It took the Duke exactly one day to come to a decision and another two to make my return happen. He decided that I would take on a second major so from now on I would have to learn about magic and knighthood.
From my point of view it was a very good alternative. I had to train my body anyway and had no real concept of magic, so training my body first would be beneficial. Besides, should I deem it necessary to defy the Game System, it would probably not make things easier for me, so I had to prepare.
For now, I asked to keep my return under wraps. I was still a little unclear about which playthrough run I was on, since nothing I re-experienced from these memories seemed to be chronological. I already found out that my suspension this time was a memory I already went through. It was the auto-mode Villainess incident where Sophien poured a glass of water on the ground for the Heroine to wipe, as well as her standing up against her father. So as a result, I decided to make that my theme of action.
I couldn’t just nonsensically change my behavior. I had to keep up some sort of front to firstly, stay in line with the Game System’s tasks and secondly to not arouse suspicions. This asshole of a fiance would likely use every negative rumour to condemn me. So me acting crazy would be a perfect excuse to annul our engagement however… While I would like for that to happen, right now only death could annul our engagement, as that was the game’s direction. Quite romantically if you looked at it from an objective point of view and if the people involved had a favorable impression of each other.
Honestly, I could not judge the Capture Targets because Sophien did do wrong. It was just that their way of doing things was not my cup of coffee. Maybe it was a leftover belief of my former world but I did not want to solve my problems with death.
The only exception I could make was for Cato because I knew fairly well about his conduct towards his sister. And while it all started with good and pure feelings of siblings, his behavior took a turn as soon as he entered the academy. It was save to say that he began to emotionally torture his sister even if it started unconsciously, it could not excuse his later behavior in which he caused his sister to die multiple times.
That is why I decided to judge the Capture Targets myself before deciding whether and how I should get revenge for Sophien. We were all captives of this game, after all.
‘For now let’s keep quiet about my changing aptitude in magic.’
I made up my mind. The devices which could measure one’s status could only view Stats so while the academy was aware of my improved body, nobody could perceive the other changes which had accumulated in my body.
The Duke’s aptitude for magic was hereditary fire and caused our eyes to remain red through all these generations. However, through the experiences Sophien and also me had to go through, we gained two additional aptitudes. Light and Darkness. This would become my trump card. It was something Sophien never possessed thus creating an unforeseen variable in this game.
But first of all, I would have to re-learn magic. Simply borrowing Sophien’s wisdom was not enough. I was able to use Mana Breath perfectly. It was just that I was only able to use Mana Breath.
“Ines, when will I depart?”.
She bowed to me before answering, “Since the weekend is coming, the Duke decided for you to return on Monday.”
I nodded. Thankfully, this game was based on my own world therefore I had no problems getting used to it. Time and seasons were mostly the same, I only had to learn a new currency which became increasingly simple thanks to Sophien’s experiences. The only exception was the aforementioned magic.
I sighed. “Thank you. Please leave me alone for a while. I will call for you, should I need you.”
“Yes, my Lady.” With that she simply left as instructed.
“Great”, I mumbled. My gaze wandered out of the medieval looking window. “It is going to snow soon.”
Right, from Sophien’s memories I knew that the next major event would be an excursion to some mine and it was also my next Death Flag.
Before that, there were only some minor events for the characters to strengthen their friendship or love, depending on the player’s style. I was honestly curious about the Heroine of this game. Her real name was Elodie Charlotte Celestite, a Princess of the neighboring kingdom Mare.
In the game she entered the academy in high school as a commoner. Not because she did not know that she was a Princess like in many other Otome Games, but solely because she was tasked to find out about our kingdom’s situation. That is also the reason why she actively approaches the Capture Targets: a commoner – to find out about the general situation in this kingdom, the Crown Prince – because he would be the future leader of this country, as well as the only two high-nobles of Laurit – our kingdom, to find out about the power balance, unity and any discrimination that might take place.
This unique storyline was the reason I initially bought this game. Yet, if you translate this into an actual world setting then the kingdom of Mare sent out a spy to decide whether Laurit was still worthy of friendly diplomatic relations or not.
This game had no common enemy therefore humans could freely war among themselves. The only exception were the monsters but I did not learn of their actual role in the game while Sophien always died too early to find out. It would come as a surprise whether they would be a part of the story or not.
It was slowly getting colder in this room. Autumn was fickle with its temperature.
‘System, are you there?’
‘It’s nothing. Just a little lonely.’
I truthfully hoped that my room in the academy would be more welcoming. This room was luxurious, sure. It was grand, elegant and light seemed to flood this room… but the bed sheets were of simple color. Exquisite but bland. There were accessories on the small table before the mirror but nothing personal. It was as cold as the temperature outside.
I would probably get a new accommodation in the academy so I could access the training halls of the knights better. I would make that place mine. Definitely.
The servants assembled early Monday morning to bid myself goodbye. It was a tradition for nobles to depart grandly. Even the Duke appeared out of formality.
“Ines, let’s go.”
I decided to take her back to the academy with me after hearing her consent. I had no personal servant so I could always decide myself who would follow me. She would do a great job.
“Farewell, father. I will not disappoint you.” Like in his study days ago, I bowed deeply to him. He had helped me greatly, there was no need to be conceited. Some servants seemed to gasp at me lowering my head this deep but they would have to get used to me.
From the Dukedom to the academy took nearly a day’s worth of traveling. I was a little surprised since I assumed I would arrive this morning but being able to watch the scenery outside was nice too. The places of Laurit that I had seen spoke for a rather bountiful land. Behind the Duke’s manor was an abundant forest and after traveling through a few settlements I was convinced about my theory.
The Dukedom of Rubien was rather close to the capital and peaceful. Our family leaned more towards the wizard and strategy side of power which roots lay in our ancestors who helped the first king to settle in this land. Therefore our reward was bountiful land suitable for crops to grow.
The only other Dukedom of this kingdom, Emrald, was a Dukedom famous for its knights. They were the sword of His Highness and responsible to defend this kingdom’s borders from invaders, monsters and barbarians. They had the largest area of land from all nobles.
Slowly, I got to discover the elegant gates of the Royal Magic and Knight Academy. It induced a slight flashback towards my times playing this game.
The opening of the gates was always the starting point for the adventures of the Heroine. Now I came back as the Villainess, what irony.
It did not take long to inform the school of my arrival. Someone came to guide me to my new room while talking about my new mayor. Since I was nearly one year behind the other attendants, I might need help with studies, so the academy prepared a list of potential candidates for tutoring me.
They were quite welcoming. Maybe it was a way to make up for their harsh punishment? Not that they were truly at fault. Nobody could disrespect the Prince as he had taken my punishment upon himself. Maybe I would have taken the Prince’s side had I not known the truth behind these incidents from Sophien’s point of view.
It had been a coincidence.
I really did not plan to meet her this early even with the hint in my mission but… ‘System? Isn’t that the Heroine?’.
She was sitting blandly on a bench right in front of me, reading some book. It was difficult to not notice her. Her striking white-silver hair just screamed for attention. How could anybody believe she was a commoner?
The System seemed to be as baffled as me. That seems to be the case. It answered my former question.
“Miss Sophien?”, my guide asked bewildered but I ignored him and made my way over to my unlucky victim.
I would not pass on a free lunch.