Translator: Adam Seacord
It was the day of the spring festival, the sky was blue, and full of warm, lulling sunshine. The marriage ceremony between Olivia of House Blare, who was now the official heir to Earl Abram, about to inherit the countryside territory of Abram, and Lubreo of House Lambert, a city noble of the same city, went off without a hitch.
Lubreo… I had taken over his place, and stripped myself of Elliot’s name and existence to officially make Olivia mine. Abram was only an added bonus.
Lubreo of House Lambert still had bandages wrapped around parts of his face and body, still affected by the burns, but he was mostly healthy. Although, he should restrain from any strenuous activity for a while… That’s the story, anyway.
As long as I was becoming the Lady of the Land’s husband, most people assumed I would never make it out to the frontlines. I wasn’t going to let that opportunity slip by.
The beginning of the two love bird’s journey were celebrated by many of Abram’s people and visiting travelers. The festivities continued all day, and well into the night.
Lubreo, who inherited House Lambert, has now been flourishing in politics now that his standing in the city has stabilized. No major issues so far. Almost no one knew that someone had overtook Lubreo’s life.
「Really, it’s like a dream. I never thought we could spend our days together like this.」
Whispering this, Olivia laid her head on Lubreo’s… My chest. We had already consummated our marriage, although there was nothing really to it. Besides, there were many visitors to our bedroom.
「Hold on… Sure, Olivia’s officially your wife, so I get that she gets first priority… But you’re not going to ignore all of us, are you? You turned us into monsters, after all. Don’t forget Shiro, Lily, and Dora, too. They’re still at the Temple and Spider’s Web.」
Sara had already stripped her coat off, ready to jump into our bed on our wedding night. The magician Sara, along with Nina and Nora, who were city nobles, were all rumored to be Olivia’s lovers, since Olivia was rumored to be a lesbian.
In reality, the only ones in a lesbian relationship were Nina and Nora (who weren’t here at the moment)… But any of them visiting Olivia’s bed wasn’t too suspicious. According to intel from Shiro and Dora, people in the city are rumoring that I was either left alone in bed, or else bedding my wife along with her lovers, too. The latter was closer to the truth.
I still continued my work in the shadows. Officially, Lubreo’s health had diminished, which would cause him to stay into the castle for recovery now and again. This was to make time for me to act as the man-eating monster. Layla was serving as my right hand in the shadows. Even though she was meant to walk under the sun, she followed me down, smiling all the while. …Albeit it did take some time for Layla to smile again.
「Hm. I want to marry master too… Even though I can’t put it out in the open, for the sake of master’s position, but…」
Through that display of emotion, Miyabi seemed to drop her alert again Layla. Actually, Miyabi might have been the star for opening Layla’s heart back up after I turned her into a monster. Miyabi, who had been put in charge of guarding the waterways, had to learn a lot from Layla. Layla, stoic as ever, finally regained her smile through struggling to deal with her peculiar apprentice.
While in a strange position, Miyabi was officially recognized by the city, and she was treated like an orphan adopted by Olivia. Miyabi wouldn’t like this, but I was planning to formally adopt her as Olivia and my’s child. …If Miyabi ever bears my child, I would cross that bridge when we came to it.
「Master Elliot, we finally made it… I feel like I can finally see what I had asked of you that day.」
Astarte whispered as I pulled her over, sitting her down on the other side of me from Olivia. She was the one who came to me in the beginning, and taught me how to live as a monster. She was my dead mother’s best friend, who stopped aging after being turned into a succubus. As to why she came to me, I already knew.
「Right, Astarte. The magician named Gratina was already dead. The Gratina who is alive now… Is just borrowing that name and face, like I am doing.」
On the day of the parade, the pendant that Gratina took from Astarte was a piece I made a long time ago. It was a horrible failure I had made when I was scrambling to hide my identity. Until I remembered it, it was forgotten in the corner of the storage room… Instead of preventing other people from recognizing the wearer, it prevents the wearer from recognizing other people… A troublesome failure.
