“What in the world……was that……?”
It is the time where the sun has run off, and the sky is studded with stars. Late enough at night where children good and bad have gone to sleep, and the majority of good adults have turned in as well. If you’re awake now, you’re most likely a bad adult.
As the night deepens, the downtown area settles along with it as most of the lights turn out. The noble district is no different, falling into a dark and quiet state with nothing but the magically lit street lights brightening the way.
It was Suflelia, a duke’s daughter for a small nation who awoke so late at night in a cold, greasy sweat.
Short on breath with a heart pounding violently in her chest, her mind was in such utter chaos it felt as if she were about to collapse. Her high quality negligee was soaked with sweat and felt disgusting as it clung to her skin.
“I need to calm myself for now…….”
She was shaken and wanted to let out an upset scream, but she was still a duke’s daughter.
She was educated to be able to always keep her cool so that no problems would ever arise when she debuted in noble society where reputation means everything.
Taking several deep breaths, she grabbed a pitcher of water, pouring it into a splendorous cup, and slowly took a drink.
As the water ran down her slender throat, some of the heat coming off her flushed body caused by her confusion began to ebb away.
Perhaps because she was able to focus her thoughts on the simple action of drinking water, she was able to regain a semblance of composure compared to before.
With her senses returned to her, she took a look around her room.
“It certainly doesn’t appear any different from my usual room.”
Just beyond the veil of her bed’s canopy, she was able to vaguely make out her luxurious furnishings and valuable works of art that decorated the room. The large piano she had asked for was also in its usual place. Having a room large enough that she had ample free space even with such a large piano only served to reaffirm her position as the daughter to a duke.
If she were to ring the bell set at her bedside, a servant would almost assuredly come flying inside immediately after.
“Is this a divine revelation the Lord has shown me…..but I do not understand his aim if so.”
The reason why Suflelia had become so strangely upset is because of a simple and not altogether uncommon occurrence. She had seen a strange dream.
However this dream was much too elaborate to have it be called common, and the feelings and emotions were so strangely vivid they had left a deep impression on her heart and mind. So much so that even the ever-cool Suflelia, who almost never loses her composure, was thrown into disorder.
“A prophetic dream? A revelation? ……at this point, it doesn’t matter which of them it is.”
The dream showed an overly realistic image of the future.
There was a lot going on, and it is difficult for her to remember everything in detail.
But a rough summarization is that a baron’s daughter unwittingly charmed Suflelia’s fiancee, the first prince, the son of the current knight commander, and the son of the legate¹, with her honest and straightforward personality.
Displeased, Suflelia subjected the baron’s daughter to malicious harassment, even going so far as pressuring her baron household itself.
In the end, as it always goes with these good wins and evil is punished stories, Suflelia’s crimes of harassment and using her family’s power to mess with a baron house because of her own self-interest were discovered, and her engagement was promptly annulled.
Thereafter, with her reputation as a noble stained, Suflelia became submissive, and the baron’s daughter Sierra had the prince who loved her stay by her side, living happily ever after.
In other words, Suflelia had a dream of her own miserable future.
“Haa……I never would have imagined that I had such a troublesome disposition. This is why I failed so spectacularly in that dream.”
She unconsciously started complaining to herself.
It is wholly because of her position as a duke’s daughter that things ended with just her engagement being annulled. It was decided she would not be a good marriage partner for the prince, but that does not mean that there was a shortage of marriage candidates. She could pride herself on both her superior mind and physical appearance.
However, such a thing was of little concern to her. What was truly important was the realization of how trifling she believed her broken engagement with the prince really was.
She had always believed her acts of harassment were fueled by her own jealousy of Sierra for how close she was getting to the prince and how loved she was by everyone around her. It was something she would have believed even now if she had not seen that dream.
However through her glimpse of the future, she was faced with a shocking realization the dream her had only come upon during the announcement of her own annulled engagement.
“I, was in love with Sierra wasn’t I……..?”
Yes, at the end of the tale when justice had been served and her engagement had already been broken off. It was only then that she came to notice her own feelings.
She realized there was no damage done when the prince whom she had been so desperately chasing after spurned her and broke off their engagement, but when she saw the prince and Sierra holding hands with each other, a maddening sense of heartbreak shot through her chest.
It was Sierra, not the prince, whom she so desperately tried to hang on to.
An outsider would surely think Suflelia was living a quiet life at the academy after that incident, but the person herself was of a different mind.
Feelings she was too slow to notice, a gender wall that even their social status couldn’t overcome, and numerous counts of harassment that had gone too far.
She was a halfwit who wouldn’t leave the academy because she wanted to see Sierra no matter what, even if she was hated.
“I had always been focused on Sierra without ever paying the prince or the other gentlemen any mind…….I suppose I now know the reason for that.”
Suflelia arranged a fairly wise evaluation of herself.
If she had taken the proper measures and vehemently argued with the prince and the knight commander’s son, Suflelia should have been able to easily avoid the worst-case scenario of having her engagement broken off. In spite of that fact, she had become completely focused on Sierra for reasons even she did not fully comprehend.
She had assumed it was simple jealousy over Sierra becoming close to the prince. However once she had pulled back the curtain, the true answer was clear.
“And I never noticed…….!”
Feelings of romance in regards to someone of the same sex isn’t something that comes up that often in normal conversation.
Is it because it’s taboo that she didn’t notice her own feelings and did something as foolish as hurting the girl she loves to stop her from being taken away?
“No, instead of regretting the damage I’ve done, I should be thinking about how I can make it up to her and heal the wounds I have already caused.”
Actually, she already passed along a few sarcastic comments and snide remarks Sierra’s way, but things had not gotten to the point where she was using her family’s power to cause any harm yet.
She was slow to notice and already caused a few mistakes, but she had not yet reached the point of no return.
