They decided to shut the Orbis class down, but the procedure took time, of course.
The students who submitted their withdrawal from the facility as a form of collective action seemed to have been expelled from Temple for disgracing the school, however, those that refrained from such actions would remain in Temple and get reassigned to other schools.
As far as I knew, the first-years were living in the general headquarters after they were summoned there to protect them from the seniors’ retaliation.
Both seniors and juniors were under investigation, so the seniors would be living in the Orbis Class dormitory.
If Oscar had actually submitted his withdrawal, I wondered if I had to go to Emperatos, the Imperial Castle, to meet him. Putting aside whether I could or couldn’t go there, I was pretty sure that Oscar hadn’t dropped out.
…And that he wouldn’t get punished, either.
Seeing the way he did things, I didn’t think that he had actually ever laid a hand on his juniors directly.
There was no way that he, who was careful to indirectly bully his juniors and express his insults in a roundabout way, would participate in something like collective actions to openly antagonize someone. Even if he was a distant member of the Imperial family, he wouldn’t do something like that.
I left the Royal Class dormitory as if I was conducting a covert operation.
If I was going to do something alone, I was sure there would be a lot of people who would want to stop me.
However, shouldn’t I clean up the shit I caused myself?
Furthermore, I wasn’t actually going alone.
I moved while keeping an eye on Sarkegaar in the form of a sparrow, who flew around, following me while adapting to my speed, sitting on branches and watching me.
If things seemed to get serious, Sarkegaar would swoop in. I didn’t really know what kind of excuse I would give him if that happened, but he was my insurance.
Either way, it would be far better than dying.
If Oscar killed me in the middle of Temple, his head would go flying as well, so he probably wouldn’t try that anyway.
I only ever visited the Orbis Class once, but it was going to shut down.
At that point, wasn’t I like a monster that brought disaster wherever it went? Well, I mean, as I was the demon prince, that should’ve been about right.
In the end, none of the Orbis Class students would look upon me favorably.
Was it even okay to show up there? Oscar wasn’t the only problem. I could get stabbed by someone else, right?
I should keep my guard up for now.
The Orbis Class dormitory was designated as a controlled area. The Royal Class dormitory was a place not everyone could get into, and the same rang true for the Orbis Class as well.
However, since it had turned into a controlled area, guards were deployed at every entrance 24/7. Of course, I couldn’t get in like that.
I could see some people leaving the dormitory with suitcases from time to time.
They must have been the seniors who had submitted their withdrawals and were told to leave Temple due to those actions.
None of them looked very happy.
However, oddly enough, I couldn’t call those expressions simply unhappy.
Rather than feeling bad about it, should I say that they seemed as if they were prepared for something?
The expressions on the Orbis Class seniors’ faces, which seemed incredibly hardened, somehow felt a little strange to me.
Sarkegaar watched over me from nearby in the form of a sparrow.
“This is currently a controlled area.”
The guard at the entrance told me to stand back and pointed to the inside of the dorm.
“I have no intention of going in, I just want to meet someone. I have something to tell them.”
Fortunately, the guard wasn’t unresponsive and asked me who I was there to meet.
When I told him I wanted to see Oscar de Gardias, he simply nodded and sent another guard to enter the dorm.
How long is it going to take?
I saw a blonde, young man walking down the hall, approaching the entrance.
“…What business do you have with me?”
As I thought, that guy didn’t drop out.
Oscar de Gardias seemed surprised rather than angered that I went to visit him. Was he not actually related to the assassination attempt?
When I asked him to talk with me, that guy and I sat down on a bench in a secluded place near the dormitory because completely going out was forbidden. Sarkegaar sat on a branch close by and kept watch.
He was just a cute little sparrow right then, but if he got angry, he would turn into a dragon.
Contrary to my concerns, Oscar didn’t seem to be hostile towards me. However, I couldn’t be careless around him—he was a narrow-eyed character, after all.
“Isn’t it quite funny? You only fought once, but as a result, the Orbis Class, which boasts a long history, ended up getting shut down.”
