13 – Homecoming

Akiru was born into a family that had been running a brewery for generations. Their sake was famous as a local specialty, so Akiru had wanted for nothing as she grew up. She knew it, too.

Then her life took a turn once she entered middle school.

Her earlier education had been a private primary school in a large city. She had spent her time as carefree as could be, playing with friends from affluent families and taking lessons in the arts. She had thought that her life would continue like this, that she would coast along through middle to high school to enter an affiliated university, but her grandfather, the chief brewer and president of the company at the time, had decided that she should move back to their hometown for her education.

 

While it was only a thirty-minutes car ride from the city, to Akiru, the town might as well be in the middle of nowhere. No nearby trendy cafes, nor shopping malls that she could visit on the way home from school with her friends. Furthermore, the public middle school she would be attending didn’t even have enough students to fill a single class for each of its years. Coming from an academy that expected actual decorum out of its students, it was quite a shock to Akiru.

 

Still, it didn’t mean everything was terrible.

The class had only seventeen students, yet so many of them were good-looking people that it almost felt like they had been hand-picked.

And of particular note were Sei and Hao, two male students who looked more than handsome enough to be models. The first time she saw them, even her own heart began to race despite herself.

It was no romantic love. It was the kind of love a fan had for her idol. Regardless, it didn’t change the fact to Akiru, she might as well have found an oasis in the middle of a desert.

With the social skills that she had gained in her earlier years of living among aristocrats, she smoothly put on her sheep’s clothing and mingled with the class as though she had always belonged.

Sei was the so-called ‘honor student’ type, the kind Akiru had often seen in her private primary school, but Hao, a sporty and roguish boy, was exotic to her. She began to act the part of an elegant princess to try to attract his attention. She had been certain, had been convinced that no country boy could resist a lady such as her.

Yet Akiru’s plan had fallen through just because of one particular girl.

 

It was a half-Japanese girl who was conscious of her height, of her unusually-colored eyes, of all the things that made her different from others, and so she always hung her head low, hid her eyes, and talked to nobody else in the class.

And then, the two male idols of the class began to pay attention to her.

Perhaps they hadn’t been interested in her in that way; perhaps they were just being kind. Still, it rubbed Akiru the wrong way. She hated that they had ignored her in favor of the other girl.

So she began her subtle arrangements in order to incite the three overt bullies that also shared her displeasure. She nudged their thoughts and guided their hands to do the dirty deeds, while her own stayed clean.

She hadn’t done it because of any grand reason.

If there was one to speak of, then perhaps she had simply wanted an outlet for her stress, for the frustrations that she had been enduring ever since she came to this town.

 

The new status quo continued for more than a year. Then one day, all of the class, including Akiru, was summoned into another world.

While some of the more delusional boys were exhilarated, thinking it was a Hero Summoning, Akiru immediately realized what the world around her was.

 

It was the world of the online otome game: Light, Darkness, and Love Online 2 – The Millefeuille of Love.

The country’s name, the people’s names, the situation, they were all extremely similar to the game’s.

 

Akiru’s father had thought his daughter unfortunate when she was made to go to a public middle school, so he spoiled her. He gave her everything she wanted. Among them, she found this game.

When asked, her father had said that he never remembered buying the game. They soon put it out of their minds, however.

In the game, other than the main heroine, the playable characters also included the middle-school students who had been summoned from Earth. Believing that this truly was the world of Light, Darkness, and Love Online 2 – The Millefeuille of Love, Akiru was delighted.

Especially when she thought there was a chance she could meet a certain ‘capture’ character from the game.

 

Yohanne de Michel, fourteen years old. Son of a marquis. A fourth-year student at the magic academy. Brother of a different mother to Sharon, one of the villainesses, as well as the character to fill the ‘cute little boy’ spot of the game’s casting.

Yohanne was born from a union of true love between the marquis and a lady of a count’s family. Fearing that the boy might be harmed by the marquis’ legal wife and Sharon, the marquis had hidden him away.

He grew up being told by his mother about his sister, Sharon, and her unbecoming conduct as a noble. And once he heard that that very same sister was now a fiancee candidate to prince Joel, he was troubled.

The player character would lend him an ear and listen to his worries, as well as his wishes to prevent his sister from committing any more misdeeds. They would be given the evidence by his mother, and upon bringing Sharon’s crimes to light, they would fulfill the condition to have Yohanne as their boyfriend.

Yohanne was Akiru’s absolute favorite character. Time after time, she won against her rivals in the online game to capture his heart.

Perhaps her interest in Hao had been nothing more than a way to live out her fantasy in real life. She saw innocent Yohanne in him, and she wanted to have for herself the mischievous smile that Yohanne made whenever he was alone with the player character.

 

She was sure that some of her classmates were also aware of the game. There was even a possibility that the main heroine, the viscount’s daughter, would become her enemy.

So Akiru was careful. She wasn’t such an idiot that she would reveal what she knew. In the end, her meticulous scheme to gain Yohanne’s affection was successful: she had been invited to meet his family.

And yet…

 

“…is she going to be in my way again?”

 

***

 

What a beautiful day today. Warm sun, cool wind, and even a bit of chilling malice off in the distance. So nice.

Greetings, everyone. It is me, Fleurety, the eternal guardian of milady’s blessed bosom.

 

“Milady, there are several letters addressed to you in the dorm’s mailbox.”

It is while milady is taking happy nibbles of her snack (kouign-amann and a cup of extra-sweet milk tea) that I brought her the news.

“…eh?” She blinks her doe-eyes in surprise.

While important correspondence between nobles are normally handed directly to the receiver, even noble students would have to follow the rules as long as they live in the dorm.

It is always impressive to see that milady continues to be the uncontested Queen of Loners whenever I check her mailbox. It still looks brand-new even now, since even her family don’t write to her.

 

“Letty… I know you just had another unflattering thought.”

“I was just thinking that your arms these days have gotten somewhat plump, milady.”

“T-That’s because you feed me sweet stuff all the time!”

Milady says that, yet she still continues to munch on the pastry like a little hamster. So cute.

“Do not worry, milady, it is necessary nutrition. You’re still perfectly slim.” I reply, smiling sweetly to her.

“Umm, yes, of course I am!”

She radiates relief. She then takes another sip of the cup of milk tea that has so much sugar in it, the liquid is almost molasses now.

I don’t drink that stuff. I’ll get fat.

“Alright, Letty, give me the summary.”

“Then I shall begin with your right arm’s plumpiness—”

“I’m talking about the letters!”

I shall have to check them out later in the bath.

 

That aside, the reason why such a loner as milady got letters is because of the reveal of her true beauty yesterday. As a result, there has been a deluge of invitations from delusional buffoons who thought they had a chance with milady.

 

“Let’s see… then I believe the most important among them is his Highness Joel’s invitation to a meal.”

“His Highness…?”

Milady’s eyes bulge in surprise. It seems that whatever the prince tried to say yesterday, it wasn’t simply a moment’s fancy.

Such a wretched man, he is. He used to pay not a hint of attention to milady Sharon, despite the fact that she was supposed to be one of his fiancee candidates. And now that she has gotten just a bit prettier, he shows his true colors.

“All the same, his is not an invitation milady can ignore. I shall arrange your schedule.”

“That’s fine. Anything else important?”

I sort through the letters. Rabbles and riffraffs… I’ll investigate their names later… my, what is this?

“There is an invitation to a tea party from the young lady of a viscount. Are you acquainted with her, milady?”

The invitation is from lady Clarice, one of the people in my class group. It seems I am also invited.

“…we haven’t really talked, but I also don’t remember her ever be rude to me. Why did she send an invitation?”

“Then shall I propose that milady accepts, with the condition that I am also allowed to attend?”

“Yeah, that’s fine… thanks.”

Milady seems to be relieved that I will be with her. I see her hands fidgeting in apparent bashfulness.

 

“Well then, next is…”

I come to one particular letter. The moment I see it, I twist my body in a perfect half-circle and hurl the letter with all my strength, sending it into the trash can in a corner of the room.

“There is nothing else notable, milady.”

“No no no hold on I saw that! That was a letter from my family, wasn’t it?!”

Tsk. So she noticed.

I reluctantly, begrudgingly pick up the letter that has the insignia of the Michel marquis family, pinching it with two of my fingers and holding it as far away from me as possible, and I give it to milady. She wryly smiles.

“I understand how you feel, I really do. But moderate yourself.”

“My sincere apologies.”

What a blunder. As a maid to milady, I have made a grave mistake.

I bow in sincere remorse. Milady lightly pats my head and opens the envelope.

Upon giving the contents a glance, her mood visibly sours. See, this is why I didn’t want her to see it…

 

The vermins that have been ignoring her for years now suddenly sent a letter.

A little over four years, to be precise, as milady entered this magic academy when she was ten years old. In all that time, she only returned home twice. Understandable — while this academy isn’t exactly the best environment, it is still far more desirable than the compost bin that is her home.

They never even gave her the support that they should have, much less a letter. What do they want now?

 

“What was the contents, milady?”

Normally it wouldn’t be a question a simple maid should ever ask, but this is an exception.

“…they told me they’ve heard of my ‘wrongdoings’ from Yohanne, and they want me to return right away to explain myself.”

“The younger brother again?”

And I suppose the ‘wrongdoing’ is that I’d become milady’s Partner? Such small ***** they have.

“Just as well that his Highness Joel’s invitation has arrived at the same time. Let us refuse, milady.”

“…no, Letty. I can’t run away forever. Besides, they might just let loose some unsavory rumors if I continue to ignore them.”

Milady sounds like she’s speaking from experience.

“I understand. May I just say that it doesn’t make it any less aggravating, however.”

Hearing my frank admission, milady snorts.

“But this may be a good chance, too. I… umm… I have you with me now…”

She says, smiling bashfully. Precious! Too precious!

“Milady…”

Overcome with emotion, I instantly kneel in front of her and speak my vows once more.

“I, Fleurety, hereby solemnly swear that with my Dynamite Punch, the rivers will run red with the blood of all who wishes to bring harm upon milady!”

“I never asked for that!”

