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My Male Lead is in the Process of Being Corrupted (3)
“I… I’m fine. But I’m worried that it was unpleasant for you.”
“Of course not.”
“Hey… if it’s okay with you, do you mind not telling anyone else that I had a nosebleed?”
If my family finds out, I might die of shame.
Adele looked confused.
When the blood stopped, Adele sat me down on the bed and then moved away as if to put as much distance between us as possible. He retreated to the corner of the room diagonal to bed and cast his eyes to the floor miserably.
I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. You were so bold a second ago!
“You don’t have to keep your distance…”
“I don’t think I’m doing you any good.”
I was struck by the sudden realization that Adele was a lot like me. We both had our clumsy, awkward sides. Although I tended to show it on the outside since I really didn’t have the ability to hide it anyway, whereas Adele only showed his weaknesses to those he chose to.
I didn’t want Adele to blame himself. Honestly, if I hadn’t seen his face change, I would have fallen for his temptation right away.
My head was pounding, but it was bearable. I blinked, carefully studying his face for any change.
He said Kylis disappeared, right? Although he seems unusually agitated about it… in a way that he wasn’t before. There has to be something more.
“Adele. If there’s anything else, go ahead and say it.”
Adele looked as though he had a lot to say, seeming almost regretful. But he remained silent in the end.
If I leave things as they are, he might never come near me again.
Of course that was completely unacceptable from my point of view.
There’s so much we have to do in the future! I’m not afraid of bleeding or whatever!
In order to lighten the mood, I continued chatting casually.
“Hey, listen… I’ll tell you some secrets that no one else knows. So relax a little.”
Adele looked conflicted. I smiled with my eyes, hoping that he would find it charming.
“Hmm? Could you come a little closer? It’s not like you can find Kylis right now anyway, so wouldn’t it be okay to talk for a little longer?”
Adele was clearly hesitant.
Ah seriously, where did he get that cuteness from? It definitely wasn’t from the Duke.
I waited patiently and eventually, step by cautious step, he drew near. He glanced at me for reassurance and I gave him a broad smile. Letting out a low sigh, he settled into a chair at the side of my bed. It was the chair that my father had been sitting in earlier.
I quickly grabbed Adele’s hand so that he couldn’t run away again.
Locking our fingers together I said, “When I play rock-paper-scissors I have a habit of just picking one.”
Adele blinked, uncomprehending. Although he hadn’t realized it yet, that information would prove useful later.
I’m revealing a huge weakness right now! Anyway, what else…?
As I was thinking of other things I could say, a somewhat mischievous thought popped into my head. I whispered into his ear.
“And I have a really tiny mole next to my belly button. Even Ilina doesn’t know about it.”
“Do you want me to show you?”
I was joking, but Adele shot to his feet.
“I… I… I didn’t hear anything.”
Adele’s face was bright red. He covered his face with his hands, but I could see his ears flushing.
“Just what are you imagining…?”
“I have to go now.”
I desperately yanked on Adele’s clothes as he tried to run away.
“I was kidding! Don’t take it so seriously! It seemed like you were beating yourself up, so I thought I’d try to relieve some of your guilt. And we need to finish our conversation!”
Giving me a complicated look, he meekly returned and sat back down in the chair.
“First, return Kylis’ helmet to me.”
“This is non-negotiable. I won’t change my mind.”
I made it clear that I wouldn’t be swayed, regardless of how convincing his words were.
“I worry about you just as much as you worry about me. At least let me keep the helmet until you find Kylis. And Adele, please be careful. If you’ve been affected this much by having a single piece of his armor, who knows what will happen if you meet him in person? Actually, I’d prefer it if you didn’t meet Kylis…”
“… I don’t want to lie to you.”
He was saying that he was determined to find Kylis and press him for information and if I didn’t like it, he would pretend to give up for now. But since he truly didn’t want to lie to me, he was asking me to acquiesce.
“I will be careful. For your sake.”
I titled my head to the side.
“Shouldn’t you say it’s for your own sake?”
Adele simply let out a quiet laugh.
“I will return the helmet.”
We had been able to step back and find some middle ground, so I tried to be content with that.
But my worries grew when the piece of worn-out armor that Adele had grabbed via teleportation magic came back in terrible condition.
“Kylis is probably really mad.”
