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My Male Lead is in the Process of Being Corrupted (4)
It seemed that I had fallen asleep at some point. I was wandering in an unfamiliar space within a dream, surrounded by a thick, dense fog.
All of a sudden the silhouette of a man appeared in the distance. He was muttering to himself.
[Another failure? Well, it’s not surprising.]
My ears pricked up. That was unmistakably Adele’s voice.
Guided by the sweet, deep voice, I moved towards the sound. But before I could get close, the silhouette of the man started to fade away. I reached out for it in a panic.
I could vaguely make out the man looking back at me. I sensed that he was extremely displeased.
How dare you! Adele, you’re making this really hard!
“I’m coming to you right now!”
The fog suddenly began to clear, revealing the figure of a man.
But it wasn’t Adele.
I caught a brief glimpse of the contours of his face before the vague outline was swept away by the dispersing fog, vanishing like smoke rising into the air. As my vision cleared, the figure returned to the form of someone I knew.
Armor, black like the darkness before dawn, filled my sight.
The instant I spoke his name, I woke up. As I came to, I noticed I was standing in something that looked like a storage room.
I froze, my mind in a state of complete confusion.
Where am I? This isn’t my house.
I was dressed in the kind of white, lacy nightgown that I wore to bed. Naturally, I was barefoot. The only thing I had in my hands was Kylis’ helmet.
Is… is this real? Did I walk here in my sleep?
Light from a nearby candle flickered softly. I rubbed my eyes in a daze. Pulling myself together, I inspected my surroundings.
The smell of incense hung in the air. Overflowing with religious artifacts, the dark storage room was piled to the ceiling with objects that looked like holy relics. I saw exotic censers made with golden bells and nacre, the type that often appeared in books. But some of the relics looked as though someone had violently hurled them aside and some were horribly broken, damaged beyond repair.
Not being able to see very well, I had been making my way along cautiously, but the bottom of my foot had been pierced by something sharp nonetheless.
Urgh. It’s going to be hard to find the exit like this.
For lack of a better idea, I grabbed a candlestick with a lit candle and used it to light the other candles in the storage room. With my ability to see restored, the reality of the place I was in became more clear.
This was the place that I had seen in my dream, the one that Kylis had been standing in.
If my dream had actually been real, then I could understand the reason he had been searching through the holy relics.
I recalled the legend of how a part of Kylis’ body had been sealed within a holy relic, leaving him to wander this world endlessly.
“Kylis? Are you here?”
But why did I end up here all of a sudden? Was it because of what I said when I mistook Kylis for Adele? But that was a dream, wasn’t it? That’s not fair! If I had known it was Kylis, I wouldn’t have chased after him!
“Hey, Kylis? You called and the most beautiful woman in the world showed up.”
Hm… no answer. I guess he isn’t here.
I glanced around a few times just to be sure and then headed out of the room. Luckily the door wasn’t locked. There was a staircase leading up and although the bottom of my foot was sore, I managed to climb the stairs without any issue.
As I left the underground area I was doused in the fragrant scent of flowers. Figuring there was no issue with simply taking a look around, I set the candlestick, which I had taken with me, down onto the floor.
The gothic mansion had high ceilings and spacious corridors, as befitting a place with such a large storage room. However it didn’t appear to have been properly maintained. Flower pots were placed here and there, essentially becoming a tripping hazard, and there were flowers in full bloom on the spiral staircase. Climbing roses, which should have been growing on the exterior walls, had come through the window and added themselves to the clutter of the space.
That said, the mansion didn’t look completely abandoned either. Lit up with candles, the interior wasn’t the slightest bit dark.
I timidly opened my mouth to speak.
“I-is anyone here…?”
My voice was barely audible.
What if Kylis broke into this mansion? What am I supposed to do if the owner is just an ordinary person? How do I explain what I’m doing here?
The floor was cold despite being carpeted and flower petals, withered along their edges, had fallen upon it.
I walked over to a window and peered out, but it was pitch-black outside. I could only hope that I wasn’t too far from the Count’s residence.
My parents will be really worried.
In any case, I would need someone to tell me where the hell this place was. As I mulled over the question of whether it would be safe to look for someone here or whether I should try going outside instead, someone spoke behind me.
“I wasn’t expecting guests.”
I whipped my head around in surprise. The man’s eyes widened as our gazes met, but soon after he left out a carefree laugh.
“You are quite beautiful. Where have you been hiding this whole time and why didn’t I find you first?”
It was a person I hadn’t seen before. Although it was difficult to gauge how old he was, he was undoubtedly a dazzling man whose appearance called to mind the image of glittering jewels. His eyes were particularly striking.
But as far as I could recall, there was no one with similar features in the novel.
The man had dark blue, almost indigo, shoulder-length hair that was cut like a bob. He was wearing a top that exposed more than half of his chest, but his hands were covered by gloves as though he wanted to hide them. It was a little strange.