 

*

 

The next morning, after we have sent in our notice of absent to the academy, we leave for milady’s home.

“I never thought that strict dorm mother would actually lend us her personal horse carriage…”

“She was very glad to help us, milady.”

 

The dorm mother is an unmarried lady in her forties who is very harsh with the dorm’s girls, but I’m sure she’s a kind woman deep down. She was grumbling about milady under her breath when she first heard we would be absent, but once she noticed my kind gaze, she paled and finished doing our formalities in no time at all.

See, isn’t she such a considerate person? She should rest assured, I won’t tell anyone about her sneaking into town and buying young boys to accompany her.

 

“Then I shall take the liberty to be the driver.”

“Can you handle horses, Letty?”

The horse looked strangely scared of me when we first got on the carriage, but it soon turned obedient after some persuasion.

To reach the territory of the Michel marquis, it generally takes a day and a half in a carriage. But as we left early in the morning and the horse has been very enthusiastic, we arrive during the evening of the same day.

The energy drink made from monster blood that I gave it along the way has worked well, it seemed.

 

“…here we are, Letty.”

“I see…”

The Michel marquis’ mansion looks less a mansion and more like a small castle. Painted by the light of the setting sun, the stone almost seems like it’s been drenched in blood.

It looks amazing.

I stop the carriage in front of the gate. Despite calling us here, there isn’t anyone there to welcome us. Not even the gate guards.

“I am Sharon, and I have returned. Open the gates!”

She calls out, her clear voice reverberating through the air. On the other side of the gate, I can see some people who look like the security staff playing cards. They look up in surprise upon hearing her voice… and then return to their game.

“You, open the gates now! I am—”

“Milady, allow me.”

We can just return home, but that would mean milady’s determination would go to waste. I decide to take things into my own hands.

“Milady, whenever we visit someone, we should first knock.”

“…eh?”

Milady’s eyes bulge as she sees me taking out Orc Killer EX.

 

Orc Killer EX is simply Orc Killer with its ball end coated in a kind of metal that is as heavy as depleted uranium.

The metal had been thought as a cursed item that brought its owner toward a gradual and inevitable death. It had been languishing in a corner, and it was why I got it at a fraction of the price.

I can still hear some ghastly moaning coming from the weapon in my hand even now. The coating took really well, if I do say so myself.

 

“Hello, and excuse us.”

I say, at the same time swinging the spiked club. The gates made out of magic iron crumple like wet paper.

Dust billows around us. Cards fall from the stupefied gate guards’ hands. I give them a smile then turn to milady, who looks at me in open-mouth shock.

“The gate must have deteriorated quite a bit. Come, milady.”

“…yeah… yeah.”

 

And so it is that we return to milady’s home without any problems.


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Kenkyo Kenjitsu: The Reika-sama Chronicles 233

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Everything keeps breaking at work, but that’s okay. Only three weeks left until the holidays.

Come at me, fucking dickhead RPC shitcunt program!


And thus the idyllic scenery of lambs grazing in the sun was suddenly intruded upon by the fearsome black beast Mary──

As the sheepdog I was charged with protecting these lambs but before this creature’s savage gaze there was nothing I could do but cower.

Wait, no- wasn’t I supposed to be a lamb as well?

Ahem. The herd of harmless lambs (also known as the Handicrafts Club) was lost to panic and fear at the Zui’ran Emperor’s sudden appearance.

The little first years who had until a moment ago been praising this same Emperor were now petrified, wide-eyed, mouth agape.

Kaburagi spotted me and boomed, “Kisshouin! Didn’t I tell you yesterday to stop ignoring my messages!”

“Oh my, welcome to our humble club room, Kaburagi-sama. You must forgive me. Your messages only just arrived,” I replied with a feigned smile to try to protect my trembling lambs.

“How many times do I have to say it? You have a mobile phone for a reason.”

That’s what I want to ask. How many times do I have to say that you have to consider the other party too.

“Let’s go,” he said, apparently not even considering that I might refuse.

I put on my most apologetic expression as I bowed to him.

“I do feel terrible that you have come all this way, but I am afraid I am in the middle of some handicrafts. Unfortunately I will be unable to accompany you on this day.”

“…Handicrafts?” he asked.

“Yes. As you can see, this is the Handicrafts Club, and I am participating in club activities. I am also the President and therefore it would be inappropriate to leave on a whim.”

How’s that!

If you think it’s always going to go your way then you’ve got another thing coming, buddy. The world doesn’t revolve around you!

Unfortunately I was betrayed by my allies.

“Reika-sama, if you have business with Kaburagi-sama then would it not be better if you left?” said my Vice President, selling me out. “I will take responsibility for looking after the club in your absence.”

Next, all the other club members started chiming in too.

“She’s right, Reika-senpai.”

“Please don’t feel like you need to stay because of us.”

They were blatantly washing their hands of me…

The Emperor was alone right now so by all accounts this was their perfect chance to get close to him. So how come my club was filled with girls who would rather choose peace than take their chances?

I wouldn’t give in so easily though.

“I am afraid not. I myself am in the middle of something and it would hardly do to abandon this midway. My apologies, Kaburagi-sama.”

Hehe. How’s that?

I held out the proof in my hand like an imperial seal.

“What are you doing?”

“My kouhai wanted to make a bead and lace hair accessory for her pet so, so I am helping her with that.”

And with that I also got to casually flaunt having underclassmen. Ho ho ho.

“A hair accessory for a pet dog…?” he muttered before narrowing his eyes.

Chairs fell over and pencils clattered to the floor as Kaburagi stalked over to the 1st Years’ panic.

“…Where is it?”

“Hah?”

Kaburagi’s expression grew ever stormier at my lack of comprehension.

He stopped at our desk, and looked down at our work and took Natori-san’s beaded into his hands.

After examining the design documents and snorting, he sat down on the chair I had been using until recently.

“Give,” he demanded.

“Hah?”

I looked at his outstretched hand.

Don’t tell me…

Losing his patience with me, Kaburagi simply took the shuttle from me, lazily crossed his long legs, and then began nonchalantly knitting!

The Zui’ran Emperor was sitting there, knitting.

The sight of it was so surreal that the entire room was silent except for the loud ticking of the clock.

“You messed up this stitch here,” he commented.

“…It was too much work to redo it, so it was better to leave it,” I contended.

“Tsk, are you for real? And you’ve tangled the thread here.”

“…I am very sorry.”

And thus the Club President’s inadequacies were exposed for all the club to see.

How humiliating!

I had to keep myself from trembling in embarrassment.

Unforgivable.

I glared at my sworn enemy, and tried to crush his hair whorl with the power of my gaze.

Third Eye, Awaken!

Damned Kaburagi, I hope you’re stuck in the toilet suffering from the runs!

But he must have sensed something because suddenly he turned his head and gave me a sidelong glance.

“…What?”

“Nothing, nothing.”

Third Eye, Deactivate.

I watched Kaburagi easily undo a knot and smoothly continue knitting. Maybe he’d found the trick to it or something because he wasn’t even looking at the design sheet anymore.

“You are very skilled… Have you laced before?”

“As if. If you just do what the instructions tell you to, anyone can do it.”

He was taking all my effort for a joke.

Third Eye, Awa-… Wah! He glared at me!

How’d he notice?

“Kisshouin.”

“Yes…”

“Don’t stand behind me.”

Are you some kind of hitman?

While everybody in the room held their breath and watched him work, Kaburagi let out a small sigh and looked up at me.

“Done.”

In his hands was a little beaded lace flower, the result of his fluent and confident knitting.

It was carelessly tossed over to me, so I examined its handiwork.

Flawless.

Already I could hear my club members sighing in amazement.

“In so short a time..”

“As expected of Kaburagi-sama.”

I hated to admit it but it was a much better job than I had been doing.

I took Natori-san’s hand and placed the completed product on it.

“Eh…!?”

Her eyes were wide teary in disbelief and she shook her head at me, but I simply smiled fondly at her and shook my head in return.

After watching out silent exchange for a bit, Kaburagi came over and took it from her hand.

Pointing here and there he said,

“The crooked bits here where the wrong holes were used are her work,” Kaburagi jerked his thumb at me, destroying any remaining face that I had left as the Club President.

Absolutely unforgivable…!

While he wasn’t looking I’d slip the smallest bead into his shoes. Suffer the discomfort as you walk!

Natori-san reverently received the beaded lace flower from her Emperor.

She was now in possession of beaded lace knitted by the Emperor of Zui’ran himself, handed to her directly while speaking to her directly.

Even without the little tricks we came up with, Natori-san would definitely be the centre of attention for tomorrow──

*

*

“Right. Time to go to the supermarket,” Kaburagi announced.

This was what he had dragged me to the classroom to say.

I confirmed that the surroundings were clear of witnesses before I began my counter-attack with a smile.

“How many times must I say it before you understand that I have my own considerations? My schedule is simply filled after this, so I cannot accompany you.”

“What? You’re not gunna say that you have cram school or something, right?”

“Oh no. I have an appointment with my personal tutor today.”

What the heck is that look for?

How about you stop messing around so much and go study for a change?

The mid-terms are coming up, you know.

I opened my bag and retrieved the supermarket flyers I printed out last night.

“Here.”

“…What’s this?” he asked.

“Supermarket flyers. This should be enough for your purposes. Now then, take these, go shopping, and educate yourself.”

He took them from my hand and began studying them with great interest.

“Meat day… Fish day…?” he muttered to himself in thought.

Righto.

“Well then, please excuse me,” I said, and made use of his distraction to escape.

“…Just now I saw some baked goods in your bag,” he muttered.

I stood stock still.

“Those were from the Pivoine, weren’t they?”

“…”

It wasn’t as if there was a rule about bringing the snacks home with you or anything.

…I did still feel a little guilty though.

“Kisshouin.”

“…Kaburagi-sama, please allow me to accompany you on this trip.”

The President of the Pivoine smirked at me.

What an odious character. Mine, that is!

Damn my hateful gluttony!

Why did you have to bring some back with you, Reika!?

And why did you have to let him see them, Reika!?

