Chapter 25:

Ch 25: Hush

I was Born the Unloved Twin

The following days are as peaceful as can be. With father's successful negotiations it's expected we shall stay for another week before leaving back to the mansion home in the capital. The less time in direct contact with my stupid fiance the better.Bookmark here

As a timely excuse, we'll have to make the trip back home not too long afterward. While I would prefer to grow up safely in our home base, I 'm not looking forward to the trip back. The pangs of motion sickness reminds me of how bad it was the first time. I wonder if I could convince grampa if I could hitch a ride with him, or at least sneak on.Bookmark here

The carriage is really too awful!Bookmark here

The remaining days here pass by as peacefully as could be with the new weapon lessons. The children are having fun with it despite the increase in drills. Bookmark here

Of course, Lilyanne is excused from completing even half of them, it's rather unfair. Well, it's still better than her past self, who always fell ill. It definitely wouldn't hurt for her to get a little physically stronger. Bookmark here

Oh wait I'm one of those children too!Bookmark here

I suppose I'm the one that's having the most fun, I've never used a whip before! I always wanted to try it after seeing how cool they looked in video games. Ms. Tamera is having me work more on daggers and other more practical weapons but it's still so exciting to start on the whip!Bookmark here

Doesn't it suit my villainess image perfectly?Bookmark here

With father's reassurance, I have no worries about the other side holding one up on us. Now he could be lying to me but even he knows how much more beneficial it would be otherwise. Doesn't mean he's not keeping things form me, of course. Can't be helped, I'm keeping an even bigger secret.Bookmark here

We all deserve a little personal privacy.Bookmark here

Which is why I'm running off again. Believe it or not my tactics to clear the air and draw the line between my stupid fiance and I...has failed. Those two little ones are hell-bent on sticking with me. I get Lilyanne, she's always been clingy, I'm her one and only playmate growing up.Bookmark here

But the stupid prince?!Bookmark here

Didn't I scare him off?!Bookmark here

For a full day since our engagement announcement, he's stayed quiet and subdued around me. That I could live with, in the past he never spoke to me beyond what was necessary and polite. At least now his silence was tinged with a sense of respect, or fear, probably both. That's just the way I prefer it.Bookmark here

But he's back and stickier than ever!Bookmark here

Before they would follow me around like little ducklings. Somehow they've gotten even worse. As much as I hate to see how ...well they're getting along, I think Lilyanne and the stupid prince are working together. Bookmark here

I just don't know what their horrible baby intentions are but I know I want nothing to do with it. Bookmark here

I am fond of my little sister but that's not enough to be dragged into whatever nonsense is going on here. To the point of teaming up with that stupid prince? No it's best the stay clear and wait out the rest of the week. Then we'll head back and be free from whatever that damn prince has brewing. Lilyanne will mostly forget about her little playmate soon enough after we remove him. Then I won't have to see him officially for at least another year, two if I'm lucky. Bookmark here

They've been tag-teaming on following and cornering me but they're still just children. Real ones.Bookmark here

It's annoying but not difficult to avoid and escape them. I should remember not to tease the stupid prince too much, it's troublesome how personal he seems to take it.Bookmark here

Major meal times can't be avoided though I can sneak food out. It's not my kitchens here but they sure do welcome and appreciate the tips on cooking those river rock crabs. It's a bit of a waste telling them so much many recipes for free, the cooking techniques of this world are on the medieval side.Bookmark here

Anything in my memories could be used as an advantage and for profit, it's all the cheat I have.Bookmark here

Well, I'll consider it a favor and investment for those here. It's also great fun to sneak crab meat into the stupid prince's meals. He ate the entire gratin yesterday before I allowed anyone to tell him it was his beloved 'spiders', ah it's never not funny to watch his face twist terribly and pass out. Bookmark here

It's much easier to deal with those sticky ducklings when they're unconscious. Bookmark here

Back to avoiding them, as long as I inform a servant here or there of my expected play time no one will report me missing. There's nothing really of value to me to explore in this manor, I've just checked. Bookmark here

For old time's sake though I did 'accidentally' smash a particularly ugly vaseBookmark here

This is more of an event and vacation home to their owners, not much of true value here in the first place. Sparkly crystal chandeliers do not count. While the garden and grounds are large enough to accommodate grampa's temporary troops, there's nothing really fun. I could go bother them troops but I have a feeling I'll be seeing a lot more of then in the coming days. Bookmark here

