this chapter is brought to you by mio
as translator, proofreader and editor!
[Ara] “Is it really the Little Duke?”
[Linden] “Yeah. I even double checked it since I couldn’t believe it either.”
I couldn’t understand why I was hearing that man’s name here.
[Linden] “To be honest, I also looked into everything where you and that woman were involved with each other since I had suspicions about a lot of things as well, but…’
In other words, he had run a background check on me without informing me, but it didn’t matter to me. Because I knew just how touchy Linden was on having all the information in his grasp first.
[Linden] “And the places I had stuck my hand in all had traces of the Little Duke presence.”
[Ara] “So apart from the poisoning case, the Little Duke had been investigating everything before that?”
[Linden] “Yeah. It’s too much of a coincidence.”
How could there be such a good opportunity for him to coincidentally investigate all the past ‘villainous’ acts of Meliara and find out that she had actually been framed instead? No one would bother investigating unless they already had doubts about what they knew. But to think that just investigating wasn’t enough and he even needed to take away an important witness…
[Linden] “This is just my opinion, but…”
Linden snuck a look at my face and spoke cautiously.
[Linden] “The Little Duke of Darchez… I think he knows you’re being framed.”
[—] “There’s no way…”
The quiet voice of a woman sounded in my ear, overlapping with my own voice.
Shocked because there was no one else around me except for Lecht and Tanma, I turned my head to where I had heard the sound come from. But there was no one there.
[Ara] “Just now, did you hear someone else’s voice?”
[Linden] “A voice? Whose voice?”
[Ara] “A woman’s voice…”
[Linden] “I’m not sure.”
Linden tilted his head at my question while Lecht walked over to the place where I was looking. Behind a pillar. He looked behind the curtain and shook his head.
[Ara] “Never mind, I must have misheard.”
But I was sure I heard it. It was strange, but since Lecht said he didn’t feel anything, I brushed it off, thinking only I had felt it.
[Ara] “So what you’re trying to tell me is that the Little Duke seems to believe that I’m innocent?”
[Ara] “The Little Duke and I don’t seem to have a relationship that justifies such faith in me though…”
Meliara and Alion’s sibling relationship was in a way, worse than that of strangers.
[Linden] “Although I haven’t met the Little Duke very often either, he’s not the type of person to be so affectionate.”
[Ara] “No, that isn’t the problem.”
He neglected the young Meliara, who was being mistreated by the Duke, and turned a blind eye to her abuse. By hiding behind the position of a ‘bystander’, what he had done was nothing short of enabling and agreeing with Meliara’s abuse.
It was a totally different matter to being an affectionate person. But now, he seems to believe that I’m being framed…?
[Ara] “How hypocritical.”
If that isn’t the case, then the only other possible reason is…?
[Ara] “Maybe it’s a ploy he’s made to make me return to the Duke’s estate.”
[Linden] “But to say that…”
Linden looked even more perplexed at my suspicion.
[Linden] “You and Olivia first had conflict when the Little Duke was at the front lines for the subjugation, right?”
[Ara] “That’s right.”
[Linden] “I think he asked someone to look into it as soon as he heard news of it at the front line.”
[Ara] “…That was almost two years ago.”
[Linden] “Yeah, so… personally, I don’t think it’s a ploy constructed to get you to return to the Duchy.”
It wasn’t something that happened recently. It’s something that’s been like that for a long time already.
I massaged my head, which was full of complicated thoughts. My throat felt stuffy, like someone who had eaten something wrong.
[Ara] “You’re saying that he might have trusted and cherished me, even while he neglected me for such a long time?”
[Linden] “I just said it since it could be a possibility.”
Linden added cautiously, perhaps because my voice was too sharp.
Nevertheless, the only thing I could do was let out a sigh. My throat felt stuffy. Whether it was anger or annoyance, an emotion that I couldn’t quite identify rose up from within me.
I shut my eyes tightly and tried to empty my stomach of its contents with a sigh, but it was useless.
[Ara] “Even if that’s how he truly feels…”
There’s already no one left for him to tell.
[Ara] “Even if it’s late, this is just too late.”
I heard a soft, muffled sound, as if it were responding to my words that I had blurted out.
