“Ugh, why would anyone call this early in the morning?”
The day is peaceful and just the right amount of balmy, but the phone in the living room seems especially loud. It’s a day like any other, but there is a strange foreboding as I consider going to pick up the phone.
It keeps on ringing, urging me to hurry up and answer. As if I were commanded to do so, I reach over to grab the receiver—against my will—and mumble, “This better be important.”
I bring the receiver to my ear...
An unfamiliar dial tone suddenly echoes through my eardrum and seizes my entire body. Just like when a TV screen fades to “game over,” everything goes dark.
“Reset.Start over,” someone whispers.
And so I do.
* * *
“What was that?”
My eyes snapped open. Was I sleeping?When did I fall asleep?
I was staring up at an ornate red ceiling, totally lost.
Ok,so I’m lying down. Let’s start with that.
I blinked a few more times to clear my head. Then, realizing there was something heavy on my leg, I looked down.
“Yes, Your Highness...?”
I found myself staring into the eyes of a man—a total stranger—who was addressing me with his head lying on my thigh. I was speechless. He must have interpreted my look the wrong way because he began sensually rubbing his cheek against my leg and then rose up a little to softly kiss my lower belly. All I could get out was, “Wha...?”
The man smiled at me immediately and asked, “Have you awoken?”
He was staggeringly beautiful—more than I could ever even dream of. And he was completely naked. My panicked gaze darted around for something, anything else to look at, and I landed on my own body. I was naked too! I immediately seized the covers that had apparently been kicked away during the night.
“Are you cold? Do you want me to hold you?” the man asked, moving toward me on all fours.
“No!” I said quickly. “No no! It’s fine!” I slid backwards trying to retreat from him.
“What’s wrong...” The man’s expression immediately became distraught. “Did I make a mistake last night?” he asked. And if that wasn’t enough, the covers moved again.
“Oh sh*t,” I blurted out.
Somebody, anybody, please tell me I’m just dreaming...
An arm suddenly shot out from under the blankets. An arm at such a distance that it couldn’t possibly belong to the man already in front of me. With a groan, another man crawled out from under the covers, his hair thoroughly disheveled. The first thing I noticed were nail marks all over his back. Sitting with his legs over the side of the bed and leaning back, his arms showed sculpted muscles that rippled at every movement.
“Oh my god,” fell out of my mouth before I could clamp my hand over it. He turned toward me and our eyes met. His bright red irises flashed in the sunlight as it streamed in through the gap between the curtains. He rose up from the bed like a graceful predator.
I couldn’t help sucking in a breath as I admired his ripped body. If there was a god of beauty in the form of a human man, that would be him.
But then—because how could I not— my eyes were pulled like a magnet to the magnificent display of manhood prominent between his legs. I stared way too obviously to pretend I didn't see anything.
“What? Last night wasn’t enough for you?” the man asked, noticing my gaze. He furrowed his brow and glowered at me, looking offended.
“No, well, I mean, you showed it to me,” I said, somewhat indignantly. But the man just ignored me as he grabbed a bathrobe draped on the tea table close by and threw it over himself, striding to the door.
“Look, I’m sorry. I wasn’t looking on purpose,” I called apologetically to his back, feeling very sheepish. He abruptly turned to face me, as if he couldn’t stand it anymore. I found myself gulping at his ferocious glare.
“What foul sort of game are you trying to play this time?” he asked.
With the bathrobe hanging open loosely, I could clearly make out his morning wood, defiantly erect and poking out through the cloth. I forced myself to turn my head away. Even still, I could feel his eyes boring into me, and my cheeks prickled with heat.
“How about closing your robe just a bit?” I suggested.
Looking like he wanted nothing more to do with me, the man furiously spun around and stormed to the door. When I realized he was about to leave, I yelled belatedly,
“No, wait! At least explain what’s going on first!”
The door slammed shut with such a deafening bang that my cry to him was lost, the rafters shaking down some dust in response.
“What a jerk...” I muttered.
I realized that I had completely forgotten about the other guy. He was sitting on his knees by my side, looking expectantly at me. Still fully naked, of course, so there was a soft and flaccid member winking at me from between his knees. I had to forcibly look away again.
“How about we get dressed first...” I said awkwardly. When I moved away to put some distance between us, the man suddenly burst into tears.
“I’m so sorry!” he wailed.
“It’s... it’s all my fault, Your Highness! Please don’t kill me, Your Highness! I’m begging you!”
He followed me, walking on his knees.
“No, wait...!” I said.
Utterly bewildered, I pushed away the man as he desperately reached for me. It was only a light push on his shoulder, but he fell back on his ass and seemed frozen in place. I could see the blood draining from his face as tears streamed down his pale cheeks.
“Your Highness... Your Highness... Please...” With trembling shoulders, he bowed low in front of me, face touching the floor and hands clasped in penitence. I could see fresh wounds and blotchy bruises down his neck and back.
Was he... beaten?
As I paused in surprise, he crawled up to me and cautiously brought his lips to my fingertips. My breath caught in my throat at the sheer depth of servility this man was showing. Like an animal seeking affection, he whimpered and rubbed his head against my hand.
“Your Highness... Your Highness...”
I pulled my hand away from him.
