In which being Scarlet continues to be synonymous with suffering.
I could handle the present situation. To my mind, it seemed natural that I would deal with any future problems the same way.
I only had to spend three years at school, after all.
Considering the seven years that I endured stoically, wasn’t that a mere pittance in comparison?
I was soon to change my mind, however, because of the stressful existence by the name of Julius.
That damn black-bellied prince.
The first grading period occurred as winter began.
An ability measuring test was carried out regularly throughout both schools.
The required subjects of the examination are swordsmanship, magic, and liberal arts.
In addition, there are also exams for various specialized subjects but these are optional. The combinations of which extra tests, if any, are taken differs depending on the student. Therefore, the classes are divided into grades based on mastery of the three major subjects.
If your score is bad, you can be dropped to the General Department like a certain Prince. It also worked in reverse, if your score is good, you can also move up to the Special Department.
Many of the special course students work very hard to maintain their position. It’s not an exaggeration to call them all workaholics, striving to be as high as possible in the top rankings.
Partially, this is because the rankings were publicized. The names and scores of the top 30 students are posted in front of the classroom and to be on the list is to command great prestige.
Although the rankings can fluctuate wildly, the number one position at the top of all three major subjects has always been monopolized by me… until one day.
“Hey, check that out!”
“Really? No way…”
On that day, at the top of the rankings posted in front of the classroom, was the name of a person other than me.
“Julius von Pallistan… Prince Julius?!”
I stared, stunned, while many students gathered behind me.
Certainly, I was caught off guard. I was nearly perfect every time, in every class, and there was nobody talented enough to threaten me in my year.
But on that sheet was an impossible score.
“Full marks in all subjects…?”
Swordsmanship and magic exams have never been awarded a perfect score, though it was possible to gain up to ninety-nine points.
That’s because the remaining point depends on the examiner’s personal taste.
Even if you defeat a master swordsman, it might be said that you used an unsuitable style.
Even if you win a duel against an accredited magician, they might say that your way of casting is inelegant.
And still, Prince Julius made the impossible possible.
While I have always been at the top I still could not get full marks, so I am inferior to Julius.
Oh no. I became aware that the slightest irritation showed in a furrow between my brows and hurriedly shored up my iron wall. If he saw me make such an expression, he would definitely be entertained.
Speak of the devil.
I inhaled deeply, emptied my face of emotion, and turned around to see the origin of the voice.
As I thought. There stood Julius with a big, smug smile.
“Good morning, Your Highness. Congratulations on your performance.”
Humming, Julius pretended to be demure like he had the humbleness of a normal person.
“Is it unexpected for the best student to take first place with a perfect score?”
A muscle in my jaw tightened to the point of pain.
— It goes without saying that I destroyed the walls of my room in a fit that night.
In the next test, I will take first place with full marks and I will be the best student.
He must know who he’s challenged, right?
It’s practically the Vandimion family motto: if it can be done, it can done with ten times over.
So my days of struggle began anew.
In order to make sure that I obtained ninety-nine points, I brushed up on my sword and magic techniques in my free time. And in order to seize the remaining point, I researched all the teachers in the academy who might be an examiner and memorized the minute tendencies that they liked.
The day of the exam came.
I’ve never been so excited to thrash the examiner at the end of the year.
Everyone who had to go after me looked that much more impotent as a result.
And, as expected, my name returned to the top of the rankings. In all subjects, no less.
Well, well, well. You see how it is Prince Julius? If I do my best for a little while, I can get results like this too. Although the satisfaction is not quite ten times stronger than the irritation I felt, it will suffice for now.
With an intimate smile, I looked for Julius’s name on the posted rankings. However, after three passes, it still wasn’t there.
Feeling both put on the spot and embarrassed, I almost jumped when an elbow came to rest on my shoulder.
It appeared. Next time, I’ll just mind my own business.
I glanced sideways without expression. And there, with a big smile, was Prince Julius.
He lowered his face to my ear and whispered.
“You know… after school, when you go outside and practice the sword so diligently? You were really a sight to see. I had your face sketched that time and it’s being delivered later. Look forward to it.”
