May 28, 2022
9 mins read
It didn’t take long for the news of the change in the leader to spread across Eleanor.
It took time, but eventually the rumors were confirmed and Carolina’s inauguration became official a week after her climatic duel with Hikari.
The inauguration party was brightly lit as it continued at a leisure pace. Eleanor’s best cuisine piled on tables connecting one end of the yard to another. Chatters of rumor vibrated across the open-air party. The breeze of the ocean nearby ventilated the neatly mowed lorn hosting the assemblies of fashionable gown, and sharply pressed suit.
Carolina was the center of tonight's attention. Moguls and magnates of all ages and gender introduced themselves to the new Onren’s representative, who was enjoying the time of her life. Her injury had mostly healed thanks to top-quality potions, and now she got to enjoy the perk of the new job.
“Miss Carolina,” an elderly woman dressed in a lime green dress came to her. “I want you to help fast-track the particular business shipment.” The woman showed her a box, opening it to reveal a gemstone intricately carved into a rose. “I believe this little sample will help convince you about our profitability.”
“I will be happy to help,” Carolina gladly accepted the bribe. “You are?”
“Fluorine,” the elderly said.
“Excuse, Madam.” a portly gentleman who resembled a toad. “Are you free for the next month? Aquae Aureae Society is holding the annual party, and I would like to invite you as a guest.” The toad-like man winked. “Don’t worry about the travel expense, I will be funding it from my personal coffer. We would love you to help support our Society in the future.”
Carolina grinned, “It will be my pressure.” She shook his hand, preparing to revise how the Onren operated to achieve maximum benefit.
“Miss Carolina,” said another pretty voice from behind her. “I wonder what happened to your successor?”
“Oh, she is relocated because of her recent stress,” Carolina turned back to answer the question. “And you are?”
“Red Archangel of Montgomery,” Apolline wasn’t happy. “Apolline Dios Sfolgorante. And please don’t feed me lies.”
Carolina beamed charmingly. However, she was raging deep inside with an emotion that had defined her life.
Carolina was an adopted kid of Hunter Westerna, but prior to that she was a young girl fighting for her place in the world. Loss defined her past, and struggle paved her path. She distinguished herself with results and grew increasingly ruthless with every obstacle she must climb over. She needed to fight tooth and nail to get where she did with no one to lean on but herself.
Carolina couldn’t even remember her parents. They left her as a baby.
That was why she didn’t take it well when Miss Perfect of the good green Acceltra received their success on a silver spoon.
Take Xiahana La Louve, for example. Beautiful, talented, born to power — Xia and Betty were everything Carolina hated. She held an unreasonable grudge for them — especially Xia, Her grudge stewed since the day she saw them riding down the street when she just started out as a low-level recruit. An immature, self-righteous little princess got to skip the entire career ladder and became her superior just because she was born in the right place.
Alas, the table had turned and for a while Xia was at her mercy, while Betty was finally treating her with respect. Xia’s political wrangling did more than enough to satisfy Carolina’s petty grudge.
But then came the Princess of White Incident. Xia did the unthinkable. She threw status and power away at the height of her life for a guy. Carolina should be celebrating, but she couldn’t. The raw bitterness was too bitter to swallow. She spent her life fighting to get close to this woman of status and power, only to get surpassed before she knew it. As a final insult, her greatest target quit the status quo, while she was ahead. Carolina lost in the unfairest of ways. In her view, Xia beat her in the game in a lucky dice throw, and quit because she pitied her opponent.
It was humiliating.
Then Curtis fell with Etaceh playing her like piano.
Now, Carolina met against her new arch nemesis. A beautiful woman with crimson hair, an enchanting face of sunshine with perfectly done make-up, and a gorgeous crimson dress. The dress reminded Carolina of Betty, and it annoyed her. But the real kicker is Apolline’s humongous rack, emphasized by her that damn dress.
Carolina felt her vein bulged. Bust-size was the most privileged thing on the planet. No matter how hard she worked or what method she researched, her chest remained inadequate. People called her cute and petite, but which kind of guy would want a flat girl. People would obviously go for the bustier type. Carolina knew for sure, Apolline would have a bunch of men lining out to get her. Meanwhile, Carolina got to suffer alone with people who only wanted her hard-earned success. It was Curtis all-over again.
Apolline swallowed the past back down her throat, and smugly answered. “You are right,” Carolina admitted. “Publicly, my predecessor retired to another sector, but her recent performance is far below our expectation.” The new Gold Leader flashed the Red Archangel a smile. “Some positions could be highly perilous.”
