Charlotte left the club after half-coercing them to gather all their publications and correct them immediately. It seemed that she didn’t want to deal with them anymore.
I was in the first-year dormitory drinking tea with her.
“They are so outrageously stupid…”
Charlotte sipped her black tea and then just shook her head as if she thought of those crazy members of ‘Monthly Royal Class’ who only published crazy stories and stupid rumors as articles as nothing but outrageous fools.
“No matter how I look at it, there definitely wasn’t a teacher in charge of this. There’s no way that those articles would have been approved otherwise.”
If there was a teacher in charge of that club, Charlotte was convinced that such ridiculous articles wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
In fact, they exclusively published weird rumors to the point of absurdity.
“I’ll have to do whatever I can to close down that place.”
Charlotte seemed highly determined to dismantle that club of idiots.
However, I thought a bit differently about the matter.
“Hmm… Do you really have to do that?”
Rumors were just rumors, after all; also, every single one of them turned into a quest. I would receive achievement points just by checking if they were true or not.
There was nothing bad about having them around. They could compile all those rumors on my behalf or something. That time, the situation was a bit different, but there was no disadvantage to keeping them around in the long run.
“… You’re in the position of a victim here, Reinhardt.”
Charlotte probably wondered why she should leave that club alone.
“No one even reads their newspaper. Rather, no one even views it as Royal Class’ official internal newspaper, so shouldn’t we just give them a warning that they shouldn’t write about sensitive topics any more?”
Honestly, they only raised some suspicions but didn’t actually know the truth, so after they got scolded by Charlotte like that, they’d probably think twice before writing such articles again. They had looked like they never thought about what consequences their actions might have.
“Think about it, if you leave those idiots together, they’ll only do one stupid thing; if you split them up, they will do three.”
It was probably better if we gathered those idiots in one place, and since they were given a severe scolding, they wouldn’t do anything crazy like writing something that could harm someone or question larger organizations. They had gotten burned for it, after all.
Charlotte seemed to agonize over this for a long time, but eventually, she sighed heavily with her brows slightly furrowed.
“Fine, it’s funny enough that you, the victim, are telling me this. Should I not have come forward?”
“No, I’m really grateful that you came. If you didn’t, things probably wouldn’t have ended that well.”
I was really grateful that Charlotte came to mediate. If I had gone alone, I might have gotten in trouble with some seniors again.
“Yeah, it won’t be too late to decide on this after we take a look at their next edition. No one even reads this newspaper, to begin with.”
It seemed like Charlotte would really raze the club to the ground if their next edition was the same as the other ones.
In the end, I was able to gather four quests—all of them came from those rumors.
The Demon God’s Church, Revolutionary Forces, Ghosts, and the Magic Society.
All of them could be true, or they could be just rumors. However, if they were just rumors, then I had nothing to lose.
Achievement points were even more valuable than money. The more I had, the better.
Just finding a place from where quests would pour out of was already a big boon for me. Charlotte rested her chin on her hand as she sipped on her tea.
“Still, some of these rumors might be worth looking into.”
“I didn’t get swayed by those ridiculous speculative articles. Keep that in mind.”
Charlotte looked at me sternly as she spoke.
“The Demon God’s Church and the Revolutionary Forces.”
I obtained some information about the Demon God’s Church rumors not only from the Monthly Royal Class but also from Grace. According to the Student council president, there was nothing to worry about.
“After the incident last time, there have been rumors about the emergence of the Demon God’s Church making its rounds. It wouldn’t be surprising if there were some believers in Temple, where people from all over the Empire gather.”
Charlotte wasn’t certain, but she seemed to think that the possibility of there being believers of the Demon God’s Church in Temple was quite high.
“And the Revolutionary Forces… It’s only natural for people to have strange thoughts when their heads grow bigger, and this place certainly makes people’s heads grow overly big, doesn’t it?”
Thinking back, Charlotte was very cold-hearted towards me as well at first. So I knew that she had no hesitation piercing people with harsh words like a master. Both Bertus and she let their masks fall when they stood before me.
Both of them showed their true faces to me. Was that a good thing?
Anyway, Temple was a place of learning and a place that nurtured people, after all. So, eventually, some might get big heads, leading to them having strange thoughts.
“It would be stranger if these so-called Republicans weren’t in Temple.”
There might be some believers of the Demon God’s Church in Temple.
However, it would be strange if there weren’t any Revolutionary Forces in it.
That was how Charlotte judged the situation. She looked at me and smiled.
