Act 64: People who Inherited Red Eyes and the Encounter
If we go into town, then we will probably go to the noble district, ――― was what Cordelia had thought, but Rufina wanted to see how the common people lived.
Unlike Rufina, who was dressed in travelling clothes, Cordelia had changed into a dress for her attendance at the castle, therefore she brought a cheap stole so that she wouldn’t stand out. However, she still felt uncomfortable since she still stood out in the commoner district.
“It’s a lively city, isn’t it?”
“Is it different from your kingdom after all?”
“Our capital city is for the nobles. There are commoners living there, but it feels different. Well, it isn’t bad over there either, but it will probably take some time before I can invite you there.”
“I’m glad you didn’t say it was impossible for me to visit.”
Rufina chuckled at Cordelia’s words.
“As I thought, you are interesting.”
When Rufina said that, Cordelia heard the sound of her stomach rumble.
Cordelia and Rufina kept looking at each other, but Rufina eventually started laughing.
“Sorry. It seems like I’m hungry.”
“It’s alright. It does smell nice around here.”
There was a sandwich stall nearby which served thick slices of grilled bacon between bagels.
“But you don’t eat while standing since you’re a Princess, right?”
“Eating while standing? That’s also fun. Luckily, we don’t have any guards with us right now.”
Cordelia was hesitant to stand and eat in a crowd, so she brought bagels from the stall and then they stopped by the nearby park at Rufina’s request. There weren’t many people around the park, but there were a lot of trees and shade to rest under.
Cordelia sat down on a bench then handed Rufina one of the bagels she had purchased. However, Rufina stared at the bagel with a somewhat puzzled expression on her face.
Cordelia said one phrase, “Pardon me,” before taking a bite of the bagel in her hand and held it out to Rufina.
“I’m sorry for bothering you. I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about, but I’m not used to eating something before it’s tested for poison.”
“I already ate a lot in a single bite.”
Rufina had said that she was used to being nearly killed, so Cordelia thought that perhaps she needed a poison tester, and it seemed like she was right.
Rufina also took a bite from the bagel that had been bitten into.
“… It’s tasty.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
“But there are many good-natured people in this kingdom. If Sylvester-dono had a brother then I would have loved to take him as a husband, but I would also like to have you as a husband had you been a man.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes at those words, but Rufina continued without care.
“Sylvester-dono will probably become a good king. I’ve known him for three years, but I know very well that he doesn’t have to worry about anything since he’s rounded up a lot of good people. The neighbouring kingdoms aren’t pleased that he’s too smart, but if it weren’t for him, then my plan probably wouldn’t have worked.”
“Honestly, we had invaded Crista in the past, but if we were to invade now, Crista has enough power to push back. Therefore, I had to accept a lot of conditions, but he was still able to convince others behind the scene to agree with the conditions. He must have been thinking about the people. He wants to reduce the burden on the northern border by crushing the flames of war to have a bright future.”
“What? Are you not happy?”
“It seems like something that’s happening far away…”
Cordelia had no way of knowing such a thing since she avoided him, and the things that happened to Sylvester were completely different from Cordelia’s daily life, so she didn’t know what to say. As a citizen of this kingdom, she knew that she should be happy about this. However, she felt complicated about asking this since it was likely that Sylvester was Gille.
“This is quite interesting. He said he couldn’t lose to a lady and wanted to be proud. I thought he was talking about you, but am I wrong?”
“… I have never had such conversations with His Highness.”
“I see. Well, it has nothing to do with me. But even if he wasn’t talking about you, I’m personally interested in you. Ghost is probably interested in you as well because of your red eyes.”
Cordelia gulped a little at those words.
“So, it wasn’t a mistake when you said 『red-eyed brethren』some time ago?”
Rufina narrowed her eyes at Cordelia’s question.
“When I see your red eyes, I think that it would have been great if I had a sister like you. The Pameradia’s are descendants of a nomad tribe, right? But have you heard about who they were before that?”
“Your ancestors were originally part of Dulaus’s royal family.”
This was the first time that Cordelia had heard this.
“Dulaus’s royal family… you say?”
“Well, it was so long ago that I don’t even consider you my relative. It all started when the man who should be considered as your founder disagreed with the royal family and left the kingdom.”
Cordelia had never heard this from Elvis, but judging from the look on Rufina’s face, she wasn’t joking either.
“The Dulaus royal family also originally excelled in plant magic. But they lost that power as a result of favouring direct attack magic that gave them an advantage in war. That’s the reason why the royals are revered as royalty. They couldn’t even cope with the food shortage. And, foolish kings continued to ascend the throne.”
The way Rufina said it made it seemed as if she was mocking the Dulaus royal family.
“Well, thanks to them, I look smart so isn’t it great? Doesn’t it seem like this stage was set for me?”
