Chapter 37

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The Occupation of Ophelis Hall (7)

 

“Ugh-Heeeek! Heeeeeeek!”

The injured Taylee was holding Willain down on the floor.
By attacking with Clevius, he succeeded in cutting through the magic circles and was finally able to get close to Willain.

However, Ophelis Hall was already a complete mess.
Precious, expensive pieces of furniture and art had fallen on the floor.
The outer wall was covered in holes that looked like stars, and no longer intact.

Taylee knocked Willain unconscious and tied him up, letting out a sigh as he wiped the rain from his face.

The outer wall on the fourth floor hallway was completely destroyed.
Because of that, they were exposed to the pouring rain.
The party was soaking wet as they kept wiping their faces.

“Phew.
Isn’t it almost over, then? We just have to wait for the faculty to come.”

“No, Taylee.
Something’s definitely not right.”

Hearing Elvira’s words, Taylee appeared puzzled.

“What? What are you talking about?”

“You felt that something was wrong as well, Taylee.
Not just anyone can access Ophelis Hall’s defensive magic circle.
You would have to be at least the general manager of the building or the head maid to be able to use these magic circles to your heart's content, without facing any disruption.”

“Then that means…?”

“I haven't finished yet.
There’s a black curtain that made this happen.”

However, after coming all the way to the end of the hallway on the fourth floor of Ophelis Hall, there wasn’t a single person left that could be their enemy.

That meant that all that was left was the stairs to the fifth floor.

“The real culprit must be on the fifth floor.
If we don’t catch them before they escape, then what would have been the point to all of our suffering? After coming this far, I’m going to finish the job and get a reward from the school.”

Elvira rolled up her sleeves as she walked towards the staircase.
Clevius was shouting, asking ‘What’s the matter now?’ while Ayla was at a complete loss on what to do.

“Elvira, if it’s as you said… then that black curtain must be…”

“That’s right.
It must be Elris, the head maid that takes care of Ophelis Hall.
What are you standing around for? It’s obvious she’s on the fifth floor, so let's hurry up and catch her quickly to get rid of all these defensive magic circles.”

Taylee sighed as he was ordered around by Elvira.
After going through everything that they had and coming all the way here, it wasn’t like he could ignore it.

There certainly seemed to be a black curtain behind the entire occupation of Ophelis Hall incident.
Thinking about it, it was clear that Elris—the head maid—was the culprit.

 

* * *

 

There was no such thing as kindness without reason or faith without a basis in the world.

 

It was such a natural understanding for Lortel that she had never once doubted it.

 

She lived in the world of business, where you would get stabbed in the back the moment you let your guard down.

Lortel was someone who had never experienced family, siblings, close friendship, or camaraderie.
For her, a relationship built on trust was always a rationally designed structure based on thorough evidence.

Therefore, a relationship where one trusts each other unconditionally was like a flower that bloomed on a cliff.

It existed, but it couldn’t be reached… A treasure that existed only in one's imagination.

She was not obsessed with it, because she couldn’t reach it.
Obsession was a feeling that formed from nearly being short of reaching it.

The only realistic option for her was to increase the number of people that were just like her.

People who would break their values and sell their beliefs for money.
Those who provide evidence to the fact that there was no unconditional trust or favor.
That was what was important to her.

While her perception might have been wrong and twisted, it wasn’t a particularly bad thing.

But once in a while, even something as sturdy as steel would shake.

Even though his life was teetering on the edge of a cliff, there was a man who returned the three golden coins that she had placed in his hand.

Even though he agreed to Lortel’s plan for twenty gold goins, his expression showed that he had little interest in money in the first place.

That man’s code of conduct was far from the vocabulary of market value, payability, economics, rationality, etc.

In fact, there were a lot of people like that.
They were human beings who acted emotionally, risking their lives for loyalty and love.
Rather than being cool-headed, they were foolish people. 

But Ed Rothstaylor didn’t seem to be like that.
He was not a man who got swayed by his emotions like Ziggs, nor was he as nice as Yennekar.
That wasn’t to say that he wasn’t swayed by money, so seeing such a person made her heart fill with the desire to bring him in as one of her own.

The smell of another person just like her that had been constantly tickling her nose, filling Lortel with certainty.
It was the conviction that he would be the same as her.

“No.”

“You should be responsible for your own choices, Lortel.”

