Chapter 1 – New Game+
5.8k 8 159
X
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Width
Reset
X
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.

[Name: Scarlett Hartford]
[Skills:
[Minor Mana Control]
[Pyromancy]
[Minor Pyrokinesis]
[Minor Hydromancy]
[Lesser Hydrokinesis]]
[Traits:

[Dignified August]
[Supercilious]
[Cavalier]
[Callous]
[Overbearing]
[Conceited]
[Third-rate Mana Veins]]
[Mana:
967/967]
[Skill points:
0]

Scarlett felt as if in a daze, staring at the floating window of text before her.

Just a minute ago she had been…

Well, she wasn’t sure what she had been doing. But she could vaguely recall being home in her apartment.

Now, she was sitting in front of a very chic wooden desk, at the end of an office that she’d never laid eyes on before, where the walls were adorned with bookcases and gaudy paintings. The lines of text hovering in mid-air right in front of her were one thing, but where was she?

“Scarlett Hartford...” she mumbled.

It couldn’t be.

She glanced down at the desk, noting the oval mirror ladened with golden filigree that stood at its left corner. The reflection shown was far from what she was expecting.

Distinct dark-red hair, straight and well-groomed, draped over a pair of lean shoulders to reveal a long, elegant face. Piercing amber eyes meeting her own, forming into a frown. She brought her hand up, caressing the smooth skin.

“Impossible...”

That was her. She was staring right at herself. But that wasn't her face. That was the kind of face you would see on tv, post-makeup and all.

More importantly, it was a face she recognized. It was more detailed and lifelike than then, but she had seen it before.

She looked at the wall of text in front of her once more.

The woman in the mirror was Scarlett Hartford. The name was a bit on the nose, but that was about what one would expect. After all, Scarlett was a fictional character. A low-level villain. From a game.

But she wasn’t Scarlett. Her real name was Amy Bernal. She was just a small-time editor who enjoyed reading and playing games in her free time.

One particular game that she’d played a lot of recently was ‘Chronicle of Realms’. An open-world fantasy role-playing game whose primary draw was its promise of player freedom, along with its living, breathing, calendar-based world. She had already completed two playthroughs of the game and was in the middle of her third. Before logging off last time, she’d just left the city of Freybrook, where she had completed a questline to stop a corrupt noble from performing various misdeeds. In the end, she ended up having to kill them.

That noble had been Baroness Scarlett Hartford.

Taking a deep breath, she turned away from the mirror. In her current situation, it felt like it’d be natural to scream; to cry out at her general confusion. But there was something inside her that told her she couldn’t. That it wasn’t dignified.

She froze.

Dignified?

Since when had she cared about that? Her most used piece of clothing this last year—no matter if she was at home or outside—was a piece of worn sweatpants. But now, every fiber of her body was screaming at her as if her dignity was the most important thing in existence.

This felt wrong. As if there was a voice telling her how to feel, but the voice was hers.

Normally, she would—quite justifiably, if you asked her—freak out over such an implication. But there was a strange calm to her thoughts.

She looked back at the floating text.

[Traits:
[Dignified August]
[Supercilious]
[Cavalier]
[Callous]
[Overbearing]
[Conceited]
[Third-rate Mana Veins]]

Did it have something to do with these ‘traits’?

Most fit with what she knew of Scarlett Hartford’s character. She was a ruthless woman who looked down on all around her, always upholding her image as a distinguished noble. She was, however, a relatively low-level boss in the game, so having a trait called [Third-rate Mana Veins] aligned with that setting.

The current situation made no sense whatsoever, though.

Had she somehow transmigrated—was that the word?—into the body of Scarlett Hartford? And the personality traits attributed to Scarlett in the game… Were they also somehow affecting her right now? This situation was, quite literally, ‘unreal’.

Amy Bernal. That’s my name,” she muttered to herself. It didn’t matter what some lines of text said. She waved her hand at the window. “Go away.”

It didn’t budge.

She glared at it. “Away.

With her full attention bearing down on it, the window disappeared. She nodded her head and shifted her focus to the office that she was in.

It was rather spacious. The bookshelves were—as one might expect—filled with books, both new and old, many having backs emblazoned with silver and gold trimmings. The paintings spread around the room appeared similarly extravagant, no doubt far more expensive than they had any right to be. At the other end of the room, next to the entrance, stood a short table with glasses, alcohol, and other refreshments on it. All in all, it was exactly the kind of room one might expect from a noble’s home in a late-medieval-esque game setting.

