Swamp Girl! - Chapter 54
SG! 54: NEW MEMORIES
I can't use magic.
Eventually, I came to that conclusion about myself.
And those people who were so full of praise, of ecstatic flattery, when I was initially judged to possess all six Attunements when my magic eventually failed to manifest, they puzzled over it, then began to turn on me.
It might have been inevitable.
What would have been a grand miracle if it had come to pass, never did.
The goose that they all knew could lay golden eggs, failed to.
That was me. No doubt all the adults were grinding their teeth out of intense frustration.
In simple terms, whether a person had magical aptitude, and whether they could use magic, were two separate matters.
Certainly, as long as magical aptitude the Attunements could be verified, it was possible to use magic. Although it was quite a journey to go from one to the other, the end result generally was the ability to use magic. In almost every case.
That's right, in almost every case.
But as the keyword here was 'almost', there were a rare few who, in spite of having the aptitude, would never be able to cast magic.
I was one such case.
I didn't know why. I studied under all sorts of experts at the Schola Magorum, I received instruction in every method known to man, but my magic never manifested.
Under those circumstances, they would usually conclude that the person in question didn't have the ability to invoke their own magic, and so close the books. And that unfortunately soul would be returned to the streets.
But things didn't turn out that way for me. You see, I was in the virtually impossible situation of having all six Attunements. Some of the adults refused to give up, and the remaining majority screamed about the danger of returning someone like me from whence I came.
Even though my magic wouldn't manifest at all, it might someday.
And what if that were to happen when I was in another country? What if that country were to snap me up?
That, they insisted, was dangerous.
And so I was locked up inside the Schola Magorum. It wasn't as if they expected my magic to activate anymore, but fearing that it would, they all but imprisoned me.
What in the world did I do to deserve this?
My aptitude wasn't something of my own making. It was there from the start.
It had nothing to do with me.
My parents probably had my aptitude examined on a whim, and it wasn't like I had hopes for it myself.
It had nothing to do with me.
As a result, the adults saw it and developed expectations.
It had nothing to do with me.
Then, angry when it failed to appear, they ranted and raved.
It had nothing to do with me.
It had nothing to do with me.
It had absolutely nothing to do with me.
And yet, at first I blamed myself for its failure to manifest. I thought I was at fault for being unable to work hard enough. I was in the wrong for being unable to meet the expectations of those around me.
Since then, Big Brother wouldn't come to see me anymore.
He wouldn't come to see me because I couldn't work hard enough. That had to be it.
What would happen to the goose that wouldn't lay golden eggs?
Even so, the person who refused to abandon me ultimately came to that conclusion.
He said it. 'I'll make it so you can use magic.'
However, that was all he said.
I leapt at the offer.
If I could just use magic, everyone would acknowledge me. I'd be able to leave this place and I'd be able to see Big Brother, too.
And so I obtained the magic I craved so much.
In exchange for becoming something other than human.
I woke up.
My dozing awareness kicked into gear. My hearing, my sense of smell returned. Then my sight. I opened my eyes.
I blinked several times.
My first thought wasn't 'Why am I alive?'
It was to confirm that I was myself. That was vastly more important than the fact that I woke up.
I seemed to be me.
Upon waking up, I found myself lying in bed in my assigned room at the mansion. I didn't have the faintest idea what had happened after I blacked out or why I was here. But considering that I wasn't in jail, apparently things had settled without getting too serious, in various senses of the word.
Leon was I turned my head to the side. There was the chair I asked for, and sitting on that chair was Leon, asleep. At the sight of him, an indescribable emotion welled up within me.
Leon's okay. And he's right there.
I felt my eyes grow hot as it tore at my heart, but I bit my lip and endured. It's not that I feel like I've gotten easily moved to tears recently, but... I'm pretty damn sure it's [Chris's] influence.
Looking at Leon's sleeping face, I sighed in relief.
But what now? At that moment, I was about to be consumed by [Chris's] memories, that's for sure. In the future, that possibility would still remain. Would I be able to resist when the time came?
Speaking of [Chris], it'd been a long time since I'd dreamed of her.
It was the continuation of a dream I had before. Did I dream of it again just now? Why? Was it the effect of [Chris's] consciousness eroding my own?
The new dream revealed all sorts of facts to me.
[Chris] couldn't use magic. Because of that, she was filled with bitterness. And she wanted to see her big brother Leon.
And, in order to make that possible, she sacrificed her humanity.
That solved two riddles.
The first wasn't a big deal, but it was about how [Chris], the only of her kind, was so little-known. Guildmaster Arc had said it too. That he'd only heard rumors.
That was because her magic ultimately didn't manifest.
She got magic after that, but even so, knowing as much as I did about the story, I could predict that that fact, too, had been suppressed.
Then, the other. And this one was important.
It had to do with the mystery behind this body. I was only able to pick up bits and pieces in the dream, but it seemed like [Chris's] body underwent some sort of alteration.
As a rule, alteration isn't something performed on the human body. But, a body that wouldn't take injury. Its tirelessness. And the form of its invoked magic, which even stumped Irene.
With all that in mind, if [Chris's] words about losing her humanity were to be believed, it was evident that she had been changed in some way by an external power.
