Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 70: Truth
—Even if it was just an act, the fact I had been saved that day wouldn’t change.
Vernell first noticed the inconsistencies when Alfrea joined the members to do combat training against demons.
Alfrea’s personality could be described as wild or free… while she was a completely different person from what he’d imagined the First Saint might be, her power was the real deal.
Most demons were down with a single hit unless they were especially powerful, and she didn’t suffer any wounds except from power that came from sources similar to herself.
Looking at the sight of her as she defeated demons under a shining white light, she was indeed worthy of being called the Saint.
But what Vernell thought upon seeing it was a feeling close to a letdown.
He could say she was amazing. He could also say she was strong.
But it was still within the realm of understanding.
It wasn’t like there were swords of light raining down from the sky, nor countless rays of light that chased after her enemies, nor was she capable of destroying all surrounding demons in an instant.
She neither manipulated weather nor revived arid lands.
Alfrea’s power was way too normal if compared to Elrise’s “miracles” he had seen several times before.
It wasn’t like she possessed godlike power in Vernell’s point of view… she just was a person who happened to have an affinity advantage against demons.
On top of that, Alfrea’s power didn’t look greatly superior to Eterna’s power. Even if hers was superior, it was merely a few degrees greater, at most.
Even if Eterna’s power looked like that of a Saint, he thought that it was “power that was inferior to a Saint” until then.
Because compared to Elrise’s power, Eterna’s power wasn’t that overwhelming.
But it was Vernell’s perception that was mistaken. According to Propheter the Prophet, Alfrea’s power was not much different from other generations of Saints. Rather, the previous generation’s Saint Alexia seemed better than her, although there were only slight differences.
Eterna’s power, too, was not much inferior. According to Leila, if there had been no Elrise, she might mistakenly have been recognized as the Saint instead.
…But was that really a mistaken recognition?
Vernell’s internal doubt was getting bigger.
And today, that doubt had confirmation.
When the uniform for Alfrea was prepared, the Headmaster and Alfrea talked for a bit, but its content called out his memories about what had happened before.
“I like that it is green. I love the color green.”
“Yes. In contrast, I hate red, yes, red. When I defeat demons, it appears even if you don’t like it, so it became my hated color before I realized it.”
“Yes, it was because the First Saint-sama’s color preferences had been passed down. That was the reason why our academy didn’t use red on its uniform.”
This Academy didn’t use red on its uniforms.
As Vernell heard that, he remembered the moment he talked to Elrise in the cave after they fell.
At that moment, Vernell saw there was a wound on Elrise’s arm.
When he pointed it out, Elrise took off a thread there and said,
“Ah, it seems that a thread got stuck. Perhaps it happened when we fell.”
He was convinced at the time.
Her wound actually disappeared then, and Elrise took something that looked like a red thread off of her clothing, so he had believed her.
But now that he thought again, it was clearly suspicious.
Because considering that they wore their uniforms at the time, there was no red thread anywhere.
Was the thing that Elrise took off from that time really a string?
Considering it was Elrise who could fly freely through the sky, and could even make auroras and meteor rain… even making something like a piece of string on the spot using magic was something she could easily have done.
Of course, it was not confirmed.
Perhaps Elrise might have brought something like a doll that was made with red string but he didn’t notice.
And that thing was the source of the loose string.
On top of that, Elrise indeed did things that only the Saint could do.
“Іt’ѕ оkау… іt’ѕ оkау. Dоn’t bе аfrаіd. Тhіѕ роwеr wіll hеlр уоu оnе dау. Вut fоr nоw, іf lеft unсоntrоllеd іt саn ѕtіll саuѕе уоu раіn… ѕо І’ll borrow ѕоmе оf thаt роwеr fоr а lіttlе whіlе.”
He remembered the things that had happened three years ago.
No, remember might not be the correct term here.
Because his meeting with Elrise three years ago was the beginning that shaped Vernell into what he was now.
It was a precious memory that he would never forget even for a day… that was why he recalled her words so quickly.
Ah, I see.
Elrise did borrow some of my power back then.
That’s why, even if she might not be a Saint… At least she’s capable of doing what I can do.
That’s how Vernell noticed it.
Was she a Saint or not?
…but, for Vernell he didn’t care either way.
The fact he had been saved that day by Elrise wouldn’t change, and his will to fight for her sake never wavered.
Even if Elrise might not be Saint, that would mean a common person who was not even the Saint had done deeds beyond what a Saint could do; it made her even more worthy of respect.
More than anything, this feeling inside his chest wouldn’t change whoever she might be.
…He loved Elrise.
As a man, he loved her.
Before this feeling, her identity was but a trivial thing.
