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This is What I Call “Victory”
“Hah, how would you like that, little one? Do you know your place now?” Dmitria asked as she looked down the hole.
There, she saw Lyra trying to stand up and brushing off the dirt and dust from herself.
“Dmitria, it’s not over yet. She hasn’t realized what we have in store for her… Poor little one, indeed,” Valerie also looked down the hole and muttered.
“Since I’m not so heartless, let me tell you so you can prepare yourself and your goosebumps. When you fell down the trap we designed for you, you also activated a device that would attract these gross monsters to swarm all over you. Heard they weren’t strong or dangerous, but the yucky feeling… Fufufu,” Briar-Rose said as she looked at Lyra, who didn’t even spare a single glance at them.
“Feeling so down? Now you know your place. I hope we don’t have to see each other again,” Briar-Rose brushed off her hair as she turned back and gestured to her two followers to leave the area.
The three of them were feeling quite proud for having defeated the girl known for her ability.
It wasn’t a battle of power, so they could use their wits to achieve this victory, right?
As they were feeling full of themselves, they let their guards down and didn’t even realize that the ground they were standing on was unstable.
The moment they noticed something was off, the ground was already crumbling.
The three of them screamed in unison, only their pitches were different.
And then, not too long after their screams could be heard, three thuds resounded.
I can barely suppress my laughter as I saw the three of them acting all high and mighty, thinking that I fell to their traps, only to find themselves getting tricked next!
Note to self: Whenever you want to discuss your strategy, make sure to clear people out of the surroundings!
And yes, I happened to have overheard the trio troublemakers discussing their strategy so loudly at the entrance of the cave.
So, I know how they wanted to trap me with the “hole” trap they created beforehand.
And about how…
Disgusting yet harmless monsters will swarm in that hole after you fall right on the “drugged” bed of grasses they prepared!
Basically, they pasted some kind of powder that could attract these monsters.
Therefore, I quickly used my family’s special arts that I had been taught of since I was young.
Time for the Hartmann’s illusionary play!
I created an illusion of myself falling right to their trap, wrapping their perception of space and baited them to fall into their own trap.
I wanted to let them ‘taste their own medicine’, mwahaha!
I am, by no means, evil, nor am I a villain!
It’s just that doing this is actually… kind of fun.
I realized how much I had missed out on life when I was Reinst.
Honestly, if I didn’t know of their strategy, I might have fallen to their trap.
Still, those disgusting monsters… might indeed disgust me as they were like small… ugly and furry spiders with legs like tentacles’, with multiple eyes. It was said that they could crawl on you with their tiny tentacles, sticking to your fingers or arms, then… licking your skin with their long, small tongue.
Though a tiny monster wouldn’t disgust you, imagine being swarmed by them?
Their name was Midefornea.
Heard that their name somehow meant ‘small’, ‘disgusting’, ‘spider’. Didn’t know if it was true or due to someone’s misleading words?
If it were me, I could have done something with my power to stop the swarm of miderfornea. They were quick, but my ice could have blocked them… right?
In any case, there were lots of options for me to prevent them from… laying their disgusting self on me.
As for these girls…
“Hiiii, nooo, go away!!”
As expected, their horrified voices resounded immediately after I heard the sound of bugs swarming.
“H-hey, summon your pet monsters?!”
“I’ve already asked Brioc to come here through the waters, he should be coming here as fast as he could… but, hiii!!”
“Aaaaaah, how can this beee?! Yikesss!!”
I even sensed terror from their voices!
Eventually, I halted my steps.
Will the young girls be traumatized by this experience?
My conscience was asking me.
But they wanted to do the same thing to me, so why bother?
My ‘evil’ or ‘eye-for-an-eye’ heart whispered.
Hey, hey, they didn’t mean any harm to you! Besides, these insignificant mideforneas can easily be warded off by you! It’s different case with them.
My mind was so conflicted.
Amidst my thoughts, the three girls’ horrified voices and shrieks, followed by the noises they made in their attempts to flee or to drive the mideforneas away were heard.
I heaved yet another deep sigh.
Eventually, the conflicting ‘mini me’s in my mind had reached their conclusion.
I turned back and walked towards the noisy cavity in the ground.
After I was so close to the hole, I closed my eyes and concentrated on feeling the surroundings.
I used a magic to detect things, to be more exact.
Then, I confirmed the living beings down there and chanted another magic to separate the mideforneas from the humans.
Invisible barriers were formed around the three young girls’ bodies.
Shortly after that, I froze the mideforneas as I also cast a short-distance teleportation magic to move the three girls from down the rabbit hole to the ground near me.
Everything happened so fast that it didn’t seem to be registered yet in the three girls’ mind.
Phew, at least it was a success!
Using various magic at such a short time was really energy-consuming.
I had to concentrate to make sure everything was done correctly.
