"Velloa, from now on, whilst in that body you shall be called Vain." Father proclaimed.
Mother knelt in front of me and placed a hand on each shoulder of mine. "In a week from now, you will be taught magic alongside your Brother. However..." Her face turned grave and the atmosphere suddenly felt heavy. "You will only be taught how to use the element water. Unless your Father and I permit it, you cannot -under no circumstance- use darkness magic. Do you understand, my child?"
I wanted to ask why, but I could feel the high amount of anxiousness from my parents practically choking me, so I simply nodded once again.
Father then broke the tense atmosphere with a languid smile. "Good child. You may go to bed now. It's late. We'll let you get used to your new body for a day."
Mother and Father led me to my room and even helped me with my clothes. Whilst tucking me in they wished me a Happy Birthday and patiently sat by my side until I fell asleep.
Oh right, today was my sixth birthday, wasn't it?
The world of Gaea is a fantastical world full of wonder and magic. It is the typical kind of setting you would expect from an otome game in a fantasy setting with castles, nobility, a magical school and what not. The magic which exists in this world is similar to that of a certain show about a certain person who was called 'Avatar', except there are six elements: air, earth, fire, water – with the two incredibly rare elements darkness and light. In 'Hera: Captured Hearts', the main setting of the game is the prestigious magical school 'Yohso Academy'.
There are four main capturable love targets, all of which correspond to the main elements, unsurprisingly, their appearances also match the colour of their element. Starting from the easiest route to the hardest we firstly have Dmitri Hammond, and he has the element of earth (green). In the game, he has the largest build out of all the love targets, however he is the gentle giant kind of guy with forest green hair and eyes, along with glasses. Despite his somewhat roguish attitude, he's quite a cute one. Since he does come from a family of royal knights, he is obviously created with the knight-in-shining-armour trope in mind.
Next is Zephyr Reve, the genius shota love target, despite only being a year younger and being taller than the in-game MC (but only by an inch or two); he comes from the richest merchant family. Despite his family starting out as merchants, his parents were conferred a noble title as a reward for their assistance during the time when the country was going through an economic crisis. Zephyr has the element of wind (yellow) with the appearance of caramel hair and yellow topaz eyes. He is the soft, kind-hearted, and healing sort of character who looks frail, but can surprise you with his strong protectiveness.
Then there is my brother, Virgil Imitheos, the water (blue) elementalist and is the oldest of the love targets. Similarly, with the in-game MC, he is five years older than me. Virgil is the scholarly type who normally displays a strict attitude, but when you read between the lines of his words it can make one's heart go "Awww." Just like Mother, he has azure-lilac hair which he has kept long (practically as long as mine, most likely due to him emulating father's appearance) and azure eyes. He takes after Mother who is a well-respected Royal Researcher, so it comes to no surprise that he was the teacher character in the game.
Finally, we have Kai Regieren, the one who has the element of fire (red) and the next ruler of the country of Ogygia. With his pale blonde hair and blood red eyes, he has the second largest build compared to the other love targets and truly has the making of a future ruler, for he had showed quite an amount of leadership and strategy skills. However, he becomes quite sweet in terms of the MC, so sweet that the player could practically taste gain diabetes whenever certain fluffy events came up.
As for the MC, she has the typical cutesy appearance of platinum blonde hair and pink-ish eyes. In all honesty, practically every player summarizes the MC as 'typical'. She's cutesy, air-headed (or naïve – if you want to be nice), a 'nice' girl, and one hell of a lucky one too. Because she was a sickly commoner who lived in a far-off village she had missed her magic elemental test, but just before the start of a new school year she was found to have a large amount of mana and an affinity to light magic. She was found by Brother no less, who was tasked to test for any children who had the future to be magic users around rural areas. And so, she enters Yohso Academy as a second year at the age of sixteen, and this is where the otome game begins.
