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Third Episode: The Struggle of Shana Anthrium
Shana Anthurium’s pink hair, which was hit by the wind, swayed gently on her face. Although it felt a little bit cold on the top of the three-story school building, it was still quite tolerable. The day was getting late, and the sky has begun to change color. The gradation between blue and red slowly spreading over the sky.
“… …. Please let me apologize first. Just now, by chance, I overheard the conversation between Edward-san and Curtis-san. Therefore, please forgive me.”
“No, we are also feel bad for arbitrarily talking about the rumor in front of the person itself. Honestly, I cannot see any sign of it at all.”
“Keeping a secret is one of my fortes, after all.”
“I never thought that everything can be solve using the heroine power.”
It was as expected because of Bell at that time….. To be able to do it generally. Syulein’s eyes focused on the dazzling beautiful evening. The heroine power came in many ways to support them.
“…… So, since we are on the topic itself, as the person involved in it, can you tell me if it is true that you have been hospitalized for a week since the entrance ceremony?”
“Yes, it was so long that I felt embarrassed because of it … … but I do not need your sympathy or worry. It was all due to my naivety that causes this to happen. I will not do such a cowardly thing by trying to take advantage of other people’s weaknesses.”
“……, I see.”
Syulein nodded his head. He was surprised by Shana’s inner strength. Right now, he accepted her explanation like it was a matter of course. Honestly, Syulein has been feeling kind of jealous towards this girl called Heroine for the past seven years. That is why, if the Heroine existed in this school, he would like to say one complaint about it.
Nevertheless, the sight of her, who was next to his fiancé, has become more and more apparent. He did not know if it was because this girl resembled his most crucial person somewhere. Or, maybe because he found out that she was actually stood proud due to her sheer efforts. Perchance, it might also because of the way she looked at Belfreya kindly. All of this might be the reason for his change of heart.
At least for Syulein, towards Shanna, he did not have any bad feeling. Even though he was somewhat annoyed by the current situation, he was not against this girl per se.
“Hey, Hero-… Can I call you by your name?”
“He… Ah, Umm…Yes. It is okay if it is here.”
“I see. Thank you. So…… Can you tell me, Shana, why is that you are Bell’s rival? Whether you are her [Heroine] or not, why are you making an effort for that?”
While looking at her wide eyes, Syulein asked about her conviction towards that matter. For him, rather than asking her the question as a heroine, he wanted to ask her personally instead. After all, he had already acknowledged the person in front of him as a person named Shana. As she reacted to the question, Shana began to show a troubled expression.
And then, as if she was distressed by something, she smiled.
“So it is, isn’t it….? I cannot tell you the whole thing, but is that okay with you?”
“A~a… I am fine with that.”
“…… I think the change started seven years ago. I am just like any other normal girl that you can find anywhere. I love reading picture books. I also especially long to meet the prince on the white horse. Even nowadays, I am still yearning for it.”
Hearing the word [seven years ago] nearly shocked Syulein, but he urged her to continue her story. Just now, when Fior was telling his story, he also mentioned the word seven years ago. And coincidentally, it was seven years ago, when he, Syulein, first met Belfreya
It was seven years ago that Shanna Anthurium had made a fateful encounter. It might seem like a coincidence, just as it was inevitable. That encounter changed the girl’s awareness and consciousness, who was only 9 years old at that time. It was that encounter that encouraged her to make an effort and later decided to enter this school. From that encounter, she also learned about Belfreya and all private information regarding Syulein and Fior.
That girl, who was 9 years old at that time, was out shopping in the city with her mother. Although their family was not well known, they are still within the middle class among the aristocrats. And instead of leaving the shopping errands to their servant, Shana’s mom especially enjoyed doing it as her hobby. Thus, Shana, who was always following her mother around, also went shopping with her.
One day, as usual, she was on her way for another shopping trip. While walking along the street where many aristocrats lined up, Shana witnessed a running fast from the incoming direction. She was so surprised because that girl looked similar in age to her. That girl was so beautiful, and she looked like a princess, with glowing golden hair like the sun that floats in the sky.
Such a beautiful child…….. Though she was full of sweat, yet her eyes shined vividly, and with all her might, she sprinted while shouting the war cry. It was that sort of an encounter.
The little girl ran past Shana at a tremendous speed. It would be inevitable that she was paralyzed for a few seconds during the encounter. What is a heroine? She thought at the moment. And because she was not paying attention to her surrounding, she fell to the ground. Her mother was so surprised by that, and in her panic, she took her to the hospital. Thus, the first hospitalization record for Shana was born.
