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My Male Lead is in the Process of Being Corrupted (2)
My mood instantly sobered. Now that all of my senses had been set on edge my vision began to clear up and return to normal.
Having grabbed me somewhat roughly, my brother kept his hands around my waist and carried me away from the staircase. I let out a sigh of relief once we had moved far away.
“Because you were walking like you couldn’t see what was right beneath you…”
Oscar-oppa was covered in sweat. He must have just finished training. Right as that realization struck me, he let go.
“Jeeze. If you were watching, then you should have said something sooner.”
I wasn’t sure how I hadn’t noticed my brother, who had been right in front of me. I had also missed the stairs somehow.
“Why did you come out of your room by yourself?”
“I just wanted to get some fresh air.”
I was certain that he was going to scold me, but my brother simply looked at me for a moment before saying, “Then let’s go together.”
“I’ll carry you.”
I shook my head at his goosebump-inducing offer of kindness.
I turned around sulkily. Glancing back as I returned to my bedroom, I saw my brother watching me carefully. His eyes were fixed on me, unblinking.
If my brother hadn’t caught me I would have been seriously injured, so I had no choice but to go back and stay in my room.
“Ugh. I want to be healthy too!”
I want to sweat normally. I don’t want this sickly, cold sweat!
As I complained into the empty air, Ilina brought me a healthy, but dry and tasteless snack. It was a whole grain cookie. I took a single bite and then quietly put it back down.
Wiggling my fingers, which were still a bit stiff, I decided to write the letter that I had given up on yesterday.
It would be better to visit Olga in person and talk to her face to face, but I guess it can’t be helped.
However when I tried to start writing, I couldn’t figure out how to begin.
I should apologize first, right?
Or no, should I open with a greeting?
What if Olga won’t accept my letter?
I was seized by fear. Rayleigh was the one who had cornered Olga, but I was the reason that he had gone to such extremes. She had felt the full force of hostility and loathing directed towards a single person for the first time in her life. She must have been shaken.
As expected, I should start with an apology.
I began writing with more earnestness than I ever had before. Not wanting to make a single mistake, I became engrossed in what I was doing and failed to notice that Ilina, tired of knocking on my bedroom door, had entered the room.
“Miss, the Young Lord is here.”
My head snapped up at her words.
Without listening to more, I called Adele in. A man with hair like the sun walked in. I saw my favorite crimson eyes as I happily greeted his strong hands, which perfectly wrapped around and covered my own.
Adele’s expression was somewhat stiff, but I didn’t have the chance to inquire about what was wrong. As soon as Adele and I were alone, he skipped over the greetings and cut straight to the point.
“It seems that Kylis has left the forest. However, he appears to be conscious of drawing unnecessary attention, so wherever he’s headed, he isn’t headed there fast.”
Despite the urgency of his words, I didn’t immediately respond. Something… was off. My eyes darted around, searching for the reason.
What am I missing?
I scanned Adele from head to toe. His beautiful face, imbued with sunlight, and his well-arranged yet casual clothing were pretty much the same as usual. But something about him felt odd. Maybe it was because he wasn’t smiling at all or maybe it was because his lips were set in a firm line, but he seemed sharp, giving off a dangerous atmosphere.
In a subdued tone of voice Adele vowed, “If you give me a little time, I will make sure to put an end to it this time.”
The fragrance of Adele filled my lungs.
Suddenly Adele’s eyes turned black. Blue veins rose up under his skin, forming strange, intricate patterns. It all happened in a split second.
Shocked, I dropped the quill I hadn’t even realized I was still holding.
Adele called my name and as I snapped back to reality, I noticed that he had returned to normal.
What was that?
What is happening to my Adele right now?
I broke out in a cold sweat. There was no way any of that was a good sign.
As I stammered wildly, Adele cocked his head to the side.
“The helmet! Let’s go get it! Right now!”
I grabbed onto Adele’s clothes. No matter how I thought about it, the helmet had to be the culprit.
Adele added to my bafflement.
“I don’t want to.”
I stared at him, wide-eyed. Adele cast his eyes downward and repeated himself.
“I don’t want to give it back.”
He wrapped his hand around the hand that was still clutching his clothes. As usual, his actions were careful and considerate, but this time he didn’t stop there. One by one he interlaced his long fingers with my own.
This wasn’t the first time that I’d held hands with him, but the feeling between my fingers was particularly unfamiliar and electrifying. I felt incredibly flustered. Lifting my hand up, he bent down and pressed his lips against the prominent bones between the back of my hand and my fingers.
It was an extremely soft, fleeting touch. It was so light that I could barely feel it. But it was enough…
“I have endured a lot so far. Anastasia, I’m going crazy worrying about you. Why don’t you let me take care of everything this time?”
His voice was sweeter than any dessert. My face started to heat up as I blushed uncontrollably. My mind, my blood was full of him. I didn’t want to think about anything else.
Ah, I can’t…!
I flinched and stepped back. My hand slipped out of Adele’s. The inner parts between my fingers tingled like crazy.
“A-Adele. Calm down.”
In truth, I was the one who needed to calm down. My whole body was on fire. After taking a deep breath I managed to tear my eyes away from Adele’s and speak relatively naturally.
