OG Victoria had done many things that filled Tori with second hand embarrassment, but this was the first time she humiliated herself since she woke.
“Excuse me?” Axton’s eyes widened as he drew his head back in surprise.
“I mean, it’s a pleasure to meet you, as well!” Tori shot up from her seat, her face red, but still pretending her first words to the first prince of Soleil and his personal aide weren’t ‘fuck me’. It was bad enough that she was thirsting over two guys who weren’t even twenty yet, and in front of her brother, but she was sure the entire restaurant heard her.
Her panic was short lived as her defensive mechanism was triggered. She needed to salvage the situation and she did so the only way knew how: putting on her professional facade and pretending she was confident.
Tori’s ‘business’ smile appeared on her face as she raised her hand. “Apologies, my thoughts were elsewhere for a moment. I am Victoria de Guevera, first year student at Lycée du Soleil. Please call me Tori.” Her voice was even and calm, without a hint of the self-deprecating tone of ‘oh, fuck me’.
Her sudden change seemed to momentarily surprise Axton and Kasen, but Axton recovered fast and responded in kind. His eyes crinkled up as he smiled and took Tori’s hand. She expected him to shake it. That was what people did when faced with a ‘firm business handshake’.
His lips were surprisingly soft as they grazed the back of her hand.
Tori jerked her head back and blinked. This was unexpected. No one had kissed the back of her hand yet. She didn’t think it was a thing here.
“Tori, then. Please call me Axton.” His sharp eyes looked relaxed as he released her hand. He took a step to the side and looked towards the first prince of Soleil, expectant.
Taking the cue, Tori moved her hand in front of Piers. “Your Highness.”
His violet eyes looked down at her hand and she could’ve sworn she saw disinterest on his face. He looked towards her brother and then, as if resigned to the action, the prince took her hand and gave it a weak squeeze before his hand dropped to his side. It was almost as if he hadn’t touched her at all.
Tori wasn’t sure what to make of it. Her hand was practically left hanging and she tried not to make it awkward as she brought her hand back. She had read him as a dominating CEO-type from his appearance: serious and aggressive with a hint of arrogance, but his action was anything but ultra confident businessman.
Kasen took a deep breath and released it. He didn’t mention the prince’s weak handshake and so Tori assumed it was normal. Kasen moved back to his seat and motioned for everyone to take theirs. “All right, let’s sit down and order. Tori’s hungry.”
She shot him a glare, but still bent down to pick up her discarded menu and take her seat. Axton sat to her right and Piers took the seat across from her.
“Tori, please let us know when you’re ready,” Axton said in a pleasant voice. “We’re regulars here, so we all know what to get.”
Oh great, she was holding them back. She kept a blank smile on her face and closed the menu. “I’m ready, as well. I’ll just have the braised paprika chicken and some white wine.”
Kasen lifted his hand and a waiter appeared at their table at once. He gave his and Tori’s orders before the other two gave theirs and Tori knit her brows just a bit.
Soleil was a parliamentary monarchy, so while the imperial family held legitimate power, they still had to abide by pre-established laws and limits. For example, they couldn’t just have someone killed for no good reason. That being said, wasn’t her brother being too casual in the presence of Soleil’s first prince?
She and Kasen were children of a Marquis, but Piers was an imperial prince. Shouldn’t he be addressed as such? He didn’t seem at all bothered by the informality.
A glass of wine was placed beside Tori and she gave the waiter a small nod of thanks before bringing it to her lips.
She didn’t read much on the first prince when she was on the train. He was mentioned as a side character; a blue underlined link. It was his brother, Prince Gideon, who was one of the targets. Piers was mentioned in Gideon's wiki article, but Tori had skipped it in order to read Victoria’s. From the plot of the first game, Piers wasn’t mentioned as having a significant part in the story. He was, at best, a background character who was only mentioned in passing.