In any case, all my hard work and training in magic didn’t betray me!
Though it was harder than your average magic, I didn’t really feel tired. Only felt that it was bothersome.
Anyway, before the trio troublemakers could say anything, I’d better say something to them!
I turned my eyes to look at them, who were kneeling or sitting on the ground in bad state.
Then, I noticed that their eyes were brimming with tears.
Oh my, they were genuinely scared or too disgusted with the mideforneas, such genuine girly girls.
Perhaps I was too valiant? Was it true that power would give you the courage to do things?
In any case, I decided to drop my original idea of harshly scolding them.
Instead, I walked to the one in the middle—their leader, Briar-Rose.
Even if I decided against scolding them, I could still make them feel irritated… for example, making them feel humiliated?
So, I decided to do something that wasn’t quite appropriate for a junior to do to a senior. An act that could be thought of belittling someone else.
I lightly hit her head before I patted her head like a child.
“Oooh, such pitiful little one… So scared of the mideforneas? That’s why, you shouldn’t play with the fire, young lass! You’re still too green to go against me, tsk tsk tsk. If you feel even a tiniest bit of gratitude to me for saving you, then you should behave yourself better, okay? I know you’re a good girl deep inside, so I believe you can do that, right?”
Their sobbing stopped after I said those words.
Valerie raised her face at me as I could see her surprised expression. If she wasn’t speechless due to her fright from before, I bet she’d say, “oh my…?”
Meanwhile, Dmitria also quickly raised her head at me with an even more surprised expression and… irritation, just like what I intended.
Valerie seemed to have seen this turn of events as amusing, as I couldn’t feel any irritation from her.
“H-how dare… you…?! Y… you… Y-you…”
Dmitria, your weak voice didn’t seem to help you convey what I thought you wanted to convey… Stuttering also didn’t help!
Meanwhile, Briar-Rose was still sitting on the ground with her face hung down, so I couldn’t see what expression she had.
I could see her tremble a bit—did I go too overboard?
A-anyway, I had quickly retracted my hand from her after I finished ‘lecturing’ her!!
I unconsciously urged Briar to continue.
“Go, tell her, Boss!” Dmitria also supported Briar-Rose, in hopes that Briar could scold me back.
Alright, I’d better brace myself to whatever was coming.
“Considering the fact that I had saved you—wait, what?!”
I closed my eyes as I was about to sigh and emphasize them that they owed me one and that they should shut up… when I realized I seemed to have… heard something weird from Briar’s mouth…?
I immediately opened my eyes in surprise, only to see Briar-Rose looking up at me with her sparkling eyes.
Aaah, yep, I didn’t seem to have misheard her?
Did she say… [Aneki] with an excited tone?
What is this sudden turn of events?!
Aneki… that could mean ‘older sister’ or something you’d use to refer to someone of a higher-rank in a… gang, right?
And, and… Briar actually called me… ANEKIIII?! Σ(‘◉⌓◉’)
Just what does this mean?!
“Wait, what, Briar… Aneki?!” Dmitria seemed to be so shocked that she didn’t call Briar ‘Boss’ as she’d usually do.
“Well, well, this is…,” Valerie seemed to have regained her composure and amusingly said.
…Perhaps, the two of them instantly sobered up after receiving such a shock from their ‘boss’, Briar-Rose.
Hang on, I’m the one most confused and shocked here, though…?
Before I could even say anything, Briar-Rose quickly approached me (still with her half-sitting on the ground), her two hands grasped my hand immediately.
“W-what?” I was so surprised by this and felt myself taking a step back reflexively.
Anyway, the Briar-Rose in front of me was so different from the arrogant Briar-Rose I remembered.
She was now like a devout fan of… me.
Her sparkling eyes as she looked up at me… If she were a beastman, her tail would be wagging right now.
“Aneki, Briar is wrong! Please accept me to be your follower and guide me well!!”
You, me, wait, what?!
I DIDN’T INTEND TO START A CULT HERE!!
My brain worked hard on trying to figure out what went wrong.
I only said and did that to Briar-Rose in order to irritate her as my way to vent or retaliate, and yet…
How did it turn her switch and make her admire or adore me like so?
“B-B-Briar, snap out of it! What are you talking about?!” Dmitria quickly stood up and asked Briar.
Briar and Valerie finally stood up as well, dusted off any dirt from their clothes, before they faced Dmitria.
“Sister, it’s already obvious,” Valerie said with a meaningful smile.
“Hang on, sister, you’re accepting this without any objection?!”
“Why not? Fufu…”
“Dmitria, listen,” Briar-Rose suddenly changed her tone—from the tone of a child wanting to be pampered—to a strict tone.
“From here on, I shall devote myself to Lyra-aneki. If you object to my decision, then it’s fine for you not to follow me. The same goes for you, Valerie.”
