“So, back where I’m from, once a year there’s a day when you’re allowed to tell lies.”
“There you go again, Subaru, you’re always making up things like that.”
As Subaru noted that with a raised finger, Emilia brought a hand to her mouth and smiled.
It was a scene in the early afternoon, on a day at the Roswaal manor.
With most of the servant work finished up, everyone but Roswaal (who was too busy) gathered together for a little break before preparing for the evening, and exchanged pleasant conversation.
As they sat, the subject of Subaru’s hometown (the world he was originally from) was brought up…
“Nah, nah, that part actually isn’t a lie. It really exists, it’s called ‘April Fool’s’. It’s a day for plotting when, just for this one day, anyone can say this, that, or the other thing to try and trick someone else.”
“I don’t see the meaning, you know. I can’t imagine a reason it would be necessary to do that, I suppose.”
Sampling her tea at the edge of the dining hall’s main table, Beatrice was terribly unwilling to accept the idea.
Perhaps as a result of Subaru’s persistent invitations, she had recently begun to show up quite often for these break time snacks, but even then the little girl worked to maintain a subtle sense of distance.
Regardless, Subaru wagged a finger left and right with a “Tsk, tsk, tsk” in response to what she pointed out.
“Don’t stop thinking, Beako. Now see, this kind of event always has a hidden meaning. For example, by creating a single day where you tolerate lies, you’re more likely to value the honest time you spend with the people who matter to you, or some kind of moral of the story like that…”
“If they’re important to you, shouldn’t you value them every day, anyways?”
“You should, but if I don’t disprove that point here, that’s the end of the conversation, isn’t it?!”
What Emilia said as she tilted her head was certainly true, but if he agreed then the topic ended there. It wasn’t that he’d become addicted to it after the snow festival, but Subaru was actually fairly enthusiastic about importing events from his old world into the new one. …He was fairly sure it wasn’t just a lingering attachment to his old world.
In response to Subaru, a girl raised her hand with an enthusiastic “Yes!”.
“Oh, Rem, I can count on you to believe what I’m saying, right?”
“Of course. If it’s Subaru-kun’s words, Rem can believe any out-of-the-blue words, even if they seem like a dream. Even if everyone else in the world were to abandon you!”
“That means you don’t believe in April Fool’s itself, doesn’t it!?”
As the girl, Rem, strongly affirmed her support for him, Subaru’s shoulders sagged in frustration at her words. When he did that, Rem’s older sister Ram asked “And so” with an icy tone.
“What is it you’re trying to say, Barusu? If there’s a day when it’s alright to lie, then that would be Barusu the Liar’s time to shine?”
“Barusu the Liar… that sounds like words from the title of a children’s story…… But, it’s not like that; maybe we should give April Fools a try?”
“‘April Fools’……. We should try telling lies, you mean?”
“Yeah, yeah! It’s like you have to try things out, or like a try-before-you-buy, or like a two-week free trial, or something.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not really sure what you’re saying.”
As Subaru’s words piled up rapidly, Emilia didn’t seem to be ready to go along with it. Showing her agreement with Emilia, Ram snorted with a ‘Ha!’.
“As expected, that ridiculous suggestion is so very you, Barusu. By the way, Ram and Rem are actually triplets.”
“Now you’re getting into the rhythm of it and telling lies, nee-sama. Triplets, there’s no way that could……”
“What!? Why aren’t you saying anything? It’s a lie, right? C’mon, Rem, it’s a lie, right?”
Shaken by Ram holding her silence with a serious look, Subaru was flustered and looked to Rem for confirmation. In response to his query, Rem touched a finger to her lips.
“Rem isn’t sure. The possibility that Rem has a sister besides nee-sama… aagh!”
“R, Rem, what’s wrong!?”
“Nothing, it’s just, the moment Rem thought she might have a sister besides nee-sama, her heart ached……”
“Hey, hey, there’s no way you need to worry about…agah!”
Seeing Rem hold her hands to her chest, Subaru ran to be by her side, but was blown away by Ram. Then, gently holding her little sister’s shaking shoulders, Ram gently stroked Rem’s head.
“It’s alright, Rem. Ram has only one cute little sister. She only lost sight of things for a moment due to Barusu’s cunning trap…… he absolutely will not be forgiven for that.”
“That’s quite a stray bullet there!”
“I’m sorry, nee-sama, for making you worry. …It’s just that the privilege of being your little sister is something that Rem wants all to herself. Sorry for being selfish.”
“It’s fine. You’re cute, Rem, the cutest in the world.”
With the sisters hugging each other close, while it wasn’t much fun to be pushed to the side, Subaru praised himself for at least contributing to the beautiful sisterly love.
“Hoho, those two really do care for each other. Oh, but I’m glad. When I was wondering if the two of them actually were triplets, I was rea~lly surprised.”
