Why give this to me?
“That’s a great expression.”
Ergnard laughed happily. But I couldn’t laugh.
“Isn’t it fine? You’re now indispensable to the fight with Rindarl. You should be allowed to read everything.”
“… I don’t think that’s the case.”
I held my aching head while glaring at Ergnard, but he wasn’t bothered at all. Ergnard, who is always in the frontline of battles, wouldn’t respond to a gaze from a young girl like me.
“Well, it’s like that. The sooner you get the information, the more advantages my troops get. Isn’t that right, Earl Kaldia? You who hold distinguished military service and is admired as the cruel Earl.”
I was at a loss for words again. Ergnard looked at the ruby medal on my left shoulder. I had certainly received this dark scarlet jewel, which was like a blood crystal and resembled my eyes, from His Majesty the King for what I did in battle… I try not to think about it much, but Ergnard, who had purposely pointed this out, is a terrible person. I held my head more and hung it down.
“I was just lucky that time.”
“Oh. Well, you were certainly lucky. On top of disrupting a force equipped with the latest pistols, you also captured the Earl and Knight Division of the enemy kingdom. That’s an achievement that hasn’t been matched in 200 years, you know?”
――― I actually hadn’t wanted distinguished military services. I was desperate for the soldiers I led, and for the sake of surviving. Because of that, I became strangely excited; well, it might have also been a mixture of personal hatred, and anger… at any rate, I never imagined that I would receive a medal, a name and even an Earl title.
But, why did it turn out like this?
“You probably think you’ve been overestimated. Well, that’s true. Your self-assessment isn’t wrong. But you forget the important point.”
“You’re still a child. You’re an inexperienced child. It’s not right to see yourself in the same line as mature adults.”
“Arggh,” a groan escaped from my mouth. Ergnard burst into laughter as if he couldn’t hold it back and finally held his stomach.
Don’t laugh. I was desperate. I resented that quietly in my mind and rubbed the wrinkle that had appeared between my brows.
Those who have an important task, like Ergnard, but have leeway are utterly jealous of me. I’ve only hit the limit, but I received an Earl rank. No matter how you look at it, it’s too much for me.
Give me a break. I’m not that great. How easy would it be if I could say that? I don’t have exceptional abilities, nor was I born blessed. I was a Viscount’s daughter and would have remained that way had I not done anything.
But if I did have something special, then…
The reason why my schedule went amiss even though it was an awful and stupid reason, then… it’s because, from some mistake, the memories of a woman from a different world were stuck in my memories.
It’s depressing. No, honestly, it’s tiresome.
Since standing at the main gate of the academy, every annoying memory that I tried to forget flickered through my mind. Every time I’m aware of these memories which I call ‘previous memories’, my graceless life, which I have been desperately clinging to with no leeway, is dragged out longer. It’s really annoying.
“And, remember your success in your first silent campaign. The plan worked remarkably well. In spite of being on the front line.”
“… I almost died,” I retorted as I remembered the beginning of my involvement with Ergnard. I involuntarily grasped my left wrist. A thin chain made a rubbing sound underneath the cloth. I bit on my molars at the excruciating memory.
Even though I’ve only been alive for 10-odd years, thinking back, nothing good happened.
… Even though there was an age limit, why wasn’t this more like an otome game where the world is sparkling, simple and happy? Sure, I’m not the main character of the game. Furthermore, I was a rival character, but this heartless world didn’t have many otome game elements. No matter how you compare my life to a game it would be a town simulation or war simulation.
I couldn’t help but complain about this world, even though I knew how painfully real it was.
Honestly, why did it turn out like this? ――― Was it because of my actions, after all?
With a tepid feeling, I remembered the first biggest screw up that I caused.
… I didn’t hesitate when that poisonous leaf sank into the soup in the pot.
I don’t know what kind of expression I was making as I gazed at it. When I looked at the finely ground poison, while being extremely careful not to touch it, my head was filled with blackness rather than white. With leather gloves that were too large for my hand, I sneered at how silly it looked. The poisonous leaf nearly killed my younger sister in the distant past and was etched in my mind. It was ironic that I now used that memory to poison and massacre my new family.
Fortunately, tonight’s dinner was filled with a large number of seafood delicacies that my vile mother had probably obtained from some unscrupulous merchant. Ironically, this was a banquet to celebrate my birthday.
The poisonous leaf was rarely seen in this kingdom and became a smokescreen. People must have thought that they had food poisoning, or they must have suspected that the merchant, who had sold the ingredients, had assassinated the family. In either case, the suspension would definitely not fall on me.
My mother was interested in nothing but money and picked fights everywhere, and my father loved seeing blood and pain contorted on people’s faces more than anything, so this was their punishment. The whole branch of the family was wiped out. No one had the right to inherit anything other than me.
