༺ Secret Meeting ༻
“Serena? What are you doing?”
“… Follow me.”
I was so startled that I answered while being drenched in a cold sweat, but Serena just grabbed my arm and headed somewhere.
“Why the window?”
“When you were little, you always snuck out through the window, don’t you remember?”
Serena eventually arrived at the window, then sat on the windowsill and reached her hand out to me.
“Take my hand.”
“No, what’s going…”
Saying so, Serena urged me to follow her, but I hesitated for a moment, so she sighed and took my hand.
It was an unavoidable choice, as lunar mana, which was emitting a poison that would put me in a coma for at least a week, was filling the room up.
The moment I grabbed Serena’s hand, she jumped.
I was startled by this, but I remembered that this was one of Serena’s frequent pranks, so I casually closed my eyes and entrusted my body to her.
“Did you have fun?”
Landing atop a cloud of soft lunar mana, which Serena probably had laid out on the grass beforehand, I bluntly answered Serena, who was suffocating me with her body, and then quickly pushed her away.
“I don’t want to hang out with you right now, so…”
“If you don’t stay with me, I’ll get you eliminated from the exam.”
But when she looked at me with a piercing gaze and said that, I looked at her closely and thought for a moment.
‘… Why is she acting differently?’
In order to get rid of the love Serena has for me, I publicly had affairs with Kania whenever I had the chance.
So, I’ve had a very awkward relationship with Serena recently… However, her attitude now seems to have returned to how it was in the past.
“Well, go ahead. I have nothing to lose even if I’m eliminated.”
Of course, she couldn’t control me that easily, so I responded bluntly to her, but Serena just looked at me with a soft smile on her face.
“… Touch the back of your neck.”
Serena, who had been staring at me for a long time, said in a calm voice.
“Ow, that stings!”
When I thoughtlessly touched the nape, my finger was stabbed and blood began to drip from my wound.
“You’ve been poisoned.”
“If you don’t drink the antidote by morning… you will die.”
Serena smiled brightly as she said that, and only then did I figure out what she had done to my nape earlier.
“… What do I have to do?”
Of course, she had the ‘Absolute Obedience Magic’ cast on her, so all I had to do is order her to give me the antidote.
But I was curious as to why she was suddenly acting like this, so I decided to go along with her antics.
“Tonight, go on a date with me.”
But after hearing Serena’s words, I broke out in a cold sweat and began to think about whether I should just order her to give me the antidote and walk away.
Apparently, tonight really would be long.
“Do you know where this is?”
Serena dragged me to a black carriage, which arrived at her regular dessert café.
“You used to eat cakes here every day with me and got cavities, remember?”
Of course, I remember it quite well. Thanks to that incident, I didn’t even look at anything sweet for a while.
However, thanks to Serena crying and apologizing, we came back here again, and I got cavities again…
“You aren’t holding it against me, are you?”
I frowned slightly as I reminisced about those memories, and Serena started looking at me with a slightly worried expression on her face.
“… Let’s go.”
Of course, I wasn’t holding it against her. I only just vividly recalled the pain I felt in my teeth back then, but I deliberately treated her coldly and entered the shop.
It had been a long time since I’ve been to this store, but it was mostly the same as in my memories.
The decorations and colors that gave off a needlessly loving atmosphere, the small furniture, the smiling employees, and the fact that it was open 24 hours a day.
“Uh… no pets are allowed!”
With that thought in mind, as I was about to move, a voice rang out from behind.
I glanced at her and noticed Serena’s owl perched on her shoulder as one staff was blocking her way.
In fact, since Serena was a regular and big spender at this store, her pet owls have been allowed to enter without issue…
“This is a doll.”
“Yes, touch it.”
Hearing this, the staff began to poke the owl in the face, but the owl remained immobile and rested on Serena’s shoulder without blinking an eye.
“Oh, it really is a doll. I apologize.”
After poking at the owl for so long, the staff then bowed her head and apologized to Serena, who then stood next to me with a smirk.
“Please praise me.”
“Why, all of a sudden?”
Because Serena uttered something absurd out of a sudden with twinkling eyes, I made a disgusted expression and asked why was she doing this, but she replied with a gloomy look on her face.
“Back in the day, you always complimented me whenever I used my brains, right? So, please compliment me.”
“Why are you doing this?”
Unable to comprehend what she meant, I asked with an annoyed expression on my face, and Serena answered with a slightly sad smile on her face.
“… Because I want to fix everything?”