Tori supposed his outstanding appearance was because he was the older brother of one of the love interests and the family members of the main characters, hers included, were all good looking in their own right. She could only imagine how his brother, the number one ranked love interest in the game, looked in person.
Her eyes looked over the rim of her glass to catch another glimpse of the first prince.
Piers was taciturn and when he answered Kasen or Axton, there wasn’t much of a change in his demeanor or tone. His responses were clear and to the point. As unassuming as he was, that hot fucker across from her was the brother of the guy who stole Victoria’s heart and whose existence set her on the path of destruction.
As Tori lowered her glass, she caught his eyes and quickly avoided his gaze. She didn’t know what to say to him; he didn’t exactly seem open to conversation. In addition, she had no idea how his relationship to Prince Gideon was. Were they close? Would Gideon’s opinion of her influence Piers?
In the game, did Piers support his brother and therefore, oppose Victoria? Did she have to be wary of him, too?
“Tori?” Her brother’s voice cut through her thoughts and she lifted her head. She put a pleasant smile on her face, but her brother still frowned. “Are you all right? You’re very quiet.”
Tori collected herself and shook her head. “Just taking it all in,” she said. She made a vague motion of her hand towards the prince. “I didn’t know you knew royalty.”
Kasen seemed to relax. He leaned back against his seat and she could see a hint of a grin on his lips. “Is that so shocking? Our father is a marquis.”
Kasey, please tone it back for just a second. My body is noble, but my mind is peasant.
She heard a chuckle beside her and turned to her right. Axton was seated upright with a small white cup of coffee in front of him. “It’s understandable, Tori,” he said. “It’s normal for you to be overwhelmed. It’s your first time in Horizon. I’m sure you weren’t sure what to expect.”
For sure I didn’t expect to be seated across from the older brother of my enemy.
“Don’t be nervous.” She nearly jumped at the sound of Piers’ voice. Her wide eyes looked across the table and Piers looked away as soon as their gazes collided. “Imperial family members leave the palace all the time. My mother often comes to this restaurant. We are still citizens of the empire. It shouldn’t surprise you to see us.”
Tori pursed her lips and stared at him. Sure, they were all citizens of the empire, but there was a massive difference in social rank. And wealth. And influence. And, in his case, beauty.
She took a deep breath. Life is unfair.
“Tori, just treat him as you would a normal senior,” Kasen told her. “Piers is still a student and he must still have the same decorum as any other.”
“As your seniors, we are more than willing to aid you as you settle into Lycée,” Axton said, offering her a reassuring smile. “Please don’t hesitate to ask us any questions.” Very fitting of the romance novel cover model; handsome and supportive. As he was more talkative and directed questions at her, Tori was much more comfortable with Axton.
Then again, it could’ve just been because Axton was not an imperial family member nor related to the second prince.
“The seventh district and Academic Quarter aren’t far from here,” Axton said. “There are many stores to choose from when it comes to buying supplies and the closer they are to campus, the more expensive they are. If you’re willing to walk a little further, I can show you the stores we frequent. The quality is excellent for the price and it’s one of the few stores that will let you order in advance.”
Tori nodded. “That sounds great. I didn’t bring any school supplies from Presidio. If we can buy them here, it would’ve been pointless to carry them with us.”
Axton smiled. “Senior Kasen, your sister is very smart.” Tori couldn’t help but smile back. Her cheeks warmed a bit. Not necessarily because of the compliment, but who wouldn’t get a bit hot and bothered when someone as attractive as him smiled at her?
“I heard you’re ranked 78.” Tori snapped her head back to face Piers, her smile wiped off. On her left, Kasen nearly spit out his wine. His face darkened as he looked at the prince.
“Piers.” Her brother said his name as if it was a warning.
Piers lowered his eyes. “You said she was struggling in primary school. To be a struggling student and successfully enter Lycée is impressive. 78 out of 80 is still a near perfect score.”
