Borton eventually confessed.
“…So you gave it to him?”
However, he didn’t confess completely, but as defensively as possible. He said that he wasn’t robbed, in fact, he just gave it to him.
“Why would you just give him a Fireball scroll?”
“We, well, the guy tried to sell fake scrolls like that, so I just gave him a real one out of pity!”
“……Why are you telling us such a nonsensical lie? Didn’t you call him a thief first? But now you’re telling us you gave him the scroll because you felt sorry for him?”
“Y, yes! I just gave it to him!”
Charlotte had an incredulous look in her eyes, as if questioning that dude’s intelligence. Although I had similar thoughts the moment he gave me the Fireball scroll, but that guy sure was seriously stupid and shameless.
In the end, I got annoyed.
It wasn’t difficult for someone like Charlotte to completely break this guy’s lies, but he just kept on sprouting new lies.
“Hey, you bastard, do you think we’re stupid? You probably just thought the guy was great at drawing fake scrolls, so you planned on making him draw more fake scrolls for you! You probably gave him the scroll and told him to copy that one. However, a few days after you gave it to him, you realized he took off with it. That’s what happened, right?!”
In the end, I couldn’t bear with it anymore, and blurted out the truth I knew.
“Indeed. That’s what I’m thinking as well.”
She didn’t seem too surprised by my reasoning, as if Charlotte already guessed as much. Borton’s complexion grew perplexed when he was completely exposed.
“No, that’s not it! D, do you have evidence? Are you just making people out to be scammers without proper evidence?! What did I even do!? I’m the one who lost a Fireball scroll here! I lost money!”
“Hey, Mr. Borton. The Imperial Law does not punish those with the intent to commit a crime. You’re not scamming anyone because you didn’t actually sell fake scrolls yet, even if you were planning on doing that, although this is quite the moral issue it’s not a legal one. I just want to know the truth. So this kid didn’t steal the Fireball scroll. That’s it, right?”
After Charlotte spoke to him in a very mature way, Borton started to regain his composure again.
“That’s…. Fine. You’re right. He didn’t steal it. Well…. Anyway, I gave it to him myself. That’s the truth.”
In the end, he still refused to admit that he was trying to scam people by selling mass-produced fake scrolls. Although I wasn’t able to see Charlotte’s expression, it was quite obvious that she disliked the person in front of her to a great extent.
Then, as if her business with this place was over, Charlotte turned on her heels and left the store.
“I, I’m telling the truth! I just gave it to him!”
He pleaded his innocence until the very end, but Charlotte didn’t respond to him anymore.
The two of us went back out, standing on the Aligar shopping street, illuminated by the setting sun. Charlotte let out a deep sigh while covering her face with her hands.
“…Are you angry?”
“Just what was wrong with that person’s head?”
Charlotte was so angry that her face was completely red.
Charlotte trembled, seeming like she was trying to contain her anger.
She seemed so mad, however, I felt a little apologetic to her, because I thought she looked pretty cute like that. Charlotte got so angry. So angry, in fact, that she grabbed me, looked me straight in the eyes and started to talk.
“Seriously. How could he tell such a stupid lie without even flinching? Did he think I’m dumb? Huh? Did he really think I’d believe that? Just what’s with this?”
It seemed like Charlotte was most angry at that brazenness to just go with such a stupid lie, rather than Borton’s lack of morality.
“How can a person be so stupid? That’s why the Empire needs to start a public education system as soon as possible! That way, there won’t be any more stupid people like that idiot, right?”
What? Hey, wasn’t she throwing a fit over something pretty weird?
The reason idiots like that exist is because there’s no public education.
Was that it? So, in the end, did she feel like it was the responsibility of the Empire to educate people, so she blew her top? Was that why she seemed to feel ashamed and angry every time she saw people like that?
“Y, you really have a unique point of view, in many ways, yeah….”
She was the Imperial Princess. Her way of thinking was completely different from that of a criminal’s.
Even if public education was properly implemented, I couldn’t agree with her opinion, because the world I lived in, which had such public education, was filled with similar idiots.
“B, by the way…. How bout trying to calm down?””
