Here’s the end of volume 5. Not going to lie, this chapter gives me something I really didn’t know I needed.
With that, the secret assault planned out by the Earlgrey family ended in complete failure, and the oldest noble house in the Empire was dissolved.
They had ignored the agreement put in place by the ruling class of two nations and assassinated members of the royal family. Once these crimes had been brought to light, there was nothing anyone could do. Genan, the head of the family, would almost assuredly be sentenced to death, and his wife Elena would go with him.
There may be a lengthy trial because of his status as a duke, but the end result would be no different. The two of them looked lifeless after they were dug out of the ground, and when their charges were read to them, it was as if their souls had departed their bodies. They were placed in the dragon wagon with the other criminals just like that.
“It’s all a bad dream…….that must be it…….”
“No……I don’t…..how could Shirley……it’s because of Shirley…….if only that plague had never been born…….”
Genan was adamantly denying reality, muttering convenient fantasies to himself to help him escape. As for Elena, she continued to curse Shirley to the bitter end.
It wasn’t like Shirley felt nothing when she saw them, but what she did feel had nowhere near the strength necessary to move her to act. This would be the end of their relationship as mother and daughter. Shirley was proud of the close relationship she shared with Sophie and Tio, but when thinking about the future and how uncertain it is, she would be lying if she said it didn’t make her uneasy.
Allowing this incident to act as a warning, Shirley carved a solemn promise into her heart and memories. No matter what mistakes she might make, she would never end up like Elena.
“I doubt those two will die easily.”
After handing out different orders to the various police officers, Philia came by Shirley’s side and spoke soft enough so that nobody else would hear.
“My brother had nothing to do with our parents’ death. Duke Earlgrey simply told him they died suddenly, and he didn’t doubt it for a second. Being the simple, blind man he is, he never once thought that the nobles supporting him might have been the ones to kill his parents.”
A level of splendid stupidity suitable for a puppet emperor. Genan and his allies have used that ignorance all this time to expand the Empire’s darkness, but with enough evidence, Albert would have no other choice than to pass judgement on them.
Rather, the straightforward Albert might be angrier than anyone about this. Genan had betrayed him, and there was the humiliation at having been fooled for over a decade to consider. Nobles are usually executed using poison for the sake of preserving a noble dignity. In Philia’s opinion, there was no way the two of them would get to die that mercifully.
“We’ve already arrested the two sons as well. The sentence has yet to be decided, but life imprisonment is looking more and more likely. This is the end of the Earlgrey dukes.”
Those two had often boasted of their social status to tyrannize her when they were young. Hearing that they would be meeting their ends here as well, a calm settled inside Shirley’s heart. When she first escaped from that cold prison, the only thoughts that ran through her mind were ones of vengeance, of how good it would feel to send them all to Hell with her own two hands.
(It’s a little late for me to say ut at this point, but……it makes me realize just how much those children have changed my life.)
Because there was someone there to turn her away from the cold path of revenge and down a warmer path, Shirley was now finally free from the past that bound her down. Thinking about that fact, it was as if all the pain and emotion from those past days were fading from her memory.
“That woman is all that’s left…….and unfortunately my sister-in-law Alice is difficult to deal with, so we will have to maintain the status quo there…….it’s all that we can do.”
“Well…….that’s about right.”
Alice would be the only exception in the family, making her way through this incident relatively unscathed. During the course of the police’s investigation, they were unable to find any crimes committed by her. There was plenty to criticize, but since she was allowed to do most of what she wanted because of her position, none of that could be held against her.
Using past cases like this for reference, Alice could be divorced and returned to her family, but that family is now gone. In the end, you cannot unilaterally cut out the empress and throw her on the streets just because her birthplace committed a crime.
“It’s fine to do what you want. I’m in no position to judge.”
Saying that much, Shirley moved towards Canary ready to head home. She was stopped however when she noticed somebody running out of the only standing family villa left. Alice had left her room to see what the commotion was about, and the scene stretched out before her left her stunned.
