Chapter 12 You are Liar
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
I received information from Kanon that there are factions within the church who suspect me of knowing Alto’s whereabouts.
Immediately after that, I received a visitation notice from Divine Princess Forte and Divine Princess Aria. Under Beth’s proposal, we will be performing a play.
Since Frau only made a formal report, it seems that this plan was adopted. However, I can’t help but feel hurt. Even though it’s just acting, the thought of being disrespectful to Viola even for a moment surprised me with a strong resistance.
If Viola herself tells me to do it, I have no choice but to do it, but I wonder if I can really follow through…
On top of that, Aria is coming tomorrow.
Considering her calm observational eye, it is highly questionable whether my improvised acting will work.
…This is also to protect Alto, Viola’s sister.
I need to be prepared as well.
I’m in trouble.
Aria has somehow started visiting frequently.
She doesn’t ask to meet Viola, so I have managed to avoid any problems for now, but it’s only a matter of time before my flaws are exposed.
I was able to hide Alto in Kanon’s mansion, but I wonder if it’s really okay.
* * *
It’s definitely strange.
”…Aria, would you like some more tea?”
”Oh, no need to trouble yourself…”
It’s definitely strange after all.
I can’t believe that someone like Lute-sama would treat a woman like that, even if she is a slave.
When I reported it, the people from the church laughed vulgarly and made fun of Lute-sama, but I just couldn’t believe what I saw that day, so I started visiting Lute-sama’s house whenever I had the time.
”Um… So, what is it today again?”
”…Well, could you show me some magic tools or something? I’m interested.”
”Magic tools, huh… Understood.”
Furthermore, despite the risk of being discovered by Lute-sama, I gathered testimonies from various sources that claimed to have seen someone resembling Viola-san taking a wheelchair ride around the town.
I heard various things about what happened. One said that they were walking in silence, another said they were happily chatting. There were even rumors of them having a quarrel and Lute-sama supposedly hitting a woman who appeared to be a slave.
The information is all over the place, but the majority of the eyewitness testimonies seem to be positive.
Lute-sama has always been treated as a mad scientist, so the residents of the town tend to keep their distance. However, those who know about his support for the orphanage and his achievements for the Empire have a strong admiration for him. I’m one of those people.
That’s why I can’t believe this incident.
And it’s not just Lute-sama who seems suspicious. The investigation this time was ordered by Cardinal-sama’s entourage, not by Kanon-sama.
When I asked Kanon-sama why, I didn’t receive an answer, and the situation became even more confusing.
On the contrary, why isn’t Kanon-sama trying to blame Lute-sama for his actions?
The answer is obvious. Lute-sama’s previous actions were fake.
”Oh… how about this? It’s a magic tool that automatically cleans…”
Speaking about Lute-sama the other day… I couldn’t help but be shocked by the words “remote control of magic tools.” But his true purpose is not the development of weapons.
Despite many of his inventions being excessively used for military purposes, they were originally developed with peaceful use in mind.
Even the medical equipment that saved my father from a serious illness was developed by Lute-sama for him.
And yet, he suddenly bought slaves as if that was his intention? That’s just absurd. No matter how you look at it.
”They’re quite adorable, aren’t they…”
”Yeah, right? I feel attached to them for some reason. If you like, you can take them with you.”
”Are you sure about that? Shouldn’t all of Lute-sama’s inventions go through Serenade-sama first?”
”Oh, well. Maraketh-sama has always been a great help to me too. This is just a small favor. Besides, Serenade-sama has given me a certain degree of freedom. So, you don’t need to worry.”
Looking at the box rolling on the floor, Lute-sama gazes at it with gentle eyes.
His profile is that of the usual kind Lute-sama.
I can’t imagine him treating slaves badly.
No, maybe I just want him to not treat me badly.
”Are you lying to me about something?”
If that’s the case, what should I do?
If Lute-sama lied, I would have to report it to the church as part of my duty.
