Prologue: Part 2
“He he he, now then, this business about selling state secrets… Let’s start seeing some honesty, huh!”
The chief torturer swings with all his might, and the whip leaves a burning laceration on that pure white skin.
Shirley screamed in agony. No matter what she had suffered before, she had never felt anything like this.
“Oh! What a fantastic scream! Let me hear some more!”
He smiled sadistically and cracked the whip over her white limbs over and over again.
In order to get a false confession out of Shirley, there was little hesitation about using torture.
In present times, the law in the Empire stated that in order to bring a defendant to trial, there must be reasonable evidence or a confession. If she could not get Shirley to admit to these imagined crimes on her own, Alice was more than willing to use violent coercion to meet that end.
(It’s alright… This kind of misunderstanding… I’m sure it can definitely be solved someday!)
Despite being brought low by her sister, betrayed by her fiancée and in such horrid surroundings, Shirley still didn’t give up hope.
Once Albert realized the truth, they could go back to how they were before. Using that as a foundation, she desperately tried to resist the torture, holding onto memories of happier times with Albert for comfort.
However, that fleeting hope the nineteen-year-old girl clung to was soon cruelly betrayed.
What followed made the whip seem cute.
Tearing out the nails with pliers. Burning on a Wooden Horse. Faced with atrocities that would make even the most mighty of warriors scream in delirium, that faint glimmer she held on to passed into nothing.
She had become a shadow of her former self, no longer the beauty that turned heads and courted envy. Her skin patchy and rough, her limbs covered in wounds that she does not have means to heal, her once beautiful white hair shriveled and grey like an old woman’s. Shirley had gone from a beauty to a sight one couldn’t bear to look at.
After a month had passed, the dashed hope that Albert would come to his senses and end her imprisonment had given way to a burning hatred that was more passionate than any love she ever felt for him.
“Gah… ah… haaaa….!!!”
A voiceless cry creaks from her ruined throat.
(I will never forgive them…! That person… never…!!)
Those gentle eyes that were once filled with a charitable spirit had been replaced with eyes that blazed with hatred and the desire to kill.
Even if she sold her soul to a demon, or was dragged into the pits of hell, she would drag all those who had done such wicked things to her down with her.
(My former father, mother, and brothers…)
Those who had made her life hell just for the way she was born.
(To those with whom I thought I shared a bond…)
Either through guile or extortion, she had been cast aside by those she had held out a hand to in their times of need.
(My sister who would take everything from me…)
Alice had finally managed to steal even this happiness from her.
(And above all… the man that betrayed me…!)
She finally understood. Albert was Shirley’s fiancée, but he had engaged in an affair with Alice.
Did he cook up this conspiracy because he thought she would interfere with his relationship with Alice? Well, not that it matters.
Even if Alice was working to deceive him, the fact that man was willing to believe the flimsiest accusations against a woman who he knew deep down loved him dearly, more than anyone… Makes him the most despicable of the lot.
(I’ll have my revenge…! Even if it means falling into hell, I’ll still hammer in their skulls…!)
No matter how much energy she had, her dreams of revenge would be fruitless if Shirley rotted away in this dungeon.
Perhaps some god or demon was listening in on Shirley and accepted the offering of her soul, because a dramatic change soon occurred in her.
“W-what the hell is this…!?”
The first one to notice was the head torturer.
He had begun to grow tired of treating Shirley as his plaything and was only torturing her as work demanded now. But, as he opened the door to her cell, he was shocked by the stunning beauty of Shirley, who looked like she had never been tortured once.
Her skin had regained its sheen, that straggly hair had become radiant once more and the twenty nails he had pulled out one by one were restored.
The unsightly and brutalized bag of bones that he had finished with yesterday had been replaced by someone who had stepped back through time.
“T-this is impossible! I have to report this…!”
Stunned by what he had seen, and in a rush to report the information to his masters… the door had been left ajar.
“…Ahh, what a shame. If only he had come closer, I could have plunged this into his neck…”
Shirley stands and discards the sharp stone she was hiding.
