Another busy week for me here, but hopefully after Monday, some of the real work should be lifted from my shoulders. Be that as it may, here’s a chapter I’ve been able to work on between assignment.
Canary’s Natural Enemy
While Hermes was still confused over the rejection of her wholehearted good intentions, a golden vortex swirled in the air at the center of the room, and Canary appeared.
“So. You really are here Hermes.”
“Well! Well well well!! Long time no see Canary! It’s good to see you again!!”
Hermes rejoiced as if she had been reunited with a good friend she had not seen in many years, but Canary was strangely moody over their meeting, lacking her usual arrogant, scornful laughter.
“Is something wrong Chairman?”
“You’re making a dreadful face.”
“…….Nothing in particular. Hey Hermes, if you’re going to take a rest, it’d be better for you to do it at my villa. Otherwise it’ll be like saying all the hard work I put in getting it ready for you was a waste.”
“……Really though, what’s wrong? For that Chairman to be acting like this……”
This is the point in the conversation where Canary is supposed to be trying to assert her dominance and say something patronizing. Instead, it almost feels like she is trying to have a normal conversation albeit one she is trying to bring to an end as fast as possible.
“Righty-O! Are you really going to provide a place for me to stay? I am so very moved! Please let me pay you back somehow!”
“Knock it off with the crazy talk. This is all business. I hire you on as a temporary school nurse, and in return, I will provide you with a place to stay while you’re here.”
“Business……doesn’t it seem so lonely when you put it like that? I don’t need any kind of payment to help you……after all, we’ve been friends for almost 900 years already.”
After hearing those words, Canary’s face twisted and turned into something truly horrendous.
“Friendship~? That’s what you think this broken, rotten relationship between us is? The one that could be described as, at best, you incessantly insisting on attaching yourself to my hip? What grand disaster split the world in two to make you ever even think that you and I are friends. A friend is something completely unnecessary to me to begin with. And even if I did want a friend, there’s nobody in the world worthy of the honor.”
Canary gave a curt response from over her shoulder. It wasn’t the kind of behavior you would expect to come from her, but the way Hermes reacted to it was even stranger. Her expression was a mixture of pity and compassion, and tears began to flow from the corner of her gem-like eyes.
“Sad….that makes me so very sad Canary. You are still so wrapped up in your grief and guilt that you insist pushing everyone else away, forcing yourself to be alone in a frantic quest for redemption. And that’s why you continue to claim you don’t need any friends.”
“W-What drivel are you spitting out this time? I am only speaking the truth. Well, there are certainly a large number of impudent fellows who do not respect my greatness, but――――”
“It’s okay! You don’t have to say anything more to me Canary!”
Hermes shouted out and threw her arms around Canary’s shoulders before she could say anything else. Canary desperately tried wriggling out of her grasp, but Hermes had locked her fingers together like a vice.
“Gah—!? Why out of nowhere!? Release me this instant!! Let—Me—Go—!!”
“It’s okay, you don’t need to be scared anymore!! No matter what atrocities you may wreak, you have in me a friend who will never give up healing your bruised and suffering heart!! My love and care will certainly heal you!! Even if I have to give my everything to see it done!!”
“Nobody is asking for that!! God dammit! This is why I always hate asking you for anything!!”
The mother-daughter trio was left in shock as these two girls filled the room with their clamor. Canary certainly gets upset when she is pointed out as a doting grandmother, but has anyone ever pushed her this far?…….that was the question Sophie and Tio were thinking to themselves and the question Shirley voiced aloud.
“Well Tio……this is the reason I was being evasive a short moment ago.”
“Huh? What do you mean Mama?”
“In many ways, Hermes-sensei has the most troublesome temperament out of all the semi-immortals. She is a bad matchup for people like Canary who enjoy their mischief especially because no matter how wicked they are, they cannot break that selfless spirit. …….It’s a story not limited to just Canary.”
“Ah….I get it. If it’s Hermes-sensei, it makes sense the Chairman would be having trouble.”