That’s why — when he coincidentally met Elrise at Athletic Field — he confessed to her: mostly due to the momentum of the situation.
Since Leila was not nearby, there was a good chance. This kind of opportunity pushed Vernell to action.
Leila kept watching nearby during the Birth Festival, so he was unable to say anything in the end.
That’s why he told her his feelings: to avoid letting this chance slip away. But…
“It’s no good!”
Elrise forcefully interrupted, as if fearing Vernell’s words.
She was not dense. She must have noticed what he had been planning to say.
But Elrise stopped Vernell as if the words to come must remain unspoken.
“Beyond that… is not one word you are supposed to say to me. That’s not a feeling that’s supposed to be directed at me.”
It was rejection… but somehow it felt different.
As if she was not worthy of having that word spoken to her, as if she saw herself as too lowly.
Since Vernell had an inkling of her reason, he set her up.
“Is it… because Elrise-sama is not the real Saint?”
Then he could clearly feel Elrise holding her breath.
Her eyes went wide and showed a clear surprise.
That reaction was plenty.
Just with that, it proved his suspicion, confirming what had only been an idea.
“…When did you find that out?”
“Right now. Elrise-sama’s reaction confirmed it.”
Finally Elrise herself admitted it, and it became clear that she was not a Saint.
As expected, that was the case.
Elrise was merely a person who had borrowed Vernell’s power to do things that only the Saint could, while this generation’s real Saint was actually Eterna.
Elrise’s power was beyond human knowledge and still couldn’t be explained with just that but… anyway, it was surely a power that was not connected with Saint’s power, without a doubt.
Then Vernell explained how he managed to notice and started talking about three years ago.
“At the same time, I managed to understand the real meaning of your words three years ago… ‘For you to meet your own Saint’ … From the beginning, you weren’t talking about yourself, but about Eterna.”
If he thought back, it was clearly a weird thing to say.
Even though there was a Saint standing there, she had said, “For you to meet your own Saint.”
But this made things clear.
Elrise already knew at the time the identity and location of the real Saint.
“…You’re right Vernell-kun. I am not the Saint. I was born in the same village as Eterna-san, and because I happened to have a high amount of Mana, I was mistakenly taken. I’m a fake who acted my role as the Saint until today.”
“Then, your power is…”
“As you had guessed, I just pretended to be the Saint using power I borrowed from Vernell-kun that day. Then, everything aside from that… is mere magic.”
She did things that only Saint can do using power she borrowed from Vernell, was his guess.
But what truly surprised Vernell, was that all those miracles had been done using only normal magic.
How did her magic become capable of realizing such feats… No, how did she gain so much Mana that she was able to do so to begin with?
To such a question, Elrise’s answer was even more surprising.
“Regarding my Mana capacity, it was just repetition of training. It was nothing special… every day, including when I am asleep, I always circulate my Mana which makes my Mana capacity keep increasing.”
That was the source of all those miracles.
Mana circulation that took in surrounding Mana and released one’s own mana to increase one’s Mana capacity was something even Vernell knew about.
He learned it in Academy lessons, and Vernell practiced the technique several times.
But it was not something that could be done without concentrating, more than that… it placed a heavy burden on one’s mental facilities.
Other people’s feelings would also sometimes flow along with the surrounding Mana.
By taking in the Mana, it meant one also took in those negative emotions.
Anger, hatred, resentment, envy… it made one feel such ugliness of heart, and such foulness would taint oneself.
The color of one’s soul would be dyed by other colors, which made one feel fear.
If people kept getting tainted by such emotions, it made them unable to tell the difference between their own feelings and those of other people.
The boundary between oneself and others would turn ambiguous, and one would eventually lose their identity.
That’s why people couldn’t do Mana circulation for long. No, nobody felt like doing it so actively.
But Elrise practiced continuously… and she did it all day long.
If other people tried to do that, it wouldn’t be weird to see their sense of self get crushed and turned into something like the Witch… As to why Elrise was capable of calmly doing it must have something to do with her special mentality that accepted everything, that was how Vernell interpreted it.
“With this explanation, you should understand, right? The ‘Saint Elrise’ you loved never existed. Everything was but an act. A patchwork… I merely acted out people’s ideal of what they thought the Saint should be. You came to love an illusion that doesn’t exist.”
“That’s not the case, Elrise-sama.”
Vernell reflexively denied Elrise’s self-deprecating words.
Elrise was mistaken.
She might not be the real Saint.
Regarding her every word and action, she might merely be playing the role of the “Saint,” doing what other people desired, just like she had said.
But there were people she had saved by those acts.
There was the world that she had healed.
She took back land that had been occupied by demons, restored natural order, and saved countless people.
