Chapter 29 – I forgot something important
The second day after Maria disappeared. We all searched desperately for her, but found no traces at all, and weren’t even able to get any clues.
All I had was impatience, and my heart was in a mess.
Why didn’t I go together with her at that time…… My regret was increasing every day.
“Here. Drink this and warm your body up. Your complexion looks terrible.”
The student council president said so as he poured some tea for me.
“Thank you very much.”
I took the tea and began sipping. It’s a gentle taste like always and it warmed my body.
In the student council room that was just like usual, I looked at the chair that Maria usually sat in.
Normally the student council president would be pouring tea for me, and Maria would be handing me sweets with a smile. But…… Right now, that smile’s not here……
“Maria-san’s quite dependable, and she has powerful light magic, I’m sure that she’ll definitely be alright.”
The student council president started talking to me in a gentle voice at seeing how I was frozen solid staring at Maria’s empty seat.
He also helped us in our search for Maria, and would comfort me with his gentle voice at seeing how depressed I was, being worried for my sake.
I’m not the only one that’s feeling painful…… My friends are probably all feeling painful as well…… Even the president was really friendly with Maria as well, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t be feeling painful as well.
Even though that’s how it should be, he’s still caring about how I am right now as well.
I can’t keep regretting and stay depressed like this. Let’s do the best that I can.
We’re definitely going to find you, Maria…… Please be safe, just wait, Maria……
And so, on the night of the third day after Maria went missing.
After I finished dinner in the dorms, and returned to my room to prepare for myself, Jared visited me with a grim look on his face.
It’s a bit too late to be visiting normally, and I got a bad feeling from the grim look on his face.
“What exactly is it at this time of night? Could it be, something’s happened to Maria……”
I was shaken as I said so, but Jared shook his head.
“I still don’t know where Maria could be. ……But, I may have gotten some relevant information.”
“First of all, please look at this.”
As he said so, what Jared brought out was from the other day, the papers that recorded the evidence of my wrongdoings that the girls had during my condemnation event.
“This is from…… the other day……”
“That’s right. It’s the documents that those girls brought out as evidence the other day. I really couldn’t get these documents out of my mind, and investigated them alongside searching for Maria, and……”
For some reason, Jared was much more concerned with the girls that caused my condemnation event than I was. But, after determining that the girls’ positions and powers weren’t enough to pose a threat to me, they seem to have been left alone. However, Jared’s analysis was that someone other than those girls had caused the incident.
And, the documents that those girls had were not something that they could have prepared.
Jared was really bothered about this, so in these few days, in conjunction with searching for Maria, he also investigated this. Then –
“I learned a really strange thing. It wasn’t those girls that had prepared all those documents.”
“……What’s that about?”
“It was someone other than those girls that prepared those documents. Then, even more oddly, those girls don’t remember at all from who or where they got those documents from.”
“……! ……Something like not remembering…… That’s…”
“It’s really unbelievable, isn’t it. At first, I also thought that they were lying, but after confirming various things…… It seems that they really can’t remember anything.”
Even though they had brought out that evidence with so much confidence, they didn’t even remember who or where they got those documents from…… Impossible…… In the first place, they shouldn’t have been able to print such things…… All those girls lost their memories……
While I was dazed by all of this, Jared continued speaking with a grim face.
“But, that’s not all there is to it. All those girls don’t remember at all why they did such a thing on that day.”
“Indeed, they did seem to dislike you. That seems to be the truth. But even so, it didn’t seem that they were considering insulting you in such a public manner like that.”
Those girls indeed disliked Katarina Claes, and actually when I was alone, if I passed by them they would turn around and make snide comments at me. However, they didn’t have enough courage to actually attack me or anything.
I, Katarina Claes, am the daughter of a duke after all, and also since I’m the fiancee of the third prince Jared, I’m in quite a position of power. If they clumsily attack me, it’ll be them that’s hurt more in the end. Those girls are quite high-ranking nobles themselves as well, but, I really didn’t think that they’d be the type to confront me in a fight head-on.
Even so…… They were different on that day. On that day, they gave off the feeling of “no matter what, we have to take a swing at that annoying Katarina Claes today.” What’s more, all of them were like that.