From someone who would end up categorized on the more evil side of the spectrum, it should be clear to anyone that Canary would be incompatible with a screwy, good-natured person like Hermes. Her mind would be unable to keep pace with Hermes’s, and the constant stream of good intentions being forced upon her would inevitably drive her mad.
“But Canary, if what you said is true, does that mean you’ve hired Hermes-sensei to act as a temporary school nurse before? Why? You could always hire another high ranking healer, and even if they aren’t as good as her, they would probably be a better match for you personality-wise.”
Canary was clamming up. Luckily there was a virtuous girl with a broken mind who was more than willing to fill in the gaps.
“It’s all right! I understand Canary! I know there is love in your heart!! If there wasn’t, you wouldn’t travel the entire world to find me to make sure the best doctor possible is around in case something happens whenever one of your grandchildren goes abroad――――”
Canary’s face was a bright, crimson red as she combined her spell’s aria with her verbal abuse to wrap Hermes’s entire body in an electrical shock. However despite the endless agony her body must have been enduring, Hermes simply smiled and strengthened her hold on Canary’s body.
“It’s okay…..there’s no need to be afraid.”
“Would you stop treating me like some kind of wounded puppy that needs a tender touch after it’s bitten you!? Guaw—!? I-I’m breaking out into a rash!?”
Canary continued to be subjected to a kind of treatment so outside of the norm for her that her skin broke out in hives, but Hermes still refused to let go. If anything, she was hugging Canary even more firmly now to try and heal the rash as well.
The Golden Witch, feared across the world, was being subjected to a truly rare moment of utter shame. The mother-daughter trio decided to wait for Hermes to settle down, wondering all the while as they watched if this is what it meant to have a natural predator.
Dubious. That one word has been circling around the mind of a certain student who until just a few days ago, was one of many in a peaceful world.
His common sense dictated that there was no possible way they had traveled to another world, and fantasy-like existences such as magic could not exist. And yet, he saw with his own eyes monsters that could never have existed in the world he came from, and the fireballs and icy winds emitted from the court magician’s palms were no simple trick.
It took a little convincing, but eventually he did manage to accept the fact that this was no scam or large scale prank. He had really come to a world that existed beyond normal comprehension.
“You have been given the Goddess’s blessing to help you survive when you traversed the gates connecting our worlds. You must use that power to defeat the vile Canary, an evil witch who wishes to lead our world to ruin.”
At first, the entire class had been skeptical of Emperor Albert’s words, but with the help of the court magician’s magic, they had all awoken to their respective strengths.
Some had the strength to crush rocks with their bare hands. Others were capable of manipulating mighty magic without the need for any training. Others still were capable of healing any injury. And then there were the ones who had the power to energize hungry and weakened soldiers, making them stronger than ever before.
It really did feel like something straight from a novel. Although many of the facts present here made it seem much stranger than any novel. Out of all his classmates, he alone stood out from the crowd of excited students, giddy over the experience of living out a life depicted in fantasy books.
(But……why do we need to fight…….?)
There are certain facts that will not change, no matter how powerful they are.
There was of course a history of war in the world they came from, but the last one happened almost a hundred years ago now. Peace is a deeply-rooted norm for the people of that world, and anybody born there should be eager to maintain that peace.
That’s why, everything should be done to avoid this fight. This fact should be just as true for his classmates and teacher who came to this world on the Goddess’s bidding as it was for him.
“Everyone, you all saw the Empire’s citizens yes? Those poor, poverty-stricken people, forced to compete with each other to overcome their own starvation……it’s because of this evil witch Canary and the Kingdom she has under her control that the world is like this? Then shouldn’t we fight for those people who are suffering right now? That must be the mission the Goddess chose us for!”
“Those people are in trouble. That’s reason enough for us to help them. Let’s do this everyone!”
However after an influential group in the class stood up and said that, all of the other students began thinking that fighting was the right thing to do. Not just the more emotional students either. Even the quiet girls who had never even been in an argument were ready to give it their all.
And certainly, what they were saying made sense in a certain way. The Empire was in shambles, and the commoners were all tired and starving. You would either have to be heartless or a coward to just leave this people be if you have the power to help them.
