One day, several days after being invited to the student council room, I was currently training Roy and Emma in the courtyard of the capital city’s Rosenberg estate.
Holding a sword at his side, Roy started dashing towards me. At that moment, the outline of his figure blurred– no, Emma was hiding behind him and had jumped out to flank me.
The boy swung his sword at me head on, while his sister lunged at me from the side with her dagger. As expected of siblings, they were perfectly in sync.
However, they were still inexperienced.
Stepping into Roy’s range on purpose, I disrupted his swing while deflecting it elsewhere. The redirected sword ended up obstructing Emma’s charge, and I took that moment to land a blow on her brother’s vitals as well.
At the exact moment Roy fell to his knees, Emma avoided his blade and jumped in to make her attack– but now that they weren’t coordinating to pincer me, her strike was full of openings.
Catching her wrist, I then proceeded to twist her arm upwards, pressing her own dagger against her neck.
“That’s the end.”
“I’m not done yet, Master!*”
I couldn’t help but sigh as I saw Roy bounce up from his knees to continue.
Taking Emma’s dagger from her, I swiftly went through the motion of slitting her neck before intercepting Roy’s charge and throwing him a short distance away. Now sprawled across the ground, I pressed the blade against the boy’s neck as he lay on the grass.
“Now both you and Emma are dead. I thought I taught you that careless resistance will only increase casualties. Being reckless isn’t the same as not giving up.”
Still lying on the ground, Roy turned his gaze away.
“B-but… if I didn’t do anything, isn’t there a chance the assailant will kill the mistress?”
“…I see. So that’s the reasoning behind your actions?”
Our current training session was based on the premise of being my lady’s bodyguards. Therefore, there were rules set in place to match the situation.
Though I didn’t explain to them what would happen if they were defeated.
“As her bodyguard, I appreciate your willingness to protect the mistress to the end. However, there’s no point if you end up sacrificing yourself to do so. Adapt to the circumstances given to you to make the best choice.”
“The best choice?”
Roy blinked his green eyes.
After pulling the boy up, I then invited Emma to join us before I continued.
“Right… for example, when I was pressing the dagger against Emma’s neck earlier. Do you know what that action implied?”
“Didn’t that mean Emma was dead?”
“Are you sure about that?”
Roy only tilted his head in confusion. However, Emma’s golden eyes began to shine in understanding. Seeing that she came up with the answer, I turned towards her.
“Instructor Cyril could’ve killed me whenever he wanted, but he didn’t do so right away. So he was trying to avoid any unneeded deaths… is that right?”
“Yes, that’s exactly it.”
Earlier, I was only moving to subdue the two of them. If Roy didn’t carelessly jump in, we would’ve been stuck in a stalemate.
“Of course, I’m not saying stalemates will last indefinitely.”
“–because there’s a chance they’ll have reinforcements on the way. Right, Master?”
Roy was the one that followed up that time. When I confirmed his answer, he made a very smug expression. Noticing that, Emma pouted her lips and muttered, “I noticed that too…” under her breath.
I couldn’t help but smile seeing their sibling rivalry that was in stark contrast to how close they usually were.
“Stalemates may be disadvantageous positions you want to avoid, but they also make it impossible for the opposition to make moves as well. That’s why you should bide your time and try to find the best choice fitting of your current circumstances.”
The two nodded while making strange expressions.
“Not to mention…” I began, “Even if you succeed in protecting the mistress, there’s no doubt she’ll grieve if you end up dying for it.” I petted their heads as I said that.
–at that moment, a servant arrived.
It was Rouché, the maid who gets easily carried away with teasing and works as the educator for the siblings.
“Cyril, I’ve been looking for you.”
“Oh? You have business with me instead of them?”
“Yes. I have the report for the investigation you asked for the other day.”
“I see… please give me a moment.”
After returning Emma’s dagger to her, I instructed her and her brother to practice on their own for a while. With that finished, I moved with Rouché to a corner where we wouldn’t get in anyone’s way.
