The Otome Game's Bad Ending - Chapter 32
It was merely a happenstance that she picked up a pendant that appeared to have rolled out from under the door.
When she queried Dorothy, a veteran maid in the Marquis’s home, about the existence of the room, she deflected her inquiry with a cutting tone despite her pleasant appearance.
Dorothy, a devoted housekeeper who braids her hair upwards and secures it with a green ribbon, wore a smile at all times.
Elodie could not have anticipated that she would display such a disposition.
Elodie heard a distinction in his intonation.
“It’s too late in the evening for this kind of conversation.”
“If you don’t want to be misunderstood, then you should go in and rest.”
Slowly, Elodie regarded the man.
His eyes did not avoid her green and transparent eyes.
His violet irises were as vibrant as ever.
A man who was always impenetrable, but kind and affectionate, drew a clear line.
It was like then.
The individual appeared unable to tolerate Elodie’s mention of ‘Emilia.’
Due to fear?
Because it’s a caution?
What might be the cause?
To stop Elodie from causing damage?
Even when no known rationale or cause is present.
Elodie ceased arguing and stood up from the seat where she had been peacefully seated.
The tea that Raretis had not touched had cooled to the point where there was no longer even vapor.
Who wants to be ‘misunderstood?’
Elodie observed that the man’s demeanor suggested fear.
And by whom?
It was something unknowable.
She opened her mouth as she left the room.
“I’ll let this pass this time.”
The man’s gaze narrowed.
“Next time, however, I believe I will not be content with such an answer.”
“I’m sorry for disturbing you at such an hour.”
Elodie retreated with delicate, butterfly-like steps.
After verifying that the woman had vanished as if sliding towards the end of the silent mansion corridor, the man slowly closed the door.
The man covered his forehead with his hand as he heaved a deep exhalation as if steam were rising from the floor.
It was a sight unseemly of him, one of complete weakness.
The worn and repeated sound escaped from the corner of his lips.
It sounded so earnest that it could cause sorrow simply by hearing it.
“… What in the world are you thinking?”
His voice dissipated into thin air and vanished like dust.
Similar to the temperature within the already chilled teacup.
* * *
Countess McGinty was an outstanding educator and teacher.
On the day I returned from the dressing room, she proposed a conversation to complete my detoxification.
The following day, I was led by Cassio’s hand through the dressing room as if I were playing with figurines, inadvertently amassing an assortment of clothing, footwear, and hats.
Due to this, it took nearly four days before I could confront the countess again, despite having ample time.
The reception area where the Countess summoned me appeared spacious and inviting.
Even to the untrained eye, the interior was a reflection of the Countess’s taste: oak-colored furniture, a few still-life paintings, and a vase containing flowers arranged exquisitely.
I sat opposite the Countess with caution.
A maid presented me with a scalding teacup.
On a well-polished dish, a few perfectly baked cookies were placed next to it.
The Countess wore a sophisticated burgundy dress.
It was constructed of a substantial fabric that gave the impression of a suit.
A few pearl buttons and intricate lace embellished the garment’s design.
Countess McGinty drank her tea first from her teacup.
“Listen, our family may not know much else, but we do have some money, and it’s a distinct advantage that we can spend lavishly on tea. Let’s talk about this more.”
“Do you know what kind of tea it is?”
“I’m afraid my palate isn’t discerning enough to tell.”
“Strange if you are aware. Before the transition from autumn to winter in the kingdom of Gilote, this tea is only harvested for a brief period. The initial flavor is acrid and the aftertaste is sour, so most people dislike it.
I lifted the teacup with care and took a drink.
Even after her explanation, the countess regarded me with a newfound expression as I drank the tea without apprehension.
“How does the tea taste?”
“I lack the knowledge to adequately evaluate its flavor.”
“What are your thoughts?”
“I believe it would be valuable for those who can appreciate its complex flavor.”
The countess set her teacup down slowly.
Her eyes, as keen as a hawk’s, shone brilliantly.