However, after they dispersed from the cafeteria, a little later that feeling disappeared completely, what’s more all of them were like “why did we do such a thing” and buried their heads in their arms, or so it seems.
“……But, if that’s really true, it’s such a strange story. It’s almost as if all of those girls were being magically manipulated by someone else.”
That’s what I muttered, then Jared’s expression became even darker.
“It’s not almost as if they were being manipulated…… They might really have been manipulated.”
“At that time, those girls seemed really strange to me as well.”
“But…… Something like manipulating them……”
There’s no doubt that humans can manipulate things like earth golems. In this world though, I’ve never heard of anything like hypnosis, and in the first place, something like being able to manipulate that many people at once……
Next to me who was completely lost in confusion, Jared spoke up again with his grim face.
“Manipulating people…… It’s possible if you have dark magic.”
“……Eh, something like dark magic…… Was there such a magic?”
The types of magic in this world are divided into “water, fire, earth, wind, and light,” and people with those magic powers would activate their latent abilities around a certain age. The school, and my home tutors as well, had taught me this knowledge that everyone knew even as a child.
The only types of magic are “water, fire, earth, wind, and light.”
Even after coming to magic school here, I’ve never learned about any other types of magic.
“Born from dark magic, is a spell that can manipulate people’s hearts.”
“……But, I’ve really never heard of such a spell or dark magic before……”
“Dark magic is considered dangerous, so it’s forbidden, and its very knowledge has been concealed from everyone. Only the highest ranking people in the country know of it.”
“It can manipulate your mind, and what’s more the one being manipulated won’t remember it at all, it’s a really terrifying magic.”
Manipulating your heart and mind without you knowing it, and what’s more causing you to forget about it afterwards. Indeed, that sounds really scary.
“……But, if those girls were really being manipulated by dark magic…… The motive must have been to cause my fall. Does that really have something to do with why Maria went missing?”
It’s really scary if there really is someone behind all this using dark magic. Also, I don’t really know why they would manipulate those girls either.
But, the person with dark magic who caused this incident should probably have some kind of grudge against me. If that’s the case, there should be no relation to Maria at all.
“That’s right. If you think about it normally, the target is Katarina Claes, and Maria is completely unrelated. But, she’s a holder of light magic.”
“That’s true but…… What does that have to do with it?”
“It’s said that dark magic is impossible to detect, but…… In opposition to darkness, only those with the power of light magic are said to be able to detect it.”
“……! Then, Maria……”
“She must have noticed something during that incident, and then contacted the person with dark magic. Then, she got taken away somewhere, and all of the above is purely my deduction.”
Dark magic, a spell that can manipulate people’s hearts…… Did Maria notice something?? Then, was she taken away somewhere by someone……
I suddenly received too much information and it went all over my head and I couldn’t think very well at all.
In the first place, I hadn’t known about the existence of dark magic up until now.
A forbidden, secret magic……
Huh? But then, I wonder what happens to people that are born with dark magic?
“……Uh, but if dark magic is considered dangerous and is a secret, what about people that are born with dark magic? Are they hidden from everyone after activating their magic powers? In the first place, it’s a magic that almost nobody knows about, isn’t it hard to find out even if their magic powers activate?”
I asked Jared the question that popped into my head.
“Dark magic isn’t something that people are born with like other types of magic. Dark magic is a type of magic that someone with magic already can acquire afterwards.”
“……A magic that someone can acquire afterwards……?”
Isn’t magic something that people have when they are born? Being able to acquire it afterwards…… What exactly does that mean?
While I was getting more and more confused, Jared told me in a quiet voice.
“There’s a ritual that’s required in order to acquire dark magic.”
“Yes, there’s a ritual. It’s said that you have to make an offering during a ritual in order to acquire dark magic.”
At my question, Jared suddenly stopped talking, and then sighed deeply.
“In a dark magic ritual, you must offer a human sacrifice, in order to obtain dark magic. So, anyone who has dark magic must have exchanged it for someone’s life.”
I’m in a completely dark place. I was standing somewhere in a world where I couldn’t see anything around me at all.
All the people important to me had fallen down by my feet. Jared, Keith, Mary, Alan, Sophia, Nico, and Maria. There was no life to any of them……
“Everyone, wake up, wake up!”
I desperately shouted, and shook everyone’s bodies, but not one of them moved.
