The Otome Game's Bad Ending - Chapter 36
In frustration, the queen tightened her teeth.
In rage, she smacked the table, resulting in a loud thump.
“I’ve…I’ve held onto this position…”
Despite a little break appearing at the tip of her perfectly manicured fingernail, the queen appeared unmoved, her eyes brimming with fear.
“… Find a solution. Find a technique to fix the sacred artifact if it is broken! Regardless of the cost!”
“Do you think you’ll be safe even if I’m in power?”
“Do you remember what happened 20 years ago?”
Many aristocrats, particularly those associated with the pro-monarchy party, suffered losses even within the kingdom.
Despite having meticulously controlled their territory for a long time, they were reduced to such a state that they couldn’t even conceive of recovery.
Drought, flood, and locust swarms throughout harvest season.
There was so little food that even the forest’s wild animals were starving to death.
It was nothing less than hell on Earth.
All of these calamities were the cost of ritual.
Of course, not all rites exacted such a high price.
Historically, the royal family was prone to mishaps.
It was typical for royal children to die abruptly while they were young.
Some speculated that all of this was the result of a curse bestowed by a goddess on the first king.
Most, though, rejected it as mere gossip.
It has been more than 300 years since the country adopted the Great God Blitz as its national religion.
However, no one remembered the goddess’s name.
The goddess had promised the first king her exclusive love, but he betrayed his pledge by having a kid with another woman.
The goddess had been sealed by the king’s hands.
Few were aware that her minor power remained in the precious relic, damning the royal line for generations.
The goddess’s hate was deep and fierce since she loved humans and was deceived by them.
Patricia, a princess from Aldrich who married into the royal family, had lofty goals.
She was dead set on having an heir and seizing power.
She was resolved to achieve and to demonstrate her nation, from which she had seemingly been pushed away simply because she was a woman.
Despite this, she had not given birth to an heir after nearly ten years of marriage.
She was quite agitated.
She couldn’t believe it when she discovered the secret while urgently attempting to find a means.
It was ridiculous.
Madness, paralysis, and mutism.
Were all royals born from a legal marriage described in this manner?
So, what about her husband?
What about Grand Duke Franz, her husband’s brother?
Hadn’t they both matured into healthy adults?
She wondered if the issue was with the king’s vigor.
However, the king had a perfectly healthy illegitimate child.
She was heartbroken when she realized this.
She had no choice but to have a successor.
Something like a curse couldn’t stop her.
If the curse was the issue, why not fix it?
The queen secretly sought a priest who could handle the goddess’ heavenly artifact.
She also held a large burning offering ritual.
Countless people killed with no explanation.
Princess Alosia was born that year.
But the princess was a fool, unworthy even as a figurehead for the crown.
The queen was heartbroken once more.
She, however, did not give up.
She did, however, decide not to try the failed strategy again.
That’s how she ended up with Prince Alexis.
“Do you think you’ll survive if the whole truth is revealed? Certainly not. I’m not sure if you’ll become food for the monsters while you’re still alive. If the young prince does not become king, you and I will perish. Already, we’re in the same boat!”
The blue eyes of the queen twinkled.
The other party’s head drooped.
“There are already dissidents accusing us of being infidels. If we don’t find a solution, your nephew…”
“…We don’t know for sure, but there is a method we can attempt.”
“What exactly is it!”
The answer came from a man entirely wrapped in a black hooded garment.
“Apart from the special rites that the royal family’s queens have performed in secret to create a successor… The sealed goddess is supposed to find it easier to express her might on Earth with each rite. It is said that her rage will destroy the country.”
“Occasionally, during these times, I’ve heard that a human, who could be considered an incarnation of the goddess, is born.”
“Yes. They are born with a small portion of that power… They are said to be incomparable to ordinary humans in many aspects. It’s unclear if such power will be a curse or a blessing… But, if we sacrifice such a person, we might be able to harness the heavenly artifact’s power again.”
Cunningly, the queen’s eyes opened.
“Isn’t that girl from the House Windrose already dead?”
Insignificant rumors can sometimes include the truth.
The tale about the Marquis’s daughter’s grace, who was gorgeous like a goddess and gained everyone’s praise but detested humanity, had already spread throughout the country.
The queen couldn’t have been completely clueless.
“She’s not the only one.”
“The magnitude of the disaster that occurred 20 years ago when you held your burnt offering was far too great in comparison to the magnitude of the offering. I didn’t know why at the time, but I have an idea today.”
The name of the Windrose family was a hot topic back then, as it is now.
Fast-paced newspapers published a wide range of social news.
Among them was a newspaper that ran a portrait of a gorgeous lady whom the Marchioness adored as if she were her own daughter.
Articles praising the lovely and kind lady.
Bright silver hair, porcelain-white skin, kind green eyes… Elodie, who had a striking resemblance to Ophelia Windrose, whom everyone adored.
“If we sacrifice her as an offering, we might be able to hold the ritual again.”
The queen’s blue eyes gleamed coolly.
In any case, she was an expert who had been hiding in the royal castle for almost 20 years.
She clenched her teeth as she left the kingdom, telling herself that she would never be in such a wretched position again, and that she would not lose to her younger brother, who would become the ruler.
It would have been better for her to die than to lose all her authority and her rightful throne, to become an elderly woman in the back room, or to rely on her parents’ house.
She had no feelings for the king.
Already, their relationship was strained.
Of course, even if it was a calculated marriage, she admired him as a companion.
But only for a little moment.
Ten years of agony over not being able to have a child slowly killed her.
During that period, the king had an illegitimate kid.
At that point, the queen let go of any remaining feelings for the king.
There was just one thing she hoped for: a child born from and reared by her own body.
Anyway, she was the queen of this kingdom, and it was only natural for her heirs to succeed to the throne.
