Episode 6. Twisted Affection


Heavy eyelids fluttered open. Unsure if it was a dream or reality, Ashria blinked busily to regain her dazed mind.

The familiar bed canopy. A familiar chandelier.

As soon as she saw them, Ashria’s brow furrowed in disbelief that she was still alive.

But she’d been asleep for a long time, and her body felt heavier and more creaky than usual. It was a struggle just to get her upper body up.

I heard a rustle, the sound of a fluffy comforter shifting. Askaar’s head popped up from beside her.


For a moment, she was surprised to hear her name, not the Empress, come out of his mouth.

Ashria narrowed her eyes at the unfamiliarity of Askaar, who looked like he’d seen a ghost and gaped like an idiot.


He stepped closer as if waiting for her to speak. Ashria’s vision was instantly filled with the fullness of her chest.

She pushed him away in embarrassment at the unseemly behavior.

“…It’s heavy. “

As if the words didn’t hurt enough, Askaar let go of her and called for the doctor.

The unfamiliar eyes of Askaar, filled with unknown emotions, and her own body, stiff as a watered-down teddy bear.

Ashria stared, unable to comprehend the situation until the doctor began to examine every inch of her body.

“She’s been down for nearly ten days.”

Askar was planning on complaining to her, asking her if she woke up, how could she be so weak despite being a member of the royal family, and asking if she knew how he felt while she was down, but when she opened her eyes, he was speechless.

Her solar plexus felt tight as if a stone had been placed on her stomach, and she couldn’t figure out why; it was just an unrelieved heaviness weighing her down.

“She was very still, like a dead rat.”

It was Ashria who was surprised to hear ten days. She thought she’d been down for two or three days at most…

‘Ten days….’

Furthermore, her body was not the same as it was before she collapsed. Her hands, legs and entire body were tingling, even though she was just lying there doing nothing.

Ashria knew instinctively.

She knew instinctively that she was worse off than before. And that her death was indeed near.

This blackout was a warning, a warning from the black magic that had taken over her body that she was about to die.

But it was better than she thought. By the time she realized she was going to die, rather than neither he nor she, Ashria had calmed down to a degree that surprised even her.

She looked around in a daze, and the bars around her bed were gone. Askaar must have removed them, and what came into view instead of the iron bars was…


They were Colorful tulips in vases.

Ashria cautiously reached for them, and as if waiting for her, the man beside her opened his mouth.

“…J brought them for you.”

The hand that reached for the tulip froze. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that the hand that had unceremoniously grabbed and bent the stem was not an expert’s.


The dry voice that had always called me the princess spoke the name affectionately today.

Ashria was confused in the unfamiliar gap.

What had happened to him while she was down?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t pleasant.

“You said you were curious about the tulip fields.”

She shook her head slightly, remembering her doodles.

“…No, I’m not curious.”

I was curious. Even more so when I saw tulips in front of me. I imagined a tulip field in my head, wondering what it would be like to live in a place with such a vast expanse of these flowers.

As if he could read her mind, she said.

“When you feel better, I will take you there.”


“They say the tulips are almost gone already this year, so next year.”

‘As the words of the next year came out of his mouth, Ashria involuntarily gripped the quilt harder.

There was a short silence, and then she said awkwardly.’

“It’s okay.”

“I want to go.”


“I mean I want to go to see the Tulips with you.”

‘I wonder what in the world happened while I was asleep. He looks as impatient as a dog about to be abandoned.’

“Let’s go to the mountains in the fall to see the leaves. I will take you there.”


“In winter, we can rest at a cottage in the north. Oh, and if you’re feeling better right now, we can go on a picnic, eating sandwiches on the lawn.”….”

As he spoke frivolously, Askaar was momentarily dazed.

Even when she opened her eyes, he felt uneasy at the sight of Ashria, who was even more shrunken than before, and felt as if he couldn’t hold on to her hand even though he was sure he was holding it tightly, so he blurted out unanswered questions.


Seeing her look so pathetic and yet still with a blank expression on her face, he felt anxious once again.

As he dried his face, he asked her in a defeated voice.



“Does anything bother you?”

He asked, bending down to meet her eye level. It was a soft, caring tone I’d never seen before.

She’d always thought of him as a snarling, angry man, but there was this side to him. Ashria nodded unimpressed, thinking to herself.

“You don’t have to worry about me.”


“I’m really fine.”

At the word “fine,” Askaar’s brow furrowed.

She didn’t look the least bit okay, and now that both the doctor and Ashria kept saying she was fine, he wondered if he was crazy.

Askaar shook his head slightly, feeling strangely detached from the rest of them.

He wondered if her stuffy, anxious mood would get a little better when she woke up…

Instead, it only deepened.

‘The image of Ashria in front of her was clear and present, yet somehow blurry. Like smoke that would soon disperse, like a distant mirage, she seemed like a god who had come to play a joke on him.’

‘This is what I get for abandoning my country to stand by her side.’

Of course, he deserved it after what he’d done, but even so, Askaar felt an indescribable sting in his temples.

At first, he didn’t want to admit that he cared about Ashria, but now that he did, he was annoyed. When he looked into her empty eyes and saw that she didn’t care about him, it made him feel guilty and resentful, so she was intentionally meaner to him.

Once he started to admit it, all that was left was his unreciprocated feelings.

‘When I got to that point, I felt a surge of resentment. I didn’t understand why I deserved to be treated like this by that bitch.’

It was an arrogant, shameless stream of thought, but that’s what Askaar thought.