Just barely managing to hide this complicated sense of defeat, I forced myself to change gears and began thinking about my trip to the supermarket.

On the one hand it made the most sense to take him to the luxury supermarkets in upscale areas like Hiroo or Aoyama.

Aaah, but then on the other hand, that would also make it that much more likely to bump into people we know, huh…

“What’s wrong?”

“Ah, I was simply wondering which store to visit…”

Taking my words at face value, Kaburagi took out one flyer from the stack and held it out to me.

“This one.”

I took a skim of its contents.

‘A bargain every day!’

‘Frozen products, half off!’

Basically it was promoting a discount supermarket for commoners. It was from a totally different world to him.

“Might I ask why this one in particular?” I inquired.

“Of the pamphlets you gave me, this one was the most enthusiastic in trying to sell things to me.”

“I see.”

Well, this one was far away, and the chances of anyone I knew spotting me was pretty much zero, I guess.

Haaah. What a bother…

“Haah…”

“What?” he demanded.

I hadn’t meant to do that aloud.

“Ah, nothing… By the way, I am surprised you knew to find me in the Handicrafts Club.”

“Oh, that? I asked some of your friends who were in the salon.”

“Friends?”

Hmmmmm.

Could it have been Fuyuko-sama?

“She told me that you two had been chatting but you had to leave for your club activities. Then she told me it was the Handicrafts Club and where to find it too.”

Fuyuko-sama, did you have to go out of your way…?

But I hadn’t realised that she knew I was in that club either.

We were in the same social circle but Fuyuko-sama always seemed lost in her own world. I’d never really seen her looking particularly close to anyone, myself included, so I assumed she hadn’t had much interest in us.

I suddenly found myself thinking about Natori-san’s situation.

Fuyuko-sama was a Pivoine student from primary school, and you could say she was part of the largest clique. In that sense she was as far from Natori-san as you could get, but…

Fuyuko-sama have come over to talk to me because she noticed I seemed to be worrying about something. I thought back to how happily she suggested using the ouija board together…

She always sits with our group but never starts a conversation on her own, just smiling in her dreamy way.

Because of that I figured that was just who she was, but maybe she actually wanted to talk more with us, but just couldn’t get the timing right.

At the very least she must have wanted to get to know me better, or she wouldn’t have tried so hard to start a conversation with me.

Well, this was just my conjecture though.

Still, if there was a chance it was true, then what I did earlier was rather cold, huh?

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing…”

I decided to strike up a conversation with her tomorrow.

…About anything other than the occult.

“Oi, Kisshouin! We don’t have time for this. Let’s go!”

“Okaaaay…”

“What kind of answer is that!? Show me some spirit!”

But first I had to deal with my current problem.


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Kenkyo Kenjitsu: The Reika-sama Chronicles 232

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I hate work. I hate life. Usually by this time of year my work is winding down.

This year it’s winding up, and now that I have a work laptop with VPN I’m apparently expected to just worry about work over the goddamned weekend too.

Except the guy who I was told to ask to fix the data hasn’t done anything all weekend because he’s overworked and his kids are probably still sick, so tomorrow I have to go in and explain that no, nothing has reprocessed over the weekend.

I was tempted to just fix it myself because it didn’t look too hard, but if I buggered it up it’d cause even more problems. So instead I’ve just been agonising about it all weekend.

And that’s about where my life has been. Also Code Vein.

At least the next chapter is half done.


Mary-san, urban legend.

That day the girl was moving houses, so she threw away an old doll of Western-make named Mary.

That night her phone rang.

“It’s Mary. I’m at the garbage collection…”

Frightened, the girl hung up, but the phone began ringing again.

“It’s Mary. I’m at the corner of the tobacco shop.”

Eventually the call came that said, “It’s Mary. I’m in front of your house.”

Although the girl was scared, she gathered her courage and opened her front door, but nobody was there.

Just as she felt relief that it must have been somebody’s prank, the phone rang again.

“It’s Mary. I’m behind you.”


And so I made my way to my clubroom.

It was a shame that my interest in wool felting had died down a little because there wasn’t anything I really wanted to make now. Without anything better to do I began making rounds around the room to see how my club members were going.

There hadn’t been any problems when us 3rd Years were away on vacation, and everyone was having fun today too.

Wonderful, wonderful.

I spotted a group of new 1st Years chatting happily while they worked on their craft projects, so I made my way over.

“Gokigen’yoh, everybody. Is there everything all right? If anything is troubling you, as your Club President I encourage you to approach me,” I said with my best smile.

“W-We understand!”

Unfortunately they reacted by stopping everything they were doing and huddling together timidly.

I felt a bit like a sheepdog herding some innocent lambs…

“My, is there any need to stand on ceremony like that? We are all fellow club members, so just make yourselves at home.”

“We understand…”

These kids have been members for about a month now, but to my chagrin they weren’t warming up to me, despite opening up to all their other upperclassmen.

This wouldn’t do. I was supposed to be the approachable club president.

I’m not a sheepdog, girls~ My wool might be a bit long but I’m just a cute lamb like you~

I took a seat nearby to signal that I wasn’t intending on leaving but the girls just openly gawked at me.

Yes, that’s right, I’m staying.

Smile at max power, I examined what they were working on, one by one.

“What is it that you girls are making?” I tried, to which they reacted by hesitantly showing me their craft work.

“My, a quilt,” I exclaimed. “Do you already have plans for it?”

“Yes, I was thinking of making a cushion cover…”

“How splendid! Are these the designs? How lovely. I look forward to seeing how it looks when it is finished. Do try your best.”

I turned to the others. “And are you two girls working on embroidery?”

“Yes… Umm, I was cross-stitching a book cover.”

“Me too…” added the other girl.

“I see. Stitching for your book cover. How wonderful. Are you making matching covers?”

“No, I was using this design…”

“And I was using this as a reference…”

I looked at the designs they were holding out. Ooh, how cute.

Cross-stitching was on the simple side of handicrafts, so maybe I could do it too.

“Perhaps I should give it a go,” I mused.

“Eh, you, Reika-senpai?”

“Yes. Seeing your work has made me interested in trying it for myself.”

“I see… Reika-senpai, your speciality lies in needle felting, isn’t it?”

“Well, I would hardly call it a speciality but…”

Mostly it was just stabbing a needle into something for stress relief, and because I had nothing better to do.

“Felting is fun but recently I have been looking for something different to tackle. Might you have any suggestions?”

“Suggestions…”

The 1st Years exchanged a glance. Then the girl with the quilt suggested, “Then how about tatting?”

“Natori-san here is actually great with lacing, and she’s working on tatting lace right now. Right, Natori-san?”

“Eh!?”

“My, is that so?”

I watched as the smallest and shiest girl amongst them panic at the sudden attention. I see.

In her hand was the boat shuttle that she was using to weave her lace.

A shuttle is a tool designed to neatly and compactly store a holder that carries the thread of the weft yarn while weaving with a loom.

“So weaving lace is your speciality?”

“Eh? No, I’m not good enough that it’s a speciality yet… but… yes, I like lacing. Ummm, my grandmother taught me…” she mumbled. “I wasn’t good with anything except for the crochet hook, but then Minami-senpai said that… if I like lace so much then I should try other methods as well, and he taught me tatting lacing.”

“My!” I exclaimed. “Minami-kun did?”

To think that our only male club member wasn’t only skilled with embroidery but was a lacing expert too!

And not only were his skills incredible, he knew how to look out for his underclassmen as well.

Maybe I’d just found my best candidate for next Club President!

I reminded myself to see what the Vice President thought of this.

“In that case might I trouble you to teach me?”

“I couldn’t! How could I possibly have anything to teach you, Reika-sama…!?” Natori-san exclaimed in horror.

Regardless, I picked up a weaving shuttle and some spare thread and just waited.

As the Club President, it was important that I interacted with my club members.

“What are you making now?”

“I, I’m working on a beaded lace hairpiece for a dog…”

“Goodness, a hairpiece?!”

Natori-san held out a number of five-petaled flowers made from beads and lace. The flowers were being joined together to form the hair ornament.

“How lovely~ Please do allow me to help!”

“Ehh!?”

What comes to mind when I think of lacing are useless white quilts that you’d find in a granny’s house, but the hair accessory on this design sheet looked really cute.

A handmade hairpiece for your pet dog, huh?

If I mentioned this to Umewaka-kun he’d probably try it himself.

After calming Natori-san down I had her teach me tatting lacing.

In short the only real difference was whether you were using a shuttle or a crochet hook, right?

I’d already used a crochet hook to knit a doll before, so I’d manage. Easy peasy.

──I was a fool for thinking that.

It was crazy hard…

The threads used for lacing were really thin so it was a real pain to unlace the parts I got wrong.

Still, since Natori-san was trying her utmost to teach me, it wouldn’t do to quit now.

Ah, I missed a hole. Do over!

“So, have you been adjusting to the high school environment?” I asked while struggling with the lace. “Please feel free to talk to me about any worries you might have, whether it concerns handicrafts or just your school life in general.”

In fact, I’d probably give better advice if it didn’t concern handicrafts.

The girl who introduced me to tatting lace turned to Natori-san.

“Say, Natori-san? Since Reika-senpai offered, why not talk to her about it…?”

“My. Does something trouble you? If there is anything I can do to help, I would be more than happy to assist,” I offered.

“No… Umm…”

Natori-san lowered her gaze and seemed to struggle with whether she wanted to speak up or not, so her friend did so for her.

“The truth is that Natori-san has had some trouble getting closer to her classmates.”

“Some trouble…? Is she being bullied!?”

If that was the case then this was huge.

As the Club President I couldn’t just sit by while my precious members were being bullied!

If people were picking on her then I’d descend upon their classroom and teach them some manners, starting with the ringleader of the scoundrels who thought they could harass my cute kouhai!

I was getting ready to declare war when the girls must have noticed something because they began to frantically tell me that nobody was being bullied.

Oh. She wasn’t? We could still attack them first though?

After a bit of explanation, the story was as follows.

Even though Natori-san was an External Student transferring in from another school, a stroke of bad luck saw her down with a flu right after our school term began.

