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Completed ― The Villainess Carries a Strategy Guide

Chapter 1

0 years old.

Born into the world and crying out loud. My father was not by my mother’s side, who held me and smiled affectionately.

3 years old.

My father, whom I had not seen much of, came after being scolded by my mother. I did not understand the reason why he said “I’m sorry for everything until now” while crying.

5 years old.

I learned that I had a fiancé. They said he was a prince. They also said I was the daughter of the Duke family. I didn’t understand well and said “Oh, I see” and my father stroked my head happily.

8 years old.

My mother became sick. It was just a little while ago that she was very healthy. My brother, my father, and the servants were all worried. From that day on, I began to pick beautiful flowers every day and deliver them to my mother. I spent more time alone and felt a little lonely.

10 years old.

The day my brother left with my father to go to the Royal Capital. When I grabbed the hem of his clothes and stopped him, my brother gently stroked my head. My father started to cry more than I did, saying he was sad to leave my mother and I, so my brother became embarrassed.

14 years old.

I started being frequently praised as beautiful and felt happy. My mother, who was still bedridden, would frequently hug me and say “Your mother, father, and brother all love you.” Although I don’t need to be told, it still touches me.

15 years old.

My beloved mother passed away. She told me the shocking news.

Half a year later, I took a book that my mother gave me and entered the Royal Academy.

Chapter 2

The Royal Academy is a boarding school for noble children to learn about what it means to be noble by living and eating together for three years.

It allows students to acquire various education such as politics, magic, and manners when they turn 16, but it is not limited to academic study alone. The nobles of this country fight. To protect the people and eliminate enemies that threaten the king, they gather soldiers and swing their swords themselves in the event of war. Therefore, this Academy also emphasizes combat ability using weapons and magic, and focuses on practical skills.

There are two major features of this Academy, which is an insurmountable gate that no noble from Baron to Duke can avoid.

One is the existence of 16 [titled people].

The other is the existence of four [events] that greatly affect the acquisition of the title.

At the end of each year, titles are given to 16 students from the school. In a combined year of all students, three boys and three girls are the [top three]. And then, five boys and five girls are given [top five].

Those who hold this title are granted privileges in the Academy and after graduation, as well as favor from the king and desired positions. It is a coveted thing that about 2,000 general students yearn for.

The presentation of titles is at the end of the year. In other words, students in the third year will graduate about two months after receiving the title.

Graduating as a holder of a title is particularly honorable, and last year two of the top three and six of the top five received this honor. Therefore, there are currently eight holders of titles at the Academy.

To earn a title, you must show extraordinary talent in various fields during the year and impress the teaching staff.

The stage for this is the [event] held in spring, summer, autumn, and winter in addition to everyday school life.

There are minor changes every year, but the content has not changed much. The 300-year tradition is also the number of years since the founding of the Huaverdon Kingdom. It is a good story that anyone of noble birth can understand, regardless of generation.

In this way, the experiences and knowledge gained by striving against each other are used to make everyone happy as nobles.

“Nobles should save the weak, protect the weak, and crush the weak.” These are the words of the 116-year-old Principal.

***

My name is Rebecca Slutarch, and I am entering Royal Academy this spring. I came from a wide and abundant territory far from the Royal Capital.

I lost my mother half a year ago. She was a kind and strong mother who fought her illness for many years. I only found out that my mother, who was the daughter of the Marquis family, had an atmosphere that was different from normal on the day before she died.

“Listen calmly, Rebecca. Your mother is a reincarnator. This world is called an otome game.”

She said that there was an otome game called Royal Academy where the protagonist falls in love with [good-looking guys].

She said that this world is similar to that game and that a protagonist-like [rare healing magic talent of a commoner’s daughter] has also been discovered.

She said that —— I am a [villainess].

Here, my mother hugged me again. It was a gesture that had become natural in the past year.

“Your mother, father, and brother all love you, Rebecca. It’s okay. Because your mother guarantees that you are a completely different person from the girl in the story.”

My mother never lied to me. Even if my mother’s story was absurd, if I saw the strong shine in her eyes, my heart would not doubt that it was a lie. I could easily believe in my mother’s love and the otome game.

After nodding strongly, I buried my face in my mother’s chest. Her voice, choked with tears, said that it was unbearable for her to die, leaving me to throw myself into the game that started at the Academy.

“When you were born, I realized what was happening. I’ve done many things to change the scenario. I tried to give you a different name, break off your engagement to the prince, and try to make you live a little longer. Mostly it didn’t work out.”

I wonder if we should call it the [force of the scenario]. My mother said with a bitter smile.

I felt a chill run down my spine. If the story didn’t change… because, as my mother told me, the final act of that game was…

“But there were certainly things that changed. Your relationship with your father and brother, your feelings for your fiancé, friends you made unintentionally. And most of all, Rebecca, the fact that you grew up to be such a wonderful girl.”

My mother smiled. It was a smile that seemed to show genuine happiness. It was her habit to brush my tear-stained face with her fingers when she tried to calm me down before I started crying.

So I took a deep breath and, despite my voice still trembling, asked only one thing.

“Mother, do you… regret giving birth to me?”

The end game is the exoneration of Rebecca’s crimes by the protagonist and all the targets for capture, the breakup of the engagement with the prince, and above all——the fall of the Duke of Slutarch.

It’s not just me. I can’t apologize to my family, servants, and ancestors. I was most afraid of that.

My mother held my hand.

“It’s natural. And be reassured. The end will always change. I wrote this thinking it would help.”

My mother gave me a notebook. There is some kind of pattern written in a circle on the cover.

“Mother, what is this?”

“It’s a [strategy book]. I compiled everything I remember in chronological order. It’s a little biased towards the protagonist’s perspective, but I think it will be useful for getting around. The [Secret Mark] written on the cover is [Japanese].”

My mother, who smiled mischievously, did not return home the next day.

Although we talked so much yesterday, I guessed that this was also something decided by [scenario]. When I thought that, anger welled up inside me.

I won’t lose. I will never follow a scenario that kills my mother. For my mother who loved me, I will definitely make happiness. I wiped away my tears and swore.

As my mother said, “You’ll be thought of as having gone mad,” I didn’t tell my father, who came rushing from the Royal Capital the next day and embraced me, about this.

Chapter 3

In April, standing in front of the huge and beautiful school building.

“So big…”

As I stood in front of the huge, beautiful school building in my new uniform, I couldn’t help but let out a voice. Looking around, I saw that there were not many students who were impressed by the size of the school building, so I proceeded to the auditorium where the entrance ceremony would be held.

Today was the 301st entrance ceremony for the Royal Academy. It was also the day when the spring event, commonly known as [Spring,] would take place. Whether or not the contents had changed in the past 300 years, all of the new students already knew what would happen. The event that was held as a greeting to the new students, [Spring,] was filled with many nervous students.

I had been reading the strategy book for the past half year, and although I felt sorry for the other new students, I had a considerable advantage.

I thought that something like that might happen, but according to my mother’s notes, there was no bad ending, and there would be no deaths or countries being destroyed. Of course, for me, those things would not be considered a happy ending.

By the way, I only have three acquaintances in this Academy.

The first one is my fiancé, Prince Llewayne Huaverdon of this country. He is currently in his second year of school and last year, he became one of the top three in his class. He’s known for his good looks and is a topic of conversation, but I haven’t actually met him. Normally, if someone is your fiancé, you would have met them, but my father wouldn’t allow it. To be precise, my father said, “Why does Rebecca have to go to the Royal Capital when we’re the ones who were approached for this engagement? It’s only right for them to come to our territory.” And as a result, the Prince didn’t come.

So, I don’t have any particular feelings about him, but there is one problem.

From what I can see in the strategy book, it seems like Prince Llewayne doesn’t like me from the start. Maybe the game’s Rebecca had a crush on him and that’s why he doesn’t like her. In the character introduction page of the strategy book, it says, “Target of strategy, top three, second year, first prince with right to succession, blonde hair, blue eyes, Rebecca’s fiancé, Phantom Beast is an eagle, note: unfriendly, most popular.”

The strategy book is very clear in trying to be objective. The only downside is that you can’t see the character’s face with just text, but that can’t be helped.

As for my introduction that I am curious about, it was written as “villainess, first-year student, black hair, silver-gray eyes, sexy beauty, Phantom Beast is a white snake, note: admires the main character and interferes with them in any route.” And in the “villainess” and “note” sections, there were red lines drawn over them, as if they had been erased.

My mother wrote it but did not approve of it, I wondered how she felt about it. I was purely embarrassed by the evaluation of being “sexy.”

Getting off track, the second person I know at this Academy is my real brother, Vanderlei Slutarch. He advanced to third year this year, and apparently he was also recognized as one of the top three last year. I was surprised because I didn’t know that. He left me and my father when he was 12 and I was 10, to study under father who moved his job to the Royal Capital as the King’s right hand. Since then, we haven’t seen each other once and I didn’t even think of writing a letter when I was 10. But I was glad to know he was doing well.

In the strategy book, it was written as “target for strategy, top three, third-year student, brown hair tied back, brown eyes, talented in horseback riding and swords, Phantom Beast is a horse, note: reliable senpai.”

“That’s right, my older brother’s hair and eyes are brown inherited from our father, while mine are black, pure black, and straight. My eyes are only a transparent gray, inherited from my mother. I used to be proud of them, but now that I know the term ‘villainess,’ I can’t help but think ‘they make me look like a villain.’

No, that’s not it.

When I found out that my brother was the [target of conquest], I was shocked! But the shock I felt when I learned the scenario’s final scene was not even close to that. No matter which [route] the protagonist chooses, my brother will condemn me, along with the protagonist. The condemnation means the downfall of the Duke of Slutarch. In that case, my brother will apparently enter into the Marquis family as a son-in-law.

I was hit with an impact as if I had been struck in the head. Does this mean that in the game, my brother not only abandoned me but also our father and the Duke’s family, due to the charm of the protagonist? I couldn’t help but think that.

I’m a little scared to think of what kind of person my real brother has become. There’s also a five-year gap, and honestly, I don’t really want to see him.

The third person is Melinda, the Viscount Cuey’s daughter. She is my only friend. I love her bossy attitude.”

When I was 12, I happened to sit next to her at a play. I heard her quietly say “Hmmm…62 points” about a popular actor who was known for being a ladies’ man, and I couldn’t help but laugh. We were in the VIP seats, so I knew she was nobility, and I was happy to find out we were the same age. She doesn’t appear in the (otome)game, so she’s a safe person to be friends with.

As you can probably tell, my social circle is small. This is due to a rumor that went around at one point, saying [The Duke of Slutarch’s daughter is not loved by the Duke].

“Apparently, my father had a difficult time with my older brother when he was a baby and there was a period when he didn’t come close to me when I was born. He said, “Since it’s a girl, you have to be even more careful.” So, I was surprised that for three years, he had been patiently watching from afar, trying not to come to see me.

My father, who was a Duke and had always been quite handsome, was shot down by my mother who was originally full of jealousy. My mother herself was strong-willed and didn’t suffer much, but malicious rumors couldn’t be stopped. My mother finally succeeded in catching my father and bringing him to me when I was 3 years old. When my father was dragged in front of me, as a small child I greeted him with a smile, and he cried and was happy to change his ways.

However, rumors that have been spread do not easily disappear. I was raised as if I were wrapped in cotton to avoid coming into contact with malicious people and rumors, even though I knew it would make my world narrower. My parents couldn’t help it, they loved me too much.

Chapter 4

In front of the new students gathered in the lecture hall, the voice of the Principal echoes confidently.

“Let’s begin the spring [event]. As you all know, this is an opportunity for mutual self-introduction. From now on, you new students will be transferred to various locations within the Academy with second and third-year students. Some students will be sent to the roof, some to the lake, and some to the kitchen. Each person can only bring one item. Second and third-year students can use Phantom Beasts.

There is a goal somewhere in the Academy. There are hints about where it is.

There are imposters mixed in among the students. Some of the teachers have copied the appearance of one of you new students. They will either help or hinder you depending on whether they like you or not. If you can identify the imposter, there will be a reward.

The deadline is 9 hours until sunset. Be sure to figure out whether the person you meet is trustworthy, cooperate or sometimes part ways, and aim for the goal faster than anyone else.”

Sounds of swallowing saliva can be heard from all around. Suddenly, a magic circle appeared at my feet, shining and distorting space and time, cutting and connecting it.

In the midst of being surprised, the Principal’s face was wrinkled with a smile.

“Well, do your best.”

That’s right, I’ll put a defensive spell on myself so I won’t get hurt. To make you feel at ease.

With the Principal’s final words, I closed my eyes tightly, unable to endure the rapidly changing world around me.

***

When I opened my eyes, I found myself in a forest. The sensation was only one second, but I couldn’t help being amazed at the size.

“…huh. Where is this place… could it be the [Herb Forest]?”

As far as I could see, there didn’t seem to be anyone around. Since I didn’t know where I would be sent, I had memorized the map of the academy. The forest was gloomy, with tall trees and many low-lying plants. It looked like it was the eastern area.

In fact, the strategy book didn’t mention what I was doing during the [spring]. The villainess Rebecca doesn’t appear until after [spring] is over. So I didn’t know where I would be sent.

But, I knew where the goal was. I wanted to head there first, but before that, I focused my eyes on my own body.

“…Ah!”

I could faintly see something other than defensive magic on my body.

This is bad!

As soon as I realized the situation, I began running through the forest in the direction of the slope without making too much noise, but quickly.

This is one of the [hints] that the principal mentioned. It’s about the magic that was randomly applied to a few of the new students.”

There are three ways to find out the content of these hints. One is to make the person who is under the spell unable to fight. Another is to make them surrender. And the third is to take them to a completely dark place. Only one person who has achieved any of these for each hint-giving person can check the hint.

Out of these, the existence of the third method is not recognized by most people. The content changes every year, and this year it happens to be [darkness]. It doesn’t matter if it’s a storage room, a cave, or a cloak, as long as it’s dark, the characters will appear and the hint can be obtained peacefully. It seems that people with deep knowledge of magic can read the magic formation, and there have been patterns such as [in water] or [making a specific pose], depending on the year.

However, the third method, which has low recognition, is that the hint-giving person is basically chased by other students and falls into a fate of being unable to fight.

In addition, I don’t have much talent for magic, so I can barely make out the characters by staring hard, but it seems that if you have strong magic power, you can feel the hints more easily. Even from a distance, you can sense that [there is a hint over there].

Oh, what bad luck! Now that it’s come to this, it’s dangerous to stay in one place. It’s better to move constantly. Maybe it’s fortunate that I was sent to this place, because if I had been sent to an open place, I might have been found out right away.

I grasped my only possession, a short sword, tightly. Each player is only allowed one tool. I chose this one.

The game’s Rebecca isn’t particularly strong in magic or physical abilities, but I think I can at least protect myself. It’s because my mother taught me from a young age. In the past, it was unusual for a noble lady to learn knife techniques instead of magic or swordsmanship, but now it makes sense. My mother saw that this was the most suitable for my nature.

As I run down the slope, I think that the information I obtained from the strategy book is really useful. Of course, it’s just cheating, but I had decided to use it without hesitation in order to survive and resist the scenario.

And now, there’s one more thing I know. In this event, [enemy character] Ouka will appear.

Ouka is a noble young man who was sealed by the Principal about 20 years ago. He was apparently a student at this Academy. He’s a man who was interested in developing forbidden magic as a hobby and was like an incarnation of evil. The seal has weakened and he appears as a spiritual body throughout the year to cause trouble.

He’s probably going to be interested in the protagonist’s rare magic power in the [spring] and try to contact them. There’s no harm in letting him be, and there’s no guilt. The protagonist is probably here at this Academy, and he’ll probably think, “Oh, that guy, I wonder what she was” in a suspicious way.

So if you ask why Ouka did such a thing, it’s pointless to ask for any other motivation than that it seemed interesting.

By the way, don’t be surprised, he’s a target for conquest. He’s apparently a [hidden character]. It’s possible to revive him with healing magic after he fell in love with the main character and changed for the better. You can do as you please. Even in that route, my downfall as someone who was causing trouble for the main character would not change. Of course, all of this is confidential information that should be discovered around the end of the story, around winter. The strategy book is the best! Thank you, Mother!

That was when it happened. It was bad that I lacked concentration. My leg got tangled in the grass, and my body floated in the air. In that unique sensation of floating, blood drained away quickly.

My foolishness, oh, I’m falling!

“Kyah!”

“Huh?”

“Whoa, watch out!”

Two bodies caught me. Two male students suddenly appeared and caught me in a dangerous place, just staring at me with wide eyes.

TL: (/●◔∀◐●)/

Chapter 5

“Wow, you scared me. Are you okay?”

“Y-Yeah.”

“Hey Lance, was it in the first description that [a beautiful woman may fall]?”

As I was helped up, I subtly observed the two of them.

One was a young man with light blue hair and thin lines. He had a cheerful and likable appearance. The other was a young man with hair that could be described as dark red-brown and thin lines as well. This one had a bit of a smirk on his face.

Both of them were good-looking, which was a problem. Good-looking people were potential targets for conquest.

In any case, I didn’t want to be too cautious. I discreetly hid my short sword in my skirt and made a beautiful curtsy.

“Thank you for your help. My name is Beth.”

“Oh, thank you for being polite. My name is Larry.”

“You can call me Hal. Nice to meet you, beautiful lady.”

Hal was the one with the dark red-brown hair. Larry had light blue hair, but I had just heard Hal call him Lance earlier.

It seemed that not revealing one’s real name was the best strategy. If someone was famous, their name alone could reveal what magic they possessed and what Phantom Beast they commanded.

By the way, as was mentioned in the Principal’s greeting, this “Phantom Beast” is a partner that new students can obtain during the summer event. I heard that you hatch them from eggs one by one. Second and third-year students can participate in the [spring] event with their Phantom Beast.

The opponent doesn’t seem to have a Phantom Beast with them, but it’s not good to assume that they are a new student. There is also a possibility that they approached me, who is a hint, pretending to be by chance.

Then, Lance pointed to my body.

“By the way, you, aren’t you kind of glowing?”

“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing!”

It’s different. It seems that my encounter with them was a coincidence.

What should I do? I can guess that the mysterious magic is a hint, but I don’t want to take on two men. What are Lance’s and Hal’s tools… hmm? Lance? Lance?!

Suddenly, I remembered a section of the strategy book.

Isn’t the Lance with ash-colored hair [Lancelot]?!

He is, “Lancelot・Charity. Target of strategy, first-year student, light brown hair and eyes of the same color, talented with a bow and magic, father is Prime Minister, note: refreshing but has a tendency to be reckless before meeting the protagonist.” He is the 15-year-old who gave me a shock with his tendency to be reckless.

I was surprised but I had to deal with this. All of the targets for the strategy are good character. Even though I am a villainess, I wouldn’t attack a girl who has done nothing, even if it’s just for hints.

Plus, if you have the ability, you can aim for the goal together. I don’t have information about Hal, but they seem like a friend and I think I can handle it if something happens with Lancelot by my side.

I opened my mouth,

“Actually, this seems like a hint…”

When I confirmed, it was that I had to knock three times on the east exterior decoration on the first floor of the boys’ dormitory.

I said that and closed my mouth.

“I’m not sure how to confirm it though.”

And I smiled and connected it as naturally as possible.

What am I doing?

Where is the proof that this man is the real Lancelot Charity?

“So, I’m sorry, but would you mind talking while we move?”

Even if it’s a fake made by the teacher’s copy magic, or even if it’s the real one, it’s bad to part here. I can’t be aimed at or followed from behind.

There must be limits to copy magic. It’s highly likely that they don’t know my personal information, and by talking, I might be able to lead them to expose me.

“Is that so… I see, shall we go then?”

“Yeah, it doesn’t matter.”

We enter into a cooperative system as soon as we are certain that they are not fake.

Just as I was solidifying this thought, I suddenly voiced a question.

“By the way, Larry-sama… why haven’t you been making eye contact and speaking since earlier?”

When I asked Lancelot, he answered in his usual cheerful manner.

“I am making eye contact, aren’t I, and speaking properly.”

“No, not with me… ”

I mean with the person next to you.

Just as I was about to say that, Hal laughed happily.

“You noticed! Actually, since I took one of his girlfriends away a month ago, he hasn’t talked to me or made eye contact on purpose! But it wasn’t intentional! Even though we were conveniently transported here today and finally met, he’s completely ignoring me!”

“I, I see…”

For that reason… and also because of one of his girlfriends. It seems Lancelot has been walking the path of a carefree son(prodigal son), as expected from the information in the strategy book.

When I weakly answered, Lancelot’s face became even more cheerful and he opened his mouth.

“Miss Beth, who are you talking to by yourself?”

I gradually became scared, of this smile.

I became uneasy and looked away.

***

It was a light rain but it had started to rain.

It’s been about 30 minutes since I was transferred, if the rain becomes stronger, I’ll look for a place to take shelter instead of talking to Lancelot. I was thinking this when.

Hal narrowed his eyes, and muttered something while looking somewhere.

“Hey Miss Beth, someone’s coming.”

“Eh, let’s hide.”

I quickly pulled Lancelot’s hand and hid behind a big tree. Because it was an herb forest, there were poisonous ferns nearby, so I pushed them away with my shoes.

“Miss Beth, what’s wrong?”

“Shh. Be quiet Larry-sama.”

Hal hid nearby and still looked somewhere. I followed his gaze. Lancelot also took out a folding bow from his coat and looked that way.

While trying to avoid the rain with his hand, the person who appeared, I opened my eyes wide.

Lancelot was there.

Chapter 6

The one who was most shocked was not me, but probably the person himself.

Lancelot, who received a great shock from the appearance of a human with the same appearance as himself, or at least appeared to be behaving that way, jumped out as if he had been shot.

“Feeling worse than I thought about my own fake.”

As he said that, his whole body was wet with rain. The sound of the arrow that was strung on the bow was stretched to the limit and could be heard well in the wet forest.

The second Lancelot, who saw this, had a shocked face, or perhaps he was genuinely shocked, and also strung an arrow.

“He’s more quick to fight than he looks, that guy.”

Hal, next to me, ruffled his hair. After looking at it sideways, I looked back at Lancelot.

I sighed.

——What are they doing?

When the two Lancelots finally put in a lot of strength and two arrows shot through the air and flew out, I also pulled out my short sword and jumped out.

I grabbed the back of the neck of Lancelot, who was facing this way and had been with me a moment ago, and pulled it down forcefully. His balance was broken and the arrow changed direction and flew away.

And the other Lancelot, the one who appeared just now, broke the arrow that was shot with his short sword.

“I don’t know which one is the real one… Please calm down. Although the defensive magic is activated, just in case something happens. I will now have both of you restrained and head towards the goal together. That’s okay, right?”

Then, the two Lancelots who had been shocked by my actions, both made faces of dissatisfaction at the same time.

One of them should be a teacher, but there are always students like this every year. Neither of them showed any signs of disturbance, and this confusion is a failure.

Then, how about this? I naturally opened my mouth with a faint smile.

“I’m sorry, please bear with it, Lancelot-sama.”

One of them said, “Oh, I understand.”

The other one said, “Why, my name is.”

The tension runs. The air relaxed, and the expression that collapsed and smiled bitterly was that of Lancelot who appeared earlier.

“Fake, found!”

I couldn’t help but smile with my face, and the fake Lancelot beckoned me. When I approached, I was handed a small wooden box.

“Congratulations, Miss. This is a reward for finding the fake, please.”

It’s an ordinary-looking small box. But inside is a powerful magic that is only closed once. This is a typical disposable magic tool in this country.

I carefully tucked the small box into my skirt and tried to say thank you to the teacher with a smile. That’s when someone suddenly patted me on the head.

“Nice, Miss Beth.”

It was Hal.

My body flinched and I suddenly felt a chill, as if the temperature had dropped several degrees.

My body wouldn’t move as I was still being patted on the head. The rain began to pick up and the sound of the trees getting soaked by raindrops grew louder. I saw a large bird circling overhead. I felt like I was being swallowed by the wet forest, but the coldness wasn’t the reason why.

I slowly turned my head to look at Hal.

No, [Hal].

Why did [that person] suddenly look so strange?

The hand on my head, the raven-black hair, the beautiful face.

——nothing was wet with rain.

“——?!”

Instinctively, I shook off the hand and stepped back. [Hal] raised both hands and grinned, but the same attitude as before was now disturbingly eerie.

“Hey, what’s wrong? Is something the matter?”

I looked at the speaker, surprised. Not only was it the real Lancelot, but even the fake teacher had a curious expression on their face.

I couldn’t see it before! Only I could see it from the beginning!

Who is this? Is this maybe…

“I came to see the one that seemed the most interesting. I was torn between choosing a healing magician, but I’m glad I chose you now.”

I don’t know why, but the more [Hal]’s voice enters my ears, the more it feels like I’m being injected with medicine and my body is shaking. Why is my back so cold? I can’t keep myself together as [Hal] slowly approaches me. The rain-soaked hair on my face feels uncomfortable.

The rain intensifies and the droplets hitting my skin hurt, but what’s more, the bird’s cries above my head are strangely bothering me.

“Feeling bad? That’s a rejection reaction that happens when someone with weak magic comes into contact with too much magic… It’s not about size, it’s just that our compatibility seems poor.”

I’m not sure what [Hal] is saying, and I’m starting to not understand. My feelings are bad. My vision is blurred. The rain is strong. The bird is… what’s that called again? Right, that’s it…

——Eagle?

“Rebecca! Over here!”

The stretched arm of [Hal] missed grabbing me, and a loud voice from somewhere woke me up from my consciousness almost at the same time.

Although it was difficult to see due to the dark sky and dense vegetation, there seemed to be a cliff about 3.4 meters to the immediate left.

Standing below it was a young man.

Rebecca.

With his hair wet from the rain and his arms open wide towards me, his lips moved once again.

“Ah, too bad, it was just a little short.”

I thought I heard the voice of [Hal], who didn’t seem at all disappointed. But the fear from earlier was gone as if it were a lie.

I didn’t think to wonder why the young man knew my name.

Deep, deep blue eyes. Because I couldn’t think of any other choice but to trust the gaze that looked straight at me, I was able to jump into his arms with ease.

Chapter 7

The young man leapt in and embraced me without hesitation, then quickly began running while still holding me.

“Wait… Larry-sama and… Sen-se…,” I stammered.

My voice wouldn’t come out properly. Rain was getting in my mouth. I couldn’t even move my arms and legs properly.

“It’s okay. I don’t know what that was, but it looks like it used up a lot of magic to cast on you. It’ll probably disappear soon because it can’t maintain that form for much longer. More importantly, we need to get you away from there.”

So I had been under the effect of magic. It must have been when he touched my head. That makes sense.

I tried to move my right hand, but I couldn’t do it well. My body was still trembling and I couldn’t stop it.

Even though my body was clearly telling me something was wrong, I felt incredibly relieved. Maybe it was because the low, monotone voice explained everything so clearly, or maybe it was because this person’s body was warm.

“It’s warm…” I murmured.

The young man gave me a quick glance.

“…Your body temperature is dropping,” he said.

After a moment, he stopped. We were in front of a large tree hollow. It was the perfect size for the both of us.

He carried me inside, and I was finally able to escape the rain. I was relieved.

“This is the famous [herb forest’s giant tree hollow] at the Academy,” he said.

A sound of warmth echoed and my body was enveloped in warm air. My body and clothes began to dry quickly. It must be a combination of fire magic and wind magic, it’s quite skillful.

Even so, the coldness did not disappear.

“… it looks like you’re being forced to use [magic]. I’ll neutralize it with my magic. Sorry, but please bear with this position for a bit longer.”

With that, he embraced me again. He sat me on his lap, his hands lightly stroking my back.

Then, from the places where he was touching me, something gentle began to seep in. It enveloped my body, slowly warming it and driving away the coldness.

Plus, he had a really calming smell about him and when that happened, I could no longer keep my strength.

Enduring is out of the question. It’s warm and feels good.

He looked at me and muttered, “Our magic is compatible, huh.” I relaxed and, trying something, looked up to face him directly. We were quite close but he didn’t look away either.

The hair that was damp and hard to make out in the dim light is now clear to see as shining gold. A face that is frighteningly well-shaped. Due to a lack of emotion, one might call him unfriendly, but still, what catches the eye is his deep blue eyes. Surely deeper than the deep sea. In them, one can definitely see worry for me. Is that why I don’t think of him as cold, despite his expressionless face? I think he has a pouty face.

With these good looks and an eagle, there is no doubt about it.

“Llewayne, Your Highness?”

“That’s right, my fiancé. Nice to meet you.”

I saw that his gaze towards me softened a little.

“Your Highness… well, I understand why now.”

“I’ve been keeping an eye on you for a while… ah, it’s nothing.”

“What do you mean?”

What does he mean? Wasn’t this the first time we met?

The crown prince had a slip of the tongue kind of face. He probably really did slip up.

“There’s magic like that… that’s good. More importantly, I’m sorry I couldn’t come and see you before.”

He started to say it’s not good, but stopped. That’s because the crown prince’s eyes were serious.

“If I could finish the crown prince’s work two weeks early, I was told by my father that I could come and see you. But with ceremonies and parties, and in general, there was never a two-week gap in my schedule.”

I was surprised and took a deep breath.

Does His Highness have the intention to continue our engagement? This is different from the scenario. This person, is different from the scenario.

“[Spring], I’ve been using magic and the Phantom Beast to search for you since the beginning. I’m glad I finally found you, even though it was quite far.”

Your Highness said that, and once again put some soft emotion on his cold-looking beauty. My heart makes a sound I don’t understand.

“Thank you, for your help. For finding me.”

When I said that, it seemed like His Highness had a slightly happy face, but maybe it’s just my imagination.

Anyway, I shake off that thought. Right now it’s [Spring].

“Your Highness, I am a human hint. And just now, I discovered a fake and received this.”

I take a small box out of my skirt pocket. I knew what the magic sealed inside it based on the strategy book.

“Ah, [Transfer], is it? From the look of it, you also know the contents of the clue.”

I nod.

His Highness says, “So I already know that while searching for you, I defeated about 20 humans who attacked you. And among them, there was a hint.” Apparently, when it comes to the three strongest, the rivalry is fierce.

“You’ve recovered by now. Use that and go. I’ll go on my own.”

It seems that His Highness plans to take separate action from me now. I began to question him as I started to say “Since you helped me, let’s go together,” but then I felt a doubt.

“Why were you looking for me, Your Highness?”

At that moment, His Highness’s hand touched my hair. He stroked it as if to confirm the feeling, and twined the ends of my hair around his finger.

“——I wanted to see you. As soon as possible.”

His Highness looked satisfied as he smiled and left by himself. I was left behind, still stiff and staring at His Highness’s back with my head only.

The rain had stopped and the light of the sun that I hadn’t seen in a long time was leaking through the gaps between the trees.

When His Highness, who was standing with his back to me as if protecting me, let his magic spread throughout his body, I finally noticed that we were surrounded by multiple people. Because I was a hint of a human, or because he was one of the Three Strong.

“Go. It’s only been an hour since it started. You can aim for a high rank now.”

I couldn’t say no. Because I would only be a liability to him.. Even if I try to go together with him, he wouldn’t nod.

“Can I see you again?”

I didn’t say thank you or I’m sorry, but those words came out of my mouth.

But it wasn’t a mistake. Because His Highness, who turned around, had the kindest face he had ever had.

“Of course, Rebecca.”

I firmly nodded to his words and then opened the box.

The magic that can be obtained from the teacher by seeing through the imposter is [Transfer]. It is a powerful magic that can fly to any location within a radius of 2 kilometers. Because of its high difficulty, students cannot use it, making it a big advantage.

While hoping that there was a boys’ dormitory within a radius of 2 kilometers, I thought of [the place closest to the exterior decoration of the east side of the boys’ dormitory].

Although the sensation of the world changing rapidly was still there, I did not close my eyes this time. I wanted to burn into my memory the back of His Highness who was protecting me for as long as possible.

Chapter 8

When I opened my eyes next, I saw a brick wall and a stylish black lamp in front of me. It seemed that the boys’ dormitory was within 2 kilometers. If I knocked on this three times, it would be the end of [spring].

My relief was short-lived. A menacing voice came from my left hand. When I looked, I saw three male students and one female student surrounded by them and raising their voices, and I was surprised.

“You really messed up earlier, leaving us after giving us the wrong way!”

“I didn’t know! You must have been deceived by a fake!”

I could understand the situation from this short exchange. What should I do?

The female student was very slender. She had shoulder-length silver hair and a lovely face. If there were 10 of her, 10 of them would be cute.

However, that was not all. The male students must have noticed. They were approaching her in a group of three, but they were not pushing her around. Instead, it seemed that she could turn the tables at any moment. She knew how to handle themselves. From her posture and tense limbs, she probably had knowledge of martial arts.

I returned my gaze to the lamp in front of me. The goal was in front of me.

…Ha.

I gently took a step away from the lamp.

“Excuse me, you all. This is an event in progress. Could you please stop?”

All four sets of eyes turned to me, the sudden third party.

“…Never seen you before. I am the eldest son of the Earl of Pasai. Are you still going to interfere?”

The male students seemed to have regained some composure, but they looked surprised. They were giving me a condescending look.

The female students, on the other hand, were trying to keep a low profile and watch the situation unfold. They were wise to do so.

“Yes. As for Rudolph-sama of the Pasai family, his well-being is more important than anything else… Please do not be too lively.”

My opponent blinked. I faced him with a thin smile, looking down on the inexperienced man who couldn’t control his expression.

After all, what is a noble lady?

Every move is as graceful as a willow, and even her fingertips are beautiful. She controls poison with poison, hiding behind a beautiful smile. She has been drilled in such a way of fighting since she was young and is, in a sense, a master of deception.

Although my circle of friends is small, I had impeccable manners as a noble. Naturally, I knew the main names, positions, and characteristics of the nobility.

In a battle between nobles, the one who shows a weakness loses.

Rudolph said, never taking his eyes off me.

“…I apologize, but may I ask for your name?”

It’s natural that he didn’t know me. On top of that, it was a plus that he didn’t know me by sight. It was a minus that he couldn’t deduce my name from my attitude or appearance.

To him, I gave the beautiful etiquette of a lady, from the top of my head to the tips of my toe.

“My name is Rebecca・Slutarch. Please take a moment to get to know me.”

Rudolph trembled again and was overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness.

“The Duke of Slutarch’s precious jewel…!”

I was confident in my complete victory, but I never thought that I would have such an embarrassing nickname.

***

I watched as the boys left, trying to fix themselves up, and let out a sigh.

The Academy’s principle is to eliminate the barriers of social status, but even then, the Slutarch family is the best Duke family in the country that maintains their connection with the royal family. Rudolph’s poor performance is no surprise.

I then turned my hand towards the girl who was approaching me and stopped her.

“Can you please not come any closer.”

She probably wanted to thank me. She looked shocked.

“I, I am not a fake. I did not trick them.”

“Whether you are a fake or not is not important. As long as there is a goal in front of you … I will see you later.”

I ended the conversation forcibly. Actually, I have been worried that other students would come since a while ago.

Before the girl could say anything, I knocked on the lamp three times.

Con, con, con.

In that moment, I found myself in a large hall. It must have been inside the main school building. I was starting to get used to transferring.

There were already 7 or 8 students there, all looking at me, the new title holder, with the same expression. I stood even taller than before. I wasn’t sure if this number of people was small or large. Of course, his highness was not there.

Without a pause, the female student from earlier appeared next to me. It seemed that it was not a fake after all.

“…May I ask why you helped me?”

Her eyes, which had asked cautiously earlier, were purely rational (intelligent).

… I had thought the same thing when I first saw her. It’s better not to underestimate her.

“Well, at that time, Pasai-sama and others didn’t even glance at the lamp, but I could see that you were slowly making your way towards them.

You knew the goal. You had the ability to reach it, and in addition, you were unable to reach the goal by cutting through Pasai-sama and others, and were in trouble.

… I’ve been talking to you as if you’re the real thing, but for me, whether you are real or fake is not important. As long as there is a goal in front of me, whether you are real or fake doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t try to surpass me by attacking me.”

“So, you’re saying [don’t come any closer], right…”

“Yes, that’s all.”

I sat on the chair by the wall and calmly took off one of my shoes. It was nothing, just a shoe rub. It couldn’t be helped after running through the forest so much.

Gently touching the (sore) wound, I checked its condition as I continued.

“Whether it’s real or fake, I couldn’t just leave a woman in distress surrounded by multiple men. It just felt wrong.”

A female student let out a gasp.

And then, for some reason, her hand suddenly touched my (sore) wound.

“So you helped me without any expectation of gain, is that it?”

Any objections I had before they could be voiced disappeared. I stared in amazement at the scene before me.

A divinely beautiful light, as if embodying a saint. It flowed generously from her fingertips and warmed my wound. Her fingers gently traced over the wound and it disappeared without a trace. It only lasted a few seconds.

“Thank you, Rebecca-sama. My name is Emilia. I am a commoner, so just Emilia.”

The female student smiled at me. The main character Emilia smiled at the villainess Rebecca.

Chapter 9

“Rebecca—.”

When Melinda found me in the classroom, she immediately took the seat next to me.

“That girl was looking for you again. She said she made a chiffon cake today. Of course, it looked delicious.”

In this way, Melinda, who reports on Emilia’s movements, is actually a bigger fan of Emilia’s homemade sweets than I am.

“…I understand. I’ll give you some later when we meet.”

“Yay!”

“…”

It’s not that I don’t have any thoughts about my friend who is completely hooked.

***

Two weeks have passed since the enrollment. I am finally getting used to life in the Academy. Students who were not used to doing things around themselves are still struggling, but I am relatively quick to adapt.

The day after the enrollment ceremony, when I met my friend Melinda again, I learned that I had become famous.

“You’re ranked 7th in the first year. That makes you famous. But originally, you were famous because of the [Duke of Slutarch’s Jewel Daughter finally appears].”

The Duke of Slutarch’s Jewel Daughter.

A jewel-like daughter that the Duke family keeps locked up and doesn’t let out. She has a bewitching beauty that attracts attention and doesn’t let go—— apparently.

“Who is this person telling such lies and where are they from?!”

“It’s Duke-sama,”

Father!

“But it’s not true. You’re beautiful. You have teary eyes and black hair, and you’re attractive. Especially your chest is enviable…”

My friend, who seemed to be about to make an unbecoming statement, quickly covered hER mouth, but her talk continued.

First, the top 10 of [Spring] has been posted and announced.

10th place: Ray Lowe

9th place: Llewayne Huaverdon

8th place: Emilia

7th place: Rebecca Slutarch

6th place: Kyaran Goudes

5th place: Cectiara Zoff

4th place: Oswald Ceden

3rd place: Fried Neher

2nd place: Vanderlei Slutarch

1st place: Olivier Marc

With the exception of me and Emilia, all the top 10 are in the current top three and five high schools. By the way, the names are only from the game’s characters.

Out of a total of 2,222 students in all grades, 1,078 achieved it. Of the remaining 1,144, 480 were battle incapacitated or forfeited.

The average time for the achievers is 4 hours and 12 minutes, with Olivier Marc in first place at 41 minutes and Ray Lowe in 10th place at 1 hour and 18 minutes.

Emilia, who is in 8th place, is also famous like me. In her case, she is a commoner and is a rare holder of healing magic, so she is somewhat exposed to curious glances.

Recently, I asked Emilia about what happened during the “spring” event, where she was attacked by a group of students. She told me that she transferred (teleported) to the school shortly after the event and met a female student who had twisted her ankle. She helped the student recover (heal) and it turned out that the student was a hint to the goal of the event. However, Emilia didn’t meet the male student called “Hal” during the event. She used her physical strength to reach the goal alone, and after that, she got involved with a group of male students. After hearing this, I am certain that “Hal” is Ouka.

Emilia seems to have grown close to me since the “spring” event, or rather, she seems to have a crush on me. She is smart and has a sense of restraint, and her sweets are delicious, so there are no particular problems, but I am still uneasy.

I wonder who(‘s route) she intends to pursue, I thought.

It’s been two weeks since the school started. Normally, this should be a time when the events with the targets of the game would be rampant.

Instead of trying to figure out what’s going on, I decided to ask her directly, but it seems like Emilia hasn’t had any contact with any of the targets of the game. And even her “sweets” are something that she makes for the targets of the game.

Well, it’s partly my fault. There are events that could trigger the encounter, such as “Going to the backyard after being splashed with water by Rebecca(me),” but I don’t want to do that.

Still, I wonder why Rebecca would do something like that to a classmate she just met. I’ve always been curious. They say it’s because [she admires Llewayne and wants to hinder the protagonist], but in every route, isn’t she making the protagonist her enemy?

There’s no description in the strategy book about Rebecca’s motives, and although it’s just a premonition, it’s still something that bothers me.

And speaking of Llewayne, he finished right after Emilia. I think he was in quite a pinch when we parted, but it seems his abilities are quite something.

Among the students, there were rumors that [Llewayne didn’t make it into the top 5].

Of course, it’s all my fault for searching for me and even saving me twice. I already know that [Spring] (Llewayne) was 2nd place in the scenario, so it makes me feel even more guilty.

This time, the ranking would be as follows: Llewayne is 2nd, everyone else’s ranking is moved down one place, and I am not included and Lancelot is placed 10th, this is the scenario. However, I couldn’t be happy that the scenario changed because of Llewayne’s ranking.

However, regardless of our ranking, it’s true that my 7th place was due to the help of His Highness, and His Highness’ 9th place was because of “my help”. In fact, at the Academy, it’s common knowledge. Every action of each individual is recorded during events, and based on that, the Academy makes fair evaluations later on.

By the way, I decided not to worry about the fact that being embraced and warmed up would also have been recorded. Thinking about it now, it was quite embarrassing. No, it was extremely embarrassing.

Since then, I haven’t seen His Highness. He seems to be very busy with both academics and politics, and I’ve finally gotten used to life at the Academy… But.

“Even though you said we’d meet again…”

“Is that about me, Miss Beth?”

I reluctantly looked up. At least it wasn’t this person, I thought.

Standing in front of me, with a smile on his face like he was saying “We’ve met again,” was Lancelot of the Fresh Rakes (Refreshingly Prodigal). So I lowered my face again.

“What?! Can you hear me?”

“Yes. What is it?”

This attitude is sufficient for debauchery.

I only gave minimal introductions because my neighbor Melinda was giving him a suspicious look. Melinda responded with “Oh, Prime Minister’ son, Earl-sama.” but it didn’t seem to matter.

“Um, Miss Rebecca from the Slutarch family. Thank you for that.”

Once again, I tried to give a nonchalant response with “haa” but a lovely silver haired girl got in the way.

“Rebecca-sama! You’re here. I made sweets and lunch for you today, would you like to have lunch together?”

No, I don’t want sweets or lunch during a conquering event.

I wanted to say that, but Emilia seemed to be looking for me during class and was a little sweaty.

I don’t hate her for being kind. It’s not that I want her to fall in love with someone. She just has to tell me who it is when she falls in love.

“Okay. But class is starting soon.” I said.

But then I noticed the shocking truth.

They’re meeting! The protagonist Emilia and the target of conquest, Lancelot!

I can’t hide my excitement for this first encounter event. Melinda is now looking at me with a strange look.

My meeting with Emilia and Lancelot, one of her targets, in the scenario went something like this:

・A little while after I started school, I chose to go see the flowers in the backyard after class and met Lancelot, who had skipped class and was taking a nap. As expected of a playboy.

Lancelot’s first words were:

“Hey, beautiful lady, may I know your name?”

Yes, just like that——

“Hey, beautiful lady, I’m currently talking to her right now.”

Eh?

“Rebecca-sama seems bored, so your time is up.”

“I decline. It’s going to get interesting now.”

“I decline. You should have come ready to be swept off my feet.”

I shook my head.

I knew that Emilia didn’t enter the Lancelot route, but other than that, I didn’t understand much.

Chapter 10

One day in May, I was moving alone in a classroom. [Summer] is September, after summer vacation, and the next big game event is in August. In the scenario, this time period is a period for meeting the targets and developing the main character’s [status], and there seems to be no special events. In reality, Emilia does not seem to be entering anyone’s route, so it is peaceful.

As I walked around, I felt like someone called my name quietly.

The door of a room with “materials room” written on it. A woman with bobbed hair peeking out from there. She was gesturing for me to come inside the dark room, where it would be just the two of us. Her beaming smile and white teeth were dazzling.

“Suspicious…”

It’s too suspicious. But I still approached because probably, her smile looked like that of a mischievous small child.

“Sorry for the suddenness. Are you Miss Rebecca?”

The girl who pulled me in with agile movements like a predatory animal as I approached said, with the closed door behind her, —It’s not that I don’t think you should ask before dragging someone into a secret room.

When I replied with a “yes,” the person who smiled brightly at me introduced themselves as Olivier Marc.

“[Spring] First place!”

“Yeah, for me, [spring] is the best match.”

Olivier Marc is one of the three strongest, and he has many fans within the school.

In the strategy book, it says “Three strongest, third-year student, navy blue hair and brown eyes, talented in all types of combat, father is the head of the knight’s order, Phantom Beast is a leopard, Note: Good personality.” I see. If combat is her strong point and her partner is a leopard, then [spring] would be her specialty.

But the title of one of the three strongest is not easily obtained just by having strong arms. What does she want from me?

“You’re Van’s sister, right? I’m friends with that guy.”

Van, Vanderlei. I immediately understand. I only have one brother.

“Regarding Van, I came to give you some advice. Not for him, but for you, a cute junior. You see, he’s not reliable. He’s a good guy, but be careful. That’s all I came to say.”

After saying that, Olivier waved and left. I thought, she’s like a storm, as I was left alone in the room.

I wonder how I should take these words. I remember my mother’s words. My mother said my brother loves me too.

But.

[Not reliable].

Those words ate deeply into my chest. Even without worrying, there is no chance of meeting my third-year brother in the same Academy.

***

Several days have passed since then.

The Royal Academy is a boarding school where everyone from Marquis families, Duke families and even royalty is given a room of the same size to live in alone.

As usual, I was about to have breakfast in the dormitory cafeteria and leave when I stopped at the entrance of the girls’ dormitory and saw a man with a strange appearance. He was completely covered head to toe in a long black robe. It was as black as my hair. Was this the designated uniform? Was there something wrong with his outfit?

I don’t know his face, but I know this man. He is not the man from the strategy book, but he’s with the prince. His name is Fried Neher.

“His Highness have been waiting for you. Let’s go quickly.”

“…What?”

He didn’t even introduce himself!

Since he didn’t, I’ll introduce him myself. This man is Fried Neher. He is approximately 190 cm tall and a freshman in the fifth grade. He recently placed third in the spring competition. He was raised to serve the prince from a young age, and he is the prince’s confidant. By the way, he is not a target for conquest. Honestly, I don’t think you will fall in love with a man who covers his face as well as his body with a robe, and I apologize for that. Sorry.

I am being glared at. I thought it might have been my imagination, but I am definitely being glared at. I have a feeling I know why. It must be because I am ranked 7th and the prince who was looking for me in the [spring] is ranked 9th.

Fried told me to go to a place called the “Special Lecture Room” in the school building. The academy is so vast that I hadn’t noticed such a place existed. It must be a place where secret talks can take place.

I haven’t seen the prince in almost a month. “Excuse me,” I said, trying not to let my voice shake, and as I entered the room and bowed, the person there softened his expression and narrowed his eyes. I did the same, because he was dazzling.

“It’s been a while,” he said.

My face turned red for some unknown reason, and my heart started to race, so I would have preferred it if he didn’t greet me with that face.

***

When I sat down, the prince said, “First, I apologize.”

“I didn’t come to see you. I’m sorry.”

“It’s not that you didn’t come to see me, but that you couldn’t come to see me, right?”

I replied without hesitation. He looked a little tired, which I could tell at a glance. He must have been busy with work.

But was it a little disrespectful? The prince seemed to have noticed that I was worried. He told me to relax, so I decided to take his word for it.

“So, Your Highness, what is the purpose of your visit today?”

“Nothing in particular.”

“Oh.”

His Highness’s well-shaped eyebrows slightly lowered. This made his usual expressionless face.

“Is there a reason to meet with my fiancée?”

This is bad, my heart’s mysterious movement started again. Let’s change the subject.

“Um, Your Highness. The other day you said you were always watching me. That was…”

“Rebecca.”

He’s clearly avoiding my gaze.

“Don’t worry about it.”

No, I am worrying!

“Um, Your Highness. You said there was such magic that… Is it possible that you’ve been watching my life since…”

“Rebecca.”

He’s interrupting me again.

Why does he talk to me like he’s scolding a mischievous child?

“Don’t worry about it.”

“No, I am worrying!”

And he’s not good at making excuses!

“There are things in this world that you don’t need to know.”

“Your Highness, if you don’t tell me, I won’t give you this cookie! By the way, it’s homemade!”

“I’ve been watching through the window for 30 minutes, three times a week for the past six years, but I promise I never looked in on you while you were in the bath or anything like that.”

“That’s amazing!”

I never thought the cookies I baked as a thank you for Emilia, who always does things for me, would come in handy like this!

That day, when I returned to my dormitory room, I wrote in my strategy book.

“Llewayne Huaverdon notes: Unfriendly, most popular, [surprisingly easy to talk to].”

Chapter 11

One day, in my own dorm room, I was showing off a stone-like stiffness that was as blue as the sky. My mouth was half open, and my hand was still on the door knob of the washroom. My gaze was fixed on “that person” who should not have been in my room.

Please let me explain in order.

After finishing classes and returning to the dorm, I put off my homework and housework and took a bath first. Each room has its own bath, so I was able to stretch my body comfortably. Recently, my favorite bath additive was Peach Flower Note, with a not too sweet aroma, but that’s not important right now.

Anyway, I got into the bath early. I had something to do today. If not, I wouldn’t have gotten into the bath so early.

He, who was in front of my gaze, must not have expected me to get into the bath at this time. If not, he wouldn’t have also been showing off a stiffness that is not inferior to mine at this moment. Even if a beautiful person becomes stiff, they are still beautiful. Furthermore, as we can see from the fact that humans have been making statues of beautiful people since ancient times, beauty is refined even more when expressions are lost. But that’s not important right now either.

My agitation is clearly reflected in my thoughts. I apologize for not being able to explain properly.

In other words, it’s me, just out of the bath. For some reason, I’m wearing a large and wide-collared shirt on top, and my legs are fully exposed in what’s called hot pants.

When I opened the door to the bathroom, I unexpectedly met eyes with His Highness. He was just coming into my room through the window.

Anyway, I’ve become so embarrassed that I can hardly stand it when I explain it properly. As a noble lady, I’m not supposed to show anything above my knees to any men other than my family.

As I saw the heat in my body converge on my face, I wondered if His Highness had regained his composure. He twisted his body, which was leaning against the windowsill, and spoke from behind.

“I’m sorry. I was thinking of surprising you because I had some free time, but sorry, I was wrong, so please stop yelling.”

No, His Highness probably wasn’t calm either. He’s imagining me as I almost yell at him. If he’s this agitated, then the words he said the other day, “I’ve never seen you in the bath or anything like that,” probably aren’t true.

Either way, what a bad Crown Prince. Sneaking into a lady’s room like this, I wonder if this country’s future is okay.

Anyway, to avoid showing my legs anymore, I sit on the bed and cover them with a blanket.

“I understand, that’s fine now, bad Crown Prince.”

“Bad Crown Prince…”

“Besides that, it’s bad for you to be here now.”

I remembered why I had taken a bath early.

It’s already okay for you to have entered the room on your own, but it’s bad timing.

Probably, they’re coming.

“Rebecca-sama. It’s Emilia. I’ll be disturbing you.”

I heard a sound like a “clank”. It sounded like the executioner had climbed up to the guillotine.

Let’s not hide it, today Emilia was supposed to stay over. Incidentally, Melinda is also coming. We each finished our baths and we’re supposed to meet in my room.

His Highness turned around and made a bitter face.

Why is the door unlocked? You’re being careless.

That’s because they might come while I’m in the bath. Oh, is that it?

His Highness probably knows. He is in my room, and if he is found, he could not only get the title of “The Three Strongs” but also “Perverted Highness” in addition.

By the way, how did he get in here on the 6th floor? Oh, it’s the eagle.

I froze, His Highness with a composed expression. The moment the door to the bedroom where we were opened by Emilia, he strangely became calm and looked at myself.

Why am I so flustered?

Men are not banned from entering the girls’ dormitory. If there’s an application, permission will be granted.

Even so, when Emilia showed her face and he was reflected in her big eyes.

Her cute face was full of surprise. The prince looked at it with his usual expressionless face. I was there with a feeling that was similar to impatience, fear, and pain.

And then I clearly understood.

I didn’t want to meet either of them.

“Er, is it Prince Llewayne…?”

“Yeah.”

The first one to speak was Emilia. And she looked at me with a face that couldn’t be described. My smile may have become a bit awkward.

[Er, is it Prince Llewayne…?]

[Yeah]

The meeting event of Prince Llewayne, who is the first prince and the most popular target for conquest, and Emilia. If we ignore the fact that the place is [my room] instead of [the rooftop], it’s the same as the scenario so far. The problem is next.

The [line] of the protagonist, which the [player] can choose from 3 options. [I’m surprised]・[I’m sorry to intrude]・[I didn’t know you were here. Excuse me].

When I read the strategy book, I thought what would change with this, but if you choose the first one, the conversation will end almost without happening. If you choose the second one, it will end with the conversation 2.3. If you choose the third one, you can talk to the prince who seems just right and enter the Llewayne route.

I swallowed my saliva without knowing and waited for Emilia’s words.

“Um… did I interrupt something?”

I thought it was the second option.

But then I realized that the situation was different, so the meaning was different. It’s not something you would say to the Prince who was alone on the roof, thinking, but something you would say to my fiancé while we were alone in a room!

“No, it’s not like that!”

It’s not like that, it’s not like that. I wasn’t doing anything with any sort of charm (sexy).

Oh, my face feels like it’s steaming. As I kept repeating, “No, it’s not like that,” the His Highness seemed to be enjoying himself and smiled.

“No, I’m the one who’s interrupting. I’m sorry.”

Then His Highness took my hand and brought his face close to the inside of my wrist—and kissed me with a sound.

The lips that were pressed to me, the downcast eyelids.

Ah, his eyelashes, they’re long.

I felt a gap in my emotions. I couldn’t understand the situation well.

Before I knew it, a giant eagle appeared and His Highness rode on its back and disappeared.

I sat down feeling weak and dizzy, looking after His Highness who was smiling with his usual 50% more charm. My head was full because of the kiss on my thin skin. The faint, dark emotion from before had dispersed. I felt like I had been pierced through by something.

A loud noise startled me back to reality. It was Emilia. She had closed the window and locked it.

She grabbed the window frame with both hands as if she knew what she was doing, and squeezed it tightly. The window frame made a creaking noise and deformed. It probably won’t open again unless it’s repaired.

Emilia turned around with a big smile on her face.

“Now, nothing strange can come in anymore!”

Well, now the window can’t be used, but where did she hide that much muscle?

… Am I correct in assuming that the Llewayne route was not entered?

***

After that, Melinda arrived. Melinda deliberately avoided looking at the deformed window frame, probably sensing the trouble.

After finishing our assignments, we enjoyed chatting and the “sleepover girls’ party” that Emilia suggested ended up being quite fun.

When the conversation turned to love, Emilia thought for a while and then concluded with a laugh, “Right now, I’m happy just being with the three of us.”

But Emilia will fall in love with someone someday. There’s no route in this game where you don’t fall in love with one of the targets, the so-called “Normal End.”

I was surprised by my own thoughts. Who’s the one most trapped by the scenario? Me?

Chapter 12

Today, all students of the Royal Academy were gathered in the lecture hall. The voice of the principal, which I also heard two months ago, echoes.

“It’s June now. We will be entering summer vacation in July. We have the [event] of summer waiting for us in September.

Summer is the [Phantom Beast Festival]. For first-year students, we will distribute Phantom Beast eggs by the end of this month. Spend your summer vacation carefully raising them. Each will hatch a Phantom Beast that is appropriate for them. Second and third-year students, show the results of what you have been raising this year.

We will announce and evaluate them at the beginning of September’s [Phantom Beast Festival]. I am looking forward to it. That’s all, dismissed.”

I tried to suppress the excitement in my heart. I’ve always wanted a cute companion, or rather, a pet!

As the name implies, Phantom Beasts are a little different from ordinary animals. For example, the eagle of His Highness can change the size of its body at will. Phantom Beasts that have been with you since your student days, have faced difficulties together, and have spent a long time together are unique only to nobles. They are partners for life.

Of course, I know Rebecca’s Phantom Beast. It’s a white snake. It’s not particularly big and is about the size of my palm.

In the game, Rebecca hated her Phantom Beast and it had a mean personality like a snake, but that’s probably because of how it was raised. If it’s properly loved, it will definitely become attached. I don’t mind reptiles so I think it’s fine.

So, I’m eagerly waiting for a month later.

“Rebecca.”

What should I name it?

“Hey Rebecca, are you listening?”

Snake… snake… white snake…

“Rebecca!”

That’s it!

“Christina!”

“What?! Who?!”

The person who shouted next to me was Melinda. I didn’t realize she had been talking to me for a while. I startled her by suddenly calling the name of my unseen Phantom Beast.

“Sorry, what?”

“Never mind that, who is Christina?”

“It’s the name I’m going to give to my Phantom Beast.”

“You’re also kind of weird.”

I heard a sound like air being let out from behind me. When I turned around, it was His Highness. He was holding his mouth with his hand and shaking slightly. I couldn’t see his eyes, but I’m sure there were tears in them, hidden by his sparkling golden hair.

“So, the prince is laughing…”

Melinda seemed to be saying that she couldn’t believe that His Highness had come, and didn’t tell me that His Highness was surprisingly good at making people laugh.

His Highness sat down next to me after laughing for a while. His cold and beautiful face still seemed to have a bit of a smile left from just now.

He asked me about my plans during the summer break.

“Are you going back to the Duke’s territory?”

I hesitated and shook my head, thinking that wouldn’t be the case. My mother is deceased and my father is here in the Royal Capital.

My uncle has been managing the Duke’s territory for 7 years, taking over for my father who works here in the Royal Capital. He may not look reliable, but he is actually very sharp and manages the territory well. The only thing that is weak about him is his hair.

As I was thinking about my uncle, whose head is completely different from my father’s, His Highness’ hand smoothly overlapped mine. I was surprised and looked back at him.

“Let’s spend time together. If you don’t have any other plans. We are engaged, you can stay in the palace.”

It was a tempting invitation. Because of his hand holding mine, I remembered the kiss on my wrist from before and my face became hot.

But, meeting the king and especially the queen is nerve-wracking. I think my mother called this feeling “mother-in-law problems.”

“I am happy for the invitation, but staying at the Palace would be an inconvenience… ”

“I see. Then I’ll let you stay in my room.”

“Is that even worse?!”

“Okay, okay, then I’ll stay in your room during that time.”

“What will happen then?!”

His Highness looked at me, who raised my voice with a red face —— if I’m not mistaken, with a loving look.

“I’m joking.”

I become at a loss for words. My face, my face is hot.

Why does he show me such an expression that he doesn’t show to anyone else? I can’t say anything anymore.

Before I knew it, the first Saturday of the summer holiday had arrived, and I was going out with His Highness. His skill at making plans was nothing short of amazing.

His Highness left, and I fell into deep thought.

Maybe, just maybe, the lord doesn’t hate me and thinks kindly of me. He hasn’t said it clearly in words. But if that’s not the case, I have the right to try to tame His Highness’s wild temper.

I was lost in my thoughts until Emilia, who seemed to have been intimidating Lancelot by crushing an apple, came to talk to me.

After that, a rumor spread that “the relationship between His Highness Llewayne and Miss Rebecca is quite passionate.” It seems to have been spread by the students who were looking at the situation from a distance.

Indeed, there were many eyes on that matter. No matter what was said, I was not in a position to complain. However, Melinda, who told me the rumor, was smiling mischievously, and I was so embarrassed that my face was on fire.

***

June is a rainy month. It’s a fact of life in this world. I remembered what my mother said, “There’s always a mix of European noble culture and Japan in everything,” but I didn’t really understand what she meant.

The damp June is perfectly suited for damp events, and that is the examination.

“I hate it.”

Melinda muttered next to me. Despite being smart, she’s a bit of a troublemaker.

“I hate it too.”

Emilia, on the opposite side, is nodding in agreement. As for her, she’s smart but for some reason, when it comes to studying, she’s a bit… well, that.

I’m studying hard sandwiched between the two of them. I actually like studying.

There is no mention in the strategy book that Rebecca achieved good grades on the exam. However, it seems that her cunning worked, so the head must not have been bad. It’s a shame. In addition, the usual Academy life, that is, the attitude and grades of the exams also affect the review of the title.

I glanced at Emilia. I know she is a hard worker. In the scenario, someone from the target of the strategy should teach her study and get quite good results… What will happen?

As I was peeking, Emilia suddenly looked at me, so our eyes met. Her eyes were shining.

“Rebecca-sama, if you teach me, I will do my best. And please give me a reward if I get good grades.”

It’s me again. Sweets and bento boxes, for now, all events are coming to me, so I expected it.

But why is it a bit presumptuous even though you’re the one asking?

Melinda also asked to join, but she looked at the other side. She didn’t seem to be listening to the conversation and was looking somewhere else. Her eyes were shining.

“Hey, don’t you think he’s great?”

Follow the line of sight. There was a black lump.

That’s an inanimate object, Melinda. Not a person.

I put away the words that had slipped out to the tip of my tongue and took a second look at the lump. It wasn’t a black lump, it was a black robe. To add to that, it was a man who was wrapped in a robe, who was 190cm tall.

No way, Melinda!

“Oh my God, Melinda!”

“Big people are wonderful.”

I was shocked.

Melinda is beautiful. Her soft dark purple hair and honey-colored eyes shine, often compared to the stars in the night sky.

Her house is also well-maintained and stable, her partner must be carefully selected. But with him of all people…

Oh, that’s right, I remembered Melinda’s words when we first met. I had thought about my friend’s unexpected male preference.

***

The day of the exam had come. The instruction I had given to Emilia until today was more intense than I had expected, and I couldn’t help but shout “your muscles have spread to your brain!” Emilia smiled and said “Thank you!” Apparently, in the martial arts group, [muscle brain] is a compliment. Still, I felt it was rude, so I apologized.

Melinda, as I had expected, had started preparing for the exam as it approached, and as of yesterday, she said “It looks like it’ll work out somehow.” She is efficient and that’s the most important thing. Can’t a man’s type be changed?

The bell rang and the corn began to pop, announcing the end of the final exam. I put my writing utensils on the desk and stretched a bit, seeing a rare and beautiful blue sky outside the window. The rainy season seems to be over already.

Soon enough, Emilia would probably come to tell me the results of the exam with excitement. We hadn’t had much time for each other lately, but now that the exam is over, I wondered if I would finally be able to see His Highnes.

I relaxed my cheek in the classroom, feeling a sense of liberation.

Life at the academy is surprisingly enjoyable.

Chapter 13

“Gan, Gusha.”

As I was walking down the hallway, suddenly a flower pot fell right next to me. I looked up and for a moment saw several female students running away on the floor above.

It’s surprising that fear was defeated.

“T-That was what I’m supposed to do!”

That’s what I, villainess, would do to Emilia!

“No way? You, the fiancé of the Crown Prince in the Duke’s house, are being bullied with criminal-like harassment? Who is the reckless person on the other side?”

That’s what Melinda told me an hour later, explaining the situation.

I don’t intend to tell this to His Highness. I don’t want to add any unnecessary work. If it’s just a prank like that, as long as I’m careful, I can handle it if it happens again. I also have a short sword hidden in my skirt. But, I can’t let Melinda get hurt. I asked her to stay away from me for a while.

“I don’t like it. You’re telling me to leave you alone because of my attractiveness?”

Melinda, who says that to me, is a friend worth a million. I am a lucky person.

“It’s okay, I’m not alone. I’m thinking of walking with Emilia.”

Emilia has a higher pure combat ability than clumsy men and if I were to get hurt, she would be able to heal me immediately. This situation is perfect.

But when I told her that, Melinda showed an unusual hesitation.

“I was told not to tell you… probably that girl is also receiving harassment. And it’s been going on for a while.”

It took me a few seconds to understand.

“Ahh.” A small scream came from Melinda. She saw my face, which had lost its blood, turn red with anger in a world that was also dyed red.

***

The next day during lunch break. As I was walking down the hallway as usual, I felt a bad presence and gaze.

At that moment, a bucket of water appeared above my head, so I dodged by turning my body. When I looked back, there were people hiding in the shadow behind a pillar. They threw knives at me, aiming for my neck. One, two, three. Three female students. They were sitting down, looking at the knives stuck in the wall and me, unable to say anything or understand what had happened.

The situation suddenly became chaotic. Even though the teacher had come running, I wondered why they weren’t moving.

Well, it doesn’t matter.

“You know, even if you’re about to get drenched with water or hit with a flower pot, it’s okay if it’s just an attempted attack. I don’t mind small things.”

I slowly approached them.

“But, I want to ask you one thing. You guys…”

As their pale faces came closer.

“Did you do something to Emilia?”

It’s always the person who’s laughing that’s in a position of advantage. For me, who was smiling so much that it was sickening, the answer that the girls who were trembling couldn’t give me was enough.

In my chest, a black emotion that’s been bubbling up like a spring since yesterday.

I had one foot in that spring. The spring had a color as black as my hair (metaphor). If I took just two or three steps forward and threw myself in, I would become [Rebecca].

Somewhere in my heart, I was disappointed in myself for that. But I couldn’t suppress my feelings.

Unforgivable. Unforgivable.