But if there was a hidden truth, there’s no way I could hand Lute-sama over to the church.
Even the recent visit was solely to save face for the church.
I didn’t have an ounce of doubt towards Lute-sama, unlike Forte.
Today, in front of Forte, he only interacted with me in a reserved manner. However, I visited Lute-sama not as the Divine Princess but as an individual. From the casual tone he used, it seems that Lute-sama understands my intentions.
”Um, a lie…?”
”It’s about Viola-san.”
So, now he might tell me the truth.
I really want to know. Even if it wasn’t a lie. It’s a shock, but I understand that I’m not in a position to criticize Lute-sama’s preferences.
”What do you think is a lie?”
”I don’t know. But I feel something is off. I can’t imagine Lute-sama treating slaves like that.”
”That’s an overgeneralization. There are many aspects of me that I haven’t shown to others, including you. You might despise it, but there’s no lie.”
”Lute-sama didn’t seem very interested in women, though.”
”That’s not true.”
”Even though the woman you’re dating has no connection to such store, why is that?”
”Why do you know that?”
Did I talk too much?
Well, but that doesn’t matter now.
”Since you acquired that slave… you’ve suddenly developed such desires.”
Well, with her exceptionally beautiful appearance, that might be a reason. Even though I had some confidence in my own looks, she was still more beautiful, even with her dirt and scars.
”Ah, no… um… Frau, yes, it was a relationship like that. A man-woman relationship.”
At that moment,
There was a loud crash from the kitchen. I could hear Frau-san’s startled scream. I don’t know what happened, but I hope she’s okay.
Lute-sama rushed to the kitchen in a panic, and I anxiously waited, watching his back as he ran. It took a few minutes, but eventually, everything fell silent.
For some reason, Lute-sama returned with Frau-san looking down with a bright red face and the two sit next to each other on the sofa, creating an indescribable atmosphere.
Viola, the slave, is beautiful, but Frau is unbelievably cute. Although they are different types, having such beautiful people by his side might influence his preferences.
”…Frau-san, are you… Lute-sama’s lover?”
”Eh!? W-W-What… I, someone like me, as Lute-sama’s lover…”
”But earlier, Lute-sama mentioned that he has that kind of relationship with you…”
”Ah… U-Um… Th-That… it’s about… um… well, our physical relationship…”
This is just too suspicious.
But if I’m asked to reveal our physical relationship, it’s definitely embarrassing.
Still, I wonder if it’s true? It’s suspicious, but it’s not definite.
”…Is it true?”
”It’s true! Um, well… because Lute-sama likes that kind of thing!!”
…What does that mean?
I’m starting to feel embarrassed even for asking questions.
Even though Lute-sama is a man, it’s not strange for him to have that side… but still.
And yet, there is a significant distance between the two of them sitting, and despite there being a physical relationship, there seems to be a rational distance.
As I stare at her with suspicion, Frau-san also hurriedly snuggles up to Lute-sama, and if I keep staring, she blushes and crosses her arms… definitely suspicious.
”…You’re lying, aren’t you?”
”I-I’m not lying!!”
Why is she reacting so naively?
If Lute-sama lied, who knows how he would react, but I know very well that he wouldn’t get angry over something like that.
That’s why, this is definitely a lie.
”I can’t believe it.”
”Um, even if you say that…!! …L-Lute-sama!! I-I apologize!!”
After giving a kiss on Lute-sama’s cheek, Frau-san immediately turns red and covers her face with both hands, as if she’s about to explode. Even Lute-sama is blushing.
I wonder what’s going on. It’s making me a little irritated. …No, actually, quite a lot.
”Um… what do you think?”
”No matter how you say it… it’s just a physical relationship, right?”
It’s frustrating. I feel like scratching my head and screaming for no reason right now.
”Just by giving a kiss on the cheek… you turn so red, huh?”
