Chapter 4: A Gift of Grace
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Master Ryan, with a calm face, lifted the chin of the man in front of him with the tip of his whip.
The man he loved knelt in front of him, his hands hung by vines from the ceiling, and the new wounds overlapped with the older ones, swollen and slightly bleeding. How perfect this man is. He is slender with light golden hair like water, and his emerald pupils are clearer when his eyes are red.
This is Siglan; his perfect and handsome lover.
Siglan has lived with Ryan for a whole year. Yesterday, Siglan tried to betray Ryan for the fourth time. Ryan had left the manor for the city, taking advantage of this opportunity, Siglan pretended to be ill and wounded. He subdued the guard who entered the cell and took away a bunch of keys.
After escaping from the cell, he also released all the ‘things’ in the dungeon of the manor, such as Ryan’s slaves, experiments, and constructive creatures. They made a mess of the manor. If it had not been for the nearby swamp forest acting as a natural barrier, they would have been gone.
Of course, Siglan failed in the end, and he was found and captured by Ryan.
Siglan is still young, four or five years younger than Ryan. He had been a fighter, but not to mention a weak one, and he was helpless like a child in front of Ryan’s magic trap.
During the year since Ryan imprisoned him on the estate, Siglan never gave up on escape.
The first time, he used the opportunity of intimacy to attack Ryan, but failed; the second time, he took advantage of the opportunity to breathe in the garden and knocked down the guards and servants. From then on, he was not allowed to go out of the house again; the third time, he took Ryan’s apprentice, but Ryan didn’t care about the apprentice’s life or death; the fourth time, that is, this time, Siglan failed again. He could not imagine how many traps in the manor were like doors of the underworld, opening their fanged mouths to him.
Ryan’s hand shook while holding the whip. He’s a wizard, and not very good at whipping. So instead, he tortured Siglan with evil magical plants and metal artificers. No matter what he did, Siglan would not beg for mercy or even say a word to him.
The cruel punishment continued from morning to dusk. In the middle of the day, Ryan left for a while, making Siglan tremble and wail under the effect of the magic potion. When he came back, his lover was still hanging from his hands, kneeling on the cold floor, his head drooping like a bird with torn wings.
Ryan went over and stroked Siglan’s sweaty cheek with his fingers.
Siglan was awake. He said nothing and looked over Ryan’s shoulder and out of focus into the cell. Ryan grabbed his hair and kissed him tenderly. He didn’t respond. Siglan was used to being treated cruelly. At first he would curse Ryan, but now he is silent and does not want to have any communication with him.
Ryan’s behavior today was not quite the same as before. He called for a large shield guard and asked him to take Siglan out of the cell, out of the dungeon, and into Ryan’s research room.
Siglan looked at Ryan’s back in disbelief, unable to resist. The shield guard placed Siglan in the array on the floor, and Ryan knelt beside him, stroking his hair.
“Honey, that’s all you have to do.” The mage’s voice was hoarse and soft, “If it goes on like this, I will be more and more sad, and you will be more and more hurt. I love you and I don’t want to see you so miserable, so I’m going to help you.”
How are you doing to help? Siglan looked uneasily at the mage. He had not spoken to Ryan for a long time, and now he wanted to, but he couldn’t.
“I’ve prepared a spell,” Ryan said. “I’ll replace your memory and preserve your character. You are still you, but I will erase all the unpleasant things between us. I’ll take care of you. I’ll tell you: You are the one I love, and you love me just as much.”
Siglan trembled. Of course he doesn’t want that. No matter what the spell is, he doesn’t want such a result.
As Ryan begins casting, the shield guards hold Siglan’s body.
Siglan’s whole body was in so much pain that he could not escape from the grip of the shield guards. He looked at the ceiling and the head of the construct above in despair. He knew very well that he was going to be transformed into something like this – a soulless creature who would obey Ryan’s orders.
During the year, Siglan made many attempts to leave Ryan. The only thing he didn’t try was to die, because he wanted freedom, not death. Just as he would not yield to Ryan, he would not yield to fate.
And at this moment, Siglan made the decision. There are only two options in front of him: surrender or death, freedom will never be reached.
Ryan was putting the candlestick in the designated position, filling out the runes one by one and reciting the incantation.
All of a sudden, Siglan used all his strength to rush to the edge of the array. The shield guards immediately pressed down on him, but he had already got a candlestick. He didn’t waste any time, didn’t make any unnecessary farewell. He pulled out the burning candle and thrusted the short black spike on the candlestick into the back of his head.