Despite the person trying not to make a sound, it was the kind of sobbing that couldn’t be held in.
I turned my head at the quiet sounds of sobbing so sorrowful it was enough to shake people’s hearts just by listening to it.
[Ara] “You can’t hear this either?”
I asked Linden, but he shook his head with an expression that showed he didn’t know what I was talking about.
[Ara] “Lecht too?”
Lecht shook his head as well. Tanma was no different to them.
I got up from where I sat and moved carefully to where the sound was coming from.
To be honest, it was a little creepy. To think that no one else but me could hear the sound.
But that was all the more reason for me to investigate it thoroughly. The source of the sound was none other than behind the pillar. It was definitely where Lecht had just checked earlier.
My eyes widened when I poked my head in slightly to check the identity of the sobbing person.
Surprised by my voice, the woman fell back onto the floor on her butt.
Brown eyes that looked back up at me. Clean skin. A face that looked exactly like mine, but filled with tears.
[—] You can… hic, see me…?
The source of the auditory hallucination that had been heard earlier was none other than the original owner of this body.
* * *
pls do not share this anywhere or u will always stub ur toe when u walk past a door frame !! this translation has been stolen from mioscorner.com, pls only read there i’m begging u :kneels:
I deliberately took Lecht and Linden to my room in case anyone else could me if I talked outside. Butler Tanma stayed outside, saying that he would go and keep the priests in order instead of me.
[Ara] “You really can’t see it?”
Pointing to Meliara’s soul, I asked them again, but both men shook their heads.
[Meliara] You’re the first one who’s seen me.
The way she trails off at the end of her sentence, her way of speaking, and even her act of tucking her hair behind her ears. All of them were described as her habits in the original story.
I stretched out my hand again, but it went straight through her, just like it had before.
[Ara] “Ha, I really can’t even touch it.”
Even though it didn’t seem like I was hallucinating, it was still my first time seeing a ghost, so I didn’t really know how to accept it.
[Ara] “If I’m the first one to see you, then why were you hiding like that earlier?”
[Meliara] Oh… because I feel like I’m in a place where I’m not supposed to be for some reason…
She felt like she did something wrong, even though her opening her eyes here wasn’t because she wanted to. I felt suffocated just thinking of how she had been treated to think like that.
[Ara] “You said you couldn’t go outside this temple, right?”
[Ara] “If the area inside the temple is special, then… is the fact that I can see you also thanks to the fact that I’m the saintess?”
[Meliara] That could be the case… It could also be because you’re me as well…
I exchanged a few words with her, feeling like I was talking to a mirror. The more we talked, the more I understood. This wasn’t an illusion, but was Meliara herself.
[Ara] “So the day before I opened my eyes in this body, you had earnestly wished to just ‘disappear like this’? And then when you woke up, you found yourself here in the temple in this state?”
[Ara] “How could that be?”
Although she had wished to die, she hadn’t personally drank any poison, nor had she jumped off from anywhere either.
[Meliara] To be honest, back then… it felt like something had burst out from here… and now that I think about it, it seemed like the mana exploded…
[Ara] “Mana…? Don’t tell me that was your magic being unleashed?”
[Ara] “Weren’t you unable to use magic? You, who couldn’t use it, unlike the Duchess…!”
How much persecution had she received from the Duke though…! I couldn’t just recklessly talk about her terrible past, which she was all the more aware of than me, so I just shut up.
[Meliara] That’s what I thought as well, but I guess it was actually possible…
She lowered her head and looked down at her own two hands. For her mana to burst out causing her to become a mage at that moment; why then of all times?
Looking back at that time, it was where even her engagement had been broken off, and she had lost all hope. Anyone who fell into an abyss like this would think that they just wanted to die, even if it was just for a moment. But the moment she had that thought, the first magic she had in her life burst out from within her, making her soul disappear from her own body.
Just how pitiful would this woman’s life be? Even though I was angry and frustrated just from hearing about it, Meliara herself was quite calm.
[Meliara] I was stupid… I should have been more careful…
[Ara] “It’s not your fault. How could you be careful when you didn’t even know you could use magic?”
It was never her fault. I would rather blame God than put the blame on her.
