Time for a Decision 5
With the shrill shriek of something shattering fading away, the overwhelming thought, ‘this is good’ was immediately scratched out of my mind.
What remained was a growing frustration in the pit of my stomach, blood that ran through my veins like frozen water, and the numbing realization that I had been so easily brought under a spell. Why had I thought that it was a ‘good’ thing for Ordo to put his hands on Emilia…….. No, I have no idea why. That’s why not just me, but the entire room felt chilled.
“Hold that woman down! Remove all the accessories she’s wearing!”
And then Gina’s raised voice cut through the silence and shattered the cold tension plaguing us.
This attitude was unlike her as she raised her voice up and shouted out directions to all the knights around her. Upon receiving those orders, everyone’s senses finally returned to them, and the knights moved to restrain Emilia. Although it was quite the sight seeing so many large knights surround a small girl, when I looked towards Gina I saw that her eyes were cold and empty–completely different from the usual gentle look she carried. Those eyes scared me, but I was much more frightened for Emilia.
Every button Emilia wore shined, and the men were thorough enough to take even them. Emilia was trembling, looking down at her tearing clothes as the buttons fell to the ground at the tip of a sword with a palpitating complexion.
Buttons make for fine decorations, but they are beautifully unnecessary for some pajamas. Still, some simple ones would have been much more preferred over the torn fabric and shiny baubles that now casually lay on the ground.
“…….What just happened?”
Ordo finally muttered something out while staring down on Emilia. Obviously he was unable to smile right now, and his eyes were sharp with a deep wrinkle between his brows.
At that moment, Ordo had made the decision to, ‘make Emilia mine,’ and have her as a concubine. The curse had even affected him. Now he was unable to believe how he had acted, and when I turned my gaze on him, I realized I did so with some aversion in my heart rather than puzzlement.
“Emilia’s magic activated. You and I were swallowed up in an instant.”
“But Emilia herself was rejecting my advances. Was this because of her original curse?”
“Yes, Emilia’s wish was too strong. It tried to activate even though she herself didn’t want it to.”
At that moment, Emilia had realized the seriousness of what she had inadvertently done, and she showed no resistance. She must have been preparing herself to receive any type of punishment, and at the same time, I could tell she had understood that she would never be a ‘sparkling princess’ ever again.
But Emilia’s magic was too strong, and the wish that had turned into a curse would not allow such a development to take place. Even in this place, the curse had gotten Ordo involved and convinced him that as the new king, Emilia deserved to be made a ‘sparkling princess’ once again.
If Percival was not here, then Emilia would have been taken in as Ordo’s concubine. It was an ending that she did not want, and it would have been the same as a brutal king kidnapping a young girl.
Emilia would have been forced to sit next to him and received all that unwanted hospitality.
When considering the gorgeous mansion Ordo had even when he wasn’t a king, Emilia would have lived an extravagant life as a concubine. Since she was capable of producing a spell that overcame not only me, but Gina as well, she would have been treasured all the more.
Beginning with Alexis, and then coming to Ordo via Rodel. Every time the situation changes, the target changes with it, and the story of the ‘sparkling princess’ would continue with it.
What a strong curse. Every ounce of Emilia’s magic is being used to keep fueling her dream of being a ‘sparkling princess.’
It does not consider the consequences or circumstances; even the will of the person in question is meaningless……
“I see, so I would have abandoned even my own dream for it? That means I was made into a character of Emilia’s neverending princess story. Hey Alexis, that means I’m better than you!”
Whether he fully understood the situation or not, Ordo was laughing happily. That bad smile he wore was just like usual. Alexis, who was being made fun of before everyone else, faced Ordo with a tired expression……before turning away. It was negligible.
On the contrary, he lifted up Concetta who had just returned from the royal palace carrying Robertson on his head, and Alexis started petting Concetta’s bristling hair. Wasn’t he completely ignoring Ordo’s barb?
However, that attitude itself meant that Alexis had somewhat returned to how he had been before, and Ordo made a small smirk while murmuring, “What a naughty nephew.
It was both behavior that was just like them, but it was too incompatible of an interaction in this place. I was incredulously watching them both from inside my helmet……..when a sudden cough took my gaze away.
Emilia was being led away by some of the nights, and she was coughing while holding her clothes down over her chest.
Ah, after all……..
I narrowed my eyes when I saw the tears on Emilia’s cheeks.
I tried holding down the ache in my chest through the iron when I heard someone call, “Miss Monette,” from behind me. Looking, it was Percival who was walking towards me while sheathing his sword.
“Miss Monette, are you alright?”
Hurriedly adjusting my helmet so that he wouldn’t be able to see my eyes, I soon returned to myself and nodded my head.
