Madeleine woke up in the morning in high spirits, looking down at the flower Dyon had given her, a bright smile bloomed on her face. , Getting up, she went to the bathroom and fixed herself up, changing into something more casual. She put her hair up and slipped her glasses back on before almost bouncing into the living room to find Meiying, Delia and Oliver. , The three of them looked up, and although they had a bit of an unnatural look on their faces, Madeleine didn’t pay much attention to it. , “Oh? What’re you doing here Oliver? You know it’s not polite to come to a lady’s home like this,” Madeleine said teasing her elder brother. , Oliver sighed, “Little sister, I came to tell you that father has decided on a wedding date. Two months from now you’ll marry Akihiko.” , Madeleine’s smile froze, her bubbly personality turning stone cold, “No. I absolutely will not.” , Oliver shook his head, “You don’t have much of a choice. Considering the date father’s chosen, you won’t be in full control of yourself regardless.” , Madeleine paled, coming to a sudden realization. , ‘Two months from now? The winter solstice…?’ , Usually during that time of year – in fact, even during the entire month – Madeleine closed herself off from the world, unwilling to lose her most precious thing or to disgrace herself while not being in control. But, now, her supposed father was using that against her to consummate a marriage she wanted no part of. , ‘Dyon can’t fight against two pillar families like this… And I wouldn’t even be able to help him. That month is not only the one I’m in the most pain for, I’ll have the least amount of control. I’ll have no cultivation and even if I did, how could I fight against the Kami and Sapientia family elders?’ , Madeleine buried the pain in her heart. It seemed like her family was giving her no choice. Ignoring her brother, she looked over to Meiying and Delia. , “Where’s Dyon, I need to talk to him.” , Such a thing had to be explained face to face. She couldn’t allow him to learn about this from someone else, no matter how much it hurt. , “This… I…” Delia stuttered, not knowing what to say. , Madeleine looked intently at Delia’s face, but all she saw was endless hesitation. , “Tell me,” Madeleine said with a shaking voice. Her heart was trembling as she looked down at the flower in her hands. , ‘It’s too… it’s too dim…’ Her tears began to spill over. , She had very clearly remembered what Dyon said that night. This flower was connected to his life, so why was it so dim now? , Beneath the shining morning sun, she hadn’t noticed. But in her state of agitation, she was picking up on all the details she had missed previously. , Oliver got up, walking over to comfort his sister. , “He’s dead.” Oliver said softly, reaching a hand forward to hug her. , “GET AWAY FROM ME!” , Oliver paled, before his face steeled. , Madeleine fell to the ground, unable to stop her shivering. She clutched the flower’s stem in her hands, trying to feel some warmth from it. , A layer of frost started to cover the ground, coating Madeleine’s skin and hair. , “Big sister!” Delia ran to Madeleine, ignoring the cold and holding her tightly, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” , Meiying stepped forward and blocked Oliver’s path. Her carefree expression was nowhere to be seen, all that was left was rage. , “Leave. And tell that Chenglei he’d better never come see me again.” , Oliver looked over at Meiying’s cold eyes before nodding and leaving the house. , The sound of a lonely door closing resonated with Madeleine’s endless sobbing. , “Meiying, her illness has never acted up like this before. Dyon’s flame isn’t working.” , Delia was delirious, she had no idea what to do. The pillar she had always held onto was breaking apart and she couldn’t help. , Meiying rubbed Delia’s back while holding onto Madeleine with her. , “How could it work?” She said softly, “It’s tied to his life… you heard what he said at the banquet… he said it would leave her in comfort for as long as he –” , Meiying choked on her last words, unable to finish. Though the reality was harsh, she knew she had to say it. Madeleine needed to hear it. 𝘪.𝘤𝑜𝘮, Madeleine’s shivering only got worse. The three girls sat on the floor of the living room, holding each other in helplessness, doing whatever they could to find some warmth. , ** , ~Several Hours Ago~ , Dyon looked toward the expanse of blackness around him, slowly sinking to the bottom of the lake. , ‘Well… this sucks, now doesn’t it.’ , After ten minutes of holding his breath, Dyon had sunk far enough that he believed the lights from his array formation wouldn’t be seen from the surface. Unwilling to see if the same trick would work on Oliver twice, he chose to be cautious. , Dyon smirked to himself as he thought of the events. Although Oliver’s sword had in fact pierced his chest, and, even went through his heart, Dyon had distracted him long enough to draw the spatial array he had used to pass through the window with Madeleine earlier that night on his heart. , He would have done so with his entire chest, but that would have meant a whole host of problems. , First, Oliver would have noticed a lack of resistance. Secondly, there would have been a lack of blood. And, finally, and most obviously, there was no way Oliver would miss the shimmering arrays attached directly onto his chest. , For all these reasons, Dyon only covered his heart and lungs, leaving his skin and bone to be run through. Luckily, Oliver just barely missed his spin and he hadn’t used any qi to disrupt his array, or else Dyon would have no idea if he’d still be here. , Pushing out a spherical defensive array from him, Dyon formed an air bubble, finally allowing himself to take a deep breath. , “He still cracked my ribs though… ** that hurt. I’m real tired of all these people trying to kill me.” , ‘I should head back to my room, that way Libro will see me on the monitor as long as I take down the metal plate. At least that way I can disappear for a while without Madeleine thinking I’m dead. That girl’s suffered enough.’ , Dyon laughed to himself, shaking his head knowing that he was a fool. , It seemed he had really fallen for this girl. He almost died, but he was still thinking about her wellbeing despite the fact he didn’t even know if he could trust Libro. After all, Libro was Madeleine’s Uncle… what if he was a part of all of this too?,

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