I Sought Out the Tragedy's Scheming Mastermind - Chapter 2
1. I reincarnated as a supporting character in a tragic novel*
For the longest time, an eerie, persistent gaze had always followed her.
Right then, she looked out the bus window when she felt the prickly gaze on her, and saw a sunbae** who was riding a red sports car, laughing directly at her.
Just what the hell was wrong with him.
As she stared at him in disgust, his car sped straight into the bus she was riding. In the bus driver’s panic, he swerved sharply to avoid the incoming car.
But then, on the other side of the street was a truck rushing straight at the bus.
It was chaos.
Something slammed into her chest with incredible force, and she was flung out of her seat like a limp rag doll.
Afterwards, she felt warm liquid trickling down her head.
The only thing she could still see in her fading vision was that bright red sports car.
Everything was a blur and nothing made sense, but that bastard somehow found the gall to laugh derisively at her.
It looked like he wasn’t satisfied with just harassing her all this time. Now, he was even responsible for taking her life.
All this time, she thought he was a good person. He was a sunbae at school who had everything: he went to a good school, he hailed from an affluent family, he was popular and he was good at everything.
Just to win against her, she didn’t know he’d go so far as to pull a stunt like this.
‘Is this the end?’
Her days at university flashed before her eyes.
As soon as she entered the room, everyone quieted down.
With her head down and her shoulders hunched, she spoke in a quiet voice.
‘I told you it wasn’t me.’
‘What? People saw you arm in arm with an old man, kissing him even.’
All the men in that room snickered and leered at her suggestively. They laughed as they chatted openly in a joking manner, even though what they were talking about wasn’t a joke at all.
She shouldn’t take any of what they’re saying to heart, they’re sincerely complimenting her, they said.
‘You, I heard you tried to seduce Soo-hyuk because of his money, but then you failed. I’m amazed that you can still show your face here.’
‘I heard a rumor that you’d do anything as long as you’re paid. It that true?’
It was humiliating.
The truth was evident to all, but still, they used these rumors as a justification to sexually harass her more.
And those false rumors took a life of their own.
Friends who she thought were close all turned their backs. Harsh rumors followed her like a plague.
She wanted to set it straight.
She shouted countless times. It wasn’t true! It’s all a lie!
But it was all in vain.
As she fought a hopeless battle alone, a person who she never really talked to before stepped up and approached her.
‘I know that this is all Soo-hyuk sunbae’s fault.’
This was the first time she realized how rotten that person really was.
‘You know, I saw him alone in an empty classroom. He was cursing at you and he even said how dare you take first place in the rankings.’
This was after the rumor about her taking money went rampant. The rumors spread out of control too fast, and she did think that he was responsible for this.
She wanted to laugh.
Knowing the cause and reason of those malicious rumors, she didn’t want to bow her head in shame anymore.
With a fire lit up under her, she decided not to let him get away doing as he pleased.
In the next semester, she tenaciously studied and got the highest grades in their department, one subject after another.
The rumors never left, in fact, they grew even more malicious, but she didn’t care anymore.
Until the direct harassment started.
That’s when she knew for sure.
His inferiority complex was worse than she thought. It might have been better if she took a leave of absence instead of forging ahead.
If there was shit in front of her, then she shouldn’t have stepped on it. She should have avoided it.
She realized it too late.
And so, she died in vain
* * *
When she opened her eyes again, she was in a strange room.
Did she miraculously come back to life?
The blanket that covered her body was soft.
Cautiously, she got out of bed.
All the furniture around her looked like antiques, and it was as if she really was in an antique shop. Compared to this luxurious room, her own room paled in comparison by several degrees.
Rather than a hospital, it would be more apt to call this a hotel.
‘I’m pretty sure I was on a bus on my way to my part-time job just now. I was bored on the way, so I was reading a novel that I’ve been following for a year . . .’
She mulled over how she ended up in this place.
‘Right. I remember now. The moment the traffic light changed, the bus overturned while trying to avoid that sports car.’
Then everything went still.
Her surroundings became dark, and she could feel the sharp sensation of her neck breaking.
With some reluctance, she touched the base of her neck. She could bend it and move it without any problems.
She should have died, but somehow she was still breathing.
Then, she saw a yellow thread.
As she lowered her head to take a closer look, more strands entered her vision.
It wasn’t a thread.
It was her hair.
At that moment, she trembled as she gathered her hair in a bunch.
It was blond. It wasn’t supposed to be blond.
She looked around for a mirror, and she found one on a vanity table at one corner of the room. However, as she tried to get up from the bed and run to the mirror, she felt a strong pang in her stomach.
