༺ The Childhood Friend Kidnapping Case (1) ༻
It was midday and the sun was shining brightly. A cool breeze gently caressed my skin.
I was chatting with Mateo under the shade of a tree after hanging out with him.
Mateo, as expected, invited me to join his gang.
He looked after me for three days, and I accepted the offer while pretending to be impressed by the fact that he bought me a meal, exuding the impression of ‘I will follow you’.
I was truly grateful. Thanks to him, I was able to fill my stomach and focus on training without becoming a debtor.
“A noble title? Give it to the dog. My purpose is to get revenge on the nobles who ignore the common people. I will become stronger here and raise the status of commoners.”
Mateo made a promise that I couldn’t care less about. I pretended to be moved, saying things like ‘hmm, yes,’ and ‘right!’. It was necessary in order to earn Mateo’s trust.
I felt as if I had become a new employee at the company, trying to please the manager.
“Someday, I will create a world where commoners are not looked down upon. You understand it well, since you were treated badly because you were a Grade E commoner. Take my side, Isaac.”
“…I get it, I’ll jump on board.”
It was a false promise that would be shattered soon.
I have to stop the bad ending, so I’ll have to play with you for a while.
Just like that, I became a member of Mateo’s gang.
Besides me, there were three more people in Mateo’s gang. One from Class B and two from Class C, all were of commoner origin.
“Ugh, do I have to do this…?”
As a member of Mateo’s gang, I had to put my bangs up. I didn’t look very good with my forehead shown.
Anyways, Mateo, who was holding the school uniform jacket over his shoulder, led the way, and I and his three subordinates followed.
Mateo was working hard in order to rewrite the dark history.
Is it because everyone has their bangs up? As we walked through the corridors of Orphin Hall, I could feel the eyes of the students focusing on us.
“Hey, it’s that Grade E commoner.”
“That Grade E guy joined Mateo’s gang to survive.”
“He was last in the class placement evaluation, pfft.”
…No, they were solely staring and laughing at me.
As expected, of Märchen Academy. The students’ terrible personality was amazing.
“What did you say to my friend?”
“Ah…! Oh, no, it’s nothing…”
Oh? Matteo picked a fight in my stead.
Mateo, who was at the top of Class B, was a recognized talent. Most students didn’t even dare approach him.
Märchen Academy had a setting where one’s social status didn’t necessarily determine their ability to learn. Of course, that didn’t mean that social status wasn’t important, but rather one’s skill and abilities held more weight in terms of status.
Even though I was just a subordinate, I couldn’t help but be grateful for Mateo’s friendship.
Of course, I was only grateful to him for taking my side. The current Mateo was naive and hopeless, so he wasn’t particularly impressive as a person.
At that time, another kid beside me called out the main character’s name.
It was because Ian intervened when Mateo was picking a fight with another student.
Mateo and Ian’s gazes clashed.
Silence. The air became heavy.
“That bastard, what are you going to say to brother Mateo this time…?”
Don’t you think it’s too much to call him brother when we’re in the same class?
“Are you arguing with someone again, Mateo?”
Wow, it was the first time I’d heard Ian’s voice in this world.
A sharp voice like that of a main character. It was a very familiar voice that I had heard countless times while playing the game.
I almost said hello because I was so happy to see him.
Mateo stepped closer to Ian and looked down at him in an intimidating manner.
“Ian Fairytale… the second son of a Viscount… As expected, you are annoying too.”
“What are you going to do about it?”
“I will use you as a stepping stone for my goal, and as an example of my hostility toward the aristocracy.”
“You foolish bastard.”
Okay, they’re fighting, the story is going just as planned.
According to the story of ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱, Ian and Mateo must have already met before and were on the verge of fighting.
The root of the problem was that Mateo asked a Class C student in the Magic Department for a one-on-one spar at the training ground. The opponent was a discriminatory aristocrat who usually despised commoners. Mateo obliterated him with zeal.
At that time, Ian, the protagonist with a strong sense of justice who happened to be on the same training ground as Mateo, stepped up and stopped him and the two engaged in a battle of nerves.
After a few words, Mateo pretended to be generous and walked away.
That was the story I knew.
“Am I annoying? Then let’s fight.”
Mateo provoked Ian.
“I won’t fight with you, you’re not even worth fighting with.”
“You’re weak, I already know that you’re all talk.”
The war of nerves was short-lived.
