It was always held out before him: an invitation to fun, trouble, or both. Algard never quite knew exactly what he’d get when he took that outstretched hand, but he still remembers how warm it felt in his, and that he knew no matter what, he wouldn’t be bored. And yet, a time came when that very same hand felt as cold as ice.
Now Al wields ice in bullet, spear, icicle rain, and hammer forms in order to stamp out the sister he loved so dearly. Never again can their hands touch; not while both draw breath. A fight ensues between the unstoppable force of a super-regenerating vampire against the immovable object of a magicologist blessed with dragon powers. It starts out a stalemate. Yet Al can tell Anis is holding back. He might be too?
All this time, Euphie, the one person who could turn the tables in an increasingly brutal duel, is still busy trying to keep Lainie from dying of a stolen heart. Once she’s healed enough to speak, Lainie reminds her healer that as a vampire, she needs blood to wield her own magic. Euphie prepares to cut herself, but Ilia stops her, bites through her lip, then delivers her blood to Lainie mouth-to-mouth, healing her completely.
Now Euphie is free to intervene in the sibling fight just when both it and tempers are getting well and truly out of hand. By continually healing the wounds Anis causes and throwing everything he’s got her way, Al gets Anis to a state where she thinks killing him for real is the only way to stop him. And yet, she’s still able to hold back her killing blow when she sees the look on Al’s fast-approaching face is no longer rage or resentment, but resignation and even relief that his wretched existence is about to end.
Anis doesn’t like that face one bit, while Euphie knows Anis doesn’t really want to kill her brother, but is just doing it because she thinks there’s no other choice. So she creates another option by plucking Anis out of midair and tacking her to the ground, tells her that she and her brother are acting like a couple of damn fools, and they both basically need a good long time out.
Anis’ attack did enough that Al is lying in a defeated heap on the ground. He recalls a beautiful day when he looked up and found Anis up in the sky above him, smiling on him, before reaching out with that warm hand. When the two of them broke out of the castle to go on an adventure, they encountered a monster. Anis told Al to run while she dealt with it, and he obeyed, hiding in a tree hollow.
Al idolized Anis more than anything at this time in his life. But then horrible rumors spread that Anis was trying to off his brother to consolidate power, and Anis unilaterally decided the best way to prove to everyone that she had no desire for the throne was to renounce it and bestow it on Al. Little did she know that was the last thing Al wanted.
Both the day he slapped her hand away in response to her rash decision, and every day since, he resented her for giving up a throne that was rightfully hers, while cursing a world for being so cruel to her that she felt she had to. He hated this world that rejected his sister so much, he believed destroying it and starting over was the only way.
But Al shot his shot and failed, and accepts the consequences. His only “defense” to his father the king is that he was a fool, straight up, and will accept any punishment. His father disinherits him and exiles him to the borderlands to work for the kingdom until he “turns to dust”. His mother tries to bear some responsibility, and perhaps she does, but he says his sins were his own. Rather than her being a bad mother, he should have been a better son.
Anis also feels responsible for creating the monster that was Crown Prince Algard, saying if only she’d “lived a normal life” in this world (which we know to be an isekai for her) maybe he wouldn’t have suffered so much. Of course, during their battle, she said all she could ever be was herself, so she’s being too harsh on herself here. This time, Al holds out his shackled hand, and a tearful Anis shakes it to make up one last time.
In the following days, Lord Chartreuse and his son are executed for their role in the attempted coup, while both Anis and Ilia remain bedridden. Lainie has fully recovered, and she and Euphie are the only ones up and about the day Algard is shipped off. Lainie takes the opportunity to tell Algard that she’s convinced there’s true kindness in him that she was lucky to experience, she also won’t forgive or forget what he did to her.
When Euphie approaches him, he tells her not to put up a front, even if it’s second nature so the duke’s illustrious genius daughter. He gets in some final, half-joking barbs about her fitness as a fiancée, and then she gives him a well deserved yet oddly formal slap across the face that Al accepts happily, as he was just as deplorable a fiancé.
Here the two are able to be simply a man and woman, realizing that they were always terrible for each other and it was a wonder they were engaged as long as they were. And then, Al asks Euphie, quite solemnly, to please take care of his sister.
Just as only Anis can be the next queen, even in a kingdom where nearly all the nobles condemn her as a heretic, only Euphie can be the one take care of her. With Ilia still recovering from her injuries, Euphie makes nursing Anis back to health her primary responsibility. When she hears Anis muttering in her sleep about Al and being sorry, Euphie tells her to dream happier dreams, and kisses her on the forehead.
Even if the ill effects of the dragon tattoo eventually clear, the fate of Algard will continue to weigh heavily on Anis like a ball and chain. In that regard, her and Euphie’s roles have now fully reversed: Euphie is now the freer one, with her clean conscience and strong sense of purpose. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial she stay by Anis’ side to help her climb out of the deep dark morass, just as Anis helped her. Euphie must take her warm hand in hers, and never let go.