Author: Lioness

FAKES DON’T WANT TO BE REAL

~ 105 ~

 

“You’re a little innocent. If I were you…”

 

He looked down into his teacup, dazed in thought, then raised his gaze. His yellow eyes reflected Psychke’s sour face while listening to his words.

 

“I would have taken full advantage of the Duke of Lestir. That thing you mentioned in the Great Hall, that the Leas affair was a frame-up.”

 

“The Count’s words seem to imply that I should have had Silkisia back on the spot, is that correct?”

“That is correct.”

 

Eric acknowledged calmly.

 

“If you were me, I would have used my direct lineage and have struck the Duke of Silkisia. Of course, that comes with not being able to directly acquire the title.”

“….”

“At least you wouldn’t have traveled as far north as you did.”

“I came to the north because I wanted to.”

“I didn’t say that to slander the Princess.”

 

Eric clarified that he respected her choice.

 

“What I’m saying is that you’ve chosen to forsake the easy way out, and not take the hard way in. Which is a behavior of unbecoming of a duchess.”

“Do you realize that’s a very rude thing to say?”

“I am aware.”

 

Eric admitted meekly.

 

“It’s just that it’s a shame.”

“Shame?”

“I don’t know how you’re going to hear me say this, but you’re too pure for the title of duke.”

 

Eric arched one eyebrow.

 

“You did similar to me. You could have used me far more than you could imagine, but you consoled me instead.”

 

He was right. Since taking Eric under his wing, Psychke had occasionally expressed to him that she was sorry about Ikaxia. Rather than a favor, she was just paying the debt as the sole here to Silkisia.

And to think he took that as innocent, Psychke was at a loss for words.

 

“I apologize if my words offended you.”

 

Eric, who understood her silence meant something else, apologized neatly.

 

“It’s just that I’m disappointed, yes, disappointed. I’m sorry you have so little power compared to your abilities. If you’d let go of your emotions and used people more thoroughly, you’d be greater than you are.”

“And you say that after what you’ve been through at the hands of Silkissia?”

 

Eric said that he had lost his position as Ikaxia’s second-in-command to Yzhar because of Silkisia’s manipulations. After that incident, he joined hands with Lestir, however, how could he speak such words when he had undergone of the same experience.

She didn’t understand, so she asked.

 

“What can I do, they don’t need me there?”

 

Eric laughed for the first time. It was a raw, bitter laugh that echoed his feelings.

 

“Unusable people are to blame, so am I. People who have lost their value is natural to be thrown away, so here, I will try not to be abandoned again.”

“That….”

“Honestly, I don’t understand you, Princess. You’re trying to make me feel better by not using me when I could just use you, thus I don’t know how to treat you.”

 

That was what she wanted to say – Psychke couldn’t understand Eric. How did he manage to conclude that mindset? Does he not bear anger? A rough breath escaped her slightly parted lips.

She struggled to find the words to do so, and barely managed to form a sentence.

 

“I have no intention of ignoring the Count’s feelings and taking advantage of him.”

“That’s why you’re not fit to be a Duchess.”

“I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to say. Are you suggesting that I give up on succeeding Silkisia?”

“No.”

 

Eric denied briefly.

 

“I’m saying that if you want the Dukedom, you’re going to have to be willing to ignore people’s feelings.”

 

Psychke was about to retort when he made a grunting, painful sound.

Bang!

It sounded like a bomb going off over the wall where they were sitting.

Psychke and Eric looked at the wall at the same time and everyone else in the café looked around in confusion. They waited for several minutes, but it was quiet beyond the wall.

Passersby outside the cafe were also walking around calmly, so much so that you could have mistaken it for a hallucination if it weren’t for the shouts of customers asking what was going on.

Puzzled, Psychke scratched her head.

 

‘What was the store next door?’

 

Due to inadequate observation, she didn’t know what they were selling. While trying to guess why the bomb went off, somehow, Eric’s face hardened and stood up.

 

“I’ll be right back.”

 

And not five minutes after he left, Psychke felt the hairs on her back stand on end. An unknown foreboding prickled her skin. Unsure why she felt this way, she decided it’s best to trust her instincts than try to reason out. She jumped to her feet and ran, yelling at everyone.

 

“Get out!”

 

But the door was too far away, and the explosion was too close.

BANG!

A second explosion ripped through the cafe as the wall beyond Psychke’s seat exploded.

 

* * *

 

“…. Ugh.”

 

Psychke moaned softly as she was buried in a pile of rubble. She could barely see through the dust.

As soon as Psychke could, she tried to move her hands and feet. Despite the fact that they’re painful, she still could move them amidst the minor cuts.

Thankfully, none of the debris covering her was heavy, so she grunted and cleared it away.