It felt as though she had been kicked squarely in the stomach.
She crawled to the vanity, groaning as she held her sides.
After struggling to get there, her eyes widened as she looked at her reflection.
She blinked and rubbed her eyes over and over, but nothing changed.
The woman in the mirror was not her. It was a completely different person.
That face wasn’t hers.
‘I always tie my black hair back because it gets in the way . . .’
Her cheeks were supposed to be gaunt, and her pallor should be horrible because of sleep deprivation.
That’s what her appearance should have been like. The reflection that stared back at her was a complete one-eighty from what she looked like in reality.
It was as if honey had been poured over her.
This blond hair, which gently gave way as she combed her fingers through it, reminded her of a gold coin.
Her wavy hair was thick, and her skin was immaculate.
When she opened her lips to mumble to herself, the beautiful woman in the mirror opened her lips as well.
Lemon-colored eyes, which were endowed with thick lashes, trembled at the sight.
“How the hell is this . . .”
She stopped herself mid-sentence.
Even the voice wasn’t right. It had no resemblance to how it should have sounded.
A perfect stranger was posing as herself in the mirror before her.
Right then, she felt a piercing throb in her stomach again, which caused her to double over. Every time she moved, a tingling pain followed.
She lifted her chemise-style nightgown to see the damage, then her face hardened.
“What is this?”
Her abdomen was full of bruises, seemingly from having been kicked by someone. Immediately, she paled at the sight.
‘Who did this . . .’
The entire situation left her with more questions than answers.
While trying to calm down and collect her thoughts, the door swung open as someone walked in.
“Oh my, you’ve awoken.”
She turned her head to see the owner of this unfamiliar voice, but then, thinking that she saw something strange, her eyes narrowed.
It’s because the woman’s clothes were very unusual—she was wearing a white lace apron over a black dress.
It was like a medieval maid uniform.
Then her eyes turned to the woman’s hair.
It was an impressive dark green color that she didn’t think anyone could achieve with normal hair dye.
As she stared without saying anything, the woman sighed deeply and reached down to where she was on the floor.
“Excuse me, but— Do you know who I am?”
“Where is this place? Is this a hospital, ma’am? Am I dead?”
The woman’s face gradually turned aghast. But then, she quickly recovered and scolded the blonde with a stern voice.
“Miss Eliana, what are you going on about? Who died? Why are you talking so formally?”
After hearing the woman say all this with a straight face, the blonde flinched.
She asked again, this time pulling on the woman’s arm, not caring about propriety.
“What did you say?”
“It’s just that . . . You keep saying something about being dead,” the woman replied, her face sullen. It looked like the woman thought she was angry.
‘No, no, what did you just say? You said something else!’
The blonde shook her head and repeated, “No, you said something before that.”
“. . . Eliana? What?”
She pulled on the woman’s arm again, her eyes expressing her incredulity as she asked. Placing her hand on the blonde’s, the woman looked a little sad as she replied.
“But Miss, your name is Eliana Mussieux. How else should I call you? Do you not like your name anymore?”
The moment she heard the name ‘Eliana Mussieux,’ her hand dropped to her side and the shock was evident on her face.
In the meantime, the woman helped her back to the bed, but even after lying back down, she still couldn’t accept the situation.
‘Eliana’ gathered her hair in a fist and scrutinized the blond strands.
The name that the woman uttered was all too familiar.
In this unfamiliar place, it was the only familiar thing.
She looked up and stared blankly at nothing in particular like a terminally ill patient.
At the back of her mind all this time, no wonder she thought it was striking.
Blond hair, slim stature, porcelain skin.
A small face with immaculate features, unforgettable lemon-colored eyes.
Everything pointed to one person. Or rather, one character.
This world was inside a novel.
* * *
It’s been a day since she came here.
She told herself that she might go back to reality once she woke up again.
But morning came without fail and, when she opened her eyes, she was still ‘Eliana Mussieux’.
Frustrated, she flailed under the covers.
‘I just died for nothing, but then I’m going to die again because this character’s gonna kick the bucket anytime now!’
Never once did it cross her mind that she’d be reincarnated as a character in a book she was reading.
She raised her head and stared at nothing in particular, her gaze full of resentment.
* [ 피폐물 ] is loosely translated as ‘tragedy’ or ‘tragic novel,’ but to be more precise, it’s a novel genre where the female protagonist is driven to madness due to various circumstances, such as obsessive love interest/s, abusive relationships (filial, romantic or otherwise), disadvantageous social environments for women (especially in premodern times), etc.
** Sunbae = senior or upperclassman at school or work.
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