Malice that Lurks Beneath
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He was Cecilia’s older brother by blood, but in truth, they had rarely spoken. It wasn’t that Cecilia had been kept in the dark, but in truth, it was simply that there had been no contact.
But Cecilia’s brow furrowed, and not because she was being spoken to in a friendly manner. It was because he called her ‘my sister’.
When she was small, the illusion on her body was performed by her father, and when she grew older, she performed it by herself. The two brothers were no exception to the rule. The only people who knew that Cecilia was a woman were her parents, and the few people who were in charge of taking care of her, while her two older brothers should have been informed that she was a man.
And that illusion was still in effect today. From the surroundings, Cecilia’s appearance should look like a man… Even if it was Isac saw through the illusion by some means, as Soma did, it was obvious that he didn’t even show any signs of surprise that she was a woman.
To begin with, it was strange to be called in that way–…
“It has been a while.” (Isac)
“…That’s true.” (Cecilia)
However, the reason why she didn’t ask what was in her mind was because she didn’t understand the current situation. She chose to extract as much information as she could by daring to get into the conversation.
“Why is your expression so stiff? Are you nervous? No… or is it just that you don’t like me?” (Isac)
“If anything, it’s the former. We never really talked in the first place.” (Cecilia)
“Is that so? Well, if you say so, I guess it’s true. But then again, before was before, and now is now, right? It’s a good thing we’re siblings, because we’re going to get along just fine.” (Isac)
Isac smiled as he said this, and at first glance, it seemed as if he was speaking from the heart.
However, the scenes she had seen in the villages and towns she had passed through on her way to the royal capital naturally crossed her mind. It was the scene of the corpse of her companions, who were slaughtered or starved to death.
Still, she suppressed the urge to overflow and clenched her fists tightly. She felt a slight pain in the palm, but the pain told her that this situation wasn’t a dream, but a reality.
Then, she told herself to stay calm and opened her mouth.
“…Get along, is it?” (Cecilia)
“Yes. It seems that it wasn’t possible before because of all that bastard Father was up to, but it doesn’t matter now, does it?” (Isac)
“…If that’s the case, why did you start a civil war? There must have been someone you should have gotten along with before you did that.” (Cecilia)
“It hurts my ears. It was true, but… you know what? You need strength to carry out your ideals.” (Isac)
She was well aware of such things.
If Cecilia had the power, she could have protected herself and her companions. She was sure that she could have done a lot of things on the way to this place.
But in reality, she lost most of her companions, and it was thanks to Soma’s group that she was able to protect the ones who remained. The only thing Cecilia could do on the way was to guide them, but everything else was done by Soma’s group. She could only watch as it all came to an end.
She knew and had tasted enough to know that nothing could be done without power.
She clenched her fists tighter and tighter.
“…I was well aware of such things.” (Cecilia)
“Is that so? I see. You’re the same as me in a way.” (Isac)
“The same?” (Isac)
“Yes. I was only a substitute for Aniki. I was only a replacement for him. I was never given the right to choose anything. Isn’t it the same with you?” (Isac)
“That… may be true.” (Cecilia)
Indeed, if she considered only at that point, she could say that they were the same. She didn’t mean to be tied up just because of that, but… that much was true.
“However, I was able to get the power. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but… this time, I was the one who was chosen. Then, that guy told me to live my life the way I want. Yes, that’s why I’ve decided to live my life the way I want to.” (Isac)
There were many things about Isac’s story that bothered her, but… even so, he didn’t seem to be lying at least. His face was clearly telling the truth.
However… no, because of that, Cecilia had to ask one thing.
“The way you want, is it… and the result is that…” (Cecilia)
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about if you’re not being specific. However, if you’re asking about the current situation in the royal capital, you’re right. I’ll do whatever I want. Then, there will be an inequality. That’s why I allow people to do what they want. So, how’s the situation for those people?” (Isac)
“How? It seems they were having fun and looked happy, but…” (Cecilia)
“Yes, of course. Well, they’re all out of touch with reality…” (Isac)
“What…? What do you mean by that?” (Cecilia)
She simply couldn’t understand what he was saying.