Thanks to that she missed the class trip for bonding with the Externals. It was the same class trip where the Externals had to perform a side show for the Internals, meaning that she had missed bonding with the other Externals too.

By the time she was coming to school again the class trip had already resulted in a number of cliques forming, so it was hard for her to even get a foot in.

Of course, things might not have been so bad if we had some other club members in her class.

After all, we had quite a number of new club members this year.

Unfortunately she was suffering from bad luck again, because she was the only entrant from her class.

“It isn’t so bad at lunch because I can have lunch with my friends in the club, but between classes I just sit at my desk alone…”

“That does sound awful.”

“And also… If people keep seeing me alone, I’m worried they’ll wonder what’s wrong with me…”

“Aah~”

Of course.

If there was just one loner in the classroom, you’d start to wonder if she had no friends, or if people hated her, or if she was being bullied or something, right?

“I can certainly understand how you feel,” I nodded to myself.

The girls looked a little startled. Did they think it wasn’t something I worried about?

The truth was that every year I still got nervous about class changes.

Thanks to attending Zui’ran since primary school, you could say I got along with a lot of people. Certainly the chance of being in a class with a friend was high for me.

That didn’t mean that I didn’t agonise about the off-chance of being stuck in a class on my own. Worse yet, what if I ended up in a class filled with girls from Tsuruhana-san’s group?

Geez, it was something I worried about every day, okay?

I think everyone goes through something like this.

“Reika-sama, what do you think she should do?” her friend asked, while stroking the her back reassuringly.

“Well…” I hummed.

It would be best if she could be more proactive in talking to her classmates, of course, but the problem was that she couldn’t do that.

Hmmm, then what if we addressed the fact that she was alone between classes…?

I recalled the time in my past life when I was being ignored by my classmates.

“Perhaps this calls for a book,” I suggested.

“A… book?” she asked.

“Yes, a book. At least with a book you can present your lack of interaction as voluntary and deliberate. And they are a wonderful way to pass the time. Of course you could do the same with a mobile, but then you risk the chance of appearing like an addict.”

“Huh…”

I think back then I might have been using my little sister’s book about Japan’s most haunted locations. No idea why I had chosen that of all things, but it turned out to be pretty interesting.

Before long I was using every break between periods to devour that book. Classmates who were drawn in by its title came over to read it with me, which was a plus as well.

They stopped ignoring me after that. Thank you, Japan’s Most Haunted.

Oh. Or could it be that my obsessing over ghost haunts was beginning to creep them out, so they stopped ignoring me out of fear?

“Ideally you would be getting to know your classmates better, no? In that case I would suggest a best seller, and see if that attracts the interest of anyone.”

I couldn’t exactly suggest a book about haunted locations, so it had to be something else that would draw attention.

“I understand. I’ll bring a book tomorrow.”

Pleased at her willingness to listen to me, I began to list more suggestions.

“Paying some attention to your accessories might help. A pen or a pouch with a lovely design is signalling to your classmates that you have an interest in these sorts of things, and might draw girls of like interests,” I explained. “Perhaps some hand-made accessories too. It would be telling everyone that you are a member of the handicrafts club, and with some luck might begin more conversations.”

And if it went really well, could I maybe even bag some new members!?

“I understand. I’ll do my best tomorrow!” Natori-san clenched her fist around her weaving shuttle.

Mhm! Do your best!

“But I would never have thought you would give such specific advice, Reika-senpai,” she added.

“I was surprised too,” her friend added.

I laughed. “Huhu, I hope this has been of some help.”

If you couldn’t start the conversation, then you had to bait in people who would. I called it the fly trap method.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to see what topics everyone else thought would be interesting. I decided to find out.

“So what topics do you 1st Year girls find interesting?” I broached.

“Interesting? Hmmm, well we’ve only just entered Zui’ran so we share what we’ve learned about the school.”

“There’s so much we don’t know.”

“Right, right. Especially the Pivoi-… Ah!”

Hm? What’s this, what’s this?

She cut off midway, but I heard ‘Pivoi-‘ in there.

“Were you about to say ‘Pivoine’?” I asked.

“Ah… Yes. I’m sorry!”

“You can talk about it,” I assured them. “I take it that you girls have some interest in it?”

“…Yes.”

They all gave me meek nods.

I see.

I suppose it must have seemed like some sort of mysterious organisation to the normal students.

In that case, what if they used it as more bait for making friends?

“Well, I may not look like much but I am in fact one of its members!” I revealed.

“…We knew that of course.”

“…You’re the most famous one.”

“…I’m not sure if anyone doesn’t know you’re in it.”

Oh. Really?

Let’s try that again.

“What is it that you would like to know? I cannot divulge personal information about its members, but I would be happy to answer any other reasonable questions.”

At once, their faces lit up.

And so while we all worked on our handicrafts, they listened with rapt gazes as I regaled them with talk of our salon and other safe topics.

Maybe Natori-san could use this too.

But as the conversation ran its course, naturally the conversation turned to their topic of greatest interest: Kaburagi and Enjou.

“They were so mature, and so radiant. I didn’t think people like that really existed so it was a real shock.”

“‘Out of reach’ was made to describe people like that.”

“And Kaburagi-sama had an air befitting of his name as the Emperor of Zui’ran.”

The 1st Years recounted as they gazed dreamily towards the sky.

I could understand where they were coming from.

From afar, Emperor certainly did seem cool and competent. The type of guy you’d fawn over.

But on closer inspection, all you got was a useless rich boy with no consideration, common sense, or delicacy.

And that ‘Emperor’ nickname actually came from a primary schoolers’ cavalry battle.

Still, I’d feel bad for destroying their dreams so I decided to phrase it as ‘His hobby is horse-riding’.

“Oh, I know! I actually brought some baked goods from the Pivoine salon just now. How about we share them!”

Maybe they’d even be able to brag about having tried food from the Pivoine.

I opened my bag to grab them when I noticed some faint vibrations inside. My mobile?

I guess it must have fallen further in while I had been using the bag to exorcise myself.

I really hadn’t noticed the vibrations at all.

I checked my messages.

In the Sender’s column was, line after line, ‘Kaburagi Masaya’.

‘I’ve got something to talk about. Come to our usual meeting place.’

‘Are you not here yet?’

‘You’re late. What are you doing?’

‘Contact me immediately.’

‘Where are you?’

‘I’m heading to your clubroom.’

‘I’m almost there.’

Nooooooooooo! Stay away, Mary!

I tossed the cursed phone onto the desk, but just as I stood up the clubroom door opened with a bang.

“Kisshouin! How long are you going to make me wait for!?”

A ferocious black carnivore barged into my gathering of gentle lambs――!

 


<Previous Chapter | Imouto | Next Chapter>

 

12 – Siblings

It is now later in the day, after milady, having become even more beautiful thanks to all the love and devotion that I had showered her, has finished reinventing herself to the class. She is now having a reunion with her younger brother, a member of the family that has been giving her the cold shoulder.

Can lady Sharon display the dignity of an elder sister? Let us see.

 

“Sister, it has been some time. You look… different.”

“Truly? I, as well, am relieved to see that you are in good health.”

The younger brother named Yohanne seems to be honestly surprised. On the other hand, milady is looking very much stone-faced. No wonder she gets misunderstood all the time, but that doesn’t make her any less cute, any less lovely.

Yohanne is a boy with blond hair and a face that makes me think he’s going to be kidnapped by some older woman sooner or later. He doesn’t look very similar to milady; he shares her violet eyes at most, I suppose.

Of the two ladies standing behind him, the one who looks like his personal maid is glaring at me. Quite galling. Do you want to have a go? Do you?

“Yet that selfish part of yours hasn’t changed at all, sister, deciding a Partner on your own like that. Have you no consideration for his Highness Joel?”

“I-I’m not being selfish! As a student of the academy, it is a fully justified Partnership—”

“Aren’t you his Highness’s fiancee candidate, sister? Did you not think that perhaps you should wait until his Highness decided on his own Partner? Really, I have to wonder why someone like you was chosen. Stop bringing disgrace to our family.”

…hmm, where did I put my Orc Killer…

“…Letty.”

Noticing my indignation, milady whispers, her hand grasping my own.

…aah, so soft, so smooth…

Understood. If lady Sharon wishes to tolerate them, then as her maid, it shan’t be my place to make a move before she does.

Seeing milady’s lack of resistance, Yohanne begins to get cocky. He looks at me and spits out.

“And just who is that maid? Did you hire her? If you have the money, why not pay me what you owe?”

Unbidden, Milady and I look at each other. It seems that being of a different academic grade, Yohanne hasn’t heard that I’ve become milady’s maid.

 

“Umm, Yohanne, she’s…”

“Ah, my apologies, lady Akiru. Family matters or not, I have still done you a disservice. Were you bored?”

“No… umm…”

The other girl standing behind Yohanne is Akiru, one of the summoned middle-school students from Earth. She has long, black hair, and quite a graceful air about her. According to my memories, she was from a well-to-do family.

“…Kamishiro. It’s… been a while, I guess?”

“My, my, what strange happenstance that we would meet here.”

 

I remember her, of course. I remember what she did to me.

 

“Oh, do you two know each other?”

“Umm, yes…”

“I am acquainted with her.” I say, guilelessly. The young miss Akiru faintly frown.

We’re not friends, Akiru. You know that, don’t you?

“Lady Akiru is one of the Partner candidates of this year’s summoning. I saw that she wasn’t familiar with this academy, and so I have offered to be her guide.”

“Yes, and for that I am truly grateful. Yohanne has been most kind to me.”

“Hahahah, it is but a matter of course! How can I leave such a noble and lovely lady to fend for herself?!”

They are smiling at each other now, each looking not at all dissatisfied with the other. Are they going to start getting hearts in their eyes? Would they even… hold hands?

Maybe I should prepare some pink curtains.

 

“Yohanne! She is a Partner candidate, what do you think you’re doing?! Have you forgotten your place?!”

As well-versed in common sense as she is, it is no wonder that milady is upset. Despite saying all that to his sister and being of a different school year that has nothing to do with the Partnership ritual, that very same Yohanne is now being intimate with a Partner candidate. I smell a scandal incoming.

