The Heroic Tale Of A Villainous Prince Chapter 18

**Chapter 18 – Elinne 3**

“What is… happening…”

The soft, warm skin of Netos I held was being eroded by cold stone. Only that part felt almost completely devoid of body heat when touched. Only that part was – as if all trace of life had been scooped out from it.

“……”

Just touching the stone area made a nasty sweat run down my back, sending chills through me.

It was clear something abnormal was happening to this girl’s body.

“Mm… What… Happened…?”

“Netos…!”

“Oh…Elinne… You’re back. Welcome home.”

Netos smiled weakly, seeming to slowly grasp her condition.

“I see… You noticed…”

The usual cheerful smile faded, leaving Netos looking far, far too…weak. So much that I wanted to avert my eyes.

“What in the world… What’s happening to your body…?!”

“Ah… This is… Simply put… An illness…I think.”

“Illness…?”

“Yeah… It’s called… [Stone Blossom Disease]… Where the body gradually turns to stone…” She laughed hollowly. “Really…unlucky.”

“[Stone Blossom Disease]…? The body becomes…stone…!?”

I’d never heard of such an illness. Not even once.

I hoped it was a dream. I hoped it was an illusion. I hoped it was a misunderstanding.

But her body really was turning to stone before my eyes.

“But…it’s happening faster than I expected… They say it progresses differently for individuals but… Way faster than when mama had it…”

“Is there a cure…? Some treatment…!? We could go back to the village, they may be able to make medicine…”

“….There’s nothing. No medicine works… Once symptoms appear…all that remains is waiting to turn to stone… Everyone was like that, I heard…”

“Everyone…”

“….My mama, grandma…everyone, everyone, was the same, they said. So it runs in the family…this too…”

From her knowing expression, Netos had probably understood long ago – even before meeting Elinne – that this would happen to her.

“Why… Why this disease…”

“Who knows… But mama said…our bloodline…was blessed by spirits… So in the end…we become the same as spirits…stone…”

Magic stones contained magic within them.

But some magic stones also housed spirits themselves, boasting high purity and used in top-class magic rings like royal signet rings.

“Mama turned to stone too… In the end she crumbled away… And from inside, a beautiful magic stone appeared…”

As she spoke, Netos placed a hand on her own chest.

“Now I understand… That was…mama’s heart.”

“How could you know something like that…”

“My heart will probably…become a magic stone in the end too… It’d be nice if it was pretty… Shining golden like mama’s…”

“That’s not funny…! Why are you laughing…!”

That smile. It no longer held her usual cheerfulness, nor sunny brightness.

“There must be some cure… Definitely… That’s it. The elf village… No, we’ll go to the capital and search…! I’ll ask the king too.”

At Elinne’s words, Netos weakly shook her head.

“….Elinne. I’m alright. You don’t have to do that.”

“Why…!”

“I knew…this would happen… From the day mama died, and I was left alone… That’s why I decided then… I’d leave proof that I lived… By making the ultimate masterpiece I’m fully satisfied with…”

“……!”

—-Not really interested. I mean, it does sound amazing, but all I want is to make my greatest masterpiece that I’m completely happy with.

When I heard those words, I involuntarily smiled wryly. I said there was a time like that for me too once. A time I purely made magic rings.

YOU ARE READING STOLEN TRANSLATION. READ THE ORIGINAL TRANSLATION AT GADGETIZEDPANDA.COM

…What foolish misunderstanding. It was nothing so half-hearted.

“….Elinne. Sorry. Help me back… I want to return to the cottage…”

“Huh…?”

“I know… I don’t have long left… I’ll die soon. So—-“

Netos’ eyes burned. It seemed like the last light a burning out candle showed.

“—-I have to make it.”

An expression more fiercely determined than I’d ever seen from Netos.

The murderous aura emanating from her small back filled the room like a raging storm, and I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed as I supported her shoulder.

In the pouring rain, heedless of our bodies being drenched, I half-dragged Netos back to the cottage. No, it almost felt like I was pulled along by Netos. Upon returning, she immediately sat at her worktable and single-mindedly began crafting rings.

“……”

All I could do was watch her. The small girl’s back had become a lump of obsession, and a presence piercing as needles violently stormed through the room.

(I see… So that’s how it is…)

Netos was literally pouring her soul into making the rings. Not jokingly, but staking her life to do so. And it hadn’t just started today. She had probably always been that way.

(No wonder…I couldn’t win…)

A fleeting, fragile moment of life. Like a flash of light racing by, burning, staking her entirety – soul and life both – on each instant as she made the rings.

(I couldn’t…beat Netos… I never could have…)

I was probably arrogant about my inborn long elven lifespan.

—-Even so, someday… Someday for sure….

No. [Someday] was the pride of longevity.

With that slack attitude, I could never defeat one staking everything on a moment.

(I see… So that’s how it is… Why do I only realize now…)

Time was limited. Short and fleeting. A mere instant.

Netos knew that better than anyone. Because she knew, she exerted her all and dedicated her everything to make the rings.

How foolishly carefree I was in comparison. It was like I had sat yawning before a desperately living human.

(For me to…)

Could I pour my soul into this like her? Stake my life?

Could I wear a fiercely determined expression, burning my life away and dedicating all I had to an instant?

—-I couldn’t.

My heart acknowledged I couldn’t do it.

My heart acknowledged it was impossible for me.

I was made to realize by this girl.

All I wanted was to prove my talent. To flaunt my talent. I had merely played, for my own self-satisfaction.

What [Sculptor]? I who lacked resolve had no right to the name.

(I couldn’t make them… For a half-baked person like me… Magic rings surpassing these were beyond me…)

I was thoroughly defeated by the fleeting life before me. Shown my foundations and limits.

At the same time, I felt disgusted at myself for only thinking of myself now.

….Then, how much time passed? How many times did the sun rise and set?

“—-Yeah. It’s done.”

Netos muttered contentedly and held up a magic ring to the morning sunlight.

The magic ring glittered mystically when illuminated.

“….I used the magic stone that was my mama for this ring. So I wanted to make it at least… With my hands… The ultimate magic ring…”

Netos handed that magic ring to Elinne.

“I want you…to have this, Elinne. It’d be sad if no one ever used it.”

“Why…give it to me…”

To someone as half-baked as me.

“Because Elinne is my best friend.”

No. I likely didn’t even have the qualifications to be called her friend.

Even so, Elinne clenched her teeth and nodded. Netos’ body was nearly all stone now. She could no longer stand from the worktable chair or walk. Her legs had completely become stone, unable to rise or take steps. It was remarkable her arms could still move, surely a feat accomplished through Netos’ obsession.

But even those arms and hands rapidly began turning to stone after she finished her work. Her hands would never craft magic rings again.

“And…just one more thing… A request for Elinne…”

Her body was turning to stone. It couldn’t be stopped anymore. It wouldn’t stop.

“….Use my heart…the magic stone…to make a magic ring…”

Unable to do anything, the flame of life flickered out.

“……..I understand.”

“Yeah… Please…Elinne…”

Those were the final words of the girl named Netos.

After her body fully transformed to stone, it crumbled to dust. Like flower petals dancing in the wind, a beautifully shining golden magic stone rolled onto the floor amidst it all.

Elinne embraced the magic stone radiating a somehow gentle yet beautiful brilliance in the morning sunlight with trembling hands.

“I can’t… I just can’t do it…”

Powerless frustration and frustration alone slowly constricted Elinne.

—-Around two hundred years have passed since then.

The golden magic stone still had yet to become a magic ring.


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