KILL - Chapter 3
The awkward smile on his lips disappeared as I stared at Wibles. He brushed his lips over my ear.
“Who are you?”
My head was spinning and my breathing was shallow. I was confused. I didn’t know what to do. Should I be frank with him and get help? Or should I let this opportunity slide?
If Wibles was on my side, or was in the same position as the witch I met today, I would have told him about my situation at once, without giving it a second thought.
Nonetheless, he was on Helena’s side, which meant he would after some time become my foe. Should I let this man who would soon become my enemy hold my biggest secret? No, he mustn’t know… I wanted my demise to be quiet and painless. However, if the fact that I was not Eris was discovered by everyone, I would attract a lot of trouble to myself.
A country with advanced magical engineering, they might torture me under the pretext of bio-experimenting to see how another spirit could enter a different body. If not, I might be treated like a lunatic and would be incarcerated in some remote estate and be kept under surveillance until I die. I didn’t need to wait to see the results if Wibles spoke to the Crown Prince; the Crown Prince was not the kind of a man to tolerate me anyway.
“Isn’t it strange for a priest to know about an unmarried noblewoman?”
“What I asked was not about your identity….”
“Then what did you refer to?”
I regretted that I answered right away. Then again, in a fight like this, the loudest voice always wins. I raised my head to face him, but he avoided my gaze, maybe, perhaps because he was a priest who had never met a woman before. In addition, people’s eyes slowly gathered. Eris was quite famous as her title the Crown Prince’s fiancée. Therefore, there was no way that it wouldn’t draw people’s attention if she chatted with a man in a priest’s uniform.
“I can’t tell you….”
“You’ve questioned me in such a manner, and yet you withheld the reason.”
“It’s not a pursuit! Why do you think a priest wants to interrogate you?”
I turned my face firmly to Wibles, who raised his head in surprise. In fact, this was somewhat of a gamble, as I might be labeled as a Lady who was tempting the priest. Still, I was confident that I would win this game.
Wibles from the novel was a coward, terribly indecisive and self-conscious of others, the only one who could not confess to Helena and had everything taken from him. And Eris, unlike Helena, was one to ignore appearances themselves.
“If I feel that it is a pursuit, it is a pursuit. If I now grope the priest’s chest, does it cease to be an abomination because I am a woman?”
“It seems that I misunderstood you. I apologize for my misspeaking.”
“I accept your apology.”
I just couldn’t bring myself to have dessert today. I thought, and left the shop, abandoning the awkward-looking priest. Once he found the proof that I wasn’t Eris, I wondered why he was lingering next to me. The stares of the people also bothered me. The store was a place where many nobles and their servants came and went. Even now, Eris’s reputation wasn’t very good, so everyone would be excited to have a good story to tell. It didn’t matter much how people looked at me. It’s not really my body, and it’s my life that’s going to die anyway.
I had thought about it a lot on the carriage ride home. If he was going to love Helena later anyway, wouldn’t it be better to ask him now? The witch said that there might be a way to get home without dying, and that in order to find out, I would have to go to the temple instead. However, the temple was not a place that could be easily approached by ordinary people. Even the nobles alone had to go through complicated procedures and strict screening before they could visit.
Right now in the novel alone, the temple was a place that even Helena, the official female protagonist, was not allowed to set foot in because of her low status. However, in Helena’s case, it wasn’t much of a problem because one of the male protagonists, Wibles, was the High Priest… I knew I should have grabbed Wibles then and asked him what he saw from Eris and if there was a way for me to return to my world alive….
If I could make it back alive, which I would prefer. I wasn’t afraid of dying, but the pain they inflicted on my body to die was vividly memorable. It hurt terribly. I tried it nonetheless, because I knew that when I’d wake up again, everything would be over. But it was more painful when I woke up from the world normally. I was trapped by fear and missed a good opportunity. The thought of it made me wince. It was a missed opportunity, and I could only hope that there would be another one.
In order to know what the next opportunity would be, I had to know what the original story was about, but it was difficult to remember because I only skimmed through the content. Moreover, all the descriptions were focused on Helena, so I couldn’t even guess, because the incident wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been around Helena. We had tea a week ago, so it was probably still like the first part of the novel… If I knew this would happen, I should have read it more intently.
“We’ve arrived, My Lady.”
“Oh, the knight ordination ceremony will be soon held. Will you not pick a personal guard again this year?”
