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"I'm bleeding…?"

Evelyn was taken aback. Of all the things she expected him to say, that was the last thing she could've imagined.

She raised her hand to touch her lips.

Feeling something wet trace over her finger, she looked down to see it stained in red.

'How did this...?'

Evelyn had a hard time coming to terms with the situation.

Just how hard had she been biting her lips?

".....Ah."

Raising her head, her expression changed.

He was no longer in front of her.

Looking around, she caught a glimpse of his disappearing back. Even now, his back stood straight and composed.

As fast as he appeared, he had left.

"Haha..."

Staring at the scene, Evelyn let out a bitter laugh. Even now, she has a hard time understanding how to feel.

Perhaps, this was for the best.

Wiping her lips, she noticed Josephine looking at her with a dumbfounded expression.

"What?"

"...So you really did know him?"

"Uh?"

Clasping her hands, Josephine brought her head closer to hers. A strange smile marred her face as she leaned closer.

"He's pretty wealthy, isn't he?"

"Wealthy...?"

Evelyn thought about it. Well, yeah. He did belong to an up-and-coming noble house. The Evenus household wasn't one to be trifled with.

So,

"Yes."

"He's also handsome, right? Pretty intelligent, too..."

"Hm?"

Evelyn's eyes narrowed.

"Where are you going with this?"

"....You think you can introduce me?"

"Introduce?"

Why?

"...I think I'm in love~"

What sort of fu—

***

lightsΝοvel

The Institute boasted a massive library that spanned over several hundred square meters.

With tens of thousands of books, it was the perfect place for me to familiarise myself with the world and its laws.

"English… English…"

My current focus was the 'Languages' section, or more specifically, the 'English' section.

I had been so drowsy that I hadn't noticed it then, but that was definitely English. I was all too familiar with the language. There's no way I wouldn't recognize it.

So...

"How?"

Was this part of the game setting?

".....That would make sense."

But at the same time, it didn't. If you were to create an entirely different language and social hierarchy, what was the point of adding English?

Some sort of easter egg?

That too seemed plausible.

"This should be the place."

: [Language and literature]

A bold sign was all it took for me to know where to go. Looking around, I scanned through the books before settling my gaze on a specific one. It was rather thick, and the cover felt extremely familiar.

"As expected..."

Taking the book, my hand glossed over the cover, and I took a deep breath.

[English Vocabulary]

A book I would've never expected to see in this world.

Flip—

Even the contents were the same.

"..."

I felt a mixture of different emotions staring at the book in front of me. In a sense, it reminded me a lot of home.

Earth.

There wasn't a day that passed when I didn't think about home.

It was all I ever thought about.

...And while it was true that I had somewhat adapted to this world, I had no choice but to adapt to it.

I would've been dead otherwise.

"There's a thesaurus as well..."

Scrolling through the books on the shelves, a lot of familiar ones, such as the dictionary and thesaurus, appeared. There also appeared to be a lot of novels. From romance to fantasy...

Grabbing a certain book, I opened to a random page to see what it was about, but...

"His warm body slowly embraced her..."

I closed it just as fast as I opened it.

"Just what were the game developers thinking...?'"

It was smut.

Was this type of book even appropriate?

But,

"Something feels off."

I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

But it all boiled down to a certain point. Or location.

".....Mirror Dimension."

That was the place where these books were found.

What I wanted to know was... What else did they find, and where exactly did they find it?

Grip—

Unknowingly, my grip on the book intensified.

Though I wasn't certain, I felt a little closer to an answer. At the very least, I now had a direction.

But...

"...Do I have no choice but to go?"

The Mirror Dimension.

It was an extremely dangerous place. One where a single mistake could cost one's life.

However, as I thought about how these books came from such a place, I had no choice but to go there to get an idea of what was happening to me.

Even if it was dangerous.

But before that...

I looked around me and took note of the numerous books that surrounded me.

"I should check out the other books."

Perhaps I'd be able to find the answers to some of my questions.

With how many books were present, I was bound to find something.

"Whooo..."

Putting the dictionary back, I headed deeper into the library.

It was time for me to read.

*

The library was teeming with books on all sorts of topics.

"How long...?"

