※Told from Misha Yule’s perspective.

Only shortly after we returned to the capital, something unbelievable happened.
It wasn’t that Rei and Claire-sama had found out about Yuu-sama’s secret… There had been an attempt on Yuu-sama’s life.
Fearing a scandal, the royal palace had suppressed any information of the incident from the public, but I heard the particulars through family connections.
As I had explained to Rei before, House Yule had responsibilities to help protect Yuu-sama’s secret.

The attempt happened during one of Yuu-sama’s visits to an orphanage.
On that day, a former nun happened to be visiting the orphanage and suddenly assaulted Yuu-sama with poison-laced daggers.
The name of the poison was of course―cantarella.
Not the newer variant that Louis used, but the older variant that had been used in Sein-sama’s assassination atempt.

Due to the type of poison used, there were suspicions of the Empire’s involvement.
However, because the nun who had made the attempt on Yuu-sama’s life herself did not seem to remember anything about the incident, the details were still in the dark.

There were a couple of details from the witness testimonies that stood out to me.
First, prior to the incident there were signs that the perpetrator was somehow being manipulated or controlled.
Second, the perpetrator was originally a very gentle and quiet girl, and yet, for some reason, on that day they were suddenly overwhelmingly cheerful, almost like they were a different person.
Third, when they attacked Yuu-sama, they did so with a proficiency and poise with the blade that they had never once shown before.

These details had come directly from witnesses from the same monastery, or as part of the military’s investigation, but when they came to my attention, I couldn’t help but think…

―There is another person close to me that matches this description.

I didn’t need to think long about who.
It was my best friend―Rei Taylor.
Ever since coming to the royal academy… After the very morning of the entrance ceremony, she had practically transformed into a different person.

She was previously absentminded and had a quiet personality, and though she had always been a quick thinker, she never devoted any of that to her studies, her etiquette should have been that of a regular commoner as well.
Her outstanding magical aptitude was the only reason she stood as the class valedictorian for the transfer students, it certainly was not her smarts or her understanding of etiquette.
And yet, somehow, she was now one of the five smartest students in the entire academy.
On top of that she possessed a level of etiquette that went far beyond that of a regular commoner.
Her personality had also flipped to being super pro-active, and, especially in matters pertaining to Claire-sama, she appeared to be an entirely different person.

“… Could it be that the same thing happened to Rei?”

Even while thinking that couldn’t be possible, my doubts never went away.
Too many factors had lined up for me to be able to dismiss the conclusion as a result of my overactive imagination.
Rei was relatively close to Yuu-sama.
Though none of that seemed to be intentional on Rei’s part, her disposition could have all been an act that had taken Yuu-sama’s twisted personality into account.

“But..
If Rei were an assassin, she would’ve already had numerous chances to strike”

All the students attending the academy had gone through proper background checks, so Yuu-sama would be much more vulnerable at the academy than outside of it.
If it were Rei’s intent to harm Yuu-sama, then she would have had a better opportunity before this incident.

“… Now that I mention it, I can’t understand why the perpetrators chose to strike now either.”

Perhaps the circumstances behind whoever was targeting Yuu-sama had changed.
There was a chance that something had happened that forced their hand, to want to dispose of him―no, her, as soon as possible.
But in that case, Rei too…

“I wonder if I should… Report her to the military.”

If I thought of Yuu-sama’s safety, that was likely for the best.
In the worst case, even if I had just been overthinking things, Rei would simply be released once the suspicions were cleared.
She may hate me afterward, but that was all.

As those thoughts spun in my mind,

“I’m home~”

Rei returned to our room.
Her fatigue was apparent on her face.
Seeing as she was still in her maid uniform, she had likely returned from Claire-sama’s room.
Before I could realize it, the day was already coming to an end.

“… Welcome home.”
“Welp, bedtime~”
“Hey, just a moment, Rei.
At least change your clothes first.”
“I’m tired so who cares…”

And, just like that, Rei collapsed on her bed and fell asleep.

“…”

All while entirely unaware of the suspicions I harbored toward her, she was so carefree.

“Really, this girl, just how can she be so defenseless around me…”

As I watched over Rei’s innocent, almost childlike face as she slept, I felt my desires to file a report her fade away.
I began to feel that it would be better to watch over things just a little longer.

“I want to trust her… But there are some things that I have to confirm.”

I went to open Rei’s closet and grabbed her pajamas so I could change her clothes as she slept.

 ◆◇◆◇◆

My chance to clear things up with Rei came more quickly than I had expected.

“Hey, Misha?”
“What is it?”

