Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 40 (Part 2)
Morning. After exchanging morning greetings with Luca, I got ready and headed for the living room. Noel, who had woken up earlier, smiled at me as I strolled in with a sigh.
“Good morning, nii-sama. You look sleepy.”
“Good morning, Noel. I’m not used to having a big bed all to myself, so I had a hard time sleeping. But I don’t mind staying awake for roughly three nights in a row, so don’t worry about it.”
“The first half of your excuse will make Luca happy, but the latter half will make him angry, you know?”
“As long as you don’t tell him, he won’t find out.”
“Th-then it’s a secret between us!”
Was that what you wanted, little sister?
I prepared breakfast with Noel. She seemed to be excited by the idea of keeping a secret with me. Just like yesterday, I took the food that Bennett had prepared in advance out of my magic bag and put it on the table. It only took five minutes, and then we sat across from each other and ate.
As it was breakfast, we finished eating quickly. Then we drank the tea that Noel had made for us. I told her that I had called Luca last night and again this morning, and she proceeded to tell me more about him.
Luca had always been the subject of a lot of advances from noblewomen and had even been approached for marriage several times. However, since the crown prince was already betrothed, Luca was allowed to have a civilian partner. Thus, he had rejected all offers of engagement.
“But Luca didn’t look at anyone, even at the school where there were many civilians. He was always surrounded by women, but he would just smile coldly and brush them off. Sometimes even men confessed to him, but he refused them all too. How should I put it…he seemed to have no interest in living.”
“Really? Our Luca? I can’t imagine.”
“Since he met you, nii-sama, he’s been very lively. I was surprised, too.”
He had no interest in living, huh? Luca had said before that as royalty born in the same clan as the god Soleil, he felt pressured. I wondered if his mental health had been affected as a result of the excessive expectations placed on him from an early age.
“Come to think of it, Luca only showed interest when I talked about you, nii-sama.”
“When you talked about me…?”
“Yes. Ever since I was little, Luca would ask me to tell him stories about you. What you were like, what you did in your spare time, things like that.”
“He was probably curious because I’m a dark attribute user, no?”
“Eh? But father and Orobas repeatedly warned me not to tell anyone about your attribute. I don’t remember violating that rule.”
Orobas was the name of our butler. He took care of me from the time I was born until I left the house. He was also responsible for bringing Noel back upstairs when she occasionally broke into the basement. In those days, Noel would puff out her cheeks at our butler’s chiding…
“Could it be that when Luca asked you what my hair colour was, you said black?”
“…Ah… I, I might have.”
I couldn’t help but smile at Noel’s darting eyes. When Orobas had once questioned her about eating my snacks, she had looked at him the same way. Then, finally, she hid behind me.
Anyway, I believe Luca has known for a long time that the son of Count Brady (his magic instructor’s son) and Noel’s brother, had black hair. That was probably why he was not prejudiced against dark attribute users and fell in love with me.
Even so, Luca and Noel must have been close enough to talk about me. In the game, the player would start with zero favourability. However, this was reality.
“Noel, um… did you not fall in love with Luca? He’s so sweet and such a nice guy.”
“No, I didn’t. He’s only a childhood friend whom I was comfortable talking to about my brother. He is also the strongest ally that can hold you together right now. And by the way, the fact that Luca is nice and gentle is only for you, nii-sama.”
“I-Is that so?”
I was relieved by her answer, but at the same time, I loathed myself for asking such a strange question. Wasn’t that just saying that I was jealous of my little sister?
But Noel was not annoyed, in fact, she looked at me with a very earnest expression.
“Nii-sama, do you remember what I asked you before on the beach?”
The beach? …Ahh, I did remember. About two months ago, in early August, I was alone with Noel on the private beach of our rental house, looking out at the ocean. That was when she asked me.
–She had asked me if I would live in the capital with Luca when we finished collecting the star fragments.
I had replied that it was impossible. I couldn’t stay in a populated place because of my dark attribute. I said that I would just continue to be an adventurer as I always had. If Luca became an adventurer, he could stay with me forever. But if he were to stay in the capital, that would be the end of it.
“At that time, I made a promise to you, nii-sama. We had to collect more star fragments than Zagan-dono and ask the king to let the two of you live together in the capital. …but all the shards you had were taken away. It was because I was held hostage.”
