Act 65: Person with Strong Feelings
Cordelia wasn’t sure if her head hurt or her stomach hurt, but at any rate, she felt sick.
She opened her eyes while feeling bad and saw a wooden floor, which woke her up at once. She didn’t know where she was but being in a dark room with her hands tied behind her back made her realise her situation.
“You’re awake. How are you feeling?”
Cordelia was relieved that her voice came out clearer than she had expected it to.
“It’s fine if you cry a little. How strong.”
“Would you let me go if I cry? If not, then there’s no reason to make you happy.”
“You mean you don’t want to expend your energy? You’re no fun.”
Ghost spoke to Cordelia in a friendly manner, but she didn’t feel as if he had let his guard down at all. Rather, she felt as if he was more alert.
(There are no plants in this room. He said this was Argel Forest, so I’m sure there are some plants outside… But I guess I have to stop Ghost before I invoke remote magic.)
The windows were closed and they were horizontally projected windows, so it was impossible for her to project her magic and aim for the plants outside.
Cordelia got up and leaned against the wall.
Her hands were probably tied with hemp rope. Her hands were prickled by the loose strings, and it was painfully tight, but she would able to cut through the rope thanks to the analytical magic that she had always had a hard time with in the past.
But this wasn’t the time to feel relief.
(Even Ghost would be able to detect it if I invoke my magic. So, I don’t have time to spare after I cut the rope. I have to find the right time…)
Ghost will put up his guard more if I fail. Cordelia understood the difference between Ghost’s and her own fighting ability.
Perhaps because she thought that and was obedient, Ghost’s mood improved.
“We still have a little time before tomorrow comes. We have time, so why don’t we talk for a bit? I think it would be a nice change of pace, and I want to see your reaction. Ah, I knocked out Rufina for a bit after that, but I don’t think she would be knocked out for very long, so I’m sure your situation has been safely conveyed to the royal castle.”
Cordelia kept her face down, trying to keep her expression as unnoticeable as possible. She didn’t want to listen to Ghost talk, but she didn’t have any reason to refuse since she thought it might create a chance for her to escape. Ghost didn’t seem to particularly care that she hadn’t replied and began speaking again.
“Oh yes. Are you interested in the red-eyed Princess’s, Rufina’s, story?”
“Rufina is a foul-mouthed girl. She always talks big and isn’t actually aiming for the throne. She’s just a soft-hearted Princess.”
Cordelia nearly reacted involuntarily, but she stopped herself from doing so. Ghost watched Cordelia for a reaction. He might stop talking if he was asking her to tell him to continue.
Ghost continued speaking to the silent Cordelia.
“Rufina wanted me to kidnap her. By getting herself kidnapped, she could let Crista know that the Dulaus royal family wasn’t cooperating with the Dark Guild, and so I wouldn’t be able to interfere with the treaty no matter what I do. I’m sure she arranged the treaty so that it could be completed with her brother even if she were to die. She doesn’t get along with her brother, but it’s not like they’re on bad terms. This was all part of her plan.”
Cordelia had only known Rufina for a short amount of time, so she couldn’t determine whether Ghost’s words were true or not. However, she knew that Ghost gained nothing from lying to her. Ghost was looking forward to Rufina’s despair, so she felt that there was a certain amount of truth behind his words.
“Having said that, I’m not really interested in Rufina either. Cordelia-san, don’t you have any questions for me? I’ll answer them since you might not get this chance again.”
Ghost said and Cordelia slowly opened her mouth.
“Is it true that you’re after us because of our red eyes?”
“Ah, Rufina told you that, didn’t she? Honestly, I don’t remember saying that ――― but I do think that it’s amusing to see people, who have the same eyes as my ancestor, suffer.”
Ghost unexpectedly admitted it readily then continued happily.
“Well, I’m in this situation I’m in now because the royal family treated my ancestor from a few generations ago as a traitor. Thanks to that, I almost died many times before I gained any kind of strength and lived a life where I didn’t know whether tomorrow would come or not. And yet, Rufina says naïve things like she won’t eat a meal because one of her poison testers had died.”
Ghost confessed without flinching as if he was talking about someone else, and his mood seemed to get better and better.
“As for the Pameradia House, it was really a coincidence. But I got a little angry when I thought that it would have been great if my ancestor had acted like yours had. It was fun to watch you suffer, even though it wasn’t as fun as seeing Rufina struggle. It was also fun to see the bad guys being defeated by you. I was killing three birds with one stone.”