“…can you shut up, sister? I’m just taking care of them since you haven’t. Whoever you chose to be your Partner candidate, I’m sure you did it by shouting them down like you did to me just now, didn’t you? And when all Partner candidates inevitably reject you, there’s going to be one extra person.”

“No, you’re wrong! Letty and I—”

“Hey, that maid over there. My sister forced you to serve her, right? Want me to lend a hand? Ah, yes, as you and lady Akiru already knew each other, you can be her maid. I’ll pay you double the wage.”

“Y-Yohanne!” Akiru says, shocked by Yohanne’s incredibly idiocy.

Double, you say? Even your whole life isn’t worth that much.

 

“Please wait a moment, young master Yohanne.”

Right then, the attending maid behind Yohanne walks forward.

She is a woman around twenty years of age, with the same kind of blonde hair as Yohanne. I have heard that he has inherited the color from his mother, and also that when the woman entered milady’s family, many of her relatives had also been hired. This maid might be one of them.

“It would not be prudent to have her as lady Akiru’s maid right away when we don’t even know who she is, nor which ditch lady Sharon had picked her from.”

“Then what do you suggest, Mia?”

“If I may propose, she should first receive a full education as a servant of the Michel house. This lowly maid, Mia, shall take responsibility and beat her into shape.”

So-called Mia says, smirking at me. I see, this is how they’ve been removing milady’s allies.

“Yohanne, how dare you?! What gives you the right?!”

“Don’t you owe me, sister? Mia, how much is her debt?”

The filths just ignored milady entirely.

“Yes, young master. Lady Sharon has borrowed about three gold coins…”

Mia takes out what looks like a contract.

“…excuse me, two gold coins and eight silver coins. My apologies. Even as a servant of a marquis family, being so vague would have earned me ridicule. However, including interest, lady Sharon would be required to pay back thirty gold coins.”

I thrust a sack full of gold coins into her hand, at the same time snatching away the contract.

“W-What are you doing! Return it!”

“So the exact amount is written here, I see. You won’t be needing this anymore.”

Mia stretches out her hand with a painful-looking grimace, her wrist seemingly hurt. I rot the contract — magical too, it looks like — and turn it into dust in an instant, right in front of her eyes.

“Eep!”

Mia frantically jerks her arm away as though she was just about to touch acid. How rude. My decomposition poison is made from all-natural ingredients. It won’t take effect right away.

That aside, I am quite amazed that a magical contract is involved in an agreement between siblings. I wonder how degenerate one must be that they would do such a thing. And not only that, there is even a rather nasty curse in case of a breach of contract.

 

“…w-who are you?”

Yohanne glares at me in surprise and wariness.

“Ah, my greetings to sir Yohanne, younger brother of my esteemed lady. I am lady Sharon’s Partner, and my name is Fleurety.”

I pinch the long skirt of my maid uniform and perform a perfect curtsey, one more elegant than any noble and yet would still not overshadow lady Sharon.

“Wha…” Yohanne turns to miss Akiru in absolute disbelief. “Her?!

“…yes, she is.”

Akiru reluctantly, quietly nods.

 

“Letty!”

“Lady Sharon, my apologies. I have not consulted you before using our funds.”

“No no, that’s fine. Are you hurt?”

Incredible. Milady hasn’t had a moment of hesitation as she ran to me, checking my hand after I decomposed the contract to see if I am wounded. Instead of the money, she worried for me.

I almost hugged her right there and then to give her headpats, but I control myself. A maid cannot do such a thing to her mistress.

“I am overflowing with happiness, milady. May I have some fun with you in the bath?”

“What in the world are you talking about?!”

 

“…s-sister’s Partner? How can it be? How can someone so arrogant as you… no, this is not right. You’ve brought nothing but trouble to our house, it’s impossible that a Partner could have chosen you! Even Karl has told me you’ve been trouble at the dungeon! He said he wouldn’t accept it!!!”

“Indeed, master Yohanne! Perhaps she might even be using some sort of forbidden magic to control her. Rest assured, maid, I shall bring you to your sense!”

 

I wonder if both the master and servant really believed it, or if they’re only doing this on purpose… well, I suppose that to Mia, an improvement in lady Sharon’s reputation would be quite inconvenient for her. It is no surprise she would act so.

I take a quiet step forward, standing in front of milady to cover for her.

“My, how disgraceful for a maid of a marquis house.” I say.

“Silent, girl. I will—”

“You will… what?”

Unable to hold myself back for much longer, I give Mia the widest grin I have, one only she can see. She freezes up.

…my, my, what an expression, Mia. It makes you look so… delicious…

 

“Hey, that’s enough.”

 

And just when it was getting good, I was interrupted.

“Karl!”

“Sir Karl…”

In contrast to Yohanne’s shiny-eyed excitement, milady whispers his name with a conflicted cast to her face.

Karl looks at the two and after a moment’s frown, he sighs deeply.

“And what is it now? A fight inside the school isn’t any better than a fight outside, you two.”

“There’s no way sister could have a Partner! She obviously forced her! Weren’t you opposed too, Karl?!”

“She is Sharon’s Partner, provisional ones as they may be, and it was Fleurety herself who made the choice. I no longer object.”

Indeed, indeed.

“But, but… I heard that sister has inconvenienced you in the dungeon, I was just trying to help you…”

Karl looks at lady Sharon for a single moment (trying his best to not let me into his field of vision) and turns back to Yohanne.

“…and since when have I asked for your help?” He says, his tone brooking no dissent.

“I-I’m sorry, Karl…”

Yohanne hangs his head like a scolded puppy.

It seems Yohanne very much likes Karl. From what I can see, he considers Karl as both a friend and a brother one year older to look up to.

Yet even as he was chastised so, Yohanne still sends glares at milady and me.

“…I still won’t accept it.”

“Master Yohanne!”

“Ah, Yohanne, wait up!”

With a parting bite, Yohanne quickly walks away. Mia and the young lady Akiru hastily follow… with the latter making a quiet tsk as she leaves, thinking that no one would notice.

Too bad for her. I did.

 

“…sir Karl, I apologize for my brother… as well as what happened the other day…”

“No, that’s already in the past. I don’t mind.” Karl says, yet at the same time his hip still instinctively flinches back, making him look a bit like a shrimp. Should I pretend not to have seen it?

“In that case, allow me to take my leave…”

“Wait, Sharon, just a moment!”

Karl says in a panic. Milady turns back in surprise.

“Y-yes!”

“Umm, back then, umm… I’m sorry.”

“…Karl…”

…what a strange atmosphere. What is this lout thinking, after all this time?

Still, being the exemplary maid that I am, I cannot interrupt their conversation. Ah, but is this not a good time for some music?

 

“It’s been a long time since we can talk like this, Sharon…”

“…yes… it is…”

 

Hmm, hmmhmm~

 

“…those days were nice. There was me, elder brother… and lady Kyria, too.”

“…yeah.”

 

Humm, humm, hohhumm~

 

“…I’d been a brat.”

“…eh?”

 

Hmmhohumm~

 

“…I’m sorry. Brother was an idiot, but me even more so.”

“No, Karl… so was I.”

 

Hmmhmmhmm~

 

“…S-Sharon, I…”

“Karl…?”

 

Lalalalaa~

 

“…”

“…”

The two suddenly go quiet. They slowly, stiffly turn their heads to look at the ceiling, their faces twitching.

 

“…Letty…”

“…what the hell are you doing…”

 

The wistful tune I hummed as I clung to the ceiling was not to their liking, it seems.


Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter

11 – Class

Most of the class is already here. Everyone, from the students of the academy to the middle-school students from Earth wearing the same uniforms, all stare at the lovely girl in sheer astonishment.

Milady already has beauty in her genes, after all. I simply helped her return to a healthier lifestyle and gave her a bit of a makeover.

“And lo and behold, the goddess Sharon has seen fit to descend in all her splendour, filling the world with her light—”

“No no no what are you saying?!”

Milady frantically blocks my mouth with her wee little hands, despite the fact that I was only whispering. As I expected of milady, her lack of experience in receiving praises has helped her develop a talent to sense any and all words of compliment. Truly commendable, lady Sharon.

Hello, readers. It is me, Fleurety, the maid who can never manage to keep her thoughts about her mistress to herself.

 

“…I must admit, Sharon, I too am truly surprised. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. You’re… gorgeous… ” Prince Joel says, the gaze he gives to lady Sharon having completely changed.

“…ah… I, umm… thank you, your highness…”

So too does milady blush as she replies, her voice full of bewilderment. Then she glances at me, myself having stepped back so as to not interrupt her conversation with the prince, and she acidly whispers my name.

“…Letty…”

I knew this would happen, of course. It is exactly why I’ve been keeping her away from mirrors since morning. Mwahahaha.

 

The gazes people send milady vary quite a bit. Some are honestly impressed. Some are infatuated. Some are simply surprised. While some are spiteful…

Of course, I can’t just outright decide which ones are milady’s enemies and which ones are her allies based on only their gazes, but I can get a rough idea.

The prince Joel is half impressed and half infatuated, I would say. Which reminds me, milady is technically his fiancee candidate, isn’t she? He hadn’t ever paid milady a lick of attention before, and now that she looks better he’s suddenly in love? He really is a sleaze.

That aside, the looks that the girls send to milady have turned quite a bit harsher. The prince hadn’t paid any thoughts to where they are when he complimented milady.

 

“Sharon, if you would not mind, may I invite—”

“Alright everyone, return to your seats. We’re beginning the lesson.”

Just before prince Joel could finish his words, instructor Eric shows up to return the class to order. My? He’s looking my way. I wonder why he seems so hesitant to speak.

“Miss Fleurety… where is your uniform?”

 

*

 

The marquis’ young lady’s change had been well received, more or less. As a matter of fact, the main reason why Sharon had been ostracized was simply because no one knew much about her.

 

Was it because she had become a fiancee candidate to prince Joel, and thus became the target of jealousy from the other young noble ladies?

Yet she was but one of five candidates, and the other four hadn’t been spurned so.

