From the harbor, the monastery was located a little further towards the direction of the forest, without exiting the road that cuts through the town’s main street.
With its subdued, cream-colored exterior, it felt open and very pleasant even if every tree surrounding it in the nearby forest were thinned out. The green plants that surrounded the reddish-brown, brick paved road heading towards the chapel looked pretty, like a painting.
Today’s breeze was gentle, and several torn clouds floated in the sky that seemed like a print quickly painted with colors of a blue lightly dissolved in water. It was cold as usual, but the weather was nice– it somehow felt full of energy.
“Where should we go?”
I wonder if they have an office in the back. Or maybe a counter?
Not knowing what we should do, I tilted my head to the side.
“Let’s try going to the chapel for now.”
Even though I tripped on a protruding brick on the way there, we raised our voice in wonder when we entered the chapel.
The inside was filled with bright light, so much that one wouldn’t think it was inside of a chapel.
Skylights were everywhere on the high, arch-shaped ceilings, and there was even an enormous window on the inside of the front altar. Looking at it more carefully, you could see a scene of something displayed on it in iron, but unfortunately, I’m not religious so I don’t know what it was exactly.
But what I do know is that it’s magnificently artistic.
There were only simple ornaments on the pillars that extended straight up and the ceilings, but it felt quite elegant instead.
Moreover, a nice smell gently wafted through with just a tiny bit of sweetness.
“It’s completely different from the auditorium we held your funeral in.”
I somewhat hesitated on speaking, and sneakily said in a low voice instead.
Actually, there were zealous people who came here for their morning prayers, making it seem extremely bad if we disturbed them by talking.
Bern’s funeral that immediately happened after His Highness’ fiancee feud ended was held in a locally famous auditorium, but compared to this, its ornaments were in excess, making it feel slightly exaggerated.
“That’s because the purpose is different, right? That place was built to hold events compared to a place where prayers are offered.”
Personally, I like this place more, with its simplicity and brightness.
When we slowly walked towards the altar through the middle of the pews, the drifting smell became much more pronounced. It seems that something was burning somewhere near the altar. It was a fresh, calming smell mixed with sweetness of a fruit, a smell similar to the woodsy scent of Japanese cypress and Japanese cedar.
As if she blended into the light grey interior of the chapel, the closer we got, the more prominent the woman wearing a grey dress sweeping at the corner of the altar was.
She must be a nun of this chapel, looking at her garments and how she was carefully wiping candlesticks with a dust cloth.
We looked at each other to see if we should talk to her, but this is a monastery. Deciding to greet her so that she wouldn’t be unkind to us, we gradually approached to talk to her, and then she smiled and said, Is there anything I can help you with?
Her age seemed to be around forty years old; when she saw us, she greeted us with a smile.
A woman whose benevolence was extremely high, indeed an embodiment of what a nun looks like.
“Is there someone here by the name Lila Carneille?”
“Yes. Are both of you her friends?”
The last thing I said to her was we could have been good friends so she’s not quite a friend. Nevertheless, it’s quite complicated even if I told her we’re not so in the meantime, I just nodded.
But she looked happy seeing as Lila’s friends came to visit, unaware of my worries, and her eyes glittered.
“Please sit by that bench over there while I immediately call for her.”
“Thank you very much.”
She bowed, and went to a door inside the chapel.
I wonder if Lila will welcome us.
I don’t really want to consider that, but I tried calming myself, thinking it wouldn’t be weird for Lila to hate and blame me.
It’d be a little– or rather, I would hate it if someone directed their hostility at me for two days straight.
Uuuuhhh, I feel depressed all of a sudden…
If Lila doesn’t welcome us normally at the very least, regardless of how favorable she sees me, she might still come in the end. Otherwise, my heart might break.
I spent the time looking at things inside the white and grey chapel for a while in order to distract myself from my slight anxiety. Two figures appeared from a door on the left hand side, in the far back.
The first thing I saw was that nostalgic light blue hair.
