Drakaris' immense silhouette loomed over a determined Raziel as he said, "Very well. To pass my test and gain my power, you will have to...kill either your mother or that woman named Selene. Once you do, all this will be over. But the one you kill will take your place and endure it on your behalf but alone."

Raziel's eyes, wide with disbelief, reflected his shock.

He staggered to his feet, confronting Drakaris' gaze with a blend of shock and outrage, "Wh-What the hell are you saying? How could you tell me to do something like that when all this time I have been trying to save them! Are you trying to make this even worse for me? Are you enjoying seeing me go through this?"

Drakaris' response came, calm and unfazed, "You asked me for a way out, and I am giving you what you wanted."

"But not like this! Not this way. Just why would you only offer me this? It could have been anything else but this... Just tell me what you are looking for by doing this," Raziel retorted, his voice strained with frustration and disbelief.

Drakaris explained, "Because these two people hold the highest position in your heart. But they are holding you back from becoming stronger. Their deaths will always be a stone you won't be able to remove from your path to getting stronger unless...you kill one of them. What I want from you is to see that you truly would do whatever it takes to get stronger. A demon like us shouldn't let anything hinder us from getting stronger. But you have yet to prove yourself as a worthy demon. You are too weak, including your heart. I don't want my successor to be fazed by such things. So by doing this, you will prove me otherwise. The question is...Are you willing to make the right sacrifice?"

Raziel's gaze lowered, grappling with the unbearable weight of Drakaris' demand, "Prove myself to be a worthy demon by killing..." His voice trailed off, unable to utter the full extent of the monstrous task, especially considering the consequences. The very thought of it sent shivers down his spine.

Drakaris' voice, calm and persuasive, infiltrated Raziel's thoughts, "If it makes you feel any better, you can consider it a brief act of mercy for them not having to die in the hands of those werewolves."

Drakaris' words echoed in Raziel's mind, intertwining with the haunting images of his mother and Matron Selene repeatedly dying in various horrific ways. Each memory was a sharp stab to his heart, and so how could he bear to let one of them keep on suffering on his behalf?

Drakaris added, "You can give everyone except for the one you kill a merciful death without any suffering, while you can end your suffering as well. Are you willing to let your soul get destroyed instead of taking the chance to become strong and get vengeance?"

Raziel's internal turmoil deepened. Was Drakaris right? Could this act of evil truly be a mercy? The thought of enduring another cycle of watching them die was unbearable. He couldn't face it again, the thought alone threatening to shatter his soul.

A desperate resolve began to take hold within him. Perhaps this was the only way to break the cycle, to gain Drakaris' power and exact revenge.

He never stood a chance of saving them. He was a fool to think their fate could be changed.

He yearned desperately to get released from this suffering, and Drakaris' offer tempted his broken soul. He could also save almost all of them from this nightmare.

With a heavy heart, Raziel looked up, his voice barely above a whisper, yet laden with a decision that felt like a betrayal to his very soul, "Send me back...I...I will do it."

As he uttered those words, a shroud of darkness began to envelop him, ready to take him back to a reality he dreaded yet was resolved to change.

In the simple confines of their home, Raziel sat up on his mat, haunted by the weight of the task ahead.

His mother's voice, gentle and filled with care, reached him as she crouched before him, "Raziel, what are you thinking about? Is something wrong? Did you have a bad dream?" she asked, her voice tinged with concern.

He turned to her, his gaze hollow as he absorbed the sight of her – particularly her eyes, which, though sightless, always seemed to radiate warmth and love.

He got up, lending her his support, and gave a weak, soft smile, "It's nothing, mother. I...I was thinking that I should give you something to drink since you look a bit tired," he said, struggling to maintain a steady voice.

Aurelia blinked her eyes, but then she shook her head and said, "There is no need for that, son. It's not even afternoon, and I am feeling fine."

"No..." Raziel's expression became pained as he looked at her but tried his best to control his voice, "...I insist. So please, sit down here while I go and make some."

Aurelia's confusion was palpable, yet she acquiesced, "Okay, son. But don't make anything too hard. You might lose time for your training," she replied with concern, unaware of the storm raging within her son.