 

Was it because of the high expectations that she held for others, being the proud noble that she was?

No. Pride was one commonality all nobles shared, no matter what form it may take. Furthermore, this academy also expected its upperclassmen and high nobles to become role models for — and provide guidance to — their juniors. There was no cause for Sharon alone to be condemned.

 

Was it due to Sharon’s lack of skill in her magic control, despite being of a high noble house?

Not quite. While the fact that her problem had stemmed from her family hadn’t been announced outright, many among high nobility were still aware of the rumors, and she had quite a few sympathizers among the older generation.

 

Was it due to the severe glare she seemed to have on at all time?

You couldn’t change genetics, and some might even say a strong gaze shows a strong will. Perhaps children might be scared of her, but it would be impossible for grown men and women to not understand that.

 

Then could it be the combination of all the above? Perhaps. Yet that would mean that Sharon’s detractors would have to be deeply envious, without dignity, ignorant of the happenings of the noble world, excessively condescending, and also be incorrigibly cowardly children.

And these sort of people were always the loud ones. They would have to be, if they wanted their wrongs to be right.

So it was that they became the first to shun Sharon, and as a result, they dictated the first impression people had of her. And inertia was a powerful force — it was what had made other people begin to avoid Sharon even when they had no particular cause to.

Breaking a person’s preconceptions held since they were young would not be a simple task. Success, however, would then be rewarded with opportunities.

 

The summoning had provided the occasion for many of Sharon’s contemporaries who hadn’t known of her before to see her for the first time. They were no longer children; they were young men and women with value and moral systems in accordance to their age.

Regardless, when they saw the girl standing alone and away from everyone else, they still found it hard to approach her.

As it turned out, she was the first to gain a Partner. An… unusual one, to say the least. The Partner and her Operation: All Boys Like a Cute Girl with Big Tits were what had wiped away all the preconceptions about Sharon that the young men in their puberty had been holding.

 

Yet some had not viewed the change in a positive light. Included among them were naturally the green-eyed, ignoble, ignorant, contemptuous, and craven children as mentioned above, but they weren’t the only ones hostile to Sharon.

There were also the Heroines who knew about the otome games.

 

As complicated as the games had been, players could encounter many, many different dialogue patterns with each playthrough, but one thing remained constant: as one of the Villainesses, Sharon would always appear multiple times to harass the main character. She was a necessary ‘device’ in raising the seduction target’s opinions of the main character.

It was why the Heroines needed Sharon to be the black sheep of the class.

 

*

 

As the Earthborn students would be attending class for the first time today, the period would simply be a review of the basics of magecraft. It was an occasion for the academy students to help them out and teach them.

It’s a group date, is what I’m saying.

So now we’re being split into groups of four to five people. And to my extreme, extreme regret, I and milady are in different groups.

I’m worried. She has zero skills in making friends, after all.

 

“Hello, umm… Fleurety, right? Welcome to the class.”

A student of the academy, a girl with a golden head of fluffy hair, greets me with a gentle smile.

“Greetings, miss. I hope to be your acquaintance.” I reply.

“Ah, feel free to call me Clarice, alright? We’re all friends here.”

The young lady Clarice is quite cute, I must say. She looks like the main character of a shoujo manga. She gives off the impression of a girl who can be friends with anyone, the direct opposite of milady.

Other than Clarice and me, our group has one more male academy student and one of the girls from Earth.

“Hey, I’m Cosimo. Man, it’s real stressful being surrounded by so many beauties. Come, come, Ginko, sit here.”

“…yeah.”

Oh yes, I remember her, her name is Ginko. She’s looking at me with somewhat intense eyes like she doesn’t trust me. Really, Ginko hadn’t needed to bother — she should know that I only enjoys that sort of gaze when it’s milady doing the glaring.

Cosimo, a boy who’s totally a skirt-chaser judging from his appearance, is currently desperately trying to make passes at Ginko. He’s harmless, then.

The smiling miss Clarice has taken it upon herself to be the group’s leader, so there is no worry on that front.

“As it happens, we generally study about the history of magecraft before learning the basics, as it would better deepen our understanding. Fleurety, how much of the history have you heard?”

“I have not, miss Clarice.”

“…Kamishiro, there was a lecture last week for us Earth people. You weren’t there.” Ginko says.

“My, is that so?”

I didn’t think it was important. And I don’t think anything could be more important than Milady.

“There is no need to slow down on my account. I can find a book later.” I say.

“Truly? Then we shall begin with Ignite.”

 

We’re starting off with Utility Magecraft. The term describes spells of convenience such as making a small flame, or pouring water into a bowl.

Magecraft and magic might seem to be the same thing at first glance, but in fact, ‘magecraft’ refers to well-analyzed spells used in talismans and magic circles, those which anyone can cast to create the same effect, while ‘magic’ are spells that can have varying effects depending on the caster.

Magic and magecraft spells are similar in that they both utilize words of power to give direction to magic power in order to cause a magical phenomenon. Interestingly, I must note that these words are very, very similar to the language us denizens of the dark world use.

First off, miss Clarice and Cosimo would demonstrate the spell for me and Ginko, as we are both complete newcomers, and then it would be Ginko’s turn and mine.

“‘Ignite’… wah, I did it.”

Ginko didn’t have any problem.

“Ignite.” I say, as I rub pencils together fast enough for them to burst into flame.

My? The group is strangely silent.

“…that’s not magecraft.”

Same difference. I still made fire, why would the method matter?

At any rate, it seems I can’t use this world’s magic very well.

 

But enough about me. How is milady doing? I give her a covert glance.

Despite being in a five-person group, amazingly, she still manages to be isolated. She was unfortunate enough to be sorted into a group with only girls, and the one academy student and three middle-schoolers from Earth aren’t even trying to hide the fact that they’re ignoring milady.

…those insects look like they might try something.

 

“Umm… Fleurety. I understand you may be concerned for miss Sharon, but could you spare me some of your attention…?”

Hearing her words, I turn back to Clarice. She looks at me with an unfathomable gaze.

“Might I still have a chance to be your Partner? If you would be interested, next time, we can—”

 

*BOOM!*

 

That was me flicking my wrist to throw Orc Killer. The weapon flew through the 50-centimeters gap between the female academy student and milady to embed itself into the wall at the end of its trajectory.

Instant silence. I make use of the moment to stand up, my hands pinching my long skirt, and I give a bow to the classroom full of people shocked still.

“My apologies. There was a bug.”

There really was. There was also a large cockroach about to throw the dead bug onto milady’s hair.

I return to my seat and smile sweetly at the people sharing a table with me. They’re still frozen.

“Once again, my apologies to miss Clarice. Please continue.”

“…no, never mind.”

Miss Clarice seems to be quite pale. Does she have anemia?

 

*

 

“Letty, no more stuff like that, understood?”

“Understood, milady.”

Milady scolding like an older sister is cute, too.

 

After that, instructor Eric reprimanded me and tried to confiscate Orc Killer. Emphasis on ‘tried’. When he saw it didn’t budge an inch despite his efforts, he made me do a written apology.

Really, men these days are so frail. It’s just a bit heavier than milady.

“…Letty, did you just think something rude again?”

“I was wondering why milady’s breasts seem terribly heavy, yet they still float in the bath.”

“What has that got to do with anything?!”

Truly a mysterious phenomenon.

 

At the moment, even as she is still blushing bright red after she so easily believed my distraction, milady is still kind enough to accompany me to the faculty room.

“An apology letter is quite tedious, isn’t it?”

“That’s getting off really lightly considering what you did, Letty. I mean, the count’s daughter was even frothing at the mouth.”

Yet from her tone of voice, milady doesn’t seem to mind at all. She must have been harassed by that young woman for quite a long time. I should have crushed her, it looks like.

The other girls were Hina and her merry band, so I had nothing to worry about. The girls named… Denko and Botan, if I remember correctly, were just about to snap at me before miss Hina frantically stopped them, her face ghastly pale.

Truly, how fortunate it is that there was no lasting aftereffect.

I should give her a reward later. Just a drop of medicine once she’s asleep, I’m thinking.

 

“Ah…”

As we walk down the hallway, milady suddenly stiffens.

“Lady Sharon?”

Wondering what might have happened, I look at the direction of her eyes. There, I see a girl, plus a boy with an attending maid. They look at milady with some surprise.

 

“…elder sister.”

“…Yohanne.”

 

I see. So that is lady Sharon’s younger brother, then. One of the pieces of garbage that call themselves her family.


Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter

10 – Counterattack

Among the nobles in their final school year at the magic academy, there was a certain young lady of a viscount house.

Her father was an inveterate womanizer, and her mother was a songstress famed for her beauty across the town. She was born a commoner. But after the second prince Joel was born and she was acquainted with him at the academy, she was taken away from her mother and formally entered the viscount family in the hope that she would become the prince’s favored wife in the future.

The viscount’s wife did not accept her. Her birth mother sold her for money.

But despite her home life, the young lady still stood strong, head held high even when her family treated her with such antipathy. She grew to become a kind girl.

 

Inside a room in the girls’ dorm of the magic academy, the glow of a lantern lit up a chessboard, the light unusually warm and hazy.

Clack.

Slender fingers moved a piece.

Her icy gaze was fixed on the board, but her clinical thoughts were of a game much, much more vast.

 

“…m-milady, t-the food is r-ready…”

From a corner of the room came the fearful voice of a maid younger in age, a girl who still hadn’t outgrown her freckles.

“…”

“M-Milady…?”

The young lady’s cool gaze flicked away from the board for a moment, and she replied frostily.

“…I’ll eat later. You can retire for the day.”

“Y-yes, milady.”

The maid shivered. She hastily bowed and returned to her servant’s room, as though running away.

With her thoughts interrupted, the young lady faintly sighed, her slim back leaning back on the chair. She arranged several pieces on the board.

 

“How many shall remain, I wonder…”

 

***

 

“Lady Sharon, please wait.”

“…sir Andy.”

“How fortunate that you haven’t left… lady Sharon, I apologize for the trouble Karl has caused…”

“N-No, there’s nothing you have to apologize for… if anything, I should be the one to…”

“…excuse me?”