But it’s not like they could be sure that Albert was telling the truth. He could be lying through his teeth to try and use the class for his own personal gains…….and seeing the dramatic change in his classmates’ attitudes, the student was becoming even more concerned thinking that some kind of magic may be affecting their minds.
(……We have to escape…….Escape, and return to our original world…….!)
With bloodshot eyes, his classmates scream, “Overthrow Canary! Overthrow the Kingdom! Bring back Albert’s kidnapped wife and children!” Driven through fear that this was the fate that awaited them, the student managed to escape from the Empire using the ability he had obtained through the Goddess’s blessing.
Just like the others, he had his own grand power, and it didn’t take long to get used to it even without any training……and it was definitely deserving to be called a cheat ability.
Ironically, it was only thanks to this blessing that he was able to survive outside of the cities in this monster-infested world. By becoming an escort for some merchants and travelers, he was able to secure a small amount of food and made his way to the Kingdom.
(So……the emperor really was lying…….?)
What he found when he arrived was a resplendent and prosperous royal capital. There were no slums, people could live off the jobs they worked, there was mandatory education for the children, and the standard of living here was just all around superior to what it was in the Empire. In many ways it reminded the student of his homeworld.
To reinforce his doubts, he asked the merchants he had been traveling with so far about Edward, the Kingdom’s Black Lion King. The supposed root of all evil for the Empire. What he found out was that the reign of Edward Pendragon had brought peace and prosperity not just to his own people, but to the larger continent as well. He is oftentimes considered to be the wisest king in the Kingdom’s history.
In contrast, Albert Ragdoll was seen as an unpopular tyrant whose reign has caused a countless number of refugees having to flee abroad, widespread starvation, and innumerable suicides.
Thinking back on it, it always was strange how lavishly nobles like Albert lived while the townsfolk always looked so poor. It also explains the overall antagonistic relationship they had with the police, an organization that, assuming they’re the same as the ones in his homeworld, should be charged with maintaining public order.
(Then just as I thought, fleeing really was the correct answer.)
It would be impossible to sign up for a regular job because he lacked a family register, but he could become an adventurer. Using the power granted to him by his blessing, he began earning money as an adventurer while looking for a way to return home.
After some time had passed, he received a certain request. A survey of some dilapidated ruins located a short distance away from the capital.
The ruins are a place where someone known as the Demonic White Sword sealed a vampire away a few years ago. This was supposedly the battle that led to her being known as the strongest swordswoman among adventurers, but apparently the seal placed down has weakened. There have been reports of a moaning coming from within.
It could be a catastrophe if the vampire, a vicious monster who wreaked chaos through the capital, were to be revived because the seal had weakened too much. That was why it had to be renewed, and as an active and successful adventurer, he was asked to do the deed.
After being briefed on all of this, the student took the silver magic sword used for the seal and headed for the ruins. As he arrived at the opening of the ruins, it was certainly true that he could hear a woman’s sobbing voice coming from the back, and after progressing through the ruins without any difficulty, he finally found himself at the seal. There, he found a beautiful girl……whose head was stapled to the wall by a silver sword stabbed through the forehead.
“O-Oh……! For someone to arrive at a place as remote as this……..! It’s a miracle from the Goddess……! I-I beg you……please, save me”
“Oh No no nonononononononono!! That’s a definite no!!”
The girl with long, light golden curls pleaded with tears in her eyes. She had a face carved from marble, long ears, and two pointed canines, but the boy immediately shook his head back and forth again and again. He turned her down out of pure impulse more than anything else.
No matter how beautiful a girl is, it isn’t going to add up to much when she’s just a head……..and despite her head being run through with a sword, she’s talking as if nothing were out of the ordinary. This fantasy story had devolved into body horror. Once she noticed that the student was holding a silver sword in his hand, the vampire suddenly became truly desperate, and the tears spilled over and down her cheeks.
“D-Don’t cry…..you did a bunch of evil things in the capital didn’t you? So even if you ask me to break the seal, I can’t just…….”
