“Sister, where are you now?” he implored. “Just tell me.”
“Rotiara,” Elise whispered through her tears.
Though the dream world appeared hazy and obscure, her brother’s voice cut through with startling clarity. Even in her half-dream state, Elise couldn’t help but find it unusual.
“I can’t go there to fetch you, sister,” Andrei continued, his voice filled with a deep sorrow. “Please wait a few more months. Until autumn, yes, until autumn…”
Could it be that their twin bond allowed them to feel each other’s emotions so intensely? In the dream from the previous night, Andrei had held her and whispered to her, his words etched vividly in her memory.
Their earlier conversation echoed in her mind like an unshakable memory.
“You can do great things, Elise,” Andrei assured her. “There are no obstacles in your way now, so you can fully realize your potential.”
“I am nothing without you, Andrei,” Elise admitted, her voice tinged with a sense of helplessness.
“That’s not true. You already know the way, Elise,” Andrei encouraged. “Just stay away from that man.”
“That man…?” Elise queried, perplexed.
“The dragon,” Andrei disclosed, brushing her hair aside as he spoke with a grave seriousness. “The descendants of Galian cannot love the child of Sameshita, Elise. You know that all too well…”
“You must depart from there before your feelings grow deeper,” Andrei urged with a tone of concern. “Don’t allow unrequited emotions to devour you, and don’t let him erode your magic. Do you comprehend, hmm?”
“But, Andrei,” Elise responded with a hint of desperation, “I don’t know how to leave. Right now, I can’t even remember how to release my emotions.”
Silence hung heavy in the air.
“I just… at this very moment, all I wish for is his swift return to me,” Elise confessed, closing her eyes in despair. She felt like a fool, incapable of spending a single day alone without him by her side. Self-loathing welled up within her; she despised herself for her own weakness. Yet, even as she recognized the folly of her desires, she longed to see him, to be enveloped in his embrace. At the very least, she needed the reassurance that everything would remain safe until autumn.
Elise lowered her head and whispered mournfully, “Why isn’t he returning…”
Ruben observed the solitary figure in the desolate black expanse, suppressing his unease. Nearly two weeks had passed since he descended into this wild southern region of the Grenthren Mountains. As the sun gradually dipped below the horizon, long shadows stretched across the ground, the landscape punctuated by sporadic black thorn trees.
A man clad in dark armor stood amidst the desolation, facing the setting sun. A flock of crows took flight from above the vanishing sun, their dark silhouettes contrasting against the fading light. The scorching wind carried away the odors of decay and the acrid tang of blood.
“It seems he’s finally starting to calm down,” Ruben remarked to himself.
Rezette Kyrstan’s madness, which recurred every two to four months, typically abated within a week.
When he sensed that the moment had arrived, he would gather a small punitive unit and depart from Rotiara. This unit was modest in size, consisting of just five members, himself included.
The four subordinates had a specific role: not to engage in combat but to seek refuge in a place where they wouldn’t attract the Duke’s attention, waiting patiently for his episode to subside. Their sole duty was to remind him when it was time to return, and nothing more.
Ruben carefully retrieved a small wooden box from his pocket. It exuded the distinctive scent of the Duke, a concoction designed to alleviate the lingering fever in his body. After presenting this box to the Duke, he would ignite the mixture, and once the Duke had reveled in the aftermath of the carnage, this outbreak would conclude without any mishaps.
“Not yet, Ruben,” Isaac cautioned in a soft, prudent tone. “His arm hasn’t returned to normal yet. It’s wiser not to approach at this moment. You might meet your end.”
“…No one knows,” Ruben replied with a hint of determination. “But I want to witness it myself.”
Lowly dragons. The bloodlines of the dragons that had been mutilated in Grandel were considered closer to beasts than humans. They were believed to possess limited intelligence, unable to think or learn, and driven solely by the instinct to kill or prey upon humans. They were perceived as monsters devoid of pleasure or pain.
But Rezette Kyrstan was different.
As the man, his gaze once fixed on the setting sun, turned his head toward them, a faint, unsettling satisfaction danced upon his lips.
From his foot, something still pulsed with life. Twisted talons extended like menacing hooks, slashing through the air with an eerie vitality.
Incomprehensible screams and the jet-black ichor reverberated in all directions. The time of slaughter was not over yet.