“Percival, thank you for helping me.”
“No, it goes without saying. I was the only one who was able to move in that situation, so my actions were the obvious result.”
“…..No, it’s not just that. You could have cut Emilia down too then, but you didn’t.”
Saying that much, Percival bashfully nodded his head.
In that moment, Percival could have easily cut down Emilia as well. If it was a blow from a witch slayer, there would have been no way for a witch like Emilia to avoid it. Even if she were to use strong magic to mislead her surroundings, nobody here had the reflexes to intercept him.
Especially not Emilia, who was kneeling on the ground trembling in fear. It would have been easy for the former knight Percival to cut her down. Rather, it would have been easier as it would have meant that he had a larger target.
However, he didn’t do it; he only cut away the necklace hanging at Emilia’s chest. How hard would that have been?
That’s why I had to show him my gratitude which he received with a shrug and a bitter smile…….and then slowly put out one of his hands. His large hand was closed, so it seemed that he had something to give me.
I felt the urge to immediately accept whatever was in that hand, but I held myself back and switched my gaze between his face and that hand alternately. Then I finally gave up and tilted my helmet in confusion before Percival slowly open his grasp. I looked at what was resting inside his palm, and my breath got caught in my throat.
“……At that time, Miss Emilia was wearing it.”
In Percival’s open palm was a glass ball that had been split in two. It was oddly lacking in blemishes or cracks even though it was struck with a single blow that had completely broken it.
It was a pretty pink glass ball. However, it did not look like something expensive, and it wasn’t stylized in a special way. Even an amateur like me could tell it held no great value. No, rather than something expensive, it should be obvious to anyone that this would be considered a children’s toy.
Indeed, it was not something that the prince’s fiancee should be wearing. No, when considering Emilia’s age, it was something that she wouldn’t wear even if she were a peasant as it was clearly made for a young child.
Looking at that split ball, I thought my heart was going to tear apart as I muttered Emilia’s name.
I remember this necklace.
When we were young, it was the necklace Emilia always wore whenever she was receiving medical treatment.
Back then, I had one with a similar design. We had bought them ourselves with the pocket money our parents had given us, and we wore them every day.
But that was years ago. I do not remember where the necklace that I had worn could possibly be or even what it had really looked like. Did I bring it with me when I moved back to the kingdom after Emilia’s recuperation was finished, or did I throw it away…….?
It was such a long time ago that whatever memories I managed to pull out were fragmentary and broken.
Was Emilia still wearing this necklace from so long ago?
She was wearing it from the time she first became sickly, wearing it during her recuperation, becoming healthy, visiting the royal palace, becoming a glittering princess: she had never let it go.
Without knowing that it was cursed.
And now, Emilia was finally released from her curse.
Emilia, who was currently surrounded and being led away by knights while coughing as she had been before. The sight took me aback. The form of her coughing and suffering like that was much too similar to how she had been when we were children and she was sick.
“……that, can I take that?”
“Is it okay?”
“I cannot feel magic from it anymore. Emilia’s curse has already ended, so yes, it’s okay.”
Deciding to take it, I held out my hands……and after thinking for only a little bit, I slowly removed my gauntlet and held the glass bead in my exposed hand. A cool air wrapped around my hot skin, but as expected I cannot feel comfortable like this.
When I exposed my hand, Percival’s eyes went round as the moon. Monette, the girl who dislikes exposing her skin more than anything else, had readily exposed her hand where other people would be able to see. It is no wonder he is surprised.
But, at least for this necklace, I want to be able to feel it with my own hands. I will not rush over to the captured Emilia to protect her, nor will I beg Ordo to show her mercy. Even if I know she was unaware of what was going on, I was still holding her accountable.
I waited for a moment, but the glass beads were soon placed in the palm of my hand.
They were strangely heavier than I expected, and for some reason it caused my heart to squeeze. I quickly took a deep breath to calm myself and hold back the sudden cry I was about to let out, and then I looked up at Percival once again.
I stared straight at him, wondering what was going on in those blue eyes of his.
“What about my hands?”
“……..hand, Why are you holding mine? Your hand is, really big…….it’s touching, feels comfortable.”
My thoughts came out jumbled and in short spurts. Percival ignored all of my complaints, observations, words, and he silently reached out his other hand. His large hand slowly touched mine and slowly covered mine up.
There was a slight difference in body temperature that I could feel through our skin. It felt like the glass bead was melting inside my grip. I took another deep breath inside my helmet…..and then the tears came alongside it.
“Who, to whom, from when, and how the curse started.”
How all the screws bent, every distortion and anomalous happening, everything was finally over.