“It’s nothing. We are schoolmates, after all. I only did what was expected of me.”

“…wonderful. As a fellow noble, I truly wish my brother could be half as honorable.”

“Ah… it’s really nothing…”

“I will make sure to have the Mercia family send our formal gratitude to your house on a later date. And also… lady Sharon, if I may…”

“Y-Yes!”

“…no, please pay it no mind. I shall have to return to his Highness’ side now, so if you would excuse me…”

“…yes.”

 

They both should grow a spine already.

Greetings, everyone. I am Fleurety, lady Sharon’s maid and her protector from the shadows.

Today, I am inside a store near the Third Dungeon.

Milady is standing stock-still in the middle of the road, so deep in her melancholy that she doesn’t even notice she’s being surrounded by snot-nosed urchins. I do wonder what she might be thinking, but I have something I need to do first.

“Sir shopkeeper, how about this price?”

“You’re kidding, maid lass. This city isn’t that starved for salt. We have dungeons and all.”

This shopkeeper is already in his forties and the skin on his head has lost much protection from the sun, but he’s still quite the formidable opponent.

There is a branch of the Explorer’s Guild near the dungeon and they do buy salt too, but I can generally get a better deal by selling directly to merchants. It’s why I’m here.

“Even with this quality, sir? My salt has just been mined from the dungeon. Oxidation hasn’t set in yet.”

“Come now girl, didn’t I say there’s not that much demand? Considering the quantity my shop usually handles, buy only that much salt is just going to lower my brand quality.”

Emphasis on ‘generally’. If one doesn’t have the necessary skills to negotiate with the merchant, one might even get haggled down below the fixed price that the guild would buy for.

“My, my… like the merchandise over there, you mean?”

“…maid lass, just what are you implying?”

The shopkeeper narrows his eyes and glares daggers at me. I simply respond with a beaming smile as I take glances at the pots of salt he has on his shelves.

“Do you really need me to say it, sir…? I’ve heard that sometimes, the salt might be mixed with a certain something to create brand distinction and make them taste nicer…”

“…ten percent more. That’s the best I can do. If you don’t like that, go to another shop.”

“Twenty percent. I’ve seen how much they sell for around here, sir. You’ll still be profiting more than enough when you resell my salt.”

“Now, now, pretty little maid… don’t you think you’re getting in over your head juuuust a little bit?”

“My, would I have to sleep with a dagger under my pillow tonight?”

“Hah, you jest. I’m doing honest business here, cut it out with the false accusations. My store even has dealings with a trading firm that supplies for the royal family. Imagine if their customer blacklist has one more maid on it…”

“A trading firm, you say? The one providing food for the palace this month? …I’m sure the firm wouldn’t be supplied those salt, right, sir?”

“…”

The shopkeeper grimaces. My smile brightens.

“Don’t be so glum, sir. I can throw in a little something for you too.”

“…what now?”

I open my bag to let him see what’s inside.

“Looks dried… what is this?”

“Perhaps you haven’t had many opportunities to see this, considering how far away from the sea we are and that the country also doesn’t import salt. This is seaweed, sir.”

“Seaweed…?”

I look at his scalp.

“It’s something very good for you, sir shopkeeper.”

“…”

 

My shopping trip ends without problems.

I sold the salt for seven golds and four silvers. Combined with the sales of monster materials, we have quite a bit of funds now. And not only that, the shopkeeper even threw in some spices. What a kind man.

I walk toward milady, still brooding, and give the gawking urchins some rock candies to shoo them away.

“Lady Sharon, apologies for the wait.” I call at her.

“…eh? Ah.” Milady returns to reality. She turns toward me with an overcast smile. “Welcome back, Letty.”

“I managed to get quite a good deal, milady, so I’ve also bought some of your favorite baked sweets. We will have a feast tonight.”

“Thank you, Letty. No more monster meat, however.”

“Of course.”

Milady is a bit fussy, isn’t she? I give her a broad smile.

I understand how she feels.

 

“I shall not make the mistake of revealing the ingredients’ origins again.”

“No, that’s not what I meant!”

 

***

 

Well then, after I did a psychological check-up on miss Hina with a little pharmaceutical aid, my conclusion is that there is nothing wrong with her mind.

How strange. A sensible person would never have said something like that.

And I don’t think I misdiagnosed her either. Her whole body was twitching, her eyes were vacant and without focus, and she was drooling with her mouth set in a dopey smile by the end, so surely that was enough medication.

Oh yes, don’t worry, I only used a weak spider poison. It’s all-organic. Hina won’t be having any long-lasting after-effects. After all, poison can be medicine in the right dosage.

Not like I’ve ever studied pharmacy, however.

 

So, Hina said that this world is an otome game, but she just couldn’t recall the identity of the one to have whispered something so ridiculous.

Honestly, I half expect I can shake her head and hear the one single brain cell she has rattling in there.

All the same, I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand just because it sounds absurd. An exemplary maid is one who can prepare for anything and everything.

It’s impossible for a world to be an otome game, but it is possible for a carefully-managed Sandbox world to look like a game. While I’m not sure how large this one is since Sandboxes can vary in scale, considering that there are certain people here who can’t die, the possibility of an Administrator is very high indeed.

…truly, so much trouble.

I think I shall continue to keep myself hidden until the investigation is finished.

 

***

 

“Letty, are you done with your preparation?”

“Yes, milady.”

 

Currently, I am helping milady with her morning bath.

It is a task that requires my utmost concentration. Today is the day my Lady Sharon’s Beautification Project, which has started several days ago, enters its final phase.

I carefully, meticulously wash and rub hair treatment into her locks of silver. I caress and exfoliate milady’s skin with a washcloth made from the best spider silk. And now that milady is dozing off, I begin to massage every single corner of her body with a specially-made aromatic oil that I got directly from the Maid Chief.

Yet even with all that I must do, I cannot take too long. A lowly maid’s duty must not take up her mistress’ precious morning time, and if she has to use all her magic to bend spacetime to accomplish her tasks, so be it.

 

“Milady, it is done.”

“…wah?”

Milady awakens to see that her hair has already been styled, her uniform already on her. She seems surprised.

“When?!”

“Milady has slept quite well.”

“…”

As she takes nibbles and sips of the breakfast I’ve made — cafe au lait, fresh orange juice, and a bagel sandwich — she looks at me with blushing cheeks, her glare still showing dissatisfaction with my answer.

Even until now, milady continues to be rather embarrassed whenever I help her change her underwear. I suppose that might be what had displeased her.

“It is simply a maid’s duty, milady.”

“I know you’ve chosen to serve me, but Letty, you’re, umm…”

Milady turns away and continues her words in a near-whisper.

“…you’re also… my friend… so… you know…”

“Milady…”

Too precious.

“Thank you for the feast.”

“What feast?! What are you talking about?!”

Feasts for the eyes, milady, feasts for the eyes. Including but not limited to the times you get dressed, for example.

 

Well then, to explain what milady meant when she spoke of ‘my preparation’, it is the arrangements for me to join her in class.

And the reason why is because the Kingdom has decided that, as a part of the Partner-selection process, all the middle-school students summoned from Earth would be transferring into milady’s class of noble students in order to help them acclimatize to this new world.

“Letty… what about your uniform? I thought they gave you one?”

Indeed, the country has provided me school uniforms. Milady is asking only because I am still in my maid attire.

“A maid needs only one uniform, milady.”

“…is that fine?”

It is, it is.

And honestly, the maid uniform I made with my own threads is of better quality, at any rate. Of course, I’ve also secretly replaced milady’s uniform with the material. She is now stab-proof… as long as it’s a knife doing the stabbing.

“Umm… do I look strange?”

As today is the first day I accompany her to class, milady is being quite nervous. She acts just like a mother doing a school visit with her child for the first time, though in all honesty, I would say she’s the kid, not me.

I wouldn’t tell her that, though. Silence is golden.

“No, milady. If anything, you look more radiant than ever today.”

“G-geez, stop that, you say that all the time. Come on, let’s go.”

“Yes, milady.”

She’s perfect, of course. I’ve taken days to make sure of that.

 

Clack. Clack.

The marquis’ daughter, lady Sharon, strides through the school hallway with echoing footsteps. Commoners and low nobles hurriedly make way for her.

Milady has perfected all that there is to know in being a noble, and she often give pointers to her juniors quite harshly. It is the reason why she has gained a bit of an intimidating reputation.

But today, something has changed.

The moment the students of low nobility who have fearfully given way to her take a look at her and truly see her, all their faces immediately flush pink, both the boys and the girls.

“…Letty, are you sure I don’t look strange?”

Upon noticing their unusual gazes, milady turns to me and asks, her worry apparent. I smile sweetly.

“I am, milady.”

 

We come to the classroom. I silently open the door and as she crosses the threshold, all those who catch sight of her immediately quieten. A moment later, the room erupts into chaos.

 

“…Sharon, is that you?”

The first to approach her and speak is the prince Joel, after he recovered from his daze.

“Yes, umm… yes, his Highness Joel. I am Sharon.”

Milady, despite her confusion, still replies with her usual grace.

Good, good. Everything is proceeding as planned.

As milady has been neglected from her childhood by the trash that calls themselves her family, her hair and her skin have not had the care they deserved.

That isn’t to say that milady wasn’t beautiful; she still was. I simply helped her beauty to regain its true glory by managing her meals, improving her nutrition, and caring for her hair and skin when she used to have to do it by herself without really knowing how. Milady is a new woman now.

And how. Just look at the reactions of this whole room.

 

Let’s begin, milady. The stage is set for our counterattack.


Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter

9 – Brothers

A/N: This cannot be! The young lady isn’t in this chapter!


Andy de Mercia was an imperial knight squad leader of Argrey Kingdom, one assigned to the second prince Joel.

In a usual knightly order, while the Knight Commander would always be a high noble, squad leaders were, as a rule, meritocratic positions instead. Only less than half of them were nobles; the rest were people who have climbed up to the position themselves.