Of course, when Astarte was holding the pendant, she had no idea who was around her, either. The only reason she could go toe-to-toe with Gratina was because the citizens around her were all being controlled by Gratina. Astarte simply had to fight the one figure that wasn’t a monster controlled by Gratina. In the clutch, she pulled off the trick beautifully. I mean, no one would anticipate anyone holding a magical item that only puts them in a disadvantage. Especially since we were the ones who instigated the attack.
We had already figured that Gratina’s Cursing Eyes were her trump card. The magic arrow she shot at Daria and Miyabi in the underground waterway wasn’t too powerful. I had assumed that she couldn’t use a wide-range spell against merely two enemies in the enclosed area. So, I had faith that she would resort to her Eyes in the end. The entire trap was only to blind her.
The monster who claimed the name of Gratina for herself was a forest nymph magician, who had great magical prowess but not much physical stamina. That’s why Lubreo could force her down when she was younger, and she didn’t have much immunity to poison nor drugs. Chana’s drug had taken great effect on her.
Once her trump card was disabled, Gratina ended up being ravished by the fifty citizens in that alley. A very addictive substance was found in the carriage… The usage of which Astarte knew very well.
From what I heard, Gratina held on for a while, but it was only a matter of time. After her vagina, mouth, intestines and stomach were all filled of semen and her mind was controlled by drugs and ecstasy, Gratina was brought to me by Astarte… Where she was ravished by me. After tweaking her mind to recognize me as Lubreo, she was conquered again.
Gratina now worked in Astarte’s stead in the Temple, since I could use her powers inside and out to invite personnel from other cities and countries and extract information from them.
「Astarte, I think you knew about Rodania for a long time.」
「Well, I can’t argue that… The Magique world I travelled to was north of Rodania.」
While she didn’t contradict me, she was still being vague. Astarte wasn’t her original name, either.
「I happened to have a chance to look up things about mom. Olivia gave me a hand, too. You don’t need to hide it anymore. What’s your real prerogative? The Royal Princess Asteria of Rodania.」
I said princess, but Astarte was old enough to have an adult child, even though Astarte still looked like she just became of age because she was turned into a succubus.
The First Princess Asteria, seen in papers and coins from Rodania from before I was born, looked a lot like Astarte in her priestess’ outfit. Astarte looked like she didn’t know what to say. She had become much calmer than before. She no longer exclaimed to have me take over the Magique world, and worshipping at temples or taking care of orphans and prostitutes was unbecoming of a succubus. For an evil and scheming Magique… Even as a villain, Astarte was an obvious failure.
「Two decades ago… Lead by the First Princess Asteria, Rodania sent an army of paladins and adventures to a reserve of Magiques to the North… Where rules of nature are different from the rest of the world. It was a failure. I don’t know how much you know about this, but… There were rumors that the Second Princess of the time, who is now the queen in charge of the nation, sabotaged the mission. Princess Asteria never returned, and the mission only caused massive casualties… And is now forgotten.」
I held Astarte close, so she couldn’t get away. Sara mumbled, dumbfounded:
「Wait… So Astarte, you’re the… Princess? Of the nation next door we’re still fighting against?」
「…Sara. Asteria is gone. Amrosa, Elliot’s mother, escaped with her name and raised Master Elliot.」
Astarte confirmed my suspicions.
「You were turned into a monster by my biological father… Stult, was it? …He took away your name, right? Changing your name was part of the contract.」
「You have truly… Become a villainous man, Master Elliot. But…」
Changing the subject again. It wasn’t going to work anymore. It’s not that I had grew stronger… Astarte had become weaker.
「You didn’t have any place to go to begin with. Nor what you wanted to do. The proof is in you visiting my mother without knowing that I existed… What you said you wanted… You didn’t believe it for a second.」
Astarte’s expression shifted. Olivia, Sara, and Miyabi all watched her. She was speechless.