When Lila appeared, wearing a simple grey dress and looking like she was desperately holding herself back from rushing out, she restlessly looked around for someone.
Her face was slightly flushed, having rushed over.
During the time we were in school, especially near the end of the events, she looked so tired and frail that she could faint at any moment, but looking at her now, her weight returned and seemed much healthier.
Ah, I’m glad she’s healthy.
I was relieved, and at that moment, she finally found me, her eyes suddenly sparkling.
Feeling happy at seeing that she liked me, I stood up from the pew, and raised a hand to greet her.
Lila came to a stop after rushing two steps forward, and directing an intimate smile towards me, she slowly said after reflecting on it,
“Welcome to the Naga Solcia Monastery.”
“Uhm, in the meantime, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
Changing locations from the chapel to a room used to receive visitors, Lila exaggeratedly nodded her head to agree when I said that.
“I’m happy that we’re able to meet again.”
After that, we chatted about things like how she looked healthy, and how was life in the monastery. I knew from what Lila said as well as her appearance, but it seemed that this kind of life was good for her. Especially that woman that Lila brought with her earlier, she seemed to be a woman of position that gathered nuns, and was worried about Lila when she had just arrived.
By the time I figured I should be more frank in this awkward atmosphere, Lila asked.
“I’m quite happy you came to visit, but why did both of you come here? Did you have something to ask of me, or…”
“Ah, no, we didn’t really come here for a very serious matter. We were travelling, and you were close by so…”
When I hesitated talking about it, Bern poked me with his elbow from the side. Wait, I’m still thinking.
Lila was slightly taken aback, from surprise or envy.
“Yep. I thought, How’s Lila doing? And I also have something I wanted to ask you, just a bit.”
Lila seemed slightly suspicious of my rambling, but immediately remembering something, her eyes went wide open.
And then suddenly–
“Won’t you walk around the garden with me as we chat?”
After that, she turned towards Bern, and apologetically said,
“The garden is near the residences, so men are forbidden there. Which is why…”
In order to show that he completely understood her intention of inviting me to the garden even without Lila continuing her vague words, Bern showed his business* smile.
“I’ll wait here, so you guys go stroll wherever you like. I was just thinking of looking for a place to rest at since I didn’t get enough sleep last night.”
I was grateful that he abided by our request despite his wry smile as he said such a forced excuse.
When Lila and I left the room together, seeing Bern off, she closed the door and immediately said this:
“By something you want to ask, you mean something that only I can answer, right?”
Lila was making a stiff expression, wondering what serious matter I came to talk about. I waved my hands, saying, No, you’re wrong to deny what she had said.
“Of course, what I do want to ask about has something to do with our past lives, but it’s not something you need to be so alert about.”
I bitterly smiled as Lila made a disappointed face, and continued, saying, And also–
“You don’t have to talk so formal to me… Uhm, we’re friends, aren’t we?”
When I said that, slightly nervous, Lila stared blankly for a moment, and then timidly nodded, looking embarrassed. It felt awkward between us, similar to our second meeting, but for some reason, it felt embarrassingly comfortable instead.
It was funny how shy we both were, and when our eyes met, we both laughed, Hehehe.
“And because of that, though sudden, I’d like you to tell me about the Bernhardt route.”
“About the Bernhardt route?”
We walked through a corridor with a roof on top while Lila made a curious expression.
“Actually, I died before I could discover the Bernhardt route…”
Instead, before discovering his route, I didn’t even know Bernhardt was a secret character so it’s not exactly correct, but well, it’s the same thing regardless.
When I said the words died, Lila cast her eyes down for a moment, and showed a painful expression. Did I say something to offend her?
She quickly pulled herself together and apologized once, saying, I’m sorry.
“I’ve already died once, but uhm… I still don’t know how to handle that.”
Come to think of it, when Lila was brainwashed, she was really scared of disappearing, or rather, dying. I clearly remember the moment I died as well, so I know how she feels. Of course, I had been extremely shocked, but I came to terms with it, more or less. But that doesn’t mean it’s the same for others.