Was it a message from God, my future self, or some past life? She didn’t understand the reason or theory, but the dream had shown her how she really felt. And the moment she became aware of that, any option to run away was promptly lost.
She was sure that if she continued on like this, she would walk a life filled with regrets. Even if Sierra ends up happy, the thought that Suflelia wasn’t the one at her side would be enough to tear her heart to shreds.
“I’ve decided. I will convey these thoughts to Sierra directly!”
Every murky feeling swirling in her chest cleared away as the strength of a maiden in love who had realized her true feelings granted her endless power.
She would exhaust every fair and open method at her disposal to achieve a happy ending that nobody would be able to complain about. She would overcome whatever obstacle might block her path.
With her resolve firmed up, Suflelia readied that smart brain of hers to do its best.
“Milady! What’s wrong!?”
But for the time being, her most urgent priority would have to be thinking up an excuse for the maid who jumped into her room after hearing Suflelia shout.
“Uuu…..Reverend, how did you forget something so important……”
A lone girl with only innocence in her heart walked through a town illuminated by the setting sun. She traveled through the nobles district just before night was about to set while wearing a uniform anyone could tell at a glance was made from fine-quality fabrics.
The baron’s daughter Sierra Riaroot who was raised to be honest, polite, and straightforward by her two loving parents.
Even though she is technically a noble, the Riaroot family is an extraordinarily small house at the bottom of the aristocracy, and both of Sierra’s parents are busy year round working with different commoner merchants.
Sierra was traveling through the noble district which is overwhelmingly safer than the downtown area, but with no other servants around, it was still more than enough to make a girl her age anxious.
“If I knew it was going to be like this, I would’ve had someone come with…….no, I don’t want anybody else to find out the reverend forgot his scriptures.”
The reverend is a laid-back, soft-eyed gentleman whoso also happens to be the son of the country’s current legate. He is a man who studies every day in order to become a proper priest in the future.
Their relationship was strange enough, and Sierra, a low-end noble, never thought she would also become familiar with the prince and the next knight commander in addition to the reverend.
Of course, she knows it is only natural that some people would not be pleased with that fact.
The duke’s daughter Suflelia most of all.
A wise and outstanding beauty among the House of Lords who can draw the eye of even those of the same sex. Dresses sewn from the finest clothes and even gem inlaid tiaras are said to be put to shame by her silver locks.
If another woman were to suddenly appear beside your fiancee, it’s only natural you would harbor a grudge.
Although things had never escalated to violence, the duke daughter’s sarcastic comments and snide remarks had been enough to cut Sierra deep.
The other students at the academy all started to keep their distance from Sierra after she was shunned by the daughter of a duke as well. The prince and reverend became closer to Sierra because of their worry over how she was being treated, but that only served to worsen the isolation.
“For the time being, let’s go home as soon as I deliver the scriptures. That’ll be good.”
She decided to go slightly out of her way and deliver the scriptures to the reverend and then return home before night fell any deeper. Otherwise the darkness would cause her feet to freeze in place, and she would be stuck.
She arrived at the splendid church located in the noble district.
Standing before the church’s enormous doors, a few worries ran through Sierra’s mind. The church is not a place of residence, so there was a chance the reverend was not here to begin with. There was also the idea that suddenly showing up like this might be seen as rude and trouble someone. Fighting through her worries, Sierra slowly pushed through the enormous door and made her way inside.
It was quiet with no sign of anyone else inside the cathedral, but the building’s interior was alight from the moon and stars shining down through the skylight. The picture was so magnificently breathtaking that a sigh of admiration unconsciously spilled from Sierra’s lips.
The cathedral held a solemn yet tranquil atmosphere that made it feel as if walking inside was the same thing as stepping into another world.
“Who goes there?”
As Sierra advanced further in, her eyes scanning everything around in her mute amazement, a voice suddenly called out to her, making her jump.
Sierra was unable to mask the confusion in her voice as she was met with the voice of a third party at a time she was convinced she was alone.
“U-Um, I-I am…….”
“Compose yourself. The Lord is watching.”
A clear, lovely voice chided Sierra, prompting her to take a deep breath and turn towards the stranger.
The sight before her drew in her gaze, dispelling whatever confusion that had addled her mind.
A surge of emotion swelled from within her heart, pushing her further into the sight’s draw.
Silver hair spun from moonlight swaying in the air worked in fascinating harmony with her snow white, translucent skin that glowed in the dim, gloomy light.
Combine that with the holy atmosphere that permeates the cathedral when nobody else is around, and it was as if Sierra had lost herself inside a fairy tale.
Whispering the natural response in a voice she could barely hear herself, her words never managed to reach the person in question’s ear.
But Sierra was so captivated by the fantastical scene before her eyes that her purpose in originally coming here flew completely out of her mind.
With her name suddenly being called out, Sierra’s mind was rapidly dragged back to reality in order to fully understand the current situation.
Sierra knew the woman standing before her……well, there was no one who attended the noble academy who didn’t know the duke’s daughter Suflelia.
Realizing it was Suflelia, Sierra’s passion died away as her head cooled down. She would surely be displeased to have met Sierra in a place like this.
And most importantly, the scriptures were still in Sierra’s hands. If she were to handle this wrong, it might look like she was trying to steal them.
“T-These are the reverend’s……..!”
She tried immediately explaining the situation, but the sudden appearance of someone she never expected to run into had left her confused and unable to express her thoughts very well.
“Right, that man does tend to leave things lying around.”
“Eh, ah, yes.”
Sierra had thought for sure she was going to be accused of theft, but what she got back instead was a soft, anti-climatic response that was the exact opposite of what she had been expecting.
Staring at the slightly dumbfounded Sierra for a moment, Suflelia’s slightly reddish eyes turned upwards towards the night sky shown through the cathedral’s skylight.
“This too may be a chance delivered by the Lord…….”