She wasn’t sure if he was complimenting her or stating a fact. It was very possible to score more than perfect, as there were advanced bonus questions that made the top spots competitive. Victoria had no chance of answering those bonus questions. A near perfect score on the regular portion of the exam was the best she could do.
“Thousands of students take the test from all over the empire,” Axton said. “And only 80 are accepted.”
“80 academic spots,” Piers said. His voice was a bit cold as he looked across at Tori. “There are still a hundred other spots per year.”
Those other hundred spots were for specialty niche students. They were high achieving in other ways. Auntie Lucia didn’t test into Lycée for an academic spot. She was one of the best swordswomen in the empire at fourteen. She received an invitation to study at Lycée.
Sebastian got in the same way.
Kasen not only was invited for the same reason, but also tested in. His rank upon entry: one.
Unfortunately, Victoria had no discernible skills. Testing into Lycée was her only option.
That wasn’t Tori’s fault. It wasn’t as if she was the one who took the test. Still, no one liked being called out like that. She looked down and played with the stem of her wine glass again.
“The coursework of Lycée is known for being intense.” Piers continued to talk, but his voice had lost its earlier edge. “If Junior Tori needs guidance, I can be of assistance.”
Her brows raised. She didn’t expect him to offer. “Are you serious?” She was pretty sure he didn’t mean it and was only saying it because Kasen was there.
“Piers entered Lycée ranked one,” Axton said, proud. “And he graduated at rank one.”
“Tch, who hasn’t....” Tori heard her brother mutter under his breath. She cracked a small smile and reached over to pat his arm. Kasen gave her a gentle look before hardening his face and scowling at the other two. “You know that if Sebastian or I were staying in the city, I wouldn’t ask for you two to look out for my sister, but as of right now, you two are the most convenient option.”
Tori held back her grimace. She appreciated having someone to help her if needed when she was new to the city, but she didn’t want to be a burden to them.
“Rest assured, Senior, we will take good care of Tori,” Axton said. He and Kasen both looked at Piers, who acknowledged with a small nod.
Tori looked at her brother and wondered what he did to get them to agree to this so easily.
Kasen let out a low breath and nodded, satisfied. Two waiters arrived, each with two plated dished in their hands. They were placed in front of the four of them and Kasen gave them a nod. “Let’s eat. We still have much to do today.”
He and Axton dominated the conversation over lunch. Tori mainly listened and nodded, occasionally answering when there was a relevant question. Piers was quiet most of the time. Perhaps that was just his personality.
He did try to pay for the meal, but Kasen denied him.
He and Tori took their carriage to the seventh district while the two followed on horseback. Tori perched herself by the window to watch the passing scenery.
“Are you excited?” She craned her neck and saw Axton riding close to her side of the carriage, sitting a little higher than eye level.
“Who doesn’t like new stationery?” Tori said. Wasn’t that one of the few fun parts about going back to school: shopping for school supplies? It had been so long since she last did so.
Axton chuckled. “I meant going to Lycée.” He looked up ahead and lifted his chin. Tori turned her head towards the front of the carriage and could see a few peaked towers and black tiled roofs in the distance.
“I suppose,” she said. She had mixed feelings. She was curious about going to school in this game and wanted to see how it differed from her original world, but at the same time, with the soul of a forty-year-old woman, didn’t want to relive high school. That was in addition to her being the villainess. “Kasey told me a lot about it and what to expect. I don’t think anything will be too shocking.”
“I think you’ll do well in Lycée,” Axton said. He kept his eyes ahead, looking thoughtful.
She gave him a doubtful look. “Just because my brothers did well doesn’t mean I will. Rank 78, remember?”
“Don’t discredit yourself before you’ve started,” Axton told her. “Test taking is just part of the criteria. You’ll be evaluated on your project results and practical application of what you’ve learned.”
Tori nodded and sat back against the carriage seat. Per Kasen’s instructions, they were dropped at the front gate of Lycée. The tall, black iron gates were still closed, but just looking at them and the brick and stone-faced buildings beyond them, Tori could feel its prestige in her bones. The three men seemed to let her stand there and take in the sight of what would be her new home for the next four years, provided she didn’t fail out.
