༺ The Moonlight On The Stars ༻
‘In the past, I couldn’t even imagine becoming the Second-in-Command of the Demon King’s Army.’
I arrived in front of the Duke’s mansion in an instant due to Dmir Khan’s ability to control space, and took a deep breath before walking towards the gate.
When the gate opened, the commoners of Class A were all lined up with ashamed looks on their faces. They bowed their heads and greeted me.
The boys in uniforms and work clothes were fine, but the girls in maid clothes… If anyone saw me, they would definitely hurl curses at me.
“I’ll come in then.”
Of course, I entered the Duke’s mansion with an evil smile.
Seeing as the girls were glaring at me with such undisguised disgust, I think I made the right choice.
“…Brother, what the hell are you doing?”
I entered the mansion, while looking at the commoners as if they were insects. But soon, Aria stopped me.
“Ah, Aria. Take Kadia and get out of here.”
As I spoke to Aria calmly, she growled and said.
“Brother, stop doing these ridiculous things and apologize to those children…”
“Stay out of my house until this vacation is over.”
I cut her off coldly, but Aria only sighed and began to approach the commoners behind me.
When she bowed deeply and apologized, the commoner students widened their eyes and began to panic.
Did they think she was also a villainess just because she was the younger sister of a notorious ‘evil’ man of the Empire? I felt sorry for Aria.
“My brother caused trouble. I’ll take care of it, so you can just leave—Ah!”
But as she tried to send the commoners back home, I forcibly grabbed her arm and started dragging her up the stairs.
“Ah! Brother, what do you think you’re doing? Let me go! LET GO!!”
“Shut up and follow me.”
As she continued to struggle, Aria soon began to channel stellar mana, but she glanced at the commoners watching us from below, and then spoke hastily.
“Do you want to fight with stellar mana in front of your classmates? If you don’t let go, I’ll attack you in front of—”
“Shut up before I expel you from the family.”
I was in a frail state because of the life force I had to use in order to beat Dmir Khan, so if Aria hit me with stellar mana, she would indeed kill me and become a murderer.
So I harshly cut her off once more before she used magic on me, as she began muttering with a shocked expression on her face.
“You mean… you’re serious, Brother?”
“Are you serious?”
When I answered with an annoyed look on my face, she opened her mouth again while glaring at me.
“Brother, from now on… kyaa!“
However, I pushed Aria into Kadia’s room, where she was already waiting.
“Young Master Frey…?”
Kania’s sister, who was playing with a doll, looked at me with her eyes wide open.
“Pack your bags right now and leave our house, and don’t return until the vacation ends. If you don’t leave now, Aria, you will be expelled from the family, and Kadia, you will be kicked out onto the streets.”
“U-Uh, what about my sister…?”
Hearing those words, Kadia began to tear up and asked a question. Seeing her like that, I raised the corners of my lips and answered.
“Of course I’ll keep your sister. She’s mine after all.”
Upon hearing those words, Kadia was driven to the verge of tears, and Aria, who was clenching her teeth next to her, screamed at me.
“Why?! Why the hell are you doing this, you bastard!”
“Can’t you see that I brought those commoners?”
I gave her a sly smile and started telling her the reason, which I planned beforehand.
“There’s going to be a crazy party. Alcohol, drugs, and—heuk.”
“… That’s enough.”
However, I was punched in the stomach by Aria without being able to finish my sentence.
“Kadia, let’s go.”
“It’s fine if we come back when the vacation is over, right? I’ll leave by tonight. Have a nice vacation.”
Having said that, Aria grabbed Kadia’s arm, and glanced at me with a disgusted expression, then left the room along with her.
I leaned against the wall as I wiped the blood dripping from the corner of my mouth. It was because I got punched by my younger sister, who had a strength stat of 4.
‘I have to secretly hire mercenaries to protect their residence.’
The reason I kicked them out was simple.
If the two of them stayed in this mansion for the entire vacation, they would surely be in danger.
Currently, I was the target of an assassination by both Clana and the Moonlight Family.
And the unprecedented exam was probably a trap orchestrated by Clana.
So, eventually, when Clana’s team invades the Duke’s mansion, there would be a high chance that either an assassin, a wiretapping device, or a bomb would be brought in.
Therefore, it was necessary to evacuate Aria and Kadia at least until the end of the exam.