Left completely in the dark on the meaning of Suflelia’s words and her intentions, Sierra could only stand there silently and stare at the beautiful girl.
From there Suflelia’s eyes turned back towards Sierra and locked on to her as they had never done before, drawing in Sierra’s gaze once again and preventing her from looking away. It was a fascination strong enough to convince Sierra that Suflelia was a witch with the power to mesmerize other people.
“Sierra, would you mind listening to what I have to say for a moment?”
Sierra was so enraptured by the serious gaze from Suflelia’s gem-like eyes that she found it impossible to refuse her request.
Even if you were to say everything went as planned, an abnormal tension still wrapped itself around me.
In the future the dream presented, I had coincidentally encountered Sierra as she was returning some scriptures and suspected her of stealing them. It was from that point on that my relationship with Sierra became more radical.
So, I decided to steal her heart and perform my once in a lifetime confession while resolving the misunderstanding at the same time.
The atmosphere of the cathedral at night would create the perfect stage for my confession. In fact, that very same atmosphere had already left Sierra at a loss for words when she first walked in.
I was not sure which night Sierra would come by of course, and that is why I have been renting out the cathedral at night for the past two weeks while also using the opportunity to pray and repent for her mistakes.
Even though I know I won’t be able to forgive myself so easily, I still visited the church by myself every night in order to fight against the uncontrollable feelings of regret festering in my heart over the coldhearted acts I committed against Sierra.
And now finally, Sierra has arrived.
For the past two weeks, I have been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Of course I wanted Sierra to come, but there was also a weak-willed part of me who fears the worst and wanted to procrastinate my confession for as long as possible. But the moment I have been waiting for is finally here.
And so, I must convey my feelings in a way that will leave zero regrets behind.
Even if the Lord would forgive me for holding in her emotions and simply accepting defeat, I could not.
“May I start things off with an apology?”
“Um, could you…….?”
Sierra’s eyes opened wide. With our usual interactions between each other in mind, my current attitude must be so surprising that Sierra could not hide her shock.
“For all of the sarcastic comments and snide remarks I threw at you.”
Sierra’s reaction right now is the same one I made that time I saw a dove receive a hit from a peashooter. Surprise to the point where she can’t say anything as her mouth uselessly hangs open.
“In spite of my position as a duke’s daughter, I continued to speak with you in a cruel and thoughtless manner. I want to apologize to you for that. I am sorry.”
A deep bow accompanied my apologetic words.
It is precisely because of the tranquility of the cathedral that comes with no one else present that I can offer such a heartfelt apology without having to worry about my position.
I am offering a sincere apology, by my own will, in regards to the indescribably selfish behavior that only served my own self-satisfaction.
However, there is always the matter of our positions to consider. A duke’s daughter bowing her head is a significant event. Even moreso when they are bowing their head to the daughter of a baron, someone who is a noble just like her in the same way that the earth is just like heaven.
I am tossing this difference in social status aside and bowing my head. It is an attitude I would most certainly be unable to take if there had been any other witnesses.
“P-Please lift your head! Suflelia is no way in the wrong!”
Ever the kind-hearted soul, Sierra was left in a state of utter confusion, yet she insisted I had done nothing wrong and showed not a hint of anger in her face as she said it.
Far from one or two disparaging comments, Sierra was expecting to be told she couldn’t be forgiven, and the fact that she would straightforwardly take such abuse head on dazzled me all the more.
That straightforwardness is surely what draws the prince and the other men in after having to live in noble society where you must always watch what you say, and everyone has a hidden agenda.
“I started it! I am the one in the wrong when I got close to Suflelia’s fiancee the crown prince!”
“No, isn’t it the prince who became interested and approached you first? So clearly you hold no blame in the matter.”
“B-But, it must have been my behavior that caused Suflelia to hate me! So…….”
Sierra is still of the mind that she is the one in the wrong.
Self-conscious of how it must look to have a woman suddenly appear next to your fiancee, she believes me hating her is the natural course of things.
But that doesn’t mean Sierra was in a position to refuse the prince when he was the one to first show interest in her. If she had turned him down poorly, in the worst case scenario she could be charged with lese majeste.
It was a zero win situation caused by the difference in status.
But above all, I could understand why Sierra would come to this conclusion.
It is the natural result when considering that everything I had done to her until now was from not wanting to see Sierra and the prince together.
I never recognized my own true feelings until my engagement was annulled in that dream either after all.
“I have never once hated Sierra.”
My heart was pounding in my ears, and it suddenly became difficult for me to breathe.
The thought of failure caused me to pause, but I knew if I pulled back here, I would regret it forever.
“I, for Sierra…….”
A Pandora’s box that shouldn’t be opened. I found the key because of some trick and unfastened the lock.
It would be impossible to stuff these feelings I discovered back into the box at this point.
“I am in love with you.”
My voice echoed across the cathedral.
My field of vision suddenly warped.
After mustering up all my courage and throwing everything out there, I thought some small sense of relief would come over me.
What came instead were welled up tears and a mixture of emotions dyed bluish black like a bruise. Although my brain had worked up the courage to charge forward, my heart was running off on its own.
“Eh, that, Suflelia and, me? Um……”
The natural reaction.
Sierra has just been confessed to by somebody she thought had surely hated her. And someone of the same sex at that. There is no reason for her not to be confused.
An awkward silence dominated the cathedral.
At least Sierra wasn’t treating it as a joke. Because if she had asked me whether I was just joking around or not, I would have surely dropped to my knees and started crying on the spot.
Hang in there, myself. I can cry and regret everything all I want once it’s all over. Thoughts such as those have been running through my head ever since I first started visiting the church.
Tears were pooling in my eyes, but my heart has yet to break. So I stayed standing. As a duke’s daughter, I would continue forward with my resolve in tact.
“Of course this has caused you some unrest. I only noticed my own feelings recently as well.”
