Arc 8, Chapter 42 – “The Grand Slave”

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Human Translated By:

  • Negimiso (Section 2)
  • Garcar (Section 3)

Machine Translated By:

  • Goldkills
  • Kazatashi

Proofread By:

  • Shadow
  • Phantaminum

Japanese to English Checking By:

  • Vinicaian
  • Senkel
  • Garcar
  • Negimiso

Art Sources:

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――Priscilla Barielle did not despise Stargazers.

Appearing only in the Vollachian Empire, they were pitiable existences burdened with mental illness.

That was the general perception of those who had become familiar with Stargazers, though to begin with, happening across those who harbored the disease of conversing with the world was not something that happened so frequently.

Even so, there existed positions that easily became entangled with those of the Stargazer affliction.

Those were people closely tied to the Vollachian Imperial Family.

Whether it was the Imperial Family themselves, or perhaps those who served the Imperial Family’s needs in their daily life. Those appointed to positions of steward, guard, and all the like, had a chance to encounter individuals ailed by the Stargazer malady.

After all, the Stargazers were a lot who could not help wanting to be involved with the history of the Empire, and whenever there was a large incident that would seem to be recorded in imperial history, they all appeared to blather on about it.

Although, there had never been a case in which the utterances of Stargazers, despised as madmen, were given significant importance.

Of course, there were likely some curious people who had lent their ears to the words of the Stargazers, but there were no history books, at least publicly, in which it was recorded that their ramblings had proved useful.

Until the current Emperor, Vincent Vollachia, had granted Ubilk an official position and the permission to enter and leave the Palace, that was the common understanding of the relationship between the Empire and Stargazers.

Was it not just as if Stargazers were like swains, continuing to emit an unreciprocated passion for the Empire?

Endowed with a commandment, they were swains who blindly relinquished everything for its fulfillment. Many of the imperial citizens aware of their existence despised them, however, Priscilla did not. Neither did she pity them.

Stargazers and the like were nothing so special as to warrant being the targets of contempt or pity.

From the beginning, the vast majority of living beings were slaves to something greater than themselves.

Be that to a ruler, to one’s family, or to one’s spouse, or perhaps to love, hatred, or fate; that was the only difference.

Thus, that was――,

Priscilla: [――Even mineself is no exception.]

With a clang, the chains of the binds cuffed around her wrists resonated as she murmured amidst the darkness.

When weaving words, she did not particularly care about whether an audience was present or not, but at the very least this murmur was not a soliloquy; it was uttered to be heard by someone.

Nevertheless, it seemed as if the other party had not desired such a thing, as there was no response.

Yet, if one was trying to conceal their presence, such petty desires would not be granted.

Priscilla: [No matter your attempt to bate your breath, there is no way to conceal the presence of a being such as yourself. Or perhaps, you shall not show your face unless I directly make mine way over to you?]

???: [――. As long as your hands are bound, that is an impossible action.]

Priscilla: [So be it. In that case, there is no choice but for you to take a step in mine direction. I do not intend to exchange words with someone who does not even show their face.]

???: [――――]

A beat later, though there was no confusion to the extent of hesitation, the thought was interrupted before the sound of footsteps. Gradually, accompanied by the slow, echoing sound of footsteps striking the cold floor, a small figure emerged in the darkness.

The light source in the dungeon was meager, allowing only a vague perception of their form.

There was a limit to how much one’s eyes could adjust to darkness. Much less, when one did not bother closing one of their eyelids to adjust their vision to the darkness of night.

Priscilla: [Do not perform acts so uncouth as concealing yourself in unlit darkness. When you make your entrance, do so magnificently into the light.]

???: [Truly a prideful statement characteristic of yourself. Caution: Required.]

And, right after hearing the emotionless voice, a hardness separate to that of the shoes sharply struck the stone floor. A high-pitched sound cut through the cold air, and then a bluish-white light forcefully pushed back the darkness in the cellar.

Priscilla: [――――]

In an instant, within that light, a beautiful white face emerged―― With orange hair and crimson eyes, the beauty clad in a dress as red as blood, was Priscilla Barielle.

Chained up in a basement, Priscilla was flashed by a staff that shone a bluish white, and holding that staff was a young girl with long pink hair―― with cracks running through her skin and horrifying eyes, she was an undead.

If there was something different about this undead, it was that she, having taken the form of a little girl before Priscilla’s eyes, was――,

Priscilla: [――The architect of this Great Disaster?]

Girl: [I will not deny it, but where did you learn that term? You should not have had any opportunity to hear it?]

