?
- I don't know, she was here just a few minutes ago, his mother said, looking around. Kieran felt his heart race as he called his sister's name, hoping she hadn't gone too far. He heard hurried footsteps from outside, and he grew worried.
- She might have gone out, his mother said, concerned. The door is open!
The heavy bags filled with belongings hung from Kieran's shoulders as he ran through the woods, searching for his sister. His heart pounded in his chest, anxiety gripping him at the thought of what she might have overheard. He navigated through the trees, desperately searching for clues in the direction she might have gone. Finally, Kieran caught a glimpse of light filtering through the branches of a large oak tree, and he rushed in that direction. He came to an abrupt stop when he saw Lizzy sitting near their old wooden cabin, tears streaming down her face and her expression betraying her distress.
- It's no usefull, Kieran. I... I heard everything, she whispered as she sat near the entrance, in tears. Kieran approached his sister gently, kneeling beside her and placing a comforting hand on her shoulder.
- I know it's hard, Liz. But Mom believes it's best for us. You'll be safe in the capital, with Ethan and me. She nodded, but the fear in her eyes didn't completely dissipate.
- But... what if something happens to her here?
- Mom is strong, Liz. She's always protected us, and she knows how to take care of herself. We have to trust her and continue on our path. We'll always be a family, even if we're apart. She looked at Kieran, her tears slightly calming under the effect of his reassuring words.
- Okay, Kieran. I trust you.
He offered her a reassuring smile and gently embraced her.
- Everything will be okay, I promise. We're together, and we'll get through all of this. Suddenly, an explosion echoed in the distance, followed by several more. Kieran straightened up, his heart tightening with anxiety.
- There's no time to waste, Liz. We need to leave now.
Lizzy stood up, wiping her tears with determination, and nodded weakly. They left the cabin, rushing through the woods to reach the station where they were supposed to meet Ethan. The sound of explosions grew closer, amplifying their anxiety. They ran toward the station as if their lives depended on it, which, to be honest, might have been the case.