Things were different when it comes to Argrey Kingdom’s imperial knights, however. While other countries might not follow the same rule, here, those chosen as imperial knight squad leaders were almost always of high nobility.

This rule was created after a certain incident in Argrey’s history. There had been a monster outbreak — monsters escaping the confines of their dungeon — and yet one of the royal family at the time had made use of the army for their own purpose, and nobody had had the political power to stop them. It had resulted in the near-complete destruction of a town.

It was the reason why the imperial knights attached to a royal family member would always be chosen from families of high nobility that were relatives of the royal family. This granted the imperial knights the power to keep their charges in check, if the need arose.

 

The previous queen had come from the Mercia marquis family. As the princes and princesses’ second cousin, Andy had been allowed to enter the palace to be their playmate ever since he was a child.

At first, Andy was to be assigned to the crown prince as he was closest in age. But after a certain incident, Andy was suddenly set to be Joel’s imperial knight instead.

What had happened?

It was the death of Kyria, spouse to the Michel marquis and, as according to the wishes of the queen, also the woman who was to be Joel’s personal bodyguard until her successor was chosen.

 

Kyria had met the queen at school when she had still been only a daughter of a marquis family at the time, and the two had become fast friends. For the sake of her friend who had then entered the royal family, Kyria, despite being the daughter of a knight’s family, had gotten herself adopted by a viscount’s family who was close to the queen just so she could become the queen’s imperial knight.

Kyria’s beauty and her silver hair had earned her the title of “The White Rose”, to accompany the “Sunflower” that was the queen. Even after the Michel marquis fell in love with Kyria at first sight, even after the two had a child, the two women’s friendship never waned. So it was that the queen entrusted the protection of Joel to Kyria, until such time that the boy decided on an official aide.

These events had been ten years ago.

At the time, Andy was still a student and a knight apprentice. He studied under Kyria, his superior knight officer who had been very strict in his training, and as the two were both of marquis families, he, as well as his younger brother, often played with her daughter, Sharon.

 

The circumstances behind Kyria’s death was a mystery even until now.

Almost immediately after her death, the Michel marquis took a second wife, a woman from a count’s family. But the problem was that Yohanne, Sharon’s younger brother of a different mother, was only one year younger than her.

As young as she had been, knowing about Yohanne must have hurt Sharon terribly. For a time, this fact had also given rise to rumors that lady Kyria had been assassinated, but they were soon quelled by the marquis family.

 

Sharon’s grief had been heart-wrenching, both for her and for those around her.

Andy had tried as much as he could to visit her and to console her. But he was still just a student, still just an apprentice knight — not only that, he was also chosen as Kyria’s successor since there was nobody else fit for the role, and so he found himself with fewer and fewer opportunities to meet with Sharon.

 

However, Sharon had been a stronger girl than he thought.

For a time, there were even rumors that the Michel house was spurning her. Yet as though to prove everyone wrong, Sharon had worked herself to the bone to perfect every aspect of being a noble lady, and her efforts had borne fruit. She was chosen as a fiancee candidate to the second prince.

 

Upon hearing of the news about the girl he had always thought of as a little sister, Andy felt both sadness and happiness. On the other hand, Karl, Andy’s younger brother, immediately began to lash out against her.

Andy remembered that Karl and Sharon had been very close in their younger years. If anything, he thought Karl had liked her even more than Andy himself had.

And yet that very same younger brother had turned cold to Sharon. Upon entering the academy, he even began to be overtly disdainful of her.

Andy himself had scolded Karl many, many times, yet he showed no signs of changing. A rift had formed between the two brothers.

 

The news that his younger brother had collapsed in the dungeon and had been carried to the nearest clinic reached Andy’s ears.

Details had been vague. However, apparently Karl had taken the Mercia family’s treasure, the Hallowed Sanctuary, with him to the dungeon without permission, and that he had been fighting.

As he had been attending to his Highness Joel, Andy was near the dungeon. Joel had graciously allowed him to take his leave to visit his brother, and so Andy came to the clinic.

“Karl!”

“…brother.”

Karl sat up on his bed, his body still shivering.

Andy wondered what sort of monster Karl had been fighting. His face was pale and haggard, while his body was so bruised and battered he could barely move himself.

Andy had also heard that after he was carried to the clinic, Karl had woken up and then immediately fell back to unconsciousness multiple times in a row, and that he was also poisoned. Thanks to healing spells, however, his younger brother now seemed to have recovered enough to stay awake.

“…this is quite terrible. Did you meet with an ogre horde in the middle floors or something?”

Karl said nothing as he turned away, his expression inscrutable. He seemed unwilling to talk.

“Losing is nothing to be ashamed of. Considering your wounds, you didn’t wear the Hallowed Sanctuary, right? Father would certainly scold you for taking it out without permission, but I reckon he’d be lenient if he knows you’ve had a change of heart.”

Karl continued to look away despite Andy’s words of consolation. Cold sweat dripped from his skin.

Andy found his brother’s reactions to be somewhat strange, but he paid it no mind. He had something else he had to ask, even when he was aware of the rift between them.

“Karl. I’ve heard that lady Sharon was the one to have brought you here… did something happen between you and her?”

Karl’s eyes widened a fraction, as though it was the first he’d heard of it.

“I don’t know why you’ve been so stubborn, but remember that lady Sharon might just be our future princess. It’s about time you grow up…”

“…you’re such an idiot, brother.” Karl said with obvious exasperation.

Andy released a sigh mixed with a wry smile. It had been a long time since he’d heard such a tone of voice from his brother.

“…maybe I am.”

“…I’m not going to do that anymore.”

“I see.”

Andy didn’t know what had happened. Nevertheless, as curt as Karl’s reply was, Andy could still feel that his brother was no longer as bitter as he had been.

And right now, that was enough. Mending bridges wasn’t something that could be done in a day or two.

For a while, Andy simply looked at his younger brother, his gaze kind. Then he turned around and silently stepped out of the room.

 

Karl looked at his back until he was no longer in sight. He gave a small sigh for his dense older brother.

“…if you don’t make a move soon, brother, then I will.”

 

Did everyone think this chapter has been in third-person narration? Too bad. It was actually me, Fleurety.

 

Currently, I am infiltrating Karl’s room, clinging onto a corner of the ceiling while hiding my presence as best as I can. I’m actually surprised that nobody’s found me yet.

All the exposition above was what I’ve found out from using my Maid Interrogation Technique these last few days. I just added a little bit of dramatization while writing the personal character thoughts myself from educated guesses. I’ve gotten the gist of it right, I believe.

The older brother is just a blockhead, while the younger brother is far too stubborn. How deplorable. They’re siblings all right.

 

Well then, readers, you may be wondering why I wanted to come here so much that I would leave lady Sharon to take her rest alone in a cafe. The answer is that I had a bit of an experiment to do.

I wasn’t able to kill either Karl or Hina, and I did not know why. There was a need to investigate the secret they held and how far this effect could extend.

 

To start off, I waited until Karl fell asleep and dropped a string from the ceiling. I then released some light neurotoxin, which followed the string to drip into his mouth.

His lungs seized up and he choked on air, but otherwise nothing happened. The medic hurriedly ran toward him and immediately casted healing spells on him, and that was it.

I was relieved, seeing that at least my poison still worked. Then once Karl went from sleeping to being unconscious, I tried out some muscle solvent.

His skin instantly turned mud-grey. But just as I thought that finally did it, a dull glow emanated from him, and he was as healthy as ever again. Curses.

With that, Karl finally returned to consciousness. I immediately strangled him with loops of stronger-than-steel thread wrapped around his neck and he writhed, thrashing in agony as his lungs begged for oxygen. But in the end, he just dropped into unconsciousness again. He still didn’t die no matter how long I choke him.

 

Results of my experimentation: I can harm people just fine, I simply can’t kill them.

There’s nothing to indicate him being any sort of undead or immortal, nor was there any sign of skill activation. Regrettably, I will have to give up here. Any more and I risk discovery.

…how infuriating.

To be fair, it’s not like there aren’t workarounds I can try out, but I think I’ll keep up my observation for the time being first.

…I have more than one puppet to experiment on, anyway.

 

With adhesive threads wrapped around my fingertips and toetips, I briskly skitter across the ceiling. I reach the linen room of the clinic with everyone else none the wiser.

“Mmmm!”

“Apologies for the wait, Hina. How are you feeling?”

I’ve packed Hina up tight with straw rope — using my thread would have left some rather undesirable evidence — and buried her under a mountain of linen sheets, but she still looks as lively as ever. I hadn’t taken much care when I tied her up, so Hina turned out to look a bit like a honeycomb, but, well, she’ll probably be fine.

I remove her gag. Hina glares at me, her eyes teary.

“K-Kamishiro…”

“Oh yes, do you need to relieve yourself? Just as well that there’s some adult diapers here…”

“N-No, please! I’ll be quiet, just don’t…”

I see. I did recall her smelling a bit ammoniac in the dungeon, so I thought it would be about time. What a shame.

“Please… I’ll apologize, just don’t hurt me…”

“Understood.”

She does seem quite sincere in her remorse. I wonder what could have caused such a change of heart…

I untie her and let her sit down. She looks at me, looking perplexed.

“…you’re holding your head up high now, aren’t you?”

“That is because I am a maid.”

Might she be referring to my earlier days? Her face is reddening somewhat. She looks like she wants to say something.

“What is it?”

“…n-nothing. It’s not like I’m thinking you look better like this, not at all!”

Really, just what did she want to say?

“So anyway… I’m sorry. Oh, yes, I’ll tell you something interesting!”

“My, my.”

Hina stands up and whispers.

“So I overheard this one girl from our class muttering something. She said this world is an otome game, apparently.”

 

…I see.

“Excuse me! Does this clinic has a psychologist?”

“STOPPPP! I’m normal, I tell you! I’m not crazy!”

 

How ridiculous. Hina must be making it up.

…right?


A/N: By the way, our protagonist has also… cordially… invited the young lady Hina to help out with her experiments. She agreed, of course.


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「今日のお兄ちゃんはおかしいよ!怖いよ!ッ!?いやだよっ!いやぁ!やめて!やめてぇっ!!」