While I was being strangled, I was trying to think of ways to break out of my current situation.
Since I managed to sandwich my fingers in between just in the nick of time, I wasn’t at the point where I would start suffocating yet.
However, as long as we were in this position, I would be at a disadvantage, and I wasn’t confident in my melee combat abilities.
(I wish I had Claire-sama train me in more than just the basics when it came to self-defense techniques for situations like these!)
If I used magic, I could probably get Philine off of me, but if I fired such strong spells at her, I would almost certainly end up injuring her.
No matter how you looked at it, I was the victim in this situation, but we were currently in the Empire, and in the Imperial Palace, no less.
No matter how things actually turn out, the facts could be falsified quite easily.
“…… This is your fault, you know……? You took so many things from me, after all……!”
Philine muttered like she was talking to herself as she put more strength into her hands.
Just by looking at her bloodshot eyes, you could easily tell that she was not in the right state of mind.
Something must’ve happened.
In any case, I had to find a way to get out of this predicament first.
Now then, what can I do here?
Philine had an expression on her face that couldn’t be described for the sake of her honor as she breathed wildly.
This was just speculation, but perhaps she was under the influence of some magic spell or drug.
“……. You took Claire…… and Hilda……. and even my own mother……! Even though I’ve been holding it in this whole time…….!”
Maybe she wasn’t in her right mind, but the words that were coming out of her mouth were probably her truest, inner thoughts.
As I mentioned to Hilda at the ball, I garnered too much hate from Philine.
No matter how deep of an influence the magic or drug had on her, if she didn’t have a grudge on me at all, things would not have turned out like this.
“Give them back……! Give them back to me…….!”
Philine’s breathing became more and more ragged, and her grip on my neck just kept getting tighter and tighter.
It hurt, it hurt.
It felt like my fingers were going to break.
“Give…… them…… back……!”
Philine said like she was gasping for air.
The look on her face was painfully distorted.
“What…… did you do……!”
No, I didn’t do anything.
This was probably just a physiological reaction.
Philine was a very sensitive girl to begin with.
For such a shy girl, doing something as extreme as this was bound to cause her to feel nervous and anxious.
As a result of that, her breathing became incredibly intense, which lowered the carbon dioxide concentration in her bloodstream and caused her breathing to become more suppressed.
This usually caused the person to fall into a vicious cycle that would hinder their ability to regulate their breathing.
Hyperventilation syndrome―― in other words, she was hyperventilating.
“How…… come…… Why……?”
The strength gradually escaped from Philine’s hands, and she fainted.
“Haah…… haah…… As I thought, we were either being too careless with Philine, or this was just unfortunate……”
For the time being, I tried to catch my breath again as I thought things through.
Should I call for someone?
But how would I even explain this to them?
The Imperial Princess was trying to strangle me?
Who would even believe me?
There was not much I could do, so I went to lay Philine down on her bed and looked after her.
I was worried about any side effects that might’ve come with the strange drug, so I detoxified her first.
I gently stroked and patted her chest in order to calm her down.
Hyperventilation was something that would subside naturally, so even while she was unconscious, she would recover from her current state.
Not long after, Philine woke up.
“You’re awake, Philine-sama.”
“You channeled a bit too much of your inner yandere. That’s Frieda’s job, you know?”
Philine’s eyes suddenly widened as she tried to get away from me.
“It’s fine, please calm down. You just weren’t in your right mind for a moment, Philine-sama.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
I tried to approach her slowly in order not to startle her and gently wrapped my arms around her body.
Her body was stiff at first, but she gradually loosened up.
“I hate it……. I hate you…… I hate you, Rei…… I hate Claire, Hilda, my mother, and everyone else……”
Philine broke down and started crying in my arms.
Ehhh, what should I do about this?
“But who I truly hate the most is――”
Right as Philine seemed like she was trying to say something,
The door to the room flew open and a couple of figures jumped in.
It was Hilda and Claire-sama.
Claire-sama probably came to check up on me since I was taking so long to return to her.
I needed to have a talk with Hilda later too.
Hopefully, she was prepared for it.
The two of them had their gazes locked on us.
More specifically, they were focused on my neck.
“Philine-sama, d-don’t tell me you…”
It showed just how much strength she used on me.
Most likely, there was a clear handprint left behind by Philine around my neck.
I had to deceive them somehow.
“It’s exactly what you’re thinking, Claire-sama.”
“No way…… Philine-sama, there’s no way……”
Claire-sama said, stunned.
“Yes, I asked Philine-sama if she could practice some breath play with me!”
