Part I: Lives 1-22
In my first life, I was seriously clueless. It took me well over a year to recognize that I’d become Rosalite from the classic of all classics, Asterion of the Starry Blue Night. It was a boys’ love novel dripping with ridiculous drama, devastation, and, at times, outright crimes (of passion, allegedly). It took me two more years to realize that I was the older sister of the main character, Asterion.
However, it wasn’t my fault! How was I supposed to know that Asterion was part of the duke’s family? They always called him “Rion,” and he lived in the servant’s quarters. He even worked the estate, just like any other laborer in the royal household.
Only two years after I became Rosalite, Rion officially became a member of the dukedom. My father, the duke, couldn’t stand by and let my cousin—some irrelevant viscount—constantly abuse Rion. With the gavel bang, Mr. Cousin was exiled, and Rion became the duke’s legitimate son.
From then on, well… I thought it would be just like any other gay romance novel.
Confused? Of course, you are. Well, one day in my past life, it occurred to me that cleaning crumbs from my bed was a hassle, so I went to my younger sibling’s room, climbed into bed with a bag of greasy potato chips, and stuffed my face while scrolling through their tablet. That was when I accidentally fell off the bed, hit my head, and woke up as Rosalite.
Since then, I’ve let go of a few things. I freed myself from my obsession with the internet. Eventually, the phantom tremors I’d get from a cellphone’s absence stopped after about two years. Thankfully, the conditions in my new surroundings were livable—a flushing toilet and hot water were available (likely because we were a wealthy household).
Asterion of the Starry Blue Night is a fantasy novel, so I didn’t have to look far for a mage or swordmaster. Thankfully, this world provided quite a bit of entertainment. Even watching Rion suffer from relentless harassment from other men became routine after a few years.
Hah. Keep your chin up, Rion. Needless to say, I didn’t interact much with him, thanks to the whole “step-sibling” trope. My maids-in-waiting were always going on about how I shouldn’t acknowledge him, as he was just a bastard born of the duke and a woman of lowly origin. Still, I rooted for him on the inside. Stay strong, Rion—even though all that’s waiting for you is tragedy, drama, and pointless death. Still, stay strong.
I knew the ending. A life that began with being assaulted by your cousin eventually ended in death. In despair, after the relentless harassment from men, Rion took his own life at the young age of twenty. It was the type of ending that would be hated these days. Actually, no—it was probably criticized plenty back then too. Either way, whatever. It was just an old novel, you know?
Except on the day Rion took his own life, I returned to age sixteen. That was to say, I’d rewound to my first day as Rosalite.
Just like that, I was rendered helpless.
In my second life, I rejected reality at first. Eventually I decided to calm down and accept my situation through some light self-brainwashing. I knew this trope. There was a similar premise in a novel I’d once read. I just had to be the good guy and prevent Rion’s death. Then, everyone and their grandmother will live happily ever after, right?
So, I raised Rion with loving care. He hadn’t been violated yet, so I grabbed the degenerate who kept harassing him and laid into him, calling him a son of a bitch and an asshole. I hugged and comforted Rion and even took the initiative and demanded that the duke accept Rion as an official family member. Meanwhile, I fed my younger brother lots of delicious food, helped him develop healthy relations, and looked after him like he was a beloved sheep in my pasture. Yes, that’s right. I am the shepherd, and you are my lamb. I’ll lead you to your happily ever after.
I sifted through all kinds of characters and found the best one to unite Rion with while cutting out all the other suitors. It was a good life. I was an excellent older sister—a great mother, actually. But just as I married off my superbly raised Rion to an equally magnificent stallion and wiped tears from my eyes at their ceremony, a salty dirtbag of a suiter who I’d cut off stabbed Rion, then himself, screaming nonsense about how he’d rather die with Rion than live apart from him.
“What the actual f—” Before I could even finish my sentence, I was 16-year-old Rosalite once more. Thus began my third life.
In my third life, I focused on training Rion. If he could protect himself, he wouldn’t meet such a tragic end. I spent my days teaching Rion hand-to-hand combat and magic. After deliberating with myriad tutors, I discovered that Rion had absolutely no talent for sorcery. Apparently, I did—but there’s only so much magic I could do that could help him. Rion trained rigorously with handpicked tutors who the duke and I chose carefully, and he became a swordmaster on his twentieth birthday.
Then he went and got into a fight with someone way stronger, and Rion suffered a colossal defeat. Of course, in true boys’ love fashion, the stronger guy started pursuing him, talking about how a flower is most desirable when it’s vulnerable. Angry over the unwelcome advances, Rion dueled him again, lost again, and was forcibly kissed by his competitor. He claimed he couldn’t live with the humiliation, and killed himself.