I could only harmlessly agree, saying, I see.
“I apologize. Uhm, so about the Bernhardt route.”
Despite thinking that Lila didn’t need to apologize, I nodded in agreement, purposely not speaking about it any further if she wanted to stop talking about it.
“About Bernhardt being the secret character, are you fine with that?”
She might have remembered my quarrel with her that seemed more like a fight back when we were still in school.
She showed up when I was spending my time resting with Bern, said things like Return Bernhardt to me,and told me harsh words like Do you think it’s okay to do whatever you want because he’s a secret character? and on top of that, I also snapped and shouted at her– but now, we were able to talk about this incident with no ill feelings.
That was the first time I found out that Bernhardt was the secret character. By the way, it was also then when I found out that Lila was a reincarnator like me.
“Then you would like to know about the route’s details?”
Lila looked up as she repeatedly murmured, Details, details. She seems to be remembering it with all her might.
I waited for her to speak up as I stared at her usual, strange light blue hair bouncing every time she walked.
“He only had two major endings, from what I remember.”
“Huh, that’s less than other characters.”
By two, is it a normal ending, and a happy ending? Or instead of a normal ending, a bad one? Isn’t that a little too extreme?
“It felt more like a bonus, actually, I think? Moreover, it was a normal and a bad ending.”
I see, a bonus, huh? I felt slightly complicated about that. Kind of like Wait a minute! What do you mean, doing this to my child!?
And to only have a normal ending, and a bad ending.
“How about a happy ending?”
“It might have been impossible to do so with his character background.”
“What do you mean?”
“In the Bernhardt route, Lila…”
Lila remembered that she was this so-called protagonist, and looked incredibly awkward, her feelings complicated. And to pull herself together after that, she cleared her throat and corrected herself.
“Bernhardt had reformed upon meeting the game’s protagonist, but in the end, he still did underhanded things.”
“Ah, I knew about that.”
“He came out as the last boss in Edwin’s route.”
Because of that, I vaguely knew what those underhanded things entailed.
“Ah, I see. That’s right, they made peace with just this, or rather, it seemed like they couldn’t create a happy ending. Because it felt like a bonus, it might have been difficult in terms of the game’s memory capacity.”
“That’s so meta~”
So does that mean that the problem on the creator’s side, with the problem of his character background, they could only make a normal ending, and a bad ending for the Bernhardt route?
After that, we sat down on a nearby bench after Lila made sure there were no people around, and told me about the details of the route as much as she remembered.
First of all, the option to go to the meadows is added after the second playthrough on Edwin’s route. That meadow was the meadow I mentioned earlier.
When chosen to go to the meadow, the protagonist witnesses the actual scene of Bernhardt interacting with outsiders. The kind Bernhardt seemed to be hiding something. While thinking it was wrong to suspect him, the protagonist, curious, would investigate Bernhardt and come to know of his other side… And that’s how it went from there.
Which is why Lila showed up in front of us at that time. She didn’t plan on capturing Bernhardt, but seeing as it happened right after Johann distanced himself, she wanted peace of mind by confirming that she was properly following the scenario. But there was me, who she suspected was a reincarnator, and the anxiety and fear within her just exploded.
We went back to talking about the Bernhardt route, but the fact that he possessed royal blood wasn’t properly mentioned in the route. She explained that she knew this via Viola, and Alois who knew of Bern’s origins.
“As she was about to get murdered, by chance, Bernhardt realized his feelings for Lila.”
Getting murdered… Scary.
I thought I would feel complicated hearing about the love story between the protagonist and Bernhardt, but after hearing that, I felt sorry instead.
Why couldn’t their love have started off much more peacefully? Seems like being a protagonist is also risky, huh.
The Lila beside me wasn’t the protagonist Lila, but I apologized to her.
Instead, it’s freaking confusing thinking that Lila is Lila, but not really Lila.
“After that, well, a lot of things happened, but the bad ending is when Bernhardt didn’t give up on assassinating His Highne… Edwin, and failing the assassination, he committed double suicide with Lila.”