I can’t forgive those people who hurt Emilia. I can’t forgive the people around me who forgave them.

Most of all, I couldn’t even notice that my friend was fighting alone, and I even made them worry about me.

While giving up trying to suppress my emotions with just a bit of reason, I thought, no matter how much I try to be kind to the people around me, no matter how much I try to enjoy every day.

Villainess Rebecca has always been in my heart.

The me in my heart and the me in reality took a step that couldn’t be taken back.

——And tried to take that step.

“Rebecca.”

That voice blew away all evil.

Suddenly, my vision cleared and I realized that the person who was most important to me was there. He was calling me by my name as his fiancée, not as a villainess, with his usual kind face and gentle voice.”

It felt like the day we first met. On that day, he called out my name and brought me back.

And look, he’s holding me like this, spreading his arms wide and looking at me. The only difference from that day is that I can feel at ease when I look at him.

I ran towards him and saw the blue sky in front of me and thought that.

How many times will this person have to save me before he’s satisfied? Surely, at this very moment, the villainess inside of me will disappear. When I am wrapped in happiness in the arms of His Highness, I am convinced of that.

***

With his fiancée in his arms, Llewayne Huaverdon calmly told the female students.

I know what you’ve done. I also know who instructed you. The punishment will be discussed with the Duke of Slutarch and I will inform you later. I will pass on a stern punishment under the name of the Huaverdon family.

The hearts of the students who had watched everything from start to finish were in agreement.

Is that all there is to it?

The power of the Duke of Slutarch is immeasurable and not only is his fiancée, the gem of the Slutarch territory, a target. Another person, a valuable human with rare healing magic abilities, even though she is a commoner.

Most of all, they have heard the rumors. The prince loves his fiancée.

As a result of considering everything, the female students could have their noble status stripped and be expelled on the spot, and it wouldn’t have been strange for their entire family to be demoted.

But the prince said, “My kind fiancé does not wish for harsh punishment. Instead of punishment, I expect you to atone for your sins through service to this country from now on.”

The audience trembled. The Crown Prince, who had revealed and forgave the sins of the wronged without any emotional involvement, and his fiancé. If they were left in charge, the security of this country would be guaranteed. The event closed with numerous praises to the prince and his fiancé.

***

The next day, Emilia came to see me with tears in her eyes.

“I was saved again. I’m sorry for being quiet. I didn’t want to cause any trouble.”

She said that and shed tears. As expected, the hero’s tears are beautiful, but thinking that way is pointless now.

“I’m glad I could save an important friend.”

The girl crying in front of me is my friend, and I, who am worried about her, am just her friend.

Chapter 14

The results of the June exam were announced the other day. The exam is by grade level, so unlike [event], only the top 3 of each grade are publicly released. Looking at the posted results, I doubted my eyes for a while.

I was first place in the first grade. Below me were the names of Gadd Maysen, and then Emilia. Emilia’s ranking was the same as the scenario. Melinda was said to be in twelfth place. As a result of the last-minute cramming, it was certainly worth praising.

In the second grade, the first place was the name of His Highness, followed by Oswald Ceden, and then Fried Neher.

In the third grade, the first place was Cectiara Zoff, followed by Vanderlei Slutarch, and then tied for third place were Diego Niesch, and Ray Lowe.

While embraced by Emilia, who had come to express the highest expression of joy, I secretly decided to strive not to be surpassed.

***

It may not be that important, but I am currently practicing something called the “tsun-tsun period” towards His Highness. It was named and proposed by Emilia.

There is one reason for this. His Highness withholds the identity of the person who directed the harassment against me and Emilia.

I remembered that His Highness had said something like that three days after the incident, two weeks ago. I asked him to tell me but he didn’t and I became sullen the next day.

The way to do “tsun-tsun” is simple. When we meet, I puff out my cheeks and turn my face away. Even if I’m facing him, if he talks to me, I’ll just answer, so it feels like that’s why it’s effective, but as Emilia said, it’s quite effective.

His Highness is trying to put me in a good mood. The gift of sweet things is pleasant. I like it even more when he strokes my head.

But the truth is, both His Highness and I understand. I understand that there are secrets in His Highness’s work. That’s why I don’t really get sulky and this is just a pose. In other words, we’ve become this kind of playfully-related, it’s a bit embarrassing to say it out loud.

***

Starting tomorrow is the summer vacation. And today is the day that the first-year students will be given Phantom Beast eggs. The day I’ve been looking forward to. Of course, I couldn’t sleep yesterday.

Emilia smiled warmly at me as I held the egg I received carefully, while Melinda looked at me in surprise.

“I’m looking forward to it, Rebecca-sama.”

“Are you in that kind of mood now?”

It takes two to six weeks for the egg to hatch. There’s no saying whether it’s better for it to hatch quickly or slowly, it just depends on the influence of the master. There’s no need to warm them or anything, but it’s said that it’s better to always act together.

My egg seemed smaller than the others around it. Out of all the eggs that look the same except for the size, which one is given to you is completely up to luck.

That’s also a part of the Phantom Beast Festival, but it’s natural that my egg is small. The one that will be born is a small and cute white snake.

Melinda was rolling her egg, which was bigger than her palm, on the desk as a comfort, but suddenly smiled and stood up. When I looked, Fried was standing in the distance and looking at us. I pulled my cheek and looked at the situation.

After the incident that began with the flying of the potted plant, His Highness pronounced a rule on me.

To report and consult about anything, and when we are both too busy to meet, to rely on Fried Neher and Melinda Cuey as intermediaries.

I couldn’t help but accept that rule. I understood that I was being worried about, and I had a feeling of guilt for not reporting the matter to His Highness.

His Highness was able to skillfully use this incident to enhance his own reputation, but if he were to do the same thing again, it would be nothing but a nuisance.

Thanks to that, Melinda and Fried were able to talk. Or rather, Melinda was able to talk to Fried one-sidedly. Because he’s a man who embodies silence.

That’s what I thought.

“That’s right, Rebecca. Fried-sama said [His Highness has become more human-like and is smiling, Miss Rebecca, I am grateful], you know.”

“Fried-sama? Which Fried-sama is that?”

“There’s only one Fried-sama in this Academy.”

“Oh, is it Bread-sama? Or is it Friend-sama, I wonder.”

(TL: Rebecca is in complete denial.)

“Don’t be persistent, Rebecca.”

When did he(Fried) become able to speak such a long sentence? And, I thought he recently stopped glaring at me for logical reasons.

Melinda rejected the reply that said he’d become much more human-like.

***

The fact that it’s summer vacation means that I am looking forward to going out with his highness in about a week.

What kind of clothes should I wear? I left the decision of where to go to his highness, so I want to look neutral and be able to adapt to any place.

I summoned [my friends] as my ace in the hole during times like this. Emilia and Melinda, who were still in the dormitory after the closing ceremony, dressed me up in a not-too-this, not-too-that manner. (made me their dress-up doll.)

“Yeah, this is good! Cute!”

Emilia gave her approval to the combination of an ice blue sleeveless top and a light white lace skirt that hid my calves. She matched it with a whitish handbag and low heels. It turned out to be quite a neat look.

“By the way, Emilia, do you acknowledge his highness?”

“When I see Rebecca-sama being deceived right in front of me, I think “that scoundrel” inside, but just the fact that he is the next highest leader of this country is redeemable.”

“Do you know how disrespectful that language is?”

I was so nervous in front of the mirror that I didn’t hear the uneasy conversation of my two friends.

The next day, I left the dormitory with Melinda. I will spend July at Melinda’s Viscount Cuey’s estate and August at my father’s house in the Royal Capital. I will not return to the Duke of Slutarch’s territory as it is too far.

My brother told me that he will spend July at my father’s house and August somewhere else, so I was slightly aware of it. [Spring] results and examination results are announced, and I still avoid my brother who I often see his name. I haven’t seen him at the Academy either, and I probably won’t for a while unless something happens.

However, my plans are not just focused on my brother. I am also thinking about the major event that will happen in the summer.

I boarded the carriage after being farewelled by Emilia who was in the dormitory until today and will return home tomorrow. I don’t feel much sadness in our parting. It’s not because I’m unfeeling, it’s because I promised to see her soon.

Viscount Cuey’s estate is relatively close to the Royal Capital, but it is a place full of nature. I have been there a few times.

While stroking the egg, I thought about giving this child an experience of horseback riding.

Chapter 15

It has been 6 days since I started being taken care of by the Cuey family. Today is finally the day of my appointment with His Highness.

Melinda caught me in the clothes that we had previously decided on. I was made to sit in front of the mirror and my hair was tied. My hair was loosely braided on both sides and gathered at a low position on the back of my head. I can say that the perfect amount of hair left out in the back tells the story of her dexterity and skill in hair styling.

“Oh my, you look cute. His Highness will be pleased.

“Thank you, Melinda. But the tone of your voice.”

“You look lovely, Rebecca-sama. It’s wonderful. His Highness will be delighted.”

After correcting her tone, Melinda’s speech started talking in a weird way. I stopped being preachy and hugged her to express my gratitude. Melinda hugged me back and said “enjoy yourself.”

His Highness should have come to pick me up from the Viscount’s territory. I couldn’t help but wait anxiously in front of the mansion, but as the appointed time approached, the carriage was nowhere to be seen.

I was just starting to think something was off when I noticed a large shadow cast over me. I looked up and understood. If I had a companion like this, I would never think of using a carriage.

“Rebecca. I kept you waiting.”

“No, you’re on time.”

He rode on the back of a big eagle and looked unchanged, which made me feel relieved. I was also happy to have such a lover-like interaction.

His Highness helped me onto the back of the eagle.

“His name is Grue.”

As I thought, Phantom Beasts also have names! I couldn’t help but smile. Grue, who looked like he could carry people, calmly rose to a high altitude and began a peaceful flight.

The Viscount Cuey’s mansion is now so small. The view from below is beautiful and the air is delicious. I never knew the sky could feel this good. As my mother taught me, should I use the phrase “people are like ants” when I’m at a high place.

“Not just being together, but also giving you many experiences.”

His Highness said as he turned to look at me clinging to his back. It’s probably about the egg. That’s good to hear!

I took out a palm-sized egg from my handbag. So that it can also enjoy a pleasant breeze.

“…I don’t mind even if you become a flying snake, Christina.”

I intended to say it in a small voice, but I wonder if His Highness heard it. He didn’t say anything, so I’ll assume it’s okay.

Before I knew it, the Royal Capital came into view. Today seems like it will be a fun day.

***

We went to watch a play, went for a walk while eating, walked around a variety of shops and had a sweet treat at a tea house. It is no exaggeration to say that we have done everything that a date at the Royal Capital could possibly do.

I never left His Highness’ side, laughed from the heart and became tired from playing. I noticed that the day was getting dark and I became sad.

“Rebecca, let’s go see the sunset. I have a favorite place.”

I nod with a smile. I was happy because I wanted to stay together for a little longer.

I take the prince’s arm that was offered. Even the fact that this action has become normal today made me incredibly happy.

But when I saw the place we arrived at after riding Grue’s back this morning, I was speechless.

“Y-Your Highness, is this place?”

“Yes, it’s on the roof of the palace.”

“That’s right!”

Is that not some kind of crime? At least it is a crime of disrespect.

His Highness sat down with an air of familiarity.

“Don’t worry about it. I often come here to see the sunset and the night sky.”

No wonder the guards did not pay attention to the huge eagle perched on the roof of the palace. Grue left me and the prince on the roof, while enjoying the sky.

I give up and sit next to the prince. It is true that from here we can enjoy the sky without any obstacles because it is higher than any other building.

I was looking at the endless sunset when I heard someone call my name, Rebecca. I looked at His Highness and was startled. A deep blue (eyes) was staring at me. The gaze was serious. Behind it was a sunset. His Highness’s golden hair was translucent in the red color, and it was shining while mixed together.

In fact, I have a certain goal today. His Highness said to me that I should consult with him about anything. Then I should talk to His Highness about strategy books and the Otome game. The information written in the strategy book has great value. His Highness will surely be able to make good use of them.

However, by confessing this, I will also be confessing that I am a villainess in the scenario.

I know that His Highness values me. But is that because I am [me], or because I am [the future queen]?

I have never heard the words of love or like from His Highness in a proper way.

What I fear is the existence of [game coercion]. The ranking of [spring] was as the scenario described, except for what happened around me as an irregular. The same goes for the examination. Besides, even if Rebecca did not bully Emilia, other people would harass her(them) instead.

It seems that no matter what, many things go through different processes and converge in the same place. Though things may not always go as planned in the scenario, it can be said that the game is progressing while neatly arranging the minimum elements.

In that case, I no longer think of myself as a villainess, but can I win as just myself against the protagonist?

In the scenario, it was more beneficial for the country for His Highness to choose Emilia as his queen, rather than me as the daughter of the Slutarch family. And if the game’s coercion (compulsion) was really existent and could push His Highness’ back just a little, would His Highness still choose me, both as the king and as Llewayne, I still couldn’t come to a conclusion.

So, if His Highness were to clearly say to me today that he likes me, I would trust him and reveal everything. That’s what I decided and faced today.

His Highness must have known my nervousness and turned his arm around to support my waist. To prevent me from slipping and falling.

As we leaned on each other, we must have looked like lovers to others.

I immediately regretted thinking such a thing.

“Rebecca, I have something to tell you.”

My heart, which should have been fluttering, starts to calm down. The Crown Prince looking at me is not just [a man], but unmistakably [the Crown Prince of this country].

“I can be a king with you by my side. Protect this country with me.”

These are words that could be taken as a proposal. But there is no sweetness there.

I feel like my whole being is seen through his deep blue eyes. He wants love from me, who is selfish and carries the burden of the country.

I smiled thinly. It was unconscious. It must be a defense mechanism of my heart to keep my feelings from being known.

“Yes.”

I answer with as much firmness as possible, not as [a woman], but as [the fiance of the Crown Prince]. The Crown Prince’s face relaxes and he looks at me with affection.

Looking at that, my throat trembled. “What do you think of me, your Highness?” If I ask this, it will be over. Even though I know that, I’m scared. I’m scared of what expression he will have. I’m scared of hearing the answer. I’m scared of telling everything.

I closed my mouth and looked down. Not a single word came out. I couldn’t trust His Highness.

“You look even more beautiful today,”

His Highness’ left hand, detached from his waist, enveloped and gently grasped my right hand. I softly returned the grasp so as not to let go.

Ah, me. I don’t want to forget this moment.

I sincerely thought that.

The beauty of the burning setting sun, His Highness’ gentle voice, the temperature of this hand. I want to engrave all of them in my brain and remember them no matter what happens from now on.

I hope that at that time, I will still be next to His Highness, just like this moment.

Chapter 16

When I returned home after being sent by His Highness, I was bombarded with questions from Melinda. In particular, she seems to be curious about His Highness’s reaction to my appearance.

“Wasn’t there something more? For example, that I’ve never seen anyone more beautiful than you, that I would run away barefoot like a fairy, or that I’m so grateful to God for having such a fiancé.”

“Melinda, that’s not His Highness anymore.”

He’s probably not an ordinary person. Maybe he’s a poet or something.

I was really happy enough when I was told that I was beautiful for the first time, but Melinda seems unsatisfied.

“Well, I’ll ask for more details when that girl is here.”

Melinda pouts. In fact, Emilia is coming to the Cuey house in five days. She has many younger siblings and said that she doesn’t want to leave home for too long, so it’s just for one night and two days.

[It seems that she wants to have a sleepover party for girls again during the summer vacation]. This is the reward that Emilia, who took third place in the recent test, requested.

I was caught off guard by her cute request and asked if it was really okay. I was thinking of giving her two or three jewels that would suit her.

Five days later, Emilia came in a carriage. And as soon as she arrived, she was exclaiming in amazement. She seems to have been overwhelmed by the size of the Cuey house.

On the other hand, Melinda and I were overwhelmed by the size of the thing that Emilia was holding in her arms.

“…Emilia, it looks like the egg has gotten bigger since the last time I saw it, don’t you think?”

Melinda asked with a puzzled face.

“Do eggs get bigger…?”

Melinda’s confusion is understandable. If I didn’t know from the strategy book that Phantom Beast is growing at an abnormal rate thanks to Emilia’s kindness and vast magical power, I would have been just as puzzled.

“That’s right,” Emilia laughed.

In the scenario, Emilia will be the winner of the Phantom Beast Festival.

***

Even as the night grew later, we continued talking while lying next to each other on one bed.

Today, Melinda and I taught Emilia horseback riding and held a cooking competition, and acted like little kids by lying on the grass in the yard and taking a nap. It was a fulfilling day, to say the least.

The two of them kept insisting “We’re not going to sleep” even as the night grew late. Emilia in particular said “Being able to spend an all-nighter with friends was my dream.” in a way that I didn’t quite understand.

But past 2am, the two of them happily set off to dreamland. I’m not sleepy because I took a nap on the grass during the day.

The sigh I let out dissolved into the dark room and disappeared. I look at the two of them sleeping and think to myself.

The big event that we’re talking about is at the beginning of August, that’s in half a month. The story goes like this: one day, when Emilia was out shopping in the town, she gets kidnapped by the villainous Rebecca, who had planned on using this as an opportunity to make sure she couldn’t participate in the summer event, and almost loses her Phantom Beast’s egg.

Of course, I wouldn’t do something like that, but when I think about what’s happened before, it’s likely that someone else will do it instead.

The important thing is that the person who comes to save her at that point is the protagonist’s final love interest.

After that, whether it will lead to a happy ending or not, the route is completely branching here.

However, I intend to save Emilia myself. Various events are all being handled by me, even if I’m just watching, what would I do if no one came. Or rather, I want to prevent it from happening if possible. It’s uncertain whether I can win against the game’s compulsion.

For me, there is one extremely pleasing fact.

His Highness cannot absolutely come to help. The reason is that this is a physical problem. From the end of July to the early part of August, His Highness is scheduled to visit the Duke of Slutarch. His Highness intends to continue the engagement, and it was my father’s advice after confirming that I accepted it.

My father helps out with His Highness’s busy work to some extent, and he can go to places that would normally take four days by horse-drawn carriage in two days because of the one-year-old Grue who has grown up so well. Because of such a schedule, I couldn’t go with him.

With this, no matter how strong the game’s compulsion is, His Highness cannot come to help and it is decided that Emilia and His Highness will not be bound in the scenario. I couldn’t be happier.

I suddenly stopped thinking and looked out the window. The cool wind was coming in from the window and stroking my cheeks. The room and the outside were dark, but the sky was bright with shining stars. Seeing that, I renewed my determination.

It’s okay, Emilia. I’ll definitely protect you.

***

“I invited Emilia to my father’s house in the Royal Capital in August. I called it just for one day, but I plan to have her stay for a while. She told me before that there were many small siblings and it was hard, so I have already sent Duke’s servants to help and report at Emilia’s house.”

My father is not in the mansion today either, because he decided to take a week off from his work.

This morning, he hugged me once and said, “If it’s for your sake, it’s not painful.” and left while laughing. What a wonderful father.

Currently, the security of this house is at double the normal level. In order not to trouble my father, I directly instructed the servants. No one can enter, no matter who they are. Even if Emilia wants to go out, I will never let her.

Even if she is kidnapped, it will be at that time. I will help with all my might while wrapping my tongue around the scenario’s compulsion. Even though this is almost house arrest, I will do my best to make it fun for Emilia, so I hope she can bear with it.

In my prediction, the time limit is until Emilia’s Phantom Beast’s eggs hatch. Emilia’s Phantom Beast will hatch during this event and will have the role of turning the tide of the war. The Duke has already left yesterday, so there are no problems.

It happened that evening that something strange occurred.

Emilia and I were talking about our impressions of the book while drinking tea. I thought that the incident was already over in the game’s scenario, but the butler came and announced a visitor. I tried to refuse saying that I didn’t feel like entertaining guests today, but since it was my father’s mentor, I couldn’t just turn him away. I left Emilia’s side to tell the visitor that my father was not present as the representative of the house. I made Emilia promise me not to see anyone or go anywhere before I left.

Although she found it quite suspicious, Emilia said “if that’s what Rebecca-sama wants.” So, I felt relieved and entertained the guest, but when I returned and found Emilia was not there, I was shocked. Instead, the butler was there alone.

He said “she” was talking to Emilia in the other room now. That person is one of the Five strongest, Kyaran, Marquis Goudes’ daughter. Furthermore, she came alone without any followers.

The room, where there were supposed to be two people, was empty.

Chapter 17

“Kyaran Goudes. She is in the second year of high school, has talent in magic, has red curly hair, and her Phantom Beast is a cub bear. She remembered being 6th in the [spring].

She is also famous at the Academy. Her strong-willed attitude is the result of her unshakable efforts, and she has a fan club that is sometimes derisively referred to as [cronies].

In the scenario, she is the character who helps Emilia because she hates crookedness. She is not the kind of person who would kidnap Emilia. I hope she didn’t come to rescue Emilia from house arrest or something like that.

I was relatively calm. I already have a plan in case of emergencies.

“Cheatan, I request a report. Has Emilia come to your location?”

I took out a small crystal necklace from my chest. The light blue, transparent necklace feeds on the owner’s magic and allows for long-distance communication with registered individuals. It is a common thing in this country.

[Yes, Rebecca-sama. About 15 minutes ago, Emilia-sama appeared suddenly with a red-haired woman. She is tied up with a rope made of magic, but she does not seem to have any injuries. They seem to be talking and there doesn’t seem to be any immediate danger at the moment. The area is surrounded by a barrier and we can’t hear their voices. Should we attempt to enter?]”

“No. I’ll head over with a few people within 20 minutes. If something happens before we arrive, please enter, but don’t do anything reckless.”

[Understood]

Emilia and the others are in a temple that’s about 15 minutes away by horse. It’s not currently in use and was originally the place Rebecca was supposed to take them. It’s close by. I left people there because I thought it would be a good place for her to be taken by someone else. It’s fortunate that my suspicions were correct.

However, it was just in case she was kidnapped. As we didn’t know how long it would take, there were only him and two other followers who were just as trustworthy as the guy I just mentioned.

Emilia suddenly disappeared and reappeared, and it was almost certainly a transfer magic. It was commonly used in [spring], so I got used to it, but I felt uneasy with the three of them with the opponent using such a high-difficulty magic that most humans were not allowed to even try.

Out of the knights of security, six people were gathered who were particularly good at magic and got on horses. Eventually, we ended up going to help with the target of the strategy.

While riding the horse, I chant “stay calm” in my mind.

It’s alright. Emilia will come back without anything happening. Because that girl properly took her own eggs.

The temple during the off-season is dim and eerie. As reported, there was a barrier in the prayer hall where Emilia and Kyaran were.

It’s not just about blocking voices. I realized that only women under a certain age are allowed in, when everyone else was blocked by the barrier except for me. This must be part of the scenario. It seems like it’s not possible to just barge in with a large group of people.

I decided to have the knights make efforts to disable the barrier, even if it takes time, and I entered the temple alone. Suddenly, I hear a loud voice.

I wonder how far the conversation has progressed? I didn’t confidently enter, but instead lowered my posture and observed the situation.

The shrine had long chairs arranged in a concentric circle, and the center was empty. Emilia and Kyaran were facing each other there.

I looked at Emilia, who was making a loud noise, and confirmed that she wasn’t injured and patted my chest. However, she was still tied up with ropes. If it were not made by magic, I could have torn them apart with even a chain.

Even though I could confirm Emilia’s appearance, I couldn’t feel relieved.

Just when I entered, a woman with lush red hair was about to smash an egg held in both hands onto the floor.

“No, no, stop!”

You don’t have to shout so loud, Emilia. Look.

Just before the egg hit the floor, a thick tail protruded and broke the shell open. The Phantom Beast was revealed in full as it was slammed onto the floor by the impact. Its god-like appearance was so overwhelming that it made one want to bow down in front of it. The eight other tails spreading out with a sense of presence. Its body glimmered in a copper color and it looked down at Kyaran with its massive physique and bright red eyes.

“Kyuubi…?”

Emilia muttered.

Yes, that is what people call the beast. Emilia’s holy magic and the holy energy of the temple had awakened it and it was born as the noble queen of foxes.

The one who was most surprised was Emilia. Faced with a Phantom Beast of a mass that could not possibly have fit inside an egg, she was at a loss for words and froze up.

In the scenario, Rebecca is knocked down and the Kyuubi cuts Emilia’s rope, allowing her to regain her composure and tell Rebecca “I won’t lose to you and I will never do this again.” and tries to leave. But Rebecca uses a [sealing charm] taken from the Duke’s safe to temporarily subdue the Kyuubi and take advantage of Emilia, causing her to fall into trouble again and one of the targets of the strategy will come to break the barrier and help her… this is the flow of events.

I will quickly retrieve Emilia while I have the chance. I don’t want Kyaran to have the sealing charm. It’ll be safe once we’re out of the temple, and unlike the target, I don’t have to make a cool appearance, so let’s get Emilia and get out of here as soon as possible.

I quickly approached Emilia. By the time Kyaran noticed my intrusion, I had already helped Emilia stand up and we were running towards the door together. The Kyuubi will follow us.

Great, perfect. We made it!

Just as we were about to reach the door, a human appeared and blocked our way.

***

TL: Kyuubi = Nine Tailed Fox

Chapter 18

The man’s eyes widened in surprise as he hit the brakes hard. He was staring at it with a smirk. At the same time, I could feel the barrier that was being broken by the knights outside being rapidly repaired and restored. When I turned around, I saw Kyaran sticking a small charm to the Kyuubi.

TL: Nine-tailed Fox = Kyuubi

Ah, it’s over.

“I thought something was strange… it was you, wasn’t it, [Hal]?”

“Don’t call me by that name anymore. It’s nice to see [Beth].”

A transfer magic that should not be able to be used even if it’s a five-high. A barrier that only lets young women pass through. Kyaran, who should not have such a personality to kidnap, and with a blank expression, not saying a word.

The man I met on [Spring] day. It’s nostalgic how overly familiar he is. He’s wearing the Academy uniform just like the first day we met.

This event in the [summer] should have nothing to do with him. Why does he always change the scenario and appear like this?

“Are you really in it for the fun?”

“Well, I don’t know. At least it’s a fact that I’m enjoying myself now.”

He talked casually while desperately turning his head. Of course, the theme is how to get out of this situation.

Emilia was worriedly watching the state of the Kyuubi while keeping a distance from me. The Kyuubi must be sealed with magic and unable to move for another 30 minutes. Kyaran was standing blankly, with the only entrance behind this man. The barrier must also have been set by him. Barrier magic allows for free entry and exit for the user regardless of the conditions. It seems unlikely that the barrier will be broken from the outside as long as this man is here.

In other words, our opponents are a man who excels in using advanced magic, has a physical body that is immune to attacks, and a lady who has been turned into a puppet, and also excels in magic. On our side, there is a girl who can only use healing magic and I, who am skilled with a sword.

I know what this is. My mother said it. [We’re in trouble].

TL: [詰んでる]?

For now, let’s try to figure out our opponent’s goal while buying time.

“What do you plan to do with us?”

“I want that healing magic user to revive my body. Rebecca…hm… doesn’t need to do anything.”

“Can you please let us go?”

“No way.”

[Hal] continued as if he was biting and swallowing something.

“Just stay by my side and don’t do anything.”

…What?

I was surprised. Is it just my imagination that I feel something special in that? There seems to be an unknown emotion in the depths of [Hal]’s narrowed eyes… No, speaking of eyes.

“Why are your hair and eyes red compared to before?”

“Hmm? This is, when I store up a lot of magic power, it becomes a vivid red. When we first met, it was more of a brownish color, right?”

That’s right. [Hal]’s hair was not the sparrow color(brownish color) when we first met, but a bright red like blood. If it was this red when we first met, I would have realized that [Hal] was Ouka. It was written in the strategy book that his hair was bright red, so I suspected that he was a handsome target, but I couldn’t remember.

“I’ve been behaving myself for a few months, I’ve accumulated a lot. For example, I could transfer the three of us, you, me, and Emilia, to a foreign country.”

“…what.”

Emilia made a sound from behind.

Because the force of the scenario was too strong, I seemed to have relied on it unconsciously. Could this man who broke the scenario really take us far away?

At least I tried to resist, and reached for the short sword in my skirt.

But I stopped.

“You’re not thinking of doing something like that, are you?”

I said it without much certainty, but [Hal] stopped smirking, so it must have been the right thing to say.

Even I myself find it strange, but I can’t seem to feel any sense of danger or caution towards this man since earlier. If he really had such intentions, he would have talked about it slowly instead of just acting on it right away.

I faced him head on and looked into his eyes, trying to find out the true identity of the mysterious emotion I saw earlier.

It wasn’t love, or emotion, or even obsession.

It was a protective, loving feeling(compassionate love).

“…Bingo. I am——”

[Hal] softly spoke as the color he had been trying to hide couldn’t be hidden anymore,

Crackling, Crackling, breaking.

The barrier shattered simultaneously. Magic sparkled as it descended in small particles, visible to the eye.

[Hal] stepped back to make way as the door opened and someone came in. It was a person who suited the excessive shower of light that enveloped the surroundings.

“——I was just waiting for him to come.”

Why?

That’s all that dominates me. You shouldn’t have been able to come. You shouldn’t have come.

You were the one person I didn’t want to be Emilia’s partner.

[And so, the target of the attack who comes to the rescue is the final love interest of the protagonist is…]

“Rebecca, are you okay?”

I’m not okay at all. Because, Your Highness, you came.

Chapter 19

“Why.”

“Why did you come?” sounded like “Why did you know this place?” to his highness.

“Goudes has been under surveillance for a while. I’ll explain the details later. More importantly, Rebecca, answer me. Are you injured?”

His Highness looked at [Hal] with sharp eyes and protected me, who had slumped down, with his back. His voice was firm, but it was clear that he was worried about me.

“…Yes.”

“I didn’t want you to come,” my voice trembled. It must have sounded like “I’m glad you came” to His Highness.

His Highness also glanced at Emilia and must have seen the Kyuubi, but he didn’t seem to react.

[Hal] had returned to his normal mode and was looking at me with a suggestive face.

Now I understand. From my perspective as someone who broke the scenario, you were also breaking the scenario, and in this way you were restoring this world to its proper form.

“Alright, I’m leaving now.”

[Hal] looked satisfied. The purpose of this event had been achieved, and therefore, his purpose had also been achieved.

“Alright then, all three of you. Miss Kyaran, please remove the ring and release the magic.”

As he said this, his body became blurry and faint. However, he let out a big “Ah!” in the middle. Is there something else?

“That’s right. My name is Ouka, nice to meet you.”

Well, I already know that.

Ouka, who was almost gone, suddenly appeared right in front of me and whispered only a few last words before disappearing completely this time.

I was so surprised that my back stood on end. Why do I know that! That man, who threw a bomb in the end.

His Highness turned around as if he had been shot and wiped my ear that had been whispered to by Ouka with his sleeve. Wipe, wipe, wipe… He looked angry. His lips were closed in a single character and he didn’t smile gently like usual.

I calmed down a little. Certainly, His Highness had come. It’s clear that he came to save me. What is this situation where I’m being swung around by the scenario that I’m trying to resist?

Besides, now there are other things to do.

I put my hand on His Highness’ hand, who seemed to want to wipe Ouka off my ear no matter what. And I looked into his eyes. His actions were a little strange and I wanted to reassure the surprisingly worrying him, so I smiled from the bottom of my heart.

“Thank you very much for coming to help me, Lord. That was cool.”

Maybe the last word was unnecessary. But now I just want to express gratitude for being his fiancée. I decided not to worry until something really happens.

***

His Highness easily tore off Emilia’s rope, peeled off the Kyuubi’s seal, and removed the ring from Kyaran’s finger, breaking the spell.

The ring must have been put on by Ouka to control her. I don’t know specifically what kind of flower it was, but it was a cute motif with pink flowers.

Kyaran lit up her eyes and had a look of confusion. While watching her expression carefully, I hugged Emilia and comforted her. Emilia was full of apologies for breaking my rules and thanking me.

I took Emilia and the knights who were waiting outside back home. His highness said he would come over after taking care of everything.

I was really tired. It didn’t feel like it was just a two-hour event.

Emilia sat on a chair and repeatedly stroked the Kyuubi, who had shrunk to the size of her knee. It was a motion to comfort herself. And then she started talking bit by bit.

“Goudes-sama came into the room and I tried to turn her away because Rebecca-sama had told not to see anyone, but then I saw the flower on her ring, which was a familiar and nostalgic thing from the past. When She showed it to me and agreed to talk to her, I was magically transferred away. After that, she just kept repeating things like [don’t take it], [it’s sad], [I hate it] and we couldn’t have a conversation. And then suddenly I felt like she was going to smash my egg.”

His Highness, who arrived late, said.

“Marquis Goudes’ daughter is the person who was giving instructions to cause trouble for you all. I still have a feeling that something is going on and I am keeping an eye on it. I was informed that Goudes moved while I was on my way to Duke Slutarch’s territory, so I rushed over using transfer magic.”

His Highness had learned the transfer magic. It was not information in the strategy book. He said it was limited to once a day and that he didn’t want to use it unless it was an emergency, but it was still amazing.

“Goudes apparently has no memory of this incident. In fact, her memory has been vague for several months. There is also no evidence. If she was manipulated, she will not be held responsible for any crime.”

Kyaran has magical talent and power in her family, and also has loyal bodyguards (cronies/followers) who follow her orders, so she may have been a convenient person to manipulate. If that’s the only reason she was chosen, then Kyaran was unfortunate.

However, more importantly, the problem is that Ouka knows that I know the scenario.

At this stage, it should not have been confirmed that he is the man who was sealed a long time ago. I will probably see him again soon.

I have an uneasy feeling. But Emilia has returned safely like this. I decided to be satisfied with just that.

The anxiety that Emilia may have entered the route of the palace, I pushed to the corner of my head and locked it away.

Chapter 20

[Spring] is the first day of the first semester. [Summer] is also the same, and the day after the summer break is the Phantom Beast Festival.

[Summer] is a completely different event from school events. It’s a famous event in this country and many people from all over the country gather together.

Many people, including tourists from abroad, come to see the Phantom Beast, which is a pride of the Huaverdon kingdom’s nobles.

The second-year class is from 9 am, the third-year class is from noon, and the first-year class is from 3 pm. Students in the corresponding grade perform their own Phantom Beast appeal in their own place, and the audience, including other grades, can watch it as they like.

The evaluation and ranking are done by a judging panel consisting of teachers and famous graduates. The evaluation criteria are not clearly defined, but it is said to be mainly strength, beauty, rarity, intelligence, and the depth of the bond with the master.

***

A big curtain is hanging on the school building and the words [Phantom Beast Festival] are dancing in the wind.

The current time is 8:30 in the morning, 30 minutes before the second-year class begins. The academy is already overflowing with people and it’s difficult to move around.

Melinda and I are wandering around looking for where His Highness is. Since he is one of the three strongest and also popular among men, we thought that if we don’t find him early and wait for the event in that place, there will be a crowd.

The Phantom Beast Festival is held only in this courtyard, but it is so large that it takes three hours to finally be able to walk around.

“Hey Melinda.”

I looked at my friend, or rather the Phantom Beast perched on her shoulder. Is it because the heat and the many people are uncomfortable, Melinda has a deep wrinkle on her forehead and her Phantom Beast also has the same expression.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but your child… don’t eat snakes, does he?”

“Well…”

“Melinda, it’s a matter of life and death.”

“I’m sorry, I got excited. Yeah… please relax.”

“Really? That’s good——”

“I don’t think it’s useful as a stomach filler so I think it doesn’t eat.”

“Melinda!”

Melinda smiled with a smirk. She glared with squinted eyes. Even the Phantom Beast on her shoulder had a mischievous expression.

These kids are alike. They’re really alike!

Melinda’s Phantom Beast was an owl with a color that seemed to melt into the darkness of night. Only its golden eyes were as beautiful as a full moon. It was cute with the same colors as its master, but unfortunately it also had a quick wit and a sense of humor similar to its master. And also its facial expressions.

Even now, with the eyes of a predator, it looked at my pocket, so I couldn’t help but hold my pocket with my hand.

I peeked inside quietly. My little Christina was trembling pitifully. I feel like her white body has become even whiter.

Christina was born two weeks ago. I was worried when six weeks had passed since I got the egg and it hadn’t been born yet. But it was born safely after four or five days. I haven’t shown it to His Highness yet, so I’m looking forward to introducing the two of them today.

In the first grade, unlike the second and third grades, you don’t have to perform any tricks, you just have to show your natural appearance. This child, who is only two weeks old, can also do that. It’s a timid and kind child, and I love this child so much. The right pocket of my skirt is its fixed position.

“Oh, Rebecca, I found His Highness.”

“Oh! What, this…no way, already…Melinda, let’s give up and look for a cool place to sit.”

“I agree.”

From a distance, you can finally see a blonde man and a magnificent eagle. It seems like it would be better to give up on approaching him, who is already surrounded by a large crowd.

As we sat in the corner of the courtyard and rested, fireworks went off. They were like fireworks as bright as the morning sun. It was a sign that the Phantom Beast Festival was about to begin in five minutes.

Along with that, two people appeared on the circular stage set up in the center of the courtyard.

I know them. They are the two famous people in this academy. Their beautiful appearance made sighs of admiration escape from all around the venue.

“Today, we are honored to have the representative graduates take on the role of masters.”

The one who lowered her lapis lazuli-colored hair to her waist and made a proper bow was Charlotte Seagan, the twin sister.

“I’m happy to be able to breathe the air of this academy again. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s Phantom Beasts.”

Likewise, Charles Seagan, the twin brother, shook his lapis lazuli-colored hair and smiled.

They are the Seagan siblings. They are the graduates of the academy and two out of six who won the title of the top three in the last [winter].

The “Three Strong” and “Five High” are announced at the end of the year. The two of them, who were in the third grade a year ago, received the title of “Three Strong” and immediately graduated from the Academy.

It is said that graduating with this title is particularly honorable, and last year the third-year “Three Strong” were only the Seagan siblings. Furthermore, the Seagan siblings were the first twins to shine in the “Three Strong” in history.

With the presence of their idol in front of them, the students’ engines heated up.

“Now then, everyone.”

“Let’s start the Phantom Beast Festival!”

A burst of cheers that envelops the venue at the two’s signal.

I stand up from my chair with my chest pounding, Melinda complains “I’m already tired” seeing me, Christina says “Shii!” and the owl says “Hoo.”

Chapter 21

I am confident of my narrow social circle. In my second year of school, there is no one else I particularly want to see besides His Highness. And His Highness seems to be blocked by people and unlikely to be seen.

Come to think of it, he said before, “I’ll put on a show on Grue or something and do it properly.” He didn’t seem to be putting much effort into it. His Highness probably doesn’t need a title. He came looking for me even in [Spring] without worrying about his rank.

I wondered about it, but it’s something that makes sense if I think about it a little. The privilege and future assurance obtained by getting a title is something that His Highness, who has everything from birth, would not desire.

So, I don’t particularly want to go see His Highness, so I decided to hang out with Emilia, who I ran into, casually. Melinda flew away saying “Fried-sama is over there!” so it’s just the two of us.

What was particularly interesting was the performance of the “Strongest Lullaby” by the canary (a Phantom Beast). As soon as the singing began, the audience collapsed to their knees one after another, and for some reason, the female student who was the master also fell asleep soundly. I had to leave the scene with Emilia in my arms while plugging my ears with my fingers.

During lunch break, the third year class. This time, the target is Olivier. Her beloved leopard, which is not inferior in speed of sound, showed off its leg power and received applause. The reaction of the judging panel is also great. Honestly, it was too fast and I didn’t understand what was going on, but I understood that it was amazing. I sent a lot of applause in excitement.

As I was having fun, I started to hear of His Highness in the morning.

“His Highness Phantom Beast grew huge and flew vertically. Then, an updraft occurred and clouds formed and it rained. It was only for a moment.”

“Wow!”

“Changing the weather like that!”

“But His Highness quickly used magic to clear the sky again.”

“That rain that fell for a moment this morning was that.”

“There were even judges who were surprised.”

As expected of the reputation, and the scenario, it seems that the first place in the second year class is His Highness without a doubt.

At 3pm, it was time for the first year class. Compared to before, there seemed to be a bit less audience due to lack of performance.

This time, I will be on the side being watched. I have to head to my designated spot as notified by the Academy beforehand.

When I arrive at my designated spot after parting with Emilia, next to me was Lancelot whom I haven’t seen in a long time. He greeted me with a forced smile, “Long time no see.” and reminded me that he was also a target for conquest.

In the first grade, all we need to do is show our Phantom Beast, so chairs are even prepared for us politely. I sat next to Lancelot and watched the people come and go.

“How was your summer vacation?”

“Yeah.”

“I wanted to see you, but I had to help my father, so I couldn’t find the time.”

“Yeah.”

“Your Phantom Beast is very cute.”

“Do you think so? It’s my pride and joy. Her name is Christina.”

Come to think of it, he seemed carefree and wild, and I remembered that his father was the Prime Minister,so I guess he is getting rehabilitated as per the scenario. Congratulations, from carefree and prodigal to reformed carefree and ex-prodigal. I don’t know what the trigger was for the protagonist, but I don’t have to know.

By the way, Emilia and Lancelot talk from time to time. Emilia usually crushes hard ingredients (ex: apple) with one hand or both hands.

Lancelot’s Phantom Beast was a black cat. It sat elegantly and was full of grace, and from earlier, it was getting a lot of glances, or rather, a lot of abnormal glances.

The reason why he/she is drawing so much attention is probably also because of the size. At first, I thought it was a tiger. Lancelot is saying things like “I’ve been feeding him/her too much,” but he’s also a target for conquest and in the scenario he’s chosen as one of the top five men by the end of the year. When you think about it, it’s not strange.

With many unusual things like changing the weather or the Kyuubi around, it’s easy to misunderstand, but most of the students’ Phantom Beasts are at the level of a normal pet. My Christina is more normal. She’s currently taking a nap on my lap, coiling up. How charming.

As I stroke her shiny body, Christina suddenly opens her eyes and raises her head.

(TL: Real fact; snakes can’t blink or close its eyes)

Did I wake her up? I thought that, but it looks like it’s not the case. Suddenly, the surroundings have become noisy.

“…Ah.”

When I look, there’s a crowd and a ring of people a little ways away. It looks like they’re distancing themselves from one female student.

In the center, the female student is holding and pressing something to her chest. I can immediately tell who it is. It’s because of her red hair.

“Marquis Goudes’ daughter, Kyaran…?”

I wonder what she’s doing.

I heard a scream that sounded like it was tearing silk.

“Letty, Letty! No! Listen to me, please!

The next moment, I was the one who was surprised.

Because the person who was far away suddenly turned her head around and shouted completely towards me alone.

“Run away!”

What?

That was just before something flew out of her arm. It flew out like a bullet, connected by a string or something, and came running towards me in a straight line.

It quickly changed shape into a giant figure. My vision was obscured by the too large body.

In the suddenly slowed down world, I saw everything. When I saw it up close, it had bloodshot eyes, bared teeth, and saliva flying as it howled.

——A bear.

Ah, I’m going to die.

I reflexively closed my eyes. There was no time to feel scared.

Chapter 22

Charles Seagan was wandering around the venue as a member of the jury. And suddenly he noticed his twin sister wandering away from the group. Surprisingly, she had difficulty with group activities despite her sociable attitude. He called out to her as usual.

His sister was staring at a lone woman.

“Charlotte, what’s wrong with you? Are you that interested in her?”

“Yeah. Charles, what do you think of her?”

What do I think?

Charlotte’s gaze was directed at a black-haired young lady. Sitting in a chair, she occasionally responded to the man sitting next to her who was talking to her.

With her transparent white skin and shining black hair, she was a very attractive woman. She seemed to have relaxed a little bit now, and her gap-filled expression and the reddish cheeks due to the heat were attractive to men. She was quite eye-catching, especially for the general audience who had never seen such a beautiful woman before. Even now, a mesmerized young boy bumped into a chair while staring at her.

——That’s the rumored [Duke of Slutarch Jeweled Daughter]. Not only did she have rare black hair, but her elegance that could not be hidden in her every move easily reminded him of her name.

Charles wanted to say “To be honest, I quite like her.” but he didn’t. Because his sister’s eyes were very serious.

Finally, he focused his consciousness on the Phantom Beast sleeping on top of her leg. It looks so happy. That snake, snake is…

At that moment, he stiffened up.

——Snake? Wait. Is that really such a small existence?

“Oh… I see? Is that still an egg?”

“I think so too. Maybe it changed what it was going to be in the middle and came out in an unfinished state.”

The more he looked at the Phantom Beast, the more its outline became blurred. If he strained his eyes, he could at least tell that it had an enormous amount of magic hidden within its small body.

That was all Charles could understand. If the twins were together, it was always his sister’s role to think. Because Charlotte’s Phantom Beast was a being that could be called a symbol of wisdom.

“Hey, is something wrong?”

Charlotte’s words were not directed at Charles. They were directed at the Phantom Beast clinging to her back, hidden by her long hair.

Two turtles peeked out from both of her shoulders. The two turtles make up one, and that turtle’s intelligence is devoted to just one point. One is in charge of knowledge, the other in charge of wisdom. He/they can only communicate with their master, Charlotte, and freely gives her the knowledge and wisdom they have gained over 40,000 years.

***

When a 40,000-year-old Phantom Beast hatched from his sister’s egg three years ago, he was too confused and didn’t understand what it meant.

Charlotte, who was talking to a turtle, exclaimed “Wow!” Charles tried to ask what was going to be born, but his voice was drowned out by the surrounding noise.

A Phantom Beast belonging to a female student began to go wild. It was a cub, and it was clearly growling with hatred towards the young lady in question.

“… Should we not stop and watch?”

Charlotte nodded without hesitation to Charles’ proposal.

“I wonder if it will be born properly this time.”

Charlotte said this with an impatient feeling, and Charles also couldn’t calm his excitement. What they were about to see might be a historical moment.

The cub transformed into a giant bear and attacked the young lady. At that moment, the Phantom Beast that was sitting on her knees emitted a dazzling light that seemed to make its eyes burst.

The twins looked at each other’s identical faces and happily laughed.

***

He recognized the light. Christina emitted light in the same way when she was born by breaking the shell.

But the strange thing is, it’s dazzling but not dazzling. At first, I reflexively closed my eyes, but I don’t want to cover my eyes even though it’s pure white. Everyone seems to be in the same situation, and Lancelot and the people around him were all just opening their mouths and looking at it. The only one who groaned with the pain of burning the retina was the bear. He stumbled backward and fell on his butt.

When the light subsided, Christina, who should have been the light source, was not there. When I stood up without thinking, I noticed the existence that wraps around my body.

The glossy white body is still the same. Except for the fact that it has become much larger, thicker and longer than my body after 2-3 rounds.

Has Christina turned into a giant snake?

I tried to take it calmly, but my head made a noise and stopped thinking. It was because I found an impossible object attached to the middle of Christina’s slipping torso.

There are legs.

When I saw the head that appeared again with a sharp clawed foot, I finally managed to speak. The beard and eyebrows fluttering in the wind, and the eyes that have become more mysterious than before, all of them are white like before.

“Christina, you.”

It was a dragon.

She is more happy that I was able to be accepted for who she is, rather than just understanding what she had changed into. And it doesn’t seem like her happiness of being called by the same name is just my imagination.

After all, I am the only one and master of this child, so I should be able to understand that much.

***

The Phantom Beast, a dragon that has never appeared in the history of the world. People noticed its importance, or were overwhelmed by its divinity, and remained silent.

The sound of footsteps that broke the air and resounded. When I looked, the natural opening of the human wall revealed the Seagan siblings.

“Slutarch-sama, I am pleased to meet you.

“I saw something good. I never thought it would be a dragon’s child.”

“Ah, thank you very much.”

The Seagan siblings were just like normal and seemed to be just conducting an examination. I was very detached from the two of them who were very calm. The people around us, even the Lancelot next to us, were still not able to recover from the shock.

“You, restrain that child. It’s bad if someone gets hurt.”

As the older brother Charles said that, a big shadow swayed in the sky. The Phantom Beast siblings, who have become living legends. The sister is knowledge and the brother is power. The older brother’s Phantom Beast is a giant shark.

It is well known that not only can this shark swimming in the sky like it’s swimming in water, but it can also slip through all kinds of obstacles. I’ve heard that it was this Phantom Beast that troubled His Highness the most during last year’s [Winter] battle.

The shark confidently swam through the sky and swallowed the bear whole. Kyaran let out a short scream.

“Greetings, Marquis Goudes’ daughter. I’d like to know the reason for your Phantom Beast’s rampage.”

This time, the one who spoke was Charlotte. She calmly carried the embodiment of knowledge on her shoulders and began to speak.

“The Phantom Beast is a mirror of its master. I think that your Phantom Beast reflected your inner self and took the actions it did. Do you have any idea?”

Kyaran had a face that looked like she was being scolded.

“Yeah.”

That cheek was silently flowing with droplets of water. As I watched the overflowing droplets, I felt a certain emotion that made my chest ache.

“Rebecca-sama, it is I.”

This is a sense of guilt.

“I cannot help but hate you.”

I know.

I will only answer in my heart.

[Kyaran Goudes. Fifth year, talented in magic, red curly hair, Phantom Beast is a bear cub,

Note: Likes Llewayne (His Highness)]

***

TL: Perhaps Christina is an “Eastern dragon”

Chapter 23

The Marquis’ daughter didn’t try to wipe away the tears running down her cheek. She probably doesn’t want to admit that she’s crying. Without raising her voice or making any explanations, her dignified and composed appearance looked pleasing to my eyes.

I had always known that Kyaran had feelings for His Highness.

However, now that I know those feelings caused the Phantom Beast to go on a rampage, I realize that her love for His Highness was a weakness in her heart. In other words, she had negative feelings towards me.

She must have been suppressing those feelings, but Ouka took advantage of them. It must have been much easier to manipulate her into harassing and kidnapping us.

She bowed deeply to me and said “I’m sorry”, then left the scene with the teacher who came late. It’s hard to say that her chances of becoming one of the top three students this year have been hurt, as the Phantom Beast tried to hurt other students.

The incident showed signs of being resolved and the tense atmosphere finally began to move.

The situation became chaotic again because of His Highness, who came over after hearing the story. While His Highness was patting me all over, asking “Are you injured?”, I talked to Charlotte.

“Excuse me, could you tell me why a Dragon Phantom Beast has been born from someone like me?”

“Surely, you don’t seem to be very strong in magic. Could it be because you have a strong sense of humanity?”

Charles replied. I can’t accept that because I don’t think I’m that human.

When I shook my head, she laughed and said, “I’ve never seen a human who doesn’t get angry even after being almost killed.” Still, there must be many better-natured humans than me.

“The bond with Phantom Beast.”

This time, I heard Charlotte’s murmured words.

“Bond?”

“Your Phantom Beast seems to be very fond of you. Did you say that before the egg hatched [become a dragon]? There is a possibility that the Phantom Beast is trying to fulfill its master’s command.”

“No, I don’t think so…”

“Oh.” The one who said that was the Prince.

“You said, [I don’t mind even if you become a flying snake], on Grue’s back.”

What?!

I checked my pocket without thinking. Christina, who had changed back into a small snake to eliminate the danger, was looking at me with sparkling eyes and said, “That’s right.” as if she was saying it.

***

“Congratulations, Rebecca-sama!”

Emilia had a smile on her face like spring had come from the [summer] results. I took it as a compliment for Christina and returned a full-faced smile.

It’s been a week since the [summer] results were announced. They were as follows:

10th place: Judith Ceden

9th place: N/A

8th place: Oswald Ceden

7th place: Cectiara Zoff

6th place: Sajad Mahajanjiga

5th place: Vanderlei Slutarch

4th place: Olivier Marc

3rd place: Llewayne Huaverdon

2nd place: Emilia

1st place: Rebecca Slutarch

At the end of the 3rd year, the top contenders were His Highness and Olivier and my brother Vanderlei. My brother had received high praise for his fierce horseback riding and blazing fire-red hair.

But in the 1st year, the situation changed. Since the school opened, there have been only a handful of cases in which a beast that only exists in the legends has appeared as a Phantom Beast. But this year, it was different. Two, the Kyuubi and the Dragon, appeared and even the teachers were amazed.

It was a rare thing for Christina to be given 1st place, but I was happy that many people recognized Christina.

The 9th place was probably Kyaran’s. That incident was dealt with internally and hasn’t really spread as a rumor. I hope that it doesn’t cause her reputation to fall.

Kyaran followers would bow their heads deeply and make way for me and Emilia when they saw us in the school. Some of those students even used to bully me and Emilia. I wonder if Kyaran talked to them about giving orders while they were being controlled. Every time I see those students, I think that if we had met under different circumstances, we could have become good friends.

After class, when I was talking to Emilia, a tall man with glasses came.

“Emilia! Congratulations on the 2nd place!”

“Thank you, Gadd.”

He was Gadd Maysen. He greeted me briefly with a bow. Normally he was just [a first-year classmate], but personally he was [a person who was in love with Emilia but is not taken seriously at all].

I’ve seen his face frequently these past few days. He’s been talking to Emilia a lot since the summer break began. Emilia said they met by chance at the Royal Capital’s library during the summer break and talked, but she didn’t seem to have become close friends with him. But he doesn’t seem to think that way.

But if only Emilia is okay with that, the two of them talking and laughing together look quite good together and are like a picture. He’s not a target for conquest, but he’s quite a good man and his personality seems kind too.

Seeing them like this, I remembered the scene in the strategy book where the prince and the main character get together.

——Traditionally, [winter] is to have a school-wide dance party after the [battle]. Students celebrate and share their stories of mutual success throughout the year.”

In that place, the villainess, who was his fiancée, was denounced and the prince, who was no longer holding a grudge, kissed the protagonist in a way that would sweep them off their feet during the middle of the dance.

“From now on, I’d like it if you were the one by my side.”

To convey it like this.

…dammit, my stomach ache, chest pain, headache, and all my physical symptoms have suddenly gotten worse. Let’s not remember any more.

Anyway, to avoid this future, I personally want Gadd-kun to do his best not to be a nuisance to Emilia.

Well, I told Emilia yesterday, “It’s also good to be with him,” and she said, “I am completely devoted to Rebecca-sama,” in a strangely proud way.

In the strategy book, Gadd Maysen, otherwise known as [support character] is written as a pitiful man who doesn’t have the destiny of being tied to the protagonist.

Chapter 24

That should have just been another normal, uneventful day.

“Rebecca-sama, I have something to consult with you!”

“What is it, Emilia?”

That was the last thing I said before I lost my words.

“I, I have fallen in love with His Highness. I know that he is engaged to Rebecca-sama, but is there any way that could change?”

I felt like I had been hit with a blunt weapon, or maybe that would have been better. Images of him kept appearing and disappearing in my mind.

The him who held me in his arms the first time we met, the him who ate all the homemade cookies and said they were delicious, the him who froze when he saw me after a bath, the him who brought me back to reality when I lost myself in anger, the him who turned around on Grue’s back while his hair fluttered in the wind, the him who came to save me and Emilia, the him who worried if I was injured.

The him who smiled, the him who furrowed his brows, the him who looked troubled, the him who looked happy.

Lastly, the him who looked at me with gentle eyes while the sunset was in the background, appeared in my mind.

Even now, I still clearly remember the warmth of his hand, the smell of the evening in the Royal Capital, but it felt like it was from a distant past.

That’s when I finally realized. I am in love with His Highness.

I hadn’t realized it. I had liked him from the moment we first met, more naturally than breathing, but it had been such a natural feeling that I hadn’t even thought about it.

That’s right. Even though I haven’t said it clearly, I haven’t been honest with myself either.

I closed my eyes and turned away from everything.

There is no escaping the scenario.

***

It was mid-July, and Rebecca, Emilia, and Melinda held their second sleepover at Viscount Cuey’s residence.

Rebecca was satisfied with the beautiful flower crown she had made and was lying on the lawn, making peaceful sleeping sounds. The remaining two were sighing with their heads held together.

“I never thought it would be this bad…” said the girl with honey-like eyes.

“I wonder why it turned out this way,” said the girl with silver hair.

The two had noticed the subtle differences between Rebecca and Llewayne before the summer vacation began. They knew that their important friend Rebecca sometimes had anxious and worried expressions.

It was fine until recently when Rebecca and Llewayne went on a date. But when Rebecca returned and they asked her about it, she said it was fun but she seemed a little bit off.

Rebecca, Repeating that it was like a date, like a couple, the two finally realized the vague discomfort.

“Why doesn’t Rebecca-sama have confidence in herself fundamentally?”

“Well, it’s not just Rebecca-sama’s fault, the prince not expressing himself in actions also has a responsibility.”

“Even so, this time there is something wrong with Rebecca-sama, completely…”

And there was another unbelievable fact. When the two of them confirmed that “Rebecca-sama is the one the Crown Prince likes,” to their surprise, Rebecca retorted “I never thought of such a thing.”

That was not a pretense of hiding. They were honestly shocked. At that moment, the two of them were amazed at the seriousness of the situation.

The silver-haired girl thought about something for a moment and then smiled even more beautifully.

“Let’s try to poke her a little.”

“Sure, but even if you or I talk to the Crown Prince, Rebecca will just think that we are telling her to say that she likes him because we were told to.

We need to let her know from the bottom of her heart, how the Crown Prince feels about her and how she feels about the Crown Prince.”

“I agree. Let’s try our best. But we definitely don’t want Rebecca-sama to get hurt. If we make her cry, there’s no way we can avoid being [cut open].”

“What’s with that dangerous idea?”

After that, the two of them held a strategic meeting and it was not Melinda, the Viscount’s daughter who said “It might be a good plan, but I don’t want to be glared at by the Crown Prince,” but Emilia, who confidently said “I am not afraid of the Prince even if it means being punished severely.” took on that role.

[I fell in love with the prince, even though I am a commoner, please let him go and give him to me.]

That is, originally it is just a frivolous joke that can’t be taken seriously. If there are 100 people, 99 people…Everyone except Rebecca would not take it seriously, it’s a ridiculous and absurd request.

Emilia starts talking about something strange, and when she thinks seriously about it as a friend, she realizes that she doesn’t want to lose His Highness to her, and that she likes His Highness, and His Highness notices the appearance of such a fiancée, and properly conveys “I like you” for a happy ending.

Emilia and Melinda were expecting that kind of development.

But they didn’t know.

Only Rebecca knows that the contents of that request, which seems like a lie, is actually possible in reality. For Rebecca, Emilia is someone who she cannot help but acknowledge as an unbeatable opponent in her heart.

That’s why they never even dreamed of it.

Rebecca, who was consulted by Emilia, never dreamed that she would actually mediate the relationship between Llewayne and Emilia and retreat.

Truly, they never dreamed of it.

Chapter 25

The biggest obstacle in dissolving my engagement with His Highness is that it is a decision made based on the interests of our respective houses.

Originally, the Duke of Slutarch’s territory was too wide, too rich, and too far from the Royal Capital. It was almost as if the current king forced the engagement between the Duke’s daughter and his own son.

It was not a situation where it could be said that by becoming a relative of the king, one would gain even more power. It was judged that it would be acceptable if power was increased in a form dependent on royal power.

It’s annoying for the Slutarch family to be poked around in their own house. My father loved me, so he was quite reluctant, but if he refused the offer from the royal family, it would be too much. He reluctantly accepted.

In short, this marriage is unnecessary if the Duke of Slutarch does not become independent. His Highness has no brothers, so there is no need for a backing.

Recently, I have come to understand what His Highness has been thinking.

In the scenario, His Highness brings down the Duke of Slutarch because he has harmed Emilia, who is the wife of the king or an important person in the country. It is probably not just because she was loved, or because she was actually the best user of healing magic in history, that Emilia rose to such a position.

There were political reasons behind it. Because of the foolish Rebecca, the Duke family is in a difficult position. If it’s unbearable, then he will weaken our power.

His Highness used Emilia and Rebecca to crush and rebuild the overgrown Slutarch.

Once that is understood, it is simple.

“I would like to point out that the Duke of Slutarch has no intention of becoming independent, even if there is no engagement with His Highness.”

First, tell him that.

“Emilia’s skill in healing magic is unparalleled. Why don’t you come and see how strong her magic is?”

Then, let him know Emilia’s usefulness.

“Oh, that’s Emilia over there. I have some business, so excuse me, but please talk to each other.”

Then, make His Highness turn to Emilia.

I should have done this sooner. If I could have smoothly dissolved my engagement with His Highness, there would have been less risk of failure when trying to change the scenario.

It’s true, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

(No, please stop!)

It’s because Emilia is cute, so the feelings of His Highness will soon catch up. This way, Emilia will also be happy. Yeah, that’s good.

(It would be more painful to be cut than for His Highness to like someone else besides me.)

I have to go tell my father before it officially becomes a scandal. The house will be passed down to my brother, so I still need to get married and leave the house.

(It’s impossible for me to marry someone other than His Highness.)

Ah, my heart is in conflict with my actions and it’s a mess. That’s when I realized.

I’d try to reason that it is the most plausible thing. In the end, I was afraid of being told “let’s break up”. Just thinking about it being said in that way, with that voice, made me so scared. So I ran away before I could be told.

The first time we met, he hugged me in his arms. I didn’t know who he was, but I jumped into it without thinking.

He ate all of my homemade cookies and said “they’re delicious.” I promised him I would make more.

He froze when he saw me after my bath. That expression is precious to me now when I think about it.

He brought me back to my senses when I lost myself in anger. I thought there was nobody else in the world but you.

On Grue’s back, he looked back at me with his hair fluttering in the wind. I wonder if he will carry someone else like this from now on.

He who came to help me and Emilia. I should have been happier that he came.

He who worries about whether I’m injured or not. It actually made me quite happy that he worries about me often.

I like His Highness.

I should have told him at least once.

I noticed that I was walking towards the dormitory on a dimly lit road. It’s too hazy. Recently, I’ve been doing things I don’t want to do too much and I’m exhausted. I’ll just go to sleep now.

Now that I think about it, Melinda took Christina and said she would take care of her this morning, but I wonder if I look that tired.

Scolding my wobbly legs, I made it to my room in the dormitory. I put my hand on the door knob, opened it, and entered. Then I thought,

Why is the lock not locked?

Someone was in my room. In the dim light, without turning on the light, he stood at the entrance, staring at me in a daze.

The ultramarine blue sky looked beautiful today, I thought.

Chapter 26

His Highness opened his mouth before me.

“Rebecca Slutarch. Who are you?”

“…What?”

“I’m asking who you are .”

“Y-Your Highness?”

His Highness raised his face that was lowered——he glared at me. My beloved ultramarine blue doesn’t look like the deep sea or the sky right now. Now it’s like a blue flame. It looks calm, but in reality, it’s burning my body with just its gaze.

I was confused and it turned into understanding when I saw that. This person is not the usual him I know. Right now, he’s just a man who doesn’t hide his intense anger.

“You’re my fiancée, aren’t you?”

When he came closer, I was afraid of being grasped by his arm. It wasn’t good when I unconsciously took a step back. [I don’t like it], his eyes say.

The arm that stretched out finally caught me this time.

“A-Ah!”

Suddenly the scenery became higher and I realized that I was being picked up. Next, when I was laid down face up, the place I was resting my back on felt soft. I realized that it was on my bed. And finally, I clearly felt the danger.

He looks down at me with his arms on both sides of me.

“Why are you trying to direct other women at me? Have you grown to dislike me?”

Danger signals were flashing in my head. I unintentionally lifted my body and crawled backwards(on my elbows).

“Do you want to run away?”

The distance I had barely managed to keep was quickly closed when he leaned on me.

“Are you afraid of me?”

He holds my face with both hands and forces our gazes to meet. Our noses are almost touching. There’s no escape. The blue color in front of me spreads and I tremble.

He slowly, as if to convince me, gives me an order.

“I won’t allow you to leave me. No matter how much you hate me, I will never let go. You will be my queen. I will never acknowledge anyone else.”

I held my breath unknowingly.

It was because his voice sounded like it was pleading.

The blue color that appeared to be shaking like a blue flame with too much anger. And at the same time, I saw a hint of sadness.

He buried his face in my neck. His Highness held me tightly and didn’t move. I could only move my fingers, but my head finally started to move.

The way his arm held me, the way he lowered me onto the bed, the way his hands touched my cheek, he was all so gentle, like he was handling something fragile. But why did I think of him as a stranger and feel afraid?

“Your Highness…”

“Even though I was trying to take care of you.”

He said something ominous, blocking me.

I tried to gather my thoughts and asked again.

“Does Your Highness think, ‘If we’re together, I’ll be okay’?”

“It’s not that pretty.”

His Highness looked up at me from the neck.

“These feelings aren’t pretty.”

But, our eyes don’t meet.

“I know that it’s too much to force this on you. But I only need you. I’ve only been looking at you. Don’t look at anyone else, don’t show yourself to anyone else. If you’re going to go to another man’s side, I will——.”

The outpouring of emotions stopped there. The gaze that had been poured around my throat went up,

“I love you, Rebecca.”

He said the words that condensed all the feelings and had all the feelings in his eyes.

I always wanted to hear those words.

The feelings that couldn’t be verbalized became a little tear and floated in the corner of my eyes. I was happy because I felt like he had received all my feelings, even those that couldn’t be expressed in words, when His Highness kissed me like he was sucking up the tears.

“I also love you.”

It seems that I have become tongue-tied without realizing it, probably because my nose has become stuffy.

His Highness’ response to that was a kiss.

I didn’t understand how to breathe, so I just shrugged it off and figured it doesn’t matter, and as I got better at breathing, even if I didn’t understand it again, I still didn’t let go of my lips, it was a long, long kiss.