“Adele, you don’t look very good.”
Even though I directed my words to the wall rather than to him, Adele answered me sincerely.
“I am fine.”
“You think that because you didn’t see yourself in a mirror just now! Your eyes turned black!”
“You can forget about such trivial things. Please think about how much I treasure you.”
I was about to ask how the hell that was a trivial thing, but Adele closed the distance between us. My heart started to race. I hesitated, clenching and unclenching my fists.
W-what should I do? Should I turn my head? But I’m not ready to yet…
I steadfastly continued to look away from him, but Adele spoke regardless.
“You can say I am being selfish. Up until this point I have pretended to be calm and composed with the sole intention of looking good in your eyes, but truthfully I am a very narrow-minded human being. I feel extremely anxious and restless whenever you take on something dangerous that could have been left to me.”
A peculiar feeling welled up in my chest. It felt as though his voice was aflame, burning brightly.
“And that guy is just biding his time quietly. His true nature is terribly cruel. You never know when he might change suddenly and attempt to harm you. The atrocities that he committed have left their mark on history… My concerns are justified, are they not? Anastasia. Please, allow me to take care of this.”
Adele’s speech was, of course, flawless as always.
His arguments were both well-grounded and persuasive. Moreover, his words overflowed with concern for me. The problem was that Adele’s condition was not particularly good right now. In fact, he was probably doing worse than I was. I was physically sick, but Adele seemed to have been affected mentally.
Something’s been off since he covered my eyes and did something questionable to Rayleigh. I shouldn’t have let it slide back then.
Not content with being an arm’s length away, Adele took a step closer. Apart from the moment that he embraced me for the first time, the distance between us had never been so narrow.
Eventually I resolved myself to look at Adele, but when I turned my head, Adele was leaning down towards me and his face was right in front of my eyes. I jumped, startled.
“H-hey um…? Adele?”
Adele’s fair-skinned forehead was nearly touching mine. His half-lidded eyes exuded a dangerous atmosphere. He was like the blazing light of the sun.
H-his eyelashes are so close I can see them in detail…
“You’ve heard my reasoning and you know it’s sound, so it would be nice if you would just cooperate with me at this point.”
As if caught by an unexpected downpour, his voice was drenched with worry as he muttered under his breath.
I had noticed it at the Tzitzimime as well, but the difference between Adele’s smiling face and his expressionless face was striking.  Adele was aware of that fact as well and it was possible that he smiled out of habit for that reason.
I pressed down on my lower lip firmly with my teeth.
“Adele, I get it, so let’s move a little farther apart to talk… Ah!”
My intentions for trying to put some space between me and him were pure! I swear!
However, Adele was strangely not wearing a coat today and even though I was gentle as I pushed his chest away with my palms, the feeling of his exceedingly firm muscles came through with perfect clarity. The unexpectedly intense contact gave me a jolt like I had been shocked with electricity.
“I-I’m sorry I touched you! I should have avoided touching that spot even if I had to get up on my tiptoes! I’m really sorry!”
My palms stung as though they’d been burned.
I didn’t realize it since Adele is always buttoned up and well dressed, but he has a better body than I thou……… His muscles are insan… No. Stop thinking about it!
I grabbed ahold of my hand before it did something else and stepped back.
“I didn’t know that your clothing was so thin. Did… Did you take your coat off because it was hot?”
I asked because Adele was someone who placed a lot of value on being formal at all times. Had it been anyone else, I would have just let it go.
Adele gave me a puzzled look as if he couldn’t understand why my face had turned bright red with embarrassment.
“On my way here I met a young lady who was in a difficult situation, so I helped her out.”
“She grabbed onto my clothes and refused to let go for quite some time. They were badly wrinkled, so I left them in the carriage. Is my attire making you uncomfortable?”
Adele’s tone of voice suggested that he didn’t really care, but I felt vaguely unsettled.
Am I in a weird mood? I should just shrug it off, right?
Plop. At that moment something dripped from my nose. I absently wiped it away, but I was stunned when I saw the back of my hand smeared with bright red blood.
“Uh, my nose is blee…”
Before I could finish my sentence, Adele plugged my nose with a handkerchief and stopped the flow of blood. His expression quickly became dark.
“I apologize for my sudden, rude behavior…”
Despite being the one who had acted seductively, Adele didn’t seem to understand why blood had poured out of my nose.
You know, this isn’t because I didn’t like it. It’s the exact opposite!
I knew Adele had been consistently training to build up his physical fitness, but I hadn’t had much of a chance to check on the results of his work. But now it had truly sunk in.
Wow, he’s really solid…
 I am provisionally translating ‘치치메메’ as ‘Tzitzimime’, but I am very much open to other suggestions.
I’ve chosen ‘Tzitzimime’ because both the novel and the webtoon state that the name of the party refers to monsters that indiscriminately slaughtered people in ancient times. It is mentioned that the party itself originated from a ritual involving lighting a brazier in order to drive the Tzitzimime away. This very, very loosely describes the Tzitzimime and the New Fire Ceremony of the Aztec civilization.
I will leave a link to the Korean language Wikipedia article about the Aztec civilization and the Tzitzimime below, but there are also many more detailed (and possibly more accurate) sources available online in English for anyone who is curious.