The next night, again in our room, as I was writing at my desk, Rei called out to me.

“Wanna renounce the world and devote yourself to nunhood?”
“… What?”

As if by reflex, I turned to face Rei.
Rei lay on her bed with only her eyes directed toward me.

“Just what are you saying so suddenly?”
“Wanna?”
“Of course not.”
“That so~”

I couldn’t quite grasp what Rei was getting at.
Especially with all the suspicions I had spiraling around in my mind, I didn’t really know how to deal with her right now.
For the time being I decided to just pretend I never heard anything.

“But you know, if you do… You could be with Yuu-sama, how about now?”
“… What do you mean?”
“Did that catch your attention?”

I tried to refocus on what I was writing, but I knew it was impossible.
Now that I knew Yuu-sama was relevant to the conversation, all of my attention was on Rei.

“Rei, just what are you thinking?”
“About my best friend’s happiness.”
“Don’t try to play it off.”
“But I’m not.”

With an exaggerated grunt like that of an elderly lady struggling to get up, Rei sat up on her bed.

“We might still be able to do something about Yuu-sama’s body.”
“How?”
“How, would just be the same as I said before.”

I already heard that both Rei and Claire-sama had learned of Yuu-sama’s secret.
I had also heard that the opposite sex disease could be cured by using one of the Church’s holy artifacts.
However, that wasn’t the problem at hand.

“You know that’s not what I mean, how do you intend to convince the palace?”
“Well, we won’t.”
“Huh?”

I doubt my ears.
Just how did she intend to grant Yuu-sama’s wish without convincing the palace?

“What and how do you intend to do anything then?”

“Shock therapy.”
“… Another one of your good for nothing schemes then.”
“You’re putting it so negatively.”

She spoke in protest, but I already knew there was no way that this shock therapy that Rei proposed could ever be a respectable method.

“So you see―”

Rei gave me a brief explanation outlining what she meant by shock therapy.
During the upcoming Offering Dance, we would expose the fact that Yuu-sama was actually female to the entire kingdom.
It would become widespread knowledge among the masses, and thus become an established fact.

“You… Just how crazy do your ideas get.”
“But I really think this is our only choice if we want to do something.”
“If it gets out that you were involved in all this, you’ll be executed, you know that, right?”
“I know, I’ll make things go well.”
“…”

Two opposing feelings rose up from within me.
The desire to believe in and trust Rei, and the doubts and suspicions that told me that I couldn’t.

“Why are you willing to go so far?”
“Didn’t I already say? It’s all for you, my best friend.”
“That’s more a lie than the truth, isn’t it.”
“Not, it’s the truth.”
“You’re lying.
Besides, you don’t even see me as your best friend.”

I mean, you’ve changed so much.
In response to my words, Rei seemed to deflate.

“Why would you say something so mean?”
“Because you’re not the Rei Taylor that I once knew.”

Now that it had come to this, I decided that I should just confront her with my suspicions.
If this was where it all ended, I suppose that was all that I was meant to be.

My question had visibly thrown Rei off balance… Could it be?

“W-What are you saying, Misha?”
“From the day of the opening ceremony, right? I think that’s probably when you were no longer yourself.”
“!”

My words had struck a chord, it was written all over Rei’s face.

“You had always been a little strange, but you were still more or less within what I would expect of a commoner, at least until that day.
But after that, you clearly became a different person.”

I decided to press even further.

“At first I thought that you might’ve been having something like an identity crisis after the sudden change in environment… But I don’t think even that can explain everything that’s happened, and beyond that, there’s been no sign that you’d return to how you were even now that things have settled.
I’m convinced you’ve just become a different person.”
“Misha, do you really understand what you’re saying right now?”
“I understand how ridiculous it all sounds, I do… But this was the only explanation that made sense to me.”

I myself knew that what I was saying made no sense.
But even then I felt a certain conviction and confidence that my hypothesis had at least partly gleaned the truth.

“Hey, tell me… Who are you? And where did my best friend, Rei Taylor, go?”

In the face of my question, Rei appeared to be in pain.

“I am… Rei Taylor.”
“… Is that your response? In that case, I’m sorry, but I refuse to go along with your schemes.
I ask that you refrain from doing anything that would put Yuu-sama’s life in danger.”

When I put my foot down, Rei breathed a heavy sigh as though she had given up on something.

“Okay, okay.
I give.
But I really don’t think you’ll believe me…”
“I’ll be the one to decide that.”
“… You’re right.
Alright, I’ll talk.
This might sound really crazy, but I’ll tell you the truth.”
“Go on.”

