When I came to the main lobby, Charlotte was beckoning me to follow her, then we headed somewhere. Evening had already passed, so it was night. There were no students on the streets of Temple. There were no other dormitories around the Royal Class’, so it was quiet.
What would Bertus say if he saw me with Charlotte, I wondered. Nothing good, that was for sure. However, I had to be more wary of Charlotte, at the moment, so I couldn’t ignore her words.
Perhaps having understood my worries, Charlotte sat down on a dimly lit bench between two street lamps.
It was obvious what this was going to be about. She was going to ask me how the search for Valier was progressing.
I looked at Charlotte sitting on the bench. She didn’t look at me and was just blankly staring towards the lamp post. I couldn’t see her face well as it was pretty dark, but as always she gave off a calm and cold aura.
It was completely different from Adriana. She was calm but gentle.
Charlotte was calm but extremely cold. Her classmates would have a hard time with her, although she probably didn’t show them this side of her.
Both Bertus and Charlotte had one thing in common: They hid their true selves.
“How does it feel to suddenly have a supernatural ability?”
As if beating around the bush, Charlotte asked me that, out of the blue.
“Good…. I guess?”
Because I started with nothing after all.
Charlotte was speaking in an uncertain manner. What kind of power did Charlotte hold? If it was true that Charlotte held some supernatural ability, it seemed like she didn’t like her own power that much.
“I heard, it’s called Self-Suggestion.”
“It’s the kind of ability that activates when you strongly believe in something.”
She was different from the ordinary students. Charlotte already knew how my supernatural ability operated. Well the abilities of the students, except for Charlotte’s, weren’t kept secret. It might just be something anyone had access to.
“Is it safe to assume that there was no progress in the search for the boy?”
Finding a Mr. Kim in Seoul is extremely difficult even if that Mr. Kim actually existed. It was a bit hasty to ask if there was any progress when she commissioned for this search not too long ago.
Of course, I wasn’t trying at all. There was no reason for me to.
“Yes, it would be impatient of me to assume there was already some progress. However, do keep in mind that if you don’t produce any results, there is no reason for me to leave a useless criminal organization who would only bring harm to the Empire alone.”
Charlotte said that as if she was trying to remind me that the countdown had already begun.
My plan was to slowly report on my progress to extend my life.
However, there were a lot of problems with that.
In fact, no matter how hard we were trying to look for the Valier she was looking for, we wouldn’t get any results, but if we were to “find” a trace, what would it be and how should we answer the question of how we found it? It was the Prince and Princess who were looking for Valier after all.
If they couldn’t find him with the traces I gave them, they would be suspicious of me, no doubt. Even if beggars knew beggars best, they would still carry out their own search in secret.
So it was best to do just a little bit of work, but I hadn’t yet decided how to display it to her.
Charlotte hadn’t gotten to the point where she would urge me yet. That should have given me some time.
Well, it seemed like Charlotte had some more business with me other than checking for progress.
“You, try it.”
“If you believe that you know where the child is, you might find out where he is.”
Oh, that was what she was going for.
Charlotte seemed to put some hope into my vague supernatural ability. Actually, my Self-Suggestion didn’t have this kind of function. At its present level, I could strengthen my body, at best. There was no way I could acquire some unknown knowledge with it.
That would be absurd. If one were absolutely sure to know what one’s neighbor was doing next door, that wouldn’t mean it would pop into one’s mind like a vision.
Of course, there were some parts of Self-Suggestion that even I didn’t know about yet, so it might be possible at a later stage.
I obviously should say no to her request.
However, seeing Charlotte trying to grab at straws, I changed my mind.
If I play my cards right, I might be able to extend mine and the gang’s life. Rather, if I use my power as an excuse this just might be possible. Clues found by the gang or the Thieves’ Guild might not be able to convince them, but if they were actually found through my supernatural power, they should have no doubt about them.
And I was that Valier person Charlotte was looking for.
Also, my power is quite the ridiculous one.
It was something that made the impossible possible..
“That’s…. It probably won’t work, but…. I can try.”
Charlotte didn’t look too expectant either.
“……Do you, need this?”
However, as if she wanted to do this properly at least, she took out the portrait of Valier and handed it over to me.