As the knight held my hand and I got out of the carriage, he suddenly asked me a question. Was there any such content? When I stared at him with a puzzled face, the knight smiled and said.
“You don’t have to anoint me if you don’t want to, but it would be easier for the noblewoman to have a personal guard. The number of knights will be limited, but it can be for private use.”
I was tempted by his words, but I still shook my head. I was going to die soon anyway. More people around me would only cause more trouble. The knight seemed to anticipate my rejection, but said with a slightly disappointed look on his face.
“It’s a pity. There are so many knights who wish to be your escort, My Lady.”
“Of course. Isn’t it romantic for a knight to give his life for a beautiful lady?”
“What a selfish and miserable romance. If she is not beautiful, is she not worth giving your life for?”
No, in the first place, I found it abhorrent that I should try to impose the weight of another’s life as if it were baggage. Why do they act so patronizingly at the expense of their own? I never understood the way men thought, then or now. I was about to enter the door, but I looked back at the knight and said.
“Someone might love romance, but not me. So you should dedicate your life just for yourself, sir.”
I had no intention of becoming someone’s romance, nor did I intend to bear it. At the dawn of day, I was still Eris. I thought long and hard about it, and came to the conclusion that it would be better to make the first move on Wibles before things got worse. If I asked him to keep it a secret, I don’t think he would make a big deal of it, as it was the Lady’s request. I thought of putting in an application to the Temple, but the procedure was so complicated that I feared the contents might be leaked. So I should run into Wibles again by chance…. The main places in the novel where he appeared were the Imperial Palace and yesterday’s dessert shop. Fortunately, both of these places were accessible if I wanted them to be.
Wibles liked sweets inappropriately, and he secretly enjoyed the expensive dessert because it was considered a luxury to some extent in this world. And thanks to Helena’s support, “I’m not bad if I eat sweets,” he didn’t hide his preference any longer. This was the beginning of a surge in his liking for Helena. And he, who was overly tied to his life as a priest, it was an opportunity for him to have a sharp rise in his favor with her.
I didn’t mean to take away Helena’s love-event, but if we were going to meet, it would be in a dessert shop.
It would be impossible to talk to him at the palace and not be known by the Crown Prince. Besides, if I seduce Wibles for no reason, I would be misunderstood and he may fall ill for three days due to liver congestion.
“Young lady, prepare yourself. I have a message from His Majesty asking you to enter the palace.”
“Yes, you should be well-prepared, but you can’t keep him waiting.”
I was able to dress more concisely than usual at a faster pace. The maids of honor in the mansion gathered to see how flustered I was by the sudden imperial order. More than fifteen hands grasped me from side to side and shook me so much I felt nauseous. After the terrible experience, I entered the imperial palace and the head chamberlain immediately took me to the emperor’s office.
“Your Majesty, Lady Mizerian, eldest daughter of Marquis Mizerian and fiancée of the Crown Prince, awaits your audience.”
Once I was able to catch my breath and with an entertaining smile mounted on my mouth, I slowly entered through the door that the head attendant opened for me. The light poured over the large window reflected on the white marble and gold-rimmed decorations. The emperor was sitting with his back to the window, which combined with the light made him look more dignified.
“It’s a dazzling afternoon, Your Majesty.”
The emperor, with his nice white hair and beard, said in a gentle voice.
“I apologize for calling you in such a hurry. I hope it wasn’t too inconvenient for you to come.”
“It could never be an inconvenience for His Majesty’s call. It’s always a pleasure.”
“I called you here to discuss your coming-of-age ceremony, of all things.”
Korean people treated a twenty-one years old as an adult, when their physical and mental development was complete, because they were not so starved that they would treat a still-growing child as an adult and send them off to production sites or wars, as other countries did. Eris was the youngest of the characters in the novel, everyone else would have become adults around last year.
By the way, I could only guess how far the emperor’s words have reached just now.
“This is unprecedented, but I would like to hold your coming of age ceremony at the Imperial Palace, is there any other place you like?”
If I tried to play it, I would be at the Emperor’s mercy. I shook my head casually, not wanting to argue with him for no reason. The reason why the emperor dares to hold my coming-of-age ceremony in the imperial palace was for the good of the country, not the rumored fact that the crown prince cared for Helena, a commoner, and ignored me. This was an act of disgrace to the Marquis of Mizerian, the center of the aristocratic faction and one of the country’s foremost powers.