But just like that, she was dumped.

What was surprising was that, instead of feeling frustration or anger, she felt a sense of relief.

As she had often said before, there were too many sources of light in Silvenia Academy.
It was completely different from the world of business that she lived in.

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When you walk through a garden full of the smell of flowers, you often risk mistaking the smell of those fragrant flowers as coming from your own self.
No matter how hard she tried to remind herself that she was just a sewer rat walking through the sewers, her heart was broken.

Looking at people like Taylee and Ayla, Ziggs and Elka, the feelings that she had rejected before were once again rising up inside of her. 

Jealousy.

Obsession.

She wondered if the day would ever come that she would be able to build a trusting relationship, free from bias and personal interest.
In fact, the cliff where that flower had bloomed wasn’t all that high or steep.

Let’s not dream about such things.
I am a villain who will stay in a world run by business, backstabbing other people until the day I die. That was a promise that she swore by.

Looking at Ed and Yennekar, the desire that had been buried deep inside her was finally completely awakened.

 

“Don’t move.
Soon, Mr.
Elte will arrive at Ophelis Hall.”

The result was a rapier pointed at her neck.

 

Elris, the head maid of Ophelis Hall, was a senior worker who had spent most of her life at Silvenia.
However, her health was deteriorated by heavy work and a chronic illness.
It tortured her endlessly.
She had asked the school to adjust the amount of work, but… There were only a few people who had the experience to take on the work for her.

The management of Ophelis Hall, which was full of distinguished guests, must always be steady and safe.
Elris' life has been a constant sacrifice for the goal of making sure that system was stable.

On the day they had made the backdoor deal, approaching Elris and watching her tell her backstory… Lortel had also ended up revealing her own story.

That was a mistake that she would have never made in the world of business.
She had hastily come to the conclusion that they could embrace and understand each other’s pain.
When she visited Ed’s camp, accompanied by Elris, they were even able to share their feelings together.

“… I didn’t expect you to react in such a way.
I thought you were a bit more cold hearted… Well, that’s not something I can really say.”

What expression did Lortel show? Lortel herself didn’t know, so she didn’t try to understand.

“Miss Lortel, you said that you were going to get revenge against the Golden King Elte.
However, I apologize.
From my point of view, you two aren’t that different.
There’s no human being in this world without their own personal stories and reasons.”

She closed her eyes and added on.

“And I am the same.”

 

Bang!

 

At that moment, the door to the fifth floor swung open.

 

“I found you, Head Maid Elris!”

“She’s holding a hostage! Be careful, Taylee!”

 

Taking advantage of Elris’ astonishment as she looked towards the entrance, Lortel quickly rolled out of her range.

 

“Lortel! Are you okay?!”

Elvira cried out, checking on Lortel.

‘I’m okay.’ 

‘Look over there.’ 

‘That’s the person behind this entire incident.’ 

‘We need to take her down quickly.’

It would have been the best choice to quickly put all the blame on Elris and run away… But Lortel couldn’t open her mouth.

“L-Lortel! What’s wrong with your expression?”

Just what was the expression on her face? Lortel looked back and forth between Elris, who stood still without an unchanging expression, and her classmates, who were saying things she couldn’t understand.

Then, after holding her breath for a while, Lortel ran down to the first floor.

 

The Golden King Elte was coming.

 

Elte’s dismissal plan was in its final stages.
If she could just make up some type of excuse, then it would nearly be complete.

But if Lortel, the center of the plan, was captured… it would all be ruined.

Lortel’s volition might have been firm, but she was still a girl whose body was extremely fragile.
If she was tortured, even just a little, she would confess everything.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

The good news was that Elte had gone directly to Silvenia.

He was not sure of which of his followers had decided to side with Lortel, so he came to deal with the matter himself.

If she was able to reach out to anyone back at Elte’s headquarter right then, it would be fine.
Lortel knew quite a few commercial executives that were at the head office.

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The plan was to manipulate the books, steal property, maximize damage, and then hand over the entire responsibility to Elte… It was already quite a concrete plan.
However, the scale was too big, and if Elte himself was at the headquarters then he would definitely find out.

Elte intended to defeat Lortel without fail with that trip.
The moment he left his seat, he committed to seeing it through to the very end.
The dice had been rolled.

Lortel needed to head back down to her room on the first floor and send the homing pigeon that she was hiding in secret, then find somewhere she could hide until it was over.

