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I would like to dedicate this translation to every single one of you who drew a Melinda-chan on Twitter. It’s not much that I can offer back, but I hope you enjoy this story. I will list every single Twitter handle who I know drew one, I hope I didn’t miss anyone – in some cases no Twitter handle was available.
@n_ranranta @pabobingu @Willow4127 @DynaMightBakugo @CEOofReinEmi @ringo_llk923 @200Pulkit @Qvp_Cross @EupheliaNico @_AdorablePotato @satsuki_zip @CEOofSUBARU @AceOS_ @MTKira3 @deathsantlers @perfArt_ @NiteCya @swan997 @zhukzubast @Diab_26 (Commission) @AcousticFlame7 (Commission) @Cortashy (Commission)
…The stench of blood and booze mixed together pervaded through the room.
Collapsed, broken shelves; fragments of splintered ceramics scattered about; crude swords and bloodstained cudgels; all of these things served as proof that a nasty, chaotic fight had broken out.
There was not a single beautiful thing here, only contemptuous filth.
Therefore, the girl in crimson who’d walked into this filth not only stuck out like a sore thumb, but was so alien, to the point you’d have reckoned the world had messed up in casting her role.
Her orange hair shimmered like the sunshine, her deep crimson eyes were like that of scorching flame, and her blood-red dress was emblazoned with terribly expensive jewelry. Yet all of those flashy gems didn’t hold a candle to the girl’s beauty itself.
Her beauty was the sort that would overrun your mind the moment you laid your eyes on her. Were the notion of extravagance be made into an attack, then the girl’s beauty was its very quintessence: a violence that painted over the sense of beauty held by all humanity with its own tinge.
The girl, who’d ended up coming to the wrong stage, glared at the dimly-lit room with her crimson eyes.
The spectacle in front of her was a miserable, nauseating one. The traces of fighting left around the surroundings were as aforementioned, however, the detail which caused the biggest impression was omitted from the explanation.
Tons of human remains lay down on the ground. And what’s more, some of their limbs had been cleaved off, their innards removed from their bodies, to the point that a lake of fresh blood had been formed.
The stench of it was absolutely stifling, and the faint, yet pungent smell of booze, was also overwhelming. Most likely, the casks of alcohol lining the walls had received some damage, causing their contents to spill out.
The stench of blood and booze filling the air made the atmosphere an epitome of the world’s decadence. And, in this decadent room…
???: […The hell’s up with you, women shouldn’t be coming into a place like this.]
…Was present a sole survivor, who sullenly hurled those words at the girl.
The lights were off in the room, so they couldn’t see each other’s faces clearly. However, she could tell that he was a man, that he was tall, that he was pissed off and that he was drunk on blood and booze.
She could tell some other things as well, but she’d ignored them since they were but trivial compared to the current information. Instead, she let out a snort, covering her mouth with the fan she held in her hand.
The Girl: [Don’t go treating me as if I were one of those maids or village girls, saying woman and all that. Unavoidable as it may be, that fools will always be fools, it would be beyond prideful of me to have you beseech forgiveness for that act of foolishness.]
The Man: […Shit, is the alcohol going to my head? I don’t get a single word of what you’re saying.]
The man grimaced in annoyance as he took in her words. He placed one of his hands on his head before then slowly shaking his head left and right, so as to stave off his tipsiness. Then, with his opposite hand, the man readied his Sword ― his Knight Sword.
The Man: [Well, whatever. Phantom or not, things are gonna be way easier if I cut ya down.]
The Girl: [What a rash man. I shall praise you only for the notion of not trying to squander my time.]
The Man: [Get lost, phantom woman…!]
Right after he said those words, the figure of the man closed the distance between them in one fell swoop. The distance between them vanished in the blink of an eye, making it so the girl’s slender neck was in range of the man’s sword.
You could even call his sweeping blow rather flashy, in stark contrast to his shabby appearance.
Specifically, his sword slash was one from which you could really feel the training he’d put in to fell his enemies with a single stroke ― No doubt, this was what had produced all those bandit corpses strewn around the room.
Likewise, the girl was going to have her head lopped off by his attack and find herself among the corpses. ――Just before she ended up like that though, the man’s Knight Sword was beaten back with a shrill clang.
The Man: [What the…!]
