Chapter 16: Even You (5)
A few more days passed and I got used to life at the academy.
Asena was busy, so I couldn’t meet her often.
I was secretly happy with the lack of interaction; It bought me some time to calm myself.
I was still in pain, but I felt like I could hide the fact that I was hurt in front of her now.
It was because of Keirsey who healed the wounds I received from Asena.
Because of her, I felt my efforts were not a total waste.
After all, the reason I wanted to become a knight was that I wanted to support the twins.
But I could be their support only when they were willing to lean on me.
Fortunately, Keirsey was indeed willing to.
Just like that, days began to pass.
But lately, I felt the atmosphere around me had changed; Strange gazes followed me wherever I went.
At first, I thought it was because noble children were just curious about what kind of person would Prysters adopt.
I didn't want to make any scene so even if it was stressful, I was able to preserve.
I thought their interest in me would die down after some time.
Though as time passed, and more gazes reached me, I realized that wasn’t the case.
Sometimes they gossiped and sometimes they laughed when I was passing by; It was frustrating.
Even if I tried to think of it as delusion caused by low self-esteem because I heard Asena’s shocking words, somewhere in my mind I was sure that wasn't the case.
As if telling me that my thoughts were correct, their actions became even more blatant.
Gossip developed into teasings, the teasing turned to quarrels, and quarrels turned to bullying.
Their actions were clever and stayed only at a level that even though made me angry but objectively could just be considered simple mistakes.
For example, accidental shoulder bumps had increased.
Whether they were intentional or not, I was not sure.
However, it was clear that their frequency had increased.
Not just that, the frequency and sound of laughter had increased as well.
Sometimes I was even able to hear what they were gossiping about.
Unfortunately, every time the rumor was different and the student spreading it was different as well.
So I knew I would not be able to gain anything even if I made a scene and confronted them.
Though I was able to understand the crux of the rumors; The tales of abusive behavior and vulgarity, my incompetence, and instilling the belief in everyone that how I didn't deserve to be called Pryster or even a human, were the main purpose of those lies.
I was puzzled—
Weren't they afraid of Prysters?
—It was more surprising than annoying.
Because, although I was adopted, I was Pryster nonetheless.
The family crest on my shoulder was not so light.
Still, they fearlessly quarreled with me.
It was not that simple…
I was starting to feel it on my skin.
I wanted to beat them up for speaking such nonsense, but I held back because I knew what power words held in this world.
Even when I read the novel, the power of words had an important role in the plot.
That was why the Department of Politics was famous for its political science subject, which, after all, uses the power of words and writing to suppress opponents.
There were even people who killed innocent people only with words, so no further explanation was needed.
I felt that the arrows towards me weren’t just for fun.
There seemed to be a focal point.
Otherwise, it would not have been necessary for them to be so active.
I felt this was an attack from another family and I didn't want to do something in haste and anger to let them succeed in proving my character.
It seemed, before they touched Asena and Keirsey, they decided to attack the Pryster's weakest link: me.
Unfortunately, that was their biggest mistake.
But before doing anything, I decided to find the other party first; I had to act before my reputation dropped to the point where it could no longer be raised.
✧ ✧ ✧
After dinner, I kissed Keirsey on her forehead and parted with her to return to the dormitory.
“Eric, I’m here……”
When I opened the door, I was unable to speak at the sight unfolding before me.
The stylish and tidy living room vanished and a complete mess was left.
Eric, who was cleaning the messy room, got up from the pile of garbage and scratched the back of his head.
“…Haha, what a mess.”
I was puzzled by his so casual attitude.
“Did you do it, Eric?”
He shook his head.
“Of course not.
Haha…where do I start?”
Eric put down the cleaning tool he was holding weakly with an apologetic expression on his face.
Because I’m a powerless noble… Actually, the bullying is a bit harsh.
I didn’t know they’d come so openly… Because of me, you’re also being inconvenienced.”
“Is this what happened?”
I will put it away quickly.”
“No, Eric…you’re mistaken, if it was just you, they wouldn’t have made this room so messed up.
There’s no way they don’t know that I also live here.”
I put my things down and headed toward my room.
Without delay, I twisted the doorknob to open the room.
Eric swallowed a breath.
My private room was also smashed.
“…they're bullying both you and me.”
I did not want to get involved in the political battles between the families.
But beyond that, there was no other way anymore.
Do me a favor…
It’s a good deal for you too.”
“There’s got to be a kid in your class named ‘Kyle Benthrac’.”
How did you know that? He is a quiet boy.”
“Please arrange a meeting with that friend.
No, can I see him right now? Do you know his room?”
“……I will check to see if any of my friends know.