What’s the harm in dusting a few droplets of blood on the future king right now?
There was no need to be concerned.
“…Tell me more in detail.”
From a distance, a faint sound of rain could be heard.
It was the first sign of a storm.
* * *
“Miss Elodie, are you tired?”
“I had a bad dream last night.”
Elodie smiled warmly as she set her teacup down.
Her under-eye circles weren’t a deception.
This was Lady Betty, the Countess’s salon.
Lady Betty, the hostess, had a friendly relationship with Marchioness Windrose.
Furthermore, a daughter of Elodie’s age had made her debut the previous year.
Today’s event resembled a discussion gathering of young aristocratic ladies, including Lady Betty, rather than a ladies’ gathering.
It was a consideration for Elodie, who came from the countryside with no peers.
The tea was a light and sweet floral tea, with sweet meringue cookies and eclairs as accompaniments.
Everyone was dressed up and wearing new clothes for the social season, but there was no beauty as stunning as Elodie.
There were people who were envious of her status, but there were also many who admired her. Lady Betty was one such instance.
She looked at Elodie as though she was scared as soon as she finished speaking, her round brown eyes blinking like a squirrel’s.
“What kind of nightmare did you have that left you like this? But even if you didn’t sleep, your face is stunning!”
The genuine admiration was endearing.
Elodie gave an uneasy smile.
“What was the bad dream that made you look so pale?”
Lady Alison, with a soft smile and troubled eyes, inquired.
Elodie opened her mouth after a few moment of consideration.
“…It was a nightmare in which I was horribly murdered. Some thug assassinated me…”
As soon as they heard that, the noble ladies clustered together in the chamber gave their comments.
“However, a dream is only a dream; it can never become a reality.”
“That’s correct. Who would try to injure lovely Elodie, who is so sweet and kind?”
Elodie pondered for a moment before nodding obediently.
Her normally soft and affectionate green eyes flashed a strange glare.
“That’s correct. You’re all wonderful people.”
“Besides, isn’t there ‘him’ in House Windrose?”
Lady Cyclamen, twirling the ends of her brown hair with a lot of red in it, brought up a matter.
“You’re talking about Sir Raretis, right?”
“Yes, who could possibly be a threat to the Marquis’s family with him guarding?”
“Right! Anyone who dares to bluff will be thoroughly humiliated.”
As a topic of interest was discussed, the voices of the girls who were trying to appear respectable became as chirpy as a warbler’s.
Elodie gave a tiny smile in between, but her gaze was grim.
“Those must be heretics or something. In any case, he cleans up regions where people are rude, annihilates gangs of robbers, and no knight can stand up to him.”
“That’s right, I’ve heard he’s the best knight in the kingdom.”
“I’m not sure why he’s not taking part in the tournament. I’d be content to die right now if he gave me the victor’s crown.”
They all let out a tiny sigh, their cheeks flushed as though they were picturing the scene.
This year marked the eighth birthday of the kingdom’s sole prince.
Grand Duke Franz, the king’s brother, was a married man well into his forties.
Raretis Hope was one of the groom candidates most desired by the present social scene’s young ladies.
He was the Glamis Knights’ deputy commander.
From an early age, he had been known as a prodigy, a hero who had accomplished numerous achievements.
He had a serious demeanor and a faultless appearance.
It would be unusual if he wasn’t well-liked.
There were also no rumors of him having affairs with ladies his age.
Only rumours of his heartfelt romance with the ailing Lady Windrose circulated like a tragic romance novel.
That point was actually a plus.
He was perceived as a man who usually sat silently behind his weak fiancée, who might not live to adulthood.
Lady Betty sneaked in a remark, sensing the mood.
“Of course, if he were to compete in this year’s tournament, it appears that we already know who would win.”
Envy couldn’t be completely absent.
A moment of silence packed with numerous meanings passed.
Elodie was suddenly swept away by a lukewarm look.
There was a look of apparent jealousy on her face. L
ady Betty opened her mouth and pretended not to notice.
“He even came to the Count’s house to escort you earlier.”
“He appears to genuinely care about you…”
“No, it must be the will of Marchioness Windrose.”
Lady Cyclamen cut in with a crisp tone.
“Everyone knows Sir Raretis will always do what the Marchioness wants, right?”
“But… Lady Elodie…”
“That’s exactly right.”
Lady Betty’s words were cut off by Elodie, who smiled softly.
“The Marchioness treats me well, and Lord Raretis lavishes me with attention. That’s all there is to it.”
“But doesn’t the Lord have feelings, too? I heard he follows you around wherever you go…”
Elodie was ready to react with an odd face when it happened.
Elodie was gently called by the servant.
It was time for Raretis to come pick her up as planned.
It didn’t stop with the words.
Raretis, dressed formally, approached everyone and lightly greeted them.
The young females in attendance erupted.
They gazed at Elodie with envy, admiration, and jealousy in their eyes and cheerfully let her leave.
Elodie slowly departed the location after bidding farewell to everyone.
A round of whispering ensued, with some remarking on how the departing couple looked like a great picture.
However, the scenario was a little different for the two.
Elodie, sitting in a carriage emblazoned with the Marquis’s family coat of arms, fixed her gaze on the guy opposite her.
A man who, no matter what anyone thought, was the epitome of a knight.
“Thank you very much for coming to pick me up.”
“I just did what I had to do.”
Isn’t that an ideal example of a ‘great conversation’?
Elodie suppressed a hollow laugh.
Is that man a nice guy?
From the outside, it appears such.
Perhaps it’s an attitude to demonstrate humility in case the lady feels burdened.
Anyone would agree that it is considerate.
But why did she feel so uneasy?
She could have been duped if she hadn’t known better.
If she hadn’t noticed the man’s flaws.