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My Male Lead Became Fierce (3)
Adele left the castle feeling exhausted.
The Emperor of the Laniakea Empire had held on to Adele, harassing him until he had secured the exact date of Friedrich Magnus’ return. But the Crown Prince, intoxicated by his own inflated sense of self worth, was also a considerable annoyance.
“I’ve heard that the young lady of the Sinclair family that hangs around with you is remarkably beautiful. Should I propose to her? If I offer to let her become the crown princess she wouldn’t refuse, right?”
The Crown Prince firmly believed that Anastasia, whom he’d never met before, was sure to accept his proposal of marriage. Adele was taken aback, although he didn’t let it show.
“It’s hard to be certain. The young lady is someone who places a high value on character.”
Barely over ten years of age, the Crown Prince was already flaunting his hopelessly flawed personality. It was well known that Duke Bliss, who was in charge of the Crown Prince’s education, had been suffering from rapid hair loss recently.
Adele was moving with the intention of leaving the Imperial Palace before he became caught up in something else when he sensed something unusual.
Most of the nobles had stopped to stand around and talk. Adele could hear seemingly well-intentioned conversations about how they were worried about someone and how they would feel uneasy just leaving her alone.
Adele turned his eyes away. Some young soldiers were approaching him, but as they drew near they all looked as though they had no idea how to begin a conversation with him.
“It’s a little noisy.”
Adele spoke first. Relief visible on their faces, they bowed their heads.
“Actually, we are here by order of the captain of the Royal Guard in regards to that matter. There is a young lady standing by the first rear gate. That is…”
“A young lady?” Adele asked, puzzled.
But he immediately realized why the soldiers had come looking for him.
“… We believe it is the young lady of the Sinclair family. We would like to assist her, but it appears that the procedure is to inform the young lord first.”
“She may be unwell.”
A soldier standing behind the first cut in abruptly. Dispensing with the niceties of polite conversation, Adele gave a brief response.
As he walked along at a brisk pace, he was accosted by the incessant chatter of the other nobles idly standing around.
“It seems like she’s crying.”
“She must have been so upset to come all the way here.”
“I’ve heard the young lady is quite lovely when she smiles. I hope it’s nothing serious.”
Adele forcefully suppressed the urge to walk faster. He was disheartened by the fact that, even in a moment like this, he remained conscious of how he was perceived by others.
In the end he was waylaid by someone calling out to him. Adele was surrounded by nobles in an instant. He gave an awkward smile.
“I have some urgent business, so I’m in a hurry. Would it be all right if I came back to give my greetings later?
Eyes wide, the young noble who had made eye contact with Adele withdrew.
“That is… of course! Please excuse me, Lord Magnus.”
He stepped aside and the others whispered to one another as they cleared a path.
“Look at that. It’s obvious that she came to see the young lord.”
“Now we can rest easy since the young lord will comfort her.”
“But it’s a little disappointing. I’ve wanted to talk with the young lord for a while now… No one has finer character than he does.”
The rear gate was composed of stacked blue stones. When Adele arrived at the gate, a slender girl, who looked as though she were made of bubbles that could blow away at any moment, was standing with the captain of the Royal Guard.
Adele tilted his head to the side. He had no idea where Anastasia had picked it up, but she was wearing an extremely strange helmet. Although the silvery, star-colored hair cascading over her shoulders made it easy to identify her.
Vesta Grania, who had been observing the captain of the Royal Guard with eyes of disapproval, stepped back after seeing Adele. Adele approached Anastasia slowly.
Wondering if she could see anything, Adele spoke out so that she could hear his voice. Startled, Anastasia grabbed the helmet.
“Don’t take it off.”
“I won’t touch anything until you allow me to,” Adele promised her.
The captain of the Royal Guard seemed to have a lot he wanted to say, but Adele shot him a look telling him to leave since he had no intention of listening to the captain anyway. He found it ridiculous that someone who disappeared whenever the Marquis went on a rampage reacted so promptly to this.
After pawing at the air and missing a few times, Anastasia grabbed the hem of his clothes.
“I just… I couldn’t take it.”
“It’s fine. Shall we move to a location without any people?”
She nodded as if she had been waiting for him to ask.
“Let’s go somewhere without anyone… anyone at all.”
Adele understood what she meant. To avoid arousing suspicion, he tucked Anastasia into the carriage and gave the coachman their destination before climbing into the carriage himself. He cast a teleportation spell on them as the carriage departed.
There was some time before the empty carriage arrived at the Duke’s residence. Adele sat Anastasia down on the sofa and explained, “This is my personal study. No one will overhear our conversation here.”