Siglan used to be a good fighter. He knew how to kill the enemy and how to destroy himself.
His consciousness was cut off at once. There was no ‘dying moment.’ He didn’t hear Ryan’s screams, and he didn’t feel the tears rolling down his shoulder as Ryan hugged his body.
Ryan sat still for hours with Siglan in his arms. At first, he sobbed like an aggrieved victim, vainly calling for his love. Gradually, he calmed down and put his lips on siglan’s forehead.
“Honey, you won.” The mage whispered to his lover. “Remember when we first met five years ago. You were so young then, as beautiful as the clear sky in spring. You and I, and your other friends, we’ve gone through forests and deserts, and we’ve been through a lot. I know, I’m not your friend, you’ve never thought of me as a friend. You just needed a caster, so when you happened upon me, you accepted me on the road.
“You think my magic is insidious and evil. You didn’t trust me then and only admitted to our employment relationship. I’ve been trying to fit in with you, but you’ve been rejecting me. You needed my strength, so I tried to be as strong as you wanted me to be. You called me “Mage” or “Hey”; I almost died in that monster’s lair, and I would even give my life to you, but you don’t even want to say my name.
“It was a very interesting trip, a memory I cherish very much. I like all the memories of you. Remember, when you finished your mission, you wanted to say goodbye to me immediately? I asked you to stay in the hostel for one more night. I said that I could fix a strengthening magic for your sword and you accepted. You accepted the magic, but you didn’t accept me. I tried to kiss you when I was alone with you. I thought you would push me away, but you didn’t. I was as happy as I was mad! I thought you accepted me, but you didn’t. I thought we were at least friends, but we weren’t.
“Three years ago, we met again. You’ve grown a lot taller and stronger. You were as beautiful and charming as ever. You wore a silver armor, pointing at me with a sword, reading out my “crime”, intending to take me to the City Council for trial. Yes, by your standards, I have committed a terrible crime. You also said that if you had known that I was such a person, you would never have been with me.
“What you didn’t expect was that I was prepared in advance, and my allies in the city helped me prepare the evidence to exonerate me. When I was free again, I didn’t want to get back at you – really, I didn’t want to get back at you. I just wanted to get you. A year ago, I got you. I wished I could give you everything and take everything from you.
“Now you win, my dear. I didn’t get you, and you took everything from me.”
From this day on, Ryan became just like Siglan had been – expressionless, speechless, and paler day by day. He used magic to preserve Siglan’s body, put it in a special coffin, sealed it in the thorny tower, just like the rose princess in children’s books.
Ryan was not thinking about Siglan. Like Siglan, he refused to submit to fate, and even death could not make him bow.
The mage’s manor was hidden in the swamp forest, guarded by terrors in the dark.
As the days went by, there was a saying that was neither true or false. The mage Ryan had been studying the forbidden field of magic. For this reason, he destroyed countless living creatures and turned them into blasphemies. He wanted to call out the demons in the ancient books and let them help him achieve certain wishes.
In fact, Ryan was on the verge of success.
Since Siglan’s death, Ryan has been immersed in research, often without sleep. Finally, he got close to the goal and saw the light he wanted to touch – he was ready to do everything, he had mastered the necessary knowledge, and was about to summon the demons of the void world.
It is said that a demon can fulfill any wish of the summoner. As long as the demon is willing to make the deal, he can even give the summoner the whole world.
On a rainy evening, Ryan finished casting.
The gray smoke blew out from the ground like a giant python, and soon covered the whole manor, completely isolating it from the outside world.
These demons are not the demons recorded in human books. They have forms that cannot be generalized by human common sense. They are not ghosts, they are not gods, they are unlike any species known to mankind.
In front of him, the sorcerer Ryan, who was famous for his cruelty, shivered like a leaf, and could barely hold on to his shield. The mage recalled everything about Siglan, closed his eyes tightly and opened them again.
He looked straight at the devil and said his wish.
Ryan wants to bring him back and make up perfect memories for him.
What happened in the past will not change, but Siglan’s perception will be changed: he and Ryan met on the journey and naturally became a couple. Their life together is not romantic, but very happy. Others still hate Ryan, which even the devil can’t change, but the devil can make Siglan love him. No one else in the world would love him except Siglan.
The devil said that people’s memories are the most important part of their life, if the memory is no longer there, then the past life will become meaningless. So, to change a person’s memory perfectly is actually to change his soul.
