Chapter 1. Let’s Take A Stock
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Well, now... That. Is a situation.

Thankfully, I am alone, so I may afford to sort out my thoughts and prepare a plan of action. So... salient points.

Primo. This is isekai. I remember my previous life, so to speak, with crystal clarity. Up to and including a very abrupt death to a random drunkard side-swiping me with his car right into the curb head-first. Owie.

Secundo. This is otome isekai, with me taking the part of villainess. A game I remember vaguely well. All the classic points being hit - a plucky commoner protagonist, seven (Seven? Isn't the usual a bit less? Like four or three?) capture targets, if we count two secret ones (Ah. Secret routes. Gotcha.) and some kind of... combat system that was based on ikebanas of all things. Something about ikebanas being the base skill for magician composing spells.

Secundo insuper - magic! Real, accessible, and by all accounts (Including my own memories, natch.) something I'm reasonably apt with. Though the actual system is inane and I'm already having designs on it.

Tertio. I'm not, in any way, shape or form inclined to actually play the role of villainess. If memory serves correct, Alyssa Gillespie (WAIT, WHAT!? This is a very ominous Silent Hill reference. Thankfully, mother's name is not Dahlia, or I'd be planning my country exit strategy about now.), who is, by the way, me, is the firstborn daughter of count Gerard Gillespie and countess Elene Gillespie nee Bradford (XCOM? Or just coincidence? Getting vigsome vibes here, to plagiarize a Buffy.) is supposed to be betrothed to Edward Cullen (OH HELL NAW. No way. Nuh-huh. That guy is tainted simply for having the name. Tainted. Nothing going. And yes, if the alternative is french-style revolution, I WILL. Because this is TAINTED.), the third prince. Or, as commonly referred to, the spare prince. Whom will be lured away by protagonist, simultaneously having Alyssa exiled to Gillespie estates because of course firstborn of county wouldn't take well losing her fiancee to a jumped-up commoner.... And that is one of the better outcomes for Alyssa, really.

In the event of Protagonist going for the prince's best friend instead, Alyssa is supposed to be lusting after the same friend and gets forcibly indicted into convent when things come out. Because prince breaking the engagement is one thing and prince's potential fiancee being found out "cheating" is quite another. Other storylines vary, but the outcomes are... less then desired. Murdered in both secret routes (By foreign spy in one and by protagonist herself in other, go figure.), exiled again, this time over political power struggle when the target is prime minister's son, and the last two... some kind of "languished in obscurity after being abandoned by prince". Prince ending up marrying foreign princess in those cases.

Realistically speaking, the cases where both prince and Protagonist marry up into neighboring kingdom is preferable version, Alyssa (Me.) being simply "set aside" in favor of more politically beneficial match and becoming an old maid because of this. Also, the pair of routes where Alyssa and Protagonist are on... passably speaking terms, at least.

Finally, quatro. Most jarring and... original part of it, let's say. Gillespies and Bradfords are actually closely related, and intermarry at least once per two generations. And this had left both families significantly inbred. Not enough to court a hereditary disease like hemophilia or create a stable deformity inherent to the bloodline just yet, but... close enough to cause a number of fertility issues. I'm actually the fourth daughter, in spite of being firstborn. My three potential elder sisters were all stillborn. Thankfully, the problem seems to be tied to X chromosome on Father's side, so I do have two little brothers. But therein lies another problem. Alyssa Gillespie was not conceived. Instead, Elene and Gerard had hired an infamous "Blood Wizard" (Indirect clues indicate he is a bastard brother of current king, by the way, lacking an ambition to take the throne due to his overwhelming passion for biomancy.) to ensure Elene carries to term next time. Blood Wizard made the problem moot by shoving a shoggoth seed into mommy dearest and putting a teaching spell on top of that.

So, yeah, actually I'm a stupidly overpowered shoggoth who had evolved into full sentience, grasped magic and can flawlessly shapeshift. My little brothers, thankfully, are entirely ordinary boys. But, back to our muttons - my shoggothdom means I really have no particular interest in marriage, let alone have a fixation on Edward that game version of Alyssa seemed to have.

Next. Time. What time do I have at my disposal? The setting is a Magic Academy. Which is a location I'm curious about, because ikebana-based magic means they have greenhouses with flower variety. If memories serve right, a number of spices are not known here as spices, but are available as flowers and herbs. If this works out, I might get some money going on, and money is a sort of convenient power for me. It is effectively faceless, unlike the favors trading system the nobles seem to have going on. It is early summer, however. I am yet to be entering the Academy. I am already enrolled, of course, the enrollment is an automatic process for anyone from the noble family. Really, the enrollment is for everyone having demonstrable magic... Which, ostensibly, is every last person out there, but in practice only expressly gifted commoners are being offered enrollment, while in case of nobles, it is assumed their talents will not lose to commoner. Which, well, is the reason why commoners entering the school tend to be stupidly overpowered in comparison to your average noble attending. Inconvenient, but maybe useful.