Of course, I would like to have commoners take refuge somewhere, but… I couldn’t help them due to the rules of the exam.
And for various reasons, I wanted to do good things for those who suffer from poverty, so this time…
“Oh, that’s right. About the last incident… Huh?”
While I was engrossed in such thoughts, Aria suddenly burst open the door and asked me a question before freezing to the spot.
I wondered what was going on, so I stared at Aria in a daze, then touched my lips, and noticed that my finger got drenched in blood dripping from my lips.
“Uh, so this is…!”
“B-Brother. Why? Where are you hurt?”
I tried to stagger up while wiping the blood off, but my legs trembled because I had used too much energy, and I fell back down.
Aria, who was staring blankly at me, began to clench her teeth.
“Hey, what have you been doing?”
“You don’t need to know.”
“Yes, I knew you would say that. I’m really getting sick of this now.”
Saying so, Aria took something out of her pocket, threw it at her own feet, and began trampling it.
“I won’t even talk to you from now on.”
After saying that, Aria left the room with a cold expression on her face.
“… What is this?”
When I saw that she had left her room, I wanted to check what she had been stepping on, so I craned my head and looked down at the floor.
‘A key… made from light magic?’
I looked down at the dented key for a moment, then quietly covered the key with my palm and closed my eyes.
“… It’s done.”
Eventually, as I cast light magic, I conjured up a twinkling light on my hand, and smiled when I saw the key gradually returning to its original state.
However, the key that I held in my hand suddenly disintegrated into sparkling particles and scattered in the air.
‘Damn, it’s because I used too much stellar mana.’
I was happy with my newly improved mana skills, but at the same time, I felt the discomfort of not knowing where Aria’s key was supposed to be used. I then sighed and left the room.
“Oh, uh… Master Frey. Dinner is ready.”
Then, a timid-looking schoolgirl approached me to report, all while blushing.
“Since when did you start preparing it?”
“We started as soon as you arrived.”
While she nodded her head, I started to approach her, but she suddenly shut her eyes and began to tremble.
“What’s the matter?”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry… I’m not used to talking to people…”
Then, when I asked her a question, she began to speak in a trembling voice, as her face turned completely red.
“…You’re quite cute.”
As I touched her chin and spoke, the timid-looking girl froze like a statue.
“What’s your name?”
When I asked her name, for some reason, I felt like I had seen her before. She moved her lips slightly and answered in a hushed tone.
Then I remembered who she was, and I stopped tormenting her and took a step back.
‘To think I’d meet her here.’
As I recalled her name from the previous timeline, I passed by her and spoke in a low voice.
“From now on, don’t do housework and stay with me instead.”
“I want you to stay by my side.”
Then Lulu, who momentarily looked at me with a bewildered expression, hurriedly bowed her head and said.
“Ah… I see! I’ll do my best!”
As I went downstairs, listening to her hoarse voice ringing behind me, I stopped walking and heaved a sigh quietly.
‘… It’s annoying.’
Whenever I return home, for some reason, something annoying always happens.
There were a variety of cuisines on the dining table where the dinner was served.
“… What’s this?”
“Uh… It’s my family’s favorite stewed potatoes.”
“It’s stir-fried carrots that I often make for my brother.”
“I made eggplant tempura. Don’t you like it?”
Of course, when it came to green vegetables.
“There must have been a lot of high-quality ingredients in the food pantry… But you created these disasters?”
Of course, the girls’ vegetable dishes boasted a pretty high quality, so I was confident that they must be sumptuous, but instead I began to stir trouble with the girls, who were watching me anxiously.
‘… Were they too burdened?’
I was quite excited to fill the bellies of the commoners with expensive ingredients from the Starlight family during this vacation, but come to think of it, even I wouldn’t have touched expensive ingredients because I might anger the owner by using such expensive ingredients.
Well, from now on, I’ll just order them to cook with expensive ingredients…
“We’ve never touched expensive ingredients.”
Commoner students were staring at me quietly.
Meanwhile, Ferloche, who wore a short maid uniform and had numerous bandages wrapped around her fingers, was also staring at me.
“Since the Saintess has dined on high-quality meals a few times before, she tried to remember the recipe and cook it… As you can see, she almost cooked her fingers instead of the ingredients.”