“…It’s not funny.”
“Really? I find it quite funny.”
Oscar simply laughed. I didn’t know what he was thinking on the inside, but he seemed to be having quite some fun on the surface.
That guy’s attitude during the disciplinary committee meeting was also a bit weird.
He didn’t try to defend himself, he didn’t try to put the blame on me, and he didn’t even seem shocked when Lilka Aaron dropped that bombshell, quite contrary, he seemed to find the situation quite amusing.
Even then, he didn’t seem to hold any resentment. Was he good at hiding his emotions? There shouldn’t be any reason for him to personally like what was going on.
“Are you afraid of retaliation?”
Even though I didn’t say anything, he knew exactly why I had gone to him.
“Those are useless concerns. Of course, after that incident, most Orbis Class students ended up hating you, and there are a lot of other people who also resent you, but what good would laying their hands on you do? The only fact that would remain is that they harmed the Imperial Prince and Princess’s classmate.”
Why was he kindly telling me those things?
I was worried about getting into a fight with that guy at first, but the more I spoke to him, the weirder and weirder I started to feel.
“Don’t think that every person in this world is as impulsive as you.”
I couldn’t deny his words; what he said was true.
Laying hands on me was too risky, so no one would attack me directly.
However, I was pretty sure that there was someone that impulsive around, though? Impulsive enough to try to stab Ellen and me and run away!
“Well… That’s how I think, and if others think the same way, they wouldn’t dare touch you. What good would touching a student of a special class do? Of course, there are some people who would be bold enough to pick some fights if they met you in person, so be careful when you meet seniors from Orbis Class while walking around on Main Street. That’s all.”
Oscar grinned and patted my cheek.
“Don’t worry and just go to your classes.”
Why did he look so happy? Why didn’t he have any resentment? That guy just stared at me before he gave me some words.
“Hmm. If there’s nothing else, you can go.”
That was all Oscar said. Just what was he thinking?
However, it was Oscar who stood up first after he told me to go.
There wasn’t even a hint of concern visible. Even after I went to see him personally, I got nothing out of it.
I felt like he was possessed by a ghost or something. If what I saw wasn’t wrong, Oscar didn’t hold any sentiments whatsoever towards me and even seemed somewhat appreciative.
Oscar turned a corner, then a sparrow landed on my shoulder.
As if to answer me, the sparrow chirped enthusiastically.
“Oscar and the Orbis Class are the same. This… This is just too weird.”
It was strange.
However, I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly was strange about it.
It was certain that there were people out to kill me because of the Orbis Class incident.
However, Oscar tried to reassure me that nothing would happen to me.
Of course, there was a good chance that he’d lied. Maybe he did something like that to try to make me drop my guard before stabbing me in the back.
To tell me that there wouldn’t be any assassination attempts against me… That was just far too risky.
His words had to be right.
But just what was Oscar enjoying so much?
I found his behavior exceedingly weird.
The Orbis Class’s shutdown wasn’t the problem. There seemed to be something dubious and concerning happening behind the scenes right at that moment.
Just what was that assassination attempt on me? Was it actually just a vindictive individual?
Rather than solving the problem, I felt like the problem just had become more complicated.
However, Oscar was certainly hiding something.
—I could feel that much.
“Find out what this is about.”
-Yes, Your Highness.
“O-oh, that surprised me!”
I couldn’t help but get surprised when the sparrow on my shoulder suddenly started to speak.
There is a demon called a doppelganger. Since it’s a type of demon that commonly appears in ghost stories and legends, humans also spread those stories among themselves.
Doppelgangers originally had a very small population and weren’t native to the Darklands, so they appeared more frequently in the Human Realm.
They were a type of demon who could assume another person’s form and pretend to be them.
Doppelgangers were sometimes portrayed to be either evil or simply mischievous entities.
Doppelgangers could only transform into someone else, and dreadfiends could transform their bodies freely.
As such dreadfiends were perfectly superior to doppelgangers.
