It felt like I was flying in some sort of void. Everywhere was darkness until I saw a bright wave coming towards me. The moment the wave hit me, my surroundings changed.
There was a small bed in front of me with pink bed sheets. It looked adorable and I felt myself getting drowsy.
“Will Daddy come tonight to read me a fairy tale?”, I asked my brother who was sitting next to me.
“Are you tired already? We just played a little bit”, brother lifted me up and laid me down on the bed.
“But will he come?”
Brother was silent for a while. “He is the Duke, he has a lot to do. Lay down obediently and I will read you a fairy tail.”
“Mmm! Brother is the best!”
“Of course I am. Now what do you want to read?”
The voice was slowly getting smaller and quieter. When the next wave came I noticed how I seemed to be even smaller.
“Daddy!”, I ran towards my dad who I just spotted, “Da- Wahhh!” but I fell down. I-I couldn’t cry, Daddy didn’t like it when I cried. “Dad.” I said but saw him turning around.
“Call the doctor and see whether she is hurt”, he said.
He didn’t come even when the doctor arrived.
It was my fault. I shouldn’t have screamed. Daddy was always working, I couldn’t worry him.
The next memory came faster.
It was about my brother. He was sitting at the desk, working on some sheets. “Brother, Brother, let’s play! We haven’t played in a long while!”
“I don’t have time right now. Play with yourself or ask a maid. They will happily help you”, he said without even looking at me.
“Bu-ut, I reeeaally want to play with brother. Please?”, while pleading I tried to clutch his arm but after seeing his annoyed glance, I kept myself in check.
“Sophie, please. I have to finish this before school starts again. I will play with you later.”
While dropping my head, I obeyed. “Then let’s play tomorrow.”
That summer I didn’t get to see my brother often but he still kept his promise to play with me. Brother had it hard too.
I re-experienced a whole life like that. These memories weren’t in order or chronological. Sometimes I didn’t even understand the context. It could be a cold and lonely winter and at another time I had fun with my brother.
There weren’t many memories of the Duke. He never seemed to care about his child. There was this one time while brother was still in the academy when I was ill. It was really, really bad and I had one nightmare after another. The doctors later told me that it was the magic disease which was pretty serious since your body couldn’t handle the floating mana in your surroundings.
An adult had to slowly input mana into the child’s body while the surrounding mana had to be drained as much as possible to appease the symptoms until the child’s body was able to withstand the normal amount of mana in the air. It wasn’t clear whether a child would be able to adapt but he never once asked me how I was.
Till today nobody knew what caused me to get the magic disease when I had been fine with mana before. It was a disease for newborn when a mother had a small mana pool and the baby had to adapt to a higher concentration of mana in the air after being born.
That was the moment, I think, from which on I also stopped caring. At least, I still had my brother.
He had to come back irregularly because of his strict timetable. He told me it was because he was the successor so he had to take more lessons and couldn’t always come home even on holidays.
Clearly, it was unfair but he never complained. He was a seriously amazing brother.
However, my brother began to change in that academy. He became a little bit short tempered which isn’t bad, I mean, really! It was the stress! Brother also told me that he had a lot to do and was stressed so I promised to pester him less. As his sister, I had to be understanding. Some time in the future, I would also go to the Magic Academy, then we would have more time together, hopefully.
“Sophien! Didn’t I tell you to knock on the door before you enter my workplace? Really can’t you grow up a little? How long do you plan on acting like a child?”, brother knitted his brows and massaged them with his fingers. He began to resemble the Duke, lately.
I bowed my head. “That’s right, brother. I am sorry. Please make sure to eat, yes?”
Brother… I had etiquette class today. I wanted to show you…
“Then I will take my leave.”
“Yes, yes. Make sure to knock before you come in next time. You can’t always bother me like that, Father entrusted me with matters related to the Dukedom.”
When I was entering the academy as I was ten years old, I had learned a lot. Firstly, I shouldn’t bother the family, secondly, I couldn’t bring shame to the family and thirdly, I had to keep a good relationship with my fiance. As the Prince, he too, couldn’t be bothered but others should also adhere to that rule. That’s how I began to chase everyone away that my brother and my fiance bothered.
I too had far too little time to spend with them.
Years passed like that until I met her for the first time.
I warned her several times that she shouldn’t hang out with an unmarried man alone. In addition with so many different ones! They were all men of promising future while she was only a commoner. The Prince even had me as his fiance so how dare she stole that little time that we had!
Sophien’s memories were a mess. Sometimes I wasn’t sure who I was. No, that is not right. I got swapped away in her thoughts and feelings.
“No! I mean, yes! I did warn that commoner but I did not do anything else! You have to believe me!”
“Did ‘not do anything else’ include bullying her?”, my brother stared at me with eyes as cold as the Dukes.
“But… but you told me that you had no time. I just… She wouldn’t listen! I really tried to talk to her but she wouldn’t listen. His Highness is my fiance! It is improper for her to be alone with him and since she has the lower status she should…”
My head flew to the other side. Disbelievingly I looked at my brother. Then I was again slapped, this time by the Prince.
“How dare you judge with whom I talk. It was my decision. Do you want to question the Imperial Family?”, he looked at me with disgust but I only had eyes for my brother. Tears began filling my eyes. Why, brother, just why?!
It was always the two of us. When did that change?
“I really didn’t hire someone to assault her”, I wouldn’t do something so low. I came from a prestigious family. At least, I would make sure that there were no traces left which could lead to our Dukedom. Didn’t you know that, brother.
“Someone is trying to frame me, brother, Your Highness. Please do investigate carefully. I give you permission to search all of my belongings though you could arrange that even without my permission, I want you to keep my willingness in mind.”, with that I turned on my heels and left. For now I did not want anyone to see my face.
Shortly after, maybe a few days, I was sentenced for treason because of some evidence in my room. I lost all relations to the Rubien family and I was to be hanged.
Did that really happen? Didn’t I die during an expedition to the magic stone mines? Wasn’t there an accident in which I first lost my way and then met a magic beast?
‘Ahhh! My head hurts, it hurts so much it is driving me crazy!’
That wasn’t true either or more that wasn’t all.
Slowly I learned of Sophien’s confusion over reality and dream before she finally reached awareness about this game. How she tried to redeem herself, how she tried to get revenge and life for herself until the Game System caught her and set her life to hell.
I found out why the Duke hated Sophien so much. There was a memory mixed in revealing that her mother died while giving birth to her.
Also the assassin whom I escaped from was probably sent by the Crown Prince because as of now, he is unable to dissolve our engagement. Well, that is if he did the same thing he did in another playthrough.
“Sophien! What did I hear? You are suspended from the academy? What did you do exactly?”
“Father should have already read through the report. From my point of view, I merely reprimanded a commoner girl for being close to unmarried men alone. It’s filthy. And I did not slap her. I don’t know what you heard, I merely poured my tea on the ground for her to wipe. Since she dared to be alone with His Highness which only servants are allowed to, shouldn’t she behave like one? Don’t you agree, father?”, I grinned while passing by him. “Not that I would understand how a personal servant should behave, right father? Since I still don’t have one.”
I myself was cheering for Sophien but she said that immersed in her Villainess role – in auto-pilot. I wished she had even a little of that confidence she displayed as a Villainess.
Darkness swept over me again.
Feelings of rage, sadness, despair and longing threatened to devour me.
So that was your life.