Long time ago, secluded deep within a forest, by a blue stream river, there lived a tiny village. In it, there was a legend of a handsome man, born with some pure wealth, of silver, and gold, and some rare stones. Despite his good looks and bottomless wealth, that man somehow had a curse which he had to carry and endure for all his life. The male heir for each of his family generation, upon coming of age must find himself a distinctive wife. He shall inherit not only his family’s wealth, he shall also to inherit a dark shadow, a black figure, a demon, mirrored of himself whose true nature can only be seen by himself at all times and, by his wife only during a full moon. Long before he was born, his great, great, great, great grandfather had found a hidden treasure during one of his voyages. The treasure was hidden for a reason and that was because it was belonged to a 100 year old devil. His great grandfather was so blinded by his greed that he made an unforgivable deal with the devil. The deal was he can have the treasure but he would have to live with the devil for the rest of his life, and that only his first male heir will get to inherit the treasure, along with the devil. The rest of the villagers knew about the legend. For each generation, there shall be a time for the man to find his wife. Under the brightest full moon, during his first month of becoming an adult there would be a night called The Selection Night. For obvious reason that shall be the night for the man to select his wife and that during that night, keen families shall present their daughters at their best means for the man and the devil to see. Unbeknownst to the rest of the villagers however, one true love may break the curse regardless for however long the generation had passed. There shall be a girl who would love the man unconditionally, beyond his wealth. By the next waning gibbous moon, the right girl shall set him free from the devil and regrettably to most, from the treasure as well. During the fifth selection night, there was one family who stood out proudly with their one and only daughter. The head of the family was once a successful merchant. Since he didn’t have a male heir, he wished to marry off his daughter so that his daughter can have a secured and brighter future. The rest of the families who were there mostly had the same intention, they all had only one thing in their mind, which was to marry their daughter to the rich man, so that they too could live a long comfortable life. The merchant family had an elder brother who was also a merchant. His brother and his wife were killed in the sea during a wild storm. Their only daughter somehow survived the storm who since then had been living with the old merchant . She was there too during the fifth selection night, along with her cousin. She however was not part of the debutantes for she was only living as an orphan, under his uncle mercy. For every selection night, they shall wait for the brightest full moon to appear, the man shall be standing by the main window of his huge house overlooking the villagers down below. Whichever girl who was able to see his true nature, shall be brought upstairs and declared as his future wife. Pursued by greed, just like her father the cousin of the girl claimed proudly among the crowd that she was able to see his true nature when in fact she couldn’t. Her cousin was then brought upstairs to the man and declared as the First Lady for the family's fifth generation. And that within a month time, she shall be married to the wealthy man. During the fifth selection night, the only girl who was able to see the mans true nature was in fact the orphan girl. Below the full moon, she can perfectly see the devil standing right behind the man. It looked like his own shadow, only taller and darker. Invisible to most eyes, the man was in fact chained by the neck to the devil’s left hand. She could see how solemn his face was. She could see the gaunt look in his eyes right under the bright full moon. She didn’t dare to speak out because she knew she was not allow to. Her uncle had forbidden her to do so as she was told beforehand that if she was the one who can see the mans true nature, she must keep it to herself and let her cousin claim the fame instead. Her uncle promised that he would give her, her freedom. He promised her that he would set her free if she kept her mouth shut as all this times, she had been living no less than a niece but more of a servant to the family. That night, she had seen the devil but she had no choice but to tell the cousin instead. She had no intention of having the great man’s wealth. She only wanted her freedom. So that night, she tipped off her cousin and let her climbed up to her rightful throne. She went back to her uncle’s home alone, thinking of her own freedom by the next morning. She was wrong. A month had passed, her uncle still treated her as their servant. He disregarded the promise and treated her even worse than before. The night of the wedding had finally come. When the blushing bride was eagerly preparing herself, her orphan cousin was all locked up in her own small room. Feeling all betrayed she tried her hardest to free herself but her attempt was fruitless as not only her room had no windows, her door was securely chained by two huge locks, whose keys were kept hidden by her uncle. That night, the groom too was busy preparing himself. He was in fact was having a high hope that the girl he was betrothed to shall break his curse