What did he mean by the people weren’t seeing reality…
“Whatever it is, it is what it is. These people are all in a dream of happiness, in an illusion. They don’t actually see each other. They are just playing a game with their own convenient existence. That’s why if they’re not careful, they can end up having a mismatched conversation, but from the looks of it, you didn’t feel any discomfort. I’m glad to hear it’s going well.” (Isac)
As soon as she understood what she meant, she felt a shiver run down her spine.
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‘This man… what is he…!?’
“What did you do!?” (Cecilia)
“What did I do? I told you, I let them do whatever they want. What, you got a problem with that? You’re the one who said they look happy and joyful, remember?” (Isac)
“Th-that is true, but didn’t you say it yourself? It’s all an illusion!” (Cecilia)
“If they’re pretending, it’s not up to the outside world to tell them what to do. The people themselves don’t realize that. Ooh… have you seen what’s happening in the villages and cities?” (Isac)
It was obvious that it was the work of this man. She glared while clenching her teeth, but Isac kept a cool face even when she looked at him like that.
“Oi, oi, don’t stare at me like that. It can’t be helped, right? I’m still getting used to this power. I thought everyone would be happy if I told them to do what they want, but… well, it was a bit of a shortcut when I think about it. I knew better than anyone that you can’t do what you want if you don’t have the power. But that’s why I changed my mind and made everyone happy, right? So, what’s wrong with that? I’m telling you, it’s impossible for everyone to be happy without it.” (Isac)
Isac was right about that. If everyone was allowed to do what they wanted, there would always be conflicts.
One of the results of trying to do so was the civil war in this country. She was sure that none of them wanted to fight. As a result of pursuing their own fortune, they had no choice but to fight each other.
They couldn’t all be truly happy. It was indeed true.
“That doesn’t mean it’s acceptable…!” (Cecilia)
If she were told that she was selfish, it was probably true.
But something was different, she thought. She didn’t know how to put it into words, but she thought that there was something wrong with it.
“Oh my… I really just want everyone to be able to do what they want. Oh, of course, that includes me, you know. And it’s true that I want my siblings to get along. In fact, I get along with Aniki.” (Isac)
“Get along, is it…?” (Cecilia)
The reason why she thought those words were strange was because the whereabouts of the first prince should have been unknown at present. If they were really getting along, there was no way he could have disappeared.
However, as if to say that it didn’t matter that she was looking at Isac quizzically, he nodded and pointed to the area where… Celia was standing.
“Yes. That’s right… I believe he is just around that corner?” (Isac)
“That corner? What… are you talking about…?” (Cecilia)
“No, I mean we were getting along well today… but it’s bad to have excessive fun, right? I have to clean up afterwards. So, I put him right around your feet.” (Isac)
The moment she realized what he meant, she jumped back from the spot.
It sounded like a bad joke, but Cecilia could tell that it was probably true. With a slight feeling of nausea, she finally realized why she couldn’t accept this man’s words.
Yes, Isac’s words were indeed beautiful and sound right, but… underneath of that, there was an indescribable malice.
“Now… I’ve rambled long enough, but I’ve invited you here. It’s time to play with you. It’s about time I had some fun with you too. It won’t be fair to Aniki, right?” (Isac)
“Eh… No, thank you!” (Cecilia)
“Even if you say that, my young sister is a companion too. I’ve been thinking about various ways that you can enjoy it. I’ve done a lot of experiments and he enjoyed it well. I’m sure you will enjoy it too.” (Isac)
She tried to run away as quickly as she could, but for some reason, her legs wouldn’t move. She was pretty sure she could have moved right before that.
“Yes, it would be trouble if you got away. I’ve made a few adjustments. But you don’t have to worry. What did I tell you? Yes, you’ll be having fun soon. Now, come with me–…” (Isac)
“–I hate to say this, but if you want to have fun, you can do it alone.” (S???)
It was at that moment that Isac was about to approach her. With such a voice, the ground between Isac and Cecilia was blown away with a roar.
Immediately after that, a shadow landed in front of Cecilia. It was a familiar face.
A boy with black hair and black eyes was standing there, staring ahead of him.
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