Murderous Emperor's Inconvenient Behavior - Chapter 12
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“No, it’s my first time meeting you.”
“No, I’m positive it’s been in the woods before…”
An unusual color appeared in the man’s normally turquoise eyes.
Her spine tingled with a cold perspiration.
“I can’t possibly be wrong.”
“I’ve never left the house before today; I’m too weak to go anywhere.”
“You don’t appear as perceptive as I am.”
“I would not have forgotten you, a knight, even if I had only seen you once.”
“May I inquire as to why?”
His expression suggested he was laughing at the situation.
“You’re… cool… well, if you hadn’t smeared yourself with whatever stuff that is…”
The man, on her prompting, looked over his body.
“I apologize to the lady for being so impolite.”
“If you know that the masquerade is happening and you want to go, you should get dressed up.”
“Yes, if the lady so desires.”
However, once he finished talking, the man showed no signs of leaving. He did nothing except stare at her, his eyes clearly intent on finding anything.
“Then I’ll be out and running…”
It was safer to shun his company than to answer his inane queries.
Claire had just turned around to go when…
“You’re Claire Mcllroy… right?”
Claire froze as his words hit her like a brick to the back of the skull.
Time stood still, or so it seemed.
Oh my god, it seems like he remembered her.
Claire stood stock still as she scoured her head for anything to say.
Should she lie and try to escape, or just let it go?
In case she had to quickly escape, Claire clutched the bottom of her garment.
They stared at each other down for a few seconds.
Both of their heads swiveled at once at the sound of footsteps on dry grass.
From the depths of the night, a violent roar echoed.
The creature’s raspy breathing indicated it was not human.
A sword was drawn by the guy. A vile green substance had contaminated the silver blade.
“Is it, is it a monster?”
Claire, who had been apprehensive of the man just seconds before, approached him quietly.
The man, who had been staring into the night, turned to look at Claire by his side before continuing to stare forward.
The intruder’s footsteps rattled the bushes and broke the eerie silence.
Something sprang to its feet.
Claire blinked her eyes in response to the animal’s brightness.
It was a white puppy that looked to have just been born.
Weak in the tail and the legs. When it moved, the folds on its ears flapped.
Small puppy growled menacingly at the man.
“What a sweetie!”
When the puppy spotted Claire, it started wagging its tail excitedly. After baring its fangs, it now displayed a pink tongue.
“Come here, puppy.”
Claire got on her knees, arms outstretched.
The puppy leaped into her arms as if it had been waiting for this. The dog then started wagging its tail and licking her face.
Claire’s life was saved by the arrival of the dog.
She patted the dog to her heart’s delight, pretending not to see the man’s stare peering down at her. After a while, she figured he’d give up asking her name and depart.
Of course, that wasn’t the truth.
His sword’s point was aimed squarely at the puppy’s muzzle.
“What are you doing!”
Claire was taken aback and gave the dog a strong embrace.
Even the dog, with its adorable gaping maw, snarled angrily.
“Stop threatening the dog with that sword!”
“It’s a wolf.”
The man, who had been staring coldly at the puppy, finally said.
“It’s a puppy.”
“It’s a wolf.”
The individual was unwavering in his conviction. He looked down at her, determination evident in his gleaming eyes.
She paused, perplexed, wondering why he was being so unyielding. She suddenly felt competitive and was going to argue that it was a puppy.
However, she chose to discreetly retreat. If the name ‘Claire’ ever came out of his mouth, it would be problematic since she had protested needlessly.
“We’ll refer to it as a wolf-dog.”
“Hmm… The lady is right,” he mused.
“Now that you look at it again, you have to admit that it’s a puppy.”
The official term for this animal is “wolf-dog,” as it is a cross between a wolf and a dog.
“I see what you mean, and you can put your sword away now,” she said.
Claire, who was covertly frowning, cocked her chin in the direction of the sword, which was still aimed at the dog.
The guy swung his sword swiftly back into its scabbard.
Presently, he is going to go. Rush out the door. Claire grumbled to herself as she patted the splayed dog.
“Let’s wrap up our conversation.”
The man wouldn’t leave, and he eventually broached the subject she’d been hoping to avoid.
Even though her heart was racing, Claire kept a level head.
“…What were we talking about?”
“The lady I met in the woods was named Claire Mcllroy.”
“That’s really unpleasant.”
Claire got up out of her chair unexpectedly. She put a hand on her hip and stuck her chin out.
“So, you’re saying I look like that woman? I’ll say it again, I’ve never been outside. I don’t understand why you are confusing me with her.”
When you’re in a tight spot, the best course of action is to keep a straight face and keep moving.
I am a noble lady. She tried to slow her beating heart by repeating the mantra in her thoughts.
“Even if I do look like her, what’s the problem? There are a lot of people who look alike in this world.”
Claire insisted strongly. He must have been surprised by now.
“Come to think of it. Claire Mcllroy was dressed as a maid.”
The mask’s eyes flickered ever-so-slightly as he examined her clothing.
“Are you stunned? You’re mistaking me for a maid right now? That’s even more unpleasant. You’re treating me as a maid!”
The man’s eyes narrowed in response to her repeated criticism.
Claire felt a chill from his intense stare, but she held her ground.
His doubts would return if she showed any hint of faltering.
“I apologize. I was wrong.:
The man lowered his torso slightly and put his right hand on his heart.