“Here’s the report. Though are you sure it was fine for me to retrieve such important documents? Aren’t you afraid I’ll look into them in secret?”
While handing me the papers, Rouché made a mischievous expression.
“I never told you, did I? False information is mixed into the reports to mislead spies, if you don’t know the cypher and misuse what you learn, you’ll end up with a noose around your neck before you know it.”
“…you’re really scary, Cyril.”
“It was only a joke.”
Despite my denial, Rouché sent a suspicious look my way and muttered, “its because its you saying it that it sounds so real, Cyril…”
…well, I was lying when I said it was a joke, so her intuition was correct.
Of course, I wasn’t discriminating against her personally, I try to keep vigilant against all of the employees. In fact, she was actually one of the ones I trusted more, considering her personality.
Though for obvious reasons, I would never actually tell her that.
Putting that aside– I went ahead and read the report. I had launched an investigation on Fol so I could get a better grasp on her personality while inferring what kind of test she’d issue.
Unlike when I investigated Alicia’s household for personal reasons, this incident was directly related to my lady’s honour, so I had justification to use the Rosenberg house’s resources in full.
That’s why despite the short notice, the report already contained a considerable amount of data.
I make a quick skim over the documents.
Currently in her third year of junior high school, Fol was currently the top student of her grade. Although she’s always been considered excellent, she’s shown significant improvement in the last few years in particular.
And then there’s her background.
Officially, she’s a girl with the backing of a Count house– but her true identity was that of the king’s niece. She was of royal blood, a legitimate princess. It was cleverly hidden though, so this wouldn’t have been uncovered without a deep investigation.
Would I be overthinking it to assume that professor Tristan didn’t talk about her because he wanted me to thoroughly check her identity?
The idea crossed my mind, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing something. I was going to look into her either way the moment she declared she’d be putting us through a test, so why the extra layer to pique my curiosity?
There was something strange about all of this… really strange. Professor Tristan or whoever he was proxying for wanted us to join the student council and interact with Fol, despite the person herself not wanting to associate with us.
This was all just conjecture, but I didn’t think I was wrong in my reasoning.
What bothered me the most about all of this was the fact that Fol never appeared in Espressivo of Light and Darkness.
Her pedigree, appearance, and talents were enough to have a leading role if she possessed even just one of them, not to mention all of them. If she appeared in the game, there was no doubt the developments of the original work would’ve changed significantly.
She was currently in her third year of junior high. Therefore, three years from now at the start of the game she’d be in her third year of the highschool section. Taking this into consideration, you’d assume that she’d be running the student council by then as well, but in the original work that group was led by his highness Alforth.
There aren’t that many reasons I can think of to explain this.
But putting those few possibilities under analysis, I could understand why she rejected my lady’s application–
“Master! Hey Master~! I won! It’s my win!”
“No, he’s lying! He didn’t win the previous rounds! Instructor Cyril, when looking at the overall scores I’m the winner!”
The two siblings were raising their voices in hopes of getting my attention.
Their act brought me back to reality, making me inadvertently smile.
“I think they prefer you over me, Cyril.”
Rouché commented that in a teasing tone.
Of course, I’ve noticed how much they adore me. Otherwise they wouldn’t call me ‘master’, or ‘instructor’ so endearingly.
However… I couldn’t help but frown as I thought of this.
“Oh, you’re not happy about it?”
“No, it’s not that… it’s just that I’m only watching over them because of Lady Sophia’s orders. In truth, I was the person who recommended not getting involved with them in the first place, so I can’t help but have mixed feelings seeing how much they favour me.”
“–pfft. Cyril, do you really think they actually care about that? The two of them aren’t stupid. They like you so much because you’re nice to them, it’s as simple as that.”
Rouché suddenly broke out in laughter.
“Is that so?”
“It is. You know, sometimes I forget because you always act so mature, but you really are just a kid.”
As I thought, the thing that she was laughing at was me.
Lunch break is the time for my lady to have tea with her friends.