Considering my age, I could wipe out the Kaldia House, but that was still fine. I didn’t want to become the feudal lord. Depending on the situation, I even thought it was fine to die as a reward for killing my family. Questioned for the sins of the father or exposed for murdering one’s family. At that time, my heart was dying, and I wasn’t able to think about my life or death.
Viscount Kaldia’s family, known for their viciousness, all died leaving behind their youngest daughter, Eliza, who had just turned two on that day. A merchant infamous for being unscrupulous was executed for the crime of poisoning the Viscount’s entire family.
――― And that is the story of how I, Eliza Kaldia, succeeded the position of Junior Viscount.
I cried when my first action was to assassinate my family, I couldn’t help but cry, because my heart already couldn’t handle anything anymore.
I could do nothing but endure my fear towards the crazy family who toyed with human life, to the resentment of the citizens who died, and to the future ――― exactly like the game ――― to the future where my whole family is given the death penalty.
The course of the villainess Eliza Kaldia was thus cut off, and all that remained was me, who committed the greater crime of killing one’s parents.
“Oh, look… that’s Earl Kaldia. Black hair, blood-red eyes, no doubt.”
“Oh, is that the inhuman Earl who enjoys blood…?”
In the hall filled with chatting students, I could hear some talking about me. I, who hold peerage and a fief, among these noble sons and daughters, held the second-highest rank in this school, after the Crown Prince.
I used the servant, who was accompanying me, and asked for a drink, but I didn’t cheer up even after gulping it down. It’s not very interesting. It was an evening party for first-year students, so I thought I should attend, but they surrounded me at a distance just because I was elevated to a higher position. On top of that, their eyes pierced me, and they said whatever they liked. It really wasn’t interesting at all.
Should I leave soon? It was much better to read the Tactics Book I’ve just received from Ergnard. I sulked, and someone tapped my shoulder.
“Hey, Kaldia… no, Earl Einsbark. Congratulations on your peerage promotion.”
When I turned around, I saw an astoundingly handsome boy with blonde hair and blue eyes. I managed to suppress my surprise.
“Your Highness, the Crown Prince…”
The person, who was smiling softly at me, was the Crown Prince of this kingdom, Prince Alfred. As a simple introduction; Handsome Prince.
He held his hand out to me with a dazzling smile. I took his hand, and after a moment of hesitation, I kissed the back of his hand. It was a formal greeting since this was the first time we had met, but judging by his expression, he may have wanted me to shake his hand instead.
I’ve seen him a few times before when I visited the castle, but I’ve never actually seen him up close. Therefore, it was not until I saw him give an opening speech as the first-year representative on the stage that I remembered that he was one of the capture targets who appeared in the otome game. When I look at his face from up close, hazy memories of him in the otome game are coming back to me, like they had at the front gate of the academy.
I recalled that the Crown Prince had a close relationship with the other capture targets, and when I looked at the people next to him, as I expected, I felt déjà vu. It’s a strange feeling. The names of the characters were vague, but their appearance stubbornly remained.
I compared my vague memories with reality, and next to him were the sons of Archdukes, and the grandson of the Royal Army’s commanding general; they were definitely talented people who will bear the next generation. They all will support the Crown Prince in the future… I wouldn’t be surprised if this school gets attacked by enemies. Aren’t there too many VIPs gathered here as first-years this year?
The Crown Prince had probably left his high ranking followers and took the trouble of coming to greet me due to status within the school. There were noble children here from higher ranking families than me, but according to the laws of this kingdom, they were still treated as nobles without titles. Some may have already inherited peerage from their House, but it seems like none of them has inherited a title higher than Earl.
“I’m happy to be in the same class as you. I’ll be in your care from now on.”
Just like the schools in my previous life, this academy separated students by their grades. It’s hard to say that this system fell in line with the cultural level of this kingdom, but I think these mismatched conditions is indeed an otome game component used for entertainment. Whether it was because I started practical study early to manage my fief, or because it was a gift from having memories of my previous life, I am in class 1, that is to say, the best class in this academy.
It’s unwelcomed. Most of the capture targets are there. From now on, I can easily expect that I will be bothered by each annoying memory.
“… It is a good fortune to be in the presence of Your Highness. I am most honoured by your words.”
I hid my difficult to describe disgust and politely bowed as a retainer. The Crown Prince looked troubled as he put a smile on his face.
“Take it easy. You are not my subject yet, but His Majesty’s. Besides, this is the academy. I’d like to be your friend; is that not possible?”
… Oh, that’s why he seemed unhappy when I kissed the back of his hand. If possible, I would like him to refrain. Not because he’s a character in the otome game. I won’t make friends for such a stupid reason.