Saying that, he patted my head and left.
My face felt extremely stiff.
Later. I tore up the sketch of a demon-like woman that was delivered by courier and reopened a large hole in the wall of the dormitory that had just recently been renovated.
How is possible that I am surrounded by the worst people imaginable? Is the entire royal family rotten to the core? Am I cursed? Is there any way to get rid of the lot of them?
By the way, the reason why Julius wasn’t listed in the top rankings…
It’s because he usually throws his hand and deliberately takes the last-minute score that can’t be dropped from the class. It’s only when he gets serious that he crushes the motivation of the rest of the students our year.
What a bad character.
But I already know how to handle Julius.
The strategy is simple. Do not rise to provocation.
That’s it. Just ignore him.
“Good morning, Scarlet. Good morning.”
In the morning, even if we meet in front of the school buildings, ignore it.
“Hello, Scarlet. You’re looking cheerful today.”
If I come across him in the corridor at noon, ignore it.
“Good evening, Scarlet. Beautiful sunset today.”
In the evening, even if I should see him on the way back to the dormitory, ignore it…
“Ah. Prince Julius?”
“Why is it that you always appear near the place where I am?”
“Hm? Why not? It must be by chance.”
There is no such thing.
Why are you so obsessed with getting a reaction? I know you’re doing this on purpose. The male student’s dormitory in the special course is on the opposite side of campus to the female dorms.
Hey, Prince Julius, are you a stalker?
Shit. I instinctively let out a sound and Julius noticed.
“Kuk… No, I’m sorry. I couldn’t keep myself from laughing. Forgive me.”
I patted my face until it went back to normal. Strange.
When I decided to endure the harassment that came along with being Kyle’s fiance, I thought every muscle capable of making expressions died completely.
“You might want to wear that kind of faceless expression all the time, but I’ve noticed something. You are, in fact, the type that has a lot of emotions.”
“…Excuse me. Do you know what I’m thinking right now?”
“Mmm. Something like, why won’t this black prince get lost and bother somebody else?”
Being able to guess that, I have no idea why is person still approaches me.
I cannot understand at all.
“Have things been going well with Kyle lately?”
Ugh, how disgusting. There is no way I could ever get along with that idiot.
“Since he switched to the General Department, there’s been almost no contact. I have no idea why the pick-up and drop-off are still necessary.”
“Hm. It was good.”
I don’t what what it was good for.
Speaking of which, on the day when I met Julius, Kyle shouted, “Remember!” But for some reason, I haven’t been bullied by him at all recently.
Well, if it’s because Julius has been stuck to me like a leech, I wouldn’t want to get close either.
No way. Really? Has he been hanging around all the time to keep Kyle away? To protect me?
“Hey, you’re making a face again.”
Prince Julius ruffled my hair, looking fascinated.
I feel the need to boil my whole head to be clean again. What was I thinking?
Julius knows too much of my true nature.
It might not be a problem to show when I’m a little stressed out. Specifically, it’d be okay if I kicked him once or twice, right? Right?
My nails dug into my palms as I scorned such a black impulse. No need to descend to his level. Remember, I must be better than that.
Julius cocked his head and suddenly took a handful of my long hair with a gentle smile.
“Your hair is so beautiful, Scarlet. It would be a shame if it was lost because of the foolish actions of a foolish person.”
Making my heart beat unexpectedly, how sly. Nobody has said that kind of line to me since the day of my birth. I’m not used to it.
“Well, Prince Julius…”
“Plus, you’re among the most interesting of the rare animals I’ve seen so far.”
“I really am sorry to have missed an animal worthy of observation for so long. Father and Duke Vandimion are such bad people. Give Kyle something valuable to hold onto and it’s as good as gone. How about you become my fiance instead? I promise you better treatment than you get right now.”
Julius said with the most free and radiant smile I’ve ever seen.
I can’t believe I thought fondly of you, even for a second. Scum. Degenerate. Inhumane, two-faced liar.
