Before the Villains’ Ending 3
Cried the guard in a fit of surprise. I looked down at the outstretched hand, keeping my distance. It was so pathetic that I almost wanted to catch it in mine, but I couldn’t; it was clear that if I took it, the sparks would also run along my body.
He mumbled sadly.
As if he wanted me to hear it properly, his voice was slow and clear.
“You told me this is fine. You said one should ask for kindness when they’re sick, and that the people who discarded me are weird.”
Of course, they were.
These were the words he muttered while reminiscing about the environment he grew up in. I looked down and recalled his past.
Taylor Knight was raised in an underground guild from an early age.
According to the narrative, Taylor could only eat if he succeeded in his assassinations.
As a genius in such a field, he was raised only as a tool to kill.
It was an apparent tragedy that this man had to grow used to it.
Eventually, Taylor began to think like this at some point.
Oh, isn’t this life okay? No. I think it’s pretty fun.
I don’t know if it’s because of his status as a disposable villain, but Taylor was the one who aimed for the female lead at the request of various side characters. My sister was among those clients, and it was only natural that Taylor’s guild held close ties with her.
Her request was the abduction of Beatrice.
Moreover, Taylor never even learned that what he was doing was wrong. So when he was commissioned, his work was too flawless.
Unlike the usual assassination of a nobleman, where the reasons wouldn’t be difficult to guess, Taylor’s work was so neat that it could be assumed as a simple disappearance.
Eventually, he started enjoying it. However, as the original story progressed, he eventually fell for Beatrice and began a passionate, one-sided obsession. When the crown prince retook her from him, he later turned to Florencia and actively helped her.
The murder target had already become the target of obsessive love.
In return, Taylor was jailed after being hit by a lethal poison dart. The guild didn’t rescue him.
When the guild abandoned him, the safety measure that kept him alive was stopped.
The side effects were seizures.
The description was so horrifying that I skipped it, but he admitted that he endured it even in his sleep.
I remembered it being described as similar to withdrawal symptoms from drug addiction, vaguely recalling from my memories the similarities.
When I first came to visit my sister, I stared at him in silence. Taylor used to deride me.
‘Why are you coming to see that woman? Why do you look like that? That remorse, did you do something bad?’
It wasn’t fair, either. He made scathing remarks with abusive language.
‘… I think so, too.’
‘It’s true. You should feel sorry for the victims. Regardless of what I think, I’m a bad person. Regardless of the reason, I let it happen.’
‘I just– I don’t think you’re happy, either. Don’t get sick, now.’
I learned then, for the first time, that those red eyes could widen.
After we got a little closer, Taylor admitted that he would be in complete isolation here.
He told me that if you touch him to execute him, he’d kill himself.
He confessed that he’d never once thought of breaking out of prison.
As usual, I just nodded. There was nothing that could be done aside from such small gestures of comfort.
Taylor often asked me if I could come over. At those times, he looked as if he had been crying.
… At least, that’s how it looked to me.
Florencia Eilish, Calix Hamel, and Taylor Knight.
What these three villains had in common was their lack of regard for their lives. They were unhappy. Not just with their fates, but with their entire lives, and how they couldn’t even receive a little love back.
Murder isn’t justifiable. But they were already unhappy.
The villains could only be pitied. I couldn’t relate, but I can admit that they were better than Jung Eun-ha’s father.
Their past deserved sympathy. There was nothing that could offer them even a little relief, because they had been driven to the point of crime.
The man in front of me didn’t look like a real villain.
That’s why I told him, then, that seeing him sick like this, I don’t think the ones who abandoned him were the good guys.
“Taylor, calm down.”
I whispered gently. Calm down, huh? He’s a good boy. I didn’t say anything much, yet.
His grasping hand went down, helpless. I shrugged as if I couldn’t help it, and crouched down in front of the cage. That hand then froze.
“I’m just busy.”
Taylor looked disbelieving.
Looking at his wary face and his hair, he reminded me of a cat. With the reasonable thought of asking if he heard me, I reached out to pet him.
He took a few steps back.
“You’ll get shocked…”
“You held out your hand earlier. Didn’t you ask me to hold it?”
He was desperate.
Taylor couldn’t say anything. I giggled as I watched him hide his face in his pillow.
I didn’t mean to. My laughter was buried by the guard’s coughing.
As usual, I spent the most time with Taylor. It was because I knew that he was trying his best.
It wasn’t difficult to soothe his loneliness. The scene where the assassin cuddled his pillow and boasted that nothing happened today was cute.
Moreover, he was the person who most desperately needed the medicine I gave out.