“… I see.”
“Well, that’s far from praise, isn’t it annoying? Having said that, it’s not nice to suddenly be told that kind of thing. But then again, Ghost is also similar.”
“He is also from the royal lineage. Unlike your family, he seems to be descended from a man who was executed for betrayal several generations ago. I haven’t told Sylvester-dono this yet.”
Cordelia stared at Rufina wondering if that was the reason why she wanted to go out with her without guards and Rufina nodded. She seemed to have understood Cordelia’s thoughts.
“I don’t know what he’s thinking, but he once told me that he was getting in my way because 『It’s seems interesting and you’re from the same red-eyed family as me』. If it’s because of my red eyes, then I thought he might be obsessed with you too.”
“Because of my red-eyes…?”
“Even though Earl Pameradia’s sons also have red eyes, I’ve heard that they’re very skilled in martial arts, so I don’t think Ghost would go near them. But, you’re different from them. Even if he appears before me, it seems like it would be harder to catch him than get in contact with my brother. It’ll be tough.”
Cordelia was a little troubled by Rufina’s testy look.
(Ghost told me that he knew about me when we first met. But I never asked him when he heard about me.)
But still, I’m not convinced that that’s why he approached me.
If people with red eyes have poor combat skills, then my sister Malvina is the same. But I haven’t heard anything about this from her. Maybe Rufina-sama thinks that I’m worth mocking, but what she said bothers me.
“We might have had the same ancestors in the past. But from what I’ve heard, a lot of time has passed since my family left Dulaus Kingdom. Our origins trace back to before the founding of Crista Kingdom, so I think it would be difficult to say that I’m from the same red-eyed family as Rufina-sama.”
“You’re right. But he has shown himself in front of you, has he not?”
She’s not wrong.
Cordelia has been involved with Ghost three times in the past.
Although Cordelia wasn’t convinced by the things Rufina had said, she couldn’t find a reason to deny this no matter how much she thought.
(It makes me uneasy that Ghost appeared in front of Rufina-sama… This supports Rufina-sama’s claim of him approaching people with 『red eyes』.
Ghost had said that he didn’t want to approach the Crista Kingdom’s castle because it’s heavily guarded. Nevertheless, he approached Rufina-sama, who is probably just as heavily guarded because she’s a part of the royal family. He approached her even though she always has her guard up to the point where she won’t eat something unless it’s tasted for poison first.
(He’s someone who watches things happen from a safe distance. It’s too inconsistent for him to approach Rufina-sama unless he has a reason to. But is that reason really because of her eye colour?)
Even though that question came to her mind, she couldn’t think of another reason.
“You don’t seem convinced. Well, it’s no surprise.”
“To be honest, the Ghost who I confronted and the Ghost who you spoke off seem completely different. But no matter the reason, the problem will go away when he is caught.”
“That’s a very promising thing to say. Then, I’ll be relying on you when the time comes. I’m not asking you to catch him directly. But if you do have the chance to catch him, then I hope you would put that as your top priority. Even ――― if you have to risk my safety.”
Does that mean the operation has already begun? When Cordelia was about to ask that, strong wind blew in the area along with an unpleasant feeling. Cordelia knew straight away that this wind wasn’t natural and had been conjured up with magic.
Cordelia stood up and stood so that she was protecting Rufina with her back. She remembered that Rufina had called herself strong, but still, she couldn’t let an important person from another kingdom face Ghost.
However, Rufina was also confident and running away didn’t seem like an option to her.
“The fool has appeared at last.”
“The way you say makes it seem like you went out of your way to pick a secluded spot to invite me here. Well, I’ll go along with it though.”
The person who had emerged from behind the trees after Rufina spoke was the person Cordelia had expected to see ――― Ghost.
Cordelia widened her eyes in surprise since Rufina sounded like she knew that Ghost would come here.
(Did Rufina-sama use herself as bait to lure out Ghost…?)
Why did she do something so sudden?
Cordelia couldn’t feel any guards hidden nearby. Rufina hadn’t asked for Sylvester’s help and did this on her own. She could feel the presence of civilians nearby, but she couldn’t get them involved with this. The unnatural wind that Ghost had summoned seemed to be stopping sound from leaking out.
Cordelia panicked while not letting this show on her face and Ghost let out a low laughter.
“It seems like it would be interesting to push Dulaus’s Princess into despair when her dearest wish had been fulfilled, so I’ve been looking for the chance to do so, but ――― I didn’t think that two red-eyed girls would be waiting for me. What a fun miscalculation.”
Rufina laughed at the amused Ghost.
“It’s a pleasant miscalculation for us too. Normally, you wouldn’t show yourself in vain like this. Were you lured by two red-eyed beauties?”
Rufina boosted her magic while spitting out words that seemed as if they were spoken lightly.
