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My Male Lead Uncovered My Inner Thoughts (6)
At that moment my body was suddenly enveloped by an immense, horse-shaped shadow.
“Gaaaaahh…! Heup… Nope, I wasn’t startled.”
Give me some warning before you pop up out of nowhere!
I quickly swallowed back a scream and took a few deep breaths.
But my heart kept beating wildly. Maybe it’d be different if I met him another hundred times, but right now I couldn’t get used to his imposing presence at all.
It felt like the ambient temperature had instantly plummeted. I even regretted dismissing him as just a mere ghost.
Do all non-human beings give off this kind of feeling? Are all of the ghosts here so overbearing?
I didn’t know where he’d been rolling around, but his well-worn and faded black armor was completely covered in dirt.
His armor was incredibly fascinating. It looked like the type that was worn a long time ago and, upon closer inspection, it was covered in ornate embellishments.
“Thank you so much for saving me and Olga last time. You were upset that I screamed, right? But, unlike other ghosts, you didn’t even retaliate… Sir Knight is a good person.”
The knight was so silent that I became embarrassed. He was wearing a helmet… or rather, he didn’t have a face, so it was impossible to make out changes in his expression.
I was worried that he might tell me that this was tedious and leave. With a troubled face, I changed the subject.
“Um, this is a present.”
I held a brush tied with a pink ribbon out towards him. It was an item used for grooming a horse’s coat.
“I couldn’t think of anything else you might need, so…”
Could I even touch that ghost in the first place? He looked like a living person, but I really didn’t know.
Even though his scratchy voice was still horrifying, it wasn’t as shocking as it was the first time I heard it.
The knight stayed perfectly still atop his horse as I bobbed the hand holding the brush around.
“Hey, your horse’s eyes suddenly lit up.”
Every time I moved my hand, the horse’s head moved with it.
“You can’t even reach.”
The head of the crestfallen horse drooped down.
Huh? Isn’t it awfully cute for a horse that carries a ghost around?
“Then, if I just… Uwah!”
Suddenly the horse approached and lowered its head. It was a huge, monster-like horse, so it had to bow down quite a ways to match my eye level. It seemed to be actively appealing to me that there was absolutely no need to fear it.
“How long have you remained ungroomed…”
While I mumbled with pity the knight, who had seemed to be fixed to his horse, made one sweeping motion with his body.
Feeling some instinctive sense of unease, I stepped back unconsciously. The earth beneath him seemed to give way the moment he dismounted and landed on the ground.
As if it were being slowly consumed by the force of his spirit, the entire forest grew still. I had no idea how he had managed to hide such a presence. Although he had no shadow, he was definitely corporeal. I glanced wide-eyed up at him.
The knight pretended to ignore my presence and my agitated emotions gradually calmed. It was clear that he had no intention of attacking me. Having received his tacit permission, I gripped the brush with determination.
“It’s my first time doing this, but please trust me! But um… do you bite?”
At a glance the horse seemed to have fangs, but I hoped that was just my imagination.
“I’ll be really careful not to hurt you, so please don’t attack me. If I get injured, the people who like me will worry.”
Hearing my request the knight, who had been walking away from me, stopped in his tracks. His helmet made a creaking noise as it tilted back towards me.
L-let’s not look up. I’ll just pretend I didn’t notice…
Breaking out in a cold sweat, I focused on the horse.
“You must have a really cool name, right? I don’t know much about horses, but you look like a mighty steed to me. Although you’re quite a bit larger in comparison to other horses…”
It was just some mumbled nonsense without any particular meaning. Half of my ability to think rationally had already flown away and I had long since started employing a stream of consciousness method of speaking.
But the massive horse abruptly crouched down. It looked to me like it was trying its best to scrunch its body up.
“Maybe… Were your feelings hurt?”
How could its personality be so different from its owner’s? I glanced around. Uh… the owner seems to have abandoned his own horse and run off.
The horse snorted as if to complain about its sad plight.
“B-but actually, you’re really cool! You don’t neigh noisily and you’re really well-behaved. And maybe you’ll feel a lot better if I brush your coat.”
Even I don’t know what I’m saying anymore.
I decided to shut my mouth. I held the brush in my hand up to the horse’s nose as a test. The horse shuddered.
“Ah, haha… I meant for you to smell it so you can get used to it.”
It had also been a test to see whether it would bite me or not…
Even though I like animals well enough, this was the first time that I had been so close to one that wasn’t just an ordinary pet. Moreover, it had fangs!
After having the shallowness of my assumptions and my lack of common sense revealed to me, I haltingly moved over and started grooming the horse’s body with the brush.
Hmmmm… It will probably be impossible to brush everything in one day. I’ll have to do a cursory sweep and just brush the badly matted areas. By the way, what the heck are you and your owner anyway…?
I ran out of stamina almost instantly. I was completely exhausted in under 3 minutes.
“Sorry… I… Hahhhh.. I wasn’t able to take my medicine, so…”
I plopped down in the shade of a tree, breathing heavily. Perhaps finding the long overdue brushing not too bad, the horse came over to my side.
“Unlike your owner, you’re pretty friendly.”
I rubbed my numb arm while I tried to catch my breath. A slightly chilly breeze cooled me down.