“That’s for sure. If they were, I guess she’d be named Rim or Rum? I already know a Rom so I’d like to stay away from that one.”
“I don’t think that names are something that you can change that easily, though……”
As Subaru sat with his arms folded, Emilia gave him a wry smile, but soon she let out an ‘Ah’, and her eyes shone. Then, with a somehow mischievous air, she stared at Subaru.
“…? What’s up, Emilia-tan? You’re so cute when your eyes sparkle.”
“To tell the truth, Subaru… I’m a quadruplet.”
“Mmmm~! You’ve learned from your predecessors and added improvements, but it’s lacking in originality!”
He wasn’t that concerned about whether it was original or not, but the part of Emilia that was overly-honest was showing up too much in her lie, so it would be nice if she gave it more of a twist.
A twist that wasn’t just thinking small, like changing triplets to quadruplets.
After Subaru’s comment, Emilia realized her mistake and her head drooped.
“I see, that’s too bad… Ah! I’ve got it! Puck! It’s Puck! Puck is a quadruplet!”
“Mmmm~! What you’re thinking is just a little bit off from what I was trying to point out! But I’ll commend your effort……”
“Tha, that’s something I can’t just overlook, you know! Is that true, I suppose?”
“Someone fell for it that I hadn’t expected to.”
As Emilia achieved progress at a dizzying tempo that one might compare to a turtle’s pace, the plausible-sounding lie that was woven by the sound of her silver-bell voice caught Beatrice hook, line, and sinker.
For someone who usually seemed so intelligent, she was a girl who’s cuteness was immediately visible at times like this.
“Hoho, were you tricked? That was actually a lie. There’s only one Puck, not four of them.”
“Ack, to think you were deceiving Betty…… It seems underestimating this girl would be more unwise that I thought, you know……!”
“It’s a battle of wits between young girls.”
For both Emilia, who was gloating victoriously, and Beatrice, who was wallowing in defeat, in truth, it was a battle that neither side understood properly.
Cutting to the heart of it, both of the young girls – strictly speaking, it probably wasn’t accurate to call Emilia a young girl, but still, at any rate, one couldn’t help but smile at how the two of them looked.
“You know, it seems like April Fools is getting more results than I’d expected.”
“…Lia and Betty are getting along well, and the maid girls are getting along too, after all. Mhmm, mhmm, following on the heels of the snow festival, you’ve got quite a way with things, don’t you, Subaru.”
“Oh, hey, Puck.”
As Subaru whispered to himself, Puck, a grey-furred cat spirit, plopped down on his shoulder.
Puck, too, looked back and forth over the same scene that Subaru was seeing.
“But, I wouldn’t want you to be teaching her too many bad habits. I want Lia to grow up healthy and adorable, forthright and graceful, after all.”
“It’s not like I’m teaching her to just tell lies at random, without looking at the situation. Also, it’s kinda cute when she’s tricking and being tricked by the people who are close to her, isn’t it? Not to mention, you need to think about the kind of battlefield Emilia-tan will find herself on in the future.”
The Royal Selection – that was the title of the trouble that was certain to rain down on Emilia in the near future.
There, where it was said that the race for the kingdom’s throne would be held, Emilia would have to jump into the chaos of a political dispute swirling with schemes and conspiracies.
“And that with the sort of honesty where she thought someone would be tricked by the lie that Puck is a quadruplet.”
“I’m not sure why, but when you put it that way, I’m getting a little worried, too. There’s no mistaking that I raised her to be cute, but maybe I was overprotective?”
“Hmmm, but if you’d neglected your responsibilities, I get the feeling that would be something to be uneasy about, too, so it’s hard to say……”
It was mostly related to her own innate nature, so one couldn’t just blame it all on Puck. It wasn’t a bad thing to be honest to begin with. It’s just that being sly would make it easier to go on fighting.
As well, Emilia had already made up her mind to walk a path that wasn’t easy.
“All I can do is support the path that Emilia-tan walks, then.”
“…? Subaru, were you saying something to me just now?”
“Nah, it’s nothing. It’s just this Royal Selection thing; I’m half hopeful and half worried about how it’ll go.”
“Oh, the Royal Selection……”
As Subaru shrugged to cover it up, Emilia lowered her amethyst eyes slightly. Suddenly, he regretted his careless words, worried that he had perhaps caused her needless concern.
“Now that you mention it, you know nothing at all about the Royal Selection; isn’t that right, Barusu?. Naturally, you know nothing about the other candidates as well.”
“Hm? I guess that’s right, don’t know a thing. I did hear that there’s five of them, including Emilia, but……”
“Yes, that’s correct. Emilia-sama is the candidate that Roswaal-sama found, and in terms of order that they were reported to the royal castle in, she was the fourth.”
“So, when the final fifth candidate is found, we’re off to a sunny start at the Royal Selection.”