***

Finally, my lips were released and I looked up at his face while still wrapped tightly in his arms. He showed no signs of letting go of me while lying down. The room was already dim, but now it was pitch black because the outside had become fully dark. I wonder if he plans to sleep here like this. This is my bed after all.

“Your Highness.”

“What is it.”

“Do you know about the book that I read often?”

The closed eyes were lightly opened. A pale blue looked down slightly and looked at me. He spoke to me in a small whisper, and in a lower and somewhat hoarse voice than usual, a reply came back.

“…I’ve seen from the window that you’ve been reading something passionately for about half a year.”

“Do you know the contents?”

“No.”

“Do you have any guesses?”

“Yeah.”

Without a pause, I slightly stiffened my body in response to his quick reply.

“Sometimes you act like you know the future. It’s not a dragon’s power because it was before Phantom Beasts appeared. I thought that book might be related…Is it someone’s Phantom Beast’s prediction ability or something?”

“…No.”

“I see.”

“Would you like me to tell you?”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“…No, I think I can talk about it, but I don’t want to.”

“Then that’s fine.”

His Highness closed his eyes again as he said that. He held me tighter and shifted to find a comfortable position.

I was the only one who noticed the completely human behavior before he fell asleep.

“…I have a secret from Your Highness. I’m a bad woman.”

“I like Rebecca even if she’s a bad woman.”

I couldn’t find the words. [Bad] would be an understatement, I wonder if he understands the meaning of [villainess]?

“…Really?”

He shouldn’t understand. But I asked.

“It’s true. This feeling will never change no matter what happens.”

His Highness’ voice was low and small. Even though it was just the two of us here, it felt like we were having a secret conversation. It was like the kind of conversation you have before falling asleep. Ever since I was a child, I knew that the stories told to me that way were the truest secrets.

“About 7 years ago, there were times when I was bored every day. Now that I think about it, the responsibilities and expectations of being the crown prince weighed heavily on me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but… I was crumbling.

It was then that I decided to sneak a peek at my younger fiancée. When I made a hole in the window and looked through, she was a girl who was more mature than her age. She was cute and healed everyone around her with her smile and brightness. She was a kind child who spent time every day carefully choosing and picking beautiful flowers to give to her mother. I became the type to look at her when I had free time. It felt like I had found the sun.”

I remembered the flowers. Was His Highness watching that? Without saying a word, I just listened intently.

“It has been about three months. One day, in the middle of the night, I peeped at her. I was late with my homework and when I saw her sleeping, I thought I should sleep too. That’s when I found out for the first time. She cried alone at night.”

“…”

“She must have been lonely. Her mother had gotten sick and her brother and father were busy. She was smart enough to try not to be a burden to others. But she was still young enough to cry alone at night.

I watched the girl, wrapped in a blanket, crying silently without making a sound. And then I made a decision. I would protect her. I would marry her and make sure she never felt lonely again, and most importantly, I would treasure her.”

“…”

“That became my reason for living. Magic, swords, political science, imperial studies, horses, bows, I learned everything that could be useful. If I thought it was to protect her, nothing was difficult. I worked hard to become one of the top three students in my first year at the Academy. When I saw her a year later, I wanted to look as good as possible. The day we would meet for the first time, I couldn’t wait any longer and I left the event to search for her. And then I found her. Rebecca, you.”

(TL: Passive pronouns are killing me.)

“…”

His Highness gently touched my cheek. He pressed his forehead against mine and spoke kindly.

“Do you understand? I love you. Surely, not even one-tenth of this feeling is getting through to you.”

Even if I was told that, I still couldn’t voice it out. I knew that it would all turn into sobs.

Actually, I want to say “That’s not true.” and “It’s getting through to me, it hurts.” My chest, eyes, throat, heart, all hurts so much.

I can’t find words to express this feeling and it’s painful. This impulse, this pain of how much I love, I wonder how many more times I have to say “I love you” for it to be conveyed.

[Surely, not even one-tenth of this feeling is getting through to you.]

Yes, His Highness must be feeling the same way right now. We, who are alike, love and cherish each other so much that we can’t find the words and suffer. That’s exactly what it means [it’s getting through].

Will there be more happy days to come? I thought about it as I closed my eyes with a happy feeling.

Surely, it will come. If I’m with this person from now on.

***

“Emilia! You’re the one who planned it, right?!”

The next day, she rarely showed her anger and interrogated her friends.

“I was trying to support you seriously!”

“I’m sorry… but, but, I’m glad it turned out well.”

Emilia smiled bashfully. She thought she might forgive her because she was cute, but she still couldn’t get over her anger, so she declared that she wouldn’t speak to her for three days.

Emilia cried and made a scene through Melinda, without waiting for one day, so for the time being, her anger subsided.

Chapter 27

[Summer] and [fall(autumn)] are closely spaced. In addition to being held in late summer, [winter] is the most elaborate and has the longest preparation period, so [fall] is moved forward.

In the middle of October, one month from now, is [fall]. Its name is the Magic Research Presentation. An explanation of the overview is unnecessary, the name speaks for itself. The [fall] of art, the [fall] of scholarship(learning). [Fall] is the most cultural event.

[Fall] has a pre-selection. 20 people from the 3rd grade will have the right to present.

There are three weeks left until the selection. How to develop magic that will surprise everyone around us is the showcase of our skills. Incidentally, I have no skills to show. Magic is my weak point. I had given up on [fall] from the beginning. But Christina changed the situation. If I use the vast magic that Christina possesses, maybe something can be done.

What should I do?

I was thinking alone in a classroom. A thin pink butterfly was resting on my desk. If I pointed at it, it would stop. It was then that my body shook with a sense of unease.

“Hey, where did you come from, child?”

It was a strong presence of someone else. No mistake. This butterfly is a Phantom Beast.

Since it has made contact, the master must have something to do with me. The butterfly fluttered away, trying to leave the classroom. I stood up and followed it. I thought I had graduated from chasing butterflies when I was 6 years old.

When I went out to the backyard as it was, in the cool breeze, a young lady was sitting on a bench looking at me. Her perfectly aligned nails and white fish hands folded over her knees. Even just sitting was an impressive display of her elegance. I couldn’t help but straighten my posture too.

Come to think of it, the butterfly was her Phantom Beast.

“I apologize for calling you out like this. I just wanted to have a little talk.”

The other person stood up smoothly.

“My name is Cectiara Zoff.”

The woman who bore the name of one of the three strongest was always polite. I bow to her with the utmost respect.

“I know who you are, Zoff-sama. My name is Rebecca Slutarch.”

I have personal feelings towards her. She is the daughter of the Marquis Zoff family. In fact, she is the one who, after the Duke of Slutarch fell in the game, my brother married into. In the scenario, she was my brother’s fiancé.

But now, there was no engagement between them. Both of them were not engaged to anyone at present.

I looked up and read the other person’s expression. In the game, there was no mention of her inner feelings. What was she thinking now?

“I’ll be straightforward… there will be [fall] in one month.”

“Yes.”

“Would you like to have a match with me?”

What?

“My beloved person, instead of me, holds you dear. Would you accept to compete with me? And when I win, I want you to cooperate in getting engaged with that person.”

“Who is this beloved person? If it’s not a problem, I would like to know.”

“I can assure you it is not His Highness Llewayne.”

“Alright.”

“Eh?”

I shed my ladylike behavior and clenched my fist.

“Please leave it to me. For you, even in the fire or water, I will help you without hesitation, not just after the competition.”

“Eh? Eh?”

Cectiara, no, Cectiara-sama is confused. That’s also natural. After making such a sudden request, it’s impossible for her to keep up when the other person suddenly gets excited.

But I’ve already decided.

Cectiara-sama with one hand on her mouth, her cat-like clear eyes are shaking with a bit of unease. Her hair like waves is a different golden color than the shining gold of His Highness, it reminds me of the bountiful rice ears of autumn. Overall, she is petite and gives off a small animal-like impression, but her behavior is refined and beautiful.

Such a lady has spoken of her feelings for her beloved person with a resolute attitude, but at the same time, her cheeks are dyed with an un-concealable embarrassment.

How cute!

I decided to help her in just these few minutes of conversation. I wonder where that lucky gentleman is who captured her heart.

“Please tell me, who is the person you love?”

I asked with all my heart, after hesitating. Her cherry blossom colored lips then pronounced his name.

Right after that, I couldn’t stop my face from tensing up.

Wait, no,

“Vanderlei Slutarch-sama…”

Nii-sama!

It was something I could have figured out if I had thought about it a little. Maybe even in the game it was a love marriage. I haven’t seen my brother in about 6 years, but could he have become such a likable man.

Still, this is bad. How can I cooperate with my brother in this?

And also, what?

“Onee-sama, did my brother just say he cherishes me?”

“Onee…? Uh, y-yes.”

“What does that mean?”

When I asked, Cectiara-sama’s face clouded over.

“I heard that Vanderlei-sama has always said that he has no intention of taking a wife until his younger sister becomes an adult,”

“In that case it’s fine. It’s what Father intended.”

That is something my father taught my brother when dealing with matchmaking became bothersome. With the situation of having a father and son relationship, it’s something that any reasonable person would have to bring up. My father went out of his way to teach me in advance, just in case I was brought up in the conversation.

Even if my brother is using it now, he is probably just busy with his life at the Academy and work to inherit the Duke household, so he probably doesn’t think marriage is a good idea yet. If I appeal to him by communicating the appeal of marrying a daughter from the Marquis Zoff household, he should normally look her way.

Or it would be easier if I asked my father for help. After all, in the game they even got married.

“But Rebecca-sama,”

“Please call me Rebecca.”

“R-Rebecca, I want to win the right to be engaged to him by myself. I don’t want to just rely on your help. I want you to accept the challenge in [fall].”

She seems to have not only a cute and elegant appearance, but also honesty and a noble heart.

“Understood.”

I replied with one word.

Chapter 28

Once you’ve accepted a match, if you don’t even make it to the selection process, the name of Slutarch will be ruined. As a result of preparing thoroughly, I was able to successfully make it into the selection of 20 people.

Of course, there were names such as Cectiara-sama and His Highness, as well as Emilia and Melinda. Melinda is capable of doing well if she wants to, she just doesn’t feel like it. Other acquaintances include my brother and Olivier, Fried, etc. In the first year, Lancelot and Gadd Maysen also joined the selection group.

This time, all four of the top students in the school have been selected, but they also have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Cectiara-sama excels in intelligence and her Phantom Beast is powerful, but she is not physically strong. She is at a disadvantage in pure combat.

Olivier is the opposite, with outstanding combat abilities and a Phantom Beast that is well-suited for battle, but his intelligence is inferior to the other top students and he is not particularly good at [research] this time.

His Highness Llewayne excels in all areas, especially magic, which is his specialty. He is the leading candidate for the [Fall] Championship.

Vanderlei is also an all-rounder with high standards, but in his case, his performance in [winter] is particularly expected. This is because his horse(Phantom Beast) and swordsmanship shows powerful strength in [battle].

I am looking forward to hearing the announcements from four people in [fall], it is something to look forward to. The order of the draw was Cectiara-sama, His Highness, me and then Emilia in fourth.

When I returned to my room in the dormitory, I flipped through the strategy book. It had been a long time since I had picked it up. My chest aches as I think of my mother.

I opened the page for [fall]. There, the details of what would happen on the day were written. I traced my mother’s writing with my finger.

“…[Ouka attack incident]..”

Fans of the game call [fall] this way.

***

“[During the presentation, the protagonist starts behaving in a strange way. Controlled by Ouka’s magic, the protagonist uses the advanced healing magic that is the result of her research on Ouka. Ouka obtains the opportunity to revive his body and immediately disappears, causing the magic research presentation to be canceled], I see…”

Actually, this time, I helped Emilia quite a bit with her research. The field of healing magic that Emilia handles is behind compared to other fields. This is because there are fewer absolute numbers of magicians. So until now, it has been considered that healing magic can cure injuries and illnesses, but it can’t completely cure serious illnesses.

However, Emilia alone has the power to heal. She is the best in history, no matter how you look at it. The problem is how to do it.

Healing magic is a magic that maximizes the natural healing power of the person. Therefore, it is necessary to come up with a way to revive completely lost tissue.

Therefore, Emilia thought of materializing her own magic power and filling the space as a replacement for damaged cells and tissue. This is Emilia’s research this time, and also what Ouka is aiming for.

Ouka, who received magic power from Emilia, combines her own magic power and amplifies its effect to the limit, and completely creates his own body. And she succeeded in moving his spiritual body from stone to body, reviving, and welcomed the [winter] with great expectations.

***

I understand that I should have stopped Emilia’s research when I knew this, but I couldn’t help it. Moreover, this research has an incalculable value.

Surely in the future, someone will save a precious person.

So I decided to keep Christina in Emilia’s pocket for the day.

Even so, I wonder where Ouka got the information from. At this point, the only people who know the contents of Emilia’s research are me and Melinda, and Lancelot who talks to us well from April. It’s not like information is leaking from the students.

Given the statement at the summer event, it is certain that there is a special information source.

And thus, when it became a little bit chilly, our [fall] began.

***

As always, I received an explanation of the event in the lecture hall. [Fall] is the only time this place becomes the venue.

On the stage, there are five judges including the Principal. On the other side, there are 20 chosen people. The remaining students sit politely and listen to the presentations.

Presenters sit in order of presentation, so I’m next to His Highness. He put a jacket or something on me and said, “Are you cold?” or “Are your hands cold?” I can’t help but think, “Wait, do I have a fever or something?” He’s so overprotective.

The first presentation, Cectiara-sama’s research, is summed up in one word: wonderful.

It’s the current state-of-the-art technology in long-distance communication, the application of crystals to human self-calling. By using crystals as a medium and fixing coordinates, safety and ease have been successfully pursued. It’s like a safe and easy version of transfer magic. If we can overcome the difficulty of handling, it will change the way transfer magic is used in this country.

It is said that she got the idea from her Phantom Beast, a butterfly that has the ability to create 100 clones (alter egos?).

The second person is His Highness. His Highness has been basing his theme on increasing the things that can be done with magic since last year. This year, he has succeeded in reproducing a very simple healing magic by combining water magic, fire magic and nature magic. This was a huge shock. Healing magic, which was said to be impossible without innate talent, was made usable by others, even though high-level magic talent is required. It is because His Highness, who has more knowledge of magic and a rich variety and quantity of magic power than anyone else, was able to do it. Even though the quality may be inferior to that of a real healing magic user, it can be said that His Highness showed off his abundant talent.

Then it’s my turn. I was quite confused about what to research. Because I can’t do anything without borrowing Christina’s power.

So I decided to research how to use Christina’s power. We all borrow the power of Phantom Beast, but that’s all we’re borrowing. Strictly speaking, it’s not our own power. However, if the bond between Christina and I is so strong that a legendary dragon is born, could I not make magic truly mine, that is, share magic with Christina? Like His Highness, I plan to continue this research for three years.

This year, I succeeded in using basic magic with the help of Christina’s power. Christina has the ability to transform into a dragon and can only touch my body when she is in that form.

When all of Christina’s magic flows into my body at once, it’s possible that my body could explode, so we have set up a large tank with a small faucet to control the flow and use it like that. Still, it is a new attempt and I think the reaction of the judges was not bad.

“Oh, I was nervous.”

In the midst of the overwhelming applause, the person who responded politely to my muttering was the next presenter, Emilia. “You did great,” she said to me.

“Thank you, and good luck to you too, Emilia.” I replied and at the same time, I confirmed that Christina was slipping under Emilia’s jacket.

“Good afternoon everyone, I’m Emilia from the first year. Without further ado, my research is——”

Ouka, come whenever you want. With that attitude, as the clock’s hand moved, I could no longer hide my confusion.

Ouka did not come. Nothing happened and the presentation continued. Finally, I heard the voice saying “thank you for listening.” And Emilia’s presentation was over. And then the next one began, and the next one.

Ouka did not appear in [fall].

Chapter 29

Without any particular reason, I wonder at the results that have been presented before me with a strange feeling. In the scenario, it was discontinued in the middle, so it wasn’t included in the strategy book.

10th place: Olivier Marc

9th place: Melinda Cuey

8th place: Kyaran Goudes

7th place: Vanderlei Slutarch

6th place: Lancelot Charity

5th place: Rebecca Slutarch

4th place: Emilia

3rd place: Oswald Ceden

2nd place: Cectiara Zoff

1st place: Llewayne Huaverdon

I wonder what happened to Ouka. Is he not thinking of healing his body, or does he not know about Emilia’s research at all? I feel like I’m being cheated by a fox.

I smoothly avoid Lancelot, who is coming to hug me in celebration of the results. I decide to head to Cectiara-sama’s place, stopping Emilia, who has come running and is trying to intimidate him with a mashed sweet potato(mashing a sweet potato in her hand), with a “Come on, come on.”

“Does Rebecca-sama like Zoff-sama?”

Emilia went to buy sweet potatoes again and we went to see Cectiara-sama. I can feel [fall] in the choice of ingredients. However, I hope she won’t intimidate Cectiara-sama so earnestly, and more than anything, I want to eat baked sweet potatoes. So I’ll properly say it.

“I like Emilia more.”

Emilia, who shouted “I did it!” without hesitation, is cute. I’m glad she’s back in a good mood.

Suddenly, a familiar low voice interrupted.

“Be careful, Rebecca. It seems like some fox lady got a thing for you.”

“Yes, Rebecca-sama, please be careful. It seems like some bird is targeting you.”

Emilia, with a smile on her face, responds to His Highness a completely different kind of smile. The air around them is chilly. Oh, It’s only the beginning of November, isn’t it?

His Highness embraces my shoulder, and Emilia clings to my opposite arm, neither of them taking a step back. It’s scary how both of them continue to smile and spit poison.

This sharp exchange became normal after the incident that started with Emilia’s declaration of “I fell in love with His Highness.” His Highness is angry at Emilia for misunderstanding me, and Emilia is angry at His Highness for kissing me.

I decided to keep quiet so as not to make things worse. But just like now, when I find Melinda laughing in front of Fried like a flower blooming, I decide to take them both on a s*icide mission.

Melinda, with a gentle smile, pleads with her eyes “Don’t come over here.” and of course, I ignore her. I head straight to Cectiara-sama’s place, dragging her along.

Cectiara-sama, who was visited by me, His Highness, Emilia, and the large group of people named Melinda and Fried for some reason, seemed to be flustered. She was very cute.

When I shared a freshly made sweet potato with her, she happily exclaimed “It’s delicious.” and it was very cute. By the way, the sweet potato was made by His Highness with fire magic.

When I asked Cectiara-sama about her competition, she shyly told me “As promised, I’ll try to propose to Vanderlei-sama, or rather, confess to him…!”

I smiled and said “Good luck.” as I sent her off, thinking that if it doesn’t work out, I’ll ask my father to speak on her behalf.

It wasn’t Cectiara-sama who told me the result, but a letter from my father that arrived a week later, saying “Vanderlei’s fiancée has been chosen.”

I was thrilled and jumped for joy, “Yay!” His Highness, who was looking at the letter with me, laughed “haha” and patted my head, saying “That’s great.” My heart also jumped with happiness.

***

Chapter 30

One morning in the middle of November, I found myself at the entrance of the girls’ dormitory.

“His Highness isn’t here.”

As a matter of fact, it has been my routine lately to hear the yellow voices of the female students as I eat breakfast and head for the entrance of the dormitory, until I see His Highness’ eyes soften when he spots me. It’s no wonder that the atmosphere in the girls’ dormitory is not so good this morning.

I stood there, contemplating whether I should go to the boys’ dormitory or not. His Highness might have had some urgent business that kept him from coming this morning. But he smiled and said “See you tomorrow” when he returned yesterday.

Keeping a promise is something that should be taken for granted, especially when the other person is your fiancé… I thought about this while calmly observing myself.

I’ll admit it, I’m lonely.

“Ugh.”

I held my stomach and walked to the boys’ dormitory, but when I got there, I saw a large crow and let out an odd sound.

It was about three times larger than a normal crow. Its black feathers shone in the sun. Its beak was sharp enough to kill me. But at the same time, it seemed incredibly rational.

It was probably a Phantom Beast. But whose?

I flipped through the strategy book in my head and thought, “Oh.” Then I approached the crow. Its black eyes were looking at me. I looked back, trying not to show any fear.

While ignoring the suspicious glances of the boys walking by, after about ten seconds, the crow took out a piece of paper and flew away.

[Miss Rebecca

Please take care of His Highness’s cold.

Fried Neher]

I let out a sigh as I looked at the short letter from Fried, or rather, the paper.

“[Seasonal change and cold nursing event]!”

***

The Cold Nursing Event——that’s when a cold outbreak occurs at the Academy. You can hear coughing from one side, someone sneezing from the other side, and someone collapsing from fever on the other side. The person who wants to collapse the most right now is definitely the school’s nurse.

With the help of such a troublesome school nurse, the main character, who is a healing magic user, ends up taking care of the target of the conquest. I completely forgot about it because I was too focused on [Winter]. Rebecca was not supposed to appear at all, so that was good, but I’m already used to developments that don’t go according to the scenario.

I asked the dormitory staff where His Highness’s room was. I stopped in front of the door once. I took a deep breath. Exhaled. Breathed in. Exhaled. I turned the doorknob.

“Excuse me, this is Rebecca.”

I noticed that the door was not locked. His silent servant must have been concerned about his master. When I entered the room, there was no answer. But I could feel the presence of someone.

I took off my shoes calmly and went upstairs. When I opened the door to the bedroom in the back, there was a faint smell of His Highness——maybe, but I decided not to remember. I didn’t remember the time when His Highness hugged me. I definitely don’t miss it. Ah, um, definitely not.

His Highness was asleep in bed. His eyes and mouth were tightly closed. His forehead was slightly sweaty. Although the bedding was neatly arranged, his breath seemed a little short and his chest seemed to hurt, so I grabbed it and calmed myself down.

I closed the door quietly so as not to look too much and went into the kitchen. I came here because I was asked to, so it should probably be okay to use it as I pleased.

I started looking for ingredients and was relieved to find something that could be made into porridge. I started cooking skillfully. My cooking skills, which are not like those of a noble lady, are from my mother teaching me from a young age.

According to the strategy book, the protagonist uses healing magic on the target of the strategy and spends the whole day holding his hand and staying by his side in the [sweet event].

When it was time for nursing, I remembered that the book said that the event was one with a high degree of affection and a low occurrence rate.

In other words, the favorability of His Highness towards me may be quite high, but let’s leave that for now. After all, I am an engaged person, so serving at a time like this is also one of my duties. This is a duty, just a job. Whisper it in my mind and calm my feelings. Take a deep breath again. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

Anyway, since I am not Emilia, I can only treat him normally instead of using healing magic.

But there is one thing I am thinking about. Since this is an event in the game and His Highness is the target of the conquest, if I follow the strategy book and proceed with the conversation, will the favorability increase? That is what I am thinking. If it can be increased, I want to increase it, that is my true feeling.

I took the strategy book out of my pocket. I have been carrying it around lately. I just glanced through it for this event, so I want to check it properly. Refer to the [Cold Nursing Event] in the table of contents and follow the choice that increases the favorability the most with my eyes.

[Emilia?]

[I was asked by the school nurse and came to treat you. Uh, sorry for being presumptuous.]

[N-No… thank you]

[You’re welcome! How are you feeling, Your Highness?]

“… Ugh.”

I already felt sick, even though I just started reading. It is not good for my mental health to read the intimate conversation of my fiancé and best friend.

I put away my strategy book and took the porridge off the fire, seasoning it.

I tasted the finished porridge and couldn’t help but smile,

“Yeah, it’s delicious.”

“Is this a dream?”

I literally jumped up.

“Y-Your highness!”

I held back my racing heart and looked towards the entrance of the kitchen. Somehow, he was standing there firmly, looking at me. He looked normal.

Maybe his condition wasn’t as bad as I thought. That’s good, I felt relieved.

“I came here to check on you as Neher-sama asked. I’m sorry for being presumptuous.”

I recited each word without a mistake. My heart was pounding. This was the first time I used my strategy book for this purpose.

But there was no response. [It’s just a——] No, I was getting anxious and my mother’s inexplicable phrase came out.

His highness continued to stare at me without moving. I tilted my head. Being looked at like that made me feel like something was wrong.

“Um, your highness…?”

Above all, his highness’s appearance was… I felt like my cheeks were getting red and I looked away. His hair that was usually neat but now looked disheveled, his rough shirt that was open to the third button, the sturdy body that could be seen from there, the sweat that flowed like a waterfall——sweat?

His Highness never says [N-No…thank you.] no matter how long it takes. Instead, he casually took a step forward and reached out to me.

And then, the next moment, he made a loud noise and fell to the floor with a thud.

Fell to the floor, wait, no this is wrong, he collapsed?!

“Your Highness! Are you the type to not show it on your face?!”

I hurriedly lend him my shoulder to help him stand. My arm that touched him is too hot, and I feel dizzy. He has a cold. He really has a cold. I wish he would have looked more like he had a cold from the beginning!

Carrying the tall man who is weak like me is difficult, but finally, I was able to move His Highness to the bed. Or rather, more accurately, we collapsed onto the bed together.

Phew, I did it. I even feel a sense of accomplishment as I tried to get out of the bed, but my stomach was held down by an arm, preventing me from moving.

“?!”

I was embraced from behind as if being pulled closer. My face is hot. Even though I desperately try to escape, my stomach is held down and I can’t move my legs.

This is bad. This is bad. This is bad!

At that moment, the emotions that I had been desperately trying to suppress exploded within me.

Ha, haaaaaaaaaaa! This is embarrassing!

I’m just his fiancé, so why am I taking care of him? This is the first time I’m entering the prince’s room. Taking care of the person you like, alone in their room, what kind of face am I supposed to have?”

I couldn’t understand the situation because it was too difficult, so I even tried to imitate the main character. I thought if I followed the scenario, it would work out. But even then, it’s amazing! Nothing is going according to the strategy book!

I was about to scream in embarrassment and my head was full. But suddenly, I was brought back to reality.

Hot breath was applied to my ears from behind.

I shivered with further embarrassment. I couldn’t speak and held my ears, and then turned around in confusion. And then I realized it was a mistake.

He turned me over on my back with a flowing movement, and sewed my wrists to the bed and covered me. I looked up at him from the bottom and saw something sparkling in his eyes like a hungry beast.

“Rebecca.”

My lips were blocked by his.

“Rebecca.”

Hot. His breath and eyes were, more than his body temperature, as if they were burning.

“Rebecca.”

He kissed me carefully on my cheek, eyelid, and forehead, while still covering me, and called me warmly again,

“Rebecca.”

And laughed.

The most beloved in this world. I wondered if that’s what he was saying.

Your Highness.

My reply disappeared into his mouth.

When I received the kiss that fell again clumsily, his hands were released from my wrists and instead I was tightly embraced. My whole body was wrapped in his scent and I felt dizzy.

His Highness supported the back of my head with one hand and kept kissing me repeatedly, closing all the gaps between me and him.

“Rebecca, you look lovely (cute).”

At that moment, my cheeks became hot and my heart beat loudly.

——What did he just say?

But when he parted his lips and something hot broke through my lips and entered my mouth——

“Chris Chris Chris, Christina, Christina————!”

My Phantom Beast that was sleeping in my pocket. Responding to its master’s call, it emitted light from all over its body.

His Highness groaned at the dazzlingly bright light and took advantage of the opportunity to roll off the bed and run away. I continued to run until I left the boys’ dormitory and reached my room in the girls’ dormitory.

I entered my room and closed the door. Christina was the only one who worried about me as I slumped down. My rough breathing and hot face wouldn’t calm down for a while.

***

Even though it was still early in the morning, the door of my room was being knocked on without any hesitation.

“Rebecca-sama, it’s Emilia. Please open the door.”

I’m sorry, but I can’t. I don’t want to open it, but I can’t. I don’t want to reply, but I can’t.

The only thing I can do is just hope that my brainy friend will come back before I talk about something with my muscle-brain) friend. (Alt: talked into something by her muscle-brain friend)

“I heard that you took care of His Highness yesterday. Actually, I caught a cold too. I came to have Rebecca-sama take care of me.”

Really, go home. Anyone who comes all the way here and only causes a commotion like this definitely doesn’t have a cold.

The true cold is much more terrifying.

“Hm…? Rebecca-sama, you’re not collapsed inside, right? I’m getting worried, I’ll go check it out.”

I heard a loud noise(crack) and a clattering sound while lying in bed. Emilia peeked her head out, took off her mask and thick coat with a smile,

“Once I saw Rebecca-sama’s face, my cold blew away. I’ll put healing magic on you and hold your hand all day, so please relax.”

She said that to me, who was coughing and hoarse, lying in bed.

Chapter 31

The next day, when I unexpectedly ran into His Highness at the cafeteria, he opened his mouth to say something. I decided to turn my heel and leave.

“Rebecca, wait.”

When I’m told to wait, it’s strange how my feet naturally start moving quickly. I start to hurry, then walk fast, and before I know it, I’m running.

His Highness shouldn’t chase after a woman who runs away. He’s a gentleman. He’ll bring his fiancé to bed and kiss her, but he’s a gentleman.

As expected, His Highness doesn’t chase after me. Instead, whenever we meet, he always speaks to me with various emotions on his face, making you wonder if his frown and Buddha-like expression he puts on other people is a lie.

In the morning, I can avoid meeting His Highness by leaving through the window of the first floor room instead of using the front or back entrance. He may have taken that into account.

The residents of the first floor room kindly let me use their window without asking for an explanation. I feel like they’re looking at me with warm eyes, which makes me a little uncomfortable, but they’re people I can talk to and they’re really helpful.

By the way, yesterday, Emilia took care of my cold all day long, as she declared, and stayed in my room for some reason. This morning, while crossing the window with me, she said something like “it’s like a [spy movie]” and laughed, and she seemed to have a lot of fun.

That’s how three days passed.

“His Highness that day was persistent. He must have felt the need to force a conversation. To be honest, I also feel it. When I see His Highness’ face, my feet just want to run away.

“Ah, ah.”

Earlier, I was the first to notice the other person. I quietly left the scene after spotting His Highness in the distance. When I looked back, His Highness was coming towards me and in a hurry, I ran towards a place where there was no one, it was my mistake.

I ended up at the lecture hall, which is not often used.

Let’s just go inside for now, I at least want to shake off His Highness.

Anyway, because I was in a hurry, I didn’t check inside. But still, who could have predicted that I would close the door behind me and bump my nose into someone else’s chest.

“!”

“Ow, sorry, are you okay?”

That hard chest belonged to a male student I had never seen before. He had deep forest-like hair and eyes. He is undeniably a handsome man with a cute face and a strong body that would be popular with older sisters.

Hm? I feel like I’ve seen him before. Where did I see him?

As I stared at him, my thoughts were interrupted by surprise. He gently touched my eyes.

“Are you crying? If someone is bullying you, talk to me. I might be able to help.”

I’m aware that I’m teary-eyed. It’s because I just bumped my nose on your iron wall of a chest, or simply put, his iron plate.

What should I do? I wonder if it’s better to distance myself from this person. I scratched my nose and thought for a moment, but gave up. He’s just genuinely worried about me. You can tell from his expression and how calm my Christina in my pocket. He’s just a kind person.

“Thank you for your kindness, but it’s okay. I’m fine,” I tried to say.

But in my head, a passage from my strategy book came to mind.

[Are you crying? If someone is bullying you, please talk to me. I might be able to help.]

[No, that, thank you for your kindness… but it’s okay! Don’t worry about it.]

[No, I can’t just leave a crying woman be. Sit here. My name is Oswald Ceden. Let’s talk for a bit.]

This is the encounter event that the protagonist was originally supposed to finish in April. And he is the one and only, the final target for conquest, Oswald Ceden!

Ever since I entered school, I’ve often seen that person’s name. In the strategy book, it says “Target for conquest, Class 5, Second year, Dark green hair, Phantom Beast: Mole, Note: Has a reputation as one of the next top three.”

At the presentation last time, I saw him, but my eyes were on research and I didn’t look at his face properly. He was very interested in the research on the combination and effects of auxiliary magic added to weapons. It was a very interesting research, and it is no wonder that it was more highly evaluated than mine.

Oswald is definitely a person with a calm and kind personality, but he also has a strong sense of justice. He has a younger sister in the first grade.

He comes here to feed the cat that often sunbathes in the auditorium. In April, when Emilia chooses to go to the auditorium after Rebecca sarcastically tells her to go there, she meets him. I didn’t speak ill of her in the first place.

“But it’s alright——no, it’s not alright, your iron plate hit my nose and it hurts.”

After thinking in a scattered way, in the end, all I could do was be honest. He said “I’m sorry” and worriedly touched the tip of my nose lightly.

It was just at that moment that the door opened with a burst of energy and His Highness came in.

***

A low voice like crawling on the ground. Even if it’s said that this is the demon king, there’s no doubt that there are many people who believe it.

At least for me, even if I am told that this is the voice of my fiancé who embraces me to hide me from Oswald, I won’t believe it.

“Oswald…if there’s an explanation, I’ll listen.”

“Eh?… Oh, darn! Llewayne’s fiancée, the daughter of Slutarch?!”

Oswald seems to be in a hurry. I should also say that nothing happened. When I finally turn my head, Oswald was bending his body at 90 degrees and lowering his head.

“Forgive me. I didn’t realize you were engaged. I swear I didn’t have any wicked feelings. I’m sorry. Please believe me.”

I also moved my head, and looked up at His Highness who was tightly embracing me. I felt sorry for making him apologize. His Highness was looking down at Oswald’s head expressionlessly, but after a little while, he breathed out as if giving up, and met my gaze.

“Alright. Raise your head, Oswald. If it wasn’t for you, I’d probably beat the shit out of you for being such a whitewash.”

(TL: Not sure that’s the right word.)

Surprised by the ominous words, His Highness said “I was just joking.” as if to brush it off. Even when Oswald waved goodbye saying thank you, I was still being embraced by His Highness. Recently, there’s been too much contact and it’s starting to become a nuisance. When we’re alone, I feel like running away again.

“Are you going to run again?”

His Highness buries his face on my shoulder and says that, his soft golden hair tickling my neck. I honestly admit to finding it cute when he pouts like a child.

“I was embarrassed.”

That’s all there is to it, nothing else. It wasn’t that I hated what His Highness did to me. I hugged him back thinking that was enough to convey that.

“…I see. You are.”

His Highness’ arm wraps around my waist.

“I liked the porridge. I wanted to thank you for it.”

Oh, that porridge. I wondered what happened to it. He ate it, I’m glad!

Feeling touched, I unconsciously press my lips to his cheek. I was going to say “I’m glad you’re better” but couldn’t because of what he whispered in my ear.

“But it seems like that feeling might have gone somewhere when I found you here, alone with another man.”

…oh.

The atmosphere becomes tense. I gulp down my words. His Highness kisses me on the ear as if in response and laughs lightly.

“I love you, Rebecca. It’s not enough to say that. If you do something like this again, you won’t be able to leave this place.”

I nod with a dry throat (gulp). I note here that this is a strategic defeat, due to my realization that if I didn’t, I would be punished right away.

Chapter 32

The preparations for [winter] have already begun. Right after [fall] ended, we received an explanation from the Principal and started moving forward towards the upcoming battle.

However, there is one more thing that needs to be done by the end of November. In half a month, before the winter vacation, there is an exam that we need to prepare for and start studying again. I plan to teach Emilia how to study this time. I will be careful not to be left behind.

“This time, I will also aim for the top 3,” said Melinda. When I wondered about the change in her attitude, she said,

“If you guys get chosen as the top 3, it would look bad if I were not there.”

I see, Melinda did mention that her ranking in the [spring] was 20th and in the [summer] it was 12th. Even though her name didn’t come up in the game, that must be because of the recent attack by Ouka, where she ranked 9th in the [fall].

So, after school we studied as a group of three. One day, Lancelot came to join us. He seemed like he was going to skip, but maybe he had something good in mind. He is the son of the Prime Minister and is known to help his father a lot lately.

He approached me hesitantly and took my hand, kneeling down with a beaming smile.

“Miss Rebecca! Can you teach me too?”

And then he started acting weird again. I brushed him off as he seemed like he was going to kiss my hand.

I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but where does his energy come from? Melinda is sighing too. Emilia’s threats are not being taken seriously. Maybe he’s just used to it. Then Emilia called out to Kyuubi, who was playing far away. Is this her final move? Will it affect Lancelot’s life?

At that moment, his highness walked over.

I was happy and naturally smiled, but the only thing he conveyed with his lips were these words.

Punishment (Oshioki).

———Confinement and Punishment.

Ufufu, I should hurry and get away from Lancelot as soon as possible.

I don’t have to worry because Lancelot noticed his highness and quickly ran away, so I was saved. His highness sat down next to me.

“Rebecca, do you want to make a bet?”

He doesn’t seem to care about Lancelot, and he pats himself on the chest.

“A bet, sir?”

“Yeah. Whether or not I become the top student of the second grade in this exam, I bet on the latter. If I win, I want you to listen to one thing I say.”

… [One thing]?

I blink and twinkle. If there’s something you want me to do, just tell me normally. But——.

“What if His Highness loses?”

“I’ll listen to anything you say.”

“Got it!”

To be honest, I can’t imagine His Highness not taking first place, but it’s quite an attractive offer. I can’t help but agree. Not that I’m asking for anything in particular.

“That’s how it is.”

Without hesitation, I agreed and His Highness smiled happily.

***

When December was halfway over, the results of the recent exam were announced and His Highness as the second-year first place.

The results for the third(3) grades were as follows:

・First Year

3rd place: Gadd Maysen

3rd place: Emilia

2nd place: Melinda Cuey

1st place: Rebecca Slutarch

・Second Year

3rd place: Oswald Ceden

2nd place: Kyaran Goudes

1st place: Llewayne Huaverdon

・Third Year

3rd place: Ray Lowe

2nd place: Cectiara Zoff

1st place: Vanderlei Slutarch

At the moment, the three of us held hands and celebrated.

“Amazing!”

“Good job, us!”

“Yes, it’s wonderful.”

Many students had gathered in the courtyard to see the results posted. As we hugged and celebrated, the surrounding noise suddenly quieted.

“Oh, Rebecca-sama!”

“Eh?”

The students’ gaze is drawn to one man alone. Approaching us as if breaking through the crowd is my most favorite person.

He stopped his feet a little away from us.

“Rebecca, do you remember the bet?”

Those around are swallowing their saliva and looking at us. I can tell that the Prince is trying to stand out (to be conspicuous), but I don’t understand the situation. I didn’t even notice that Emilia and Melinda had quietly left, I was just looking at him.

Finally nodding with a groan, His Highness slowly kneels down and smiled with a sweet mask. In his hand was a single rose.

——His Highness.

The obvious words came to mind.

“Come to the dance with me.”

The feeling that filled my chest at this moment is indescribable. If I had to put it in one word, it would be clear joy and an incredible relief.

After [winter], there will be a dance. Men give roses to invite someone, it is a way of expressing “I love you.” It is only allowed in school-approved and family-approved relationships. It’s like a public proposal.

And for me, it also means something else. The main character and target of the game will be decided at this dance. The game’s ending, the final goal.

It’s natural to go to the dance together as a fiancé. But now I was invited to the dance, like the main character, with a clear declaration of love.

The noise around me returned as the crowd became lively again. I must be crying tears of emotion. But it doesn’t matter about the surroundings. As long as my beloved is looking at me with loving eyes.

“Yes, I’d be happy to…”

He took my hand and put a rose in my hair. His Highness immediately led me away from the scene. When I looked back, Melinda and Emilia were waving at me and sending me off. I smiled and waved back.

Ah, what a happy day.

***

After escaping the noise in the courtyard, His Highness talked to me about something important. After listening to everything, I returned to my room and thought about it alone.

The conversation was about Ouka. The Academy and the royal family had finally uncovered his true identity.

[That man, Ouka, was a student at the Royal Academy 19 years ago. He was sealed by the Principal for attempting to commit a forbidden act with evil magic. He had been active as a spiritual body by distorting the seal, but recently the seal was fixed by a magician directly under the royal family. He will not appear again.]

He held my hand the whole time we talked. I guess he was worried about me because I had had a few close encounters that scared me.

Closing my eyes alone in the room, I remember the father-like gaze of Ouka, that person.

So that’s it, he was sealed back. It’s only natural, since the royal family and Academy have been chasing after him.

I don’t understand what Ouka wanted to do anymore. Wasn’t he supposed to revive(bring back) the scenario? He should have appeared in the [winter].

The winter break is about to start. The winter break is the only one where the students don’t go home. It’s to prepare for the [winter].

In the scenario, the [winter] is when Ouka intervenes and causes chaos to the extreme. It’s no longer an event, but a final battle with Ouka as the target and all the main characters participating.

But in reality, Ouka doesn’t appear and there are too many discrepancies with the scenario, so the strategy book is not useful. This winter will be a pure test of strength.

For me, the first and true battle since my enrollment in the Academy begins.

Chapter 33

I stare at the distant horizon from horseback. Behind me, a group of students on horses continue on. The number, around 600, is a quarter of the entire school’s population and it is the number of “soldiers” assigned to me, one of the four [generals].

I hold my breath and wait for the signal. Every time I inhale the cold air, my lungs ache. The morning sun is nowhere to be seen and it’s cold, but at least it’s not snowing. In this endless wilderness, the only sound is the quiet breathing of 600 people. The area is surrounded by a strange tension.

On a certain day in January, today is [winter].

[Battle] is about to begin now.

***

In the beginning of November, an important announcement was made about [winter] two months later.

For this year’s [battle], Vanderlei Slutarch, Olivier Marc, Llewayne Huaverdon, and I, Rebecca Slutarch, were appointed as the four [generals].

In the first place, [battle] is a simulated war led by four [generals] chosen from the Academy. The winning condition is to take the heads of the other three generals, in other words, to give an attack that can cause fatal injuries with defensive magic. Or, to capture the flag located in the [camp] each general is assigned to.

The general assigned one fourth of all the school students as soldiers in his/her army, and the allocation was basically random, but there was one exception.

That is [loyalists (vasal/retainer)]. In short, they are the general’s confidants. If they perform the [ritual of loyalty] with the general and apply to the Academy beforehand, they will certainly be assigned to serve the general’s army.

There are several rules for the loyalist system. First, if a general soldier attacks and incapacitates the general, it will not be considered as [captured(victory)], but loyalists are different. They can take the general’s head and drastically change the battle situation.

Therefore, it is kept secret who is whose loyalist, but last [winter], it was revealed that His Highness Llewayne Huaverdon, who was appointed as the general’s role, my brother Vanderlei Slutarch, Charles Seagan, and Charlotte Seagan, among four people, His Highness Llewayne and Fried Neher are in a loyalist relationship.

“Loyalist” is not a relationship that is easily dissolved after the event is over. In the first place, if there is no deep bond, the ritual of becoming a Loyalist will not be successful, but it is not only that, but also a lifetime of being in a master-servant relationship, and a promise never to betray. It is a heavy thing that can affect not only your Academy life but also your entire life.”

And there is a risk. If a Loyalist is captured or incapacitated by another General, that General will not be able to take the head of any other Generals. All attacks against other Generals will be rendered ineffective. While it is not immediately disqualifying, it is a significant blow.

Even if a Loyalist earns achievements in battle, they will not be recognized by the Academy. The accomplishments of a Loyalist are considered to be those of their master, the General. This is a measure to prevent individuals from trying to attach themselves to a superior General in order to gain titles.

Of course, it is theoretically possible to earn a title by achieving excellent results before [fall]. However, it is overwhelmingly disadvantageous. Those who obtained the title of Five Highs last year, such as Fried, are exceptions.

The weight of being in a lifelong relationship, and the equivalent exchange of benefits and disadvantages, is not something that can be taken lightly.

In the end, I couldn’t bring myself to have a Loyalist.

It’s not uncommon, and usually about two out of four Generals had a Loyalist.

In early November, the Generals will be announced and the division and positions of the troops will be announced in the middle of the month. This year, His Highness is in the northeast, Nii-sama is in the east, Olivier is in the south, and I am in the southwest.

The stage in [winter] is the training ground outside of the Academy. There is terrain, so the location of the troops can be advantageous or disadvantageous, but it has been random every year, with large, medium, and east, west, south, and north. This year’s distribution can be said to be quite skewed(biased).

Now, if you focus your eyes, you can see Olivier’s army in the distance. The start is for everyone to move from their respective positions at the same time, according to the previous strategy.

I took a deep, long breath. Watching the white breath, I took out my watch, there’s only 2 minutes left before the signal for the start.

I looked down at the armor I was wearing. I opened my hand, squeezed it tightly. I thought about a lot and did everything I could. The preparations should be perfect.

Even so, my hands are still shaking.

I controlled the horse and looked back.

600 eyes are focused on me alone. Leading them, holding the fate of everyone, is none other than me.

1 minute left.

“…the war will begin soon. I have only one command.”

In this silent space, even without raising my voice, my voice reaches. The soldiers are holding back their warrior spirit shakes and listening to my words with all their body. This is truly the calm before the storm, I felt it with my skin.

“Definitely, win.”

Gong, gong, gong.

The sound of the bell ringing from the sky. I raised my sword high.

“Let’s gooooo!”

“Oooooooo———!”

The roar of the fierce soldiers shakes the air. We started running, scattering sand.

I led the main army and headed straight for Olivier’s army. I assembled about 400 people, about 2/3 of the total, who were mainly high-attack soldiers, and launched a fierce attack, a strategy to quickly capture it.

The remaining one-third is the defense force that defends our own lines. The tower of rock that contains the flag of the commander, which is the life of the army, stands tall in the camp, and they are already in position with a formation that surrounds it.

I have no anxiety about leaving this camp. I am blessed with soldiers. Because there are excellent soldiers who are worthy of entrusting this army here.

“Well then, I am counting on you!”

Looking back and shouting, I saw that person who had taken the front of the rock tower make a beautiful bow.

“I was asked. Good luck.”

Surely now, there is no more reliable ally than Cectiara-sama, who is narrowing her noble cat-like eyes and smiling.

Chapter 34

Riding horses with all their might, running through the wilderness, only the sound of the horses’ hooves echoing through. It is truly a fierce advance.

I am at the front, but in reality, Christina, who is soaring in the sky, is leading us. She already has a dragon-transformed body and is wearing armor. Her appearance is so divine that it’s mesmerizing and she cuts through the sky, using wind magic to give us a strong tailwind. Thanks to her, we seem to be able to reach Olivier’s camp at an impossible speed. Perhaps because we are facing our first battle, I am not feeling the cold as much.

In this assault, we are not holding back on using magic. We are betting on speed and attack power, and if we strike first, we will win in one blow. The more flashy, the better; the more annoying, the better; the more conspicuous, the better.

As we began to see the appearance of the enemy’s camp, we slowed down. Their rock tower is exactly the same as ours. Inside, there is the flag we are targeting. Before that, there are 500 horse riders. From the top of the tower, I could see a coldly beautiful woman looking down at us. I immediately knew who it was.

“Good day. As expected, it’s you, Ray Lowe-sama.”

“Likewise, Miss Rebecca. As you say, it’s as I expected.”

Ray Lowe, the third-year student from Five High, who is known as the [Iron Walled Ray Lowe]. She is a talented woman who looks good in her upright posture and glasses. She is childhood friends and great friends with Olivier, who seems to be the complete opposite of her. This is a well-known story.

The origin of [Iron Wall] is her Phantom Beast, a small hedgehog. Despite its cute appearance, its ability is powerful. It can create a barrier with a radius of 2.3 meters centered on itself. It also has a lot of thorns, which are perfect for protecting a flag.

When Ray, who is a close friend of Olivier, was assigned to Olivier’s army, it is predictable that she is most likely a Loyalist.

The current situation is 500 against 400, with us at a disadvantage in terms of numbers. But it’s as expected. I spoke to our army.

“We’ll proceed as planned, it’s a short-term decisive battle——everyone, move forward!”

With my voice, Christina’s fighting spirit became a roar and the ground shook. That was the signal for the battle on the plain to begin.

The number of opponents is greater than ours, but our morale is still sufficient. We charge forward without hesitation.

I also join the battle, defeating enemies near me. Thanks to our defensive magic, we don’t get hurt, but if we receive fatal damage, we will lose consciousness. I throw knives, and deliver the finishing blow, avoiding attacks from behind and counterattacking.

“Even though you’re losing in numbers, you’re charging forward… is that a bad move?”

Ray said from atop the tower, but I didn’t spare a glance and focused on the enemy in front of me. It’s also within expectations that she doesn’t come down from the tower.

Magics, swords, and Phantom Beasts fly around everywhere, and both allies and enemies gradually decrease.

I can see Christina kicking around the enemy soldiers in the distance. The legendary dragon is not only powerful in its attacks, but also stands out in this moment as something special.

In between, I took out a crystal from the gap in my armor. The crystal is something that everyone in this place has. As a General, I can contact any of my soldiers at any time. Soldiers cannot talk to each other.

“Cectiara-sama, how much longer until we finish?”

[Let’s see… We’ll finish in 8 minutes.]

“Understood.”

After that short conversation, we confronted the enemy again.

8 minutes.

That’s the time our main army needs to launch a fierce attack on the defense army led by the iron-walled Ray Lowe and Olivier, in order to draw their attention.

***

When the teams and formations were announced in November, I thought.

His Highness and Nii-sama’s formation is far away. Olivier is not an opponent I can ignore and go on a campaign with. And that’s the same for His Highness when it comes to Nii-sama, and Nii-sama when it comes to His Highness.

In other words, I need to strike Olivier with all my might first…but Olivier is strong. She has top-class combat power, and her Phantom Beast is a leopard. Even from her personality, it’s clear that she’s not going to fortify her defenses in her own camp. Especially since she’s highly mobile and elite, she’s bound to run through the battlefield and aim for the heads and flags of other generals.

That’s where Ray Lowe comes in. By leaving most of the soldiers as defensive forces and placing Ray as their commander, it’ll definitely be a perfect defensive force that won’t fall. And since Ray is a loyalist, she’ll be able to take the heads of other generals that have come. It’s a simple strategy, but it’s the most troublesome and powerful one. I have to focus on the god of battle, Olivier, while conquering the formation.

Moreover, what made it possible here was Olivier’s good luck. Actually, Olivier’s formation is in the best position out of the four. It has a mountain behind it. Even if you try to attack from behind, it’ll take a lot of time and bones will break if you try to climb it with a large number of people. And if you’re found, you’ll be attacked from above while using the slope. With only a small lookout placed behind and being able to focus only on the front, Olivier’s formation was truly ironclad.

On the other hand, I’m weak. Being selected as a General in my first year is unusual and I’m thinking of it as a great honor, but I don’t have enough experience or my own combat ability.

I have to attack from the enemy’s back. I have to use anything and everything I can.

…That’s right, for example, myself.

***

Ray won’t come down from the tower. I am reading her as a Loyalist. Loyalists can defeat the General, but if I defeat Ray, Olivier will not be able to defeat the other generals. It’s a double-edged sword. Ideally, Loyalists should be aware of this and act as a surprise attack for maximum effect.

If Rei were to come down, it would only be after my army is completely pushed back. She would definitely try to take my head when I am weak.

And that time is coming soon. My army has begun to gradually retreat. Since we have been fighting at full magic power from the beginning to make up for the difference in strength, it’s natural that we are starting to feel fatigue.

Cectiara said, 8 minutes is the time limit.

“… It’s going to be close.”

The faces of the soldiers around me began to show signs of anxiety. The number of enemies is gradually not decreasing. It’s a bad sign. I was about to open my mouth to change the atmosphere.

“Miss Rebecca, I would like to propose a one-on-one duel.”

A horse appeared in front of me.

I knew you were here. Deep green hair and a neat face. Holding a sword without wiping sweat, a fierce figure that looks straight at me is truly worthy of the title of “Five Heights” and noble.

“I accept, Ceden-sama.”

Oswald Ceden. He is said to be the closest to the three strongest among the Five Highs. “What a convenient timing.” I secretly smiled.

When a one-on-one battle begins, people around will stop fighting and surround it to watch. In such a case, they should never intervene. This is a common rule even in duels among nobles.

We faced each other according to the rules. I put away my knife and held both swords. In an unspoken agreement, we were surrounded by both armies in no time.

“Is there any meaning in this one-on-one battle?”

By the way, I wonder if he is a Loyalist. Only a General and a Loyalist can defeat a General. I didn’t think he had a chance of being Olivier’s Loyalist.”

“There is. Because your Phantom Beast is too strong. I can’t defeat you, but if you’re a bit tired, that’s enough.”

I see. Even if I am not defeated, if the damage accumulates, the defensive magic will activate and I will lose consciousness. If that happens, Christina will definitely start fighting. And she won’t leave me until I wake up. That’s a clear minus for their army.

In other words, he is absolutely confident that he can defeat me one-on-one. He decided that he should defeat me quickly before Christina and I could take out any more of his army.

I want to say that I am being underestimated, but it’s a good judgement. In fact, I can’t beat Oswald. Oswald is one of the top three swordsmen this year in the scenario. His sword skills are also sure. I have no chance of winning in a one-on-one battle.

I glance at Ray, she seems to be silently watching this development. Sh’s staring intently at me.

Oswald closes his mouth and takes a sword stance, entering into battle mode.

I turned to face him and smiled thinly.

I can’t beat him. But I accepted the challenge.

Because I wanted to draw everyone’s attention on this battlefield to me and make use of the time.

That came at the perfect timing.

[This is Cectiara. The surprise troops have arrived.]

Chapter 35

A deafening explosion erupted and a blast of hot air and shockwaves burst out from the inside of the rock tower. Everyone, regardless of whether they were friends or foes, opened their mouths in surprise and stared at it.

In the line of sight of everyone, a Phantom Beast emerged from the dust and smoke. It had golden fur and nine swaying tails. The girl riding on its back held up the flag she had just captured high, and smiled beautifully amidst the flames and smoke.

“Rebecca-sama, I’ve captured the flag!”

***

In order to defeat Olivier, I need to use everything available to me and make use of everything I can. So I used myself as bait.

At the start, my army was split into three.

The first was the main force led by me. Christina, flying in the sky, charged forward to draw the enemy’s attention.

The second was the defense force. There were only 200 people, about a third of our army, but I was confident that they would be enough to defend the flag. It was led by none other than Cectiara-sama. I was truly lucky to have been dealt this card called her.

“General” refers to those selected based on previous performance and their own and Phantom Beast’s combat ability. Cectiara-sama may not have pure combat ability, but she is smart and her Phantom Beast is powerful. Her butterfly can split up to a maximum of 100, and it becomes her eyes and ears, allowing her to collect all kinds of information. She greatly contributed to Emilia’s advance by constantly monitoring the situation on the battlefield with her scattered butterflies.

The third unit, Emilia’s surprise “attack army”, is just a name and is only made up of one person, Emilia. In mid-November, the only surprise attack I entrusted to the excited Emilia, who was assigned to my army, was one person. With Cectiara’s butterfly, there is no need to worry about watching out for other enemies and advancing. In addition, like Christina, Emilia’s Phantom Beast, Kyuubi, is also a legendary Phantom Beast. Riding on Emilia’s back, it runs through the wilderness at a surprising speed, climbs mountains behind the lines, and invades the tower from behind. It is the ultimate elite.

Emilia should normally be responsible for treating soldiers who have lost consciousness in the rear of the army, and Ray would have thought so too. By daring to let her act alone, the enemy’s back can be attacked.

Honestly, even I was taken aback by the fact that we managed to break through the barrier of the hedgehog that was probably inside. The Phantom Beast Kyuubi of Emilia, who can only heal people, was skilled in attack magic, as if to make up for her master’s weakness.

In a situation where no one could grasp the situation, Emilia showed an innocent smile that did not match the situation. AAlthough it is a basic rule to cheat your allies if you want to outsmart them, I felt bad for the soldiers on my side who fought so hard.

Emilia ran to me and jumped in, taking advantage of people’s gaps.

“Good job, Emilia.”

“I’m glad I could help!”

After praising Emilia, I raised my voice to keep morale high.

“Our army has succeeded in a surprise attack! This is all thanks to the power of everyone who held this place down! Well done. We defeated the three strongest, Olivier Marc!

My voice echoed on the battlefield. In response, what spread slowly was the joy of victory.

“Uooooo!”

“Emilia did it! She took the flag from behind!”

“We did it, we won!”

I breathe a sigh of relief at the victory cries rising everywhere. At that moment, someone extended a hand towards me, as if asking for a handshake. It was Oswald.

“That scared me. I completely made the wrong judgment.”

“No, I apologize for trying to take advantage of you like that.”

“Don’t worry about it. People call that a strategy.”

The fresh smile is dazzling. I wondered how good a person could be. It was a time when I couldn’t help but admire them.

An impossible scene was reflected on the edge of my vision.

“Kyuuuu!”

“?! Christina!”

I rushed over there. Christina was sucked into something like a box with a painful moan, despite my outstretched hand being in vain.

That was a seal. It was done by a single soldier.

“The battle is over! Please stop!”

I pushed through people and shouted without hesitation. Everyone’s gaze gathered on the unusual atmosphere. When I grabbed the man’s shoulders and turned him around, I couldn’t help but open my eyes wide. My family’s crest was engraved on the chest of the man’s armor.

“Why.”

The man I didn’t even know was a soldier in my army.

He shook off my hand and stepped back. Then he held the box in his left hand and drew a sword with his right hand.

I don’t understand why, but he quickly retreated. Oswald came out in front of me as if to protect me.

“What are you doing?”

He seems to have come chasing after him and noticed the abnormality of this situation.

The man didn’t pay attention to that and suddenly attack.

“Rebecca Slutarch! I know all the heinous crimes you’ve committed using the Duke family’s position! I sentence you to exile under the name of the royal family!”

…Eh?

What came to mind was the villainess Rebecca’s trial of condemnation. It was undoubtedly, word for word, the words that were supposed to say to Rebecca at the ball.

Several soldiers surrounded me in response to the man’s voice. There were both enemy and friendly soldiers mixed together. It seems this was planned in advance.

And then, what scared me the most was the magic tool that the man took out. It was a shiny black cylinder-shaped thing. Without a doubt, it was something used when exiling criminals in public. It seemed to be filled with transfer magic and if it was placed on the nape of a criminal’s neck, their evidence would enter and they would be instantly sent abroad. It was an extremely valuable item and there were only a few in the country. An ordinary student should not have one. At that point, I could no longer ignore this commotion as ridiculous.

But I don’t understand. I can’t grasp the situation. I haven’t done anything, and the scenario should have changed by now.

“I repeat, Rebecca Slutarch! I sentence you to exile.”

However, it was these next words that made me freeze like being doused with cold water.

“This is something that Lord Llewayne is also aware of!”

———What did you say?

Suddenly lifting my head with a clear head, I noticed that Emilia was supporting me beside me and peeking at my face. She seemed reassured by my expression.

Stepping away from Emilia, I step forward from Oswald’s back.

“Thief, retract your statement now.”

A very ordinary calm voice came out. The straightened back will no longer bend. The expression is the same as usual, with a smile that seems to make a sound [smirk].

“To play with His Highness Llewayne’s name in front of me, who is to be the next queen. This sin is heavy. Be prepared.”

If you spit poison with a gentle smile, the opponent will step back in fear. I am a noble lady. And I am also a jewel of Slutarch, and also the fiancee of the prince.

And most importantly.

[This is something that Lord Llewayne is also aware of.]

Those words were enough to flush out all feelings of confusion, turmoil, fear, and the like.

“W-We are moving on orders from above! You are no longer the next queen!”

“It’s a pity to give such an order. Who would that be?”

“No duty to answer!”

The man grinds his teeth to the limit. And then he re-gripped his sword and stepped forward. In response, Oswald once again protected me with his back.

“Cede! This is an order from the High One. It would be best for you to draw your sword and help capture that woman!”

The man shouted. Oswald hesitated for a moment before drawing his sword. Emilia next to me grabbed my arm, probably planning to escape from this place.

I, on the other hand, did not move a step and watched Oswald’s actions from the shadows of his broad back.

The man seemed satisfied with Oswald’s sword being drawn. But soon he looked startled and stumbled.

Oswald simply pointed his sword straight at the man without hesitation or hesitation.

“You see, I have my own justice. It’s an absolute and unshakable justice. This person is an important person to my friend. If you want to hurt her, I’ll be your opponent. No matter who gives the order, I don’t care.”

Oswald said it as if he were spitting it out and aimed his sword at the target. He was the man who hated the most twisted things in this academy.

“Go.”

Oswald said shortly when he turned around. The one who moved at that moment was Emilia. She easily pulled me up and jumped onto the Kyuubi.

It’s fine for you to talk back to that rude man, but if he accidentally uses that magic tool, there’s no way you can get back at him. Right now, I’m vastly outnumbered. Looking around, it seems that most of the people here are either trying to capture me or are unsure of what to do and unable to move.

Neither of them is me, Emilia, Oswald, and one more person.

“Come over here!”

It was Rey, who had been hiding among the debris of the collapsed tower and looking at the situation. She’s waving her hand to guide us into the mountains from a distance.

“What do you want to do?” Emilia asked.

I need some assurance that she’s not on the other side. I inhaled and screamed.

“Proof that you are a Loyalist!”

As soon as my voice reached, Rey took something out of her chest. It was not a pale blue, but a crystal that was dyed in a blue like sapphire. The color is thicker than usual, which means that her connection with General is thicker than that of a normal soldier. In other words, it’s proof that she’s a Loyalist of Olivier.

The Kyuubi turned and began to run towards Rey. I know Olivier’s character, and it’s worth trusting. We decided to trust Rey and Olivier.

In the middle, we pulled Rey and disappeared into the mountains in no time. Just before we left, I looked back and saw Oswald’s figure, fighting alone against dozens of people. I was terribly worried about him and Christina.

Chapter 36

The Kyuubi pushed through the bushes and advanced deeper into the mountain. This mountain, filled with large trees and thickets, was perfect for hiding.

As soon as we entered the mountain, a Cectiara butterfly landed on my finger. The butterfly started to fly as if to guide us, probably avoiding enemy soldiers.

“…This is strange. We can’t contact the teachers.”

Ray said. The soldiers can communicate with the Crystal and their own generals, but they should also be able to contact the teachers in case of emergency. But that connection was not working.

I thought we should leave it to the teachers, but it seems that’s not possible. The teachers, unlike previous events, do not interfere in any way unless there is an abnormal situation in the final event of the year [Winter]. Even so, they should still be watching the situation in real-time, but no one has come yet. Probably the communication and the video are being interfered with. Emilia was healing Ray’s Phantom Beast, a hedgehog, while nodding in agreement with the conversation.

I contacted Cectiara-sama through the Crystal, “It’s an unusual situation, but since we can’t judge whether the game will flow or not, please just protect the formation.” And she responded with a strong [Leave it to me]. Also, enemy soldiers were gathering in Olivier’s camp. I thanked her and ended the communication.

And then I spoke out what I had been thinking since earlier.

“Those soldiers may have been manipulated.”

Ray furrowed his brows, and Emilia let out a gasp.

This time, I thought Ouka wouldn’t show up, but with the reenactment of the “Accusation event”, the possibility of him being involved has come up. If that’s the case, those students may be manipulated like Kyaran was before.

In the first place, if there is someone who would order to attack the prince’s fiancée in the middle of an event, then they are definitely mad. And those who obediently carry out those orders are also mad. It’s natural to think they are being manipulated.

“Then, we can use dispelling magic.”

Emilia said.

“Yes. But it will be quite large scale… Ray-sama, how about magic?”

“I’m sorry, but it’s tough when it gets that large scale.”

“Is that so. Then, I will.”

In this situation where we can’t contact anyone other than our own troops, I have to do it myself. Christina is captured, so I can’t use her power. But there is one method.

We moved quite a distance without encountering anyone, guided by the butterfly. But at that time, another butterfly appeared from the front and we saw several people following it.

The person leading them was someone I was familiar with. Emilia and I couldn’t help but shout out loud.

“Melinda?!”

“Ah, finally we meet. I’m so tired. Are you all safe?”

Melinda slowly approached, her expression tired and with a Phantom Beast owl on her shoulder. “I’m exhausted,” she said, slumping against the Kyuubi.

Why was Melinda here? Because,

“Miss Melinda is with His Highness Llewayne’s army, if I recall correctly,” Ray said.

Emilia nodded in agreement.

“Yes, that’s correct. The four of us, including myself, were part of a reconnaissance team for Olivier’s army.”

Melinda began her explanation in an exhausted voice. The other members of the reconnaissance team seemed uneasy, standing there.

“His Highness launched a full-scale attack on Vanderlei’s army from the start. He even used transfer magic to fly to the front of the flag himself. He left our own army to Fried-sama and about a dozen others, and sent only a small reconnaissance team to Olivier’s and Rebecca’s armies.

Therefore, His Highness cannot use the transfer magic today. Besides, there is quite a distance from His Highness’s and Vanderlei’s formation to yours and Olivier’s formation, right? We, the reconnaissance team, were also watching you and Olivier’s army take Olivier’s flag, but that was because His Highness sent the eagle there. The eagle then carried another reconnaissance team and headed towards Rebecca’s formation, so there were no more hands left to wait there. In other words, His Highness currently has no means of transportation. Even if he comes here, it will probably be a while later, since there is also the battle with Vanderlei’s army.

And so, I was hiding and watching the battle while reporting everything as a reconnaissance team. But His Highness… only keep asking for descriptions of Rebecca’s bravery in the worst situation…Can’t you fight for yourself? I thought I was chosen for the reconnaissance team because of my good ears from Phantom Beast… His Highness just wanted to know about you, that’s for sure.

Well, things got weird, so I reported it, and he said I could give up my reconnaissance duties and join up with you guys to help. I had been hiding in stealth until then, but that butterfly that’s been flying around us recognized us because of the Phantom Beast’s ability as the reconnaissance team’s guy over there. Even though it couldn’t see it, it could sense us. And that’s how it led us here.