Despite the summer heat still hanging in through the change of seasons, she was wearing a set of heavy clothes that completely covered all her skin. Shirley had heard that because of the incident with the former grandmaster of the Imperial knights Gran leaving scars over most of her body, Alice had trapped herself inside the family villa and usually refused to come out.
In a previous life, this was the woman who had taken everything from her. Shirley’s blood-related sister who had oppressed her more than anyone else. She was a profound source of envy as she would always receive the love from their family that Shirley had so desperately wanted. And now, seeing Alice like this, Shirley felt absolutely nothing.
“…….Your Majesty. Please pass on a message to the emperor.”
“W-What is……!? T-Talking to me like that is extremely rude…….!”
“Get involved with us again, and be prepared for a suitable punishment.”
Already confused about the current situation, Alice had tried coming on strong, but Shirley’s cold tone and intimidating atmosphere cut her off halfway through. She fell backwards, landing on her butt and unable to say anything in response. While the surroundings glared at their empress and scoffed at the embarrassing scene she would cause in public, Shirley walked away having successfully cut off the last piece of her old family.
A few days later. News of the assassination incident had been kept secret from the townspeople, and so the days after the school festival passed by without incident.
Novice adventurers rush about from request to request while the more experienced adventurers coast off their fortunes to enjoy a pleasant holiday. Like always the town’s main street is lined with merchants, lively shopkeeps, and different marketplaces. Ordinarily you wouldn’t think that an incident capable of shaking the entire town would have secretly come to a close on a street as boisterous as this one.
“Hold on you two. There’s no need to rush.”
“Eh~ But today Mama said you would finally teach me some magic! There isn’t enough time in the day as it is!”
“Me too, you promised you would teach me some things you know about wielding a sword. …….but what happened? You always hesitated to teach us before, but now you’re suddenly telling us you’ll do it.”
“……..Well, I thought it best that you learn at least enough to defend yourselves, and it would be a waste to have you learn from anyone besides me.”
The happy mother and daughter combination was no different from usual either although Sophie and Tio were brimming with excitement at having finally convinced their mother to teach them magic and swordsmanship respectively. Watching the three of them walk past from the roof of the Adventurer’s Guild, Canary chuckled to herself.
“Grandma? What are you doing up here?”
Yumina called out after finding Canary looking out over the town. The Golden Witch answered back with a mischievous smile and teasing tone.
“Well~, I forced Shirley to take part in this sports meet on the red team. I was simply pondering how I should harass her next time.”
“Saying that kind of stuff again……you end up getting punished every time you play your tricks. Eventually you are going to have to learn your lesson.”
“Hm? Did you say something? I couldn’t hear you.”
Canary played it off like a clown. Yumina responded with a dramatic sigh despite her overall calm demeanor.
“……..Hah? What’s that all of the sudden? I don’t recall doing anything that would get you to expressly thank me. Well? Perhaps you’ve finally become aware of my greatness and now wish to express your gratitude in regards to my――――”
“That girl would’ve been depressed because her parents couldn’t make it to the sports meet. ……..for the past nine hundred years you’ve been looking out for all of your descendants like that.”
“………that really is sudden. Even though you usually get angry like an old hag.”
“I just thought I should properly say it once in a while. …….and old hag is going too far.”
Yumina brought her knuckles up into Canary’s temple and squeezed. For a moment the roof was filled with cries of pain, suffering, and agony. Once she was finally released, the infamous Golden Witch fell to her knees, and underneath her heavy, labored breathing, she began to grumble.
“Besides……..it’s all just a whim of mine. I’ve completely forgotten my reason for always taking care of you troublesome lot.”
While saying that, Canary remembered back to times past. Those lamentable days a thousand years ago………back when she was known as the worst demon king who ever reigned.
Because of harmful propaganda and arduous racism, the demon king is often thought of as an evil leader with world conquest being their only real goal. In truth, these characteristics only applied to Canary when she was the leader of the demon country.