After a brief snowball fight, Mateo ignored Ian and started walking again, with his hands stuck in his pockets.
His subordinates – me, and three other male students – followed Mateo.
Like some third-class villains, they stuck out their tongues at Ian or mocked him as they passed by.
Of course, I followed suit.
Please don’t faint when fighting demons.
“There’s a girl who always sticks with Ian. ‘Amy Holloway’. She’s the daughter of Count Holloway.”
Somewhere in the Josena Forest.
The Mateo gang, including me, were gathered in a spacious abandoned warehouse, having a third-rate villainous strategy meeting.
“Let’s kidnap her.”
“Huh, are we actually gonna kidnap her?!”
The subordinates were startled. I pretended to be surprised on purpose, too.
As expected, Mateo’s strategy was following the original story.
「Act 2, Chapter 2, The Childhood Friend Kidnapping Case」. It was an incident that took place when Ian’s childhood friend Amy Holloway was kidnapped by Mateo’s gang.
This was the moment when Ian and Mateo’s gang began to fight in earnest.
“I’m not saying we’re going to do anything bad to Amy Holloway. We’ll just kidnap her and lock her up somewhere. She’s just a bait to lure in Ian.”
“Brother, what do you mean…?!”
“It’s a reminder for the nobles that if they look down on us commoners, they will suffer severe consequences.”
After defeating all of Mateo’s men, Ian confronted Mateo one-on-one.
Meanwhile, a demon appeared. It awoke as a result of Mateo’s extremely powerful mana.
Of course, the demon’s goal was Ian, who had the light attribute.
However, the demon attacked the hindrance, Mateo, first. Ian was the only person who could protect Mateo at that time, since all of his subordinates were passed out.
Once Ian saved Mateo, the two would form a temporary alliance to defeat the demon. Mateo then apologized to Ian, and the two became friends.
Anyways, it was the first time I saw Mateo’s gang planning their strategy, it was kind of fun to see a scene that did not appear in the original game.
“The first is Ian Fairytale, that cretin. We can’t force him to fight, so we need to give him a reason too. I intend to thoroughly bring him to despair.”
“As expected, brother!”
When I was playing the game, I thought he was just a third-class villain and didn’t think much of it…
But looking at it now, Mateo was a real idiot and one hell of a bastard.
His subordinates were on the same level as him. They all responded by saying that they would obey Mateo’s will or that they would show the strength of commoners.
I had two reasons to join Mateo’s gang.
The first was to deal with the demon.
“Then the kidnapping…”
“I’ll do it.”
All eyes fell on me.
The second reason I came into Mateo’s gang was…
…To safely kidnap Ian’s childhood friend as well as one of my favorite characters, Amy Holloway.
“Leave it to me. I want to be of use too, Mateo.”
Mateo’s gang was taken aback by Ian’s unexpectedly good combat skills.
Contrary to Mateo’s intention, he ended up treating Amy quite harshly.
It was probably a story device to escalate the conflict, but I hated it.
I couldn’t understand why Mateo’s gang was laughing like a bunch of third-rate villains. But for some reason, it was fun, so I jumped into the mood and laughed like a villain too.
I felt a sense of belonging as I ate together with Mateo’s gang.
When Mateo got into a fight with someone, we would glare at them from the side, and we would gather in the abandoned warehouse, to share the hardships we had to face being neglected by the nobles.
Well, it’s a group that will disband soon, so I should enjoy it to the fullest.
It was fun.
‘Tomorrow will be the end.’
The final date of the operation was tomorrow.
Somehow, the number of Mateo’s gang increased by two more, but it didn’t matter.
After all, they were all extras who would get knocked out by Ian anyway.
Even if it was ‘Hell’ difficulty, it was only non-human races that rapidly increased in difficulty. Humans had a fixed level regardless of difficulty.
In addition, Ian’s level, which I happened to see earlier, was ’45’. The level of Mateo’s subordinates was on average in the mid-40s.
On the other hand, Ian had the sizeable advantage of being physically strong and being good at hand-to-hand combat.
In other words, he was akin to a bully who could easily defeat these extras, despite how many times he got beaten by demons.
If Ian protected Mateo even once, the situation would be over. Then all I had to do was step in and deal with the demon.
At least, if there was no obstruction…
Life at the mansion of Duke Astrean was vastly different from that of any other noble’s daughter.