Ghost stopped there and stood up. Then he walked up to Cordelia and bent down to meet her eye level.
“You and Rufina have done a lot of things, but in the end, you two were able to do the things you did because you were born into those Houses. I enjoyed seeing you two suffer and look at me with hatred. That’s the greatest distraction. But the most interesting thing lately wasn’t you or Rufina, it was Shelley.”
Cordelia’s surprise put Ghost in a good mood and the corners of his lips bent upwards.
“I couldn’t stomach it. It’s too convenient to be able to rise up in society just because she sleeps and dreams, right? That’s why I decided to show her how tough the world can be.”
“You…! That’s why you tricked her?!”
“You make me look bad by saying that. She was seriously considering using any means possible to expose a person’s true nature, so I just taught her a fun spell. It’s not a lie that a lot of people tell the truth when they’re about to die, and Shelley herself wasn’t going to die from it. Well, wasn’t it a good lesson for her?”
Cordelia felt that she had to deal with him calmly when she heard his somewhat happy words, but at the same time, she was seething with anger.
She didn’t know his reasoning was the same when he tricked the in-game 『Cordelia』 and approached Shelley. Cordelia also didn’t think that the in-game 『Cordelia』or Shelley did the right thing.
“You? Teaching people something? Stop joking around! You were only having fun fostering her rampage and watching her crumble!”
“Why are you angry, Cordelia-san? You don’t like her either, do you? You didn’t die, and the bad lady got her punishment. I think you should be grateful for this result.”
“Do you not realise it? You’re just like Shelley. If you don’t care about what happens to the people you can’t stand, then you’re both the same. I can still sympathise with her because she had a motive.”
“… You must be confident that help will come since you dare to defy me in this situation. Do you really think that Sylvester would come alone, Captive Princess?”
He must have thought she was calling him a sore loser because he looked at her weirdly.
Cordelia smiled widely at Ghost.
“There’s no way he’s coming.”
Cordelia felt a little satisfied when she saw his surprise, but at the same time, she was calm again.
“I would have to beat His Highness up if he puts himself at risk and responds to the demands of the kidnapper. The Pameradia House is also a lot more composed than you think. They certainly won’t act the way you want them to even if something were to happen to me. You shouldn’t underestimate them too much.”
“Eeh. You know that and yet you act calm. Are you an idiot?”
“I want to be smarter than you.”
Cordelia regained her composure and Ghost widened his eyes then chuckled.
“I should stop waiting for the next day to come after all. There’s no point in waiting if Sylvester doesn’t show up. And I might be able to see something interesting if he were to come and you weren’t fine.”
“Oh my, I thought you don’t lie to people.”
“It’s fine once in a while, right? I might just accidentally kill you if you keep talking.”
Despite his words, Ghost didn’t seem like he would do anything to Cordelia straight away. It seemed like he was holding back from almost being provoked. But it wasn’t like Ghost to stop a conversation when he was in an overwhelming favourable position.
(But then I have a chance to win. Ghost is raging with anger right now; his magic isn’t stable, and he lacks composure.)
If I get the right timing, then my chances of escaping from here would increase. This was the forest, as long as she ran through the door, she would be in an advantageous place to invoke her magic.
(I don’t believe His Highness will come, and he shouldn’t. But ――― I believe that someone will come.)
Then the biggest counterattack that she could do right now was get herself away from being a hostage before then.
Ghost had said that it was almost the next day. So, if help was coming, then they will be here soon.
I know that it won’t turn out the way he wants even if I don’t make it out of here alive. But I also don’t expect to be abandoned.
And ――― there are people who will be sad if I don’t make it back. Sylvester-sama will also regret not coming to my rescue.
Even if I can get out of this hostage situation, it’s probably impossible for me to escape through the forest because of the difference in our strength. But, if I can just get out of this place, then there’s hope.
When Cordelia concentrated to ensure she had the chance to escape, the old hinges made a squeaking sound, and the door at the entrance opened slowly.
The door hadn’t been opened by the wind, but there was no one there.
Ghost turned his back to Cordelia having lost his enthusiasm. Still, that didn’t mean he had let his guard down, so she couldn’t act carelessly, but she understood the situation.
(This is Gille-sama’s magic…?)
Cordelia knew that Gille used magic that hid his presence. She also couldn’t sense him, but the bracelet she had borrowed responded warmly as if to prove that he was there.
(Why did he really come alone…?!)