Eavesdropping on others was the easiest thing in the world for Sarkegaar, who belonged to the dreadfiend clan.
While transforming into something the size of a mosquito was too much, he could change into something the size of a cockroach, and cockroaches could hide pretty much anywhere.
Sarkegaar didn’t quite like changing into such small lifeforms since one would actually die if they were killed while they were transformed and such beings had low durability.
The first thing Sarkegaar specialized in was eavesdropping.
Digging up secrets.
There was always someone people confided their secrets to.
If someone disguised themselves as one of those beings and tried to elicit an answer from someone, they could easily obtain information. Of course, that was a pretty dangerous way of going about it because it created memories in the other party of meeting and talking with someone even though they didn’t actually meet that person.
Sarkegaar wanted to use his first method, which was the easiest.
He was already able to infiltrate Temple, which was surrounded by multiple barriers.
As such, it was easy for him to infiltrate the Orbis Class dormitory, which only had some guards standing before the entrance.
Crevices in doors, inside closets…
There were many places for him to hide and many ways to infiltrate.
Sarkegaar entered the dormitory in the form of a bird and followed Oscar de Gardias. When he opened the door to his private room, Sarkegaar turned into a small cockroach, crawled under the door, and immediately hid in the crack between a closet and the wall.
Even if he was discovered, the only concerns that would come about were hygienic ones. No one would suspect that a cockroach would be a spy planted by someone.
There were many ways to prevent and destroy eavesdropping magics or familiars, but Sarkegaar was an actual living being.
* * *
Translator – KonnoAren
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
When he turned into a cockroach, he actually turned into one. He was just a cockroach with a dreadfiend’s soul and intellect.
Such was the nature of his transformation ability that was equivalent to the ultimate magic, Polymorph.
What could prevent Sarkegaar from eavesdropping in that state wasn’t anti-eavesdropping magic but pesticide.
Other than the Imperial Palace, Emperatos, where security and barrier systems had been maximized after the kidnapping, there were very few places Sarkegaar couldn’t get into.
One of those places was the palace Charlotte de Gardias resided in.
Fortunately, the Orbis Class dormitory, which had good hygiene, had no insect problems, so it was unlikely that they applied pesticides everywhere.
There was no reason to worry.
So Sarkegaar stayed still in Oscar de Gardias’s private room.
All appointments he had to attend as Count Argon Ponteus had already been canceled, so he had no other plans for the near future. His Highness’s needs were his top priority.
Cockroach-mode Sarkegaar climbed up the wall and looked down on Oscar’s private room from the top of a closet.
It seemed that he had packed a few suitcases.
Oscar didn’t drop out, so if he was assigned to a different class, he would have to pack up his things in advance to move there.
It was a room he was already ready to leave, otherwise, there was nothing special about it. It looked like everything, including books, had already been put away.
Oscar was sitting at his desk. Sarkegaar couldn’t see the expression on his face because he was looking down at him from above.
He wasn’t writing anything.
However, he seemed to be thinking about something with his arms crossed.
For quite a long time…
There was no reason for him to do anything, so he just sat still.
Sarkegaar changed his position and moved to a place where he could see Oscar’s face. If a cockroach moved into view, it was obvious that one would try to catch it, so he had to be careful not to get caught.
Oscar wore a smile on his face.
He seemed to just keep smiling and thinking about something the whole time.
Suddenly, someone knocked.
Oscar got up and opened the door.
“Oscar, a letter has arrived for you.”
“Yes, thank you.”
A staff member delivered a letter to him.
Oscar opened and read it. Sarkegaar changed his position once again, strengthened his eyesight, and read the contents of the letter from a distance with him.
[This is regarding the magic logarithm theory you inquired about last time.]
[We have reviewed the theory and it works, however, there are some prerequisites that need to be filled to publish…]
It was filled with talks about, for Sarkegaar, incomprehensible and specialized knowledge. Did he present some kind of question regarding his major or some kind of new theory to a research institute somewhere and that was the answer?