“Not again!” I shouted upon seeing his lifeless body. “Why are you so damn fragile? I—"
And I’d become sixteen-year-old Rosalite before I could again finish what I was saying. I wanted to cry. Had I spent fifteen years in vain?
In my fourth life, I began to manage Rion more comprehensively. I beat the shit out of his would-be-rapist cousin and removed him from the family register. I doted on Rion while he was trained by a military combat instructor. I was committed to seeing him grow to be strong and defend himself. I wondered if he’d developed a fragile mentality because he had yet to experience defeat—at least in this life—so I enrolled him in the knightage. On the day he turned twenty, I received his belongings and turned back into sixteen-year-old Rosalite.
By my fifth life, it felt like he was destined to die no matter what. I thought he’d die anyway, so I gave up. I did just enough for him not to be harmed. As usual, men flocked to him, and when he introduced each of his suitors to me, I politely said hello and nothing more. I was sure he’d die at twenty again, no matter what. Or so I thought.
The days blurred together, and I passed them absentmindedly. I woke up one day to realize that it was Rion’s twenty-first birthday. Oh shit, I thought, maybe he’ll live out his life this time! I was so fucking excited that I jumped out of bed and ran to give him a big hug, tears dripping down my face.
“My dear brother, Asterion, I’m so thankful you’re alive!”
And then Mr. Boyfriend approached us, ranting about how Rion didn’t love him because I was there. He drew a knife meant for me, but Rion jumped in front and took my place at its tip.
“As long as you’re safe,” he gurgled, blood dripping from his mouth. He died in my arms, but I was ecstatic—the only thing that mattered was that it was possible for him to pass his cursed twentieth birthday.
Starting from my sixth life, I focused on training myself. I felt like I could master raising Rion to age twenty if I did it a couple more times. If I became stronger, he wouldn’t need to die to protect me. Physical training was pointless—I’d be back at square one if I died, so I focused on brushing up my magical abilities instead. I increased my mana circle and perception and memorized spells so the knowledge would stay with me if I reverted back to sixteen.
I could only use a single attribute, so I was fairly less powerful than the mages who could use multiple elements. That said, my attribute was quite rare. Lightning magic like mine had exceptional attack power and a variety of applications. I could even manipulate magnetism to incapacitate an armed opponent. My mentor told me that I was unique, as only those struck by lightning in their youth showed such strong affinity. I assumed it was because I had a strong affinity for electronics in my past life.
I enthusiastically threw myself into training at the Magic Tower. My mentor would help me become like a certain animated electric mouse. Unfortunately, I returned to sixteen the day Rion turned twenty. I wasn’t deterred, though. The moment I opened my eyes in my seventh life, I got up and applied for discipleship at the Magic Tower. I continued with my exciting training with my mentor throughout my seventh life too. Rinse and repeat.
Incredibly, when I went to the Magic Tower in my eighth life and discussed magic with my mentor, he revealed that he was actually well over one hundred years old. He stopped showing signs of aging after exceeding six mana circles, so he’d just lie and say he was fifty. I was stupefied. Would I stop aging too, once I became an expert mage? Viva la magic!
Oh, but then Rion turned twenty, and I went back to sixteen. In my ninth life, my sixteen-year-old self marched back to the Magic Tower and studied some more. Magic was so fun. It was awesome. I had electricity zapping out of my hands! I didn’t think I’d ever had this much fun learning anything. Still, of course, Rion died the second he turned twenty. Wait, damn it! I was this close to my third circle. I couldn’t die! Let me achieve my third circle before you die, Rion!
When my tenth life came around, I finally presented my dissertation on the affinity with the lightning attribute. My name was on the cover. The entire Tower threw a party for me, the exceptional mage they’d produced. In case I was unclear, that exceptional mage was me. Rosalite.
I was praised and celebrated, going around to greet all the instructors who had helped me. My mentor, who had spent so much time checking and editing my dissertation, proudly strutted around the party, telling everyone he had raised me. Tears sparkled in his eyes as he bragged. I burst into tears at the rush of emotions. We embraced each other as we wept tears of joy.
It was only when the sixteen-year-old me returned in life eleven that I realized none of this was my original objective. This time, I temporarily shelved my dreams of proposing a new thesis on lightning attribute manifestation and becoming an authority on the efficacious mana application for the lightning mage. I had to save the kid first.
Unfortunately, no matter how theoretically competent I was, there was no way to apply the magic if I couldn’t acquire my third circle. Lightning mages weren’t common. In fact, the few who existed were too busy doing their own thing to help with my research. My mentor had been incredibly busy and had to set aside time to edit my dissertation meticulously. He was a person doing world-changing research at a stage I couldn’t even imagine. I’d be a nuisance if I wasted any more of his time.