[Meliara] I should’ve worked harder in order to learn how to use magic faster…
[Ara] “How could you work any harder than you already did…!”
And to think that during all this time, you thought that you caused harm to other people just because you couldn’t use magic fast enough.
[Meliara] Thank you for saying so.
I realised upon seeing her smile softly, as if she were happy, even with such obvious words that were a given. Just how low Meliara’s self-esteem was. It upset me once again when I thought of the environment she grew up in, which led to her becoming like this.
As I closed both eyes tightly with a sigh, Linden called out to me.
[Linden] “Ara, if I’m not mistaken, then… there’s someone there, right?”
Turning his head, he gestured lightly to where Meliara’s soul was standing. But to him, it would look empty.
[Linden] “And that… if I’m not out of my mind, then…”
Looking alternately between where Meliara was standing and where I was standing, he spoke cautiously.
[Linden] “Meliara Darchez?”
How many times have I sighed already? But when I thought about everything I had to explain in the future, all I could do was let out another sigh again.
[Ara] “Lecht, Linden. I have something to tell the two of you. It’s going to be something absurd that you’ve never heard anywhere else before.”
I asked Lecht and Linden simultaneously.
[Ara] “Can you promise to believe what I’m saying?”
[Lecht] “You’re asking something that’s a given.”
Lecht’s answer came frighteningly quickly, as soon as he heard my question, while Linden seemed to hesitate for a while before nodding his head.
[Linden] “Who would I trust, if not you?”
[Ara] “Huu… Then, shall we take a seat first? It’s going to be a long story.”
* * *
The story, which I thought would take the whole day to explain, took less time for them to digest than I thought it would.
[Linden] “So ever since I first met you at the lodging, you’ve been a different person.”
[Ara] “I’m sorry for not telling you right away.”
[Linden] “No, I completely understand. There’d be no need for you to tell me if we didn’t have this close of a relationship as we do now.”
He was right. Since there’s no reason for me to go around talking about this for no reason.
[Linden] “I’m glad I know, even if it’s now.”
A soft smile was spread prettily across Linden’s face.
[Linden] “I seem to understand everything now.”
He looked relieved, as if he had finally realised something. In any case, he seemed to have noticed how much I changed and thought it was strange. As expected, he’s quite quick-witted.
[Ara] “Lecht too, I’m so-”
[Lecht] “There’s no need for you to apologise.”
Lecht stopped me mid apology. Instead, he brushed the back of his finger against my cheek and whispered.
[Lecht] “Since what I’ve been waiting for is…”
He didn’t finish his sentence, perhaps because he was conscious of the people around us. However, I could still understand the obvious words, ‘Since what I’ve been waiting for is your soul anyway’, that he had swallowed.
[Lecht] “So that’s why you were saying that it would’ve been of no use, even if I had found you sooner.”
Judging from the relieved look in his eyes as he whispered, he seemed to have been hung up all throughout the day over our conversation yesterday. He smiled as I nodded my head.
[Meliara] Someone wrote about my story…?
While the two men only cared about when they discovered the difference between Meliara and I, Meliara reacted in a completely different direction.
I spoke apprehensively.
[Ara] “Even if a story was written about this place, it’s definitely still its own world and space.”
I felt like with her already low self-esteem, she’d have an even bigger sense of shame upon realising that this place was only a world within paper.
[Ara] “But I guess it’d be the same if you wrote about my world as well, it’d also be like a world inside a book too?”
Although I tried to explain the situation in a hurry, Meliara was fixated on a completely different point than what I was thinking.
[Meliara] So someone read my story…
Her tears dripped down uncontrollably.
[Meliara] So there was someone who took interest in my life… I’m glad…
She didn’t even seem to care that she was seen as a ‘villainess’ in it. She was just glad that someone had been paying attention to her, even if it was someone in another world.
I felt my chest getting stuffy by seeing the reaction that showed just how lonely her life had been.
Just what sort of grudge did Olivia have against this kind of person?
[Ara] “Meliara, could you finish what you were saying earlier? The story of you and Olivia.”
never shitting on a villainess again.
meliara is so precious, i wish her all the happiness in the world QAQ