Episode 30: Hunting (III)
After all that had happened. This was what Yulif wanted.
He was just like the emperor.
The heart she had been holding onto was broken. The process might have been different, but the end was the same. Yulif was trying to lock her up like the emperor.
No, it was worse as the process was different. He made a gap and dug into it while acting as a good person, making unnecessary expectations.
The happiness that kept her from sleeping deep in the night turned into despair. Shattered hopes pierced her body painfully.
What did she expect of him? She wished she hadn’t expected anything. If that was the case, there would be no disappointment.
「Weird. The Emperor is strange and Yulif is also strange! I can’t understand! Why are you so anxious that you can’t hold on to me? Why!」
‘What wrong did I do to you?’
A suppressed cry came out.
A shadow fell over her face as she sunk into the sofa. Suddenly, Yulif’s face was right in front of her.
Yulif slowly approached her. Canaren turned her head away from him and tried to get away, but it was a failure.
His purple eyes were looking at her.
The beautiful eyes that seemed to have pierced the night sky were no longer there. His eyes, now in her vision, were the same as the emperor’s, who lusted after her wildly.
It was no different than when she was captured by Deltinus. She couldn’t do anything on her own.
Even after she left the prison, it was another prison.
Canaren understood. To obtain complete freedom, she had to get away from Yulif too.
She was angry and miserable. However, the tears came not because of suffering and misery, but because of a strange feeling of betrayal by Yulif.
‘I trusted you. As much as I could. I thought you didn’t want to covet my body, you just wanted to help me.’
「If that’s the case, I’d rather you just said this from the beginning. That you will take me and will become my master instead of the Emperor.」
Yulif did not answer. Canaren couldn’t understand his silence, and she didn’t want to.
She hated this.
She hated Yulif more than Deltinus, as he shook her heart by comforting her with all kinds of sweet words, taking her to the cabin, playing the piano, and dancing together.
To give her hope that if she could endure, she would surely return home, and then now he pushed her into the abyss like this.
「Are you going to the hunting grounds too? What are you going to do with me? Do you want to make it a spectacle? Like your brother? Be honest. There’s nothing to hide. Don’t lie about it!」
「Don’t talk to me. Don’t even talk in Hwira. I don’t want to talk to you anymore. You… you really are … the worst.」
In an instant, Yulif’s expression collapsed, leaving a gap. Canaren did not miss the opportunity.
She twisted her body, squeezed through an opening, and ran towards the door. She hurriedly grabbed the doorknob and turned it, but the doorknob did not budge, only letting out an eerie squeaking sound.
When did he lock the door? She didn’t see him lock the door after he came back.
A shadow fell over her body as she turned the knob once more.
It was Yulif.
Yulif, standing behind her, touched the door with both hands. Locked between his arms, Canaren reflexively shrugged her shoulders. She felt the heat of his body right behind her. Then, his low, heavy voice rang softly in her ear.
"I told you to stay by my side."
The imperial language that came out of his mouth was unfamiliar.
When they were alone he always talked in Hwira.
She said it first, but he was cold-hearted, to change into his own language as if he had been waiting. It seemed that Yulif had become a completely different person. Yulif, who was sweet and kind, was no longer there. The only thing left here was the duke of the empire.
The emperor’s younger brother who ruined her life.
「Please, I don’t like it. Please let me go!」
Yulif did not answer. Instead, his hot breath brushed slowly against her ear. Her legs trembled at the tingling sensation. She staggered, but Yulif shifted and held her with one arm.
"Stop thinking about running away from me."
「Why…… Why are you doing this, really…… Why are you doing this to me…… What the hell did I do wrong……」
"It’s not your fault."
Yulif grabbed Canaren’s chin and turned her. Canaren collapsed into his arms and she turned her head as he wished.
Tears streamed down from her tightly closed eyes. She felt his long fingers rub against her cheeks and under her eyes.
Before long, Yulif’s fingers were wet with tears. His hot, wet fingers slipped away and then gently pressed against her lips. It was a tenacious and strange touch, like a kiss.
Canaren opened her eyes in surprise.
"So don’t cry."
When he said that, Yulif’s expression looked very pained. Enough to recognize it at once even with her teary view. His shaky eyes looked like they were about to burst into tears if she touched them even a little.
Canaren was confused.
‘Why do you look like that? There are things that are painful and things that make me want to cry out loud. But why do you have scarred eyes?’
Everything around him was full of doubts. His intentions, his thoughts, his feelings…… There was nothing to understand.
