SETP Vol. 3 Chapter 20

Chapter 20 – Shizuki

Fithdan.

A town located close to the “Forest of Downfall”, one might think a proximity to such a dangerous location caused it to be a small town with a scarce population, but, thanks to the forest, the surrounding area was rather peaceful and untouched by war. This caused people to gather, so the town was no solitary hamlet.

We arrived in Fithdan after a few hours of travel from Diestburg.

Feli was not with me right now: the only thing at my side was a shadow-colored blade, my “Spada”.

Dvorg’s escort, the boy, apparently had something to talk about with her, so he took her with him almost by force and went off somewhere. So we were split into two groups.

Needless to say, that meant that I was paired with— 

“Are! You! Still! Sleeping!! YOUR!! HIGHNESS!!”

A brown-haired girl who just yelled at me — Ratifah.

“Yep, until Feli comes back, that’s my plan.”

When Feli returned she would probably wake me up, I thought — still wrapped in my blanket, which Ratifah was trying to pull away.

“They’re going to gather information anyway, so we might as well take a nap, no?”

So, good night.

I curled into a ball, wrapping myself with the blanket again.

Since we had to wait for the right timing to enter the forest, we needed a place to stay.

The boy, Dvorg’s escort, had already prepared two rooms for us: a single room for himself and a triple room for Feli, Ratifah, and me.

Taking advantage of this chance, I quickly dived into my bed, also triggering this pointless battle with Ratifah. 15 minutes had passed already, but there was no sign of it ending.

“That’s not good! I will not allow it!! I shall never allow such spoiled conduct!!”

“…and the truth is?”

“The other day you went to have lunch with the head maid again. Why don’t you ever invite me out!? This is the perfect chance!! Buy me something nice!! Please?”

Someone needed to do something about this maid.

Unwilling to listen to her ridiculousness anymore, I covered my ears with my hands.

“Your Highness!! Your Highness!! YOUR!! HIGHNESS!!”

Ratifah started shaking my body, which moved involuntarily.

“Are you really, really satisfied with this!?”

Ratifah was grinning.

I couldn’t see her face through the blanket, but from her tone, I could tell there was a devilish grin on her face.

However, I decided not to react. I didn’t want to humor her antics anymore, so I pretended not to hear.

“If the head maid somehow comes to know of this, it’s not my fault, I’ll have you know!”

Somehow? Aren’t you the only way she could know? …is what I wanted to yell at her, but restrained myself patiently.

Ratifah definitely underestimated my attachment to sleep. Until a few months prior I spent most of the day sleeping, but recently I didn’t even sleep half a day.

In other words, my limits were unknown: I had already broken through average records a long time ago.

“Hah, how naive. That might have worked with the old me from a few months ago, but not anymore. To exercise restraint and not be scolded, or to forget restraint and be scolded…I’m choosing the latter, hands down. So wake me up three minutes before the head maid is back, okay?”

“Mmngh….”

Things weren’t going how Ratifah hoped.

After a few seconds of teeth grinding and gnashing— 

“…understood. If you put it like that, then I have no choice!!”

Her next line made her sound like a cheesy villain.

Honestly speaking, I had a really bad feeling about it.

I had already decided I would sleep, though. Even if Feli would scold me later, I was going to have a nice, leisurely nap and recover my everyday fatigue.

Thus, even if I felt it, one after the other…

Even if I felt the increasing pressure of blankets being piled upon me, I kept quiet. My unshakable iron will let me maintain complete silence.

…or at least, it was supposed to.

“Since Your Highness is so cold to me, I have no choice but to play ball all by myself.”

Play ball? What?

That very instant— 

My body, my field of sight, the whole world started moving.

“W-wait, you can’t be ser— ”

Why did my blankets gradually gain weight? The question was finally answered. The last piece of the puzzle was found. That’s how it felt.

“Please do not worry! ‘Even if you mistreat Prince Fay a little, I will forgive you.’ Prince Stenn told me so personally!!”

“Now I’m more worried!! Shit!! Damn you Stenn, you’re going to pay for this…!!”

Layers upon layers of blankets.

Curling into a ball was a fatal mistake. I ended up inadvertently trapping myself in a ball for Ratifah to play with.

“Here I go!!!”

“Okay!! Okay!! I’ll get up!! I’ll get up so sto-stop! I’m going to pu— gah…”

I was dropped from the bed and rolled around the room, without mercy.

“Do you really mean it?”

I immediately raised a white flag and Ratifah’s rampage stopped.

“Really. This time I really mean it. Super really.”