He gave off the impression of an unmoored, floating soul. He was right in front of me, but his presence was indistinct. And despite being incredibly attractive, the impression of him somehow failed to linger in my mind. I felt as though I would forget what he looked like if I turned away from him.
The man cocked his head to the side when he saw Kylis’ helmet in my hands.
“Ah, so you had it. If you’ve come to find him, you’re a bit too late. He’s already gone.”
He spoke as though he had already deduced the reason I had come to this place. I took a step back and eyed him warily.
“Who are you?”
“The owner of this place.”
His explanation left much to be desired.
“Do you know Kylis?”
“Most people know of him, don’t they?”
I could sense his intention to dodge my inquiry and quickly move on from his answer. I took another step back.
“Where is this?”
“What is the exact location of this place?”
“A scenic, secluded village.”
Ah, so frustrating! That man is deftly responding to everything I ask, so why haven’t any of my questions been answered at all?!
I ground my teeth.
“You don’t seem surprised that I suddenly appeared out of nowhere.”
“You are mistaken. How could I not be surprised meeting a heavenly beauty such as yourself?”
What the heck are you saying?
I didn’t want to judge someone based on a first impression, but he honestly seemed like an entirely unhelpful person.
I paused to take a breath before responding calmly, but the man jumped in.
“Would you like some tea?” he offered in a friendly tone.
Is this the right situation for tea?!
My displeasure was evident from my expression.
Suppressing a smile, he coaxed me by saying, “You look quite pale. Perhaps having a leisurely chat with me will help you feel better.”
As I looked into his jade-green eyes, I was seized by a strange feeling.
The man in front of me didn’t strike me as a particularly good person. His offer of kindness undoubtedly contained some hidden motive. But suddenly, like I was in the midst of a dream, I felt compelled to accept the man’s proposal without question.
I nodded my head as if possessed and followed him out.
We left the corridor together. He paused before the spiral staircase that connected the upper and lower floors.
“Which floor was the room with the fireplace on? I like everything here, but the amount of flowers is bothersome.”
The instant his eyes were off of me, my faculties revived and I came to.
Was it the mood? Or maybe, did he cast some magic?
I started to become suspicious of him once again.
“… Weren’t you the owner of this mansion?”
“It has only been a few days since I settled down here. The previous owner was rather cooperative. Although it was a bit unfortunate, due to his advanced age, he had no real use for it.”
How ominous. Wh-what are the chances that someone who knows Kylis is a good person?
Well, it was questionable whether he was even a person in the first place.
Should I make a run for it right now?
Ah! My foot!
A sharp pain shot through my foot when I drew it back towards me. I bit my lower lip.
Tears sprang to my eyes. Mesmerized by the man’s gaze, I hadn’t noticed the pain as I had walked along. But the sole of my foot, which had been stabbed by something earlier, was hurting like crazy now. The pain gradually got worse and worse. It was a little disheartening, but I wasn’t confident that I would be able to run out of the mansion with my injured foot and find a safe place to hide without being noticed.
Worse still, the man had said this was a secluded village. If there was any truth to his words, then the odds of safely making it to the capital were not high. I had no money for a carriage and nothing that I could use to prove my identity.
Even being struck by lightning while sleeping would be less shocking than my current situation. Feeling a strong urge to get rid of Kylis’ helmet, I opened my mouth to speak.
“What’s your connection to Kylis?”
“There is no connection between us, of course. No one but a human with as much courage as you would want to be involved with such an individual,” he replied with indifference.
The man stared at the ceiling for a moment and then gestured to me.
“I found it. Come on.”
It was unclear how he had located the room with the fireplace without actually going upstairs to look.
As he turned back towards me the strange feeling that I should follow his words washed over me once more.
Under his hypnotic spell, my foot also stopped hurting.
There’s definitely something about this person…
Even with the pain gone, the feeling of being pulled by an invisible string was not pleasant. The greater my distrust of him grew, the faster my heart beat.
As if he had read my thoughts, the man reassured me lightly.
“You’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. I simply want to talk with you for a short while. I feel a little starved for company right now.”
Those words sound even more dangerous!
The room we arrived at was warm and my spirits lifted a little. I sat on the sofa and watched the man carefully.
Seeming more or less accustomed to being served by others, he unexpectedly appeared to be finding the experience of doing things for himself extremely refreshing.
However, he lacked care in selecting and using the tea leaves. Grabbing a handful, he haphazardly dumped them into the teapot.
“Well… it’s better to put more in, right?”
Muttering to himself, he thrust the teapot into the blazing fire within the fireplace. He seemed certain that it would be brought to a boil at the proper temperature.
I doubt I’d be too upset if Kylis removed this person’s head to use as his own…
Ignoring my sour expression, the man took a seat across from me and leaned back.