“Well, normally I wouldn’t think it’s interesting to appear myself, but I thought it would be fun since you went out of your way to invite me like this.”
“Then, I’ll give you something called a judgment. Feel free to receive it.”
Cordelia looked around while listening to the two talk.
There weren’t many people around just like when they had arrived here. Which meant that they wouldn’t get any civilians involved in this situation, but at the same time, she couldn’t ask for help.
Cordelia knew that she didn’t have the means to catch Ghost directly, but there was a lot of greenery in this park ――― so it was possible for her to at least stop him.
“Cordelia-sama, cover me. I’ll catch that.”
Even though Rufina had said that, Cordelia had no idea what kind of strategy Rufina would use. Rufina was used to it since she said she trained every day, but Cordelia didn’t even know what kind of magic Rufina could use. But the uncomfortable feeling remained within her.
(Ghost is quick at getting away, so he wouldn’t appear in front of an opponent who he would lose to. If he’s interacted with Rufina-sama before now, then there’s a good chance he knows about her abilities… In other words, he doesn’t think he will lose.)
If so, then I can understand just how important my support is. But I can’t understand why Rufina-sama forced herself to confront Ghost to this extent. Even if Rufina-sama is stronger, it’s difficult to back her up from my position.
Besides, another uncomfortable feeling was swirling around in Cordelia’s head.
(Ghost had given Ted false hope and encouraged Zakharov to follow his desires. If Shelley’s curse was also the work of Ghost, then he liked to trick people with flattery.)
Even if he was looking for a chance to see if he could crush Rufina-sama’s hopes, he’s not manipulating people like he normally does to enjoy his cheap play. I can’t help but feel that he’s acting differently from the past since he showed up to fight Rufina-sama.
(But I shouldn’t worry about that now.)
Cordelia tried to chase away her thoughts about Ghost while being nervous about Ghost’s and Rufina’s movement, and Ghost laughed.
“Well, that’s how it will turn out, right?”
Then, Ghost jumped straight at Rufina without hesitation.
Cordelia concentrated all her magic, sent it flying towards the surrounding plants and trees, and tried to create a wall in front of Rufina.
But the movement she reached her hand out, she felt a strong gaze from Ghost.
She realised that Ghost was heading her direction almost at the same time she heard his voice.
She felt a severe impact on her stomach and couldn’t even speak as air leaked out from her throat. However, she didn’t lose her consciousness, but the impact was so great that Cordelia collapsed to the ground.
Rufina shouted at the same time.
“You’re a Princess, so don’t raise your voice. Well, I’m sure you deliberately wanted yourself to be caught here, but I don’t have any obligation to go along with that.”
Cordelia withheld the pain, but her body wouldn’t move well. She knew that she had to do something about Ghost since he was standing next to her, but she couldn’t even take her hands off the ground.
However, Ghost’s words threw her into confusion.
(Rufina-sama wasn’t just luring him here, she wanted him to capture her? What’s the meaning of this…?)
More importantly, I have to tell Rufina-sama to run away as soon as possible. She thought, but the only thing that escaped from her mouth was her breath.
“It’s alright, Cordelia-san. I’ll let Rufina get out of here unharmed. In return, you’ll have to come with me for a bit. But, how disappointing. It seems like Cordelia-san has realised something.”
“Don’t look like that, Rufina. It’s your fault after all. Ah, stay away. I don’t want to kill Cordelia-san right now, but I might slip.”
“Why do you want her?! If you want to undo my efforts, then you should come after me!”
Rufina roared and Ghost laughed.
“I’ll come out if Rufina and Cordelia-san are together ――― that much is correct. Even if I want to crush your dreams, you don’t think that I would do this directly, do you? Did you think I would target you because you’re from the royal family? Or were you in such a rush that you overlooked a lot of things?”
Cordelia couldn’t see Ghost’s expression since she couldn’t look up. However, it was easy for her to guess that he was enjoying himself.
“I told you, didn’t I? 『It seems like it would be interesting to push Dulaus’s Princess into despair when her dearest wish had been fulfilled』. I don’t think you would give up if I got in your way, but what if something were to happen to『Cordelia-san, who is subjected to the Princess’s selfishness』? If the people of this kingdom think that something happened to Cordelia-san because you took her out, then they would be furious. And it would be even more interesting if they think that you let me kidnap her. Even if the people aren’t angry, Earl Pameradia won’t let this go. If things were to get more severe, then it could lead to war.”
Cordelia widened her eyes at those words.
“If you want Cordelia-san to return safely, then tell Sylvester to come to me alone. I’ll be waiting for him at the cabin up the creek in Argel Forest. I’ll wait for him until tomorrow, so do tell him to come alone.”
Cordelia’s vision went black immediately after she tried to say that Sylvester wasn’t involved in this.