Among these children, a strict looking girl who was the representative of commoners began to talk while glaring at me.
“So, we had no choice but to cook with ingredients we have never even touched. I apologize for being poor.”
After the representative finished speaking in a hoarse voice, she bowed her head. Soon, the other commoner students also followed suit and bowed as well.
“… Did you say your name is Alice?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
After staring blankly at them for a moment, I remembered the name of the commoners’ representative and fell into deep thought for a moment.
‘That girl was originally the student who took the lead in the protests that took place after the 『Raid on Commoner’s Dormitory Incident』…’
She, who led the protests of the commoners in the previous timeline, eventually became one of the leaders of the revolution in the future.
Because of her nature, it seems that her resentment towards me is several times greater than any other commoner.
“Pardon me for suggesting something as a commoner. How about hiring a professional chef instead of us, who are poor and can’t even use high-quality ingredients properly?”
I looked at her quietly as she spoke in her harsh tone, and then I heaved a sigh and said.
“So, there’s no use for trash like you… I see… then I’ll take care of that.”
“Thank you very much for considering our position, Lord Frey Raon Starlight.”
After hearing my words, Alice widened her eyes and tried to say something, but Arianne, who was standing next to her, quickly stepped in front of Alice and bowed to me, quickly answering before Alice could retort back.
“Ahhh… Then throw it all away, or you guys eat it. It’s up to you. I can’t stomach this disgusting stuff.”
After staring at her for a moment, I got up from the table and left them behind with those words as I started heading upstairs to my room.
“Th-That son of a—”
“Alice…! Wait! Your opponent is Frey!”
“Yes, even if it’s miserable… I have no choice but to put up with it.”
As I calmly climbed the stairs, I concentrated stellar mana in my ears as I overheard their conversation downstairs. I then took a deep breath and fell into deep thought.
‘… Should I hire a chef?’
In this case, it was my fault for neglecting the fact that commoners had never touched high-quality ingredients.
I guess I was used to Kania, the commoner I had known the longest, and someone who was very good at cooking, so I was unintentionally biased.
I knew better than anyone that the Sunrise Empire was humiliated because of the ignorant mindset of the nobility, yet I still made such a mistake. I was so embarrassed that I could barely hold my head high.
‘Come to think of it, Kania and Irina went out for a while. Then… when they return, shall I ask the two of them to cook?’
For a long time, in a place where no one could see me banging my head against the wall, I began to ponder whether to entrust the cooking to Kania and Irina.
‘No, just the two of them aren’t enough.’
Then I shook my head and sighed.
Of course, Kania and Irina’s cooking skills were top-notch, but… I was sure that if they kept preparing meals for commoners until the end of the vacation, their health would deteriorate.
However, it was not possible to call back the servants who I expelled.
I had to use money from my father’s ‘Servant Employment Policy’, which I’ll receive at the end of the vacation, but… if I brought the servants back in right now, it would be a disaster.
The only option left was to hire a chef, but that was not ideal either, as this house would soon be plagued by numerous intruders and assassins.
“Ah, I don’t know.”
In the end, I staggered into my room while grabbing my head, which began to throb as a result of my earlier actions.
I guess I should sleep for a while.
However, as I lay down in bed to sleep, something touched my back.
When I tilted my head in confusion and picked up the object touching my back, I found a box.
‘… A keyhole.’
Eventually, I found a small keyhole in the box, and I knew that it was the space for the key that Aria had trampled on earlier.
“I’m sorry… Aria.”
I was about to open the box by force, but with a gloomy expression on my face, I put the box down on the desk next to the bed and began to close my eyes.
For some reason, today, I missed the cat dream I used to have.
“Young Master? Young Master!!”
I had a dream that a giant owl was weighing me down instead of a cat, and I woke up drenched in cold sweat upon hearing Kania’s call.
Kania started hugging me with a bright smile that she had never shown before.
“Because it was the Young Master, I believed you would return safely. Really.”
“K-Kania… I can’t breathe.”
As I was having trouble breathing because she was hugging me so tightly, I spoke quickly, and Kania, who quickly backed away from me, managed her expression as if nothing had occurred.
“Irina? Why do you look like that?”
Seeing Kania like that, I smiled bitterly, but I noticed that Irina had a haggard expression on her face, and I tilted my head in confusion.