……I couldn’t believe that she would carry around that painting with her. Guilt crept into my mind. The thought that running away would be the best option here never left my head. Every time I saw Charlotte valuing me so much, I felt depressed.
But I had to deceive this kid again. No matter how difficult the lives of the gang members and Loyar were.
I had to deceive this kid again.
I intently stared at my portrait. This was absolutely useless, actually.
To activate Self-Suggestion I had to absolutely believe that I knew where that boy was.
But I didn’t really have to believe that, I knew he was right next to her.
It wasn’t a matter of belief. If I didn’t know where I was located, that would be a problem on its own!
It was impossible for me to track someone else’s location with my skill, but I somehow had to act as if I knew where Valier was. I thought about what excuse I should make up.
“Hmmm…. Well, I can see a castle.”
I began to explain what I went through with Charlotte.
“Castle. What castle?”
“I don’t know. It’s desolate…. There’s this huge castle and the scene in front of it is… someone Riding a horse… I think….”
Instead of exactly knowing where the kid was, I tried to explain it similar to someone with psychometry.
Charlotte didn’t explain to me who the child she was looking for was. However, if I explained Valier’s and Dyrus’ escape from the Demon King’s Castle, she’d be able to see that my ability had potential.
If I continued to prove my worth to Charlotte like this, she’d leave me alone.
Charlotte opened her mouth blankly, astonished that I knew about facts I shouldn’t know about.
“I don’t know. Men on horses were chasing after them. They were running away. there also seemed to be demons…. That’s all I know for now.”
I really wanted to bite down hard on my tongue as I was acting like that. Charlotte’s lips trembled as she looked at me blankly.
“M, more…. More. Do it more. Look more. More. More…. A bit more….”
Charlotte suddenly got up from the bench, and told me to do it more. I wasn’t confident that I was able to meet her desperate eyes.
I felt like I was doing something incredibly bad, and it was actually a pretty bad thing to do. No matter how much I wanted to live, I was still playing with this girl’s heart.
I had to do it even though I knew that these small lies would eventually give birth to even bigger lies.
“I, I can’t see more…. I’d see the same scene again…. That’s all. I don’t know any more. We didn’t do these kinds of things during the supernatural power test…. I don’t know why I can’t see more…. Maybe my ability is still too weak ….”
Even though I didn’t give her the location of the kid she was looking for, just knowing these things I shouldn’t know seemed to be enough for Charlotte to find hope.
“Can’t you figure out… Whether he’s dead or alive? Even just that…. Even just knowing that fact… Just that…. Please….”
Charlotte, who had been threatening me, pleaded with me now. Before she saw me as something lower than a bug because I was a lowly person who was part of a criminal organization.
“Please…. Please…. Find it out for me…. Please‥….”
Now she was about to kneel before me. Her cold and stiff expression had completely distorted and before I knew it Charlotte was crying before me.
Charlotte had to suffer through horrific events after she got abducted, and she knew that I was supposed to be the only survivor beside her who went through that suffering. And I eventually saved her life. Perhaps to Charlotte, I was the only one left in her world.
Even that course of events was filled with lies, and now I had to do the same thing again. The only reason I had to do this was because my life was at stake. Then and now.
I said to Charlotte who was begging me to find out if he was dead or alive:
“I don’t…. I don’t know where he’s located.”
I had a premonition that I would have to continue tell a lot more lies from now on.
“But I’m sure he’s alive.”
I had no other choice but to give Charlotte at least a bit of the truth.
“Hng…. Sob, sob!”
Charlotte grabbed my collar and let out a violent cry.
“Really…. Really…? He’s alive…?”
“Huh…. Yes. I can…. Feel at least that much….”
“Tha, thank…. Thank you…. Thank you….”
I couldn’t do anything but bite my lips as I watched Charlotte sobbing, looking as if she was about to collapse at any moment.
It was alright being called a plot destroyer and getting criticized by many people.
However, having to deceive a person like this was something hard to accept.
The word “Thanks” felt like it stabbed through my heart multiple times.
Among all the supernatural powers, my supernatural power was especially vague.
“This was the first time I have ever tried this. Really. I couldn’t feel anything like that before, only in this case.”