I am unable to pull back my tears completely, but my voice isn’t shaking. So everything is okay. There’s no problem.
“I didn’t want you to get close to the prince, not as the prince’s fiancée, but as someone who wanted to get close to you themself. And so I lashed out like an ignorant child incapable of being honest with herself……even though a single word from me was capable of completely uprooting your life at school.”
Even though her confusion had yet to clear up, Sierra continued listening intently.
“My mind was made up as soon as I realized my feelings. It hurt me to think about you ending up with anyone else. ……and most of all, I was perfectly fine with you being a girl as well.”
“I have been coming by to pray every night even though I could never find forgiveness here. Foolish isn’t it?”
Sierra shook her head as if to say that wasn’t the case even as her stiff expression unconsciously loosened.
“Yet, here you are. Perhaps my prayers have nothing to do with it and this is all a mere coincidence, but either way I came to the conclusion that now was the time for me to tell you of my true feelings.”
The time is ripe. If I were to continue pushing now it would only cause the impression I have already worked up to fade away. Showing only an effeminate side would be no good here.
Even if my relationship with Sierra is never meant to be, I want to at least have this moment become a beautiful memory that will never leave her mind.
“I am not expecting anything from you. But if it is at all possible, could I ask of you one thing?”
I gathered all my spirit and knowledge into this smile and put on a strong front until the very end.
“Please give me the privilege of continuing to love you. Allow me to at least nurture these feelings in my heart.”
I continued to talk with Sierra while using the light of the moon as a backdrop. In this darkness, she would never be able to tell if my most heartfelt smile were to end up collapsing. After that, it is just a matter of ensuring my voice remains strong and clear. No matter what the circumstance, a duke’s daughter like me knows how to appear confident until the very end.
“Fufu, well then farewell. May your future be filled with happiness.”
My silver threaded hair swayed at my back as I walked past the frozen Sierra by, but I continued forward with a firm step out of the church without ever looking back.
On my way out, I became frustrated with my own weakness that caused me to want to start crying, but other than that, I think I put on a good performance.
The battle would start from this moment on.
I will start my attack by pulling back and putting some distance between the two of us. I can’t afford to hesitate after already taking the leap.
The next time we talk with each other will be at the academy, so I will brush up my appearance, make myself so beautiful that even somebody of the same sex would be drawn in by my looks. My story starts now.
Galvanized, I returned home. My future will be completely different from the one in my dream. I will change it with my own two hands and walk down a new path using my own two feet.
Forcing those thoughts to the forefront, I hid away the mist-like emotions swirling in her stomach.
Unfortunately I couldn’t have a horse-drawn carriage sit nearby for fear of tipping off Sierra, so I ended up having to use my own two feet to walk the whole way home.
Beginning the next week, the academy’s holiday came to an end, and it was time for me to return to school.
“Suflelia! You’re more beautiful than usual today!”
“Truly, it would not be an exaggeration to call say your beauty is unparalleled in this country.”
Offering the hanger-ons a thankful mask out of politeness, I took my seat and pulled out a technical book to read.
I will need to gather more knowledge if I am to cultivate the groundwork for overcoming the obstacles I am sure to face in the future. Once my resolve has been lit, I will push forward as far as my body will allow.
I had heard people become more beautiful when they fall in love, but I now know that saying is not entirely accurate.
People try to make themselves more beautiful after they’ve fallen in love. All in order to catch the gaze of the one they long for.
With that thought hanging in the back of my mind, I engrossed myself into the technical book laid out in front of me.
The royal family attaches a great importance to their connection with nobles in foreign nations, but they are largely ignorant on the flow of the nation’s economy. As such, I asked for the opinions from many of my house’s servants in order to understand a commoner’s perspective on such matters before buying a book detailing economics and the flow of money.
Seeing the nation from a non-aristocratic viewpoint, I have come to realize that while this country is certainly rich in its history, it has always lacked in wealth. The nobles of this nation have never understood that those with no money have no real power.
It also seems that because this country’s history has been a relatively calm one, the nobles’ existence has grown larger than necessary. They have come to misunderstand their own abilities, causing the nation’s growth to stagnate.
Of course all of this was nothing more than an inference drawn from my own limited knowledge. But I am determined to hoard as much knowledge as I can while aiming to become a duke’s daughter who would not embarrass herself no matter where I go or what I do.
Completely immersed in my thoughts until now, someone calling my name dragged me back to reality.
It was impossible for me to not notice or mishear that voice.
“How do you do Sierra”
“H-How do you do”
I lifted my face from my book and smiled.
Everyone around us began whispering among themselves. The prince’s group were standing behind Sierra and glaring at me, but they too seemed confused by this sudden development.
But my focus wasn’t on any of them. I had thought about creating a little distance at first, but here Sierra was approaching me on my own. Perhaps I’m not as hated as much as I thought I was. Faced with this unexpected luck, I was overcome with the urge to have a tea party with just the two of them as soon as possible.
“Suflelia, um, for lunch today…….”
Sierra’s expression stiffened and her face began to blush as she tried forcing out her words.
But taking a guess to what it is she was about to say, I stopped her before she could finish.
“Sierra, if it isn’t a bother, how about joining me for lunch today?”
I could feel a sweet smile spread across my face as I passed along my invitation.
As a duke’s daughter, it is bad form to receive an invitation from someone of a lower status.
That is why Sierra had hesitated so much and left an opening for my to offer my own invitation.
Sierra’s smile bloomed like a flower in spring after receiving my invite. The people gathered around who were unaware of the circumstances all had their jaws drop in surprise. That fact was true whether you were talking about the prince or the knight commander’s son as well.
“How do you do Sierra”
“How do you do Suflelia”
I exchanged a morning greeting with Suflelia which had become routine at this point before heading to my seat.