Priscilla: [It was your subordinate who served a meal to mineself. Perhaps you had starved him of conversation? Even without mine inquiry, he kept talking about various matters to alleviate his boredom.]

Girl: [For General First-Class Temeglyph, Warning: Required. However――]

At that point, the youthful undead interrupted her words, and taking a step forth, she closed the distance between herself and Priscilla.

Even so, it was still far. No matter how slender and artistic Priscilla’s legs might be, it seemed unlikely that she could lift her leg to reach the other’s bangs.

Girl: [Have you managed to endure it? The boredom.]

Priscilla: [――――]

With the distance to Priscilla still maintained, the youthful undead continued her paused words.

Priscilla’s eyes narrowed slightly in response to the question. There was a strange closeness in the young girl’s statement, as if she were looking into her face.

It was not about physical distance, but about a mental one.

Priscilla: [You speak as if you have known mineself for a long time.]

Girl: [What do you think? Do you remember me? Do you have any idea who I am?]

Priscilla: [Unfortunately, I am not so fickle as to remember such a trivial thing. So either you are unworthy, or this is the first time you have ever shown your face to mineself.]

Girl: [Correct. This is the first time you have seen my face.]

The nodding young girl’s answer, however, was not a thorough answer to Priscilla’s doubts.

But then again, precisely because the other party’s statement left out all of the most important bits that their intention was clear. ――She was testing Priscilla. It was as if she was watching to see if a tethered beast would take the bait.

Priscilla sensed her intention and snorted slightly.

Priscilla: [Such fearless disrespect for mineself.]

Girl: [Indeed, I do not know the emotion of fear. What I do not know is not limited to fear, but as a venerable substitute for Mother, who greedily desires knowledge――] [1]

Priscilla: [So you know mineself from a one-sided point of view. ――You are the one behind the mouryou of the village of Coffleton.] [2]

Girl: [――. Elucidation: Required.]

Priscilla interrupted the young girl, who rambled about herself, and as she spoke of something that rang a bell in the latter’s mind, the girl held her breath.

The mutter was proof that Priscilla’s idea had a connection to the young girl, but it was not clear to the other party how exactly Priscilla linked it to her.

Priscilla: [Hmm, it is not that confusing, is it? Once upon a time, within mine Domain in the Kingdom, what is now happening to the Imperial Capital… or rather, the entire Empire, a similar incident occurred. When such rare events happen twice around oneself, it is natural to connect the two.]

The incident had occurred within the Barielle Domain of the Kingdom of Lugunica, in the village of Coffleton. The center of the incident and the village whose residents had been turned into undead.

However, at that time, it was not so much a case of the dead being brought back to life as it was a case of corpses being manipulated according to the will of someone else. The queen, the apparent cause, had been defeated, and since then, there had been no reports of similar incidents. It was thought that the situation had been settled.

Priscilla: [It seems that you have changed the location of your nest and continued to perform your “tehsts”. You have improved somewhat in your appalling game of dolls with insects inside their corpses.]

Girl: [The previous approach had too many obstacles to achieving my goals. Improvement: Required.]

Priscilla: [You do not deny your involvement with Coffleton?]

Girl: [I do not see the point. Are these not meaningless inquiries?]

The young girl’s response, devoid of emotion, was more an expression of disgust than one of distaste for the wasteful use of time.

The clear indifference aside, such lack of denial was useful in obtaining the information she wanted to get. On the other hand, however, the dialogue with such a person was――,

Priscilla: [You are quite the bore.]

Girl: [And that is important, how?]

Priscilla: [Disregarding whether this conversation is beneficial or not, that is the only value that can be derived from it.]

Girl: [So then, why do we not just ignore whether it is beneficial or not?]

Priscilla: [That is why I said I find your conversations a bore. It is like talking to a dead person. Talking to a gravestone would still be preferable, given the lack of your petulant responses.]

Girl: [――――]

The young girl’s black eyes narrowed as Priscilla spoke, and she took another step closer to her. She put her hand on her chest, the one not holding the staff,

Girl: [Is it not as if you are conversing with the dead? When you see me, you would not suspect me to be alive.]

Priscilla: [It would be nonsensical to ascribe life or death to something that could not even be said to have lived. However, it was somewhat unexpected that you would be undead.]

Girl: [――. Why is that?]

Priscilla: [It would be an ill-advised gamble for you, the originator of the ritual, to become undead yourself. Moreover, at the moment of your death, the technique that you have woven could be cut off, and all your plans may come to naught.]

Naturally, that might be an unfounded worry depending on information and evidence of which Priscilla had no knowledge. However, given the nature of this young girl, even that was highly questionable.

