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My Male Lead is in the Process of Being Corrupted (9)
“Any word from Olga?”
My inner hopefulness must have leaked out because Ilina made an apologetic expression.
“None so far.”
I sullenly put the spoon in my mouth.
Although at least there was some good news. The family physician had sided with me.
The magnificent doctor had expressed his opinion that, although my diet was being tightly controlled, it was not a good idea to restrict others things as well. He said that a good mood was key to bolstering my strength and giving me the energy needed to overcome my illness.
He also told my family that I was allowed to take light walks since I seemed to enjoy going out. I was nearly moved to tears when Ilina relayed what he said.
Thanks to the doctor I was able to go in and out of the garden as much as I liked.
But an unexpected visitor threatened my dream of going out for a walk.
“Is it time for my snack?” I asked hopefully.
Ilina turned away from my sparkling eyes.
“Someone has come to inquire after your health, Miss.”
Ilina gave me an inscrutable look instead of answering. At any rate, somehow or other it didn’t seem to be Olga. I tied my hair back with the hair tie that my mother had made and went out to greet the visitor. To my surprise, the person waiting in the parlor was a red-haired man.
Looking me over, he carelessly tossed out his assessment of my condition.
“You really are at death’s door.”
“It must be nice to lead such a healthy life.”
I returned his insincere attitude with my own. Ash gave me a subtle look.
“Why don’t you sit down instead of just standing there?”
I took a seat and he started complaining immediately.
“This is so uncomfortable.”
I felt a twinge of schadenfreude.
“It was the same for me when I went to the Marquis’ residence.”
And now that I’m thinking about it…
I was about to invite Ash to a dinner where he’d be trapped with my parents when he began rummaging through his inner chest pockets. A small box in his hand caught my eye.
That strawberry-colored box…!
“Anyway, here’s a get-well gift…”
Realizing at once what was inside his jacket, I desperately moved to stop him. I scrambled over to him and arranged his clothing so that the box didn’t stick out before looking back at Ilina.
“Ilina, could you step out for a moment?”
Ilina shot me an uncertain look, but I repeated my order to leave the room.
When I was finally alone with Ash I asked excitedly, “Is that what I think it is?”
He hesitated, sensing a certain mania in my voice.
He handed me the box with an extremely reluctant look, which I ignored. I opened the box. Inside was a perfect paradise of chocolate and fresh strawberries. I quickly popped one into my mouth. The tip of my tongue tingled as I sank into an ocean of bliss.
“Crazy… this is so good! Chewing is such a waste of time. I want to inject it directly into my stomach with a syringe. Ugh. I wish my blood was made of chocolate.”
Ash had presented me with the most delightful get-well gift for a patient, but he seemed leery for some reason.
I pleaded with him.
“You can’t go until I finish eating.”
“… I guess you’ve only been eating bland, floury porridge.”
I ate more chocolate instead of answering.
Mother, Father, Oppa… I’m sorry. But I met a man who was such trash that it actually made me miss Kylis, whose crappy personality is worse than his horse’s, and I’ve been so stressed out…
“Ahhh, this is the best. I feel like my head is spinning a little now.”
Ehehe. I’m so happy!
“Are you that excited about having something to eat?”
Ash griped at me for laughing with irrepressible delight.
Still, I was incredibly grateful to him for coming, or more accurately, for allowing me to eat as much chocolate as I wanted.
“Of course! And it’s thanks to you that I’m in such a good mood. I won’t forget this act of kindness.”
Seeing the expression on my face, his gaze became shaky. He let out a sigh and facepalmed.
“Haaahhhhh… Why am I here?”
What, are you having regrets now? It’s already too late, though.
I was a little worried that he would take the chocolate back. It was a sort of risky situation.
I’ll have to distract him by talking a lot.
“I had a question for you, actually,” I said in a slightly high-pitched voice.
Ash abruptly started acting overly polite.
“What might that be?”
“… Why are you suddenly using formal speech?” [1a]
“I’ve been thinking about it, and it’s more comfortable this way.”
His face flushed as he replied.
What… why? What did I do?
Since I had been worried about Ash doing something different, I was completely stunned.
Do you like girls who look like they’re about to die, but still have healthy appetites?
I cocked my head to the side, but decided to just ask about what I had wanted to know earlier.
“Have you seen Olga recently?”
A look of displeasure flashed across his face.
“We were supposed to meet yesterday, but she failed to show up. She said that she was feeling unwell.”
I was unsure of whether she was actually sick or if she just needed some time alone to think because of Rayleigh.
“So then, why didn’t you come to see me? My father told me that there was some subject you wanted to ask me about.”
I snapped to attention.
“The Marquis said that you know a lot about Kylis.”
I carefully studied Ash’s reaction. He seemed pleased that I had asked.
“Born in Tisherrat, a strict vegetarian, a good swimmer, a great king that ended an era, as I’m sure you know.”
“… You just wandered into an area of knowledge that’s inaccessible to regular people.”
Adele didn’t even mention that Kylis was a vegetarian. And what do you mean he was a good swimmer?
It was nearly impossible to verify what he said at the current moment, so I decided to believe him for now.
“By any chance, um… are there any records of what Kylis looked like?”
