Volume 5: Sports Meet
Duke Genan and his wife Elena of the prestigious Earlgrey dukedom had been unable to stomach their daughter since way back, and their grumblings had only become more frequent as of late.
Their eldest daughter Shirley was born about thirty years ago, and even though she was an exceptionally beautiful girl growing up, she did not look like Genan or Elena. Not only that, she was also born with stark white hair and heterochromia eyes–an ominous symbol to members of the imperial aristocracy.
She may have proved to be a good political piece if they had been willing to marry her off to some foreign noble family, but the fact that she hadn’t looked like either of them had driven a wedge between the couple. Even when they were able to forgive each other however, they were not able to find forgiveness from the other nobles for having given birth to a new White Haired Demon. In recent years it was a story only talked about among old nobles, but current events have caused the topic to explode among the younger nobles as well.
Shirley truly was a plague that had only brought misery to the glorious Earlgrey house……which is why they had so looked forward to the birth of their second child.
“Quit your indolence and get back to your chores! Be grateful that you even have a place to live! …….jeez, if it weren’t for those pesky laws, we would already be rid of you…….!”
“What’s with these hallways! The nooks are still dirty! This dullard can’t even clean like she’s been told!”
Which is why Genan and Elena treated Shirley so bitterly that nobody would ever believe she was actually their daughter. They did not educate her, nor did they allow her the luxuries that are normally given to a noble daughter. The fact that her beauty became only more refined as time went on despite this constant stream of abuse only proved to irritate her parents even more, and so the abuse would worsen in a perpetual cycle.
“Alice is so cute compared to that terrifying Shirley.”
“She is indeed. If it’s her, she could even become the future empress I’m sure.”
In stark contrast, the two of them doted on their second daughter Alice who bore a heavy resemblance to them both. As if to clear away the resentment they held for the fact that Alice wasn’t born first, they gave her everything she wanted. And if there was something that Alice hated, they did everything they could to keep it away from her.
With a girl as cute as her, she could easily become the most important woman in the empire, the empress herself. Despite living all that time with that heartfelt belief……it was Shirley who they had thoroughly shunned that ended up being chosen as the future crown princess.
“When, where, and how did she seduce His Highness!? What a repulsive girl she grew into without us realizing!”
When the current emperor Albert was young, he visited their home with the former emperor and his wife. That night, Elena dragged Shirley before their parents, screaming a terrible tantrum over how the prince had, “Made this wretch his fiancée.”
This should have been a reason to celebrate. Their oldest daughter was to be the future empress. However, Genan and Elena believed from the bottom of their hearts that their beloved Elena was a perfect fit for the role of empress. With Shirley shattering their deepest wish, is there any wonder why they were so overcome with anger that their intestines were boiling.
“Why!? Mother, Father, you said I was fated to be with the prince!”
“Oh, Alice. My cute Alice. Please don’t cry………!”
“It’s all right. Daddy will do something about this.”
In terms of pure profit, the royal family should see nothing but positives in welcoming a duke’s daughter into their family. In that case though, they would have just as much to gain by welcoming Alice instead. And besides, since Shirley had never received any form of education before, it would be too much of an embarrassment to have her as the future empress of the empire. Genan decided he would let the truth unfold. Once Shirley had embarrassed herself, Genan would insist the engagement be annulled. At the same time, he would push Alice as a suitable replacement. Unfortunately, the moment he was waiting for never came. Upended by Shirley herself.
“Your daughter is truly a delight. She is kind and smart and able to soak up any difficult lessons on manners or education after being shown only once. And above all, she’s incredibly beautiful. I’m already looking forward to my future grandchildren.”
“……your words are too kind, Your Majesty.”
Knowing the joy of being needed and accepted for the first time in her life, Shirley put her everything into becoming an asset to Albert and exceeded whatever expectations the royal family put on her.
In less than two years, a poorly educated girl became someone praiseworthy enough to become the next empress, and since the royal family saw the White Haired Demon as a hero, the fact that Shirley looked similar to the revolutionary only made her even more appealing to them.
With the royal couple already loving Shirley as if she were their own daughter, there was nothing Genan and Elena could do to her even with their status as dukes. And so they had no choice other than to clench their teeth and bear through those days of humiliation.
“……fiancee, isn’t it too perfect? It, almost feels too good to be true.”
But at the very end, heaven sided with the Duke and Duchess of Earlgrey and their daughter Alice. Albert, who should have personally picked Shirley as his fiancée, found it difficult to embrace her after she had become more talented and beautiful than he was.
Alice didn’t miss this chance. Neither Genan nor Elena know what happened between them, but all that was important was that Alice had managed to steal Albert’s heart and that Albert himself had grown to hate Shirley.
Shirley, who was once a dazzling beauty, had her body covered in scars without a shadow of a trace of her former self left, and it was no exaggeration to say that she was no longer a fiancee, a daughter, or even a woman of the royal family anymore. Genan and Elena laughed as if they were looking at something disgusting.
――――Ahh! So refreshing!
The two’s simple, honest feelings rose into their minds. They hated her for daring to act like she was better than them and for pushing their cute Alice aside to steal her rightful place among the royal family. …….the fact that she was their true blood related daughter meant nothing to them.
Afterwards, Shirley managed to escape from prison, leaving behind more than a few questions in her place, and disappeared. However, Genan and Elena never felt that it was much of a problem.