Even when receiving it, Taylor would look at me and lick his lips as if he had never uttered words of thanks in his life. It seemed awkward to say thank you.
Oh, I would have patted you on the head if a high-pressure current didn’t flow through those bars.
“You’re coming tomorrow, aren’t you?”
I came to, looking at the man, who rubbed his dim eyes in sleepiness.
Perhaps lying wouldn’t work on him. I knew the eerie insight this bleak-eyed prisoner had.
Didn’t he bring it up a few weeks ago? How many openings were created when a guard approaches during mealtime?
He was so talented that he was horrified by his own understanding of other people’s emotions, and he had a talent for discerning the truth.
I didn’t lie.
“… I don’t know.”
Taylor put down his pillow. Due to his exhausted physical strength, his eyes were almost closed as he slowly blinked.
Then, he spread out his hands and spoke in an innocent voice.
As if there was no pain in his palms covered with burns, the trembling he had prior was nowhere to be found.
He repeated, waving his hand as if to greet me.
“… this coward.”
I shook my head, smiling helplessly. It’s pitiful how he mercilessly could take advantage of how much I adored him.
He was so strangely clumsy when he asked for human warmth.
“For now… Get some sleep.”
It was a similar answer to what I said to the man before him.
Taylor seemed to want a definite answer. But for me, well, this was really for the best.
Two months is a short time to save my sister.
Looking back at me, the guard had a conflicted look. The pocketful of gold coins that I handed to him each time doesn’t seem to be enough.
I squeezed the coin in my hand and looked at this honest civil servant with an unsympathetic gaze.
“Thank you for that.”
What a sweet but timid voice that sounded sincere. The guard looked down awkwardly, and I recalled what my sister had said about him.
I thanked him. My sister laughed at me, saying that my kindness is just like me.
This time, there was no respect. I tossed the coin carelessly, and it bounced off the guard’s fingertips to roll on the ground.
Maybe he’d pick up the coins without a word.
Here, in Sinalore Prison, there were many restrictions when visiting the prisoners.
The time was limited to twenty minutes, and in Taylor’s case, visits were outright prohibited. Even I, as Florencia’s direct family member, had a long way to visit as she was also imprisoned for attempted treason and a felon to be executed soon.
Calix Hamel was also no exception.
… Although that’s just how the story goes if you didn’t use gold.
The guard was competent. Depending on my mood, I had one gold coin or sometimes twenty coming out of my pocket.
He was good at catching on and even willing to give information on people that I wanted to see. The power of capitalism was so great that it could create a miracle where the lower class were kind to me.
Not to mention that guard who was in charge of being the guide.
The first day I visited, my sister smiled so brightly when I appeared.
That smile was so full of mocking towards the guard who had served as my guide, rather than joy from seeing me.
In her hoarse voice, my older sister lashed out at him.
She said, ‘Before, you used to pull my hair through the bars, and now you’re letting me meet my sister?’
That wasn’t good, either. Considering her tone of voice was still more refined and elegant than mine, Florencia was still the foremost Lady of the Empire and not Beatrice.
Anyway, I heard what she said, and looked back at that guard. Then I laughed coldly.
“You. How dare you.”
Needless to say, that guard hadn’t touched my sister since.
“Have you finished your visit?”
When I came out of prison, a man with reddish brown hair greeted me.
I looked up into his blue eyes. He looked restless, struggling to hold on to his composure.
Maybe he was more worried about Florence than I was.
As he questioned me anxiously, he seemed to have gotten the news that the execution date was set. I gave up on reassuring him and replied briefly.
That expression immediately twisted. Of course, it would. I sighed as I caught sight of a miserable man who loved a wicked woman.
What an ill-advised crush it was. My sister said that she had liked him once.
I mean, before the Crown Prince and their engagement talks.
She insinuated that he also adored her, and Florencia Eilish was surprisingly right.
‘Do I look stupid to you? I can tell just by looking at him.’
‘That’s about right. It’s weirder not to know.’
‘…Yes, it’s strange not to know.’
The original Florencia realized the sincerity of his love too late. My sister had bowed out quietly, as if she knew, and then would recite this excuse.
‘By all means, I can’t see him anymore. A knight shouldn’t be hanging out with a murderer.’
‘Who, my sister? Oh, my God, Mel, what kind of nonsense is that?’
‘Tremendously true nonsense. Anyway, I’ll just keep my mouth shut.’
The knight’s face twisted in anger even as he smiled, remembering the conversation we had just a few days ago. I walked up the stairs, waving my hands to emphasize that it was nothing like he thought.