Running Away From The Hero! (Remake)
Chapter 30.2: Side Story 2

RATH Side Story 2

TL: Eevee

Side Story – A certain princess’s memories (2)

#3 Their story: a certain villain’s story

“Ha?”

After a moment of silence, the princess’s stupefied exclamation echoed through the room.

Although I didn’t hear what my duties were, about this kid princess herself at least, my senior Hirett told me about her immediately after we met yesterday.

To summarize a thirty minute explanation, she’s the First Imperial Princess of the empire and the greatest genius of the imperial family. And she’s an asshole. Plus she apparently had the favour of the emperor so she did pretty much whatever she wanted.

Rather than half-assing something to an opponent like that, it’s better to pretend I know nothing at all.

Alright then, let’s show her my uselessness here, and get fired. Then the organization can’t do anything about that either.

The princess that’s loved oh so much by the emperor told me to piss off home, what else can I do?

Of course I could get a salary cut because of that, but considering the alternative is living in the imperial palace where ten lives aren’t anywhere near enough to survive, it’s better to just take a pay cut and go back to the organization as an instructor.

“My name is Ast. I was born in the old Harken Kingdom as a farmer’s son, but I was forced to abandon my farm altogether due to war, when I came over to the empire and did odd jobs to survive, I found myself here. My age is 25, my hobby is reading. I have a special constitution that refused to allow me accumulate mana since the day I was born, so no matter how much I practice my swordplay my skills are always lacking, and I cannot use magic either.”

“What, you could explain it.”

“But was that explanation what Your Highness wanted?”

“…No.”

And why should it. Although I don’t know what she wants from me, I know her purpose.

She’s just trying to screw me over. Considering what the knight named Reia said earlier, this was probably how she made many of her servants quit.

“Since Your Highness ordered me to explain simply, I shall explain simply. Your Highness. Does a person’s essence lie in their physical body?”

“No.”

“Indeed, it does not. A person dies and leaves behind their body. But that is simply a corpse that soon rots away, it is not that person. In that case Sir Reia, what do you believe is the essence of a person.”

“Huh? M, me?”

The startled female knight stared at me with wide eyes. Very good. This is good prey.

“Yes.”

“Uh… Th, the soul?”

She struggled in that surprised state for a while before answering with a question.

She doesn’t seem like an imperial knight which supposedly needs both strength and intelligence.

She appears to be the princess’s bodyguard, so no doubt her martial skills will be very, very superior to make up for her intellectual shortfalls. Or maybe she’s beside the princess because she’s an idiot.

Ah, on the other hand, the princess could just be keeping her as a fun toy to play with.

“In that case, Sir Reia. If your soul was swapped with mine, and Sir Reia’s soul and mind were in this body, would you still be Sir Reia?”

“Mmm… is it? No, isn’t it? Mmm…”

“Don’t bully Reia. She’s not in charge of my education.”

“Your, Your Highness…”

The princess said to me as she looked at Sir Reia whimpering.

I think Sir Reia was actually quite moved by that.

“My head is far too good to be taught by an idiot.”

“Your Highness!”

Although I think that ended immediately.

“Your Highness. No matter whether that you think she may be an idiot, if a person by Your Highness’s side is deficient in knowledge that is not good.”

“It’s alright. There’s no one in the palace that doesn’t know that Reia’s an idiot. But her martial skills are excellent so it’s alright.”

“Wait, Your Highness! I’m not an…”

“No matter how splendid her martial arts may be, she should have the talent to identify what is good or bad for her mistress. If not then she would only be harmful to her owner.”

“It’s true, but it’s alright. I’m not so incompetent to be harmed simply because of Reia.”

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“Isn’t Your Highness, and you both going way too far?! Especially you! It is the height of rudeness to say someone needs intelligence on their first meeting!”

I turned to Sir Reia who was shouting with a scarlet face.

Normally it wouldn’t be weird for her to draw her sword yelling “You dare show such disrespect? Pay the price with your head!” or such lines.

“Then Sir Reia. Could you please give me an answer to my previous question?”

“Urk! Th, that’s…”

“Reia, you don’t need to push yourself.”

“No, Your Highness! I can do this!”

Ohh! So she was the hot blooded loyal type after all!

After struggling hard for a bit Sir Reia said firmly as if she made up her mind.

“My answer, is no.”

“Why so?”

“No matter if my body and soul was in Sir Ast’s body, from other people’s perspective I would be Sir Ast, not myself.”

Well you could think that, you could think not.

Especially reincarnators, well, I’m included in this category as well, but after death, living in another body is quite a profound feeling.

If you were to classify this world into a genre, it would be fantasy in particular.

