Chapter 8: Clumsy and lonely red-haired prince (Part 1)
In the end, the private tutor arrived soon after, and the dispute between the children was left unresolved.
After being splashed with tea by Chloe, Roland was ordered to change quickly. However, as he was leaving, he looked like he wanted to say something and kept turning back to look at Chloe.
“H-Hey, you. . .”
“N-Nothing. . .!”
After calling out to her himself, Roland glared at Chloe and left.
She felt like his face was a little red.
What was that all about?
As she looked up, she met eyes with Steed.
(What’s with that face?)
Although he was smiling calmly, there was a strange force that made him a little scary.
It seemed that Steed and the others were also moving indoors with the private tutor.
“Chloe. See you later.”
But that day, Steed did not come to see her.
The next day.
Chloe, who was still half asleep, was awakened by a maid’s voice saying, “Steed-sama is here!”
It’s impossible for him to visit at this time.
Even though it’s a reasonable time for the rest of the world, Chloe still wanted to indulge in her sleep.
She was changed while still half asleep and headed to the room where Steed was waiting.
“Hey, my sleepyhead. Sorry for waking you up. Your sleepy face is so cute.”
“. . .”
“You look too sleepy to even open your mouth. Haha, don’t glare at me.”
He probably won’t touch on the core of the conversation until they’re alone again.
She thinks in the corner of her gradually spinning head.
“I’m going out to the garden.”
She announces it more sullenly than usual.
Steed takes her hand with a smile, not minding at all.
“Oh my! Ojou-sama finally invited His Highness herself!”
“Ojou-sama is of age, and she was struck by His Highness’s charm!”
It’s too much trouble to stop the maids from getting excited in the wrong direction.
Besides, it’s easier to be alone with him if they’re misunderstood.
Sleepiness may make people irritable.
Thinking so, they moved to the garden.
“I’m sorry, Chloe. I couldn’t come to see you yesterday.”
“It’s okay. You were probably talking to the king and queen, right?”
“No. As punishment for causing a commotion afterwards, I was given a lot of assignments to do. By the time I finished cleaning up, the sun had set. That’s why I couldn’t go to your place.”
“Oh. So you didn’t talk about Roland?”
Steed nods in response to Chloe’s words.
“My mother was quite upset, so I hesitate to mention Roland’s name. I haven’t even seen my father. I talked a little with my older brothers, but they apparently received an explanation directly from my father, so I probably won’t have a chance to talk to him about my father and Roland in the future.”
“If my father had intended to talk to me about Roland, he would have called me at that time.”
“That’s. . .”
Chloe couldn’t say anything, feeling that Steed’s thoughts were probably correct.
Even though it was terrible to just introduce her to the Prime Minister and be done with it, Steed had a face that made it seem like it was nothing.
Perhaps, in reality, it really was nothing.
. . .No, that’s not it.
There must have been a time when it really wasn’t nothing.
But after so many times like this, it felt like his heart had become numb.
(Steed is always like that. . .! He pushes his true feelings behind his smile and laughs like it’s nothing. . .)
Chloe feels a sense of dissatisfaction and falls silent.
The crown prince who will someday become king.
The second prince, who is close in age and supports him.
She understands that the two of them are important to the king.
But why do they always look down on Steed?
Is it because he’s so much younger than the eldest and second eldest?
But he’s only seven years old.
Is the role given to the third child not that important?
The more she thinks about it, the more her anger grows in her chest.
She remembers being angry when she first heard this story, but the king’s actions are still wrong.
Even though denying one’s own country’s king is an outrageous act, Chloe’s anger doesn’t subside at all.
Steed is an important friend who has erased Chloe’s sadness.
So just like he did for her, Chloe wanted to save him too.
From everything that makes Steed sad.
That’s what she thinks is her duty as a good friend.
Despite aiming to be a villainess, Chloe is firm in her sense of duty and clenches her fist tightly, with a determined expression.
“Steed, leave it to me!”
“When I become a perfect villainess, I’ll definitely defeat the king!”
“That’s what being a villainess is all about, doing evil deeds without hesitation. I’ll make him regret it!!”
“Regret it. . .?”
After widening his eyes, Steed bursts out laughing.
“Hahaha. The opponent is the king, you know? You’re such a kid. . .”
He frowns and laughs while holding his stomach.
This smile is not fake.
Chloe doesn’t know why he’s laughing, but she feels proud that she was able to bring out his true expression.
“Thank you, Chloe. You were thinking of me, but don’t worry. I’m okay.”
“Whether you think you’re okay or not doesn’t matter. I just want to commit some mischief.”
As he says this to hide her embarrassment, Steed looks at Chloe with a serious expression.
“Yes, we need to talk about that. After what happened yesterday, do you believe in my past life and the game I talked about?”
“Well, yes. I can’t help but believe it after seeing something like that right in front of me.”
“That’s good. Now we can move on to the next stage of the conversation.”
“If what Steed said is true, then I will definitely be ruined as a villainess from now on.”
Chloe remembers what Steed explained yesterday.
Execution, exile followed by assassination, and being tortured before being killed. . .
All of them are terrifying futures.
Even Chloe, who is strong-willed, is scared.
Just imagining it makes a cold sweat run down her spine.
“Are you okay, Chloe?”
“I’m frustrated, but I’m also anxious. Last night, I even had a dream of being chased by a death god with a sickle. . .”