Sarkegaar quietly read the letter’s contents.
It was full of unintelligible jargon, but he realized that the content wasn’t actually important.
Why would that guy make such a face when he read that letter filled to the brim with academic terminology?
It was clear that his expression didn’t give off something like academic elation at the contents of the letter.
He looked almost ecstatic, so Sarkegaar was able to conclude something after looking at Oscar’s reaction that didn’t fit the letter.
While he didn’t know the details, he was sure that it was a coded letter.
Oscar had exchanged a coded letter with someone else.
Sarkegaar noticed that he read something completely different from what the letter seemed to say on the surface.
That alone was a good harvest already.
Sarkegaar didn’t look at the letter—he looked at the envelope.
[Sender – Empire’s 2nd Magic Theory Research Center]
Where he had to go next was decided.
Infiltration and intelligence gathering…
Sarkegaar was more specialized in those fields than anyone else.
Sarkegaar reported to me what he had found out.
“It looks like he’s exchanging encrypted messages with someone…”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
It wasn’t just an assumption, Oscar was really in an extremely good mood. Coded letters, students dropping out, the Orbis Class shutting down…
I could make several guesses from that. However, at that stage, they were only speculations, and nothing was confirmed.
Did Oscar really have nothing to do with the assassination attempt?
The idea that the assassination attempt was being undertaken by a large group became increasingly certain.
I felt like Oscar’s plans were completely unrelated to me.
I also needed to find out about that, but it was more urgent to find out who was trying to kill me.
The most likely suspects were the sponsors of the Orbis Class seniors, those in power from their side, and Oscar de Gardias. However, that guy’s attitude made me want to rule him out.
It smelled like an organization. I didn’t know what kind of organization, but they’d organized that collective boycott.
It was clear that someone had instructed the Orbis Class, but I wasn’t sure I needed to feel any concern about them.
If that was the case, then what did the Writer’s Advice try to tell me?
I took a risk and met up with Oscar, and I found out that he didn’t actually care about me, although I didn’t really get any definite information.
If that was the case, I had to go to the next level.
I could erase countless, powerful groups from my mental list.
There was one person that came to mind…
Even though the Orbis Class acted in an organized manner, they would never be a proper organization.
If he seemed to be part of the class, it would just be a disguise.
Of the many people who would have a personal grudge against me, who would actually try to kill me?
While I wasn’t sure if he was behind it before, I knew that he would dirt his hands later on, which was how I figured out his identity.
He was one of the characters I wrote about, but he was just a one-off villain, so I’d forgotten his name. I only remembered again after I looked through the teacher list.
“One of Temple’s teachers, Aaron Medera.”
One of Temple’s alchemy teachers and an active alchemist…
That guy didn’t actually belong to the Orbis Class.
“Try digging up information on him. Report everything you find ASAP.”
He was the one who used black magic to strengthen Ender Wilton.
“Yes, Your Highness.”
He was a black magician who actually belonged to the magic society called the Black Order.
He should have been incredibly angry that his laboratory, the Orbis Class, was being shut down.
There was still a chance that it wasn’t him.
If he wasn’t, then I could just move on to the next suspect.
I had Sarkegaar, after all.
Sarkegaar didn’t even ask how I was able to point that person out.
He just did what I told him.
What a loyal retainer.
That felt good…
Inside Imperial Palace Emperatos…
Spring palace, the Princess’s bedroom…
The Imperial Family had been in a state of emergency for some time.
Very few people actually knew the details, but most could feel that the atmosphere around the Imperial Family was quite unusual.
It wasn’t due to the Orbis Class situation.
Even though Temple was one of the Empire’s most important businesses, in the end, it was just a business.
At the moment, the Imperial Family was suffering from internal problems.
There might’ve been a group of people who rejoiced at those concerns, but in the end, in the grand scheme of things, the Imperial Family couldn’t afford to pay attention to external matters right then.
“Your Highness, you must go to bed now.”
