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“I don’t like you if you’re like this!!”
Such were the words that Iris, my very first female friend in this lifetime, spoke to me before she suddenly seemed to be caught off-guard by her own words that she left just like that.
Meanwhile, I was still rooted on the spot. I didn’t even need a mirror to see how I looked like. I must be looking like I was very surprised.
Iris was emotional. I could tell that. She usually held back on her own feelings and was a very, very sweet child.
But the words spoken when one was emotional should be the truest words, right?
That, I totally didn’t expect…
It seemed that I had bad ability in assessing people. Whether it was in my past life, as Reinst—how I rejected Clyde and Nicole who sincerely wanted to be close to me.
And in this lifetime… Erneste. Then, I caused a rift between Domi and Adel… I didn’t even know what happened of them after that. No, I was too afraid to find out more about them. I didn’t know if I would be strong enough to face the truth.
I realized Iris was quieter than she was before—for quite some time already. However, each time I asked her about it, she would smile and said that it was nothing. If only I could press her even further at that time, instead of brushing it off with an “Oh…”.
…I was a bad friend.
I am a bad friend.
I hurt Iris without me knowing.
When I imagined I was in Iris’ position—an ordinary girl with nothing I could boast of—surrounded by lots of talented people, I’d definitely feel like I was in a different world from them, I would even go away from them.
How excruciating would it be for her?
And yet, I hadn’t done anything…
I am so ashamed of myself.
Though I kept telling myself that I had so much advantage as I was a reincarnated person, it turned out that I hadn’t really improved.
In my past life, I was also bad at social relationship.
So far, my relationships with people around me were good. It was kinda smooth sailing. Perhaps since I was a child.
But we had grown up, so the relationships would turn more complex.
…I honestly didn’t have any advantage in terms of it.
How should I behave myself?
How can I be a better person who could retain good relationships with other people?
Could it be because I didn’t really apply the ‘social mask’ I had when I was Reinst?
But ever since I was reborn as Lyra, I felt like it was a wrong solution somehow.
…I really wish I could discuss about this with anyone else, but there was practically no one whom I could talk to.
I just… didn’t know what I should do anymore.
When I snapped out of my thoughts, I realized that Carbuncle was standing in front of me with several snacks on her hands.
I tried covering my seemingly unsightly expression before, but for some reason, I had a hunch that Carbuncle had already known the whole thing.
“…About Little Sheep…”
“She went that way while being emotional… I’m worried about her, but she probably doesn’t want to see me for the moment. Can you go after her and make sure she is fine?”
“I will be fine. I also need some time alone,” I tried to force myself to smile. I wanted more time to myself—to calm myself.
There was no way I could remain calm and go to the others to watch Ein’s competition. I felt sorry for Ein, but I didn’t want to have the others questioning me.
“…,” Carbuncle remained silent as she was looking at me with a probing gaze.
“Okay, then. I’ll go after her. You be careful too, Lyr,” she said as she turned around to chase after Iris.
“Yeah, thanks. I’ll be fine as I’m quite strong, Kuu. But Iris is another thing,” I said as I called her by the nickname Ein gave her.
“Mhm, you guys are still weaker compared to us dragons,” Carbuncle said before she ran at a high speed.
If it was the usual, I would be worried and shouted at her—to be careful not to bump into people and get injured (or injure them, to be more precise).
But I just couldn’t seem to bring the mood to do that. I only saw Carbuncle off until her figure could no longer be seen.
I sighed before I turned to find myself some place with less people so I could just sit and ponder over life.
The place that came to my mind was the area near the chapel.
As I walked there, the mysterious angelic child, Noia, crossed my mind. Along with her incomprehensible words.
I wonder if I would meet her again if I were to go to the chapel?
Before long, I arrived at the area with little to no people. I had guessed this area to be quite deserted as there were many huge competitions and events being held at this time of the day. I could still hear the noises of the people from this place. The further I walked away, the further their cheers and other noises could be heard.
When I arrived in front of the chapel, I tried opening the door as usual. The door was quite hard to be opened as usual, but it opened in the end, revealing… the empty chapel.
Since it was in the afternoon, the lights were off, and I didn’t know why, but I suddenly felt afraid. I didn’t realize this area would be eerie before. Perhaps it was because the other time I went here, there were still people nearby and I could hear their noises even if it was so weak. But now, it was just silence.
“Noia…?” I called weakly, but there was no response at all.
Hence, I decided to walk inside to see if there really was no one here. The candles’ light illuminated the room along with the sunlight that was from the open door.
As my eyes got used to seeing inside the chapel, I came to realize that it was quite empty here. Noia’s presence couldn’t be seen.
I sighed as I felt my hope getting crushed. I kinda hoped she would be here. For some reason, I felt like I could feel calmer if I were to meet her.
But since there was no one here, I figured I should just find a comfortable place to sit outside the chapel. Sitting alone inside the chapel didn’t seem like a good idea to me.