“How about it, Reinhardt? Do you want to investigate them together with me?”
“Yeah. I heard that you like the Empire quite a bit, isn’t that right, Reinhardt? The Demon Church and the Republicans are both enemies of the Empire, aren’t they?”
That was what I told Bertus, that I liked the Empire.
Actually, things seemed good and all, but I was originally from a world ruled by democracy. Then shouldn’t I be on the side of the Revolutionary Forces if I followed those typical developments? Wasn’t it my job to bring democracy to this world or something?
However, how did I suddenly end up becoming an imperial loyalist?
“This time, you won’t have to be careful of Bertus, so you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”
Who would have thought that I would end up as the Empire’s forerunner in suppressing democracy and republicanism. I heard that I wouldn’t have to worry about the Demon God’s Church, but if we actually found these ‘Republicans’, they’d get 100% beheaded, wouldn’t they?
I mean, I was neither a democrat nor a republican, to begin with. I was the enemy of mankind, the Prince of the Demon Realm, you know?
So wasn’t this a ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ kind of deal?
With that in mind, shouldn’t I actually push those forces into action to cause chaos in the Empire?
It was supposed to be like that, wasn’t it? I felt like I was about to lose my mind for a second.
* * *
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Proofreader – ilafy
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It was the weekend. Charlotte told me to look for those Demon God believers and the Republicans, but that was for later.
She handed me a letter after saying she had something to do within the Imperial Family that day—it was a letter for Valier.
‘I’d like you to deliver this letter today, but you also have your own plans, don’t you? Thank you and sorry for bothering you all the time, Reinhardt.’
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‘Oh, this is nothing much.’
Charlotte hurriedly left Temple, apparently because she had some business to take care of, but she had seen my newspaper article and put it off. Had I become close enough with her that the Princess would spend her precious time on me? Of course, she’d care a bit about me because I had the role of a carrier pigeon.
There was no real reason for me to deliver the letter either. Since Valier was me, I didn’t have to bring the letter anywhere else. However, I couldn’t let anyone see me just nonchalantly writing a reply to it there, so I went out of Temple.
I didn’t use detours or a disguise. Since I already made contact with Eleris as Reinhardt, there wouldn’t be any problems from Charlotte’s side, at least. Rather, it would probably be more dangerous if I disguised myself, used some detours, and went to Eleris as a different person because it might look like Reinhardt gave the letter to someone else entirely.
Bertus’s people might follow me, but it seemed that he had other things to focus on than the kid Charlotte was looking for.
So I was able to go to Eleris’ store more comfortably than before.
“You’re here, Your Highness.”
Eleris greeted me with the same smile as always.
* * *
It had been a while since my last visit, so I told her everything I did up to then. When I showed up Eleris, locked the store. Of course, no one would actually go in there even if she didn’t close it up.
“…A deserted island, you say?”
“Isn’t that too much? No, how could they leave 17-year-old children on some island to fend for themselves, even if they were talented?”
Eleris didn’t seem to comprehend why we had to go through something so absurd as a group mission.
“The mental capacity of those in charge of Temple who planned this mission is seriously lacking. What nonsense…”
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I had actually been the one to plan it… I shouldn’t have watched Law of the Jungle back then.
Eleris continued to complain about the ones in charge of Temple who planned such nonsensical missions, and she seriously started worrying about me after I went through something so difficult.
Of course, that only made me feel even more ashamed because those things were basically my fault.
“There were orcs? Two of them? Don’t those guys underestimate orcs too much? A heavily armed orc could easily crush ten well-trained human soldiers. Even if they were summons, what are they making kids deal with? No matter if they managed to finish the mission or not, mentally weaker children might experience some serious trauma that would scar them for life… I’m sure that the person who planned that mission never experienced actual combat before!”
… That’s right. Okay! It’s my fault! I already know that! I realized too late that all of this was problematic. How should I have known that they would have to face them for real one day!
“By the way, it’s amazing that you managed to hunt them.”
“I didn’t do anything, though.”
“But it’s already amazing enough that you managed to survive in that environment, your Highness.”
Eleris was smiling at me as if she was proud of me after completing that harsh and absurd mission. Just what on earth was that happy yet painful feeling I felt after getting sworn at before getting praised?
“Did you come here just because of the letter?”
“It’s been a while since I last came around, so I wanted to see your face. Are you doing okay?”
“Yes, I noticed that all the people that were snooping around the area are gone now. I think you can lower your guard a bit when you come here.”