Both Ram and Rem came to join in the conversation, and Subaru followed along with the new topic of an overview of the Royal Selection that awaited them. The April Fool’s atmosphere faded away, as the content of the new topic was very close to the core of things.
Subaru decided to take the opportunity for serious information gathering about the upcoming Royal Selection.
“So, what kind of people are the other candidates that we know about?”
“To begin with, the first one is called the ‘War Maiden’, has single-handedly cut down many enemies on the battlefield, is rumored to preserve her beauty by bathing in their blood, and leads an upper-class noble house.”
“An amazing one right at the start!!”
Hearing a flavor of introduction quite different from what he’d been imagining, Subaru couldn’t hide his surprise.
She was one of four people that would stand alongside Emilia. Of course, he had imagined she would be an opponent who would have no less of a presence, but still…
“So, with the top batter being the War Maiden of Freshly Drawn Blood, that’s a little too much impact, isn’t it…?”
“Oh my, Barusu, if that’s all it takes to make you back away, I can just imagine how you’ll react to the rest of what’s coming. This is still only the opening act. When you hear what’s next, your heart will freeze. Rem, tell him.”
“Eh, Rem should do that?”
Rem was surprised to have her older sister call her name. Seeing Rem’s reaction, Subaru snorted at Ram as though to say “There you go again” at her exaggeration.
“You have to admit, treating that as an introduction like that makes it seem like you’re just blowing things out of proportion, right?”
“Hm, not at all. The next candidate is called the ‘Sun Princess’…”
“Oho, the ‘Sun Princess’. Somehow, that sounds quite wonderful…”
“When she walks, her surroundings become a sea of fire, leaving not even a blade of grass.”
It wasn’t her glowing smile that was her selling point, or anything like that, but the name of one who caused physical burning, then. As Subaru sat astonished, Rem puffed up her chest and nodded, “That’s correct.”.
“She’s a very menacing individual. Subaru-kun, if you ever happen to meet her, for your own safety, you must make sure to hold on tightly to Rem’s hand.”
“Ah, yeah, I will. So, besides the Fresh Blood Maiden and the Burning Princess, there’s also……”
Seeking information about the next savage… or rather, candidate, Subaru glanced over at Emilia. Noticing his line of sight, Emilia narrowed her amethyst eyes suspiciously…
“Hoho, try to control your amazement, Subaru. The truth is, the third candidate is……”
“Mmm! After coming this far, an unfortunate mistake in the batting order! Or wait, everything up to now was a lie?!”
“Ah! How could you tell it was a lie?”
Looking at Subaru holding his head in his hands, Emilia brought a hand to her mouth in amazement. Behind Emilia, placing their hands together, Ram and Rem spoke in unison.
“Nee-sama, nee-sama, Subaru-kun is entirely crestfallen. He’s cute.”
“Rem, Rem, seeing Barusu drowned by his own plan is truly pitiful. How pathetic.”
“Seeing you two pull that kind of coordination really brings back some memories! Damn it, you got me!”
Entirely convinced the topic of April Fool’s Day had faded away, he ended up being completely taken in. How frustrating. Seeing the strategist experience first-hand being drowned by his own strategy, Beatrice sniffed with her well-shaped nose.
“Good grief, what an entirely silly bunch you are, I suppose. Going on and on about lies and this and that, I just can’t be bothered to go along with it, you know. Isn’t that right, Bubby…”
“ “ “ “ Mhmm, that’s right, Betty. “ “ “ “
Surprised by a voice that sounded overdubbed, Beatrice turned around, and the unmistakable pattern in her eyes was more easily visible as they widened. As her field of view came about, she saw that the number of Pucks lounging on the table had increased to four.
“Nga~h! Bubby actually has become quadruplets, I suppose!?”
Jumping in surprise, Beatrice pulled on Subaru’s arm. When Subaru reacted to that with a ‘Wha?’ and turned around, there was only a single Puck lounging on the table.
“Hey, what’s up, Subaru?”
“Whaha!? Bubby, I was positive there were four of you just a moment ago, I suppose!”
“Ah, I get it, I get it. I can tell that you want to join in, but you shouldn’t be trying to draw attention with a weak lie like that. Honestly, Beako, you’re so……”
“I wasn’t! I wasn’t, you know! I wasn’t, I suppose! Bubby? Bubby!?”
With her face gone bright red, Beatrice desperately defended her intentions. However, Subaru gazed at her warmly, and Emilia and the others looked at her as though they were seeing something amusing.
“Hmf! Who, who cares about April Fool’s, you know! I hate it, I suppose!”
Beatrice’s indignant voice reverberated magnificently through the Roswaal manor, where lies were being permitted.
Perhaps that would leave them with a stronger sense of how precious it was to be sincere to the people who were important to them.
As he smiled, Subaru wasn’t confident in whether or not it had been that sort of teaching moment.