At her tea party– which she hosts about twice a week, I serve the sweets and tea that I’ve prepared for the occasion. Not just my tea, but it seems even my confections have gained somewhat of a reputation as well.
These recipes weren’t shared like how the tea was, but were exclusively for those who attended my lady’s gatherings.
The reason for this was that there were concerns that their release would create too many waves, ensuing chaos.
At first glance, this might seem a bit excessive over just some sweets.
I also thought so at first. However, the noble girls who heard the rumours about the short cake ended up swarming to join my lady’s faction in droves over it. Anyone would be convinced of the truth after seeing such a scene.
As such, Lady Sophia’s faction has grown accordingly. With its current size, it’d be difficult to gather during lunch breaks, so it was decided that official faction gatherings would be scheduled at regular dates instead.
Therefore, the only participants attending the lunch break tea parties were those who were on especially good terms with my lady.
Though personally, I feel a lot more comfortable during the large faction gatherings despite the size.
Because at the lunch break tea parties–
“Wow, the sweets Cyril made today are delicious too!”
“Since my Cyril made them, that’s only natural.”
“Yeah, I’m sure that anything he makes for you is done so wholeheartedly. It must be nice… I’m jealous.”
“Is that so?”
–today as well, Lady Sophia and Alicia continue to interact somewhat antagonistically towards each other. Much to their surroundings discomfort. Although things seem like they’re only one step away from breaking out into an actual fight, Alicia has shown amazing ability at backing off just before things get that far.
If she knows the limits, I wish she wouldn’t always be constantly pushing at them.
–as I watched over the two of them while holding these feelings, I suddenly felt Lady Sophia’s gaze turn towards me. Her face had twisted into an expression that was easy to understand.
I pretended not to notice though, and offered to refill her tea.
That’s how the tea party ended before I returned to the classroom. The afternoon classes finished as usual, but as I was preparing to leave, professor Tristan called out to me yet again.
“Cyril, the student council president wants to meet with you.”
I almost wanted to laugh at this. ‘The student council president is calling you’– Why didn’t he just use her name? The way he referred to Fol wasn’t how a teacher usually would towards a student. Most likely, he was trying to probe me to see how much I’ve found out about her identity.
Despite my urge to laugh, I held myself back from doing so.
Since I was pretending to be unresponsive, he probably hasn’t noticed.
“…and she wants you to come alone.”
She doesn’t want my lady involved this time, so I’m guessing she has some sort of business with me.
“I heard that the president refused your application to join the student council, but I’ve also heard that you were still trying to join in spite of that. Cyril… do you have a hobby of collecting thorny flowers?”
A roundabout phrase that could be interpreted in many ways.
The thorns seem to be referring to Fol’s attitude towards us, but they might also be alluding to the royal family’s symbol of the blue rose. On the off chance I’ve taken a liking to the girl with a barbed tongue, was he asking if I had any intentions of joining the royal family?
In any case, he seems to be asking if I’m aiming for Fol.
“I have no intention to grow any flowers besides the rose of the Rosenberg house. I will do whatever it takes to raise it so it blooms beautifully.”
I didn’t know what ‘wish’ my lady was working towards that required her to join the student council, but I would support her regardless. While I did have some ideas, I didn’t have any concrete evidence to confirm any of them.
Putting that aside, I finished my conversation with professor Tristan and left to meet with Fol.
The student council room.
When I knocked on the door, I heard a reply telling me to enter. In the simple office room, Fol was sitting on the other side of a desk, steadily working through some paperwork.
For some reason, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu. This was a situation similar to what had happened with the Master, but with the student council president instead. Even if she was hiding her identity, I guess she was still a princess.
With nothing else to do, I patiently waited and silently observed Fol.
She had features that weren’t inferior to Lady Sophia’s in the slightest. From the short conversations we’ve had she seemed like an enigmatic older girl, but in this silence she gave off an ephemeral atmosphere.
