Chapter 2

***

One day, a white snake coiled its huge body on a vast land, curled its tail, and begged a couple who was passing by him, “I can’t find my brother, so can you find him and bring him here for me?”

 

The couple nodded at the request of the serpent whose eyes were glistening like platinum. After asking for the name and appearance of the brother, they set out to search for the black snake. They had searched for so long that the seasons changed three times.

 

At last, they approached a black snake which they found in some forest in the north and said, “I heard your brother is looking for you.”

 

On a cold winter day, the white snake, who was waiting for them to come back with his tail coiled around itself, could see them approaching very slowly from afar when the seasons had already changed for the fourth time.

 

The woman was staggering on both feet, and the man was crawling on the road like a snake.

 

Wondering what happened, the white snake asked them after they arrived in front of him three days later. The girlfriend had red eyes and her body was trembling when she said she met a black snake in the forest in the north.

 

The snake had shiny dark scales and flashing eyes.

 

“When I told him about you, he bit my lover and crawled away with haste.” She said.

 

“Tell him, you won’t kill him. So hurry up and go. Go to my brother.”

 

The woman who delivered the message gritted her teeth as hard as she could. “Don’t ever try to look for me!!” The woman who listened to the serpent’s request, finally exclaimed with a face like a madman.

 

“But my lover is dead! The man who promised to share all his joy and sorrow with me, and was like my alter ego.”

 

Unable to control her sorrow, the woman buried her face in her dead lover’s body crying like there was no tomorrow. The woman, who had dragged her dying lover barefooted for a long distance, had all her nails missing.

 

“As I scratched the floor in longing, my nails fell out with time. The beast without hands and feet dared not fathom its mind.”

 

***

 

I feel like I’m getting thirsty.

 

Whenever Ian breathed, he felt his esophagus scratching, forcing his eyes to open.

 

I felt like I was dreaming, but the hazy, spinning vision made me feel sick.

 

He blinked several times in a delirious state and was able to look straight at the distant ceiling.

 

“…..”

 

Why is the ceiling so high?

 

The high ceiling was a privilege that was not available for everyone in a city where population density is severe and land prices are absurd. If that’s the case, he would rather have another floor and get a tenant.

 

Nevertheless, the people who did such ignorant things were mostly the upper class, who were among the 1% of the population or the grandparents who came to possess a lot of money since a long time ago.

 

To support this hypothesis, the elaborate tables, with the gorgeous chandeliers and craftsmen spreading below, looked like very expensive antique furniture.

 

He saw it right away. He looked around quickly and grasped the atmosphere, but he didn’t know why he woke up in that place.

 

After following sporadic thoughts, Ian realized at one point that his whole body was throbbing as if he had been beaten for several days.

 

What is this? I didn’t even dare to get up, I was buried in a fluffy bed, trying to figure out what the date is.

 

Oh, by the way, when was it..…

 

“You’re finally awake.”

 

Disrupting his train of thoughts, the door opened and someone came into the room.

 

Neatly arranged and combed-back white hair and silver monochromatic monocles.

 

Ian’s heart smacked at the sight of a middle-aged man dressed like a butler in a well-fitting, beautifully groomed scarf.

 

I don’t know who you are, but you have great taste.

 

“You didn’t regain your consciousness for two weeks. It was such a big accident that it is only natural. Is your throat okay?”

 

Come to think of it, I think I woke up with a sore throat. It’s been that long. I have many questions in my head, but I think I should ask where I am first. Fortunately, it is not an atmosphere where guns can be pointed at immediately.

 

However.

 

“Oh, my God.”

 

What he said was not a pleasant voice, but an unpleasant stabbing one. As if the wind were leaking, great pain came with a whooshing sound. A sharp blade seemed to pick the esophagus without hesitation.

 

I clenched my teeth and held my breath until I saw the man looking down at me with a frowning face.

 

“Don’t push yourself too hard. Your vocal cords are so damaged that it will be difficult for you to talk right away. It is a great pity that the wagon was attacked. It happened before we entered our territory.”

 

Wagon?

 

He didn’t know where to start, but there were many incongruous words everywhere.

 

In today’s world, only Disneyland or famous tourist attractions have wagons, and they have no scruples about saying things like “attack”.