”Well… th-that’s because it’s in public…”
I can sense Frau-san’s undeniable affection towards Lute-sama. I may not be good at understanding these things, but even I can’t miss something so obvious.
”But I-I can do it with my mouth too!!!”
”I can do it!!!”
No, I really don’t want to see that.
Why do I have to be shown Frau-san and Lute-sama’s love?
I don’t want to see it, but if I could, it wouldn’t be bad to try.
It’s not like I think anything of it.
In my mind, I’m already convinced that there is no physical relationship between them.
Judging from this reaction, they haven’t even kissed, have they?
”W-Well, I even kissed Lute-sama on the neck!!”
Such a lie.
I can’t see any indication that they can do such a thing.
”I even showed my important parts!!”
Such a lie…
It’s a lie, right?
For a moment, Lute-sama’s gaze went to Frau-san’s lower body, but what was that gaze just now?
What does it mean that he blushed as if he remembered something?
And what do they mean by “show”?
Isn’t it just a setting of a physical relationship?
What Frau-san saying is absurd.
”T-then how can I make you believe!?”
Frau-san approached me with a desperate look on her face, while Lute-sama gazed at me with a troubled expression. Even though I should have just stopped, I couldn’t help but stubbornly provoke them with silly words.
”Well… If you can say that you can kiss with your mouth, then I won’t believe it unless you two kiss right in front of my eyes.”
There’s no way that’s possible. I don’t know why, but I thought that at that moment. However…
So when Lute-sama said that and placed his hand on Frau-san’s shoulder, I was surprisingly taken aback and couldn’t find the words to say.
”Frau, close your eyes.”
As Frau-san’s face turned red enough to catch fire and her shoulders began to tremble, he slowly approached Frau-san, whose eyes were closed… I was still standing there with my mouth open, making a foolish expression.
At that moment, I still can’t remember what I was thinking.
I sat there, frozen in surprise, but just a little, their lips would overlap,
I realized that the scream that echoed was my own, and I stiffened in shock.
* * *
Imperial Orthodox Church, Holy Capital, Divine Princess Special Building.
”Hmm? Are you tired?”
”…Do I look like it?”
”Well, at least you don’t seem energetic.”
As I let out another sigh, I sank into the chair in the break room, the sound of my body hitting the seat echoing through the room.
I feel exhausted all over, my body heavy.
I know the cause.
It’s because of lack of sleep.
”Forte… Do I look like I have panda eyes?”
”Oh, you’re right. You have them. Is it because you didn’t get enough sleep?”
Can she tell even with makeup on? If I were to remove my makeup, I would probably look even worse.
”What’s wrong? Is something bothering you?”
”…I don’t really know.”
That day, the day when Frau-san and Lute-sama were about to kiss at Lute-sama’s house.
I let out an unconscious scream when their kiss was just about to happen, and then I fled from the scene as if escaping.
”Isn’t it rare for Aria-chan to be troubled…?”
Why did I scream like that in such a place? I still don’t really understand it myself. It’s the first time I’ve experienced not being able to understand my own feelings, and I’ve been troubled by that scene that flashes back to me since that day.
What comes to mind is Lute-sama’s face, about to kiss Frau-san just a little bit more. I saw Lute-sama’s face like that for the first time.
But the biggest issue is not there. In my reminiscence, the person Lute-sama tries to kiss is sometimes replaced by me…
”Aria-chan, are you feeling unwell? Your face is so red. Are you feverish?”
”…N-no, it’s nothing.”
”Really? Don’t push yourself.”
I keep having such dreams every night, and I wake up in a panic. Before I knew it, I’m in a terrible state of sleep deprivation and poor health.
I have so much work to do right now, and now is not the time to be feeling unwell… but I really hope they will give me a break.
”Did Lute-sama… take it pretty hard?”
”W-What…? Why all of a sudden…”
When Forte asks me with a worried expression, I glance away, stumbling over my words. She has the knack of saying things that catch me off guard, even though she’s usually so laid-back.