Hold on, I’ll call His Highness now.”

His Highness must be aware of what’s happening now. His ability to gather information is impressive. I don’t have the luxury of sending out a reconnaissance team, and I still don’t know anything about the northeast. Despite having Cectiara, this is the difference between being a commander and not.

Melinda was looking at her chest as she took out a crystal. And a few seconds later, the voice I heard made me feel greatly relieved.

[Rebecca, are you there?]

“Yes, Your Highness.”

A low, calm voice. It felt like I hadn’t heard it in a long time.

“Thank you for sending Melinda, Your Highness. I’m safe. But I left behind Ceden-sama and Christina. They have defensive magic, so they won’t get hurt, but I’m not strong enough… I’m sorry. The soldiers may be controlled by magic. I’ll try to refill my magic power and use a spell to release them. If it goes well, it will all be over in one go…”

[Wait, Rebecca, let me speak first. Good job.]

“… Eh?”

His Highness, who gently blocked me who was flaunting and boasting, [good job]. I was complimented. But what for?

[I heard in the report. Even when my name came out, you denied it head-on without hesitation, and took a resolute attitude.]

“…That doesn’t seem like something worthy of praise.”

[Good job. My fiancé is outstanding and excellent.]

“…”

The sudden accusation event. Honestly, at that time, my feelings were confusion and fear. The one who gave me the power to shake off those feelings was none other than His Highness.

I don’t know. Right now, I really want to see him.

“…Your Highness.”

[Ah]

“I love you very much…”

[…]

“Your Highness?”

[…I love you too]

“Yes…”

“Hey, I know your relationship as a couple is good and that’s the most important thing, but if possible, can you do it just the two of you?”

Melinda made a surprised voice.

I snap back to myself. Oh no. I let my emotions take over and confessed my love in front of people.

An uncomfortable atmosphere flowed in the room. Without being able to look up, I opened my mouth to say something when Emilia sharply raised her voice.

“Rebecca-sama, the enemy is approaching very close!”

“What did you say?”

It is probably because the Kyuubi sensed it. I wonder why we didn’t realize it earlier, because we should have had Cectiara(‘s butterfly) with us.

I search for the butterfly while looking around. I can’t believe it.

———Cectiara’s butterfly, when did it disappear?

There is no way that Cectiara would retrieve Phantom Beast without informing me. In other words, has Cectiara been defeated or been driven to a similar state? Did she not even have time to contact me?

“…Impossible.”

I couldn’t believe what was happening now.

As I muttered, a large number of soldiers suddenly appeared. Surrounding us.

“What?! Where did they come from?!”

“Rebecca-sama!”

The surroundings suddenly became noisy. I quickly counted the number of enemies. There are too many.

Suddenly, an enemy army of around fifty appeared without warning, with the power to control their numbers, the strength to seal away the three strongest, Cectiara-sama, the ability to block communication with only the teacher, and magical tools that should not be able to be easily taken out, including a legendary beast, Christina, to seal away.

I had suspected Ouka, but is it really just him? Is it possible for him, who was just sealed, to do this? I can’t help but feel that there is another mastermind behind this.

Among the approaching enemies, I stopped thinking too much and jumped on the Kyuubi’s back, breaking through the encirclement alone.

“I’m here!”

“Rebecca?! Wait for me!”

“Ray-sama, use your barrier! Protect everyone!”

I heard Melinda’s voice trying to stop me. But there’s no time to stop.

I faced the enemy and ordered the Kyuubi back along the way we came. I was worried if the Kyuubi would follow me, but it seems not to be a problem.

As I cut through the wind and looked back, as I thought, many enemy soldiers were chasing after me.

Ray, Emilia, Melinda, and the three members of the reconnaissance team, a total of six people, should be able to protect themselves with Ray’s Phantom Beast barrier. The enemy’s target is only me, so I should escape alone.

However, I need the Kyuubi. Without Christina, this is the only way to use powerful magic. To borrow power from the Kyuubi. It would be reckless to use someone else’s Phantom Beast, but it is possible with the Kyuubi.

There are many fast enemies, but the Kyuubi is as fast as expected. Despite being quite exhausted.

I confirmed that I was not about to be caught, and somehow managed to steady my position on the swaying back.

“…good.”

From now until we reach the bottom of the mountain, I will refill my power with The Kyuubi’s magic. If I can even release the magic of the controlled soldiers with release magic, this match is mine.

Chapter 37

The base of Olivier’s camp came into view. Now my body is filled with the holy magic of Kyuubi. To receive the magic, it is necessary to communicate with that Phantom Beast, and I honestly thought it was possible or impossible for five minutes, but it succeeded surprisingly smoothly. The preparations are perfect.

Feeling my enthusiasm, The Kyuubi jumped high and ran through the mountain to Olivier’s camp. There is no point in trying to be inconspicuous when pulling enemy soldiers, so I will show my appearance confidently.

I looked around and frowned. It seems that the soldiers who came earlier were just a part of them. There are more than two hundred uniformly looking at us.

I felt a chill in the strange scenery. They should probably be considered manipulated.

But even more strange is the ground. There are big holes everywhere. I quickly realized. Oswald. His Phantom Beast is a mole. Where is Christina, who fought to the point where the ground is like this, and his Phantom Beast now?

“Rebecca Slutarch! Everyone, capture them!”

I was startled by the familiar voice from somewhere. The soldiers rushed in unison like a wave.

Is the voice of the person in charge of this place now, or the person who is manipulating it? I don’t have time to think about it, and I am not given time to remember who the voice belonged to.

Let’s end this commotion as soon as possible. Quickly deploy the magic. The target is everyone in this place. I used the dispelling magic.

“…dispelling.”

A definite sense of accomplishment. In no time at all, the magic power was completely taken away and it became almost empty.

Then I turned my gaze back to the scene in front of me, and I wonder if you can understand how I felt at that moment.

When what I see with my eyes has not changed at all from before using the dispelling magic, my feelings are…

“…Eh?”

The soldiers approaching. Each one with a weapon in hand, accompanied by Phantom Beasts. There is nothing but hostility there. Not a single person stopped moving.

Why, how? Is it that no one is being controlled? And they are trying to capture me as an enemy of their own will?

I miscalculated. Am I an idiot? I don’t have any strategy for when I fail!

The body of the Kyuubi that is carrying me shook. I could tell it was trying to run away. But the Kyuubi has been moving since morning and is exhausted. Will it be able to escape?

The enemy is approaching like an avalanche.

It was then that a voice calling out to me from behind could be heard.

“Plug your ears!”

I turned around as if I had been shot. I caught sight of a red woman on the edge of my vision.

I reflexively plug my ears but it’s too late, in a world where the sound is gone, I saw a cub howling to the sky.

“The voice of that cub can numb the body of living things,” my mother’s strategy book told me. Its distant roar shook the atmosphere and infiltrated the soldiers’ ears, taking their bodily freedom away in the blink of an eye.

“Why…?” I asked, before thanking her.

She was there, with her red hair fluttering. Her name was Kyaran Goudes. Without moving from her spot, she scolded me.

“Hurry up and come here! The numbness lasts only a few seconds!”

I quickly ran over, pulled into the shadow of the bushes where she must have been hiding. We lowered our bodies and huddled together, and the Kyubi shrunk into my arm.

Just then, the numbness barely wore off. The air was released in one breath, as if the shackles had been undone. The soldiers were all looking around, not knowing where we were.

“You lose consciousness while you’re numb,” Kyaran said softly. Next to her, a cub was sitting with its legs stretched out. It might be a power that’s quite draining to use once.

I couldn’t help but smile and say “thank you” to her, who looked nothing like the ferocious figure I saw in [fall], and she raised her thumb saying “Cuey.”

“I am a part of His Highness Llewayne’s army. Rebecca-sama, I was sent as a reconnaissance team to your army, but the rest of the reconnaissance team was on the other side. At that place, we talked and then I took the opportunity to hide and contact His Highness Llewayne and receive instructions, and that’s why I am waiting here.”

I was saved by His Highness again.

But.

“It’s just a matter of time before we’re found.”

Even though we’re hiding, we’re close by. It won’t be long before we’re found by sensing magic or Phantom Beast with a keen sense of smell.

“Over there!”

Just as I whispered, the enemy came over here. I’ll be caught this time.

Even though the Kyuubi returned to its original size, I took out my short sword. Kyaran is skilled in attack magic. If I were to face 200 people alone, I would be quickly overpowered, but if she is there, it might be worthwhile to fight.

However, in contrast to me, Kyaran’s actions were very calm and slow. She slowly stood up and lightly flicked her skirt.

“I understand that my previous actions were only a matter of a few tens of seconds.”

I lowered the short sword that I had been holding ready. I looked at Kyaran with a strange feeling. Why is she so calm? She doesn’t show any signs of fighting and just stands still, looking far away.

It’s as if she is waiting for something.

“But His Highness said that it was enough. That those few tens of seconds were necessary for that man to come.”

“…[that man]?”

The enemy was now right in front of us.

But as Kyaran said, the man came. He appeared suddenly, cutting in between me and the enemy. It was the transfer magic that His Highness should not have been able to use.

He had a very wide back. He was also tall, and his hair tied back was brown. Riding on a horse with a burning mane, he was nothing but, for me, an unbearable, nostalgic person. (he was a man whom I had missed for a long time.)

Nii-sama.

I called out his name in a voice that could not make a sound.

Chapter 38

My older brother suddenly appeared and made a terrifying sound as he swung his sword. It was a huge sword, about as tall as me, and with just one swing, it was as if a gust of wind had occurred. The enemy soldiers in the area were all blown away together.

“Oh no!”

“What?! What happened?!”

“It’s Slutarch! Vanderlei Slutarch!”

My older brother mercilessly defeated one opponent after another. Each time he swung his sword, people flew through the air like dolls. Kyaran also joined in with magic attacks and the enemy army was in a state of panic.

I was amazed and watched his back. What a powerful arm. It was the first time I had seen my brother fight.

And, almost at the same time as my older brother appeared, something crossed the battlefield making a lot of smoke.

It was a black shadow, too fast to be captured by the eye. But when I thought I saw it in the distance, she was already right next to me.

“?!”

“Hello!”

The black shadow turned out to be Olivier riding on a leopard. She greeted me brightly, but just like my older brother, she began to kick the enemy soldiers.

The opponents were finally in a state of chaos. The two powerful warriors who had appeared one after the other and Kyaran continued to release magic attacks. The enemy camp was on the verge of collapse.

However, the one who was most agitated at that place was undoubtedly me. Why my brother? And Olivier?… And my brother, is helping me?

Suddenly, my brother’s arm reached out and pulled me up onto the horse. I clung to the big back in front of me without thinking due to the suddenness.

This time I tried to call him “Nii-sama,” but my voice was hoarse and it didn’t work. The consequences of avoiding my brother for the past year have caught up to me. It’s been almost 6 years since I’ve seen or talked to him.

My brother continued to swing his great sword without paying attention to me behind him. I have no idea what he’s thinking anymore.

Because my brother hasn’t even looked at me once since just now.

The sight of his back view was enough to dry up my mouth and make me unable to speak.

Then, a voice of a man I didn’t know came. I can’t see anything other than my brother’s back, so I don’t know, but it looks like he’s standing in front to block my brother’s path.

“Vanderlei! Do you know what you’re doing? That woman is a criminal!”

“Hm?”

I heard my brother’s voice and my heart jumped. It’s lower (deeper) than I remember. It sounds like a stranger.

I understand that my brother is helping me now. But what is his motivation?

Did he do it because he was asked by His Highness? Did he come to settle the trouble of a family member as a member of the Duke family? Or, did he come as one of the three strong to end this situation?… Or, like in a game, is he going to abandon me?

I am scared. I can’t stop my body from tensing up. My teeth are chattering, and my arm that I wrapped around my older brother’s stomach is filled with strength.

I tightly closed my eyes and waited for my older brother’s next words.

Such thoughts of mine were blown away by some kind of sensation.

My hand that I had wrapped around my older brother’s stomach without thinking and, something warm.

My older brother’s hand, overlapped.

“If you were to ask me if I understand, I don’t understand at all! What are you thinking, chasing after my little sister like that?”

My hands, my knees, my eyelids trembled.

[Sister], was what I was called.

“That woman committed a crime. We were ordered to capture her!”

“Sure sure! Who told you such nonsense?”

“I can’t tell you, it’s confidential! But even His Highness knows about it! You’re going to be the next Duke, right? You’re not going to let your little sister go unpunished?”

“Isn’t it strange that the person who’s going to be the next Duke doesn’t know anything about it?”

“Ugh,… Vanderlei, have you forgotten the Principal’s words! [A noble is one who saves the weak, protects the weak, and crushes the weak], right!”

“Haha! Sorry, I haven’t heard that! While the Principal was talking, I decided to take a nap voluntarily!”

“Weren’t you always awake?!”

“I was sleeping, but with my eyes open!”

“Vanderlei!”

The man growled.

“You’re mistaken, I am!”

“Oh, that’s wrong! What I was taught by mother is three things: first, save my sister; second, protect my sister; third, don’t let her down!”

The man stumbled backwards, trembling with his lips and raising his voice in disbelief.

“Little sister supremacy, then――――!”

… ?

Forgetting the emotion I had just felt, I was about to say “what?” when I heard a loud laugh from Olivier beside me.

“Hahaha! I told you Miss Rebecca, he’s a good guy but not normal!”

I remembered a conversation with Olivier who had laughed like a prankster at some point.

[Not normal].

I realized it then. Was that what it meant?

“Niesch! Diego Niesch! You, what are you doing this? You were sure to get a high school diploma this year!”

“Olivier, wha-ugh!”

After Olivier’s carefree voice, there was a loud sound and the man was thrown out of my field of vision.

“Hey Olivier, what a coincidence to see you here! Were you whispering something to Rebecca?”

“Hahaha, sorry! I just wanted to give her a little warning about the Siscon.”

I looked up and my eyes met those of my brother who had turned around. I muttered unconsciously.

“Nii-sama…”

“I’m sorry Rebecca, I came to see you too late!”

Before I could even say no to that word, Nii-sama continued on quickly.

“In April, I was planning to go see you, but when I saw you by chance, you had become too beautiful, so I lost my timing to speak up and was surprised.”

“…Nii-sama.”

“So it’s my fault!”

“… ”

Saying that, he smiled like the sun, without hesitation. I looked at him silently.

His voice became low. He grew taller. Even his shoulders were much wider than before. There are countless changes.

I loved Nii-sama until I was 10 years old. This past year, I thought of Nii-sama from before and now as if they were two different people. I couldn’t believe in Nii-sama since the first time I read the strategy book. Now I finally understand what I was thinking.

I thought Nii-sama had betrayed me.

Both Oswald and Lancelot condemned Villainess Rebecca as a traitor, but at that time I didn’t know them yet, so the shock was less. The reason I only avoided Nii-sama was because I loved Nii-sama so much.

Even though Nii-sama’s true self hasn’t changed at all.

The way he speaks louder than others, the way he talks with such gusto. But even before, my Nii-sama had sweet spots that were just for me.

That’s right, Nii-sama had always praised me, calling me cute, smart, a good child, and then cute again.

And now, he’s trying to spoil me again.

“I was planning to go see you.” That’s a lie. Nii-sama is smart. He must have noticed that I was avoiding him and had been avoiding me to make it easier for me.

Suddenly, my vision was blurry.

What have I done to Nii-sama?

“…Nii-sama, I’m sorry…”

“Rebecca, what are you apologizing for! You didn’t do anything wrong!”

“But…”

“But, that’s true. Because of me, there has been a little bit of distance between us! But it’s okay. We have all the time in the world. We can start over as many times as we want. Because we’re family! I love you, my little sister, from the bottom of my heart. Let’s slowly fill in the time we’ve missed together. If you’re okay with that.”

“Yes, yes.”

I answered while trying not to cry, and I was suddenly embraced tightly and moved in front of my older brother.

This position reminded me of when I used to sit on my older brother’s lap. Was I still being treated like a 10-year-old child? I couldn’t help but smile a little.

“Well, good! Leave the rest to me and take a break.”

“Yes. Nii-sama, thank you for coming to help me.”

“Ah!”

[Your mother, father, brother, everyone loves you]. The words of my mother came to mind. It was true. I was loved. Mother, I’m sorry for not being able to believe it.

I closed my eyes and leaned on my brother, feeling like a child. Even in this situation, I was comfortable and felt sleepy. Am I really that naive?

“That’s right, I haven’t asked yet! Who is the person who gave you these orders?”

“Ow,ow,ow,ow!”

My body shook. My brother, who was still holding me, seemed to have twisted one of the enemy soldiers.

“I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you, let go of me, it hurts!”

I opened my eyes slightly, feeling numb. “Noble.” I heard and thought it was probably someone from the powerful nobility, like Slutarch or someone who thought I was a nuisance. But I was interested in who would do this to me.

But then.

When I heard that man’s words, my consciousness would suddenly wake up.

“It’s the Prime Minister! We were all given special orders by the Prime Minister!”

…What.

Thud.

My heart made a terrible noise.

My brother was looking at me as I suddenly stood up. I jumped off the horse by myself and approached that enemy soldier.

I don’t know why they believed it, but it’s obvious. The Prime Minister wouldn’t give such an order.”

“The Prime Minister?”

But if that’s the case.

Because, the [Prime Minister].

“…Who said that the order came from the Prime Minister?”

[Him].

“Eh? It’s,”

Dokun.

“It’s his son, Lancelot Charity.”

When the man spoke, one of the enemy soldiers raised his arm, pointed to the sky and made a hollow sound.

The [familiar name] I couldn’t remember earlier was him, I realized in confusion.

“…Lancelot?”

The man who was still pointing to the sky, facing this way. The smile on his face doesn’t seem fresh at all. I suddenly missed the freshness he had only yesterday.

And then I immediately noticed something abnormal. Magic disappeared from my body. No, it’s more accurate to say I can’t feel it anymore, I can’t use magic. I also feel a slight breathlessness.

“Hello Miss Rebecca, I’ve just targeted everyone here for [magic jacking] (魔力ジャック?), not just those who are communicating with the faculty. In addition to not being able to use magic, people with a lot of magical energy should be quite uncomfortable.”

When I looked at Nii-sama, Nii-sama was holding his chest and breathing heavily. Olivier was also suffering, but not as much as Nii-sama. Kyaran was sitting down and breathing heavily, and it looked like they were about to collapse.

Many of the enemy soldiers had calm faces. Due to the three strong ones causing chaos, there were only about 50 people left standing, but the situation had still turned around.

What is this? Lancelot was good at magic, but was it really possible for him to do this?

But if this is possible,

“…Did you do something to Cectiara-sama?”

“Yeah…yes, I just made her disappear and made her faint by getting close to her. We did a sudden attack with a large group while Miss Rebecca was hiding in the mountains. The other soldiers are probably still running.”

“…Disappear, and make her faint?”

“It’s my magic. It’s pretty difficult.”

“…Where is Christina?”

“She’s in [the sealed box]. I have it. The box was originally mine.”

“…What about Oswald Ceden?”

“He was strong. It took a long time to make him faint. Right now, he’s sleeping with the Phantom Beast, but he’s safe.”

“…What is the purpose of doing this?”

The more I ask, the more scared I am of the answer coming back to me.

But since I asked, I decided to ask the core question,

“It’s because I like you.”

I was answered with a nonchalant attitude.

“…I’ll ask just in case, but what do you mean?”

“Haha, it doesn’t seem like you want to know. But I’ll still tell you.”

And something strange has been happening since earlier.

Lancelot, why are you so happy now?

“I fell in love with you the day I met you (in spring).”

Lancelot’s long story of one year began.

Chapter 39

The first time I met you, you came down from above. You were beautiful, intelligent, strong, and above all, striking. You had something that I didn’t have. I wanted you. But already, you were already the prince’s, of all people.

But I couldn’t give up. Fortunately, I was good at magic. I searched for literature and attended classes sincerely in the beginning, thinking if there was any good way. However, I couldn’t find anything noteworthy.

In the summer, I started to help my father with his work without any reason. It was because I thought I could get confidential information.

That’s how I found [Ouka]. [Ouka] was the name of the man who had contact with you during the spring and summer vacation. From the report, I thought his magical talent was considerable. It also said that he was a spirit, so I used a spell to bring down his spirit. I didn’t expect it to work at all, because it is a magic that can only succeed if both parties are willing, but he did come down. It was on a day in October.

When I asked him how to increase my magical power, he asked me the reason. When I answered honestly that it was to get you, he taught me how to accumulate magic in objects and use it later. He also said that his hair and eyes were like that.

“Are you also [distorted]?”, he laughed, but I wonder what that meant.

In any case, I am convinced that thanks to him, I can now move forward with this plan. As a thank you, I told him about Emilia’s research for the [fall]. I had knowledge about its contents, so I thought about using it to revive the body. He simply said “Hmm, no.” But, is he sealed again? I found out when I helped with my father’s work the other day. I should have brought him back then.

…Oh, right, this pendant. Miss Rebecca, Ouka asked me to keep it for you. I’ll hand it over now.

So, where was I? Oh, [Winter] was perfect for what we were planning. If we replaced the image with magic, the teachers wouldn’t come right away and the more time we had, the more magic power we could accumulate.

I took documents and seals from my father’s place and forged special documents from the Prime Minister, and gave them to as many students as possible. The contents were to exile Miss Rebecca. That was my only hope, and the other contents were actually thought up by Ouka… Why exile? Because it was the most convenient way for me, someone like me, to get my hands on someone like you, who is the prince’s fiancee. I understood very well that His Highness loved you.

Oh, well. The reason why this plan ended in failure is probably because we couldn’t bring in the top three or top five. But it didn’t help that we couldn’t bring in anyone who would notice or people close to you.

Well, this is how the operation failed. Because of the magic jacking, we can’t use the banishment magic tools now and if I hadn’t jacked, I would have been defeated by those two top three strong.

Ah… I knew that eventually what I did would be found out. Even if it was found out later, it wouldn’t matter as long as you were exiled. Rather, I would also be exiled and be happy to go to your place.

But it’s impossible to exile you now. So, I want to say one thing. I really, Miss Rebecca, love you. If you have to become someone else’s, it’s a clichéd as it sounds, but I would rather kill you and die myself. That’s why, please close your eyes for a minute. It’s all right. It won’t take long.

***

The boy said that and formed an arrow with magic. And then he aimed the drawn arrow straight at the girl.

His sudden actions were too sudden and the girl didn’t know what he was saying, she just looked at the arrow that was aimed at her in confusion.

All of the people in the area were receiving magic jacking. They couldn’t use magic, not even defensive magic. The only one who could use magic was the boy, the user of magic. That meant that there was no way to defend against the arrow that was made of magic.

After a slight hesitation, the arrow left the boy’s hand. And it flew straight towards the girl’s chest.

The girl recognized that she would be impaled in her chest one second later, and she saw a slideshow of memories like time had stopped.

Her loved ones were surrounding her. Her mother embracing her, her brother pulling her hand, her father patting her head. Her two best friends who had always been with her.

And then, her dearest.

(I want to see His Highness.)

With that certain feeling as the last thing, the slideshow ended. The girl quietly closed her eyes, so she wouldn’t see the moment the arrow impaled her.

A few seconds passed like that.

Slowly opening her eyes, her dearest man, the one she had seen even in the slideshow, was in front of her, holding her. The girl thought that it was a happy dream.

Until something overflowed from the man’s mouth and it wet her shoulder.

The bright red thing was very vivid, and the heat that burned her shoulder brought the girl’s consciousness back to reality. The arrow that was deeply stabbed into the man’s back was piercing his heart.

Chapter 40

Gon, gon, gon, gon.

Llewayne Huaverdon used the transfer magic as soon as [winter] began. It easily overcame the obstacles and roads that should not have been able to pass, taking him to the flag inside the rock tower.

However, as Llewayne expected, there was a man waiting for him in front of the flag.

“Hey!”

The man, Vanderlei Slutarch, greeted Llewayne with a sparkling smile, wondering what was so fun.

This was the second time they were facing each other in a [battle]. Both of them were generals last year.

Vanderlei, who fought on horseback, was truly a one-man army. In order to avoid letting him run wild this year, Llewayne brought it to a one-on-one indoor battle. He used his transfer magic, which can only be used once a day, as soon as he started.

“Come on.”

“Wait a minute!”

Vanderlei stopped Llewayne, who had drawn his sword.

Llewayne remained expressionless, stopping his movements abruptly.

“I also wanted to settle things with you this year! We couldn’t defeat each other last year!”

“Oh.”

“That’s why! I have one proposal! If you lose this match, don’t get involved with my sister!”

Suddenly, there was a loud noise and cracks ran across the floor. It spread out in a concentric circle, with Llewayne at the center, and it was making a hissing noise. Despite being indoors, a strong wind blew and lifted Llewayne’s bangs. He was expressionless as usual, but it seemed like he was a demon god. In fact, Llewayne suddenly releasing his magic power was because he was undoubtedly angry now.

“Why.”

“Because that’s how you get serious! I know you’re not serious about things all the time! And simply because I’m jealous that my little sister was taken away!”

“…Which is the main reason.”

“Yeah, the latter!”

“…”

Llewayne noticed the distance between him and his fiancée and her brother. But at the same time, he knew that Vanderlei loved Rebecca. When he looked at Rebecca’s life through the window, he knew that Vanderlei had been with Rebecca until she was 12 years old. He always looked at his beloved sister with kind eyes.

Because he was going to take away his sister from him, he had to accept that kind of trial. He came here originally thinking he would win, so there’s no problem.

And so the battle began. The most intense battle this [winter] was actually happening here.

Llewayne’s fire magic attacks Vanderlei. Vanderlei counterattacks by deflecting it with a swung sword of wind pressure and then strikes back at Llewayne. Llewayne receives it with his sword, casts magic, and kicks to finish the move.

Such a close back and forth battle continued endlessly. At first, it seemed that neither side was backing down, but as time passed, Llewayne began to gain the upper hand.

Vanderlei is a man who boasts top-class combat strength, even among the young Dukes of Slutarch. Llewayne, who was pushing him, was undoubtedly the strongest in the history of the Huaverdon royal family.

However, after 10 minutes had passed, Llewayne suddenly stopped his fierce attack and pulled out a crystal.

[This is Melinda. First reconnaissance team, we have arrived at Olivier’s camp. It looks like Rebecca’s army just started fighting.]

“Is Olivier and Marc there?”

[No, not in our visible range]

“Got it. Keep reporting.”

[Understood]

If Olivier was there, it would be immediately obvious. That means Olivier is not in the camp. She is probably heading towards them. That’s what Llewayne thought.

Olivier entrusts the defense of her own line to Ray Lowe and thinks that it is a good strategy to fish for profits while looking down on the battle of the two three-strong people Llewayne and Vanderlei. However, that is not his nature.

She will surely cross the wilderness riding a leopard and come straight here, to the place where they are fighting———.

“Yahoo, you two! Let me join in too!”

Yes, she says that she wants to join in too. Like this.

Just as something was approaching with tremendous momentum, a strong wind blew up, and Olivier appeared before Llewayne and Vanderlei.

“Olivier, I was expecting you! Is your camp all right?”

Vanderlei says. Olivier draws two swords from her waist and rushes towards Vanderlei as if answering.

“Yeah, I left Ray behind.”

“Oh, I’ll say it. My sister is strong!”

“Haha, then I have to hurry up and defeat the two of you and return to Ray!”

The two swords clash fiercely. Llewayne, on the other hand, was listening to the crystal with one ear plugged. Reports have been gathering from various troops scattered on the battlefield since earlier. Llewayne expanded the capacity of the crystal with his own magic and made it possible to receive reports from dozens of people at the same time.

Fried Neher, who was in charge of defending the camp, is fighting dangerously, keeping the Vanderlei rangers who appear at intervals away from the flag.

Reports about Cectiara’s condition have been received from Kyaran Goudes, who went to Rebecca’s camp. She must be spreading butterflies on the battlefield with her eyes closed and sitting in silence. Rebecca must have something in mind.

The battle report with Vanderlei’s main army was entrusted to a man named Gadd Maysen. He seems to have a sharp head and good skills, and occasionally he can hear the analysis of the situation that has been obtained.

Of all the numerous reports, the most important and heaviest is the report from Melinda Cuey, who went to Olivier’s camp.

This report has been continuous since the first one a while ago. Occasionally, [YYour Highness, can’t you please stop this? This is not Olivier’s camp, but Rebecca’s reconnaissance team] is also inserted.

Llewayne focused on listening to and understanding all the reports at the same time, and thinking about future developments.

The flag of Vanderlei, which is very close, is protected by Vanderlei’s Phantom Beast, a horse, and Vanderlei and Olivier are both passionate about the battle with each other.

As Llewayne was watching the two of them fight while thinking about taking advantage of any opportunities that came up, Llewayne, who rarely ever broke his usual calm and composed demeanor, opened his eyes wide.

It wasn’t because of the sudden move Olivier made, throwing a sword at Llewayne with her back hand while she was fighting Vanderlei. It was because of an unexpected report that had come in.

[————Emilia appeared. Olivier’s flag was taken.]

Llewayne didn’t avoid the sword that was thrown at him by Olivier. As the sword was about to touch Llewayne’s body, it made a loud noise and was bounced back, falling to the ground.

“…damn it.”

A general who loses their flag is considered defeated and unable to continue fighting. Their attack is neutralized and they immediately lose consciousness. As she turned around, Olivier made a pained face and knelt down, unable to say anything else.

Vanderlei supported the unconscious Olivier and slowly laid her down. He then smiled happily.

“As I thought, Rebecca is strong! And smart, kind, and most importantly, cute! I don’t want to fight you anymore, you’re next!”

“Alright, take up your sword, and I’ll take your head right now.”

Llewayne and Vanderlei faced off again.

It was then that Melinda’s voice, which sounded rare and flustered, could be heard.

“…wait. Something strange is happening.”

“… Yeah, I have [eyes] too, what does this mean!”

Rebecca’s soldier has caused some sort of rebellion. The fact that there is a banishing magic tool, and Rebecca’s Phantom Beast has been sealed, shows the gravity of the situation.

“Vanderlei, can you use transfer magic?”

“Unfortunately, it’s impossible! That’s not something a student can handle!”

Llewayne thinks. It’s probably not the time to send in the reconnaissance squad. They’re not strong enough. He heard that Oswald is there, so as long as he’s there, it should be temporary, and they shouldn’t have to worry about protecting Rebecca.

Llewayne told Kyaran to go to Olivier’s camp and instructed her to bring Grue, Llewayne’s Phantom Beast, which should have been waiting with Kyaran. It would be fastest to ride Grue, but it still takes a lot of time.

“Since it has come to this, [Winter] should not pass by. Vanderlei, before we head over there, let’s stop me and your army from fighting.”

“…I had been trying to do that and had been trying to contact “him”, but according to what I just heard, my army’s reconnaissance squad, including the man who was in charge of it, has gone missing.”

“…What’s his name?”

“Ah,.”

Llewayne felt his chest tighten and scowled. He felt like he had to ask for that name right here, right now.

“Lancelot Charity.”

Chapter 41

Later on, Melinda’s report continued, and he heard that Rebecca had hidden herself in the back lines of Olivier’s camp. He told Melinda to join her.

The two armies were informed of a [winter] ceasefire on the battlefield. Most of them had faces that said they didn’t understand. They all had to stay here. There might be more soldiers coming over to the enemy side because of the confusion. Then Vanderlei called out to one soldier.

The female student had deep green hair and introduced herself to Llewayne as “Judith Ceden.”

“Oswald’s sister?”

“Yes. I don’t know about Rebecca Slutarch-sama, but I heard that my brother is fighting to protect her. So I will also cooperate fully.”

The lively girl. The straightforward eyes reminded him of her brother without fail. He thought that if she was Oswald’s sister, he could trust her, and Llewayne left the scene. It seems that the Phantom Beast of the girl who achieved a brilliant 10th place in [summer] is suitable for watching over a large number of people.

(…slow)

What Llewayne has been waiting for since earlier is the arrival of his companion Grue. Although he is progressing without being discovered by not enlarging himself, it is already time for him to arrive here, but there is no sign of him coming.

[Oh, I finally! I’m so tired. Are you all safe?]

That’s when such a voice entered the crystal. Melinda always keeps the communication on. It seems like she’s joined with Rebecca. He heard that since there’s a butterfly from Cectiara, it seems like something will happen, but since it’s a mountain, it took more time than he thought. After Melinda explained the previous events (and some complaints), Llewayne was able to talk with his beloved fiancee.

Well done.

That’s what Llewayne wanted to convey the most. He thinks that his fiancee doesn’t believe in him in important matters. Up until now, he couldn’t do anything about it.

Maybe this time it’ll be different. Rebecca regained her confidence as soon as her name came up. A part of Llewayne’s heavy feelings were finally conveyed to Rebecca. Llewayne was happy about that.

Knowing or not knowing Llewayne’s feelings, Rebecca said something like [I love you]. He also wanted to convey more and said “I love you.”

However, right after that, Rebecca and the others were attacked by an enemy.

[Rebecca! Wait for me!]

Llewayne heard Melinda’s words and understood what happened.

“Cuey, which direction did Rebecca head off in?”

[…Yeah, I think she’s going back to Olivier’s camp. She said she’ll use the dispel magic.]

“Got it. Stay in Ray’s barrier. Don’t leave until I give you further instructions.”

[Understood.]

He understands that Cectiara’s butterflies are gone in the conversation. Kyaran, who is part of Rebecca’s reconnaissance team, was ordered to withdraw, so Llewayne has no way to find out what happened. And there is no contact from the second reconnaissance team.

Llewayne thinks. There seems to be an unexpected situation. We need a plan quickly.

The transfer magic can’t be used. Grue doesn’t come. Rebecca can’t contact Melinda.

Soldiers who may be controlled, magic to eliminate presence, second reconnaissance team with no communication, Cectiara’s withdrawal from the front line. ——Cectiara, huh.

“Vanderlei!”

“Hmm?”

Llewayne called out to the man with brown hair who could be seen in the distance. That man had not moved and was still here. He should have been able to cross this battle ground faster on his beloved horse than on the enlarged Grue.

“You said you had [eye]. Where are they?”

“They’re still near Olivier’s camp. Those fools are gathering!”

“Tell them to get as close as possible without being found.”

Vanderlei’s expression and attitude remain the same, but he is probably quite frustrated. If he sends this man to Rebecca’s side now, he will definitely continue to eliminate enemies silently for a while. He thought that was good.

“Can’t you go to that place using transfer magic? Not the normal transfer magic, but using crystals.”

Vanderlei raised his voice as if he had noticed something.

“Cectiara’s [fall]!”

“Yes.”

Cectiara’s [fall], that is the simplification of transfer magic using crystals. At the time of the announcement, it had not yet been put into practical use, so the difficulty level remained high, but Llewayne believed that Vanderlei’s magic power and talent had a chance.

“There’s a possibility, I’ve heard the theory of Cectiara in quite a bit of detail!”

Vanderlei then smiled happily with the same smile as always.

“Thanks to Rebecca finding me a great fiance.”

Transfer magic can only be used once a day. In other words, the chance is once. He should think about another plan again. When Llewayne was about to leave the place,

“…contact from the eye! Rebecca is about to arrive at the camp in a moment!”

“Let’s go. This is bad.”

“We have no choice but to do it!”

Vanderlei jumped on the horse and closed his eyes, focusing. His magic began to rise and gently created a breeze.

However, there is not enough time. He wants to tell Rebecca to stay there but he cannot get in touch with her. Rebecca is probably being chased by the enemy and cannot wait for Vanderlei to arrive.

(One more thing, something…)

Is there nothing else?

At that moment, what he was waiting for came.

[This is Kyaran Goudes. My apologies, Your Highness. The second reconnaissance team left me behind on the other side.]

“Are you okay? What happened to Grue?”

[Yes, Grue was captured in the [Sealed Box] but——]

“I’m sorry but I don’t have time. I’ll ask later. Where are you now?”

[I am at Olivier’s camp]

“And your Phantom Beast?”

[It’s here, I can manage to [scream] once.]

“That’s enough. I’ll tell you what to do.”

The final move that would decide the outcome. Llewayne bitterly smiled, acknowledging that relying on luck alone was a sign of his inexperience.

But it’s okay. As long as his fiance is safe.

Tell Kyaran what he wants her to do, and listen to the report that Rebecca has come. He can get the ten or so seconds he wanted with Kyaran’s Phantom Beast power. During that time, Vanderlei has disappeared and Kyaran’s voice tells him that he(Vanderlei) has succeeded in transferring the magic.

Llewayne raised his face in relief and caught something in his eyes.

“…You’re late.”

A bird flying in from the distant sky. He heard that it was caught in the [sealed box], but perhaps Kyaran had already missed it. As it approached, he noticed that it seemed to be the size of a room, and it seemed to have come in a hurry.

At that moment, something approached with a loud noise from another direction.

“You’re awake.”

“Good morning, Your Highness! What’s going on here? I don’t really understand, but can I go too?”

“Yes.”

Olivier was already on a leopard and running off with a fierce momentum. It was a last resort to wake her up. If Llewayne’s [fall] research results were used, it might have been possible to regain consciousness, but he didn’t know how much magic Llewayne needed.

While thinking that it was good that she woke up by herself, he followed after the tiny Olivier on Grue.

As they approached the location where the battle was taking place, Grue shrunk in size and when they were able to confirm Rebecca’s presence, they hid in plain sight.

With just Vanderlei and Olivier, they were sufficient in terms of firepower. Llewayne may have been overthinking things, but it was better to be safe than sorry and wait without getting too close to the enemy in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

And that [unforeseen circumstance] happened. The magic jacking reached Llewayne’s location, causing intense pain in his body as if there were holes everywhere.

But still, Llewayne moved. He would do anything to not let his beloved die.

Anything, truly.

Even at the cost of his own life.

***

Neko-chan: I hate Third-person point of view, it took twice to translate.

Chapter 42

It wasn’t just His Highness who reacted to Lancelot’s killing intent. Nii-sama and Olivier also grit their teeth and stood up, but it was too late. Only His Highness managed to make it in time.

Nii-sama was just one step away from me. Watching His Highness being pierced by an arrow in front of my eyes, Nii-sama peeled his eyes and ran towards Lancelot.

Lancelot, who was just standing there dazed, seemed to have accepted Nii-sama’s fist. He flew off into the sky, drawing an arc and losing consciousness.

Nii-sama, who turned around, raised his voice.

“Why! The magic jacking won’t deactivate…!

“It’s a timed system, it won’t be deactivated until a certain amount of time has passed.”

Kyaran, who was almost out of breath, answered.

“What is this, what’s going on…!”

“This is a lie… isn’t that His Highness Llewayne.”

“We were deceived.”

The enemy soldiers began to make noise.

I heard all of that from a distance. Now, the only people in my world were me and His Highness covered in blood.

“…Your, Highness? Y-Your Highness?…Ah.”

I touched the body of the person I loved. Why is it that just by touching them, my hands get covered in blood. Why is this person in such a state.

Because I touched him, His Highness’ body slowly tilted and looked like it was about to collapse to the ground. I desperately held him and embraced him.

Someone’s hand touched my shoulder like that.

“Stop the bleeding. Rebecca-chan, we have to stop the bleeding.”

Olivier, with a pale face, was suddenly next to me, and was putting a cloth on the chest of the person who had collapsed.

I looked at the figure of the person and tears flowed out.

“Emi, Lia, Emilia…”

The only person who could save my beloved, I called out my friend’s name. I couldn’t bear it for even a second, and roughly took out the crystal from my chest.

“Emilia, Emilia, respond to me…”

“Rebecca-sama, it’s magic jacking. The crystal cannot be used.”

What should I do then? I frantically begged for salvation, and searched for it somewhere.

Emilia had left in the mountains. The Phantom Beasts, who were energy with magic power, were all lying down with magic jacking. I couldn’t use transfer magic.

Ah, it’s no good.

All possibilities were crushed. The possibility of the person being saved. The possibility of the person who protected me, calling my name again and saying he loves me.

Tears flowed endlessly. I clung to the person and called out to him in a voice that couldn’t become a voice.

Tears gathered and became droplets. The droplets wetted the person’s cheek, gathered, and flowed down and broke on the ground. At that moment,

“If you are a Loyalist, or…”

The voice of salvation came down.

Nii-sama’s calm voice somehow resonated well.

I’ve heard of something called the [Loyalist’s Rite]. It’s something that connects us deeply. A long time ago, in [winter], a Loyalist appeared through a crystal, responding to the call of the master. It’s considered a type of transfer, but I don’t know the details. It just consumes a lot of magic. Even in this situation, I can still summon my partner’s magic.

I looked up as if hit by his voice.

“But, even if you call them Loyalists…” Everyone around me said that. Even if you call out Ray, even if you call out Fried, nothing will change.

But…

“Thank you, Nii-sama…!”

That was enough for me to understand.

I grasped the crystal in my chest and shouted with all my voice.

“Please, please come now, my Loyalist——.”

Hear this voice. Help His Highness.

“Emilia!”

A sound like thunder fell. The area was wrapped in strong light, and in the center, a person appeared. The silver-haired girl had a surprised expression for a moment, then saw His Highness, who was covered in blood, and her blood-covered fiance, and immediately understood what she had to do.

***

Someone knocked on the door of my room on a certain night in November. Today was the day that the [Winter] General was announced.

Even though it was night, I couldn’t calm down from the excitement of being chosen, and I couldn’t sleep, so I flipped through my mother’s strategy book. On sleepless nights, this is my habit. I look at my mother’s writing and the night passes.

Such a midnight visit. Christina, who was sleeping soundly on my pillow, opened one eye but soon fell asleep again.

I had thought that she might come.

“Don’t break the doorknob today.”

“So that the repair cost won’t be too much.”

When I opened the door, Emilia was waiting politely. I had invited her, but I had clearly told her.

“I don’t make Loyalists.”

“I thought that might be the case. Still, I came.”

Emilia speaks as if she understands.

“I know that Rebecca-sama doesn’t make Loyalists. Rebecca-sama knows that I know that. And one more thing.”

“…”

“You know that I will never give up, and that in the end, you will be the one to yield, right?”

After a long, long silence, I let out a sigh.

I’m no match for her. To put it simply, Emilia laughs like a small child who has successfully played a prank.

“You could become one of the top three.”

While muttering, I found myself looking at the strategy book on the desk. I can see a round pattern on the cover.

What was its name?

“————Rebecca-sama,why,that character.”

“Eh?”

I turned around because Emilia made a trembling voice. She has a face as if she’s seeing something unbelievable and is standing still. I wondered what happened all of a sudden.

“…What’s that book?”

“Ah…well, you see, it’s something my mother gave me. It’s about my mother’s hometown.”

It’s something that I haven’t even told His Highness, but I didn’t want to lie to Emilia.

“Can I look inside…?”

“I’m sorry. That’s not allowed.”

“Can I just look for a bit?”

“I’m sorry. Really.”

“Why can’t I look?”

“Well, um, that…it says that me and Emilia can’t be friends, or something like that!”

I didn’t want to lie, but I couldn’t tell the truth either, so it turned into an explanation that I don’t understand. “What am I saying?” I thought to myself. Emilia must not understand either.

“…Fufu…I see. That’s not good, is it?”

However, the smile that Emilia directed towards me was genuine. I couldn’t help but tilt my head in confusion, wondering how she could have gone from looking so serious just a moment ago.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to impose.”

“No, that’s fine… Emilia, are you okay?”

“Yes. It’s none of my business anymore.”

Emilia smiled. The lovely girl was as always, the Emilia I knew.

“Because, I also love this world.”

“What?”

“No, it’s nothing. Now then, Rebecca-sama! The Loyalist ritual!”

Emilia (physically) rushed me, and we performed the magic while holding hands. When we finished, I could definitely feel something warm in my heart. Emilia had become my Loyalist.

From now on, things will get busy. The number of strategies that can be taken just by having a Loyalist will increase. For example, sharing magical power with my [fall], the Phantom Beast. With a Loyalist, maybe even with Kyuubi.

I was lost in thought, but Emilia’s incessant fidgeting in my room made me stop thinking.

In the end, I decided to let Emilia stay in my room and even had to call Melinda. By then, I realized that I was always the one folding. She was my Loyalist after all, and with a brazen Emilia watching with pleasure, I decided to reduce rewards and increase punishment in my heart.

***

Light overflows from Emilia’s palm. That brilliance illuminated me, who was in the depths of despair.

I just watched the scene in front of me, clinging to the hand of His Highness. Not just me, but everyone there was doing the same.

It was a treatment for critically ill human beings made possible by Emilia’s healing magic research.

In the dazzling light, broken cells came back to life. Tissues were reconstructed, blood flowed, and skin covered. The holes were gradually filling, and what was spun was certainly alive.

What else can we call this but a miracle?

Ah, her research really did save [someone’s important person].

She is the strongest healer of all time. Emilia, who poured in all her magic power without reservation, suddenly closed her light and faced me.

I understood that everything was complete when I saw the face of my friend who wiped the sweat from her forehead and smiled. Still, I was afraid to check it. If there was no sign of blood in his face. If that blue(eyes) color never reflected me again. I, I.

“It’s okay.”

I can hear a warm voice. My loyalist, my beloved friend, is saying that to me.

Slowly, very slowly, he raised his eyes. His chest rising and falling in a regular rhythm. The redness in his face is familiar. His eyelashes are trembling, and when I saw the deep blue(eyes) I had always wanted to see under them, I thanked the entire world.

“Ah, Ahh, Ahh…!”

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

“Thank, you…!”

I desperately convey it with a tight throat. All kinds of emotions change into sobs and tears and leave me.

His Highness weakly opens his eyes and strokes my head, which continues to cry on his chest. Emilia gently embraces me like that. Both of them kept doing that until I stopped crying.

Chapter 43

The handling of the unprecedented [winter] was extremely difficult. Lancelot’s crimes include rebellion against the Duke of Slutarch and the royal family, attempted murder of the Crown Prince and his fiancée, forgery of official documents, and stealing of royal magical items, among others. The number of people who were deceived and harmed was too great.

Until a formal punishment is decided, Lancelot is temporarily captured in the underground prison of the palace, and his father, Prime Minister Charity, takes responsibility and resigns from his position.

When the teacher from the Academy came running over upon noticing the incident, His Highness was in the middle of comforting me, but was groaning. In other words, he was fine. But it couldn’t be helped that he was definitely brought along for rest. After all, for a moment there was a hole in his chest.

Therefore, His Highness’ words of “not necessary” were not accepted, and I couldn’t help but laugh when he confidently walked without borrowing anyone’s hand to carry the stretcher for himself.

After His Highness was carried away, when I finally managed to get Christina out of the box, I was overwhelmed with emotions and thanked everyone who helped me during the [winter]. Emilia stuck to me, and Kyuubi followed, so it became a small commotion.

The students returned to the dormitory as usual, but the ball was postponed for a week. As for me, my father came to pick me up and I ended up spending the time until then at my father’s house in the Royal Capital with my older brother.

On the night of my arrival at my father’s house, I talked with my older brother late into the night. My older brother listened to all my stories from the past year with interest. I also had things I wanted to ask him, like why he invited Cectiara to the ball and she cried, or how His Highness addressed him as “brother-in-law” when they first met. It was fun to talk about various things.

When we were tired of talking, we returned to our own rooms. I confirmed that I was alone and took out a pendant from my chest. It was a pink flower motif and was given to me by Lancelot as a gift from Ouka.

“Ouka.”

“Yo, Rebecca.”

When I lightly held it and called out, a voice came from behind me. When I turned around, Ouka was sitting on a sofa with a relaxed expression.

It had been a long time since I saw him, and his hair was now a bit darker and closer to brown. His body also seemed hazy.

“I’m a copy of the magic that was put into that pendant. I have some consciousness, but I’m more like a remnant. Anyway, my original body is completely sealed.”

“Ouka, the game is over. Can you not talk to me anymore?”

Ouka closed his mouth and stopped laughing.

“What did you want to do for the past year?”

At first, he was a man who broke the scenario. Then, he was a man trying to return to the scenario. I don’t know anymore in the [fall], and now I’m thinking it’s neither of those things.

And those eyes, why is he looking at me like that? I saw them in the summer event, eyes filled with a love like that of a guardian.

“I want to listen to you properly at least at the end.”

Ouka opened his mouth as if he had given up.

“I am a [spiritual body]. Do you understand what that means?”

“No.”

“I can share consciousness and memory with all versions of myself in all worlds.”

———All worlds?

“Sonia-san called it [route].”

I doubted my own ears at the heard name.

“Sonia-san, Rebecca, I liked your mother.”

Sonia Slutarch. The name Ouka spoke of so fondly was the name of my mother.

“Do you know my mother?”

“19 years ago, I was in the second grade of the Academy, and Sonia-san was in the third grade.”

He slowly began to speak.

“When I first met him, I was surprised. It was so different. I knew because I was more gifted with magic than anyone else and I was not only one of the characters, but my spirit had been through many lifetimes. It’s like [a soul from another world has entered].”

“Reincarnation…”

“Yeah. I thought it was interesting and contacted her. Sonia-san hadn’t fully regained her memories and didn’t even realize she was a reincarnator, but she would tell me about her dreams of a [weird world]. She would talk about it happily and nostalgically, so I would often go listen to her.

One day, she said she saw cherry blossoms and arbitrarily assigned [kanji] to my name. [Sakura Ouka], or something like that. She explained what kind of flower it was by drawing a picture of it. She did it happily, with a smile on her face. That’s when I first decided to change the scenario. I decided to resist the [scenario] that I had been following without any complaints up until then. Because, Rebecca’s mother is supposed to die when Rebecca is 15 years old.

Ouka’s tone was very quiet and calm. He occasionally opened his closed eyes thinly, and smiled nostalgically.

“Sonia-san is already in love with your father, and I was fine with that as long as Sonia-san was happy. So, I always used magic to warp time and was sealed by the Principal, but instead, I researched a way to extend her lifespan. It’s crazy, right? It’s the force of the scenario. Still, I tried various things. In the end, Sonia-san died on the predetermined date… but until the day before, she was so healthy that I couldn’t even think she would die?”

Ouka smiled at me as I raised my head in surprise.

“It’s my magic. I wanted her to be comfortable until the end. And also, when you were still a baby, Sonia-san appeared while holding onto your father, that was also my magic. I tripled Sonia-san’s strength.”

“What?”

I finally said it out loud. I wondered if the solution to the problem was too physical.

Ouka, who seemed to be about to laugh, said “Don’t laugh.” But he was the one laughing the most.

“Seriously, you should be thankful for that. In the scenario, you would never have been able to see your father, and you would have thought that your father didn’t love you.”

“… Oh, when I first met you in [spring], your hair was duller than in the scenario.”

“Ah, that’s because I’ve been using my magic all the time. There are also other things, so many that I can’t put them into words. There were many things that couldn’t be changed, but there were also things that could be changed. So many distortions came out of that.”

Ouka suddenly had a serious expression.

“Llewayne and Lancelot who fell in love with you are typical examples. I’ll leave Emilia aside because she’s a little different… Melinda and Vanderlei are also like that. Hey, do you know? In the scenario, Llewayne also makes a window to peek at Rebecca. Just once. And with that one time, he saw Rebecca becoming a great villainess and decided to cut her off.”

The conversation turned, and I lowered my head. Even now, when I feel loved, it’s painful to hear about His Highness who doesn’t love me.

Suddenly, a big hand reached out. Gently stroking my head. Come to think of it, he stroked my head like this in [Spring], too.

“I thought that after Sonia-san died, I wouldn’t have anymore regrets in this world, but I was wrong. You were there, Rebecca. I wanted to make you happy. No, I wanted to make you able to be happy. In other words, what I wanted to do was to bring you and His Highness together, that’s all.”

I thought that if you and Llewayne could overcome Lancelot, you would become stronger.

He said that while wearing a very kind expression on his face. I had always thought that his eyes looked like those of a guardian. I wasn’t wrong. In fact, I thought he was my father.

“… Ouka, how many worlds are there where I was not loved by His Highness?”

I asked in a small voice.

“Don’t misunderstand. Other worlds are parallel worlds. Worlds that do not exist at the same time, in other words, this world is the only absolute reality. And, from my perspective, even you as the villainess were cute.”

Ouka answered in a firm voice, as if trying to dispel my anxiety.

But, “cute” as a villainess?

“Rebecca just wanted love. Her father never came to see her. Her mother, who had passed away, didn’t talk much due to her illness and was difficult to get close to. Her older brother wasn’t interested in her due to the way he was raised and was practically non-existent. The servants talked behind her back, saying she wasn’t loved by Duke-sama. Rebecca was hungry for love. She wanted to be loved by anyone. That’s why she was so obsessed with her fiancé and hated the protagonist who was loved by everyone.”

Just imagining such a world, no matter how hard it must have been, made my chest ache.

“But, did Rebecca try to kill Emilia? Did she hit her? What did she do? Was it just verbal threats and child-like bullying?”

Ouka twisted hIS face and spoke as if he was folding something. He looked more painful than anyone else.

Please understand, it was painful, sad and lonely, the feelings of the Villainess Rebecca.

He spoke as if he was pleading.

“Rebecca was just a child. She looked like an adult only in appearance, but her heart was lonely, crying out for love. She was not [evil], she was just [young].”

When the last words were finished, Ouka’s body began to fade, as if sensing that his purpose had been fulfilled.

“I’m happy to see you so happy now. I’m glad I met you and Sonia-san.”

“It’s because of Ouka that I am happy. Thank you for everything until now. Ouka, let’s see each other again.”

“Yes, definitely, let’s meet again.”

As soon as he finished speaking, Ouka disappeared. I naturally understood that this was the last goodbye. It was a short association of one year, but I also felt that I was glad to have met him.

Chapter 44

The postponed dance party was held one week after [winter]. The venue was the usual lecture hall. All the chairs were cleared out and replaced with a standing eating space and an orchestra.

The dance party at the academy is different from evening parties, as there is no need for formal introductions or trickery between peers and it is easy to participate in. I have been looking forward to it, and even now, as I stand in front of the venue, I want to enter quickly.

A dance party does not require an escort. Nearly half of the students come alone. But if you have a fiance, it is normal to enter with them. That’s why I was waiting for His Highness in front of the venue.

When His Highness met me, he stared at me without moving. Silence continued for about three minutes now… His Highness, usually a conversation starts from the man’s compliment. Is there something wrong with me today that you can’t even speak polite words?

I became uneasy and checked my appearance. The color of my dress is pale sherbet green. In fact, I went to a tailor with Emilia and Melinda during the winter vacation and made it. I was worried that the color would make me look too childish, but they said, “The color is cute and young, but the shape is adult-like dress.” and did not compromise.

“It definitely suits you,” said Emilia, gripping her fist, while Melinda said, “Let’s emphasize your chest, your chest.” As a result, the dress ended up looking just like that. The skirt part was tightly gathered at the waist and then followed the curves of the body in a loose, flowing line, known as the mermaid line. The upper body was designed with a halter neck and the back was wide open, exposing the shoulders. Although the chest was completely hidden, it was actually emphasized.

The tailor, why did they make it so seductive? Can I really wear it? Should I go with another dress?

Although I thought that far, Emilia came to me with tears in her eyes and begged me, as usual, and I gave in. I am still weak(have a soft spot) to Emilia after all.

By the way, when Emilia said “You can make everyone at the Academy fall for you with this dress,” I almost seriously tore the dress apart. However, I lost to Emilia’s strength.

I’ll just have to accept it and move on. That’s what I decided a few days before [Winter]. I have to wear it, there’s no choice. It’s more embarrassing to be shy about it and not wear it properly.

On the day of the ball, I started preparing in my room in the dormitory from afternoon. I loosely curled my hair and let it hang down on one side. I also showed off my collarbone and back boldly. I wore long earrings that elegantly swayed with my movements. I deliberately turned the decorations of my necklace to the back. I wanted the delicate chain and jewels to dangle on my bare and exposed back. I also tried to give off a mature and moist look with my makeup.

I looked back on all my preparations and saw His Highness’ silence… Yeah, maybe I’m being too hasty.

“…”

“Your Highness, it’s been 5 minutes… Are we not going inside yet…?”

I couldn’t help but open my mouth as I couldn’t bear the silence anymore. I can see students passing by us since a while ago. And I feel like they’re staring at us. If they say it’s just my imagination, then so be it, but I feel like I heard someone say, “His Highness and Rebecca-sama are flirting again.”

“…Does Rebecca want to make me angry?”

“?! N, no!”

“I see, I see. If that’s the case, then there’s nothing we can do. Let’s forget about the ball. Let’s spend the whole night alone in my room.”

“Your, Your Highness, let’s go to the ball! The top three and five high will be announced!”

“I don’t care if it’s in your room.”

“Your Highness!”

I seem to have touched upon the strings of His Highness’s heart (I seem to have tugged at His Highness’ heartstrings.). And I seem to have strummed those strings that I don’t even understand well. The battle of whether to go or not between His Highness and I continued, and it became even more intense when I said, “Your Highness, the tuxedo really suits you, it looks cool. So let’s go.”

Furthermore, 4.5 minutes have passed. It seems that His Highness has lost interest in going to the ball. It’s probably impossible for us to enter the venue now even with a trick. Since Phantom Beast is on standby, we can’t borrow Christina’s power either.

… I don’t know, maybe it’s okay not to go. It also looks fun to talk with His Highness all night.

And that’s when my heart was about to break down. A man and a woman stopped near us.

It was Nii-sama and Cectiara-sama. They were very beautiful and very picturesque.

“Hey you two! Are you perhaps not planning to go to the ball? Then, when Your Highness is selected as one of the top three, I’ll be the one to tell you that I’m withdrawing! No need to thank me. By the way, the Duke of Slutarch won’t give Rebecca to a man who can’t even be one of the top three!”

It was exactly like a crane’s cry.

***

As soon as I enter the venue, all eyes in the room turn to me. I smiled and responded, as it was something I was used to. Today, those in this place are not only students and teachers. Parents of students, alumni, and even important figures in the country are here. The “Three Strong” and “Five High” are famous figures within the country, and they will eventually become important figures. So it’s understandable that there is a strong political color(flavor) here.

As the gathered gazes start to scatter, I finally let out a sigh of relief. This dress makes me feel like my defense is lacking, and it makes me a little uneasy.

Then, His Highness wraps his arm around my waist and pulls me closer to him. Even when I look up, he is standing straight and looking straight ahead. His attitude is dignified. He is bearing the gaze of the women around us, yet he doesn’t show any signs of tension. It’s amazing.

“Rebecca, don’t leave my side even for a moment today.”

He is even more expressionless than usual, but his voice sounds like he’s crushing a worm.

“Yes.”

Since there is no room for argument, I respond like that and a lovely silver color approaches from the front. She is wearing a fluffy pink dress. Emilia’s dress choice is easy. She looks good in anything. However, how many people are there in this world who look as good as her in a girl-like(girlish) formal dress?

Emilia came to the venue alone. Many men, including Gadd Maysen, were aiming for the seat of Emilia’s escort, but it seems that she didn’t have a favorite gentleman.

“You did it, Rebecca-sama! Some people left due to nosebleeds or fever, about 10 of them.”

Emilia is more lovely than ever, jumping around. She tells me the reason for His Highness’ recent actions and I lose my words. “Wait, what? They left just from entering?”

As I look around the venue, I spot Melinda and her escort Fried in the distance, smiling like flowers. Without hesitation, I rush towards them. Melinda tries to escape with a smile on her face, saying “Come on Fried-sama! Something seems to be happening over there! Over there, come on over there!” but she is ultimately captured.

“No, I’m not [captured].”

“Melinda, that dress really suits you!”

“It’s true! Neher-sama must have complimented you too!”

“Yes, he was actually complimenting me when you came, so Rebecca, Emilia, can you please return us to our original two?”

“I’ve never seen Melinda with her hair tied up before. She’s really good at doing it herself too.”

“Yes, that was also something Neher-sama complimented me on, so back to our original two.”

Melinda had her hair tied up, with small white flowers scattered throughout. Her hair color also matched, making it look like flowers floating in the night sky. Her dress was knee-length with white lace sleeves and a neckline.

“Rebecca? Rebecca! Are you listening?!”

“Hey, it’s a white lace dress with a design that makes your skin see-through. It changes from the chest to a beige lace dress with overlapping lace. It’s perfect for Melinda, who wants to look like a girl and is cute and pure.

“Hey Rebecca! Can you stop intentionally not listening to me?!”

As I was looking at my cute friend while blocking my hearing, the pillar clock rang. I could see the principal on the distant stage. It was time for the ball to begin.

His Highness who was talking to Fried beckoned me. I settled into my designated position next to him and listened to the principal’s speech for the last time this year. His familiar voice echoed through the hall again tonight.

“I am happy to have reached this day. Tonight is the end of the year. I hope you will enjoy talking to your friends, shaking hands with your rivals, and having a great time until morning. Now.”

When the principal paused his speech and started again, he had a white paper in his hand.

There were the names of the three strong and five high of the year.

But my mind was somewhere else.

In the scenario, at this moment, the next moment, the voice of “Wait.” starts and Rebecca’s conviction begins.

I pressed my forehead against the shoulder of His Highness and closed my eyes tightly. I blocked my sight with His Highness so that I couldn’t see anything.

1 second, 2 seconds——3 seconds.

When I counted to three, I felt something warm on my back and opened my eyes slightly.

“We will announce the three strong and five high this year.”

What I heard was the ordinary words of the Principal and the applause of the people around me.

On my left, Nii-sama was smiling and sending applause while whispering something to Cectiara-sama. On my right, Oswald was talking to his sister while also clapping. Lancelot was in the underground prison, and Ouka was sealed and disappeared.

And then, His Highness put his hand on my back and pulled me close to him.

What is this feeling? It’s like I’m happy, like I want to cry, like I’m relieved, like I’m at a loss.

Around me, the gentlemen and ladies, all kinds of people, were watching the stage with applause. I also returned my gaze to the stage in response.

[It’s over], I clearly feel it. The most reassuring thing was definitely the warmth of the hand on my back. Not just this time, but always. When I think about it, it was always His Highness who broke the scenario.

“Thank you…”

I said it in a really small voice. Just now, just at this moment, I overcame the scenario.

Chapter 45

“First, the Five Highs.”

Everyone watches with bated breath. The honored titles will now be bestowed upon the chosen 16 people.

“Boys ——— First year, Gadd Maysen. Second year, Sajad Mahajanjiga. Second year, Fried Neher. There are no other candidates.”

The audience is in an uproar. The empty seats are probably where Lancelot and Second Year student Diego Niesch were sitting. He was the one who stood up to Nii-sama in [Winter]. I’ve heard the name Sajad Mahajanjiga before in [Summer], but I don’t know him personally.

It’s not uncommon for there to be empty seats in the Three Strong and Five High, but has there ever been a time where there were only three people in the Five High?

“Girls ——— First year, Emilia. First year, Judith Ceden. First year, Melinda Cuey. Second year, Kyaran Goudes. Third year, Ray Lowe.”

I barely swallow my screams of joy and turn around to look at the two people in the back. Emilia and Melinda are standing tall(stood tall with dignity), but their expressions are unable to hold back their excitement.

“Now, forward.”

The eight people whose names were called move towards the stage at the Principal’s signal. My two best friends confidently step up on the stage, basking in the attention of the audience as new members of the Five High.

“Now, the Three Strong. Boys———.”

The lights went out and the surroundings became dark. Only the principal’s voice could be heard loudly and, as everyone swallowed their saliva, a sudden strong spotlight shone on a male student.

“Second year, Oswald Ceden.”

At the moment he was called, cheers erupted. The voices were not from him, but from those who knew him well. Oswald seemed surprised and had his mouth open, being illuminated by the light.

In [winter], after he helped me escape, Oswald, along with the Phantom Beast, used up all of their magic and lost their energy. It takes three days for magic to fully recover. This time, the person who was second to His Highness in terms of severe injuries was him. And that too to save me with whom he had spoken only once.

Oswald steps out, being patted on the shoulder and pushed on the back by his friends. I followed his figure as he climbed the stairs leading to the stage. The Oswald who stood on the stage was back to his usual dignified self. He truly has the most passionate heart and burning sense of justice in this Academy. I sincerely thought that he is truly worth being one of the three strongest.

As the applause for Oswald died down, the principal opened his mouth again. There is probably no one in this place who does not know the name of the next person who will be called.

“Second year, Llewayne Huaverdon.”

Cheers and applause erupted. The spotlight suddenly hit the person next to me, His Highness, and it was so bright that I had to narrow my eyes.

The hand that had been wrapped around my waist gently let go. Following that, he slowly took a step back.

“Rebecca, don’t let anyone touch you until I touch you next.”

“Yes, your Highness.”

As I watched him walk gracefully to the podium, I heard voices around me praising our behavior.

The top three are now two. Even though I know who the remaining one is, many people are looking at him.

Really, congratulations,

“3rd year, Vanderlei Slutarch.”

Nii-sama.

Nii-sama closed his eyes for a moment. He breathed in, as if biting back joy. And then, he opened his eyes and kissed the back of Cectiara-sama’s hand before walking away. Voices of envy and admiration came from the men, and praises from the women. Nii-sama smiled and waved as he climbed the podium.

Now, the top three boys have been announced. Next, they’ll announce the top three girls. My heart is racing. Since the announcements are in order of school year, if I’m called, it’ll be first.

“For the girls———.”

I couldn’t help but close my eyes, but I quickly opened them. I can’t let people see my embarrassing appearance, even though many people’s eyes may be on me.

I am Rebecca Slutarch, the Duke of Slutarch’s jewel, the first prince’s fiancée, best friend of Emilia and Melinda, and the younger sister of Nii-sama.