The man drew back, letting out a cry of astonishment at having had his blow blocked. He probably wouldn’t have been this agitated if that had been the only reason. However, the girl’s behavior had been weird.
She’d warded off his blow by uppercutting the back of his sword with the tip of her fan. Then, as he remained stupefied by that fact, the girl’s body vanished from in front of him…
The Man: [Where did sh… Bh!]
A blow struck him on the side of the face a split second after he’d let his gaze wander about, leading to his tall figure spinning around in mid-air before slamming into the wall. And just like that, the man bounced off in reaction, then one blow after another, totalling three, slammed into his back, causing him to cough up blood as he collapsed into a pool of blood.
As the man foamed blood there, a high-heeled shoe stomped down on his head.
The Girl: [The absolute disprectect of pointing your sword at me, you ought to thank your lucky stars.]
The girl imposingly spat those words out at the man she’d knocked down, trampling down on him to the point his skull creaked. Naturally, the fallen man didn’t possess the awareness to reply back to her; and if he stayed like this, he’d probably drown in his pool of blood.
???: […Princess, Princess, how did things end up like this?]
The girl let out an irked sigh as she heard the voice coming from behind her, before turning herself around. She saw a strange figure wearing an iron helmet standing by the entrance, illuminated from the back.
The iron helmet gazed at the inferno inside and the man who was being trampled over by the girl, and said:
The Helmeted Figure: [I reckon he’s gonna die if you keep up like that, so could you take your foot off him?]
And thus he proposed that, to save the wretched man from the hell found in the pool of blood.
Currently, the Barielle Barony was going through a period of change.
The trigger behind that rested with the Royal Selection taking place in the Dragon Kingdom of Lugunica ― with the five girls who’d been selected as candidates in the ceremony to elect the next King in place of the Royal Family which had succumbed to disease.
One of these five candidates, Priscilla Barielle, was the famed “Sun Princess” of rumours.
Originally, her husband, Leip Barielle, had been the one to rule the Barielle lands. However, he was full of ill-repute in regards to his conduct as its governing lord.
In reality, the citizens who’d been subjected to the laws of his territory had suffered in poverty, passing their destitute days not knowing what the morrow would have in store for them. ――Yet a change came to them during those days.
Leip fell gravely ill all of a sudden, around the time the Royal Selection properly set into motion. And thus, his young wife, Priscilla, took over from her ill husband as the governing lord.
Her excellent skills purged the Barielle land from its stagnant atmosphere in a flash. And even though Leip ended up passing away, things moved along under Priscilla, fulfilling the will of her deceased husband.
The way she was so honest and sincere was a salvation for the citizens of the barony, who’d suffered under its misrule.
Thus, its citizens revered her as a Goddess of Salvation, and with everlasting gratitude and respect, fondly referred to her as the “Sun Princess” in honour of her beautiful appearance so reminiscent of the Sun.
Priscilla: [So then, what shall it be? Hanged to death or decapitated? Given that I am so generous, I shall let you choose.]
The “Sun Princess”, Goddess of Salvation, said that to the bound man with a cruel smile.
They were now in the largest building in the nearby village of Agante, away from the bandit’s den that had stunk of blood and alcohol ― in one of the rooms of the village chief’s abode.
Of course, regardless of whether this was the best house the village had to offer, it still didn’t come close to Priscilla’s level; however…
Priscilla: [A shabby house, complete with insipid furniture. And to make matters worse, the quality of the food here is terrible, nary a single thing is worthy of me… Nevertheless, they did their utmost to make us feel at home. Who am I to pose blame for that which is unattainable. It would be futile to subject them to petty blame.]
That was what the “Sun Princess” ordained, so her subordinate, the iron helmet ― Al, remained silent.
However, just as he thought Priscilla had shown an attitude that could even be labelled as merciful, she’d gone and forced these cruel choices on the captured man. He really couldn’t fathom her at all.
For the time being, he’d go ahead and metaphorically put his hands together in prayer for the wretched man. Actually, in regards to that, it was impossible given he didn’t have a left hand so nothing to be done there. That said…
Al: [Still, aren’t you scaring him a little too much, Princess? Be like that, and you know how it goes, even those who can talk, ain’t going to.]
Priscilla: [What are you babbling on about, Al. When did I threaten him? All I have done was to be merciful.]