She wanted to hate him. She wanted to resent him. However, her soft heart shook like a reed as soon as she saw his face turn white. She couldn’t hate him easily because the time she spent with him was so happy.
Wouldn’t it be better not to see it? Canaren closed her eyes. The pocket watch she was holding fell to the floor along with her tears.
Yulif’s large hands covered her face.
"You don’t need to understand me."
「……I don’t even want to understand.」
"Don’t put your feelings on me. Whatever it is."
「Does that mean you just want to be by your side like a doll?」
Canaren laughed in vain. Anger and despair crossed the threshold, and instead became despondent.
"If that is how you want it to be."
「No. This way is wrong. Even if I survive, what’s the meaning of living with only the shell left? I’d rather die than live like that……」
His voice got even lower. He was genuinely angry.
Only then did Canaren realize that Yulif had never been angry with her before. His anger was different from that of Deltinus. A cold, refined, sharp-edged anger that gripped her heart. She couldn’t even seem to breathe.
"You cannot die. I will not tolerate it."
It was hard to believe that the arrogant words of deciding life and death were coming out of Yulif’s mouth.
What a cruel man he was. She didn’t even realize this until now, and kept saying he was a kind person. How ridiculous it must have been to him.
Canaren gave up on everything.
Indeed, there was no such thing as kindness without a cause in the world.
The next morning came, but the air inside the cabin was cold.
It was morning, but Canaren did not take a single step out of the bedroom. She just sat crouching on the edge of the bed. Her eyes were red and bloodshot.
She couldn’t sleep at the thought of what was going to happen. It would not be strange if Yulif, who had finally revealed his true intentions, broke into her bedroom to take her like Deltinus would.
But the tightly closed door did not open until the moon went down and the sun came up. The sound of Yulif’s footsteps didn’t even come close.
Canaren was relieved as she looked out of the brightly lit window, and she felt pathetic that she was only reassured by this.
Tok, tok. After a brief knock at the door, Yulif’s serene voice was heard.
"Your meal is ready. Come out and eat."
「I am not hungry. You can eat alone.」
"It doesn’t matter if you get mad at me or swear at me, just don’t skip meals."
「I don’t want to eat what you prepared. I hate sitting at the same table with you.」
"I won’t let you see me during the meal. Don’t worry, I didn’t make the food."
The sound of his footsteps faded away and the sound of a door closing was heard. Yulif had left the cabin altogether.
Canaren bit her lips. It was absurd to see him behaving like a completely different person from the person who drove her down yesterday.
As she stared at the door all night, she pondered what she should do to win Yulif’s heart. But it was impossible for her to begin with.
She could not return to her village to escape his surveillance, and even if she did, she did not have the strength to take responsibility for whatever happens after that.
It felt like everything was blocked off by a wall.
No matter how much she thought about it, she didn’t know why Yulif was obsessed with her. It didn’t seem like he coveted her body like Deltinus did. There were plenty of opportunities, but he never touched her.
‘Then what is it? ‘Don’t use your emotions, just stay by my side.’ Does that give Yulif anything?’
Canaren sighed and buried her face between her knees. Her body and mind were tired, but she couldn’t sleep. She closed her eyes and just curled up in the dark.
"I’m coming in"
After some time had passed, Yulif returned and entered the bedroom. Canaren curled her body tighter.
"Why are you so stubborn?"
Yulif was annoyed at his own harsh tone. That was not what he wanted to say. Canaren lifted her head. Soon, her eyes blinked with questions. It was because Yulif’s outfit was different from usual.
A dark blue coat, vest, and white pants; horse riding clothes. The riding suit prepared exclusively for him fit snugly to his body, emphasizing his chest covered in thick muscles, and his thighs. Yulif, in stiff leather boots that reached his knees, was carrying a large box.
Even if he climbed onto a horse right away, it would look natural. It might be because of the thick lines of his body, but Canaren felt an unknown intimidation. She cried out in a sharp voice.
「Don’t come any closer!!」
Yulif straightened his back. He was tall and broad-shouldered, and his unique commanding presence was shown just by standing in the middle of the bedroom.
"Are you really not going to eat? If you don’t eat, you won’t be able to survive even an hour."
「……What are you going to do?」
"I have something to teach you."
"You’ll find out when you learn it yourself."
Her face reddened with shame. Yulif, who was staring at the panicked Canaren, put the box down on the edge of the bed. He leaned over and tapped the box.
"If you don’t want to eat, change your clothes and come out. Then we’ll start right away."
After Yulif left, Canaren opened the box. Inside the box was a riding suit and boots of the same color as his, and the pocket watch she had thrown away yesterday.