I Favor the Villainess 117

Magical Aptitude Assessment

“Claire-sama, I’ve finished getting ready.”
“Sounds good. Well then, let’s be off.”

It was 8:00 am in the morning.
The sun had yet to finish rising, and the temperature was still low.
It was already April, but it was still a bit chilly around this time of day.

“We are going on a stroll~”
“A stroll!’

Mei and Alea were both wearing warm coats.
They were actually handmade by Claire-sama.
To be able to make coats that could easily be mistaken as a product from the sewing guild – there was nothing I could say other than ‘as expected of Claire-sama.’
Mei was holding onto Claire-sama’s hand, while Alea grabbed onto mine. Together, we were going on the path towards the cathedral.

“I want to be able to use magic as soon as possible.”
“Mei wants to be just as, um…. advanced? As Claire-okaasama!”

As for why we were all going out together, today was the day for Mei and Alea to get their magical aptitudes measured.
After the revolution, magic became more and more important to the kingdom.
As a result, citizens were urged to take a magical aptitude assessment starting from the age of six.
It is said that one’s magical ability fluctuates with age.
It’s possible to be born with very little magical power, only for it to grow as you go.
It seemed that the growth mostly stabilized around the age of six, though.

Mei and Alea’s birthday is on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month.
They have been six years old for the last four months.
After witnessing me and Claire-sama use our magic a countless number of times, they eagerly expressed that they also wanted to try using it.
We didn’t have to wait for them to get their aptitudes measured before teaching them anything, but it’s been said that one’s first time using magic was also the most dangerous.
That was because if a user of one such aptitude tried to impose their way of using magic onto someone else, it could result in some unforeseen accidents.
After discussing it with Claire-sama, we came to the conclusion that we would not teach them anything until their aptitudes were measured and stabilized.

“Claire-okaasama can use fire, right?”
“That is correct. I am most proficient with using fire.”
“What do you think I will be the most proficient in?”

Alea asked very innocently.

“Well, let’s see… I feel like wind would be your strongest element, since you are very dextrous.”

Claire-sama replied casually without thinking too deeply about it.
Just as Claire-sama said, Alea is extraordinarily dextrous.
Perhaps it’s because of her young age, but she was also an extremely fast learner.
Based on what I heard from Lily-sama, it seems that Alea learned how to read, write and solve arithmetic problems much quicker than Mei.

“Hey hey, what about Mei? What would Mei be best at?”

Mei asked, swinging her hands back and forth while still holding onto Claire-sama’s.
Not that it bothers me or anything, but neither of them have thought about asking me.
That’s fine, I’m not lonely or anything.

“Fufu, I think you might be best at using fire, Mei. You are very energetic, after all.”
“Hooray! I’m the same as Claire-okaasama!”

Even though nothing was set in stone yet, Mei was already jumping around and celebrating with delight.
Alea was by no means shy, but Mei was undoubtedly the more bubbly one between the two of them.
Compared to Mei, who was still very innocent, Alea tried to make herself seem more adultlike than she actually was.

“I also want to be the same as Claire-okaasama.”
“Nothing has been decided yet, Alea. And moreover, being proficient with wind means that you’ll be just like Manaria-sama, who Claire-sama respects very much, you know?”
“The same as Manaria-oneesama!?”

Alea, who had been hanging her head until now, suddenly looked up at me, her eyes glimmering.

“Could I also become a quad caster then?”
“No, I’m not sure about that one. There’s only one confirmed quad caster in the whole world right now, and that’s Manaria-sama.”
“But is there not a chance?”
“Well… I suppose.”

I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing to have expectations of that caliber, but when I look at the rejuvenated Alea, I couldn’t bring myself to say anything more.
I really was weak when it came to these girls.

“We are almost there.”

When I turned to face Claire-sama, who was in front of us, I was met with the view of the solemn-looking cathedral.
There was already a lineup of families, each of them looking like they were brimming with expectations.

“Let us get in line as well.”

The four of us made our way to the very back of the line.
It seemed that it was moving relatively smoothly.
At this rate, we probably wouldn’t even have to wait that long for our turn.