The demon race is one with an inherently large amount of magic power. The first child of the demon king who is meant to stand above all other demons, Canary was born with a congenital disorder that left her with a miniscule amount of magic power.
Ethically speaking, the time period would be considered sub-par compared to the modern day, and any demons with low magic power because of a disability were heavily discriminated against. Even if she was a princess, Canary was no exception. From the day she was born, Canary was abused by her surroundings. The treatment didn’t stop until she turned ten when her family finally took her out into the middle of a field and left her there.
Despite being a demon, she didn’t have the high magic power that characterized her race. Despite being a princess, she had no food and went many a night with an empty belly. Despite having a blood-related family, she didn’t get any of the love or care she saw so many children her age take for granted.
――――I’m envious of their good fortune.
――――The clothes they’re wearing looks so beautiful. I want them. The food they’re eating looks so delicious. I want it.
――――I want everything I don’t have.
Thrown out into the wild and shown all of this, it was like she was being told, “Look, look at all these things you don’t have. Now go die.” It wasn’t anger or hatred that Shirley was feeling. The sole emotion filling her chest was an overwhelming sense of envy. Canary was always naturally an unemotional person, and her circumstances only served to worsen that part of her.
What happened as a result was……..that abnormal spirit became the cornerstone for the change that would take place within her body and soul, creating a new monster…….she awakened to her status as a semi-immortal and gained the inexhaustible amount of magic power her life had been plagued without until now.
Things moved quickly from that point on. With the magic power and skill to allow her to go wherever she wanted, she slew all of her relatives and took her spot in the throne room. By age twelve, there was no one left to stand in her way, and she became the newest demon lord. With her new powers and abilities, she ruled through strength and fear with her only goal being the fulfillment of her own desires.
Looking back, the misfortune that was Canary began long before her parents had abandoned her. She never had anyone who would counsel her, admonish her, or love her. There was nobody there to control her natural greed, and the ability to see her greed realized created a profound sense of pride in her. This immaturity, both physically and mentally, was cemented in place by her becoming a semi-immortal, and there was nothing anyone could do to control her chaos. She would rule with the words arrogance and atrocity engraved on her heart.
――――I have every luxury at my fingertips. And yet, I am still unsatisfied.
Those were her feelings by the time she reached sixteen. No matter how much she took, no matter how much she killed, she still felt empty inside. It wouldn’t be too much longer however before she would finally find something that could fill her heart.
After having mostly drained everything her country had to offer her, Canary’s tyranny had begun spilling into the countries around hers. In response, one of those neighboring nations summoned a hero from another world to stand against her. That man was Tanaka Taro. Her future husband.
His family name came first with his given name came second. It was that slightly unique naming sense you don’t see on this continent that first caught her interest. She left to see this hero summoned to stop her for herself with the intent of performing some crime in front of his eyes. The hero never drew his sword when she did though. Instead he grabbed Canary’s arm and looked her right in the eyes.
“You shouldn’t do bad things like that. Would you like it if someone did that to you?”
As she would soon learn, this man called Taro was a boundlessly good-natured person. During this great and turbulent time when things such as morality were oftentimes dismissed in favor of personal gain, he was someone who would put his own life on the line for the sake of others as if it were a matter of course and lived his life with the motto, “Bad things are bad, and you shouldn’t do bad things.” In short, he was a great and utter fool.
Who else but a fool would look Canary directly in the eye when everyone else in the world shrunk back in fear before her. Canary found the man generally irritating what with his obstruction of her personal greed……..but she also got a taste of the mysterious feeling known as satisfaction.
Since that first meeting Canary would go on to appear in front of him time and time again, always committing some kind of wrongdoing to confirm his reaction.
――――What is with this man? A boorish guy…….yet for some reason it doesn’t feel unpleasant to speak with him.
Repeatedly mulling that over in her head, Taro with his frank speeches on morality became the only person Canary would show any form of tolerance towards. Her familiar Raccoon and those around her were confused by these changes. The tyranny until now still hung over the country like the echo of a church bell, but Canary had become much more focused on Taro than expanding her wealth, and all of her time was spent as such.