Then there's me, Velloa Imitheos, the stalking horse, A.K.A the Villainess, of the game. No matter who the MC chooses to be with, Velloa gets the same kind of bad end, albeit with a few minor differences. For Dmitri, Velloa is a childhood friend who is in love with him, however her jealousy gets the better of her and she angers Dmitri when she nearly hits the MC in anger, therefore, causing Velloa to get humiliated in front of the student body due to Dmitri's excessive white-knight act. Her relationship with Zephyr was that of an older sister and younger brother type, well, an overprotective older sister and over-reliant little brother type more like. Through the MC's actions, Zephyr realizes his 'mistake' of a relationship with Velloa and so proceeds to humiliate her by denouncing Velloa's 'unacceptable overprotective' nature in front of the student body. In terms of Virgil's route, Velloa's involvement makes more sense for she was the younger sibling who did not approve of the MC and her brother's illicit relationship. Of course, she was then condemned in front of many people (there seems to be a pattern), including their parents. Finally, in Kai's route, Velloa is engaged to him and she continually disapproves of the MC's relations with the future ruler. However, 'surprisingly', in the end Kai openly disapproves of Velloa and annuls their engagement during a ball in front of not only the student body, but his parents as well as Velloa's.
What the fuck?! The MC's heroine halo is stupidly strong! It's no wonder I wasn't so fond of 'shoujo' in my previous life... Although, I may or may not have read and watched quite a lot of said genre.
I didn't necessarily play the otome game in my previous life, it was only after a close friend's strong recommendation that I had watched the 'Hera: Captured Hearts' anime. Almost immediately, I had liked Kai Regieren, for he had that type of domineering yet surprisingly gentle kind of personality that I had a thing for. Whilst watching the anime I thought: What the hell? Velloa actually has common sense, it was only because of her standoffish personality and blunt words –as well as the fact that she was put in situations where she essentially had to be against the MC– that she was considered a so-called 'Villainess'. In other words, I felt that the humiliation that Velloa had experienced was incredibly undeserved compared to the lack of wrong things that she had done against the MC. Hmmm, wasn't the MC's name in the anime Ariana? That's right, it was simply Ariana because she was a commoner...
However, in the anime, Velloa didn't get a humiliation ending. Under her father's instruction she was told to assist him due to an oncoming demon attack, her last appearance was that of her alone with Ariana in a certain part of the Academy and her saying "You're a fool who only knows how to mess around. I pity those you've dragged down... Including myself." Her lines indicated that she had become aware of her Villainess-like actions, which caused me to feel a sort of strangeness that I could not explain well...
Velloa was surprisingly shown to be a competent water user in the anime. To my friend who had played the game, she thought that the demon attack plot was weird since there was no plot of that kind during her play-through. Towards the end of the anime, the main characters had to fight off a disastrous demon attack, and in the midst of this demon attack – Vain appears, claiming to be the mastermind of it. When the main characters confronted him, they fought valiantly, but they were being overpowered. The ending scene was that of the main characters combining their powers as a last all-out attack, however, the viewers don't actually see them defeat Vain. The anime cuts to Vain just as the combined attack launches with him smirking and saying, "How naïve."
Despite his short screen time, I fell in love with his character. I was a sucker for dark, strong and mysterious type of characters. As for my friend, she agonized over the appearance of Vain for she had never encountered him in the game, so I had suggested that perhaps he was a hidden route. With a fiery glint in her eyes, she had dragged me (a person who did not play otome games) on a mission to unlock Vain's route. It didn't take that long to figure out, since the MC (Ariana) hadn't chosen anyone in the anime. We thought that perhaps there was a way to play the entirety of the game without specifically choosing a love interest – and there was. It was difficult though, for whatever reason, all four of the main love interests' affection levels had to be maxed out. During this kind of play-through Velloa only appeared a few times and also didn't get a bad end, most likely due to the fact that the player hadn't chosen a specific love target. Once my friend had achieved the max level affection of each character, the game suddenly changed into a turn-based RPG game. We were stunned. The anime's demon attack plot arrived. With me being the one more familiar with that kind of game, my friend had handed me the controls. Using the MC and the four love interests, I fought off an assortment of mobs and bosses until finally, after at least two hours of gameplay, we reached Vain.