“……How could this be, how did it become like this……”
I squatted by everyone’s sides who were all limp and unmoving. My body was trembling uncontrollably, and tears flowed out from my eyes.
Why did it become like this…… I’ve lost everyone important to me like this……
If everything becomes like this, how am I supposed to face the destruction ends all by myself……
All I could do in that pitch black world was cry.
When I opened my eyes, I saw a familiar ceiling. It’s the ceiling of the room I’ve been using in the dorms for more than half a year already. The room was still dark, and I couldn’t see any light outside my window at all. The sun probably hasn’t risen yet.
“……It…… was a dream.”
My voice was hoarse, and my body was trembling slightly. There was cold sweat on my back, and when I touched my cheeks they were slightly wet. It seems that just like in the dream, I was crying in real life as well.
What a terrible dream that was. I hugged my still trembling body tightly with both arms.
You have to trade someone else’s life in order to obtain dark magic. It’s magic where the price is a life.
It’s probably because that I heard such a scary topic, causing me to have such a scary dream. However, that future isn’t impossible……
In the game “Fortune Lover,” the only person whose life was at risk in the Alan, Keith, and Jared routes was the villainess rival Katarina Claes. I never got a chance to clear the Nico route…… The rival character for the Nico route is his sister Sophia. I think that it’s possible with how much of a siscon Nico is, he’d do anything at all for the sake of his sister.
That’s why…… That kind of future definitely isn’t impossible……
This game world is dangerous for Katarina Claes. Just me. And so, in order to overcome these dangers, I’ve prepared various countermeasures over these seven years.
I often told myself that “everything will be alright.”
Even so, that dream…… That scene wouldn’t disappear at all from my mind.
In the end, I wasn’t able to go back to sleep at all after that.
The next day, either because I hardly got any sleep at all, or because I had seen such a horrible dream……I collapsed in the morning while meeting with everyone, and so Keith and Jared accompanied to the infirmary where I got some rest.
Is it because I didn’t get enough sleep, I fell asleep the moment I hit the warm bed.
Quite a lot of time had passed when I woke up again, it was almost lunch break already, and as expected, Jared and Keith probably returned to class.
My head was completely cleared now thanks to sleeping so much, I thanked the infirmary nurse, and headed back to classes myself as well.
Yesterday, Jared had earnestly pleaded with me not to go anywhere by myself, but the short distance between the infirmary and classrooms shouldn’t be a problem, I think. Since there’s a shortcut in the garden between the infirmary and the classrooms, I’ll go through there.
I walked through the garden that was filled with sunshine. Then, I saw the tiny bench from before that Maria had been having lunch on before.
Then, just a little…… I walked over to the bench, and sat on it as well.
Until we became really good friends, Maria had always been eating here by herself.
That cute, gentle Maria…… Even though it’s already become completely natural that we’d be together now……
If Jared’s analysis yesterday was right…… Maria’s in quite a lot of danger right now. After all, she might have gotten involved with someone with dark magic that sacrificed someone else’s life……
“Katarina-san? What are you doing in a place like this?”
Suddenly, I heard a voice behind me and I looked back in surprise, and the student council president was standing there with his usual smile.
“Uh, uhh…… I wasn’t feeling well, so I was just resting in the infirmary, and I was about to return to the classrooms……”
“So that’s how it was. But, we still haven’t found Maria-san yet, it’s dangerous to be here by yourself in such an out-of-the-way place such as this. I’ll accompany you.”
“Th, thank you very much.”
And so, I took his outstretched hand that was proffered to me.
Then I suddenly had a thought. I wonder why would the student council president be in a place like this. Since classes are still going on right now, there weren’t any other students around. As for him, why would he be in a place like this?
As that question crossed my mind, and I looked at the president, while his brilliant red hair was sparkling from the sun’s rays.
At seeing that sight, a memory suddenly dug itself out of my mind.
“The hidden character is~ surprisingly bad~”
The smirking A-chan happily continued on with her spoilers despite my protests.
“He’s a dangerous person that has dark magic. If you capture him successfully, he’ll have a sweet daily life with the heroine, but…… If you fail, he’ll kill the heroine and all her friends in the student council, it’s a really bad end where everyone dies, isn’t it. – By the way, this hidden character…… Has brilliant red hair and grey eyes -”
Yes, I think I did hear something like this from A-chan.