She thought through her options. How she got here was a mystery. As was getting back, or if that was even possible. Was she inside the game? Or was this just a world like the game? Was this like that movie with Robin Williams in it, where one got sucked into a game and had to beat it in order to return everything to normal again?

In the end, her information regarding her current situation was extremely limited. In addition, she was in the body of a minor boss. For all she knew, a player could come barging in any minute now, ready to put her down.

And what about her actual body? Was she just… Unconscious? Dead? She didn’t go out much, so it would take a while before someone noticed if she’d disappeared. Her parents died years ago, so if someone was going to notice, it’d either be her sister or some of her old college friends. But her contact with all of them was pretty irregular, so might take over a week before anyone even started thinking something was wrong.

She massaged the bridge of her nose as several worst-case scenarios ran through her mind. She really didn’t know where to go from here. Would just waiting resolve matters? Maybe she would wake up in her bed after a session of late-night binging.

A handbell made of gold next to the mirror caught her attention. She hesitatingly picked it up. Perhaps the first thing she could try to do was gather some basic information.

She rang the bell. It didn’t take long before she heard movement outside the office. A moment later, a brief knock echoed out from the door at the opposite end of the room.

“Come in,” she said. The coldness in her voice surprised her.

A woman with short black hair walked in, stopping near the entrance and lowering herself into a curtsy. “My Lady called,” the woman said, raising her head. She wore a dark outfit with a long, wide skirt that reached down to her feet.

“Wha—” Scarlett almost gagged as the words began leaving her mouth. She had tried removing the edge from her voice, but that turned out to be harder than she expected.

“What day is it?” she asked with a frown. She’d thought she could ignore these traits or whatever by charging through it. Like getting rid of a band-aid, or a particularly disgusting bug. But to think even the mere thought of sounding nice to the servant almost made her feel like puking. She could only grind her teeth at the fact.

The woman before her seemed to mistake the anger as being directed at her. Scarlett saw how she visibly flinched under her gaze. “I-It is the third of August, my Lady.”

She hadn’t meant to scare her so, but she couldn’t get herself to apologize either, so she ignored it for now. Instead, she focused on what the woman had said. “What year?”

“W-What year, my Lady?” The servant gave her a confused look.

“Yes. What year is it?”

The poor woman looked like she’d start sweating like a pig any second now. “I-It is the year of 1143 in the calendar of Rhastad.”

Scarlett tapped her finger against the wooden desk. The third of August in 1143.

She was lucky that the developers didn’t bother with creating their own calendar system for the game, simply basing it on the Gregorian calendar. She was pretty sure the game itself started on the first of August in 1143, which meant she was close to the proper start. If there were any players in this world, it would still take a while for them to reach her. The game took place over a period of years, after all.

She eyed the woman for a moment. “What was the last order I gave you?”

Arousing needless suspicion wasn’t something she wanted to do in her current circumstances, but right now she prioritized getting a hang of the situation over confusing the servant.

“M-My Lady... You asked me to bring you the revised domain ledgers for last month’s finances.”

“And then what did I do?”

“My Lady... You’ve been inside your office since then.”

She clicked her tongue.

The woman immediately bent her head. “I’m terribly sorry if I’ve offended you, my Lady. This lowly servant begs for forgiveness.”

Scarlett frowned. This body’s habits were incredibly hard to ignore. “Stop begging. While that was not the answer I was searching for, it does not matter.”

The servant slowly raised her head. “I-Is there something else you need?”

Scarlett considered it. There were many questions she wanted to ask. But this servant probably couldn’t answer most of them. Not without Scarlett sounding even more suspicious, at least. It was enough that she knew where she was chronologically, relative to the game’s timeline.

She waved the servant away. “No, that is all. You may leave.”

A relieved expression passed over the woman’s face before she seemed to recall something. “My Lady…”

“Yes?”

The servant lowered her head again. “…Madame Evelyne arrived earlier today along with Seneschal Kinsey when he brought the ledger. She has asked to meet with you.”

Scarlett raised an eyebrow. While she had no idea who Kinsey was, she did recognize the name Evelyne. After all, that was one of the quest givers in the game, as well as Scarlett’s younger sister. Her questline was the one in which the player confronted Scarlett about her crimes.

“Lead her here,” she said after a moment’s thought. She would have to meet the woman eventually anyhow. And she was curious about meeting a character she’d interacted with inside the game.

“Yes, my Lady,” the servant said with another curtsy, before fleeing the office.