Turning in my seat and glancing behind me after taking my seat, my backwards glance was noticed by Suflelia who tilted her head slightly and offered a soft smile in return. A stray strand of silver hair brushing across her cheek gave off a strange sensual appeal that caused me to gulp.
My heart began to pound wildly. No matter how many times I see that smile I am still unable to get used to it.
After being invited out to lunch at the academy by Suflelia that day, I have discovered just how wise and charming she really is. The two of us have been spending time together each day ever since.
I was never able to make a female friend since entering the academy because of my acquaintanceship with the prince and the misunderstanding with Suflelia. But the fact that the two of us have been able to harmoniously spend our time together since we made up is enough to make my heart leap with joy.
Of course, I never forgot about the confession inside the cathedral.
Nobody has ever confessed to me until now, so even if it was from someone of the same sex, I am happy to have someone convey their true feelings to me like that. Although there is certainly a great deal of inner confusion mixed in with that joy as well.
With the difference in our positions and the fact that we are the same sex, it would be impossible for us to become lovers, but I would like for us to become friends at least. I am feeling optimistic though.
Is my outlook too naive, or is Suflelia’s charm this tremendous……
It is said that Suflelia is the premier beauty throughout the country, so it should be natural for me to have doubts. Her beauty has led many to call her the ‘Unsetting Moon’ in both this country and others.
It’s not just her appearance that fascinates so many though. She carries a noble spirit as a duke’s daughter that leads her to even travel to the city’s downtown area on foot if it is necessary.
Keeping up to date on the current news and understanding the situation of the commoners, she has begun devoting herself to aiding the citizens.
In fact, many of the people who reside in the city’s downtown area have gained a brighter demeanor as their lives continue to ease little by little thanks to her efforts.
When Suflelia had learned that my parents regularly worked with merchants, she had insisted on immediately meeting them so as to get their opinion on things as both a noble and a merchant. Both of my parents were trembling from how nervous they were though and just remembering the encounter makes me feel a little embarrassed.
So, just thinking about talking to Suflelia is enough to charm anyone.
And then to have such charming lady say she has feelings for you, there is no possible way someone as nescient as me wouldn’t be feeling self-conscious.
Recently my heart has begun to ring like a dinner bell whenever I am with Suflelia.
Before I realized it, feelings other than friendship began to bud in my heart, and my eyes will end up sparkling like diamonds whenever we greet each other every morning.
I’m certainly taken with Suflelia, aren’t I?
Not that long ago, I heard that for a maiden, no matter what age they are, love is a greater source of energy than any meal or form of entertainment.
With that being the case, I started to worry that someone of my stature would only serve to drag Suflelia down. So, I threw myself into my lessons in the hope of closing the gap if only a little. I also began talking with my parents outside of classes in order to learn more about money and logistical issues.
Thanks to that, I’ve obtained the second highest scores in the academy. This should be enough to at least save face right?
Needless to say, Suflelia came in first.
And despite having already claimed the first place finish, the image of Suflelia continuing to immerse herself in her studies is the personification of indomitable perseverance.
Suflelia actually started a study group that meets every day, and I make sure to attend every meeting. Although, at this point I don’t meet up with the group so much as I am the group.
Most of the girls in class attended the meetings at the start, but all of them had thought the study group was a more social gathering where we would drink tea together and chat more than anything else. When it was discovered that it was a genuine study group, and a rather rigorous one at that, girls stopped attending one by one until it was finally just Suflelia and me each day. Since noble girls would marry and become wives in the future, they all thought they were fine so long as they could maintain a decent grade as to not embarrass themselves. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that way of thinking though.
“Sierra, could I have a moment?”
While I was wrapped up in my thoughts about today’s study session where it would be just the two of us once again, a voice called out and grabbed her attention.
“Crown Prince, can I help you?”
Recently I have been spending most of my time together with Suflelia which means I have not seen much of the prince or reverend outside of the customary social greetings when we pass each other by.
“Can I have some of your time?”
Going by the way the prince kept glancing around the classroom, I guessed that whatever it was, it couldn’t be talked about here, so I stood up from her desk.
“I appreciate your consideration.”
Walking out of the classroom, my eyes met with Suflelia’s. Suflelia smiled softly and gave a small wave of the hand in front of her chest where nobody else could see. I wanted to wave back to her, but worried that it might look a little too conspicuous with me standing next to the prince, I stopped myself.
“Sorry to have kept you waiting.”
Entering the vacant classroom the prince had taken me to, I walked in to find both the reverend and knight commander’s son who had both been worried for my sake before I had made up with Suflelia.
With the lessons I have been taking with Suflelia, I was now capable of putting on a brave front like a proper noble without getting disoriented like I always did before. On the outside at least. On the inside, there is still a cold sweat rolling down my back.
“It’s been a while since we all gathered together and talked like this.”
The reverend greeted me with his slow, subdued voice followed by the knight commander’s son who gave his own simple, tough welcome as well.
“How do you do? Was there something you needed from me?”
I grabbed the ends of my skirt and gave the politest curtsy I could manage. This was another lesson I had picked up from Suflelia.
The more time I spent with Suflelia, the more I realized that Suflelia was the greatest sample of etiquette in practice someone could ask for. Just chasing after that form of perfection was enough to take up all of my time, but it’s fun chasing after Suflelia, so I enjoy the extra work.
“There’s no need to be so formal. You can be as frank as you always have.”
“No, it would be quite rude of me to act shamefully in front of the crown prince. It’s something I can’t allow myself if I am going to stay by Suflelia.”
I always intended on acting more formally even before becoming close to Suflelia, but at this point, thinking back to how I used to treat these guys who were so much higher than me socially is overwhelming.
My behavior up to this point has been pardoned because of how forgiving they are, but if any one of them were to accuse me of lese majeste, there would be little I could say in my defense.
“Suflelia, is it?”