When Shana Anthurium finally gets up from the bed, she finally understood herself and that girl. When she remembered her beloved prince, who was in love with her, her face turned red. For the 9-year old girl, it was like an intense stimulus. However, when she remembered that golden girl who passed her at that time, she quickly became calm. That person was her rival, and she is called Belfreya Alunst.
Perhaps she also has the knowledge of this world just like me, Shana thought. Otherwise, the word [overthrown Heroine] will never come out of her mouth. Despite that, Shana did not want to meet her, who also knows this world. Instead, two reasons made Shana hesitated to meet Belfreya.
To begin with, the reason for her hesitation to meet her was straightforward. Growing up, Shana realized that if she acted arbitrarily, she might bring inconveniences to her family. After all, in this aristocracy society, the dispute between the aristocrat children did not end merely as a skirmish between the children only.
And most importantly, Belfreya was utterly hostile towards her. If she were to see her, she might get overthrown with that momentum. For 9-years-old Shana, it will be a one-off K.O. If she thinks about it carefully, even if she managed to avoid her now, she was likely to meet her in school in the future. Argh, it was like going around in circles. Shana could not help but felt overwhelmed by it.
“Well, yes, first of all, you should know what kind of person Alunst-san is. I want to make this world into a more otome-game-like rather than a fighting game! Therefore, let’s do our best so that we can bring this matter in a discussion.”
Even though both of them are rivals, Shana does not like that it may end up with an expulsion. Though the Belfreya in the game had voluntarily withdrawn from the school, she was still banished. However, since Belfreya knew the game, then maybe they can end up as a friend. And because she was the Heroine, the fact that she like Syulein Edward was also painfully transmitted
That’s why Shana had spent her time watching the Alunst family. She went and watched that girl running around and did stretching activities with Syulein, who was holding her hand in a [Manzai] (comedy duo act) position. As for her, she also continued to exercise while hiding herself. To sum up, that was how their day continued.
And thanks to that, she able to grasp the character of Belfreya. She was relieved to learn that Belfreya was not a fighting character but instead only a hot-blooded one.
Yet, as time goes on, another big trouble began to occur. That was the change in her own mindset. She had been watching Belfreya efforts all the time in the shadow, and she gradually began to cheer for her. It was strange for a girl who is making such efforts not to be rewarded…… what’s more with that kind of feeling.
However, when she began to calmly think about the motive behind Belfreya’s power source and delusion, cold sweats started to pour from Shana’s back.
“If I were to continue to be like this, then, when Belfreya-san entered the school, wouldn’t I looked too pitiful as a Heroine for having too much of miserable specs?”
Towards that figure who shined brightly for the rival in her heart, how could she possibly put a shadow to it? Shana vowed in her heart that she would never do such a terrible thing.
Still, the Heroine that is in Belfreya’s mind was someone that could be considered as an outrageous superhuman. A goddess. Shana was in the state of mind of wanting to shout out loud to the people in front of her. [Someone, please stop her]. Nevertheless, reality does not change.
So Shanna Anthurium came to a decision. As the so-called-Heroine towards the rival character Belfreya Alunst, she needed to hone herself to fight directly with her using their specs. And this was for the sake of not being some pathetic target unfitting for Belfreya’s delusion. Thus, Shana stood up straight and shouted [Aims for Heroine] while restraining the painful pressure on her stomach.
Incidentally, one month after her declaration, Shana was hospitalized for the second time. Still, despite the agony, she never gives up. Her seven years were full of sweat and stomach pain. And she did all of this to satisfy Belfreya’s expectations.
“…… I cannot tell you the reason how I know that I am her Heroine. However, I hope that you will believe me when I told you that I have put my utmost effort into this!”
“Wait, please raise your head! It is myself who request this from you, therefore please raise your head! Well, how can I not care? You were admitted to the hospital before the school admission.”
“I genuinely regret missing my first encounter with Belfreya … … At that time, I was anxious whether I had managed to become the Heroine worthy of Belfreya that I am unable to sleep at night. My stomach is also kept stinging that I was already on the bed in the hospital before I know.
“Damn it, how bad was that actually?”
Thinking about Belfreya, who was running wildly, Syulein’s heart started to hurt a bit. It might have been better if he tried to stop her delusion on the Heroine earlier on. The Heroine really made him, who was the student council president (The worldly-wise man), seriously considering whether he should offer an apology to her or not.
