This content is taken from 𝙛𝙧𝙚𝙚𝔀𝙚𝓫𝒏𝓸𝓿𝙚𝒍.𝓬𝓸𝓶
Chapter 22: Truthful End
"You, what did you do to me?" Meralda's voice trembled with a mix of fear, anger, and confusion as she finally managed to regain her composure enough to speak.
Her eyes locked onto Adrian's, searching for any sign of humanity in the malevolent being before her.
Adrian's lips curled into a sinister smile, his eyes gleaming with wicked amusement.
"Isn't it obvious?" Adrian taunted, relishing the terror he instilled in her.
"This chain signifies that I own you now, hahaha. From now on, you're basically mine, both body and soul. You won't be able to defy my orders or will."
Meralda's desperation propelled her into action. With a surge of hope, she lunged for the spectral chains that bound her to Adrian's will, her fingers trembling with determination.
She sought to shatter the unnatural bond, to break free from the shackles that threatened to imprison her very essence.
But as her fingers made contact with the ethereal links, a searing pain unlike any other tore through her, not in her body, but deep within her soul.
Agony enveloped her being, and her grip instinctively tightened over her chest, trying to alleviate the torment that radiated from within.
"It's better if you don't resist, woman," Adrian cooed, his voice oozing with sadistic pleasure, as he watched her struggles with perverse satisfaction. "The more you resist, the more painful it will get."
Meralda, gasping for breath, her body wracked with pain, realized that defiance came at a terrible cost. Her willpower, once formidable, was tested to its limits.
Adrian, ever the puppeteer of her torment, allowed her a moment of reprieve. Meralda panted heavily as she tried to regain her composure, her spirit battered but not defeated.
After what seemed like an eternity of suffering, Adrian finally posed a question, his tone unnervingly calm. "Now that you understand your situation, tell me your name."
Meralda hesitated for a brief, agonizing moment, her moans of discomfort echoing in the oppressive silence. But ultimately, the relentless pain made her surrender a piece of her identity.
"M-eralda" she replied slowly, her voice strained, a sign that even in the face of her darkest hour, she clung to a sliver of defiance, a flicker of her true self that refused to be extinguished.
As Adrian contemplated the situation, he couldn't help but wonder about Meralda and her role in the grand scheme of things. Her name had never appeared in the novel he had read, leaving him with questions about her existence.
"Meralda, huh? Your name wasn't mentioned in the novel. I wonder if you died when Kaksan woke up," Adrian pondered aloud, his curiosity getting the better of him.
Meralda, still in pain and defeated, barely registered Adrian's words. She simply hung her head, defeated and hopeless.
Adrian, however, quickly dismissed his own thoughts with a careless shrug.
"Well, I don't really care," He declared, his focus shifting back to the task at hand.
He then grabbed Meralda's face forcefully, making her wince in pain, and posed a direct question that sent shivers down her spine.
"Now tell me, are you connected to the moonlit tree?" Adrian's voice dripped with a menacing tone that made it clear resistance was futile.
In a last-ditch effort to protect the tree's secret, Meralda's mind raced as she attempted to resist Adrian's inquiry.
But the chains forcefully gripped her heart and soul, resulting in intense pain, she then realized the hopelessness of her situation.
With trembling lips, she reluctantly replied.
"Y-YES" biting her lower lip in frustration and sorrow.
Adrian's satisfaction was visible across his face, as a sinister smile crept across his face.
He didn't stop there, pressing further, "Do you know where it is located?" His relentless questioning left Meralda feeling helpless and cornered.
Tears welled up in Meralda's eyes as she choked back her emotions and finally gave in.
"YES" she confessed, her voice quivering with the weight of her surrender. She could only imagine the horrors that awaited her brother, Habas, if this monstrous intruder found whatever he sought.
Adrian's mood seemed to brighten as he reveled in his success.
"Good, good," he chuckled darkly.
"I knew it was a good choice to keep you alive. I even have the added bonus of having a spirit, though our contract is a bit different than normal, hahaha." His amusement at the situation was chilling.
With his cruel grin firmly in place, Adrian issued a final command.
"Now, take me to where the moonlit tree is," he ordered, leaving Meralda with no option but to comply.
Defeated and exhausted, Meralda offered no resistance as she led Adrian deeper into the forest, her heart heavy with the burden of her choices and the ominous fate that awaited the sacred tree she had sworn to protect.