After getting out of the chapel, I closed the door with a bit of effort. Upon doing so, I turned around to look at some place to sit and reflect—
…Hooray to me. I was too absorbed in my mind that I didn’t notice there was somebody there and I bumped into that person.
“I’m sorry!” I immediately apologized.
“No, it’s my fault, too…”
Since I was bowing to the person I bumped into, I could infer from their voice that I bumped into a boy.
Sure enough, when I lifted my face, a teenager boy was standing in front of me. He was taller than me, perhaps he was around Erneste or even Alt-nii. I couldn’t see his face clearly as he was also bowing and more importantly, he was wearing a hoodie that covered his head.
Perhaps sensing that I was trying to peer into his face, the boy seemed to shy away and turned his face around.
“You are not hurt anywhere, are you?” I shifted the topic back.
“No, I’m fine…,” he answered back.
I sighed in relief. I was thinking that perhaps he was angry or what…
“Do you want to enter the chapel?” I asked.
Greeted with silence, I decided to add into the conversation… for courtesy.
“Well, as you can see, it’s not locked. I was just from there. Then, I won’t bother you anymore…,” I excused myself as I walked away from the boy.
But then, he suddenly called out to me, so I halted my step.
“Yes?” I turned around to look at the boy who had his back facing me. Both of his hands were put in his hoodie’s pocket.
“Is something bothering you?”
His sudden question surprised me greatly.
“…Was it written all over my face?”
“You looked distraught when you bumped into me. Was I on point?” He bluntly said, without even adding any small talk.
“Well, that is true. Something has been bothering my mind these days, and I was too engrossed in my thoughts, so I bumped into you before,” I explained vaguely.
“I see… Is that so…,” the boy said with a weak voice before he went into silent.
Seeing that the boy didn’t seem to be interested in continuing this talk, I turned around after quietly saying, “Well then, see you around…”
I still wanted to think about my problems by myself, so I am not in the mood to talk with another person, much less befriend a stranger.
Again, the boy called. I was surprised and turned around in reflex—but then I was very surprised to feel someone’s hands on my uniform’s collar.
The boy didn’t seem to be strong, but he managed to lift me using just his right hand. Though it wasn’t that high, but it was enough to make my feet floating on the ground.
“What are you…,” I gasped as I tried to grab his hand and make him drop me.
However, he extended his fingers to grab my neck and pressed into it. It caused a difficulty in breathing, and as such, I couldn’t really control my hands to attack him back.
He then moved me closer to him before he extended his left hand and covered my eyes. Along with that, the pressure he applied on my neck was loosening.
“What are you—”
“Now is the time… -eria,” the boy muttered something I couldn’t comprehend and hear really well.
But after he said that, I felt a frightening presence creeping from his hand to me. Just as I felt that this presence would soon invade me, I felt a sense of warmth and felt that it repelled the frightening presence from coming at me.
Although I was unable to see anything under this condition, I could sense that the presence kinda went back to the boy—it felt like the presence was a snake coiling around.
“Tch!! You actually had received the blessing from that sham deity?!” The boy’s voice turned malicious as he clicked his tongue.
“Hahaha…. HAHAHAHA!! Very well!! Very well!! That is how you want to play, although you’re nothing more than her replacement!”
The boy turned mad. I had breathed enough air, but for some reason, I found my body unable to move.
His words after the maniacal laugh—I thought they were directed to me, but I also felt like he was actually speaking to someone else. Or was he referring to ‘that sham deity’? What did he mean? I didn’t get it…
A deity that was a sham… or a deity that was a replacement… There was no tale of such deity.
“Then, this should do it,” the boy said as he strengthened his grip on me again. Both the hand that touched my collar and the hand that covered my eyes.
It felt suffocating. Was it because he choked on me?
But it was so, so suffocating… my breath was heavy. No, it was like my head turned really heavy.
What did he do?
I almost resigned myself to this fate when I sensed the same warmth coming from my body. The warmth was only a little, as it immediately dissolved the moment I felt my limbs regaining their power.
Using the power that I regained, I grabbed the boy’s hand that was on my collar, moved it a bit, and bit it strongly.
“Gah!” The boy reflexively let go of me, as I immediately fell into the ground.
The ground was full of grasses, so it didn’t hurt…
But for some reason, my body still felt heavy and hot…
When I opened my eyes, I could see my necklace—the one with the moonstone that Mom gave me—right before my eyes. However, I found the jewel already broken to pieces.
Was it because of the impact from my fall? Or was it the boy’s doing?
“You dare!” The boy was furious.
Wait, in the first place, why did you attack me?
One of my hand was on the chapel’s wall in order to support me standing up. I used my other hand to touch the ground and helped me stand up.
As soon as I stood back up on my two feet, I saw the boy stomping his feet towards me.
Crap. My body somehow felt weird, although I wanted to fight him back…
Just when I thought my life would really be in danger in the hands of this weird boy—
I heard a familiar voice.
Aah, I’m saved.