Apolline’s fist tightened.
“Oh, are you trying to make a scene at this party?” Carolina baited Apolline a bit more. “We are in a social setting, and it might be damaging to your—”
As expected by everyone but Carolina, it didn’t stop Apolline.
It was clear that Carolina replaced Hikari at the worst possible time. Soon she would come to regret such a mistake almost as bad as she regretted giving the General Manager’s position to Princess of White on a silver platter.
As a Gold Leader, Hikari must juggle the balance between the various interest groups in Eleanor, deal with Borbonsi’s hand-off management, and delay the inevitable social powder. That was just her minimum duty, not counting the huge hurdles like combating foreign influence.
Carolina simply lacked the experience needed to handle someone who operated outside common expectations. Two of such people were at that party right now, and she already pissed one of them.
Apolline’s voice dwarfed the party. Red Mana floated in the atmosphere as her very emotion influenced every soul hearing her.
“I have many things to say today,” Apolline spoke to the crowd. She let a drop of tear fall from her cheek, as she arrived at the inevitable conclusion. Hikari was dead — replaced by this bitch she was glaring at. Apolline couldn’t help but feel regret.
Apolline and Hikari didn’t get along. They had different goals, but they didn’t hate each other. Now that Apolline thought back to the past, she realized that the former Gold Leader always tried her best to compromise with Apolline’s demand. After a while, a certain respect formed between them. In another life, they could have been friends and allies. However, in this life, as she glared at Hikari’s replacement, Apolline was confronted with the fact she never got the chance to make peace with that woman.
How could she explain to those kids in the orphanage? Apolline’s brain told her that there was nothing she could have done, but her heart refused to believe herself. She should have been there to help Hikari against this bitch. To at least keep the impression of the alliance. But that couldn’t be helped anymore.
What could help was venting Hikari’s frustration—the same frustration Apolline held—out for the world to see and perform an act she would regret.
After all, being true and free of their emotion and passion was the ultimate aspect of red.
“I and Hikari were never close, but I know she is trying her best,” Apolline used her heart to choose the words. “I see something in her, and I decide to wait for her to perform a miracle I know was within her power. That is how much faith I put in her.” Apolline gave Carolina a death-glare. “And this bitch burns it all down.” She turned to the rest of the guests. “Here you are, celebrating on top the bloodbath you enabled. Whatever happens later, understand you deserve it. You have murdered your protector through gross negligence and threw a party for her murderer.”
Carolina did not know why Apolline was burning the bridges with all those present. She believed Apolline would wisely shut up, and plotted to dispose of her in the shadows. It was what Carolina would have done. It was what she knew Betty would have done.
But Apolline didn’t operate like that, and Carolina was facing the main difference between Black and Red. Both were spanner with absolutely no respect for rules and conventional etiquette. However, Black could follow the plot and preferred skulduggery. Red didn’t. It didn’t mean Red was stupid. More times than not, Red pulled an upset by the raw power to inspire emotion in others.
“Enough is enough,” Apolline said. “I’m so tired of playing this game. I, Dios Apolline Sfolgorante, condemned this damned management. Let those that sneer up high in their ivory tower know you have offended me. When you lay bleeding on the hill of consequence, don’t expect any help from Montgomery,” She glared at Carolina. “Especially a cocky usurper like you, Carolina.”
In most scenarios, that guy would be yelling. You know, that loud guy with more authority than brain-cells. They type who make you ponder how they get to the position where they could cause catastrophic damage.
But as Apolline left, none dared mutter a word. The burning force of Red Mana lingered around the party like a drape. Apolline was so powerful with Red that her Mana conveyed her sadness and anger in the same vein Xia’s White Mana conveyed faith and reverence. Anyone who wanted to talk over her couldn’t because of the raw might of the feels kicking them in the heart.
Carolina watched the Red Archangel left. This event was downright terrible
Before Carolina could regain her footing, a girl with orange hair and weird high-light rocketed at her.
“That is so scary, Carolina-chan,” said the girl, refusing to part from Carolina’s leg. “Help!” The girl cried over dramatically, but she was smiling, perverting the smooth skin of Carolina’s legs.
It went without saying that things immediately went south for Carolina’s party. Guests after guest left, visibly disturbed by the vapid declaration of Apolline. Things might be better if the crying girl (aka Nuan) extricated herself from Carolina’s leg but that wasn’t happening. The girl clung to Carolina for dear life, multiplying the awkwardness by a factor of a thousand.
In the end, the party ended with Carolina trying to pry the blood-sucking parasite off her even after the final guest had left.