“Oh? No, I shall follow you, too. This seems to be interesting,” Valerie slightly smiled.
“Wait, it’s not like I don’t want to follow you, Briar, but this is too sudden, it’s…!!”
“Sister, come here,” Valerie suddenly pulled Dmitria and whispered something in her ears.
“Eh…?!” Dmitria then looked at Valerie, full of disbelief.
“That’s only my guess, but we will see,” Valerie smiled meaningfully again.
“What are you guys whispering about?” Briar voiced my question.
“Nothing, Briar. Then, it’s a settled matter. Lyra will be our aneki from now on,” Valerie said as she walked to me.
She then smiled and took my hand—kissed it and…
“Please guide us sisters well, Aneki,” Valerie gently said.
“…,” Dmitria also walked to me.
“I have to admit, you’re amazing. As expected of someone who Briar would call [Aneki],” she said as she turned away from me.
…Is she embarrassed?
“Aneki!! Forgive us for our past mistake! We were blind! But from now on, we will be your faithful followers!!” Briar-Rose changed her tone again as she ran to me and grasped my hands.
“Uhm…,” I was too speechless. They didn’t even ask for my opinion and the matter was decided like that?
“But I’m younger than you guys…,” I weakly argued.
“Doesn’t matter, you’re our aneki!” Briar-Rose quickly denied my argument.
“…Does this mean we will be friends?” I asked after I thought that I might not be able to change their opinions on this matter.
“F-f-friends?! We are only your followers…,” Briar-Rose said as she slightly blushed.
“…Nah, I will not agree unless you agree that you’re all my friends,” I sighed.
“A-alright then!” Briar stuttered a bit.
Well, this one can be cute as well, huh?
In any case, I thought that it would be best for me to accept their requests to make me their [Aneki].
First of all, these girls weren’t bad girls in the first place. Only naughty girls?
I need to figure out why they did what they did.
Anyway, since they wanted to [follow] me, then I should be able to guide them to be better people, right?
Though they tried to disturb me and my friends because of their past animosity to me, if they were to be my friends… things would be different, right?
They let me experience something fun, after all.
Aaah, I would explode if I were to think too much about it.
For now, let’s just go with the flow.
I really like how things turn out, after all.
Having more friends won’t hurt anyway, right?
If things turn sour in the future… We can always talk it out, and if a falling out were destined to happen…
Nah, let’s not think about it now.
“Alright, if that’s the case, then will you apologize to all my friends first?” I asked the three girls who were standing in front of me.
“Of course,” Valerie said.
“I will even kneel to apologize!” Briar said without any hesitation.
“Wha… Well, we’re in the wrong, and you won this match, so alright,” Dmitria seemed like she was to object at first, but she quickly changed her mind.
Won…? Ah, I even forgot to do the required victory condition!!
However, with how things turned out, I think… this is what I call ‘victory’…?!
“Alright, let’s get out of here, then,” I said as I turned around and started walking outside.
“Little wyvern, come here, let’s go out,” Dmitria called out to the little wyvern as I could hear it growl and flapped its small wings to Dmitria’s arms.
Meanwhile, Valerie took out a small flute and blew it. When I turned to look at her with a pondering look, she quickly explained to me.
“Brioc can hear my command from far away through this flute.”
I quickly had this “Ah, I see,” expression before I continued to walk outside.
Briar-Rose cheerfully walked beside me as she grabbed my hand and chattered happily.
I asked her about things such as how did the three of them meet and become close, etc.
From there, I knew that they met and became close when they were at Basic Level. As to why the miracle twins decided to befriend Briar—perhaps I should ask this to the two behind me who only smiled silently.
After going outside, we waited for Brioc and Shula to appear.
“Aneki, which ride would you prefer?” Valerie asked me.
“My Shula or Valerie’s Brioc?” Dmitria asked as she caressed her peryton.
“Though my Brioc can’t fly, his speed even on the land is amazing,” Valerie bragged.
“I’m not sure…,” I hesitated. The two options were tempting as it would be my first time riding on such monsters.
“It’s okay, Aneki! Pick one for now, and let’s ride the other one next time… right, Valerie, Dmitria?” Briar suddenly said.
Valerie and Dmitria nodded.
“Then… can I ride on Shula?” I finally decided.
I wanted to look at the adventure field’s condition from the sky, too.
“Sure, come, let’s ride here. I will be behind you,” Dmitria said as she guided me to sit at the spot she wanted me to.
“Can I pat it?” I suddenly asked.
“Sure, why not? Shula will be happy. Right?”
Then, Shula gave a sound of assent.
With that, I rode on Shula with Dmitria while Valerie rode on Brioc with Briar.
Speaking of which, the little wyvern was also riding on Shula with us.
I took the opportunity to caress a peryton and a little wyvern while on the ride.
As we flew, I observed the adventure field.
