Red Labyrinth - Chapter 9
Translator and Editor: Lea and Aki
Eventually, she tripped over her leg. Part of her knee got scraped. Tears welled up in her red eyes. No, actually, her whole face had been covered with the wetness of her tears. Hugging her skinny limbs, she cried. It didn’t matter if she sat on the dirt. When anxiety reached its limit, it crossed the line that could have been suppressed.
She was too frugal and insignificant.
Everyone had turned their back on her whenever they saw her crying over a small cut. She may have cried louder for such indifference, but the royal palace and the temple of Argonia had always recognized Icaryl’s bluff.
“Are you all right?”
She had never heard, rather, even dreamed of hearing those words in her life.
Sniffling her red nose, she raised her eyes towards a friendly-faced person. It was like she had discovered something very unknown in her world. The person smiled, lowering his body to her level.
She could see those red-brown eyes of his.
It was the boy she had met before. He was like a disparaging soul that was incomparable in her eyes. Unlike her selfish and chivalrous personality, he seemed like a kind soul from the outside. She instinctively recognized his nature like a beast even though she struggled from forcing down her own elicitation.
Icaryl had once miraculously survived when her older sister tried to plunge her into an old well out of jealousy during her childhood. And thus, her instincts were sharp. She thought,
‘This person is dangerous.’
He was different than the Marquis of Esperis. His bright and friendly smile, which usually seemed welcoming and cherishing, was not all he had. It felt like a sharp spring haze that was even more fatal than sleet.
He seemed like a warm sword, who would sneak up on her, poison her sweetly, and throw her into the abyss. No one could ever find a flaw in him, and that’s what was the scariest thing about him.
‘He’ll put me in danger.’
As she cramped with her eyes closed, the boy approached her and raised her thin arms to put them around his shoulder in an uncomfortable position. However, it was difficult for her to move her feet. She tried to push away the boy’s shoulders, backing away over the dirt, half-scared and half-overwhelmed. He must have understood it as a sign of discomfort, so he corrected his posture as if he was handling an old person. Icaryl was stuck, and her chin was now buried in his warmest thorn-like strands. The scent of those blond strands of his was buried at the tip of her nose.
He smelled dangerously sweet. Just like a poppy and honey-stained apple.
She was afraid of her brain to get paralyzed. It was so sweet that she couldn’t get herself together. Icaryl held her breath like a freshwater fish trying not to take in marine water.
“We’ve met before, haven’t we? I know you. You’re Icaryl.”
Icaryl only blinked blankly with her palms covering her nose and mouth. As if she was nauseated at the sight of a tempting piece of gold.
“I’ve been curious about you.”
“Then I found out. A girl brought from a distant destroyed land. It was too obvious.”
“The Emperor’s property. Icaryl Sibonne.”
As she flinched at his words, the boy glanced at her frozen little body and patted her stiff back. A shrill breath spewed out of her lips. He continued to step forward with Icaryl’s little self resting within his arms. He casually said,
“I can’t believe they’re calling such a child like you someone’s property. I guess it’s true that the Emperor is senile.”
‘I’m not a child.’
But she just kept her lips pursed and kept listening to his voice, which rang like golden bells.
“You don’t have to be surprised. That old man is not my real father, but he’s like my father.”
“Oh, and I am Carl. You already know that, right?”
He asked cheerfully even though he expected no answer from her. It was clear that he was a child of strong ego who grew up with a proud self-esteem like a sunflower and a large, full-fledged affection. Like a clear gravel in an unadorned pond.
Icaryl kept listening to his chatter without realizing it. She felt tired. This kind of brightness was like a deadly drug to people like her who were meant to be twisted. It was so contrasting that it felt disgusting. His existence alone made herself feel shabby. Unprovoked hostility swarmed in the mist.
It was so unfamiliar yet undeniable.
“Hmm, it’s like a life experience to you, but you don’t like that old man either, do you? I’m correct, aren’t I? But there’s no need to be afraid of me.”
But, Icaryl had never seen the Emperor except for the portraits that were made when he was younger, which may or may not have been beautified.
When there was still no response from her side, Carl cooed in her ear as she was about to have a heart attack.
“I promise. I’ll tell brother Alex when I get there.”
When Icaryl nodded, the boy giggled and stroked her young white hair. A clear aroma of the branches of a cedar tree reached her nostrils. But when his fingertips burned along her cheek, she returned to her cautiousness.
“Don’t worry. We’re almost there.”
Her heart thumped at his sweet words.
‘What’s wrong with me?’
“That red roof over there….Aah! What—?”
After she took five steps, she realized that she had bit the boy’s neck and ran away. Carl stood still with a puzzled look on his face and stared at the girl in the distance. The flaming shame rushed to penetrate her and her cheeks felt hot. She entered the room like a runaway herbivore and hid in it.
The maids in charge, which were no different from puppies scared of fire, hurried to the room, but Icaryl didn’t even care to give a glance. When the annoying crowd rushed in, she shouted,
She felt dizzy and felt golden rings circling around her head. She groaned, burying her face in the pillow.
Her ears were sharp red, which peeped through the white and brown disheveled strands of her hair.
Ever since that day, Icaryl had been confined to her room. She hadn’t taken a single step off her bed until the news of the Black Admiral leaving the capital reached her ears. After a grand banquet for the celebration of their victory, he left amid cheers from all the nations.
It wasn’t until two days after the sound of the army’s trumpet crossed the walls of the capital that she crept out of her tunnel like a mouse to finally enjoy the warmth of the spring sun.
Meanwhile, Marquis Esperis, who had secretly started as an advance team, was confronted by the pirates on the peninsula near the borders, but Icaryl could not have known this. Even the artillery that rang down her home country when it was being invaded seemed distant. Icaryl was only relieved that the scary man had finally drifted away from her.
When her basic liberal arts lessons were over, she was left unattended as expected. Not to mention the power of her family, she could not be favored by the Emperor, so no one was very interested in her. Even her title as the last member of the royal family of Argonia fell as time flowed by.
Ironically, however, Icaryl gained enormous freedom, security, and peace for the first time in her life. She had never felt so happy to live away from people’s surveillance and neglectful eyes. She had no problems with her meals or her naps or her clothing. When Argonia was in full bloom, forced innocence was required according to the pretentious and vain traditions of the temple, and it was a ridiculous pleasure for her older sister who used to harass her out of jealousy.
An enemy’s land was more than her own. What a contradictory truth.
But her life itself was marked by a contradiction in crime anyway.
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