Chapter 93 – An ‘Event’

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I was again mixing, mingling… no, I was just drifting through the crowd by myself. I have no skill at socializing. That’s when I came across a scene straight out of fiction, off to the side of the buffet tables. Four women, including Lady Josannah, had boxed Miss Mireia in against the wall.

A brunette was standing with her arms crossed, berating the frightened girl. “How could you become so full of yourself. And you were such a respectful maid. Was that all an act?”

“Lady Sasie, I…”

A redhead declared, “Following around His Highness like that all the time, aren’t you ashamed of yourself? And the other guys on the council too. Which one did you spread your legs for, to get placed there?”

Were they reading these lines from a book? I swear I’ve heard them before.

Lady Josannah had the cruelest line, though. “No you were placed on the council because of your test scores, right? So it must have been an examiner you slept with. Or perhaps you slept with all three?”

“My Lady, I swear I could never do such a thing!”

“Liar! What are you doing to turn the prince’s head, anyway? A perfect gentleman like Roderick couldn’t have stained himself with a peasant’s body. Unless perhaps you used magic on him? They claim you have great power. Did you lure him in with seductive magic?”

“NO! I would never do anything like that!”

I had been gradually approaching this entire time, and at this point Mireia noticed me. Her face drained of all blood as she noticed me. It looked like she thought her doom was approaching.

The thing is, having seen mana circulating in two of the women, I was now on duty as a knight. In a venue like this, with royals in the house, use of magic is authorized personnel only. Gathering mana is a bit like drawing a gun. My fan had been in a little sheath on my sword belt that I had added for the purpose, but it was now in my hand. I filled it with Wind mana as I fanned myself.

Joining the ring surrounding her as if I were one of the gang, I looked around at the women. They stared back at me, looking both perturbed and mystified.

I inclined my head first to the noblewomen on each side of me and then to Mireia. “Good Evening, My Ladies, Miss Mireia. I am Tiana Pendor of the Royal Knights. I’m very pleased to make your acquaintances.”

“Exactly what do you want?” Josannah asked with annoyance. “We were having a conversation.”

She was clearly an upper-ranked aristocrat. Her tone said she, as an upper stratum noble, had no time to spare for a mere knight.

“Mm. I overheard something interesting. An accusation that this commoner used magic on the second prince. As a royal knight, I found that quite interesting. Do you have any evidence?”

“Evidence?”

“It’s a very serious offense, My Lady, if this commoner has done such a thing. In fact, it’s lèse-majesté. Quite naturally, as a knight, I must investigate.”

“I don’t have any evidence, but it is obvious she’s done something!” Josannah answered in annoyance. “The prince is spending entirely too much time looking after her! A mere maid!”

“I see,” I nodded. “Then, without evidence, Lady Josannah, might I ask you to refrain from gathering Fire mana? My king is less than twenty paces from you at this moment. And you, My Lady, I apologize for not knowing your name, but you must disperse your Aether mana immediately. Please consider it an order from His Majesty’s Knights.”

I snapped my fan shut and a short breeze blew. It was just a raw release of mana, but it was attention-getting. I discovered the trick while playing with the Fan of Rephale.

With a mild smile, I added, “It would be my duty to take measures, otherwise.”

Josannah and her buddies had deep scowls on their faces, but I had shaken them when I identified their mana types. They left us. I could hear them whispering to each other as they walked away.

“Did they really let a succubus become a royal knight?”

“She was the one dancing with the princes, right?”

“I saw her dancing with the king, too! You don’t suppose she’s doing all three of them?”

A bit of crimson crept onto my face, but I kept my attention on Mireia and tried not to let my expression change. I so badly wanted to retort, because the fourth girl had the miasma flow of a monster, and judging by appearance she would almost have to be a succubus herself. But that wasn’t my business.

Since I had already overheard it several times tonight, I was becoming surprised at just how many people my age didn’t realize who and what I was.

But of course, few noble children had ever seen me before, thanks to their parents. And even if they heard the name ‘Pendor’, it could mean I was a commoner whose family had the name bestowed on them by my House. A surname was a big reward for a favored underling.

I continued fanning myself while I regarded the girl in front of me.

I had her backed up against the wall. Mireia is a tiny thing, four or five inches shorter than the barely average-height me, so I was staring down at her.

This was a bad look. I was one hand short of a kabedon.

“Walk with me,” I told the frightened girl. “I have some questions for you.”

Mireia was too terrified to refuse. We strolled until we neared the dance area, becoming just a pair of women at the ball, chatting with each other while watching the dancers. Yes, this was much better. Although she still looked like a cornered rabbit.

She finally acquired the courage to ask, “My Lady? Are you angry with me?”

I blinked. “Angry? Is there something to be angry about?”

“The princess was mad at His Highness for failing to pick you up. That was my fault. You had to walk because His Highness took me to the royal residence to get my dress fixed.”