She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. She turned around and faced her brother and his underclassmen.
She narrowed her eyes and stood up straight. “All right. Show me what the seventh district has to offer.”
She took out a folded map from her pocket as they walked along the streets surrounding Lycée. Kasen let Axton take the lead in directing Tori’s attention to various shops. He led them through some narrow streets, to check out stationary and bookstores.
Kasen and Pier’s arms began to pile up with various packages and bags containing things Tori purchased. Kasen tried to pay, but she insisted on using the money their mother gave her. Notebooks, loose paper, writing utensils and ink, cases of them, some reference books and various folders and portfolios were bought. One of the guards escorting them had to run back to the carriage to put her things away.
The three men offered their suggestions on a nearby tailor, cobbler, and fencing supply store. The twelfth district was across the city and it wouldn’t always be convenient to go if she needed something fixed immediately.
They passed by the neighboring Université, which from the outside looked like an even larger version of Lycée. It was a gated town in itself.
“If you need to find these two, you don’t need a guest pass. The campus is open all day and night, however, particular facilities are only open during class hours and others require valid identification and guest escort,” Kasen told her. Made sense; she doubted Uncle Maurizo would want random people entering his greenhouse.
“Many students, especially those who are local or are doing graduate studies, live off campus near here or in the surrounding districts,” Axton said. “Piers and I have a flat a block from the main plaza. We’ll go back if we don’t have anything on campus, so if you are looking for us outside of class time, you can go to our flat.”
It was a practical invitation and Tori was about to agree, when Kasen frowned.
“My sister will not be going into any unrelated man’s home,” he said in a low voice. Tori rolled her eyes. He was the one who introduced these two to her.
Axton looked a bit surprised. It was clear to Tori that he didn’t have an ulterior motive. “Senior, it would be good for her to know where-”
“No need.” Kasen’s reply was quick.
Tori sighed. “It’s just in case of an emergency-”
“You can find an instructor.” End of discussion.
Tori and Axton exchanged helpless looks.
“If you need a quiet place to study, go to Cafe Fortuna.” Piers spoke up unexpectedly. He had been quiet most of the time, only giving his opinion when someone asked.
“It’s a brick and ivy covered building. When you enter the main plaza and face the chariot statue, it is down the second alley on your left.” The main plaza was two small blocks north of the front of Lycée. When they circled it, she saw plenty of places to eat and drink. Axton said it was a popular place for both Lycée and Université students to go for meals.
“Cafe Fortuna?” Tori looked for it in her map and lifted a pencil to circle the alley.
“The entrance is small and the customers are mostly Université students who take up tables, order a drink and small meal, and then study for a few hours.”
The corner of Tori’s lips perked up. So it was just like any other cafe in her original world. It sounded promising. “I can always use a good cup of coffee when I’m studying. Thanks for the recommendation.” She looked up and smiled. He was more considerate than she thought.
“It gets busy during test periods and late at night,” Piers said as he glanced to the side. “If you can’t find a place to sit, go to my private study room on the upper floor.”
She squinted. “You have a private study room at a cafe?” You can really do a lot when you have money and power, huh?
“Madam Lillian runs the cafe with her sons, but Piers owns the building.” Axton seemed to notice the look of uncertainty on her face.
Piers nodded once. “They will feed you.”
“Okay....” Tori gave a questioning look to Axton, waiting for him to explain.
“It’s mainly a cafe, but there is a full kitchen and meals can be ordered,” he told her. Tori made a little ‘o’ with her lips. For a moment, she thought going to the private study area would give her free food. She wouldn’t complain.
“I’ll give Madam Lillian and her sons your name. You can stay as long as you like,” Piers said. Lycée had an open campus policy similar to Université, however they didn’t run year round and would be locked up during breaks. Those who stayed at the dorms also needed to be back at night or they'd be locked out of the campus for the night.