「You lose your personality, memory, religion… All of that when you turn into a monster… Right. From what I looked up, the First Princess Asteria was blessed by the God of Light, rumored to perform miracles that could bring back the dead… You haven’t forgotten any prayers, as far as I can tell.」
In addition to the prayers she had shown in the Spider’s Web, Astarte had performed some miniscule miracles of healing for the prostitutes. The blessing strong enough to bring back the dead can barely help cure a prostitute’s diseases. I figured that losing a religion was based on her experience.
「…What if you’re right?」
Without answering that, I continued.
「The current queen of Rodania was the Second Princess of the time… You’re younger sister. I’ve heard that, although she must be in her middle ages by now, she still looks young and beautiful… Just like you.」
Olivia and Sara, who had heard details about Rodania from Gratina, realized what I was going for.
「And… The core of Rodania has been controlled by monsters for a while, now.」
This, I hadn’t told Astarte for the past half year after killing Lubreo. I gathered and dug into the information I could find over that time, and I had a good idea of the answer. Lubreo was almost dead-on.
「The one who sabotaged the mission to the Magique world, and Asteria, then sold you to the Magiques was your sister. Who is now a monster, ruling over Rodania. …Now, what was your goal, that you told me about? It should be easy, you told me all about it.」
Astarte was quivering. She knew what I wanted.
「You… You can’t. You can’t possibly…!」
「Yes I will. I’ll use everything Lubreo had prepared. In my own way, of course.」
I knew that a very villainous grin shined on my face. I couldn’t bring back what I had lost, but I had gained something new, too.
…I was about to take this woman for myself, in the truest sense.
「Besides, Astarte. I was thinking. I’m the son of Amrosa, who was in that army. It’s not hard to believe that Princess Asteria bore a child, too. …Especially if the daughter looks just like Asteria.」
My way was to have Astarte herself take back her country. Despite the core being taken over by monsters, Rodania was still a nation of humans on paper. Considering Miyabi, the temples there have been taken over, where not only humans but monsters were being used as tools for sexual gratification. It was rotten, but the only reason it was working was because the majority of the residents there were human.
A small number of Magiques controlled the very humans that despised monsters. That’s the kind of place Rodania had become.
「The Temple is growing beyond national borders. If the fact that the current queen of Rodania had been taken over by a Magique was brought to light by the half-monstrous daughter of the tragic princess… What would happen?」
At the very least, Rodania could no longer dedicate their forces to the battlefront with our nation. As long as humans consider Magiques their enemies, this would automatically put pressure on them.
「You villain… Even Amrosa wouldn’t…」
Astarte’s eyes looked at me as if I was something terrifying. But that wasn’t how she actually felt. She was looking at the monster she had created, and her own secret desire behind it.
「To be honest, all I wanted was to protect the people around me. And that hasn’t changed. Except… I’m much greedier than I thought. I had to do all sorts of things to protect those people. And I will keep doing all sorts of things. That’s all it is.」
The one who raised me as a Magique and taught me to recognize my own desires, like a villain would, was indisputably Astarte. But I did have other teachers along the way. And… In order for me to satiate this particular desire… There was an ingredient missing.
「Astarte… Or, Asteria. You were turned into a monster by my father. So, you’re not my monster. …So, you have to decide. Either we go our separate ways… Or you become my monster, not my father’s, by swearing your loyalty to me, by letting me control you.」
Everyone stared at Astarte with hopeful eyes.
「Master Elliot… I raised you. You were my monster. You have grown so far beyond my imagination. As you’ve said, I don’t know what to do anymore. About my sister… About myself… I can put it all on you?」
「Of course you know. You know exactly what you want.」
Astarte wasn’t a villain. Even though she could kill… There was still a line she couldn’t cross in her attempt to become one.