I didn’t like looking at the helmet, which was exuding a vicious energy. It hadn’t seemed that bad before. Despite being completely unable to sense magic power, it felt like a cursed object to me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the reason why, but the long, slender eye holes and each adornment really bothered me. It was unsettling.
It looks like it’ll move around on its own at night…
Even if I go out and bury this thing in the ground or toss it in a river, it will probably be sitting proudly on my desk when I get home.
“Whether he is or not, he is a deceased individual. And he’ll be dying once again shortly.”
He didn’t kick it around or toss it into anything, right? Like some disgustingly filthy water for instance…
I swallowed back the questions that were on the tip of my tongue and took the helmet. I shivered a little at its coldness, but nothing else happened.
Placing the helmet on my lap, I touched my cheek.
Hm… I guess I’m okay.
My veins weren’t popping out under my skin and I wasn’t really feeling weird.
“Why aren’t I affected when you are?”
“Who knows? I’m not particularly curious about it.”
Yeah, you really dislike Kylis. No, I don’t think ‘dislike’ is strong enough. It’s closer to hatred.
Judging by the way he acted the first time we went to the Forest of Repentance, it was clear that, even without the issue of my lifespan, those two were fundamentally incompatible.
“I will go home for now, but I will return once I find something of substance.”
By the looks of it, he was going to start searching for Kylis immediately.
With a vague sense of unease, I opened my mouth to speak.
“You know I really like you a lot, right? I’m always thinking about you. Even if you don’t have any specific reason to stop by, you can. If you come to see me just because you want to, that alone would make me happy.”
For some reason Adele’s words make it sound like he won’t come to see me until he’s found something…
I laid my heart bare without concealing anything. My words seemed to render him speechless for a moment.
Adele paused before muttering, “I will… conduct the search in a slightly more ethical fashion.”
Hey, how savage were you planning on being exactly?
“And I will do my best to follow your wishes, Anastasia. When I discover his whereabouts, I will make it a priority to let you know.”
“Th-thanks,” I replied with some bewilderment.
Adele gazed at me quietly with his bright, crimson eyes. Not knowing the reason for his persistent gaze, I stared back at him in the same way.
After some time, Adele made an inscrutable expression and asked, “Are you sure it is fine to come without a reason?”
“Huh? Yes, of course.”
What, that was what you were thinking about? I thought you were agonizing over ethical issues again.
“Not because I am concerned about your health or because I have important news to tell you… is it truly all right to come see you even if I don’t have a proper reason to do so?”
“Yeah, it’s fine. In fact, it’s better. You can come anytime. If I’m asleep, just wake me up! Mmm… I’d honestly love to be woken up by you.”
What would it be like to wake up to Adele’s voice?
I had fallen asleep while we were together before, but he would always wait patiently for me to wake up on my own.
Having gotten a bit worked up without even noticing it, I let out a sheepish laugh. Adele seemed to be turning my words over in his head.
After some contemplation, hesitation, and confusion…
He gave a vigorous nod, a somewhat eager expression on his face.
I stashed the helmet away for the day before taking it out again around bedtime. For some reason, the menacing feeling had disappeared.
“What the heck is up with you?”
Placing it at the head of the bed, I lay down on my stomach. A cold sensation was transferred to my fingertips as I touched the helmet.
Hmm… where did Kylis go?
I hoped he would consider how he would look to other people.
Right now he won’t be able to hide the fact that he doesn’t have a head.
I didn’t think Kylis had left the forest for good, nor did I believe that his identity would be discovered any time soon. First of all, he wouldn’t have left his helmet behind if he was planning on being gone for a while. And even if people saw him, they would simply think he was the ghost of a knight who had been wrongfully killed. They would never guess that it was Kylis.
If I were to go outside right now and tell people that the ghost of the headless horseman that was haunting the forest was a king from the ancient past, the only ones who would listen would be my family.
This wasn’t some seldom-tread, mysterious land steeped in all sorts of myths and legends. This was the capital of the Empire with an incredible number of people moving in and out of it.
Ughhhh… People would probably say, “What a load of crap.” I would too.
I burrowed under the covers and glared at the helmet.
Adele will be fine now, right?
Of course the issue of my own lifespan was important, but I had almost two years left. Naturally I was more concerned about Adele.