But that thought immediately disappeared from her mind. The current situation didn’t change even if she knew the reason.
(Then… Then I definitely won’t miss the chance that he’s created for me!)
Cordelia immediately activated her magic and cut the rope that bound her hands. At the same time, the door opened violently.
Ghost hesitated for a moment because the things that were occurring in front and behind him were beyond his expectations. Seeing this, Cordelia couldn’t help but smile at the fact that the surprise attack had worked.
But Ghost set his eyes on Cordelia, who was less powerful than him, rather than explore the unexplained events. Perhaps because of his accumulated anger, Ghost came at Cordelia with the intent to hurt her.
Cordelia was still frozen as she channelled her magic into her numb arm. She had learnt magic for self-defence even though it wasn’t as good as her plant magic. She may need to be prepared to break a bone, but she had to believe that she could withstand a frontal attack. If she could, then there should be an opening behind Ghost.
(I’ll leave it to you then, Gille-sama!)
But then in the next moment, a dull sound echoed through the room and Ghost was brought down to one knee. Still, Ghost jumped back to the side and banged on the window to clear a path outside.
However, the window didn’t open.
Ghost widened his eyes and clicked his tone and a look of impatience showed on his face for the first time ever.
(Is Gille-sama also the reason why the window won’t open…?)
Ghost looked as if he couldn’t acknowledge that he was struggling.
But a breeze swept through the room at the same time as when Ghost chuckled. That wind destroyed the lamps and extinguished the lights in the room. Cordelia’s vision turned black.
Ghost would close the distance between him and Cordelia in a mere two seconds. Cordelia panicked since she had to face an agitated and invisible opponent, but the room turned completely silent after she heard a moan.
Cordelia was confused but she didn’t feel anything unpleasant in the room. Did that moan come from Ghost?
When she thought that, she was enveloped by a warm but firm grip.
She knew this feeling.
“I made it this time.”
Followed by the voice that reached her ears, she heard the sound of a mask rolling onto the floor with a clank. She couldn’t see around her yet, but she realised that he had taken off his mask when she felt the warmth against her cheek.
“Why are you here?”
“Because I heard what happened from Rufina-dono. I couldn’t leave without telling anyone, so I told Vernoux and Clive. They were furious.”
“Of course, they would be.”
“But… I had to come when I thought that something might happen to you because I sent someone else.”
“But it’s too dangerous.”
“I know. But I couldn’t sit still when I thought that I was the cause for your involvement.”
“Gosh… Rufina-dono said that you would be a good king…”
Cordelia didn’t even have time to worry about the fact that she sounded more hoarse than angry.
She was just relieved.
“Wait a minute. I can’t just leave him like that even though he’s knocked out, but I need to light the room first.”
Sylvester moved away from Cordelia and pulled out a round sphere from his pocket. He placed it on the floor, then the sphere emitted light and lit up the room.
Cordelia recalled the planetarium that Gille had made for her in the past. But what was illuminated in this room wasn’t stars, but an unconscious Ghost.
Sylvester placed handcuffs on the unconscious Ghost.
“I’ve sealed his magic and I’ll tie his feet together as well. I don’t think he’ll run away before backup arrives. Vernoux, who is acting as『Sylvester』, will dispatch the guards an hour after I’ve left.”
“Vernoux-sama is acting as you?”
“The Flantheim House is good at transformation magic as evidence from the fact that he can change me into 『Gille』. Vernoux can probably turn into anyone he wants.”
“Vernoux told me this when I left the castle. 『If you don’t return, then 『Vernoux』will die and Your Highness won’t, but you won’t ask me to take your place forever, right?』”
“I have to apologise to Vernoux-sama when we get back.”
Vernoux spoke frivolously like always, but she could tell that he was worried. Above all, she couldn’t thank him enough when she found out that he was risking his life as well.
“More importantly, are you injured Dilly?”
She wasn’t injured. But it felt uncomfortable for him to call her Dilly even though she knew in her mind that 『Gille』was 『Sylvester』.
Sylvester sensed her discomfort and smiled wryly.
“I’ll take you home after I hand Ghost to the guards. But… there is a place that I really want to take you to. The road is a little rough, but it’s not out of the way, in fact, it might be a bypass, so you’ll get home faster.”
“A place you want to take me…?”
“――― Star Falling Hill. Do you remember?”
Sylvester smiled shyly and Cordelia saw the smile of the 12 year-old Gille overlap with his.