“I don’t know why it worked…. but, I’m relieved.”
Charlotte had no other choice but to accept this strange excuse, that it didn’t work in any other instance, as I knew these things that no one else should know. The scenes I described were ones that I wouldn’t know unless I was Valier.
She didn’t even suspect in the least that I was Valier. Of course, it might have been that my vague supernatural power had that much persuasive power.
Charlotte told me not to tell anyone what I saw and asked me to never mention that I could do things like that. Unlike the orders she directed towards me up until now, these seemed more like favors she asked of me.
“You know why I’m asking this of you…. Please, Reinhardt.”
Now she even used my name.
“Yeah, I know.”
If Bertus found out about this, he might want to use me in that way as well. As it’s an ability I didn’t even have, I’d rather have Charlotte be silent about this. If someone were to ask me why I was able to know these kinds of things, but not other things, I’d be the only one in trouble here.
Charlotte seemed to have become as desperate towards me as to my other self.
At this point, I was the only clue she had towards finding Valier. Charlotte, after she calmed down a bit, had a reddened face.
She now seemed to realize that she was begging and pleading in front of this guy she completely disregarded not too long ago.
“Uh, ah… That… Hn….”
From her point of view, she showed me one of her ugly sides. Charlotte seemed to have calmed down, but she fell into a more complicated mood.
“Never mind. I don’t know who he is to you, but he must be an important person. Then this is a reasonable reaction.”
When I told her that it was possible even for the Imperial Princess to lose her composure, as she was human, she bowed her head towards me.
“To think that…. The day would come for me to receive that kind of consolation.”
Was it because you were being comforted by a commoner, or by a criminal, or was it because you felt pathetic getting comforted by another person like this? Charlotte looked blankly into the night sky, before she started to speak again.
“He’s the one who saved me.”
“…….Is that so?”
“If not for him, I…. I wouldn’t have been able to return.”
There was no one in the Imperial Capital who didn’t know that the Princess was kidnapped by the Demon King. However, no one knew what happened to her while she was there and how she got out.
Both Charlotte and Bertus seemed to want to bury this matter.
Charlotte didn’t have any real proof as she didn’t actually suffer from an assassination and was able to escape.
Dyrus’ case was different. He faced direct death threats and even fought, but his link was too weak to the Princess for it to be connected to her nearly dying.
All of this could have been made as the Princess running away on her own accord because she got surprised.
Therefore, the assassination attempt on the Princess simply got buried without a problem. So, information on Dyrus or some kid who supposedly saved the Princess didn’t come to light.
So Charlotte wouldn’t have come out with the truth if I didn’t get that lead just now. Telling someone this truth was really dangerous.
He was the one who saved her life.
Hence, why she was looking for him. It seemed like a good enough reason to look for someone like that, but was it enough to lose one’s rationale over?
“Honestly…. If he was just someone who saved your life than it’s….”
“It’s not something that simple. “
Charlotte looked at me.
“If it wasn’t for him, I would have gone crazy.”
Even if she hadn’t died, she would have gone crazy. Charlotte was weeping bitterly in that prison cell, cradling her mother’s corpse in her arms.
She certainly looked like she was in a dangerous state. She didn’t even notice that there was someone in the hallway before I called out to her.
“We were in a place filled with corpses and the smell of blood. Anyone would have gone crazy in there.”
Charlotte seemed to recall the time we met.
“In a place like that, he said that everything will be fine, that we’ll win. He kept on trying to reassure me, trying to comfort me somehow.”
The calm Charlotte started to tremble. At that time I had no idea who Charlotte really was.
“He told me that he had lost all his memories. He didn’t know who he was. Even why he was in that place. In the midst of all that, even though it should have been scary for him as well, he tried to sooth me. He didn’t even know who I was, so I was just trembling and crying in that disgusting place, while he tried to comfort me somehow.”
I didn’t take care of her, because she was Charlotte de Gardias. I just took care of her because she was a trembling, scared, little kid and about to give up on everything, even though I should have felt terrified for not having any memories.
It was a lie that I had lost my memories, but it was true that I had no knowledge of her identity, my situation or the state of this world. It seemed like Charlotte wasn’t just trying to find me because I saved her life.