Despite a few hiccups here and there, Alice was safely welcomed as the new queen, and the ducal house was filled with bright voices and happy smiles as if every day was a party.
……..At the time, nobody inside the Earlgrey family had any idea what would happen in the future.
The woman named Shirley had disappeared from the empire…….and the fact is, nobody who had despised her would have any idea of the ramifications that their actions would cause.
And so the clock moves forward towards the present day. And Genan, Elena, and the entirety of the Duke Earlgrey residence would feel the pain of Shirley’s absence for the first time ever.
Summer faded away, and autumn made itself present. A person was able to put away worries of their skin being burned by the blazing sun and replace them with the chill that came with the cool breeze.
For adventurers, autumn was the time to earn some money. Different types of monsters become more active during this time of year, do in no small part to all the adventurers who took a vacation over the summer.
High up in the mountains, Snow Queens prepare for the coming winter. Deep in the marshlands, Big Bears and Giant Catfish are on a tear in preparation for their hibernations. And the Jinmenjus parasitize anything that comes near, ripping out the nutrients from its host to sow its seeds, bearing its fangs against man and nature both.
“Don’t let it go that way!! Divert it to the south!!”
The crises of monsters becoming more active during the autumn is a regular occurrence year after year even for a remote village located at the southern tip of the kingdom. And this year’s crises were especially big.
……in more ways than one.
“Damn! Why is something like a Titan suddenly waking up!?”
An enormous giant the size of a castle pushed through the vast, open plains. It was a species known as a titan.
For the record, not all giants were monsters. There is a race of giants who have managed to build a relatively advanced civilization that does interact with the other races. It also has a rich culture, comparable to other developed species like humans, demi-humans, and demons.
But, those giants are the size of a house at most. None of them could compare to a Titan.
However there is one difference between giants that intermingle with humans and these Titans even bigger than just their size. That is the latter’s penchant for human flesh.
In addition, they tend to rage about without any signs of intelligence, so it’s only natural that humans would classify them as monsters. It’s no wonder then that adventurers would gather together and attack these Titans if they were to approach the city.
If such a gigantic body with a craving for human flesh were to make it to a city, the end result would be a tragedy. The adventurer’s guild immediately mobilized a group of adventurers, focusing on those who could use magic. The hope was that they would be able to catch the Titan’s attention and draw it towards a less populous area, but for the hulking behemoth, it was like a bunch of louses had gathered together.
“What’s with this hard skin!? My magic isn’t even scratching it!”
“The eyes! Aim for the eyes! It’s the only way we’re going to damage something this big!”
“We’re trying! But the eyes are too high up for our magic to hit………Uwoaaaaah!!”
The skin was too tough to break through, and the eyes, the only apparent weakness, were too high up for any of their magic or arrows to hit. On top of that, every move the Titan made was its own threat. Every step it took made the earth shake beneath them, and a powerful zephyr raced past with each swing of its arms.
It was impossible for anyone to get close for a physical attack. If they don’t think of something fast, it was going to reach the city. The adventurers bit their lips while glaring up at the Titan’s face………when suddenly a new monster came into view.
“Is that……the guild’s pterosaur?”
A saddle and stirrups were mounted on its back and a bit in its mouth. It’s a dragon that soars through the sky while giving people a ride. A monster is a monster, but this was a low-ranking dragon tamed by humans to become a mode of transportation.
Could it be reinforcements from the guild…..is what the adventurers were thinking until the person riding the ptersoaur jumped off its back while the dragon was still high up in the sky.
“Bwah!? That’s dangerous!!”
Obviously there’s no reason why you would want to jump from that height. Contrary to the adventurers’ worries though, the white shadow that had leapt off the pterosaur’s back dove in at an angle, falling through the air straight towards the Titan’s neck.
She leapt……rather than wasting any time riding her dragon, she used its belly as a foothold, pushing off of it and jettisoning herself towards the Titan. Weaving through the Titan’s outstretched fingers, the white figure glided down its arm and passed the Titan’s thick neck with her sword drawn.
“I-Is she stupid…….!? Does she really think she can cut through that thing’s thick neck with that toothpick…….?”
Shortly after the adventurers had all begun raising their voices, the Titan’s head fell off its body, blood spurting from the open cross-section. The white shadow that had easily decapitated the hulking giant was a beautiful white-haired woman with one red eye and another blue who floated to the ground as if gravity had no affect on her and lightly landed on her feet.
“That completes my eleventh monster subjugation request. ……there’s still a little time until my daughters return, so I think I’ll complete a few more.”
The woman with hair as white as her skin and clothes……..Shirley wiped away the blood that still clung to her sword.
“This season always brings a lot of work with it……but I will never allow a monster like this to get in my way.”
For the past few days, she had been energetically taking monster subjugation quests whenever she had some free time. Occasionaly she would even dip into her personal funds to rent out the dragon wagon Rangitz and take a ride with him around the frontier village, eliminating any monster that came too close.
If a stranger were to hear about this, they would think the adventurer’s guild was doing everything in their power to protect the people from the monster threat……and they would be making a grave misunderstanding.
“Yes……it’s not too much longer until the school has its sports meet.”
After all, Shirley basically doesn’t care whether or not there is an uptick in monster activity. Anything’s fine so long as her daughters were safe.
However, she couldn’t afford to have a serious monster attack occur during this season. After all, the school’s annual sports meet would soon be beginning. An event Shirley was looking forward to more than anything since her daughters would be taking part.