Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
Smiling, the princess gently brushed Raul’s horse body with her slender fingertips. “Useful animals are sometimes treated with more care than incompetent humans,” she said. “I expect you to be useful to me too. If you are, you will be rewarded.”
“You’re gonna give me meat or something? That would be an honor.”
“No. Something like… Yes, the knife you were talking about earlier.”
Eyes wide open, I leaned forward. “So you do know about it! Give it back, you bitch!”
“If you want a reward, you will obey me quietly. Now take off your dirty clothes and cleanse yourself.” She flashed an elegant smile.
She was really getting on my nerves. Fuck. I wanna strangle her so bad. But if I killed a princess, I would never get off this island alive. I could, but I would have to kill everyone else first.
I decided to be patient until Zero arrived. She pissed me off, but at least she didn’t see me as an enemy or someone who could bring harm.
Clicking my tongue, I ripped off my shirt and silently poured cold water on my head.
Raul disappeared somewhere for a moment and came back with a dry cloth. I had never heard of a thoughtful Beastfallen before.
“Hmm. You look unsightly without clothes,” the princess said. “And the water is ruining your fur.”
“You told me to take them off.”
Besides, I’m still wearing trousers. I’m not naked.
“I was saying that you are better off naked than wearing that rag.”
“Is that so? I deeply apologize for my lack of knowledge,” I said sarcastically.
“What do we do?” The princess traced her finger on her chin.
“Would you like to wear my coat?” Raul interjected. “It’s tailored specifically for me, though, so it might be a bit long.”
Raul was as tall as a man riding on horseback. His head was a little higher than mine, and considering his cloak reached all the way to his horse legs, I would probably be dragging it across the ground.
“I appreciate the offer, but it’ll get wet and my fur will stick to it.”
“I just have to wash it afterwards.”
Suddenly, Raul raised his head as if noticing something. He put his hand to his pointy ear, and his expression clouded.
“I hear something.”
I strained my ears. I could hear some noise. I didn’t know what it was, but it felt unsettling. A second later, a deafening explosion rocked the area. The princess covered her ears and squared her shoulders in irritation.
“Was that the square?” she said. “What is Gouda doing?! Raul, give him your cloak. Whitey, you are coming with me.”
Is she talking about me? Probably. First, the governor of Ideaverna, and now this princess. What is up with people in power giving weird nicknames to Beastfallen?
Before I could complain, however, the princess had already started running. Without much of a choice, I followed her with limited movement. After running for a while, Raul caught up to me and draped his cloak over my shoulders.
“It’s a bit long, huh?”
He cocked his head, a troubled look on his face, while his hooves drummed on the ground. The tremendous sense of discomfort made me quietly avert my eyes and look to the front. It might be a while before I would get used to this guy.
“What is going on?!” the princess said. “Someone, give me a status report! What is Gouda doing? What was that explosion just now?!”
She led us to a circular plaza just outside the castle gates, where a long monument stood in the middle. There were stores and houses nearby, but all of them were either partially destroyed or completely obliterated.
I had no idea what just happened. From the clouds of dust and the screams and shouting, it felt like the final stages of a battle.
Apparently the sailors that washed ashore were gathered there. The men were nestled together, pointing near the monument, panicking.
“Your Highness!” A guard rushed over and knelt before the princess. “We had just finished gathering the survivors and were about to test them, when a woman—” He was talking fast, clearly hysteric. He pointed at the cloud of dust.
I lifted my head at the mention of a woman. The cloud of dust cleared, revealing two figures. The moment I saw one of them, I heaved a sigh of relief.
“I knew you were alive!”
Only one woman in this world wore a baggy cloak, a ridiculously short pair of trousers, and thigh-high socks.
But the relief didn’t last long. Something was wrong. Not with Zero, but the situation around her.
“Did you say you killed him?” she asked, her voice low but clear.
Her cold gaze bore into the princess’s escort, the man named Gouda. He was lying down on the ground.
It was a horrific situation in and of itself, but one thing made it worse. Zero’s hood had been pulled back. Her long silver hair fluttered in the wind, her flawless fear-inducing features exposed. She was staring down at Gouda with ruthless eyes.
