With a slew of thoughts running through my mind, I descended to the annex’s basement, then went further down another set of stairs, through a storage room door that led down a secret passageway, down more stairs that led me even further underground, and found myself standing in front of a securely locked door. I closed my eyes.
“My beloved electricity friends.”
Abracadabra, transform into magnetism. I placed my finger over the keyhole and carefully turned my hand like a safecracker. Oh, yes, I knew how the locks at the estate worked. Using magnetism to turn the tubular lock was easy as it was made of iron. It was more a question of delicacy. I pressed my ear as tight as possible to the door and slowly turned my hand, listening to each pin fall into place. With a clank, the door opened.
I don’t know what you hid here, but you let your guard down, duke! I confidently pushed the door open… and was dumbstruck by the sight before me. Chains, snaking out from all over the walls, met in the center of the room, where they were tightly wrapped around a sword. The weapon was leaking abnormal magic—that unnatural energy I could feel, but not recall.
“Dear Author, could you… stick to the genre?” I said aloud to no one.
I’d been thinking about this for a while, but I’m tired of having the genre of my story switch back and forth. Isn’t this supposed to be a gay romance novel? Isn’t this supposed to be a story about men in love? Technically, it’s a story about Rion getting reamed. Still, what is all this?
Why did you stick an evil, black magic-esque Excalibur in someone’s basement? Are you getting a laugh messing around with me? I really hate it when only the author knows the storyline, you know?
I came to realize that my body is honestly just a throwaway, and it didn’t really matter what happened to it. My interest in the magic sword bubbled over, and I headed straight for it. The moment I grabbed the sword, the chains slid off, clinking loudly against the cement floor, and I lost control of my body.
Nothing else was in the void but my consciousness. Did I finally actually die? I felt so relaxed. If I could just stop thinking altogether, that would be bliss.
“Identifying user. Not the Contractor.”
An artificial voice disturbed my long-awaited peace. I didn’t know why, but I knew the sword was talking to me. I really don’t know how I knew.
“The Contractor of this object is Rosalite Roxburg. Once the Contractor’s wish is fulfilled, this object will cease to exist.”
Oh, I can communicate with this thing without talking. But I’m Rosalite?
“Negative. Rosalite Roxburg died 23,825 days ago as payment for the contract. You are merely a substitute with a soul most analogous to Rosalite Roxburg.”
Look at this object, calling me a “substitute.” Anyway, when was 23,825 days ago? It seemed like ages had passed. I did a rough calculation, and it came to about sixty-five years, which means that I became Rosalite more than… No, it can’t be.
“Affirmative. You were summoned after the death of Rosalite Roxburg, and it has since been 23,825 days in relation to the subjective time flow of this object.”
If I had had a body, I probably would have broken out in a cold sweat. The sword was talking about subjective time flow and contract payment. Does that have anything to do with me continuously turning back into sixteen-year-old Rosalite?
Wait, I might be jumping the gun here. Still, I couldn’t help my heart fluttering because I saw a bit of hope. Breathe in… breathe out… If the dead Rosalite’s wish comes true, then this whole loop-de-loop back to sixteen-year-old Rosalite da capo waltz of destruction will end?
Yes! This is it! Oh god, yes! I did it! I really did it! Rosalite did it! Wait, hold on, evil swordie. Oh, right, the wish! What was Rosalite’s desire? Hurry up and tell me!
“The Contractor’s wish was for Asterion’s wish to be fulfilled.”
Then what’s Asterion’s wish?
“Unknown. It cannot be determined.”
The moment that thought crossed my mind, the mana around me started bristling. Oh, I’m sorry, did I upset you?
“When the substitute linked to the Contractor reaches its stress limit, this object goes berserk.”
Hmm? You’re telling me that now, Mr. Sword?
And with violent stabs of agony, I left the pitch-black void. As I came to my senses, my surroundings were in ruins, and I was coughing up blood. I could still clearly feel the sword in my hands despite it being discarded elsewhere. The ruins around me looked familiar, kind of like my house. It appeared that yours truly was the one who fucked it up. Memories of busting buildings and slicing up guys who harassed Rion flashed by. I’m begging you, dear author, the genre… please…
“Rosalite, my sister!”
Yay! It was the big boy version of Mr. Asterion. This handsome silver-haired snack must’ve been fighting me as he was covered in blood. Oh no, there are so many cuts on that pretty face… I hope they won’t scar.
“Sister, why did you draw a blade?”
I don’t know. Why don’t you ask your dad why he had this thing locked away in the basement in the first place? By the way, you’re using a sword again! It looked like he had an affinity for becoming a swordmaster, considering it happened every time. I had so much I wanted to tell him, but I was too busy hacking up blood. I had to ask him what his wish was.
