༺ Lack of Affection ༻
“Young Master, where have you been?”
Of course, I was on a date with Serena all night long and felt a little tired. But that date also helped relieve my stress and clear my mind.
Thanks to that, I was naturally able to talk with a relaxed expression.
“I see, then…”
At that, Kania, who was nodding her head and about to let me in, stopped abruptly. As I tilted my head in confusion, she began to approach me with a stern expression on her face.
“Did you really go for a morning walk?”
“Yes, I heard that morning walks are good for my body. After all, I need to start taking care of my health.”
For some reason, seeing her approaching me like that, I broke out in a cold sweat. So, without even realizing, I began spouting nonsense as Kania started reaching out to me.
“Did you stumble while taking a walk?”
Kania had a blank look on her face, as if she didn’t understand my statement. Instead, after saying that, she started stroking my back.
“Uh…I just lost my footing.”
It was then that I realized that I didn’t shake off all the grass and dirt from my clothes. Thanks to that, I began making excuses with a bashful expression, but Kania pulled something off of my clothes.
“I see, but what’s this?”
In her palm remained a strand of Serena’s pale purple hair.
“And what’s this?”
“That’s the handkerchief my sister gave me…”
“But why is lunar mana engraved onto it?”
“I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
In the face of Kania’s continued interrogation, I finally bowed my head and started to apologize. Of course, I didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow I felt like I did.
“… The silver cat on the handkerchief looks lonely.”
While I was contemplating how to relieve Kania’s ire, Kania looked at the handkerchief and muttered.
As I tilted my head to see what she was talking about, Kania began to infuse dark mana into the handkerchief.
“Take it, Young Master.”
The handkerchief she now held out had a black cat next to the original silver one.
“I made a friend for the cat.”
Kania, who had a satisfied expression, left those words behind and went inside the Duke’s mansion.
“It’s a handkerchief like no other in the world.”
A silver cat drawn with Aria’s stellar mana, a black cat drawn with Kania’s dark mana, and a moon drawn with Serena’s lunar mana.
When I looked down at the handkerchief that radiated all different kinds of mana, I couldn’t help but smile.
After I folded the handkerchief and put it in my pocket, I walked into the Duke’s mansion, but I turned around upon hearing a sudden timid voice. There, I saw a student in a maid uniform with her head bowed.
“What are you doing here?”
“Uh, yesterday, Master Frey, y-you told me to become your personal maid…”
It was Lulu, who I had ordered to become my personal maid yesterday.
“W-What should I do?”
As if my gaze had put her under pressure, she timidly lowered her head, while fidgeting with her fingers. After staring at her for a moment, I started walking and replied.
“From now on, you’ll follow me around and do everything I tell you.”
“Oh, I see! I’ll do my best!”
Lulu, who was standing next to me with a stupid look on her face, closed her eyes tightly, and cried out. Soon, she began following me.
As I glanced back at her, I began recalling memories of her from the previous timeline.
‘Yes, she was Lulu…’
According to the prophecy, in the 『Dark Tale Fantasy Series』, a game with numerous choices and high degree of freedom, there were various sub-heroines in addition to the main heroines.
And even among them, Lulu, who was following me right now, was considered to be quite an unusual heroine.
This was because she was a Heroine that was almost impossible to utilize in 『Dark Tale Fantasy 2』.
Of course, that didn’t really matter to me, as I was walking on a thorny path to save the world.
However, after knowing the reason why it was almost impossible to utilize her, everyone felt awkward.
‘… Can I really save her?’
She committed suicide on almost every route. And the reason wasn’t even mentioned in the prophetic book.
In order to save Lulu, many Heroes from my ancestor’s world attempted the ‘challenge’ of stopping her from committing suicides, but none of them succeeded.
– …That child was the only Heroine I couldn’t save. Even in a game with a high degree of freedom, there was a wall that couldn’t be overcome due to the restrictive nature of the game systems. However, if this game becomes reality itself, can’t I save her in that world then?
As my ancestor said, there was a possibility for me now.
My purpose has always been giving this wretched world a ‘Happy Ending.’ So wouldn’t it be too cruel for Lulu to die without seeing such an ending?
‘Now that things are already this messed up… what’s the difference if it becomes a bit more messy.’
The Starlight Family was the star that shined upon those devoid of light.
So, I was going to save that girl somehow.
While I was immersed in such thoughts, I suddenly heard a loud noise behind me. When I turned around with a surprised look on my face, I saw that one of the high-quality vases was broken.
“U-Uh, how much is it?”
When I inadvertently told Lulu the price of the vase, the light in her eyes dimmed.
Unfortunately, I had just given her a suicide motive without meaning to.
When I entered the kitchen with Lulu, I saw Kania and Irina were busy cooking.
“Kania? Irina? What are you doing here?”
“We’re preparing breakfast.”
When I inquired as such, Kania answered as if it were her usual job. After hearing that, I hurriedly opened my mouth while looking at Lulu, who had dead eyes.
“Go outside and wait.”
“Don’t go anywhere. Stay right next to the door.”
So, after sending Lulu out of the kitchen, I looked at Kania and Irina and opened my mouth.