Grunting, Gouda struggled to get up on his feet. Zero took a step forward, and the man froze. He looked straight at Zero’s face and swallowed hard, sweat dripping from his chin to the ground.
“You killed my mercenary,” she said. “You skinned him and turned him into a rug. Is that what you said? Now you want me to forget about him.”
Aw, shit. I facepalmed. Zero was searching for me. And by some unfortunate coincidence, Gouda told her they killed me.
His answer infuriated Zero. I reminded her over and over not to get mad at the death of one mercenary, but she didn’t learn.
Would she stop if I showed myself? She might just burn Gouda to ashes at this rate.
“He was my one and only friend. If you killed him, then you must be prepared to die yourself. I am extremely vexed at the moment.”
“W-Wait, Witch!” I yelled, taking a big step forward. “Calm do—”
“Zahard, lofd, pierce fast and true!”
An incantation came from right next to me. Shocked, I turned to the princess. She drew an invisible bow, as if she was casting Steim.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
“Chapter of Hunting, Page Two: Steim! Grant me power, for my name is Amnil!”
An arrow of light shot out of her hand. It flew straight to Zero, but before it could hit her, it dissipated without a trace.
“It can’t be!” The princess was stunned. “My Magic failed?! No, I’m sure I cast it right!”
“Wh-What do you mean your Magic?” I asked. “Where did you even—”
Raul pulled me from behind. “I know you’re shocked, but please stand back for now,” he said. “It’s not safe.”
“What the hell is going on here?!”
“Raul!” the princess called. “Offering, now!”
Raul stepped forward as if to protect me. Then suddenly, he slashed his palm with a small knife and offered it to the princess.
After taking it, the princess turned to the guards scattered about. “Stand your ground! It’s only one woman! Now is the time to show the power of our Magical Corps!”
Did she just say Magical Corps? My brain couldn’t process the situation fast enough. The princess used Magic, and then mentioned a corps. Does that mean there are others here who can use Magic?
The moment I reached a conclusion, dozens of guards surrounded Zero and began chanting at once. They were casting the same spell, Steim. Countless arrows of light flew towards Zero.
Zero, however, showed no signs of panic. “Ludicrous,” she muttered. With a single wave of her arm, the arrows vanished. Magic was a technique created by Zero herself. She mentioned before that her Magic couldn’t harm her.
“It’s not working…” There was bitterness—or rather, excitement in the princess’s voice. “Where did such a powerful witch even come from?!”
The princess inscribed some letters in the air with the knife she received from Raul. Then she started chanting rapidly.
I took a huge step forward and called out to Zero. “Watch out, Witch! She’s using Beastfallen blood!”
Recognizing my presence, Zero smiled. “Mercenary! I knew you were alive.” Then her expression froze.
“A collar?” she mouthed.
I remembered the state I was in. Ah, shit. This is not good.
I was used to being chained and thrown into cages, but Zero was not used to having her companion treated like an animal.
“My mercenary…” Zero’s gaze shifted from me to the princess. “Did you put the collar on him?!”
“Chapter of Harvest, Page Eight: Kudra! Grant me power, for my name is Amnil!” I could feel the concentrated power gathering at the tip of the princess’s sword.
Without a moment’s delay, Zero held her right hand towards the princess. “Negate! You will not cast Magic!”
The princess’s spell dissipated. It was the same as when Zero dispelled Albus’ Magic.
“No way!” The princess was confused.
Zero flashed a calm smile. “It is my turn,” she said. “I will show you just how foolish you are for using my Magic to harm me! This is how you use Kudra!”
Zero drew a pattern in the air with her fingertips. It was the exact same motion the princess did earlier, but I could see a difference in the movements alone.
“Verdiga lum de Garg, O’ earth-shaking seedbed extending far and wide, crush the obstacle standing in my way!”
“Wait!” I exclaimed. “You’re gonna kill me too!”
“Cover your ears, Mercenary!”
“Why?” I quickly followed her order.
“Chapter of Harvest, Page Eight: Kudra! Grant me power, for I am Zero!”