”Well, because Lute-sama is Aria-chan’s betrothed, right?”
”N-No, that’s not true!”
”Huh? Really? But Maraketh-sama said…”
”That was just my father speaking without permission!! It’s not a promise or anything!!”
”I see… I’m sorry, I didn’t understand…”
”…Please don’t spread such rumors about Lute-sama, it would only trouble him.”
Yes, it’s because of such rumors that I can’t help but be conscious of Lute-sama.
In the past, my father suffered from a rare illness that caused his mana circuits to harden.
Apparently he was fine until I was born, but he developed symptoms around the same time as my birth.
With each passing day, his body grows weaker, to the point where even eating becomes a challenge.
We have done everything in our power to seek help, reaching out to famous doctors in desperation. However, there are no signs of improvement in my father’s condition. It feels hopeless.
As the days turned into years of endless caregiving, even my mother, who had been strong, collapsed from overwork and fell ill herself. Our family became overwhelmed by these circumstances.
At that time, I never could have imagined that I would one day become a Divine Princess. We had no one else to rely on, and if my father were to fall, our situation would worsen in an instant.
Our servants, sensing the crisis looming over our household, began seeking opportunities elsewhere, leaving us weak. To make matters worse, some of the remaining servants started experiencing the same symptoms as my father. We found ourselves trapped in a situation where we could not see even an inch into the future.
The image of our once vibrant place gradually fading away haunts me even now. It brings a deep ache to my heart.
Even at a young age, I realized that we had been forced into a situation that we had no control over, so I kept crying in my room alone every day.
And then, in that moment, Lute-sama suddenly knocked on our door.
At that time, he was a rising star among the new and promising magic engineers. Although he was introduced to us by Kanon-sama, who was starting to make a name for herself at the church, there were hardly any expectations for Lute-sama, who didn’t have any significant achievements.
Under normal circumstances, the people in my house would have turned him away, but at that moment, it must have been a desperate plea for help.
’Maraketh-sama is a person this country cannot afford to lose. I will definitely cure him.’
Invited into our estate, Lute-sama declared this with a calm expression, which gave me an unbelievable sense of reassurance at that time.
I was only six years old back then. Lute-sama himself was a mere fifteen years old.
Only Lute-sama can do what no great doctor has ever done.
He will use the latest technology that I have never seen or heard of to fight against my father’s illness.
Suddenly, various magic tools that I had never seen before were brought into our house, and my mother seemed restless. However… for some reason, at that time, I unconditionally trusted Lute-sama.
Lute-sama is the only one who has done what no other renowned doctor could do. He harnesses the latest, unheard-of technologies to combat my father’s illness.
Above all, Lute-sama has never once said, “It’s impossible.”As days passed, my father’s condition began to show signs of recovery.
One day, six months later, when Lute-sama said, “It should be fine now,” our family all broke down in tears.
At that moment, Lute-sama gently stroked my tearful head with kind eyes and gentle hands. He said, “You’ve worked so hard.” I’ve never forgotten that image of Lute-sama from that day on, and neither has my family.
Even though my father’s health has improved, he and my mother still insist that Lute-sama should marry me someday, despite our pleas to stop bothering him.
’The word ‘genius’ applies to Lute-sama more than anyone else I’ve seen. Aria, do your best to serve Lute-sama and repay his kindness someday. Dedicate yourself and grow into a woman worthy of him.’
While I completely agree with the genius part, I’ve never agreed with the latter. Instead of growing into a woman worthy of Lute-sama, I ended up in the position of a Divine Princess.
When I heard that I was chosen as a Divine Princess, no one in my family celebrated. It’s no surprise; I never wanted a profession that treats men as objects, and my family didn’t want it either.
But I wanted to be of use to Lute-sama. When I heard that he could obtain the power to protect the empire, I didn’t hesitate to become a Divine Princess.
”Aria-chan? Are you okay?”
