The Michel marquis has gotten so weak that he nearly falls over trying to stand up, but he does so anyway, calling for milady’s name. The two share a tearful embrace.
Gidel had never allowed her to meet him, and the only letters she ever received from the family had been full of heartless words. Nevertheless, milady still believed in her father.
It seems the Michel marquis had been bedridden for a long, long time due to being continuously fed poison by Gidel. He can move around somewhat now that the poison is gone, but the danger has not fully passed. He still needs rest.
Well, I suppose there’s also a little bit of my poison involved in his condition too, but that’s irrelevant. Just a bit of an accident, really.
The boy is looking at milady with so much reverence in his gaze, it’s like his personality has been switched. Are those cheeks blushing because he has just been embraced in milady’s bountiful blessings a moment ago? What a lecherous kid.
“U-umm… can I still talk to you at school, sister?”
“You can, Yohanne. We’re siblings, no need to be so reserved.”
Yohanne. Lady Sharon is your older sister. Do you remember that? Do you?
In the end, everyone in the Balla count’s house, from family members to high-ranking servants, were discovered to have gone missing. Gidel was the only exception. She had been arrested as a suspect, but was then found to be of unsound mind. The rest of her life would be spent in the asylum, it seemed.
I found out that she wasn’t immortal. Still, I left her alive to take responsibility for the incident.
Now, the only remaining person to carry the Balla blood is Yohanne. After he turns of age, he would either become the next count, or the Balla territory would be absorbed by the Michel house. There are also talks of having the territory become milady’s instead, but the matter is still for the far future.
I’ve managed to deal with most of Gidel’s lackeys within the Michel family’s servants.
The job of explaining things to the truly ignorant servants — those who had been deceived by Gidel — would be done by the young maids that I’d saved, so I expect there would be no problem on that end. The only troublesome ones are the servants allied with Gidel who weren’t aware of her crimes, such as Mia. I only left them under surveillance, however; they might prove to be useful for something.
“Then I shall leave the matter to you, sir Franz.”
“Understood, miss Fleurety. I will accomplish my duties.”
Mister Franz has changed from his gardener attire to a butler uniform. Quite a few of the high-ranking servants are gone now, so he has been reinstated to his old position.
From what I’ve heard, he and that one knight named Bardo are now making contact with the people who had been forced to resign, calling them back to service.
Just giving her a glance is already enough for lady Akiru to squeak fearfully. She shrinks away from me.
Ah, but there are quite a lot of black rings around her eyes, aren’t there? I’ve recruited her help with a bit of my experiments, though I do hope she wouldn’t turn out like lady Hina. That young lady now loses control of her bladder whenever I come close.
I have had a little talk with lady Akiru, and she said this world is the world of an otome game. A likely claim. I decided some verification was in order, and so since the young miss cannot die, I administered a nearly-fatal dose of my medicine. Unfortunately, it only confirmed that she truly believed what she was saying.
In other words, this world is a world with an incredible resemblance to that of the so-called ‘otome game’.
According to Akiru, there are several ‘heroines’. In order to conquer their targets, they would have to bring down the ‘villainesses’ and raise their affection points with the target.
And one of those villainesses is supposed to be lady Sharon.
…what a farce.
“My apologies. My mind was occupied with a small matter.”
Milady and I have returned from the Michel territory to the capital, where the academy is. There are quite a few concerns, but as I have no concrete evidence yet, I cannot afford to burden milady with more worries.
“My, Letty. That’s unusual for you.”
“I was thinking to write a thesis about the inverse relationship between milady’s scholarly ability and bust size in order to present it to the academy.”
“Can you please not?! Seriously!”
“It was only half a joke, milady.”
“…fine then, I guess.”
Which is to say that I am also half-serious. The headmaster has shown a surprising amount of interest, and he even told me he would fund all expenses for my research from his own pocket.
“Milady, in order to raise your scores, we will look into studying magic today.”
Milady sulks somewhat as she looks at me with upturned eyes. How devastatingly cute.
If lady Sharon is supposed to be one of those so-called ‘villainesses’, then I need only defeat the heroines. At the same time, getting her grades up and clearing her stigma of being a terrible student are also very important.
How much effort should I spend on entertaining this silly idea, I wonder…
“Which reminds me, I’ve heard that theurgy would be good for learning magic control.”
“Theurgy, is it?”
Different from the elemental magics that we learn at the academy such as earth, water, fire, wind, and a few other types, theurgy is magic that uses the element of ‘light’. While the academy also teaches the basics of theurgy, this type of magic is mainly the Church’s domain, since many healing spells are theurgical in nature.
“Have you not gone to church before, milady?”
“Umm… I’ve gone for a prayer or two before, but getting theurgical lessons… well…”
“Aah, I understand. Milady used to be impoverished, after all.”
Apparently, one needs to give a rather sizable donation if one wishes to learn theurgical magic from the Church. With the funds we’ve earned from the dungeons and the actual support that the marquis house is now giving us, we can afford it.