“Huh? Ah….. Ah. I’m sorry.”
She was so excited and spoke with such enthusiasm that she didn’t notice that she was only inches away from my face. It almost seemed like she was attacking me. It was rather difficult for me to understand someone who got angry at people for not being too bright instead of doing something morally wrong.
After a while, Charlotte calmed down, taking a few deep breaths.
“Okay…. I did find it a little strange that he would steal something. So that is one problem solved.”
Charlotte seemed to have held some suspicions after reading in the report that I stole the Fireball scroll. So in the end, she seemed quite satisfied by finding out the truth behind this matter.
“By the way, Reinhardt, you are quite amazing as well.”
“When you were pressuring him.”
It seemed like she was talking about the part where I tried to blackmail him to get him to tell the truth. Charlotte smiled at me.
“You must have a lot of experience, right?”
I sighed at that sinister smile.
“It’s not like I haven’t done this kind of thing before, but not that often, you hear?”
More than anything, I only stepped up and sprouted some nonsensical bullshit because I got extremely annoyed by that bastard.
“There’s nothing wrong with knowing how to do something like that. I enjoyed it.”
“I don’t know if I should take you telling me I’m good at blackmailing as a compliment or criticism. Thanks, I guess.”
It seemed like Charlotte revised her evaluation of me once again. Then she pointed to one of the stalls lining the streets.
“Let’s eat something to cleanse our minds.”
She jingled the bag of silver coins she received for that Lighting scroll she just sold while saying that.
“For the day to have come where the Imperial Princess would actually treat me to street food. I feel so honored.”
At my expression of gratitude, Charlotte gave me a slight look. Although I was taller than her, I could clearly see Charlotte’s face hidden by her robe.
“…I heard that you are quite disrespectful towards Bertus.”
“To be exact, what you should have heard is that I’m extremely rude.”
“……It’s quite the sight.”
Charlotte said that I was quite the strange person. On one hand, I was someone very wary of both the Prince and Princess, on the other hand, however, not in the slightest.
“If you hadn’t come to Temple, wouldn’t you have died several times already?”
Charlotte told me that I would have had quite the early death if I lived as a normal commoner. They did have the principle of treating every student as equals, but no matter how one looked at it, I was going far beyond just being blunt.
“That’s why I think you’d get into serious trouble the day you graduate from Temple. Have you considered being held back indefinitely?”
“If I want to live even a day longer, I might have to do that.”
Charlotte burst into laughter, saying that that might be the case.
Charlotte and I bought food similar to churros from a stall near the shopping street and ate them. It was a long piece of bread dipped into sugar. It looked like churros, but it tasted like twisted breadsticks.
No matter how one thought about it, sugar was quite the rare commodity in medieval times. What the hell? Although, I gave up thinking about that when I saw the other vendors selling candy.
A medieval Fantasy has nothing to do with the medieval times!
Anyway, that’s just how it is! Yeah!
“By the way…. Me saying that might be quite useless, but you’re a princess, so why are you eating stuff sold on the street?”
These types of food had very little nutritional value and were often undercooked. It wasn’t like I really wanted to eat this, but I was really surprised at how casually she just bought and ate this. She even asked to eat this herself.
Charlotte smiled strangely at my words.
“Actually, I was a really picky eater in the past.”
“I know what you’re thinking, and I was exactly like you are imaging.”
The type who’d absolutely hate street food or any kind of low-quality food. It was even more interesting because Charlotte said that she WAS like that in the past, but not anymore. She didn’t look like that type at all.
In situations such as these, I realized how prejudiced I was.
No matter how kind he looked, Bertus was still a type of villain.
Charlotte didn’t seem like a bad or mean person at all. She probably only acted that way because she had some reasons. I was like that as well.
That is what one would call the law of the first impression.
In that regard, I was probably the strangest person here.
“If a person was close to dying of thirst with no water anywhere near them, they would even lick up the stagnant dirty water gathering on the floor. Not to mention when someone is close to dying of starvation. They would even eat a leather shoe.”
Charlotte looked at me and smiled. It wasn’t a happy smile, but a grimace she pulled because she was unable to cry.