”Uh…? Oh, sorry, I was lost in thought.”
”It’s really important not to push yourself. You can go home for the day. All that’s left is reporting, and I can handle it alone.”
With a worried look on her face, Forte peered at me, and I shook my head to show her that it’s not just me who’s going through a tough time.
Forte, who came from a commoner background, has faced much more hardship than I have. I’m more privileged, so I need to be strong.
I took a deep breath, ready to stand up despite my aching body when suddenly, the door opened, and a person entered the rest area, a person that made both me and Forte furrow our brows.
”Oh, it was you guys?”
Forte and I both frowned when we saw someone open the door and enter the rest room, making a high-pitched voice.
”What’s with those faces? Isn’t that a bit rude? Are you looking for a fight?”
”We’re not… What are you doing here?”
”Isn’t this the place you always complain about being dirty? I’ve heard those rumors, you know.”
”Aria-chan… Marcato-sama, please, don’t fight…”
With her unattractive vertical golden drills, Marcato wore a Divine Princess mantle with the emblem of the church haphazardly adorned, and underneath that, she wore a red dress without a chest plate.
She was a woman who seemed to give heartburn just by looking at her attire. However, what stood out amidst all the decorations was the silver gauntlets on her hands and the silver greaves that covered her knees.
Divine Princess Marcato, the only one among the top-class Divine Princesses who made a living as a martial artist, was a problematic figure who had never escaped bad rumors even during the recent great war.
”I’m not here for a fight. By the way, I’ve been wondering for a while, but why do you call Aria by her first name? In terms of lineage, our families are equals. However, even if we’re both top-class Divine Princesses, isn’t it disrespectful for you, a commoner, to use her first name?”
”Uh… That’s… Well…”
”…It’s none of your business. I asked Forte not to use titles with me. Leave it.”
This haughty woman, always getting on my nerves. It’s baffling how her subordinates hold her in such high regard. Is it just her control through magic, or is she dosing herself with some kind of substance?
”Oh? I thought there might be a reason, but it seems like it’s just familiarity. Aria, it’s not that you lack the dignity of a noble, but rather, you’re too full of yourself.”
”…I told you it’s none of your business. What do you know about the dignity of a noble? If you think acting high and mighty is what makes a noble, then that’s just rubbish.”
As I spat out those words, Marcato wore an infuriating expression and covered her mouth in an exaggerated manner, saying, “Well, how vulgar.”
Ignoring Marcato’s antics, I continued to glare at her, while she flipped her hair behind her shoulder and put her hand on her hip.
”Seems like you’ve forgotten the duties of a noble… Well, very well. I actually have a reason for coming here. I’ve been asking around because there’s something that’s piqued my interest. So while I’m at it, why don’t you two answer my questions?”
”…Something on your mind?”
”Yes, about the incident with the murder of warrior monk (knight templar) that happened recently.”
The story of three templar being killed by the side of the royal highway in the city. I heard that Marcato’s unit was assigned to investigate it, but… I don’t know anything about the incident. I don’t know any of the templar.
”While investigating, we found out that some suspicious individuals were seen right before the templar were killed. Multiple people, it seems.”
”One was a woman sitting on a self-moving chair. Her appearance is unknown as she was heavily cloaked.”
A self-moving chair… Could it be a magic device?
”Next, a woman in a maid outfit with purple hair and a ponytail.”
…That sounds like one of the members of the former Divine Princess Quartet, the ex-Royal Guard Squad Leader. But… Purple hair isn’t that rare…
”Lastly, a man with a sword. Tall, slim, with black, short hair, and a menacing look.”
”Do any of these ring a bell?”
”…No, they don’t.”
I glanced sideways, and for a moment, our eyes met.
”N-No, I don’t know them…”
”Oh, I see. Well, I didn’t have high hopes anyway.”