“Please……mercy, I’m begging you for mercy…….! I promise to never do any evil again…….I’ve reflected on my actions during my time here. I just want to live somewhere quiet now and never cause any trouble again…….!”
The vampire princess made her entreaty again and again as her tears pooled on the stone floor below. It was probably because the student came from such a peaceful world that his sympathy ended up outweighing his vigilance. As a result, he reluctantly broke the seal.
Luckily enough, the vampire’s attitude was genuine enough, and after regrowing the rest of her body, she grabbed his hand and thanked him over and over again.
After calming her down, the vampire princess admitted to secretly hypnotizing the citizens of the capital using her powers in order to take over the city. Considering what she was like right now though, it seemed doubtful that this could be the same monster as what she herself was describing. What could have happened for her to change so much?
“Well, it’s true that back then, I may have had grand dreams about ruling the capital and tried taking control of everything……it was all going well too until I found out just how terrifying the white swordswoman they sent to deal with me was……I’m completely invincible during the night. No matter how many times she cut me down, I came back. So she just kept cutting me. Again. And again. And again. Shredding me to bits every time I regenerated until the sun came up. I lost my strength once dawn broke, so she cut off my head, nailed it to the wall with her sword, and sealed me away……”
“H-Holy crap……you have my condolences.”
“Uuu…….e-ever since I met that nightmare of a woman……I’ve been scared of adventurers. Because of the effects of the seal, I’m missing nearly half of my strength from back then, and I really just want to live in a remote countryside where I can raise some delicious, bloody pigs…….”
She’s been traumatized. It seems that she used to be a prideful and confident person wrapped up in her own majesty, but after going through everything that she did, she’s been reduced to the current gloomy and timid person that stood before the student now.
With things being what they are, it would be impossible for him to reseal her and fulfill the request. However, it’s not like he could report back to the guild and give them a lie either. Even if he did, the spell 《Sense Lie》 would find him out immediately.
It was worrisome to be sure, but with the way the vampire princess was begging and blubbering, he couldn’t just leave her be. So as much as it hurt him to abandon the guild after all the help it had given him, he left behind his bronze adventurer tag slunk away into obscurity.
The good news was that after repeated use through battle and training, his blessing had grown to the point where the both of them could live comfortably without having to rely on the guild.
Although it did make her feel a little lonely, the vampire princess devotedly helped him cross national borders and try to find a way back to his own world. As the time passed, it didn’t take long though for a stronger bond to form between the two of them.
It might not be so bad to stay here and live together like this. It was just as the student began thinking like that……..that the vampire suddenly collapsed.
“Oi! Hang on! Hey!?”
After desperately caring for her and doing everything he could, eventually the vampire princess did manage to recover enough to open her eyes. And with that awakening, a cruel revelation was brought to his ears.
That Demonic White Sword that had sealed the vampire princess away had also robbed her of her magic stone.
A magic stone is the solidification of high-density mana, and they serve as a form of life support for vampires. Any that lose theirs are doomed to slowly waste away and die after a few years.
So the Demonic White Sword didn’t just seal the vampire princess away. She also took the magic stone, knowing that doing so would lead to the princess’s eventual death and thus leaving the need to renew the seal a mute point. And despite knowing that from the very beginning, the vampire princess never once asked the student for help in getting the stone back.
“I’ve committed all kinds of inhumane acts……and this is the natural result. To shackle you down with the consequences of my own actions when you are so desperately trying to return home…….how could I possibly do something like that?”
“Quit talking like that……I’ll do something about this, so stick by me until then…….”
I don’t want her to die. With that single thought ringing in his mind, the student set aside his original goal and put all his efforts into helping the vampire princess. But each passing day was a struggle. He had no clue on how to help her. Until one day, when a certain man found them.
…….No. More accurately, he detected them.
“I was worried when you suddenly disappeared on us Hero. It looks as if you have a crisis on your hands……and if you find it agreeable, perhaps I could lend you some aide?”
The man…….the Imperial court wizard Gerald Wiseman, approached the student, and despite the wizard’s best efforts to come across as a good-natured friend, the student couldn’t see him as anything other than a devil ready to offer one of their famous deals.