Al: [Oh, you’re really in the mood to take his life…? That was a little unexpected.]
Al was trying to change the subject, but the girl ― Priscilla ― had eyed him with a gaze full of scorn, leaving him to fiddle with the seams of his helmet in exasperation.
???: [You people know who the hell I am and you’re still treating me like this?]
The wretched man bound by rope was the one interrupting their exchange. Al had a bad feeling in reaction to what he’d spewed out.
He wasn’t specifically uneasy about what he’d said, rather he was uneasy about Priscilla’s reaction, who’d heard him.
Priscilla: [Hoh, “Who am I”, he said. A commoner who runs his mouth saying such amusing stuff. Did you hear him Al?]
Al: [Yeah, I did. I heard him, and exactly ‘cuz I did, I can’t help but worry whether you’re gonna fly off the handle, Princess. How about I propose that for now we listen to what he has to say?]
Al chose his words as neutrally as possible and proposed that, as Priscilla sure enough smiled in interest. Yet, the man’s scowl grew deeper, as if he’d interpreted his words as backing him up.
The Man: [That oddball there sure as hell gets it. Hey, getting these ropes off of me as soon as possible would be wise. Making me angry isn’t going to get you people anywhere…]
Priscilla: [Enough chatter. Hurry up and reveal who you are. Did I not tell you back in that vile pigsty, that the only thing you have going for you is that you had not squandered my time.]
The Man: […I am Heinkel Astrea.]
In an instant, the man was overwhelmed by what Priscilla said, his blue eyes full of grim emotion as he named himself.
Al stopped fiddling with his helmet as soon as he uttered his name. Perceiving that from the corner of his eyes, the man ― Heinkel ― said: “It seems like you knew” in triumph.
Heinkel: [Astrea, I’m an Astrea. I’m gonna say it one more time, just so that foolish woman can understand. Astrea, that’s my surname. There’s no way you don’t understand what that means, right?]
Priscilla: [Well, I don’t. What sort of meaning is that name supposed to have for me?]
The man’s triumphant face froze in place as soon he felt her fan right against his neck. Instantly, cold sweat ran down the man’s face, it was as if the memory of being almost killed earlier had come flashing back.
Priscilla: [Do not get the wrong idea, foolish commoner. The one who has got the right to decide things here is me, and only me. No matter what your name is, no matter what peerage you’re from, and no matter who’s father you are, they shall not sway my choices.]
Heinkel: [Gh, kh…]
On the receiving end of Priscilla’s cold words, Heinkel was left completely speechless. Most likely, the seriousness behind her words must have gotten through to him as he looked into her crimson eyes.
Nevertheless, Al couldn’t turn a blind eye to the red hair, blue eyes and make or break power the man who called himself Astrea possessed.
Al: [Enough with this, Princess. This guy’s the Sword Saint’s… Well, going by how you said it just now, this guy must be the Sword Saint’s father, right? We’ll end up getting in a real mess with that one if we were to kill him.]
Priscilla: [What, Al, are you thinking that I would lose to such a twisted guy?]
Al: [You probably wouldn’t, Princess, but I’m saying I’d be a goner. Schult-chan would fall into peril as well.]
Priscilla: [Ugh, since when did you up your negotiation game so as to bring up Schult.]
Priscilla furrowed her shapely eyebrows and glared at Al as the latter gave her a polite bow. She let out a small snort at his attitude and silently pulled her fan away from Heinkel.
Right after he was set free from her murderous intent, Heinkel began to breathe heavily, as if he’d just remembered.
Heinkel: [Hh, hhaa, hhaa… W-What is with you people? You know that I’m an Astrea, and yet…]
Al: [Oh, if I tell ya that this beautiful, noble lady right here is up there as the cream of the crop, a candidate for the Royal Selection in the Kingdom of Lugunica, Priscilla Barielle-sama… you’ll get what position you’re in, right?]
Heinkel: [A-A candidate for the Royal Selection…?]
Having heard something so unexpected, Heinkel’s face went pale. Realisation had probably sunk into him, of which position, between his and Priscilla’s, was seen as being more important in the Kingdom currently.
Plus, it wouldn’t be at all strange if he knew about Priscilla’s reputation due to the position he was in.