More on topic, it is half to six in the morning, and I'm lounging in bed. It's not time get up yet, and won't be for a good while. Meaning I can afford to plan and remember things without having to scramble for explanations to parents or servants. Good.

Right. Might as well take a look around. Slithering out of bed in five, four... Heh, just kidding. Already up. Well, that's really convenient I can, in a pinch, just shapeshift a "dress" on me. But for now, let's not. The last thing I want is servants trying to undress me when I'm technically naked.... Wait. WAIT. Where the fuck are all the dresses? Why this dresser has only underwear inside? Good grief, there are no good elastics yet. Meaning everything is held on ties. Joy everlasting. Because I just KNOW I will sprout a bunch of tentacles to tie something up in the least convenient moment ever. Gotta work on that. Maybe internal velcro-like surfaces to.. Ah, yeah, that works. Gotta be careful with this, but fuck wardrobe malfunctions. I refuse to permit such base cliche. Hear me, universe? Such templates are forbidden.

So. Dresses. Apparently, there is a dedicated wardrobe room across the hall from my bedroom. I know I'm supposed to call servants, but... Actually, aside from being up way too early, why not? Let's not cause too much of a jarring departure from standard MO just yet, shall we? Pulling on the bell string produces tingling somewhere down the hall. Here's hoping they are in the habit of waking up early to do morning chores. It'd be awkward to see a servant obviously roused from bed otherwise. Actually, come to think of it, do I know anything about maids?... Hm, yes. The old one is Marie, and she's... apparently used to be dad's wet-nurse. Heh. And my wet-nurse. Weird. But whatever. I'd be worried if she were also mom's wet-nurse, but that is not a thing. Because little me asked. Parents were mondo bemused by my theory of universal wet-nurses.

Other three are, hm... Sally, Louise and Bridgit and they are effectively interchangeable other then Bridgit having a kraut accent. And no, that's not a slur. Apparently, the neighboring kingdom is literally Kraut Kingdom, and that's the place she was born and raised in. I seem to vaguely remember she has a tragic backstory explaining how she ended up a maid at Gillespie Estates. Something about her father being a successful merchant getting murdered by ostensibly highway bandits, but not really. One of the game sub-plots was to collect info on Baumhoffs and use it to blackmail Bridgit into spying on Alyssa. Which, depending on how you go at it, had far-reaching consequences. Because if you as Protagonist lie to Bridgit about Gillespies being responsible for Christoff Baumhoff's demise, she would stab Elena and make Alyssa go nuts and almost nuke magical academy with uncontrollable magic. That gets Alyssa an exile to Gillespie estates without right to leave, Protagonist gets dumped by Hiram Hohenzollern (Kraut prince, capture target. Honorable to a fault. Horrible, horrible fault.) and ends up being consoled by Kraut spymaster we only ever know as Klaus. Or as his codename goes, Morgenstern. Downright nasty bastard, the "my country right or wrong" variety. He is willing to do anything for the sake of Kraut kingdom. Including seeing up his prince to take the fall for his shenanigans. Oh, and then he ties up the loose ends by murdering Alyssa. Really, that one is one of the worse endings in general.

So, avoiding THAT is going to be a priority. Because if Protagonist gets to Bridgit and lies about Gillespies being involved, the end outcome will be an invasion by krauts, which will end with Cullens "voluntarily abdicating" and getting confined to an island exile as a family unit, Protagonist becoming a very twisted bitch in a very twisted relationship with twisted bastard Klaus and Hiram (The only decent kraut in this.) becoming figurehead viceroy of Champagne (Seriously? Kraut and Champagne? With english names? What is this, normans got owned timeline? What?!) and very unhappy person, because when all is said and done, he is genuinely in love with Protagonist and is forced to watch her becoming a monster to match Klaus. And Klaus would do his best to kill me, which, admittedly, is going to fail because I'm a shoggoth, but he would still try and I'll probably end up showing off too much because he is the kind of bastard that just won't quit, and killing him in return... Yeah, well. Actually, maybe it's good idea to preemptively murder Klaus because he will cause chaos in any route. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

Hm, now the other option? If Protagonist tells Bridgit the truth, that her father was murdered because he was getting a little TOO successful for the tastes of his peers, Bridgit goes to Girard, admits to spying on Alyssa and asks to be relieved of duties out of guilt. And then she drops out of picture and Alyssa (Aka, me.) gets reasonably gently "set aside" when Protagonist ends up married to Hiram Hohenzollern and on the heels of that, Edward gets betrothed to Hiram's little sister Katherine. Both of which would turn out to be happy and successful couples, lead on a grand alliance between two kingdoms, usher in an age of economic growth and generally create the rosy future. This is, by far, the best outcome for everyone. Even Alyssa, who simply ends up as an old maid famous for her cats.

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