Etiquette begins with posture.
Feet aligned, spinal column firmly straightened, hands held together in front. To stand in a way that was unashamed, and yet graceful, was actually pretty difficult.
「Yes, that’s right. Ojousama, pull your chin in a little….. Yes, remain still like that for five minutes」
Being forced into an unnatural position, even as I groaned, I obeyed Mariywa’s words. Trying to maintain a good posture while making it look natural and relaxed was like trying to look both ways at once.
The knowledge from my old life proved rather useless in my day-to-day life here.
Speaking of my previous life’s knowledge, it was quite fragmented; very little of it was clear. The knowledge that was clear was completely useless. As I am in a position to succeed as a blue blood, all of it was pretty useless.
However, inside that hodge-podge knowledge, only one was different and had a connection with my current life.
That knowledge was a story called『Labyrinth Destiny』
In my old life, we had a form of entertainment called an ‘otome game’, and uh, if I had to describe it with the knowledge from this life, I guess it’s a really story-rich paper theatre? Characters were drawn in a vivid and highly-stylised manner, and the images were replete with accompanying text and a multitude of choices.
If that was all, then as curious as it was, it would still just be memories of entertainment, but what was shocking was that the story told of my own future.
『Labyrinth Destiny』was a story, set a decade from now, that depicted Mishuly as the protagonist.
「Ojousama. You’re being too conscious of your posture and standing too stiffly. Relax a little more….. And as you do so, you must not slouch your shoulders, nor lose your focus, and get rid of only your tenseness.」
「Aye aye, ma’am!」
「Though I do not understand what you have just said, I implore you to give me that ridiculous response once more. When you do, I suspect that you will understand how unique today’s whipping will be」
「Yes, Miss Toinette」
Whoosh, rang the whip in Mariywa’s hand. When I saw that, I put on my graceful ojousama mask in a panic. I’m sealing off those words from earlier.
It was when I first met Mishuly. I was struck by her cuteness beam, which, as a result, caused me to remember the knowledge from my past life, starting with the story『Labyrinth Destiny』
However, the knowledge that I recalled, because of my meeting with Mishuly, was merely knowledge in the end, and not memories.
Although the knowledge was certainly unique, to I, who was raised and grown as a genius, it was nothing that could rattle me in the slightest.
In other words, since the moment I was born until now, I have been Christina Noir.
And although this knowledge was both directly relevant and incredibly important, and because of this knowledge, I could predict a portion of the future, giving me a tremendous advantage. Unfortunately for me, those advantages do not extend to etiquette lessons.
That was why, today, I have to bear with Mariywa’s hazings. After mastering the posture, next was how to walk, how to sit; from how to greet and all the way to how to speak, and so on, as well as how they’re all tied together. But before we began training in that order, there was a question on my mind.
「It’s Miss Toinette, Ojousama. Earlier, I was shocked at your admirable attitude and speech. You do know that, if you were to properly maintain that mask, I would have no reason to whip you?」
「….. Miss Toinette. There’s something I would like to know. Is that permitted?」
「Yes. What is it?」
Since Mariywa wouldn’t respond when I spoke normally to her, I reluctantly made use of the ojousama speech that she had driven into me to ask my question.
「Why are you piling books on top of my head?」
For some reason, for my posture training, Mariywa had started piling books on top of my head. It was just one; two to three were piled up. Not to mention, the books were just plain thick and my neck felt pressed. It was kind of hard to breath.
If they fell, they would hit my foot and it would likely be a painful ordeal, so I silently endured it, although this situation was somewhat quite baffling for me. I had thought that we were supposed to be learning etiquette here, but could it be that I was practising to become a new street performer?
As I was thinking this, she placed yet another book onto my head.
「This is historically the correct way to practice. By placing books on top of the head, it means that you will be conscious of your body; retaining composure and a sense of balance. Having those books fixed on top of your head will earn you a wonderful posture. Even walking with those books balanced on your head is possible」
Mariywa’s words meant that I need to pay attention whilst moving in order to avoid the books from falling, such confidence.
「As expected, isn’t this part of a performance!」
Again, she added another book on top of my head.
My neck hurts.
In total, ten volumes of books were on top of my head. With that, I was made to walk one lap around the room, as if I was training for a street performance. By the time I was seated for my meal, I was tormented by a dull pain.