“I’m sorry to say that I must refuse you, Prince Julius.”
— So went the circumstances that led me to accumulate anger and stress to such an extent.
…all those emotions I’ve been pushing down and ignoring have finally exploded.
Taking in the state of Terenezza’s face with satisfaction, I turned around.
Then, as befitting a noble young lady on her way to an afternoon tea ceremony, I took care to relax my spine as I stepped forward with a gentle smile.
An extremely proud nobleman came to the fore.
“Little girl! Are you out of your mind? Hey! Guards, come quickly! There’s a criminal who assaulted Prince Kyle’s fiance!”
The guards, who had been watching the situation unfold with typical helpfulness, came over in mass to capture me. I could take on all of them if I tried, but it’s too bothersome to fight this many people who aren’t even involved.
So I generously allowed them to nap for a while.
“Aren’t you tired? Boys and girls, wouldn’t you enjoy a peaceful sleep?”
I extended my hand and cast a spell of slumber. Immediately, the guards fell to the ground, unconscious.
Ah. You must not do this kind of thing, you know? You’re a guardian of the royal family. You have to forge not only your body, but also your mind to resist magical influence. You guys… such low quality. How shameful.
“She willed this many people to sleep in an instant…? What extraordinary magic power…” Kyle muttered under his breath.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, Kyle.
This kind of thing can be done by any top grade student at the Academy. It may seem unbelievable to you in the General Department, though.
But magic is just as bland as ever. Even if you slap down your opponent from a distance, it’s not fun at all. As I suspected, if the beating isn’t administered with my bare hands, it simply doesn’t feel as good.
Okay. Let’s retire magic until later.
“Please be at ease. If you are a nobleman, I will allow you to enjoy the pleasures of my fist until you lose consciousness. No matter how long it takes.”
Having said that, when I stepped forward, the nobles scattered like pale-faced rats. And how they squeaked, as if mere noise would save them.
“H-hey! Who else can fight? If you defeat this lunatic, I’ll give you permission to marry my daughter!”
“Me too! I’ll give you my daughter, who is a beautiful and social flower!”
“I’m willing to give my wife! A gorgeous woman who has been likened to a goddess!”
“Fuck your wife and daughters! Protect me! I’ll give you a dozen slaves!”
“Hey, careful! Remember, it’s illegal to buy and sell slaves inside the borders of Pallistan. Should you really talk about such things here?”
“It’s all right! It’s fine if you get permission from Prince Kyle. You won’t be punished if you act under the will of the future king.”
“That’s right! If you protect me, I’ll give you slaves and treasures!”
“Hey, I have slaves too!”
“I have more!”
Please bear witness to the true nature of people with power.
It’s so very hard to feel pity for them.
These filthy, pig-like bastards are inferior to a living animal.
And if I think on what’s about to happen to such worthless creatures… with all the brutality of my dreams… with the resentment of a decade’s worth of grudges… without any mercy at all…
I feel great.
“Now everyone. Shall we dance?”
I inhaled, enhanced my physical strength with magic, and leaped for the closest body.
Wild screams rang out with every blow. The sensation of striking meat with my fists was pure ecstacy. Blood danced through the air like flower petals.
Crack! Wham! Snap! Crunch!
The delightful sounds of breaking bone intertwined with the screams in a glorious melody. When I hit the pigs just right, they’d squeal for me.
What a wonderful thing.
You see? Even a garbage existence like yourself can serve some use as an incredible sandbag. I guarantee it.
I paused, realizing that most of the trash nobles had already been subjected to punishment. Bodies in blood pools were everywhere. What a shame to dirty the floor like this. Also.
“Ah. I went too fast to have a good time.”
There was one left.
White-faced and terrified, Kyle huddled in a corner of the room, shaking.
It seems that somewhere along the line Miss Terenezza woke up and ran for her life but such accessories aren’t really necessary for the final act anyway.
By the way, even I get unhappy when it comes time for a fun ball to end. However, let’s still end it here.
“Don’t be sad because the day is ending. Rather, be grateful for the good times we had. Right, Prince?”
