Chapter 52
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How was anyone supposed to make that kind of decision? To decide who he was, right now? He couldn’t. It was impossible. It was clawing at his throat. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t choose, he couldn’t do it. The walls were closing in on. Everything was pressing down upon him. He had to get out of here.

Brand sprinted out of the dining room, summoned his carpet, and flew high into the air.

The wind blew, and the chill sank into his bones, and for a second, he felt free—but only for a second. Because the pressure was inside him, and he knew it. As he saw the turrets of the towers, the shingles glowing in the moonlight, he thought of the girls inside. For the first time, he really pondered how it must feel for them to be taken from their home and family, to be trapped, with no escape, except to please the person who’d imprisoned them.

It wasn’t hard to imagine.

Brand thought of Seri, in the tower below him. He thought of her laying on her bed and crying, out of fear, out of frustration, out of homesickness and pain. He didn’t want her to be in pain. He didn’t want to hurt her.

He hardly knew he raised his hand. He hardly knew he lifted the curse, until it was done. He broke all four curses at once. He was not going to let any of the girls suffer any more.

It was so strange. This one thing that Seri had argued with him to do for months and months, and when he finally did, it felt like the simplest thing in the world. Like it was nothing. All this pain and fear, and he could have just waved his hand and ended it.

But when Brand thought about sending the girls home… he couldn’t do that.

He should do that. A part of him wanted to. But if he were to face them… to look into the eyes and really see what he had done to them…

It was too much. He couldn’t.

So he left.

Because he couldn’t be near them, and he couldn’t lose them, and everything in his being was telling him to escape, escape, escape. So he took off. In the dead of night, with no sleep, hardly any food, and the feeling that he just needed to go, go, go.

He flew home.

Thank you for everyone who stayed with me this far. The next section will delve more into Brand's past, which was not exactly happy, but I'll warn you of any triggering content in advance. Thanks for reading.