1

Bloodline shackles.

This was the reason why Eliza's clan had decided to come to Anfang, a seemingly barren world that lacked Ranking resources for the high-ranking entities.

These bloodline shackles had forced the ancestors of House Samael to leave their home in Labh Salem and find their footing in the Land of the Faithless.

Eliza didn't want to subject herself to the same form of bloodline shackles after leaving Anfang.

Achieving the bloodline evolution was her chance to gain complete freedom. A form of freedom that would not be blemished by the so-called shackles even after she steps foot outside Anfang.

If it weren't for this reason, Eliza would have no issue releasing Reen into Eren's custody and concluding the deal they had struck a decade ago. They could have parted ways and achieved their own goals after successfully running away from their siege.

No matter how thankful she was towards Eren and Reen for making huge contributions in resurrecting her, the Witch of the Enderflames was not ready to let the only opportunity she had to gain complete freedom slip by her hands.

"Haah! Eren, I wanted to keep you busy battling with that little eel till I was done with Reen."

Eliza said in a bit of a disappointed voice while looking in Ivor's direction.

Ivor could be seen standing quietly in the isolated space between primary and secondary Birdcage Barriers. One look at his quiet form was enough to let Eliza know he wouldn't listen to her.

"Alas… it seems you have managed to win Ivor's allegiance. So I won't bother ordering him around. Not that it matters anyway," Eliza chuckled lightly as she looked at Eren before speaking further.

"You, Ivor, and everyone you and I employed to complete the Lazarus Project have served their purpose. A job well done, I must say.

I thank you all sincerely. You can ask for reasonable favors or rewards from me, and I shall do my best to grant them to anyone who is involved in the project.

However, all of you would have to excuse me for the time being. As you can see, I'm a bit busy dealing with something really important to me," Eliza said in a soft and neutral voice while looking around, briefly resting her gaze on all those who were present inside the Birdcage Barrier before focusing all her attention on her real body.

***

Only a minute had passed since Eliza had decided to actively take action about breaking her bloodline shackles. This whole time, while listening to Eliza's words, Eren stood silently and looked at the torture Reen was subjected to because of Eliza's actions. He took a deep breath and clenched his fists in frustration, seemingly confused by the only two choices he had had at his disposal.

Part of Eren wanted to believe in Eliza's words. After all, he and Reen had already come so far in dealing with Eliza's demands. Reen would still be as important to him even if she ended up regressing in her Ranking Status.

The other part of Eren, however, was hesitating. The second option Eren had was so extreme that it could make all his efforts of freeing Reen go down the drain if even one thing went wrong in his plan that was to follow afterward.

Just like Eliza had predicted, Eren had prepared many Trump Cards he could use in this situation to run away with Reen. However, if she was bound to stay affected by the voodoo magic and the seal imprinted on her soul, then those Trump Cards were practically useless.

Of course, not everything Eliza had predicted Eren would do was on point. Eren wasn't stupid enough to lower the Birdcage Barrier so that the enemy Sages could target Eliza. After all, there were better ways to commit suicide.

Eren didn't argue with the fact that Eliza was the biggest threat in the Alliance's eyes. However, the Witch of the Enderflames had obviously underestimated the hate he had garnered from the enemy Sages of the Anfang Alliance.

Unlike what Eliza thought, Eren was sure that he would be the first to get targeted before anyone else. Without someone like JJ Edgar and his allies supporting him from outside the barrier, there was no way he could dare to use the

Eliza was indeed the high-priority threat the Anfang Alliance had to get rid of. However, Eren was someone who had practically toyed with the Anfang Alliance and a whole lot of others by causing this incident on the battlefield. As far as he knew, his nuisance level was higher in the Alliance's eyes than Eliza's threat level.

Eren didn't throw insults at Eliza for backstabbing him because he knew that it was useless. He neither begged for Eliza to reconsider nor tried to distract her in hopes of buying time. He didn't try to express his anger or betterment out in the open either. Instead, he started harnessing those emotions, making him calmer than ever before.

'Running away would do me no good,' Eren mumbled to himself as his blank eyes stared at the scene in front of him.

'Letting Reen escape from this place on her own also won't resolve my problems. It's actually good that Eliza has blocked all my options. This way, I won't have to blame myself for what I'm about to do.

This is not the time to think about revenge. This is not the time to feel sorry for myself or for Reen as well.

No matter what happens from now on, I'll keep my heart steady. No matter what happens from now on, I'll not let my emotions get the better of me.'

Eren decided to proceed further with the only gamble he had planned beforehand that could either make him win everything or lose everything.

'Reen…' Eren called out to Reen through the soul connection he shared with her.

'Er… Erni… aaaargh…. I…'

Reen's voice sounded in Eren's mind, distraught and filled with pain. She also sounded a bit guilty for having to impose on Eren with regard to her helplessness in the situation.

'Do you remember what I had said before the start of the Lazarus Project?' Eren asked in a caring voice, which was unlike the regular him.

'I… I trust you.' Reen managed to stutter a response. Eren had asked her to have faith in him. And she was abiding by those words.