 

My voice became like this for other reasons.

 

“…..!”

 

Ian frowned as he recalled his vague memories. It wasn’t a long time ago, but it was a long way off.

 

That’s not the reason but because I strangled myself…

 

Ian quickly grabbed his throat, only then did something come to his mind. He felt goosebumps with the sensation of being wrapped carefully in a bandage.

 

Although the pain was severe, the memory of cutting open his airway and pushing the canvas knife in is still vivid. Even if it wasn’t for excessive bleeding, it would have been polite to have tetanus on a day when you got rust and paint everywhere.

 

[T/N – Canvas knife: A thin blade of varying flexibility set in a handle and used for mixing colors or applying them to a canvas]

 

It was even more noticeable when I remembered the red puddles on the ground. First aid was also impossible. I calculated up to that time, and then I went there.

 

Then how on earth did I live after what had happened?

 

When I stared at the man in front of me with a blank expression, I wondered what he meant by this smile. It was an ideal smile that would only appear in movies, but I instinctively felt that it was only natural for his appearance.

 

“Oh, I greeted you lately.”

 

The man with his head down introduced himself as Edward. He is the butler of this mansion, so it is okay to call him “Ed”, and what should I say to the person who speaks his duty as a butler? In the first place, I was not cut out for the role-playing of chaebols.

 

Or is this a dream?

 

[T/N – Chaebol: (in South Korea) a large family-owned business conglomerate.]

 

It was strangely devoid of a sense of reality.

 

It was the first time I had such a dream, I am not an imaginative person. Since I had never slept comfortably, I never dreamt. It would be different if I had slept forever.

 

My head was a little dizzy.

 

Come to think of it, I had a dream before I woke up. A very bright white snake appeared…

 

“The Lord is out of the office at the moment because we cannot delay the schedule any longer.”

 

When the man noticed the employer’s title, he smiled gently and lowered his voice as if to tell a story that would be a problem if anyone heard it.

 

“I’ve been waiting for you to wake up. It is also the master, who gave you the holy water which is hard to get. Without it, it would probably be difficult for you to wake up as you are now.”

 

Every tone of his voice had a note of concern for me. I seem to have identified that in words.

 

Are you Catholic?

 

I pondered if the holy water is the one I know of, but then I shook my head right after.

 

I think it’s terrible to spray holy water on people who are dying.

 

It is not known how he accepted Ian’s unresponsive behavior.

 

After a while, someone came into the room with a knock. It was a woman with orange hair that was tied up beautifully, wearing a maid’s uniform.

 

Such noble interests.

 

“It will relieve the sore throat a little.”

 

There was a tea set beautifully carved with unnamed flowers on the tray.

 

Ian was just staring at the man, pouring something into the cup with his elegant movements.

 

He doesn’t eat or drink what others give him. He shook his head as he reached the cup in front of him, then stopped and looked down.

 

He was still smiling but something seemed off.

 

As he looked at the man with a fixed expression and a steady mouth, Ian continued to think bitterly.

 

It can’t be helped if I am forced to eat this.

 

The windows were covered with opaque curtains so I couldn’t see outside but I could feel a crowd near the door.

 

There seems to be no one near the window. I don’t know which floor this is so it will probably not be a good attempt. In the first place, it is reckless to break out of an unknown place.

 

It was after some time that Ian stopped thinking, whether it was better to obey calmly or get out quickly.

 

“…..”

 

What’s the use of all this trouble?

 

I used a knife to slit my throat to die.

 

Once again the throbbing pain suddenly dissipated.

 

Still looking at the cup in front of him, Ian decided to stop thinking. It’s a dream anyway. It’s even more ridiculous that he has been trying so hard to live.

 

When he was handed the tea cup, he could feel the man’s gaze.

 

He nonchalantly drank a sip of the tea which was cooled down. The bitter and sweet taste stirred his tongue at the same time.

 

It certainly wasn’t a healthy taste.

 

“Try to get some sleep. Well then…”

 

He seemed to add something else in a friendly tone, but I couldn’t hear it well. All I remember was tiredness that came like a flood and I closed my eyes without realizing it.

 

In fact, it doesn’t matter what happens.

 

This time Ian closed his halting eyes again, hoping it would all be over.

 

***

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