“But don’t stay out too late,” Kasen said. “I don’t want you walking back when it’s dark.”
The cafe was two blocks away. One step from the alley and she could look down the street and see the gates of Lycée from the main plaza.
“Kasey, it’s close. I can get back to the dorms quickly.”
He shook his head and looked towards the other two. “If you see her there and it’s night, escort her home.”
“Of course, Senior.”
The prince and his aide took Kasen’s order as if receiving military instructions. A duty had befallen them and Tori made a mental note not to stay past sunset to avoid having to trouble them. She also glanced back at Kasen, now even more curious to find out why Piers and Axton were so obedient to him.
“Tori, do you have a comcry?” Axton reached into his pocket and took out a silver pocket watch attached to a chain. He flipped open the lid and instead of a clock face, it was a pale yellow quartz surface with a slight, smooth bump. “I’ll give you my information if you need to contact me. You are our senior’s precious sister, so we must take care of you.”
She looked at Kasen, expecting him to deny Axton and say ‘how dare you try to get my sister’s contact information’. However, her brother didn’t protest and gave her a nod of approval.
Tori reached into her pocket for a round compact the size of her palm. She opened the lid, which had a mirror at the top, but the other half had a clear quartz surface, also with a smooth bump. She held it out and Axton touched the yellow quartz ring around the edge of the pocket watch with the clear quartz ring around the edge of her compact until both crystals began to glow with a faint light and her name ‘Tori de Guevera’ appeared in dark letters across his crystal.
Similarly, ‘Axton du Nassaun’ also appeared on hers. When their names disappeared, he took his comcry back.
She didn’t know if Victoria had a comcry before, but she was in awe the first time she used this compact. She had gone to every member of her family to get their information and would always smile like an idiot when she watched the process. It was as mundane as exchanging phone numbers in her world with near field communication devices, but to her it was novel and exciting.
To contact a person, she just needed to swipe her finger across the quartz and say a voice command.
Axton closed his comcry and slid it back into his pocket. Tori was about to do the same when another comcry appeared in front of her hands. She looked up and saw Piers standing in front of her, holding open a similar pocket watch styled object with inlaid violet-tinted quartz. He was looking down at her comcry.
“Me, too.” His voice was quiet and Tori held back a slight grin. So much for the dominating CEO she imagined when she first saw him. His action seemed almost awkward, but sincere.
She touched her quartz to his. “Okay.” His name appeared across her comcry as ‘Piers du Soleil’ and when it disappeared, she closed her compact. “Thank you.”
He gave her a small nod and held the closed comcry in his hand.
Tori looked towards her brother with a big smile.
This wasn’t such a bad idea. It didn’t hurt to be on the good side of the first prince and his aide.
Maybe avoiding Victoria’s untimely death won’t be so hard.
For the first time since they closed several months ago, the iron gates of Lycée opened for students. An archway of flowers was hung over the gates as a banner that read ‘Welcome First Years’ was draped right below it. Instructors wore white sashes with dark green stars embroidered at the bottom draped around their shoulders and over their chests. They stood at the entrance, greeting people and giving directions.
Dozens of carriages lined the field-sized oval driveway in front of the gates as the families of incoming students brought their children to the gates to drop them off. Everyone’s things should’ve been dropped off a few days earlier and in the student’s assigned dorm by now. When Tori came to drop off her trunk with her brothers, she also received her welcome portofolio, which included a dark green, rounded rectangular token that was her key to her room.
“Do you have everything?” Kasen asked behind her as they stood by the gates. Only students and faculty would be allowed in from that point on.
Tori nodded and turned around to face him and Sebastian. While classes didn’t officially start until after the weekend, she would have a few days to get settled into her dorm, get to know her roommate, and explore the school. Like all the other students, she was dressed in her uniform with one slight alteration.
Strapped under her skirt, to her right thigh, was the dagger her grandfather gave her. Auntie Lucia made sure she had it on before she saw her off from the house.
