4 Surprises

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Her laughter flowed freely, not with a hint of mockery or disdain, but rather with an affectionate amusement that filled the air. It wasn't her intention to belittle her son; rather, it was the delightful irony that evoked her mirth. What truly sparked her laughter was the intriguing contrast between the words he had just uttered and the essence of his character. She understood, with a fond familiarity, that despite the stature he had grown into – tall and robust – the individual before her remained a gentle and tender-hearted soul at his core.

However, she found herself unable to dismiss his words outright. The reasons behind his uncharacteristic behavior were not difficult to discern, and it all boiled down to one powerful concept: "Expectations."

As the prospective future leader of the Thorne lineage, Elian bore the weight of a responsibility that extended far beyond his personal aspirations. He stood poised to represent not just himself, but the entire legacy of the Thorne house. The scrutiny of the Kingdom's eyes rested upon him, a critical assessment that would determine the fate of his family name. The mere thought of the Thorne legacy, painstakingly constructed by his father and generations before, being marred or tarnished sent a shiver down Elian's spine. The very idea of squandering the reputation that his father and his forebears had painstakingly built struck a chord of fear deep within him, compelling him to grapple with the overwhelming pressure that accompanied his position.

And what more effective means existed to meet these towering expectations than by ascending to the esteemed rank of a revered General, a position held by every Thorne family head from the inception of their lineage?

Yet, a nagging question persisted: Could this accomplishment alone truly suffice?

It remains paramount to recognize that the legacy of the Thorne Generals wasn't limited to mere respect. Each one of them had commanded not just respect, but an aura of fear and trepidation that left an indelible mark on history.

This notion had taken such a firm hold that it had become ingrained within the collective consciousness of the Kingdom: the exceptional prowess of the Thorne family was commonly perceived as a hereditary gift, passed down through the generations.

However, Elian harbored a distinct awareness that debunked the prevalent misconception. He comprehended that this exceptional aptitude wasn't tethered to hereditary traits or bestowed as an innate endowment; his personal experience attested to this fact. Despite the meticulous tutelage delivered by his father and the concerted efforts of numerous trainers, Elian's intrinsic makeup didn't align with the attributes required of a competent General.

Despite his unquestionable genius in numerous realms, the finesse of commanding troops remained beyond his grasp – an immovable reality that resisted alteration, a truth his parents acknowledged.

It was this very recognition that stirred Julia's laughter. She couldn't help but recollect her late husband's moments of exasperation as he labored to instruct their son in the complexities of military disciplines.

Luckily, Marcus once again proved his reliability. Among the items she had received in the package the previous day were arrangements for the family and their son.

As her laughter subsided, she noticed her son's furrowed brow as he gazed at her. She recognized his disapproval of her reaction, but there was an undeniable charm in his annoyance.

Observing his expressions for a few seconds, she recentered herself and adopted a serious tone. "I refuse," she declared.

Meanwhile, Elian's initial embarrassment over his mother's outburst began to give way to bewilderment. He had expected many potential responses from her, but this wasn't one of them. He wanted to seek clarification, to understand her stance.

"But Mom—" he started, only to be interrupted.lightsnovel

"Elian, do you truly believe that your father would be proud if you were to join the military?" Julia's words struck like a thunderclap, halting him in his tracks. He understood, deep within, that his father's pride wouldn't lie in this direction. Marcus, a General who had followed his own father's footsteps, wouldn't permit his son to succumb to mediocrity merely for the sake of the Thorne name. Elian's brilliance was too exceptional to be squandered in the realm of military.

Elian grappled with this knowledge, his father's words echoing in his mind. Marcus had articulated this sentiment in his letter. Yet, how could he live his life while knowing that he was putting an end to the Thorne family's reputation? The weight of this conflict bore down upon him. The path forward seemed clear: he must become a General, regardless of the cost, even if it entailed...

"I said NO!" Julia's voice resounded, breaking through his thoughts with an intensity that left no room for argument.

Her son's expressions were an open book, his thoughts and intentions all too transparent. She couldn't allow him to tread further along this treacherous path. Julia comprehended the determination that fueled his resolve, but she couldn't condone the sacrifice of his exceptional talents solely for the sake of reputation. She had to quash these notions before they took root and festered into something irrevocable.

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"Don't ever think of doing that! Do you hear me ?" she said

"But mom, it's the only way" he retorted right after as he already came to a decision.

"Never!" She raised her voice even more, the force of her conviction undeniable. Then, with a sigh, she endeavored to temper her approach. Knowing her own son obstinate nature, she recognized that rational persuasion would be her best ally. She spoke calmly, with a touch of secrecy. "How about you postpone your decision for a few days? I had intended to surprise you."

"A few days? Why?" Elian's confusion mirrored the bafflement he felt at the idea that anything could sway his determination.

"Just give it a little time, alright?" She didn't want to unveil the surprise prematurely, and she allowed herself the flexibility of potential adjustments.

"Alright, I can wait," he conceded. Internally, he battled impatience. He was desperate to uncover the enigma that lay beneath her words. But he was well-acquainted with his mother's resilience and knew that a few days would provide him both the answers he sought and the space to reflect upon his decision and his future.

With gratitude evident in her smile, she felt a sense of relief having averted a potentially explosive situation. Turning her attention to practical matters, she instructed the maids to prepare a meal before posing a casual query, "Any ongoing projects?"

To her surprise, Elian's face lit up with a wide grin. "I'm delving into the gifts Father left for me," he revealed.

The unexpected enthusiasm in his response piqued her curiosity. "Father's gifts? Could you share more?"

"No, it's a surprise. Your turn first," he stated, a sense of triumph coloring his reply.