The demon will take Siglan’s body to the level that human beings can’t touch or understand. After that, he will make Siglan look like what Ryan expects and send him back to the world.
“But I will not send him to you,” said the demon. “You have to work hard to get a sweet and loyal lover. I will send him back alone, he will look for you, you have to look for him, if you can find each other, you can have everything you dream of.”
It’s only a little bit more time, Ryan thought, as long as he’s willing to give.
Next, it’s time to talk about the price. The devil didn’t say what he wanted. He disdained giving detailed explanations to human beings. As he left with Siglan’s body, he told Ryan that he could come back at any time to ask for the price, and Ryan should be prepared every day.
Before long, the outside world heard that the mage Ryan had successfully summoned the high-level demon. Some swore that they had seen all kinds of signs to prove that the devil had come. However, after this, nothing happened, no war, no terrible creatures appeared, everything in the world remained the same. People gradually began to think that it was not true that Ryan had summoned the magic God. With the cruelty and ambition of Mage Ryan, if he had succeeded, how could he do nothing?
Of course, that didn’t mean Ryan had become kind.
On the contrary, his evil behavior intensified. He used to think about the consequences, but now he doesn’t even want to do that. He just did things according to his own preferences. Now he can kill anyone at will without worrying that his Siglan won’t love him.
In the future, Siglan will love him. No matter what he has done, even if he is a devil, he will love him deeply.
Siglan didn’t let him down. In less than a year, Siglan found him.
That day, Ryan was stopped by a group of cavalry on his way back to the manor. He saw Siglan.
In a flash, they seem to be back to a few years ago – Siglan, a young warrior in silver armor, pointed his sword at Ryan, read out his crime, and planned to send him to the City Council for trial… Now, the same thing is happening again. For a long time, many people wanted to get rid of Ryan, who cleverly prevented law enforcement from finding direct evidence. In recent years, Ryan became more and more bad at self-control, and finally left the handle.
When he was pointed at by several spears, Ryan was not afraid or even resentful.
He stared at Siglan with fascination, and Siglan looked at him, too.
Ryan was almost melting into those green eyes… He had never been watched like this by Siglan. The cavalry escorted Ryan to the City Council. After the preliminary trial was completed, Siglan personally took Ryan to the distant holy see.
Ryan’s manor was thoroughly searched, his research either sealed up or destroyed, and the creatures in the dungeon were given a merciful release. The souls that he killed were freed, except for his lover.
To prevent Ryan from casting, the Council not only seized all the casting materials, but also broke his fingers. On the way to the Vatican, Ryan was tied up in a prison car, his head resting on the bars, and every time he stopped for a rest, Siglan would come and talk to him quietly.
Like many years ago, Ryan was still rejected by the public, and Siglan still placed justice before his personal friends.
What’s different this time is that Siglan is in love with Ryan now, and he still loves him even if he’s guilty. Across the bars of the van, Siglan gently kisses the blood on Ryan’s forehead and kneels down to kiss his crippled fingers.
“I’ll protect you as much as I can under the law,” Siglan says in his ear. “I’m sorry, Ryan, I love you, but I have to…”
Ryan smiles and nods. He was not afraid at all. The devil said that as long as they could find each other, he would get everything he wanted. As Ryan expected, a miracle happened. Because of the knowledge he had, he was not sentenced to death. He was allowed to live and pass on the knowledge.
Ryan is still alive, but ‘mage Ryan’ is dead.
His hands are completely disabled, and his right finger can barely hold a pen, he can’t write beautiful words, let alone make precise casting gestures. His tongue and vocal cords were also damaged – the Vatican tribunal had someone do it – and they allowed Ryan to speak simply in his breath, but no longer recite mantras accurately.
Ryan was in a dungeon. Just as how he had imprisoned Siglan, his existence was hardly known to the outside world except those who obtained permission. Someone made a deal with him: you have to prove that you are worthy of living and of freedom. You have to give us everything in your mind unconditionally. Of course, we won’t let you get nothing in return. When you do what you have to do, you will be free.
You’re no longer in danger. You can’t be a wizard any more. You’re more vulnerable than dead leaves.
Siglan often came to see him, or to be more precise, to accompany him. People say that Siglan is a dedicated and loyal young man. He neither violates justice nor abandons his lover, which is really valuable. He would often hug Ryan and weep quietly, while Ryan stroked his cheeks with his disabled fingers and wiped away his tears with a kiss.
