A few days after Mervin had gone missing and with no clue about his whereabouts the attention of people was now solely on Yuren. There were many rumors regarding Yuren circulating in the city of Morio. He was believed to be taking refuge in the Moonlight Inn while some rumors stated that he was living in the woods. Other than these rumors, some Memory Stones were being circulated in secret. The Memory Stones showed Yuren battling against some masked people. He got injured but managed to run away.
These were all lies spread by Aizen and Aaron. Their intentions were simple. All they wanted to do was make Mervin more restless and force him to take a step that seals his fate. For him, Yuren dying in the hands of someone else was not desirable. If anyone got to know the whereabouts of that Dryad, then his wait for so many years was for nothing.
Mervin was now in the situation where he had wanted to put Yuren in. The agonizing urgency to have it all finished. He couldn’t even speak of the truth as that would result in him losing his position as the Lord of Ianserk clan. He was a murderer who had killed hundreds and thousands of elves for his greed.
The evening of the day when Yuren’s video of almost losing his life surfaced in the secret circles, Mervin finally made his move.
“Mervin Ianserk challenges Yuren to a duel of life and death to settle all their disputes.”
The news spread like fire, and every single person on The Whistling Star was shocked. An elven Lord challenging someone to a duel of Life and Death was once in a millennial event.
Aizen was quite satisfied with this. All that was now required was for Yuren to accept this challenge. But the group was worried if Yuren would even do that.
He was no longer in his prime. His strength had fallen from the peak of False Origin. In a duel, Mervin would be at an advantage, but Yuren had already planned on dying with him, so it wasn’t impossible to accomplish the task.
Yuren stood in front of them with a little girl by his side. All of their eyes were locked on the little girl. Even though she looked no more than 14 years old, she was someone who had lived for far much longer than them. Her eyes were green just like the leaves in spring. And her wavy light blonde hair complemented her creamy complexion. She had a doll-like face and with her stature of 5 feet, she looked very delicate and pure.
The little Dryad wasn’t scared before their eyes. She had not been in front of people in thousands of years, but her composure was still of an adult. She smiled at them and lightly nodded.
Seeing her greet them, brought them back from their trance. It was not just her beauty that intrigued them, but also her status as a Dryad of Tree of Life. No matter how delicate she looked like, she was Dangerous and someone who could not be neglected.
Irina stepped forward and drew her hand. “Hi, I am Irina.” She cheerfully introduced herself.
“Liafina Auraez” She shook her hand and smiled brightly.
“Come let’s go over there and have a little chat. I want to know more about you.” Irina said enthusiastically and pulled her inside the spare bedroom in the suite. She didn’t even allow her to nod.
Aizen couldn’t help but smile at seeing Irina treat her like a child. He shook his head and asked everyone to be seated.
“Mervin has been forced to challenge you to a duel by our efforts, Yuren.” Aaron started the talk and continued. “You said you would give us the dagger if we help you cope with him. It’s all on you now. You have a chance to settle the blood debt he owes you.”
Yuren didn’t answer but just smiled at these words.
Aaron raised his brows as he saw him not saying anything.
“We already have made arrangements for Selena. You don’t need to worry about her.” Aaron added.
The smile was wider on Yuren’s face, and he finally spoke.
“You have made arrangements not only for them but also for me.” He said and still smiled.
No one admitted or denied his words and only pale smiles were their answer to him.
“I can understand your reasons, and I don’t blame you.” Yuren sighed and said. “The situation on this Star is very delicate now.”
“No one would want to be targeted by all those forces that are present here. So having me and Mervin both die in the duel would at least not lead to a War. The world must never know of the complete truth.”
“Do you have total assurance of eliminating Mervin? He may very well take the aid of some treasure to boost his strength or save his life.” Aizen asked.
Yuren thought for a while but nodded in confidence.
“There’s no way that I would let him live on. He will die.”
“You can get the Dagger from the Broker after tomorrow’s duel. As for the Dew of Life, I have handed it over to Liafina. She will give it to you when Selena has been dealt with.” He added.
All of them nodded to him in satisfaction and didn’t say anything more.
“So what was her answer?” Aizen asked making all the people frown at his question.
Yuren looked at him in surprise as he understood his meaning. He had contacted the Lady of the House to leave Liafina in her care. Aizen and the rest had already made their vows to not hold ill intentions towards Liafina, so even if he didn’t leave her in their care, they couldn’t do anything about it.
The expression of Yuren confirmed his thoughts, but Aizen didn’t feel angry at his decision. It was a wise one, and he would have done the same if he was in Yuren’s place. Why would he leave his granddaughter in the care of people who only looked for their interests? It was not their sincerity that they wanted Liafina, but it was their greed to attain a powerful asset.
“I suggested to the Lady to have Liafina as her second Shadow,” Yuren admitted embarrassedly.
Keira frowned but said without any reluctance. ”She’s in safe hands now. Congratulations!”
Yuren shook his head to her words. “She refused.” He looked at their surprised expressions and continued. “She said that she’s not fit enough to have two Shadows.”
None of them said anything. Blood Shadow’s bond was for life. A Shadow could not hide anything from its master. And a master could feel his Shadow’s emotions. It was a mental load for both of them as they shared each other’s emotions. Having a Second Shadow was not considered wise, but some individuals had them, and also those who didn’t even have one. But no matter what, Lady of the house did have the capability to possess a second Shadow, and Liafina was a treasure that she would never have refused.