“I made a promise.”
Yeah. Charlotte definitely made one with me.
“I would definitely bring back his memory. I promised that….”
It seemed like she wanted to find me to keep her promise. Of course, I didn’t actually have amnesia. I had the body of the Demon Prince Valier, but I wasn’t that Valier.
It seemed that my lies had become firmly engraved in Charlotte’s mind. It was like she imprinted on me. Something that couldn’t be erased easily.
“Would he really want that? Getting back his memory?”
“Wouldn’t he have suffered quite a lot in the Demon King’s Castle, to lose his memory? Wouldn’t it be better if he didn’t remember? Of course, it’s important to remember who you are, but there are some memories that are better left forgotten.”
I was saying this in the hope that she would feel less pressured to keep her promise. I didn’t really have any memories that I lost, but I would feel insanely guilty if she kept on trying to retrieve something that I actually never lost.
Listening to my words, Charlotte looked at me with widened eyes.
“……That’s possible…. Yeah. That could be…. Yes.”
If one experienced something so terrible, wouldn’t it be better to just forget everything? Charlotte seemed to agree with me to some extent.
“Yeah, it’s not too late to talk it over after you found him.”
In all my guilt I felt slightly relieved. Charlotte’s expression, which seemed so infinitely sad ready to give up everything if she heard that I was dead, lightened up a little. She seemed to feel a lot of guilt that she lost me and couldn’t keep the promise.
She looked a little more energetic and even smiled at me for the first time.
Charlotte looked me straight in the eyes.
“Then, I’ll do whatever you want me to do.”
“………Isn’t that quite the risky promise to make to a lowly and dangerous bastard like me?”
Charlotte believed that I was the only string that connected her and Valier, so that would explain her sudden attitude change.
“You were quite reckless in that duel. You didn’t seem to be stupid, but you went ahead and did something like that because of your pride. Although you have a strange personality, you didn’t strike me as an idiot, and yet you acted like one at that moment…. That’s what I thought.”
“You talk quite well in front of the subject you’re badmouthing.”
“That’s all I could see at that moment.”
It seemed Charlotte had a different opinion on this than Bertus. Bertus admired my tenacity, getting up even after getting beaten over and over. However, Charlotte seemed to evaluate me as someone who would use force even in situations in which it would be better to yield, because of my pride.
“However, even though you should have lost, you won in such a nonsensical way.”
If I had lost in that state, Charlotte’s evaluation of me wouldn’t have changed, but in the end, I was able to emerge victorious because of something as ridiculous as suddenly awakening a supernatural ability mid-fight.
Seeing that outcome, Charlotte seemed to change her mind a bit.
Returning to her usual calm and cold demeanor, Charlotte spoke quietly.
“There are times when one has to do something reckless, as it seems.”
She wanted something so bad that she even came to a fellow classmate who was part of a criminal organization.
That was why Charlotte went beyond just asking for cooperation with someone, with whom she usually wouldn’t want to have been involved with. She even made such a dangerous promise with me.
She was lucky, that I was actually Valier. What if I were some perverted weirdo? Huh?
“I feel like a shrimp caught in a whale’s fight.”
“Are you talking about Bertus?”
“Yeah, you both might not realize it, but while you may be fine, I’m completely exhausted. I have to watch my back every time I go out at night.”
No matter how one might look at it, I seemed like a total opportunist..
Man… The situation turned out like this even with Charlotte there. Later when I meet Bertus he’ll probably ask things like: “You’re pretty close with Charlotte, aren’t you?” How should I answer him? Or what if someone from Charlotte’s side saw me with Bertus. They’d probably complain saying something like: “You’re getting along quite well with Bertus, don’t you? Huh?” That might actually happen.
Honestly, I didn’t want to have trouble with anyone, these two included, at this point. It would be near impossible for me to remain neutral between them.
Charlotte smiled, the corners of her mouth slightly raised, after hearing what I said. It felt smiliar to Bertus’ smile when he revealed his more insidious nature to me.
“I believe you know how to take care of yourself quite well. Reinhardt.”
Even if their factions were different, they were still the same.
Why did they act so similarily?
In fact, if she appeared in the original novel, wouldn’t she actually take Bertus’ position?