Ch. 2 I Will Change the Future (1)
After Elena made up her mind, she began to feel anxiety creep up on her. The time when Prince Carlisle would be assassinated already overlapped with the present. Although the exact time when he was killed was unknown, she fortunately remembered the location as the assassination had been the most talked about event before the rebellion.
There was no time to waste. It would be a disaster if she missed this window of opportunity to save Carlisle’s life. Blaise Castle was located in south of the capital, and it would take several days to get to from here to there. She had to make haste as soon as possible.
“Our brother Derek is training now, isn’t he?”
“Yes, it’s always the same. If he doesn’t hold a sword for even a day, he’ll probably get a rash.”
Mirabelle adorably stuck out her tongue and Elena looked at her lovingly. Elena had missed her sister so much. She was anxious to keep her eyes on her even more, but now she was in a hurry. She stroked Mirabelle’s soft hair and spoke to her sadly.
“Mirabelle, I have to go somewhere for a while.”
“Huh? Where are you going?”
“It will be a few days.”
“That long? I’m coming with you!”
Mirabelle clutched at Elena’s nightgown. Perhaps it was because Mirabelle didn’t remember their mother, who had died early, but the young girl had always hated being away from her older sister since she was a child. Elena did not hate Mirabelle for following her like a mother, and they had little memory of being separated until their family had been destroyed in their previous life.
The decades of living without Mirabelle had been extremely lonely. Elena wanted to indulge her sister and listen to everything she said, but this wasn’t the time.
“I have to go alone…”
She quickly turned her head away. She had to be away for at least a few days to rescue Prince Carlisle, but she couldn’t disappear for no reason. This wasn’t a life when no one stopped her as a swordswoman, no matter what she did. She was the daughter of a Count who had to tell everyone her every move.
A memory flashed through Elena’s head and gave her an idea.
“I have to go see Glenn, and you can’t travel that far with me.”
“Yes. I heard from her by letter a while ago, but I think I should go there myself.”
Glenn was a baroness who lived on a rural estate and was a distant relative of the Blaise’s. She loved both Elena and Mirabelle and, although not a frequent visitor, would make sure to visit Blaise Castle whenever she visited the south. Elena remembered that Glenn had been very nervous preparing for her wedding. In Elena’s previous life she had only attended the wedding day to congratulate her, but now she had to leave Blaise Castle under any pretext. Glenn, who had been her good acquaintance since childhood, would make a good excuse.
Elena glanced at Mirabelle’s face with apprehension, wondering if her memory might have been wrong. Luckily, however, Mirabelle spoke with a subdued look as if she already knew about Glenn.
“Do you still have to go there by yourself? If you’re worried, you should send someone else…You can’t travel that far just to see if something is up. Besides, this house is nothing without my sister.”
“In some ways, a wedding is the most important thing in a woman’s life. I need to visit her myself.”
“Glenn has a lot of hair and she worries about taking care of it every day. If I go there in person it will help her greatly.”
Mirabelle pouted in disapproval, and Elena sighed. If the future didn’t depend on her saving Prince Carlisle, she would never leave her sister’s side for a long time.
“My sister is too nice for her own good.”
Elena smiled faintly at that. She didn’t care if the world was stained with blood for the sake of her family, so the word “nice” was far from appropriate. It was impossible to estimate how much blood must be shed by her hands to save the Crown Prince Carlisle, but Elena just smiled innocently.
“I’ll bring you a present when I get back.”
“Really? I’ll be looking forward to it.”
“Yes. I’ll pick something you like, so be patient.”
As if she had completely forgotten her opposition to Elena leaving, Mirabelle smiled as bright as a flower that would soon bloom. Yes, Elena wouldn’t mind being a demon of hell to protect this smile.
“Then you should wait at home quietly. When Father gets back, I tell him I’ve gone to help Glenn’s wedding.”
“Okay. You have to come back as soon as possible, sister.”
“I promise. I just need to say goodbye to Derek and then I’ll leave right away.”
“The sooner I leave the sooner I can come back.”
Mirabelle’s expression turned sullen, but then her face soon lit up with an idea.
“Then I’ll ask the chef to make lunch so you can eat it on the way.”
“You don’t have to–”
“In the meantime go talk to Derek!”
Mirabelle left in as much of a hurry as she could, and Elena smiled sadly to see her go. Mirabelle was a weak child who could never run properly, and although she was seventeen years old, she was small and thin for her age and looked only fourteen. Elena was worried to see her run slowly, but felt moved at her efforts. When she saw this bit of kindness, she couldn’t help but realize that she really was back.