“Thanks for all your help, Kasey,” Tori said. She stepped forward and raised her arms to hug him. Her brother stepped closer and gave her a tight embrace.
“Don’t worry too much. If anything happens, you can call Auntie Lucia or those two idiots.” He stepped back and pinched her chin. “If you really need help, call me, all right?”
She gave him an obedient nod. “I will.”
“My turn!” Sebastian wedged his way between his siblings so he could give Tori a hug. “My baby sister...don’t let anyone here bully you. Remember, you’re a Guevera. Gueveras do not yield.”
“Gueveras do not yield,” Tori repeated. “I’ll be fine, Sebby. Don’t worry about me.” She tried her best to look confident under the worried gazes of her brothers.
She took in the sight of her siblings; the only two she had in both this world and her old one. Once more, she might have been unlucky in other aspects, but at least she lucked out with them. These were the two who turned on the empire because they loved Victoria so much. She couldn’t help but feel a bit emotional.
“I love you guys.” She gave them one last smile and then turned around before they could see her eyes redden.
With her black book satchel that Piers picked out for her at her side, she marched through the gates with her head held high and didn’t look back.
She had memorized the map of the campus and headed to the east dorm, where her room was located. Students wandering around with maps in their hands littered the areas close to the dorms. There were a few older students with white sashes embroidered with ‘Student Guide’ across their chest, helping anyone who was lost.
Tori found her dorm with ease and entered through the main doors, which were open wide. On a notice board by the door was a list of names and their corresponding rooms. Tori already knew which one was hers; third floor, the all girls north wing, room 315.
She walked into the foyer of the east dorm without stopping in front of the notice board, but heard the gossip as she passed.
“I can’t believe she made it in. There must be some mistake.” A voice filled with disgust reached her ears. “She was always at the bottom of our class.”
“Maybe she didn’t test in for an academic position and was invited for one of the niche spots.”
Someone snorted. “As if that’s possible. My cousin went to school with her and said that she doesn’t have any outstanding abilities. All she does is go to parties and bully people.”
“That’s pretty much it. If we didn’t have to, we wouldn’t invite her at all.”
“If she wasn’t Marquis Guevera’s daughter, she’d be nothing.”
Tori narrowed her eyes just a bit, but kept walking. She knew there were going to be a few people who knew of her and her reputation at Lycée. She didn’t doubt that there would be one or two classmates from her primary school. She just didn’t expect to run into them so soon.
“Is that her?” A disdain-filled voice said in a low voice. “She really came!”
Once more, she felt the eyes on her, watching her cautiously, as if expecting her to lash out at any moment.
Tori pretended not to hear them. It wasn’t as if they were wrong, but she wasn’t going to fall into their expectations now that the soul in the body was different. That’s not what NPC did. She checked in with one of the student guides whose warm welcome signaled that she didn’t know who Tori was.
Tori was halfway up the stairs when she heard another student guide tell the first one ‘...Marquis Guevera’s daughter. You know, the one that keeps making trouble.’
She could only roll her eyes as she reached her floor and walked to her room. She reached into her breast pocket inside her jacket and took out the small green stone. She held it against a matching green stone above the door handle. It pulsed with light once and then the door unlocked.
The windows across the room faced the afternoon sun and the room was flooded with daylight. It was just as Kasen told her; fifteen pace by fifteen pace square room. One side mirrored the other. At the foot of each bed was a trunk. The one on her right was larger than hers and already open.
“Hello! Are you Victoria de Guevera?” It was another warm welcome and Tori turned towards the right and saw a young woman rise from where she was kneeling by the open trunk. She was a pretty girl with reddish-brown hair with a gentle wave tied in a low ponytail. Her big brown eyes were bright and she wore a hopeful expression laced with some nervousness.
“Yes, please call me Tori.” She walked in and met the girl’s smile with one of her own before holding out her hand. The girl was a little shorter than her, but a bit more filled out. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. How did you know it was me?” They weren't notified of who their roommate would be when she dropped off her trunk.