Claire silently released a sigh of relief.
With the stress gone, her legs felt weak.
“What’s the name of the lady?”
A corner of his mouth lifted as the man held out his hand.
His icy blue gaze froze her in place.
Claire had the brief sensation of being a butterfly ensnared in a spider’s web. The thoughtless woman stretched out and grabbed his hand.
To be fair, she almost did.
“Bark, bark, bark!”
Except for the puppy’s frantic barking, I wouldn’t have known.
“Woof, growl, and bark!”
The dog circled him, barking crazily and flailing its ears.
He looked downcast at the dog.
A puppy was in his sights, and he leaned down to snag it by the scruff of the neck.
The puppy yowled and flailed around in his hands.
“You terrified him, so give him to me.”
In an instant, Claire had the dog in her arms.
She may have given in to the man and offered him more than just her hand if the dog hadn’t interfered. It’s possible she revealed her actual identity.
Claire’s arms were wrapped around the dog like a lucky charm.
“So, what’s the lady’s name?”
The man, who had been staring at the dog with a bewildered face, repeated his question.
“If the lady says so.”
The man’s mask suddenly dropped as he looked at her.
Black hair dripped down his forehead, drenched in sweat.
Turquoise eyes that were stunningly clear, a tidy brow, a straight nose, a slim jawline, and carelessly closed lips were seen beneath it.
Claire accidentally let out an exclamation.
The man’s attractiveness made him an easy target for admiration.
That is to say, his looks were the sort that would make people risk their lives for.
What was even more unexpected was that…
He was a man who… three years after being exiled from the Valles Monastery, she ran across the same person she’d encountered on the woodland path leading to the duke’s residence.
He who had coldly threatened to murder her if they ever crossed paths again.
The once-beautiful young man now stood taller and more powerful than before.
The scar on the man’s face was the only noticeable change from before.
The scar, which ran from his left cheekbone to his zygomatic bone, seemed as though it had been made by a razor.
There wasn’t a scar there when she first met him three years ago. It appeared to be a later acquisition…
Claire’s face of shock as she looked at the man
The man’s velvety lips parted gently.
“Eiden… Lucas Natan.”
As soon as she felt his name engraved on her skin, it was as if all the life force had been sucked out of her.
Because of this, the name “Edien” elicited an unusual response from her.
Simply put, she feared for her life upon meeting him.
Needless to say, she had to get away.
But Claire felt stuck like she had roots in the earth, unable to move.
Claire’s face had gone completely white, and the man cocked his head to gaze at her. His disfiguring scar twitched in response to the motion.
Three years ago, he was ready to reach out and put his arm around her neck.
A step was taken at last.
Claire blacked out and didn’t even notice when she was embraced.
* * *
The young nun Claire raised her eyes to the elderly Director.”
<I’m sorry I broke a promise to your dad.>
The Director patted Claire’s head gently, a worried expression on his face.
<I’m confident you can weather this storm because Duke Stanton has reached out to us to take you in.>
After saying her goodbyes, Claire walked out of the Valles Monastery and into the woods. She trekked through the dense jungle holding the map drawn by the Director.
No sunshine entered the woodland, making it gloomy and foreboding.
There was something unsettling about the forest’s animal noises.
The following second, creatures appeared out of nowhere and surrounded Claire.
The monstrous noises that these enormous beasts made were quite terrifying. Claire was too afraid to even scream as a creature with a scythe-like arm charged toward her.
The event occurred at that time.
Blood gushed in every direction after a sharp slashing noise.
She heard a human voice as she blinked her eyes to clear them from the monster’s blood.
A young man carefully made his way out.
She turned around to find the man surrounded by the gruesomely dispersed bodies of the beasts.
Without batting an eye, the man slashed the neck of the beast that wriggled in front of Claire.
Claire raised her eyes to the man’s harsh, terrible face.
He was a man whose stunning good looks nearly dazzled her.
His eyes, a cold turquoise, fixed on Claire.
<I was asking you…>
Worriedly, the man put his hands around Claire’s neck.
<Why don’t you tell me if it is you?>
Claire could only quake and shake her head.
<I am Eiden Lucas Natan Atark Immortelle.”
Claire remembered that name forever.
<Where’s the sign?>
He cocked his head to the side and looked at her rapidly. After much searching, he curled his lips in frustration.
<You are mute, illiterate, and powerless to slay the monsters in your midst.>
A heavy sigh escaped Eiden’s lips.
<I don’t need someone so useless.>
Claire was so frightened that she frantically flailed her arms and legs rather than ask him to explain what he meant.
<Don’t get my attention, because if we run into one other again, I’ll murder you.>
As though discarding a used rag, Eiden let go of Claire.
A monstrosity from the depths of the night cried out and emerged from the shadows.
The creature slashed the air with its extended claw.
When Claire saw Eiden standing before her, she glanced up from where she was sitting with wide eyes.
His bloodied cheek drooped awkwardly to the side.
<Is there no one left?>
He brushed off the blood and strode confidently toward the beast. The beast appeared alarmed by his approach and retreated.
The creature collapsed, cut in half as his blade traced a glittering arc through the air.
The man who brandished the blade abruptly retreated.
The monster’s wound was pretty severe. The blood was splattered heavily across one side of his face.
His bloodstained face made him look incredibly horrific.
His scarred cheek was the result of…
‘Yes, I am to blame.’