Lortel clenched her teeth as she ran down the stairs frantically.

A longing that that was at your fingertips, just out of reach, would drive anyone crazy.
If it had never touched her fingertips in the first place, she would never have been that obsessed.

She couldn’t help it.
No matter how cold-blooded she pretended to be, a lack of affection was a deadly poison that would slowly eat away at anyone.

It was only then that she realized that there was a difference in the latent period, and that was just a moment of collapse.

It was all because of the romanticism at Silvenia Academy.
If she had never left her cold-blooded world, that latent period would have lasted much longer.

She’d had enough of being betrayed and stabbed in the back.
Only now, after going to the Academy, did her heart break and her actions lose consistency.

Nevertheless, Lortel had no choice but to continue running away.

Either way, she had to run.
If Elte arrived at the main lobby on the first floor before she did, the way back to her room would be completely blocked off.

 

* * *

Reaper Scans

Translator – Plumper

Proofreader – Harley

* * *

Slam!!

 

Yennekar’s magic struck the wall as the sound of its collapse rang out.

“…….?”

Looking inside the room, she saw Ziggs.
He was continuing to work out by himself, despite the urgent situation.

As the wall suddenly collapsed, he looked towards me with a puzzled face.

“W-What is going on, Ed? This is…”

“Why are you still in your room when the situation outside is like this…? Didn’t you hear all the noise?”

“Well… I’m not going to act rashly.
Even if the building collapses, it’s not like I would die anyways.”

Since Ziggs was born naturally strong, he didn’t really recognize the situation as a crisis.
He thought that the faculty would figure it all out and take care of it themselves, so he could keep on doing what he needed to do.

In fact, some of the other students also hadn’t left their rooms.
Even if the building did collapse, as long as you had the specs to protect yourself there wasn’t a need to stay out in the rain.

“But Ed, I didn’t expect you to completely break down the wall of my room like that.
Won’t it be too cold when I sleep now?”

“You’re only saying that because you haven’t seen the situation outside.
Anyway, this entire building is going to need to be renovated.”

“The situation is that bad?”

Ziggs stood up from doing his push ups and shook out his arms.

Who in the world would think that Ziggs was a magician…?

“Ah.
Yennekar is also here.
This is my first time greeting you properly.
During the Glasskan incident… we didn’t really have a good relationship, though.”

“Yeah… that’s….
I’m sorry about that.”

Yennekar looked down at the floor, a little hesitant.
To Yennekar, that incident was the lowest moment in her life.
However, Ziggs was not a good enough person to pretend like it never happened.

What happened already happened.

“You don’t have to be so down, Yennekar.
The disciplinary action is already over, you know.”

“Yeah… that’s right.
Thanks Ed.”

It wasn’t until he heard us exchange such words that he let out a sigh, realizing that he might have brought up something useless. 

“I’m glad that you’ve been doing well since then.
You two seem to be on good terms.”

“Hm?”

“I also have enough sense to recognize these things.
Ed, aren't you the type that prefers keeping your distance from the 1st years? Well, there are many of my classmates that ignore others if they look even a bit weak… as an upperclassman, it would only make sense for you to do it, too.”

Ziggs stretched his body out as he sat back down on the bed, relaxing his legs.

“But seeing you act so comfortable with Yennekar, it’s refreshing to see that new side of yours.
Are you two dating?”

“No! No! No! It’s not like that!”

At that moment, Yennekar started to tremble, shaking her arms as she glanced at my face.
Perhaps it was because she thought that I denied it too strongly…

“E-Ed, does it make you feel bad?”

“No, I'm fine.
It was just a rude question from Ziggs.”

“Oh, is that so? I’m sorry about that.”

After a polite apology from Ziggs, his expression slowly became more serious as he sat on his bed.

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“So, there must be a reason why you broke down my wall and came to see me.”

“Do me a favor.
I promise I’ll pay you back later.”

“In the first place, aren’t I the one who’s in debt?”

Ziggs responded while letting out a smirk.
He was talking about a debt that he has yet to pay off. 

I decided to respond by bringing up how he had helped me, whenever he had time, with building my cabin and other jobs that required physical labor.

“That… I just wanted to help you.
That’s all.
That’s why I did it.”

After that response, I put on my overcoat.