“I read your name on the notice board. We have the same room number,” the girl said. Dimples appeared on both her soft, pink cheeks as she smiled. She shook Tori’s hand. “Did you have a side preference?”
“No, wherever the trunk is, is fine,” she said. She walked into the room and the door closed behind her. She lifted her satchel over her head and looked around her side of the room. A single person sized canopy bed with hunter green curtains was against a corner. There was a writing desk and chair on one side with a tall bookshelf beside it. On the other side of the bed was a double doored wardrobe beside a three drawer chest with coat hooks above it.
Tori nodded to herself, satisfied. She’d have this room until she graduated.
“Do you need any sheets or pillows? My mother packed me extra,” the girl said behind her.
Tori turned around and smiled, shaking her head. “I brought some, thank you. I didn’t get your name, by the way.”
The girl blushed, embarrassed. “Ilyana Agafonova. My father is a new baron in Stanhov. My family owns a mine.”
Tori could’ve sworn that name sounded familiar. She must’ve read it in the wiki article, but couldn't remember who Ilyana was. “That’s a nice name. Stanhov is a cold place, isn’t it?”
“Much colder than here,” Ilyana said. “My mother also packed extra furs for the winter, so if you need any, let me know.”
Tori opened her mouth to thank her when she remembered.
Ilyana Agafonova was the daughter of a new baron who bought his title with the wealth from a mine. Ilyana was essentially new money, but what was more important was that in the game, Ilyana was one of Victoria’s lackeys. She was loud and confrontational, often acting as Victoria’s attack dog.
Tori looked at the Ilyana who was kneeling by her trunk, quietly sorting out bedsheets and talking about decorating the room with a gentle smile on her face. Did she have the right person?
“Do you want to come with me later to look for our classes?” Ilyana asked, suddenly. Tori blinked and tried to pay attention.
She opened her mouth, ready to agree, but stopped.
If Tori went with her, Ilyana would notice people looking at her and whispering. Ilyana seemed like a sweet girl and though Tori wanted to make friends and be on good terms with her roommate, she didn’t want to drag Ilyana down with her.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Tori said. Ilyana stopped going through her things and looked up, surprised that Tori rejected her. Tori shook her head. “It’s not that I don’t want to go with you, but...how can I put this.” She might as well make it clear. “I don’t have a good reputation.”
Tori spent a few minutes telling Ilyana about herself and about the gossip regarding her, as well as her reluctance to get Ilyana involved. To her surprise, Ilyana waved her hand in front of her, dismissive.
“It’s okay. We are roommates, we need to stick together.”
“Ilyana, I’m sure we’ll get along fine as roommates, but outside-”
“I am a good judge of character,” Ilyana said, sounding much more stubborn than Tori had made her out to be. She looked at Tori with conviction. “You’re not as bad as others say.”
For a moment, Tori stared at her in disbelief. Was this sudden loyalty because of their connection in the game? They had only known each other for a few minutes, yet Ilyana looked assured with her decision to befriend Tori.
“Okay.” Tori conceded. “Let’s go look for our classes, but if it gets too much for you, I won’t hold it against you.”
Ilyana’s face filled with a bright smile and after grabbing her own bag, she and Tori headed out the dorm. They compared their schedules and were pleased to find that their homeroom was the same. The only difference was their last elective classes: Tori had selected MetaCrystals because she thought they were fascinating. Ilyana had the much more practical Trade Geography.
And true to Ilyana’s words, the unfriendly gazes and barely audible whispers about Tori didn’t bother her.
They found their homeroom with ease and after they checked it off, they plotted their way to their elective classes. Tori’s was closer to the dorm while Ilyana’s was closer to their homeroom, so they couldn’t walk back together.
“Is this it?” Tori heard someone speaking behind her as she and Ilyana traced their path on the map. She glanced over her shoulder and did a double take.