This girl, in particular, disliked inefficiency and had a propensity for not reaching for things that she estimated to have less than definite proof.

Despite this, she had treated even her own life as a card in her hand that would bring about the Great Disaster.

Priscilla: [Perhaps when confronted with your inevitable death, you had no choice but to entrust your hope to the afterlife. Or perhaps you were already undead before you caused this incident. If not――]

Girl: [If not?]

Priscilla: [――Perhaps you deemed it acceptable that it would all come to naught had your life not continued beyond that point?]

Guessing at the inexplicable true intentions of the young girl who had turned into an undead, Priscilla voiced three possibilities.

Listing them out in order, based on the nature of the young girl that she analyzed so far, she held off the possibilities that would be far from being true.

However――,

Girl: [Admiration: Required.]

This was the young girl’s reaction in response to Priscilla’s speculation when she voiced what should have been the least likely possibility.

In essence, it meant nothing more than that the young girl had given up on the plans she had set in motion around the time of the incident in Coffleton, about at the same time as the end of her own life.

This fact alone was enough to furrow Priscilla’s beautiful brows, but what intensified it further was the reaction of the young girl to the truth of the statement.

With her lifeless, pale face missing any signs of life, the young girl smiled as if Priscilla’s intentions had been understood.

In the midst of the light emitted by the staff, witnessing that smile, Priscilla furrowing her brows became even clearer.

Priscilla: [Finally, you have shown that there is at least value in talking to you, disregarding gains.]

Girl: [――. Has something changed?]

Priscilla: [If you have yet to realize it yourself, allow me to append some congratulatory words. The exceeding irony that is the sprouting of a life after death…]

Then, Priscilla stopped speaking, closing one of her crimson eyes. After a brief moment of beautiful and precious contemplation, Priscilla reopened her closed eyelid.

And, with both of her crimson eyes fixed on the face of the young girl, who had lost her smile,

Priscilla: [No, not quite. It did not sprout after death. You, did you sacrifice your own life to prove it?]

Girl: [I did not take my own life. The opportunity naturally presented itself. However, the speculation that I faced an unavoidable Death is not incorrect. Correction: Required.]

In response, the lips of the young girl once again painted a smile, similar to before.

In this clear reaction, Priscilla could distinctly sense the rhythm of life―― The presence of emotions within the young girl. They were something that had not existed in the young girl until now.

And without that, the dead could not resurrect as undead.

Therefore, the young girl had proven it with her own life.

She might have had the qualification to become undead, but there needed to be a reason to place her soul back into the earthen vessel and make it cling to this current life.

It was a strategy with low certainty and could hardly be called efficient.

Priscilla: [But emotions are what lead to such choices, are they not?]

Girl: [That is correct.]

The young girl, with her hand still on her chest, had a sense of audacity emanating from her.

The previous emptiness, as if conversing with a doll with no substance, was gone. Instead, what was present was the tension of confronting a decidedly different and inorganic presence.

Girl: [The plan in the Kingdom was thwarted because the me of the past had dismissed this. However, though I may have failed to become the Witch of the Kingdom… it seems I have been chosen to become the Great Disaster of the Empire.]

Priscilla: [Chosen, you say. Is that the reason you have invoked the disaster?]

Girl: [Correction: Required. That is not the motive. It is the basis.]

To Priscilla’s question, there was a resolute answer.

Listening to the young girl’s response, Priscilla’s vague suspicions began to take shape.

What had been sinking into the shadows darker than the darkness of the underground dungeon gradually became clearer through the young girl’s words and expressions, just like when she had brought the light of her staff into the cellar.

And then――,

Girl: [My name is Sphinx, I was also once known as a Witch in the Kingdom of Lugunica.]

Priscilla: [――――]

So, looking directly at Priscilla, declaring her name, the young girl’s―― Sphinx’s words and demeanor, and what they meant, were finally conveyed to Priscilla.

The explicit mention of being called a Witch in the Kingdom of Lugunica was likely to clearly distinguish herself from those known as Witches in other countries.

The six Witches other than the Witch of Envy had once existed, and yet they had all but disappeared from history, commonly known as Witches throughout the world nonetheless.

However, if one were to limit a Witch to the Kingdom of Lugunica, only one person would fit the description.

It was easily discernible through history that this entity had been involved in the Demi-Human War.

Yet, what this self-proclaimed Witch, Sphinx, wanted to convey to Priscilla was not merely some trivial information regarding her true identity.

What the Witch wanted to convey to Priscilla was――,

Priscilla: [――The reason you overcame a futile death, and gained the sprout of life as an undead, was because of mineself.]