“Looking at this atmosphere, this doesn't seem like it’s going to be an easy job.”

 

* * *

 

According to the original timeline, Elris should have cooperated with Lortel until the end of the Occupation of Ophelis Hall event.

There was no immediate way for me to figure out why she was involved with Elte.

However, that didn’t mean that there was no answer at all.

The battle for the Sage’s Seal, which was meant to happen after the occupation of Ophelis Hall.

The school and Elte Store played a game of tug-of-war over the research records related to Celestial Magic, left by the great sage Silvenia.
With that event, Lortel’s plan to overthrow Elte would blossom.

During Elte’s long stay at Silvenia, the forces aiming to overthrow him would begin gathering at the headquarters of the Elte Store.

There’s no better timing than now.

Elte tried, but failed, to monopolize the sale of grain from large farms in the northwest region of the Empire.
He had also signed an exclusive distribution agreement meant to monopolize cotton with the Collet Store—from the Kingdom of Theron across the sea—but failed again due to a steep drop in prices.

No matter how well-informed and callous a merchant might be, it was only natural that they would surely experience failure and have moments where they lose money over the years.

If they were unlucky, such incidents could happen three or four times in a row.
Though.
from the position of a business, this would surely have a negative impact.
That would jeopardize even Elte’s position as the head of the store.
Especially since he was one to advocate for meritocracy.

How long had she been making plans? I didn’t know much about the details.

However, at the time of the occupation Lortel’s plan to dismiss Elte should have been nearly complete.
As long as she made some type of excuse, everything would be fine.
But at that moment Lortel, who was the focal point of the plan, had her feet cut out from under her.

Lortel was someone who always handled everything with confidence and rationality.
At what point did she make a mistake?

 

First Floor Main Hall.

 

Wham!

 

A group of mercenaries, numbered at about 15 or so, had been hired from the commercial city of Oldek.
In the middle of the group was Elte, wearing his luxurious clothes.

The size of the group that Elte had brought in was too small for someone of his status.
From that alone, I was convinced that Elte didn’t want to make this situation a big deal.

 “Are you students? Hurry up and evacuate.”

I was the only one in the way while blocking Taylee, but this time there were two more with me able to greet him.
The 2nd year star student, Yennekar Palerover, and the 1st year runner up, Ziggs Eiffelstein… Even though they were students, they were both promising individuals that wouldn’t disappoint.

Yennekar stood behind me, glancing around as Ziggs stood, leaning against a nearby post.

“By chance… Are you Sir Elte Kehelland, the head of the Elte Store?”

I called out to Elte with a cunning voice.
Standing in the center of the mercenaries, the merchant nodded his head as he signaled for us to get out of his way.

“No way! It’s such an honor to meet you.
Sir Elte, the merchant who rules over the entire continent.
I don’t know why an important figure such as yourself has come all the way to Silvenia, in such a remote location…”

The Golden Daughter, Lorte.

The Golden King, Elte.

The Head Maid, Elris.

In the end, those three were the only ones who fully understood the situation.

Lortel, who sought to overthrow Elte, avenge her childhood, and overthrow the head seat.

Elte, who was trying to stop Lortel’s plan and succeed in purchasing the Sage’s Seal.

And Elris, who was stuck in between those two.

After all, the underlying cause for the story going off track was because of Elris’ sudden behavior.
The cause was still unknown, but either way, there was no need to run all the way up to the fifth floor and defeat the head maid.

Since the rest of the story was still following the original timeline, Taylee’s party should ultimately be able to defeat the head maid.
I’d already confirmed that his specs were high enough, and that all of his party members were reliable.

With that taken care of, the party that I was in charge of had a duty to take care of Elte.

“… We are making sure that nobody can enter this building.
Since the building is at risk of collapsing, for safety reasons nobody is allowed inside until the faculty members arrive.”

“Did you get those instructions from the school?”

“No, we are acting at our own discretion.
Isn’t this an unexpected situation? Here in Silvenia, when it comes to something like this, we have a system that will award prizes.”

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That was a perfect excuse.
But Elte would also be able to read the hidden intentions behind it.

“… If someone as noble as you is here, then there must be some justifiable reason.
However… Why don’t you try talking with the school first, and be treated accordingly?”

After saying all of that, I kept my mouth shut.

Elte definitely didn’t want to make the situation too big.

It couldn’t be revealed that the black curtain behind the incident was Lortel.