“The normal ending is where even when he gave up on the assassination, his evil deeds were exposed, and he eloped with Lila.”
Was I the only one who felt bad about either of these?
But wait, they could still be happy if they eloped… I don’t know. Since I was only told the summary.
No, well, anyways–
“This is too heavy!”
“Right? I wish they put in at least one ending where they made out!”
I agreed, That’s right, and thought that I wouldn’t hate it even if they made out. That’s because it’s an otome game, and the Bernhardt that’ll make out with Lila isn’t my Bern, plus there are other things different about them…
Well, that’s because this world’s Bern is my fiance! He even said I was cute yesterday!
In a screen somewhere, Mr. Bernhardt might be whispering words of love to a woman aside from me, or dying together with them, but that has nothing to do with this!
…Nothing to do with this? H-Hmm.
I’ll leave that aside for now.
“Oh yeah, did the fact that Bernhardt and Lucas being relatives appear in the scenario?”
For a moment, I hesitated on whether I should tell her that I came from the place where Viola was held, but I avoided that topic in the meantime, and asked her about the matter with Bern and Lucas.
I felt it was too early of me to ask Lila what she felt about Viola and Alois, so I don’t quite know if I should ask.
“Those two are related!?”
I felt nostalgic seeing Lila surprised at hearing that for the first time, her reaction similar to when I first heard it as well.
I don’t know the details of the Bernhardt route, so the moment I heard about it, I quickly accepted it, thinking, I guess there’s that too, but because Lila said, I’ve played all the routes, and I never knew about it, it seems that what Viola said about Lucas and Bernhardt not having any sort of connection was true.
“Bern’s mother is Duke Rottger’s adopted child, Lucas’ stepsister.”
“So that means Bernhardt is Lucas’ nephew?”
“Moreover, when Bern was a kid, Lucas offered to help him out, and taught him a lot of things. Even now, they’re still somewhat close to each other.”
“You’re kidding! I didn’t know!”
She raised her voice, and immediately calming down, she covered her mouth with her hand and looked around.
After confirming that no one was around, she lowered her volume a bit, and once again repeated in a whisper, You’re kidding! She looked so funny that I unintentionally laughed.
“Unbelievable! That Lucas? That Lucas that has no interest aside from drawing and his first love?”
“That’s because his first love is Bern’s mother.”
“Ah, I see! So that’s why. So in the end, they’re connected through his first love.”
At her slightly shocked words, curiosity grew within me, wanting to ask Lila how she felt while she was in the middle of capturing Lucas.
“So when you were capturing Lucas, wasn’t he really annoying? Especially in the middle parts, there was a scene I would stop at every time where if you increase his affection points, he would suggest committing suicide.”
“That’s right! Wow, this is so nostalgic. But I cried when in the happy ending, he gave her his first drawing of the protagonist.”
“That didn’t move you?”
“If I had to say, I pretty much felt, He finally stopped talking about that woman in front of me!“
Lila seized my shoulders, and shook them in protest.
A laugh came out when I tried to speak up as she shook me, and when that happened, Lila, who had been protesting, was laughing along with me before she knew it.
I remembered how I’ve always wanted to talk, hang out and laugh together with her like this, and the fact that I felt like crying a bit from this is a secret.
After that, we excitedly talked about the points in Lucas’ route where we went Kyaa, kyaa! or things we slightly complained about, but quite suddenly, Lila frowned.
After that, she kept silent, and showed an anxious expression, murmuring to herself huhs or buts.
“Actually, I just remembered as we were talking, but…”
She paused, unsure if she should say it, and added:
“Plus I might have just remembered incorrectly, but…”
Something you remembered while we were talking, and that you might have remembered incorrectly?
“Lucas’ first love is Bernhardt’s mother, right?”
“I heard it from him myself, so there’s no mistaking it.”
Lila turned increasingly bewildered, and said,
“Wasn’t Lucas’ first love his painting teacher’s wife?”
*This was written as external-use smile but it just means it’s something he uses in public, or for other people