“Is that what happened?” I asked, wondering exactly what Rod had done to make him feel responsible for her dress. “By the way, I flew.”

“Huh?”

“I didn’t walk. I flew. And it was really not a bother at all, and I’m not mad at anyone. I was a bit miffed at Rod for breaking his promise, but if it was because someone needed help, then I forgive him.”

“Even though it was for another girl?”

I frowned. “Miss Mireia… what are you suggesting?”

“You’re very close to him, right? He gave you the first dance. And you call him ‘Rod’, instead of His Highness. And when Amelia was mad at him in the carriage, she said…”

I snapped my fan shut. She cut off her words and her eyes opened a bit wider.

Softening my expression back into as gentle a smile as I could manage, I said, “Anything you heard in the royal coach, you are supposed to keep to yourself.”

She grew pale again, and nodded. I patted her arm while continuing to smile and asked, “Miss Mireia, have you plotted against the prince?”

“No!”

“Have you used magic on him to make him like you?”

“No, My Lady!”

“Or for any other reason?”

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She hesitated, then said, “I healed him once. He cut himself by accident in the student council room.”

“You’re a healer?” I didn’t expect that. If she was getting a scholarship ‘because of her magic’ like she told me at the tea party, it should be powerful elemental magic. They do train physicians here, but physicians diagnose and prescribe medications and potions. In the medical profession, healers work as therapists and rarely have advanced schooling.

She dropped her head, then looked up with a complicated expression. “What I’m going to say isn’t a lie, okay?”

“Why would I say that?”

“I’m weird. I can use healing magic even with my strong Light attribute.”

I sighed. Normally I don’t tell anyone, but maybe it would help if I told her. “I can hardly call that a lie, Miss Mireia, considering that I can do the same thing.”

Her eyes widened a bit again, this time in surprise.

Well, the only things Ceria had taught me so far with Light mana were [Fairy Light] and [Flash], which is the only first-level Light attack. You can blind someone temporarily with it. But it was strong.

Was there any possible way for all this to be a coincidence? I had just interrupted a classic shoujou scene, and now this little pink-haired, amethyst-eyed blatant protagonist was a light magic user who could heal. A stereotypical ‘Saintess’ character. And the prince was involved.

This could be serious. If the pattern continued, life could get bad for this girl, because real life doesn’t come equipped with the plot armor that protects storybook protagonists.

I smiled as warmly as I could. “Miss Mireia, if those women bother you again, would you please tell me?”

“Tell you?”

“I believe you, and I am absolutely not angry with you. However, you’ll be in trouble if those noble girls have it in for you, right? Please allow me to help you in that case.”

She looked genuinely befuddled. “You want to help me?”

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Keeping my smile, I nodded. Turning toward the dance floor, where I could see Amelia floating in the arms of Sir Belgar (instant pang of envy) and the Royal men all dancing with pretty noblewomen, I said, “Let’s enjoy the ball, shall we?”

I watched my mother dancing with one of my fellow students. Mother is as buxom as Esrene, and you can imagine what sort of neckline she prefers. The boy looked slightly dazed. But as I watched, my cheat-level hearing picked up Mireia muttering something that jolted me.

“What’s going on? Isn’t she the villainess?”

# # #

I sat in the guest bedroom at Pendor House (as a little sign on the front door now identified my new residence) with furious thoughts rolling through my brain. I needed sleep, but instead I was searching for any alternative way to explain Mireia’s words or the blatantly cliché scene I interrupted.

From the words of Amelia’s friends and Josannah’s gang, I knew more had happened than just some incident with a dress. I was still short on details, but I could say with confidence that Mireia and Rod had been interacting in some way, and those around them became jealous.

But why was this happening?

The HR Manager had given me a logical explanation, however weird, for why I could transmigrate into the world of IseNai, the light novel I read on Earth, but this new pattern was clearly an otome game or a shoujou manga. And we appeared to be at the beginning of the story, not joining it in progress as I had done with IseNai. The ‘clairvoyant author’ explanation just did not work this time.

Mireia appeared to be a fellow transmigrator. And she was a commoner with light and healing magic thrown suddenly into contact with royalty at an academy while surrounded by jealous noble daughters.

Amelia and her pals seemed to be on Mireia’s side. Even Erin belied her own harsh words for Mireia by warning me to not believe what other people said about the girl. But the protagonist sometimes has a few female allies, so the fact that Amelia, Erin and Clara weren’t following the pattern didn’t mean anything.

Or maybe Amelia was a capture target on the yuri route? Do otome games have yuri routes? That sounded wrong, but my knowledge is too limited. I’ve only read Isekai novels based on the concept. I’ve never played one.

The bottom line was, Mireia recognized it. And using her knowledge of me as the duke’s daughter with the dark past, she identified me as the villainess who would complete the cliché.

My mind was still furiously navigating all of this when Mother touched down on my balcony.

- my thoughts:

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