for he has no intention of keeping the treasure nor the devil who had been torturing him and forcing him to do evil deeds to keep it alive and powerful. He longed for a freedom. He longed for a normal life. The right girl shall set him free and once the moon was no longer full and turned gibbous, he shall no longer be chained to the ruthless devil. The wedding went as planned. Every one in the village had witnessed the event except the orphan girl. She didn’t cry her eyes out, she was furious. She was adamant about letting herself out. She believed that there shall be a time that her uncle would come and visit her, and that she shall wait for that opportune moment to break free. She longed for a life in a new village. A new voyage she shall take, away from the doomed family, and above all, away from greed. While she was busy planning and fantasizing her escape, her cousin who was now the official First lady of the village was feeling all miserable and trapped with her lies. Sooner or later, she knew her husband would find out that she had been lying. By the next waning gibbous moon, the man found out that he was still chained to his neck. He can still clearly see the devil in his shadow. By then he knew, she was not the one he had been looking for. Drowned with his own disappointment, he demanded the truth from his wife. He confronted his wife, asking her whether or not she love and care for him. The man told the wife to confess the whole truth, only then she shall be forgiven and be given a quarter of his endless wealth. Out of fear and mostly greed, the wife finally confessed. She confessed about her lies and how her whole family had colluded in the plan. On her knees, she confessed that she had no intention to love the man. She only wanted his wealth and so did her family. She told him that she found out about the chain and how his true nature was from her only cousin, the orphan girl who was still locked up in her room ever since they got married. He demanded to see the orphan girl and went directly to his in laws. He promised the in laws another quarter of his wealth and in return he was allowed to meet the orphan. Without a hint of hesitation, they agreed to the offer and gave him the keys to the orphans room. It had been three days and a half, her room door had never been opened since the wedding night. She had been given food once, daily through a small opening built within the door. And that small opening too was latched and locked from the outside. All this while she had been planning that by the time when the door finally opened, she would set it on fire using the stones and the straws found on her cold floor. She would jump across the fire and fight with whatever comes in her way beyond the fire. She had rehearsed it over and over in her head. When she heard the first chain being unlocked, she knew that, that was the moment she had been waiting for. Using the stones, she lit up a fire on a small straw ball, stable enough to set a fire on a stack of straws that she had carefully arranged right at the entrance of the door. By the time the door was fully opened, she lit up few more of the straw balls that she had made and threw them over the dark tall shadow who had gallantly walk through the stack of fire. She couldn’t see clearly who the tall figure was as she was blinded by the thick smoke from her own doing. By the time he had reached her, she knew her plan was failing. The rest then turned black. The man took the orphan girl back to his home. He tended her in her temporary slumber. He didn’t sleep through the night because he was too eager to wait for the girl to wake up. He was dying to know her side of the story. So he just sat beside her, watching her sleep, studying her face. For such a small frame, she sure had a huge rage he thought. By sunrise, she finally opened her eyes. She was shocked to find herself in such a grand room, alone with the man he had been trying to escape from. She knew by then her cousin and her uncle had been caught with their lies. The man was still sitting by her bed. He demanded about what had happened during the selection night. He was kind but strict. Impatient but affectionate. The girl then shared her side of the coin. She also told him she felt sorry for the man. She knew he never asked for the curse. When she first saw him by the window, she can see his sorrow. Behind that composed look, he can clearly see how much weight the metal chain on his neck had burdened him. She told him he despised his great, great, great, great grandfather for his selfishness and greed. All she ever wanted was her freedom and that was the only reason why she had to agree with her uncle. She had never wanted anything to do with the man nor his wealth. The man then told her about his predicament, about his dream of wanting a normal life. He told her the complete story behind the curse and that she could be the one who can set him free.”Marry me” he then said. The girl said yes only three days later. The man’s previous marriage was nullified within a week time. Her cousin and her uncle were disowned by the whole village. The orphan girl then married the man by the next full moon. They knew they had made the right move, when the chain was finally broken following the next waning gibbous moon. All his treasure then turned into dust. When another new set of full moon arrived, they were already on a boat, set to sail the boundless ocean, for many moons to come. ZH
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