Even though I say 'alteration', it hasn't been a hindrance, I guess.
The particulars aside, the result was that she finally managed to get her hands on the magic she longed for.
Then she was betrayed.
That part, I couldn't fill in right now.
But I knew Leon, and Lucien, were involved somehow.
The hatred I felt was too intense.
In her mind, at least, Leon had betrayed her.
And yet in the dream, she'd wanted to see him.
In that case, something must have happened between them after that.
Under the elm tree, Leon said that he met her. But if I remember correctly, he didn't go into detail.
I looked at Leon, breathing softly in his sleep.
I couldn't gather anything from his face.
The empire's Third Prince, Leon Stroidel. Asleep in the room of a transse*ual former slave who might not even be human, none of that background was anywhere in evidence. It was the usual Leon.
Isn't that enough?
The shocking revelation, the discord that lingered within me, melted away before his sleeping face.
Slowly lifting myself up, I got out of bed.
When I gave myself a once-over, I found myself wearing a thin lace dress. It wasn't unexpectedly suggestive or anything. Then, I gently touched my chest. There was no sign at all of the knife wound that should have been there.
But I wasn't surprised. The fact that I was even alive to begin with was a greater mystery. And if I wasn't human, then I guess it was even less of a mystery. Or maybe there was something special about that knife?
I sat down on the bed in front of Leon.
'The tables have turned,' I thought. Peering at the sleeping Leon, my elbows on my knees, I rested my chin on my hands.
When he wakes up, I'll tell him 'good morning'.
He'll be surprised for sure.
Imagining it, my lips curved into a smile.
As I expected, or rather, more than I expected, Leon was wonderstruck when he woke up. He hugged me, lifting me up into the air before turning a somersault and pushing me down onto the bed.
With this and that, it got awkward in a different way than the argument, but he was happy, that's for sure.
Leon. His true identity, the Third Prince of the Greya Stroidel Empire. Leon Tyrell Stroidel.
But his true identity was also just Leon.
Right now, he was showing me a new side of himself yet again. Laughing with the innocent face of a child, he was delighted that I'd woken up.
Seeing that, I felt like the distance I sensed back then had shrunk back to how it was before.
On the other hand, I couldn't say anything to him about the contents of my dream.
Me aside I was only possessing [Chris] I had a hunch that Leon, rather, would find it painful to know that she wasn't human.
And then there were those details, and the conclusion Leon would definitely end up coming to I was afraid to even imagine what kind of emotional damage it would do to him.
I wanted to ask, but I couldn't.
That night I first spoke of my dreams, I thought in passing that I would tell him if I had another, but now I was aware that it wasn't something I could talk about.
If not for the night of the rampage, I might have spoken about the business of her humanity.
But knowing what I did now, there was no way telling Leon about it seemed like a good idea.
It couldn't be helped, so I decided to shelve it for now and ask about something else.
From what Leon told me, I'd collapsed and stayed unconscious for five days.
I was surprised, but when I thought about it, I had the feeling that this pattern was increasing. When I fainted after the crest appeared during my time at the Telaberan estate, I woke up the next day. When I cast magic during the fight with Maddox, it took three days for the shock to wear off. And this time, it was five.
Could it be that I naturally passed out when I used magic? Well, even if that were the case, I didn't have a particular fainting spell that time with Guibenague, and I wasn't invoking magic this time to begin with.
But even so, there was something like magic involved here. I'd have to be careful from now on.
...More importantly, what frightened me was the magic activating of its own accord.
Even calling it a 'rampage' wouldn't be an exaggeration. It was stopped this time because I died... well, not actually. Considering I was alive right now, something about that knife held the key. Probably.
Yeah, and it was something Irene's master had me hold on to. Could it be that her master had foreseen this, and so had it delivered to me...? Am I overthinking things?
In any case, I wanted to meet this master sometime and ask about it.
And there was no need to ask where the knife was now. It was sitting on the table in my room.
I didn't think too deeply about it when I got it, but looking at it again, it was a knife of mysterious craftsmanship.
A glossy black knife. When I pulled it from its sheath, it was a unified whole from blade to handle, without a single seam. The whole thing was black. I didn't have the slightest idea just what kind of mineral it was made from. Not metal, I knew that much.
Lightly touching my finger to the tip of the blade, it was unexpectedly blunt, the edge running harmlessly over my skin.
I stabbed myself with a blade like this. It was a delayed reaction, but I shivered thinking about my own actions in that moment.
Though at the time, there was nothing else I could do. I didn't die in the end, but still, I didn't think I was wrong to do it. If I hadn't, then other than myself, the root cause, Leon, Aira, Palmira, and Allie, too, would have died. I was sure of it.
’’Come to think of it ’’
’’What is it?’’
Suddenly remembering, I turned the conversation to Leon, who'd resumed his seat on the chair.
’’What happened with Palmira?’’
Setting Aira aside, Palmira had turned her sword against the Third Prince, Leon, amid the turmoil. What's she doing now? Normally, it would be impossible for her actions to lead to anything other than the death penalty, but this is Leon. I want to believe that that definitely wouldn't be the case.
But Allie was there too, and there's a problem of position. It didn't seem to me like she'd be considered innocent, either.
’’Right now, Miss Palmira is ’’