The Heroic Tale Of A Villainous Prince Chapter 51 part 1

Chapter 51: Luce, Berg, Leuville
 

 
I – Luce Berg Leuville – first met Loretta when we took the entrance exam for the academy.
 
…No, “met” may not be the right word. To be precise, I “saw” her.
 

 
As a child of the royal family of the Leuville Kingdom, where gaining power is an obligation, I had to pass the entrance exam for the magic academy on my own merits. But it’s not that difficult. As someone who has been educated as a royal, I have an advantage over the average student.
 

 
I couldn’t stand being whispered about for getting in through connections or backdoor channels, so I was aiming for the top spot.
 
At the time, I was particularly obsessed with being “number one” and “the best.”
 
Even though I had resigned myself to the fact that I could never become the monarch because of being born “female”, I still wanted to be the best in other areas.
 

 
I may have acted mature in front of Leo, but it wasn’t because I was particularly grown-up.
 
I had simply given up.
 

 
So I was very enthusiastic during the entrance exam. So much so that I got scolded by my father afterwards. …Looking back, he was really being petty, wasn’t he? I only burned down a few targets and scorched part of the exam site, but he got that angry?
 

 
Even so, I never doubted that I would be able to enroll with the top scores. A small, trivial pride. …I can say that now, but back then, I was so fixated on it.
 

 
…That’s why it was such a shock.
 

 
“Next, Loretta Garland.”
 

 
The graceful trajectory of her sword.
 

A flawless, flowing swordstroke.
A speed that even the wind couldn’t keep up with.
 

 
“…Huh?”
 

 
To my embarrassment,
 
In that moment, I was captivated. I, of all people, was captivated.
 
And at the same time, deep down, just a little… yes, just a tiny bit, I admitted it.
 

 
I had lost.
 

 
Her sword had cleaved my pride in two.
 

 
At the time, I was so frustrated.
 
On paper, we both had the top scores. Well, of course. There’s only a maximum of 100 points.
 
But the one chosen as the representative new student was, of all people, me.
 
A ridiculous consideration by the academy, just because I’m royalty. I may not be able to become the monarch, but I’m royalty, so…
 

 
That made me even more frustrated. I knew I had lost, and yet I had admitted that I had lost to her.
 
So I unilaterally saw Loretta as my rival.
 
I barged into her classroom right after enrollment and declared:
 

 
“Loretta Garland! Duel with me!”
 

 
The Loretta herself, unusually for her, widened her eyes and opened her mouth in surprise, staring intently at me. Of course. For the First Princess to suddenly burst into her classroom and say something like that.
 

 
…Yeah. Looking back, that was quite unreasonable of me.
 
From her perspective, she must have wondered what the First Princess could possibly want, and worried that she might incur the displeasure of the royal family.
 

 
But Loretta seemed to immediately understand that I didn’t intend any harm, and she smiled softly.
 

 
“Okay. How and in what way shall we duel?”
 

 
“A mock battle using magic. Magical rings allowed. Weapons allowed. The one who surrenders loses.”
 

 
“That’s fine. I’ve actually been wanting to have a match with you as well.”
 

 
The incident quickly spread throughout the academy.
 
During the after-school mock battle, many students must have gathered with solemn expressions to watch us, but at that time, I only had eyes for Loretta.
 

 
“Come at me with a devastating, full-force electric attack! If you hold back, I’ll blow you away!”
 

 
“Very well. I don’t often have the chance to go all-out.”
 

 
The gold coin I flicked into the air soared, and as soon as it fell to the ground, we clashed.
 

 
Her, the wind. Me, the lightning.
 
The turbulent flow of magic power collided and rippled, violently shaking the mock battle site.
 
I don’t remember how long we fought. It felt both long and short.
 

 
And in the end, it was a draw.
 
Technically, I was just barely… just a little bit… overpowered.
 

 
“Haa, haa, haa…I still… haven’t accepted my defeat… Come on, let’s continue…”
 

 
“Haha… What an outrageous princess you are…”
 

 
Since I kept getting up without admitting defeat, Loretta proposed a draw. I mean, I wasn’t completely defeated, just slightly overpowered.
 

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But… I think we were both laughing after the battle was over.
 
My magic and willpower were drained. We both lay on our backs, gazing up at the same blue sky.
 
…At that moment, the thing I had wanted to be the most no longer mattered to me. Compared to this clear blue sky, it seemed so trivial and unimportant.
 