A handsome young man with silver hair and violet eyes was walking with a slightly taller, rigid looking young man with black hair and red eyes. From their outstanding features, Tori figured they were not simple NPC. Perhaps they were side characters with minor parts, such as a background character the protagonist interacted with often.
Afterall, yesterday she already met two side characters from Horizon: Piers and Axton, and they were so gorgeous, she momentarily blacked out. The two teen boys behind her, while good looking, didn’t hold a candle to the two older young men from the other night.
Tori turned her attention back to Ilyana. They were bound to get to know her classmates when classes started, so she was in no rush to introduce herself.
“Yes, Your Highness. This is the homeroom for class 1-A.”
A chill shot through Tori and for a moment, she couldn’t breath. She had forgotten that not only did she go to the same school as the protagonists and the love interests, but she was in the same class as the protagonist and the second prince.
“Good job, Fabian. What about our elective classes? Are they near here?”
Tori silently swore.
Fabian? As in Fabian von Dorn, the knight-archetype love interest? Oh, fuck no. Tori closed her eyes and grit her teeth, thinking about the wiki article. The second prince’s right hand man was a young, but promising knight from a weakened noble family. He was the best swordsman in Lycée, of course.
Fabian triggered Tori specifically because he was the one who directly protected Alessa from Victoria’s hired henchmen. It was also because he was the one who knocked her out and gave her to the sex slavers at the end of the sequel. Tori couldn’t help but scowl.
“Tori, are you all right?” Ilyana tilted her head and looked at Tori’s sudden constipated expression.
Tori almost couldn’t relax her face. “I’m fine,” she said. “We should go check out our elective classes. Your class is nearby, but my MetaCrystal class is a bit further. I can walk you to your class on my way to mine.”
“MetaCrystal? Is that in block C? Room 9?” Tori nearly crushed the map in her hand as she heard a voice ask behind her. Ilyana turned around, but Tori already knew who was speaking. Fabian continued on. “That’s our elective, as well. May we go with you?”
“Sure!” Ilyana, blissfully ignorant, agreed without hesitation. Fabian looked towards the prince, who nodded.
“I am Gideon Jacques du Soleil, second prince of Soleil. A pleasure.” He gave them a small nod of his head and then motioned towards the young man beside him. “This is my aide and personal knight, Fabian von Dorn.”
“Greetings to my future classmates,” Fabian said.
“Ilyana Agafonova and she is my roommate, Tori de Guevera.” Ilyana introduced them with a smile. Before Tori could speak and greet them, the face of the prince darkened.
“Victoria de Guevera, the daughter of Marquis Guevera?” He frowned and took a step away from her. He looked her up and down, as if she were a pest trying to get at his food. “I can’t believe they let you in here.”
The fuck, dude, we just met. Tori was surprised at first, but frowned. “Pardon me? What is that supposed to mean?”
He sneered and lifted his chin with a condescending look. “You know what it means.”
She twitched. “Enlighten me.”
“Everyone knows your father bought your way into Lycée. Your presence here is a blemish on the school’s reputation.”
She almost wanted to scoff. Victoria might’ve been an idiot, but she really wanted to get into Lycée. She studied her ass off to score high enough to get into the school. Granted, her best still left her at the bottom of the list, but she was still on the list.
“It seems you’re mistaken. I may be ranked very low, but I still made the cut. I studied to be accepted,” she said with narrowed eyes.
“You honestly don’t expect us to believe that, do you? Ask anyone from the south and they’ll say you were, at best, a struggling student. How could you possibly test high enough to enter Lycée?” He gave her a haughty and disgusted look and Tori couldn’t believe it.
If the prince heard the rumors and thought them true, did this mean he hated Victoria before they met?
And this fucker is who Victoria was so in love with that she screwed up her and her family’s lives? This was her Prince Charming who wasn’t nearly as attractive as two side characters?
Tori’s mind screamed.
Victoria, you stupid bitch!