That was a declaration of war, stating that Priscilla was the reason Sphinx had become the Great Disaster.

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In the first place, she did not even have to mull over it to know that the situation was too conspicuous.

At the site of the decisive battle at the Imperial Capital, where the Imperial Army and the rebel army had engaged in a direct clash with one another, Sphinx had brought the undead along with her, interfered in the battle as the Great Disaster, and caused the end of the insurrection to be left undecided.

During the battle, Priscilla and Yorna had both been focused on their fight with Arakiya, leaving them with a delayed grasp of the shift in the situation compared to the other battlefields, and they had been defeated as a result, too late to discern the intentions of the undead.

As of now, Priscilla was chained up in the dungeon, and the well-being of Arakiya and Yorna remained unknown in the current situation.

During the fight with Arakiya, the Soul Marriage Technique that Yorna had placed within her still retained its lingering effects, so there was no doubt that Yorna had survived. Even if that were not the case, Priscilla had resigned herself to being held as a prisoner in exchange for the safety of Arakiya, who had lost her consciousness, and also Yorna, who had been disconcerted by the undead that had appeared.

The deal would not have been able to be established if the other party had not the intention to capture her.

Therefore, the fact that Priscilla was chained to this prison while alive, just like this, it was only natural that the other party wanted something to do with her.

Priscilla: [I have imagined that, surely, it was Lamia who was particular about my life.]

Sphinx: [Princess Lamia Godwin had agreed to spare your life. She was strongly attached to you. During her last moments――]

Priscilla: [――I do not intend to share the time between mineself and Lamia with another.]

She cut her off, bluntly regarding her words as a mere stint of curiosity that existed for momentary satisfaction.

Sphinx simply pulled back with an, “I see,” at Priscilla’s declaration. She had brought it up as the subject of their conversation, but her interest concerning the topic was probably non-existent.

This much was evident to Priscilla, who had been kept alive even after Lamia’s second death.

Sphinx: [Attachment is a mysterious phenomenon. It is too heavily influenced by elements that are contradictory to rationality. Regardless, I have struggled to understand outcomes where irrationality had prevailed over rationality at times.]

Priscilla: [Rationality or irrationality, which one have you given greater importance to for the outcome of speaking to me in this manner?]

Sphinx: [I wonder which one it is. Deliberation: Required… Doing so is a thought-provoking action in itself.]

As Sphinx answered her, Priscilla wondered if she was aware of it.

Regardless of whether she was aware of it or not, as Sphinx continued to speak with Priscilla in this place, there was a rapid increase in the human-like qualities of her speech.

The water that was her conversation with Priscilla had been poured onto her budding humanity, bringing a significant growth into existence.

Priscilla: [――――]

Priscilla took notice of what Sphinx had truly meant by that, and it had not been refuted when she had voiced it out loud.

Judging from how Sphinx was maintaining her attitude of deliberately not probing further into the subject, it could be said that the idea of it belonging to the core of her motives was unequivocally affirmed.

There was one thing that Priscilla was, as much as she was vexed to admit it, falling behind Sphinx in regards to it―― the fact that she was entirely clueless about Sphinx’s extreme attachment.

Of course, considering Priscilla’s status, there had been times when complete strangers and those whom she only knew the names of harbored some sort of one-sided obsession over her.

However, Sphinx’s attachment was clearly beyond the scope of her egotistical single-mindedness.

There was a reason. A reason that had become the origin of the Great Disaster.

Sphinx: [Earlier, you spoke of an interesting subject.]

Priscilla: [――――]

Sphinx: [All forms of life are slaves to some sort of greater entity. In the past, I have not been able to understand this, but currently, I am sensing the signs that will guide me to my understanding.]

Sphinx started, seemingly finding the topic interesting, and Priscilla responded to her words with her silence.

She was not scorning her, nor was she ignoring her. If she were to put it into words, it was a type of curiosity that must not be trifled with. Sphinx had begun speaking while mentioning that she found it interesting, and her speech itself was what Priscilla was deeply fascinated with.

The Witch had expressed her understanding of something she previously could not fathom, and even showed her agreement with Priscilla’s words. What was she planning to talk about?

Sure enough, in front of Priscilla, who prompted her to go on with her silence, Sphinx resumed her speech.

Sphinx: [Because of this, I am able to discover a new rationality in the midst of all the irrationality. Attention: Required.]

She said, then struck the end of her glowing staff against the floor once more. The staff, with a glorious jewel inlaid into it, grew glaringly brighter, and during the moment, a change had occurred to the surface of the jewel.