Then she groped for the brooch-shaped artifact to see if it was still there.

Fortunately, it looked fine.

 

‘People- ugh.’

 

Psychke grimaced as she pushed herself to her feet.

Aside from the minor cuts, she was fine, but one of her ankles throbbed; she’d been caught in the explosion when she’d run and been blown away.

She got to her feet, using the huge pile of rubble next to her for support.

She looked around to see if anyone else had made it out of the building like her.

 

‘I don’t think so.’

 

She was in the very back, so everyone must have gotten out. In a matter of a few minutes, the café had been devastated.

The walls and ceiling had cracked and collapsed in several places.

The floor was littered with splinters of wood that had once been tables and chairs.

As she limped over them, the beams connecting the ceiling to the floor creaked ominously, a sign that it was about to collapse.

She looked toward the door, thinking she should get out.

But the door leading to the outside was blocked by debris, thus she had no way out through it.

She couldn’t use her hands to move it because it was attached to the tilted ceiling and acting as a pillar, so if she moved it, it would collapse.

 

‘I have to seek a new way out.’

 

As Psychke searched for a way out, a gaping hole opened up in her eyes.

It was a hole in the wall where she was sitting, connecting to the store next door.

 

‘The aftermath of the explosion in the shop next door has come through here. What happened to Count Ruan?’

 

She couldn’t see inside through the vine-like tangle of debris, but it didn’t look like there was a fire.

It didn’t look like the store was going to shatter if they cleared the debris.

 

  • ….. Eurrgh…….

 

“……?”

 

She wondered if it was because of the explosion that she heard weird things – an animal crying from beyond the hole.

It was an uncommon, eerie sound, the kind one might hear in a cemetery in the middle of the night.

It didn’t feel right, and Psychke took off her earring.

Converting it into a sword, she sliced through the rubble, pushed aside the debris on the side of the shop next door, and nimbly crossed.

Then she was on her feet.

 

“Count!”

 

She didn’t even feel the pain in her sprained ankle.

She darted across the ruined shop and slashed at the fake beast that tried to bite Eric, who was covered in blood.

 

“This, oh, at this time!”

 

The man who’d been arguing with Eric clicked his tongue as soon as he saw Psychke.

He wore a black hood from head to toe, so it was impossible to tell who he was.

As soon as he saw Psychke’s blue sword, he ran like hell.

He left behind fake beasts made of animal carcasses.

 

“I, I have to catch that human.”

 

Eric panted harshly as his eyes followed the fleeing man.

His grip on his sword stretched weakly.

 

“He took the mark.”

 

Psychke heard him clearly. But he was too fast to chase.

Besides, the demons were all attacking Eric, who had fallen, and it was clear he would die if she left him alone. So, she ignored the demon.

Eric, in turn, ignored the demons and went after the fugitive.

 

“Where do you think you’re going, stay still!”

 

Surprised, Psychke blocked him with her body. He slashed at the demons, saying it was too late and he couldn’t chase them.

Eric, who was also blocked, fought alongside her.

Soon the floor was littered with the bodies of the fake demons.

 

“Why didn’t you use your powers?”

 

Eric asked as he collapsed to the ground after the battle.

Even at a glance, he was badly wounded, but he looked up at her with resentment in his eyes, not caring about his body at all.

 

“Why didn’t you freeze him?”

“I was preoccupied with the beast.”

 

She couldn’t say that she had lost the use of my powers since coming to the North; that was a secret between Verndia and her.

So, Psychke pretended to look around the ruins of the shop and made a decent show of it.

The bodies of those who hadn’t managed to escape the explosion and the shredded parchments strewn about.

 

‘So, it was a scroll shop.’

“Do you know what those demons took? They took the sign you found, the one you found in the first battle, on the Hill of Blizzard.”

 

In fact, Eric came to the cafe to drink tea with Psychke, but also to meet the owner of the scroll store.

The owner of the scroll shop was an expert in magic circles. Verndia entrusted him with the markings Psychke had found. He told him to keep Eric informed of the progress of the investigation whenever he could.

He did.

 

“You should have gone after him.”

 

Verndia had ordered him not to tell Psychke about the markings yet, but now was not the time to hide.

Eric glared at the cold corpse of the scroll shopkeeper.

 

“You should have gone after him instead of paying him no mind.”

 

Even though his face was pale with blood, he insisted that she should have abandoned him. Then he remembered something, and his face crumpled darkly as though it was a very solemn topic.

 

“Give me time to decide on Ruan’s next successor.”

“What?”

“As you know, I’m still unmarried, so I don’t have an heir. If the line continues like this, I won’t be able to face my ancestors, so please give me some time.”

 

What… is he talking about?

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