“Mei, would you like to play shiritori?”1
“Well then, let us begin with the “ri” from “shiritori”.”
“It is your loss, Mei.”
“Ah! That didn’t count!”

We had barely just gotten in line. These two really are children, after all.
They were already so bored out of their minds, they ended up playing shiritori.
It was a great way to boost their vocabulary, so they often played it with me and Claire-sama.

“Let us begin a new round, starting with “d”!”
“D-D-D… Drop!”
“Drop, huh. Panic.”
“C-C-C… Chummy!”
“Chummy? Is that allowed?”
“It is! Since Rei-okaasama and Claire-okaasama like to get chummy with one another in secret!”

Hold up, you two.

“M-Mei? What does getting chummy mean?”
“? Exactly like how it sounds? Being chummy with each other!”
“I-I see…”

I broke out into a cold sweat.
In my previous world, we used that kind of slang in a totally different, more vulgar context.
When I looked over at her, I could tell that Claire-sama was also sweating from her forehead.
Kids that pick up everything they hear are scary.

After that, the line moved rather quickly, and soon, it was Mei and Alea’s turn.
We were greeted by a familiar face.

“Well, if it isn’t Claire-sama and Rei-san.”
“It’s been a while, head priest.”
“Long time no see.”

This was the priest who was responsible for the twins, and also the person who taught us the Offering Dance with Lily-sama back before the revolution even began.
She was a very serious person who was incredibly strict when instructing us, but she was very reliable.

“Hello, head priest-sama.”
“……! Y-Yes, hello there.”

The head priest should know the twins already.
However, the expression on her face was that of surprise.

“I am astonished. To think that these two have become this expressive.”

Ahh, I see.
The Mei and Alea from back then that the head priest got to know still had their hearts closed off from other people.
After having lost their biological parents, they lived on the streets in the slums as orphans.
As for how two mere children managed to survive for that long, they got by through selling magical gems.
Mei and Alea have a curse flowing through their blood.
Whatever gets bathed in their blood is turned into a magic gem.
Fortunately, it doesn’t really affect stronger magic users, so for that reason, I was able to start taking care of both of them, marking the beginning of our relationship, but I’ll leave the rest of the story for another time.
In any case, they were taken in by the church for a period of time as well.

“I am really glad that you two were able to take good care of them.”

The head priest flashed us a rare smile.
She must have been worried about Mei and Alea in her own way.
I’d heard from Lily-sama that there were some problems that came up within the church, but thanks to the help from the head priest, things weren’t all that bad.

“Now then, let’s begin with the assessment. Both of you, please place your hands on these crystal balls.”
“Like this?”
“Is this correct?”

The two of them each placed their hands on their own crystal ball-like magical tools.
A dazzling light emits from the tool.

――However, it is only Mei’s that lights up.

“How strange…?”

The head priest looked confused.
Suspecting that the tool was possibly broken, they replaced that crystal ball with another one and tried it again.
But no matter what, Alea’s tool did not glow.

“This is…”

The head priest made a gloomy face.

“What seems to be the problem?”
“For now, nothing. We’ll let you know of the results after we have finished examining them.”

The head priest replied to Claire-sama, who had asked the question.
It seems that we’d be receiving the results by mail.

“This marks the end of the assessment. Good work.”

Both Claire-sama and myself had a bad feeling about everything, but we chose to head back home first.

On the way back,

“I wonder what Mei’s specialty is?”
“I will definitely be most proficient in wind, since it is what Claire-okaasama said.”

The two girls innocently hyped each other up.
When I imagined the possibility of those smiles being lost, I couldn’t help but feel depressed.

1) Shiritori (word chain) is a game that involves thinking of a word based off of the last letter of the previous player’s word. Since the Japanese alphabet and English alphabet are so vastly different, this part was difficult to translate, so I took Inori-sensei’s edits and stuck them in here. When Alea asks if “chummy” is a valid word, it’s because a rule in shiritori is that your words must be nouns (of course, some words used here are not nouns due to being lost in translation), whereas “being chummy” is considered a verb.

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7 thoughts on “I Favor the Villainess 117

  1. That magical curse is going to be hell when they get to puberty. Imagine having to deal not only with your period but also turning your underwear into magic stuff

    Liked by 3 people

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