In the evening, when we returned to the dormitory.
After the others had entered their rooms, I called out to Ellen.
“Let’s talk for a bit.”
* * *
I took Ellen to the park in front of the dormitory. She followed me, trailing slightly behind me. After confirming that no one was around, I turned towards her.
“Why are you looking at me like that these days?”
She had been looking at me a lot since my kidnapping incident. She had said that she wanted to go to the Darklands, and it had felt like she was very determined in her decision.
Then I told her to not go to such a dangerous place.
The Ellen I knew would have at least acted stubborn, or that was what I expected, so I found it very weird that she had simply said that she wouldn’t go just because I told her not to.
The kid who had never looked at me properly before suddenly couldn’t keep her eyes off of me.
I knew the reason. Some time ago, she had decided to keep her distance from me, but then that strange kidnapping incident had occurred.
She thought she didn’t need me, but when I actually disappeared, she was greatly shocked.
Then, she regretted uttering the words she directed at me and felt apologetic towards me, and it seemed like she even blamed herself that I got kidnapped. It wasn’t her fault, of course.
She said that she couldn’t stand it because her brother and I, who both had a lot of secrets, kept on overlapping in her mind.
However, in the end, she realized she couldn’t cut me out of her life, so she felt guilty, thinking everything was her fault.
That was why she tried to read my face a lot. She was afraid of making another mistake.
“Did you do something bad to me? Maybe. Then something unfortunate happened you couldn’t have predicted. My kidnapping has nothing to do with you. You even went looking for me. I’m really grateful for that, so thank you. What are you so sorry for?”
While I was saying this to Ellen, she had her gaze lowered.
“…I don’t know.”
Ellen held her head low; she couldn’t even meet my eyes.
“You don’t know… what?”
“I don’t want to make the same mistake again, but I don’t know how to avoid doing that.”
She still seemed to regret her actions from back then.
“I don’t know… why this keeps happening.”
Ellen didn’t want to say anything else she would regret as she had before. She seemed to think that what she had said before was a huge mistake.
That was why she had been tiptoeing around me like that. That was why she said she didn’t go to the Darklands after I told her not to.
If she insisted on going after I told her not to go, she thought I might get angry or feel hurt.
Ellen had looked fine up to then because Ellen usually didn’t care much about others—she just did what she wanted to do. She didn’t care about anyone’s opinion.
But ultimately, she was still very inexperienced in dealing with other people. That was why she didn’t know how to treat people who disagreed with her. Before, she didn’t care at all about others, but she had found that care growing over time.
Can I do this? Can I say that?
Ellen couldn’t find a proper answer for these concerns she had, so she eventually started to watch me closely. She had already made a mistake once, so she didn’t want to make another one; she became a lot more careful.
She didn’t know how to treat me.
It was good and all that she was treating me as an important friend, but I didn’t want her to look at me like that.
It just wasn’t like her.
I didn’t want her to be so self-conscious around me.
I made her sit down on a bench, and I sat down next to her.
In the end, even though she had the best talents in the world, she was such a clumsy person in terms of interpersonal problems. I was the first person she could call a friend, after all.
After experiencing my disappearance once, she must have thought about what I meant to her.
She thought that she had to do better when she was around me.
However, she didn’t know how to act to make that happen.
“You know I lied, right?”
“…About the kidnapping?”
Ellen said that she was no longer curious about my secrets, telling me that it was fine as long as I was all right.
But that was wrong, she must have still been curious, and she must have still been struggling because she didn’t know much about me; it made me overlap more and more with her brother in her mind, and she would only get more and more stressed about it.
Of course, Ellen knew that had I lied about the details of my kidnapping. However, she didn’t know the truth behind it. She probably thought that Loyar must have done something.
“Actually, I was kidnapped by the Thieves’ Guild.”
“The Thieves’ Guild?”
Ellen seemed to know about the Thieves’ Guild. Then again, maybe she didn’t really know; I couldn’t see Ellen as someone taking an interest in the criminal gangs of the Imperial Capital.
“Yeah, you went to visit big sis, right?”
“Her gang is like a subcontractor to the Thieves’ Guild, so to speak. Our gang consists mostly of beggars, so they easily pick up information and rumors from the streets. We give that information to the Thieves’ Guild in exchange for money. Do you understand what I’m talking about?”
It seemed like that was the first time Ellen had heard that word in her life.
Right, it wasn’t a word she needed to know.
“Like a minion.”
I figured I could tell Ellen the truth about this much, at least.
She wasn’t an untrustworthy person that would go around and spill things—she wouldn’t tell anyone.
Honestly, it was quite touching. In the end, she had acted like that because she had thought of me as an important person to her.
I was going to tell her everything about it.
I’d realized I would rather tell her all of it.
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Ellen’s eyes widened as she realized that I was confiding in her. She didn’t seem to think that I was actually going to tell her anything.
“As you know, our organization is a gathering of beggars, and it wouldn’t be easy for such a group to send someone to Temple. The tuition of Temple is just too expensive, right?”
“As you know, I have a bit of an advantage in certain matters right?”
I strangely knew a lot for my age. It was even stranger knowing my origins.
“That organization wanted to raise me as its successor; that was why they sent me to Temple. ‘When you graduate, let’s live more like people.’ That’s what they told me. Yeah, although our group isn’t really a criminal gang, they were trying to raise me as the heir to a criminal organization.”
“However, when I came to Temple, it was assessed that I had infinite aptitudes or something, so they sent me to Royal Class.”
Ellen nodded blankly.
