The barrier shattered in an instant, and its remnants fluttered to the floor.
It was the same as what had happened that night.
But this time, there was no sword in the boy’s hand.
He didn’t give her time to yell for Sid before he grabbed Apollonia’s wrist and pushed her against the wall.
He must have been gifted with immensely strong magic for this to be possible not just once, but twice.
“I can defeat your barriers even without a sword.
Although I’ve never seen anyone else who can use this technique.”
He leaned forward as he spoke.
Their foreheads were almost touching.
She tried to pull away her hand, but it wouldn’t budge.
He was holding her hand firmly enough that it was difficult to get away, but also softly, so it wouldn’t hurt her.
“Let go of me.”
At her command, the boy immediately let go of her hand and took several steps back.
Apollonia slapped his cheek with all her strength once he’d stepped away.
His head snapped to the side.
“If you ever do that again, you’ll experience more pain than you’ve ever felt before.
Don’t ever touch me, unless you want to be sent back to the Leifer family to die a miserable death.”
Apollonia’s eyes glowed cooly.
The boy didn’t say anything.
His cheek began to swell.
“You could have avoided my hand, but you stayed still.
If you don’t want to die, keep doing exactly that.
Even if you could manage to subdue me, there are still several layers of barriers outside the door, then Sid with his crossbow.
If you somehow managed to get through all that, then there are the Imperial Knights.
But you can’t even deal with Sid, the man who pierced your shoulder with a dagger.”
The boy closed his eyes, and took another step back.
He did seem to regret having been so bold towards Apollonia, but he didn’t seem scared of her threats.
“The second delusion…”
He spoke again.
This time, a bitter smile crept across his lips.
“Is that you can keep me alive.” He laughed.
“What does that mean”
“It’s impossible to get away from Leifer.”
The boy surveyed the room, and slowly lifted his hand to gently touch his neck.
“Because they don’t need to know my face to find me.”
On his neck, a small blade-shaped tattoo glowed faintly red.
“This mark is bound by a magic spell.
It’s normally invisible, but it can be revealed if the owner wants it to.
Since you can see it, that means they’re looking for me.
As the light shines brighter, the pain becomes greater.”
Apollonia reached out and softly touched the mark.
The light shone slightly more when her fingers touched it.
“Once the owner activates the mark and makes it grow stronger, I have to return to them.
If I don’t, the pain becomes so much that it’d be better to die rather than to experience that pain.
Those are my two options: to die, or to go back.”
With Apollonia stroking his mark, he almost looked like a big dog.
It didn’t suit the situation at all.
“That means… I can never have a new identity.
They’ll always be able to find me.”
Apollonia pulled back her hand.
Actually, she’d known about the mark for a long time.
“So, Princess, I can’t be your man.
I’d appreciate it if you’d kill me quickly… or if not, you might as well just send me back to Leifer so I can beg for my life.”
He finished his speech with gritted teeth.
Apollonia considered him.
His frankness about the situation must have meant that he really had no will to live.
But what if the situation was different than what he thought
Apollonia raised her head.
“Do you mind if I speak now”
The boy, who’d been about to go back to bed, swiveled towards her in surprise.
“Do you still have something to say”
“You didn’t listen to all the terms of my offer.” She gestured at him, and he turned to face her.
He stared at her, waiting.
“If you decide to follow me, I expect you to obey me.
But I’m not the same as my aunt.”
“I’m not going to carve brands into your body, nor will I torture you to force you to follow my commands.
If there ever comes a time when you truly cannot obey my orders, I’ll grant you a clean death, just like you wished.”