Born in a world called Earth, he grew up in a country called Japan until being summoned here while he was still a student. This country had many different kinds of convenient tools that enriched the lives of its citizens. Taro never knew his parents, and he was raised by a stubborn and justice obsessed Grandpa who was something called a ‘monk’. From what Canary could tell, this was a sort-of priest for his country’s pagan religion. Apparently though this grandfather of his had also recently passed away.
Eventually Canary did think to ask Taro why he was telling her all of this. As a hero summoned to this world to kill her, why was he putting so much effort on instead directing her onto the right path?
“You didn’t seem like a villain at heart. Not to the point that you deserved to be killed at least. You were more like a lost child……..I couldn’t just leave you alone like that.”
Hearing how he felt, Canary became more and more eager to make Taro her own. At the time, she didn’t know what you would call that desire. She had never loved anyone before nor had anyone lover her. This was the first time in her life that she thought about someone else’s well-being and came to love them.
Eventually the Empire, the strongest nation at the time, brought together all the other nations on the continent in a joint assault on the demon country. This great war was meant to wipe out the demon race as well as to secure the abundant resources located inside their country. Taro sided with Canary, and during that time, the two clumsily developed a strong bond that eventually blossomed into love. The war came to an end thanks to their joint efforts, and the deeds they’d done were enough to overshadow the wickedness Canary had committed until now. On the night the war was finally, properly brought to an end, the two were married.
Canary was the one to have proposed. She had told him to, “Become mine,” but Taro was happy over the very Canary-like confession. In return, he made a promise.
“Then in return for becoming yours, no more wicked deeds. I’ll look the other way for mischief and pranks, but be ready to be scolded even then.”
One day in the future, Canary would snuggle up into her husband’s arms with twins in her womb, and she would realize that for the first time in her life, she felt fulfilled. What she had wanted all this time was not actually all the world’s treasure but rather the ability to love herself and to stay with someone she cared about. That was what Canary had been so envious of.
The happiest day of her life was when she gave birth to her daughters. The oldest was a demon like her while the youngest was a human like her father. The worst day was when Taro died of an illness. Only a month after their daughters had been born, his life had been tragically cut short. Without even having the time to properly say goodbye, he left Canary and passed on.
“Didn’t you say you would be mine………then why would you run off to Heaven without my permission…….you dumbass.”
Losing the support that propped up her altered soul, Canary’s semi-immortal spirit was thrown into chaos. Canary couldn’t fight against that obsessive impulse all semi-immortals carry, and with the pain of loss that came after Taro’s death, everything else seemed so meaningless. The urge to destroy the world that had taken Taro away from her almost overpowered her reason.
The only thing that stopped her was the promise she had made with Taro to commit no more wicked deeds. Using that promise alone to pivot her way of thinking, Canary decided to set her newborn daughters aside and immerse herself in the development of technology. Her beloved husband had spoken about his hometown many times before…….so perhaps by bringing her own world closer to his, she could fill the hole Taro’s death had caused.
If this world became more like Earth, perhaps her beloved husband would one day return. Weeks, months, years passed with Canary devoting her everything into this unfounded delusion, and after decades, she became known as the mother of a technological revolution. This continued on until the day her oldest demon daughter slapped her cheek and forced herself into Canary’s line of sight.
“Can you see nothing without Father’s light to show you the way? Then can’t we, your daughters, become that light for you? Please properly look at us!!”
Her daughter’s face was angry and stained with tears. It also happened to be the first time Canary had seen her oldest daughter’s face in over eighty years. When Canary realized that she had been so desperately chasing her memories of Taro that she had neglected to even look at her daughters for over eighty years, her thoughts immediately raced to her youngest daughter. Unlike herself and her eldest daughter who were part of a long-lived species, the youngest was a simple, ordinary human.