Before I knew it, the sky outside was dark. I had been so immersed in reading that I hadn't noticed that a lot of time had passed.lightsnovel

"It's already past dinner time."

The time said 10 p.m.

By now, the canteen was already closed, and there was no way for me to get food.

But I didn't let that bother me.

In the end, I learned a lot of things.

From the history of the continent to how the Mirror Dimension worked.

From my understanding, it was a fairly complicated place.

While reading, what I grasped was merely rudimentary knowledge. The place was extremely mysterious, and despite the time invested, my questions remained unanswered.

I wasn't disheartened, however.

There were plenty of books for me to read. I was bound to find an answer sooner or later.

"Huaam..."

A yawn inexplicably escaped from my lips.

My tiredness was starting to catch up to me. I had no choice but to call it quits for the day.

"Let's see..."

I sorted out the books in front of me.

A student could only be allowed to borrow a maximum of three books per semester. In front of me were sixteen different books.

All of them interested me, and if not for the rule, I would've brought them all back with me.

Even so, rules were rules, and in the end, I settled for the ones that I had already read.

: [History of the Aurora Continent]

: [The basics of Curse Magic]

: [Rune language and its distinctions]

These were the books I deemed to be the most useful for me in the long term.

I stood up and packed my stuff, placing the books I didn't choose back to where they belonged.

Thud.

One of the books fell as I positioned them on the shelf.

I reached out to grab it when...

My hand paused.

"..."

There was a certain scent in the air that triggered my nose.

"This smell..."

It brought certain memories that I had buried deep within my mind. Unknowingly, my feet moved toward where the smell came from until I eventually neared a secluded area of the library.

"....Ah."

There, a person stood.

A familiar face.

Long, platinum hair cascaded down her back as she leaned on the table. Wedged in her fingers was a cigarette.

"....."

Unwanted memories started to resurface in my mind all of a sudden.

So much so that I felt my breath grow heavy at the thought.

I felt a strange tightness in my chest. It closely reminded me of the pain that had taken over my life during the later stages of it.

Perhaps that was why...

Without realizing it, I blurted out loud,

"It smells like shit."

At that, she furrowed her brows.

*Puff*

She took a long drag of the cigarette before blowing the smoke in my direction.

"Tough luck."

"...."

I stood blankly.

As the smoke drifted past me, unwanted memories clouded my mind once again.

To the point where I unconsciously moved forward.

"Oy."

Flicking the cigarette away, she clicked her tongue and stood more alert.

"...What the hell are you doing?"

Tik—

The cigarette fell right in front of me, and my feet paused.

As if bewitched, I focused my attention on the lingering orange glow at the tip as smoke drifted through the air.

My hand unknowingly trembled.

"...."

Stomp...

I raised my foot and stomped on it.

The weight on my chest lightened, and I felt like I could breathe again.

It was an impulsive action.

One that I normally wouldn't have taken.

But,

"Was that so hard to do?"

The side effects of the spell were still lingering in my mind, and the cigarette served to trigger painful memories I tried to hold deep within my mind.

It was something that I had trouble controlling.

"Ah, shit."

Ruffling her hair, her face crumbled.

"I didn't take you for such a fucker. Just like that bitch, you are the fucking same."

That bitch?

I never had the chance to figure out who she was referring to.

By the time I focused my attention back on her, she was already gone.

That was perhaps for the best.

I wasn't in the right state of mind at the moment.

Especially since,

∎| Lvl 2. [Sadness] EXP +0.01%

∎| Lvl 1. [Anger] EXP + 0.03%

Notifications continued to appear in my vision. However, despite their appearance, I couldn't bring myself to focus on them.

The only thing in my mind was the thing beneath my foot.

Right.

The cigarette.

It was beneath my foot.

If I just moved it...

"....Gulp."

I swallowed.

The tip of my finger twitched, and I licked my lips.

A strange anxiety overtook my mind.

One that I was only able to calm down after taking a deep breath.

"Hoooo..."

Only then did I feel a little better.

I shook my head and kept my foot firm.

Doing everything possible from letting myself see it.

"Haaa... Really."

I took another deep breath.

Even in this life...

You still haunt me.