Innilis felt she was going insane. Why was she doing such a thing? How could she? That was Annelotte! The Annelotte who protected her and cared for her like a little sister! Why would she have such thoughts about her?
It had been a long, brainwashing process. Ever since Eirinn's face healed, the voice had been chewing away at her psyche in her head, day in and out without sleep.
Initially, Innilis resisted the voice strongly. She would rather die than let something happen to Annelotte, not to mention something which she had a part to play in.
But she was eventually unable to resist the voice's corruption. While she could ignore the voice for a few days, what if it kept on ringing for a whole month? Could one's will hold up to constant nagging day-in and day-out for a whole month?
She had suffered unbearable pain for the whole month alone. Who could she tell about it? Leguna? Annelotte? Or Eirinn? How would she tell them? That she was jealous of Annelotte and Eirinn and Leguna was neglecting him and allowed some dangerous thing to enter her head and whisper temptations to her nonstop?
She couldn't speak out!
Since there was nobody to share her burden, she could only face it alone. That only served to reinforce the narrative the voice tried to push: that Leguna wasn't concerned about her at all. If he were, he'd definitely notice her pain! The only explanation was that he no longer cared about her! His gaze was fixed on the two beauties, Annelotte and Eirinn! She was the neglected one who was left in a corner nobody looked in.
From the very start, she had felt rather inferior to those other two, in terms of appearance, ability and position in Leguna's heart. Leguna was willing to leave Lance for Annelotte's sake and grow into the terrifying head of the bureau, Dark Requiem. For Eirinn's sake, he was willing to look for her for years. But what had he done for Innilis? He always seemed intent on getting rid of her like he would a burden. Her isolation and those pent-up thoughts were the final push she needed.
It was true that Leguna hadn't paid as much attention to her in the past month, but that wasn't because he was distracted by Annelotte and Eirinn. He was just far too busy. There was a huge hole in the defenses since Fort Kesta's fall that he had to fill on the western front and he also had to sort out the military intelligence from the eastern front. He also had to keep an eye on the movements of the barbarians in the north. He also had to make many preparations to fulfil his desire to leave the administration of Hocke.
He couldn't have had the extra time. Putting Innilis aside, he couldn't even see Annelotte and Eirinn, whom Innilis was envious of, much.
Perhaps the two were able to understand why he was suddenly less eager to see them due to their maturity, but Innilis couldn't. She had lost everything in an instant before and greatly feared losing anything again. The fear fueled her insecurities and the result of that coupled with the incessant corruption and brainwashing was the culmination of the darkness in her heart.
She always hoped that Leguna would say a few words to her and show some more care. But his sudden neglect pushed her emotions to the other extreme.
And who's to blame for all that? Annelotte and Eirinn! If not for them, why would Big Bro Leguna ignore me? It's definitely… all… their… fault!
Such sentiments piled up under the repeated whispers of the voice. In the end, she went over the tipping point and chose to lash out. Her first target would be none other than the goddess and idol who had exploded in popularity in the recent months: Annelotte.
As long as she was there, Inniliss, and even Eirinn, would find it hard to shine under her glow. Innilis had to admit that she was not just perfect and bright, but bright to the point of blinding.
She was determined to put out the blinding light once and for all so that Leguna would no longer be swayed by it. All that so that Leguna could give a few more glances in her direction.
When Leguna finally left Melindor for his excursion, the last chains of restraints binding Innilis broke. Annelotte's restoration of the magic cannons only accelerated her plans.
After all, the magic calculations were mostly theoretical work, so Innilis finished up her part of the work a few days earlier. The day she wrapped her work up was the day Larwin announced the successful restoration of the magic cannons. Innilis watched as the people all cheered for Annelotte in adoration as if she was the one who did all the work. That was when she finally firmed her resolve.
Even though she also played a huge part in the research and got hurt because of it, everybody, even Leguna, only paid attention to Annelotte! Why? Why/!
When she finished up her work, she started making the concoction based on what she memorized.
"This potion won't take her life," the voice consoled, "You can tell from the ingredients that it will affect the diatagi of the one who consumes it and do some damage there. You should know that you can control the amount well and limit the damage just enough for her magic power to fall. If she loses her power, she won't be nearly as eye-catching and Leguna will finally pay attention to you."
Innilis didn't know whether that was true or not, but she couldn't handle it anymore. She had to do something, and the voice kept on encouraging her to do it.
"It only weakens her magic and won't harm her life," she repeated to herself nonstop as she made the concoction.
And now, it was finally complete. The time to serve it was nigh.
Annelotte smiled at seeing her and said, "Really? Thank you so much."
She was so beautiful. Even Innilis, a woman herself, couldn't help but to admit Annelotte's charm. Innilis admired, envied and also hated that charm of hers.
She took out a small vial from her dimensional pocket. The liquid contained within was a bright, icy blue just like Annelotte's hair color. She handed her the vial and smiled. "Try it, Sis Annie! It's really useful!"
Annelotte looked at her stiff smile and asked, "How did you come up with something like this?"
"I…" Innilis's expression shifted. She was only a young girl who didn't plan her lies like Annelotte and Leguna. However, she managed to think up a quick explanation. "I saw that you were working so hard over the past few days and wanted to help out, so I tried making something like this. Its effects turned out to be quite good!"
"Really?" Annelotte blinked and looked at the vial in her hand.
Innilis was feeling really nervous. She was afraid Annelotte would ask her what was inside. She really wouldn't know how to reply if confronted with that question.
Annelotte's knowledge of magic herbs was far deeper than Innilis's after all. If she made up a recipe, Annelotte would definitely be able to tell.
Please, don't ask… she prayed.
And the heavens seemed to have answered her prayers. Annelotte didn't seem the least bit suspicious about the effects and origins of the concoction and merely asked out of curiosity.
Since Innilis has shown some goodwill, it wouldn't do for me not to accept it, Annelotte thought. She looked at the nervous girl and thought she was just tense about the effects not being as good as she claimed.
So, she stroked Innilis's head encouragingly. "Don't worry, your studies in herbalism has advanced greatly. I'm sure your concoction will be effective!"
Innilis kept silent.
"That fellow truly is far too busy lately and doesn't have time to take care of you. But somehow, I feel like there's something bothering you over the past few days," Annelotte said as she pulled out the cork of the vial, "Well, if you don't mind, you can tell me about them. I don't know you as well as him, but I'll try my best to help you. Can… can you trust me?"
As she wasn't too good at expressing herself, Annelotte tried to hide her embarrassment by holding the vial up to her mouth and preparing to drink it.
But then, Innilis fell into a stupor. She had never expected Annelotte to be concerned about her. Even though you're so busy and worn out… Why? Why do you care about me? I'm here to harm you! Why don't you suspect me at all? This is a magic potion! One wrong ingredient and the effects will be completely different! Why do you trust me so deeply? I'm not worth it! Even though you're the villainess that took Big Bro from me, why are you such a dumb do-gooder now? Aren't you the smart one?
The girl looked at Annelotte in a daze as memories flashed across her mind.
She had lost her family and was heavily injured. Annelotte was the one who treated her. When the Eye had them surrounded, Annelotte was the one who charged into the fray to save her. When the talentless Innilis struggled in her studies, Annelotte was there to plan how her studies would develop, not to mention the countless times she looked out for her.
The thought of that returned the real Innilis back into her body. She recalled her actions over the past few days and wore an expression of horror and disbelief. Why… Why did I turn out like this? That's Sis Annie! The one who looked after me all this time! Why did I do that? No, don't do it! Don't drink it!
Tears flushed out of her eyes immediately as she leapt at the half-emptied vial.Previous Chapter Next Chapter