SETP Vol. 4 Chapter 25
Chapter 25 – Trash Prince
“You went to the ruins all on your own and even fought imperial forces to the death? And you captured the imperial ‘Hero’ Cohen ‘Heart Scan’ Socaccio!?”
A boyish voice shouted, agitated.
It belonged to the boy acting as an escort for merchant Dvorg Tsarrich. He was clearly overwhelmed.
“…don’t shout like that, you’ll reopen my wounds. I’ve apologized enough already, haven’t I?”
We were in the inn’s cafeteria: I, bandaged everywhere, was enjoying my noodles.
“Even if you apologized…! There’s a limit to what you can and can’t do! I never expected something like this would happen, so I didn’t say it, but it’s *still early*!! And you took out two imperial ‘Heroes’ and captured another one…! How can I explain it to master….!?”
“Come on, it’ll all work out somehow.”
The boy scratched his head in frustration, without even trying to hide his irritation.
In stark contrast with him, Elena — who was sitting next to me, enjoying noodles too — laughed heartily.
“Easy for you to say, damn it…”
You don’t know how much trouble you just caused me! So the boy implied, as he started pacing back and forth, mumbling and muttering. In my eyes, he had completely lost control.
…well, it was mostly my fault.
There was no way to undo what already happened however. It can’t be helped, can it? I irresponsibly thought.
If I actually voiced those thoughts, I would surely see one or two punches and kicks fly my way.
“…two imperial ‘Heroes’…hmm.”
The boy said something that bothered me.
Ratifah and Feli had joined forces and defeated a “Hero” apparently.
“Is something wrong?”
I looked over my shoulder and found Ratifah looking at me with genuine curiosity.
Feli was surely skilled enough to defeat a “Hero” even on her own.
The issue was—
That they were both not only unscathed, but also showed no sign of exhaustion at all.
As if the battle was completely one-sided and was over with ease.
What bothered me is that I couldn’t explain it, no matter how much I racked my brain.
The “Hero” they defeated was called “Backlash” and had the ability to freely manipulate the wind. He could wrap his own body in wind and achieve incredible speed apparently.
…how many people in this world could overcome such an opponent without a single wound?
A certain person came to mind.
— a girl who could freely manipulate lightning.
『Reverberate — Folgore!!』
For some reason, I imagined the voice of a young woman, Tiara, my old comrade, resounded in my head.
“She could have defeated him with ease, that’s for sure…”
But she wasn’t in this world anymore.
That just wasn’t possible, I told myself, and shook my head.
“— by the way, why is your hair wet?”
I noticed something was unusual with her and pointed it out.
That realization also triggered a certain memory.
Tiara, because of her ability to manipulate lightning, had the habit to wet her hair after fighting. More than a habit, she would wet her hair due to an aftereffect of her ability.
…simply speaking, her hair became all frizzy. She said it was because of static electricity or something.
“They got all tangled during the battle! I cannot show myself in such a disorderly state, can I?”
There was no way…Ratifah wasn’t Tiara, it was impossible. I knew it, and yet her words matched my memories so well.
“…sorry about that.”
I could tell that Ratifah implied that what happened to her and her hair was all my fault, so I had to apologize. I was aware that she was right after all.
“Honestly, Your Highness…you should listen properly to the head maid from now on.”
Ratifah’s wet hair shook left and right as she puffed her cheeks and scolded me.
“I will strive to.”
“Please show it with your actions. But this time I won’t forgive you unless you say it properly! Repeat after me, please: ‘from tomorrow I will do everything Miss Ratifah says.’ Three, two, one, go!”
…as ridiculous as usual.
I sighed at her words, that would leave even a swindler speechless, and refused outright.
“Come on, you could have said it.”
“You don’t know her, Elena. This maid is a terror incarnate.”
Elena chuckled at our exchange, but I had no mercy to spare.
“If I humored her words now, she’d take it like I signed a contract or something, and chase me everywhere to make me do what she wants. Even if she knew it was a joke.”
“Naturally. Once something is said, it has to be upheld until the end. I am prepared to whisper it while you sleep, until you give up and accept it!”
I turned towards Elena, who was looking at us with a warm smile for some reason.
“You two get along so well…”
Her tone was clearly filled with loneliness.
Ratifah continued with no regard to them however.
“Indeed. I have been serving this prince with eyes of dead fish for more than 10 years after all. Our relationship is solid, as robust and impenetrable as the sturdiest ball and chain!”
I never felt more thankful for her lack of delicacy.
“After all, for me His Highness is — hey, please do not look away! You must listen until the end!”
… I don’t want to hear this anymore, I thought as I looked away. Ratifah apparently found such behavior unacceptable, as she protested immediately.
“…well, 20% of that was a joke though.”
Thinking deeply about it would lead to terrible conclusions, I felt, so I shut Ratifah’s existence out of my mind. If she said those things 80% seriously, listening to her any longer would make me go crazy too.
“Anyway, why don’t you go look for those two?”
I turned towards Elena.
By “those two”, I meant Elena’s subordinates, Raem and Ulle.
“…if my predictions are right, they’re both still alive.”
I didn’t see their remains or any signs that pointed to their death.
“If you want to look for them, I can help, but— ”
“ — no, it’s okay. Even if they are still alive…I won’t look for Ulle and Raem.”
Elena interrupted me with words I found completely unexpected.
“He said all those things for my sake, so…”
Raem’s final words for Elena.
— you are an important person…so I want you to live free.
“I knew that I had to get over the past, sooner or later…but Raem was especially unfair. *Just like you, Shizuki*.”
“Just think about it. After what you said, that lady elf couldn’t say anything, could she…I can tell why.”
…I knew what she meant.
Feli scolded me, looking like she was about to cry, but after I dissuaded Elena from her destructive thoughts, she became completely quiet.
“I’m really envious of you though…you have someone like her close to you. Watching you two, I really felt envious — people like that should be treasured.”
I scratched my head, feeling a bit embarrassed. Elena looked at me and smiled. Ratifah, who dramatically pouted and looked away before, now did the same.
… Diestburg’s “Trash Prince”.
I wasn’t ready to declare my infamous nickname a lie yet. I probably never would. I didn’t have any proof that could convince other people, but I was positive of it, for some reason.
I will probably never stop putting myself down.
I won’t stop guilting or mocking myself.
…but even so…
“I’m not going to return the gratitude I receive with nothing…*not anymore*.”
A scene flashed in my head — together with a prayer.
Words I said a long time ago.
If there is someone in this world who would pine for my death…I want to die while they are still here.
I couldn’t say those words now though.
“I’m…trash. A hopeless ‘Trash Prince’. That won’t change. Now or ever. Even so…I haven’t fallen that low yet.”
“…I see. I think you should say that to someone else though…?”
Elena subtly reprimanded me.
“Come on, just go.”
She was the one in need of consolation, but before I realized it our positions reversed.
Prompted by Elena’s words, I looked in the direction her eyes pointed to, and found a familiar face.
Feli was standing close to the door, her usual expression on her face.
“You should say everything you want to…while you can.”
Every time you talk to someone else, it might be the last. I knew that too.
I knew it all too well.
So I stood up and followed Elena’s advice.
I called her name.
Ratifah was looking at me with a wide grin, which irritated me very much, but I continued.
“There’s — something I have to tell you.”
I decided to say it.