“Are you going to prepare the meals of that many people all by yourselves?”
“It’s fine because we only need to make simple things for breakfast.”
Even Irina came out and said it was fine, but my heart ached. In the end, after mentally tormenting myself, I quickly rolled up my sleeves and started flexing my arms.
“Young Master? What are you doing now?”
Having finished my arm workout, I wore an apron as Kania and Irina started staring at me.
“You… Do you know how to cook?”
Eventually, as I picked up my kitchen knife and looked at the dishes, Irina looked at me with an anxious expression and asked a question.
“Um… Cooking is about cutting and mixing ingredients with a knife and then adding the sauce, right?
“Young Master, it’s not that easy.”
When I said so confidently, Kania approached me with a stern look on her face.
“Isn’t it easy to do this? I’ve been slicing carrots evenly for a long time.”
As soon as I cut the 10 carrots next to me into bite-sized pieces, Kania’s gaze changed.
“… Can you do that with other ingredients as well?”
“I can even cut adamantium and mithril like this.”
In response to Kania’s words that followed, I started spinning the knife with a smug look on my face.
“That’s fine… but can you not cut the cutting board?”
At that moment, Irina waved the tattered chopping board and tackled me. Thanks to that, I was left scratching my head in embarrassment as Kania sighed and clasped my hand.
“First, let me teach you how you should control your power.”
As such, Kania and I started slicing vegetables together, her hand clasped over mine for a while.
“… Young Master, let me ask you a question.”
As I cut the vegetables, I felt like I was improving, so I was smiling happily, but Kania suddenly asked me a question.
“When will the second ordeal occur?”
And at that moment, Irina, who was silently slicing meat next to us, screamed.
“Irina!? Are you okay? What happened?”
I rushed to Irina as blood gushed from her fingers, and she looked at me with a pale face.
“Oh, nothing… I just made a mistake.”
Irina, who was biting her lips quietly as she looked at my worried expression, answered quietly, turning her gaze downward.
“Be careful, Irina. Make sure to put a bandage on later.”
I was a little concerned about her, but the wound didn’t seem that deep, so I turned around after saying that and began answering Kania’s previous question.
“Will it come soon?”
“… Can you please share the exact time and length? We also need to be prepared.”
“No, you don’t have to worry. The second ordeal isn’t really a big deal—”
“How can it not be a big deal?”
I tried talking as if the ordeal were nothing in order to reassure them as much as possible, but Irina put her knife down on the chopping board then quietly lowered her head and interrupted me.
“Tell me, what kind of pain will you suffer from this time?”
“No, it really doesn’t matter. It’ll probably go away in a few months without any problems…”
“How many months will it take…?”
I hurriedly tried to make excuses, but Irina’s face only became more pale.
“Irina, I’m fine. So—”
– Knock! Knock!
I was stunned by her expression, so I reached out to comfort her, but we both froze to the spot upon hearing the sudden knocking.
“Who is it?”
Eventually, Kania asked in a calm voice, but then a quite unexpected voice came from outside the door.
“Kania…? How did this happen?”
Arianne’s older sister was asking questions in a bewildered voice.
“… Why are you here?”
In such a sudden situation, Kania frowned, and Arianne’s older sister began to explain her situation in a trembling voice.
“Yes, um… because I’m in charge of the kitchen. I went on a business trip for a while to gather ingredients. But when I came back, some students were wandering around the mansion…”
I took a deep breath, noticing what might have happened after hearing those words, and Kania, who sighed, began to explain the situation.
“Ye-Yes? Then… I—”
“You can just leave until the vacation ends. Pack your bags and—”
“P-Please! Please let me stay!”
However, when Kania finished explaining the situation, I heard Arianne’s older sister kneel down and beg in an urgent voice.
“I-I have no place to stay except here… Besides, Arianne is here too, so please let me stay here…”
“Isn’t there anywhere else to stay?”
“Actually, both m-my sister and I have no place to call home… So I’m living in the Starlight Mansion, and Arianne is living in the dormitory… If I get kicked out of here…!”
Then, as she told her bizarre story, I grabbed my head and fell into thought.
‘It would certainly be more comfortable if Arianne’s sister stayed and cooked meals… but she’s in danger here…’
“I’ll do all the housework and all the cooking, so please don’t kick me out! I’ll sleep with Arianne…!”
“…What should I do, Young Master?”
I closed my eyes for a long time and thought about it, but when Kania whispered to me in a low voice, I opened my eyes and made a decision.
“… Have her sleep with Arianne at night, and if possible, only allow her to stay here on the condition that she stays next to Arianne at all times. Arianne’s defensive magic is of the highest level, so if she stays by her side, there will be no problem.”
“Alright. I’ll pass it on.”
Kania passed on the decision to Arianne’s sister, who was behind the door, and after a while, we began to hear her cry and repeatedly express her gratitude.
“… Then, I’ll leave now. It’s probably better to leave these things to a professional.”
Having solved the cooking problem, I started climbing out of the window in the kitchen.
Irina called me back urgently, but by then I had already gone through the window.
“… What are you doing there?”