Anyone who knew her before would shiver at that low voice that casually lamented missing the opportunity to murder.
“This body… I’d heard of the legends, but to think it would happen to me… But, it’s turned out alright in the end. Even if that man was saved by his own bumbling idiocy.”
It’s not in a commoner’s nature to think much of locking up. With the exception of the methodical and organized clerks, servants not locking doors and chests was a constant source of hassle in the castle.
She had planned on using this to her advantage some day, but Shirley was pleased it had come about so quickly.
“Well then, time to go. …There are certain people I’d love to see.”
Stepping out of the cell, I managed to steal some unguarded servant clothes and slipped out into the grounds.
Shirley, who hid her conspicuous white hair underneath a cap, stole a sword and began her journey towards the royal castle. Just the thought of seeing Albert’s frightened face filled her with glee and her eyes retained that murderous intent.
“Please wait just a little longer. Someday very soon… I’ll be able to watch you suffer fates worse than death…”
Shirley passed unnoticed through the city and hid in an abandoned forest hut far from prying eyes.
As an escaped convict, Shirley had little hope of leveraging any political power.
So, what could she do? It didn’t take long to find an answer.
If you lack political influence, simply make up for it with overwhelming violence. To that end, the skill in magic and swordsmanship she developed as she wore herself to the bone trying to be a good fiancée for that hateful man will be useful.
Using her skills she would make a daring assault on the castle, break through the defenses, and visit a terrible fate upon Albert and Alice. She worked out scenarios in her mind to elongate Albert’s suffering, no matter how much he begged for death.
Shirley’s preparations were proceeding well. Surprisingly, she had little trouble swinging the sword that was designed for use by the opposite sex. She wasn’t confident she could kill a strong monster with such a thing, but it will be more than enough to cut down a knight.
She stole what she needed from the city, other times she attacked bandit camps and took what she needed from their corpses. Slowly but surely, Shirley began to set the foundation for her plan.
Two months to the date of her broken engagement, and one month after she had escaped jail, Shirley was suddenly overwhelmed by a wave of nausea.
At first, she wondered if she had taken ill. But, these symptoms were strange. It started similar to a strong cold, but then she had serious problems staying awake at times and also had pains in her stomach and chest.
As she began to wonder if she should threaten a doctor into treating her, she suddenly remembered something.
“When was it… my last period…?”
The only word that suddenly appeared in my mind was ‘Pregnancy’.
As if to prove it, I slowly gained weight as the days rolled by. It didn’t take much thinking to realize who the only possible father was.
“How can this be…? That detestable scum’s child is inside me…!”
From the bottom of my heart, I resented Albert’s child that lay in my belly. Shirley thought of slicing open her own belly and dragging it out herself, but she lowered her sword and sighed.
“I can’t do that, even if that man is its father, this child doesn’t bear his sins. I’ll bring it to term, and then find an orphanage to take it in.”
Shirley had not yet fallen far enough yet to take the life of an innocent.
A life on the run is perilous for an unborn child, and it’s no sure thing that it can be delivered safely. And although Shirley won’t seek to abort the pregnancy, she doesn’t feel much emotion for the life she now bears within herself.
“I need to refrain from full-scale training preparations until I give birth, but fighting some lower ranked beasts shouldn’t be an issue.”
Avoid strong monsters and ones that move at groups, strike at lone weak ones if at all possible. Continue to keep the sword arm strong, and practice magic daily. Even if she can’t move around as well, light training is still important.
Still, this is well beyond what a pregnant woman should ever be doing. Although she can imagine the look of horror on the faces of mothers and doctors the world over, Shirley adopted a “Whatever happens, happens.” approach to it all.
This ever-expanding belly of hers that demanded more and more nutrition was becoming a real disturbance to Shirley’s revenge scheme.
It seems natural that man’s flesh and blood would also hinder her. If she managed to actually deliver this child, she plans to be owed some gratitude.
“It’s strange, though. I’m finding it harder to focus on training recently.”
At some point, she had begun feeling awkward cramps any time she had tried to swing a sword around, and no matter what she couldn’t take her mind off of it. It’s a feeling that grows day by day.