I stand tall and smile beautifully. In the distance, His Highness looks at me with satisfaction.

I am Rebecca Slutarch, the lover of that person.

“First-year, Rebecca Slutarch.”

A burst of cheers enveloped the venue. Under the spotlight, I stepped forward as beautifully and politely as possible.

When I came to the front of the stairs leading to the stage, His Highness who had descended offered me his hand. I took it and together we slowly climbed the stairs. On the stage, Emilia, Melinda, Nii-sama, and many others welcomed me with huge applause.

“Third-year, Olivier Marc.”

The next name called, “Alright!” was shouted by none other than the person herself. With hot cheers and laughter, Olivier climbed the stairs.

“Third-year, Cectiara Zoff.”

This time, she shouted “Okay.” Cectiara-sama was escorted by Nii-sama and stood gracefully on the stage.

“That’s it, 6 people. We will award the title of three strong of this year. Well done. Really, you did a great job.”

The principal turned to face us. It was the first time I had seen his face so close up. The smiling principal was filled with the joy and pride of being an educator.

The orchestra began to play a waltz softly. At the beginning of the ball, it is traditional for five high boys and three strong girls to dance together.

But this year, there should be two fewer males. What will we do? As I looked around, someone grabbed my arm and stepped out. Without resistance, I was led and placed my hand on his shoulder, and the steps began to match the music.

“Rebecca, where are you going?”

…oh dear. I saw the laughing prince and my back was covered in cold sweat.

“So, your highness, since there are two fewer males, I wondered what would happen, that’s all.”

“If that’s the case, it’s okay. In years when the number of males and females does not match, a teacher will join in ——— I’d like to say that, but it seems that this year is different. Look.”

“What?”

As I danced, I looked at where His Highness pointed. I couldn’t help but let out a sigh. Emilia and Melinda were dancing together. Or rather, Emilia was happily dancing the male part and Melinda was finally matching the steps while saying something.

Melinda was probably saying something like “Come on, it’s a joke, right, Fried-sama?!” in a small voice. Emilia, nice job.

The others seem to be paired as Nii-sama and Cectiara-sama, Oswald and Olivier, Fried and Kyaran, Ray and Sajad Mahajanjiga, Gadd and Judith.

Starting with the waltz on the stage, the whole venue started dancing. Time flowed slowly. There was nothing extraordinary, just a peaceful, ball. I spent a year and a half getting this.

“… Finally, it’s over.”

“Isn’t it just the beginning? Tonight’s going to be long.”

“Haha, that’s true… Your Highness, I want to dance a lot and eat delicious things.”

“Got it. I’ll go along with anything.”

“… Your Highness.”

“What is it.”

“I don’t know why, but I feel like crying. What should I do?”

“…I’ll hide it so you can cry.”

“My makeup will get ruined…”

“…We’ll fix it later.”

“…Your Highness.”

“What is it.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Yes…”

Seeing that I was about to cry, Emilia came running over to me. For some reason, she had a wine bottle in her hand, like she was about to hit someone with it. She probably intended to use my tears to hit His Highness. Melinda took advantage of this opportunity and ran away, probably to dance with Fried.

Oh, we have to stop Emilia. After clearing up the misunderstanding and collecting the bottle, let’s go catch Melinda together. She has to dance with me too. After that, let’s go to Nii-sama and Cectiara-sama’s place, and then to Oswald, Kyaran, and Olivier, and Ray’s place, and say thank you for [Winter].

After we talk enough, I want to go on a delicious food tour with His Highness. If the alcohol starts flowing, maybe we can talk about the strategy book too. Surely, even after listening to everything, you will only say “I love you.”

Mother, Ouka, thank you.

I am now, happier than ever.

***

TL Lead – Neko-chan: Season 1 Is over!!!!!

Chapter 46

Prologue

This is the Royal Academy located in the Royal Capital of Huaverdon. On a certain April day, the beautiful sunlight is warm today, and the first [event]・[spring] is about to take place.

In a room at the academy, I, who am waiting impatiently for the start, am named Rebecca Slutarch. I advanced to the second year of the academy this spring.

While the new students receive an explanation of [spring] from the principal in the auditorium, the second and third year students wait in a different room like this.

Unlike the auditorium where the nervous new students gather, this place has a relatively soft atmosphere. That’s natural, as everyone around me is at least one year’s worth of classmates.

There are few students who are as fierce as the silver hair next to me, or rather, there are almost none.

“Rebecca-sama, let’s definitely win…”

I unintentionally let out a sigh at her low murmur. In a way, her eyes are fixed.

She is my best friend and her name is Emilia. She is the only commoner in this academy, but she can use rare healing magic. Her silver hair reaches her shoulders and her appearance is undeniably cute.

However, in her hand, she is not gripping hard ingredients(ex:apple), but repeatedly crushing(squeezing) the slime that I bought from a toy shop in the Royal Capital the other day.

I gave her this as a present because I wanted her to stop her bad habit of crushing hard objects with her bare hands and threatening people. It has had an effect, and that is the most important thing.

“You guys, are you seriously planning on winning against, of all people, His Highness Llewayne?”

My other best friend, Melinda Cuey, said this from the seat opposite me. She is a young lady of the Viscount family. Her honey-colored eyes and, as a side note, the owl perched on her shoulder seemed to be saying “Absolutely not worth a single gold coin.”

I let out a big sigh once again.

Why did things have to turn out like this?

Feeling that way, I glance over at “him”, the one she was talking about earlier, who was laughing and chatting with someone else. He looked back at me almost simultaneously and our gazes met sharply.

His golden hair that sparkled in the light and his deep blue eyes that seemed to suck you in. His face that was too perfect and lacked emotion was often called “cold beauty.”

But when he looked at me, there was a softness and warmth added.

——Llewayne Huaverdon, the first prince. My fiancé.

When he smiled at me like that, I, who loved him so much, couldn’t help but blush.

No matter what the situation is.

Yes, even in this ridiculous situation where “In the [Spring] we must win against His Highness or it’s an immediate wedding.”

Chapter 47

The beginning of the matter was the graduation ceremony held at the beginning of March.

Among them were my brother Vanderlei Slutarch and esteemed individuals such as Olivier Marc, Cectiara Zoff-sama who graduated.

After the graduation ceremony, it is traditional to have a farewell party organized by the students.

It is a casual gathering where even teachers are absent, in other words, it’s informal. Every year, there are always students who go too far.

And this year, the one who went too far was undoubtedly, Olivier Marc.

“Hey, who wants to drink with me!”

She held bottles of wine in both hands and looked around. Her white teeth and happy smile were dazzling.

In Huaverdon Kingdom, drinking is allowed from the age of sixteen, and Olivier is famous for being too strong. Too strong that no one wants to drink with her anymore.

Tonight, everyone around her is trying not to make eye contact with her.

That’s when I, who was eating and chatting with his Royal Highness in the standing eating space, was the one who stepped up. Probably because my older brother is good at drinking.

When Olivier approached, His Highness clearly made a disgusted face and hid me behind his back.

“Marc, Rebecca doesn’t drink much.”

“Really? Rebecca-chan, it’s fun, so let’s try it! We do it often in the Knight’s Division.”

Olivier, who made the name of the [god of battle] her own while studying, remembered that she was also the daughter of the Knight’s Captain.

As His Highness opened his mouth, I said, “If it’s alright with you, I’ll be your opponent.”

The surroundings became slightly noisy. Olivier clapped her hand and said, “That’s the way to do it.” I smiled to calm the gloomy-faced His Highness and took a step forward.

Only students are here. It’s not a problem if they get a little drunk.

Above all, I want to graduate with my beloved senpai, Olivier, who has taken care of me in the [winter], along with fond memories.”

As people around us began to gather, Olivier and I each raised our first glass.

To be honest, I have only had a few drinks, but as long as I stop when I feel like I’m going to get drunk, it will be fine.

And from the moment I finished my third glass, I have no memory.

***

A warm breeze brushed my cheeks lightly. I opened my eyes thinly and saw the familiar ceiling. The light coming in through the window was the soft light of morning.

I was lying in bed in my own room in the dormitory.

I stretched lightly while lying down and looked to my left.

I was accustomed to seeing the white snake sleeping by my pillow, so I tried to say good morning as usual.

“Good morn…,”

But I couldn’t finish it today. Something different had entered my field of vision.

Something was stretching out under my head.

As I followed with my eyes the long, slender thing wrapped in white cloth, I saw that it was a human hand sticking out from the front.

…An arm?

I felt strange and checked my own arms. Both were attached normally.

So whose arm is it? As I tilted my groggy head, I finally understood the situation.

Someone was sleeping next to me.

To put it differently, I was currently using that person’s arm as a pillow.

I quietly began to sweat. Who could be behind me? No, who could it be? It had to be him, but what if it wasn’t?

While I was paralyzed, I could hear regular breathing from behind me.

Finally, I mustered up my courage and turned around. At the same moment, the person next to me moved lightly and rolled over, sweeping me along with them.

“…Rebecca, good morning…”

“Kyah!”

The person who hugged me tightly, almost crushing my body, was none other than His Highness.

His voice, which was a bit rougher than usual, whispered almost in my ear, and I couldn’t help but let out a strange sound because of the beauty of his voice.

“It’s heavy, it’s heavy, His Highness…”

I moaned in earnest. His Highness moved a little, and the pressure disappeared.

And as soon as he confirmed that I could breathe again,

“…Sleeping.”

He started to breathe peacefully again.

“His Highness?! Are you sleeping on someone?!”

“I’m joking…”

I couldn’t help but let out a painful voice. His Highness finally got off me and lay down again next to me.

I got up and looked at him intently. I could hear his small breathing. It was a very bold second sleep.

I sat back down and decided to look at his sleeping face. His Highness didn’t show any signs of stirring. His eyes and mouth were tightly closed and his chest was moving up and down.

Is he weak in the morning? I’m happy to know this unexpected side of him.

Taking advantage of the fact that no one was watching, I relaxed my mouth, but suddenly a natural question came to mind.

Why is His Highness in my bed?

Then I finally realized that I had no memory of yesterday. My back felt a chill.

“…I wonder if I got drunk and acted recklessly.”

“No, you won.”

“Eh?”

“It was a crushing victory.”

Before I knew it, His Highness opened his eyes thinly and got up. And he continued with the words “A drinking comparison with Olivier Marc.”

“Even if Marc said give up, Rebecca smiled without changing her expression… but I felt a little discomfort and took her out. I thought it was just my worries because she was standing up and walking normally, but as soon as we left the auditorium, [By the way, Your Highness, there are four of you today, aren’t there?]”

“…”

“[What should I do, I’m the only one here today.] and.”

“…”

“When I tried to take her to her room, put her to bed and leave, [Ah, Your Highness, are you going back~], and——”

“I understand, so please stop it already——!”

I covered my face with both hands. Someone, please hit me as hard as possible and wake me up from yesterday.

I seem to have been able to maintain my composure in front of a large crowd, but I’m really causing trouble for His Highness.

[as long as I stop when I feel like I’m going to get drunk, it will be fine], who said that? I did!

“Rebecca.”

His Highness said in a gentle voice. When I peeked out from the hand covering my face, His Highness was looking at me.

“Is my company so unpleasant?”

His Highness sent me a loving gaze, as if looking at something dear.

“Even though she acted properly in front of others, as soon as she was alone with me, she became drunk. Is it because she feels relaxed when she’s with me?”

I frowned.

If you get bothered by a drunk person, you should get angry. You shouldn’t make a face that looks happy by mistake.

“…Yes, I feel safe when I am with His Highness.”

Saying it as if hiding my face again, he hugged me. I also wrapped my arms around his back.

But at that moment, I realized something.

“Isn’t it a problem for us to sleep in the same bed before we are married…?”

It is not appropriate in our relationship as an engaged couple. Even half a year ago, on the day when His Highness first told me he loved me, he would always return to his own room instead of spending a night in my room.

“It’s okay, there’s no problem,”

His voice came back extremely calm.

“Is that so?” I replied, and His Highness, still hugging me, casually said this:

“Oh. Let’s just have the ceremony.”

“Ceremony?”

“The wedding ceremony.”

“Marriage ceremony?”

“Yes. Let’s hurry and prepare… and make it in time for summer vacation.”

I tilted my head.

Marriage… marriage… Wedding ceremony marriage?

“But, Your Highness, we are still students!”

“Is that a problem?”

“Of course it is! It’s too soon!”

Unable to bear it, I slip out of His Highness’ arms But I’m caught by the wrists. When I look up, His Highness is staring at me.

“Does Rebecca not want to marry me?”

“No, no, that’s not it.”

“Come on, I love you.”

“Ugh!”

“Marry me. I’ll treasure you for the rest of my life. I’ll definitely make you happy.”

“Ugh…!”

[This is outrageous!]. Recalling the words my deceased mother had once spoken, I can’t help but feel swept away by His Highness’ passionate words of love.

But I can’t let myself be swept away. I open my mouth, thinking carefully.

Nobles who get married while still in school at the Royal Academy are rare. And His Highness is a future king.

“Marriage while in school, well… that is, His Highness may already be considered an adult, but I am still just half an adult.”

His Highness has a serious expression. And after thinking for a moment, he says “I see.”

“Then, let’s have a contest next [spring]. If I win, we’ll have the ceremony right away.”

“…Eh?”

I didn’t understand, so I asked again. I thought I might have heard wrong, but he repeated the same words exactly.

“…Why?!”

“By the way, I am serious about doing it.”

“I don’t feel like I can win!”

I made a loud noise and it seems to have woken up Christina, who was sleeping comfortably. I feel her gaze fixed on me. But I’m in a pinch. Please forgive me.

On that day, I told my two best friends the situation.

Emilia said, “Of course, I am Rebecca-sama’s ally! Leave it to me, if we run into that man in [spring], I’ll blow him up from behind!” with enthusiasm.

Melinda just quietly said, “Give up.”

Giving up is not an option. It’s my fault that I got drunk in the first place, but now that things have come this far, it’s a matter of pride.

Thus, for me, a spring filled with motivation began, even more so than last year.

Chapter 48

Finally, the spring competition is about to begin. The waiting room becomes increasingly quiet and instead, tension rises in its place.

[Spring] is a competition where all students are simultaneously transferred to somewhere in the academy and compete to reach the hidden goal using clues.

Each student is only allowed to bring one tool, and counting their partner Phantom Beast, so I can’t bring my favorite short sword.

“Well then, Emilia, Melinda, see you later.”

“Both of you, let’s not hold any grudges when we meet again.”

“That’s what I hope! Let’s meet at the goal!”

Finally, a magic circle that emits a strong light rises at our feet. The strong wind from below makes my school uniform’s blue one-piece dress flutter. I hugged little Christina so she wouldn’t be blown away.

Wrapped in a nostalgic feeling of floating, we scattered.

I have a feeling of my feet touching the ground and immediately open my eyes. I quickly check my surroundings.

At that moment, twenty-eight students including me, recognized each other’s presence.

“-———?!”

Almost reflexively, I shoot attack magic in all directions.

Just like me, some reacted and others didn’t, and twenty-eight quickly decreased to half.

Among the vast grounds, the “first school building square” is famous for being the location where many students are first transferred.

In other words, it will become a fiercely contested area from the start.

I am right in the middle of it.

Attacking magic flies around in all directions. I dodge the ones coming at me, and counter with new attacks.

If I let my guard down for even a moment, I’ll be hit and it’ll be game over. My luck couldn’t be worse!

“[Top strong] Duke Slutarch’s daughter, I see you! This will be a good test of skill for me——”

“Christina, please!”

When I call out, Phantom Beast Christina responds by being wrapped in a dazzling light. Her body swells and Christina transforms into a white dragon.

Then she wildly swings her giant tail.

“Gueh!”

The student from before is sent flying with a sound like a frog being squished.

All the students have been protected by the principal’s defensive magic, so even if they’re attacked, they’ll only be disqualified and won’t be hurt.

“Christina, you can’t stay here! We have to go find the new student who’s under the [hint spell].”

“Kyuu, shuu!”

“Oh, they’re close by!”

The [Hint magic] is randomly applied to some of the new students, and the person who knocks that human out of the battle will be the only one to get a hint.

“We have to go before someone else gets them——”

I scanned the area with my eyes, at that moment.

BOOM!

The loud noise made my ears ring. The ground shook slightly and the blast pushed me back. Everyone in the area was unconscious for a few seconds.

I took advantage of the opportunity to stop my attack spell and put my hand on Christina’s shoulder. We quickly flew off and left the first school building plaza.

After confirming that the students looking up at us were getting further away, I looked at the faraway forest that was emitting black smoke and flames.

“Oh, my God, Emilia.”

The cause of the explosion was probably her. She was probably happily releasing her Phantom Beast Kyuubi’s Explosion spell.

She was probably kicking around the Five High’s students who were gathering around and shouting “Shoot!”

As I imagined the scene and couldn’t help but smile, Christina suddenly dropped in altitude and caught sight of the new students.

I looked at the ground through the gaps in my hair that was being blown around by the strong wind.

A male student, moving from the school buildings towards the dormitory direction. His legs are incredibly fast.

He was tall and had dark blue hair.

“…Ah,”

I let out a voice without realizing. His presence through Christina’s magic was very similar to that of someone I knew very well.

——Maybe it’s him.

I decided to confidently approach that male student from the front.

He turned around halfway, scowled, and stopped.

“Good afternoon.”

I gracefully got off before him. The male student let out a deep sigh, as if from the bottom of his stomach.

“…Hey. Being found by [Slutarch’s Jewel] all of a sudden is unexpected… But don’t underestimate me, I’m famous for my running skills.”

He talks a lot, but doesn’t take his eyes off of me. He seems impolite but in reality, he’s not negligent at all.

I opened my mouth while being impressed in my heart.

“I want a hint, but I won’t fight. If you let me investigate the magic cast on you, I can find another way to get a hint. And that way, you can get a hint yourself.”

“Haha, do you think I’ll trust you?”

He raised the corner of his mouth. Even if he doesn’t believe, this story is true.

Hint people are basically fate to be chased by other students and become unable to fight, but there is actually another way to get hints.

As last year was [Seeing in the Dark], the contents change every year, so you will have to actually check it out to find out what it is.

What to do.

While thinking, I put my hand on my chin and turned my gaze back to him. He smiled confidently and didn’t look away.

His hands are in his pockets, his shirt is open to the third button, and his earrings are swinging in both ears.

“Yes, Marc-sama.”

The first words that break that composure.

His eyes round. ————It was a hit.

“Nice to meet you, Brian Marc-sama. I am familiar with your elder sister as we have had drinks together.”

He is Brian Marc, the younger brother of the god of battle Olivier, and the son of the Knight Commander.

And the target of the strategy of “otome game”.

Chapter 49

I found out that this world is an otome game already two years ago. For one year, I was desperately trying to avoid being exiled as a villainess.

However, there is a second part to the game. The strategy book that my mother gave me before she passed away, still contains information on it.

The protagonist is still Emilia. The girl who, in the first part, successfully won the title of the three strong, will now once again fall in love with the [handsome men] at the academy.

It seems that the love in the first part has been reset.

The important thing is that in the second part, Villainess Rebecca will not appear.

Instead, new [enemy characters] will appear.

During the spring break, I thought about it. If I don’t appear in the scenario, I will not be exiled anymore. Knowing the contents of the events in the strategy book would be unfair.

So I decided. I will read the strategy book. As someone who has changed the contents of the first part, I have a duty to correspond to the second part’s scenario and successfully finish this year.

But I will not read the details of the [events].

This year, unlike last year, I want to win with my own power!

And now I have one target, Brian Marc, standing in front of me.

He narrowed his sharp eyes and opened his mouth.

“Do you know me? Have you heard the rumor that [the Knight Commander’s child had all of his battle ability taken away by his older sister]?”

“Yes, I am aware of it. And I have also heard that you are the better(smart) of the two.”

It may be hard to believe for an outsider, but it is a well-known story among those who live in the Royal Capital.

He was raised in the proud knight’s order that protects the Huaverdon Kingdom, but from the age of ten, he has been [losing continuously].

Lately, he has not even been picking up a sword, or so it is said. Even now, he has a sword hanging from his waist, but there is no sign of him using it.

“So, let’s make a deal, Brian-sama.”

With a conscious and meaningful smile.

Even though he is not fighting, carelessness is forbidden. He is a brainy type, unlike his older sister, Olivier. Approaching him head-on like this is because, at least, there is a plan.

“The content is simple. I trust you, so please trust me too.”

As I said this, I formed a rope with magic. I made Christina move away and showed Brian how I had tied my own wrists with the rope.

I could only make one round because I had to do it myself, but even so, it was not easy to move it.

Furthermore, I knelt on the ground, closed my eyes as if begging, and Brian’s surprised voice could be heard.

“…What are you trying to do?”

“I will never move, so if you want to attack, please do so.”

I said that to him, and continued to press on.

“I want to investigate the magic of your hint. I want you to trust me that I will not harm you even if I approach. That’s why I will trust you first.”

I explained as if singing, and the silence descended.

I could hear the slight rustling of clothes. I sensed Brian approaching within a stone’s throw of me.

Still, I didn’t open my eyes.

I was confident that this plan would succeed. As expected, the voice I heard sounded surprised.

“…damn, I got it.”

I slowly opened my eyes and looked at him straight ahead.

Brian, who was scratching his head as if it was a hassle, looked rough and his behavior was rough.

But Brian Marc was the target, Olivier’s younger brother.

And more than that ————[a lone knight].

In the Royal Capital, it is said that [the captain of the knights’ son lost all his fighting talents to his older sister].

It is always said with a continuation.

One man continued like this.

“But when I was attacked by thugs in the Royal Capital, he was the one who helped. He shouted ‘Just go!’ and helped me and my family escape.”

One woman said this.

“But I saw him protecting a small child. I had never seen someone care about the orphan in the slums before.”

And many people concluded like this.

“But even if he couldn’t fight. His heart is truly that of a knight.”

Now, focusing on Brian in front of me. He is a proud knight that does not shame his sisters or his background.

Then I was allowed to approach and lightly touch his body.

Sending magic and reading magic.

“… B-Brian-sama.”

“Yes yes. Did you find a way to get a hint?”

“Yes, um…”

I hesitated to speak the next words.

“Please spin around three times and say ‘one’.”

The longest and heaviest silence yet enveloped us. I seriously wondered, “Should I spin around three times and say one to make him believe in me?”

“Don’t tell my sister or else I’ll be teased to death.” After pushing the thought away, he spun around three times and said “one” making his face turn red. Honestly, he was cute.

***

[Knock on the door of classroom 501 in the third school building three times.]

This is the content of the hint I received.”

I asked Brian, whose face and even his neck were red, if he wanted to go with me, but he refused and we said goodbye.

I got back on Christina and headed for the third school building alone. The location is not bad. I should be able to get there in five minutes.

But things don’t go that easily.

In the sky above me, suddenly a rain of arrows appeared.

“Kyu!”

“Christina!”

Christina’s size worked against her here. Two arrows that I couldn’t defend against with magic pierced Christina’s body.

Looking far below, a girl with a cream-colored ponytail was looking up at me from the rooftop of the girls’ dormitory.

“Earl Horton house, Hanna! Duke Slutarch’s daughter, come down!”

I remembered her face and looked back. If she’s one of Earl Horton’s daughters, she’s definitely a freshman.

She probably wants to be the first to defeat one of the three strong and get her name out there, but there’s no need for me to obediently come down just because she said “come down.”

“I am in a hurry, so please excuse me!”

Smiling, I continued to fly without stopping at all.

At the time she hurt Christina, she was already quite a powerful person. The best thing to do here is to ignore her.

If she hadn’t shouted the next words, however.

“Can you please give up the seat of the queen!”

I have to admit, it was a bit of a shock. It was hard not to make a face.

But what surprised me even more when I looked back was that she had the eyes of a person who had made a decision. It seemed like there was no malice or greed in them.

“… Christina, can you still hang in there?”

“Kyu!”

“…Thank you. I love you.”

I stroked Christina’s smooth scales and turned around in the opposite direction.

I landed in front of her, standing on the roof. As I approached, I realized that she too had been given a hint of magic, like a new student.

“May I ask why?”

As I said that, I formed a magic sword, like her arrows earlier. At the same time, Hanna also formed a magic bow arrow in her hand.

“It’s for money! Even though we have traditions, we’re poor. I want to make my parents happy!”

“I see. I’m sorry——.”

“And that’s not all!”

Hanna interrupted my words, trembling with anger and pointing at me.

“It’s not just that your face is nice, but that silky black hair, the long, crying eyes, and that perfectly troubled body…! I envy you!”

“…”

She ended with a bit of unnecessary resentment, but she seemed to be carrying something important on her delicate shoulders.

But that’s the same for me.

Focus to the limit and enhance the magic. Always be ready to strike by putting strength in your hands and feet.

The face is the same as always, and it’s a graceful smile that captivates the viewer.

“I will never pull back from myself again. If you want to take that person away from me, please do it with all your strength.”

With that declaration, they stepped forward towards each other.

Hanna and I breathed in at the same time.

Suddenly, a huge pillar of fire rose up in between us. After the flame reached the sky, it contracted and took on the shape of a person.

Thus, a woman appeared, with a fierce beauty as if the flame was her hair.

Hanna’s voice was filled with surprise.

“Marquis Goudes’ daughter!”

Kyaran Goudes, the “fifth high”, is said to be the closest to being in the “three strong” this year.

In the first part, she was so in love with His Highness that the power of her Phantom Beast cub ran wild and attacked me.

I raised my eyebrows. Kyaran had turned to face not me, but Hanna on the opposite side.

“Hello. You must be the one who said you wanted to be a queen just now? Earl Horton’s daughter.”

Hanna, who was called by name, gave a short scream.

“Please don’t cut in line. The line is longer than you think. Isn’t that right, Rebecca-sama?”

Kyaran, who turned around, sent a meaningful glance and finally understood.

Hanna’s screams from before, “Give up the seat of the queen,” had unintentionally summoned my unexpected reinforcements here.

“Besides, you seem to have been given a hint spell. It’s just in time.”

As she approached with her powerful beauty, Hanna began to tremble like a rabbit.

With just a slight emptiness in my chest, I jumped onto Christina.

“Kyaran-sama, I’ll take care of you next time we meet.”

“Yes, of course. I’ll beat you within a year.”

Kyaran Goudes, who confidently smiled, was a powerful ally of the protagonist Emilia in the [game] main scenario.

She was particularly trusted by female students and had a fanatical organization called [cronies] within the Academy.

Maybe she and I will finally be able to build a friendship called a rival.

Chapter 50

I got off from Christina when I got close to the third school building. It was to keep the location of the goal a secret from other students.

Christina shrank and turned back into a small, white snake.

“I’m sorry I pushed you too hard. Rest slowly.”

I hugged her tightly and put her in my pocket of my uniform.

I ran out and quickly entered the school building. There was no sign of anyone. Still, I was careful not to make too much noise as I ran up the stairs all the way to the fifth floor.

If I keep going like this, it’s a pretty good time. I feel like it’s been about 30 minutes since the start.

Holding my breathing and heaving chest, I finished climbing the last few steps as if jumping.

It was then that a hand reached out from the side.

I open my eyes wide in surprise. For a moment my heart stopped.

I try to look at the person on the other side of that hand, while quickly folding my knees.

Our eyes met, and my heart froze even more. The person standing there, I knew him.

I was sure of the face and the name when he was elected as the student council president for the [Five High] last year.

——He was the enemy character of the second part.

He reached out his hand to me, I didn’t know what he was planning. In that strange feeling that felt like seconds were minutes, his finger touched my forehead.

Unable to do anything, as he was about to touch my forehead, I closed my eyes tightly, at that moment.

“————Don’t touch her.”

I opened my eyes with a start.

It was the voice of the person I loved.

***

Rebecca was attacked by someone about 15 minutes ago.

Llewayne Huaverdon leaned against the door of classroom 501, doing nothing, just leaning against the door.

Because it was precisely the goal of the [spring], if he knocked three times, Llewayne would undoubtedly finish first in the spring.

But he still didn’t do that. It wouldn’t be long before his brilliant fiancée arrived. He planned to enter with her or let her pass first.

Llewayne’s actions have a reason.

[Oooooo… !]

A few days ago, at a graduation party, there was a drinking contest. The moment Rebecca defeated the great drinker Olivier Marc, the venue was boiling.

But what Llewayne was worried about was the appearance of his fiancée.

In the midst of the great excitement, with a beautiful smile on her face, he had a vague sense of discomfort. She didn’t respond to the words of praise from around her, just smiled with a smile.

He approached and spoke to her.

[Are you going to pull out soon? I’ll take you to your room.]

[I understand.]

Rebecca stood up safely. Llewayne and Rebecca left the venue together.

Llewayne and Rebecca walked down the quiet road to the dormitory together. Since many students were still enjoying the party or not even present, the night felt as if it belonged to just the two of them.

Just as Llewayne was thinking that Rebecca’s steady pace was all in his head, she suddenly stopped walking.

[By the way, there are four of you here today, aren’t there?]

[——What?]

[Please let me know beforehand. It surprises me.]

Her tone was still steady. But when she continued, “What should we do? I’m the only one here today,” Llewayne was surprised in a rare way.

[Rebecca, are you drunk?]

The perfect lady from before had disappeared. Her cheeks were red, her breath was hot, and her gaze was unsteady.

[No, I’m not. Because I am a lady,] she said, for some reason puffing out her chest. “Isn’t that great?”, as if to mock him.

Llewayne picked her up and carried her in his arms. He thought it would be faster this way.

Surprised, Rebecca wrapped her arms around Llewayne’s neck and held on tight. A faint sweet scent tickled Llewayne’s nose.

[Are you not feeling well? You can rest a bit somewhere.]

[No, I’m not tired. So please put me down if you think it’s too heavy.]

“It’s fine. Rather, I want to stay like this forever.”

Rebecca laughed cheerfully. Llewayne’s serious face made a joke seemed funny. Llewayne didn’t actually say anything, but that’s beside the point.

Rebecca started talking about how cute Cectiara-sama was or how enviable Nii-sama was, still in a good mood.

But soon her words turned into a soft snore. Llewayne shifted her head to his shoulder and she slept soundly.

Confirming this, Llewayne walked quickly to the girls’ dormitory, explaining the situation to the dorm mother and getting permission to enter.

He passed by many female students on the way to Rebecca’s room, and it seemed that she would be holding her head tomorrow.

When he entered the room, the white snake came closer. After putting the master to bed, the white snake finally seemed to relax and curled up by the pillow.

It was already pitch black outside the window. Llewayne closed the curtains, gave Rebecca’s head a pat, and was about to leave.

But something caught the hem of his coat.

[Are you awake?]

Looking back, he peeks at her face, which is still lying down. He runs his fingers through her bangs before stroking her head.

Rebecca did not answer Llewayne’s question.

[It’s already night, isn’t it?]

[Yeah.]

[It’s pitch black outside, and it’s probably really cold.]

[…]”

It’s already spring, so it’s not that cold at night anymore.

Llewayne looked at his fiancee. She too, looked at Llewayne.

At that moment, Llewayne suddenly remembered the small Rebecca he used to peep on through the window when he was young.

The girl who cried in her bed because of loneliness at night. She’s grown up now, and she’s here in front of Llewayne.

Without a word, Llewayne wondered what Rebecca was thinking. She squeezed out a thin voice.

[…Don’t go, please…]

Silence envelops the room. Llewayne stopped thinking for a moment.

Then he let out a sigh. It was a deep, deep sigh as if he was expelling all the air in his body.

(————What kind of test is this?)

[…Should I not come back?]

He asked while holding his forehead, and a small voice replied, [Yes.]

[There’s only one bed.]

[I’ll sleep on the floor. Because I’m “His Highness’s” girlfriend.]

“[Rebecca, please don’t use that context. It will cause misunderstandings.]

She was once again puffing her chest out.

Llewayne’s fiancée was the only one who would show him her drunk appearance. If she was picked up, she would sleep in his arms, and when he sent her home she would ask him “not to go home.”

And why was she boasting to Llewayne that she was [his girlfriend]? Because she was happy and had a different, full-faced smile than her usual wandering one.

[…impossible]

Llewayne groaned.

Impossibly lovely.

Llewayne gave up on everything and took off his coat. When he got into bed, Rebecca squeezed into the back and made space. This was not like her usual actions.

Llewayne thought it was time to sleep and closed his eyes, but

[Your Highness, the second part of the otome game is about to begin.]

he opened them again immediately. His fiancée’s voice was unreliable and seemed to melt into the darkness of the night.

[Are you worried?]

When asked, Rebecca smiled wryly and said [just a little].

Llewayne had heard all the truth from Rebecca. It was at a ball after [winter].

About the protagonist and the targets of the conquest, the fact that Rebecca was supposed to become the villainess, and how she had fought against the scenario of being exiled overseas——.

“And now, the second part begins.

[I am neither the protagonist nor Emilia.]

Llewayne thinks. Rebecca is trying to protect the Academy in place of Emilia. It’s not just a sense of responsibility for changing the first part’s scenario.

Rebecca wants to protect her important friends. She’s willing to take on danger and hardship in their place.

[It’s alright. I’m here this year.]

So that her eyes won’t waver with anxiety, so that she can sleep peacefully on lonely, uneasy nights, he’ll wrap his cold hand around hers and squeeze it tightly, as if transferring his body heat to her.

[You’ve done well on your own up until now. I’m proud of you, Rebecca. I’m here this year. You don’t have to worry about anything.]

When Rebecca finally showed a face that looked like all her strength had drained out, Llewayne felt relieved that he’d been able to ease her worries.

[I’ll do my best not to let someone else take Your Highness.]

At that moment, Llewayne found Rebecca’s words to be incredibly unnatural.

It was unusual for her to speak in a teasing manner, and more than anything, her smile looked forced.

[Let’s get married]

He spoke those words without thinking.

[Without waiting for graduation,] Rebecca opens her mouth and looks at Llewayne.

[Right away…? ]

[Oh. Is it urgent for the invitation to be sent and for the dress to be measured? The location can’t be chosen outside the palace, but everything else Rebecca can decide. Let’s go buy a ring together soon. Oh, your brother might get in trouble with Duke for saying he’s walking down the aisle.]

[Y-Your Highness, stop.]

With Llewayne more talkative than ever before, Rebecca now shows a genuine, bursting smile.

Llewayne is finally satisfied. He embraces Rebecca and closes his eyes. Then, the warmth of her body in his arms moves slightly as if to close the distance.

After kissing Rebecca’s cheek, Llewayne closes his eyes feeling fulfilled.

The next morning, Rebecca had completely forgotten about this conversation. Llewayne thinks that’s fine.

What spilled out of her mouth that night was probably a deep-seated anxiety that even she herself was unaware of.

It’s fine if she remains unaware. Llewayne can take care of it himself.

In short, the essence of the bet that Llewayne proposed to Rebecca in the spring is to convey his unwavering feelings to her.

If Rebecca seriously thinks “It’s still too early” and can’t do anything about it, then that’s fine. So Llewayne didn’t reach the goal and waited for Rebecca. Well, he may have put a little too much effort into it and admits that he may have arrived too early, even possibly the fastest ever.

A little later, Llewayne knew that Rebecca had entered the third school building. He knew this because he had Grue, his Phantom Beast, an eagle, keep an eye on the third school building from the sky.

The incident occurred immediately afterwards.

Another person followed Rebecca. This person moved like a gecko, crawling along the walls, and passed Rebecca on the stairs as she climbed them.

It would have been fine if they had headed straight for the door of classroom 501.

But that presence suddenly stopped moving.

The location was on the fifth floor, right next to the stairs.

And there, hiding his breath————he waited for Rebecca.

The moment he became certain, he used teleportation magic. Suddenly, his whole body became hot due to drawing out his magic power to the maximum.

His body creaked and boiling magic power swirled, sharp pains ran through his limbs.

Even so, the moment the scenery around him changed, Llewayne reached out to Rebecca, even before his feet touched the ground.

Even the fact that the man there was called [an enemy character] did not matter to Llewayne now.

The only and biggest problem was that that man was reaching out to touch Rebecca.

He pulls her close to him as if he’s embracing her from behind.

“————Don’t touch her.”

She is my fiancée.

Chapter 51

My body, which had collapsed, was supported by a powerful body. When I looked back, I saw that a group of blue with anger was glaring straight at my opponent.

“Your Highness!”

How did you get here?

The tense atmosphere around him suddenly softened. His anger dissipated and he looked at me with a concerned gaze.

At that moment, the man facing us spoke.

“Well, well. This is a bit unpleasant. Isn’t it two against one?”

He had a thoughtful look on his face.

He was Sajad Mahajanjiga——he was elected to the Five Highs last year and is now in his third year of school. (TL:サジャッド・マハジャンジガ I’m not sure what the author was thinking. The name is completely out of place.)

He had long, flowing hair pulled back in a ponytail and a tall, well-built figure. “He’s excellent and kind,” I knew he was popular with both men and women.

————But, as I had thought before,

“Well, at least … shouldn’t we resist a little before we’re defeated?”

This man always has a smile on his face.

My spine tingled and I unconsciously took a step back.

The contrast between his good-natured smile and his pitch-black eyes was terrifying, and it made me feel uncomfortable.

But.

“What!”

When His Highness stepped forward with anger, Sajad blew out the window next to him with magic and then flew out of the window, flapping(waving) his hands, and disappeared.

His Highness confirmed this before turning to me.

Rebecca, are you okay?

“Yes, because Your Highness helped me… Thank you very much.”

Trying to make a relieved smile, my heart is still beating fast.

Sajad is the second part’s black curtain(mastermind). According to the strategy book, his Phantom Beast is called a four-legged creature called “Tapir”(バク).

He can intervene in other people’s [dreams] with that power.

[What kind of dream I saw yesterday, what did I do in that place]. It seems that this information corresponds to the [address] of the dream. If this is known, that human’s dream will be in Sajad’s hands from the next night.

What’s scary is that human’s dream has a deep connection with the subconscious.

Sajad can hide, destroy, or implant new thoughts in a person’s dream. Moreover, there is no trace and it is difficult to prove.

He entered the Academy by pretending to have the ability to [show other people the dream they want to see], I think he won the prize last [summer].

——In the second part’s scenario, the protagonist Emilia is made into Sajad’s puppet with this power.

He wants the power and privileges of the [Three Strongs]. His house is the Viscount house, and the current Viscount particularly wants that power.

Sajad felt a limit to his power and came up with the idea of ​​making the Three Strong, the protagonist, his own.

[Emilia! I approached you because you are one of the Strongs! If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t even look at someone like you, a lowly commoner!]

At the second part of the dance party, when the protagonist exposes his wrongdoing, he apparently screamed like this while revealing his true nature.

A young man wearing the mask of a good person——that is the true form of Sajad Mahajanjiga.

In reality, Emilia is not one of the strongest, so if we think logically, I should be the one targeted.

However, now it is [spring].

Even if Sajad harms me, there is no problem.

When I thanked His Highness, I remembered the [spring] of the first part. It was a déjà vu.

“Your Highness, could it be that you were looking for me again…?”

“No, it’s just a coincidence.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

I looked at his smiling face with suspicion. He is good at [putting on an innocent face]. Nine out of ten people would believe him, but unfortunately, I am the one left.

When I tried to pursue him, His Highness suddenly looked up.

“Now, it seems that two people have entered the school building… This magic is Oswald’s. The person with him is his sister.”

I heard the name and gasped.

Oswald Ceden——a third-year student and one of the Strongs, a man with a burning sense of justice. Was the Phantom Beast a mole?

It seems that he has arrived at this place with Judith Ceden, who is his sister and also one of the 5 Highs.

“Hey, Rebecca.”

“Yes.”

I couldn’t help but blink. His Highness was looking at me with a mischievous expression, as if he had thought of something fun. His blue eyes were sparkling.

“Since we’re here, don’t you want to compete and see who comes out on top?”

“!Yes!”

“Alright, let’s go.”

His Highness extended his hand to me. I smiled and took it. My chest was filled with a mix of tension and excitement that exceeded it.

What was about to begin was the first time, since I met His Highness, that we would be fighting together.

Chapter 52

When I firmly grasped His Highness’s hand, his wind magic began to push us forward. We can move as if we can float in the air with a small leap.

It was when we saw the door of classroom 501 running through the corridor as if we were flying.

“Coming.”

Just after being spoken to briefly, a female student appeared from around the corner on the other side of the door.

With fluffy deep green hair swaying, she runs towards the door while saying something to her back.

“Onii-chan, the goal is ———— Uwa?!”

She screamed and made a sudden brake.

The female student who came out, or rather Judith Ceden, had been worn away by His Highness’s acceleration with a force that trampled the floor.

At the same time as he raises his arm with a speed that can’t be caught by the eye, a blade of magic is formed in his hand.

As the sharp cutting edge is completed, it will reach Judith’s neck.

——But.

A big hand stretched out. He grasped Judith’s back, pulled her back narrowly.

Gakin. The man who came out instead of Judith, took His Highness’s first blow as if it were normal.

His Highness does not change his expression, and as usual, adds the second and third attacks.

“Llewayne, don’t hurt my little sister.”

He who showed a smile even while being attacked fiercely, is one of the Three Strongs, Oswald Ceden.

“The expression “fearless” fits perfectly, and he’s one of the targets of the otome game this year too. He has the same peaceful forest-like eyes and hair as his sister.

The gap between his childlike face and his well-trained body is popular among women, especially older ladies.

“He must have defensive magic.”

“Your attack seems like it would nullify defensive magic, it’s frightening…”

He skillfully handles the attacks of His Highness with ease. It’s a beautiful sword technique. He’s become even sharper than last year.

But His Highness doesn’t let up on his attacks. He continues to rain down mixed attacks with magic, and they become even sharper.

“Hey, Llewayne, are you angry about something?”

“I just ran into a man who I didn’t take kindly to. Oswald, you’re going to take out that frustration.”

“Don’t take it out on me, huh?!”

His Highness unleashes a powerful kick, and Oswald barely dodges it. His Highness’ foot makes a terrible and fierce sound as it digs into the wall, creating a large hole.

“——Ah!”

At the sound and shock, someone finally came to their senses. She had just been saved by her older brother, and after that, she had been sitting there with her mouth agape, watching their exchange. It was Judith.

She stands up and takes up her sword, and runs out all at once.

But, it was my turn to be ready.

Even if he’s His Highness, if he’s attacked by the three strongs and five highs siblings working together, it’ll be bad for him. But His Highness isn’t alone.”

I have always been preparing. A shot that would round up the siblings, at least fatally wound one of them, with no way out.

I converted all of the abnormal amount of magic I received from Christina into flames inside my body.

As a result, I am a lady-type super powerful flame thrower named myself.

“Your Highness!”

“!”

I shout short. His gaze turns to me for an instant. Oswald is also distracted.

Taking advantage of that moment, His Highness clapped his hands together. As soon as they let go, the huge net created between his hands spread out and attacked the siblings.

His Highness himself immediately opens the window next to him and escapes to the outside.

So there is no need to be polite.

I took a quick breath and blew out the flames that had been rising to the edge of my throat in one gulp.

“Uwa?!”

“?!”

A mass of heat that melts walls fills the hallway. Judith’s screams that were heard for a moment were also drowned out by the roar.

After blowing out everything, I catch my breath with my shoulders. I fixed my eyes on the smoke that was standing up, searching for the siblings’ shadows. The smell of something burning fills the surrounding area.

His Highness, who came back by opening the window with a bang, lined up beside me. He swept away the smoke with magic.

I was surprised.

――――No one is there.

Instead, there is a big hole where they were.

I couldn’t help but raise the corner of my mouth. ――I got caught.

“Phantom Beast mole!”

“Oh, I thought about where he was. He dug through the floor and ran downstairs.”

Looking into the hole, only the floor of the lower floor can be seen. There is no sign of the two of them.

I knew that Oswald’s Phantom Beast could make holes in the ground, but I never thought it could break through a reinforced concrete floor.

“There’s no point in chasing them. Let’s just go to the goal now.”

The two of us, His Highness and I, face the door. The completely blackened thing is a courtesy. [Event] what broke is fixed by the teachers so it’s not a problem.

Knock-knock-knock. When we knock in unison, we were in the main school hall. This is where we arrived last year after the goal.

After looking around the room, I widened my eyes.

No one was there yet.

His Highness breathed out next to me. He turned his right palm to me,

“Rebecca, that was a good attack.”

He smiled contentedly. He snapped his hand with mine. He hugged me with even more force.

My first battle with His Highness was, without a doubt, a perfect score.

Chapter 53

It has been two weeks since spring ended. The memories of the full and rich day are beginning to fade, and it is a time when the students of the Academy are starting to focus on their classes and other daily activities.

However, my two best friends are still trapped in the results.

“Ah, we were so close.”

“We were so close…! We were so close…!”

Melinda sighs, not knowing how many times she has done it today, and Emilia’s eyes are filled with tears of regret. I wish they would stop patting my shoulders from both sides.

I finished all my classes today and am now shopping at the food store within the Academy. The students of the Academy live in the dormitories alone, so we have to do our own shopping.

My two friends who came with me, have been talking about the results of [spring] since earlier. I put butter, flour and eggs in my shopping basket while responding with nods.

Then I thought back to the order of the results of [spring], which was announced a few days ago.

10th place: Brian Marc

9th place: Fried Neher

8th place: Gadd Maysen

7th place: Sajad Mahajanjiga

6th place: Kyaran Goudes

4th place: Judith Ceden

4th place: Oswald Ceden

3rd place: Emilia

1st place: Rebecca Slutarch

1st place: Llewayne Huaverdon

The four events of [spring], [summer], [fall], and [winter] greatly affect the acquisition of the titles “Three Strong” and “Five High”, so I am off to a good start.

Melinda was apparently in eleventh place. She watched Brian, who was in tenth place, finish the goal, and unfortunately missed the top 10 finish.

Melinda, who clears this event with not just physical strength but also good strategies and intellect, is truly amazing.

Emilia also saw me and His Highness finish the goal similarly.

Immediately after, she apparently broke through the window and entered, lamenting that “I could have blown His Highness up from behind.” It’s somewhat dangerous.

While I comforted the two of them, I also put milk and glucose into a basket. Melinda cocked her head.

“Rebecca, are you making sweets?”

“Yeah. Are you two not going to my room today?”

“Yes! We’re going!”

“Okay, but suddenly?”

I brought the suddenly lively Emilia and the suspicious Melinda back to the dormitory.

I felt relieved inside. As usual, Emilia is carefree and Melinda has good intuition.

After serving tea and chatting for about 30 minutes, there was a strong knock on the door.

As per the scenario, she came to visit.

“Slutarch-sama, hello.”

“Oh, hello.”

The girl who came in has twin tails tied up with matching forest-green eyes like her brother.

It’s Judith Ceden, whom I met just two weeks ago.

Normally she is lively and energetic, but today she was fidgeting and playing with her hair.

“Um, Slutarch-sama, actually…”

“We’re in the same grade, you can call me Rebecca.”

“Okay, Rebecca-san. Actually——.”

Her sparkling eyes fixed on me. Knowing what’s coming, I swallow hard.

Today is the first day of the second part’s [event] occurrence.

“I was wondering if you could teach me how to cook…”

That’s right, [Cooking Event of Hell], is starting here.

Judith Ceden——According to the strategy book for the second part,

“Five-time champion, second-year student, green hair and eyes, Phantom Beast is an earthworm, sister of Oswald Ceden, note: cooking is deadly.”

Do you understand?

Yes, [cooking is deadly].

[Using the protagonist who is known as one of the three strongest and highest in female popularity, Judith comes to learn cooking. A terrifying event where someone ends up in the hospital just by choosing one wrong option, and for some reason it greatly affects the target’s likability.] is what it seems like.

As expected, it seems that the job has fallen to me, who is one of the three strongest, though I am not sure of my female popularity.

I am sorry, but I would like to ask for Emilia’s help here. His Highness was reluctant when he heard about this event from me, but I am sure that Emilia’s girl power is well endorsed.

“Emilia, Melinda. Judith wants you to teach her how to cook. We just happen to have the ingredients, so if you could help her out that would be great.”

“Wow, that sounds fun! Judith, let’s do our best together!”

“You’re surprisingly well-prepared.”

“It’s just a coincidence.”

The four of us stand in the kitchen with Melinda’s words and a smile.

Yes, the shopping was for this. We bought apples because they were cheap at the Academy, so we could make apple pie.

And here, I’ll activate the [secret move].

“Hey, why don’t we start by having Emilia show us a demonstration?”

“Understood!”

If I choose the hidden option, “I’ll show you the demonstration, so please watch carefully,” I can avoid a disaster, as it says in the strategy guide. My mother really is amazing.

I let out a sigh of relief as Emilia takes the knife in her hand. Her cute pink apron suits her very well.

“Now, Judith, please watch carefully.”

“Okay!”

Emilia smiled with satisfaction at Judith’s good reply and immediately put down her knife with a smile.

“First, let’s crush the apples into bits! Hmph!”

Crackle, crackle, bang!

“The skin is left on so it’s crunchy and delicious! It’s fine as long as you wash it properly! Let’s crush the rest the same way!”

Crackle, crackle, bang!

“Next, we’ll mix various ingredients and make them just right! We’ll use our instincts for measurements! We’ll also preheat the oven to a good temperature!”

Bang, bang, swoosh! Whoosh!

“We’ll add the secret ingredient——love, hehe! We’ll bake it well and, done! It’s finished!”

In front of the three of us standing with our mouths open, a plate was placed with a beautiful apple pie. No matter how you look at it, it was a freshly baked apple pie.

I clapped my hands together with a blank mind.

“Wow, this is amazing.”

“Rebecca, are you going to eat this?!”

“Emilia, this is great.”

“Even Melinda! Be careful! You’ll die if you eat this kind of thing!”

Ignoring Judith’s protests, Melinda and I took a bite of the cut apple pie.

“The light sound of a crunch. The pie crust melts in my mouth without leaving any residue on my tongue. The custard cream is not too sweet, the acidity of the apples stimulates my salivary glands. Oh, what is this? It’s incredibly…

“delicious…”

Melinda moaned next to me. For some reason, she was crying a little. I was also getting teary-eyed.

“Really! I’m glad!”

Emilia was jumping up and down with joy.

With that onomatopoeia of cooking that doesn’t seem like cooking at all, why is this possible? Did the protagonist’s correction work? Or is this the true femininity?

Or maybe, the sweets that she often made for me last year, were they also made with this muscle-kicking kin-kin-ky?

I no longer understand anything. I abandoned all my questions and just bit into the apple pie.

Judith, who had been fidgeting next to me, saw our reactions and decided to put some apple pie in her mouth.

And after a few minutes of comfort, she said, “I’ll come back after I can crush apples with my bare hands,” and left.

It seems that one gorilla has been added to this academy.

Chapter 54

It was on a day when May had just begun. After the morning classes ended, I was having lunch with my usual three friends, Emilia and Melinda. The place was a bench in the courtyard.

“It’s warm, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

It’s almost private because normal nobles wouldn’t have the idea to “eat lunch outside because the weather is nice” like us. My mother calls this “picnic.”

“Oh, that’s right.”

As I closed my eyes feeling like photosynthesis, Melinda said as if she remembered something.

“Rebecca, your fan club has been formed.”

“Eh?!”

“I already joined!”

I almost dropped my fork from the shock. Emilia ignored me.

“What do you mean… who started it?”

“They said it was Vanderlei Slutarch-sama.”

“Nii-sama?!”

“Maybe it’s for you. Like Kyaran Goudes’s “cronies”.”

I remembered the face of my brother who I haven’t seen for about a month. His smile was shining in my memory.

“There was also a girl who got into a fight with Rebecca about her bust during the spring.”

“What are you talking about…?”

I scowled with all my might. I don’t have any such memory, but maybe it’s something someone else talked about. Please stop it.

“Ah, it’s Hanna Horton-san, right! I talked to her! She said she had decided to submit to Rebecca-sama’s beauty!”

Emilia smiles and claps her hands together.

The faint hope that it might be someone else’s story is quickly snuffed out.

Putting the bento box aside, I stand up.

“I’ll ask the teacher to abolish it.”

“What?!”

Leaving Emilia with a face that looks like the end of the world, I head for the staff building.

The teacher of life guidance would probably be appropriate. Walking on and on, I knocked on the door of the Law Research Laboratory.

“Come in.”

“Excuse me.”

I open the door and enter. The smell of books and warmth envelops me, and a voice comes from the back.

“Slutarch? Another question about the class?”

“No, Stone-sensei, today for a different reason——Oh?”

As I looked into the back of the research lab, I blinked.

It’s usual for the teacher, Stones, who is the master of this room, to be buried in books, but today there was someone else.

“Ah… Hey.”

It was Brian Marc. He’s the younger brother of Olivier Marc, whom I talked to a little during [spring]. He nods with his head, so I also bow.

“Well, I’ll be going now.”

“Oh, Marc, don’t push yourself too hard.”

“Yes.”

Brian stands up and walks past me, leaving the room. I wonder if I made him feel uncomfortable. I watch his back as he leaves, wondering what they were talking about.

“What happened today?”

Stone-sensei calls out to me. His rational, mercury-like eyes are looking at me.

His hair reaches his back and is loosely gathered on one side. He is tall and slim, but not in a weak or narrow way, instead, he gives off a sense of elegance.

In short, he is quite handsome.

That’s no surprise, since he is one of the newly added targets for conquest in part 2.

There are a few changes in part 2 of the Otome Game. One of them is the addition of new targets for conquest.

As a side note, one of the changes is the addition of a [reverse harem] mode. It seems like you can build romantic relationships with multiple targets at the same time.

When I explained this to His Highness, he muttered “Is that sane…?” I agree. If Emilia is surrounded by men, I’d rather imagine that they are all doing muscle training together.

When I think of Stone-sensei in that route, it’s interesting to think of him as a member of the reverse harem.

“Stone-sensei, can you abolish one of the fan clubs?”

“That one’s yours, isn’t it? That’s absurd. It’s the person who made it.”

“I’ll talk to my older brother about it…”

Stones shakes his head. I have no choice. I decided to use my last resort, [strategy book knowledge]. I lower my eyebrows and open my mouth like I’m talking to myself.

“Is that so…Maybe I should consult His Highness Llewayne.”

“Wait, hold on.”

Stones changes his expression.

He is actually the king’s brother and His Highness’ uncle.

It’s an unnecessary hidden setting. According to the strategy book, “Those who choose the Stone-sensei route will be [lucky to be a royal].”

I think he’s worried that if I talk to His Highness, the strict king, who is also his own older brother, might say something.

Of course, I don’t intend to consult His Highness. I don’t want to bother him with something so trivial.

“Alright, I got it, I’ll figure something out.”

I smile and say thank you before leaving the room.

I head towards the courtyard, following the way I came. Students usually don’t enter the staff building unless they have business. It’s quieter here than in the main building.

Could that be why? At a timing when I couldn’t think of any other reason why he would want to be alone with me, Sajad Mahajanjiga walked towards me from the front.

“Hey, Slutarch-san…You look kind of tired, don’t you?”

I swallow the words, “It’s because of you,” and face him. He’s still the same man with a cold expression in his eyes.

“Shall I show you a dream where you can relax?”

“No, don’t worry about it. Thank you for your concern. Good day.”

I ended the conversation with a smile that didn’t give any indication. As I started to walk away, I felt someone staring at me from behind, but he didn’t follow me.

——I felt a little relieved. Sajad’s ability wasn’t scary as long as I knew the trigger(activation) conditions.

He was an enemy character, but he might not be much of a threat. The second part might end up being surprisingly easy.

Without looking back, I returned to the courtyard.

Emilia and Melinda were still sitting on the bench they were on before. Seeing the two of them made the clouds in my heart caused by Sajad disappear.

“Welcome back, Rebecca. Did it work out?”

“Yes, it looks like it’ll work out somehow.”

“Oh, no! What should I tell the members?”

I ignored Emilia as she bit her lip.

Melinda stood up. It was about time for lunch break to end.

“By the way, both of you, as I said before, you haven’t told Sajad or Mahajanjiga about your dreams, right?”

With a reluctant Emilia, the three of us started walking towards the classroom.

Melinda muttered, “Oh.”

“That shady five high man. Yeah, he talked to me before, but I brushed him off.”

“I was talking to a boy in my class the other day and we bumped into each other, I feel like I got the cold shoulder though…”

Melinda shrugs and Emilia tilts her head.

If Sajad doesn’t try to get Emilia, will he be strong from the start against her? His dislike of commoners seems to be quite strong.

“He’s shady but good-looking, right?”

“Eeh, is that so?”

Climbing the outside stairs and entering inside from the third floor of the school building. There aren’t many people taking lunch in the courtyard, so the path to the classroom inevitably has fewer people.

“Whatever it is, be careful of him from now on.”

If I press, the two of them will reply “Alright.” without explaining the reason. They obediently follow my instructions.

The next class was with everyone in the same class, with Stone-sensei. The classroom is on the second floor. You have to go down the stairs.

While descending the emotionless stairs, I took one step forward to start descending.

——At that moment, someone strongly pushed my back.

My body floated in a strange way. My stepping foot doesn’t reach the ground. I don’t have time to raise my voice.

My body falls straight down and my vision spins. I felt something brightly flash.

With the momentum of being pushed, I roll down the stairs.

My mind goes blank. I heard two people shouting in the distance. Unable to understand the situation, I slowly opened my eyes, which had been tightly closed.

What met my eyes was white scales.

“Ah… Christina.”

“Cuey!”

My Phantom Beast, which should have been in my pocket. Now that I think about it, I saw something shining. It probably changed its shape when I fell.

The big dragon’s body wrapped around me like a coil, protecting me.

“Thank you…”

I hugged its head with both arms and pressed my face against it. If it weren’t for Christina, it probably wouldn’t have ended well.

“Rebecca-sama!”

Emilia, who had run down the stairs, clung to me.

It was only when I saw her, half in tears, activate healing magic and wrap my right hand that I realized I had a scrape.

Melinda, after confirming that I didn’t have any other injuries, stood up and looked up the stairs.

“What happened…? Wasn’t anyone there?”

Her voice was trembling. I tried to call out to Melinda, but I heard footsteps coming closer.

“Hey, did you just fall?!”

When I turned around, Brian Marc had come running.

He was out of breath, he squatted down beside me, and reached out his hand.

“Are you injured? Does it hurt anywhere?”

Reflexively, I took a step back from that hand. My eyes meet a surprised face.

My head was dominated by one suspicion.

————Why is Brian here now?

The timing is perfect. It’s as if it was planned. And even though I last saw him yesterday in [spring], today is already the second time.

Then what about Stone-sensei he just met?

What were the two of them talking about in the lab?

“Rebecca-sama…?”

I returned to myself with Emilia’s voice. She’s still holding my hand, but there are no traces of injuries anymore.

Then I looked at Brian’s expression, which was only pure surprise, and my thoughts returned to normal.

——Calm down. This is just a bunch of skepticism.

The fact that I was pushed down the stairs seems to have made me lose my composure more than I thought. I, who am fundamentally a noble lady, was about to forget how to smile.

I reached out to Melinda, who was watching the situation while swallowing her saliva. I stood up with her help. I lightly shook my uniform skirt.

“I’m sorry, I——.”

Finally, I was able to smile a little.

“I slipped on my foot.”

The choice is silence.

It’s just a hunch, but it seems to me that Sajad Mahajanjiga is somehow involved in this case. If so, this is not under the jurisdiction of the Academy to investigate.

In the first place, falling down the stairs and dying is just bad luck. To kill without actually killing, but to certainly plant fear and pain [to push down from the stairs], this method matches the image of Sajad in my mind.

I attended Stone-sensei’s class with a blank expression after saying goodbye to Brian who was worried.

Nothing particularly strange happened after that.

When I returned to the dormitory that day, I wrote a letter detailing the events to His Highness.

I watched the messenger hawk take the letter and fly into the night sky from the window frame.

There is no description in the scenario of someone being pushed down the stairs.

Something strange is happening at this Academy now.

Chapter 55

I looked up at the sky from the window. The rain was like turning over a bucket. It was so dark that lights were needed even during the day, and the smell of dampness and the cold air covered the area.

Today is the day when all 2,215 students in the school will be gathered in the auditorium.

In one month, it will be the summer vacation, and after two months of vacation, [event] [Summer] will come, so I will listen to the Principal’s kind words.

[Summer] is also known as [Phantom Beast Festival]. Freshmen will finally get Phantom Beast eggs, and second and third-year students will be judged on how they raised their Phantom Beast in one year.

The Principal explains in a flowing manner, but it’s hard to hear with the sound of rain hitting the ceiling of the auditorium.

I couldn’t concentrate and looked around forward.

Then I saw the short stairs to the podium. I remembered when I was pushed off the stairs a month ago and trembled.

To conclude, the perpetrator has not been found.

That day, when His Highness saw the letter I sent, he immediately came and hugged me tightly.

[Are you okay? You must have been scared, I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I’ll never go on business trips abroad again]

[Your Highness, please don’t say [never go]…]

It seems that while on official business in the neighboring country, he received a letter and came back using transfer magic while still in his clothes. He was in formal attire.

The culprits probably knew that His Highness was out of town.

His Highness started to talk [about the fact that]

[Fried was in charge of guarding Rebecca while I was gone, and he was watching when Rebecca fell down the stairs.]

I was surprised by his unexpected words.

Fried Neher is His Highness confidant, a man who walks around silently.

His characteristic is a black robe that covers his 190cm body. He is the kind of person who makes you want to ask if he’s a black magic sorcerer, but he is also Melinda’s lover. The engagement has not yet happened.

I then tilted my head. If he had seen me, as one of the five high schools, he could have come in to help me, or at least to make sure I was safe.

[I’m sorry that I couldn’t make it in time to help, it’s fortunate that you’re safe.]

[Is that so? He wrote such a long letter…so then, who did it?]

I nod and continue the conversation. The question is whether or not he saw the criminal.

His Highness shook his head.

[[No one was there. No one had pushed Miss Rebecca. It really seems that she just suddenly fell.] It seems]

[Such…]

[There are Phantom Beasts who possess the ability to turn invisible, even if it’s just a little. Let’s first investigate the students of the academy.]

His Highness said that, and a week later, he visited me again with documents that cleared all of them.

[Sajad Mahajanjiga. If we investigate this much and there’s no evidence, then it’s definitely him.]

I take a deep breath and exhale.

Sajad can brainwash others. For example, if there was someone who was made to think “I am a criminal who deserves to die.” and that person is accompanied by an invisible Phantom Beast.

But even if we find the perpetrator, it’s like cutting off the tail of a dragon. The root of Sajad will not die.

In this situation with no evidence, it’s impossible to take action against him and also impossible to prove that his ability is not just a figment of imagination.

I want to slap myself for thinking that “Sajad is not much of a threat.” It’s so troublesome to be attacked using others.

Why is he trying to harm me in the first place?

As I was tightly gripping my fist, His Highness took my hand.

[For a while, we must always act together with either a Phantom Beast or me. Emilia is also necessary. Her healing magic will be useful.]

I followed His Highness instructions for this month. There have been no attacks since the incident on the stairs.

Sometimes when Sajad and I make eye contact, he glances at Emilia and looks away. I never thought his disdain for the commoners would become a barrier for me.

Before I realized it, the principal’s speech was over and the students were getting up from their seats. It seemed the rain had weakened while I was lost in thought.

Outside, the rain was still falling, but the sun was peeking through the gaps in the clouds.

I don’t know what Sajad Mahajanjiga is trying to do.

But I won’t let him have his way.

As I looked up at the brightening sky, I made that decision in my heart.

Chapter 56

One day, after a string of humid and sticky days, I peeked into my locked locker after school and found a piece of paper sticking out through the crack in the door.

Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a summons from a male student——not the kind that would make my heart race, however.

The sender was someone I knew well.

I was already on my way back to the dormitory, but I returned to the school building instead. After searching for the designated classroom and entering, I found him there, already waiting for me.

“Rebecca, I’m sorry to have bothered you to come all this way.”

“No, Maysen-sama, how can I help you?”

The person there was a male student with a cool demeanor who looked good in glasses. The orange sunset outside the window, combined with the light, made it look like a painting.

He was Gadd Maysen.

In the same second year as me and in love with Emilia. He holds the title of five highs and he seems to have grown taller since I first met him.

“I’ll be blunt.”

Gadd started the conversation with a serious face.

“Do you have something with Sajad Mahajanjiga-senpai?”

The name of the person I’ve been thinking about lately came up and I almost let out a “huh?”

I purposely tilted my head.

“…No, not particularly. Why do you ask?”

“No… It’s just that, personally, I don’t trust him. I saw you talking to him in the staff building before.”

Gadd smiles wryly. The reason I had been called was because I thought it was related to Emilia, so I was honestly surprised.

And, this time, I finally said “Ah” A page from the strategy guide came to mind.

This, could it be an event?

Let’s not hide it, Gadd Maysen this man, was promoted to a target from the second part!

Last year, he was a support character. Players voiced their frustrations “Why can’t I fall in love with this handsome, tall man?” and even the behind-the-scenes were written in the strategy guide.

[Gadd Maysen calls her to an empty classroom and tells her to be careful of Sajad. This act is a milestone for the main character who is brainwashed by Sajad from [summer] onward.]

It’s definitely this event in terms of content. But it’s strange.

Because, this event was supposed to be a [reward event]. It only occurs when the target’s favorability is extremely high at that point.

The [cold nursing event] that happened around the fall of the first part was also a kind of reward event.

I’m sure after this, there will be an [accidental chu(kissチュー)].

That’s where the problem is. I, with my arms crossed, faced Gadd.

――――What is [chu (kissチュー)]?

I understand the [accidental] part, but what is this [chu]? Either I’m ignorant or it’s something in [Japanese].

I intended to look it up and read later, but eventually left it as is because it was supposed to be an event that should not have happened.

