“No…” his enfeebled, yet determined voice escaped from his lips, “I don’t want to become a madman…”
[You have rejected me ever since you were little… But look in front of you—]
The sand sharks stretched their tentacles and started piling up the dead bodies and began to eat them one by one not long after. Adele had fallen near one of the monsters’ tails and her body was shaking so profusely.
[—do you really think… you have a choice?]
The boy tried to stand up, but his legs failed him.
“Damn it! I need to save her!”
[Make a contract with me… You only need… to give an offering.]
[Offer to me… one that is the most precious to you…]
Black tendrils linked together and pointed towards Adele. The boy immediately shook his head, “Nonsense! How can I save her if I sacrifice her?! This contract—no!”
A sand shark, which had just finished devouring a carcass, set its eyes upon Adele, the last prey.
At that moment, the black energy swooped in and stabbed the monster in the eye and it cried out in agony. With its vision momentarily hindered, the energy returned to the boy’s side and uttered.
[To save… or not to save. Your choice…]
Anger darted through his eyes, “Save! Of course, I’ll save!”
For some inexplicable reason, the black energy felt like it was grinning.
[…she won’t remember you.]
[This… is the price to pay.]
[I don’t understand. What does that woman mean to you? To actually dare risk using the power… you’ve been refusing all your life.]
Instead of answering, the boy glanced blankly at the distance, right where Adele was.
Right, we’ve only met for a few times after all.
She should mean nothing to me.
But, why is it that I—
‘You’re not weak. You came running to save me earlier.’ Her voice suddenly echoed within his mind, and it was as if he had a sudden realization. That woman was so sweet and kind to him that sometimes he felt like crying from the mere thought of it.
‘If I was your family, I would be so proud of you and praise you for having such a great courage, and for always doing your best!’
It felt so nice to be around her, soothing even. At some point, he was envious of how well she got along with her family, while he…
‘I’m sorry, but I don’t have even a little bit of interest in you.’ Tch. Her fiancée was trash. The boy thought that, if he was her fiancée instead, he would definitely treat her with respect and would only make her smile.
If only I was a bit older…
Memories flooded his brain, but almost all of them were filled with her image. Without a word, he stretched out his hand into the air and closed his eyes. Then, a black energy began to wrap around his body and permeated into his skin. The soles of his feet lost contact with the ground and he slowly floated into the air.
He had one thought in his mind:
I love her.
Getting back down, he slowly opened his lids.
But what used to be black-colored orbs, had now been replaced with bright golden irises.
The corners of his lips raised ever-so-slightly. Picking up the fallen sword, he slammed it into the ground. A black aura roared from the sword and rushed towards the monster in an instant.
As the black energy penetrated its body, the sand shark shrieked in pain and violently struggled. But he paid no heed to its desperate plight. Taking a few steps forward whilst dragging the sword behind him, he swiftly increased his pace into a sprint and within a few seconds, he was already face-to-face with the beast that pushed him into this state.
Adele woke up with a throbbing pain in her head.
Feeling something rough against her back, she looked behind to find that she was leaning against a zelkova tree with a pond right in front of her. A fog obstructed her vision, but there was sunlight piercing in and made the fields more visible.
Oh, right. My maternal grandmother was ill, so I rode a carriage. Then the men sent by Sir Daniel harassed me, and then a monster appeared.
Am I missing something? How did I survive?
Where am I?
Adele glanced around the place that was different from where she had fallen down in her memory. As she stood up, a weak moan escaped her lips as she felt a stinging sensation on her back. Then she heard an unfamiliar voice.
“Don’t move. Your ankles aren’t healed yet.”
Adele hurriedly checked her feet. Sure enough, her ankles were swollen and tingling.
When she raised her head, a dark-haired boy entered her vision, his face barely visible due to the mist that filled the air. However, his bright golden eyes were particularly striking.
“You. Who are you?”
Instead of answering, the boy smiled softly, and Adele noticed it even through her blurred vision. But why does it look somewhat bitter?
Adele scanned the boy, her mind filled with countless questions. But then he pointed a finger towards Adele’s neck. “Blow the flute one more time, they’ll find you then. Don’t worry.”
“Oh, thank you.” She smiled, softly touching it and hesitantly spoke, “Did you… save me?”