No matter how old she was, Lortel still belonged to the Elte Store and was the adopted daughter of Elte. 

If it turned out that there was any sort of influence from the Elte Store behind this incident… Then the Elte Store wouldn’t be able to escape the responsibility of covering the cost for restoring the destroyed Ophelis Hall.

In the act of trying to trap her enemy, she ended up falling into it herself.
If there was a part that the head maid Elris had not recognized, it was that.

From Elte’s point of view, just sending Lortel off to hell didn’t mean that everything would be okay.

Lortel needed to be handled by Elte himself, not by the school.

And the ones who knew the truth behind the incident were Elris, Shaney, Kelly, Willain, and myself.
Thus, we also had to be convinced to keep our mouths shut.
He still had quite a long way to go.

“You’re on Lortel’s side, aren’t you?”

I hadn’t talked to him for too long, but he already noticed that I knew at least some bits of the truth behind the incident.

“I’ll give you twice as much gold as that child gave you, right now.
So get out of my way.”

This was no time to unnecessarily raise emotions or compromise.
Given the conditions of the incident and the urgency of the situation, he quickly named the maximum value that he could.
A number that the other person would never be able to refuse.

“Thank you.
But I haven’t even received the gold coins I was promised yet, so what’s the point in paying double of it?”

“Haha!”

Elte briefly let out a laugh.

“You don’t have a good eye for people.
Do you think I’ll treat you special just because you’re loyal to that girl? Were you perhaps bewitched by that child’s beautiful appearance?”

At that, Ziggs smiled and responded with an ‘Ohhh’ while Yennekar nodded and looked back and forth between me and Elte.
She didn’t seem to care about Elte at all.

“That child was born with the blood of a fox.
She is someone who stabs others in the back the moment she meets them.
I’ve been raising her since she was a child, so I know her better than anyone else.
I didn’t expect her to turn that blade against me, not after I took care of her all this time.”

“Is that so?”

“She’s someone that would betray her own father.
Instead of being loyal to gold coins that you may or may not receive, take the definite profit that’s laid out in front of you.
That would be the only natural and correct choice.”

He then looked into my eyes again.
The reason why he didn’t give orders to the mercenaries immediately was probably because he didn’t want to escalate the situation. 

“Or is there another reason for you to put so much trust in that child?”

“Does there even need to be such a grand reason?”

“Alright.
I can see that we aren’t communicating.”

I didn’t necessarily have a lot of affection towards Lortel.

However, there was no way that I could explain to him that it was because of the original timeline.
That was why I ended up using a reason based on ‘just because.’

There was no reason other than my belief in her.

Elte would click his tongue at such absurd remarks, but I had my own personal reason.
And I couldn't ask for his understanding.

I lowered my voice and spoke quietly to Yennekar and Ziggs.

“I’ll go and check out the situation.
Buy me some time.”

I left Ziggs, who nodded his head, and Yennekar, who looked a little anxious, behind.
Slamming the door behind me, I quickly entered the main lobby.

I needed to find Lortel and inform her about the situation.

“……”

 

… As it turned out, I didn’t need to run around Ophelis Hall.

She was already looking at me, her pupils dilated, from the opposite corner from the door.
Needless to say, it looked like she had figured out the situation outside as Elte was trying to enter the building.

“… You weren’t able to get out?”

“Well…”

She didn’t have her usual foxlike smile.
Lortel was trying to say something, but her voice wouldn’t come out.
Instead, she nodded her head.

Her usual appearance—one of calmness and composure, regardless of the crisis—was missing.
She was probably surprised at seeing me covered in blood stains from my attempts at blocking Taylee’s entrance.

“It’s good that I don’t need to waste time explaining things.
Let’s go around to the back door and get out.
Do you still have the energy to run?”

The rain mixed with blood as the rainwater rolled off the back of my hand.
I quickly shook it off and swept away my messy bangs, which were getting in the way because of the rain.

“Don’t fall behind.
Stick with me.”

I was getting involved with the main characters of the storyline more than I should, but wasn’t it already an unexpected situation? It was only for the sake of fixing the flow of the story, which was already broken.
Afterwards, I would just go back to keeping my distance from them.

In the first place, I had already gotten involved to the point that I couldn’t turn back.

I nodded my head as I picked up the pace with Lortel. 

 

____

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