“You were worried about me even in that situation.”
“Well, that’s a different matter.”
Even though she tries to retort as usual, her words lack vigor because she is feeling down.
“Don’t look like that, Chloe. I have a plan. I won’t let you be ruined.”
“. . .A plan?”
“First, there is one thing that seems to have a clear effect.”
“. . .!”
“You will be executed in the game as the villain. There will be several events that will determine your life as a villainess. At that time, resist the life of a villainess so that it doesn’t follow the game’s storyline.”
“. . .So, you’re telling me to become a normal girl?”
Steed looks at Chloe silently.
It was a form of affirmation.
(That’s right. I’ll die because I’m the villainess. So, I should just be a good girl. . .I understand that, but. . .)
The woman in the picture book that Chloe admired.
A beautiful and cool villainess princess.
The reason why she was able to accept her hated villainess face was because of Steed’s picture book.
Aiming to become a villainess is the only thing that gives Chloe a sense of existence that she can affirm.
If she gives up on that, there will be nothing left for Chloe.
She will live as a normal lady, pretending to be someone she’s not.
(Isn’t living without being able to show your true self the same as being dead?)
“Hey, Chloe. Which is better, living with an empty heart or dying gloriously as a villainess?”
It was as if Steed had read Chloe’s mind with his question.
(But that’s right.)
Without hesitation, Chloe has already made up her mind.
Encouraged by Steed’s words, Chloe speaks confidently.
“I don’t want to be ruined! But I don’t want to give up on becoming a villainess either! Even when I’m 90 years old, I want to be told, ‘That wicked old lady was up to no good again today. She’s amazing!'”
“But isn’t that the easiest thing to do?”
“Even so, I don’t want to give up on either of them.”
Chloe puffs out her chest.
“Being selfish is fine. After all, I’m the villainess.”
“Heh. . .Ahahaha!”
“What?! Why are you laughing?!”
For some reason, Steed starts laughing again, holding his stomach.
“No, sorry, sorry. I thought you would say that, but seeing it with my own eyes makes me happy.”
Steed looks at Chloe with a gentle gaze that he has never directed at anyone else.
“Don’t worry, Chloe. If you’re prepared, I won’t tell you to give up on your dreams anymore. I want you to be yourself, just the way you are. I’ll definitely protect you.”
“I don’t want to be a weak woman who needs protection!”
She feels embarrassed and stiff, but her true feelings are that she feels reassured.
“Well then, let’s do our best together. Is this okay?”
“Well, umm. . .Yeah, that’s fine.”
“Hehe, thanks. I’ll guide you so that we don’t follow the game’s script. The person who knows the contents of the game inside and out didn’t appear in the game. So, I don’t think it’s a world that follows the game exactly. Let’s take advantage of that loophole.”
“What do you mean by taking advantage of the loophole?”
“Let me explain it step by step. First, what is depicted in the game is a part of our important life scenes. For example, yesterday’s scene was one of the important scenes for Roland. It was the day he first came to the castle.”
“So, you knew what we were going to talk about.”
“But the part where Gideon and Roland fight like that was omitted. What was important in the game was that Roland came out in front of everyone and said terrible things, and what happened after that.”
“What happened after that?”
“Yeah. But nothing really important happened. I found a certain possibility in that.”
“Yeah. Roland is the key.”
At the unexpected name, Chloe tilted her head.
“In the game, he went berserk with magic on the first day he came to the castle and was locked up in the tower as punishment, as you said. This series of events greatly affected his life.”
Hearing that he was locked up in the tower, Chloe shuddered.
“In the game, Roland has claustrophobia and is not good with dark places. That’s because he was locked up in the [North Tower] in the castle for punishment many times in his childhood.”
“That’s understandable. That place is scary.”
“That place was once used to imprison criminals. One of the mean tutors bullied Roland, who was an illegitimate child.”
That’s such a terrible thing to do.
Those children were the same, but is being an illegitimate child really that bad?
Roland didn’t do anything wrong.
Children don’t have the right to choose their parents.
“In the game, Chloe knows that Roland has claustrophobia and locks him up in the school’s storage room to harass him.”
Is she really that mean?
That’s not the direction Chloe wants to take.
“I want to commit stylish and aesthetic crimes.”
“That’s where the [heroine] comes in, to rescue Roland.”
“The girl who is the protagonist of the game. As a result of that incident, Roland, who had not opened up to anyone, began to show kindness only to the heroine. In Roland’s route, that incident is the first step towards Chloe’s life heading towards ruin.”
I see, she thought.
Just like Steed was for Chloe, the person who rescued him becomes an important presence.
“But wait, he wasn’t actually locked in, was he?”
“That’s right. Because you stopped it, Roland’s trauma was not created. You weren’t supposed to be there in the first place. I think you became the power to change the course of the story.”
Chloe’s eyes brighten more and more.
“If we continue to block the path to the destruction route one by one like this, I think you won’t be unhappy.”
Chloe nods vigorously at Steed’s words.
“Okay! Tell me what I need to do to that head towards destruction, within the range that Steed knows. I’ll crush them one by one. That way, even if I become a villainess, I can reach a future where I won’t be ruined!”
“I’ll support you with all my might. Let’s definitely become happy.”
She becomes happy, grasping hope after yesterday’s dark feelings.
A few days later. . .
Roland was suddenly imprisoned in the northern tower.