“What does that…”
“Let’s go in and talk.”
Having said that, Serena entered the room that had been prepared in advance, as I looked at her and let out a deep sigh. After a moment, I reluctantly followed her.
“Wow, this room hasn’t changed.”
As I entered the room, a familiar scene came into my sight.
“Look, the graffiti we did when we were kids is still there.”
As I looked around the room for a moment, lost in memories, Serena opened her mouth and pointed to the graffiti written in the corner of the room.
I glanced at the graffiti I had written myself when I was a child, then sighed and settled down. I then asked a question.
“Now tell me. What are you trying to do?”
Serena then looked at the owl on her shoulder and stroked its head. She opened her mouth while staring intensely at me.
“Why shouldn’t I worry about you?”
I was momentarily taken aback when I heard that.
“Don’t worry, it’s night now.”
Serena, who looked at me like I was cute, stuck her chin out and said.
“I’ll worry about you after nightfall. But I won’t worry about you during the day. Do you understand?”
The moment I heard those words, I could understand roughly what was going on.
“You mean that you have erased your memories during the day and restored it at night?”
Serena then opened her eyes sharply and said.
“My actions during the day are monitored by the Sun God. So, if I want to screw over the Sun God, I’ll have to plan things at night. That’s why I separated the me during the day and the me at night.”
“Don’t you know? The system and the Sun God…”
I listened closely to Serena, who suddenly began muttering important information, but then Serena just stopped talking and gazed out the window.
“The moonlight that has been dimming is growing bright again.”
As Serena began to look around everywhere, I scattered stellar mana and detected several strange mana signatures.
‘It’s the assassination squad of the Moonlight family.’
Considering the fact that Serena dared to call them moonlight and the fact that she hurriedly stopped talking, when she never even blinked at any threats, the identity of those mana signatures were probably the assassination squad sent by the Moonlight family.
If so, I could understand why Serena came to me.
She must have come to save me, or to pretend to kill me because of the pressure of her family.
“So, how many cakes are you going to order?”
“Five? No… I’ll have to order about seven.”
“How sweet is it?”
“It will be quite sweet.”
With that thought in mind, I calmly asked Serena the number of the assassins and their skills, then I picked up the order form and pen next to her and said.
“Are you going to order verbally? Or will you use the order form?”
“I’ll use the order form.”
While Serena spoke with a smile, I opened my mouth while writing in the order form calmly.
“By the way, what are you doing?”
After writing that, turning the paper over, Serena started talking with a soft smile.
“Well, it’s a gift of reconciliation on my behalf.”
After she had finished speaking, I saw the paper that she carefully handed over and looked at her face bitterly.
“Reconciliation? Don’t make me laugh.”
At the same time, while writing on the order form, Serena smiled.
“Are you really going to be like that?”
Eventually, when I read the contents of the order form she handed to me, I burst out laughing.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been protected by someone.
“The cake you ordered has arrived!”
“… Is this what we ordered?”
“Yes! That’s right!”
A huge cake appeared in front of me.
Not just a huge cake, but an enormous cake.
After momentarily staring at the cake with a blank expression, Serena suddenly unfolded her fan.
Inadvertently looking into the fan, I began to laugh when I saw what was written on it.
“Why are you laughing?”
“No, it’s just… that the cake is too big.”
When I wondered why she ordered such an enormous cake, I think Serena was trying to create a blind spot.
She really is a genius.
‘… Is it alright to tell her?’
As I was about to answer her question, I paused for a moment and began to stare at Serena.
According to what Serena said earlier, her memories will differ based on whether it’s day or night.
If so. Is ❰Absolute Obedience Magic❱ maintained even at night?
“… Serena, smile brightly.”
With that thought in mind, I gave her an order, and Serena immediately began to smile and giggle.
I sighed in relief, noticing that the absolute obedience magic was still active because it was a sincere smile rather than her usual graceful or subtle smile.
Because of the orders I gave her, no matter what I say, Serena will never be ‘sure’ of any of my actions… so, I won’t be penalized.
I opened my mouth with that thought in mind, but Serena, who smiled and observed my expression, handed over her fan without bothering to listen to my answer.
“To continue… Do you really like Kania more than me?”
Judging from her actions, she must’ve figured out the answer to her question just by examining my facial expression. I replied by carefully forming ‘2’ with my hand.
“Not just Kania. There are many women better than you.”
Serena clasped my hand as our palms got intertwined and began clenching her teeth.
Serena began to look quite sad.