After looking at the sky for a moment and sighing, I found Lulu squatting next to me.
“Sob, Sob… Sorry… Sob.”
For some reason, she was crying sadly.
Normally, I would have accumulated false evil points by speaking harsh words, but I was afraid that a sensitive girl like her would commit suicide. So, I just gazed at her for a while and then started heading to the yard.
Then, she started crying and chasing after me.
“Pe-Personal. Personal maid… sniff.”
I made her a personal maid to observe what the hell her problems were, but it seems like there were too many to count.
Even the commoners out in the yard started whispering to one another while looking at me and Lulu. Perhaps, they are under the impression that I made her cry.
Mental Strength: 1
Passive Status: Depression / Lack of Affection / Stigma of Misfortune
Goodness Stat: 75
‘… Holy shit.’
With that in mind, I opened her status window, and I was overcome with shock
‘… This is why it’s so difficult to help her.’
She had the most horrible status window I had ever seen.
I couldn’t even breathe because I was in so much shock. Meanwhile, Lulu whose complexion turned pale grabbed my arm and started screaming.
“I-I’m sorry…! I’m really sorry! I’m really sorry… I’m sorry!”
“… I get it, so stop.”
I urged Lulu to stop, but the light in her eyes dimmed again.
When she finally answered in a crestfallen voice, I quickly changed my words.
“If you understand, go and clean my room.”
“Go and clean my room. If you’re my personal maid, that’s the basics.”
Then she hurriedly shook her head and started running to my room.
“… That might be good.”
I desperately wanted to use my ❰Mind Reading❱ skill, but I had already used it on Aria at dawn, so I couldn’t look into her thoughts today.
“You guys, come here.”
Reluctantly, I called the guys who were talking from afar, and decided to ask about Lulu.
“Tell me everything you know about that girl who just ran away.”
The commoners whom I asked that question looked at each other and started shaking their heads.
“… Sorry! We really are! We don’t know!”
When I frowned at those words, they hurriedly started making excuses.
“We aren’t close friends with her in the first place? So, it’s the same no matter who you ask.”
“… Is it bullying?”
“Uh… That’s a little complicated. There is bullying, but in her case it’s more like voluntary bullying.”
“What do you mean?”
As I was tilting my head at those words, I heard someone calling me from afar.
“F-Frey! What are you doing there with these innocent commoners!”
“Ferloche, come here for a second. The rest of you, scram.”
At the same time, the person I wanted to meet the most walked up to me on her, so I asked Ferloche a question after kicking out the lingering commoners.
“Do you know anything about Lulu?”
“W-Why are you asking about her?”
Then, with a wary look, Ferloche asked me a question in return. Seriously, despite how many times I’ve betrayed her… it’s time to teach her a lesson.
“As the commander, I need to know all of the students. I’m running out of time, so talk.”
“Oh, that’s… it?”
“If you don’t tell me, I’ll just surrender to Clana. Say it quickly. I’m busy too.”
So, when I compelled her with a bit more force than usual, Ferloche, who had been staring at me for a while, pensively opened her mouth.
“No way. You always use me. If I tell you about Lulu, you will definitely use it for evil deeds…”
“She gets bullied, right? Can the Saintess leave the victim of bullying alone?”
“Oh, that’s not it!”
“What do you mean ‘that’s not it’?”
After realizing that her vigilance had reached its peak, I changed my strategy, and Ferloche, who took the bait, began to speak after heaving a deep sigh.
“Lulu isn’t getting close to others on her own.”
“What do you mean?”
“She just pushes everyone away… even if kind-hearted commoners approach Lulu… no, even when I approach her, since I can’t see her suffering.”
Hearing that, I frowned and fell into deep thought.
‘A lack of affection and a tendency to push others away?’
I was tilting my head at her behavior because it contradicted the information in the status window, but Ferloche continued speaking as she seemed to have suddenly remembered something.
“Oh, come to think of it… Every time she pushed us away, there’s something she always said.”
“I’m going to make everyone miserable, so please don’t come near me.”
Having said that, Ferloche crossed her arms and began to mutter.
“By the way… there’s no curse on her. I’ve even tried purification, but nothing has changed…”
Hearing those words, I was able to understand roughly what the 『Stigma of Misfortune』 in the information window was.
“Anyway, you! Don’t even think of flirting with Lulu! I’ll somehow treat her…!”
‘It’s not a curse, it’s a 『Stigma』… that’s interesting.’
I guess I would have to take her with me for a while and watch over her.
Meanwhile, in a room inside the Starlight Mansion.
“Alright… I wrote it all down.”
Alice, the representative of the commoners, put her pen down on the desk and began to carefully fold the letter.
“The Princess said it would definitely come around this time…”
Then, with a cautious gait, she headed towards the window. She then scanned her surrounding vigilantly and muttered in an anxious tone.
“Ah, here it is!”
After standing around the window for a while, she began to smile brightly when she heard the sound of flapping wings outside her window.
A white owl was flying by the window.
Menhara: Female characters who exhibit unstable emotionality, obsessive love, and stereotypical self-injurious behaviors such as wrist cutting
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