In actuality, this "considerable amount of time" referred to a full span of two days and nights.
According to what he was told, he had spent the entire two days screaming relentlessly until blood trickled from his throat and ears.
Moreover, had it not been for Alister's swift action in securing his hands and feet, he might have nearly gouged out his own eyes with his fingers.
"We attempted to use an awakening spell, but the magical particles in the air were too sparse to coalesce. Almost all the potions have also expired... I’m sure you must be suffering a lot right now, but... I’m sorry."
Seated beside Evan, Alister spoke with a strange and cautious tone, as if Evan might lunge and bite his throat at any second, even though Evan was currently huddled in the corner of the room with his extremities tightly bound by thick iron chains and a black bit wedged in his mouth. It was difficult to even swallow saliva.
Yet, who could say for certain...
Perhaps Evan had truly tried to bite Alister while he was trapped in the depths of his nightmare. After all, the latter's current appearance was far from composed.
The red-haired mage appeared worn and ragged. His eyes were deeply sunken into their sockets, and his lips were so pale they seemed coated in a thin layer of silver frost.
In contrast, Evan's complexion appeared healthier... though this did not take into account Evan's trembling, unfocused gaze and clearly disturbed mental state.
The apprentice sorcerer, who had been subjected to extreme torment in a space that could not be pinpointed, possessed beguiling allure and charm in reality like a venomous flower.
His pupils were dark and soulful due to tier dilation, while his skin resembled the finest silk — deathly white, soft, and faintly glowing. Set against his snow-white cheek, his vibrant crimson lips stood out even more.
None could escape the captivating beauty of this pallid figure. Even Evan Reeves' madness seemed to add a twisted and irresistible allure to his malevolent beauty.
Though unspoken, the hearts of all who came into contact with Evan conceived hazy, forbidden thoughts.
Indeed, if Evan’s mind had not been so thoroughly gone, perhaps he wouldn't have come to possess such an... enthralling presence.
Evan neurotically shrugged his shoulders, mechanically turning his head in the corner like a puppet with a loose spring.
"Hey Evan, you can hear me, right?"
Evan's peculiar behavior unnerved Alister. He couldn’t help but extend a hand, waving it before Evan's eyes to confirm that the mage apprentice was still conscious.
Evan's gaze slowly focused after a long time.
He stared blankly at Alister and eventually nodded sluggishly.
A muffled groan emerged from behind the bit.
Alister fetched a linen handkerchief and used it to wipe away the saliva that Evan, hindered by the bit, couldn't contain.
Though Evan did react to Alister's inquiry, his gaze seemed to penetrate Alister's form, fixating on something more distant.
The current Evan caused Alister’s heart to clench and ache, but at the same time, another peculiar emotion slithered in likea venomous snake, adding to Alister's inner turmoil.
Evan's mage robes had already been reduced to dirty tatters from his previous struggles and fights, exposing much of his neckline. Consequently, Alister could clearly see Evan’s bony shoulders protruding out from the collar of his robes and his pallid, gaunt legs.
His excessively pale skin starkly contrasted with his gray robe and dark restraints, his appearance standing out so much that it seemed to be able to etch itself into onlookers' hearts if they gave so much as a glance.
Unwittingly, Alister found himself unable to divert his gaze.
His attention remained drawn to Evan, taking in the red scratches and bruises littering Evan's form (some of which were self-inflicted), as well as the light blue veins that surfaced due to his ghastly pallor. These veins appeared to trace out arcane runes beneath his skin, captivating Alister.
"...Of course, we made attempts to administer tranquilizing potions, but they did not seem to work on you. I’m sorry, I truly did not want to go through with it, but we had no choice but to restrain you for your own safety, and for others’ peace of mind... I don't wish to hide this from you. After all, you’ll come to learn that your previous behavior was utterly unhinged after you fully recover. It was almost scary. I don’t know what Mage Doug did to you, but you were..."
Alister addressed Evan in hushed tones. His speech was somewhat fragmented, and he seemed to be unfocused.
This was not a state that a mage apprentice should be in, yet it was unlikely that anyone would reprimand him for it now.
Evan released a muted exhalation.
Frustration and emptiness took turns occupying his gaze.
The sensation of his heart being tightly constricted resurfaced within Alister's body once again.
The stone walls of this dim chamber were rather sturdy. Though the room did not belong to either Alister or Evan, the anxious mages had shooed him into this space. Alister wasn't the only one who had volunteered to look after Evan; others had evidently been equally drawn to Evan’s potent allure, much like the red-haired youth.
However, he had outpaced his competition and secured the chance to stay intimately close to the other.
At this moment, the locked room contained only Evan and Alister.