Her eldest daughter took her to a room inside her mansion. There she saw her youngest daughter who had become an old woman without her realizing it and was already at the end of her life. Falling to her knees at her daughter’s bedside, she reached out and grabbed the hand of the girl who she hadn’t touched since the girl was just a baby. A smile spread across her daughter’s wrinkled face.
“Ah……you finally looked at us……..Mom”
Those were the first and last words Canary would ever get to hear from her second daughter’s mouth. And it was the first time in her entire life that Canary had cried, hugging the corpse of her daughter who had passed away peacefully looking as if she hadn’t a single regret in life. She cried and whaled over her own stupidity.
It was a betrayal. She was so afraid of becoming an evil tyrant that she had betrayed everything Taro had taught her about what it means to love someone. Their daughter had been thinking about them to the very end, yet she passed away without ever receiving any love from either of her parents.
Canary has never hated the fact that she was a semi-immortal as she did in that moment. If she was normal, she could have had a life with her daughters where they worked together to overcome the pain of Taro’s death, but that unwieldy soul of hers had cost her that future.
Through the tears and regret, Canary vowed she would spend the rest of her life seeking atonement. She might not have been there for her children, but she would be there for theirs.
Canary’s mischievous personality is a direct result of her status as a semi-immortal, and there is nothing she can do to help it any more than Shirley could help being an over-protective parent. So if she couldn’t be cured of that obsessive disposition, she might as well put it to good use. Until the day her body and soul burn out and she is turned to dust, she would protect the bloodline her daughter’s had propagated.
900 years have passed since the day her youngest daughter died, and Canary is still seeking her atonement. Her bad personality had endured the centuries, yet with all her powers, her worse misdeeds were on the level of annoying pranks. However Yumina and the other descendants all understood that the reason why Canary let them physically punish her for these pranks was out of an enduring sense of guilt.
(And that’s why Grandma always pays so much attention to Shirley and her daughters.)
After the incident with the dragons, Canary had told Shirley she had helped her because of “…mere sentimentality. I just wanted to see such a spectacle.”
Canary would never admit it, but she saw her younger self in Shirley. They were both semi-immortals who would give birth to twins, but Shirley was able to go against her altered nature to take care of her daughters. She was living the life Canary always wish she had…..it was that kind of sentimentality.
“There was the time when one of our relatives was defrauded by a powerful person in the Holy Land, so you paid them back tit for tat. There was the relative who was being socially harassed in the Principality by their neighbors, so you got them an important job to elevate their status. Then there was the time I was in school and my ex-boyfriend cheated on me, so you made him get on his hands and knees and beg me for forgiveness. Everything Grandma has done for us. I remember all of it.”
“Ah……..did something like that happen? Beats me. I already forgot about it~”
Canary turned her face away, but Yumina still laughed because she could see how bright red Canary’s ears had turned.
“More importantly Grandma, somehow without my knowing, there was a pan of that new sweet called brownies from the Holy Land you said you wanted to eat on my table at home. Moreover, it had an unsigned letter sitting next to it saying, “I’ve grown tired of it,” but there’s no way something like you getting tired of sweets would ever happen.”
“…….Of course it could happen. I got tired of the taste. I ate too much of it after getting more than I thought I would as a sampler.”
“And yet you drove away your secretary, Big Sis Frances, when she tried having a piece? Is this in return for those limited edition sweets you ate on me before?”
“Huh~!? How the hell did you come to that conclusion!? Obviously that’s not true! Don’t make such a selfish assumption! Idiot! Dumbass!!”
“Right, sure. I understand, you can calm down……. I’m happy to have it, but there’s so much I’m not sure I can eat it all myself. Would you like to eat it with me Grandma?”
“……you can just eat it yourself. Put it inside your refrigerator magic tool, and it’ll last as long as you need it to.”
“What are you saying?”
Yumina smiled just like her ancestor Taro.
“Don’t you know delicious food is even more delicious when you share it with someone?”
And then said the same thing Taro would.