His eyes trembled like a child desperate to be loved, and he was so unfamiliar with this emotion that he didn’t know how to control the lurid possessiveness that welled up inside him.

So the faintest glimpse of Ashria in front of him made him even more anxious.

‘I needed to hold on to her, but I didn’t know how.’


Okay, let’s not overthink this. Askaar thought, and groped for the slender part of her body he could touch right now.

“Ashria… Ashria….”

He didn’t need a response. She was right in front of him now, and if he reached out, he could touch her.

he just had to hold on to her and make sure she didn’t go anywhere while he could.

‘What the hell is this feeling?’

Askaar thought as he touched Ashria’s bony wrist.

‘…I wonder if this is what the world calls love?.’

No, it wasn’t. He didn’t know, but it probably wasn’t.

He didn’t know what love was, but at least he knew it wasn’t this ugly, messy feeling.

Every time he looked at her, his first thought was to tie her up. Sometimes he wished they were one body.  He wonders where it ends.

He wanted to f*ck her as$ publicly, in front of everyone in the world, to proclaim that she was mine.

After racking his brain for a while, he began to recapitulate what he wanted from Ashria.

‘What I want….’

‘For her to stop looking at me with those dying, return-address eyes. To have a sparkle in her dark eyes and a smile on her face whenever we make eye contact. Cuddling up in my arms and chattering away about the various things that happened during the day. If something happens, her first thing to do is come to me and tell me.’

As he finished organizing it step by step, his head felt blank.

‘Since When did it happen? When did that little girl blow my mine like a spring wind, turn me into this?’

He couldn’t deny it. Whatever his feelings were, he wanted Ashria…

“…I love you.”

‘Ashria didn’t love me.’

Something he knew without needing confirmation.

Askaar had done something useless, sentencing himself to his feelings.

Looking at her slightly incontinent face, the only thing that grew stronger was his twisted mind.

‘Yes, it feels good to get it out of my mouth. I didn’t care that she acted so arrogant and tough.’

He felt so much more alive than he did when he suppressed it inside.

“I love you.”

She forced the emotion she didn’t want to feel in the slightest and drew a smile that Askaar knew was bad.

“I love you.?”

Negative emotions bubbled to the surface on her normally impassive face.

‘Even when you opened your legs to a horse, opened your back hole to a man, and even when your raw flesh was beaten with a hot iron, your indifferent face was all I could think of.’

“…I love you, Ashria.”

I felt bad, and I knew she felt bad, too.’

‘The moment her eyes met mine, I knew. She would never feel the same way about me.’

He felt both defeated and triumphant as he watched Ashria’s face flush with the emotions he’d longed to see so badly.

The former, of course, was darker.

But that was okay. Rather, it was good. Now he didn’t have to whimper like an as$h*le for some sort of reciprocation.

I’d just have to keep Ashria tied up for as long as I wanted.

Askaar laughed, his eyes shining cruelly.

He would not let her go, not even as long as it took him to use all his power, and when the day came, many years from now when my life was over, I would take her breath with it.

For here or in hell, she would be by my side.

When I closed my eyes I remembered the day I first met her.


What kind of eyes did you have then?

In her memory, Ashria’s eyes were clear and transparent. They were full of curiosity as if she were a day-old puppy out in the world for the first time.

She hadn’t even given him a chance to sparkle before he crushed her.

* * *

It didn’t make much difference that Askaar had spoken his words of love.

She was still bound, still not free, still living the life of a prostitute, spreading her legs for him whenever he wanted.

The only different thing was that the place where she was bound had changed from the bedroom to Askaar’s wrists.

Before, when he left for work, she could at least be left alone… but now even that was impossible. Ashria was forced to take the stinging stares of the nobles as she dragged Askaar to the conference room.

Askaar dragged her everywhere he went as if she were his pet dog.

During meetings, he would bury his face in the nape of her neck and smell her scent instead of focusing on the meeting.

From the morning she opened her eyes to the night she closed them once again.

He carried her with him like a vice, as if he feared she would disappear if she was separated from him even for a moment.

She could see why Askaar did this to her, she thought with a sneer. she wonders if he thinks he’ll ever lose her if he carries her around like this.

The corner of Ashria’s mouth twitched as she looked at the red leather strap connecting her hand to Askaar’s.

It was funny, sad, and silly that he’d gone to such lengths to hold his hands together in such an uneasy way.

It was ridiculous that he was holding her so tightly, as if he couldn’t give her to anyone else, not now, not ever.

A man who has never been loved and therefore has no idea how to give love, a man who has nothing but arrogance.

‘I have less than a month to live….’

‘I wonder what kind of eyes he’ll be looking into the day I die.’

Ashria was strangely looking forward to her last day.

‘I wondered what his eyes would look like when his arrogance gave way to loss. I wanted to see his despair at the sight of me scattered like the wind, gone, even as he held me so tightly in his arms.’

Ashria’s heart pounded strangely at the thought of her last days, she was curious to see his arrogant eyes filled with a sense of loss. Even though he was holding her so tightly in his arms, yet knew that her death was the only thing he feared.

Knowing nothing, Askaar only gripped her hand tighter and tighter.

A pathetic emperor, oblivious to the destruction around him as he held on to a woman with less than a month to live.

A lonely emperor with the whole world at his feet, and not a single friend to stand by his side.

A wandering emperor with nowhere to call home, who came to her.

It wasn’t that she blamed him, or hated him, for she was too tired to hate anyone.

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