“Kania… all day…”
“By the way, Young Master, Lady Aria misses you.”
As Irina started answering with a dazed expression, Kania quickly cut her off and began speaking.
I asked in a gloomy tone because I was slightly sullen that she had brought a suspicious box to my room and trampled on the key to open it. Kania then shrugged her shoulders and said.
“She says she has something to tell you before she leaves.”
After hearing those words, I fell into silence. Kania asked with a slightly worried expression.
“… Lady Aria isn’t worried about the Young Master, is she?”
“No, it’s fine. I think this time around, she has lost the last bit of sympathy she had for me… I only need one more incident to happen.”
As I said so, Kania’s and Irina’s expressions hardened at the same time.
“If I don’t speak with her today, I won’t be able to see her all summer…I should see her. What time is it?”
“It’s one in the morning.”
I calmly asked and got up from my bed before walking towards the door.
“Kania and Irina. You guys take Aria and Kadia to a safe place. Please.”
“Just leave it to us.”
“… We’ll be back tomorrow morning, so rest up.”
Having spoken with the two of them, I began to head towards the main gate of the Duke’s mansion.
Eventually, I found Aria standing in front of the gate, so I sighed and started talking to her.
“If you intend to speak nonsense again…”
“… That last incident. You were the one who saved me, weren’t you?”
But after hearing Aria’s words, I stood still and stiffened.
And it was the same for Kania and Irina, too, as they both gasped and looked at me without even realizing it.
“I’ll believe so. Even if it’s just a dream… I will still believe in that dream.”
However, fortunately, the penalty window did not appear.
“So please… don’t let me down anymore…”
Eventually, looking into Aria’s emotions, I realized that she wasn’t aware of the truth, but instead she was denying reality.
“If I’m even a little more disappointed, I can’t…”
Aria, who struggled to carry on her words, finally gave up and lowered her head, and held out her hand to me.
I reached out my hand involuntarily to receive what she held out, and I found the key she had trampled on previously.
Immediately after Aria gave me the key, she turned around and left the mansion.
‘Is this another hallucination?’
I heard a sob from somewhere, but I tried to ignore it because I thought it might be the hallucination I experienced last time.
“… Aria is crying, Young Master Frey.”
Kadia’s words, who had been staring at me while carrying her own luggage, clearly revealed the truth I was trying to avoid.
“I just thought I should tell you.”
After leaving those words, Kadia left the mansion with Kania, who was quietly biting her lips, and Irina, who was looking at her pitifully.
“… So, what did she give me that made her behave like that?”
After standing there silently for a long time, I began to go to my room while humming in a pleasant tune.
“… Oh, it fits.”
When I finally arrived at my room, I put the key made of stellar into the keyhole of the box I had kept on the desk and turned it clockwise.
And what was inside the open box was quite unexpected.
– Don’t keep coughing blood. It’s filthy.
Inside the box, a handkerchief embroidered with a silver cat was neatly folded.
“It’s even enchanted with self-cleaning magic.”
After looking at the handkerchief for a while, I smiled softly and tried to fold the handkerchief firmly and put it in my pocket…
“… Don’t move.”
At that moment, I felt an icy touch on my nape, and heard a mysterious, murky voice.
‘Judging from the tone of her voice… it must be a woman. How did she get behind me? How did she get in here? There should still be a defensive magic cast? So is it Clana’s assassin? Or is it the Moonlight Family’s assassin? If not… Maybe the Demon King?’
From that instant, I started racking my brains, and hurriedly began channelling stellar mana to subdue the opponent, but…
“It won’t be fun if you resist.”
At that moment, the unidentified person behind me put more pressure on the weapon pointed at my nape, so I had no choice but to stop moving.
“… What do you want?”
If I had known this would happen, I would not have used my life force earlier. However, I kept calm and asked the other person a question.
“If you think about anything stupid, I’ll kill you right away.”
After listening to the other person’s words, I felt that she was someone who wouldn’t listen to anything I said, and so I closed my eyes tightly and began to think about my last resort.
Until I heard the word she added briefly at the end.
When I asked with a hopeful expression on my face, the person behind me released the vocal modifier and whispered softly in my ear.
“Tonight is going to be a long one, Frey.”
“… So be prepared.”
It seems that the dream I had earlier was indeed foreshadowing something.
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This novel hurts mah heart T.T