The Silver Mask and the Cursed Girl – Part 03
In G. Ponsonia, the royal capital, many shops kept their lights on late into the night. Regardless of the king’s inclinations or temperament, the majority of Ponsania’s territory was blessed with fertile land that yielded abundant harvests of agricultural produce. This had led to a population boom, and the city continued to flourish.
At the heart of the city loomed the royal castle, encircled by the Noble District, where the opulent mansions of the aristocracy stood tall. Beyond this privileged neighborhood lay the First Residential District, home to commoners with ties to the aristocracy, such as wealthy people and distant relatives. The area was as clean as the Noble District. Further out was the Second Residential District, where the bulk of the city’s populace resided. As one drifted closer to the city’s outskirts, public security worsened, and the streets became more squalid. Nonetheless, this state of disarray was not a mere symptom of neglect, but rather an emblem of the city’s vibrancy.
In the royal castle, where elegance reigned supreme, a war of words was being waged.
“How can a member of the royal lineage take the word of a monster seriously?”
“You can only say that because you did not see the Fire Drakon with your own eyes. One breath of fire turned the city as bright as day.”
“At times like this, a true nobleman should hold their sword ready before His Majesty.”
“Why not abdicate, and then install himself as ruler with a different title, like say, Emperor?”
“We’ll be like the wretched Quinbrand Empire, then. No. Denied. Besides, that would mean doing exactly what the Fire Drakon said.”
“How is the research on the barrier going? Didn’t the Sorcery Research Institute say it can repel powerful spells?”
Nobles from various territories had gathered in the grand conference room, speaking individually without a king to preside over them. The throne sat empty, and the first prince and heir, Austrin, was nowhere to be found. The only one present was Princess Kujastria, second in line for the throne, sitting there like a figurehead.
Kujastria’s gaze seemed vacant, but in reality, she was carefully observing. Although majority of the nobles were loyal to the king, there existed a handful of opposing forces—proper nobles—led by Margrave Grugschilt. Initially they lacked unity and strength, but the Fire Drakon Catastrophe had compelled them to rally around the Margrave.
Other nobles who were thought to be supporters of the king took a neutral stance, perhaps influenced by the opposing forces, or for some other reason. When asked for their opinions at the meeting, they only gave vague, noncommittal responses.
Kujastria observed that 40% were supporters of the king and the prince, 40% were neutral, and 20% were opposing forces. The absent nobles were considered weak and not included in the count.
Kujastria had no desire for the throne, but she understood that any unusual actions could attract ambitious nobles vying to make her queen. This could incur the prince’s wrath and lead to imprisonment or even death. Thus, she chose to feign absent-mindedness.
I wonder how many of them know that there’s another spark sleeping underneath the castle.
Kujastria had learned today that Jillarte was being held captive, and she couldn’t help but wonder what the king’s motives were for keeping her imprisoned at this particular time. The nobles were currently focused on the Fire Drakon, but the topic of Jillarte might come up tomorrow.
I’m getting less and less sleep, but I must endure it for the moment.
Kujastria was only summoned to the meeting because the absence of the royal family would be discomforting. Nonetheless, she viewed this as an opportunity to demonstrate that she posed no threat.
She was waiting patiently for the storm to pass.
Despite the raging storm in the royal castle, the basement remained as quiet as usual.
It was already late into the night.
Her nightwear suggested that she was abducted while she was asleep.
“Hello?! Is anyone there?! I demand to speak with the person in charge!” the Half Dragon girl called out, but received no response.
Jillarte had been taken captive on orders from the king, but in the days since her arrival, no one had come in touch with her. The only people she saw were the soldiers who brought her meals. Even when she tried to engage them in conversation, they only gave her curt responses.
The room was furnished neatly, far better than the inn where she had been sleeping. The only downside were the iron bars that locked her inside. Despite being fed, she yearned to escape this place. Her shackles were a hindrance, and her wrists and ankles were bound together by chains, preventing her from opening them more than sixty centimeters.
But more than anything, the thought of how she would be used made her feel miserable.
“I thought they would talk to me quick,” she mumbled. “They sure are taking their sweet time.”
The chains jangled as she slammed her fist against the bars.
“A Fire Drakon showed up. It’s chaos up there.”
Behind the bars was just a hallway. It should have been an empty corridor. But Jillarte couldn’t believe her eyes. A figure appeared, materializing in the space.
The figure wore a black hooded cloak and a mask over their face.
A simple silver mask. It covered the face from the eyes to the bridge of the nose, with only the right cheek hidden, leaving the left exposed. There seemed to be a faint design carved into the edges, but it was not clear what it was.
“Who are you?!”
Jillarte immediately jumped back, but her movement was not that great due to the heavy chains.
“I thought you wanted someone to talk to.”
“Don’t make me laugh. Why would I talk to a shady guy like you?”
“I know about your situation.”
There was a chair in the hallway. It was probably used by soldiers on guard duty, but there was no sign that they had ever been used.
The masked man pulled up the chair, sat down, and crossed his legs.
“I’m Silver Face. The night is long. Let’s talk.”
【Soul Board】Jillarte Kostenlos Jäger
Age: 19 | Rank: 27 | 4
Hikaru was checking Jillarte’s Soul Board. She seemed to be quite skilled with a sword and was at the level of a commanding officer in this kingdom. Although, she was not as good as Lawrence the Sword Saint, the leader of the knights.
I can see why she’s a Rank C adventurer.
From behind his mask, Hikaru carefully inspected Jillarte. She was watching him warily.
I guess it’s not that the scales are growing all over her body. It looks like the scales are encroaching. And those eyes are so cloudy. I wonder if she can see properly?
Her hair was a dull red color, casually pulled back. Freya had told him that she belonged to a shunned race within Einbiest, and it was obvious now that it was because of her appearance.
She didn’t have a tail. Although they were called Half Dragons, the only difference between them and humans was that they had scales on their bodies.
“I have nothing to say to you,” Jillarte said.
“Really? Don’t you want to know what’ll happen to you?”
“I have an idea. I don’t need a shady guy like you telling me about it.”
Hikaru couldn’t help but chuckle at how wary she was.
“What’s so funny?”
“Uh, nothing. If you have the same information, that’s fine. Can I ask you a question?”
“Come on, don’t say that. I hear you’re a Dragonfolk. A Half Dragon, not a Drakonewt. Am I right?”
Jillarte’s expression changed. It was surprise.
“I want to know more about dragons. What kind of species are they?”
Jillarte wore a pensive look. Hikaru saw this as a good sign. She had some information and was wondering if she could share it with this shady fellow or not.
“Before I answer, I have one question,” she said.
“I’m not telling you anything about my actual face.”
“I don’t care about that. Can you… hide yourself?”
“What if I said yes?”
“I want you to take me out of here. Let me out, and I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”
“You’ve suddenly become very talkative.”
“I’m not kidding. If I don’t get out of here, there will be trouble.”
Jillarte nodded gravely.
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