Chapter 94. <Villain. (1) >
Translator: thursdays Editor: Sasha PR: LightBrin
Is there anyone who thinks about you as much as I do?
Is there anyone who cares about you as much as I do?
Have you ever seen someone look at you with more desperate eyes than mine?
Have you ever felt a softer touch than my hands?
There’s no one. There wouldn’t have been anyone.
I would not let them.
A peal of romance-like laughter rang through the garden.
The prince, whose genuine plea had been met with laughter, looked like he was about to cry.
“Ohohoho! What is it, Your Highness?”
“Isn’t your laughter a little artificial? O-of course, your voice is like that of a baby bird. No matter how you chirp, it is music to my ears. Still, if you think about keeping up the appearance of nobility….”
“Oh-hohohoho! I am very satisfied with this laughter!”
“I-is that so?” the prince muttered, stuttering. “I-I see…. That’s how it is…. No. No. Listening to it carefully, it seems to be all right. Um…. Hmm. Yeah! It’s all right. It’s totally fine! You’re so beautiful. I discovered another charming point about you today.”
Oi. Check out this ramen-head.
How did his love for the Lady of the Golden Silk not lessen even with this? All of the students around him were looking at him with slightly cold eyes.
Bae Hu-ryeong, who had been quiet for a bit after entering the Apocalypse, opened his mouth.
-I’ve been silently watching your play this time. I was trying not to interfere. I can’t watch this anymore, though. It’s too frustrating. Hey, aren’t you misunderstanding something?
‘A misunderstanding? What am I getting wrong?’
-You think it’s easier to break someone’s love than to create it.
-I’m sorry, but that…… It’s case by case.
That was what Bae Hu-ryeong said. He had the expression of a mountain gorilla, the prince of the jungle, suddenly being trapped inside a zoo.
‘Case by case?’
-Yeah. You totally exude the aura of someone who’s never dated, but people in love each have slightly different forms of love. Kiddo. There’s a type of love that can’t be cut no matter how much you try to slice it away. It seems to me that the prince guy is…….
The prince opened his mouth before Bae Hu-ryeong could finish his sentence.
“Sylvia! You truly shine in diverse ways, like a kaleidoscope. If there was snow on the branches yesterday, the tree now blooms with plum blossoms. That’s right. Is a human’s laugh determined by their birth? What law prescribes the way nobility laughs? I too will change the way I laugh now. Mwahahaha!”
That crazy guy…
A fantastic duet floated to the sky above the garden.
It was the birth of the couple of the century.
I was speechless.
‘Wh-what the hell is love…?’
I was shocked.
-You’ve never dated before. Did you think a kid who’s never known the feeling of love could solve this twisted relationship?
Bae Hu-ryeong clicked his tongue.
-There are people who have thrown away their country to look good in front of the one they love. It was a good idea to stop the immersion by acting out, but it won’t be enough to destroy love. Yup. Sometimes it’s just lacking.
Huh? All of a sudden, Bae Hu-ryeong began to look like an adult. Am I going to have an inferiority complex because I’ve been single? To this mountain gorilla?
Isn’t that too shameful?
I stepped between the crown prince and the Heretic Questioner. As if saying, ‘Look here.’ Naturally, the prince frowned when he saw me.
“Her ladyship has told me that she trusts me the most.”
Now. Let’s see if your love can hold against this.
“Your Highness is a noble man. I am from humble birth. But Your Majesty is far away, while I am always by my ladyship’s side. My mistress’s family is my house, and my mistress’s life is the life that I serve. Your Highness.”
Screams of “Kyaa!” echoed in the garden. The voices belonged to the young ladies watching us.
-No. You. Crazy— Hey. Hey!
Bae Hu-ryeong urgently shouted.
-You idiot! Ah, this virgin kid! You really don’t know the rules of love! That guy’s the prince of the empire, so he’ll have a lot of pride! If you say that, the prince will become more jea..…!
The crown prince ground his teeth.
“You think yourself so great because you stay by the lady’s side, using the excuse of being a butler. Very well. Then I will take care of Sylvia, too! I’ll watch over Sylvia myself when she is at the academy, so you may leave now.”
He’s the crown prince of this nation!
You can be crazy for love, but how could it be this much?!
Mr. Heretic Questioner. Please stop laughing. I can’t concentrate.
“—What in heavens is this fuss now?”
It was then. The murmuring of the students stopped.
In one very brief moment. The commotion stopped for less than a second. The silence was only one second long, but that was enough.
The young sons and daughters of nobility bowed their heads and cleared the path.
“……Lady of the Silver Lily.”
Only the crown prince looked at her with his eyebrows furrowed.
There, the lady with the moonlight in her hair walked.
“I thought you asked for a sick leave this morning,” the prince said. “I thought that you’d be absent from school today, but is your body feeling better again? Huh. The lady’s heart seems to be quite the troublemaker.”
The Lady of the Silver Lily did not respond right away. Instead, she glanced over our audience, one by one.