Gerald Astrean was awarded the title of Duke for his great achievements in the War of Nies. Considered one of the greatest Sword Saints, he married the genius wizard Historia, continuing the Astrean family lineage.
A girl with light green hair, the second born of a Sword Saint and a genius wizard.
To her, her father, a Sword Saint, was ‘a being to be followed blindly.’
“House Astrean, rise.”
When her father said that over the loudspeaker, no matter how deeply she was dreaming, she had to quickly wake up and make her bed.
“The eldest daughter! Merlin Astrean!”
“The second daughter! Kaya Astrean!”
When calling out her name, she had to put ‘second daughter’ in front of it and moderate her speech.
As soon as she woke up, she had to immediately gather in front of the mansion.
“Let out a powerful shout for five seconds.”
“Conduct the morning routine. House Astrean, run!”
Before sunrise, it was customary for them to run in the morning while breathing in the moist air.
“Did you play with Arwen instead of studying or not?”
“Play! I’m sorry!”
“Roll to the left.”
“Rolling to the left!!”
“Roll to the right.”
“Rolling to the right!!”
“Do five push-ups. How many times?”
“Five times, begin.”
“One, two…! Kuheuk!”
She thought it was too much for a 6-year-old kid.
“Go to bed now. It’s mandatory.”
“What the heck!”
…No, she tried to recall the past, but she only had those memories.
In addition, she had no contact with the opposite sex, restrictions on snacks, restrictions on play, etc…
Gerald’s own educational philosophy was that children only grew up righteously when they were raised like soldiers, which had tormented Kaya her entire life.
At the very least, Kaya was able to have some breathing room and keep her aristocratic way of speaking due to the generous education policy of her benevolent mother, Historia.
Still, in front of her father, she had no choice but to follow his military discipline.
Was it because she’d lived such a stressful life? Kaya developed a habit of carefully observing the people she cared about since she had to carefully look into her father’s eyes.
But now, she only cared about one person.
The second place examinee of Märchen Academy’s Magic Department, Kaya Astrean.
As a result of the class placement evaluation, she was assigned to Class A, the highest class, yet her joy at being in Class A was fleeting. The only thing she could think about at the moment was Isaac.
After giving it some thought, she decided to keep an eye on Isaac.
One day, as soon as the class ended, she went looking for Isaac, and shortly afterward, she noticed him passing by in the distance.
He was flocking with Mateo’s gang for some reason. It was a commoner group that was frequently mentioned in gossip these past few days.
It was clear that Isaac belonged to the same gang, seeing as how they all wore their bangs up.
Did they say that they were a group rebelling against the aristocracy? I heard that they were arguing with aristocrats.
No matter how talented Mateo Jordana, the leader of that gang was, it wouldn’t be good to be hated by the aristocracy.
It was like a group of mentally immature adolescents.
‘Why is Sir Isaac in Mateo’s gang…?’
A powerful man who reached the realm of an Archwizard.
Isaac must have had a deep meaning behind this that Kaya herself couldn’t fathom.
Why did he end up in that gang of bullies?
Kaya couldn’t help but wonder why.
So she decided to tail Isaac.
He was completely influenced by Mateo’s gang, letting out a cheesy laugh like ‘kekehaha’.
‘Is Isaac laughing like a villain…?’
Kaya, who was watching Isaac with her head sticking out from behind the pillar, couldn’t keep her mouth shut.
She was sure the strength of Mateo’s gang couldn’t even reach Sir Isaac’s toes! It was obvious that at Isaac’s level, that kind of gang would look ridiculous.
‘…Is there something going on with that Mateo gang?’
There was only one conclusion that came to mind. Isaac had a deeper meaning for doing this than she could ever come to understand.
Otherwise, there’s no way Isaac would join such a pathetic group.
Isaac was a mysterious man.
Now that she’d entered Märchen Academy, she had to focus on her studies and training… but her head was full of thoughts about Isaac these days.
Why is such a strong man hiding his skills?
What a spectacular past he must have had, one I can’t even begin to imagine.
What is the relationship between him and Sylphia, the Emerald Fairy?
…Isaac didn’t answer any of her questions, so there was no way to find out yet.
At the very least, she had to find out for herself why he joined a group of third-rate bullies.
‘I have no choice but to closely monitor him…!’
The word ‘stalking’ came to mind for some reason, but she shook her head, telling herself that it wasn’t like that.