The number of children who failed to make it through winter and died of starvation had been reduced.
She brought back smiles to people who had forgotten how since they had no hope for the future.
And… right here, he himself was now capable of moving straight forward since he met her that day.
All of that was definitely not a lie.
It was not an illusion that didn’t exist.
“That’s mistaken, Elrise-sama. You may not be a real Saint. But the people you’ve saved… Those you rescued were all real. Because you saved me then, I’m standing here right now. Even if your identity as the Saint is but an act… since you managed to act so perfectly, it’s already real! That’s why nothing has changed… my feelings too. My own Saint is… from the very beginning, it has always been you! That’s why Elrise-sama… I, about you…”
Yes, he has already decided since that day…
For Vernell, from the beginning there was only one person.
Even if she was merely a fake who was putting on an act… even so, she was the sole real one for Vernell.
“― I love you!”
That’s why, without hesitation, without even looking ashamed about it, he confessed his feelings.
Vernell saw Elrise’s surprised expression but he didn’t know what she thought about him.
But he didn’t regret it. He said what he had meant to say.
Even if he got rejected a few seconds later, even so… no, although that might feel painful, he didn’t regret it a bit.
After a few seconds of awkward silence, Elrise finally opened her mouth.
“Thank you, Vernell-kun. Because you said that, I too… feel everything I have done is not in vain.”
She smiled kindly and faced straight toward Vernell.
But Vernell felt that smile was somehow sad.
He soon came to know the reason for it.
“But… I can’t accept those feelings. Since I know unhappiness lies ahead, I can’t nod my head and share it with you.”
“Wha, what does that…”
Unhappiness, what does that mean?
Before Vernell asked, Elrise answered things that filled him with surprise.
“Not much of my life remains. At most half a year… I won’t even be able to reach my next birthday.”
That was plenty to make Vernell’s mind go blank.
He wished it was a lie.
He wished to think it was merely her way of lying to soften her rejection.
But … Ah, he soon found out why.
Vernell’s power was cursed and eroded everything.
Elrise took away half of that power back then, but he thought she would be able to control it since he thought she was the Saint at the time.
But Elrise was not the Saint
So for her, that power was nothing but poison.
As he couldn’t think any longer, Elrise told the stiffened Vernell, “You don’t have to be upset about it. Everything that has happened is the path I chose to walk. I chose this route knowing what awaited me in the end. Also… without the power I borrowed from you, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up my act as the Saint. You don’t have to be anxious about it. Rather, you are free to hate me. Because I used you to pretend to be the Saint.”
He wished to shout, ‘That’s wrong!’
There was no fool out there who would choose to shorten their own life just to use someone. There was no benefit to her in it.
Elrise was not such a fool she couldn’t understand.
Elrise didn’t have to do it to begin with, since she was already the Greatest Saint of All Time prior to meeting Vernell and could already have everything she wanted back then.
That was why this just seemed to be her way of pretending to be a villain so Vernell would not be anxious about his role in her life.
But his voice couldn’t come out.
The fact that there was nothing left for Elrise in the future made his throat dry so nothing could come out.
He’d thought he wouldn’t regret it even if he was rejected.
But this was just too much to take in.
Even if he was rejected here, if Elrise lived on, that was enough for him to be happy.
But this… he was unable to accept it.
“That’s why… Vernell-kun should find a better person than me. Also, please be happy with that person, and build a good future for yourself… because that is the best choice for you.”
In the future Elrise talked about, she had no place.
How selfish, he thought.
She saved all she wanted to save, devoted herself to the world, and when the world was finally at peace, she would die before she could enjoy it.
He wanted to shout that such a disaster shouldn’t have happened.
“Yo, You… are you okay with that!? You worked hard as the Saint for others… yet in the end… in the end, you…”
Elrise smiled without hesitation at Vernell’s words.
She knew it. And she already accepted it.
There was no regret, she was as noble as could be… and a very selfish resolution could be seen in her expression.
“Even if I am not there… if everyone else can smile when they reach the ending, that is enough to make me happy. That’s why I don’t want you to be sad. I wish only for you guys to smile.”
Her expression as she said that showed she meant it from the bottom of her heart.
There was no tragic feeling in it. It made one understand this was truly something she wished to do…
…While Vernell still stood speechless, Elrise left.
Sure-Kill “My lifespan is about to run out so give up.”
It was super effective!
Illustration from わっさわさ様
If people only see her façade, she totally looked like a self-sacrificing Saint.
Want early access to Fake Saint and Executed Sage? Support the translator on Patreon! Also check out their newest project, Melancholy of the Demon Army Officer. It’s a Rance fanfic, sort of a prequel to the main story.