“What do you mean?” asked Lilian with a frown.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Artasia stared at Lilian intently, but she didn’t respond to the question right away. She took some time to ponder before dropping a seemingly unrelated question.
“Do you know that my hero is an extremely guarded person? He doesn’t open up to others easily.”
“See what I mean? Hmph, bloodline sure is a convenient tool. Isn’t it irrational to trust another person just because of a mere commonality? You don’t even know him well, but you were still able to walk deep into his heart,” grumbled Artasia as she twirled her hair in displeasure.
Even her voice had turned a little colder.
“The two of you share the same bloodline, but your backgrounds are vastly different. That’s why you don’t understand just how difficult it is for bloodline awakeners of your clan. My hero had to overcome many trials in order to survive to this day.
“The malice he faces from the world is far beyond your imagination. Based on the memory fragments I’ve seen, he doesn’t have anyone or any records to guide him. All by himself, he barged through countless hurdles to stand before me. This is a miracle in itself.
“But that’s also the reason why he’s extremely guarded. You were able to breach his barriers through the bond of the bloodline you share and your willingness to sacrifice your own life for him in that battle, but this is far from enough.”
Artasia’s lips inched upward.
“You need to make him fall in love with you. Being siblings won’t be enough; there must be romantic love between the two of you. Otherwise, you’ll gradually walk toward your doom.”
Artasia’s prophecy was met with Lilian’s skepticism, but she shook her head lightly in response, unfazed by the latter’s doubt.
“You know that the bloodline bond you share won’t be enough for you to stay by his side forever. Separation is part and parcel of life that everyone has to learn to cope with, but you won’t be able to. Not when it’s him.”
“What nonsense are you spouting?”
“Is it? Don’t you get it, Lilian? We are the same kind of people.”
Artasia rose to her feet and began slowly making her way toward Lilian. She looked into Lilian’s amethyst eyes with her madder red ones as she continued with a light-hearted tone.
“You possess the special trait of a witch. You, too, have a fixation that you aren’t able to turn away from. You should have noticed your own abnormality by now.”
“I-I don’t understand what you’re saying!”
By this point, Lilian already had an inkling as to what Artasia was driving at. She thought about all of those overpowering emotions and urges that had engulfed her over the last two hours, but she couldn’t accept it. She refused to accept it.
Artasia didn’t pay her denial any heed. She placed her hand on Lilian’s shoulder and leaned in to whisper into her ear.
“Lilian, there’s a simple reason why you won’t be able to stand separating from him. It’s because you have too few desires in your heart. Perhaps, he might even be your one true desire, your only fixation. Others can keep their obsession in check by distracting themselves through other pursuits, but not you. Your obsession will only grow with time. It’s only a matter of time before your feelings swallow you whole.
“Let me take a guess… Ten years? Or maybe twenty? You’d have become the ruler of a massive empire by then. What a pity. The agony of separation will torture your mind and shake your mental stability, turning you into a tyrant. You’ll commit atrocities that cause him pain.
“The difference in stances will place the two of you on opposing sides. He will try to stop you, but he can’t. He’ll be ruined by his soft-heartedness in the end. He can’t bring himself to kill you, and you will exploit his weakness to defeat him.
“By then, that twisted love of yours will compel you to murder all of the women by his side. Let’s see… What else will you do once your obsession for him runs amok? I reckon that imprisoning him is only the appetizer… Ah, there’s no doubt that he’ll hate you for everything that you have done, but at the same time, you’ll be the only one he has left. The two of you will suffer amidst the melancholia of love and hatred while ironically trying to find warmth in one another.
“A harrowing romance that hurts yet binds the two of you together. How fascinating,” Artasia predicted merrily.
Lilian’s eyes slowly widened, and before she knew it, her body was trembling uncontrollably.
“No, shut up! There’s no way I could possibly…”
“Calm down, Lilian.”
Artasia placed a finger in front of Lilian’s lips to silence the agitated woman before continuing on with a smile.
“Nothing has happened yet. Everything I’ve said so far is just my own prediction. However, I think that you already have a gauge on the likelihood of my prediction turning into reality… You were moved for a moment there, weren’t you?”
Lilian’s body jolted at Artasia’s question as her amethyst eyes narrowed sharply.
Indeed, she was shaken not because of the terrifying prediction but by the realization that she actually felt a hint of anticipation for it. The feeling wasn’t strong, but it proved that such dark thoughts did exist in the recesses of her mind.
She knew that she wasn’t deceiving anyone here, be it Artasia or herself, so she fell silent. Seeing this, Artasia took two steps back and consoled her.
“It’s fine. Humans are contradictory beings that have both kindness and malevolence in them. If you don’t wish to become a tyrant, your only choice is to make him yours. You have the perfect opportunity right in front of you.”
“Yes. I’m referring to my hero’s current state.”
Artasia reached forth to touch the cheek of the sleeping boy on the bed, and the smooth sensation of his skin made her eyes curl in delight.
“His heart is usually surrounded by an ironclad wall, but things are different now. He must be feeling uneasy right now from having suddenly lost all of his powers, and this is the opening you need to make the final push.
“As enticing as he is to you, I ought to remind you that things could backfire if you cave in to temptation and try to sneak a bite before winning him over,” said Artasia.
“I know at least that much,” replied Lilian coldly.
“Is that so? Since you have gotten my point, I shan’t say any further.”
Artasia smiled at Lilian as her body began to slowly vanish with a soft glow. Lilian was silent for a moment before voicing out the doubt in her mind.
“Why are you telling me all of this?”
“I wonder that too. You can think of it as a witch’s whim.”
Artasia answered Lilian’s final question before finally dissipating altogether.
Lilian stared at the empty bedside for a long time before slowly making her way over to the bed. Gazing at the peacefully sleeping boy on the bed, she massaged her heart in hopes of soothing the suffocating sensation she felt.
“I really can’t bring myself to let you go…”
Just the thought of separation was more than enough to plunge her into unbearable pain. She would surely lose her mind if she had to suffer through this pain for ten consecutive years.
She hadn’t made full sense of her own feelings yet, but her furiously thumping heart couldn’t possibly be a lie.
I want to keep you by my side no matter what I have to resort to. Please forgive me.
“I… really am a despicable woman.”
She took two deep breaths before raising her trembling hands.