So, the details of what will happen next are unknown. However, it goes without saying that I don’t intend to participate in an event with Gadd Maysen, so let’s leave here for now.

I thought about it and opened my mouth. I stopped crossing my arms and bowed.

“Maysen-sama, thank you for speaking to me. There’s no problem with Mahajanjiga-sama, so I apologize for leaving.”

After properly refusing the kind person who seemed to have spoken to me, I tried to head for the exit.

It was at that moment that I took a step forward.

“Wha, Kyah?!”

My foot slipped spectacularly. It was a slick, slippery feeling like oil had been scattered.

“R-Rebecca-san?!”

I couldn’t help but grab Gadd’s uniform. It seems that he also lost his balance due to the sudden event.

But it was as if he were a target to be captured, he sheltered me and ended up lying on top of me. We fell together.

In the falling moment, my lips overlapped his————

But that did not happen.

Because, almost at the point of kissing, I twisted my hand on the floor and turned my head, just barely avoiding it.

The air froze. My heart was pounding and I broke out in a cold sweat. Even though we were in an abnormal situation of being pushed down and pushed, we couldn’t say anything.

D-Dangerous. I almost just kissed Gadd.

“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry…”

“N-No, it’s okay.”

I carefully stood up while holding onto a nearby wall.

Gadd’s face is bright blue. I understand how he feels. On the day that you kissed someone like me, I have to say, I had no idea what His Highness would do to you. I even feel like there’s a possibility that you might not be able to live in this country anymore.

I stood up carefully so as not to step on the spot where I slipped just now. Gadd was doing the same.

Immediately after that, however, it was Gadd who suddenly and vigorously stumbled down, even though he was not even walking.

“Whoa?!”

Gadd’s hand sought support and cut through the air. He slammed both hands on the wall behind me as if he were collapsing.

But he couldn’t kill the momentum, and his face approached mine.

“?!

I couldn’t take it anymore and squeezed my eyes shut————

Whoops, I bent over.

There was a loud noise above me. If I were to put it in words, it would be “Bam!” Gadd must have hit his forehead or nose, or maybe both, on the wall.

“Maysen-sama! Let go———.”

“Wait, Rebecca-san! Let’s stop moving for a moment!”

“Y-Yes!”

Gadd stops me as I try to stand up. Looking up, I see that he’s holding his forehead with teary eyes. That’s going to be a bruise.

Even so, I stare at the floor that looks like nothing has changed.

“What’s wrong with the floor in this classroom? Did we use the wrong amount of wax?”

“Ah, maybe that’s it…I’ll tell the teacher about it later.”

“That would be good.”

Gadd seems to have recovered for the time being. His voice becomes serious.

“Rebecca-san, the floor here is dangerous. Let’s try to escape without stepping on the floor by using our powers together.”

“Yes, but how…”

“What about your Phantom Beast today?”

“It’s still in my pocket, but it’s not much help in this cramped classroom.”

“I see. I didn’t bring my Phantom Beast today, and the conditions aren’t right right now…”

Gadd looks around the classroom. It looks like he’s measuring the distance to the exit.

“Okay. Let’s use wind magic to jump to the exit all at once.”

“With wind magic?”

“Yes. But it’s impossible for me alone to lift one person. We’ll use our wind magic together.”

“I see…!”

I sat at Gadd’s feet and nodded mysteriously.

“I don’t know if it will work, so I’ll go first.”

“That’s dangerous.”

“Even so, I am a noble. I cannot let the future queen get hurt… If something happens to me, could you please feed the goldfish in my room?”

I held my breath.

“What would happen if there was an “what if” in a room with a slippery floor like this——what would happen?”

I don’t know, but it’s probably dangerous.

But Gadd’s voice was genuinely serious. Seeing his eyes, filled with strong will, I thought that I couldn’t panic.

“…Understood. Let’s definitely make it a success.”

Gadd nodded deeply.

As I focused on the destination and quietly increased my magic, I naturally understood that my breathing was in sync with Gadd’s.

“Three, two.”

“One…!”

Gadd took a big jump and immediately caused a side wind that pushed him forward. Gadd caused a vertical wind from below to delay his landing.

The two forces harmoniously blended without collision, and Gadd’s body was carried to the exit.

Gadd turned back with a smile as he landed in the hallway.

“Rebecca-san, I did it!”

“Yes!”

I followed by jumping in the same way, and landed even more smoothly and lightly on the hallway.

Gadd and I shook hands firmly, facing each other. It was the moment when a certain friendship had sprouted in our hearts, which had overcome the crisis together.

After congratulating each other on our successes, we parted ways. However, telling Emilia about this event was a mistake.

Emilia was not at all impressed by the whole flow, and if anything, she was a bit put off.

Gadd’s love journey was still one step away. Somehow, it was pitiful that he still couldn’t find love, even after a year.

Anyway, I returned home in a good mood and checked the strategy guide, and I quickly turned blue. I should have thoroughly read it to the end.

This matter is something that I will keep secret even if I die.

The next morning, there was a letter outside the window. I wondered what it was, and when I opened it, it was from His Highness saying “I want to talk to you for a bit soon.”

I don’t believe that the incident with Gadd has been exposed.

Please, I really believe that.

Chapter 57

The Royal Academy has two tests a year. They are not events like spring, summer, autumn, and winter, but they do affect the evaluation of titles.

This year, it will be held at the end of June, so there are still about two weeks left.

So today, it’s a study session with His Highness.

A few days ago, I received a letter from His Highness. I was surprised and worried that the failed accident with Gadd was known, but when I opened it, it was an invitation to study together.

The place is the school’s special lounge. I used it once with His Highness about a year ago, so it feels nostalgic.

In fact, today is the first time I’m studying with His Highness. Because our school years are different, we don’t have any classes together.

So I was looking forward to it.

“…Your Highness.”

“What?”

“Are you not going to study…?”

His Highness isn’t opening his textbook, nor does he have a pen in his hand. Instead, he’s looking at me who is studying, playing with my hair, and reading my notes with interest.

As a result, I haven’t been able to understand anything from my textbook since a while ago.

“Your Highness, today we’re supposed to study together, right?”

“No, today only Rebecca came to study. I came to bother Rebecca.”

“What?!”

When I turned my head, he was smiling.

Although it’s a rare expression for him, who is expressionless except when he’s with me, ‘cool’ lost to ‘what, no way’ ”

“I’m harassing my fiancée who almost kissed another man.”

————He’s found out!

I shouted inside my heart. Why? I had told Emilia but not Melinda.

When I think about it, His Highness always finishes his studies during his spare time from official duties. He doesn’t take the time to do that specifically.

His Highness’ intention today was to bother me who is studying.

“…Your Highness, could you please teach me this problem?”

“…This is——”

But if I ask, he’ll teach me properly. While looking at his beautiful profile, the thought “he’s really kind” came to me. Oh, and his eyelashes are long.

After listening to His Highnes’ explanation, I thanked him and closed the textbook.

I showed him a book from my bag, which he looked at curiously. It was that one with [Secret Mark] on the cover, the strategy guide.

“Your Highness, how about we read this together today?”

“Can I read it too?”

“Of course.”

We talked about it but I hadn’t shown it to him before.

He hugged me tightly, saying “You did well by yourself” to me who had told him everything at the ball last year. Now there’s nothing that would be embarrassing to show him, he already knows about the [accidental chu] too.

Suddenly, an idea came to mind.

——If we were to look back at the first part together, His Highness, wouldn’t it be incredibly interesting?

I suddenly became excited and turned the page. I opened the first part of [Vanderlei Route] and held the strategy guide close to my chest so that his Highness wouldn’t see it.

“Your Highness, it’s a multiple choice quiz! Please answer so that Nii-sama’s favorability towards you will be the highest.”

Upon hearing this, Your Highness let out a laugh. He shook his shoulders and looked down while laughing in an amusing way.

I wanted to see more and peered into his face. I couldn’t help but smile too.

“Let’s take turns asking questions!”

“Alright, I got it, I’ll do it.”

I was having so much fun that I started asking questions with a voice mixed with laughter.

“First question. On the second day of enrollment, [Your Highness] got lost in the moving classroom. In the third year——”

“Rebecca, wait.”

“When you came close to the school building, you met your capture target, Vanderlei Slutarch——”

“Rebecca, wait.”

When I looked up, His Highness was laughing so much that he had tears in the corners of his eyes.

“Please replace it with something. Don’t say [Your Highness].”

I replied with a “yes” and remembered this rare sight. He was a person whose presence alone could make those around him uneasy, even when he just smiled.

I felt a strange feeling that I was the one who brought out this smile.

“So then——on the second day of school, you got lost in the moving classrooms. When you came near the building for the third year, you were approached by your capture target, Vanderlei Slutarch. How do you respond?”

I cut off the word once. Let’s make the answers in the form of multiple choice.

“1.) [Can I ask for directions if you have the time?]

2.) [That’s a really cool horse! Can I ride it?]

3.) [Do you happen to have a younger sister in the first year?].”

“Three,” he replied immediately.

I gaped.

“Three is definitely not good,” I said.

I am the villainess in this scenario. My relationship with my brother is terrible. Bringing that up on the first meeting would be out of the question.

“But it’s three,” he said, shrugging as if to say there was nothing to be done.

He says that he does not bend even in quizzes.

As expected of the crown prince. Well, it’s the wrong answer, but.

“It seems like the best answer is two…”

“That’s as may be. But weren’t “I”lost?”

“Yes, really… Emilia, for goodness sake…”

I thought of my best friend. I could easily imagine her going on about how “that’s a really cool horse!” in front of Nii-sama’s beloved horse.

“Next it’s my turn.”

His Highness took the book from me and flipped through it. We looked into it together.

“Whose route are you going to take?”

“I am. I’m the most interested.”

“You’re brave!”

His Highness scanned the letters in search of a problem.

And he muttered. The words seemed to naturally spill out from his lips.

“You have a good mother.”

For a moment, I forgot to breathe. My chest felt like something was overflowing and my eyes grew hot.

I was that happy.

“…right? You gave me so much love that I felt I didn’t deserve it.”

“That’s not true.”

His Highness looked up. He placed the strategy guide on his knee and took my hand instead.

“This book is filled with her feelings for Rebecca. She must have been very happy to have had such a good daughter.”

I returned His Highness’ grip. It was warm. I sniffled.

I should have been doing a quiz right now. Why was I being made to cry? As expected of His Highness.

“…Your Highness, the quiz.”

“…first question. Answer so that Llewayne’s favorability becomes the highest. When summer vacation starts, shall we return to the Duke of Slutarch’s territory together and visit my mother-in-law’s grave? How do you answer?”

“…what are the multiple choices?”

“None. Answer as Rebecca likes.”

He’s really too sweet to me.

I wiped away my tears and smiled, answering.

“Mother would be happy too, right.”

His Highness’s hand placed my hair behind my ear. I tilted my head slightly and looked up, closing my eyes.

It might be a reward for getting the correct answer.

After my tears dried, I realized something.

I open the page of the [accidental kiss] event in the strategy guide with His Highness hugging me tightly from behind.

Even after reading it again, it still says that this is an “affection event” and won’t happen unless the favorability is extremely high at that point.

It was strange from the beginning.

I talked about my thoughts with His Highness, who was resting his chin on my shoulder.

“If you think about it, this is a story of what would happen if the relationships were reset when the second part of the game begins. But reality is not like that.”

Gadd and I have been classmates for a year at the Academy.

On the other hand, even if it says “extremely high favorability” at this point in the [Gadd route], it’s well known that it’s only for a short period of time from April to June.

That’s probably why the affection event occurred.

I was relieved and my doubts were resolved. But His Highness was not.

“In other words, will similar [reward events] with other capture targets also happen from now on?”

I tried not to look at His Highness. His mood was in a rapid decline as if it was falling from the atmosphere to the ground.

While pretending not to notice the black aura that was bursting out from the side, I flipped through the strategy guide.

“I have Nii-sama in the summer, but this is okay. Your Highness will have another one in the winter, but that one is okay, too…”

My older brother has already graduated from the Academy, but he is actually the second part’s hidden strategy target. He is extremely popular.

“Wait, what’s the event with me?”

I wanted to brush it off, but His Highness responded. I mutter while turning my face away with all my might.

“It’s called [Exciting Secret Room Event]…”

“I see… I’m looking forward to it.”

I suddenly felt an impulse to jump out of the window. Why was it so sad to have to tell my fiance about the existence of such an event? And please stop whispering in my ear.

“And then there’s Oswald-Ceden-sama, right, Um… Ah, this one.”

“What is it?”

I had put off reading the event, but there was one more. Like [Accidental Kiss], I didn’t understand the meaning of the name. ”

“Well, [Lucky Lewd Event]——”

When the two of us looked at that page, I regretted all of my actions for the past few minutes. And I earnestly wished that this event would not happen to me.

Later, I received a letter of consultation from Oswald Ceden, saying “I feel like Llewayne has been giving me cold, piercing glances lately.”

I replied with a message that said, “It’s not your fault. Please don’t blame yourself.”

Yes, it’s not his fault.

I feel like asking what’s been going on recently, with that otome game.

Chapter 58

The Royal Academy’s test is held for one week. Even though the motivation is high in the first half, the fatigue accumulates and then it doesn’t matter anymore, and in the end, it’s fatigue and exhaustion.

After everything was over, Emilia, who had collapsed on a four-person table in the courtyard, was steaming from her head. She fanned herself with her hand.

“Emilia, good work.”

“Ugh, Rebecca-sama… a reward please…”

“Ah, Rebecca, I also want a reward.”

“Rebecca, I beg of you too.”

Emilia was supposed to be the only one who approached me, but she was followed by others.

Emilia collapsed on the desk, still steaming, and glared at the speaker of the last voice. Sitting opposite her was His Highness who sat next to me.

“Unfortunately, but this is a privilege only for me and my good friend Melinda, who has been taught by Rebecca-sama. Outsiders, please leave.”

His Highness opened his mouth after taking a quick glance at the situation.

“If she taught you how to study, the one who should be rewarded is not you but Rebecca.”

“Ara Emilia, what shall we do? That sounds fair.”

“Fairness also please leave…”

Melinda was stirring things up, but Emilia had no fighting spirit. She seemed to have become quite tired.

I became genuinely worried and asked Emilia.

“Emilia, what would you like as a reward?”

As soon as Emilia heard that, she stood up with a loud sound as if she had been waiting for it. Melinda, who was sitting next to her on the same long chair, let out a scream.

“[test of courage], please!”

I don’t understand the meaning, but I know that I worried for nothing.

Four days later, three days into the summer vacation.

Most of the students had already packed up and gone home, but some of the people who were still in the dormitory were gathered in the girls’ dormitory cafeteria by Emilia.

And that was in the middle of the night.

His Highness sitting next to me makes a small yawn. It’s quite rare, but I don’t have the leisure to enjoy it. It’s all because Emilia is too serious about this gathering today.

“Everyone, thank you for gathering for the [test of courage].”

For some reason, Emilia doesn’t allow any lights on, so the candles placed in the center of the table were illuminating her face from below.

More than her face, the dark room, the fierce rain and wind outside, and the windows shaking violently, Emilia’s seriousness genuinely scares me the most.

I looked around, although I could not see much due to poor visibility.

His Highness is sitting next to me on my right, next to Melinda. I can’t see the person sitting next to her because it’s too dark, but it’s probably Fried.

Next to it, across from me, it’s too dark to see.

However, from the voice, it seems to be Gadd Maysen, Brian Marc, Kyaran Goudes, the three people who stayed in the dormitory and got caught up in it. It’s just a word of bad luck.

And next to me will be Emilia.

What exactly is going to start now?

In the first place, what is the meaning of [test of courage]?

“We’re going to tell each other a terrifying story now. When you extinguished your candle, your story was over. I’ve prepared one candle for each person, and the meeting will end when the last candle is extinguished.”

In short, it seems that we are going to have a scary story conference.

It is not an event because it is not in the strategy guide. It is Emilia’s idea.

Let’s begin. The order is whatever you want, but let’s start with me first. Have you ever heard of a [kappa]? It is a creature with a shell like a turtle and a head covered with a dish. There are various legends about [Kappa]——.”

I unconsciously swallowed my saliva. What should I do? The atmosphere is a bit scary.

However, these feelings faded away when Emilia continued her story with glowing eyes.

“It is said that [Kappa] were the downfall(result) of the [Heike warriors] in the [Battle of Dan-no-ura], but what would happen if they were challenged to a [sumo] match and defeated by [Kappa]?”

(TL: It’s too gibberish for me to understand)

Emilia collected herself strangely there.

“They will be robbed,” [she said], “of their [cherry blossom ball].”

——And then she said something else that nobody understood.

“Hey, Emilia.”

The one who interrupted the conversation was Melinda, judging by her voice. Because of the way the candlelight was gradually getting dimmer, everyone’s faces were becoming harder to see.

“Sorry, that specialist language is too much. I can’t seem to follow the conversation at all.”

“Eh?”

Emilia raised her voice! It seems like she finally realized that she isn’t scaring anyone.

“Ugh, I failed,” she muttered and blew out the candle.

Before anyone could think about who would go next, a voice came from next to me.

“When I was a kid, I went on my own to the depths of the palace basement.”

I turned around abruptly. Yes, it was His Highness. Was he unexpectedly excited about this?

“When I found a room that wasn’t on the map and went in, there were mountains of dead bodies. When I tried to go back, I couldn’t find it again. I heard later that there’s a room in the palace basement that thieves who got lost trying to break in end up in.”

It was as if everyone suddenly stopped breathing and no one said anything.

The only thing that could be heard was the strange, loud sound of the wind outside.

“Wait?! Scary, scary, scary!”

“What should I do! I don’t want to go to the summer evening party!”

Everyone starts to make noise all at once.

His Highness laughed softly and blew out a candle.

Then, someone’s voice says, “Then it’s my turn next.”

“There’s a story in the knights’ group. It’s said that a knight who couldn’t meet an honorable death, wanders around looking for opponents to fight at night. Because he leaves the flowing blood as it is, there’s often a red-black line that continues in the morning. You must never follow that. Because it’s connected.”

One candle goes out.

“I heard this story from a distant relative. He sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night, and when that happens, there’s always someone standing nearby. All he could see was a pair of white feet, but he slowly started to bend to try to see the face. He said that once he sees that, it’s over. ——He passed away the other day.”

Another one goes out.

“I heard this kind of story before. Somewhere in this Academy, there’s an artificial creature that was made by a student long ago, and it still lives there. When it gets dark, it comes out of the caves looking for that student. It’s said that it wants to find and kill them.”

“Oh, that story. From what I heard, that creature is made by combining a human and several living things and can live in water. So at night, it drips water from its body and wets the school building with its tears.”

Two more went away. In the end.

“By the way, have you heard about this kind of horror story? It’s perfect for something to sneak in, so be careful.”

One of the remaining two has disappeared.

“Huh…?

Whose voice was that muttering?

“Rebecca-sama, you haven’t spoken yet.”

Everyone stared at the candles.

“Hey, why——”

——Only one is left?

At that moment, with a loud noise, the door to the cafeteria suddenly opened.

“KI-Kyaaaaaaaaaa!”

“Wait, who’s been talking until now?!”

“Hey, who the hell is hitting me?!”

Loud voices are heard. After a few minutes of shouting, the lights suddenly came on.

Squinting in the unfamiliar light, everyone looked around.

Melinda, who was still screaming in Fried’s robe, Fried who was hugging her, Gadd with his sword at the ready, Brian who quickly ran away, Kyaran who was pretending to be calm but couldn’t hide her shaking, and Emilia who seemed to have fainted from fear.

There was quite a lot of chaos there.

Finally, I saw that person sitting next to me having a great time.

“…Your Highness.”

“What is it?”

“During a moment when no one was looking, you put out one of the candles, right…?”

“I thought Rebecca would be scared and cling to me.”

His Highness showed no signs of embarrassment.

“You even opened the door with magic. Everyone was so scared.”

“No.”

“Right——Wait, what?”

When I looked at His Highness again, he was staring at the door that had suddenly opened a moment ago.

“That wasn’t me.”

“…Eh?”

“Maybe something really did come in… Well, goodnight, Rebecca.”

“W-Wait, Your Highness! You’re kidding, right?!”

His Highness only replied with “Come on.” and tried to stand up from his seat.

After I got sent back to my dorm room while clinging to his arm, I realized “Oh, it doesn’t seem to have gone as His Highness thought.”

That night, of course, the four of us, me, Emilia, Melinda, and Kyaran, huddled together and went to sleep.

Chapter 59

It was the middle of July and it had become increasingly hot. I was in a carriage, on my way to attend a night event held at the palace.

It all began about two weeks before the start of summer vacation.

It was unexpected when His Highness came to visit my room during daylight hours, and said this to me.

“Rebecca, an event has come up.”

His Highness and I spread out the strategy guide. He pointed to one page with his finger.

[[Summer vacation, evening event.]…]

His Highness’ explanation matched the one in the strategy guide. A small night event will be held at the palace of the Huaverdon kingdom this summer, and I have been invited as His Highness’ partner.

In other words, this is the first time I will be officially appearing as His Highness’ fiancée.

I naturally tense up, but His Highness looks at my face and gently combs through my hair.

“Don’t think about it too much. Just be yourself, Rebecca. Let’s go make a dress together.”

His kind words made my heart flutter. His Highness said to me, “Choose something that will look great on you, but doesn’t reveal too much.”

We went to make a dress together during the holiday that followed, but honestly, I had never put so much effort into choosing a dress before.

I had to be perfect, so I was a bit exhausted.

So, what is an evening party anyway?

Men and women dance wildly, enjoy witty conversations, and indulge in high-end cuisine and vintage wines——you might think that’s an elegant gathering. But you would be very wrong.

Only raccoons or foxes are there or, at best, prey animals like rabbits. You can’t just have fun at an evening party.

I will be allowed to stay at the palace from the morning of the evening party.

Normally, you would prepare at home and come to the party at night, but since I am His Highness’ fiancee, I have the special privilege of having a room.

I start preparing in the afternoon and then head out to the party at night.

From the swaying carriage window, I looked up at the grand and glittering palace, which was so big that I couldn’t see the whole thing.

“A palace is just a roof, I’ve even been on the roof before, it’s okay, it’s okay,” I tell myself in the carriage, straightening my back.

If you want to introduce yourself as His Highness’ fiancée, today you can’t make even one mistake.

The carriage arrives at the palace, I greet His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen. It’s actually the second time we met. Last spring vacation, I was invited to attend a garden party hosted by Her Majesty.

Her Majesty the Queen is a difficult and troublesome person, but a playful person who started a real “hide-and-seek” game with everyone participating. I had memories of her being very playful and having a good time.

After finishing the greetings, I was guided to my room. A room that can be said to be not just wide, but overly wide. The furnishings are also luxurious, and it’s a waste for me and the three maids.

I heard that I won’t be able to see His Highness until the evening party. He is extremely busy preparing for it.

Will my friends from the Academy attend? If they’re there, I want to see them, but I’m also worried that if I go out too much, I might make a mistake.

I carefully spend the time until the preparation begins, in a calm manner.

Preparations for women are difficult. I don’t know about men’s preparations, but in any case, preparations for the evening party are difficult.

Being polished all over the body in the bathroom, having my waist tied up, and wearing heavy jewels. I have to finish everything without a single gap.

My face has become like a canvas.

Even for me, who is highly rated for my manners as a noble, there are still things that I am not good at.

It’s the corset.

“Marie, does this have to be this tight?”

“Please bear with it, My Lady…!”

I hold onto the desk, as Marie, my maid, pulls my corset with all her might. By the time it is properly tightened, I have become a holder of a slender waist that is beyond human.

All the while I was screaming like a strangled bird, so all credit goes to Marie. I’ll ask Father to give her a special bonus.

It was then that we finished preparations and took a short break.

I heard a knock and looked up quickly.

His Highness has come to greet me!

While the maid was attending to him, I checked myself in the mirror to make sure there was nothing strange. I have to be perfect for this battle called evening party. If I make a mistake, I’ll be the laughing stock.

“Um, My Lady.”

But the maid who came back had a face without a smile, to my dismay.

“His Highness Llewayne can’t escort you to the evening party. He has a problem he needs to take care of.”

“…Eh.”

As my feelings rapidly wilted, I suddenly realized something.

That’s right, this is an event.

“Well, then, there’s someone who can take his place as an escort——.”

The maid’s words didn’t reach the end.

I noticed the person approaching from the side too late, and that person enveloped me in both arms.

He’s not his highness, but I don’t think I want to resist.

I heard a powerful voice from above my head.

“I wanted to see you! You’ve become a beauty again, my cute Rebecca!”

I thought a sun-like smile was directed at me. And then, I was closed in his warm arms again. This time, I hugged him back.

“I missed you too, Niisama!”

Vanderlei Slutarch. A graduate of the academy, former three strongest and the future Duke, and also has a very manly and stylish appearance.

In the first part, he was the [Admired senior] position of the capture target. In the second part, he was promoted to [Admired graduate].

Being an escort for the evening party instead is a reward event in the [Vanderlei Route]. I had forgotten about it because I was too excited.

It seems that I am not as comfortable as I thought.

When I thought Nii-sama had finally released me from his embrace, he said, “One more time.” and pressed me again.

“Rebecca is adorable! You can save the country with that alone!”

“Thank you very much.”

The way he complimented me made me laugh as if it were for a child.

Nii-sama reached out his hand as if he wanted to stroke my head, but he seemed to have remembered that he should not touch it like a work of art, which is intricately woven.

Finally, he stroked the air above my head.

“Did His Highness invite you?”

“Yeah, I was planning to pass on tonight’s party because Cectiara can’t attend, but!”

Nii-sama closed his eyes and folded his arms, then opened his mouth and said with feeling.

“Suddenly the window of the room shattered, and I thought a carriage had crashed into me, but it was His Highness’ Phantom Beast! It was the first time I’ve flown in the sky on someone’s beak! It was already an abduction!”

“Oh…”

He immediately went to a room in the palace to get ready and then came here.

Maybe Grue was too excited. Or perhaps he was told by His Highness that “Vanderlei is strong, so it doesn’t matter if it’s rough.”

As I stared off into the distance, Nii-sama knelt in front of me and respectfully held out his hand.

“His Highness is already in the venue. Will you allow me to escort you to His Highness?”

“Yes!”

I took her hand, feeling like a princess.

Chapter 60

In the middle of the huge hall of the palace, a woman was surrounded by noblemen.

She was named Adela Mortimer, a 14-year-old girl who was known as the “future socialite flower” and the daughter of an Earl.

While surrounded by men who had gathered around her without permission, she secretly let out a sigh without anyone noticing.

(I’m sick of men who look at other people’s faces and snigger miserably.)

Does feeling like a flower surrounded by bees feel like this? Adela was now so fed up that she felt bothered by having to suppress her feelings.

(What suits me is more…)

She looked around discreetly, her target person was sitting next to the king and queen.

She had never seen such a beautiful man. His perfectly proportioned body, his princely golden hair, and blue eyes like a lapis lazuli were all ideal.

——Llewayne Huaverdon, the first prince.

She aimed for the timing when he left his seat in the exclusive area for royalty and headed to him, leaving behind the men.

“Llewayne-sama, how are you?”

She greeted him politely, but the prince didn’t turn around, it seemed he didn’t hear her.

She clears her throat lightly. The prince looks down at Adela with an unreadable expression.

“——Nice to meet you.”

“I’m sorry, Llewayne-sama. We just met the other day.”

Even her voice was perfect. Adela smiled at the prince’s joke.

The prince is wearing a tuxedo that can only be seen at evening parties.

The color is usually black, but she knows that he often wears gray ones. Elegant and simple, the high-class design highlights his inherent charm.

“Llewayne-sama——”

“Sorry, I don’t have time. Excuse me.”

Adela pouted. The prince is still cold. This is why he is called [cold beauty].

However, the piercing, ice-like gaze and the absolute zero attitude are also something that she likes about him if it’s him.

“Just a little more——”

It was then. The prince suddenly shifted his gaze to the entrance of the hall. There was a pause as the entrance opened.

Another group of attendees had arrived. That’s all it should be.

But it wasn’t just the prince who looked strange.

A commotion like a wave spread throughout the huge hall. Both men and women, regardless of their relationship with the prince, looked in the same direction and whispered to each other.

——Who is that?

——How beautiful.

——Do you know her?

——The one next to her is Slutarch’s son.

——So, it’s her.

——Ah, Duke must have kept her safe.

——The Slutarch’s Jeweled Daughter

Adela was startled by the sudden change in atmosphere. She felt that the whole hall had been transformed by the person who had just entered.

No one was paying attention to Adela anymore.

“Llewayne-sama.” Adela was at a loss and called out to the prince.

And then she doubted her own eyes.

The prince had completely forgotten about Adela and was only looking at the “Slutarch’s Jeweled Daughter” with his eyes.

His usually cold and beautiful lips were now curved into a relaxed smile. He would not be called “cold beauty” at this moment.

Adela saw a human who had fallen in love for the first time at that moment.

And that too, was the same person, in love for the many thousands of times.

Feeling at a loss, Adela finally turned to the entrance.

The first thing she saw was the tall Slutarch’s son.

His brown hair was tied back in a ponytail, and his bangs were flowing back, revealing a forehead that was usually hidden.

He was definitely a handsome man. When he had engaged to the Marquis’s daughter half a year ago, Adela had been shocked.

From the shadows, one woman appeared.

The dress that she is wearing has a light blue color at the bottom and becomes a deeper blue as it goes up, with a beautiful gradient. Additionally, there is gold embroidery scattered all over the dress, it’s truly the color of Prince Llewayne.

As she raises her gaze from the bottom, when she finally sees the face, Adela’s heart makes a sound and breaks.

Skin smoother than porcelain, cheeks with a slight redness, lips more attractive than ripe fruit.

With long eyelashes that adorn drooping eyelids, and a faint tear mole next to them.

Hair is glossy like black pearls, and on both ears and the nape of the neck, there are many jewels that are worth half the wealth of Adela’s house, hanging down as if it is normal.

She looked up. Adela looked straight at the man next to her.

The moment she knew that his eyes were clear gray, Adela collapsed from her knees.

[Defeat]. This character dominated Adela’s heart.

But, Adela’s defeat did not end there.

“Excuse me, are you okay? Did you get hurt?”

When she looks up at the voice that sounds like a model of a bell, there is the lady in question in front of her, extending her hand to Adela.

Adela’s lips quivered. The woman who was supposed to be walking towards the prince was talking to Adela, who was sitting next to her before the prince.

And because the woman was starting to get closer to Adela’s face, Adela’s mind was in chaos.

Unable to understand, Adela closed her eyes tightly. “What should I do?” and “It smells so good.” were the only thoughts that came to mind.

The approaching lips stopped next to Adela’s ear.

“I know, the corset is too painful and makes you anemic. Can you stand up?”

Adela opened her eyes wide. What happened after that is vague in her memory.

The only thing that she can clearly remember is that she strongly thought, “Anyway, I want to join the fan club.”

Chapter 61

I headed to the hall where the evening party was being held as Nii-sama’s escort.

When I entered, eyes were gathered on me. Being in the position of His Highness’ fiancée makes me stand out in some way. I’m used to it by now, so bring it on.

I immediately found His Highness. He looked at me and smiled slightly, narrowing his eyes as usual.

I was about to go to his side, but I saw a pale and staggering lady.

When I approached her, she was a cute girl and looked like she hadn’t entered the Academy yet.

It was pitiable that a child like her would be tied up in a corset like me. Isn’t it considered child abuse?

With indignation, I tried to intervene, and someone put their hand on my shoulder.

“Rebecca.”

“Nii-sama?”

With an expression I had never seen before, Nii-sama slowly shook his head.

“Please stop. It’s overkill.”

Oh, that familiar word. Mother often used it. The meaning is, to give excessive damage to the opponent or something like that.

I tilt my head because I’m not fighting anyone right now.

“I’ll take that lady. Then, Your Highness, please take care of my sister.”

Nii-sama extended his right hand to His Highness with a reserved look on his face.

“Ah, I’m grateful for the sudden request.”

His Highness took his hand and responded.

Mishi…! At that moment, a sound that could hardly be considered a handshake came out.

If you look, both of them raised the muscles of their hands, and no matter how you think about it, they were trying to crush each other’s right hand. I let out a yelp.

Even though Nii-sama’s temples were bulging with blue veins and he still didn’t break his smile, he left with a lady who was not feeling well.

“Your Highness, is your right hand okay?”

I spoke to His Highness in a doubtful low voice, wondering if he could hear me or not. His hand was white, as if the blood flow had stopped for a moment.

“Yeah. The trick to shaking hands with Vanderlei is to go with the intention of breaking bones.”

“Why…”

“I actually broke my bones the first time I shook hands with him. Well, I broke his bones too.”

“So why…”

When I was thinking that I would have to question Nii-sama as soon as I got home, I noticed something.

I should have been quite nervous, but I found myself feeling relaxed.

I don’t think they were playing a trick on me to relax me——that’s not it. No, it’s different.

Anyway, I greeted His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen, and then talked nonstop with the people who kept coming to talk to me.

Marquis house, Earl house, Baron house, Viscount house——Marquis Goudes was also there. He is Kyaran’s father.

Suddenly, as I looked up and back, my eyes met Fried Neher, who was standing beside the wall. Even he seems to have taken off that completely black robe today.

I wonder if he’s been asked by His Majesty to take care of my security again.

Come to think of it, Melinda had muttered, “Fried-sama has been so quiet lately.” Maybe he’s just tired from having more work.

As I felt a little apologetic, someone called out to me from behind.

“Your Highness Llewayne, Duke Slutarch’s daughter, you look well. Oh my, you two are truly like jewels, so beautiful.”

His Highness put more force into his hand, which was on my waist. I also strengthened my caution inside.

The one there was Viscount Mahajanjiga. The father of Sajad Mahajanjiga. It’s my first time seeing him in person.

He greets us with a smile, but if allowed, I would like to show my confusion on the surface. It was that unexpected.

————Is this man Sajad’s father?

The father I imagined is a man who is smart and has a good appearance but is actually a crooked man. But the actual Viscount was a blatant and pathetic man who shook hands with me and His Highness.

The gap between the two is strangely troubling.

Because Sajad can’t defy his father, in the scenario, he brainwashed the protagonist Emilia and in reality, he should be attacking me.

The vague discomfort was temporarily pushed to the corner of my head when Marquis Zoff talked to me next.

Now I have to focus on making this evening party a success.

The party continued until midnight and I fulfilled my role as a fiancé next to His Highness until the end.

On the way home, His Highness, who sent me home by carriage to the Capital’s Duke’s mansion, told me “what I couldn’t say during the party.” It was a great compliment, but it’s a side story.

Chapter 62

“Wow! It’s been a long time!”

As the summer vacation was about to turn around, I was enjoying a night flight in the sky.

Just above was an infinite starry sky that seemed to fall at any moment. Below was the shine of a city that also played a role as a guidepost.

And what I can see now is my hometown(dukedom) where I was born and raised. I can’t help but lean out and peek in.

The city looked like a diorama, with lights everywhere, and it looked like I was looking at beautiful toys.

“Rebecca, don’t fall.”

That’s what His Highness said as he hugged me from behind. He had a playful tone, but his voice was extremely calm, and I’m sure he was enjoying this trip.

“Your Highness, look! That’s the pride of our territory, the tourist town!”

“Oh, let’s go tomorrow. What’s the specialty?”

It’s “Mochimanju,” invented by my mother! Oh, that particularly bright one is the art museum, and for some reason, a picture I drew for father when I was three years old is being displayed as the main attraction!”

“As expected of Duke.”

I felt like a tour ambassador and promoted my territory to His Highness. He replied to each of them, and when no one was looking, he brought his lips close to my cheek.

It was happy but ticklish, so I laughed lightly and twisted my body sometimes.

Today is the day that I promised with His Highness before, to visit Duke’s territory together.

It’s not an official business, it’s just a little trip back home, or rather, a date. That’s why Nii-sama was hesitant and said “I can’t bear to be kicked by my beloved horse.”

The means of transportation were Christina and Grue. We alternated between riding one and taking breaks on the other, and with the wind magic blowing in our favor, we arrived in one day. Amazing.

When we got off in front of Duke’s residence, my uncle came out to greet us. His face is always friendly and he never loses his smile.

“Welcome back from your long trip… there may not be much to see here, but please enjoy your stay…”

He is in charge of managing the territory instead of my father who works in the Royal Capital.

Despite his appearance and attitude, he is a real operator. I call him “uncle who seems to fly away with just his hair blowing in the wind”.

When His Highness heard me call him that, he struggled to hold back his laughter while greeting my uncle and looking up at him.

Since it’s already late today, we plan to take it easy and sightsee tomorrow. We’ll stay here again tomorrow and return to the Royal Capital the day after.

His Highness seemed to be looking at the Duke’s residence with interest. To be honest, even I haven’t been to all the places in the house. It’s quite large.”

After having dinner, I led His Highness’ hand and headed towards my mother’s grave.

When we went out to the backyard, the sounds of summer insects greeted us. Although the temperature was lower than during the day, there was still some sort of suffocating heat.

We advanced towards the back, as if chasing the dots of orange-colored lamps.

The farthest back was my mother’s graveyard. She was supposed to be buried in the cemetery where the ancestors of the Duke family are buried, but my father refused.

I sat down in front of the tombstone. Because there were many flowers that I had planted around it, it looked like a flower garden.

His Highness also sat down next to me.

“I’m home, Mother.”

I said while tracing the letters engraved on the tombstone. I couldn’t see it now because it was dark, but it should have said [Here lies Sophia Slutarch]

I folded my hands in front of my face and offered a silent prayer.

When I slowly opened my eyes and looked to the side, His Highness still had his eyes closed.

In the dark where nothing could be heard except for the insects, I looked his profile for a not-too-short time without getting tired of it.

His Highness opened his eyes. He stood up and took my hand again.

On the way back, His Highness stopped his feet.

“Ah, here.”

He murmured like a sigh, looked around lightly, and pointed at one of the flower beds.

“Rebecca, can you stand near that flower bed?”

I wondered and did as he said. When I turned to His Highness by the flower bed, His Highness aimed his right hand like a tube at his eyes and looked at me.

It feels like I am being photographed.

“This is it.

“What is it?”

“The first time I saw Rebecca’s figure.”

His Highness said as if cherishing the memory.

I first met His Highness about a year and a little bit ago, but he saw me much earlier. Because His Highness can magically create [windows].

His Highness is probably looking at the small me through me now.

“Then this is the place to remember.”

“Yes.”

I approached His Highness and pressed my cheek against his chest. His Highness gently put his arm around me.

“Rebecca, won’t you guide me to the basement?”

I looked up and met His Highness’ blue eyes, even in the faint light.

“Yes, but there’s nothing there.”

“Oh.’”

The Duke of Slutarch does indeed have a basement. But there’s nothing there, just a hollow room. What’s the point of that?

I led His Highness and walked along the outside wall of the mansion. After a short while, there was a rusty double door.

When I was little, I wanted to open it and go in for no reason, but it was heavy and didn’t budge. That’s nostalgic.

Now, if we open it by lifting it with force, we can see that there is a descending staircase. His Highness lit the lights with magic. We are going down slowly together.

“There’s really nothing here…”

There is no door, and when we reached the bottom, it is just a basement.

It was colder inside than outside. In the pitch-black space where I could not see anything, my voice echoed.

But His Highness took one step forward. He lightly raised his hand and created multiple light sources on the ceiling.

I wonder what he’s doing. Returning my gaze forward from the ceiling, I was stunned.

There was a person in the middle of the basement.

But he was not alive, he was just there, eyes closed tightly in a transparent crystal mass.

I knew that this was eternal sleep.

I called his name with an incredulous feeling.

“Ouka.”

————It was the name of the man who spent the last year helping me, the daughter of the woman he fell in love with.

Because he was said to have committed a crime a long time ago, I knew that he was sealed again. But.

“Since when have you been here…?”

I couldn’t help but ask with a trembling voice. Perhaps His Highness noticed that I was about to collapse from losing strength, he put his hand on my waist.

“Around March. After hearing about him from Rebecca, I got permission from the principal and my uncle and moved him here. I thought it would be better to be near Duchess.”

My chest was hit. My nose hurt and my vision became blurry.

I only spoke with Ouka three times. At first I just thought he was terrifying. Next, I thought he was a mysterious person with something unknown about him.

Finally, I felt gratitude and admiration for him like a father.

Even though he looks like he’s about to open his eyes and start moving, and even though he has a face that makes me think he’s going to suddenly smile and raise his hand, he is now a person who can no longer speak.

If only I could hear his voice again, if only I could see his red eyes again, how great would that be.

“Your Highness, thank you.”

Even if I can’t stop the tears that keep overflowing, there’s someone who will wipe them away for me. That’s thanks to both my mother and Ouka.

I was truly happy to have at least been able to see him once.

I hope that he can rest peacefully, in the same place as my mother.

Chapter 63

I spent August at my father’s house in the Royal Capital. Today, I woke up early and went to have breakfast while stretching a little.

My father was already there, looking at documents while drinking soup.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning, Rebecca.”

While waiting for breakfast to be served, I looked at the letters on the table.

There were two letters addressed to me, one in a cute pale pink envelope and the other in a plain brown envelope.

“Oh, this one’s from Emilia.”

“Really? What does it say?”

I carefully opened the pale pink envelope with a paper knife and took out the letter. There was another piece of paper inside.

“Let’s see… It looks like she’s doing well. Apparently she came up with a workout called [muscle-building exercises].”

“What?”

My father raised his head from the documents with a confused voice.

“She’s being called a “captain” by her “team members” and seems to be enjoying it.”

“…What does that mean?”

“I don’t know what it means.”

Ultimately, the letter was an invitation to a [Muscle-Building Camp.] The attached brochure had a picture of a man with dark skin showing his teeth, smiling and saying “Let’s get muscular together!” Who is he?

I decided not to pay attention to that and opened the other envelope. The sender was from the Royal Academy.

The letters began with seasonal greetings and eventually a ranking list.

“Oh, it’s the results of the June test.”

I checked the second year first and looked up at the sky.

“You’re good, Gadd Maysen…!”

My name was not in first place. I was in second place, and Emilia was in third place.

“It’s your first time not being in first place, but your father thinks it is still amazing.”

“Thank you very much…”

I was disappointed because I had taken time to prepare. I decided in my heart that I wouldn’t lose next time and looked at the other years.

The third year was, as expected, first place was His Highness, second place was Kyaran Goudes, and third place was Fried Neher.

The first year was Brian Marc in first place, so I was surprised. The difference between him and his sister, who is still fresh in our minds as “the student who kept getting the lowest scores in the Academy on the tests.”

I put down the letter I had finished reading and took a deep breath.

I slid my hand into my pocket. I took out my white snake, who still looked sleepy, and placed it on the table.

“Hey Christina, it’s almost a year since you were born. Is there anything you want?”

“Kyuu? Shuu?”

“Of course. I am still a Duke’s daughter.”

“Cuey… Cuey, Cuey.”

“Fufufu, stop, don’t say such things.”

“Cuey.”

“Fufufu, that’s enough, Christina! Fufufu.”

I laughed so hard that I held my stomach and tears came out. My father, sitting across the table, opened his mouth and looked at me with amazement. He said,

“Amazing. Rebecca can understand what that child is saying.”

“No, I don’t really understand. It’s just a feeling.”

“Oh.”

I tried to return to my conversation with Christina, but I felt someone’s gaze. Father is hesitantly putting his hand on his mouth.

“Father?”

“Oh, um, does Christina want something?”

“Yes. She taught me some clever jokes.”

“Clever jokes.”

A maid came into the room with breakfast. I thanked her and received it, and told her to “wrap it up so I can eat it outside.”

“So, I’ll be away for the day. I have a plan to come up with Christina’s [special move].”

I said that and looked at Christina with a “Okay?” face.

Father looked at me with a complicated expression and muttered “Is it really just a feeling?”

After finishing breakfast and receiving a sandwich, I put on only my hat and climbed on the back of Christina that had transformed into the shape of a dragon in the garden.

Christina’s idea of [training] and [learning a special move] probably should be done somewhere in a disinterested forest. We should probably leave the Royal Capital and go into a mountain somewhere.

There is no clear reason for this. It just feels “right.”

“That’s right, that’s perfect. If you can make something good, let’s show it off in the [summer].”

As I was flying leisurely, I thought of this.

It’s just half a month until the summer, but honestly, there’s still no plan. Christina is just perfect as she is, so it’s hard to say anything else.

I landed randomly on the mountainside that came into view.

“Well, shall we start right away?”

“Kyuu!”

Christina breathed out as if she was full of motivation. She’s cute.

“Speaking of dragons, the legends has it that they exhale something amazing. Christina, can you do it?”

There should be some kind of legend about dragons that have a breath that can mow down everything around them. I think I’ve read about it in a book.

Christina raised her face and opened her mouth with a pop. She tried to force something out with a “shu, shu,” but nothing seemed to happen.

“Shu…”

Christina dropped her shoulders. No, she doesn’t have any shoulders, but she’s feeling down.

“It’s not your fault, Christina. We really don’t know if there’s such a dragon.”

After all, Christina is the first dragon Phantom Beast in the Academy’s hundred-year history. I stroke her scales all over her arm.

“Your claws are sharp. Let’s use them. Christina, [some sort of amazing claws]!”

Pointing to a handy thick tree, I say. Christina originally sharpened her claws like cutters, and scraped the trunk of the tree diagonally.

Just when nothing seems to happen, the tree moves as if it is the first to realize that it is being cut. The tree falls in half.

“Wow, amazing!”

“Cuey!”

I clapped my hands and was pleased. It was a great sharpness. A sword would not be a match for it, perhaps the highest quality sword.

Christina also seemed happy and coiled around me, hugging me tightly.

“It’s a matter of how to say it! Christina, [some sort of amazing breath]!”

I stuck my arm out of the sleeve and pointed to the sky. Christina responded to my voice and opened her mouth in that direction.

“Gaah!”

In an instant, a white flame enveloped the roar that covered the sky. It reached high and broke through the huge cumulonimbus clouds. The cumulonimbus clouds were instantly swept away by the light.

I am at a loss for words. With my mouth half open, I lowered my raised hand.

I made a sound and looked at Christina. Christina also looked at me fearfully.

“Wow, that was amazing! Christina!”

I jumped onto her white body and stroked her within reach.

Christina seemed surprised that she wasn’t getting scolded, but she soon submitted to me.

Perhaps, this practice that Christina has suggested is for me.

[Spring] probably thought of her as she saw me getting shot by arrows or falling from stairs, “I need to become stronger.”

Even so, getting angry at just burning the sky a bit, is not becoming of a master.

“Thank you. I love you.”

I pressed my forehead against hers and hugged her big head. Love is never enough, no matter how much you express it. I am a lucky master to have such a good child.

After that, for a while, the talk of the legendary [Dragon Breath] being observed took over the Royal Capital.

As I was pressed for confirmation, His Highness contacted me first. I apologized. This was also part of my job as her master.

Chapter 64

With a dry burst of noise, fireworks were launched into the sky of the Royal Capital. Continuously, one after another, another one. Even in the morning sky, they were visible and of various colors, very beautiful.

I sat on a simple chair and looked up at the sky.

I wonder who was the first person to think “Let’s make flowers bloom in the sky.”

Surely there must be a romantic reason for it, but speaking of the fireworks that were just launched, they were a signal of five minutes before the start of [Summer] and [Phantom Beast Festival].

[Phantom Beast Festival] is a festival that is celebrated throughout the country. The Academy is open to the public and tourists come in droves, despite the heat.

It is divided into three parts, and in the morning, we second-year students have to show off our Phantom Beasts in our designated area.

To tell the truth, I am also sitting in my designated area, sweating profusely under the scorching sun.

In [Summer], it is traditional for the two out of the [Three Strong] who graduated last year to participate as representatives of the graduates.

In the distant makeshift stage, I could see the figure of a woman riding on the back of a cheetah and a woman who led a swarm of countless butterflies.

“Long time no see, Royal Academy! We are the representatives of the graduates this year!”

“Everyone, sorry for the long absence. Thank you for having us.”

With the arrival of Olivier, Marc, and Cectiara, Zoff, the courtyard where the event was held was engulfed in a frenzy that made it feel like the temperature had risen by several degrees. The particularly loud cheers from the men were especially impressive. Excitement could be heard all around. The audience was drawn to the stage as if they were being sucked in.

“I wanted to see it up close too…”

Without hiding my bad mood, I mumbled.

“This is where the second-year students always complain every year.”

A reply came back from the next space. It was Gadd, Maysen.

With his sharp eyes and cool atmosphere that suits his glasses, he was the epitome of a summer vacation before.

————But.

“Maysen-sama, did you do some muscle training…?”

He had transformed from a fine-featured beauty to a martial arts-based handsome man.

“Oh, you noticed? This is thanks to the [Muscle-Building Exercise].”

He called the name of my friend whom I had not seen yet. Emilia, what did you do during this holiday?

Ignoring Gadd, who was happily talking about the benefits of the [Muscle-Building Exercise] even though I hadn’t asked. I will not participate in this gathering, no matter how the world turns upside down.

I regained my consciousness on the simple stage.

Olivier and Cectiara-sama are saying something, but the momentum of the men is too strong and they are being drowned out. They are competing for a spot on the stage that is as close as possible.

The teachers are starting to take control of the situation. While watching, one of the male students throws a teacher.

While looking at the painful struggle, I noticed that the [Phantom Beast Festival] had been declared.

[Summer] is pretty much free while I’m being watched. There’s not much to do other than receiving the gaze from the surroundings and sitting.

Christina is sleeping with her big body at my feet. I should wake her up when the judges come. She is so brazen and cute to be able to sleep amidst all this noise, heat, and stares.

I thought I would just sit idle, but Gadd started proselytizing muscle-building exercises to a commoner boy, so I decided to lend a helping hand.

“Maysen-sama, is your Phantom Beast a sloth?”

I watch the boy bow to me and then run away.

Gadd stroked the head of the Phantom Beast he was holding onto with his upper body. Its limbs are long, eyes are round and it moves slowly. In any case, it’s kind of creepy-cute.

“Yes. It only works about once a month, so I think it’s perfect.”

“What do you do once a month?”

“It’s a secret. In [winter], there is a possibility of us becoming an enemy, so I’ll just say it’s related to moving.”

Gadd put his index finger to his lips. As expected, there’s no mistake.

He is excellent, but his popularity is greater than his abilities. When talking to him, anyone feels the poison being sucked out.

Then the inspection team approached. Olivier ran up to me.

“Hey! Rebecca-chan!”

She ran up to me, almost running into me, and stopped in front of me, standing like a sun blocking me.

“You’re sweating so much and it’s pitiful! Be careful of heat stroke!”

“Long time no see, Olivier-sama. Thank you.”

Gadd spoke to Olivier from next to us.

“I heard that Miss Olivier is in line for the position of Commanders. As a citizen, I’ll rely on her.”

“I’m embarrassed!”

It’s not flattery, but Olivier is widely rumored to be riding her Phantom Beast, the cheetah, down the career ladder.

“Rebecca-chan, I heard you’re getting along well with Brian! He usually acts tough, but he’s really kind and a good guy. I’ll rely on you from now on.”

When Olivier said that, the rest of the jury caught up. They were leading a group of people through the gallery.

“Cectiara-sama, it’s been a while,”

“Rebecca, how are you?”

Cectiara Zoff-sama came out from behind Olivier and greeted me. She narrowed her eyes like a refined cat and smiled.

I wanted to introduce, “This angel is my sister-in-law,” but I couldn’t stand up to Olivier, so I gave up.

Instead, I shook Christina.

“Sorry, Christina. If you just let out one big breath towards the sky, you can go back to sleep.”

“Cuey.”

Christina looked up with sleepy eyes. And when she opened her mouth, to my surprise, one of the male members of the jury, who was also the recently appointed Prime Minister, approached Christina closely.

“Oh, it’s the one you call the [Dragon Breath] so plea——”

“Ah!”

I wanted to say it was dangerous, but it was already too late. A lump of magic with extremely high purity occurred in Christina’s mouth and was launched into the sky.

I couldn’t continue the second phrase. No, the Prime Minister was fine. That was good.”

However, the roar that was fired at close range blew away the Prime Minister’s wig with incredible force.

All the gazes from his surroundings focused on his head, and said with a clenched jaw,

“…there is no stopping it. This is fate.”

It was strangely cool when he said that, and maybe he’s a good person.

After that, he talked with Gadd again without any resolution, and the second year’s time was over. Next is the third year.

At this time, I am becoming a way to keep an eye on Sajad Mahajanjiga.

According to the strategy guide, [summer] is the timing when Sajad begins to move in secret.

Today is a one-in-a-lifetime chance for him to falsely claim to have the “ability to show people their favorite dreams” and sneak into the dreams of many people.

So His Highness and I decided.

During [summer], we must not take our eyes off Sajad. Anyone who allows Sajad to intervene in their dreams, whether they are students or regular people of the Academy, will be recorded and marked.

His Highness should have been watching while I was on watch.

I sent Christina back into her snake form and put her in my pocket. I looked for Sajad’s spot.

Many of the third-year students were already sitting in their own space, and I looked at them in order. Chameleon to sheep to goat to elephant. It’s already a zoo.

Finally, I found Sajad and I used long-distance magic from a distance. Since [Summer] is a big event in the Kingdom of Huaverdon, it is crowded, and if I’m this far away, I won’t be found.

As the third year section began, Sajad began to address the gathering in turn.

Asking the key question, [What was the dream you saw yesterday and where did it take place?] and seating them in a single sofa, making them close their eyes. It can also be similar to sleep induction.

Even though he hates commoners, he can at least be sociable if he wants to be.

The act of taking records is easy.

However, it was more psychologically tough than I thought to watch the victims increase and hold my tongue.

How good it would be to catch that man right now. But even the first prince and Duke’s daughter, it’s impossible to keep the citizens in custody for a long time without reason.

I continued to take records while biting my lip.

When the third year is over, it’s the first year’s turn. The last part of the Phantom Beast Festival is the most exciting because it is the time for the new Phantom Beasts to make their debut. There are even more people than in the morning and it’s hard to move.

In the scenario, the climax is this time. To brainwash, Sajad calls out the protagonist Emilia.

But somehow the situation is not going as planned, so honestly, I don’t know how Sajad will react.

Sajad stood up. That’s when the anomaly occurred.

——Certainly, he and I, who were dozens of meters away, met eyes.

At that moment.

“Ah, it’s the next queen!”

“Beautiful!”

Some people around me suddenly began to react to me. I was already surrounded by a high density of people and now they were getting even closer, extending hands to shake mine and getting closer and closer.

I thought it was strange because there were also students from the academy among them. They shouldn’t have shown such enthusiasm towards me.

Upon looking, they were all people who had been shown [their dreams] by Sajad.

While being pushed around, I looked through the gaps between people.

————He wasn’t there.

Sajad Mahajanjiga had disappeared from that place all of a sudden.

Chapter 65

When I tried to push through the crowd, someone grabbed my hand and pulled me without any hesitation. I lost my balance and was pulled back to the center.

“Stop…!”

“Duke Slutarch’s daughter!”

“Shake hands!”

“Look over here!”

It was an irresistible force of fear. I couldn’t do anything alone.

I could feel Christina getting angry in my pocket, but they were probably just brainwashed and not guilty. I must not hurt them by mistake.

I look around for help.

That’s when I saw the unusual deep purple hair.

“Melinda!”

Our eyes met through the gap in the crowd.

“Help me!”

The clamor around us intensified, as if to say, “You can’t escape”. I shouted as hard as I could, determined not to be defeated.

But Melinda had a puzzled look and pointed to her ears before making a cross with her fingers, indicating she couldn’t hear me.

But the man next to her seemed to have guessed something from my desperate expression.

The giant crow that was perched on his shoulder suddenly rose. It flapped its wings and flew straight above me.

I grabbed its thick legs with both hands and was easily lifted up as the crow carried me away, soaring above the heads of the people and successfully escaping.

Even so, they still chase after me. I ran out as if weaving through the crowd at the same time as I landed.

“What’s wrong?”

The master of the Phantom Beast crows, Fried Neher, started running beside me.

“Where is His Highness?”

“I don’t know——over there.”

Fried pointed upwards. There was a giant eagle hovering in the sky. As I looked up, I met eyes with His Highness, who seemed to be looking for me on its back.

“Rebecca!”

“Your Highness! Please take me with you!”

Grue rapidly descended and landed right above us. I grabbed the hand extended to me and got on.

“Neher-sama, thank you!”

I quickly thanked Fried as he receded into the distance and faced His Highness as the altitude increased.

“Sajad has disappeared.”

His Highness narrowed his eyes. And then he spoke.

“If it’s going according to the scenario, he should be somewhere.”

“The first school building.”

Upon hearing that, Grue changed course. The school building is off-limits during the Phantom Beast Festival. It’s the perfect place for a secret operation.

“But there’s a possibility that it’s different from the scenario.”

“Indeed, reality differs from the strategy guide. But there are also similarities. Let’s hope that his whereabouts are the former.”

His Highness calmly said, “Lower the altitude” to Grue. The first school building is nearby.” He then began searching the entire school building with magic. This is a high level magic that no one but His Highness can use in the Academy.

“——There are two of them. Another one is——.”

At the name his lips spun, I opened my eyes wide.

***

I descended from the Grue on the roof of the school building. Using magic to eliminate footsteps and rustling of clothes, I aimed for the place where the two were and descended from above.

The two were in a classroom on the tenth floor. I listened to their conversation from just outside the classroom.

“How many times do I have to tell you the same thing? I don’t trust you at all when you call people up and lie about [someone being hurt]. Can I go back now?”

“Miss Emilia, wait.”

The situation inside was different from my expectations. Sajad was calmer than I thought.

Rather, it was Emilia who was brought here that was excited. It was unusual for her, who is basically gentle, to have obvious irritation in her voice.

The reason was soon understood. Sajad spoke in a tone as if he was trying to convince a child who doesn’t understand things, and it reflected everything.

“Even though we are now students of the same Academy, you have dirty blood flowing through your veins. Do you think that commoners are only allowed to breathe when serving nobles? Why do you act like a human? What have you mistaken? It’s pitiful… but it’s okay. Even if you’re a lower species, if you have the power of healing, I and my Viscount house will properly make use of it.”

It makes me sick. He’s too arrogant and foolish. I can’t stand it.

But His Highness held me back as I tried to stand up. He persuaded me in a very small voice.

“If you leave now, the gap between reality and the scenario will only widen. Because The Kyuubi is there, he can’t beat Emilia. So it’s better to move in a way that doesn’t lose the advantage of information.”

I looked at His Highness with a feeling as if I was hit on the head. It’s true, it’s a correct argument.

“But…”

To be told that, to just endure it? No matter what Emilia says, Sajad doesn’t pay attention. “Commoner.” That’s why.

I can’t just stand by and watch my best friend being vilified.

“Your Highness, I——.”

“Ah, I understand.”

His Highness nodded. And then he pointed to the other side of the hallway with his chin.

“So, let’s leave it to [him].”

At that time, a man suddenly appeared and entered the classroom where Emilia and Sajad were.

How had he been hiding such intense anger until now? A storm was happening centered on his body. The windows creaked, the entire school building shook slightly, and all the people on the spot were attacked by a sharp ringing in their ears.

“——Shut your mouth, Sajad Mahajanjiga.”

The man stood there, his magic boiling with anger.

One of the capture targets, and one of the five highs. And more than anything, he had been fond of Emilia since the first part.

Gadd Maysen would never forgive anyone who insults his important girl.

Chapter 66

Only sticking out my face a little, I peek into the classroom.

Gadd Maysen entered the classroom with a step-by-step approach. He stands between them to protect Emilia.

“If you insult this person again, I’ll cut you up and throw you into the sea,” says Gadd.

Emilia makes a “huh” sound in her throat. Gadd’s words have an intensity that makes it impossible not to believe that they will be carried out.

Sajad is also startled by the sudden appearance of Gadd, but he still tries to fix in front of the “nobleman” Gadd and leave the scene————.

That’s what I thought. But my prediction was wrong.

Sajad does not flee or hide like a cat, but just barks with all his might.

“Playing the knight, it’s a great thing! Emilia, you’re still just a filthy common pr*stitute when you’re protected by a man!”

In an instant, Gadd draws his sword from his waist and swung it down to kill Sajad. It was a merciless strike that could be seen as such. Emilia screams.

But Sajad Mahajanjiga is also a man who won the title of five highs in strength, at least last year. He probably expected to be cut.

He quickly turned and dodged through.

“Emilia! I approached you because you are one of the three strongs [Loyalists]! If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t have bothered with someone like you, a low-class commoner!”

When I heard that blood-curdling scream, I was filled with questions.

————Why?

That was a line that was supposed to be said at the ball half a year later.

Why did Sajad say it now? He was supposed to say that line later, but Sajad said it here. This fact felt like it had a great meaning.

“You still want to say it!”

Gadd’s voice pulled me out of my thoughts. His hand was wrapped in lightning and a flash ran towards Sajad. Sajad defended himself using a nearby desk as a shield.

The power of that attack was something else. I was horrified as I saw the desk destroyed.

Gadd was currently in a state where his magic power was temporarily heightened. If things heat up any more, he could kill someone.

His Highness took a step forward so that I would not be hit by a stray bullet by mistake.

If this level of fight had to be stopped, His Highness would have to do it——this is bad.

However, that kind of atmosphere was broken by a voice that came through well.

“Listen well Mahajanjiga! Emilia-san doesn’t need the protection of the nobility! Especially not from someone like you! Do you understand why?!”

I looked into the classroom. That’s when I finally realized.

With the boiling magic power and merciless attacks, I had thought that Gadd had lost himself to anger.

But it’s different.

After all, Gadd hasn’t moved an inch from the place where he stood to protect Emilia from Sajad.

“Because she is a strong woman! Because she can stand on her own two feet! Because she can decide how to live! Don’t compare her with you whose only merit is blood!”

When Gadd shouted with all his might, Emilia opened her mouth and looked at the back of the man who was angry for her sake.

And then, as if her strength had left her, she collapsed to her knees.

“Emi——.”

I almost called out the name of my best friend. A hand from behind covered my mouth.

“Rebecca, the teacher is coming. Let’s go.”

His Highness whispered. I knew that someone would notice if they fought so loudly, but if the teacher takes control of the situation, that’s for the best.

Emilia is still there——but only if Gadd is there.

“…Yes.”

His Highness picked me up as I nodded. We left the place without a sound and descended the stairs.

Sometimes we went into a nearby classroom to avoid the gathering teachers.

A duel like that in an off-limits school building might not be well-received by the teachers. The teachers’ evaluation of Gadd may decrease.”

But when Emilia apologizes for that, he’ll probably laugh it off, saying something like “If it helped you, then it’s all good.”

“Maysen-sama, you will surely succeed.”

While clinging onto His Highness’ neck, I whispered.

“Oh. I want him to be in the palace.”

“Ah, that’s good. He’s the second son of the Earl house. Let’s recruit him when he graduates.”

I close my eyes while seriously discussing. Gadd counter argued the last words that Sajad had shouted back.

At that time, my chest really felt relieved.

Because I don’t want anyone to know what His Highness and I saw, the day when I can thank Gadd directly will not come.

So instead, I thanked him in my heart.

Thank you for getting angry for Emilia’s sake. Thank you for speaking up on her behalf. Thank you for defeating Sajad.

Well, if I were to say what I wanted, I would have liked for someone to give Sajad a punch in the face, but that’s just the wish of an outsider.

When I returned to the courtyard, there was still plenty of time left for the first year. Now that the teachers have Sajad under control, it should be a fun time to go around.

I liked Hanna Horton’s white rabbit, which I talked about a bit in [Spring].

As I was petting the fluffy white ears, Hanna said, “Can I ask you to do something for me too? I was a little taken back.

His Highness was interested in Brian Marc’s lion cub.

“Being ordered directly by His Highness to “grow it as big as possible,” Brian made a visibly annoyed face and that was amusing.

Like Grue who has the ability to enlarge, His Highness has a young heart that is attracted to large animals.

Chapter 67

The second semester has started.

We have to prepare slowly for [fall], but it doesn’t matter.

[fall] is a season where you have to pass the preliminary examination to get the right to present your work, but it doesn’t matter either.

Sajad apparently managed to escape undetected by the teacher after the summer’s brawl, but that doesn’t matter either.

The reason is, there is now a case of unprecedented magnitude among us.

Spring has come for Emilia!

So we gathered in Emilia’s room in the girls’ dormitory and listened to her story. It’s getting late, but tomorrow is a holiday.

“So then, Gadd supported me when I lost my strength…”

“Oh my gosh! That’s amazing! That’s amazing!”

“Yes, just like the heroes in romance novels!”

Of course, the person in question is Gadd Maysen.

As someone who has been watching his one-sided love from the first part, I can’t help but feel moved.

Emilia is holding a cushion, chatting and fidgeting about what happened last summer. Melinda is very excited.

I’ve actually seen it, but when Emilia talks about it, there’s a different kind of fun.

Most importantly, Emilia with her ears blushing red from peek between her silver hair is cute.

“What should you do?! Confess? I mean, Gadd Maysen definitely likes Emilia!”

“There’s no mistake about it.”

Melinda says, jumping up and down in her seat.

I nodded, but Emilia sounded like she was about to disappear, curled up like an armadillo.

“Confession…I’d rather it came from the other side…”

“Cute!”

“Cute!”

Melinda and I pat and stroke Emilia. It’s so charming to see a girl in love.

Emilia seems to have no resistance at all to being loved like a small dog.

“Then you should invite him on a date! Then he’ll notice and confess to you!”

“Y-Yeah, I’ll try…!”

