His smile disappeared like he had encountered a strange noise.
I continued to speak regardless of how he reacted.
“That’s why I need that elf. Only Elves can handle the herbs used to release your brainwashing.”
He opened his eyes wide, seemingly surprised.
I smiled back.
I wondered how Alastair would react.
“You’re releasing my mind…?”
He looked hurt.
Somehow, he looked desperate, and he looked so angry that his rage couldn’t even compare to his fury before.
Internally, his unexpected reaction astonished and unsettled me.
Why is he giving me such an expression when I said I’d loosen his leash? I’m giving him freedom.
“…Is that how you are going to throw me away?”
The transparent water around his eyes started to glitter and pool around his reddening eyes.
He shook like a dog pleading not to be abandoned.
I guess I was too hasty.
Right now, he still wasn’t in the right frame of mind, revolving his world around me.
If you open the door of the cage to a bird that has been trapped in the cage for too long, the bird cannot leave the cage.
This is because the bird has been trapped in the cage for so long that it has forgotten how to exit and fly.
So, of course, he doesn’t want to leave his cage and instead fears the world outside his prison.
Maybe the present Alastair is no different from the bird in that cage.
He has been brainwashed for too long and has loved me for too long.
That’s why he may be afraid after his brainwashing is released.
So, is it my role now to teach the bird that there’s a world outside the cell that has locked him up for a long time? Or do I have to just push the bird out of the cage?
“I’m not abandoning you. I’m just trying to release the leash that’s compelling and strangling you.”
His eyes were glittery and wet.
I started to wipe away his tears that had swelled around his eyes.
As I tried to wipe away his tears, Alastair grasped my wrist with strength.
At the same time, his tears welled up in his eyes and streamed down his face.
“It’s you who tamed me, and it’s you I want to be with in the future… Am I bothering you?”
“But what if I have no intention of letting you go.”
He’s being very clingy.
Would it feel like this if I fell in love from this height? A soaking wet and struggling with a sticky sensation, but you can’t escape.
Alastair was like that.
He was no different from the height.
Maybe I was already at that height.
“Alastair, honestly, I get confused sometimes. Are you afraid that I will abandon you, or are you afraid of not loving me anymore?”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s literally what I just said. Are you really afraid that you won’t even love me anymore when your hypnosis breaks off?”
“Why do you think that?”
I couldn’t answer. There were countless reasons for thinking so.
I have been determined to free him for a long time, but haven’t I thought about the moment after his inculcation would be released? And how can I forget about ‘that day’?
The day your indoctrination was erased, you tried to kill me.
Quite a few thoughts came and went, but none of them were spat out.
I just laughed and couldn’t say anything.
I didn’t want to be hurt.
“Even if I’m released, I will not change.”
He was adamant.
His eyes full of conviction as if it were the obvious course of things. He seemed very believable.
But I did not believe it.
There are things you know only by looking, and there are things you can know without seeing.
I was the former, and Alastair was the latter.
As usual Alastair, he held my hand and kissed me carefully.
When his hot touch touched my fingers, I felt an unknown sensation that poked all over my body.
“I love you, Serina.”
What is that what it was– really?
What was it that made this man so blind?
Even if it was artificially brought about by brainwashing, he loves me.
So he had to be blind to me.
But I hate artificiality. I hate fakeness.
I don’t love Alastair, but I hate manufactured love.
I wanted the real thing, and Alastair’s love was fake.
“You’re going to free my brain.”
“Okay. Let’s try it.”
“But you’d better know this. If you have the illusion that I’m not going to love you after my hypnosis is erased, you are going to be sorely disappointed.”
Alastair laughed and met my eyes with a challenge.
“I won’t change when my brainwashing is released.”
“Serina, when you find yourself wrong, be prepared to be by my side for the rest of your life.”
Alastair slowly rose up.
When he lifted his hands from the table, my body was free.