His eyes met mine. They were soft, delicate eyes that were the color of violets. A single tear welled in one of them and trickled down his cheek.
“Don’t,” I said firmly. “This is no way for you to act. Not to me, not to anybody. Do you understand?”
He didn’t look like he understood, but he still nodded. After a moment of hesitation, I took his hand. The man flinched in surprise, but then sat still beside me and began to calm down. With his other hand, he wiped his eyes a couple times.
I had so many questions to ask him, but I decided it better just to leave it for a moment. Why was I in this strange place? Why did I wake up in a bed naked? Why was I with two men I’d never seen before? Why were they acting like they knew me...? These were only some of the questions I had to sit on for now.
But just as I was beginning to collect my thoughts...
[The Last Prince of Velode Kingdom - 11]
He has pledged his love to you! However, he is unable to tolerate himself after having given into Princess Elvia’s threats and spending the night with her. He comes to confess and end his relationship with you. Forgive him and save him from despair! If you succeed, he will become your eternal ally and a loyal man, incapable of betrayal.
I felt goosebumps on my neck as I tried to guess what it could all mean. This was impossible. A semi-transparent film of some sort hovered in front of my eyes. It sort of looked like one of those system message notifications... like what you see in a video game.
What is this?
I stretched my hand out, but it went straight through the screen. I couldn’t touch it. Everything felt so violently out of place. I could feel my panic rising. I had vaguely assumed this was an expensive hotel room, but all the excessively lavish decorations seemed too personal for a hotel. There were also signs of someone having occupied it for a long time. So...it must be a room in someone’s home.
I had thought the man in front of me was just a normal-looking white guy at first, but now I wasn’t so sure. And the language! He was speaking one I had never heard before in my life, and yet I, too, had been naturally speaking in this same language. Furthermore, what about this body I was in?
How could I have not noticed it until now? I had long, red, curly hair that came all the way down to my waist, which fanned out loosely over the pillows. Never before had I grown my hair this long. Not to mention the color...
And this body... This body was not mine.
Who am I?Where is this place?
Panic and terror overwhelmed me. My fear, left with no outlet, churned inside my stomach. I hadn’t realized that I’d been slowly tightening my grip on the man’s warm hand. Now he was studying me with a worried expression. I made an effort to stay calm and assess the situation. As I felt him squeezing my hand back in response, I took a deep breath.
“Excuse me...” I started.
“No, never mind.”
I couldn’t ask him anything without forming a plan first. Especially when I didn’t even know exactly what had happened to me. There were three people mentioned on that screen.
“He has pledged his love to you.”
“He” and “you.”
“Giving into Princess Elvia’s threats and spending the night with her.”
And this “Princess Elvia.”
The message had revolved around these three characters. Following this small bit of information, I finally opened my mouth and asked,
“That man who just left this room a moment ago—what is his name?”
“Etsen Velode,” the man replied. “He is the prince of Velode.”
That made him the “He.”
A new notification popped up.
He has rejected your forgiveness.
A. Go over and kiss him.
B. Sink to the floor and weep.
C. Profess your love and cling to him.
A mouse cursor appeared and moved on its own, selecting “A.”
So this decision-maker had to be the “you.”
This looked a lot like it could be inside some kind of game. A game that someone was in the middle of playing.
Then what about me? Why was I here?
Once the option was selected, the screen disappeared again without a trace. Why was it appearing before me when I had no control over it? I was so confused.
[The Last Prince of Velode Kingdom - 11]
The story will continue to [The Last Prince of Velode Kingdom - 12].
An unknown bug has been detected.
Etsen Velode has been granted an Unforgettable Heart.
Unforgettable Heart pending activation.
Would you like to activate the Unforgettable Heart? Y/N
Someone was repeatedly attempting to activate it but got an error message each time. Then the screen disappeared altogether.
If this really was the inside of a game, and there was a real, outside player... Could I possibly be the bug, considering I just woke up here somehow, out of nowhere? This had to be some sort of sick joke.
[The Last Prince of Velode Kingdom - 12]
For reasons undisclosed, he has failed to become completely yours. Nevertheless, he is now your only ally. If you do not quell the hatred lying deep within his heart, he will someday leave you. Become the maid of Princess Elvia, the princess soon to die at your hands, so you can find her weakness and spread scandalous rumors about her. You must also appear to sympathize with your new ally’s hatred.
Weaknesses discovered 0/1
Successfully spread rumors 0/3
One character’s name was showing up repeatedly on the screens— this third character I hadn’t identified yet. I remembered how the man in front of me had kept addressing me as “Your Highness.”
I guess that was probably me. The game character that had become a bug. What was I supposed to do now? I recalled the text I had read on the screen a moment ago.
“Soon to die at your hands.”
So I was supposed to die? Says who?
Before anything more happened, I had to figure out what was going on.
I woke up in a strange bed, with not just one, but two lovers beside me! In this game of love, affection, and deception, I’m Elvia, the Imperial Princess, with a gaggle of men vying for my favor. Sounds great, right? Except this means I'm also stuck as the villainess while the main character is my manipulative maid, Arielle! She’s out to bring me down, and she’s got plans for my harem of men. But I know all her secrets, because I can see her player notifications. Can I beat her at her own game?