Eric left the dormitory, dusting off his body.
No one knew yet, but there was one peculiar character in the novel.
It was a character created by the author to explain the lack of information.
He was the person who could be viewed as just an ‘info-dumper’; All the rumors going around the Academy were pierced by him.
When I read him in the novel, he was only a device character, but now he was very useful to me.
I decided to know the identity of the hidden enemy through ‘Kyle Benthrock’.
As soon as he would tell me their identity, I felt like I had to leave them to Asena and Keirsey.
Soon, Eric came back and beckoned me.
“Hyung-nim, I found him.”
✧ ✧ ✧
There was no one else in Kyle's dormitory.
It seemed his roommate hadn’t returned yet.
Things were going well.
Soon, Eric, I, and Kyle Benthrock came face to face.
“…what are you doing?”
Kyle asked cautiously.
He looked like a cute dwarf.
His body was shuddering as if he was terrified.
I know about you.”
I said threateningly.
I intended to take advantage of Kyle’s fearful personality.
“Kyle, do as Hyung says.
Hyung is from the Pryster family.”
Eric started catching the wind from the side.
As the main character, he was quick-witted.
Unfortunately, Kyle must have already known about me.
“Kyle, you know a lot, don't you?”
Kyle was anxiously rolling his eyes and looking at me.
“…I don’t mean to hurt you.
We just need you to answer our few questions, then we can go back to being strangers without any problem.”
“…Are you threatening me?”
“Instead you should say I gave you a chance…
Actually, I don’t like you that much.”
It wasn’t a lie.
In the novel, Kyle was Eric's most useful and important ally.
That also meant he did a lot of things to harm Prysters.
Even among Prysters, his main targets were the twins.
Though afterward, he was caught and trampled on by Asena and Keirsey, but…
Now, as a member of the Pryster family, I only saw him as a stalker clinging to my younger sisters.
…Of course, he must still be within the acceptable range for now.
Because the academy had just started, he must haven’t been following the twins in earnest yet.
So, for now, I thought I would just dig up the information I needed from him and warn him to leave the twins alone.
“…If you use the power of the Pryster family to forcefully press me like this, there will be a huge backlash.” He said sarcastically.
I closed the distance enough to make him uncomfortable.
“…The power of the Pryster family?” I said with a smirk.
“Do I even need something like that for you?”
It was convenient in this respect to read the novel and know the inside story.
“By the way, I saw you sneak into the Student Council room the other day…”
Kyle's face hardened at my words.
Eric also looked at me in surprise.
“And, oh yes! Kyle, you can take my words as a threat this time.”
Once again, I tried to instill fear in him.
I knew that if I didn’t approach him in this way, he wouldn’t spit out anything until the end, so I had no choice but to do it.
I felt remorse, but… well.
Asena was also in the student council, and I didn’t like him going into that room arbitrarily.
“If this is revealed, you will be expelled from the academy.
If others heard that you broke into the student council room… your family will be more worried about succession then.”
“…what do you want?”
Kyle became obedient.
There was no need to press him any further.
After re-separating the distance between us, I asked a light question.
“Me and Eric.
Our place was thrashed by someone.
Tell me who is behind this.”
“…Is that enough?”
But you have to promise.
If I answer you, then you'll not reveal my secret either.”
I looked at Eric.
He nodded his head too.
“I'll do as Hyung-nim says.”
Kyle pulled out a small wooden chair and sat down helplessly.
Then he looked at me.
“Are you curious about what happened in the room today?”
“You know that too?”
Eric was amazed.
Kyle ignored him and said, “What happened today was just bullying.
There was no one behind it.”
I couldn’t believe his words at all.
No one in the right mind would target a Pryster without any backing.
“…Don’t ignore my threats, Kyle, I want the facts…
Lately, the gossip about me has increased, and my reputation is also declining, so I'm quite sure someone is behind all of this.”
“That is true.”
“But is this just bullying? Who could touch the Pryster family for no reason?”
“Who touched the Pryster family?”
Silly words began to flow from Kyle’s mouth.
At first, I thought he had forgotten that I was a Pryster as well.
“They were touching Cayden-sama, not Prysters.”
My expression wrinkled.
“What kind of bullshit is that?”
“Isn't that true? It’s okay if you don’t act in front of me.
It’s clear that you are hated by your family, right? So who will be afraid of you when you are abandoned by Prysters?”
Kyle looked at me and said, making expressions as if everything he said was true.
Those expressions touched my nerves.
If you really want to know who is behind everything that happened…”
He shrugged and said.
I quickly closed the distance and grabbed him by the neck and lifted him.