“Two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, right?”
This jerk’s sincerity suddenly evaporated, huh?
“Okay so, how were they arranged on his face?”
For a moment, Ash looked at me like I was an idiot.
“Anyone who laid eyes on Kylis died as soon as they saw him, so how could there be records of his appearance?”
“Isn’t that more worthy of being recorded than him being a vegetarian or a good swimmer?”
“Well… If you look at his lineage and trace it back, there is a high probability that he was blonde.”
My chest felt tight. Lost in thought, a question slipped out of my mouth before I realized it.
“Do you think he was handsome?”
“… I have no idea what you mean by that question.”
Utterly bewildered, Ash relapsed into informal speech. [1b]
I began to doubt my previous conjecture.
“Maybe not? There’s no way, right?”
“What the hell is going on with you?”
Ash began to worry about me in earnest for the first time today.
I let out a deep sigh.
“I don’t even know…”
There seems to be some connection between Kylis and Adele, but I have no idea what it is.
I had been trying to start with the basics by finding out if there were any similarities in their appearances.
I munched on some chocolate with a long face. Chester’s interest in Adele kept bothering me. I could have dismissed the voice I heard as a mistake, but the way Chester asked about Adele’s age and made guesses regarding his magical abilities was definitely suspicious.
Knowing that Adele was the male lead, I was sure that he hadn’t just been born with exceptional talents by sheer chance. It was possible that Adele had other hidden secrets, just like Anastasia Sinclair.
“Miss, I’ve brought some freshly brewed tea. Have you finished your important conversation?” Ilina asked politely from just outside of the door.
Ash took the box back as I hastily chewed up the chocolate in my mouth and swallowed it.
“Yes. You can come in.”
I assumed a calm, composed voice, as though I hadn’t eaten any chocolate at all.
“I’m really, really thankful that you came today, Ash.”
“I can well imagine.”
“Hehe. You’ll come again, right? Preferably sooner rather than later.”
“The Young Lord might object. Are you sure?”
Ash flashed me a suspicious smile. I stared at him.
“You’re not still bothering Adele, right?”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“So you’re trying to pick on me, then? Did you put something in the chocolate?”
“… You have no idea what the Young Lord has been doing out there, do you?”
Ash’s voice was awash with mixed emotions.
My expression stiffened, a thought suddenly popping into my head.
“Don’t tell me…”
“Did anyone else see it too?”
Did other people see the blue veins on Adele’s face stand out in relief in an almost geometric pattern? Did they see his eyes turn black?
“It happens every time, so how could they not see?”
I covered my mouth with my hand in shock.
“Th-that… Oh no…”
“That’s why I’m sure he’ll be jealous-”
“But he should be fine right now! I took steps so he wouldn’t turn blue!”
Ash and I spoke at the same time and then stared at each other in confusion.
“Huh? Why are you talking about jealousy all of a sudden?”
Ash narrowed his eyes.
“I think we’re talking past each other right now.”
“You weren’t talking about Adele’s face?”
You know, the blue and black stuff.
“I’ve lost the will to speak.”
Ash seemed genuinely disheartened. I frowned slightly.
“Putting aside what I thought, was there something else?”
“It breaks my heart that there is no one around you with the eye to view the matter objectively and the integrity to reveal the Young Lord’s atrocities to you.”
“D-did you know that I’m actually an extremely weak-hearted person? Can you please stop making me anxious?”
I was on pins and needles. Adele’s choice of words had become suspiciously artful lately and it was concerning. Aware that I was hanging on his every word, Ash taunted me.
“Are you curious?”
“Of course I am. Just tell me.”
“Ah, I’m a little hesitant…”
Wow. This jerk…
“Are you really going to be like this?! Just a moment ago I thought of you as the bluebird of happiness. Do you really plan on betraying my innocent heart?” 
Ash raised his eyebrows.
“What bluebi…… I would never do such a thing. Perish the thought.”
What a truly two-faced guy. 
He smirked arrogantly.
“If you really want to know, why not see for yourself? Come to think of it, that would be more fun.”
I shook my head ruefully.
“I somehow managed to get permission to take walks around the residence, but going out is a different story. I coughed up blood this morning, too…”
“You do that all the time, don’t you?”
“How much blood do you think I have in my body? If I coughed up blood every day, I’d die.”
I was frustrated. His brow furrowed, Ash gave me an unexpected offer.
“Should I help you?”
“Get ready to go out. I’ll get permission from the Countess.”
[1a + 1b] Formal/polite and informal/casual speech denote different levels of politeness in Korean. (See note 1 from chapter 65 for more details.) It is difficult to mimic in English, but Ash is switching between speaking casually and formally.
 In many countries and cultures throughout the world, including Korea, bluebirds symbolize a variety of positive concepts such as happiness and good fortune. This idea is encapsulated by the term “bluebird of happiness” in English.
 ‘병주고 약 준다’ can be translated literally as ‘giving the disease and giving the medicine’ and refers to a person first creating some problem or causing some grief and then fixing the situation. It can also refer to someone giving an insult and then saying or doing something nice. Essentially, it describes a duplicitous person who is the cause of and solution to some issue. A similar expression in English is, “to carry fire in one hand and water in the other.”