As Mariywa had already left, mealtimes at my home’s estate were peaceful. But I had just started on table manners etiquette and there doesn’t seem to be an end to it – was what I thought, slightly depressed. Seated in the seat of honor was my Father. Seated beside me was Mishuly. At this moment, we were in the midst of eating the main dish, a sautéd fish.
But my neck was still hurting. Honestly, my neck had to bear and support the burden from the top of my head, and somewhere at the back of my neck was absolutely sore. My neck was well twisted. This was all Mariywa’s fault. Everything was Mariywa’s fault.
「Onee-sama, are you okay?」
In the midst of mealtime, it seemed that I often rubbed the back of my neck. Seated in the seat beside me, Mishuly had gently extended her hand to the back of my neck.
「Your neck, what’s wrong with it?」
「Ah, this is compensation for learning a street performance, it’s nothing big to make a fuss of」
To ease Mishuly’s concerns, I endured the pain and laughed. Mishuly and I aren’t blood-related.
Our appearances were completely different after all, so I suppose you could say that it was a natural conclusion. Unlike the black hair and eyes I have, Mishuly was a blond haired, blue eyed angel. Although, just like me, both of us were from the great Noir lineage, my younger sister, Mishuly, did not inherit our blood.
Mishuly came to the Noir house about two years ago. I was around five years old; it was the period when I had exhausted all of the books in the library.
At that time, I heard an adopted child was coming to our house, and began to sulk a little.
In the situation of a noble household adopting a child, the general assumption is that of retrieving a lover’s child. Anyhow, thinking about the fact that somewhere, Father had a child with his mistress and had brought it back, was sickening. The adoption felt like an act of insult to my dead Mother and I was irritated at Father; even the adopted child’s existence felt irritating.
Should I just bully her? My head was filled with irritation as I harbored these kinds of stupid thoughts when I went to meet Mishuly for the first time.
I thought an angel had descended.
Soft, curly blond hair and sparkling blue eyes. Struck by a charming cuteness that seemed to light up the whole universe, I ended up remembering my past life’s knowledge and the like.
「Onee-sama. Pain pain, fly away~!」
「Fufu. Thanks, Mishuly. All of the pain has flown away. As thanks, ah~~nn」
For gently using a charm to kindly stroke the pain at the back of my neck away, I moved a slice of tonight’s main dish into Mishuly’s mouth. Gleefully, Mishuly opened her mouth wide and gulped down the sautéd fish.
Reflexively, my cheeks softened.
In my memories of the story『Labyrinth Destiny』, Mishuly was the heroine. This world’s God apparently has good taste. After all, he knows quite well who the cutest person in the world is. The fact that he chose Mishuly means that he has quite a good eye. Next time, when we pay a visit to the church, I think I’ll praise him just a little.
My little sister was just so overwhelmingly cute that it actually made sense that the world was made for her.
「Onee-sama. My turn, ah~~nn!」
Mishuly tried her very best and struggled to use the knife and fork to cut up a slice for me. I chewed on the food that was changed into the most delicious thing in the world like magic.
It became so damn delicious that I thought my jaws would fall apart.
「Right~~ It’s so tasty~~ Mishuly」
「He– Hey, Christina, Mishuly. Father also would–」
「Otou-sama’s seat is too far so it’s impossible!」
There was a distance between Father’s seat at the head of the table, and where the two of us sisters were sitting. Joining with Father, we continued a harmonious conversation, although there was just one thing about my past life’s knowledge that I couldn’t stop thinking about.
In『Labyrinth Destiny』, the one useful thing to come out of my previous life’s knowledge was that Mishuly was the heroine of this world.
Well, of course, Mishuly – my most beloved younger sister and an archangel that descended from the heavens – suited the position the most.
But conversely, there was still another role that I couldn’t accept no matter what.
In the romance-heavy『Labyrinth Destiny』, the one who served as Mishuly’s foil was Christina Noir. In this world, she would shun, oppress, and obstruct the protagonist who was loved by the world, and in the end, through her misdeeds, personally caused her own ruin.
The villainess noble girl who did unforgivable deeds to my beloved sister, Mishuly, was none other than me.