――The view of the Imperial Capital, outside of the dungeon, had been projected onto the pale, transparent jewel.

Perhaps its principles were similar to how a Conversation Mirror would emulate the reflection on the other side over the face of the mirror. Priscilla felt that such a formula seemed rather grandiose to only be used for gazing at something from a distance, narrowing her eyes through the light.

Although, Sphinx had told her to pay attention.

Priscilla: [What do you wish to present to mineself?]

Sphinx: [The validity of your words, and the results of my renewed equation.]

On the assumption that the accuracy of Priscilla’s words was correlated to what Sphinx had said a moment ago, she pondered about what would be shown on the jewel, and then made a realization.

And then, simultaneously, Priscilla’s realization and the jewel’s projection became clear.

The scene that had been displayed was――,

Sphinx: [By gaining an understanding of emotion and attachment, for the first time, I have discerned the methodology regarding their uses. She is commendable, is she not? If it is for your sake, she does not take herself into account. ――Deliberation: Required.]

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――At the same time, at the real location of the scene projected within the jewel.

???: [Oh dear, seems like I’ve done quite the bad thing to Groovy–san. I’d established in my mind that my intuition wouldn’t be wrong at the critical moment… but it was fairly off the mark.]

Voiced in a witty manner, a manner contrary to the cheerful tone of the words was the topic of his own mistake.

However, no diffidence could be sensed in his expression or narrating tone whatsoever. That was because he did not care about his mistake at all, and because he was not really serious about the desire to apologize―― because his intuition had been half-right, and half-wrong.

Leaving the flashy role of a diversion to his ally, he had dashed along the undead-infested Imperial Capital to one of the bastions belonging to the city’s walls, to a place that was known number two in that sequence, where something he was looking for ought to have been present.

Of course, his intuition had been the one to lead him to believe so; he held no doubts that were he to call that his conviction, many would end up rebuking him.

But, at the very least, he himself did hold a conviction. ――That this was his time to shine.

That if he, the leading actor of this world, Cecilus Segmunt, were to arrive at this venue, a boisterous, obstreperous display of his magnificent deeds would be made to all those in the audience watching over him.

That was――,

???: […So, do you have some sort of excuse?]

Cecilus: [Dear me, you’re right about that, but how about this? “My intuition wasn’t wrong. If you want to know why, it’s because the thing I truly want is right here!”, something of the sort.]

Next to him, holding the smoldering pelt which had already lost the meaning of “invisibility cloak”, Al spoke words of bitterness, to which Cecilus exultantly responded so.

In reality, whether that had been veracious or not was in a dimension beyond Cecilus’s comprehension, but was believing oneself not much, much more positive when compared to doubting oneself?

Cecilus: [Don’t you think so too, half-naked onee-san? A depressed face’s sure to be followed by a dark turn of events. In that case, then it needn’t be said what face the leading actor, who basks in light, ought to be making.]

???: [――――]

His head cast above, facing the figure of a person floating in the sky, their altitude beyond even the height of the ramparts they had arrived at, Cecilus raised his voice; but a reply came not, from the other party.

However, there had been an initial greeting from them. Something that had transmogrified absolutely everything in the surrounding area into a sea of flame in an attempt to immolate Cecilus and Al, both hiding under the cloak of fur, to naught.

While performing a deed immense to such a degree, no hostility, no intent to kill targeting Cecilus and Al could have been felt in said action whatsoever.

The only thing there had been from the slender body exposing plenty of its brown skin, had been merely the sobbing pleas of a young girl, who had taken in something so great that it seemed like she was about to be rended apart.

He did not know what kind of circumstances had led to that thing entering her, but――,

Cecilus: [I guess she probably ate something bad. ――You really are a handful.]

Girl: [――――]

Cecilus: [Huh? That strange feeling just now…]

Just what was it, Faster than he could reel that answer in, there was movement overhead.

A flicker of light, and a tremendous power rained from overhead to destroy Cecilus and Al. Before that could happen, Cecilus licked his lips, and to his side, as Al cast away the fur cloak,

Al: [Ah, fuck it all! ――Territory re-expansion!!]

As that desperate shout was engulfed in the midst of the impact, the greatest clash of the Undead Capital began.

Translation Notes:

[1] – Here Sphinx changes her pronoun from her normal pronoun, 私(Watashi), to Echidna’s pronoun, 僕 (Boku).

[2] – Mouryou (魍魎) is a collective term for spirits of mountains, rivers, and various other things. It is also used for things like mononoke, kappa, and yokai. Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mōryō

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