The moment I mentioned Suflelia’s name, it felt as if the temperature in the room suddenly dropped.
Hesitating for a second, the crown prince’s gaze turned towards the reverend and knight commander’s son. As both of them gave a serious nod in turn, the crown prince opened his mouth.
“Let me be straightforward. Suflelia is threatening you right?”
My broken voice leaked from my lips before I could stop myself. I tried keeping up the beautiful, imposing aura of an aristocrat, but the question I received out of nowhere was so far away from what I was expecting that the elegant mask I built for myself slipped right off.
“That, I am embarrassed to have my ignorance exposed like this, but I don’t understand your question.”
Even with all the knowledge I had painstakingly cultivated until now, I found it impossible to connect the prince’s words with the grave expressions the men were all making.
“It means just that. Hasn’t Suflelia only ever treated you with cruelty until now? And yet recently she has only ever spoken to you with a smile, as if the events of the past had never happened. So we fear you are being forced into misfortune in a place we don’t know about.”
So to summarize, the prince and the other two boys had grown suspicious and thought the reason why I had become so close with Suflelia so quickly was because Suflelia had used the difference in our positions to force me into being friends with her.
Finally understanding the meaning behind their question, I felt completely disappointed.
“No, Suflelia has never threatened me. There was an unfortunate misunderstanding between us at first, but after a chance meeting outside of the academy, that misunderstanding has since been cleared up. Since then Suflelia has only ever been kind to me, so please rest assured you have nothing to worry about.”
Certainly there was a time when I had half given up, thinking that an eternity could pass before Suflelia and I would come to understand each other.
But, now that I know Suflelia’s real feelings, I can go so far as to even laugh about how ridiculous that misunderstanding was.
In spite of me saying that with an honest smile, the suspicious gazes around me only intensified.
“…….is that really true?”
“Yes, I swear on the name of the Lord.”
I voiced my honest feelings without a hint of hesitation. Certainly, it might be hard to believe that someone of Suflelia’s stature would care about a lower aristocrat like me, but it is a fact.
“You don’t need to be afraid to tell us if you’re being threatened. Don’t worry. I am already prepared to use her abuse of power as a reason to break off our engagement, and I can protect you by making you the new crown princess.”
The sheer weight of the prince’s words left me stunned. I couldn’t understand why he would go so far for a small, worthless noble like me.
As I continued to chew on what it was he was saying though, a boiling heat began simmering in the pit of my stomach, and a sweltering anger started rising up in my heart.
“You don’t need to worry. Suflelia isn’t the type of person to do something like that.”
My tone was a little sharp there at the end, but it didn’t matter. I just want to leave this place as soon as possible.
Were they going to unjustly denounce Suflelia to make themselves look the heroes and me the heroine?
Would that make Suflelia the villainess who bullies the heroine only to have the hammer of justice inevitably fall on her?
That’s not funny.
I can’t accept my beloved Suflelia being treated so poorly.
Even though I know the prince and others have only good intentions in trying to extend a helping hand my way, the fury that’s been lit in my chest refuses to settle, spreading throughout my whole being.
“In that case, why do you continue to attend a study group that all the other girls have chosen to refrain from?”
The knight commander’s son pressed the question with an indignant attitude. Even somebody who did have their doubts about Suflelia would end up getting fed up by their narrow way of thinking.
The other girls stopped participating because they were only interested in socializing and mingling with other nobles, and while they wanted to become closer with a duke’s daughter, Suflelia herself held little interest in just sitting around and having tea.
I keep attending simply because I want to spend as much time with Suflelia as I can.
“Suflelia’s study group has little to do with establishing social connections, so everyone decided the group was not for them. I chose to keep attending for my own sake. No one else is making me go.”
I would denounce the boys here and now if I were allowed.
How could the prince especially so easily doubt Suflelia? Can’t you believe in your own fiancee?
That exact thought is the reason why I have to force herself to remain tight-lipped here. Otherwise I might end up yelling something like, “You aren’t good enough to be Suflelia’s fiancee!” loud enough that the whole academy might hear me.
But after all the extensive lessons I’ve taken, I was able to overcome my previous shortcomings and continue to look civil no matter how emotional I was getting on the inside. No matter how much they continue to suspect Suflelia.
The Prince isn’t a suitable fiancee for Suflelia. Maybe I should just take her for myself.
And that’s when I realized it.
Without noticing, I have started to want to stay by Suflelia’s side no matter what.
I knew I was feeling something akin to infatuation for some time now, but it is only because of this current affair that I understand how much I truly yearned for Suflelia rather than the prince.
It has became clear to me just how much I am in love with Suflelia.
“Is something wrong?”
“No……class will be starting soon, so please excuse me.”
I turned around, leaving the classroom without bothering to wait for a reply. It was certainly rude, but I couldn’t stand to remain there a moment longer.
It’s only natural to be displeased when somebody is unfairly badmouthing your beloved. Even if it isn’t my intent to act maliciously against my beloved’s fiancee.
But more importantly, I wanted to see Suflelia’s face immediately. If I could take in Suflelia’s aroma or hear her voice, I know these twisting feelings would subside.
And then once my fury has ebbed away, I will devote myself to studying harder than I ever have before. I am lacking in both strength and authority. Which means the only thing left to me is my brain.
After all the trouble it took to have my feelings fully blossom like this, the idea of burying them back up or breaking them myself is something I can’t abide by.
I feel like I could do anything with how I feel right now. And I can now fully understand what Suflelia was always talking about.
“The possibilities for a maiden in love are endless after all.”
Suflelia had a moment of peace for the first time in a long while, resting her shoulder up against Sierra’s.
“Suflelia and Sierra are…….!”
“Those two are always so beautiful together.”
Ignoring the voices being raised around them, the people in question continued their leisurely talk with one another while sitting in the middle of the academy’s courtyard.
