The Breaking of the Engagement
Veena Lilyfall was at her wit’s end.
How had things come to this?
Summoned to the Great Hall of the Creatio School for Magic, and surrounded by her peers, she had been singularly denounced. Despite her thoughts beginning to grow frantic with emotion, she tried to recall the cruel acts she was accused of committing.
However, those memories simply didn’t exist.
Why was such a thing happening now? The reason was beyond her comprehension. Neither did she feel the pang of a guilty conscience.
Such were that girl’s inner feelings.
“You still don’t understand? You wretched harlot.”
The man who stood at the center of the scene spoke venomously. Veena knows that man all too well. With a beautiful head of blonde hair and the gracefulness of a cat, the person who calmly walked forth was called Arnight Lafalis.
The second prince of the Kingdom of Lafalis, and Veena’s betrothed.
“Arnight-sama, I truly do not understand. Why do you seek to humiliate me like this? To see me scorned in the public eye, what could you possibly stand to gain from it?”
“Gain? Well, that certainly is the type of word you would use, always trying to claw their way up whilst dragging someone else down. How pitiful you aristocrats are.”
“…Are you insulting me? I cannot ignore a slight like that, even if it comes from a member of the royal house. I demand that you withdraw your statements.”
“It’s the honest truth. Right, Mina? This woman belittled and harassed you for her own gain didn’t she?”
As Arnight said that, the girl named Mina Yukishiro emerged from behind his back. A girl with black eyes, and hair as black as a raven’s. She was not the most beautiful of girls, but she had an ambiguous charm that radiated from her.
“Yes, Arnight-sama. I was harshly harangued by her… Or rather, by the ones who followed her orders.”
Veena tilted her head to one side in confusion. Of course, she doesn’t remember any of this.
There was absolutely no reason why she would harass this girl. She didn’t know the thoughts of the other aristocratic students at the school, but Veena had no particular dislike for her.
In fact, she had actually come to respect this commoner girl who had entered Creatio on a scholarship and defeated her in the initial mock battles, going on to hold the title of the top student into their senior year.
How would anyone harass such a person?
“Surely this is some kind of mistake?”
“No, there is no mistake, you heard her yourself. I also talked to these girls.”
This time, a group of girls Veena had never seen before emerged.
(Who are they? I do not know any of these people.)
It’s the truth. She has no memory of any of these girls. She doesn’t even know if they’re the same age as her, one of her juniors or someone who had already graduated. Then, almost as one, the girls begin to hurl their accusations at Veena.
“Don’t be ridiculous! We were only following along with your whims!”
“Are you just going to forsake us!?”
“You’re so cruel… You can’t just hoist the blame on us and run away alone.”
Veena shrugged. She can’t pretend to know what is completely unknown to her. Even if you say such things, it’s hard to feel troubled.
“Well? Is that not enough for you?”
Even if she were to admit to these imagined crimes, the facts wouldn’t change. Before Veena could answer, the boy standing next to Arnight stepped forward and spoke.
“As a member of the esteemed Lilyfall family, you should know when to admit defeat. Simply struggling in vain is only going to bring more shame to our family than you already have done, even you should understand this.”
This person was none other than Veena’s younger brother, Glenn Lilyfall. A beautiful man with dark hair standing taller than any other in the room, he stared at his sister with a pair of red eyes that were unique to the Lilyfall family.
“She must have acted the way she did in order to dispose of people getting too close to the Second Prince.”
Ah, so that’s how it is. All the pieces are beginning to come together.
It seems that the basis of the fiction is as follows.
Veena had jealously lashed out and attempted to get rid of anyone who approached the Second Prince and her fiancée, Arnight. That’s probably how it is.
Why would they be perpetuating this farce?
It couldn’t be the plotting of my younger brother, why would he seek to plaster the Lafalis family name in mud and bring such trouble to all our relatives?
No, this isn’t Glenn’s plot, but the plot of the fiancée. It’s for that reason so many of students had gathered.
It really did sting.
“…I see. I can only confess my innocence.”