Noel frowned and clenched her hands tightly. The table shook, and a bit of tea spilt from her cup.
She was consumed by regret. Even though I told her it wasn’t anyone’s fault. Besides, it wasn’t just Noel who was taken hostage. Bennett, Cindy, and the knights around us. We were all surrounded and unable to move.
Yet, she still blamed herself, didn’t she? It was time to quit thinking of it as her game settings giving her a strong sense of justice. This was reality, after all.
Noel was a very curious child. Despite repeated warnings from our butler and me, she never stopped trying to get into the basement. She always begged me to read her picture books, and she would often play pranks. I was glad to see that my little sister, who had been such a spoiled kid and a bit of a tomboy, had grown up to be a strong and gentle young woman.
For now though, I wanted to make her unclench her fists because she was clenching them so tightly that her palms were seeping blood. Just as I was about to reach for her hands, Noel looked up.
“I’ve been chasing your shadow for the past fourteen years, nii-sama. I’ve always remembered. You were so kind. …I cried every day after you left. I never thought that you would never come back again.”
When I had left the Brady family estate, Noel waved at me from a distance, and I believe she was smiling. But she was four years old at the time. She must have seen me off in the same way she saw our father off to work.
“You had no choice but to leave because of your dark attribute. When I understood that, I decided to take your place and aimed to become a knight. I thought that if my kind-hearted nii-sama had stayed home, he would surely fight for the country and its people. That’s why I worked hard to be able to fill in for you, even if only a little. However… I was lonely. I always wanted to see you again…hngh-“
My little sister was appealing to me while on the verge of tears.
I was born with the dark attribute, so I spent a lot of time in the basement and felt lonely, but maybe I was still a lucky person. I had a sister who cared for me deeply, after all.
“I want to stay by your side, nii-sama. I finally… finally got to meet you again. I don’t want to be separated from you! So, please give me a chance. Anything is fine. Just give me a task that you’re okay with. If I can overcome it, then promise me that you won’t go anywhere.”
The star fragments were taken away from me. Noel’s determination to collect more pieces than me has been crushed, and because of that, the hope of making me live in the royal capital could no longer be fulfilled. She knew that if she didn’t convince me, her wish would be meaningless.
That was why I found myself longing for it – Her asking me to stay by her side.
“…Are you willing to take on any task no matter how impossible it may be?”
“I am.” Noel answered immediately.
I see. That’s right. If I couldn’t fulfil one or two of my precious sister’s selfish wishes, what kind of a brother would I be?
“All right, I’ll think about it.”
“T-Thank you so much, nii-sama!”
“First, you have to finish writing that letter to Count Brady.”
“Ah, that’s right. I’ll do my best!”
Noel nodded with a smile. Then she looked at her palms and gasped. Apparently, she hadn’t noticed that they were bleeding. I immediately cast a recovery spell, which healed her injuries, and she began to write the rest of the letter in a cheerful mood.
I moved to the sofa and continued to work on improving the magic barrier, with my sister by my side.
I was currently alive. After overcoming absolute death, the pressure and fear that had been eating away at my mind were gone. If I could break free from the compulsion of the Akashic Records, I would not die in the future unless I screwed up very badly.
That was why I had to think about it… The future.
Yes, I was alive. I could shape the future.
However, there was a big obstacle, the shackles of the dark attribute.
Luca definitely wanted me to stay by his side. Of course, I wanted the same.
But because I had a dark attribute, society would never allow me to do so. Moreover, Luca was royalty, plus we were both men, so this would cause additional animosity.
There were simply too many obstacles standing in our way.
Therefore, Luca should abandon his title as a prince and become an adventurer. That way, he would be separated from the rest of the world. Free from the constraints of attributes and gender.
I thought that would be the best thing for him and that it would happen naturally without me having to say anything.
It was three days later that Noel finished writing the letter. She chose her words with great care, agonising over them, and apparently wrote over five pages. After carefully placing them in an envelope, she promptly went into town to mail it.
She returned in less than half an hour. It seemed she was worried about leaving me behind, so she rushed back.
The next morning, while I was preparing breakfast in the living room, Noel came in a little late.
“Good morning, Noel.”
“Good morn-…N, Nii-sama…?”
Noel’s eyes widened, seemingly surprised by my outfit. As she came close to me, I gave her an order.
“Eat your breakfast and change into your full gear. We’re going out.”