Barkan breathed in the cigar smoke deeply and glanced at Erel lying in the bed. Her exhausted pale face was speckled with red dots like flowers adorning a field.
This was the aftereffect of the Sebring.
Barkan hadn’t taken much energy from her. In fact, he only took a small bite instead of enjoying the whole dinner.
Nevertheless, Erel appeared to be half-dead. It was obvious that she would not last long under such a powerful Masaka.
It was really unfortunate.
‘But I don’t want to let you go.’
It had already been two days since the Sebring. However, Barkan could still recall the experience vividly as if it only happened a few seconds ago.
Living as a Masaka was similar to having a decaying body immersed in a sea of pain. Every single part of him, from head to toe, was corrupted.
However, the moment he handed over that deadly energy to her and received the energy of life in return, all his pain disappeared, like it had been washed away with clean water.
Since the time Erel used her power at the hat shop, Barkan knew her ability as a Resabre was quite superior, in contradiction to her weak body. The Resabres’ powers were like goods stored in a warehouse, but unlike the others, Erel could also take it out and “use it”
‘Of course, we’ll have to wait and see if it was a coincidence or not.’
There were only a few Resabres in history who were able to control their abilities. It would be quite interesting if she turned out to be one of them. That is, if she lasts that long.
“You’re not going to die now.”
Barkan exhaled a long stream of smoke while watching Erel, who had yet to wake up. He had an endless amount of plans for her in the future, but if she died now, it would all be in vain.
“She’s going to die.”
Barkan couldn’t believe what he had just heard.
He frowned, his thick eyebrows furrowing as he glared at his servant.
“If you keep smoking next to the Resabre, she won’t last long,” Celo added, avoiding his eyes with an expressionless face.
Celo’s gaze was clearly directed at the cigar between his fingers. Only then did Barkan laugh briefly at his subordinate’s response.
He thought Erel was a noble lady, who was ignorant of the ways of the world, but seeing how iron-walled Celo willingly defended her, she was quite skillful.
Of course, Barkan did not doubt that Celo might harbor some feelings toward Erel. But, regardless of how much time passed, a bear cannot become a fox.
Humans can never escape their innate nature. The same is true for Celo, however, he wasn’t the type to covet his master’s woman, not even after his death. However…
“You’re really sympathetic.”
It was still unexpected. He thought Celo, who was from the Slums, would be somewhat dissatisfied with seeing Erel surrounded by silk and jewels.
Despite that, Celo was not wrong. The air around Erel was tainted by the smoke, if he smoked anymore, even that would surely be too much for her weakened body.
In fact, whenever he smoked one, Erel’s condition would deteriorate even more rapidly. Recalling this, Barkan glanced down at the cigar in his hand, however, he didn’t put it out.
“You’re killing her.”
Barkan licked his lips and exhaled furiously.
“She is a woman who is destined to die anyway. If not by the smoke, then by my hand.”
It sounded heartless, but it didn’t make it any less true. It was Masakas, not smoke, that killed Resabres. Like a disgusting parasite, Barkan had every intention of taking Erel, and greedily draining her life essence.
But now that he was worried about her health, he cut off the consumption. It was a farce in itself, a mockery, and no one was more deceptive than Erel.
But, in the end, the moment she caught his eye, her death was inevitable.
“You have to wake up quickly, my princess.”
“We don’t have much time to spend together,” Barkan whispered, grabbing her chin, and slowly closing his eyes.
However, contrary to his words, the cigar still went to his lips. In the darkened bedroom, his sharp nose and lips were visible due to the red glow of the burning cigar.
Seeing this, Celo simply shook his head. And when Erel began to tremble and sweat from a fever, he brought a thicker blanket and covered her. However, when his hand touched Erel as he tucked her in carefully, it was not by mistake.
* * * * * * *
A carriage came to a stop on the well-trimmed green grass. When the gold-embellished, red-mahogany door opened, a light-haired beauty carefully stepped out.
Erel looked up at the beautiful marble mansion, accented with vivid cobalt blue and elegant dark green colors, and sighed happily.
“I’m finally home.”
Gazing upon Count Elorence’s mansion filled her with an indescribable feeling. Although her face was haggard after being bedridden for a few days, her expression was glowing.
Erel honestly didn’t believe that Barkan would keep his promise and she would be held captive until she was drained of her vitality. But unexpectedly, he kept his word.
When Erel finally awoke, he readily prepared a carriage. She was full of doubt during her trip home, but that changed once the carriage dropped her off in front of Count Elorence’s mansion.
‘Maybe he’s not the insufferable villain I thought he was.’
With that thought in mind, Erel was just about to take a step toward her home when she heard a familiar sound. The carriage had already left, but the sound of hoofs was heard from behind her again.
‘Did the horseman forget something?’
Erel’s face paled the moment she tilted her head and looked back.
“That’s not the carriage I arrived in…”
The carriage, which was so dark that it lacked luster, looked large and threatening. The reinforced wheels, which seemed as if it could carry the carriage to the ends of the world, stopped in front of Erel, crushing a patch of fragile flowers in the process.
Then the carriage door swung open and a man with eyes glittering in the sunlight, descended with his long legs. His eyes were perfect, as if painted with the delicate stroke of a brush, and seemed displeased with the sunlight. He squinted as if he hadn’t seen it in a long time.
For a moment, a fascinating expression spread across his face when his gaze landed on Erel. He smiled awkwardly, like he had no idea how to react to her shocked expression.
“So, this is where you live,” the man said, his eyes briefly moving to gaze upon The Elorence mansion.
Like gold dust reflecting off the surface of a red ruby, his hair excessively glistened beneath the sunrays. However, the mesmerizing effect was lost on Erel, her chest tightening as if she was on the verge of a heart attack.
“You… Why are you here…?” Erel asked, his presence causing her to fumble with her words.
Barkan looked down at her with mischievous eyes before reaching out to grasp both of her trembling hands. Raising one of her small hands, he rubbed his lips against the soft skin.
“You’re so cold-hearted, call me Barkan,” he teased playfully.
His voice was husky, as if he was whispering to his lover.
“Your name is unimportant. Why are you at my house-” Erel began to ask again while attempting to shake off the feelings his voice invoked.
“Barkan,” he interrupted and repeated again with a smile. Although it was one word, the effect of his voice was drastically more overwhelming than before.
Whenever he behaved this way, Erel became conscious of the vast difference between Barkan and herself. Unfortunately, she was weak and had no choice but to go along with his whims. At least Barkan was being nice and generous by encouraging her, rather than forcing her. It would be wise to listen to him obediently.
“You did a great job,” Barkan praised with a bright smile.
As smart people usually do, he hated wasting time on meaningless and annoying word wrestling.
[Ding! Barkan’s favorability increase by 1]
Erel was not happy despite the unparalleled increase in favorability. Her light-colored eyes alternated between Barkan’s devastating handsome face and the Elorence mansion behind him.
The events of her nightmares were about to unfold into reality.
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