When she met their eyes, the students dropped their gazes. Until now, the students had been fired up by the imperial family’s scandal. Only once they froze did the Lady of the Silver Lily part her lips.
“Are you well? I was able to have a peaceful night thanks to your concern.”
“…Is that so? That’s good. You call in sick and lay down half the year, so a day like today must be precious. The sun feels nice on this spring day, so you should take a leisurely stroll.”
A cold expression.
[Take a stroll] was the same thing as saying, [Leave this place]. The crown prince was desperately cloying with the Lady of the Golden Silk, but he was ungenerous toward the Lady of the Silver Lily.
His cold-heartedness was a bit odd.
‘Even if he’s from the imperial family, it shouldn’t be good to treat someone from the ducal family this harshly….’
However, the Lady of the Silver Lily was calm.
“A stroll sounds wonderful. The magnolia petals fall when the spring breeze becomes even a little rough. I worry that if I enjoy the walk alone, the flowers will be lonely.”
Unlike last night’s struggle for words at the ball, the Lady of the Silver Lily had a silver tongue.
“Your Highness. Don’t let yourself be dirtied in this clamorous crowd. Would you like to accompany me on a walk in the comfort of springtime?”
“Ha. Why would I……”
“Lady of the Golden Silk.”
The Lady of the Silver Lily addressed the Heretic Questioner.
“You should also walk together.”
The prince shut his mouth.
All the eyes nearby were drawn to the Heretic Questioner.
The Heretic Questioner gripped his fan and glanced at me.
‘What should I do, Death King?’ is what his eyes told me. ‘Should I follow them?’ His eyes showed that he would totally accept my decision.
Would it be okay?
The Lady of the Silver Lily and the crown prince. Both of them were dangerous. Merely being close to them deepened our immersions. The Heretic Questioner became closer to the Lady of the Golden Silk, and I became closer to the butler.
It was dangerous, but nothing would be solved if we stayed still.
“…What is your immersion rate now?”
I whispered in a voice that would only be heard by the Heretic Questioner.
“Did it rise?”
“Yes. It went up a little.”
The Heretic Questioner whispered back, “My immersion rate is now 17 percent. Aha, it rose one percent when the prince spoke to me. It rose another one percent when I saw the Lady of the Silver Lily. In total, it’s 2 percent higher than yesterday.”
Compared to last night’s insane increase, the immersion speed had definitely slowed down. Should we take the risk now and enter the tiger’s den? If not now, when would be better?
I met the Heretic Questioner’s eyes.
“When spring comes?”
The Heretic Questioner smiled brightly.
“The magnolia falls, Death King.”
I made a decision.
“All right. Let’s follow along, milady.”
“I trust your judgment, butler.”
The Heretic Questioner closed the fan with a smack.
“Oh-hohoho! I cannot refuse when the Lady of the Silver Lily personally suggested a walk. I gladly accept your invitation!”
The Lady of the Silver Lily frowned. Then, she lightly turned around.
“Follow me quietly.”
The place she led us to was her own lodgings. The Lady of the Silver Lily, whose family had great power, did not stay in the dormitories. She stayed and ate at a separate villa.
“This is where you come to [walk]?” the prince complained, who had been half-forced into following.
The Lady of the Silver Lily’s accommodations were fancier than the other students’, but that was all. The prince was someone raised in the imperial palace. He didn’t seem impressed by the luxury.
“Do you think I would do that?”
The Lady of the Silver Lily kept walking, unaffected by his words. Click. Click. The lady’s shoes made a noise whenever they hit the hallway.
“The walk was an excuse.”
“There were many eyes in the garden. I couldn’t tell you the truth like that. It must remain a secret.”
“It’s about the assassins who dared to invade the cradle of nobility. Your Highness. Rashly speaking can agitate the public.”
The prince kept his mouth shut.
From my deductions, the prince was the one who hired the assassins. Maybe it was just her air, but the Lady of the Silver LIly’s tone seemed to say [I already know what you did].
“…You mean you caught the culprit? Even I have not done so yet with my investigation. How could you?”
“The Lady of the Golden Silk’s butler gave me a clue.”
“Last night, I threw out the lady and her servant from the ball. I had been overreacting. However, I only ordered them to be taken away, not for them to be locked up anywhere. It seems that some of my subordinates had evil intentions.”
The villa of the duke’s daughter had a staircase that led to the basement. Standing in front of it, the Lady of the Silver Lily looked back at us.
Her face was expressionless.
“Shall we go down, Your Highness?”
“……I don’t see the servants. How bizarre. Where did the duchy’s servants go?”
“Are you worried? I suppose you must be. I will take the lead.”
The Lady of the Silver Lily went down the stairs without answering the prince’s question. Her clicking footsteps seeped through the basement. Click. Click…. Soon, the darkness of the stairs buried the Lady of the Silver Lily.
The prince gulped and started going down the stairs.
The Heretic Questioner and I also followed them.