“However, if you presented this to society in its current state, you would likely receive two polar responses. You would be considered a true tea connoisseur if you could appreciate the subtleties of a rare tea that most average people don’t even know the name of. The other party would ridicule you if you doggedly clung to a flavorless and worthless tea.”
“So, Miss Emilia, if you were to take my nephew’s hand and make your debut as-is, what do you think would be the most embarrassing?”
“…Isn’t it the ruthless rumors and speculations?”
“Your history is unclear.”
With her unyielding contact, the tea in the cup overflowed slightly.
Instead of attempting to control my breathing, I clasped my hands in my lap.
“Even if you come from a humble background, you have the potential to become a pillar of society if you have excellent insight, skilled hands, and a beautiful appearance that can win everyone’s favor. It is a fact that a hungry Duke and a Count with enviable authority can coexist; prestige and power have not always been on equal footing.”
“Are you implying that it’s a problem if I debut with only Brahamdorff family influence?”
“To put it bluntly, unless you firmly establish that you’re my foolish nephew’s fiancée, you’re going to attract a lot of wolves who are ready to pounce.”
I observed that the Countess’ eyes were sharp, despite her casual manner of speech.
Yes, even in Cassio Brahamdorff’s absence, such remarks could readily be made.
For the time being, I remained silent.
“Do you want to continue like that? It would be easier for you.”
“It’s a position that’s too generous for me.”
“You respond very quickly.”
The Countess gave a faint snicker.
“Our family, after all, is not one to fall short, is it?”
In fact, Casio Brahamdorff and Lady McGinty really look like they came from the same family when it comes to these kinds of sentiments.
I faintly chuckled as I considered Kitty, who must have been restless behind the door.
The lady’s eyes narrowed upon seeing my bright smile.
“Had you chosen a spouse based on his family, would you have chosen Mr. Brahamdorff?”
“Are you saying that our family is lacking?”
“What I’m saying is that staying in the Marquis’s family afforded you a pitiful opportunity to change your surname.”
The Countess ceased speaking.
She may have been a little astonished when I brought up a subject she had avoided.
My words were…
True, they were accurate.
There was a pause between Ophelia’s death and the arrival of the player.
I cannot recall how many years had passed, but there was a possibility.
Enough time for me to manipulate my way into the role of a sister, coerce Raretis into a declaration of love, and assume his position at his side.
However, that was it.
I did not disregard the fact that the only time I found peace in the game was when I was with Raretis and under the protection of the Marquis’s family.
Yes, Raretis Hope, also known as Raretis Windrose, is a gentleman.
He may have listened if I had forced him to do so.
I did not need to even confess to him.
I simply had to wait for the delicate House Windrose to fall apart.
No one could have anticipated the appearance of a character like Elodie.
If I, Ophelia’s most cherished, had claimed I would remain with the Marquisdom and fill Ophelia’s void, and if this had been Ophelia’s desire, it could have been approved.
I cannot refute this.
I merely grinned.
My visage was reflected in the tea’s light brown color.
But I declined.
I fled away.
I did not want to collapse and become miserable by desiring something that was not mine, nor did I wish to be rejected.
More than anything else, if a player appeared in any capacity after that…
I can not imagine I could endure the sensation of having items I cherished taken from me.
Even if this occurs, a kind and decent person would not abandon me.
They would perform their duty.
I detested that.
I could not endure it.
I did not wish for pity.
It was permissible even if it was the pride of the less fortunate.
I was nearly destitute in this universe.
Ophelia was likely the only being who adored me unconditionally.
So I believed the only thing I had in the Marquis’s family was her affection.
The home in which I resided and shared my most cherished memories, but which I could never call my own.
Someone might refer to me as an imbecile.
A moron who cannot even claim what is theirs, a person who should have taken advantage of an opportunity when it was presented, and a person who squandered their wealth due to an obsession with the share of the deceased.
However, that is all there is to it in the end.