Even as Veena attempted to defend herself, Arnight scoffed mercilessly.
“How utterly shameless. There is no question of your guilt. We’ve heard more than enough testimony against you.”
Testimony, was it? Oh dear, I think my fiancée might be a bit slow.
Veena smiled bitterly, despite herself.
Only a fool would accept testimony without any supporting evidence whatsoever.
(I knew he was a fool, but I didn’t think he was this ignorant.)
Not once since their betrothal did the pair hold any feelings for each other. It was an arranged marriage intended to let them use each other for political gain, love was never a part of the deal.
And as Arnight would use Veena, so too would she leverage his position.
She had never once seen Arnight as anything more than that, and she was sure the feeling was mutual.
This is simply par the course for the nobility. If anything, the idea of two lovers being bound together was on the level of fantasy. Despite all this, Arnight has decided to break this mutual interest and put together such a pantomime act. Truly, the height of folly.
However, overcoming this particular situation could prove to be challenging.
With the way things are going, any arguments from either side will be ultimately fruitless, and if things come to a head it will be up to the majority in the hall to decide the course of justice.
In order to prove her innocence, she would have to present evidence showing she had never partaken in such crimes. A devil’s proof, something impossible for her to simply have on hand.
(How can I overcome this? Or rather, is there any reason to overcome it? If I’m to be publicly shamed in front of the masses, and have my engagement voided, perhaps I could enjoy a simpler life?)
Veena sighed. Until now her life had been solely for the sake of her family.
However, even if she is truly innocent, she will inevitably be cast aside by the Lilyfall family in order to save face. There would be no way to persuade them otherwise.
“Is there any evidence for these accusations?”
In the face of Veena’s argument, Arnight declared “There are witness testimonies. They are evidence enough.”
Testimony without any conclusive evidence…
It’s as if he cannot comprehend the idea of a lie.
Veena was truly amazed.
She wondered how many people had conspired to lay her low like this, perhaps the majority of people in this crowd?
Glancing around the hall, Mina let out a panicked yelp when Veena’s eyes settled on her.
How terrible, even eye contact frightened her to such a degree…
Trying to recover from the shock, Veena smiled bitterly, but a sharp pain suddenly erupted on her cheek.
At first, she didn’t understand what had happened. But immediately she began to understand.
She had been struck.
With all of his power, he had swung at her.
Arnight had been the one to deliver the blow to Veena.
It doesn’t seem real. Never had this seemed possible. Was it not enough that she was already been falsely accused and scorned in the public eye? Veena collapsed to the floor, stunned, holding her injured cheek. It ached dully.
Even amongst this crowd, no one expected this level of violence. Even Mina and Glen stood shocked, their eyes wide.
It hurts. It really hurts.
She had never been beaten like this before. Not by my father, or by either of my brothers.
“Never show yourself in my presence again.”
Veena was too preoccupied with her injury to pay full attention to the words he was speaking.
(Why are you looking at me with such eyes?
What could I possibly have done to deserve this?
I didn’t do anything. I truly am innocent. However, these pleas would not be heard by the man looking down on her coldly.)
When Veena finally managed to regain her composure, she noticed that the Second Prince had unsheathed his blade. Ah, I see. He means to condemn me here and now.
Nobody can stop this now. No, on the contrary, it seemed that many in the audience were looking on with anticipation. This is to be where I die, Veena thought, and began to resign herself.
“You damned fool. Prepare to atone.”
The Second Prince coldly said, sword aloft. But, before it fell, one person in the crowd baying for Veena’s death spoke up.
“What are you doing?”
The voice echoed through the hall.
Its timbre reverberated powerfully, despite its youthful tone.
Veena recognized that voice. And she wasn’t the only one to do so either. Everyone in that hall knew it well.
“Yua, huh?” Don’t interrupt me right now.”
The girl’s voice had a sharp edge to it.
“I was merely asking a question What are you doing?”
The voice that had cut through the throng belonged to a young girl. The girl with flowing silver hair stepped forward onto the scene as if walking through a pleasant field.