 

 

Evelyne Hartford sat in the mansion foyer along with Kinsey, clenching her fists in anger as they waited. It had been hours since they arrived to deliver the revised domain accounts. She had explicitly asked to meet her sister, but instead, she’d been asked to wait here, with nothing but some tea to pass the time while her sister ‘read over’ the accounts.

Scarlett had no doubt told the servants to treat her this way the next time she visited. Her sister abused her power as the head far too often. Evelyne knew the things Scarlett was up to. But she wouldn’t back down this easily.

Finally, as she was nearing her limit of both patience and time she had to spare, a servant with short black hair arrived in the foyer. Molly was her name, if Evelyne remembered correctly.

The woman approached them and curtsied. “Madame Evelyne. Master Kinsey,” she greeted them both, then turned to Evelyne with an uncertain expression. “Madame Evelyne. Her Ladyship wishes to see you.”

Evelyne’s eyes widened. Scarlett wanted to see her? That was doubtful. Still, she gestured towards the servant as she stood up.

“Lead the way,” she said, before looking back at Kinsey. “I’ll be back soon. Ready the carriage.”

The man lowered his balding head. “As you wish, my Lady.”

Evelyne followed Molly up the stairs to the second floor and out of the foyer, through the mansion’s hallways all the way to the mansion’s east wing, where Scarlett’s office was located. She paused for a moment, looking at the old ornate wooden door leading into the room. It brought back memories of when she was young, and this was still her father’s office.

Shaking those thoughts away, she signaled for Molly to open the door as she entered. Inside sat Baroness Scarlett Hartford, the current head of the Hartford family and Evelyne’s older sister. Her dark-red hair, inherited from their father, stuck out before anything else. A stark contrast to her own, dull, brown-red hair. If only Scarlett had been worthy of the rest of their father’s legacy.

The desk in front of her sister was mostly bare. A lavish mirror took up a good amount of space in the corner—it wouldn’t do for Scarlett to not be able to see herself for more than a minute, after all—with the ledger Evelyne had brought next to it, seemingly untouched.

Evelyne stepped further into the room and Scarlett’s gaze turned from the mirror to her. The woman’s expression formed into a glower.

In high society, Evelyne had frequently heard how Scarlett was known for her grace and her composure. The grace part, Evelyne could understand. For as long as she could remember, Scarlett had been the embodiment of what most considered a true noble. She always wore the finest garments and had a stature that befitted even royalty, never breaking decorum.

But "composure" was a stretch. Evelyne couldn’t recall a single time when her sister hadn’t looked at her as if her mere existence disgusted her. When she was younger, that had hurt her more than anything. Now she couldn’t care less.

“Did you have fun leaving me waiting for hours?” she asked, not even trying to hide the irritation in her voice.

Scarlett stared at her for several seconds, her glower easing into a frown.

“…Not particularly, no,” she eventually answered.

Evelyne scoffed. She pointed at the ledger on the desk. “Did you read through the accounts?”

Her sister glanced down at it, then slowly nodded her head.

“Anything you want to complain about? Or can I take it back?”

As expected, Scarlett shook her head. Now she was going to object to the budget allocated for the—

“You may take it.”

Evelyne paused. “...What?”

“You may take it,” Scarlett repeated, gesturing towards the ledger.

Evelyne stared at her sister for a moment, then moved over to pick up the book. She wouldn’t complain if Scarlett wasn’t causing any extra issues over the matter.

“Is that all?” Scarlett asked, voice cold as ice.

Evelyne glared at her. “No, it isn’t. I heard you repealed the stipend for new mages given to the Brook Tower.”

Scarlett cocked her head to the side. “Is that so?”

Evelyne’s eyes grew wide. “Is that so?! Father himself arranged for that stipend! He gave his word we would continue issuing it as long as we had the means. What you’re doing goes directly against his wishes. You’re sullying both his name and our family’s!”

Scarlett met her eyes, those amber eyes piercing into her. “Then return it.”

This time, Evelyne froze completely. “...What?”

“Return it.”

“…Are you serious?”

Scarlett nodded her head ever-so-slightly. “Of course. You have my approval to do so. Now, was that all?”

Evelyne stared at her sister. Scarlett looked at her as if she couldn’t wait for her to leave, but Evelyne couldn’t understand why she would just give up like that.

“Was that all?” Scarlett’s voice caused shivers to go down her spine.

“...Yes. That’s all,” she muttered.

“Good. You may leave.”

Evelyne turned around and left the office. When the door closed behind her, she let out a tired breath. This was probably the best result she’d ever gotten after a meeting with her sister. Yet it didn’t feel right.

What is she planning?

159