“I had some questions I wanted to ask while I was here, but… I guess I won’t be able to meet him again, will I?”
The horse grabbed the brush that I had put down with its mouth and started to trot off somewhere. Its response seemed to show that it had understood everything I had said. I still had some time to spare, so I followed the horse.
We hadn’t walked very far before the surrounding landscape started to look unfamiliar. As the forest gradually grew thicker, the amount of sunlight shining through the trees noticeably decreased. While I was slowly following the animal, I came across something and stopped in my tracks.
Someone stood motionless beneath the pitch-black shadows. I wouldn’t have noticed him if I hadn’t seen the tiniest sliver of something. Rather than approaching him, I introduced myself.
“My name is Anastasia. What is your name, Sir Knight?”
He didn’t answer. I knew he wouldn’t.
“Could you tell me the name of the horse, then?”
“It has none.”
“… It really doesn’t have one? Then what do you call it?”
“I’ve never called out to it.”
Such a heartless owner!
He shifted his body slightly in the shadows. Whether by coincidence or not, the birds that had been milling around the area flew off at that exact moment.
He was frightening enough even without trying to arouse a sense of fear…
“Don’t look for me. I am nothing but a specter.”
His unusual voice sounded even more otherworldly coming from the shadows. I nodded my head.
“If you answer my questions, then I’ll leave right after.”
As if telling me to speak, he waited. I steadied my breathing.
“How long have you lived in this forest?”
That was just the start. Worried that this might be my last chance, I fired off all of the questions that were on my mind.
“Isn’t it boring here by yourself? Ash comes here fairly often, do you know him? And excuse me, but do you really not have a head? How are you able to talk so normally? Can you see me properly? Also, why don’t you have a shadow when you clearly seem to have some substance? Can I try touching you? Is excessive shyness the reason you haven’t shown up in front of others this whole time? And if so, why did you meet m-…”
I asked a lot of questions hoping he’d answer something, but the knight immediately cut me off.
“I will answer a single question.”
“… How about two?”
“Is that your question?”
He has no flexibility at all.
“Let me think about it for a moment.”
Looking at the knight for too long caused a surge of uncomfortable feelings, so I shifted my eyes away from him.
A crunching sound came from the horse’s mouth followed by the broken brush falling to the ground.
With some effort I turned away from the horse that was mournfully wandering around the brush that it itself had broken and I opened my mouth to speak.
“A priest with incredibly strong divine powers, although he’s still just an apprentice, said that I was marked by an unclean entity. I think that’s somehow related to my short life span. Do you know anything?”
“Is that all he said?” the knight asked back.
His tone of voice seemed fraught with meaning.
“He said that I was destined to die and that I deserved it.”
“If you want to live out what remains of your life, don’t come here anymore.”
The knight tried to disappear once more, but I urgently caught hold of him.
“Don’t go yet!”
His battered armor was cold enough to burn my skin. The knight’s helmet tilted down to face me as I remained in direct contact with him.
“You are truly a girl incapable of learning.”
I had a hold of one of his hands, but the knight raised up the other menacingly.
I stood in place calmly. The palms of my hands, which were clasping on to him, just prickled a little and I didn’t feel any particular threat from him. His hand paused in mid-air. Unperturbed, I tried to win the knight over.
“I won’t bother you once this is resolved, so if you have any guesses please tell me. I need the help of a non-human being to figure this out. Sir Knight, you seemed less dangerous than that trashy former king. At the very least, you don’t aim for other people’s heads just because you don’t have one.”
Naturally I never wanted to meet that madman who had tried to force his thousand wives to accompany him to the afterlife.
In a tone of voice that sounded both mocking and foul-tempered the knight asked, “I am less dangerous than the royal house of Frey’s monarch?”
I furrowed my brows.
“You know King Chester?”
The knight bent down towards me instead of answering. His helmet filled my view.
“Did you say you were curious about my name?”
I desperately shifted my eyes to look away.
L-let’s calm down. Don’t think about what’s going on inside of that helmet. Just give my curiosity to the dogs! 
The knight thrust his face, no… his helmet close to my face and said disdainfully, “I am Kylis.”
“Uh… Okay. Thank you for telling me.”
I thanked him for the time being. However, the knight was trying to be unpleasant.
“You… seem to be of high status. Did you completely disassociate yourself from academic study?”
What, is this ghost a former king too? This is the first time I’ve heard that name, though.
“I-It’s possible not to know, isn’t it? It’s not like you’re the only person in the world with the name Kylis… Sir Knight, are you really that famous? Did you accomplish some monumental achievement in your lifetime?”
The knight suddenly wrenched himself free of my grasp.
“Develop some basic knowledge.”
I protested as I rubbed my hands that were covered in goosebumps.
“I’ve been studying diligently. I’ve gone through and memorized the genealogy of the imperial family person by person, but I’ve never heard of your name, Sir Knight.”
“You slacked off too much.”
I was dumbfounded by his unadulterated criticism.
“Hey, what? Are you mad because I didn’t recognize your name?”
“I am disappointed in you.”
 An expression meaning that you don’t want or need something, so you might as well just throw it away (give it to the dogs).