Melinda makes a fist and Emilia stands up resolutely.

Once it’s decided, there are many things to decide like how to invite him, what to invite him to, when to invite him, and what to wear.

Eventually, we collapsed in exhaustion and fell asleep as the day was breaking.

A week later, in the morning, Emilia is waiting for Gadd at the fountain in the academy. She’s fidgeting nervously. The girl’s dress and chain handbag suit her slender frame.

Yeah, perfect. She’s cute, no question about it.

As for me, I was watching that girl from a little farther away, with His Highness.

“Maysen-sama, he’s not coming.”

Even though it’s still 15 minutes before the appointment, the sun is still strong today. But at least it’s not raining or windy.

“Rebecca, it looks like he’s here.”

As usual, the prince has his hand casually placed on my waist.

He’s dressed in a simple outfit of a light shirt and slim pants, but he looks perfect in it. To be honest, he’s so dazzling that I can’t look directly at him since a while ago.

When I look back at Emilia, I see Gadd running towards us in the distance. It’s not a distance where we should be able to hear each other if we talked normally.

The prince said that he will use his magic to amplify the sound today. It’s also a high-level magic.

The reason why I’m following Emilia around like a stalker is because she asked me to.

On the day when she mustered up the courage to invite Gadd on a date to the Royal Capital, Emilia said “Please come with me,” so Melinda and I followed her.

Normally, it would be the opposite. “Don’t come.”

Melinda’s spirits rose, but when she heard the date, she looked up to the sky. It turns out she already had a date with Fried Neher.

So today, it’s just His Highness and me. This is actually more convenient.

Because today I brought the strategy guide. To reference the [Date & Confession Event] of the [Gadd route].

Thanks to the His Highness’s sound-gathering magic, the conversation sounds like it’s right next to us.

[Sorry, I made you wait.]

Gadd said to Emilia,

[No, I got here too early. I’m looking forward to it!]

Emilia replied. Check the strategy guide.

I couldn’t help but clench my fist. It’s a great answer. The conversation started just as it was written in the strategy guide.

“Okay, let’s go,” Gadd said, and the two of them started walking. His Highness nodded next to me.

“Is that the correct answer?”

“Yes, it’s the perfect answer! Let’s go too!”

Emilia has already told us the course of the date. They are going to see a play first, but since they have time, they are going to stop by a tea shop.

We sat away from the two of them and listened to the conversation again.

[There are a lot of cakes, aren’t there? Emilia, which do you like, chocolate, cheese, or fruit?]

If we check the strategy guide together with His Highness, you will find that this was also a conversation involving the raising and lowering of the likability level.

[I like chocolate, cheese, and fruit… but I like cheese the most.]

“Alright…!”

“She’s good at guessing.”

“Maybe She tried to say all three out loud and guessed by Maysen-sama’s reaction.”

“How scary.”

I nod at His Highness’ words. As expected of a true heroine. Even though it’s her first love, her tactics are those of an expert.

While I was feeling happy watching the smooth development of their date, His Highness spread a menu in front of me.

“What do you want to eat?”

“Um… I’ll have this, or that, or this.”

“Do you want to order both and share them?”

“Is that okay!”

I call the shopkeeper with sparkling eyes.

When His Highness asked me what I liked, I was told that the sweets made by Rebecca are the best. As expected of a true prince.

After the sweet things and the tea that came out afterwards, I noticed that Emilia and Gadd had left the restaurant, so I hurriedly left the restaurant.

Next, we’re going to the theater. Emilia must have deliberately taken the front row seat. I sit a little behind her feeling reassured.

We only just entered the theater and I didn’t know the title of the play yet, but as soon as I saw it written on the curtain, I was speechless.

His Highness noticed me and also glanced at the curtain.

“[Splatter Killer vs Strangler Ghost 3]…”

“…Emilia…”

What is she thinking, choosing something like this? This is definitely not something to watch on a first date.

I thought Emilia would want to watch the heart-warming adventure play [Pochi’s Huaverdon Tour], but what kind of change of heart has she gone through. Well, it doesn’t seem all that interesting.

I thought about leaving, but I couldn’t stand up from my seat anymore.

I spent most of the 90-minute play with my face buried in His Highness’ arm.

In the middle, His Highness whispers in my ear.

“Rebecca, Gadd seems to like scary things. He’s clearly enjoying it.”

“Emilia and he are a perfect match…”

His Highness seems to pity me for not wanting to watch the play. He speaks kindly to me.

“Don’t be so scared. The red is just paint, the people on stage are just actors, and the corpses are probably made of cloth.”

“…”

“Hey Rebecca, this scene is not scary, why don’t you try looking up?”

I look up fearfully. I saw a scene where a person being strangled by a ghost explodes and dies.

Without saying anything, I returned to my position. The trembling His Highness couldn’t hold back his laughter, and I hit his arm quite seriously.

“Stupid, stupid…”

“Sorry.”

Finally, His Highness who started laughing, probably looks like a bad guy laughing while watching a horror movie to the people around him.

We finished the 1.5 hours of the three-hour live experience and left the theater. It seems that only I was physically exhausted among the four of us. Emilia and Gadd are rather shiny.

Emilia fainted during the test of courage, but I guess she is the type of person who likes to make people yelp.

Instead of tired me, His Highness was looking after Emilia and Gadd with his eyes. I was pulled by the hand that was connected, and moved my feet slowly.

“The two of them went into the store.”

“What!”

That’s the next fork in the road.

If you have been able to increase the likability so far smoothly, Gadd will try to buy something for Emilia, who is just looking at the cute accessories.

But you must firmly refuse that. Because if you refuse properly, you will get a surprise present at the end of the date.

“Surely if we enter the store, we’ll be found out by Maysen-sama. Your Highness, can you pick up the sound?”

“No, the glass is thick and there are many people. It’s difficult.”

“I understand. Let’s wait outside.”

We drink the cold drinks that the Highness bought for us and discuss the identity of the strangling ghost while waiting.

“Ah, Your Highness, they’re coming out——.”

My eyes were drawn to Emilia’s right hand as she skipped out of the store.

No matter how you look at it, it’s a paper bag from the store.

“He bought something!”

The Highness resumes his magic for sound collection. I listen in on the conversation of the two people walking away from the store. I heard Emilia’s cheerful voice.

[Phew, I had a good shopping! Where should we go next?]

“She’s buying it herself!”

I panicked. If she doesn’t maintain the favorability, it’s sure to echo in the final confession of the date. But if she buys it herself, it’s alright, right? She’s not particularly bothering Gadd.

For the first time today, I chased after the two people and became increasingly anxious and followed them down the darkening road.

In terms of time and course of the date, the next place is definitely the last.

We arrived at a romantic and secluded, but crowded, square in front of the church.

I sat on a bench away from the two people sitting on the bench.

[Today was really fun, wasn’t it?]

[Yes, it was!]

Two people laughing together.

His Highness and I have opened the strategy guide. It seems that a small incident happened afterwards. A small bug seemed like it was going to hit Emilia.

Surprised, Emilia clings to Gadd with a “kya.” From that, a good atmosphere developed and Gadd confessed his feelings. It’s a 120% sweet confession.

It seems that Gadd’s confession starts with “I’ve wanted to say this for a while now.”

If you hear this, stop eavesdropping and go back to the Academy first.

Just when I thought that.

“[Ah, a bug——]

Gadd’s voice raised and I could see His Highness’ gaze also turn that way.

In front of our gaze, Emilia was surprised by the small bug that flew in————

But nothing happened.

[Ah, it’s true.]

Her right hand quickly sliced through the air.

She calmly caught the bug with her bare hands and slowly opened her hand, showing a gentle smile, and sent it into the sky.

[Well… Welcome back to the Sea of Corruption.]

I opened my mouth wide. It seems His Highness couldn’t hold back and burst out laughing beside me.

What just happened? What was Emilia imitating?

Gadd, who was also at a loss like me, came back to his senses first.

[You’re not bothered by bugs, are you?]

[Yeah. A lot of people in the city are afraid of bugs. I used to wonder how people live like that. I grew up in the countryside.]

I scratched my head. What is she talking about? Didn’t she say she was born and raised in the Royal Capital just now?

I couldn’t take it anymore and stood up. But what came into my ears were words that Gadd didn’t intend to say.

[…I like that about you. I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a while…]

It’s starting, a confession!

The normal route that had escaped from Emilia’s full-power was dragged back with incredible force.

His Highness stood up, pulling my hand that was still open in surprise.

He seemed to be still laughing, and casually walked along the road, and sat on the bench he found first.

“Huff… hahaha…”

“Your Highness, you’re laughing too much…”

“Rebecca’s many faces are… hahaha.”

To my surprise, he was laughing at me.

I glared at him in embarrassment. His Highness raised his hands as if he was sorry, and took advantage of the few people around, and hugged me close. He was in a good mood.

“Today was fun,” he said with a tone that made me want to ask him what he was thinking all day.

“Your Highness, is it possible that you didn’t come here today to see Emilia and Maysen-sama’s date, but to go on a date with me?”

“Of course.”

He replied immediately. I couldn’t help but laugh.

“I also had fun. Next time, let’s go see a normal play.”

I stood up and was led by His Highness, and Gadd and Emilia also seemed to be leaving as we headed back to the Academy.

After returning to my room in the dormitory and doing some things, someone came to my room. As soon as I opened the door, a silver color flew in.

“Rebecca-sama, Gadd and I have become lovers!”

“I see, that’s great.”

For a moment, I was worried about what would happen. But as I absorbed those words, Emilia handed me something.

I looked at it closely and was surprised. Along with her shining smile, she handed me a paper bag that she had bought along the way.

Pressed by the silent pressure to open it, I opened it, and inside were some lavender-colored handkerchiefs with silver embroidery that were cute.

“Thank you for following us today! I love you, Rebecca-sama!”

After I accepted Emilia’s hug, I finally realized that it was a present for me.

“I love you too.”

I hugged her back with strength that was not inferior to Emilia’s. I had such a good friend.

Chapter 68

The sleep of autumn(fall) is comfortable. It’s also nice to curl up in a warm futon during the winter, but the sleep of this season is even better. It’s not hot or cold, it’s just the perfect temperature for sleeping.

This morning, I woke up in that futon again and got out of it without hesitation.

I opened the curtains in my bedroom.

“Ah!”

There was a flower and a message card outside the window frame. It’s been happening almost every day recently, so I collected it as a matter of habit.

Recently, His Highness has been busy.

It seems that work is not ending anytime soon and that time to meet is not available. The last contact was two weeks ago.

At that time, I sent a reply with a set of tarts in one-bite size that can be eaten in spare time. I remembered that he had said my cookies were delicious when we first met.

I wrote a message card that said “Thank you for your hard work, please take a break, take care of your body”, and sent it along.

The next day, I received a reply and a flower.

“Thank you. Work has been going well because of you. I want to see Rebecca soon.” It was written and it made my face feel hot.

I was happy, so I made more sweets and sent a reply, and since then our exchange has continued naturally.

I am asking Melinda’s owl to deliver to the window of His Highness’ room, but His Highness probably relies on Grue.

On today’s card, it was written, “The pie was delicious. Thank you. If it weren’t for the gift from Rebecca, I would have thrown or burned all the documents already.”

I put it away carefully in my desk while laughing a little today too. The fact that we’ve been engaged since I was five, and now we’re still exchanging letters, it’s itchy or something, and I can’t help but feel my cheeks loosen.

So as I headed to the washroom to get ready, I saw in the mirror that my face looked worse than I thought, so I decided to suppress my cheeks from loosening with all my might.

As I descended to the first floor of the dormitory to have breakfast, I dropped my head in the middle of it. I couldn’t find my usual close friend today as I usually would.

Then I was pulled by the sleeve of my uniform from behind. I turned around to see Emilia standing there, her eyes less than a third of their normal size.

“Good morning…”

“Good morning, Emilia. Melinda is not here today?”

“Really? That’s unusual.”

“Yeah.”

The two of us tilted our heads together. The student who had called out to us from the side was also a female student from the same grade.

“If it’s Melinda Cuey-sama, she took a sick leave yesterday afternoon.”

“Eh!”

Emilia and I thanked the female student and left the cafeteria, heading up the stairs to the dormitory. The cafeteria is on the first floor, and Melinda’s room is two floors below mine, on the fourth floor.

I knocked on the door strongly while calling out her name.

“Melinda—? It’s me, Rebecca. Are you still feeling bad?”

“Melinda-san, are you okay?”

Then, after a short pause,

“Yes, it seems like I won’t be able to do anything today either. I’m sorry.”

When I heard those words from inside, Emilia and I exchanged glances.

——Melinda’s voice just now was strange.

I quickly step back and make way. Emilia, as if it were natural, put her hand on the door knob and broke the lock with a “snap!” as expected of her, nothing much.

I peeked in through the door. Melinda was sitting in the hallway right in front. I met her dazed eyes. Was this her first experience having her door broken down? Welcome to my world.

Emilia, without paying attention to Melinda’s state, walked in and sat down next to her.

“Not talking to us, how boring. We’re friends aren’t we?”

Even though I think she’s acting like her usual self, I follow suit. I casually approach and sit down next to Melinda, who is holding her knee.

“That’s right, Melinda always helps me, but it’s not good that she won’t let me do anything for her in times like this.”

As I speak, her red eyes look up at me.

Please talk to me.

“Melinda, why are you crying so much?”

She must have been crying all night, and her face twists again as tears appear in her eyes.

She clings to me and Emilia as if a dam has broken, wailing and crying.

“U, gu, bu, buri-bobaya.”

“I’m sorry, Melinda, I don’t understand at all.”

“It’s okay to take your time.”

I pat her delicate back. Melinda is surprisingly sensitive, and I remember seeing her crying like this at the Viscount’s residence last year when her pet died.

“Fe, fweeed zama.”

“Oh, Fried-Neher, right?”

“Snifle, even though we’re lovers, he hasn’t told me to get engaged.”

“That reminds me.”

I listen while nodding.

Melinda’s face, which had been swollen with tears, became even more distorted as she said her next words.

“He said [I don’t have the resolve to be together with you].”

Emilia and I got up silently. It goes without saying that we were headed to where that man in the black robe was.

The boys’ dormitory and girls’ dormitory at the Royal Academy are positioned symmetrically with the school buildings in between. Therefore, generally speaking, male students have no connection to the girls’ dormitory in the morning, and vice versa.

So, I found out for the first time today that the boys’ dormitory in the morning is just as chaotic as the girls’ dormitory.

Compared to the women who take an unusual amount of time to prepare, it may be that many of you men are fundamentally slow to wake up.

I walked through the crowded boys’ dormitory, dragging along a pair of swords in my hands.

Emilia didn’t want to leave Melinda alone, so stayed behind.

As I met the male students, they all froze in place and their mouths hang open. Some were in the middle of brushing their teeth, and others had bread in one hand. They looked like strange mannequins.

I arrived at the cafeteria. The man I was looking for was there, calmly eating breakfast. Melinda couldn’t even come to the cafeteria.

Finally realizing the strange atmosphere, I threw something I had taken the trouble to put in my pocket at the man who turned to look at me.

————It was a glove.

“Huh…?”

“Pick it up, Fried Neher. That’s right, it’s a duel.”

I threw the sword I had been dragging at his feet in his black robe. I myself pulled out a short sword from under my one-piece and prepared myself.

As soon as he saw that, the people around us began to get excited.

“It’s a duel! A duel!”

“It’s more like a fistfight!”

“It’s Rebecca Slutarch, one of the top strong!”

“Hey, someone wake up the guys who are still sleeping!”

The small ring formed by the male students who were gathering more and more.

It’s like the ring of a fighting arena, an implicit understanding in noble duels and one-on-one battles. Third parties are not allowed to intervene. Both parties are surrounded by other people so that they cannot escape.

The dormitory supervisor also came upon hearing the commotion, but he kept his mouth shut when he recognized me. Maybe it’s because of the title of the three strong, the power of the Duke family, or both.

Fried knows that I’m skilled in handling swords, yet he doesn’t pick up the sword.

I can’t see his face because of his long robe as usual, but he seems to be confused.

“The reason is…”

“I have a personal grudge against you.”

I can see that Fried is becoming increasingly confused. For the sake of my best friend’s honor, I won’t say something like “You dumped Melinda,” here.

But he probably has some idea, he makes a bad-looking face——I feel like he did. Probably, under the robe.”

“Well, I’m leaving.”

“Wait.”

I said it quickly because I was angry. I kicked the ground hard. In an instant, the distance closed. I swung my short sword like a flowing stream. Fried dodged it. Without hesitation, I greeted him with a left fist to his face.

He dodged by falling backwards, then jumped up with both hands on the ground, keeping some distance from me.

The crowd around us cheered in response to our every move. This morning’s dormitory will be a memorable event.

“Wait, Rebecca——”

Fried lifted his face and quickly widened his eyes. My short sword was approaching him soon. Finally, his hand reached for the sword and took it straight on.

The blades collided. They made a low noise while resisting each other.

“I have my reasons too——”

“Melinda was crying.”

When I whispered close to him, the agitation appeared on his sword as I expected. I pushed with all my strength. Fried lost his balance and fell to the ground. His robe hood fell off. I looked down at him with my sword pointed at the tip of his nose.

“This is the first time we’ve made eye contact. Nice to meet you, my name is Rebecca Slutarch.

The first time I saw the face under the black robe, the clear blue eyes were striking. They were staring at me while trembling.

“Melinda, is she crying?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

Perhaps he didn’t know. Because it’s Melinda, she probably showed off her courage by laughing on the spot. He tightened his grip on the short sword even more.

“Why did you reject Melinda? After a year of dating, did you think it was just a connection until you got engaged to someone else?”

“She’s important to me!”

Fried responded to my words with hostility. Even though it seemed like he was being seriously poked in the nose and eyes.

“Then why.”

But when I asked that, he became silent. He just tightened his lips.

“I don’t know what the circumstances are, but please stop thinking things like [I want her to be happy].”

He opened his eyes and looked up at me.

I know that Fried loves Melinda. Whenever I see the two of them, Melinda is always smiling happily, and Fried is always looking at her intently.

Perhaps, lovingly.

I don’t know what kind of change in emotions there was, but if you’re thinking of Melinda that much.

“Don’t just wish for happiness on your own, make yourself happy. Try to be happy with all your might. That’s what [sukapontan] is!”

TL: すかぽんたん?

Fried peeled his eyes open, breathed heavily, and without any words coming out, he gazed around and threw his upper body onto the floor.

He put away his sword, considering it a loss of fighting spirit.

“Rebecca Slutarch wins!”

“Wow! She won against a guy bigger than her!”

“By the way, what’s [sukapontan]?”

“Hmm? But it sounds nice.”

Feeling the boys simmering behind me, I left the scene.

Me, Emilia, and Melinda all skipped all of our classes today. Another person, the 190 cm tall black man who had gone to visit Melinda’s room, also decided to skip his first period.

After Melinda returned after disappearing with Fried for about 30 minutes, she came back with the sudden news that she would be getting married soon, which left me and Emilia surprised.

After that, the word “スカポンタン” (Sukapontan) became popular at the academy.

The word that my mother taught me, which I believe means something like “fool” or “idiot”, became firmly established with the very limited meaning of “[a word used to mock a man who lacks manliness when thrusting a sword at him]”.

The one who most arbitrarily used this word was Emilia, and because of her habit of saying “スカポンタンスカポンタン” (Sukapontan sukapontan) repeatedly, several male students were hurt emotionally.

***

TL: I Seriously don’t know the context.

Chapter 69

As soon as I woke up, I opened the curtains of my room. I confirmed that there were no flowers or cards there, and let out a deep sigh.

Such days have been continuing for a while now.

The exchange of cards that had long brightened my mornings had gradually decreased in frequency, with a hasty note as the last, saying “I’ll be a little busy.”

Please don’t get sick, and don’t worry about me. I just want to tell you that now. But it’s frustrating to chase after the person who can’t reply because they’re busy.

I let out a sigh again.

It had been exactly one month since I last saw His Highness.

I slowly got ready and headed to the school. In contrast to my depressed feelings, the academy seemed somehow noisy.

As I walked, following students heading somewhere, I found that the results of the [Summer] exam were posted in the courtyard. The reason they took longer than usual was probably because of the investigation into the fight between Sajad and Gadd.

I looked at the results from a distance.

10th place: Hanna Horton

9th place: Sajad Mahajanjiga

8th place: Gadd Maysen

7th place: Brian Marc

6th place: Judith Ceden

5th place: Kyaran Goudes

4th place: Rebecca Slutarch

3rd place: Emilia

2nd place: Llewayne Huaverdon

1st place: Oswald Ceden

It didn’t seem like Gadd’s evaluation was hit that hard, so I let out a sigh of relief.

I was staring at the name of the first place without any feeling of becoming fourth, so my reaction was late. Before I knew it, a man was standing next to me.

“Hey.”

“…Hello.”

Sajad Mahajanjiga, as always, approached me with a frustratingly annoying smile.

I almost thought of pretending not to hear, but I barely managed to return a dry smile.

“I haven’t seen His Highness Llewayne recently.”

“He’s busy with official business.”

“I see… you’re also busy. I’ve always wanted to ask you one thing. What’s your readiness to become a queen?”

As he spoke as if he was worrying about me, I felt a chill run down my spine and looked up to see Sajad deliberately shrug his shoulders.

“Working tirelessly for the people, sacrificing body and mind, but getting cursed no matter the outcome. Why would you want to take that position?”

You mock commoners, then royalty… Is there nothing in this world he does like?

I try to keep my anger from showing and make a calm voice.

“Saying such things would be considered an insult to the royal family.”

“Oh, come on! I just want to know the thoughts of such noble-minded people.”

“As a student, I, a little girl, cannot speak pretentiously about my readiness to become a queen.”

I do not know what Sajad wants to do in this conversation. So I will speak honestly.

“I just want to be next to that person always. Being a queen and dedicating myself is reason enough for me.”

Sajad made a face like he was about to spit out sand when I smiled gracefully and acted carefree.

“It was nice talking to you. See you later.”

It felt better than I thought it would to give Sajad a taste of his own medicine, and I said that honestly as I left the courtyard.

That night, just before going to bed, I heard a small sound like someone tapping on the window.

————The window is being tapped from the outside.

I hugged the small white snake in surprise, and Christina told me “Cuey(It’s okay).”

Maybe it’s Grue. Is it a message from His Highness?

I thought that as I quickly opened the curtains, and in the next moment, the window opened on its own. Someone slid in and the wind blowing in carried the smell of the outside.

I saw golden hair and the night sky for a moment. I thought the stars were falling.

His Highness.

I didn’t even have time to say his name. Before I knew it, our lips met.

“…I was happy today. Thank you.”

It was a very quiet voice. As if he were going to bow his head, His Highness pressed his forehead to my shoulder. He took my hand and gripped it.

I was deeply surprised. Whether it was the fact that His Highness had come in through the window, that he had come to see me, or that it seemed that today’s conversation with Sajad was known, I didn’t know.

It was the fact that kept me from seeing his face was the way that my shoulder was being leaned on.

————is weak. It is rare, or rather, I have never seen it before.

Maybe he was tired from continuing to work. Maybe something unpleasant had happened. At the very least, I was certain that he had come here during an extremely busy interval.

Even though he didn’t want to show his tired face, His Highness leaned on me, like he was asking for a favor.

When I walked three steps back, pulling His Highness’ hand, he followed me with his head down. When I sat down on the bed as I was, His Highness also knelt in front of me.

I hugged his head and brought it close to my stomach.

“It seems like people feel safe when they have their head on someone’s stomach.”

He moved slightly, but stopped when he heard those words. He seemed to have decided to be obedient, and wrapped his arm around my waist, leaning on me.

I stroked his hair like I was combing it. I didn’t know how much time had passed, but I continued to do that until His Highness was satisfied.

After that, it became a new habit for His Highness to visit at night.

He always appears just before I fall asleep, and he comes in with very few words.

The first time, he seemed to have tasted it, he made me sit on the bed and used my legs and stomach as a pillow. Anyway, I knew he didn’t want me to see his face properly.

He would doze off as I combed his hair, but after an hour he would wake up and say, “I’ll come back again.”

I am quite worried about him, but I am glad that he shows his vulnerable side. I’m glad that I became his receptacle.

So, as long as His Highness doesn’t say anything, I think it’s okay to be like this.

————Until that night.

That night, His Highness came as usual, and after dozing off on my thigh, he left.

So after that, I went to sleep as usual.

The only thing that was different from usual was that I had a dream.

I was standing somewhere bright. When I looked up, a dragon of monstrous size with a face like a monster was looking at me intently. The pupils were as big as my height.

But there was no fear at all. Without hesitation, I reached out to its nose.

[Christina]

Even if the shape changes, the soul is the same. I could never mistake my beloved Phantom Beast.

Christina narrowed her eyes and happily brought her nose close to me. And then she talked to me.

[Rebecca]

It was like a baby’s stuttering, but I understood that it was Christina’s. I was happy to hear her voice for the first time.

But what Christina said next was an unexpected word.

“Wake up, let’s go, dangerous”

I woke up suddenly in my room at the Academy’s dormitory. I was breathing heavily. In the dark, I looked for the white beast I had just seen.

Christina was on top of my stomach in the form of a white snake, looking at me while sweating and nodding her head.

At that moment, I threw off the blanket.

I got up from the bed and rolled out of it, holding Christina. I opened the window of the room and jumped out at the same time.

“Christina!”

The white snake changed shape into a white dragon, but not as big as before, just the familiar size.

Christina scooped me up as I fell and headed straight for the men’s dormitory.

The cold night wind blew on my sweat-soaked skin. I was shaking with severe palpitations and chills. Christina glanced this way.

“It’s okay, for now, let’s go to His Highness.”

Christina understood my feelings without me having to say anything. She arrived at the window of the boy’s dormitory room at an unprecedented speed, like a white arrow slicing through the night sky.

The window was unlocked. Had the prince returned from my room and not had time to lock the key? Inside was the bedroom.

I rushed to the bed. He did not show any signs of waking up even though someone had entered.

“Your Highness! Your Highness!”

I knelt beside him and shook his body. He had deep wrinkles on his forehead and was sweating profusely. His breath was shallow. His cheeks were cold like ice. He wouldn’t wake up no matter how much I shook him.

“What should I do, what should I do.”

Should I call a doctor? My intuition told me that wasn’t the answer. The abnormal thing was not the sweating or low body temperature, but the fact that he wouldn’t open his eyes at all.

There was a strong presence of magic there.

————Sajad Mahajanjiga.

I didn’t have any proof. But I thought it was that man’s doing.

In that case, what I should do now is to wake His Highness from the [dream].

But how? What should I use?

Desperately looking around, Christina and His Highness’s Phantom Beast Grue were also by His Highness’ side.

Christina appeared in my dream. I thought that Phantom Beast and master had a strong bond because of their souls being connected. But if that’s the case, Grue should also be able to enter the master’s dream.

―― So why is Grue not able to help His Highness now?

I pressed my forehead. Think. Assuming that His Highness and Grue cannot share a dream, what could be the factor that makes me and Christina have a stronger spiritual connection? Then Christina and I are a special case.

I thought my brain was going to wear out. Along with the shock that seemed like sparks were flying, I reached the answer.

――――Sharing magic.

Since last [fall], I have received magic from Christina many times.

If that is what makes it possible for me and Christina to share a dream,

“Christina, please, can you share your magic with His Highness?”

This is a gamble. I was successful in sharing magic with Emilia’s Kyuubi in [Winter] of last year because Emilia was my [Loyalist].”

——But if, between me and His Highness, there is a bond that rivals that of those who have performed the [Loyalist’s Rite].

Christina climbed up His Highness’ upper body. With a voice of “Cuey,” dense magic oozed out of her body.

It gently enveloped His Highness, without being repelled, and merged and disappeared——it was a success.

With this, His Highness and I were connected in Christina——if the hypothesis is correct.

I parted His Highness’ bangs and kissed his sweating forehead. I tightly embraced his body to give him as much body heat as possible.

I closed my eyes strongly.

I’ll definitely save and show him. The most important person in the world.

Chapter 70

Before I knew it, I was standing there. The whole place was a completely white world.

The only thing that was different from before is that color had returned to me. Before, everything was as white as the world around me.

I looked next to me and saw Christina’s enormous, planetarium-dome-like eyes right in front of me. Christina was still completely white.

[Did I do it?]

[Yes, it’s done.]

I breathed a sigh of relief, but the important part was still to come.

I looked around, and was surprised.

[Is this the dream that His Highness is seeing now?]

It was like a space that belonged in the world’s greatest museum.

There were orderly rows of show cases with walls made of glass like white walls. Inside, everything was divided into equal intervals, and various things were on display as far as the eye could see.

Each show case was so tall that they seemed to go on forever, and even if you looked up, you couldn’t see the top.

The number of cases was also the same, the space stretched endlessly, and the show cases continued to be arranged.

“[Wow…]”

I let out a sigh of amazement. But Christina shook her big head left and right.

[This isn’t a dream. It’s the inside of a ruin.]

“[What?]

“[Come on, Rebecca, hurry.]”

With Christina’s nose pushing me, I hurried forward. I went straight between the showcases and turned at right angles, and then went between other cases.

I noticed that there was a strange sound. As I approached, it was like hitting metal with a hammer, it was unpleasant to the ears.

The source of the sound was the same as me, it was very conspicuous in the white world, the colored foreign object.

I smiled and spoke to the back figure who was hitting the showcase with a metal rod.

[Hello. It’s been a while since noon. We see you a lot today.]

Sajad Mahajanjiga turned around and dropped his weapon.

[…What, why? What’s happening?]

[What are you doing here——no, what have you done so far, may I ask?]

Sajad looked at the showcase he was hitting with metal. It was not broken, but there were many small scratches and dents.

It’s not just that part. This area was probably all hit by him, it was evident from the traces.

Sajad feared me and backed away as I approached.

[What, you. Where did you come from?]

[Excuse me, have you forgotten? I’m Rebecca Slutarch.]

[No, it’s not possible to be real … is this a defense reaction of the mind?]

Sajad seems to not understand my existence. He probably doesn’t even think I’m a real person. I’m sure something like this has never happened before.

In the first place, he shouldn’t even know about my abilities.

I wonder what will happen if I go along with his expectations. I just smiled and remained silent, as if I were affirming Sajad’s words.

Sajad looked at Christina, who was standing behind me.

[Retreat? Damn it, this is the worst.]

[Before that, please tell me what you were doing here.]

[You can see for yourself. I couldn’t do anything. I’ve been trying for six weeks… especially not with memories or concepts related to you.]

Sajad no longer looked at me, and spoke as if he were talking to himself.

[Don’t worry. We have time. I’ll do it better next time.]

And without hesitation, he stabbed himself in the chest with the metal rod that was lying there.

His body began to fall apart, turning into smaller and smaller grains of sand, until it finally disappeared into something invisible.

All I could do was watch.

As the last bits of Sajad disappeared, my feet suddenly melted away. I reflexively tried to pull back, but it wouldn’t budge. I was being absorbed, and my feet, legs, torso sank more and more.

——It seems like the process of removing a foreign object.

[Rebecca, wake up!]

With Christina’s joyful voice as the last thing I heard, my vision was completely consumed by a pure white world.

I opened my eyes to find myself in a dimly lit room, floating on a white sheet. I could feel someone’s muscular body in the palm of my hand.

I quickly sat up.

His Highness, who was lying on his back with his elbow on the bed, was looking at me with a dazed expression.

His face looked clear, as if something had been lifted from it, and at the same time, it seemed very strange.

“Rebecca… did you sneak in at night?”

“No, I did not!”

I immediately denied it and hugged his neck tightly.

As His Highness was pushed down by my weight and sank into the bed, he slid his hand on my waist and murmured, “I knew it, you did sneak in at night.” So I hit him hard.

I got up and began to tell him about everything that had happened, while Grue was trying to get close to His Highness and His Highness was stroking him while sitting up.

Christina had already fallen asleep nearby.

When I finished telling him everything, His Highness didn’t look surprised or angry, but rather, he looked disappointingly in a manner I had never seen before.

“So you didn’t sneak in at night…”

“Please stay away from sneaking in at night.”

I let out a sigh and His Highness, who seemed to be thinking about something, asked me “What day is it today?” I was surprised.

“My memory of the past three weeks is hazy. I must have been chronically sleep-deprived while trying to keep my consciousness while I was sleeping. The only thing I can remember clearly is the terrible headache and persistent nausea, and also——.”

Just listening to his painful state made my chest hurt. I felt ashamed that I didn’t notice him suffering like that.

But that feeling disappeared in the next moment.

“It’s all because of Rebecca’s best knee pillow.”

He said it seriously, as if he was announcing something important.

“Your Highness, are you really sure that Sajad didn’t do anything to you? Like, implanting “shamelessness”?”

“Maybe so. Then this is his fault.”

“Ah!”

His Highness laughed carelessly, and suddenly threw me onto his bed. When I tried to resist, I was wrapped in a blanket.

I peeked out from under the cloth sea, and this time, kisses rained down on my face.

“Stop, this shameless prince! Dragging me onto your bed! This happened last year too!”

“Say whatever you want.”

His Highness chuckled as I squirmed, blushing. He lay down next to me and hugged me, burying his face in my neck.

I breathed a sigh mixed with a groan, because I was getting pretty tired.

“Your Highness, there are a lot of problems…”

“I know. It’s going to be a busy time starting tomorrow.”

Sajad was in the dream of the Highness, but the Highness had not told Sajad the information that would be the key to the dream of what he did and where he did it yesterday.

Either the conditions for entering the dream are wrong——the strategy guide is wrong or something that is not in the scenario is happening.

Now that the premise was wrong, Sajad’s proof of wrongdoing, investigation of the perpetrator of the stairway push incident, and all of it has to be redone.

Sajad is currently inexplicable.

He’s attacking me, trying to win over Emilia, who was strongly against him, trying to brainwash the Highness, and his actions don’t make sense.

“You said you were always in a daze.”

The Highness suddenly started talking. It was probably about the last two or three weeks of the six weeks he had been fighting Sajad’s attack.

“Yes.”

“There were times when my consciousness would suddenly surface. Like when I was sleeping on Rebecca’s lap. Now that I think about it, maybe the only time I was really sleeping was during that one hour. Even the day when I couldn’t move and tried to sleep on the bed, I went to see Rebecca because I wanted to. If it wasn’t for that——”

His Highness looked up and stared at me at close range. And then he smiled bashfully.

“Thank you for helping me, Rebecca.”

I grabbed his cheeks with both hands and pulled them. Then I pressed my lips to his and hugged him tightly as he widened his eyes.

“…I’m glad I was able to help.”

His Highness tried to stand up, but as soon as I shook my head, he became docile and buried his face in my neck again.

I gently combed through his golden hair, just like when he was using my lap as a pillow. And then His Highness became still. I could hear his deep breathing.

I was truly glad that I didn’t lose this warmth.

I pressed my nose against His Highness’ head and closed my eyes as well.

Chapter 71

What are the necessary qualities for an aristocrat?

In the kingdom of Huaverdon, combat strength is essential. Additionally, knowledge and skill in managing territories, leadership in assembling armies in battle, and charisma as a leader.

And, the depth of knowledge in magic.

Living in a kingdom and magic are inseparable. And research in this field, sometimes suddenly makes great leap forward during a certain time of year.

The reason is that the Royal Academy holds the [Fall], commonly known as the “Magical Research Presentation.”

Even among students, the level of skill is recognized. It is famous because the great researchers and authorities of magic research gather.

And today, the [Fall] is being held at the Royal Academy, where all the magic enthusiasts, even those who are already considered eccentric, have gathered.

At the start of the event, I was sitting in one of the chairs set up on the podium. I was one of the twenty students who passed the first selection and gained the right to present.

The Principal appeared with dignity, and in front of all the students and guests, began with a greeting for the start of the event.

“Even though this is an Academy, it is also on the front line of magic research. Success at the [Fall] can also open the way to become a researcher. Presenters, I look forward to it.”

The Principal’s face, deeply etched with wrinkles, smiled at the nervous faces of the presenters. As the Principal took his seat, the first presenter stepped forward.

“Hello everyone, I’m Emilia. This time, I conducted this research with the desire to be able to help as many people as possible with the healing magic that I am good at.

The auditorium was slightly noisy. It was probably because the first-hand was a nameless civilian, not because she was a rare healing magic user, but because the silver-haired girl looked like a pure saint.

I don’t know about Emilia’s research. In the past month, she was more serious than ever. She naturally stood up.

Emilia waited until the auditorium was quiet before opening her mouth.

“Do you all know about super muscle recovery? Muscles that are injured by weight training become thicker and stronger during regeneration. My research aims to make this super recovery more effective and faster——by drinking only, muscles will increase in brilliance like a dew! It’s called “Dew brilliance drinking protein!”

Emilia then proudly opened her arms. She probably waited for applause. I was just looking at her with surprise.

“Bravo!”

However, there were certainly men who shouted out lavish praise. Some of the students, some researchers with bulky bodies, and also my neighbor Gadd Maysen.”

Emilia listened to the joyous voices of those who love muscles, happily talked about the details and principles of [Dew brilliance drinking protein] and returned to her seat with satisfaction.

It doesn’t seem to matter that most of them are dazed.

“Let’s get back on track for the next person——.”

Leaving Emilia who is getting back on track, [fall] is progressing.

The order of presentation is determined by a lottery. Kyaran Goudes, who thought of applying a remote defense magic to a distant opponent, followed by Oswald Ceden, who tried to bring out the abilities of his sister’s Phantom Beast and his own Phantom Beast more efficiently, and Hanna Horton, who proposed a new idea for teaching magic.

Especially when His Highness’ presentation was made, the venue shook.

What he explained was a study that cannot be asked “Your Highness, are you stalking someone?” because it was a study that by casting magic on the opponent, the map in the possession always shows that position information.

It’s amazing and it should be able to play an active role in various scenes, but I felt like running away when I saw people glancing at me from all directions.

But the most impressive was Sajad Mahajanjiga’s research.

“Ladies and gentlemen, have you ever wanted to change your Phantom Beast’s ability?”

At the beginning, the venue was noisy. It was a strong feeling of confusion, different from when Emilia was there.

Phantom Beast research is a major field in the kingdom. It is common knowledge that their abilities cannot be arbitrarily modified.

“You know that Phantom Beasts are strongly affected by the emotions of their master, right? Occasionally, there are rare cases of sudden mutations, known as the emergence of new abilities. I want to cause that artificially.”

I was startled by the knowledge. In the first part of the [Summer], there was an incident where Kyaran’s cub transformed into an adult and attacked me.

Wake it up yourself?

Sajad Mahajanjiga’s presentation continued and finally settled on the conclusion that there was no success at this stage. It is an inadequate study and not very commendable.

However, I had always felt my back tingling.

Sajad doesn’t know that His Highness and I are correctly aware of his abilities .

That’s why I never even dreamed of it. The possibility that Sajad succeeded in modifying the ability of Phantom Beast, comes to mind for me and His Highness.

——His Tapir suddenly mutated. And probably the conditions for activating the ability have changed to something simpler.

But, what kind of [emotion] was there.

Some kind of passion that Sajad had, which doesn’t exist in the scenario, deviated reality so much from the scenario.

“Well, the last presenter is.”

I interrupt my thoughts with the voice of the host. I straightened my back and stood up.”

Chapter 72

It was the next day after the [fall]. I was walking in the school building hallway with Melinda. I interrupted her as she was talking about how Fried-sama was like this and like that.

“Hey Melinda, can I go to the stairs I fell from?”

“Sure… just don’t fall again.”

Melinda started talking about Fried again as we walked towards the stairs. Apparently, they had already decided on the wedding schedule.

I looked down at the entire staircase as we reached it.

Since it was now break time for classes and there were many students with classes, the stairs were not as quiet as they were on that day.

The stairs were divided into eight steps and then an open space and then eight more steps. It made me shiver to think that I had fallen down all of these.

“Rebecca, hold onto the handrail.”

Melinda started to go down the stairs. I followed behind her, but stopped at the open space.

I look at the back of my best friend, whose hair is like dark purple silk threads, as if I am seeing her off.

“Melinda, do you like Fried- Neher?”

“Yes, I love him.”

She answered as she went down the stairs.

“Do you think he’s cool?”

“Yes, very cool.”

She didn’t turn around or stop.

“Is he the best in the world?”

“Yes, of course.”

“——That’s right, that’s it.”

I finally got her attention and I told her with a biting and swallowing tone.

“Melinda Cuey has a strange taste in men.”

“What? Are you suddenly picking a fight?”

Melinda made a motion as if to roll up her sleeves, as if saying “I’ll take you on,” but when she saw that I didn’t laugh, she seemed to think something strange.

Her eyes, which seemed to have been coated in honey, blinked as she looked at me.

I’ve always loved her, with her color that reminds me of the night sky.

The first time we met was at a theater in the Royal Capital. I remember that Melinda laughed and called the handsome and famous actor “a sixty-two points out of a hundred” at that time.

————and yet Melinda, shortly before I fell down the stairs that day, remarked that Sajad Mahajanjiga was “good looking.”

“At first it was just a vague discomfort.”

When I fell down the stairs, she said “there was no one there,” and her first assumption was that I had been pushed.

Her Phantom Beast is known for its good ears, and should be able to distinguish between small sounds and many sounds, but it didn’t pick up my voice when I was blocked by the crowd in the [summer].

In [summer], Sajad acted as if someone had let him know that I was watching him.

The Melinda in front of me had a face that I couldn’t understand. There’s no lie there.

I, on my part, keep talking to myself as if I were trying to answer the questions.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. Why is it that Fried Neher didn’t come to help me or even check my safety when I was pushed down the stairs?”

Fried is a serious man. I know that he is devoted to his loyalty to His Highness from the bottom of his heart.

——That’s why I didn’t think about it.

Fried’s testimony, “No one pushed Miss Rebecca’s back,” may be a lie.

“I recently found out, Melinda, your lover is a very loving person.”

I remember Fried’s figure I saw in the men’s dormitory dining hall just now. His love for Melinda was unwavering.

But at the same time, he was certainly struggling with something.

He is excellent. He should come to help no matter what if there is danger to His Highness’ fiancée.

—If only something shocking had not happened to him, something that would have made him unable to take a single step.

————For example.

If he witnessed his beloved lover pushing his best friend down the stairs.

“And so——get out of my best friend’s head, Sajad Mahajanjiga!”

As I shouted, a silver-haired girl appeared from the corner on the bottom of the stairs. What she raised in both hands is a shining light of salvation——Emilia’s 18th spell, healing magic.

Melinda turned around. She noticed Emilia approaching. The look in her eyes was fear.

It was a survival instinct that if she didn’t run away from there, she would be erased.

Melinda ran away like a rabbit. She ran towards me. I tried to stop her.

But before that, a shadow broke through between me and Melinda.

The man jumped down from the upper floor, flipped down his black robe, and this time stood there protecting me.

Emilia immediately grabbed Melinda’s hand with both hands. A strong light spread throughout Melinda’s body as if it were dyed.

The chain of magic that was wrapped around her body was now visible due to the healing magic.

When everything melted into light and disappeared in an instant, what Melinda Cuey saw was her lover who was about to cry and looked at herself.

“…What is it? No, Fried-sama, what’s wrong?”

Melinda reached out her hand to Fried’s cheek and picked up the tear that just flowed.

Fried hugged Melinda tightly. It was a force that worried that her spine would break. And he let out a muffled sob.

I called out to its broad black back.

“I’m sorry for saying various things without knowing what you were thinking when we met at the boys’ dormitory dining hall.”

Fried turned around, and his clear blue eyes were directed towards me. His eyes seemed to be melting and becoming like tears.

Fried does not know about Sajad’s abilities. That’s why for the past few months, he has continued to suspect that Melinda is the perpetrator who harmed his master’s fiancee.

He couldn’t get over it

But the two of them were still lovers. Melinda would embrace him when she was scared of the test of courage, they would spend summer together, and they would go on dates during holidays.

Not only that, but Fried decided that day to formalize his relationship with Melinda, not only to get engaged, but to get married.

I remember Fried’s words “I am not prepared to be with Melinda.”

What Fried decided on that day was to abandon everything for Melinda’s sake, to follow her to the depths of hell.

Fried let go of Melinda, knelt before me and lowered his head.

“I have betrayed you, Your Highness. I have placed my lover above you. It is not something that can be forgiven.”

His tears fell to the floor drop by drop.

Emilia stopped Melinda from going to his side while she had no idea what was happening.

The first prince’s fiancée is the next queen. Attacking that is rebellion against the state, and harboring the perpetrator is also the same. Indeed, this is a big problem.

I looked up at the upper floor to seek judgment, and there, His Highness Llewayne Huaverdon was watching everything.

“Fried Neher…you weighed the lover against the master and took the lover, that’s what you said.”

“Yes.”

Fried replied, lowering his head even more, his forehead almost touching the floor. He accepted the punishment without any explanation, just as his master commanded.

Looking at such a loyal person, the His Highness——my lover spoke.

“I do not ask others to do what I cannot do myself.”

Fried raised his head in surprise. “Unbelievable,” his face said. He is not accustomed to suppressing his emotions, as he always hides his face with the hood of his robe.

His Highness descended the stairs and took my hand.

“This is an exception. There won’t be another.”

“Yes…”

Fried lowered his head again. I felt relieved and turned to Melinda.

“Melinda, it may be hard to believe, but you were brainwashed by Sajad Mahajanjiga.”

“What?! No way, that guy?”

Melinda accepted the reality with ease. It’s good that things are moving fast.

“So, you said he talked to you around May, right? Don’t you remember what he said?”

“Umm, I think he asked me if I could do something for him, but I was taught to reject by Rebecca…”

Melinda tilts her neck. But being a smart girl, she remembered exactly what he had said.

“If it’s a [dream], I’m already on time, I said and ran away.”

Emilia burst out. She probably imagined Sajad being rejected with a sales-rejecting attitude.

I face His Highness. What His Highness said to Sajad two months ago was, “Stop trying to show me [Dream].”

It’s clear now.

Sajad is using [Dream] as a trigger.

“Everyone, don’t mention [Dream] in front of Sajad.”

Emilia, Melinda, and Fried nod mysteriously to my words.

I didn’t tell Emilia and Fried about the strategy guide, I just brought them here to tell them about Sajad.

“Emilia, I’m sorry, but can you cast indiscriminate healing magic on the students for a while? And also, please tell Maysen-sama about Sajad Mahajanjiga.”

“For Rebecca-sama!”

Emilia nods. It was a stroke of luck that her healing magic worked.

Brainwashing is essentially a [abnormal condition]. The people who became my big fans in [Summer], were able to return to normal with the healing that Emilia did experimentally as they passed by.

But that’s already a story of a brainwashed state. At this point, when [attack] is entering the head like this six weeks like what happened to His Highness, it will be difficult to remove it with healing magic.

His Highness whispered to me while looking at Melinda.

“Rebecca, let’s search again for the victims.”

“Yes, that’s right…”

The first person who was brainwashed by Sajad to do something wrong was, of all people, my best friend, and the contents are an attack on the first prince’s fiancé.

If we bring this up and can not prove that it’s Sajad’s fault, Melinda will be in a bad position. I’ll have to cry myself to sleep on this matter.

“But we know the trigger and how to deal with it. Next time he takes action, let’s corner him.”

“Yeah.”

He was like a lizard that runs away even if you grab its tail. I clenched my fist, determined to catch him someday.

Chapter 73

“Watch me, I’m going to…hmph…!”

The classroom is filled with a sense of liberation after school. Looking out the window, it’s a crisp autumn day. In my dorm room, I have a novel that’s half-read.

This is a perfect day to go out, with everything in perfect harmony.

But why am I now looking at a girl with a bright red face trying to squeeze an apple with her bare hands?

By the way, this girl is not Emilia.

“Guh…Gahhh! See, it broke! Did you see?!”

“Yes… congratulations…”

Judith Ceden wipes the sweat off her forehead with a smile, as if she has accomplished something.

“Do you remember what I said in April? Now that I can break apples with my bare hands, please teach me how to cook again!”

I respond with a tired smile. This kind of event is not in the strategy guide.

The version 2 of the cooking event from hell. This time it’s held in the Academy’s cooking room. The number of people has increased.

The four girls, Emilia, Melinda, Judith, and I are still the same, but three boyfriends, His Highness, Gadd, and Fried, have joined us.

I whisper to Melinda, who is wearing a white lace apron.

“If His Highness is watching, I’ll cook normally.”

“Me too. If Fried-sama is here.”

I don’t want him to think I’m cooking using the Emilia method or anything like that.

It was successful to consult with Melinda, who feels the same way. We smoothly split into two groups, Melinda and I, and Judith and Emilia.

The men are sitting at one table nearby. I could hear the conversation between Gadd and His Highness.”

“Emilia is cute today too, isn’t she?”

“Well, specifically what parts?”

“Overall… she looks sparkling.”

“To me, the whole place looks like it’s all muscled up.”

It’s a conversation that seems like only two people are talking, but there are three people. Fried is sitting there silently.

Leaving the men deciding whether Emilia is sparkling or muscly, I began to consult with Melinda face to face.

“Melinda, what are we going to make?”

“Something that can grab the men’s stomachs.”

“Agreed. Meat then.”

I grabbed the onions, Melinda grabbed the carrots and potatoes.

Normally, meals in the Academy are done in the cafeteria, so it is common for noble daughters not to be able to cook, but I can cook because of my mother’s influence, and Melinda is influenced by me.

“Rebecca.”

“What?”

As we were each washing, peeling and slicing vegetables, Melinda muttered without taking her eyes off the knife.

“What I did to you while I was brainwashed…”

“Don’t apologize.”

I stopped slicing the vegetables and spoke ahead of her.

“That was Sajad Mahajanjiga’s fault, not Melinda’s. Don’t apologize for something like that.”

“…”

When she didn’t reply, I looked over to her. My best friend’s honey-colored eyes were watery and she was holding back a rising lump in her throat.

“Don’t cry…”

“I’m not crying… it’s the onions…”

“It’s me slicing the onions, not Melinda.”

I washed my hands lightly before embracing her.

I looked at Fried to see if he should take my place, but he gestured “go ahead” so I didn’t hesitate.

After Melinda had cried for a bit, she suddenly let out a small stomach growl.

“I’m hungry from crying… Let’s hurry and make this.”

“Okay.”

Melinda began sautéing the onions. I started seasoning the ground beef while boiling potatoes and carrots.

Once the sautéed onions were ready, we added them to the meat, along with bread crumbs and milk, and mixed everything together. We shaped them into patties, cooked them until they were crispy and made the sauce quickly.

The meat is piled on the plate and served with vegetables on the side, and then generously topped with sauce, completing the king of meat dishes, hamburger.

“Yes, it’s well done.”

Melinda and I laughed and carried the number of servings to the table for the masters. It’s narrow but just about seven people can sit.

I would like to eat, but Emilia and Judith are not ready yet.

I looked back at their cooking stations and was speechless. They were now at the peak of their cooking.

Emilia was spreading a huge dough made from wheat flour thinly while spinning it above her head. Judith was pounding the same dough placed on the cooking station with a wooden stick-like thing.

“What, what kind of ceremony is this …?”

“They’re making sweets.”

His Highness replied to me who muttered in amazement. I confirmed again, pointing my finger.

“Is that it?”

“Yes. Gadd seems to think that Emilia is [unsurpassable in loveliness]. It’s the final stage.”

His Highness looked at Gadd Maysen with eyes that could not understand. I also sent the same gaze. Even if you see that, is love truly blind?

Gadd countered with a raised eyebrow.

“If he’s going to say that, then it’s Llewayne. He said something like, [Rebecca wouldn’t be offended if I used the stalking magic I developed during the fall to her]. I don’t think there’s anyone like that.”

I closed my mouth. I don’t know if it’s actually being used, but I thought it would be okay, that it wouldn’t be a problem if my location was known. Maybe I can’t speak for others.

Then, the black robe who hadn’t spoken once today suddenly joined the conversation.

“Melinda is beautiful.”

That was all he said, and it was over. There was no point or punchline. Without paying attention to my, His Highness’, and Gadd’s confused gazes, Melinda clung to Fried’s arm.

“Oh my, Fried-sama.”

With a heart mark at the end, it sounded like it was coming from her. I didn’t want to see my normally sharp friend like this.

“Everyone’s just a couple of idiots…”

I turned around. The one who grumbled in a low voice and spit out her resentment was Judith. She held freshly made sweets in her hand, and her usual lively eyes were now dead.

“I’m sorry…”

Feeling unbearable, I apologized sincerely and set the plate that Judith and Emilia had brought on the table.

“Let’s eat!”

We all joined hands. First, we all took our forks and knives and began to attack the hamburger steak.

Delicate seasoning is not necessary to satisfy a man’s stomach and it would certainly be a prejudice to say that it can be done with just big pieces of meat, but it does have an effect.

If you make a cut with a knife, the juice from the meat will overflow, making a freshly made hamburger.

I watched with satisfaction as the prince carried it to his mouth and chewed it with satisfaction.

“It’s delicious, Rebecca.”

“Please eat a lot and grow big.”

Because of the maternal feeling that had come out in the words that I had said, Melinda responded with “More?” and His Highness nodded obediently.

The hamburgers disappeared from everyone’s plates in no time and, because Judith wanted the recipe, I wrote it down and then it was time for dessert.

“Ta-da!”

What Emilia proudly presented were three types of bread. A doughnut with orange peel and chocolate mixed in, the same apple pie as before, and croissants.

Each one was small and could be eaten without getting tired of it.

I immediately put it in my mouth and my face lit up.

“It’s delicious…!”

Emilia, who must have been the one who made these, is truly a woman of great skill. No, the ability to make croissants is no longer just a woman’s skill, it feels more like the skill of a bread master, but in any case, she is amazing.

However, only about half of the people in the room were impressed by the deliciousness.

“How…”

His Highness muttered this, and I understood what had happened. Surely he had gone through the baptism of muscle-bound. In this regard, it would be best to make it one of the seven mysteries of the Academy.

Even if we try to understand the supernatural phenomenon, it is useless, so I will ask Judith what I have been thinking about for a long time.

“What made Judith want to learn to cook?”

Judith, who was tilting her head with all her might in front of the bread, blushed as if her heart was jumping.

“No, that… Onii-chan said…”

“Oswald-sama said?”

I tilted my head to the suddenly appeared Oswald Ceden. The more Judith hesitated to continue, the more everyone’s gaze focused on Judith.

“He said that if I could make it taste good, he would eat it…”

Judith covered her face with her apple-like face and said while shrinking her body to the limit.

I thought she was brave and at the same time, I thought that when I go home, I will write in the strategy guide for the first time in a while.

“Judith Ceden——Five High, second year, green hair and eyes, Phantom Beast is an earthworm, Oswald Ceden’s sister,

Note: Cooking is lethal, Brocon.”

Chapter 74

How often is it typical to visit one’s lover’s room, I wonder.

I don’t know the average among the world’s lovers, but for me, today is the third time this week that I am in His Highness’ room.

I am reviewing the material I was taught in class today at His Highness’ desk.

Winter exams are still far away, but this time, I have an impulse to tell Gadd, who always says “I’m doing well because I have a lover,” that I will definitely surpass him.

His Highness is sitting next to me, playing with my hair.

“Hey, Rebecca.”

“Yes.”

“Let’s get married.”

“Yes————eh?”

Since His Highness is saying it like “Let’s go on a date tomorrow,” I replied normally.

I stop looking back at my notebook and face His Highness, who is looking at me with his arms resting on the desk.

“When?”

“How about during the spring break?”

I flip through the calendar in my head. Since it’s now November,

“It’s about five months, I think.”

“That’s doable, right?”

“Yes.”

In the spring, His Highness will be nineteen and I will be eighteen. It’s early, but if one of us has graduated from the Academy, it may still be safe.

I look at His Highness again.

It’s something I’ve known for a long time, that [there’s no one else for me except for His Highness].

However, it was only recently that the phrase [apparently, there’s no one but me for His Highness] was added.

“Shall we, get married.”

For example, even if a beauty who aims for His Highness appears, I will not back down. I even have the intention of making him fall in love with me again if he is attracted to someone else.

His Highness placed his hand on my cheek. His thumb felt as if it was confirming the sensation as it stroked my skin.

He looked at me with such a happy face, that I started to feel embarrassed again. He seemed to know that I wouldn’t say no, judging from my lack of surprise.

I open my mouth to try to hide my gradually reddening cheeks.

“I will contact the Duke household.”

“Please. Let’s arrange the date according to your schedule.”

It’s a secret that my embarrassment grew even more during the exchange like a couple about to get married.

It was that night. A beautiful eagle appeared outside the window. Of course, it was Grue. While thinking it was strange for him to come at this time, I received a message card.

[Mother wants you(me) to go and look at rings in the Royal Capital as a reference for a wedding ring. Give me the next holiday.]

“It’s a date!”

I couldn’t help but raise my voice. I wonder if it’s been since summer vacation since we decided to go on a proper date.

I Invited my two best friends to my room. From the first date until now, I still need their advice on what to wear on a date.

But.

“It’s unfair, I haven’t gone out with Rebecca-sama recently…”

Emilia, who came to my room with Melinda, suddenly began to cry.

“Hey, don’t cry Emilia. Let’s all go out together.”

“Is it this week’s holiday…?”

“No, that day is with his Highness, so the next one——.”

“Ugh…”

“Together! Let’s go together! This weekend, all four of us! Melinda, is that okay with you too!”

I was very flustered at this time. What was Emilia worrying about so much? Did I do something wrong?

Melinda opened her mouth as if she were surprised.

“I don’t mind that. But I’m a little skeptical of my friend’s vulnerability and another friend’s acting skills.”

“Oh.”

Emilia shook her silver hair and looked up, still smiling despite the tears streaming down her face.

“I just learned this recently! Isn’t it amazing! My secret technique, Weather Rain!”

I stared at Emilia, who was laughing without hesitation, in a daze.

When I was asked if it was okay to do it next weekend, I greeted the surprise pillow attack with all my might, and it turned into just a pillow throwing game with Emilia and Melinda, who were having fun, and it continued for about an hour.

On Sunday morning, I woke up early. I put my sleeves through the clothes that were chosen after the sudden pillow throwing game the other day.

A soft white knit with a tight neck, and a mint green knee-length skirt that spreads out comfortably. I tuck the hem of the knit into the skirt and do a half-up hairstyle.

A pair of jeweled earrings, a coat, and some light make-up and you’re all set.

Looking at myself in the mirror, I am convinced that I was right to entrust Emilia (and Melinda) with this project.

Emilia says “You look good in anything!” while pushing some mysterious thoughts, but she seriously chooses clothes for me, and Melinda says “His Highness was interesting at the ball last year. Let’s attack again this time.” and starts a rampage intentionally, so [Emilia (and Melinda)].

The meeting place is the gate of the Academy. On the holiday morning, I walk along the quiet road where there are no students or staff.

His Highness surprisingly accepts going out with four people. On the message card, it says [If I can marry Rebecca, I don’t mind about most things].

Suddenly, I stopped my steps. If I took one more step and turned this corner, I could see the gate. It’s still 30 minutes before the appointed time, but I felt like he’s already there.

I wonder if my face looks funny. My hair. My clothes. What should I say when we meet?

——I’m kind of nervous.

Is it because we decided to get married? I feel embarrassed to see his face again. But it’s not an unpleasant nervousness. I want to see him soon.

When I decided to fix my hair one more time, I heard a sound “clack” from nearby. I looked up.

His Highness, who had just appeared from around the corner, was smiling at me kindly.

“Hey, Rebecca, you’re already beautiful enough as you are.”

My face turned red. His Highness, who was wrapped in a thin black coat, turtle-neck and slim pants, opened his arms to me.

I thought of a small prank and pretended to jump into his arms. At the last moment, I looked up. I grabbed the hem of his coat and pulled it closer to me.

I took my face away and opened my eyes to see; His Highness holding his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Your Highness, I love you today too.”

“I love you too…”

He hugged me tightly. Kisses fell on my hair.

“Rebecca is the type of person who gives bait to the fish she caught…”

“Of course. We’ll treat you to a full course.”

When I tried to pull away, I was held more tightly. I noticed that the prince’s ears were red at that moment, and I shouted in surprise.

“Your Highness! Your Highness! Are you embarrassed?! I want to see your face!”

“You’re red yourself, you know…”

“That’s different!”

Our back-and-forth continued until Stone-sensei from the law department walked by.

Emilia and Melinda came and we headed to the Royal Capital. The city, which I hadn’t been to in a while, seemed as lively as ever, filled with the smiles of many people.

Incidentally, when His Highness walks around town, he doesn’t bring guards or wear any disguises.

I can understand why he wouldn’t need guards. He’s almost invincible.

But when it comes to not wearing disguises, I was quite surprised when he said, “Surprisingly, it’s all right” on our first date.

But it was truly all right, that’s the thing.

Everyone who walked by would catch a glimpse of His Highness and be taken aback, but then they would think, “There’s no way a prince would be here, in such an ordinary place” or “Maybe it’s just my eyes playing tricks on me because he’s too handsome.”

It’s a 45-degree “all right.” But once you get used to it, it becomes something to be expected.

“I’m sorry, can I buy that for a minute?”

It was Melinda who said that halfway through. She must have found something that would suit Fried.

Melinda often says “That would suit Fried-sama” and buys small things, but is it because it suits that robe or because it suits his natural face? I’m wondering a little.

I stop her when she tries to go alone and asks Emilia to follow her.

His Highness and I sat on a bench.

“Rebecca.”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

“We’re being followed.”

“Yes.”

To be honest, I wasn’t sure because there were so many people, but if His Highness says so, it must be true.

His Highness sighs and stands up as if nothing is wrong.

“Rebecca, it seems [that guy] is coming to the Royal Capital today. He’ll probably come over here as soon as he notices. I’ll go talk to the suspicious person, so please wait for him until then.”

“? Yes.”

I don’t know who “that guy” is, but I nod, and His Highness pats my head and walks away. I sit alone on a bench in the Royal Capital and wait.

At times like this, if I were the main character of an otome game, I would soon be approached by multiple men.

Some bad guys from somewhere are strangely persistent in asking you out.

For example, like this.

“My God, you’re so beautiful!”

A voice from behind. However, that pick-up line was somewhat different from what I had imagined.

Most importantly, that voice belonged to someone I knew well.

“Also, you’re a beauty that’s very similar to my sister!”

I turned around quickly. I hugged him as hard as I could with a big smile on my face.

“Nii-sama!”

My brother, Vanderlei Slutarch, strongly received me like that, and he spins me around like a child.

“Hey Rebecca, it’s been a while! I’m very happy to meet you here!”

“Me too!”

I last saw him in the summer vacation. Nothing has changed, and it’s a relief. Until His Highness and my friends come back, this time I’ll sit next to Nii-sama.

“I see, His Highness went to find a weirdo! Since he left Rebecca alone and went somewhere, I was honestly worried!”

“That’s proof that Nii-sama is trusted by His Highness.”

I said with a smile. My heart becomes calm with this trivial talk.

“By the way, Rebecca, are you going to get married?”

“Co, Cough.”

“Are you okay?!”

Even though my heart was calm, I choked on my spit. I’m still in the middle of writing a letter to the Duke’s house, though.

The Nii-sama who patted my back, for some reason, picked me up and held me.

“Rebecca, let’s go on a trip before you get married! Where do you want to go? I’ll make anything happen! This Vanderlei Slutarch, three-time champion for three consecutive years is not just for show!”

“Nii-sama?! I don’t really want to go anywhere——.”

“Rebecca, that’s just an excuse in itself! I always want to give His Highness some trouble! I have a grudge for being robbed of my sister, [should I leave it at that]?!”

“That’s Mother’s catchphrase——!”

I frantically wriggled but I couldn’t escape Nii-sama’s gentle grip. A horse with a fiery mane appeared, gallantly. It was Nii-sama’s Phantom Beast.

The Phantom Beast that carried me away, its master is the three-time champion. Recently, an unprecedented strongest kidnapper has been born. During that time, I silently apologized to His Highness, Emilia and Melinda in my heart, without biting my tongue.

Chapter 75

“Is that why you’ve come this far? Vanderlei-sama always does things beyond our imagination, doesn’t he?”

A woman with sparkling golden hair like a wheat field, is elegantly laughing in an elegant room.

As expected of that young lady, Cectiara Zoff-sama. Even though she’s involved in something like this, she doesn’t seem flustered at all. Her composure is extraordinary, and she’s very lovely.

The place my older brother Nii-sama took me to while riding a horse was a magnificent mansion. As expected of the Zoff household, one of the most powerful households in the Royal Capital, they even have such a big mansion here.

Reuniting with the beloved Cectiara-sama makes me very happy. But the timing is just timing.

“Nii-sama, could you at least bring Emilia and Melinda along with you?”

“I’ve already taken care of that! They should be here soon!”

“…”

Why is he so capable? As Nii-sama said, Emilia and Melinda arrived soon.

“Rebecca, your older brother is quite wild, isn’t he?”

“Please, don’t say anything… Did you manage to buy a present for Fried-sama?”

“Yeah, um… sorry for making you wait.”

Melinda looked half-dead. Emilia’s eyes were shining as she looked at the grand mansion.

I was feeling a bit tired, and Melinda and I both let out a big sigh. That’s when it happened…

…whoosh, boom boom boom!

A loud noise shook the ground. It was like the mansion, or rather the ground, was shaking.

No way.

“I set up the interference, but it was faster than I thought! As expected of His Highness!”

“Vanderlei-sama, are you leaving? Good luck. Please try not to destroy the mansion as much as possible.”

“Alright!”

My brother stood up with a big smile on his face, and Cectiara-sama saw him off. Cectiara-sama stopped me when I tried to follow him in a hurry.

“It’s dangerous to go directly. I think they can be seen from the window on the west side.”

