「We’ll go west! To my territory!」
Me and Lu used <strengthening magic> and made our jumps. We moved while throwing shuriken at Schneider, but… he wasn’t hindered, closing the distance at impossible speed.
“Lu, sorry. He will catch up in a few minutes.”
「It can’t be helped. Let’s leave this forest and face him head on in the desert!」
I took armors out of my <magic room> and equipped them, heading towards the border of the desert.
Lu and I stood up on the scorching sun. It’s like that time with Nick. About 50 meters before us stood His Highness Schneider. There is no mess in his hair, his robe, or the white rose on his chest. Magical power so great it seems to dominate this land can be felt from him. He doesn’t bother to hide it. Is it about three times that of mine? Did my efforts fall short?
「Sera, don’t worry. The difference existed simply because of age difference and physical growth. You are still growing」
“I don’t know if I’ll keep growing in the first place. I’m in such a pinch right now after all.”
「I assure you.」
Then, the blowing winds carried a cool voice.
“I’m glad. Please stop with the chase. I just wanted to talk for a little bit.”
“…You’re saying that your attacks won’t cause injuries?”
“Didn’t you run away first?”
“Because I have a covenant to keep the Sacred Beast hidden.”
“How difficult. It’s a <bond>, right?”
“…What is it you want to talk about?”
“Simple. I want you to be my ally. That’s it.”
My allies are my family, Lu and… Gillen, only.
“With all due respect, doesn’t all the people in the nation honor His Highness, Prince Schneider?”
“…I am unfamiliar with society and do not have the intellect to read the thoughts of a Knight cadet, much less His Highness.”
“I’m simply telling you to help me, because there’s going to be a war soon.”
“…With which country?”
No way, Galle? How does the war start in the novel again? Ghilane did not say anything this time though. Or does it start from this side? Will I be on the front line once again? Will I fight against Ghilane?
“It’s not Galle.”
His Highness said so, as if he is reading my thoughts.
“It is Gardner whom I will go against.”
A civil war………
“So, in a nutshell, it is about the succession of the throne?”
“With all due respect…… Please resolve it between you two brothers. Just how exhausted will the country become if a war happens?”
“Yeah, I think so too. Which is why I want to bring you to my side.”
“Gardner has the Queen and the magic division. I have His Excellency Avenger and the army. Then there’s the Demon King, Granzeus, the prodigy Lalouza, the Twilight Fairy, Trundle’s genius, and the Western Beast. Don’t you think strife will be way less if you are my ally? ”
His Excellency Avenger seems to be completely won over… He is simple-minded and hopeless.
“…Can you please not get your retainers involved in the quarrel between you brothers?”
“You’re already involved. And I’m already sick of living as fate dictated.”
“I hereby clearly refused it as the proxy of my Father. We will not go under either Schneider or Gardner. I wish to have this resolved through talks alone, and should a civil war broke out, we will only protect our people.”
“I’ve heard enough of your story. I most humbly begged your pardon.”
I signaled Lu, and tried to throw a smoke-shuriken at His Highness to create a chance of retreating.
But at that time,
“Hey, do you know of, 『Eternal Love to you, Wild Rose』?”
The shuriken fell from my hand.
“You also are a reincarnator after all, Serafiona.”
Lu and I just stayed silent.
“I got to experience life in a different world. Talking about it makes me just a wee bit nostalgic.”
The first Prince Schneider is… A reincarnator…
“I (watashi)… no, I (boku) was at the age of a Japanese high school boy, but I never had been to high school because of a so-called incurable illness. For as long as I can remember, my world was just a hospital bed. That extended to its greatest when I’m moved between a pediatric ward and a general ward.”
A thin boy lying in a pure white Japanese hospital room… I can easily imagine it.
“In my ward, there was a common room with lots of books. The patients who left the hospital would leave their books there.
I have lots of spare time anyway so I read everything. Fairy tales, manga, international masterpieces, pure literature, cell phone novels, young-adult fiction. I read everything for boys, girls, adults and children.”
Back in Japan… reading was a way to escape reality…
“One of them was 『Wild Rose You』. When I read it, I was like, ‘It’s boring. Do girls really like reading things like this?’”
His Highness laughed.
“Anyway, I suppose I died of the illness. And I was in this world before I realized.”
The moment my younger brother was born and I heard his name, I realised I was in that very boring novel. While my memories were messed up, I was moved from the castle to an Imperial Villa. I was branded as ‘sickly’.”
I nod to convey that I’m listening to him.
“In my previous life, I really was sick, and was exhausted, living in pain and fear every time I had a seizure. But in this world, I was born with a healthy body but had to pretend to be sick. I don’t know how it exactly was in the novel, but I probably am destined to be killed by Gardner or the Queen. I’m worse off than a mob. Which life is better, the previous one or this one?”
His Highness recalled those days and closed his eyes gently…… then when he opened them again,
“At that time, I met you. I was overwhelmed by the aura of the Sacred Beast I came across for the first time in my life. And after weeping at the sight of the Sacred Beast atop your jet-black hair, and seeing your black eyes, I realised at a glance that you are Serafiona, the Villainess Young Lady.”
I also remember that boy from that day.
“You… have the same looks as in the novel, but were smiling happily with the sacred beast, staring at it, holding it up and pressing it against your cheeks. The Celestial Divine Beast of the west didn’t have any particular disliking towards you either, and I knew it wasn’t under <subjection> like it was in the novel.
You said that the Sacred Beast was your friend.”
He squinted his eyes and looked at Lu.
“I kept track on you for a while, and when you were declared to have <no Magic>, thereby going off the route of becoming Gardner’s fiancée, I was convinced that you are a reincarnator just like me…… I cried, then I was determined that I would fight against my fate.
Since then, I don’t hide anymore. And apparently, I was born with some remarkable abilities in this reincarnation. And with efforts, my strength grows without bounds and I can do things the people in this world cannot do.”
His Highness also has his cheats.
“Then it started getting noisy around me, and my life was aimed at every day. But I only wanted to enjoy this life where I have a healthy body.”
His Highness looks down, and slowly shakes his head.
“I wasn’t interested in the throne, but my mother was poisoned last year… She’s still in a serious condition. After comparing it to my previous life, I got pissed off. I won’t forgive anyone anymore.”
Zeal disappeared from the eyes of the Prince.
“In addition, the Heroine is finally here. Gardner and some of the noble kids are getting captured, just like in 『Wild Rose You』. Serafiona, when you know Maribelle is going to use the Prince to get rid of you some day, you spend lots of sleepless nights too, right?”
He hit the bull’s-eye and I can only gnash my teeth.
“Don’t be ashamed. I’m the same. I’ve talked to Maribel a couple of times, but she only said things like, ‘Well, the first Prince? What about him? That person can’t make me become the Queen. But well, isn’t he indeed more Prince-like. New route?’ And often ended up joking about it. She doesn’t know how hard you and I have had. She’s had it easy after reincarnation. However, Maribelle and Gardner are ever getting closer together, trying to enact their justice which doesn’t even make sense. Dangerous buds like those have to be nipped early on.”
His Highness did not seem to be <fascinated> by Maribelle. Is it because he is also a reincarnator? Is he allocated the same status as me, a <villain> that will try to hinder the happiness of Maribelle and His Highness Gardner?
“You don’t want to face the imprisonment and killings which Maribelle most definitely wants. I don’t want to be killed and get set up as dying due to my illness. So don’t you see? Our interests perfectly aligned.”
“Fight alongside me, Countess of Granzeus, Serafiona!”