These days there is no shortage to the number of people wanting to become acquainted with the two girls who have become famous as the country’s great prodigies, but whenever the two girls are together, they always give off an atmosphere that seems to forbid anyone from interrupting them. As such everyone always leaves the two of them alone, thinking that they’ll be able to talk to them later on.
“Sierra, may I visit your house today?”
“Yes! Please do. My parents were just talking about how there were all sorts of things they wanted to tell you.”
When they weren’t talking to each other, it was clear to anyone watching that they were thinking about each other.
It is inevitable then that rumors about their relationship becoming a bit too close spread across the noble academy, marring both of their reputations with a negative impression.
But even with their soured reputations Suflelia and Sierra continued to devote themselves into their studies, eventually leaving their mark on the history of the academy.
They had go on and use what they had already learned to greatly expand the country’s commerce, using the country’s unique feature of bordering numerous other countries to turn it into a central trading hub and garnering massive profits.
In the process, with Suflelia’s help, Sierra’s small noble house had grown to become one of the most prominent families in the country.
There were those who ridiculed her family behind the scenes, calling them unstoried upstarts who only gained fame with money. This was all a result of people’s jealousy and bigotry however, and since Sierra’s family had the backing of a duke, nobody dared to confront them in the open.
“…..we’re finally at a spot where we can rest.”
“Yes, but the crucial moment will be after this. They won’t have to just stand up against this country’s nobles but ones from other nations as well.”
As a result of Suflelia’s efforts to cast off the noble system, she was tapped to become the future prime minister and take center stage with national politics. And thanks to her father the current duke’s recommendation, she was able to have her engagement completely erased.
Suflelia’s father was actually quite enthusiastic for the change as he thought it was far better for the national interest to have her work directly for the country instead of serving the nation indirectly as the king’s wife. Her younger sister was chosen to be wed to the prince instead, but since she seemed okay with it, the result turned out all right.
The prince had a good face, excelled both academically and physically, and had an all right personality. Suflelia’s younger sister was just one of many women who saw him as an object of adoration.
“I hope the prince and the others don’t do anything they shouldn’t…….”
“I was happy that you protected me.”
“I’d call it my childish need to monopolize you before I would say I protected you.”
“Still, the fact that it made me happy will not change. For Suflelia to directly deny the prince like that……it’s not something I could have done myself.”
No matter how good people would say the prince was, Suflelia could only ever tilt her head and wonder.
That was because of how passionately and fervently he had tried to bring Sierra in as a concubine.
He even went through all the trouble of preparing a marriage certificate, adding on for some reason that he was even fine with her taking on the reverend and the knight commander’s son as husbands as well.
Suflelia used every ghastly method she could think of to keep Sierra at her side without letting anyone to pressure her into marriage. It’s common for students to use the connections they’ve built up during their school days to help expand their family’s affairs, so anyone could have guessed what a great loss it would be to Suflelia if she were to lose Sierra.
For Suflelia, these men were never romance targets but rivals in love though.
Sure they were always some of the top scorers in the academy, but since Suflelia only ever had to look at the top two positions to find her own name plus Sierra’s, she would have to take your word for it.
Stretching out her back, Suflelia rested her weight up against Sierra and mumbled.
“…..please stay with me from now on. As long as you’re with me, I’m sure I will never fall.”
“I wouldn’t leave even if you told me to. If you fall, I’ll fall with you.”
The two turned towards each other and smiled.
It’s because they can grab happy moments like this that they can say with confidence that the choices they have made until now were not wrong.
From this point on they would continue to do everything they can to make this happiness last for as long as possible.
There’s no doubt they’d be all right though. Even if one of them were to trip up somewhere down the way, they wouldn’t break. Because there would always be a smile encouraging them to stand back up by their side.
~~An excerpt of a book from a certain world, from a certain period~~
There once was a small nation, sandwiched between two mighty superpowers. While the nation did border multiple other smaller countries, it was a thin nation with little to its name other than its long history.
But there was a girl who brought about a great change to this nation. A stunning beauty known as the Unsetting Moon or the Silver Moon Princess, she forced the stagnating nation to evolve beyond what it thought possible.
Taking advantage of the nation’s position, she spread the nation’s sense of commerce, turning it into a bustling center of trade. Thinking that the people of the nation should be allowed to live as healthily as possible, she went on to craft sewage systems for cities and encouraged the paving of roads for every major thoroughway.
Her political and mercantile mind is something valued even today, and entire books studied by experts can be filled with her achievements.
A wry smile can be found on historians around the world as stories of the Silver Moon Princess have completely overshadowed those belonging to the king of that era whose name has become all but forgotten in the passage of time.
It is also a well known story that historians struggle every day trying to separate the true achievements of the Silver Moon Princess from the numerous anecdotes and tall tales centering around her that only ever seem to increase the more research that is done on her.
For as famous as she was in life, her status as a perpetual bachelor is most likely one of the most famous aspects of her story in the present day.
The exact reason for this is unclear, but it is widely believed this was because no man of the era was able to match up to her excellence.
There is one more interesting theory regarding her as a homosexual which has continued to persist, but the lack of any concrete evidence has relegated the theory to popular folklore. That’s not to say that no decisive evidence won’t be found in the future.
The story of a maiden living her life without ever being wed is particularly popular in the world today, and it is that popularity which has elevated her name to new heights even in the present day. Certainly there is even a noninsignificant number of people who go so far as to address her as a holy woman.
There is another theory that the Silver Moon Princess was never a real person at all, more a folk hero developed by the nation itself. A humorless theory derived from the belief that the number of achievements and testimonials attested to her are just too numerous to belong to a single person.
But then, whenever conversation of the Silver Moon Princess comes about, the Moonlight Princess will surely surface as well.
A famous figure of the age although not as well known as the Silver Moon Princess.