Aaron looked at Aizen and everyone else’s gaze also locked on him as well.
“She suggested Aizen be the one to have Liafina as his shadow.” Yuren nodded and said.
He was not excited when he heard this. His thoughts were on why she would do this. And if she was doing this, then did that mean that she accepted his proposal? But another thought also lingered in his mind that he was being played by her. However, he could not find a reason as to why she would harm him, and so his thoughts eventually settled down.
“And have you decided on it?” Aizen asked.
“I had considered it before too but had eventually given up the thought. The dangers that lurk around you and your ambitious eyes could very well lead you to an early death, Morningstar. Sometimes the wisest men are the first ones to lose their lives.” Yuren said with a smile.
“But I have no choice left now. It was either going to be you or her and since she has refused Liafina, I can only entrust her to you.” He said and sighed.
“And If I refuse to accept her as well?” Aizen lightly asked.
Yuren looked at him in surprise but then smiled at him as he observed his eyes.
“I don’t think you would refuse her, Morningstar. You would never give up something that benefits you.”
Aizen nodded to him and said.
“I will send her to the Star Palace today.”
Keira didn’t seem to mind Aizen acquiring Liafina. She would be satisfied if she gets that Dagger.
Aaron thought for a while and eventually nodded to Aizen. He wanted the Dew of Life and coveted the Dagger as well. He would be fine with either of these treasures.
Liafina was something everyone would want to possess, but she was not something that everyone was able to possess. Only a disaster could keep a disaster.
In the Royal house of the Ianserk clan, Mervin stood in the room as he checked the content of the Memory Stone. Yuren had accepted his challenge and the Duel would take place tomorrow.
He crushed the Memory Stone in his hand, and a ruthless smile was plastered on his face. He had waited for so long to have Yuren out of his way and tomorrow he could finally achieve it. He had planned on waiting a few more years for Yuren to just die before looking for the Dryad. But now he didn’t have to wait anymore. He now did not even need to search all over the Place for her. Yuren never left the Dryad alone. She was on this Star and could be searched for when Yuren was dead.
He did not believe that Yuren would entrust her to anyone. As long as he and his wife were alive, she would not be safe anywhere, and he wouldn’t think twice before destroying something that he couldn’t acquire.
“Are you leaving for Morio now?” Selena who stood by his side asked.
“Yes. The duel will be held in the northern suburbs of the City. The Elven courts and other Influences of the Star will be monitoring it. I will be safe.” He said.
“For now, yes. But tomorrow in the duel? You know that Yuren would rather die with you than let you come out of the duel alive.” She said in a concerned tone.
“I know. But I have taken some measures. I will not die in his hands and once he’s dead, the deal of that Dagger will be off. So no one else will try to kill me.” He said confidently.
“Do you believe that he has not left the Dryad under someone else’s protection?”
He thought for a while and said. “If he has done so, then I will just announce to the world her truth. I know what she looks like and what her powers are like. She won’t be able to hide forever, and nobody would be willing to face a war against the entire world for her.”
“I hope you are right and she’s still with Yuren. Otherwise, if Yuren tomorrow announces what you did to The Garden of Life, then we will not be able to reside in the Ianserk clan anymore.” She said as she reminded him.
Mervin’s face grew ugly at these words. He couldn’t refute this outcome as it was highly likely to happen.
“Whatever happens tomorrow, you must stay inside the Valley and not step out. And if I do die, then announce to the world her truth.” He said in a grave voice.
Mervin did not wait for her to answer as he walked out of the room.
Selena only sighed and lied down on the bed to get some sleep.
It was not long after when she woke up as the door was knocked.
“Yes?” She asked in irritation.
“Lady Selena, Lord Monroez has called you in the Elder’s assembly.” The maid answered respectfully.
Selena was surprised but then thought that it must be concerned with tomorrow’s duel. Some questions were indeed raised, and the differences between Yuren and Mervin were still not clear to the clan.
“I will be there in a few minutes.” She answered as she got up to get ready to see the elders.
When she arrived in Hall, all the elders of the Clan were already present there. Elder Monroez was the Grandfather of Mervin and someone who had achieved his Final awakening. Almost everyone with his strength had no interest in the affairs of the world. What these Powerhouses desired was the way to the Higher Realm. Lord Monroez was the same. That was why he controlled and looked after the clan from the shadows.
“Selena Ianserk sees the Elder Assembly.” Her voice was calm and respectful.
She didn’t hear any sound of an acknowledgment as she stood in a bow for a while. Her composed mind was soon in shambles. She respectfully lifted her head to look at Lord Monroez, and when her eyes met his, she saw dreadful anger evident in them.
“Your time to be judged for your sins has arrived.” An angry voice rang in her ears and mind.
She staggered back but then she found herself unable to move under that gaze. Her senses left her, and she fell on the floor like a sack.
A portal opened by her side, and she was thrown in it.
The Hall remained silent as the Elders left one after another as if nothing had happened here.
♛ Author’s Note:
The new Poll for the Story of the Month is up on my Patreon. It will be deciding which story I will be focusing on this month, let’s see what happens. The result comes out on Sunday.
To know the result, you can join my discord server. The link is on the ToC page. See you there!