“Hmm, if possible, I wish you will not tell Belfreya-san about this matter
“I will not. Rather I do not know what to say. It was the first time I heard about rival’s Heroine who kept being admitted to the hospital.”
At the time of the prologue, the Heroine, in a sense, has already been overthrown by the (former) villainous lady.
“I want to talk to you about this, I can no longer make any distinction. My beloved.”
“Ha~ Are you going to attack me? Shana, for the sake of Bell…”
“……Well, there is no other way but to think it like that, but it was nothing like that.”
Syulein suddenly senses that the atmosphere seemed to change. Shana took three steps forward and closed the distance between them that he could reach her with his hand, but at the same time, not. That was the kind of distance between the two of them.
“As I said earlier, I’ve been watching Belfreya-san for a long time … …, and that also includes you, Edward-san. Well, at first, I felt like you are like the prince from the story and I think that you are really a cool guy. Then, I began to realize why Belfreya-san had been working so hard; it was all for the sake of that wonderful person.”
Since the beginning, Shana already knew all the information regarding Syulein. However, it was knowing without really understanding it. That’s why when she first saw him at that time, she was shocked with surprise. And as she kept watching over him, she felt that he was even more attractive than [he] who was in her knowledge.
“I have a feeling of respect for you who is always trying to be independent and working hard to achieve it. You, who are being admired by many people, are shining so brightly. When I see your laughing face, I cannot help but feel encouraged by it. As a child, for a long time, I have always been longing to meet my prince…… I never thought that the time when I was separated from you would be so painful.”
For every half a year, Shana had conducted reconnaissance on Belfreya’s specs while suppressing herself, who wanted to jump out to meet them every time. Regarding her budding love and her life goal, she felt that she had been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Despite the suffering, she never appeared before them until she entered the school despite the days she spent hospitalized. And that is her ultimate pride.
Shana wiped away the tears that seemed to be overflowed in her eyes immediately with the back of her hand. This is her determination not to shed any tears. Her feeling, Belfreya’s feeling, Syulein’s feeling; to tell the truth, she understands all of it.
“As the rival for Belfreya-san, I have decided to aim to become the Heroine. However, this is my life. Even though it was the lowest of me to aim at someone who already has a fiancé, I could not give up. I want to experience a wonderful love. That’s why the me who is trying to appeal myself to you…. is really genuine.”
Shana herself knew that her initial goal is to support Belfreya. Still, she did not want to end it while lying to herself. That’s why she decided that she will no longer deny her feeling. Therefore, when she entered school, she wanted to fight fairly with Belfreya as her rival in love.
The struggle within herself is really coming to a close battle. At first, she might have been swept in with her aim to become the [superhuman Heroine]. However, all her accumulated efforts indeed did not lie. This is all for the sake of the decisive battle with her rival in love. However, at the same time, for being able to meet the opponent who capable of contending with her polished skills, she could not help but feels happy from the bottom of her heart.
“Do you ever hate Bell, Shana?”
“There is no grudge between us. I am her rival, and she is also my lifetime rival. For us to go against one another, this is the best rivalry ever.”
“What a thing to say……. Woah, I feel like I had heard that line somewhere.”
Whether he found it amusing or whether he cannot help it, a gentle smile floated from Syulein’s face. When he showed that smile, it was always when he thought about his one precious person. Looking at the smile, Shana gave a small shrug and smiled as she convincingly said.
“A~a, it seems I also have been completely defeated by my rival in love.”
“At first, I told you that this will start to pick up…. aren’t I? And today I also told you that I would like you to hear me out, right? So, Edward-San, will you let me put an end towards my feeling of love myself?”
It can’t be helped that Shana felt bitter from being defeated. Those were the pains borne from unrequited love. Shana also knew that it would not be easy for her to overcome this pain because she, for sure, had fallen in love with Syulein. However, she also understands the meaning of her word.
Shana knew that she had fallen in love with Syulein, who is always with Belfreya. Because for her, the smile that graced Syulein’s face when he was looking over Belfreya is her favourite. Therefore, she felt like it will be wonderful if she can watch over the future of these two people.
Shana was smiling sincerely when Syulein nodded his head upon hearing her request.
“I, Shana Anthurium, really like you…… For you, who let me know about the feeling of love, thank you very much.
With the enveloping softness and gleaming light, the moon is smiling quietly.
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