When she heard my words, Philine looked like a deer in the headlights.
Perhaps they overheard the commotion, but the number of people that were coming in gradually kept increasing.
“So, I had Philine-sama choke me, but she became unable to handle it partway through and started crying.”
“It’ll be fine, just play along with me,” I whispered into Philine’s ear.
“Rei, why would you do something like that!?”
“I wanted to practice it before getting you to do it to me, Claire-sama!! If I ended up fainting too quickly, wouldn’t that be rude to you!?”
“““Claire-sama was into those sort of things!?”””
“I’m not!? And besides, Philine-sama!!”
Philine quickly corrected her posture upon hearing Claire-sama’s sharp tone.
“You shouldn’t just accept everything so carelessly! You’re too nice!!”
“You made her do something she wasn’t comfortable with until she cried!! Rei, get on your knees!”
“Who said you could sit down!!”
“But I’m on just my knees――”
“Get on your knees without sitting down.”
“Please don’t say something so ridiculous!?”
While Claire-sama and I were in the middle of our Manzai comedy routine,
“Rei Taylor, please don’t force the Imperial Princess to become your practice partner for your strange fetishes.”
The old man, Joseph-san, said as he heaved a sigh.
“Alright, everyone can go now. Just don’t tell anybody about what happened here.”
The old man clapped his hands together and got everybody, including himself, to leave.
However, as he walked out,
“I’m indebted to you, Rei Taylor.”
He said to me in a voice that only I could hear.
Ah, it seemed that he caught on.
“So, was that good enough?”
“Yes, it was perfect. Thank you very much.”
Claire-sama asked, with only her, me, and Philine still in the room.
As expected of Claire-sama.
She caught onto the fact that I was just acting and ended up playing along with it.
“…… Why did you try to defend me……? I tried to strangle you, you know?”
“Well, I’m used to it by now, since it’s my second time.”
“Eh, you actually have experience with breath play?”
“No, we don’t!?”
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t with Claire-sama.”
By the way, the first time was from the incident with Sandrine-san.
“I…… don’t need your sympathy.”
Philine said in a self-deprecating tone.
“Even so, I sympathize with you because I like you so much. If you weren’t here, well…… that’d be troublesome.”
“I don’t understand you. I don’t remember trying to get close to you at all, Rei. If anything, all I’ve done is gone against you in pursuit of Claire.”
Philine looked incredulous.
“Even if you don’t feel the same about me, this is how I feel about you. I’ve been looking at you. And in some way, the reason why I was able to meet Claire-sama might also be all thanks to you.”
I recalled my days of playing RevoLily.
The first time I met Claire-sama, I wasn’t playing as Rei Taylor, but Philine instead.
“If things had happened a bit differently, perhaps you’d be in my position right now. And besides…”
“You’re also one of my favorites. Although, you’re no match compared to Claire-sama.”
She was a shy, cowardly, and normal girl in every way possible, but she had the potential to grow and become a young woman strong enough to overturn the entire system of a nation.
I really did like Philine.
“I think we can get along just fine.”
I don’t think we could have the type of relationship Philine had with Claire-sama, but we could be rivals in another sense.
“Even though something like that happened just now?”
“That’s a trivial matter. Besides, we’re practically comrades already.”
“What are you talking about?”
Well, we were definitely comrades.
“We both favor Claire-sama, after all.”
Philine and I firmly shook hands over it.
“……. You’re not satisfied unless there’s some kind of a punchline, huh.”
Claire-sama said as she buried her head in her hands.
This marks the end of chapter 12 (“The Ball“)! A lot of things happened in this chapter as well (especially since it was quite long), but hopefully you all enjoyed it!
The release date for chapter 13 has not been set in stone yet, but it is estimated to come out by the end of next month. As always, the pre-release will come first, with the public release following it one week after.
In the meantime, I Favor the Villainess is getting a manga adaptation! More information is available in this pixiv FANBOX post made by inori. The first chapter will officially be released in the August issue of Comic Yurihime (slated for release on June 18). Since I have nothing to do with the manga release, all information regarding it is unknown to myself as well.
If you are interested in supporting the author, please consider subscribing to Inori-sensei’s pixivFANBOX page. The basic plan (100 yen per month) is enough to view the pre-release posts when they come out – with English and Korean translations to boot. Alternatively, you can also show your support for the author by simply leaving your impressions of the story so far (whether that’s through Twitter, commenting here or posting your thoughts on other platforms), or just by sending Inori-sensei a kind message!
As always, thank you all for reading I Favor the Villainess! We’ll be back with chapter 13 soon.
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