Charlotte achieved her goal, and Bertus eventually gave up the chase. So, Eleris’ store seemed to be rather safe; I was to read and write those letters in peace.
“How about Airi?”
Airi, the successor to the Succubus Queen. Her ambition was to earn a lot of money in the southern island nations and topple the Empire’s power that way. I heard that her business was doing well.
“Things aren’t going that smoothly yet, but that’s not a matter of concern.”
“…How long has it been since she started doing this?”
I couldn’t pay attention to everything they did, but it should have only been a few months. Eleris scratched her cheeks and showed me an ambiguous smile.
“Uhmm… Well… I think they are focusing more on connections with people rather than earning money.”
“…What do you mean?”
“Ehem! Well… They want to win over influential people… Yes.”
What did she mean with ‘win over’?
Weren’t they running a bar? Could the word ‘winning over’ really be used in this context? Weren’t they actually seducing them? She censored herself, didn’t she?
“Captains, loan sharks, and major officials… They run their business… by embracing such people.”
Airi and company settled in Rajak, the Capital and largest trading port of the Edina Archipelago. It seemed that those types of people became their regulars.
Airi decided that creating connections to such economic giants would help her more in growing rapidly than earning some small change.
What was with that? I sent her there to keep her busy, but it seemed like their scale was growing bigger and bigger. I mean, the end justifies the means, so it should be fine even if the method was bizarre, but wasn’t that just too crazy?
“…So, they are borrowing money from those loan sharks at a low rate and getting permission for their actions from these major officials. I don’t really know yet what they are going to do with those captains, but they are winning all those people over by flirting with them, right?”
“Yes… I think so.”
Even if their eyes were rotten, it would still be a piece of cake for a succubus to seduce people of such caliber, with or without our abilities. Magic? Do we need something like that just to seduce these types of people?
That was probably how they thought.
Anyway, it seemed like everything was going well on Airi’s side.
“But still, tell them to be careful. Things could turn for the worse in an instant.”
“Yes, I’ll pass it on to them.”
The pink-haired succubus queen was steadily realizing her dream of becoming a businesswoman, so I didn’t know what direction this world would take.
I opened Charlotte’s letter—its contents were on the calmer side. Her first letter contained her sentiments of guilt, that she wanted to see me and that she was sorry; this letter didn’t hold anything like that.
They were things like: How are you doing, I wonder. This happened to me last time. These days, those kinds of things have been going on, and I think this and that.
[By the way, the friend who delivered this letter is called Reinhardt, and although his personality is a bit rough, he’s still a gentleman, so he won’t open and read these letters before delivering them, right? I shouldn’t worry like this. He isn’t that kind of person.]
…I felt my conscience getting pricked. No, but if I didn’t read them, I wouldn’t be able to write a reply. It couldn’t be helped.
[We had group missions in Temple recently. All members of our classes were gathered together to do certain tasks. It would have been great if you also came with us. It was hard, but in the end, it was a fun experience. There were times when I wondered if we were able to get through this safely, and at times I thought we were doing really well, but then people started to collapse in that situation. It was hard, but I understand why they make us do these missions. To be honest, I thought I’d be able to do well because of what I went through, but that wasn’t necessarily the truth.]
[I regretfully had to depend on that power at the end. I didn’t want to depend on it. In the end, even in the face of a completely artificial crisis, I had to use that power, so I feel a little disappointed in myself.]
At the end of the letter, she briefly mentioned her supernatural power. Charlotte seemed to greatly dislike depending on her power.
[Take care, I don’t know when I’ll be able to see your face again. I hope that day will come soon.]
I wrote a reply filled with lies to Charlotte’s letter again. I was curious if she would answer if I asked her about her supernatural powers like that, but I didn’t actually put that question in there. I didn’t want to force her to reveal what she was trying to hide so desperately.
Rather, now that I think about it, if I have to act like I don’t know about those things anyway, it would certainly be better if I really didn’t know.
I wrote down some acknowledgments to Charlotte’s recount of her daily life and told her about my fabricated daily life.
Lies beget lies.
Wrongs beget wrongs.
I didn’t believe that I could keep up those lies forever.
Until when would I have to lie like that?
I didn’t only lie to Charlotte.
I knew that everything would fall apart as soon as the truth came to light. All the relationships I built in Temple would get completely destroyed the moment my secret was revealed. That was bound to happen.
After writing for a long time, I put down my pen and rubbed away the tears that came from my eyes. Eleris just quietly hugged me.
As if she knew why I was suffering, Eleris just quietly held me.
It was impossible, both for Charlotte and me.