Four seasons flow by. When Ryan finally got his promised freedom, Siglan was ready to meet him and face the next life with him. Siglan couldn’t wait to prepare a “home” for Ryan. Now that he was no longer a soldier and Ryan was no longer a prisoner, they left the dark dungeon and went to the love promised by the devil.
Their home was in the outskirts of the city, just a humble Orion house. Before bringing Ryan back, Siglan set up his study and speculated on several books that the mage might be interested in. He didn’t know magic, so most of the books on the bookshelf were ancient myths, herbal illustrations, geography and history. Siglan thought that there were no mistakes in these books.
The hut was not very big, so they shared a bedroom. Since Ryan’s fingers were inconvenient, Siglan helped him with everything he could; peeling fruit, changing clothes, bringing what he wanted, and bathing him.
Ryan’s hair was rubbed with a little bit of coarse cloth, because Siglan’s hair was scrubbed this way. Ryan turned and looked at those emerald green, misty eyes, and then stood up and kissed his lover most devoutly.
They were always quiet, whether in their daily relationship or in their intimate behaviors.
Ryan didn’t make a lot of noise, and some of the pronunciation was not accurate, so Siglan rarely spoke out loud either. He would make the environment as quiet as possible to hear every word Ryan said.
Ryan, who once treated Siglan as cruelly as he could every morning, cherished the miraculous treatment of him. When Ryan looked at his lover, he often raised the corners of his mouth…Siglan is still his slave.
Ryan’s satisfaction is understood as love by Siglan, so Siglan returned him with more love.
Ryan had never felt so good. He began to indulge. This was what he’s been wanting for so many years. As long as it can be regarded as special to Siglan, it didn’t matter if it was truth or falsehood.
Ryan could be unscrupulous with Siglan.
Siglan still loved him when he was angry. Because of his disability, he could no longer cast spells. He was robbed of everything. He blamed Siglan for everything, and Siglan accepted it all. When he deliberately made harsh demands, Siglan was not angry, but did his best to do a good job for him.
Siglan will meet all his demands. No matter how moody Ryan becomes, Siglan will still love him.
A few days later, in the dead of night, Ryan lay beside Siglan, suddenly feeling regret . He realized that he had taken things too simply.
Once he thought “getting Siglan” was the most important thing, and everything else was next. Now he found that not to be so.
Losing magic, losing the possibility of being a wizard… This kind of reluctance and anger gradually fermented, driving him almost mad. At first, he could comfort himself with Siglan’s love. Once and twice was OK. but after a while, this method no longer worked.
Ryan thought, if I could do it all over again, would I say such childish wishes to the demon?
Yes, he was very naive and superficial. It’s a shame. If he had asked the devil for some other help, maybe now he would be standing on the top, out of everyone’s reach. The world would bow to him and the disobedient ones could only howl in the fires of hell. As for Siglan? Siglan would have died long ago, he wouldn’t exist.
Ryan wept quietly in the dark. His lover slept beside him with a faint, happy smile on his face.
Ryan couldn’t cast any more spells, so he could only imagine that if there was a dagger that could reverse all this, he would not hesitate to stab it into Siglan’s chest. It was another ordinary midnight, and Ryan suddenly woke up to find something shaking in the room.
First in the dark corner, then in the middle of the floor, the walls inside and outside the house and the fence in the yard. A stream of gray smoke rose out of the air, gradually enveloping the hut like a swarm of pythons.
“Honey, do you remember me?” Familiar sounds are heard in the air. Ryan opened his eyes in surprise.
Siglan also woke up. He drew his sword and protected Ryan behind him, and yelled at the evil in front of him.
Under the pressure of the devil, his wrist trembled slightly, but he would not take a step back.
“I told you that what you need will come true, but I will come back at some time and ask for your payment. You shouldn’t be surprised. “
“What do you want?” Ryan asked in a weak voice.
Siglan told Ryan to run away and attacked the smoke with his sword. Of course, it didn’t work. He was gripped by a column of smoke and held firmly in mid air.
“Dear mage, look how he loves you.” The devil said, “Now I’ll give you two choices. You can decide for yourself.”
Siglan struggled in vain, and Ryan motioned to the devil with his eyes. An arm stretched out of the smoke, between man and beast, and pinched Ryan’s chin. “The first choice is that I take you into my world and you are my reward. You’ll live to be entertainment for me and my people. I want you to have immortality. Even if we drain your whole body of blood, you won’t die. We can restore your health with one word, and then you can continue to provide us with fun. We have a lot of these toys, but not enough.