However, her melancholic expression soon turned into anger to deceive the watchers outside, and after a while, even doubt began seeping in as a result of my previous order.
As I observed her silently, I wanted to cancel my order to not be ‘sure’ about my actions, but it was for Serena, who had worked hard to set this up. That’s why I chose not to do so.
“Give me an example. Who is better than me? Not just women, but if there are any men…”
With a calm expression on her face, Serena unfolded her fan once more and asked a question.
“You’ve already seen Kania and Irina hanging around me these days. So, why don’t you accept reality?”
When I answered in an icy voice, she glared at me with a look that implied she had already predicted my answer.
“Okay, is there a reason why you’re so nice to them? Since when did you fall for them?”
“Kania for about three months, Irina recently. And, I’m not falling for them, I’m just playing around with them.”
Having roughly shared the information with her this way, I nodded my head. But then again, under the influence of my orders, Serena looked away from me and discarded her suspicious gaze.
‘It looks delicious.’
Then, the delicious cake in front of her came into my sight.
Because of Serena, I took a liking to sweet stuff since I was young, and I unconsciously was about to pick up the spoon…
After reading the words on the last part of Serena’s hastily unfolded fan, I stopped moving.
As I glanced out the window, cursing the damn assassins who dared poison the delicious cake, I turned my attention towards the sound of the flapping fan.
“Do you really hate me that much? Frey?”
As I was about to answer her question, Serena hurriedly unfolded her fan once more.
“Answer me. Do you hate me that much?”
Seeing Serena trembling in fear like that, I replied to her, as I felt that she looked really cute.
“Don’t worry too much. If I get tired of the toys I’m playing with, I’ll come back to you again.”
Upon hearing those words, Serena sighed and answered.
“… I’m glad.”
Having said that, Serena flapped her fan with a gradually fading dubious expression as a result of my order.
“Are you really not going to abandon me?”
I was about to respond with a smile, but I hesitated to answer her because of the thoughts that flashed through my mind.
Continuous errors in the prophecy, strange memories, unknown behavior of the system, and the unnatural ‘early completion’ of the recent ordeal…
Things that I had considered right or taken for granted were going wrong one by one.
If that’s the case, the wish that was supposed to be granted to me by the Sun God at the end… was that even true?
No, in the first place, can I even trust the Sun God?
The unidentified man, who appeared in my subconscious mind and ‘the split sun’, the phrase that I saw when I invaded the cellar of the church with Ferloche, the ‘Demon God’ that Ferloche spoke of…
And, according to what Serena said before… She was working while avoiding the watchful gaze of the Sun God.
If so, the Sun God was…
While I was immersed in such thoughts, I heard Serena’s voice, then quickly came back to my senses and stared at her.
“Y-You won’t abandon me…? Right…?”
“Huh? U-Uh… I won’t abandon you. I won’t.”
After all, it was true that according to the prophecy, there was a way to get revived, so I tried to calm her down by giving her hints that there was hope for revival, but…
“Waiiit, you… No way… There really is no way for you to surv—”
“N-No. There’s a way.”
Serena, who has already noticed my turbulent mind, seems to have misunderstood.
“Serena, calm down. I’m not going to abandon you, and there’s definitely a way.”
Belatedly, I grabbed Serena’s hands and tried to rectify the situation, but her expression only grew paler.
“Alright? I’ll tell you the way later. So, calm down for now…”
“One by the right window, two by the left door, two from the ceiling, one from the floor, and one is watching.”
At that moment, while I was trying to spout out anything to calm her down, Serena, whose face had turned pale, frowned and said.
Saying so, she began emanating lunar mana from her body.
Before long, I sensed six people rushing into our room, so I swathed my body in stellar mana, tensed my muscles, and muttered to myself.
‘These damned Moonlight family boomers.’
It seems that eventually, I would have to repay the Moonlight Family elders for this surprise.
Meanwhile, at the same time, in the palace of a small Kingdom on the Western Continent.
“What do you mean?”
“As I said, Princess. The ship that the Crown Prince, the 2nd Prince and the Princesses were on onboard of has vanished.”
“W-What do you mean by that?!”
The Princess of the Kingdom, who was excited about entering the Sunrise Academy next year, began trembling after hearing the shocking news from the servant.
“Now, the Princess is the only heir to the throne and the hope of our Kingdom.”
Upon hearing that, the Princess plopped down with a panicked expression on her face.
The prelude to the main quest 『Liberation of the Slave Market』 was looming on the horizon.
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