I sure hope Vincent's weapons research is progressing well!Bookmark here

Instead, it would be more interesting to explore the forest around these parts. The variety of small level beasts around this area is astounding. Far more than back at home. I feel like a nature documentary host. Except instead of actual animals they're probably magical beasts and fantastical mutations. Yeah, that's something I'm still not over about the place of my rebirth.Bookmark here

It would be Harry Potter levels of cool if they weren't so deadly. Or if I had magical powers. So I lose in this department either way.Bookmark here

What a shame I guess I won't be able to live a fantastical life as a strong 'cheat' character heroine. Cross that fantasy option out.Bookmark here

There's this one particular creature. It resembles a long weasel cat thing with multiple tails, at least 3 of them. It looked somewhat intelligent and I spent a good 20 something minutes following after it. For research purposes of course. I was not going 'here kitty kitty good kitty soft kitty'~ the whole time. Bookmark here

It was while I was sneakily chasing after the adorable beast that I heard it. Something I was best off not hearing.Bookmark here

There are no clearing, only dense bushes and trees older than anyone I've ever met. I might have gone a bit far following the kitty weasel. But it can't have been that far off if there's people conversing.Bookmark here

It sounded harsh, not unlike an argument. They weren't particularly loud but they were voices I most certainly recognized.Bookmark here

"Shit what was that?"Bookmark here

The weasel cat goes bouncing down from its perch and run across from the two boys. I don't know why I decided to hide at that time, why I leaned back into a crouch behind the foliage instead of just showing myself. Bookmark here

Instinct perhaps? Social Awkwardness? Maybe I would be able to sneak away and not disturb anyone.Bookmark here

Whatever's going on it sounded intense, even for kindergarteners. But I find myself trapped behind branches and leaves when the conversation picks up again. Bookmark here

"Aaaahhh that thing scared me."Bookmark here

Lukas slid down to his butt against the back of the tree, I could see him slump in a manner unsuited for his usually cocky self. His equally young friend stood nearby, not quite hovering. but in a manner that was more caring, protective.Bookmark here

"You have to be more careful?"Bookmark here

"It was just a merlat! It's nothing!"Bookmark here

"You know I'm not talking about that. Not the merlat or any animal monsters..."Bookmark here

"It's fine! Who do you think I am? I can get through anything let alone some as stupid as this."Bookmark here

"You can fight and you can kill something. This is different."Bookmark here

"It's babysitting some weak babies!"Bookmark here

"You're getting close."Bookmark here

"It's nothing!"Bookmark here

"Lukas, Lukas can you look at me?"Bookmark here

He carefully reaches out, tanned arms that should still be pudgy but aren't, over his friend's shoulders. Lukas complies, his face strained up in the way that abused children try to be brave.Bookmark here

"You can do this yes but at what cost? Say you stay, you stay and you play and you become something in his little majesty's life. Then what? What happens when word gets back to their king...their queen?"Bookmark here

The much paler boy on the ground chokes out something between a growl and a sob.Bookmark here

"It won't, it won't happen because I'm not getting close."Bookmark here

"He likes you, a lot."Bookmark here

"Kids like people all the time, no one will mention much about another kid troop."Bookmark here

"Lukas,'s not him I'm worried about. I don't even care about the kid."Bookmark here

"Ha! Don't tell them that, they think you're the nice one."Bookmark here

" It's you. I care about you, and I know this is going to hurt you.."Bookmark here

"I won't jeopardize anything! No one knows anything!"Bookmark here

"I know you won't. But you'll hurt, he'll break your heart just like them."Bookmark here

"Don't be dumb, it's not that deep. I just....I ju.."Bookmark here

"To see him. I know Lukas, I know....I wanna see them again. The good ones. I'd do anything, get rid of anyone they'd tell me to if I could. I'm pretty sure I'm okay with hurting people too. If a magic trade like that was possible I'd do it."Bookmark here

"Amar....that's not the same. I'm sorry I didn't mean it like that-."Bookmark here

"It's okay, it's okay Lukas. But you can't really like him, or love and stuff. You can't get close to him."Bookmark here

"Why."Bookmark here

Lukas gasps out, choking back sobs that were already deep inside his lungs. There's no sound in the forest except for his heavy breathing. I barely dare to breathe myself, trapped in the tension of it all. Bookmark here