After a moment of gratefulness, Elena quickly came to her senses and sat down at her desk. She planned to leave the house under the pretext of helping Glenn’s wedding, but Elena wasn’t sure if she could really visit her. She was planning to send Glenn to a master beautician just in case, and planned to let her know this in advance so that she could avoid a difficult situation later on. Elena wrote a letter to Glenn about going to help with the wedding, then another letter to the most famous hair salon in the capital city. The two letters were sent straight away, each bearing the seal of Count Blaise.
The strong smell of sweat and the sound of heavy breathing came from inside a training hall. Unlike the large areas where the knights trained as a group, Derek, her older brother and the next heir to the Count, preferred this quiet, cozy place. He was absorbed in practicing his forms and was unaware of Elena’s approach. She observed him quietly without saying anything for a moment.
For a long time when she had to survive alone, she had held a grudge against Derek in a corner of her heart. Not only did he forcibly prevent her from trying to save Mirabelle, but…
He died to save her.
Elena had been dragged out of the castle, leaving Mirabelle in jeopardy, and Elena was so dazed out of her mind she couldn’t tell whether it was a dream or reality. The cries of the servants filled the air, and the smell of blood stung her nose. There were the footsteps of the knights and the sounds of yelling.
Until then, Elena was only the ordinary daughter of a count and found herself helpless to this nightmare. Derek finally raised his hand and slapped her. Her head jerked to the side with a loud smack. Her cheeks, which had never been hit before, quickly turned red, but her eyes widened into awareness. Derek spoke seriously, holding her face squarely in both hands and staring straight into her eyes.
— Elena, I can buy you some time so you can escape. Don’t look back and go to Arden. Our family’s safe house is there, so you must hide until you know what’s happening.
She didn’t fully understand what Derek was saying, but she nodded at his fearsome eyes. There was the sound of approaching voices and Derek pulled out his sword. He turned back to her and spoke again.
— Go. Go and survive, sister.
That was the last time she saw him. She watched her brother’s back gradually get farther away, then she turned and began to run in the opposite direction. She didn’t do it to live. She was too terrified and simply followed her brother’s commands. Through her haze of terror she didn’t realize until her dress her torn and her bare feet were covered with blood that Derek, her dear brother, sacrificed himself. She kept running through the pitch-black forest even though she could hardly see anything. That dark night was the most terrible night in all of Elena’s memory.
Only later did she identify the mangled bodies of her father and brother hanging on the wall like a spectacle for all to see. When she saw them she felt her blood drained out of her body. Not even a scream came out of her mouth. There was only the sky and earth were collapsing in on her. She wanted to follow her family, but she was so angry and bitter that she couldn’t even kill herself. Her brother had wanted her to survive.
Surviving was hell. It had been heavy and stifling to carry her family’s deaths with her and she became resentful at her brother for saving her and sacrificing his life. As a matter of fact, Derek had always been scary and hard to deal with, and growing up as the heir of a Count he was as blunt as his father. He rarely said thank you or sorry during Elena’s childhood she wondered if all knights were like this.
And in the end, he had sacrificed himself without any special hero’s death. Elena was unable to express either her gratitude and resentment towards him, and what she wanted to say to him built up to a mountain of words in her heart. Funnily enough, she didn’t realized how much she loved him until he died. She blamed him for leaving her alone…
She had missed him as bitterly as she was angry at him.
“How long have you been there?”
Derek belatedly noticed Elena’s presence and interrupted her thoughts in a low voice. She had to clear her throat before she answered.
“Just a moment ago.”
“What is it?”
Elena’s heart warmed at his straightforward style of speaking, unlike in the past when she found it difficult to communicate with him.
“I’m going to be gone for a few days to help Glenn prepare for her wedding. I just stopped by to say goodbye to my brother.”
“Yes. Be careful.”
Derek had an uninterested look in his face and he started to clean his sword. Elena turned around, took a few steps, then stopped and and looked at him again. She saw the both the present Derek and the one from her previous life overlapped in her eyes.
He looked at Elena with surprise, as if the conversation already been over for him. Then, under the bright sunlight, Elena came into view with her wavy blonde hair and scarlet eyes that shone like jewels.
“…I really wanted to say thank you.”
Derek asked dumbfoundedly, but Elena only went on her way with a mysterious look on her face. He tilted his head. Elena seemed different from yesterday. She was his precious sister, but they hadn’t been very close. As he watched the growing distance between them he mumbled in a worried voice,
“By the way, she’s probably not taking enough guards.”