Despite my nausea and vertigo, I managed to plead for her mercy, though my vocabulary had flown out the window. If I could have poked my head out of the blankets, I’m sure I would have nodded desperately, like a broken plastic toy.

“Hmm…that sounds quite suspicious…”

“No!! Not at all!! Stop it!! Or I’ll really throw up!!”

“And the truth is?”

“Stop it already you dumb maid!”

“Yep, I want to play ball some more!”

“No! No, that was a joke!! Just a joke!! Believe me, come on…hey…hey!!!”

Ignoring my pleas, Ratifah’s horrific ball game continued for three more minutes— 

~

“I-I thought I was a goner…”

If I knew this was going to happen, I should have gone with Feli…

Clearly showing my repentance, I mumbled while panting and wheezing.

My body covered in unpleasant sweat, I wobbled to the bed and sat on it, then glared at the source of my misfortune.

“Now that Your Highness is finally up, let’s choose our fake names, like that boy said! We need to do that before we can do anything in this town!”

Despite being the cause of my current state, Ratifah let my glare pass by, like a breeze through the branches of a willow.

Looking at her made me feel silly for glaring, so I looked weakly at the ceiling.

“Fake names, huh…”

I looked back at Ratifah.

What appeared in my mind at first was the name I was called before I became Fay Hanse Diestburg. I recalled it, but I couldn’t say it out loud so easily. *** (Shizuki) was the name of someone who died already. Thus I hesitated to use it.

I had no intention to die yet, so it would not feel right to use the name of a dead man.

If I had to use a name other than Fay Hanse Diestburg, I couldn’t help but think of that name. The reason was probably my strong attachment to it.

…no, that wasn’t it.

I wanted to be called by that name.

In my heart, I wished for it to happen.

Being called “Shizuki” like normal was more important than anything else. I liked it. Recently I had more and more chances to wield my “Spada”, so I might be feeling sentimental.

I wanted the people that I held dear, the people I didn’t want to lose, to call my name. That utterly mundane emotion took over. The weakling, crybaby me.

Especially in Ratifah’s case, since she was one of the few people who treated me without restraint or distance, the same way my mentor and the others used to. Even the nasty prank she just pulled on me did not have the slightest hint of malice.

Even if it was a name that sunk in solitude and sadness…I couldn’t stop myself.

“ ——— Shizuki.”

I pronounced it for the first time in this life.

Maybe because it was the name used by the people I held dear, I felt an indescribable sense of comfort and nostalgia well up inside.

“Let’s use Shizuki for me, then.”

“Shizuki? Prince?”

“Yeah, Shizuki. I’m sure I won’t make mistakes with that.”

If I was called “Shizuki” I would definitely understand it meant me. There was no risk of reacting unnaturally or awkwardly.

I was sure there was no better name to choose if I had to hide the Fay Hanse Diestburg name.

That name, however, was tied to irreplaceable memories.

Regrets I wished to leave behind. The taste of solitude. They all came with it.

It was something very important, but at the same time the symbol of losses I wanted to forget.

“May I ask why such a name?”

Ratifah looked at me straight in the eyes and asked the question in a serious tone, rather different than her usual demeanor.

It’s just a fake name, there’s no special reason.

That’s how I wanted to shut the topic down, but…

“I was sure Your Highness would just switch the letters in your name, so…”

Ratifah quickly explained herself, probably understanding that I found it a pain to answer.

It was true that the past me would have definitely done something like that. So I found it even harder to say something.

I stood there with my mouth half open, unable to pronounce the words I had prepared.

“So I wondered how you came up with a name like that.”

I just came up with it randomly…that’s all I needed to say. But for some reason, looking at Ratifah’s face made it impossible to lie.

“Why such a name…?”

Keeping quiet felt awkward too, so I repeated her question, a troubled expression on my face.

I scratched my head a little.

“…well, I guess…”

I just needed to say the words in my heart.

But I refused to.

I had no intention to reveal my innermost self just yet. But I wanted them to know. To call me. I felt a contradictory wish like that inside me, somewhere. Realizing it put me on the spot even more.

Why did I choose that name?

I really…wonder why.

— probably because looking at Ratifah or Feli, people important to me in this life, I was reminded of my mentor and the others. So that word came out so easily.

So I told myself, as if my inner self had completely figured out the problem. I imagined a swordsman wielding a shadow-colored blade looking at me, smiling faintly.

“I guess I just felt like using it.”

I understood how I truly felt, but lied to hide it, out of embarrassment.

Did I manage to hide my unstable feelings?

I was so worried about it I couldn’t look at Ratifah in the eye.


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