༺ The First Letter (54) ༻
I continued stroking Senior Elsie’s head for a long time.
At first, she trembled in surprise, but as I continued to stroke her head, she seemed to have judged that I had no intention of attacking her.
Her trembling gradually subsided, and her rapid breathing began to slow down.
While staring blankly at me, Senior Elsie tried to calm herself by inhaling and exhaling deeply rapidly. Perhaps her efforts came to fruition, as her stiff body slowly began to relax.
It took only a few more minutes for her breathing and speech to return to normal.
Senior Elsie, who regained her reason, had a light blush on her cheeks. She continued to avoid my gaze, still unable to stop the flow of tears from her eyes.
It was a reaction borne from shame rather than fear. Naturally, her fear of me had not completely disappeared, but I could see that her perception of me had changed slightly, given that she was no longer screaming.
The girl looked up at me. It had reached a point where she could be rightfully angry and tell me to stop patting her head, but she didn’t. She seemed to recognize that me patting her head would help her calm down.
Instead, she shot a remark back at me in a voice filled with misery.
Although it was a small remark that resembled a whisper, she shook as she realized what she had said unconsciously.
She then looked at me again with fearful eyes. As if I would swing my hatchet toward her at any moment.
I wondered how she would react if I pulled out my hatchet, but I was not emotionally strong enough to put that horrible thought into practice.
I just laughed emptily in a dumbfounded manner.
“Why am I an evil bastard?”
“B, because of you…sob, I, I suffered so much!”
Like drops of dew forming on grass, Senior Elsie threw up a torrent of emotion as soon as I questioned her. There was a faint trace of hostility in her eyes.
“Ev, everyone treats me like shit!”
“You lost to your junior, so it’s understandable.”
“You sneak attacked me, you vile creature!”
Senior Elsie raised her voice, and even though she had a pleasant voice, it was shrill enough to make my ears feel like they were bleeding. My face unconsciously stiffened as I took a deep breath.
Senior Elsie then flinched, intimidated, and grabbed onto her mage hat with both hands, her body stiffening.
“O, of course, I’m not denying that I lost… Ye, yeah, I was wrong.”
“That’s why you must have suffered.”
Upon hearing those words, Senior Elsie hesitated and couldn’t answer my question. She also seemed concerned that she would open her mouth recklessly and make a slip of the tongue like before.
So I decided to bring up a subject that she would show an explosive reaction to.
“They even called you a ‘Piss Baby’….”
Senior Elsie’s response was instantaneous, almost as if she were jumping up and down on the spot. Just by looking at her intense reaction, I could tell how much she hated that nickname.
Senior Elsie trembled as her small fists clenched, her eyes filled with murderous intent.
“I, I didn’t pee! That’s all fake! Y, you saw me. Ri, right?”
“I’m not sure, for some reason, I don’t seem to remember exactly what happened…….”
Elsie, who was clinging to me with desperate eyes, looked to be in despair when I finished my sentence. When I saw that, I laughed.
She was so cute. If only she behaved like a normal person, she would have enjoyed immense popularity within the academy.
I nodded helplessly.
“Well, let’s go with your story for now.”
“Y, yes! I’m not a piss baby! By the way, th, those bad guys… they looked down on me!”
Senior Elsie must have been deeply emotional, as she began to sniffle again, with moisture beginning to form in the corners of her eyes.
She tried to hide her tears by using her arm to cover her eyes, but it wasn’t possible.
Her sobs were only getting thicker, as she began to let out a mournful voice.
“Sob, they kept saying I’m a piss baby, starting fights with me for no reason… No one was on my side, sob, n, no one.….”
Would anyone take the side of a bully?
I wanted to retort with that statement, but I first patted Elsie’s head without saying a word, allowing her to cry to her heart’s content.
This was the nature of human beings. If what you did to others came back to bite you, you would inevitably be saddened, so I let her cry.
“Ho, how am I supposed to get married…sob… My family still hasn’t said anything.….”
“You must have had a hard time, Senior Elsie.”
I nodded in sympathy to her. In response, Senior Elsie began crying even harder, as if she had finally found an ally to share her laments with.
In truth, there was no one who would willingly side with Senior Elsie in the first place. She was threatening a junior with her gang, but was publicly humiliated by a surprise attack.
No matter how you looked at it, she was not truly pitiful. Especially with her usual behavior, it would be stranger if anyone took her side.
Unless someone had an ulterior motive like me.
I thought that now would be the best timing to ask her, so I whispered to Elsie in a quiet voice.
“By the way, whose fault do you think your situation is?”
“I, it’s definitely you… Hic, n, no! I, it’s not your fault!”
Senior Elsie immediately tried to point at me as if it was obvious, but as my expression cooled, she immediately withdrew her claim. Now was my chance to convince her.
“Think again. Why Senior Elsie was defeated by me that day.”
“W, why I was defeated…?”