I couldn’t find the right words to say to Charlotte, whose face was pulled into such a grimace.
“After humans are about to reach their end, all of us become the same. Noble or commoner, in the end we all are just the same.”
Faced with the absolute desire for survival, she found the mask she had worn all her life and that pride she had about her completely insignificant. She also realized that she wasn’t any different from other people, either.
“Do you know what the scariest part was? It wasn’t the torture, the threats and curses they hurled at me or having to look at their backs.”
I watched Charlotte, who was wearing an exceedingly dark expression on her face, as she stared at the churros she was eating a while ago.
“There were people who ate each other because they couldn’t take it anymore. And after they ate, they went crazy, shocked at the very fact that they did something so terrible.”
Charlotte looked at me.
“It wasn’t the demons. The humans were the scariest.”
What she feared most were the humans.
“The fact that the people around me became like that also meant that I could turn out like that as well. That was the most terrifying thing to me.”
Because she might become like them, Charlotte didn’t fear the demons as much as she did these broken humans. She wasn’t sure how she’d turn out when she was completely at her wits end.
“That…. was so terrifying and frightening that I thought I was going crazy…. No, I probably already went crazy….”
I could clearly remember it.
At the time I found her, Charlotte was crying while holding a certain someone’s body.
Charlotte didn’t go into any more detail. However, since I could remember what Charlotte was like back then, I could tell what Charlotte meant.
She was cradling that body.
She seemed to be in excruciating pain.
“At that time, a certain boy came to me. Other than me, there was one more child that survived…. I couldn’t believe it, but he appeared right in front of my eyes.”
When Charlotte’s tears were just rolling down from her dead eyes, unable to even cry properly anymore, I appeared in front of her.
The only other survivor besides her.
“He gave me the only food he was able to find. He didn’t even think of taking it for himself.”
It was only a biscuit.
It was much too little to fill one’s stomach.
“Thanks to that boy, I was able to remain as a human… No, I had already gone half-crazy at that point… I was finally able to let my sanity resurface….”
He was a boy who freely handed over the food he should have been so desperate for as well.
He was the only other survivor except herself.
At that time, Charlotte seemed relieved by my very existence. It seemed like she was touched just by knowing that she wasn’t the only one left.
Knowing that all of this was nothing more than a dirty lie, I was hardly able to look Charlotte in the eyes.
Charlotte said some heavy things, so she ended up laughing somewhat exaggeratedly.
“After that, I never complained about food again.”
“Hmm…. After that, whatever you ate tasted delicious…. Something like that?”
Charlotte shook her head.
“After that, I just realized that nothing would be more delicious than that biscuit I had back then. Whatever I put into my mouth, it just tastes so-so.”
She didn’t become grateful for the food that she could eat freely after that.
Knowing that nothing she would eat for the rest of her life would taste as divinely as that biscuit she had eaten after almost starving to death. That was why Charlotte stopped being a fussy eater.
No matter what she ate, it just tasted bland, so it didn’t matter what she ate.
“……Isn’t that kinda pessimistic?”
“Isn’t it much better that I became a pessimistic person instead of a crazy one?”
Charlotte frowned slightly while smiling. It was a bit sad to hear that it was already good enough that she hadn’t gone completely crazy in that situation.
However, Charlotte’s smile was so beautiful that I forgot to breathe for a short while.
“Why do you keep telling me things, I shouldn’t hear? Let’s just keep it at that. I wouldn’t be surprised if you suddenly told me something like: “Now that I told you this, you have to die”.”
To be honest, we weren’t actually that close right now! Of course, it certainly seemed like she opened her heart to me to some extent, but wasn’t she rushing a bit here?
Did she want to talk to someone about this, but didn’t have anyone she could actually turn to? So what was the point of grabbing me of all people and complaining to me?
Charlotte laughed at my words.
“Aren’t you smart? Yeah, I need you to die now.”
“I’m going now. Bye. Sorry for being rude.”
I jumped up from my seat without hesitation, but Charlotte grabbed the hem of my clothes.
“Hey, it was just a joke!”
Charlotte seemed to be having fun teasing me like that.