Consequently, an unfamiliar warmth and elation swelled within Alister — emotions he had to restrain with all his self-discipline.
"Forget it, we’ll talk about it again after you've recovered. The situation within the mage tower isn’t good right now. I think they’ve always been a little overly sensitive—"
Alister's words were somewhat disjointed, as his focus was persistently and involuntarily drawn to Evan’s presence.
It was at this juncture that he abruptly ceased speaking.
Was it a trick of the mind?
Alister stared at Evan's arm, observing how the slightly greenish veins protruding from Evan's elbow seemed to writhe—almost akin to living creatures—beneath the surface of his skin. They contorted silently and frenetically, and soon, Evan’s bruises and lacerations joined.
They intertwined and wriggled on Evan’s body, creating a scene reminiscent of sunlight dancing atop midsummer lake ripples.
Amidst this convoluted dance, Evan's body appeared to subtly elongate and deform...
Yet, upon closer scrutiny, the writhing and dancing shadows vanished in an instant.
Evan remained huddled in the corner with a vacant gaze, devoid of any suspicious transformation.
"Damn it," Alister muttered, involuntarily rubbing at his throbbing temples.
As he lowered his arm, he couldn’t help but glance at it—his arm hair stood on end, and goosebumps rose on his flesh.
"It’s horribly chaotic these days. Everything the mages know has been overturned... Hah, and I think I'm no different,” Alister muttered, unable to stop himself.
"The magic is gone, and so are our spells. Scrolls are failing, and everyone seems close to a breakdown... and that probably applies to me, too. Something is really wrong, and our communication magic also no longer works. Without magic, the gates of the tower have been sealed. The mages now live off the fruit of those potion plants that were planted before... but... I think those plants look disturbing too. Their branches are tangling and knotting, and even the leaves are elongating and twisted up... I didn't eat those things, but it seems that I can't persist for much longer..."
Alister rarely engaged in soliloquy, but currently felt compelled to speak, despite the inherent absurdity.
He hoped that articulating his thoughts would be able to break the dark, stagnant atmosphere within the dimly lit room.
Alister moistened his chapped lips.
"...You'll probably mock me for this, but... you know, Evan, I keep sensing a presence in the mage tower these days... Sometimes, I’d think that it is Mage Doug, but... Goddess of Magic above, I doubt Mage Doug is lurking in the sewers. Oh, did I forget to mention, those senior mages haven't located Mage Doug. No one knows his whereabouts. And they don’t seem particularly concerned about the matter either... It's rather unfair to you, isn't it?"
This time, Evan offered no response to Alister. However, his breathing grew heavier.
Alister again cast a glance at Evan, unwilling to admit that he was doing this to check if Evan had changed in the horrifying way he’d perceived earlier.
He did not know if it was coincidence, but Evan, who had been anxious and apprehensive, was looking right back at Alister at that moment.
Evan's pupils had dilated to their limit, leaving only a thin rim of emerald green around the periphery. His pure black pupils, profund and dark, seemed as unfathomable as an abyss.
He seemed to have said something to Alister.
But that damned bit in his mouth—
Evan's voice reached Alister like the fluttering of insect wings.
At this instant, the thin and delicate mage apprentice, as pale as a specter, emanated a powerful sense of otherness.
Although his physique hadn't contorted, and the blemishes and wounds weren’t wriggling, Alister felt that the Evan before him had somehow metamorphosized from human to something else.
The same brows, the same vacant expression, the same slender frame.
No tangible aspect of Evan had been changed, yet all the elements composing "Evan Reeves" within this domain seemed fundamentally different.
He seemed so malevolent and unclean.
Damn it all, but... the flirtatious allure that had once captivated Alister had intensified.
At this moment, Evan Reeves seemed to be the amalgamation of all the filth and evil in the world... and also that of everything alluring.
Alister sensed his heartbeat quicken, and a shiver raced down his spine, penetrating his body.
In that fleeting moment, he was unsure of his emotions. During that fleeting misperception, he felt fear.
A fear of an unparalleled intensity.
Alister didn’t know how long had passed. Perhaps it was eons, or perhaps it was just an instant...
Eventually, when Alister finally came back to his senses, he discovered a wetness between his legs.
Crimson stained his cheeks. He thought that he’d wet himself from fright, but the faint musky scent that followed indicated a different liquid staining his mage robes.
Translator's Note: Forgot to mention, but we're more than halfway through the series. I'm aware that there are typos and inconsistencies in the chapters so far, but I'll focus on completing the series first. Will fix errors after I've translated and uploaded all the chapters. Also, thanks for the nice ratings! Glad that y'all seem to enjoy this story as much as I do.