Her name was Yua Lafalis.
The third in line to the Kingdom of Lafalis and the younger sister of Prince Arnight. The Princess of this country, in other words.
(Again? What will happen this time?
I wonder if she’s come to denounce me on behalf of her elder brother.)
Veena derides herself, ignoring her desperate situation for a moment. However, the words I heard next were completely unexpected.
Are you deaf, Second Brother? What are you doing to Veena-sama?”
Eh? Whatever could that mean?
This girl, Yua, she is Arnight’s younger sister.
And for some reason she’s standing in front of Veena as if to shield her, glaring at Arnight.
The situation was moving far too rapidly, Veena couldn’t keep up.
“Yua, I’ll say this one more time. Do not interfere.”
“Me? Interfere? Please don’t play games with me.”
The anger can be heard bubbling in her voice. The words are tinged with passion. This is the first time she had heard Yua speak like this. Veena had always seen Yua as the picture of innocence, a shy and reserved young lady.
What could drive her to such passion?
Perhaps, for my sake…?
The thought comes to mind, but she immediately dismissed it.
No, it’s not even a thought worth entertaining.
Perhaps she simply couldn’t stand seeing her brother raise her hand against another woman?
“…Yua. This woman is pulling the wool over your eyes. When it comes to this wretched woman… please come to your senses.”
“Say one more word, and I will never forgive you.”
The atmosphere in the hall froze over. The students shivered at the delivery of Yua’s threat. Her voice washing over the hall is indistinguishable from a wave of magical power.
It was as white as a fresh snow. Energy began palpitating from Yua, distorting the air around her with complex magic.
This is bad. At this rate, Yua’s magical energy could run amok.
“Yua-sama, don’t do it!”
Veena attempted to bring the situation under some semblance of control, but she’s immediately undercut by that fool of a fiancée.
“So this is how it is. Why go to such lengths to defend this woman?”
He says, and the hangers-on around him laugh.
He really is a stupid man. If Yua’s magic power really does go out of control, there’s no telling just how badly things could end up.
(I have to do something quickly…)
Seeing no other option, Veena moved forward and gripped Yua’s waist tightly.
“Please stop! Anymore more than this and-!”
As she raised my voice, she unintentionally spoke as if I was just addressing an old friend.
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
Despite the situation, I meekly apologize.
She’s royalty, whereas Veena is merely a Lord’s daughter.
(Even though I am already in this desperate situation, I don’t want to somehow make it any worse.)
Veena removed her hands from Yua’s waist.
And as she did so, Veena’s back seemed to give out.
“Funyaaa”, such a cute sound left Yua’s lips.
“I was touched by Veena-sama…”
Yua writhed on the floor, her face bright red. Oh, is that the case? She dislikes being touched?
Such is how Veena interpreted the situation.
She also noticed that the out of control magical energy had subsided.
“Yua, you mean to resist your elder brother? I cannot even comprehend what foolish reasons you could have for doing this.”
Arnight said coldly. Certainly, his words carry weight. He is second in line to the throne, only behind his brother Euberto. Despite this, Yua laughed derisively through her nose.
“You truly are hopeless, brother. It’s a sad thing to not understand one’s own incompetence. Do you truly think you were able to outwit our eldest brother?”
Yua is referring to Prince Euberto. The most intimidating obstacle in the Second Prince Arnight’s struggle for the throne. Arnight had unsuccessfully attempted to plot against Euberto once before, to undermine his position in the eyes of the Kingdom’s vassals and citizens.
“What do you mean?”
“If you don’t know, it’s fine to just stay quiet. Besides, Second Brother won’t be able to do anything once Eldest Brother arrives.”
Yua takes Veena’s hand and makes her way towards the exit.
“Veena-sama, let’s go.”
Not stopping to talk, and whilst ignoring Arnight’s bellowing voice echoing behind them, the two walked out of the hall together.
Or rather, Yua forcibly escorted me out of the hall.
I wonder what will become of us now?
With that question still hanging over them, they continued on.