"Why the hell does an otome have this kind of gameplay?!" My friend and I exclaimed. The game's RPG element was actually pretty good too. Hiding this precious gem in a typical otome game?! What the fuck were the game-makers thinking?!
Once we had finally gotten Vain to appear, the typical otome game format came back and I gave back the controls to my otome game master friend. With the fiery glint in her eyes reappearing she promised for both our sakes that she would conquer him. With those words, I had realized that I was completely swept into her flow. But alas, no matter what the conversation offered, Vain stayed elusive.
With the words "Why?" coming out of the MC's dialogue box, Vain gave his signature smirk from the anime and the famous words, "How naïve." Then the RPG game element kicked in again with Vain being the last boss.
I remember my friend making an ungodly sound of frustration before I was handed the controls once again, but there was something I had noticed, Vain's health bar could not be seen; it should have appeared just above his night blue hair like the characters I was controlling. After twenty or so minutes of trying to defeat Vain, the CG for the main characters' last all-out attack played, but instead of cutting just before the attack hits like the anime, Vain takes the hit and comes out unscathed! Not only were the main characters shocked, but the players too!
Vain's dialogue box came up. "Ridiculous. I was told that there would be a powerful light magic user here, but it turns out that this was a waste of time." Then, casually raising a hand, directed towards the main characters, he launched an incredibly powerful darkness attack which rendered the group immobile and kneeling in pain on the ground.
In utter shock, we watched as Vain lifted the MC up by the neck. Next, we were shown his condescending smile, and (might I add) the way his electric blue eyes shone at that moment made me fangirl internally. "Weak." Said his dialogue box. He gestured to the love interests who were still crouching in pain. "You are stupid to think that the obsession of these men is enough to faze me. How stupid can you get?" Then the screen faded to black and the credits rolled.
Wha...? I thought to myself initially. But when my friend and I made eye contact, we immediately burst into laughter. HOLY SHIT DID THE GAME MAKERS JUST SHIT ON THEIR OWN GAME?!
Hence, that is why I had called Vain a 'love target' instead of simply calling him a love target. The players were made to think that he was a capturable target, but in the end he was a non-capturable character made for very questionable reasons in terms of the game and anime's plot-line.
"...ell. Vell...? Vell!" With a start, I looked up to see who was shouting. It was Virgil, kneeling in front of me with a concerned look. "Are you alright? Is your body not feeling good?"
Oh, right. 'Vell' is my nickname. Currently, I was still in Vain's body and I had insisted on watching Virgil's magic training. I was told to relax while getting used to this body, and so I had decided to watch Virgil whilst being served apple juice on a seat under a tree on this fine spring day.
With a smile I gave a reply, "I'm fine, Brother. I was only thinking. Sorry if I worried you." With these past life memories having mixed with the current ones, I was worried about whether or not I could act as normal. In any case, Virgil didn't look convinced, so I offered my juice as a distraction.
Glancing at the cool glass of juice, he gave a simple thank you, drank some, did some stretches and went back to his training. As nicely as I could, I asked the maid next to me, Ana, to pour more juice for me.
I properly observed Virgil this time. With me being six years old, he is currently eleven. At the moment, he had his azure-violet hair tied up in a ponytail and he had on a plain white loose fitting long sleeve top and form fitting brown pants that were easy to move in. With his younger features and Tai Chi-like movements as he controlled around a bowling ball's worth of water around him, he had quite the eye-catching and pretty boy look about him that really assured me that this is the world of an otome game.
I hid a frown as I took a sip. For whatever reason, despite not knowing how, I just know that I died young in my previous life – most likely around the age of eighteen or nineteen. That's quite sad. Also, from what I knew previously, Velloa only had the affinity of water, was her dual affinity a result of her inheriting her family's forbidden art or her compatibility to Vain's body? Or perhaps she had it from the beginning? But then that brings into question why Vain is dead and how he ended up in the 'possession' of the Imitheos family? There's still so many things for me to contemplate. At least with me currently being six years old I have should have a good chance of getting rid of the humiliation flag by knowing what would happen... I hope.