My heart started racing. I needed to maintain my composure. A self-moving chair, a maid with purple hair in a ponytail, and a tall, menacing man with black hair. The people she described matched the individuals I had just been reminiscing about.
But the current information is too vague. I can’t afford to cause any unnecessary trouble.
”Is that all you wanted? If you’re done, please leave.”
”You’re so harsh… By the way, why don’t you both come take a look? I’ve come across something quite unusual.”
”…What a presumptuous attitude. You’re probably here to brag about something, as usual.”
”Please don’t snap at me. Oratorio, come in.”
When a heavy chain made a clanking sound and a figure emerged from the shadows behind the door, a shiver ran down my spine.
Scales covering the limbs, a lizard-like tail, burning red eyes, twisted horns extending from the forehead.
”A Draconia… hatchling?”
”Oh, you’re quite knowledgeable. I was planning to tell you anyway. I happened to come across him while on a mission in the mountains.”
That’s a lie. It’s not a chance encounter. Creatures like Draconias, who live within the sanctuaries and use magic glyphs to conceal themselves, rarely reveal themselves to the public. He would never come into a populated area of his own volition.
Chains were connected to his neck, wrists, and ankles, each bearing elaborate magical symbols. It was clear that he wasn’t here of his own free will. His eyes were half-closed, and his focus seemed blurred, perhaps from exhaustion.
”What are you thinking, taking a Draconia hatchling like this?”
”I didn’t kidnap him. The child followed me voluntarily. I put on these restraints just as a precaution. Without them, I couldn’t have him follow me, with all the attention he would attract.”
Is she really suggesting that the Draconia came willingly?
”Marcato… Did you attract him with mana?”
Otherwise, there’s no way a Draconia would willingly come all the way to a human settlement.
”Don’t make it sound bad. Didn’t I tell you? The child came on his own, and I just protected him.”
”Protected…! You’re saying this while he’s chained up!! His parents will come looking for him!”
”Don’t worry. Isn’t that right, Oratorio?”
Speaking human language so naturally… This is really bad.
This individual has a significantly high level of intelligence. His parents must be even more intelligent. If the parents come to retrieve him, if we’re not careful, the entire holy city might be in danger.
This foolish woman! How could she, right after the kingdom fell, intrude into the mountains protected by the sanctuaries and abduct a Draconia like this?
”Oratorio… is mine, isn’t he?”
The Draconia hatchling, whose cheek was caressed by Marcato, suddenly displayed a dreamy expression and blushed, gazing at Marcato.
He seems to be reacting strongly to Marcato’s powerful mana. He’s still a hatchling, so maybe he has a weaker resistance. It must have never encountered malicious or bewitching mana before.
His parents have undoubtedly raised him with care. He wouldn’t know how to handle malevolent influences.
”That’s why you don’t need to worry. Even if the parents come, they’ll back down after confirming Oratorio’s intentions.”
That won’t work out as smoothly as she thinks.
”…Does the Church know about this?”
”They know. I’ve reported it to His Holiness. He was very pleased that I brought a Draconia, a symbol of the Church, with me.”
No one seems to be aware of the impending danger. She mentions the Pope’s name as if it’s some kind of endorsement, but the real orchestrators are likely to be Archbishop Corale or Archbishop Allegretto.
They are known for recruiting unaffiliated Divine Princesses one after another. There are rumors of some shady activities, and ordering Marcato to capture a Draconia is undoubtedly part of those schemes.
”Oh, don’t make such a scary face. Are you jealous?”
”Don’t talk nonsense!!”
As soon as I yelled at Marcato, the expression of the Draconia referred to as Oratorio changed drastically, emitting a menacing aura. I involuntarily turned pale and took a step back in response to the overwhelming pressure.
”Haha~♡ You don’t like it, do you? Such a quick-tempered lady… Come on, Oratorio. You don’t need to worry.”
Seeing the ecstatic expression of Oratorio as he was embraced in Marcato’s chest, I felt a surge of nausea building up inside me.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.