"You know why?"Bookmark here

"NO....why?! Why is it like this? Why does it have to be like this.? Why would the great goddess place us here like this, why?!"Bookmark here

The boys stay silent for a long time, Lukas focused on calming his breathes, his emotions. Bookmark here

"I asked that a lot by myself."Bookmark here

Amar finally speaks up, his soothing voice wistful but steady in the moment. It sounds too mature for any child. He looks off in the distance,, somewhere far from here. For a moment he's somewhere else, somewhere much farther than just the midways lands. Bookmark here

"So? Did you find an answer?"Bookmark here

"Maybe, I don't know. I just know our answers will be different."Bookmark here

They stay stewing in their own quiet, their own minds for a long moment after. Bookmark here

Bookmark here

I think I've heard something I'm not supposed to. I didn't mean to eavesdrop, not on something like this. whatever this is.Bookmark here

"Head back first Lukas, I'll finish the lap for you."Bookmark here

"....Yeah okay. Like I'll pass up a chance to do less work. Bleh"Bookmark here

The snowy hair child climbs his way back up off the floor. His dejected air masked by a lazy swagger and walk. But anyone who knew the kid could see there's something off, a little broken about the way he carries himself today.Bookmark here

"Lukas."Bookmark here

"Hmm? Oi no take backs."Bookmark here

"Haha no I'll keep my promise! No just....just be careful okay. I don't care about that weird family, you're much more be careful ok?"Bookmark here

"...Yeah....yeah that fine. Thank for putting up with me."Bookmark here

"There's no putting up with! You're my friend! It's no problem!"Bookmark here

The previously depressed Lukas can't help but to let go of whatever weight he was carrying, not against that smile. The other boy seems to shines with something sunny, lightening up the tense atmosphere with his support. My mind inappropriately compares it to a sports anime scene that's about friendship.Bookmark here

It works the same as one, with Lukas perking up closer to his usual bouncy self. It's only when he's out of sound and sight that I dare to breathe, dare to think.Bookmark here

What's going on, what is all of this? I can't match anything I've heard to Rosalia's precious memories, it's nothing from what I previously know. But it's no insignificant matter. Bookmark here

Piecing together the heavy conversation, it's as if Lukas and the stupid prince are related in a way deeper than people suspected. There isn't that much of a resemblance outside their shared Northern features no, It can't be that-Bookmark here

'Whoosh'Bookmark here

For certain I know the moment when my cover is blown. Bookmark here

A flash, the brushing of leaves and my hiding spot found out. Later after the shock wore off and I would find the time to think back, I would have to say it wasn't from the sound and the quick rustling of leaves that I figured I was found out. Bookmark here

Instead, I have to say it's the moment a sharp metal blade pushed up right at my tiny throat. Bookmark here

It all happened so fast.Bookmark here

A thin line welt at the blade, my skin broken just enough I can feel it cut. I can't tell if its pores of blood or my own cold sweat that drips. Bookmark here

At that moment I think I saw death, truly met him in this short life of mine. And all I could see, all I could think was what was in front of me. Green eyes and a sharp knife. Bookmark here

"Oh, Rosalia it's just you! You shouldn't be playing around like this, it's dangerous out here."Bookmark here

Eyes that can change faster than a trick of the light. That face that looked like death itself flickered and then it was gone. There stood in his place was a kind familiar boy, the picture perfect figure of the well behaved older brother next door, one with a warm dopey smile.Bookmark here

"Did I scare you? I'm sorry you just surprised me. Are you okay? Big brother is sorry! Don't worry it's safe now I wouldn't hurt you, here look my knife is put away nice and safe. Can you get up? Do you want me to carry you?"Bookmark here

I can't move my legs, I can't even make a sound. Bookmark here

How terrifying, how awfully terrifying was this boy just now. How horrifying was the speed of his change, from death itself to this seemingly innocent-looking child? It's a trick, a trap. Bookmark here

"I got you Rosalia, I'm sorry for scaring you. Up you go, there there I'll take you back. Don't be scared."Bookmark here

Amar makes to carry me back to the manor and once again for lack of a better option, I let him. I don't know what to think. I don't even know what to feel, nothing besides the shock and a cold dread of fear. Bookmark here

I can only cling to his thin chest inside these frightening arms. I don't even recall how long ago Lukas has disappeared from the scene. They were just talking but a few moments ago. Bookmark here

Something I really shouldn't have heard. Bookmark here

These children, who even are they?Bookmark here

----Bookmark here

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