Heinkel: [But what was a woman in your position doing in that den of bandits…]
Priscilla: [Miscreants have threatened my citizens right here in my lands. So what’s so strange about me getting involved there?]
Al: [Or well, she says these things like she really cares about her people, but in actual fact, she was just in the vicinity by chance and heard something that sounded interesting, so that’s why she headed over.]
Heinkel: [Something that sounded interesting…?]
Al: [A Knight-Errant heard it from the villagers, and thanks to his chivalrous spirit took it upon himself to deal with the bandits, heading alone to their den deep in the mountains. That’s quite the moving tale a poet would be fond of, no?]
Al shrugged his shoulders, as if he were messing about with him, causing Heinkel to close his mouth in silence. Even Al could immediately perceive that his silence wasn’t one born out of awkwardness.
Brief as their time in contact had been, Heinkel was not the sort who possessed such a virtuous nature. There was no way he’d taken up his sword for a reason like not being able to bear watching someone suffer.
Priscilla: [I can fathom a guess at what you are aiming for. Most likely you were after this thing, that which the bandits had in their possession?]
As she said that, Priscilla held something up in front of Heinkel. A cup of dull-silver hue. A wave of muted emotion flitted across Heinkel’s eyes as soon as he saw it. Dejection at having laid his eyes on something so disappointing ― Or perhaps feelings which bordered loathing.
Priscilla: [It seems like the bandits were claiming all sorts…, like “If you pour liquor into this cup and drink it, you shall be cured of any malady in the blink of an eye.”, passing it off as being true. Indeed, it must be a “Meteor”. However…]
Heinkel: [That crap is just a sham that turns alcohol into a drug to alleviate pain. It’s not like using it on someone who’s sick is gonna cure them. It’s a dud.]
Priscilla: [And so you found out after you slew the underlings who refused to hand over the “Meteor” to you. Hah, how amusing. That bunch who died due to their exaggerations are even more asinine than you.]
Priscilla spat her words out and tightened her grip on the cup in her palm. Right after that, the cup was engulfed by flames, burning to nothing in the blink of an eye.
Heinkel peeled his eyes open in shock, not at her melting the silver, but rather at the raging hellfire. In contrast, being quite familiar with it, Al just cracked his neck bones and said,
Al: [Princess, it freaks me out when you don’t tell me you’re gonna do that, plus aren’t you going to burn your pretty little hands?]
Priscilla: [Cease with your misguided concerns. More importantly, you ought to send this foolish commoner over to that slum girl. This time I shall overlook things, due to the fact he spared me the trouble of hunting down these bandits.]
Leaving those words behind, Priscilla turned away from Heinkel, the look on her face indicating she’d lost interest. Actually, she’d probably completely detached her interest away from him. Safe to say, that was a lifesaver for Heinkel.
Yet, he spoke towards her turned figure…
Heinkel: [You mentioned you are a Royal Selection Candidate, didn’t you? Then I think I can be of use to you.]
Priscilla stopped in her tracks in response. She turned back around and looked down at Heinkel. Shivers ran down Al’s spine as he caught a peep of the look in her eyes from the side.
Were Heinkel to make one mistake with his words, he would lose his head in the blink of an eye. If it came to that, then they wouldn’t be able to avoid coming to blows with the camp that had the “Sword Saint”. That said, Priscilla’s point of attention was already focused on Heinkel. If Al were to interrupt her now, he’d be the one inviting her displeasure.
Worried about his own skin, Al waited for what Heinkel would say next, feeling like he was in prayer.
Priscilla: [Speak up. What can you do if that’s the case?]
Heinkel: […The Sword Saint’s brat is a nuisance to you, right? I’ve got a plan that can handle this kid who says she’s the boss and makes his loyalty into her plaything. Heh, Heheh.]
Heinkel informed her of his hostile intent towards his own son, as well as towards the girl whom his son had sworn as his master, all the while flashing a wicked grin. ――This left Al somewhat impressed.
And it seemed Priscilla was as well; she batted one of her eyes shut, and said,
Priscilla: [And what would you wish from me in return?]
Heinkel gave her a firm nod as she repeated the word just to make sure.
Then, the father of the “Sword Saint”, the man who used the name “Astrea”, spoke up with his expression contorting.
Heinkel: [When you become King, give me the Dragon’s Blood that’s kept in the castle. I… I need a miracle for her to wake up.]