Her identity is an enigma, and few details are known about who she really was other than her gender and an aristocratic background.
The story goes that she remained single her whole life as well, devoting her efforts to supporting the Silver Moon Princess.
According to rumors, the Moonlight Princess was also quite the charming woman, receiving multiple invitations to become the king of the era’s concubine as well as being popular with the captain of the country’s royal guard and the leader of the church. It is said that the Silver Moon Princess shot down every invitation on her behalf, but the truth of the matter is lost to time.
The both of them were widely popular with the commoners of the time though, and we are always discovering more and more stories published depicting their forbidden love.
It has recently been discovered that they attended school together, and the both of them were very close.
It is said that their names were firmly engraved in the school’s history, and the two of them were able to achieve a tremendous amount of results even while they were still students.
The academy was gifted with its two brightest minds at the same time and has nobody come close to matching their repute ever since.
There are many points of contention that historians argue, but one point they all agree on is that the nation prospered heavily thanks to these two geniuses who were born in the same era cooperating with one another.
Now then, what I have depicted so far is the princesses’ youth, but by far the most mysterious thing about them is their life.
When the two of them came close to turning fifty, they both disappeared without leaving a trace behind.
Historians have been completely unable to locate any kind of grave or mementos of the two legendary women. Supposedly the country had offered an enormous reward for anyone capable of finding them, but historians are still scratching their heads on whether or not this tactic produced any results.
It seems they had completely transferred their duties to suitable replacements, so the country’s operation did not stall, but the emotional impact of two such important figures suddenly disappearing must have been extraordinary.
Accounts are muddled after that, but supposedly the two had disappeared completely, leaving nothing behind, which would suggest their departure was not unplanned.
More than anything else, the two’s mysterious disappearance fascinates historians and piques the imagination.
While there is no end to the amount of information out there about their youth, there is not a single clue as to what happened to them afterwards, and it is the cause of numerous theories.
Conspiracy theorists believe they were simply killed and done away with by the jealous monarchy while realist scholars believe they simply thought their roles were finished and went traveling together afterwards. And then there are the romanticists who say their forbidden love must have been discovered, so they were forced to flee. No matter what the truth might have been, news of their accomplishments spread through the church, and the nation’s citizens wished them a happy life.
Switching topics though, there are numerous accounts from people testifying at the time of the princesses’ disappearance to have seen two young, beautiful girls holding each other’s hand and frolicking through the castle and downtown area.
It is said the two girls had developed their own little world around them, and their complimenting beauties and cheerful mood stood out in the chaotic and dark spirits that had unfolded in the city with the princesses being gone. There are even accounts of people mistaking the two girls for fairies who had accidentally wandered into the city because of their pure, natural beauty.
There is no end to the reported sightings of these two beauties in the surrounding regions and even other countries starting from this period and continuing on even to the present day.
There are those who believe them to be a pair of fallen nobles because of the elegance in their movements, but those who have overheard their conversations say that there is no possible way a pair of former nobles would speak so familiarly with those around them.
Differing views and hypotheses aside, one thing all witnesses do agree on is, “Her hair like silver thread was spectacularly lovely.”
As for this author, I speculate that these two ladies may in fact be the Moonlight and Silver Moon Princesses. No, perhaps it is better to say I hope they are.
It is more dream than theory and lacks any kind of evidence, but what do you think of it?
I invite the world’s experts and writers to keep their minds open and encourage you to try and verify this hypothesis of mine.
And to my readers along with the Silver Moon and Moonlight Princess, I wish you all a happy life.
“The end. Apparently everybody is buying those thick, baseless investigative books while this book is being left completely alone. Even though this one is far more credible as it even holds the most up-to-date information on the truth of the Silver Moon Princess.”
“Hoh…..how interesting that a historian who writes about the truth has his book buried under a mountain of conspiracy theories.”
Two girls were talking with each other while looking at a book they picked up in a bookstore in a small country. It would be clear to anyone watching that the two were close just from how firmly they held each other’s hand.
“Will you buy a copy?”
“……yes, let’s do so. And if the opportunity ever comes up, why don’t we meet the author and fill them in on the truth?”
“Let’s! They might fall right on their butt in shock. In addition to the teacakes, we’ll have to prepare some more medicine for the fall…….”
Hands still linked together and happily chatting away, they brought the book over to the bookstore’s counter.
“This one please.”
The shopkeeper gave a tongue-tied response, but the girls didn’t pay him any mind, spinning on their heels and walking away as soon as they had paid for the book. Each movement was overflowing with grace and caused the shopkeeper to absentmindedly stare after them.
“Well then adieu.”
The shopkeeper’s bewilderment only increased as the fair voice met his ear carrying a farewell you wouldn’t normally expect to hear in everyday life.
“I have gotten a tad hungry, so should we go somewhere to eat?”
“Fufufu ……actually, I went ahead and packed us a lunch!”
“Well! Your homecooking is always delicious, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The girls shared a look with each other while still holding each other’s hand, a smile blooming across their faces that caused any lingering thoughts to fly out of the shopkeeper’s head.
What kind of nobles are they? Or are they perhaps the daughters to some rich merchants? They stand out too much to have ventured into the city in secret, yet they don’t look as if they have any qualms being out on their own despite how young they look.
Amidst the shopkeeper’s jumbled thoughts, there was one thing he could say for certainty.
“What beautiful silver hair!”
So then, where are the two girls going to venture to next?
1. I’m pretty sure about this translation. The Japanese uses ‘pope representative’ there, which is what a legate is. Usually a cardinal or the like, they’re appointed by the pope who resides in Vatican City, and the legates take charge of important religious efforts. In this case, the legate is pretty much in charge of this country’s religious branch.
2. The word here is a formal greeting and farewell. Suflelia uses it always to say hello: “How do you do?” and now goodbye: “Adieu”