Something thickened in the air as we went down the stairs. It was something that my nose and my life were becoming too used to. The scent of blood. The Heretic Questioner and I weren’t flustered, but the prince’s shoulders ahead of us flinched.
“—I apologize for bringing you to such a squalid place, Your Highness.”
In the basement, three human beings were tied down in chairs.
All three were the duchy’s servants whom I saw last night, and—
“These are the people behind the assassins who attacked the Lady of the Golden Silk.”
All three were soaked in blood.
The prince’s hands trembled.
Even I frowned a little. The only ones whose expressions did not change after descending the stairs were the Heretic Questioner and the Lady of the Silver Lily.
It was understandable why the Heretic Questioner was unaffected. He was the guild master of the Ten Thousand Temple, which carried out uncountable numbers of torture and interrogations in the Tower.
However, the other person was just a duke’s daughter. She resembled the moonlight. Staggering and swaying like she would fall any moment, she appeared fragile. That girl stood here as if she was very familiar with these types of places.
“This is the result of the investigation I did overnight.”
Then, I remembered.
“It turned out that they had done it for personal revenge.”
The lady in front of me was the person who would destroy the world.
“Yes. Would you like to hear about it?”
The Lady of the Silver Lily grabbed a servant by his hair. “Aghh!” The servant opened his eye in agony. Could he not open his right eye? He looked at us with only his left.
“His Highness the Prince has honored us with a visit. Pay respect.”
“Milady, euk…… Miladyyy……”
“You and your colleagues ordered an assassination. The target was the Lady of the Golden Silk. Explain to the prince why you attempted to kill the lady.”
“If you tell the truth, your family will remain unharmed.”
“Th-the Lady of the Golden Silk… The daughter of a lowly baron on the outskirts doesn’t know her place and, and dares to chase the crown prince…… M-milady is His Highness’s rightful fiancée… That’s right, she’s his fiancée. The agreement was m-made a long time ago.”
She was dangerous.
“I was frustrated because… angry because of the baron’s daughter, so… Stop, I did something foolish.. I apologize. I apologize, milady. I apologize, Your Highness……”
“Did anyone order you to hire an assassin?”
“N-no one. There’s nobody who pulled the strings……”
But there was.
“Are you saying it was just the three of you?”
This was a false testimony.
“Yes… That’s right, milady… That’s right….”
It was to protect the prince.
“Are you certain?”
“There’s no mistake……”
“All right. I see.”
To protect the prince of this country, the Lady of the Silver Lily deliberately brought about a [false testimony].
She must have ensured the three of them would say the same thing, concocted an alibi, and perfectly manipulated all evidence.
These people would never be able to reveal the fact that they were [the prince’s agents].
The prince’s act of confining the Heretic Questioner and me in the warehouse was moved [behind the scenes].
So was his attempt to intervene and [pretend to be a hero] during the crisis.
The Lady of the Silver Lily was trying to bury all truth in the ground.
For none other than the crown prince.
For the man who would be affected the most if the truth were revealed.
The Lady of the Silver Lily lifted her head and looked at the prince.
“Please punish them.”
The prince flinched.
“What do you mean, punish……?”
“These are the men who tried to kill the Lady of the Golden Silk, whom Your Highness cares about. They are criminals who invaded the cradle of nobility. They deserve to be punished, and you can punish them. Your Highness is currently the foundation of this country.”
“Why do you hesitate?”
The Lady of the Silver Lady asked,
“Is there perhaps a different truth to this case than what I have discovered?”
“I tell you this not as a student of the academy but as someone who will be Your Highness’s vassal. Your Highness, the foundation of the country. If you find my investigation to be insufficient, please push the punishment onto another. As this matter is serious, I will send notice to the emperor’s special operatives.”
The emperor’s special operatives.
As soon as I heard that, a memory of the ‘butler’ was revived.
They were hunting dogs under the control of one person and did not answer to anyone else. Made up of the empire’s top swordsmen and magicians, they were given absolute rights over independent investigation.
The reason why this prince was able to take over as the crown prince was because they swallowed up the former crown prince, who had been corrupt.
“However, if you are satisfied with this investigation, there is no need for such troublesome work.”
The Lady of the Silver Lily bowed her back.
On the basement floor, there was a sword that seemed to have been prepared in advance.
“In this place, please punish—”
The Lady of the Silver Lily rolled up her sleeves like she was familiar with the movement.
Both her arms had numerous scars marking her skin.
“—the one who didn’t properly manage the servants of her family—”
Wounds from stabs, cuts, scratches, pulls, flogs, and torture took space on every part of her arms, which were originally as white as lilies. No, it wasn’t just both arms. Seeing the long dent in her shoulder that looked as if a worm had burrowed through, I knew that her whole body must be covered with scars.
The Lady of the Silver Lily, with her head down, whispered.
“—Please punish me.”
The silver lily.
The villainous young lady of this world.
“As always, I will bear the sin.”
The crown prince trembled