“At that time, didn’t someone distract you?”
Senior Elsie’s sapphire eyes went blank at my words. She must have been searching through her memory about that moment in the past. The day when she and I first met.
Someone else was there. The reason why Elsie couldn’t focus her full attention on me was because she was too wary of her.
Senior Elsie, who had been silent for a while, soon had her sapphire eyes dyed with cold hostility. Slowly, someone’s name flowed out of her mouth.
Just like back then.
All right, I succeeded. At this moment, both Elsie’s anger and resentment was directed towards Delphine.
In the first place, it was impossible for Elsie to antagonise me, who was the object of her fear. I was someone that made her legs tremble simply by being next to her. There was no way she could take revenge on me.
Therefore, it would be better to change her target of hatred entirely.
Delphine was the most suitable target, so I continued whispering to Senior Elsie.
“If you could get revenge on her, what would you do?”
As Senior Elsie looked at me as if she was intrigued just from hearing the words. I nodded weightily.
“Yes, then we could restore your reputation as well. Especially if you were the first person to defeat ‘that’ Delphine Yurdina.”
“Th, that’s true, but… Ho, how?”
“The Hunting Festival.”
I spoke in a confident tone as if it were a simple solution. In contrast, Senior Elsie’s eyes went blank for a moment.
“I heard that the successors of the Yurdina family have a tradition of winning the hunting festival. But what if someone else were to win instead?”
“We can fuck them over… Yes, that’s great!” 1Korean idiom, (엿을 먹일 수 있겠지) is a way of referencing giving suffering to someone.
Senior Elsie’s face became radiant once she heard my suggestion, turning her into a lovely girl once again. Just from her smile, I felt like my surroundings were brighter.
At least until she opened her dainty mouth.
“I can give that bitch a massive setback! All right, I’m gonna fuck them up so bad they won’t ever make noise again.….”
“……uh, well… will you team up with me?”
I made a suggestion quickly before even worse words came out of her mouth.
Elsie’s confused eyes turned to me. It was understandable.
Senior Elsie has every reason to antagonize Delphine, but I didn’t. She must have heard the rumors circulating. Regardless, there was a reason I had to go to the hunting festival.
A complicated story that intertwined with the letter from the future, and conversations with Seria and Delphine.
It was difficult to explain everything immediately, but Senior Elsie asked a question confusedly to my conflicted self.
“Huh? Why would I? I’d rather be with more talented people than you… ok, okay! I’ll do it! I’ll do it! No, please let me join you!”
There was no proper answer I could give her, so I replaced it by giving her a little peek at the hatchet on my waist.
I felt ashamed, but there was nothing else I could do. My social skills would only work to a limited extent, but my hatchet had no such limitations.
Still, the fact that I was able to regain Senior Elsie’s motivation was enough. Now, there was no worry that Senior Elsie, who was burning with revenge for Delphine, would not take the hunting festival seriously.
However, Senior Elsie seemed to have gained a slightly strange habit.
“Uh… h, hey.”
It was time to say goodbye. Senior Elsie also seemed to have stabilized, but when I was trying to leave, I heard her call for me.
When I turned my head, a small girl with a slight redness to her cheeks was pulling on my shirt. I looked at her with puzzled eyes.
“T, the thing is….”
The girl looked very shy. I waited patiently until she could gather up her courage, but internally questioned what she would say.
Eventually, Senior Elsie closed her eyes tightly and gave me a request in a quiet voice.
“Ca, can you pat me on the head again……?”
Of course, I couldn’t answer right away. It was because her suggestion was so unexpected that I had no choice but to stare at her stupidly for a moment.
As if she had become even more embarrassed, she shook while she blushed, and the hand that grabbed my collar tensed up.
“I’m scared, okay?!”
In a voice full of shame, Elsie shouted. Only then did I get a rough understanding of the situation.
This was a byproduct of her suffering. Her heightened emotions must be bothering her, especially since not long ago, I had even threatened her life.
She wanted to heal that wound. She would comfort me by confirming that I, the culprit behind that wound, had no intention of attacking her.
My palm stroked Elsie’s head again. Honestly, it was a bit uncomfortable because the mage that was shifting back and forth, but if this was all it took, I could do it as much as needed.
Elsie accepted my hand with her head down. She really was incredibly cute.
I made a joke to celebrate my reconciliation with her.
“If you’re good from now on, I’ll pet you again.”
“……D, do you think I’m your pet?!”
Elsie shouted back angrily, but soon she felt intimidated again, looking at me.
I had no choice but to smirk and laugh at that sight.
Anyway, I gained a reliable comrade.
If I could persuade Celine as well, winning the hunting festival would have one less obstacle.
I was so relaxed.
Until the very next day, when I heard that there had been a fight between Celine and Seria.
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- 1Korean idiom, (엿을 먹일 수 있겠지) is a way of referencing giving suffering to someone.