His clothes began to crack and tear, but I was not a bodhisattva who could stand still after hearing such a lie about Keirsey.
“You dare taunt Pryster? You know everything, but don’t you know the Pryster's oath?”
“Ah, I know..”
Kyle struggled as he answered.
“You know and still you dare to touch Keirsey, a Pryster, in front of my eyes!?”
“b-but..! Because it’s true…!” Kyle gasped for air, “It’s h-hard to breath…
breathe.” Then his finger, which was hovering in the air, pointed to Eric.
just ask Eric!”
“Eric probably saw it too! Keirsey-Sama was gossiping about you…!”
I looked at Eric without loosening the strength in my hands.
He had an uncomfortable expression on his face.
His expressions told me more than any words could.
Power was released from my hand – Kyle fell to the ground massaging his neck.
“….Keirsey went around spreading rumors about me? Keirsey?”
I couldn’t believe it.
I felt like my whole body was losing strength.
The hole in my chest was getting bigger.
It was as if my consciousness was being eroded into the depths of the underground.
Kyle, who was crawling on the ground suddenly opened his mouth, “Ugh…I’m sorry, but the rumors spread that both Asena and Keirsey hate you, so everyone is ignoring you…! Many people have heard Keirsey-Sama cursing you…! Otherwise, who would care about cluttering your room?”
Attacks on me were no longer important to me.
It was more important whether Keirsey was really like that.
Today alone, all day, she clung to me.
We hugged, and fed each other food.
When we parted, I even kissed her on the forehead.
But she was swearing at me from behind.
Say it quickly.”
His words felt like daggers piercing my heart.
It was said that when people lose their minds, they start laughing.
That was my case.
I tried to hold back my creepy laughter and asked.
“…what did she say?”
“…Hyung, I don’t know that much, really.
I could only see her from afar, and I felt uncomfortable hearing her say such things, so I avoided her seat from then.”
I'm telling the truth.
I didn't even know things had gotten so far.”
I asked Kyle, who was sorting out his clothes.
“…What did Keirsey say?”
“Do you really want to hear it?… This is a humanitarian question.”
Looking at me, he sighed as if he couldn't help it.
“…I’m not quite sure either.
I only know roughly.
But I'm sure of a few things.
She said that you snore a lot, that your behavior was abusive, that you had no manners, that your body smelled…”
Do you hate snoring a lot? It was Keirsey who came to my room at night.
If you hated it, why would you come?
There was nothing I could say about courtesy as it varied from the person to person.
My body smelled…
I just hugged you out of love.
If it was bothering you, you could've just told me.
“…that you keep trying to teach her troublesome things and you’re crazy about women,”
The words that followed were painful.
I taught you out of a heart for you.
And why did you make up lies about me being crazy about women? Or did you always think of me that way? Were you just hiding all of this inside?
“…that you are incompetent and you have no will…
That's what Keirsey-sama said.”
My legs felt numb.
They weren't strong enough to carry my weight any longer.
I sat down on the chair next to me.
Why had I been working so hard all this time?
Eric ran up to me and grabbed my shoulder.
Those words hurt the most.
It seemed that her evaluation was in line with Asena, who was trying to banish me from the family.
Of all the ridicule I heard behind me, the most annoying word was that I was incompetent.
Because to some extent, it was true.
As a commoner, it was difficult for me to help the family politically.
That’s why I joined the Knight's Department.
I endured the pain of popping blisters, bloody bruises, and muscle aches because I wanted to be competent, I wanted to be the twins' support.
However, Keirsey seemed to be the first one who called me incompetent, the same Keirsey I loved so much.
If someone else said it, I could still ignore it.
It hurt so much because the words came out of Keirsey's mouth, the cause of my efforts.
My despair was so clearly visible to Eric and Kyle that no one spoke out loud.
Even Kyle, who had just been the victim of my anger a little while ago, didn't taunt me.
He even seemed to feel pity for me.
Slowly, he approached me with caution and comforted me.
But I didn’t lie.”
A sudden thought came to my mind and I looked at him.
That’s a lie.
If Keirsey hates me so much, then why does she keep coming to me? People who heard the gossip couldn’t be convinced, right?”
I thought I was being lied to, but Kyle’s expression didn’t change.
“…I heard she was taking care of you only because you are a family member.”
Again laughter erupted.
“……haha… that’s really ridiculous….”
It was annoying and understandable.
Even in the novel, the twins put the family first.
“…Just… calm down.
I heard that you will be expelled from the family in two years.”
Eric looked at me in shock because he heard it for the first time.
I didn’t reply to Eric, but Kyle continued.
“…the twins have abandoned you.
So be careful.”
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