20. The Truth (2)
When I visited Claris, Sherry’s best friend, she was about to go home from work. As such, I decided to call a carriage and talk with her as I escorted her home.
After I told her that Sherry had been abducted, she was in shock and immediately started crying. She didn’t know anything about the suspicious letters. Sherry probably kept it a secret so as to not worry her friends.
“A full-scale search for her will start tomorrow morning. I’ll definitely rescue her, even if it costs me my life.”
Claris wiped her tears with a handkerchief, and bowed deeply towards me. “Thank you.” I told her to raise her face immediately. After she was a little calmer, I decided to start asking some questions.
“Did anyone harbor feelings for her?”
“There are some… I can name a few…”
“That will be helpful.”
As I note down the names, I got frustrated and flustered at the fact that there were people who loved her to such an extent.
At the same time, I also couldn’t believe how carefree my past self was. My rivals were that many, and I still didn’t convey my feelings to her.
“Thank you. Is this everyone?”
“By the way…”
“Is there something?”
“…I’m afraid I’m just misunderstanding things, but…”
“It’s okay, please tell me everything. Any kind of clue will be useful right now.”
She was hesitant for a while. Then, she finally spoke.
“I’m wondering if the same goes for Cliff…”
“Yes, of course, I don’t think Cliff, Noel’s friend, is capable of something like that. However, he always talked to Sherry after classes had ended. Also, his eyes… they were a little scary…”
Claris awkwardly lowered her face.
At the mention of his name, I couldn’t help but be surprised. However, there were many circumstances that came to mind. In the first place, Cliff was the first to spot her. It was also apparent that he was interested in her.
In his school days, he always followed Sherry with his eyes. I also remembered that he used to call her cute. Looking back, his interest for her was obvious.
Because I knew how Sherry felt about me, I didn’t care about anything around me.
“Thank you, I’ll use that as a reference.”
Although such a notion was unthinkable, my anxiety didn’t subside. Cliff was a junior graduate of the magic academy, and like me, he was as powerful as a knight—
—and above all, he was a wind wizard.
“…Also, are you familiar with the word ‘pull’?”
I decided to contract Cliff later, and when I asked Claris about the restriction spell, Claris looked up in surprise.
“How do you know that…?”
Apparently, she knew something. So, I told her of what I had just learned. Claris covered her mouth in shock.
“No wonder she was acting so weird… it’s impossible to think that someone like Sherry would be capable of maintaining such a cold attitude towards Noel…”
“What do you mean?”
After hearing to her explanation, I was at loss for words. I never imagined it was to get my attention.
Sherry was so riddled with anxiety, she depended on such a book and spell—just to be loved by me. I was overjoyed at the thought, and my chest tightened. At the same time, I was disgusted at my own ineptness, for I was the one who drove her to that extent.
What was more, I blamed Sherry and forcefully kissed her. I was in a state of self-loathing like never before.
A hypothesis similar to desire emerged within me.
“…Does that mean, Sherry still loves me?”
Such a pitiful voice leaked from my mouth. It was so fleeting, it was almost drowned out by the sound of the carriage.
Claris smiled at my question, then lowered her eyebrows and smiled as if troubled.
“Isn’t that obvious? For the rest of her life, you’re the only one for her.”
If I were to relax my expression even the slightest bit, my tears would spill right away.
Sherry loved me.
That was all I wanted all along.
The joy that coursed through my body caused me to tremble. It felt as if air was finally entering my lungs for the first time in a few months.
I wanted to meet her right away and apologize. If possible, once again, I wanted to hear her confession.
I vowed to rescue her no matter what.
“…Lord Cliff, what are you doing in a place like this?”
“You still ask, ‘why’? I don’t like that. You already know the answer, yet you still asked.”
It was exactly as he said.
I knew it was impossible for him to just appear randomly in such a place, even if my head wasn’t working properly due to fear.
I still couldn’t believe it. He was always so cheerful and kind—and above all, he was also Noel’s dear friend.
“I’ll prepare some tea for you, so come out. I won’t hurt you for now. Of course, it won’t contain any poison, either. Let’s talk.”
I was tongue-tied. Regardless, I felt that it was better to do as he said.
…Surely, Noel would come to save me. Thus, I had to hold out for as long as possible. With that hope in my heart, I stepped out of my hiding place.
Laughing with satisfaction, Cliff took my hand as if he was escorting me. I followed him as it was. I had to endure it—surely, that hell would soon end.
Upon arriving at the hall, he told me to sit on the sofa. I sat quietly. He competently made some tea, and lovely put a cup before me, along with sugar and milk.
“Here you go.”
Cliff’s gentle smile hadn’t changed. He acted as he usual did, to the point I almost forgot I was kidnapped by him.
“Why did you do this…?”
“Because I love you.”
“Right after I enrolled in the magic academy, I think. As soon as you fell in love with Noel, I started following you with my eyes.”
Although all I ever thought about was Noel, if he had straightforwardly confessed to me back then, I might had been a little elated.
However, as of the present, everything he said terrified me.
“I kept hoping that you might notice me, even just a little, and not just stare at Noel all the time.”
“I think the expression you make when you’re happy is the cutest in the world.”
Although I was scared, I was somewhat relieved at being able to have a normal conversation like that. I had a faint expectation that he might regain his sanity and release me.
However, said expectation was shattered.
“That people who dare say bad things about you exist out there, I can’t believe it. How unforgiveable.”
“Don’t worry. I’ve punished them.”
“Punished…? Who…? What?”
“Marian Selvedge. She hurt you at the ball, didn’t she?”
At that moment, the words I heard from Sheila revived in my mind.
She said that Marian experienced a terrible accident, and it was miraculous that she was still alive.
After being struck by a suffocating horror, my limbs trembled once again. Whether or not he knew my feelings, the man before me screamed as if he had recalled something.
“…But, I failed to kill her. Forgive me, I’ll do it properly next time.”
When he laughed after saying that, I realized that the Cliff I knew was no longer there.
***T/N: Lmfao, YES WHYYY CLIFF, WHY DID YOU DO IT, IS IT BECAUSE SHE BROKE THE ONE-SIDED AMALGAMATION OF STALKER YOU THOUGHT SHE HAD WITH YOU?!?!?!