「You’re terrified of hating. Even your sister who betrayed you. Even though you lost everything and your home, where you could only come to my mother for help… Even though you even lost your god.」
Her eyes shook. I could feel her heart slowly breaking. She seemed to finally acknowledge the dark emotions she had subconsciously been suppressing.
「I don’t plan to control everything about you. I’m not nice enough to turn you into a marionette doll. But, I don’t mind drawing out the hatred and the sorrow you kept hidden, and using it to my advantage. But we need a contract for that… You have to want it. Or nothing happens.」
She whispered. Her time seemed to finally thaw after decades. Astarte was seeing the distant past.
「When… I let everyone die… Being ravished by monsters…! All of the soldiers. The adventurers. The knights. They had families. They had loved ones… I had to be strong. If I fell, no one would… So I…」
With her same expression, tears fell from her eyes. I understood.
「I want to go back… If I could kill myself before I… It would have never…」
This wasn’t it. This might have been her character, but I didn’t want her this way. She had to be more villainous. More honest with her desire.
「That’s just escapism. You just want to shift the blame to someone else. …The blame really lies with the one who set the trap. Doesn’t it?」
「…But, but she’s a sweet girl…! Why… Why did she, why… Why me…」
Astarte wept. She was like a bumbling child.
「You couldn’t become a villain, and your sister was one. That’s why you saw acknowledging hatred as evil, and your sister weaponized it. That’s why you lost everything.」
Olivia held Astarte’s hand.
「I signed a contract with this villain a long time ago. …I was always in love with him. …Astarte. Your hands, and mine, are already stained. …All because we have things we want to protect despite of it all.」
She pulled Astarte by the hand on top of me.
Oh, Olivy. You know me so well.
I kissed Olivia. Just by giving a single look, I had Sara and Miyabi hold Astarte down.
「You can’t change the past. But you can reclaim what you’ve lost. Your hatred, desire, sorrow, lament… I don’t disapprove living with all of those feeling bottled up. But I don’t need someone like that by my side.」
「No…! Please, Elliot… Take…」
My mother’s best friend. If things were normal, if she was still a human, we never would have ended up here. The first woman I bedded. The woman I always wanted to make my very own.
Just like when I had Olivia, I couldn’t keep my heart from pounding out of control.
「Then you already know, don’t you? They say that Magiques corrupt humans… But it’s a two-way street. Now, swear it. Swear to give up your soul, your love, and your body… To me. Your master.」
「Elliot… Take… Take me! Chain me! I can’t hold it back… This sorrow. This hatred… Please… Make me yours…」
For a moment, her emotions ran rampant, and crashed. Her tear-soaked face looked adorable.
「Olivy, Sara, Miyabi… My teacher Astarte is no more. From this point on, she is Asteria. My woman.」
「Master is very greedy… And mean. But very kind. Your pleasure is my pleasure… But please love me too, Master, not just Olivia and Astarte♪」
Miyabi chimed in.
My women blessed Asteria and I.
「You know what’s going to happen when you control Astarte… Asteria, don’t you…? Then, fine. I wouldn’t be alive without you anyway, and I know how greedy you are.」
「Because you’ve fallen in love with Elliot a long time ago, haven’t you, Sara? I don’t think I could make you an official queen… But I’ll be sweet to my lover. I want you to put me first, but… We all need you.」
How much have I changed since that day when I was determined to live alone as an outcast. My title, and even my name had changed… But what changed about who I was?
I have paid horrible prices, and I had made people pay theirs. I definitely screwed up the lives of so many people. I might have to pay for all of that, someday. But now wasn’t the time for that.
I had to do what I can, now, the best I could. I didn’t care if I ended up wearing so many masks until I lost my original self. So what if my life was soaked in blood? What did I have to hold back for? I reached out, and grabbed something, although something else fell out.
This world’s a labyrinth with nothing to guide the way. No one held a map, but they keep walking. As they carve the walls with evidence of their lives until their days come to an end in the middle of the maze.
「I accept your oath, Asteria. You are now mine… Welcome to this villain’s lair!」