As if she had no time to confirm what he said, Anastasia breathlessly cut straight to the point.
“What would you do if I ruined all of your hard work?”
“I’d just start over.”
Adele replied without hesitation. Anastasia shrank back into herself.
“What if I made even that meaningless?”
Her voice sounded as if she had already cried. Adele noticed that she seemed incredibly vulnerable, both physically and mentally.
“A knight living in the forest said that I handed over my lifespan to him myself. He erased my memory because he thought I’d give it all away if he just left me as I was. But I can’t even bring myself to regret it. I can’t remember it, but it was a decision I made. It was my choice. It was me after all.”
Somehow his murderous feelings flared up whenever she went to that forest. Adele’s fingers twitched.
“So that’s what happened. Thank you for telling me.”
Anastasia took a deep breath.
“You’re not… mad at me?”
“You must have had your reasons. What’s more important is the you sitting in front of me right now. Anastasia, as long as you tell me that you want to live, I will not give up.”
‘Including getting rid of that b*stard.’ Adele declined to say that part.
“Ughhh… I’m really sorry!”
“Don’t apologize. I haven’t done that well either.”
Anastasia rubbed the helmet roughly with the palm of her hand and then tilted her head in confusion. She had been trying to wipe her tears away, but it seemed that she had completely forgotten that she was wearing a helmet.
In the end, Anastasia yanked the helmet off and tossed it away in anger.
At a complete loss, Anastasia’s round, moon-like eyes shook. Adele tried hard not to laugh.
Anastasia’s face turned red in embarrassment.
“Ah, whatever! Rayleigh was partly right. I did this to myself. But I won’t agree with his bullsh*t that it would be better if I hadn’t been born!”
“Yes. That’s truly bullsh*t,” Adele responded casually while wiping away the tears in the corners of Anastasia’s eyes with a handkerchief.
Her eyelashes fluttered like a butterfly as if she were embarrassed. Anastasia softly muttered that she could do that herself, but suddenly thinking of something else she wanted to say, she seized Adele’s hand.
“The reason I can’t accept divine power is that I absorbed a little of Kylis’ malevolence in the process of giving him some of my life force. I can’t even imagine how many evil deeds that jerk must have committed in his lifetime.”
‘Kylis?’ Adele frowned slightly. He had assumed that it was no mere spector, but it seemed that his worst fear had come true.
Although it was faded and covered in dust, Adele noticed that the helmet didn’t have a single scratch.
The amount of magic power he had bombarded it with that day had been enough to reduce the pathetic imperial family and the whole capital to dust. It was unlikely to be an impersonator or someone else with the same name.
Even though that ancient period of time had passed and the land had since changed hands many times over, people still believed that they would be cursed if they used Kylis’ name. It was a word that represented a catastrophe beyond human control and he was no different than the father of all unclean things. There was power in a name like that.
The owner of that name was the one that brought wickedness to the earth. He made people question human nature while evoking the belief that those who were born unclean could not be reformed, even if they were educated by an exceptional saint. He was such a disgusting person that it was easy to believe he had been wandering the earth, unable to die even to this day.
‘That… of all things… Of course she liked that thing…’
“Ha! Ha ha.”
Adele’s laughter abruptly cut off.
Anastasia told him everything that she could remember.
“Kylis also said that he had no intention of giving my lifespan back. I guess he thinks that I don’t value my own life very much. I might be able to bring him around…”
Adele called out to her in a frightfully affectionate tone.
“The identity of that ghost… was Kylis?”
He was simply asking for confirmation, but Anastasia flinched at the somehow chilling question.
“Th-th-that is… I also just found that out… y-yesterday!”
“Are you saying that, even knowing that it was Kylis, you went to see it again today? Did you go alone as usual?”
Adele’s expression was as gentle as ever, but his words seemed to have thorns. Anastasia stuttered.
“You even brought back his helmet.”
Adele was certain that the helmet belonged to Kylis and Anastasia couldn’t deny it.
“Ah, this… I mean… I stole it by accident.”
Adele’s eyebrows shot up. Studying his face, Anastasia’s cheeks flushed. A rosy glow climbed up her face.
She never let anyone control her as they pleased, she was open about her feelings, and it was impossible to predict what she might do.
Eventually, she made an awkward confession.
“I’m really mad, so leave me alone.”
Adele let out a laugh that was more like a sigh.
“Well done. Now let’s see what we can do with this. But before that…”
She had absolutely no idea how many times she had nearly died. For her sake, he decided to start from the very beginning.
“Anastasia, please be honest. You don’t know who Kylis is, do you?”
Anastasia broke out into a cold sweat while desperately trying not to meet his gaze.