The Countess stirred her tea with a silver utensil and added a half sugar cube.
I smiled faintly and took another swallow of my tea.
In the interim, it had cooled and tasted more bitter than acidic.
Certainly, it was an odd type of tea.
I wonder what its name is.
“I understand the importance of the Cavalier role at the debutante ball.”
“Consider Cassio Brahamdorff’s talent, however, if you believe that the role is unfortunate or unnecessary.”
The eyes of the Countess shone brightly.
They were penetrating eyes that appeared capable of penetrating a person to the core, but I just chuckled.
“He is the most skilled person I know. It is his decision. He would not have proceeded if he lacked confidence that he would earn more than his initial investment.”
“What do you mean?”
“You make it sound as though you know my unfortunate nephew better than anyone else.”
“Unintentionally, I encountered him frequently during my stay at the Marquis’s residence.”
“Citrine, who was annoyingly following him around at every party, should now be above his head, if seeing him frequently means that you can say that.”
I chuckled heartily.
Who would believe me if I said the game was the cause?
This individual, who has never truly loved anyone, obsesses over Ophelia and even played with the later-appearing player despite never having truly loved them.
“I know my place well.”
“Even though the only effective method for a woman to advance in society at this time is to marry a good man?”
“I consider even the most basic thing such as love as a condition.”
“It’s reassuring to hear such words from ‘that’ lady’s best friend, who was the subject of widespread rumors.”
I gave a feeble smile.
“I lack the confidence to become an outstanding family hostess like the Countess, as well as the confidence to raise children well. I did not even have excellent parents who could have supported a family alliance.”
Even in the fairy tale, Cinderella was the poor daughter of a powerful and capable count, who could reach the imperial palace in a carriage in a single night.
Even Cinderella had constraints.
Upon hearing the bell, everything transformed into vapors and vanished.
All the possessions I had on my own were like fragments I had accumulated by staying close to Ophelia.
Even if the selfish child, who had always refused to share anything with anyone, had changed as a result of my influence, I had no intention of considering what I acquired only after her demise a fortune.
Especially now that it is evident that even Cassio Brahamdorff’s favor was a result of her letter.
“Being the best friend of ‘that’ lady, I know better than anyone that Mr. Cassio Brahamdorff’s gaze is higher than anyone in the world.”
Occasionally, I experience Emilia’s emotions in the game more intensely than anyone else. Even if she tried her whole life, Emilia could never attain what Ophelia so effortlessly attained. Even items she did not desire herself.
The same-aged females were as dissimilar from head to toe as light and shadow.
Did she ever consider that she wouldn’t mind if her existence vanished in an instant if she could shine once as brightly as Ophelia?
Even a man who mocks everything in the world bowed before her with the humility of a servant. It is very difficult not to feel inferior when observing such a striking contrast, such as a deity and a dishrag.
I despised her, was resentful of her, and chose to increase my affection for her.
In exchange, I received her devotion.
It was not a trivial matter.
Rather, my mind felt somewhat crowded.
Regarding the past, am I currently preoccupied with any other regrets?
The remnants of affection for someone else would only leave me with desolation.
Even more so if Ophelia is the comparison.
They claim that aristocrats conceal their destitution even when they are dying of starvation.
In this sense, I may be the finest aristocrat, despite my best efforts to conceal my pride, which is all that remains.
The Countess’s eyes faintly blurred and then shone once more.
“…This is very strange.”
I did not evade looking into the Countess’s eyes.
“You are quite young, barely an adult, yet you speak with such poise.”
“I am simply appreciative of your high evaluation.”
“You will not cringe over trivial disagreements.”
“Since I’ve received your assistance, I’ll do my best to protect your good name.”
“Even if you do your best, there are sometimes circumstances that you cannot avoid.”
In lieu of a response, I bobbed my head.
“However, assessing all of these factors requires, above all, an attitude. Being composed and rarely flustered is difficult to obtain, even if one pays for it.”