PDM Chapter 53
“In this sacred place, s*x is forbidden. You can’t share the same bedroom, so please cooperate.”
The manager assumed our relationship with blatant sarcasm. It was quite insulting.
“This b*stard…” Takan shook his head with a growl.
Before he went out in a fit of rage, I pushed Takan on his back and urged him, “Takan, it’s all right. Go.”
Takan swallowed his anger and looked away. “But…”
I stood up and pushed Takan’s reluctant back again, and he headed forward as if being carried away by the waves. I smiled as bright as possible so that Takan could leave without hesitation.
“I’ll see you later in the resting room.”
I made brief eye contact with Takan, whose eyebrows twitched. He knew my stubbornness was formidable because of the time we spent
As if giving up, he sighed and turned around.
“Be careful,” he said, his voice laced with worry, and followed the manager. Eventually, I was left alone in the dining room.
I stared at Rafnell as she leaned against the wall and made her way down one step at a time. The red thread that had been tight at the end of the stairs gradually loosened.
Rafnel flinched when someone shouted. A few others cursed at her. Someone even threw food in her direction.
My eyebrows furrowed at the dreadful sight. It seemed so natural for them to belittle and persecute her. Even Carje’s hypocrisy did not dilute their evil deeds.
Rafnel staggered over and bowed lightly. Now that I’d seen her up close, her condition was severe. She had dark eyes and was basically skin and bones. There were also blisters along her lips.
She stopped in front of the table and turned her head towards the entrance. I figured she could no longer move. She bowed helplessly.
“I will guide you…” Rafnel spoke without hesitation and turned around.
I followed at her pace. As I went up the zigzag stairs, the second floor was quiet, unlike the cluttered first floor. The second floor, which appeared to be a space for women, had a long corridor with numerous doors.
Rafnel stopped before she climbed the remaining stairs.
“Please wait a moment.”
Rafnel exchanged the taut thread hanging from her wrist for a thread handing on the wall. It seemed that there was a limit to her path of movement.
With the new thread on her wrist, Rafnel moved against the wall.
I looked around and couldn’t resist my curiosity. “What does being a trainee mean?”
Rafnel stopped and turned in my direction. After a moment’s hesitation, she said, “Those who are new to the group… Only by building virtue can you become chosen, and by being chosen can you go to the forest…”
I was about to ask what the conditions for virtue were but held my tongue when I remembered Carje’s face filled with greed.
“Is everyone here building virtue to go to the forest?”
Rafnel nodded her head once and turned around. Only now did I fully understand the situation at the inn. So everyone must be swayed by Rafnel’s words.
Rafnel, who was moving while pointing at the door, suddenly stopped and raised her hand.
She touched the number on the wooden nameplate, her fingertips moving down and grazing the doorknob. Then, she fumbled and grabbed the doorknob and opened it.
“You can use this.”
Leaning against the wall, Rafnel walked into the room and stumbled upon a threshold. She banged her forehead on the ground with a thump.
“Are you alright?”
I grabbed Rafnel’s arms to support her, and she trembled and stiffened at the sudden touch. She groped my wrist around her arm and wrapped her hands around it, and then I heard a sigh of relief.
“Can you get up?”
Rafnel squeaked and got up but staggered again as her legs lost strength. Despite her thin body, I couldn’t ignore her weight as she leaned on me.*
At that moment, the bandage around her eyes unraveled, and one eye appeared. The one I saw was strange, her iris white.
Rafnel’s eyes widened in an instant. She swallowed a gasp and slammed her hand on my shoulder.
“Ugh,” I groaned as I was pushed by a strong force, falling on my bottom on the hardwood floor. My hood fell at the impact.
“W-why… Why are you back? Are you crazy?” Rafnel, trembling like a dog shivering in the cold, scolded me.
I looked up, but I couldn’t see her face because of the glare of the light behind her. I couldn’t figure out the situation but only noticed one thing.
Rafnel, she could see me.
Judging from her looks and actions, I expected her to be blind. Perhaps I had been too narrow-minded because her gaze was clearly fixed on me.
“Huu… No, no.”
Rafnel swallowed her moans in agony and struck her head to hurt herself. Then, as she paced the room left and right, she abruptly stopped.
“Are you okay?” She asked, her gaze focused on me. “Of course not.”
Her eyes trembled and quickly darted around, making it clear that her mental state was unstable.
“Why did you come back when I finally helped you out?” Rafnel suddenly shouted. There was no trace of the muffled voice I had heard before. “Do you think you can save me?”
My eyebrows furrowed, confused at what was happening. Rafnel sat and grabbed my by the shoulders as if tying me up. How did such strength come from such a frail body? I leaned back, but Rafnel’s touch followed.
“I don’t believe you’re a nobleman. Don’t be a hypocrite and get out of here right now!”
Rafnel panted. As she pushed her face close, the remaining bandage fell to her shoulder and revealed both eyes.
“I told you, this place would be hell.”
Rafnel’s mad eyes gleamed in the darkness, and her face filled with emotion twitched. I held my breath as I stared at the agitated woman.
I was startled, but oddly enough, she didn’t scare me. Rather, I could feel her desperate screams and anguish.
“What are you talking about?”
Rafnel’s eyes widened, and her breath caught in her throat.
“No…” She gently shook her head, then tapped her head with both hands over and over again. “No, no. It’s not him.”
She repeated those words like a mantra and continued to shake her head.
“D-did you come here because you resented me? Big sister is sorry, Duke.”
Rafnel rubbed her hands, begging forgiveness. Duke?
I didn’t know why, but she seemed to mistake me for someone else. It probably wasn’t because of the darkness either; she could see my face as clear as an engraving in her pupil.
Was she hallucinating? If so, I understood why she bandaged her eyes and obscured her vision to avoid mistaking people for someone else.
“I shouldn’t have brought you here. I’m sorry, I didn’t know, I really didn’t know they’d abandon you in the woods.”
Abandoned in the woods? I narrowed my eyes and focused on those words. Tears welled up in her eyes.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Duke! I’m sorry for letting you die alone!”
Rafnel’s face contorted in despair. Tears fell from her narrowly curved eyes.
“In the first place, there was no hourglass… It’s like a memory, a memory…”
No hourglass? It felt like my heart fell at my feet and into an abyss. Her words were too meaningful to be dismissed as the remarks of someone insane.
I had come this far with only one wish.
I got up and went out into the hallway. Watching for signs, I took the lantern hanging from the wall and hurriedly closed the door. I sat back in front of Rafnel, then wrapped my arms around her.
I’m sorry, Rafnel, but this is the only way I can get answers.
She stared at me in a daze.
I continued, “What do you mean? There’s no hourglass?”
Rafnel stared at my trembling hands, and her face contorted with regret instantly.
“Oh, poor Duke, you never knew.”
“People here will not know until they die!”
She rubbed the back of my hand with her left hand. Her tears fell on our hands.
“There is no forest that erases memories, and no hourglass, Duke!”
Her words poured out like water from a broken dam as she shook her hair frantically and grabbed at her hair.
What kind of place is this?
“Carje is nothing more than an unscrupulous con artist!” Rafnel spat in a fury. “He made me… He put me in prison!”
I couldn’t help but scoff.
 The Duke (듀크) Rafnel mentioned is a name, not the noble title.
*Not 100% sure about this translation