“I-I don’t need anything if I just have you…”
Is he for real? Maybe he is… he did always follow me around. The silver-haired and handsome Mr. Asterion held me tight as he confessed his love. Apparently, he had been watching Rosalite since before she turned sixteen, so when Rosalite entered the House of Roxburg after being raised at her maternal grandmother’s place…
I could feel my consciousness slipping due to heavy blood loss.
But I understood now. Mr. Asterion, you were abnormally infatuated with your own sister. Damn, author, you have to share this type of detail in the novel, not just keep it to yourself!
I didn’t even have the strength to throw up any more blood, so I closed my eyes. I hated this third-person narration. I hated sucky plot twists even more. And I absolutely despised the author of Asterion of the Starry Blue Night.
I was sixteen-year-old Rosalite. Two o’clock in the afternoon? Check. Blue sky outside the window? Check. Long hair length? Check. Becky, Lily, and Violet preparing my afternoon tea? Check. The garden was beautiful, the birds were singing, and warm sunlight was streaming over my peaceful duke estate.
The estate was still technically my duke dad’s, but so what? I was the heiress. It didn’t matter if I called it mine now if it would officially be mine later. I took a sip of tea after checking that everything was back to normal at the start of my twenty-first life.
“Becky, please summon Dame Aster Brown. I’m sure she’s loitering downstairs. Lily, please bring our resident guest. I don’t know where that one is. Violet, please prepare another cup of tea, as well as some high-quality parchment and a pen.”
“Yes, Young Mistress!”
Aww! The way they answer in unison is so cute. How they held up their skirts’ hems and dashed around to carry out my bidding was even more adorable. Now that I’d reached this age, seeing youngsters trying their best to do anything was endearing, and as I was in a good mood, they were extra cute. I could have died old and rich then and there. I only had to fulfill Asterion’s wish. Everything but the throne was mine, so I could do anything for Rion.
I sipped my tea once more, spread open the parchment Violet had brought, and picked up a fountain pen. The use of paper was widespread in this world too, but important issues like this had to be done traditionally. Or, in other words, ostentatious empty formalities.
Right now, it was just my wasting an expensive bit of parchment. Still, if things got serious, it’d be an “Ah, yes, our family is quite well off, we can afford this” method of pretentious display. It always felt nice when you stomped on assholes with money. Empty formalities were the best.
“I have brought Dame Aster, Young Mistress.”
Wonderful, Becky. You fulfill my bidding so quickly. That’s why the branch family sent you as a spy, isn’t it? I almost died several times, and Rion died once because of you. To think that you were the one who poisoned my lemonade. Your dear Young Mistress’s heart was ripped to shreds, and her world came crashing down when she learned the truth, you little bitch.
“Good work, Becky. You are dismissed as of today.”
She hadn’t been able to comprehend the situation. However, I was busy and focused on writing out a certificate of appointment in elegant calligraphy, so I waved a hand and shooed her away.
“Give my greetings to the duke’s cousin for me.”
“It… has been an honor to serve you.”
She finally understood. Becky trembled, a rollercoaster of emotions thundering through her. She turned around and left without a second look. She’d probably be put to death upon returning, so perhaps she had a lot on her mind.
Ah, all done. The certificate of appointment was completed. I blew on the parchment so it would dry faster. Dame Aster stood a few feet away, looking a bit lost while awaiting instructions. Understandable, considering I summoned her out of the blue and only just fired the maid who brought her to me. If she thought I was rounding up people in trouble, it made perfect sense she would be nervous.
“Dame Aster, three steps forward.”
I didn’t call her because I wanted to admonish her. She was a knight who had protected me and successively served as my guard three times. And she did so without being enamored with Rion, not even once. She was a third-generation knight who dedicated her life to the House of Roxburg, as stubborn as a mule and ridiculously full of that “honor” shit, but one who was loyal and did her job well. My knight. My light and salt! No, not salt. Salt is too salty. Just light! My Aster light!
“Little Miss, what—”
“Little Miss my ass, shut up and kneel.”
Her family worked for the House of Roxburg for so many generations that they treated the people of the House like children. It must’ve been in my fifth life that I almost died laughing when I heard Aster’s father, Sir William, call the duke “Young Master.”
I had been grounded for three days for bursting out laughing at an official event, and I spent all three of them rolling on the floor, laughing my ass off at our dear Young Master. When the duke had heard about that, I was grounded for an additional two days.Yeah…there were days like that. They were distant memories.
“Now,” I spoke, looking up at Aster’s towering form.
She hadn’t yet knelt. She was incredibly tall, and her brown hair was cut short, but you could still tell she was a woman if you looked closely. I thought she cut her hair short because she was insecure, but she said it was just more comfortable that way. She said short hair dried quickly after washing, and wearing her brothers’ clothes and underwear was best because they were free.
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