In a world where souls exist, I very curious as to what happened to the original soul of the body.

If I stole the original soul’s rightful place, then where did that soul go. Might it not inhabit some other medium and come back for revenge.

Of course these thoughts were only limited to when I was very young, when I had nothing to do.

Because normal commoners, in particular farmers had a hard enough time putting food on their plates, so they were busy farming.

Plus since when I was alive, the current trend of the fantasy genre was reincarnating in things other than humans, or reincarnating without any reincarnator bonuses, no, sometimes they were even debuffed as hell for a miserable life. In novels you had a spider or a slime, heck even a sword had a great time after they reincarnated!

At the very least it would’ve been great if I had a masked devil that would make my past life’s items from my explanations and sell them to let me pocket a royalty.(1)

Because in my past life and present, I had it hard because I was lacking talent.

“In that case, who is that person?”

“Eh?”

“Sir Reia’s memories and soul came into my body but that is not Sir Reia. Then is it me?”

“Uh, th… that’s not it either.”

“Then if I were to enter Sir Reia’s body then would that mean that that was not me either? In that case where did I go, and who is the one that came into my body?”

“Huh? Hm? That?”

Sir Reia who returned to her whimpering state was kind of cute.

To the point where you really wanted to bully her.

Really, teasing idiots has a satisfyingly fun feeling.

Since she’s the princess’s personal bodyguard she’d be of a relatively famous noble family’s daugther but she’s not arrogant, and she’s pure.

That’s the perfect type to bully. But since this place isn’t my actual workplace, more accurately quitting is in my best interests so I need to unfortunately give up on that.

“In one way, Sir Reia’s answer is correct. But in another, it is not. Everything is interpretable in many ways. Things are not divided into good and bad things from their existence. Good. Bad. Helpful. Hindrance. Splendid. Horrifying. Everything is up to one’s own interpretation. Your Highness will no doubt have already interpreted myself however you saw fit. And Your Highness will reinterpret what I have said just now with your own standards and viewpoints.

“In other words, don’t ask?”

Those eyes that pretended to be pure turned indifferent again.

Really, her bright eyes earlier really didn’t suit the princess. How would you put it, like a shonen manga was drawn with a shoujo artstyle?

It had an awkwardness like a hot blooded battle action manga where all of a sudden it wouldn’t have felt odd that the protag and the male rival would suddenly fall into a dangerous swamp beginning with B.

And it also seems like she’s slightly annoyed. Good.

Now just like this, I need to keep annoying her that I keep my head while getting fired!

“That was not my intention. I simply know myself. But, the me that Your Highness was questioning me about is something Your Highness would know, not me. And so, I wish for Your Highness to watch me, and evaluate me accordingly.

According to the formal manners I learned I bowed my head.

Now, what will be your next move! Unless it’s the gallows’ morning dew ending(2) I have the courage to accept it all! Even better if you fire me!

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Tap. Tap.

The princess’s short fingers started drumming the table.

When I snuck a glance upwards, both the princess and Sir Reia had their eyes closed and seemed to be thinking of something.

But Sir Reia? Should the princess’s bodyguard have her eyes closed like that? Can the bodyguard of royalty commit such gross negligence of duties like that?

“Alright. This question, I’ll accept it as you having answered it.”

Just as I began to seriously think that Howling could probably take the imperial palace, the princess said with an expression that seemed like she was pleased with something.

Uhh, it’s not good if you’re happy…

It’d be so much greater if you said I don’t need an incompetent commoner like you so get lost! And fire me?

“Aha! I finally found it! Everything can be solved if the truth that mister Ast and my bodies were swapped is revealed!”

“…ah, and since my education is unnecessary, educate that idiot.”

“Haa… you gave me a task that is too difficult.”

“Aren’t both of you being way too unreasonable to me?”

Seeing Sir Reia squawk in protest I swore to myself.

Alright then, I probably wasn’t going to get fired straight away anyway. In that case I’ll bully Sir Reia and make Her Highness get sick of me, and get fired!

And one year later, I still couldn’t get myself fired.

***

He was very quick-witted, his memory is excellent in pointless things, and is very skilled in sophistry.

That would be a simplified version of my assessment of him.

Firstly, his wits are very, very good.

Too good. So good that it annoys me.

And so until I find what it is I want from him I will never let him quit, just when I started to start being more flagrant while maintaining a line.

“Your Highness. Eating carrots is good for your eyesight. It is also good for your joints, good for your teeth, and since it has heating properties it is also very effective for people with cool bodies.”

“…If my eyesight deteriorates I can always wear glasses, and there are no problems with my joints. My teeth are sturdy too.”