“Alright, we’ll go to the Church!”
“Yes, milady. I shall accompany you.”
And so we get ready for a trip downtown. Getting there on foot wouldn’t take more than an hour, but just as milady and I leave the dormitory, we find the dorm mother’s horse already waiting for us with the carriage.
“Your name is Nir from now on.”
“Umm, Letty, are you sure it’s fine to name it without asking the dorm mother first…?”
It is, it is. The dorm mother never manages to stay conscious whenever she catches sight of Nir here, anyway. She must be quite the sheltered lady if seeing a horse with four extra legs is already enough to make her faint. Just in case, I drape Nir in a sheet of cloth to hide his changes.
As I expected, Nir is rather speedy. We arrive at the church several times faster than in a normal carriage.
“So this is the church…”
“Yes, it’s the cathedral of the Church that venerates the true Goddess.”
We’re not talking about a building for worship. We’re talking about a religious organization that is named ‘The Church’. How confusing. Which reminds me, I do recall lady Akiru mentioning that this world has an actual Goddess who grants Oracles to the heroines.
The entrance is a staircase with ten steps. Milady jiggles whenever she goes up a step, which is why she’s been the target of quite a few gazes from the men visiting the Church.
“What’s wrong, Letty?” She says mid-way through the stairs, her head turned to look back at me. I haven’t moved from the bottom.
I’m not sure how to describe this. The moment I try to go up the stairs, I immediately feel some sort of pressure, like I’m being rejected. It makes it rather difficult for me to proceed.
But, well, it’s not strong enough to stop me completely.
“No, it is nothing. I will be with you in a moment, milady.”
I smile at her and make a forceful step forward. Something crackles, almost like static electricity on a cold day. From deeper within the cathedral, a faint column of smoke begins to rise.
“My… are they making a bonfire?”
“How about some roasted sweet potatoes for today’s snack, milady?”
“Ooh! Yes, I’d like that!”
“I-I don’t know. The protective talisman just suddenly burned…”
The talisman at the cathedral was the core of a holy barrier that repelled malice and all things evil. Legend has it that it was first set up centuries ago by the Saint, a holy woman who had received an Oracle from the Goddess, and it had protected the cathedral from wicked humans and dark spirits ever since.
What would it mean, then, that the talisman burned?
The thought that there could be an existence powerful enough to destroy the Saint’s protection did not even come to the minds of the priests and priestesses. They all believed it had been because of a lack of piety, and they could do nothing but helplessly watch in panic as the talisman continued to burn.
“Everyone, calm down.” “Sir Elias! Oh, thank the Goddess!”
The priests and priestesses all exclaimed in relief and cheer.
Arriving at the scene was a dashingly handsome man. He was the most powerful Holy Knight, the only man in this country — as well as the surrounding countries, in fact — to have received the Goddess’ Protection.
With unshakable composure, he stepped in front of the priests and raised his right hand.
Light suffused the chamber. The moment it touched the talisman, the flames were instantly snuffed out.
“As expected of sir Elias!”
“How wonderful… he truly is loved by the Goddess.”
Words of praise and rejoice rang out one after another. Even as Elias responded to their cheers with a hint of a wry smile on his face, his eyes were still fixed at the charred talisman.
…what has happened? He thought.
At the great hall, Elias had felt a malevolent presence, albeit for only a single instant.
It had vanished so quickly that he almost thought he was imagining it. But then, from the burning talisman, he sensed a wicked magic power lingering. It had been the reason why the fire couldn’t be extinguished, as well as why Elias had decided to use the evil-repelling theurgical spell Holy Light to purify the magic power.
As Elias was deep in his thoughts, one of the priests called at him.
“Sir Elias, what should we do? The cathedral cannot be defenseless…”
The protective talisman was imbued by the theurgical power of the Saint hundred of years ago.
While Elias could also use powerful theurgical spells thanks to the Goddess’ Protection, his repertoire were mainly combat-focused. He could manage during the short-term, but he couldn’t make a talisman that would last centuries like the Saint had.
Then Elias remembered. His friend Eric Marsaw, an instructor at the magic academy, had told him that among the boys and girls summoned this year, there was a person who was a prodigy in theurgy.
“Perhaps they could do it…”
Deciding to contact Marsaw, Elias returned to the great hall. The moment he did, he noticed a noble-looking silver-haired girl entering the hall…
…and his gaze was instantly stolen by the adorable black-haired maid walking behind her.
A/N: No Elias don’t go there, that way lies madness.
There’s been a lot of names and since more of the middle-schoolers are going to show up from now on, I thought I’d list out the names of the female middle-school students.
秋留【akiru】 牡丹【botan】 知恵里【chieri】 伝子【denko】 依波【ena】 吹亜【fua】 銀子【ginko】 比奈【hina】
They’re literally named in ABC order.