Following her instructions, Emilia, Melinda, and I peeked out from under the window.

“Eh, the Demon King…?”

I don’t know who muttered that. Probably everyone was thinking the same thing.

His Highness entered the premises of the mansion with a storm, had an atmosphere that was too dark and was already a Demon King.

My brother, with his big sword, stood and faced him and smiled confidently. My brother’s voice could not be heard, but he looked like a hero.

At any rate, it didn’t seem like the situation would be resolved peacefully. We held our breath and watched the two of them face off.

***

Vanderlei Slutarch carried a two-meter long sword on his shoulder and stood blocking the entrance to the mansion. He walked towards him, facing the man who seemed to be the center of the storm.

Vanderlei is talented. He knows that there is no better match for his sister than the man in front of him. And that man loves Rebecca as much as anyone possibly could.

But there is such a thing as emotion.

Rebecca was eight and Vanderlei was ten when they parted. Until then, Rebecca had always felt a distance from Vanderlei. But what they don’t realize is that it is Vanderlei whose mind really hasn’t caught up.

In his mind, Rebecca was still an eight-year-old girl. The sister he had to protect, who always followed him around, and who he couldn’t easily give away as a wife.

“I hear you’re considering marriage with my sister.”

“Yes.”

“Do you remember, the outcome of our match in [Winter] was left undecided.”

“Yes.”

“If you win this time, I, Duke of Slutarch, will acknowledge you.”

“Yes, I will ————.”

But Vanderlei could no longer hold back his feelings.

This is how he repeatedly set up the match. He had never lost in any of those matches that were even before last year’s winter.

The person who was following Rebecca today was Vanderlei’s hired hand. Llewayne was purposely following Vanderlei’s scenario, that’s why the two of them are now facing each other.

Despite knowing all of that, Vanderlei still swung his sword. He charged at Llewayne with a whirlwind wrapped in flames and wind.

Llewayne faced Vanderlei’s full-strength attack head-on. He countered with his own power, pushing it back.

Vanderlei followed up with an attack after dodging Llewayne’s attack. Llewayne didn’t avoid it and deflected it all with his own power.

In the moment when their overwhelmingly large powers collided, a momentary silence covered the area.

The storm broke through the clouds above. The trees bent greatly and a shockwave that couldn’t be seen with open eyes struck the area, the mansion, and the two of them.

When it settled, Vanderlei saw a blue sky. He was lying on the hard ground.

It took him a few seconds to realize that he had fallen.

Footsteps are approaching. Llewayne stood firmly as if looking down at him. The possibility of a duel is eliminated.

“————It’s my loss.”

“Yeah.”

“You’re strong.”

“Yeah.”

“If you’re that strong, can you protect my sister?”

“Of course.”

Vanderlei Slutarch is talented. The outstanding him was the best rival in Llewayne’s Academy life.

And now, he lost for the first time.

Vanderlei closed his eyes tightly for a moment. The fact that he lost, that his sister will become someone else’s, and that it is the reality of the prince of a country, circulated in his head.

When he opened his eyes again, he finally smiled as usual.

“Your Highness, as promised, “I” will approve the marriage and engagement between you and Rebecca!”

“Yeah————wait a moment. The Duke of Slutarch hasn’t approved the engagement yet? You’re supposed to recognize the marriage.”

“If that’s the case, you’ll have to defeat my father first! He’s strong, my father is!”

“You just said [first]? How many more are waiting? You’re too well guarded.”

Llewayne Vanderlei, who hardly ever looked tired, couldn’t help but raise his voice and laugh. He finally seemed able to entrust his precious little sister to this man.

If that’s the case, it’s also a good time for him to propose to his beloved fiancée.

After graduating, he had stayed in the Royal Capital for a few months to help his father with work and various preparations, but he was going to return to the Duke estate. If possible, he wanted to take her with him.

And for his sister’s sake, and for the sake of this brother-in-law, he would properly govern the Duke estate so that he could always be of assistance.

He smiled and waved to his sister, who was watching them from the window of the house, and to his fiancée, who was looking anxiously at him from the window one floor above.

Chapter 76

The sound of footsteps is approaching as [winter] and [battle] get closer. The announcement of the four [Generals] has just been made a bit early.

Until the winter break, when we will officially prepare for [winter], the only remaining schedule for the Academy is one test according to the strategy guide.

The reward event for the route of His Highness, the [Doki-Doki Secret Room Event], is still remaining.

By the way, the reward event for the Oswald Ceden routes, the [Lucky Lewd Event], did not happen. I’m glad, very glad.

It should have been around fall, so it probably required a certain level of affection within the realm of romantic feelings to occur.

Suddenly, have any of you ever wanted to go into the school at night?

I have. I’m sure the school, with only moonlight as a source of light, would be filled with an unreal sense of excitement. I really want to explore it.

However, that’s just [want to go in and see], not [want to be locked in].

By the way, it doesn’t have to be alone, and I don’t particularly think it would be better if my lover was with me.

“I don’t think…”

“What’s up?”

“Nothing…”

Hello, it’s Rebecca Slutarch. Currently, I am locked in the first school building at night with my lover.”

After confirming that all the entrances and exits were locked, His Highness let out a sigh.

I think often, his blonde hair is even more beautiful in the moonlight.

“Why am I not breaking the key or window or wall in the scenario?”

“You can choose to break the route, but it seems like you will have to pay a considerable amount.”

“Even though I am the one trapped?”

“Yes.”

Answering while tracing the letters of the strategy guide with my finger in the dark. In reality, His Highness is avoiding using magic since his battle with Nii-sama.

I don’t understand the feeling since I originally have little magic power, but it seems there is a pain like muscle pain.

“What shall we do?”

“If Rebecca doesn’t catch a cold, anything is fine.”

“It’s already December…”

While warming my slightly cold fingertips with breath, I murmured.

Why was I understanding that I was trapped, but in reality, why did I end up being trapped?

In the scenario, the main character Emilia realized she left something behind at school and went back to the school. His Highness saw this from the dormitory window and chased after her, and while the two were inside, the school was closed.

I thought if I didn’t forget something it would be fine, but it seems I was too optimistic.

In the last class, chemistry, I knew that the student next to me had failed in the synthesis and made a strange medicine, and I had some awareness of having inhaled it.

“But I never thought it would be a sleeping pill with a delayed effect.”

Overwhelmed by an irresistible drowsiness after school, I collapsed onto the bed in the nearby infirmary.

Christina, worried that I hadn’t woken up even two hours later, went to call His Highness, and that’s when everything became the same story.

My arms and legs still don’t have any strength. It seems I can’t use magic that would destroy the school building.

“Your Highness, I’m sorry…”

“No, it’s fine. It’s rare and interesting to be in the school building at night.”

His majesty took my hand and started walking; he was holding my fingertips in the palm of his hand. When I looked out the window, I saw the bulletin board in the courtyard.

The results of the [fall] exam that had been posted a little while ago were still hanging there.

10th place: Fried Neher

9th place: Hanna Horton

8th place: Diego Niesch

7th place: Emilia

6th place: Melinda Cuey

5th place: Brian Marc

4th place: Oswald Ceden

3rd place: Kyaran Goudes

2nd place: Llewayne Huaverdon

1st place: Rebecca Slutarch

I watched His Highness’ back as he walked ahead. The reason I don’t want [winter] to come is that once the winter ball is over, the year will be over.

Because His Highness is in his third year of school.

“Three years goes by so quickly.”

His Highness said, as if he could read my mind. When he turned around, he looked at me, who probably couldn’t hide the feeling of [loneliness].

“It all happened so fast, especially since Rebecca came.”

He says this as he points to the classroom and the window outside.

“We often had lunch there and that spot was good for talking and that spot was good for meeting up.”

“…Life at the Academy without you, Your Highness, seems tasteless.”

The scenery where he was will soon become the scenery where he’s not, and it will become something normal.

When I imagined it, the view seemed to lose its color more than I thought.

“The Academy is a dormitory and I can’t come see you every day because of official duties.”

“…Yes.”

“So let’s get married.”

His highness turned around. He brought his face close to mine and pressed his forehead against mine.

“Even if I’m not at the Academy, Rebecca will be home. She’ll come back every weekend, right?”

His finger stroked my left ring finger. I realized for the first time that he had thought about marriage that far ahead.

His highness will be gone, but in exchange, the sight of a ring on my finger will become something normal. Indeed, with that, life at the Academy without him might not be so scary.

“Of course.”

Whenever I laugh, His Highness also laughs satisfyingly, and then he pulls my hand and walks. We walk in step, side by side.

“I’m probably the only student who goes to the palace every weekend.”

“Speaking of that, can’t we build a new house between the palace and the Academy? It would be easier for Rebecca to come back.”

“Is that okay?!”

“I’ve already gotten my father’s permission. What kind of house do you want? Let’s go look at some soon.”

We walked around the school, reminiscing about the two years we spent together at the Academy, and we talked about the future that would continue for many tens of years to come.

Walking around the familiar school with the prince was the last time we would do it together.

Chapter 77

Breathing in the freezing air and exhaling it. This is the second time I’ve become a General, but I’m not used to this tension before the war.

The last [event]・[winter] is, in a way, a simulated war. Four Generals selected from the Academy each lead about 600 students.

This year, I, His Highness, Oswald Ceden, Kyaran Goudes are trying to accomplish this great task.

If I turn my horse around, the [Slutarch soldiers] dressed in armor and their Phantom Beasts are lined up solemnly, waiting for the war to begin.

If I think back to this moment last year, my hands were trembling uncontrollably. Compared to that, I am somewhat calmer now.

That’s also only natural, because next to me, Emilia is riding on the light armor Kyuubi. She seems to be enjoying this tension in some way.

Emilia is my [Loyalist]. In this battle, the Generals will decide the outcome by making the other General unable to fight, or by capturing the flag in the tower of each camp. However, Loyalists can attack the Generals as an exception.

But if a Loyalist becomes unable to fight, the General also loses the ability to attack, it’s a double-edged sword.

Gon, gon, gon.

In the top of this wild Academy, a clear sound that makes one think that there is a bell on top of the clouds rains down. It’s the signal for the [battle] to start.

“Victory is only for us.”

Without raising my voice, I only spoke so that everyone could hear.

This is something I had recently found out, but there is no need to raise my voice to raise the morale of my subordinates.

Just with the same relaxed smile and the voice and back figure of someone who is convinced of victory, they move forward first.

“Let’s do our best.”

“OOOOOooooo!”

Following with a loud cry, about 400 people out of 800 comes along. Emilia and Kyuubi are among them.

The remaining 200 people are left with the flag. Furthermore, the one coiling and roaring at the top of the tower is my Phantom Beast.

With 200 soldiers and Christina, my tower will not fall.

I am heading towards the western Kyaran Goudes’ camp. This year, I am in the north, Kyaran in the west, Oswald in the south and His Highness in the east.

As soon as we started to run the horse, we knew that a few tens of troops were coming from ahead. From the direction, it’s Kyaran Goudes’ soldiers.

I raised the corner of my mouth. That is probably a scout. It’s fortunate that they were found.

“Emilia, please.”

“Understood! Fire away——!”

Emilia unleashed a blast of magic with a cheerful cry, though the power behind it was far from cheerful.

Black smoke rose from the blast site, and it seemed as though the opponent had been completely wiped out, but a few people were still standing on their own two feet.

“Kyaran’s [fall], huh.”

It was a defensive magic that could be activated from a distance. Furthermore, Kyaran’s magical power was just as strong as that of His Highness. She had undoubtedly researched [fall] for the sake of [winter].

Just as we were about to encircle and crush them, we received reports from a different direction. Another group of several dozen people emerged from the direction where Kyaran’s troops were supposed to be.

————Something was off.

There were too many scouts for our liking. We didn’t understand the point of trickling out such a small force when they were clearly outmatched in terms of numbers.

Should we ignore them? I shook my head. The most dangerous thing to be wary of was a pincer attack. We needed to crush them here for sure.

“Team A, encircle and crush the front! Team B, the rear! Make sure to cause minimal damage on our side!”

We quickly advanced with just over two hundred people, leaving behind two of the four teams.

Kyaran’s actions could only be understood as buying time. If that was the case, then our best move was to push forward.

As we progressed, we could see the enemy’s formation. About two hundred soldiers were positioned around a tower.

At the front of that formation, a familiar girl was in charge of defense. She glared at us as we approached, pointing her finger and shouting orders.

“Rebecca Slutarch! No shortage of opponents! Let’s all go!”

“OOO——!”

When Judith Ceden runs in the front, Goudes army follows us ahead.

It was fortunate that Judith was not assigned to Oswald’s army.

When the flashy and powerful earth mole of Oswald’s and the delicate and precise work of Judith’s earthworm combine, a high-dimensional trap is completed.

On the contrary, there is no need for trap vigilance in this place where only Judith is present.

I extended my fist and gave instructions so as not to lose to the opponent’s voice.

“Advance!”

“OOO——!

The two armies collide head-on. The numbers are almost equal, but we have Kyuubi and Emilia here.

Also, the conditions for victory are different. Here, if someone escapes and grabs the flag, we win.

The person most suitable for that role is waiting next to me.

“Brian, I’m counting on you!”

“Understood, leader.”

Brian Marc, who had been jumping and warming up, ran out like lightning at my voice.

He avoids the battle entirely and runs around zigzag, aiming to capture the flag.

The person is saying “I’m only good at running away,” but in reality, he’s very fast. So much so that it would be no exaggeration to say that he’s one of the best in the Academy.

With the arrival of the second squad that I left behind earlier, the situation has now become overwhelmingly in our favor.

As both armies clash and swords are crossed, my soldiers are gradually pushing forward towards the tower.

As I finish off the enemy in front of me with magic and look towards the tower, I see that Brian has arrived at the tower unscathed.

If he enters the tower and takes the flag, it’s over.

But, as Brian looked inside the tower, he abruptly stopped. His eyes widened. He looks back. Our eyes meet.

And then he screams something.

“Leade——!”

“Rebecca-sama, it’s dangerous!”

I hear a panicked voice and feel a shock run down my back, realizing too late that I have been thrown off my horse by Emilia.

I fall to the ground and collapse.

What happened?

Immediately turning around, I stare in shock.

“Wha————?”

There were countless holes opened up on the ground, even where I had just been standing. They were unevenly lined up, and there was not a single Slutarch soldier left. Only the Goudes soldiers were standing.

“…a trap hole(Pitfalls)?”

All four hundred Slutarch soldiers other than me were dropped into trap holes, one by one?

A man walked in front of me, who was in a daze. He looked down at me, who was still sitting on the ground.

He wasn’t supposed to be here. He shouldn’t have been.

With a sharp face, deep green eyes and hair.

“Oswald Ceden…?”

Chapter 78

Oswald was standing in front of Kyaran’s camp as if it were natural. When I saw Judith Ceden standing behind him and Kyaran Goudes standing in front of him, I finally understood the situation and was horrified.

“Are you guys… working together?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

Oswald replied calmly.

There was no precedent for an alliance. However, the traps set around the tower clearly indicated that fact. To successfully trap only the Slutarch soldiers and not the Goudes soldiers, both Ceden siblings were essential.

The cause of my discomfort earlier was that Kyaran’s goal was to gain time. Oswald would somehow move instantly from his own camp and make traps with Judith.

“So you guys made the tower…”

Oswald raised one eyebrow as if to say ‘correct.’

Earlier, Brian was amazed when he saw inside the tower. There was no flag inside. Probably the real tower and flag were buried underground.

Biting my lip. Oswald had a sword in his right hand. But he didn’t attack me, who was wide open. He was taking his time, who was confirming the unbelievable facts one by one.

“Am I a hostage and the target is Your Highness?”

“As expected, you have a quick understanding of the situation, Miss Rebecca.”

Oswald smiled apologetically for a moment.

“Llewayne is superior in every way——intelligence, leadership, and individual combat ability. But, it’s easy to predict his movements.”

Oswald said, looking away towards the distant East, where His Highness is.

“The way of saying it is bad, but——I can use your existence. You will not attack each other. Even today, you headed west and Llewayne headed south. Even if you are in a difficult situation now, I know it’s because of Llewayne. If I can take advantage of the opportunity and join forces with Miss Kyaran to attack you, even you would fall. It’s the same for him.”

After defeating His Highness, Oswald and Kyaran probably plan to have a fair and square showdown.

“I see——.”

I understand what they’re trying to do, but I have something to say that I won’t put into words.

Instead, I smiled innocently.

“You think I’ll play the role of a hostage obediently?”

“If you kill yourself, that would be fine——.”

Who would do such a thing?

I turned over and stood up quickly, running towards the fake tower.

They probably think that there is no way you can escape from one of the top three and two of the top five.

That’s the case when I’m alone.

“Brian!”

“Yeah, yeah, alright.”

From the shadow of the tower, a boy with navy hair appears. He comes towards me with his strong legs.

I knew that Brian, with his reflexes, could react to the activation of the pit that Emilia had just barely reacted to.

He’s the only one in the Slutarch army who avoided the trap by himself.

When Brian passed by me, the Phantom Beast on his shoulder activated its ability.

Brian’s Phantom Beast is a lion cub. Even though it’s a child, it’s the king of all beasts.

It’s said that it can make the creatures around it lose their fighting spirit once it appears, even if it’s just for a moment.

Humans are animals too. Oswald and Kyaran stop in their tracks, and Judith can’t help but kneel.

I took the opportunity to get to the tower. As I move to close the door, Brian, who was with Oswald and the others just a moment ago, comes running in already.

We closed the door tightly. Since this was something that Oswald and Judith had made, it is possible to break it, but if I were to be buried alive, it would have no meaning as a hostage, so probably that will not happen.

I sit against the wall, dejected. Brian also drops his back next to me.

————It’s a complete defeat. I didn’t notice a single thing.

I force myself to gather saliva from my dry mouth and swallow it.

There is no time to be down. The time left for us is not much.

“I’ll check the situation.”

I stand up and stretch my back, and draw a map on the ground. It represents the positions of the north, south, east, and west.

“We are currently in Kyaran’s territory. His Highness is in the south in Oswald’s territory. If we look at where Oswald hasn’t fallen, it’s likely that some of Kyaran’s troops have gone to support. They’re probably trying to stall for time.”

Brian leans back and looks at the picture I drew.

I drew an arrow from His Highness’s territory to Oswald’s territory.

“If His Highness knows about this hostage strategy, he’ll leave the defense to Fried Neher alone and go to take Oswald’s flag with all his might. Our chance is there——.”

“Ah? Wait a second.”

I turn my face to Brian’s voice. Was there something unclear?

“If we just wait, won’t Prince-sama come to help us?”

“What?”

I exclaimed in surprise.

Is he serious? I was surprised and looked at Brian, who had a curious expression.

“He’s not going to come.”

I didn’t think he needed an explanation from there. Even when Oswald was explaining the hostage strategy, I was listening while thinking “What is he saying?”

I wiped the sand off my finger and turned to Brian.

“If this were spring, His Highness would certainly come to help me. He would only lower his rank if he searched for me or tried to help me.”

Brian took a sharp breath.

“Now, we are generals. Our heads are not our own. If he came to help, I would scold him.”

That’s right, [winter] is different from spring in personal battles. We have responsibilities.

I came west without attacking His Highness in the first move, not because I have a relationship with him or because I don’t want to fight, but purely because it’s disadvantageous.

“We can’t give up… we’ll try to make it through this situation somehow.”

I looked at the ground and thought again.

Even if we’re holed up, it won’t change anything. If we go out after Oswald fell and beat Kyaran, we might still be able to recover.

But outside, there are at least three hundred enemy soldiers. If we go out, we’ll be captured again, or we’ll be defeated and it’ll be over.

I grip my fist so tightly it hurts.

I don’t have a strategy to open up this situation.

Brian scratched his head restlessly at that time.

“Being one of the three strongest is pretty cool.”

I looked up at the unexpected words. His blue eyes were staring straight at the door.

Brian in front of me looked very calm in spite of the situation.

“You can use me.”

Brian made a loud noise with Jakin and pulled out the sword on his waist that had only been for show until now. He raised the corners of his lips in an expression of composure that seemed familiar from somewhere.

“…No, it’s not necessary.”

“No, I can.”

“I know.”

Brian, who was going to open his mouth again with a surprised expression, repeats as if to cover it.

“I know. I know you’re really strong.”

I have known since the first time we met.

[Brian Marc doesn’t fight].

He doesn’t fight, not that he can’t fight.

Chapter 79

Brian’s eyes were wide open, and let out a sound like a sigh from his mouth.

Brian Marc was a sword saint.

He picked up a sword at the age of three. He realized at the age of seven that fighting was his way of living. At the age of nine, he stood next to his older sister.

————A few years later, he was on par with his sister, who had taken the name of [Battle God].

The brother and sister enjoyed a never-ending game every day until sunset.

But one day, they heard the voices of some people who were pushing for them to become the next Knight Commander.

Olivier had dreamed of Knight Commander since then. Both Brian and the people around him also wanted that.

The only problem standing in their way was the issue of gender. There was no precedent for a female Knight Commander. Even though the voices calling for Brian, who was a man, were in the minority, they were still strong.

On the night before his tenth birthday, Brian went to the garbage dump alone, holding a precious sword.

For him, the sword was equal to life.

But since he was able to throw it away, Olivier must have been a more important sister to him than life.

I remember Olivier smiling lonely for a moment on that [summer] day.”

[He always acts tough, but he’s really kind. I’ll rely on you from now on.]

It was the first time I saw Olivier with a face as if she regretted something.

Olivier, their father, the Knight Commander, and the other members of the Order all know what is going on, but they pretend not to know out of respect for Brian’s wishes. This is because it is the pride of a knight to protect his secrets.

When I first found out, I thought it was beautiful. I almost cried.

“What is General if we can’t keep a single secret together?”

And I liked his gentle secrets.

As Brian was about to speak again, a loud noise was heard. Brian and I both turned our gaze to the door.

Something was happening outside.

I calmly looked around. If I were Oswald or Kyaran, what would be the best thing to do next?

“…stop the attacking Slutarch soldiers who have fallen into a trap with a magic attack?”

The thought came to me and I bit my lip again. I bleed.

“But Emilia hasn’t fallen yet. She hasn’t lost her attack abilities…but she’s not safe either. The Kyubi can’t use explosives when there are others around who have fallen into the pit.”

We can easily understand what Emilia would do in this situation.

She must think that if I, a Loyalist, fall, I will drag her down. So she will use Kyuubi as a shield to attack while healing Kyuubi with healing magic as long as she has magic power.

For Emilia, who cherishes the Kyuubi, it is how hard it is.

“…When will Prince-sama take the flag of Oswald・Ceden?”

Brian asked in a low voice.

I check my pocket watch. A little more than ten minutes have passed since I was taken hostage.

Consider the time it takes for His Highness’ army to gather at Oswald’s camp, the time His Majesty attacks the camp with full force, and the fact that Oswald’s camp is carrying a mountain.

“At the earliest, in about a little while.”

“Isn’t that just right? Let’s go.”

Brian stood up casually. He drew his sword again and went to the door with a loud noise.

I got up in a hurry.

“This is reckless! Even if you have the same power as Olivier Marc.”

There are at least 300 enemies outside. If the door is opened, you will be surrounded and under heavy fire.

“And there’s a secret——.”

“No, I don’t care. If I don’t fight now, I won’t be a man, let alone a knight.

Brian doesn’t listen to my restraint. I want to stop him, but I can’t.

He opened the door with a flourish, deliberately making a scene. Three hundred eyes caught him. Recognizing the foolish youth who protected the General alone.

Countless arrows, swords, and Phantom Beasts flew towards us all at once, and I reached out clumsily, but the only voice I heard was one of joy.

“More importantly, my sister will beat the shit out of me.”

In an instant, a gust of wind blew up, and I reflexively shielded my face with my arm. When I managed to open my eyes, I couldn’t believe what I saw.

The young man, using the enemy soldier in front of him as a springboard, made a large leap and descended like a meteor into the enemy’s line.

With each step he took, the enemies fell like dominoes. A sword with the power of a natural disaster was mowing down the enemy.

It was like the eye of a typhoon. The only one left unscathed was him in the center, and everything around him was reduced to rubble.

When he was the only one left standing, I slumped down.

“…I had the power to compete with my older sister, but she called me “reckless,” didn’t she?”

Brian returned while tramping on the enemy who was rolling without a foothold without hesitation. He knelt respectfully on the spot and stretched out his hand to me and smiled happily.

“Please relax. I’ll take care of it.”

He was like a little boy when he smiled at me. The boy who enjoyed fighting purely, one day.

Now that I think about it, it was the first time I saw him smile.

“So, Rebecca-san. From here on, I’ll protect you.”

He said that and kissed the back of my hand.

————He’s a knight.

Even after seeing such a monstrous fighting style, that word came to mind.

Chapter 80

Llewayne Huaverdon headed south as soon as [winter] began.

Even if Oswald is there, he will not lose as long as he is there. He entrusted half of the tower’s defense and the army to Fried, and led the rest of the half through the wilderness.

When he arrived at the camp, the person standing at the top of the tower was a face he knew.

“Ara, Your Highness…well, it’s okay, I won’t lose.”

Melinda Cuey, who gathered her deep purple hair at the back of her head, looked at Llewayne with a clearly unpleasant face, and quickly and accurately deployed her troops.

It felt like two commanders were playing chess. Llewayne found a slight flaw in the opponent’s strong defense and created a breakthrough there, pushing the front line forward.

“Melinda is really smart,” he remembered his fiancée saying. Indeed, she has the talent of a military strategist.

Llewayne, who viewed the battlefield like a board and moved his pieces, frowned in the middle.

But the situation was gradually diverging from the expectations. Melinda Cuey’s strategy was faltering.

It’s as if they have an inexhaustible supply of soldiers.

Llewayne trusts his intuition. He took a crystal out of his chest and asked the soldiers who had gone to scout for reports.

Llewayne, who sought the cause of the discomfort that occurred in front of him in another battlefield, was ultimately correct.

The answer he wanted was obtained from a certain soldier heading west.

The female student——Hanna Horton – excitedly shouted through the crystal for communication.

Her Phantom Beast, which ranked tenth in [summer], is a trembling rabbit that is good at sensing the surroundings because it is too scared.

[I sense Oswald Ceden’s presence from Kyaran Goudes’ camp!]

————What?

Llewayne guessed ten from Hanna’s one report.

Oswald’s movement was too fast, but probably used the ability of Gadd Maysen, who was probably assigned to his army.

Oswald and Kyaran are also in their final year of school this year, like Llewayne.

Llewayne grinned with a sense of knowing, choosing to win at all costs, just like the two of them who chose to win at all costs, even if it meant being dirty.

But it’s sweet.

They underestimate Llewayne’s fiancée.

If Llewayne went to help Rebecca as planned by the two of them, she would surely smile and quietly go crazy with anger.

The final line might be “I didn’t see it.”

To keep the worst-case scenario purely in his imagination, Llewayne contacted Fried this time. He told him to leave himself behind and send all the other soldiers away. There is no point in defending if no one will attack.

Although it was too early for the entire army to arrive, Llewayne quickly defeated Oswald’s army.

He poured all the power he had into a full-scale attack and ended the short-term decisive battle without allowing reinforcements to show their strength.

Even when Melinda Cuey became the last one standing, she stood in front of the flag and, just before being hit by Llewayne’s attack magic, bitterly muttered, “I’ll give you a 50% discount” and collapsed.

When he took Oswald’s flag and looked at his pocket watch, the matter was settled in half the time he had expected.

Since defeating the opponent also helps Rebecca, Llewayne’s motivation increases.

While receiving a report on Rebecca’s movements from Hanna Horton, Llewayne got off the tower and mounted his horse again.

[Winter] is a serious showdown that carries the fate of 600 people. There is no need for hesitation, and it would be rude to do so.

Therefore, Llewayne’s next destination is Rebecca’s army of only 200 people and Phantom Beasts.

“It’s 50-50 whether Rebecca will come back before I knock down the tower.”

Llewayne ran his horse, taking into account that he may have to engage in a sword fight with his fiancé.

***

Oswald Ceden suddenly dropped his sword and knelt down just after Brian showed off his sword skills.

“Onii-chan?!”

When Judith rushed over, Oswald had already lost consciousness. Without a gap, all of the Ceden army lost their fighting ability and were disqualified.

His Highness took the flag.

I frowned in impatience. Much faster than expected. Although my predictions were sufficient, only three minutes had passed.

This is not the time to be impressed by Brian’s strength.

I stood up and ran.

“Let’s go!”

“Yes!”

With a short voice, Brian nods heavily. Judith takes her sword and watches us move.

However, Brian’s swift feet are no match for her. After pouring one sword stroke on Judith, he takes on the remaining Goudes soldiers one after another.

I headed straight for Kyaran Goudes.

Unlike her, who was on a horseback, I was on foot. Kyaran flips her red hair and calls her Phantom Beast’s name.

“Letty!”

“Roar!”

The small bear roars and activates its ability. Any living creature that hears this voice becomes motionless for a few minutes.

I closed my ears as I expected, but my arms and legs were numb. My head stopped spinning and I was about to lose consciousness.

“Uh!”

I strongly bit my tongue. The taste of iron helped my blurred thoughts recover. I continued to whip my arms and legs and run.

Kyaran seems intimidated by me. She widened her eyes and reflexively tried to back away.

The fact that she did not launch a full-force attack magic here was her first and last mistake.

What she chose was to stack her specialized defensive magic.

She should have noticed that it would not work on me if she were her usual self.

I opened my mouth wide and inhaled a large amount of oxygen. White magical power that envelops a blazing flame in my body burns up.

I had saved magical power for this one shot. I always prepared to use the one I received from Christina in perfect condition.

————My research that ranked first in [fall].

By the time the blood drained from Kyaran’s face, it was too late.

“——Gah!”

The [Dragon Breath] shot out of my mouth collided with Kyaran’s defensive magic.

A mass of light that was too bright to keep my eyes open tore through Kyaran’s shield, broke it, and disappeared one after another with a crackling sound.

They turned into fine particles and were swept away by the momentum of energy colliding.

Finally, just before the last one breaks.

“——I can’t match up.”

I think Kyaran muttered softly. Without trying to escape at all, she fell back onto the ground from the horse’s back.

But when I confirmed that Kyaran had stopped moving, I also collapsed to the ground.

“Ha…h!”

Breathing hard while holding my neck with both hands. My throat felt scorched.

Although I established a method in [fall], I realize that it is impossible to shoot it several times a day.

But [Winter] is not over yet.

“Help Emilia immediately. Gather the soldiers who can move immediately and return to the camp.”

I forcibly squeezed out a hoarse voice and gave instructions to Brian, who was trying to help me up.

When I was besieged in the tower, there was no option to move my own soldiers here. It was because I thought about what would happen after defeating Kyaran and Oswald.

They are contacting me now that they are under heavy attack from His Highness. I have to return while they are somehow holding out.

Brian ran off and soon after, Emilia crawled out of the hole with his help.

She runs towards me, sitting on the ground.

“Rebecca-sama!”

“Emilia, I’m sorry, thank you for helping me.”

“No, it’s just what’s naturally expected! Do you want to heal your injuries?”

“I need you to prioritize healing the minor injuries of the soldiers. We have to return to our camp right now.”

But I couldn’t finish my sentence.

My vision suddenly lost color, and my consciousness began to fade like a toy whose power had been cut off. I could feel Emilia supporting my body, but I couldn’t hear her voice.

——The flag has been taken.

With an indescribable sense of regret that I wanted to fight more, I lost consciousness.

Chapter 81

I opened my eyes and I was in a warm bed. Roaming my gaze to the ceiling, I realized I was sleeping in the infirmary. I also noticed that someone was sitting on the bed.

As I tried to speak and took a breath, I coughed and coughed.

“Rebecca, are you awake?”

“Your Highness…”

His deep blue eyes peered in. I was hugged firmly and my muffled voice echoed with unease.

“Do you hate me?”

“Of course not!”

I deny it with a smile, Giggle by the unexpected question.

“In fact, I believed in you, that you wouldn’t come to help me, but would attack Oswald’s tower. Thanks to that, I was able to defeat Kyaran.”

If he had really come to help me, I would have been naturally discouraged, and it was only natural for His Highness to take my flag in the end.

Considering that we encountered the unprecedented situation of an alliance between Generals, our army performed well.

I get up and stretch.

Winter is the same as spring in that all the students have a defense spell cast on them beforehand, and what I used earlier was the magic that was originally given to me, so I am unscathed. It feels more like I took a deep nap.

As I left the bed, I asked.

“What time is it until the ball?”

“Five hours.”

“That’s good enough.”

The ball where the title is awarded is on the night after [winter] every year.

From now on, the students will be busy. They will start preparing for the dance party from those who have recovered.

And as for myself and His Highness, the final big task, “Sajad’s exoneration,” is waiting for us.

The ball is an event that wraps up the first year at the Royal Academy. Female students wearing colorful dresses, and male students escorting them.

Because heavyweights from the country who want to see the talent that will carry the country with their own eyes will also show their faces, the scale is considerable.

First, the top three and top five will be announced, and then there will be dancing and conversation. Laugh with classmates who have been rivals for a year, striking shoulders.

In the scenario, before the announcement of the title, the protagonist exposes Sajad’s actions to the light of day. When I read the passage in the strategy guide, I thought,

――――Is Sajad an idiot?

“Exoneration” is not something with a lot of evidence, there are many loopholes. If I calmly keep a straight face, Sajad’s guilt should not be recognized.

However, Sajad was furious. He deliberately stripped off his true colors and shouted, trying to give validity to the protagonist’s claims.

And finally, he ran wild with magic, turning the Academy into a hellish picture by materializing the nightmares of various people, and then he became unconscious from the backlash and fell into a coma.

This contradiction must surely point to the true him.

The sun sets and the time of the stars and moon arrives.

One hour before the ball was held in the lecture hall, I was standing alone in the dim great hall.

Dressed in a deep blue dress like the sea, with delicate golden accessories, and braided black hair done up, I was ready for the ball.

The students are getting ready in their dormitories, and the teachers are busy preparing for the ball. Inevitably, no one has any business in the hall.

So the footsteps approaching, “taptap” are from the person I called.

“Good evening, Duke Slutarch’s daughter. It’s rare for you to want to talk to me.”

“Good evening, Viscount Mahajanjiga’s son. Thank you for your kindness.”

Sajad, dressed in a classic tuxedo, appeared from the darkness with a fake smile.

“What can I do for you?”

Gentle behavior that doesn’t show any irritation at being called on the busy ball day. Each movement is grand.

I wonder if he has the confidence to not care about what I say.

——That’s only natural, Sajad ultimately failed to provide us with any evidence.

It’s the same scenario. There’s no evidence that won’t move. He can slice through this.

“… would you like to hear a story about a certain noble young man?”

While gazing at that relaxed smile, I started the conversation.

***

There was a noble young man. He was academically excellent and good looking, and his personality was also good.

His only noticeable drawback was that he hated commoners. [Commoners are supposed to serve nobles, they are not even human]. He thought so.

But of all things, there was a commoner girl at the academy he attended.

She was a thorn in his eye, having entered a grade below him and being academically excellent, even having won the same award as him.

The young man was displeased.

At such a time, his father was told to get a higher title. The Viscount family was losing power, and the Viscount sought the privileges associated with the title.

The young man understood his own abilities well. He couldn’t get it with his own ability.

——But, if it’s not a straight approach.

He could interfere with the minds of others with his Phantom Beast. He thought of using it to control a certain trio of women, but there was no immediate success.

Moreover, that woman (the duke’s daughter) was close with the commoner girl. When that woman (the duke’s daughter) was with the commoner, she laughed especially well.

The young man didn’t like it. When he saw that woman (the duke’s daughter) happily laughing next to the commoner, he felt as if his intestines were boiling.

The young man decided to first shake the trio of women.

Using a mutual friend of that woman (the duke’s daughter) and the commoner girl, he could cause damage to both. He started to harass them, but it didn’t seem to have much effect, even when he tried to push that woman (the duke’s daughter) down the stairs.

The young man changed tactics. [If you want to shoot the general, you must first shoot the horse]. He tried to bribe the commoner girl.

But that was interfered with too. This time, a nobleman protected the commoner girl. The commoner girl, protected behind the nobleman without minding her status, once again irritated the young man badly.

Then, this time, he attacked the fiancé of the trio of women, but that also didn’t go well.

————But it’s okay.

There is no evidence that the young man did anything, and there are plenty of opportunities for him to do so after “he” graduates from the Academy.

So even if it was known that everything was known to the three strong women just before the ball, the young man should aim for the next opportunity with a keen eye.

***

When Sajad finished listening to me, he didn’t say anything.

he just laughed.

Confidently sure of his victory, he looked down on me who couldn’t find evidence, and was simply relieved.

If you were going to make a move, this was the place to do it.

“————That’s a lie,” he said.

The expression disappears from Sajad’s face. I laughed in its place.

[Absolution] starts now.

“To begin with, the way to do it is too slow and sluggish.” I said, changing my tone on purpose in the empty great hall where nobody was there.

Sajad seemed to be flustered.

“…What do you mean?”

The lengthy discussion [of Sajad from my point of view] was probably within his expectations. It’s reasonable that he dismissed it as “a lie.

Now that the disguise has come off, this is the perfect chance to break his cover.

“If you can interfere with someone else’s mind, the fastest way to become one of the top three this year is to attack the man with a high possibility of becoming one and aim for that frame.”

Of course, His Highness and Oswald, but Brian and Gadd might be the ones that fit the description.

“Nevertheless, why did the young man insist on women?”

Sajad asked. First, Sajad drew out the words through [the young man].

He smiled on his face again, and said it was the story of [the young man], not himself.

“Was it because the [three powerful women] seemed to have lower abilities and be easier to handle than the men?”

“Oh my, despite that, “the young man” have been continuously failing.”

Making a deliberate curious expression and stirring Sajad, Sajad raised his mouth corners unnaturally. He is holding back so as not to show his anger.

“Also, there were too many things that didn’t add up.”

——Viscount Mahajanjiga, who we met at a summer evening party, was a father who couldn’t believe that Sajad would listen to what he said straightforwardly.

——The line that was supposed to be said at a ball, [summer].

——The activation conditions of Phantom Beast’s ability suddenly mutated.

——When he was blamed in the scenario and got angry and worsened his position.

“I thought there was a reason. But for the past year, your words and actions have been so inconsistent that I thought you might be stupid.”

Sajad is upset. This kind of insult is effective against a man with a high pride as a mountain.

“…What do you want to say.”

Even so, he still maintained his composure on the surface. He didn’t take a step or raise his voice.

But he was definitely losing his patience.

Because he didn’t seem to realize that [the young man] had taken the [you] place.

“I realized it. If it’s normal for things to not make sense, then wouldn’t you be holding onto (romantic) feelings that you can’t fulfill yourself?”

“Huh…?”

Sajad furrowed his eyebrows as if he was confused. And then he smiled with his nose.

“Unfortunately, it’s a misunderstanding. I never loved you.”

“I know. There was never a time when you held special feelings for me. Because in reality——.”

I, who held the strategy guide, thought I understood Sajad well.

But there was one fact that wasn’t even in the strategy guide.

“You love her, don’t you? ————Emilia, from the bottom of your heart.”

Chapter 82

At that moment, it seemed as though Sajad had forgotten not only to breathe but also time, and even the movement of his heart.

It must be true that he dislikes commoners. That’s why he was the least to notice. He didn’t try to notice.

————Never in his wildest dreams did he think, “I would fall in love with someone as low class as a commoner.”

A soft breath escaped from Sajad’s throat. He had a despairing look on his muddy-colored face.

“…What are you saying?”

“Attacks on myself, His Highness, and Melinda can all be explained with one word: harassment toward those close to Emilia.”

Even though Sajad is smart, he can never control his emotions when it comes to Emilia.

He thought that was because she was a commoner.

But it was different. The first time I thought it was strange was when I saw him being friendly to a commoner customer in [Summer].

Emilia was [special] to Sajad.

When I thought that it was not a special [dislike] but the opposite, I realized that many things made sense.

He forgot himself and raged when he was condemned in the scenario because the capture target, meaning the man, was close to Emilia.

The reason he dropped the line he was supposed to say at the ball in the summer was because it was similar to the ball in that Emilia was being sheltered by a man named Gadd.

The change in Phantom Beast’s ability is probably due to me, an irregular.

In the scenario, Sajad had a noble reason to approach Emilia, which was an order from his father.

[Commoners are dirty, but if it’s an order from my father, there’s no choice.]

On the pretext of this, he got Emilia and fulfilled his desire without realizing it.

But the reality was different. There was no reason for him to approach Emilia, who was a top student.

However, he wanted to approach her, to be in her sight, to exchange words. At the same time, he also thought that commoners are dirty, lowly, and inferior.

Love and hatred. Despite being opposite vectors, both emotions were as intense, and Sajad’s heart was twisted.

This stress became the trigger for the sudden mutation.

In other words, the discrepancy between the scenario in the second part and reality was due to the fact that Emilia did not become one of the top three, but I became one of the top three.

Sajad scratched his head. “That’s wrong.” or “That’s impossible.” he muttered. Eventually, he hunched over with his head in his hands.

The figure of him, who was once the object of admiration for many students as a top student, is now nowhere to be seen.

In that posture, a low voice that moans asks me.

“Have you told anyone?”

“No, I just talked to you for the first time.”

In an instant, his eyes filled with hatred looked up at me.

“————Then I can kill you now.”

As he muttered, his powerful magic fueled by his despair swallowed not only me, but also the great hall.

Breathless. I can clearly see that he’s trying to crush and obliterate me, with a fierce weight and density.

I knew it was going to be like this.

While resisting the oppressive feeling that makes my skin tingle, I look Sajad straight in the eye.

“I said that I just talked to you for the first time——.”

The magic thorns, which he created from his shadow, and which were as big as a person’s arm, reached for me.

I didn’t avoid them.

“——I didn’t say no one else was listening.”

In a blink, five people appeared in the place.

Two of them stand to protect me. Two of them restrain Sajad’s arms and thrust a sword at his neck.

And another one descends in the middle of me and Sajad, with deep sadness on his face.

“Sajad Mahajanjiga.”

Called by his name, Sajad opens his eyes as wide as they will go. He trembles with fear, gazing at the man.

“Principal…”

The Royal Academy’s Principal was in this great hall from the beginning, listening to everything I had to say.

“You tried to harm Rebecca! You deserve to die!”

The man with flaming hair riding a horse, who is holding a sword to Sajad, is like the sun.

“Don’t get too wild. I don’t want to break anyone’s arms either.”

The woman riding a cheetah who is restraining the arms is a female hero.

“Vanderlei-sama, please don’t get hurt before the wedding.”

And one of the two people who are standing to protect me is a talented woman who is accompanied by countless butterflies.

Vanderlei Slutarch, Olivier Marc, and Cectiara Zoff, the three powerful graduates, have gathered in this place.

And finally, the other of the two people who are standing to protect me, the blond man who has sliced Sajad’s attack with an unblinking speed————.

“Rebecca, are you hurt?”

Llewayne Huaverdon.

After he turned around to check on my safety, he focused on Sajad again.

This series of events was a conspiracy between me and His Highness.

If I can’t prove Sajad’s wrongdoing so far, I’ll make it happen now. I don’t need evidence if it’s a current offender in front of the Principal.

With three strong graduates, Sajad won’t have any time to go on a rampage, so he won’t fall into a coma.

It was I who suggested that we avoid condemnation at the ball. I was scared of exposing Sajad’s love to the public.

Most of all, I couldn’t bring myself to reveal the thing I hated most about Rebecca in part 1.

Anyway, this is finally settled————.

“——Ah, it’s over.”

Neither I nor His Highness raised that voice.

It was Sajad.

He lowered his head while being restrained and raised his voice as if he were relieved, as if he had given up on everything.

His appearance made me feel uneasy.

“… Yes, your plot is [over], but in terms of your life, you will be rehabilitated…”

“You don’t understand. My Gwen ‘s ability will never change.”

Sajad called the name of his Phantom Beast, who is not present here now.

“If it’s deemed too dangerous——then we’ll get rid of it.”

I held my breath. This was because his eyes, voice, and sigh showed that he cherished his Phantom Beast.

For the first time, I saw Sajad, who seemed to be hostile to everything around him, look at something with affection.

Surely His Highness and the Principal felt the same way.

“That’s why I couldn’t stop.”

Sajad looked at me with bloodshot eyes.

“In that case, let’s bet. A・chance・to・make・it・as・if・it・never・happened.”

At that moment, suddenly, a black hole the size of a marble appeared in front of Sajad.

It appeared too fast, and began to suck in air and dust while swirling.

Nii-sama and Olivier couldn’t help but retreat. Everyone who saw it felt an unusual sense of crisis.

That black sphere meant something that would make even the two with renowned combat abilities instinctively choose to flee.

A sound of the air being sucked in, my body was being pulled with tremendous force. My feet moved sluggishly and my body was floated, but His Highness hugged me from behind and held me back.

“Your Highness, what is that!”

“It’s time magic! They’re trying to distort the flow of time and turn it back! If you get caught up in it, you’ll die!”

My hair and dress were pulled and swayed. My feet couldn’t touch the ground, and my heart beat fast.

His Highness turned his arms around my stomach and shoulder from behind so that I wouldn’t be taken away. And then, slowly, he retreated.

When I somehow managed to lift my head and look around, Nii-sama, Olivier, and Cectiara-sama were also heading towards the entrance of the grand hall.

The only one who was different was the Principal.

“Stop it! That’s forbidden! Nobody has ever succeeded!”

The principal was shouting frantically, unlike his usual calm demeanor. He was trying to stop the student’s violent behavior without considering his own danger.

“If you fail, you’ll be swallowed by the current of time! It’s lucky to die! You might be sent to a distant time axis or wander forever, or you may suffer the shattering of your body, but you will not die!”

“I know!”

But Sajad didn’t listen. He laughed horribly and screamed back, and began to pour his magic into the black hole——the seed of the distortion of time.

“Success or failure——. Duke Slutarch’s daughter, you have to bring that woman, Emilia quickly.”

I didn’t have time to think why her name came up now.

At Sajad’s hand, the sphere writhed violently like a cell dividing, swelling.

The moment the magic finally activated when the sphere grew to the size of a fist.

The wind that pulls in became so intense that it became a storm, compared to before.

The moment Sajad’s body twisted and was drawn into the hole like a mirage, I screamed in a voice that couldn’t be a voice.

“It’s a failure!”

Olivier can be heard yelling.

The magic doesn’t stop even though the human who activated it is gone.

His Highness has used magic to stretch roots of a tree onto the floor, managing to endure by sewing his feet to the ground. But he can no longer move another step.

“What’s the way to stop it?!”

He cried out, half in despair, unable to open his eyes anymore.

The one who knew the answer was the Principal.

“There’s only one record of a healing mage who managed to jump into that and come out unharmed! The distortion is a wound of time, but their whereabouts are still unknown!”

“Such a——.”

It was when we sank into despair.

At the edge of my vision, I caught a glimpse of silver hair.

“[Healing Mage]…?”

Murmured in confusion, it was my best friend, the healing mage, who was shocked with wide open eyes.”

Chapter 83

Emilia was standing at the entrance to the great hall, clinging to the wall. She was wearing a light, bright yellow dress and was being held and supported by Gadd from behind. The two of them had just arrived at the scene.

When her shaking eyes and gaze intersected, she finally realized.

Sajad had thought he had used time magic recklessly. But in the end, he had called Emilia’s name.

He knew that only a healer who used magic could use time magic with confidence.

——Even if he failed and died, he chose the way to take Emilia with him.

“Rebecca, Your Highness Llewayne, please step back!”

Cectiara-sama shouted as if she was tearing silk. Returning my gaze to the distortion of time, I took a breath.

It’s growing too fast.

What was once the size of a fist is now growing to the size of a private house.

If it continues to grow like this, will it spread indefinitely? If so, then it’s already a disaster. Not only us but also the Academy and the Royal Capital are in danger.

While thinking, the hole like a black hole is spreading.

Making Emilia a sacrifice is out of the question. But there is no other way. If no one stops it here, how many people will be affected?

How many hundreds, how many thousands, if not careful, how many tens of thousands——.

My head was stained with thoughts that made me want to vomit, at that time.

“Don’t be hasty!!”

There was a person who roared with a voice so loud it seemed like his throat was going to break.

It was my older brother.

I opened my eyes wide. I felt like my older brother was directing that desperate appearance towards me.

————but it was different.

“Llewayne!”

Desperately and with all his might, for some reason my older brother called the name of His Highness, who was right behind me.

When I finally realized it, when his arm that was supporting me had a noticeably strong power, I finally remembered.

————His Highness’s [fall] in Part 1.

He is the only person who has made healing magic, which was said to be impossible without natural talent, possible through research.

“Rebecca.”

In the moment when the blood drained from my face, a gentle voice whispered in my ear. When I turned around, his lips overlapped mine.

“Your Highness——.”

“I’ll be gone for a bit. I’ll definitely come back, so wait for me. Please make progress with the preparations for the wedding ceremony.”

My head became blank. Like he was telling me about a trip, he whispered nonchalantly and kissed me again.

The roots of the magic tree that were only wrapped around my legs intertwined with my whole body.

His Highness left me without letting go of my hand.

“Your Highness!”

My desperately stretched hand cut through the air.

Before I knew it, the roots of the tree that were deeply spread out on the floor of the large room were pulling me. Pulling me away from His Highness.

“Your Highness, Your Highness! Please, wait!”

Even though I run as if I will break, crush and fall, I am once again pinned to the ground by what is pursuing me.

“Your Highness…”

Whenever I called his name, he would always look back and give me a kind look.

If I had cried, he would have wiped my tears closest to me.

But His Highness did not turn around when I cried out with a distorted face.

His back headed straight into the darkness without hesitation. At the same time he disappeared, the sphere began to ripple on its surface and then started to change shape painfully.

I sat down on the ground with a thud. There was no longer anyone to wipe away the tears that overflowed endlessly.

***

Emilia realized what Llewayne was trying to do when Vanderlei barked at that moment.

Because of her procrastination, Llewayne was going to take her place.

Emilia tried to run out, but her lover’s arm from behind hugged her tightly and he never let go.

As a result, Emilia was unable to move a single step and saw Llewayne walking straight towards the black hole.

————That’s just an excuse.

Emilia couldn’t make a decision. She should have been able to forcibly strip her lover, but her hands were shaking and she couldn’t put any strength into them.

She couldn’t even make the decision to throw away her own life. She was just scared. She was afraid of death that was approaching her unjustly.

As a result, now Emilia’s best friend is crying and has lost her beloved.

————What am I doing?

Emilia took a breath. In the calm air, she hit her cheek with all her might.

Even if she couldn’t hear their conversation, Emilia knew. Llewayne entered the time distortion with the determination to live and come back, not with the determination to die.

Then the greatest repayment Emilia could make and the atonement was to raise the probability a little.

If Llewayne doesn’t come back, Emilia’s best friend will never be able to smile again.

Emilia will spend her life remembering Llewayne, whom Rebecca loved like burning her life, and carefully protecting the remaining fire.

Emilia thought. What can she do now? Who can help them? What does she have?

Her Phantom Beast Kyuubi is next to her. Her lover and their Phantom Beast are also here.

What kind of person is capable of making a stand against time magic?

Who better than the Principal and the mage higher than Llewayne Huaverdon?

————It was then that the name of a certain man brought a tiny glimmer of hope to Emilia.

“Lend me your Phantom Beast, Gadd!”

Grabbing her lover’s chest.

Emilia knew about the ability of Gadd’s Phantom Beast, the Sloth.

Once a month, during the full moon, she could use a certain magic.

“[Teleportation magic] can’t be used against time magic——.”

“Don’t use that for that! Hurry up!”

Taking the sloth away from Gadd. The capacity is one person only. A purple magic circle spreads on the ground, and Emilia closes her eyes with a floating feeling.

When she opened her eyes, she was in front of a mansion she had never seen before, but Emilia ran out leaving the sloth behind.

Enter from the back door so as not to be found by the security knights. Passing through the well-maintained backyard and looking for a door along the outer wall.

Lift up the one she found with all her strength and open it, then descend the stairs as if flying.

The person she was after was in the middle of the basement.

As she reached out to touch her hand, Emilia activated a full-body healing magic.

Pouring all of her magic and energy into it, it’s still not enough to fill the vessel. The more she pours, the more magic is taken away as if it’s saying “I won’t settle for anything less than perfect.”

It seems like even Emilia’s body is being pulled into it.

Not enough magic————But still.

“Please wake up right now.”

Stopping the shaking of her legs with determination. She cling to the consciousness that’s about to fly away, and pour all her strength into her hands that touch.

“Please help me… I beg of you.”

Even if all of her magic is devoured, even if she can never use magic again because of it, it doesn’t matter.

If only one thing, the smile of the girl she loves so much, returns safely.

“Please wake up————

Ouka-san.”

The name that Rebecca mentioned after summer vacation.

She didn’t ask Rebecca about the details, but she said, “He’s the one who helped me,” and “He’s an amazing magician.”

“Please help Rebecca-sama.”

The man with deep red eyes who was in a deep sleep, opened his eyelids slightly the moment he heard that name.

Chapter 84

I watched in bewilderment as the distortion caused by swallowing His Highness’ body slowly came together and grew smaller.

The wind that seemed to suck in stopped, and the roots of the tree created by His Highness’s magic crumbled away like they had completed their role.

Even though someone ran up to me, said something in an impatient voice, or shook my body, I just sat there and cried.

But I felt like I heard a painfully nostalgic voice, and at that moment I looked up.

“Ah, I can’t even take a nap.”

A man with red hair and red eyes was there as if it were natural. He was standing next to me, looking at the black sphere.

Emilia, who was carrying a sloth behind her, was also there, but I had no time to pay attention.

The man peered into my face. He crouched down, rubbed my cheeks with his sleeve.

“Don’t cry so much, Rebecca. You were born with a cute face, you know?”

“Ouka…?”

I murmured as if I was seeing a dream.

After he replied “Oh,” he wiped my tears and returned his gaze to the shrinking black hole.

“That Llewayne guy is great as expected. Even though he’s not a healing magic user, he was able to calm it down.”

He nods contentedly, standing up. Strokes my head that I am staring blankly at, and starts walking towards the disappearing hole.

“I’ll bring him back somehow. I’ve been studying time magic in all worlds except here. I’m already a pro, a pro.”

Just before he touches the black hole, he turns back to me and lightly raises his hand.

“Well, I’m going.”

“Ouka, wait…wa”

Before I can stop him, Ouka’s body bends and twists like jelly. He’s sucked into the small hole like water flowing in.

With that, the time distortion was completely closed and disappeared without a trace.

An hour passed, two hours passed, and even when dawn arrived, the two did not return.

————On this day, the first prince of the Huaverdon kingdom disappeared from the world.

***

After the next day, nothing changed in the Academy and the Royal Capital. Because a gag order was placed on what had happened in the great hall and the disappearance of the prince, most students, except for some senior nobles, did not know what had happened.

One only wonders why the ball was canceled and that this year’s title was not awarded.

I, who did not want to leave the great hall, was carried to my father’s house in the Royal Capital two days later after collapsing.

I was not allowed to go to the Academy even when I woke up.

After that, I started spending my days staring out the window every day.

Sometimes people came to visit. Nii-sama, Melinda and Fried, Kyaran, Olivier and Brian, Gadd, Oswald and Judith.

I felt like I was talked to, and felt like my shoulder was tapped. Everyone came and went without realizing it.

My sense of time was extremely vague. I don’t even know how many days I’ve spent this way.

It feels like two weeks, but also feels like a month.

However, the scenery seen from the window gradually changed, so it must have been a relatively long time.

In the garden with the cold and frost still remaining, the trees and plants peeked out, flowers bloomed with buds, and the garden became greener.

——Even if His Highness is gone, the seasons still change.

It was when I was thoughtlessly thinking about obvious things. The door to the room opened. The air moved.

Someone had entered.

“Rebecca-sama.”

I felt like I was being called my name after a long time, or maybe it was just a moment ago.

“Rebecca-sama.”

A hand was placed on my shoulder. It wasn’t an unpleasant or comfortable feeling, but my head was fuzzy and I accepted it without deep thought.

“Rebecca-sama——Christina is dying.”

I made a guttural sound. When I turned around, my best friend was standing with a face that I had never seen before, so severe.

————Emilia.

I intended to voice out. A breath leaked out only when my mouth moved.

I tried to stand up but my legs lacked strength. Emilia tried to support me as I sat down on the floor, collapsing from the chair.

Regardless, my gaze wandered inside the room. Where is my white snake?

When was the last time I touched it, called its name, and saw it?

“You know, Phantom Beast is the master’s mirror. Rebecca-sama, you’re slowly weakening and dying. It’s meaningless to heal Christina any further. Nothing will change unless you change.”

She looked at me straight in the face. It was like a shock, as if I had been hit in the head.

I didn’t notice that Christina was weak or that Emilia was healing her.

But my head wouldn’t stop spinning. I couldn’t think deeply and I looked around searching for Christina.

“Rebecca-sama, get a grip. Your Highness is——”

“Don’t say it!”

I almost yelled. My throat hurts. It had been a long time since I had made a sound.

Tears that should have dried up a long time ago were still coming out like spring water.

“Don’t say it. HisHighness, I’m sure he’s alive.”

I shook my head like a child.

Even if everyone else gives up, I am the only one who believes. Even if it means acknowledging that it is the same as not accepting reality, as long as I continue to believe.

I would rather not live otherwise.

But Emilia grabbed my wrists and held them.

“No, I will say it. Rebecca-sama, please calm down——”

Emilia, with a strong tone, wouldn’t let me block my ears and forced reality upon me——

——or so I thought.

“If you do that, Your Highness will be sad when they come back.”

It took me a while to understand the content that was said in a relaxed tone. It took several seconds for it to finally reach my brain and I finally understood it.

I looked up dazed. Emilia had returned to her usual gentle expression.

But she looked terribly weary.

“Rebecca-sama, you have such a terrible face right now. When that man comes back, be sure to greet him with the usual stunning Rebecca-sama.”

She describes me as having a “terrible face,” with dark circles, hair that has lost its luster, and a face that looks blurry, even though she herself is a bit gaunt herself.

For the first time, I realized that Emilia had not come to scold me or encourage me.

She was struggling with guilt.

It was surely guilt for the fact that His Highness had fixed the time distortion instead of her.

As a responsible and smart person, I could have known that this would be a heavy burden for her, but I, who only think about myself, had never thought about it until now.

Moreover, Emilia chose to believe His Highness’s words “I will come back”.

This is in stark contrast to the me who was blocking it even though I said I believed it. She is trying to live with her back straight because she believes it from the bottom of her heart.

With hope in her heart, he is not wasting the life that His Highness has saved for him. She is trying to live her life properly. She wants me to do the same.

——That’s right. Emilia is always like that. I’ve never seen her break, she’s a real strong person.

Compared to her, what am I now?

“…Yes, this kind of thing will be disillusioning.”

I mutter a few words and Emilia smiles at me. I felt like looking up for the first time in a long time.

With her help, I put strength into my legs and finally stood up.

And then I realized something.

“…I’m sorry Emilia, what day is it today?”

“It’s March 15th.”

“Has it already been two months since then? So there’s only a week left.”

There was an important promise.

I wonder why I forgot until now, it was an important promise with His Highness.

“Emilia, can you call Nii-sama? If I’m allowed, I want to go to the palace tomorrow. If possible, I want Emilia to come with me.”

“I don’t mind but… what for?”

“First, I have to secure the venue. Next is the invitation. For this occasion, it’s fine with a ready-made dress.”

Looking at me who had suddenly regained my vitality, Emilia was taken aback.

I wiped away her tears and tried to smile.

“Of course we’re doing it. It’s the preparation for the wedding.”

————[Make progress with the preparations for the wedding ceremony].

He did say that to me in the end, didn’t he? Then what I should be doing now is not just looking out the window all day.

“His Highness has never broken a promise. I will get scolded if I don’t do it properly.”

The fog that was in my mind has cleared and I feel as if sunlight is shining through the clouds. I’m making plans in my head.

As the scale has to shrink, I want to gather only the people who I definitely want to come. I’ll try to ask Melinda right away to help with various things.

The date has been decided since before, but I need to check if my father and His Majesty the King have put in another schedule.

Emilia’s face lit up and she began to move. Nii-sama ran and came flying right away, and soon after, Melinda also came driving a carriage.

When Father made contact, the palace’s permission was granted with an unprecedented speed. The use of the giant hall that was originally planned to be used remained as planned.

With Christina who has fully recovered riding at high speed to deliver the invitation cards, despite the invitation being too hasty, reply to attend quickly came from Cectiara-sama, Ceden siblings, Gadd, Kyaran and others.

The Marc siblings even came to hand over the invitations and helped the security at the venue.

Principal contacted me to let me know that they would like to attend the wedding.

Fried appeared with a custom-made wedding dress and accessories. It was originally what we had prepared. He did not cancel the order.

In a short time of one week, the preparation was steadily and rapidly proceeding.

Many of my and the prince’s important people helped. While thinking of His Highness, I felt like crying every time.

On the eve of the wedding, His Highness and Ouka still did not return.

Chapter 85

A woman was walking down the aisle alone.

With her black hair, gray eyes and contrasting sapphire jewelry on her ears and neck, she looked beautiful in her pure white wedding dress.

However, the scene was somehow strange. The woman, without her father, was walking down the aisle alone, mysteriously and beautifully.

There was no priest, not even a groom, at the end of the aisle.

When the woman reached the front, she knelt before God, and the thirty or so guests who were allowed to attend the ceremony knew exactly what she was thinking.

————She was praying.

She was like a shell just a week ago.

She wouldn’t respond to any conversation and didn’t realize she was hungry until she couldn’t stand up. She stopped reacting to anything in the outside world, as if she had left her emotions somewhere.

Her soul was restored by a girl famous among the nobility.

The girl, who was friends with the woman despite the difference in status between a commoner and the Duke’s daughter, saved the woman who was almost dismissed as the next queen.

Some of the guests hesitated to gather here today.

After all, the man the woman was supposed to marry was now missing. He was missing, and there was no guarantee that he would come back, no matter how many hundreds of years passed.

However, the king did not demote him from Crown Prince. He declared that he would not change anything as long as he was in good health and protected the position of women.

And now that woman, after finishing a long prayer, raised her face. Words spilled from her cherry-colored lips.

“Will you, marry me?”

That very small sound only reached the ears of just a few people.

The brother and father who were watching the woman from the front row twisted their faces in sorrow. The white snake riding on her brother’s shoulder also shed a single tear from its round eyes.

The woman took a breath, but still stood up with her back straight, and that was the moment.

GARAGARAGASSHAN.

If you had to put it in words, that was the sound that was heard from outside the ceremony hall. The sound that was too loud to ignore and was out of place in the venue, everyone turned around to the door.

————Someone is coming.

Tension runs through the venue. The king and queen are also present.

The blue-haired siblings drew their swords.

However, what was heard next from beyond the door was a voice that everyone knew well.

“Hey! What’s the date today?”

At that moment, the woman forgot to breathe.

“Uh…uh.”

With unsteady steps, she went down the steps, let out a deep sigh, as if she was expelling all the moisture from her body, and shouted with all her might.

“Your Highness!”

The door opens with a force as if it might break. The man with golden hair and blue eyes was there, dressed exactly as he was on the day he disappeared.

As soon as he sees the woman in front of him, he calls out in a trance.

“Rebecca!”

The man with golden hair starts running. The woman in a wedding dress runs towards him, almost falling over.

In the middle of the Virgin Road (aisle), the two embrace each other as if they collide.

TL: That was they called in Japan

The woman clings to his body, about to drown in her own tears.

“I thought I would never see you again…!”

“I’m sorry, don’t cry so much… you prepared so well. I’m glad I made it in time, thank you.”

“You’re late! You’re late, it’s terrible, I’ll curse you until the end of my line…”

“Don’t curse your descendants because of me, it’s my fault.”

The man lifts the woman’s face, wiping away her tears carefully, as if handling a fragile object. Then he smiles.

“Rebecca, you’re so beautiful.”

The woman started to cry even more when the man began to speak.

A red-haired man followed the man, entered the wedding venue. He was holding the neck of a young man in an Academy uniform with his right hand.

Still crying, the woman noticed him. The man dropped his right hand luggage and approached the two of them.

The woman holds the man’s hand tightly and leans her forehead against it, crying.

“Thank you…,” she says.

“Don’t thank me. More importantly, you look beautiful in your wedding dress. Be happy. That’s all I care about.”

The man gently strokes the woman’s cheek and tries to leave, but she won’t let go of his hand. She knows that if she does, she’ll never see him again.

The blond man places his hand on the woman’s shoulder and turns to face him.

“It’s thanks to you that I was able to come back. And because of your deeds, your sins from 20 years ago will be absolved. You’re even close enough to the Crown Prince’s wife to be friends with her.”

The red-haired man blinks. The woman holding his hand and the man beside her are like his own children, whom he has watched over since they were small children.

Thinking about their future, the man lightly shakes his head.

“Sigh… Rebecca and Llewayne are reckless, so I’ll stay here a little longer. I want to see their children grow.”

The man whispers that he wouldn’t mind being called “grandpa,” and the woman smiles a large smile like a blooming flower.

This time, the woman walks down the aisle with many people wishing her “congratulations” with smiling faces.

She is accompanied by her real father on one side and the red-haired man, who is like another father, on the other.”

If you look at the seats of the guests of honor, you will see the silver-haired friend and the dark purple-haired friend crying with their faces all scrunched up.

And at the front of the aisle, the blond man is looking at the woman with a happiness that can’t be surpassed.

The woman’s cheeks are dyed with happiness.

On that day, the happiest couple in the kingdom was born.

~The End~

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