Charlotte smiled bitterly at Dyrus’s words while sitting in her rocking chair.
“…I know that this is pointless, but I can’t seem to sleep.”
In addition to Dyrus, it was decided that Saviolin Turner, the leader of the 1st Imperial Knight Division, Shanapell, was to be included.
“You might feel better if you keep improving your stamina.”
Even while listening to Saviolin’s words, Charlotte just stayed in the rocking chair, slowly rocking her body in it.
There was no one in the bedroom of the Princess’s Palace except those two.
Charlotte just kept on sitting in her rocking chair absent-mindedly in that empty Spring Palace.
“What about the compensation?”
“It’s better if you don’t worry about it…”
Charlotte looked at Saviolin Turner.
“I asked what you did about it.”
“…I took measures so that they won’t feel regret.”
“So that they won’t feel regret…”
Charlotte muttered helplessly, covering her face with her hands.
“How much money is enough so that one won’t regret someone paying with their life, something that can’t be exchanged for anything else? In the first place, is that something money can even buy…?”
At Dyrus’s words, Charlotte released her face from her hands.
The Princess’s right eye was dyed black.
“Isn’t it funny? Saying these things after I killed her.”
Charlotte shook her head firmly as she spoke in a melancholic tone.
“Your Highness didn’t kill her.”
“If it wasn’t me who killed her, then who did? With my own hands, with my own ability, I killed a maidservant who worked in my palace for such a long time, so if it wasn’t me, who on earth did it?”
Next, Saviolin stepped in.
“Your Highness lost your consciousness at the time and ended up doing something bad during that moment. You can’t even remember what happened, so Your Highness can’t be blamed for it. Things will get better soon.”
Despite Saviolin’s concerned and hopeful outlook, Charlotte’s expression didn’t improve.
It’ll get better…
How on earth could she believe that things would improve in that situation that only seemed to get worse?
She lost her consciousness from time to time, taken over by a different being.
“I am here on the orders of the Imperial Court in case of such emergencies, Your Highness. Nothing will happen anymore.”
Saviolin Turner stayed in the Spring Palace because of the Emperor’s orders.
Charlotte focused her mind and slowly drove away the power that had consumed her right eye.
Even that hardly worked anymore.
At Saviolin’s consolations, Charlotte looked at her.
“Dame Turner, you don’t have to tell me such lies.”
“You are here to deal with me in case it is necessary.”
“Your Highness! Something like that will never happen. Even if it would cost me my life, I will never do something like that!”
Charlotte smiled sadly when she saw Saviolin’s pale complexion.
“I’m not saying this because I’m questioning you, Dame Turner,” Charlotte murmured quietly, her eyes closed.
“I’m asking you to not hesitate when the time comes.”
“Can you promise me that you won’t hesitate?”
After a moment of silence, Saviolin Turner replied.
“I cannot promise you that. Never.”
Charlotte smiled sadly and leaned back in her rocking chair.
She’d suddenly started to sleepwalk after the group mission of the second semester ended.
When she stood barefoot in the hallway of that mansion in the middle of the night, Charlotte felt like she was dreaming.
It was not until she saw Reinhardt that she realized that she wasn’t actually dreaming but that she moved in her sleep.
Charlotte wanted to believe that she simply sleepwalked.
However, when she decided not to stay in the dormitory anymore, Charlotte was already fully aware that she wasn’t sleepwalking.
Even though she knew that she didn’t, she vaguely wanted to believe that it was the reason.
However, she knew that it wasn’t just a simple disorder.
What happened last time made her realize that the thing that was happening to her wasn’t that simple.
Still, things would be fine as long as she didn’t fall asleep.
She wouldn’t lose control unless she fell asleep.
However, even if she decided not to sleep from then on, her body would eventually be taken over again.
Every time she thought that the end was near, someone’s face passed by Charlotte’s eyes.
Someone else’s face started to appear as well from a certain point.
It saddened Charlotte that she could tell neither of them about her situation.
“I’m scared of the night,” Charlotte muttered helplessly.