"Hey, why are you crying so much? Don't worry, I won't hurt the tree or anything," Adrian reassured Meralda in a tone that, for once, seemed genuinely comforting. His words, however, failed to ease the turmoil within her.
Meralda found herself in a state of utter confusion. Adrian had just promised not to harm the sacred moonlit tree, but after all the devastation she had witnessed, she couldn't simply take him at his word. Skepticism and fear still gnawed at her heart, causing her to cast a hateful glare at the man who had shattered her world.
Adrian, unaffected by her hostility, simply shrugged in response to her mistrust. It seemed that he had grown accustomed to being the villain in this narrative.
"Hey, take me there faster. I only have this night left as my excuse from school," Adrian ordered, a tinge of urgency in his voice.
He knew that his excuse letter was only valid for a two-day absence, and if he didn't return to the dorms by sunrise, he would be in deep trouble with the school authorities.
Moreover, he hadn't informed Aria about his sudden departure especially with his bullshit excuse of family matters.
If his friends were to suddenly ask her about his situation, it could lead to even more complications, just imagining it gave him headaches.
Meralda, under the influence of Adrian's control, couldn't resist his commands. With a determined resolve, she accelerated her flight towards the moonlit tree, and Adrian followed closely behind.
It took them a few minutes to arrive at their destination after speeding up for a bit.
"So, this is the moonlit tree, huh? I've got to say, it does look truly magnificent," Adrian remarked, his eyes fixed on the tree. At first glance, it appeared like an ordinary tree, but the closer they got, the more majestic it became.
Meralda, despite her inner turmoil, couldn't help but feel a flicker of satisfaction when Adrian complimented the moonlit tree. She quickly scolded herself for such thoughts, reminding herself that he was nothing more than a monster in human skin.
Adrian turned his attention back to the tree, placing his right hand on its trunk, expecting some kind of reaction. Time ticked by—seconds turned into minutes, and after a total of five minutes, there was still no response.
"What's wrong with this tree? Why isn't it reacting?" Adrian voiced his confusion.
He then turned to Meralda, seeking an explanation. "Hey, Meralda, what's wrong with this tree? Why isn't it reacting?"
Meralda sighed, her voice tinged with a hint of frustration. "I don't know what kind of reaction you were expecting, but it's impossible to get a reaction from the moonlit tree just yet. It's still maturing and sleeping. Even if I stay by its side to hasten its awakening, you would still need to give it a few months or more," she replied, hoping to quell Adrian's impatience.
"What? I can't wait that long. How else am I supposed to get the night robe then?" Adrian voiced his frustration, his impatience growing. He pondered inwardly
"I guess there was a reason why Tristan got the robe at a later time, so trying to get it first was never gonna happen, huh?"
"What was the purpose of all the hard work I came here for, haah?" he sighed in frustration.
Meralda's curiosity was piqued as she heard him mention the night robe. "Night robe?" she echoed, her voice filled with curiosity and knowledge about the particular item.
"Yes, do you know where it is? Can you give it to me, no, give it to me," Adrian demanded eagerly, his hope rekindled.
"I don't know about this night robe thing you're talking about, but we do have a collection of robes we kept from the hunters and adventurers we killed who got too close to the tree," Meralda explained, her confusion growing.
"Oh, show them all to me," Adrian exclaimed with excitement, leaving Meralda even more puzzled.
As Meralda didn't understand why Adrian was so interested in a robe, she couldn't help but laugh inwardly at the irony. She couldn't fathom that all of this chaos and bloodshed had been for the sake of a robe.
Using her wind magic, Meralda floated the robes hidden inside the tree. A glowing translucent green light emanated from the center of the tree before the robes began to float out. In total, there were eight robes that emerged, but Adrian immediately identified the one he was seeking.
"A robe as dark as the darkest night, and as beautiful as the darkest pearl" Adrian murmured, recalling the novel's description of the night robe. A full smile lit up his face as he grabbed hold of the night robe. free webnov el.com
Adrian then turned to Meralda, expressing his gratitude.
"Thank you, this time it's really the truth," he chuckled slightly, leaving Meralda still trying to make sense of the strange turn of events.
'But seriously, who would have thought that the truthful reward Tristan received from the tree, after answering all his questions honestly, was just a looted item collected from hunters and adventurers' Adrian pondered inwardly.
"Hahaha" He couldn't help but laugh heartily, finding the absurdity of the situation utterly amusing.