Her small face was framed in silky cherry-blonde hair that appeared to shine. Looking closely, the tips of her hair were actually fluttering despite how we were indoors.
Focusing my consciousness to detect magic power, I could sense a slight flow of magic in the room. Under further scrutiny, a faint light seemed to be leaking from Fol’s body.
Apparently, she was cooling herself down with wind magic.
…although it has been getting hot recently, I can’t imagine it’s easy to be perpetually using magic like that. Although the magical consumption would be insignificant, the same couldn’t be said for the mental fatigue that came with it.
Maybe she just prefers draining herself mentally over becoming all sweaty physically? Though if it was something like that, it’d probably be better to just use the air-conditioning magic tool.
Or rather, couldn’t she even have had the maid standing behind her just fan her? Turning my line of sight her way, my fellow servant was making a troubled expression.
The maid loudly began to clear her throat. Just as confused as I was, Fol began raising her head with a suspicious expression on.
But then she saw me–
“Wait, why is Cyril here?!”
And she was surprised for some reason.
“Why? Aren’t you the one that told me to enter after I knocked?”
When Fol turned to her servant in confirmation, the maid nodded.
I guess she was just preoccupied. Apparently Fol wasn’t intentionally ignoring me, she just didn’t notice me after letting me in on reflex.
“S-sorry about that.”
“No, it’s fine.”
“I still feel bad even if you say that. I wish you had said something.”
“Well, I’ll keep that in mind for next time.”
Considering how she answered like that, I couldn’t help but wonder if she wasn’t used to making her servants wait.
When taking her status into account, you’d think she’d be used to it… though now that I think about it, my lady doesn’t enjoy it when others are waiting for her in her personal life either.
Fol might have a similar nature.
“In any case, I heard you wanted to speak to me?”
“Oh, that’s right. I summoned you to talk about the test…”
“I’m guessing you want me to somehow convince my lady to give up on joining the student council?”
“If you understand, then we can end this quickly.”
“…care to explain why?”
Having been immediately rejected, Fol furrowed her brows. With her actual status, she probably doesn’t get refused often. It’s no wonder she’s frustrated.
With that said, I’m sure she has her reasons.
“Don’t get me wrong. Fol, I have no doubts that you have solid incentives as to why my lady shouldn’t join the student council.”
“Then why refuse? Can’t you see that this is also for your mistress’ well-being?”
There was a quiet anger in her words. As I thought, she seems to be doing this for our sake. When taking that into consideration, the reasons as to why she denied our applications have narrowed down.
But even in spite of that, I didn’t have any justification to oppose my lady’s choice.
“Lady Sophia isn’t a little kid that needs me to hold her hand as she walks. I don’t have the right, nor any reason to oppose her decision. This is something she chose for herself.”
Glaring at me, Fol’s blue eyes burned red in anger. Though no matter how she scowled at me, I had no intentions of backing down. I met her gaze head-on.
“My lady isn’t as weak as you think she is.”
“That doesn’t mean it’s fine for her to be hurt.”
“If it’s an unnecessary pain, then I’ll definitely prevent it, but I know that this isn’t the case.”
“…how can you tell?”
“Call it a feeling.”
With my answer, Fol’s eyes opened wide. Her expression then quickly shifted from happy, to vexed, and then eventually… resigned. She let out a deep sigh.
“…so you have no intentions of giving up?”
“…I understand. If you’re going that far then I won’t stop you. However, you do realise this means you’ll have to take my test, right?”
“I’m well aware. Both my lady and I are prepared for this.”
“Good. Here, now let me explain what it is.”
Implying that the conversation was over, Fol went on to break down the test for me.
No matter what it was, we couldn’t fail it and defile my lady’s reputation. I listened to what the test entailed with every intention of perfectly clearing it… but the contents of it were more troublesome than I thought.
*Roy calls Cyril shishō(師匠), which is ‘master’ for more of a master-disciple relationship rather than a master-servant one.
Written by Scarlet Rain (緋色の雨)
Translated by KuroInfinity at slothtranslationsblog.com