“The second option is that we still need a toy, but I can take your lover Siglan instead of you. If you choose the first offer, after taking you away, I’ll erase Siglan’s memory again, and everything about you in his mind will disappear. His life will go on. He won’t remember knowing you at all. To return to a normal life is the grace I shall give him.
“If you choose the second proposal, after taking Siglan, I will fix your body, make your fingers as smart as before, and let your voice return to its original state. Of course, I can’t endow you with wealth again, you can get these things by yourself. To restore a healthy body is my grace to you. Well, dear mage, what is your choice?”
Siglan struggled and watched in disbelief. He couldn’t understand what was going on. Ryan was almost speechless, and only felt anger. No one could hear Ryan’s voice as Siglan roared to him to escape. He could only be seen moving his mouth and talking.
So Siglan stopped talking. Even the demon God was quiet, and the dancing smoke was silent.
Ryan repeated what he had just said, “Take siglan and cure me.”
He said it without hesitation.
Siglan was no longer struggling, he looked at his lover in disbelief. Strangely enough, even though Ryan hated him, betrayed him, and decided to sacrifice him, he still loved him deeply.
His green eyes were dim and confused, and his blond hair hung down his cheeks, as helpless as when he had been tortured by Ryan.
“Listen to him. Take me,” Siglan said to the devil. “Whatever you want…. Just, don’t hurt Ryan.”
The devil laughed.
The arms in the smoke moved away from Ryan and turned to Siglan. Huge claws pressed down on Siglan’s head, covering his entire face.
“Love really moves me.” The devil’s voice was a little ironic, “Because this scene is so moving… so, dear mage, I’ve decided not to take you or your Siglan.”
Ryan looked up in surprise.
“But in this way, I can’t cure you. Because I gave up the payment, there is no reason to treat you in vain. You should be able to understand that? And I won’t erase Siglan’s memory of you. He’ll remember everything about you and how much he loved you during this time.”
“And.” The demon’s voice approached Ryan, and a cloud of smoke was blowing playfully on his cheek. “I’ll return Siglan back to his original state. I’ll give him back the soul I took from him. It’s easy, easier than cutting his memory. He will recall your real past, every detail… Your meeting, your journey, your yearning for him, and the manor deep in the swamp and forest… And your love for him.”
“No!” Ryan almost roared. He was held in place by the smoke, and his hoarse voice was swallowed up by the demon’s sneer.
“Don’t worry, dear mage. I will also let him keep his ‘new’ memories. He will remember me, remember you made a deal with me, remember how he escorted you, protected you, and kissed you. He will also remember everything you did in this hut.” Before the smoke left, the devil’s voice became almost gentle, “Don’t be afraid, don’t tremble, you haven’t lost anything. As for the memories in Siglan’s mind that love you. That’s a gift from me.”
Darkness and silence came again, the devil’s deal was completed, and he returned to his own plane, until the next person in the world called him.
It’s mid spring, but the hunter’s cabin on the outskirts of the city is as cold as an ice cave.
Siglan and Ryan both fell limply to the floor, gasping.
Ryan raised his head just in time to meet Siglan’s eyes.
There was a familiar look in his eyes; the questioning, hatful and dismissive look belonging to the former Siglan.
Ryan stood up against the wall and stumbled out of the bedroom. He escaped to the door, but he couldn’t open the door of the house. His fingers were so weak that he couldn’t even lift the door lock.
Siglan’s footsteps sounded behind him. His lover held the door with one hand and trapped Ryan between the door and his body.
“Dear.” Siglan pinched Ryan’s face and grinned, just like in those days before.
Siglan, who loved Ryan, never said ‘dear.’ He was a gentle but serious man, his name was Ryan. On the contrary, when he tortured Siglan, he always liked to whisper in Siglan’s ear, calling him “dear”, expecting him to yield and forcing him to scream.
Siglan grabbed Ryan by the jaw and dragged him back into the room. Ryan wanted to say something, but he couldn’t make a sound in his throat. He couldn’t even shout.
The devil did not take anything. Siglan’s new memories were still there, and the original memories are back. Everything Ryan wanted was still there, such as the days when Siglan loved him, Siglan’s personality and soul, and Siglan himself.
Ryan and Siglan are still together. They are so in love that they will not be separated again. Siglan still embraced Ryan, took care of him, accompanied him, witnessed his every scar, and will continue to do so in the future.
He will never leave Ryan, nor will he let him.
The only thing that has changed is that they haven’t kissed since.