“Even so you need to eat. The imperial chefs worked hard to make these.”

“Hey, Ast? I definitely remember telling that chef to not put carrots in. Was the chef changed while I wasn’t aware?”

“No. There’s no way that there would be that many competent chefs, would there? Of course it is because I requested him to add carrots. Picky eating is not good for you. Ah, for the record Sir Reia, carrots are also good for constipation and balding.”

“Why is it that in the middle of talking to Her Highness, that you suddenly tell me those things mister Ast!”

I’m going to live a short and bright life anyway, it’s alright for me to be a picky eater, no?

Although my mouth is twitching I cannot speak. Those that know the story number no more than five including Reia.

No matter how unusual he is, I cannot tell him that!

“I’m not eating!”

“You’re not a child.”

“I am a child?”

“If you’re a child then you need to even more nutrients for your growth. Nutritional deficiencies cause imbalances in the body’s growth. Isn’t that right, Sir Reia?”

“Why, why are you scanning my body up and down like that? Are you picking a fight? Even if you are Her Highness’s personal butler insulting nobility is a crime!”

“See, Your Highness. If you don’t eat carrots then you may also end up lacking confidence in your body like Sir Reia.”

“Kuaaaaak! I’m going to kill you, I’m gonna kill you!”

Ast’s eyes flickered over to Reia’s nearly twenty-year old breasts.

They’re flat. I know perfectly well that a woman’s breast size can bring male affection.

But I don’t particularly have any wishes of being looked at by men, and even if I did, I am 100% dead before that time even comes.

But, why is my hand so naturally reaching for the carrots?

“Your Highness?! Those carrots that you hate, where on me did you look that you made up your mind to eat them! If that place was my breasts then I feel like I’ll have to question my loyalty to Your Highness!”

“Reia, picky eating is not good for you.”

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“I am not a picky eater! Before that I actually like carrots!”

“Ha, Ast. I found a big error in your logic. I don’t think I’ll need carrots.”

“I understand.”

“Are the two of you really going to do this to me?!”

Reia who’s yelling with her face all red is cute.

Although she’s older than me, cute things are cute.

To Reia who’s grumbling “I’m still growing!” or “I, I still have hope…” in tears, I should show Reia’s mother, elder sister and her relatives as examples to show her the truth that she has no hope.

“Huuuk… Her Highness has changed… it’s all mister Ast’s fault!”

The result, she ran out of the room in tears.

Ahh, so cute, Reia.

“You made her cry.”

“You already half-brought her there.”

“The one who finished her off was Your Highness.”

“Of course. Making Reia cry is one of my few joys in life.”

My hand naturally moved to the tea on the table.

Although I wondered why people drank such bitter water to begin with, I fell for Ast’s taunts and so I eventually came to the habit of drinking it.

Now it’s come to the point where I can enjoy the taste and fragrance of it.

“It tastes good.”

“It was harvested this morning. Since it was grown in the palace gardens it tastes even better.”

“…That’s odd. As far as I know this herb isn’t one that I know is cultivated in the palace.”

“Ah, when requested it with Your Highness’s name, they made it for me. As expected of Your Highness. I didn’t think that they could build a herb garden in just three days.”

“What?”

What the hell is this brat spouting now. Although it’s only every once in a while, this man does some truly ridiculous things without even blinking.

“Hey. Ast. This tea is your favourite, isn’t it?”

“Ah, it is. It’s also a tea that Your Highness drinks quite frequently.”

“And what is the reason that I drink this tea so often?”

“Of course isn’t it because I brew it for you so often?”

“Alright, in the first place I didn’t drink tea at all! And suddenly the palace has its own herb garden? And one that produces your favourite variety, Ast? Do you think this is coincidence?”

“I do not believe it is coincidence.”

“That means that you’re acknowledging that you used my name to order the creation of a herb garden for your own purposes?”

“No. Your Highness. I just simply told the palace maids that you enjoyed this tea.”

Is he mad?

Even if Ast is my personal butler, he’s someone who’s been here for barely a year, you could still get to him more quickly by counting from the bottom.(3)

And this fellow used my name to make a tea plantation for himself.

Of course there would be no evidence.

Because all he did was simply telling the maids.

But telling the palace maids is nothing less than spreading the rumour through the entire palace.

Moreover there’s no way that this man wouldn’t realise the presence of the maid network which is especially easy to spread and twist rumours through. Even among the insane there is probably no bastard more insane than him.

“Is there a problem?”

“No.”

Well, it’s not like I have either proof or justification.

Well, it’s also true that I do enjoy this tea now.

And more than anything else, I like this type of crazy bastard very very much.

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