The water vortex and the forest fire were no longer present, but there were traces of them left.
It seemed that there was no major after-effect, though, which was a good thing.
I gave the direction to the spot where my friends said they would be waiting for me.
And as expected, when they saw me coming back along with the trio troublemakers, they were surprised.
After we landed and seeing how friendly the trio troublemakers (or Briar, to be more exact, as the miracle twins adopted a calmer attitude) towards me, my friends were even more surprised.
I laughed it off as I scratched my head.
“Alright, friends… let me introduce you to… our new friends! You have already known who they are, right? Hehe…,” I said.
“Hi, I’m Briar-Rose! It’s nice to meet you and… please forgive us for our past mistake to you!!” Briar suddenly knelt, like what she told she’d do.
“We sincerely apologize and hope we could get along well from now on, as we have decided to follow Lyra-aneki from now on. Pleased to meet you, my name is Valerie,” Valerie said as she folded her right hand on her chest and half-knelt.
“I apologize for everything up until now. From now on, let’s be sisters and brothers in arms!” Dmitria valiantly said as she cupped her fist and bowed.
“…Wait, what?” Luca was the one who could be this daring to voice this out.
“…Lyra-aneki?” Iris asked.
“Lyr managed to turn them into her subordinates? Way to go, Lyr!” Carbuncle chuckled.
“Lyra… care to explain?” Clavis asked in concern.
“Oh? Lyra managed to befriend her enemies? Enemies becoming friends… Hehe, for some reason, I feel like it’s really your style,” Alt-nii laughed.
“Can I say objection?” Ein puffed his cheek as he added, “smells fishy.”
The trio troublemakers heard Ein’s remark and so…
“No, we sincerely wish to atone for our wrongdoings! We were so blind! I am sincerely devoted to following Aneki from now on! I will also help her date Prince Erneste!” Briar-Rose quickly added.
I was the first one to turn around at Briar, staring at her with face full of disbelief.
THIS IS NEW, YOU NEVER TOLD ME ANYTHING ABOUT IT!!
And immediately after that…
Not only me, but I heard several voices saying that at the same time as I did.
“Eh? But didn’t Aneki accept our challenge so we wouldn’t meddle in her business with Prince Erneste? I personally think that if someone has to stand next to our Aneki, it would be the perfect school prince, Erneste,” Briar tilted her head to one side.
“Prince Erneste and Lyra-aneki… Yes, you two would make a good pair,” Valerie said.
“True, if someone can be with Lyra-aneki, then it should be someone as good as Prince Erneste!” Briar added.
“Wait, wait, there seems to be a misunderstanding…,” I felt that I would be having headache for the rest of the day.
I accepted their challenge in the first place so they would stop bugging me and my friends.
As for Erneste… I honestly don’t feel anything special to him, for now.
And I should applaud these girls for their very sudden turn in affection!
From “nobody is more suited to be with Prince Erneste other than Briar” to “Our Aneki should be with a perfect charming prince, and that is Erneste”!
In conclusion, no one among the three girls were seriously in love with Erneste, they only felt admiration?
Then, I became a person they adored or admired, so it would be natural in their minds for the two people they admired to get together?
“That guy is fishy,” Luca commented.
“How fishy?” Valerie raised her eyebrow in response to Luca’s words. Rather than denying Luca’s words, it seemed to me that she was more curious on why Luca said so.
“Big Sis Lyra should be with me!” Ein suddenly declared.
“What? Lyra-aneki with a junior like youuu?” Briar asked in disbelief.
Then, an argument between the two came to light.
Despite being the youngest here, Ein’s words were eloquent and his arguments were strong. As expected of the future heir of the Loera family.
In the end, Dmitria also backed Briar up.
I touched my forehead in confusion.
It seems that I have to explain lots to them…
Suddenly, I felt my sleeves being tugged at.
I turned around to see Iris.
“Lyra, you sure about this?”
“Hm, why, Iris?”
“I mean, making them our friends?” Iris hesitantly said.
“…I don’t see any trouble for now. Having more friends is good, right? They don’t seem to be bad girls and they seem to listen to what I say… so for now, let’s wait and see?” I quickly voiced my thoughts.
“I see… I wonder if we really can get along well?” Iris anxiously asked.
“For one, I think you and Valerie would do fine. As for Briar and Dmitria, well, we will see.”
Valerie is the calmest out of them all.
Dmitria can be impulsive and very tomboy, but she doesn’t seem to be a bad girl.
Briar can be domineering, but now, she is my ‘follower’ and I am her ‘aneki’.
I tried to ask them to change their way to address me back there, but they refused.
I wanted to explain things to the trio troublemakers and my friends before our adventure class session ends, but for now, I looked up at the sky and took a deep breath.
I have more friends now.
I wonder what the future will hold for me with the trio troublemakers as my friends?
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