What Rei told me was actually very surprising.

She told me that she had memories of living in another world.
She told me that this world was likely the stage for something called a video game in that other world.
Rei told me that she had been reborn as the heroine of that game.
She said that she was struggling, even now, to save Claire-sama.
Just as she had said, it all sounded crazy, but I decided to listen to the very end.

“So you’re saying that this world is just the stage of a… video game?”
“Could I ask you to believe me?”
“… Honestly, it’s all too strange and difficult to believe… So simply put, your world is much more technologically advanced than ours, right?”

After that, I confronted her with any doubts that I had toward her story.
Rei’s explanation was at times difficult to understand, and some parts were entirely beyond me, but overall I couldn’t find any contradictions.

“… So, you’re saying that you’re Rei Taylor, but also not Rei Taylor?”
“Yes, that’s pretty much it.
I do have Rei Taylor’s memories as well, but the original me is mixed in with her, and I think that’s why you see me as a different person.”
“…”

For some time I remained silent, absorbed in my thoughts.
Should I believe her? Or rather, was it okay to believe her? Though I did feel some hesitation, there were some parts of her story that I just couldn’t overlook.

“So you’re telling me that one day in this world, there will be a revolution?”
“Yup.”
“And when that happens, the royal palace will be no more.”
“That’s right.”
“… I see.
In that case, I’ve decided.”

I corrected my posture and faced Rei.

“I’ll cooperate with your plans, and I’ll believe what you said.”

The moment I said that, Rei collapsed right back onto her bed.

“H-Hey, wait, Rei!”
“I’m so glad…”
“Were you really that nervous?”
“I mean of course I would be.
If you didn’t believe me, I’d literally just be seen as insane.”
“I suppose that’s true.”

After a short pause for emphasis, I continued,

“A lot of what you’ve said lines up with things that have happened.”

“Like?”
“Like your grades.
Really, you never were the type to do well with your studies.”
“Urghー, what a disgraceful reason to have someone to trust meー”
“There are other reasons too.
Like the way you were able to treat the Naa Empire’s poison.”
“Ah, cantarella, right.
Yeah, that was one moment where I was really grateful I reincarnated with my memories”

No one knew anything about Cantarella’s composition, despite that, Rei was able to treat Sein-sama even as the poison ravaged him.

“But really, I’m glad that you chose to trust me.
You’re surprisingly open minded Misha.”
“What do you mean surprisingly? And if you really think about it, I don’t think your story is actually that outlandish to the people of this world.”
“What do you mean?”
“You mentioned that your world had science, or whatever, and because of that, being reincarnated would be considered unscientific, but this world has magic, and isn’t that already unscientific in and of itself?”
“… Ah…”
“And in actuality, this world has legends surrounding The Spirit’s Lost Children.”
“Ah, that’s right, there was something like that wasn’t there.”

The Spirit’s Lost Children was a legend that had been passed down from ancient times.
Every now and then, people of unknown origin would somehow wander their way into this world.
In addition, these people would often hold a special power.

“You’re just the same, aren’t you?”
“Yeah.”

The special power that she possessed as a Lost Child must have been her abnormal magic capacity.

“That really explains a lot.
Thank you for telling me, Rei.”
“I’m glad I was able to get that off my chest too.
My heart rate really did spike though.”
“Really? Then it must’ve quite the ordeal when you explained it to your parents then.”
“Eh?”
“Eh, wait… Could it be that you still haven’t told your parents?”

As Rei gave me a blank look, I couldn’t help but hold my head in frustration.

“Normally your parents should be the first to hear about something like this.”
“Y-You think so?”
“I do.
Didn’t they say anything when you returned home for vacation?”
“Mm… Not really.”
“… Now that I think about it, your parents are just really accepting people…”

I sternly told Rei that she should give a proper explanation to her parents one day.

“We stayed up rather late tonight.
You’ll be practicing the offering dance tomorrow, right? Will you be okay?”
“Yeah, tonight I’ll cast the sleep spell on myself so I can drop off quickly.”
“Go ahead and do that, I’ll make sure to wake you up in the morning.
Good night.”
“Good night.”

Putting out the lamp that lit our room, I lay on my bed.
My suspicions toward Rei had almost entirely been cleared.
Now that I knew where she was coming from, I actually saw her as an ally trying to improve Yuu-sama’s circumstances.

(… I’m sorry I doubted you, Rei.)

I couldn’t help but if she still saw me as her best friend, even after she had changed so much.
I really hoped that she did, and as those thoughts lingered in my mind, at some point my consciousness slipped into the depths of sleep.

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