 
“…I’m sure I’ll never forget this blue sky,”
 

 
I muttered casually, and I think Loretta laughed at my words.
 

 
“How strange, I was just thinking the same thing…Luce,” she said.
 

 
After the battle was over, we had dropped the formal speech, and as [Luce] and [Loretta], we acknowledged each other as fellow human beings.
 

 
Incidentally, I was summoned by my father and scolded.
 
Yes, I was the one who had partially destroyed the mock battlefield, and I was sincerely repentant about it.
 

 
Even after that, we continued to compete with each other time and again –
 
in magic, studies, even who could wake up earlier or finish assignments faster, or who could swim faster. Trivial things like that.
 

 
Excluding our families, I think we spent more time together than anyone else.
 
As the top two students, we were often paired up in class (pairing with other students would have been too great a gap in skill level, not benefiting either of us), and we trained together frequently.
 

 
…But we didn’t just compete and train all the time.
 
We shared our family grievances, hobbies, dreams for the future. Before I knew it, she had become a close friend I could talk to and consult about anything.
 

 
“Luce, have you given up on becoming the king?” Loretta asked.
 

 
“That’s right. No matter how electrifyingly strong, cute, and beautiful I am, I’m still a [woman]. It’s already decided that Leo will be the king,” I replied.
 

 
“I thought you’d be the one to burn down even that common sense and charge forward relentlessly,” she said.
 

 
“I’m sorry. Even I have things I can’t overcome, you know,” I admitted.
 

 
“…Yes, no matter how righteously one tries, there are still things that can’t be helped in this world.”
 

 
Loretta had told me before that she wanted to pursue the path of the sword after graduation.
 
She wished to leave her household, travel the world, and master her own sword.
 
…But her father opposed it, and she was expected to marry into a prominent noble family after graduation.
 

 
“But I don’t want to give up. Even if I can’t achieve the best, I’ll at least try to grasp the next best thing,” she said.
 

 
“…The next best?” I echoed.
 

 
“Ah, yes. The other day, I managed to convince my father. If I graduate at the top of the class, he’ll allow me to join the knight’s order. …He still won’t let me leave home and travel, but the knight’s order isn’t too bad. There are excellent swordsmen there, and most importantly, I’ll be able to cause trouble with you after graduation,”
 

 
Loretta said with a mischievous smile
 
and a wink that would have made any fangirl swoon.
 

 
“…The way of the sword doesn’t have to be only through traveling. As long as you fulfill your dream, the form doesn’t matter. Even if you can’t be number one, at least aim for number two,”
 

 
“…We both want something that we can’t have, don’t we?”
 

 
“It can’t be helped. This is the kind of country it is…though I shouldn’t be saying that to you, a member of the royal family,” I
 

 
“Not at all. You’re completely right,”
 

 
I had wanted to be number one, but that was unattainable.
 
In that sense, Loretta and I were kindred spirits.
 

 
“Luce, I’m sure you must have had something you wanted to do as the king. If you can’t be the king, why not at least strive for that?”
 

 
“Something I wanted to do as the king…”
 

 
I thought, realizing for the first time
 
I had been so fixated on becoming the king itself, without considering the substance of it.
 

 
“ …………………… “
 

 
After a moment of silence, during which Loretta patiently waited for my answer, I spoke.
 

 
“…I think I wanted to make everyone happy.”
 

 
As I told Loretta, it was almost like I was talking to myself.
 

 
“Leo always seems troubled, and Alfred is constantly being mistreated by others. Sometimes, I’d see Mother apologizing to the sleeping Alfred, saying ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t give you a proper birth.’ I hated seeing that. I grew to hate seeing people’s sad, depressed, and suffering faces. That’s why I wanted to become the king – to make my precious people happy and fill them with smiles.”
 

 
That was true for Loretta as well.
 
I didn’t want to see her face troubled and agonized by her family’s situation.
 

 
“But I can’t become the king. Since I can’t, then at least…I want to make the people around me happy, as much as I can. Yes, that’s my dream. I couldn’t get the one thing I wanted most, but I’ll take everything else.”
 

 
“Haha. That’s so like Luce. The forceful and greedy nature, especially-“
 

 
“Let me tell you this, Loretta. I’m going to make you happy, so be prepared.”
 

 
“I’m looking forward to it. “
 

 
I couldn’t get my hands on the thing I wanted the most.
 
But I decided to obtain everything else. I owe that decision to Loretta.


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