Mishuli and Charles' fight resulted in all three of us being a little worse for wear, but overall uninjured. Of course, this was only after my efforts to stop their fighting, which included attempts to soothe and then to scold them, and sometimes restrain them. Thanks to all of this, Charles was completely exhausted when it came time for him to leave.
How tired was he? Let me put it this way.
"Prince Charles, it is about time we return to… Oh?"
"You are finally back, Oxe…"
Oxe's arrival had looked like the coming of the savior to him.
The two who had started the fight, Charles and Mishuli, were now sitting with sulky expressions and facing away from each other. I myself was much too tired to give a detailed explanation, and so I pushed Charles onto Oxe before he could ask anything.
"Nevermind. Just take Charles and leave…"
"Ah. I won't argue with that, as it is why I have come… But, my lady's and Prince Charles' clothes look rather disheveled."
It would be most tiresome to explain.
As my face would have indicated, I was tired and just wanted this moment to be over with. Yet Oxe seemed to have mistaken me as he happily 'Hoho' -ed.
"Oh, were you children play fighting with swords? Ha ha ha! It is very good to be so energetic! I do think it's good for children to be ungovernable to a certain extent. Do you not agree, Duke Noir!"
"Ah, that is true, Oxe! I am quite troubled by Christina's actions on a daily basis, but viewing them as proof of her good health allows me to see them in a kinder light!"
"Indeed! I too am constantly surprised by Prince Charles' unusual actions, but… Ohh. Who might this young lady be?"
"Ah, she is my daughter, Mishuli. This one is much better behaved. She is still a little shy, but she is a good child who really cares about others!"
The two adults seemed to be drunk on something.
I could not help but scowl as I saw them continue to be senselessly cheerful and strong headed in the face of clear signs of fighting.
What were they doing? No, I knew that they were enjoying a drink or two in father's study, but it appeared that they had not stopped there. Drinking was a part of hospitality for nobles, but this surpassed the limit. Especially Oxe, was he not supposed to be taking care of Charles? What was he thinking?
I thought such things but discarded them with a sigh. Let me say it again. I am very tired. I had used up all of my energy in order to push Charles' head down and to comfort Mishuli. I did consider that Oxe would likely be berated, should he return to the palace in this state, but that was not my responsibility.
And so I raised my head and glared at the two foolish adults and said:
"I don't care about any of this. Would you hurry up and just do your job?"
My low roar that was full of resentment was enough to make the shoulders of these two grown men shiver.
After my threat, Oxe promptly returned to his duties and took Charles away. When I and father were seeing them off, Charles turned around and said, "We will meet again, won't we?" much like he had before. However, it was not I who made such plans. In any case, I told him "Don't even think of coming again if you are going to fight with Mishuli," which must have been very similar to stabbing him through the heart. Indeed, his face looked quite shocked, I doubt he will be jumping onto Mishuli again any time soon.
And after finishing my duties as a noble, I returned to my room to see Mishuli waiting for me.
She was curled up on the carpet and sleeping. A most adorable greeting.
I couldn't help but smile at this. I approached the sleeping Mishuli, and while I knew it would be very impolite, sat next to her.
Today was the first time Mishuli had ever had a temper tantrum. She had shouted so loudly, raged so vigorously, she must have gotten even more tired then I had, just trying to stop them.
At least to the point where she could not wait and had to sleep.
She looked like a cute, small animal. Still, it was not proper for her to sleep on the carpet, so I considered calling a servant to move her, but then decided against it. This was such a precious little scene. I wanted to have it for just a little while longer, and so curled up right next to her on the floor.
I could feel her inhalations and exhalations on my cheek. I gathered my beloved sister in my arms and held her gently.
The carpet that covered the floor was shockingly comfortable. I could understand just why Mishuli had fallen asleep on it. Whether it was sanitary… Well, I will put my trust in the cleaning abilities of our outstanding servants.
After I held her, Mishuli began to move a little but showed no signs of waking up. Perhaps it was an automatic reflex, but Mishuli, in turn, held onto me.
"No… Sister, you can't go…"
I didn't know what she was dreaming about, but she mumbled such things as she grabbed onto me.
It was adorable and it made me happy. I gently touched her soft and fluffy golden hair.
"I won't go, I won't go anywhere."
There was no exaggeration in the words I said. I knew that she would not hear them, but perhaps they would get through to her in her dreams. Mishuli smiled at my assurance. I smiled too at how innocent she looked.
But even now, my mind felt vague and tired. I was sleepy.
My eyelids grew heavy, I allowed my eyes to close. Today had been a busy day, but it was also fun. I was sure that, along with Charles, such happy days would continue to come. Thinking about this, I was ready to give in to sleep…
—-That Christina is no longer the Chris that we knew.
My eyes immediately opened.
What was that?
My brain worked madly, trying to figure out whose voice it had been that suddenly played in my head. The identity for that voice came to me very quickly.
That line I had just heard, it was not a memory of something that I had experienced. It was just something that remained as knowledge.
It was a scene in Labyrinth Destiny that has been carved into my brain. A still, some dialogue and voices to match it. This scene had opened with the words I had just heard.
—Mishuli. You can't help her anymore. She is not the old Chris.
—That's not true. Surely, one day, I and my sister will be close again like we once were!
—No. It won't happen. She used to take such good care of you, I don't understand why she turned out like this…
In this dialogue, Mishuli and Charles were talking about their shared past, and also of their biggest obstacle, Christina.
There were not many details for the characters in Labyrinth Destiny. It was mostly just a summary, with a few scenes depicting the past of a few important characters. Of course, there were no scenes that focused on the past of Christina, the villainess.
Even so, there were things that could be deduced from scenes such as this one.
Christina had been tormenting Mishuli from the beginning of the story, but they were close as small children. Even in that story, Christina had loved Mishuli as a child.
In that case, could it mean…
I felt a chill run through me as a certain possibility entered my mind.
I had assumed from Christina's words and actions that her attitude towards Mishuli only changed when she discovered that Mishuli was the daughter of her father's mistress. But what if the unspoken truth was different? What if Christina was not as big a fool as I had thought, what if she wasn't just a very emotional woman… If she had a past where she played with Charles and loved Mishuli in Labyrinth Destiny, then what really was the difference between her and I?
I'm thinking too much.
I discard this foolish notion. I am me. No such forceful power as fate exists in this worlds. Mishuli and Charles had proven this today when they fought each other.
People can live with their own will. They are not standing on stage as puppets. And so, if I were to become like the villainous daughter, Christina Noir from Labyrinth Destiny, it would be due to an unshakable belief, an irrefutable will…
"…I would never do such a thing."
I stopped my mind, not allowing it to go to such places, and hugged Mishuli even tighter. Feeling her softness and warmth close to me, my resolve is strengthened.
No matter the reason, no matter what happens, I will never do anything to destroy Mishuli's happiness. As long as I live, I will protect the happiness of the most adorable sister in the world.
In order to stop myself from thinking anymore, I close my eyes once again and attempt to sleep. I understood that I was only running from it, but I didn't care. And yet, the sleep would not come no matter how long I waited.
It should have been pitch black as my eyelids were closed.
But I felt like I had seen the face of fate for a second, the face that should have been lost in the labyrinth due to a certain bug.
You might tell it to go away… But enough about that.
This chapter marks the end of the 7th year arc.
After a few extras, there will be a short time skip as we enter the 9th year arc.