I approached slowly, giving Kyle plenty of time to grow more panicked. He was pale and sweating and his teeth were chattering as he shoved his back against the wall, trying to retreat.
Alas. The time for that has come and gone.
I raised my fist —
“Wait! Don’t hurt him, Scarlet!”
The voice echoed from near the hall entrance.
“Elder brother Leo…?”
— but even as I said that, I was beating Kyle. I couldn’t stop. Really. Nothing could have stopped me. God himself could be descending behind my back and I still wouldn’t look away from the sight I intended to engrave in my memory until the end of time.
The feel of a clean hit transmitted from a hard punch.
Even distracted, my aim was impeccable. No hesitation at all! Kyle’s eyes rolled back and he collapsed.
“Wow. I impressed myself with the skill on that one.”
I exhaled, feeling the kind of comfortable and tired that only came after a good workout. My shoulders felt lighter, as if a great burden had been lifted.
I have to give a special thanks to the nobles and Kyle who helped me find this sense of contentment.
“Thank you very much, everyone.”
“Thank you too, NOT! Why did you hit Prince Kyle?! I told you not to!”
A man with long hair down to his waist walked in. His brow was uncharacteristically furrowed.
Leonardo el Vandimion.
The firstborn child of Duke Vandimion and my brother. He’s two years older than me and a senior at the Royal Academy.
Since graduating, he’s been working for the royal palace as an assistant to our father, who is an aide to the king himself, and living in the royal quarters.
For the past year or so, we’ve had very little contact since I stayed in the dormitory, but we are still quite close siblings.
“Leo, my brother. It’s been a long time. What happened, you look rather upset?”
“Don’t even try to pull that with me. I’m the one who wants to hear what happened. This is a scene of misery…”
Leo pointed at the bloody ballroom.
Some nobles had foam around their mouths and were convulsing like fish launched out of the water. In addition, all the glass windows had been shattered, as if a heavy storm had passed.
“I think I can guess but… all of this destruction, did you do it alone?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
My brother looked up for a moment when I answered him and covered his face with his hands.
“Brother mine? Are you dazzled?”
He looked up at the ceiling suddenly, so I wondered if he’d been temporarily blinded by the light.
“How happy I would be if my eyes were useless and I could not see this scene…”
I’m so glad to see you too for the first time in a while. Make peace with it already, brother.
“That’s why I said we should hurry, Leo. It’s even more interesting than I expected.”
A beautiful blonde put his hand on the shoulder of my swaying elder brother.
Hm, I wonder if he’s hungry.
I didn’t know he was coming together with this person though.
“Good evening, Prince Julius. It’s rare to see you attend a banquet.”
“This is a special occasion.” Julius said agreeably as he strolled over to examine a fallen noble.
“Prince Julius! I sincerely apologize and beg mercy on behalf of — !”
“Shut up, Leo. Take a look at this face. This is the face of an unfortunate man who was mercilessly trampled and it was probably the most exciting thing that ever happened in his life. What a sight it would have been, all these foolish people being scolded. You don’t go to a ball to dance, you go for the thrill of watching fresh scandals unfold. If I miss such a delicious scene, everything tastes like dust for the rest of the day and I’m not interested in it at all.”
Oi, Julius, you need to do a lot more polishing to get rid of your terrible personality.
“Can you really be the first prince with such bad hobbies?”
“I don’t want to be told that by you, Scarlet. In other news, I’ve had a realization. Since the first time we talked, I’ve been waiting to see you finally release that tightly clenched fist. And now you go and do it in a place without me? It’s such a pity.”
Julius made a disgruntled face and pointed an accusing finger a me.
Are you a child? Is your head sick?
“You saw the end of it. Isn’t that good enough?”
“No, I wanted to see the whole story from start to finish. Now I can only imagine what you looked like fully expressing yourself.”
“Well, chasing down the ones who ran was rather enjoyable.”
“Did they put up a good fight, at least? Most of them seem like worthless meat.”
My brother wore the visage of a demon as he looked upon us.