“Anyway, I want our organization to break free from the Thieves’ Guild’s influence. As you know, I was originally planning on quietly going to Temple as a regular student, but then I ended up in the Royal Class, and there were so many influential people in there. If my circumstances had been revealed, there would have been a lot of sparks flying.”
The Royal Class was full of children of incredibly influential families as well as the Imperial Prince and Princess, so I wanted to break off my connection with any criminal organization because I was afraid that I would get sucked into the fight between influential people and explode in the process.
Of course, not all of that was true.
“Anyway, I wanted our organization to sever ties with the Thieves’ Guild, so I planned out some things, but it seemed like that went against their intentions. They were trying to get rid of us. However, when I went into the back alleys of the Wenster Market without knowing it was their turf, I got caught by them during the rainy season. They didn’t kidnap me because they knew it was me, but they found out after they tied me up. They planned on using me as bait to lure big sis to them to kill her.”
Ellen silently listened to my recounts of the underworld’s affairs, looking as if she couldn’t believe it.
She probably thought that Loyar and the beggar group were a little strange, but it seemed like she couldn’t believe my story portraying the power struggle between the Thieves’ Guild and our organization in the underworld.
She seemed shocked to find out that I came from such a world; she also seemed surprised at how calmly I was talking about someone potentially killing someone else.
Of course, I wasn’t the heir to some huge organization.
However, Ellen was an outsider.
She seemed to think that I was some huge boss living in a constant battle against other huge organizations. She felt like I lived a completely different life from her.
No… It wasn’t really like that, though…
“How… did you manage?”
They are such a terrible criminal organization. You were kidnapped by the Thieves’ Guild, a much larger organization than Loyar’s. How did you manage to stay safe?
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That was what Ellen was asking.
“My organization wasn’t the deciding factor there, but, rather, my status. I’m a Royal Class student. The Imperial Prince and Princess are in our grade. It was a mistake to even consider kidnapping me.”
In fact, as soon as the Guild Master had seen me, he had realized that he would be in a lot of shit, and he had almost had a mental breakdown.
“The Guild Master knew that it was a mistake as soon as he saw me. It’s a bit hard to go into any details, but Bertus and Charlotte immediately found out that they were the culprits on around Wednesday.”
I had come back on Saturday.
They already found the culprit on Wednesday, but why did you only come back on Saturday?
It seemed that Ellen was curious about that.
“I asked them to not tell anyone that they had found me. I had some business to take care of in the Thieves’ Guild.”
My status remained as ‘missing’. Ellen seemed to understand less and less about what had happened.
“I did that because I was trying to absorb the Thieves’ Guild into our organization.”
Ellen looked as if she had given up on thinking.
“Didn’t you say that you didn’t want to be involved with criminal organizations anymore?”
“That’s true, but…”
I didn’t want to be found, but Charlotte and Bertus had found me right away.
“Depending on the situation, I might change my mind. So anyway, I failed to completely absorb the Thieves’ Guild, but they said that they would one day pay me back for saving them by covering up the incident.”
I didn’t tell her anything about me becoming the King of the Underworld. I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to do that or not. Even if I decided to do it, I would be completely in Bertus’s palm.
And I sure didn’t know if I would be any good running all that.
I told Ellen about the rough outlines of my background and the truth behind my disappearance.
“I… I see…”
Ellen nodded her head.
I was the heir to a criminal gang and had such enormous guts that I even made plans to absorb the Thieves’ Guild in such a risky situation.
Ellen nodded again, as if she somewhat understood what had happened, even if it didn’t explain everything.
She seemed shocked that I was a greater person than she first thought. It was clear that she had a lot of misunderstandings about what I told her, though.
She was making a face as if she thought I was actually quite the dangerous person, but that was just how great I really was.
No. It wasn’t enough yet.
“But actually, that’s just a disguise.”
I still had more to say.
“Actually, I’m the last remaining heir to the Demon Realm.”
“But I don’t really care about war, so I just infiltrated the human realm to live comfortably.”
Ellen’s expression slightly distorted as if she wanted to say, “What kind of bullshit is this?”.
I could see question marks appearing in her eyes.
Why are you saying that now?
Are you kidding me right now?
Are you crazy?
That was what her expression seemed to convey.
It was still too early to be surprised.
“But actually, that’s also just a disguise.”
A disguise piled on top of a disguise piled on top of another disguise.
I was telling her the complete truth.
“I’m actually the creator of this world but was forced to possess one being of this world as punishment.”
Ellen’s feelings went beyond bewilderment and absurdity and became as quiet as a lake. The level of absurdity went beyond what she could grasp, so she just calmed down instead.
Ellen’s eyes were so cold. I had never seen her looking at me like that before. It was like the frightening look Charlotte and Bertus sometimes showed me.
However, Ellen’s seemed somehow different.
I didn’t just feel pressured… I felt like I was really going to die.
I even felt like she might really murder me right there and then.
D-did I cross the line by saying something about Demons in front of Ellen?
B-but she said that she wanted to know more about me…
I was telling the truth…
“If you don’t want to tell me.”
“Just say nothing.”
Ellen slapped me with all her might for the first time.
She cursed at me, jumped up, grunted, and went back to Temple.
“Owow, This seriously hurts.”
Who the hell would believe that shit?
It seemed that the talk about Demons was a bit much, but since she felt like I was kidding, she lost all feelings of guilt towards me.
You know who my brother is, and you still say this shit? Are you actually crazy?
She probably was seriously angry with me.
However, it was the whole and complete truth she so desperately wanted to know, even if it was very hard to believe.
Perhaps because of my ‘teasing’, Ellen treated me normally the next day.