Raziel's heart ached with each step towards the kitchen. There, he began to mix a lethal concoction, combining harmless ingredients into a potent poison.

This knowledge, imparted by Grandpa Caius for trapping and killing beasts for meat, was now being perverted into a tool for a grim purpose he never imagined.

With trembling hands, he prepared the poison. Each stir of the mixture was a reminder of the irreversible step he was about to take. The poison melded into the blood, creating a deadly drink meant for the one who gave him life.

His mother's obliviousness and blind trust in him made the task even more harrowing. The son, who should have been her protector, was now on the brink of becoming the cause of her demise.

Raziel's steps were laden with the heaviness of his heart as he approached his mother, holding the glass filled with poison. His hands trembled visibly, betraying the turmoil within him.

However, he paused, glancing at his mother from afar, who was seated serenely, her face adorned with a warm, gentle smile that seemed to reflect fond memories and unwavering love for him.

In that moment, Raziel was acutely aware of the stark contrast between her unconditional devotion and the grim task at hand.

The realization that he was about to betray her trust and end the life of the one who had given every second of her life for him was overwhelming.

As he stood there, the glass in his hand now seemed to weigh a ton, his resolve crumbling under the weight of his mother's innocent trust.

He couldn't do it. He couldn't bring himself to rob her of the life she had spent so selflessly nurturing his own and damn her for eternity.

With a voice strained by unshed tears and a conflict raging within, Raziel called out, "Mother, I am sorry...I have to suddenly go somewhere. How about I give you that drink later?"

Aurelia's response was filled with the same affection and understanding that had always been her hallmark. She gently stood up, saying, "Oh, don't worry about it, son. I will always be here. You should go. I wouldn't want you to be late for anything."

Raziel, with the glass still in his grasp, hummed in response. His heart felt both relieved and heavy as he walked away from her, and before he knew it, he was walking towards Matron Selene's house.

Selene emerged from the stream after her bath, though her expression was one of surprise as she saw Raziel waiting for her.

"Raziel? What are you doing here? I thought I announced that there will be no training today," she inquired, her eyebrows arched in curiosity.

Raziel, holding back the turmoil within him, managed a soft smile, "I know, but I didn't come here for that," he replied, his voice almost a whisper.

He found it hard to look at her because all he could see was her mutilated body and the lifeless face he had seen countless times. The worst part was whenever he saw her final moments, he saw her eyes change as the memories of her past deaths engulfed her.

The sadness and pain he saw in those eyes was something he could never forget and was clawing at his soul.

He would do anything to not see those eyes again. He can't endure this any longer!

He slowly brought the glass he was holding from behind his back into view, offering it to her with a gentle gesture, "I wanted to offer you a drink that I personally made for the first time. Would you... like to try it?"

Selene's eyes widened slightly in surprise and delight, "You prepared a drink for me?" she asked, her voice laced with a mix of amusement and appreciation.

She stepped closer, her ruby-red eyes sparkling, "That is so sweet of you, Raziel, even though you didn't have to."

Raziel felt his fist clench behind him, his heart racing as he struggled to maintain composure.

He watched, conflicted, as Selene took the glass from his hand, her fingers brushing against his.

As Selene was about to take a sip, she suddenly paused, looking directly at Raziel, "Do you really want me to drink this, Raziel?" she asked softly, her gaze peering into his.

Raziel's expression froze. He looked into her eyes, seeing the softness and trust that had always comforted him, now mingled with a hint of concern. He felt as if she could see right through him.

"Is there something you want to talk to me about? I am not supposed to say this, but you are my favorite disciple, and I care about you. Whatever it is, I am here to listen and help, no matter what it takes," Selene said, her voice filled with concern and warmth but also a firm determination.

And saying so, she raised the glass to drink from it while Raziel watched, his chin quivering and his dull eyes tremoring.

The glass was about to touch her lips when Raziel's emotions overcame him.

He quickly snatched the glass from her hand and threw it away, his voice breaking as he stammered, "I-I am sorry. I feel it might not suit your taste. I am really sorry. I have to go now."

But before he could turn around to leave, her soft hand grabbed his shoulder, stopping him from taking another step as her voice echoed from behind, "You don't have to run away. Not this time."

Raziel's eyes widened and shook as he heard those words.