The existence of a hidden character and his endings……
The ending from the dream yesterday definitely wasn’t impossible…… The heroine and everyone in the student council dying…… Such an ending definitely existed……
Cold sweat was running down my back.
Why did I forget such an important thing until now…… I’m really such an idiot……
Brilliant red hair and grey eyes – I stared at the student council president who was smiling gently before me, Sirius Deek. This person’s the hidden character in “Fortune Lover,” the person with dark magic –
This gentle person…… Will take the lives of Maria and the other student council members, everyone important to me…… I really can’t believe it at all……
However, if Jared’s analysis was right, this incident has to do with a dark magic user…… And the president – Sirius Deek, probably has the ability of dark magic.
Dark magic where you have to offer someone else’s life in exchange……
“Katarina-san, what’s the matter?”
While holding his hand, I was completely frozen, while I was busy suspecting him Sirius spoke up. His expression was his usual gentle self.
Is it really this person……
“President…… Do you have dark magic? And, what did you do to Maria?”
“………What’s dark magic?”
Before I realized it, I asked him by reflex, and Sirius had a confused look on his face. It’s a face that says he’s never heard of such a thing before.
That’s right. Most people probably wouldn’t know about such a magic. As for me as well, I had just heard about it from Jared, and never knew about it until then.
He really might not know. While in the game he had dark magic, it might be different now in reality.
My friends are also quite different from the characters in the game. The president as well, there’s quite a good chance that he’s different from the game.
“That’s right. You’ve probably never heard of such a thing. It’s impossible that such a gentle president would do anything to Maria and us with the power of dark magic. I’m sorry for asking you such a weird thing.”
That’s it, I must have gotten something wrong. I really can’t think that such a gentle president would do something like take other people’s lives with dark magic at all.
That’s what I thought, and when I looked at Sirius again –
I saw him looking at me with cold eyes that I had never seen before from him.
“……Gentle…… You said I’m always like that, right.”
“……I mean, since president is really gentle and all……”
I was a bit shaken at his cold eyes and voice but still answered him, and then –
Sirius changed his expression.
“That’s all just acting. It’s really easy to pretend to be gentle and calm. It looks like it was so easy to fool all you idiots, eh.”
At seeing how I opened my eyes wide in surprise, a smile appeared on Sirius’s face as if to make fun of me.
“By the way, I also kidnapped Maria Campbell. Because she found something out that she shouldn’t have. Also, Katarina Claes, I really hate you. Saying that you’re helping those that are lonely, saving people with the intention of being a hypocrite! I can’t help but be irritated whenever I look at you!”
He changed from his cold tone of voice, and now he was agitatedly shouting words full of anger towards me. He was still holding my hand in his really tightly as well, and it hurt quite a bit.
“You should just disappear somewhere already!”
Saying that I’m helping those that are lonely? Saving? Hypocrite? There’s so many things that I don’t understand about what Sirius is saying.
But, his words were so full of malice, I did understand that he seems to hate me……
And, it seems that this person was the culprit who took away Maria as well.
Then, just like in the game, will this person take away everyone’s lives in the student council, everyone important to me……
I looked into Sirius’s grey eyes. It was so different from his usual calm expression, his eyes were cold as ice.
He said that he himself kidnapped Maria. He said that his gentleness was all acting. All his words he spat out at me were full of malice.
Even so…… Why……
“……Are you alright?”
I reached out my free hand towards Sirius’s face.
Sirius who had such cold eyes and said such words full of malice towards me.
Even so, in contrast to his words, his face looked so very, very bitter…… It seemed like he would cry at any moment.
His complexion looked terrible as well, as if he would fall over at any moment……
When my outstretched hand touched his face, it was as cold as ice.
“……You hypocrite…… That’s enough out of you! Don’t bother yourself with me! Don’t get close to me! Don’t smile at me! ……Disappear from my sight already!”
He knocked away my hand that was touching his face, and shouted at me.
Then…… For some reason, everything slowly turned dark before me. And, my consciousness gradually faded……
“Just go to sleep like that. Keep sleeping until your life runs out.”
Sirius said so as if he were spitting it out.
The last thing I saw in my fading consciousness was –
Sirius was crying.