She shook her head. Desperately, she tried to reach for that burning hatred that had kept her going, but she found that her thoughts would always return to the life growing in her womb.
“These symptoms… this illness… it really is a pain…”
Shirley tried to curse the child she bore, but the words clogged in her throat and she couldn’t get them out, leaving her all the more bewildered.
She didn’t know the reason. She didn’t know, but somehow it didn’t feel like something she should worry about.
“…Ah, it worked.”
Her stomach swelled again, but this time it was an almost pleasant feeling. Touching her hand to her belly, she felt movement.
Even though she had barely practiced at all, she was feeling exhausted. Without her really noticing, the times where Shirley found herself with a sword in hand became rarer and rarer.
“Thank goodness I stockpiled food and supplies. This way, I can keep myself healthy until the birth… Wait, what am I saying? I…”
She wrestled with doubt as she looked at her reserved supplies, did she really stockpile all this just for her child? Shirley held a hand to her belly and waited until she felt movement, something which was becoming a routine.
This useless thing, that had no part to play in her revenge…
“At the very least, I’d really rather you not have his face.”
She began to think of nothing but her child.
Whose face would it compare to? Because the father is that man, I’d rather if it resembled myself if at all possible.
Leaving it in the orphanage, and resuming the quest for vengeance… such thoughts caused her chest to tighten up.
The end of her full-term approached.
“It seems like it will be born soon. Finally, once the orphanage takes them in, I can continue with my revenge-”
Just saying those words caused a chilling fright to run up her spine, her legs to tremble and her breathing became haggard.
The word she spoke. Even the sound of a word she had muttered over and over again caused an unfathomable fear to roll over her, and she gripped her enlarged belly.
The relief that washed through her when she felt a tiny heartbeat was immense.
“Ahhhhhh! Guh… Uwoaaaaaa…! Hiii….! Hiii…! Fuuu….! N, a… AHHHHHH!”
A few months later, around the time of her 20th birthday.
The time of the birth finally came. Shirley didn’t call for a midwife, she suffered alone in that abandoned hut, trying to bring a new life into the world.
The pain in her womb far exceeded any pain she remembered feeling in that torture chamber.
But still, she did it. Not even Shirley really understands just what pushes her to such lengths.
However, it was something instinctual that was forcing her to go through this.
“Haaah…! Haaaah…! Ah… It was born… It was… huh…?”
After a long labour, Shirley finally gave birth to twin girls.
Both with Shirley’s hair, white as snow. The eldest twin had blue eyes, and the youngest bore crimson.
The cries from the two babies echoed around the small hut. And as those two little hands grasped Shirley’s fingers, tears began to fall from those two different coloured eyes.
The feeling she had that these children were a stain or a hinderance… Was completely replaced by overflowing love and affection.
Then she noticed. This nearly ended in tragedy for these girls so many times.
Recklessly swinging around a sword and fighting with these children inside her… When she thinks about how close she must have come to miscarrying, she shivers in horror.
And when thinking of leaving these two in an orphanage, she despairs.
Even if she accomplished her goal, it would mean nothing compared to the crime she’d be committing against her own children.
If she abandoned them now and walked the path of vengeance, fighting like someone possessed and taking joy in death, she could never turn back.
She wouldn’t even be human anymore. She would just be a blood-crazed monster, living only instinctually on madness and hatred.
It was the warmth of those children who now gripped her fingers that pulled Shirley back from the brink, and she regained her humanity.
“If I don’t protect them… These children, they won’t have a future…”
All thoughts of vengeance were gone.
Finding a way to bring up these children was the only thing that mattered.
It doesn’t matter whose blood runs in their veins. To guide and protect the two children she now held, nothing else was important. Wrapping them both gently in blankets, and despite the pain in her belly not yet having receded, Shirley finds the strength to leave the hut and begin her journey to the Empire’s border.
There was no place for Shirley in the Empire anymore. She resolved to take her two daughters, and begin a new life in the neighbouring Kingdom.
Her social status gone, Shirley would walk the path of an adventurer, one filled with danger and peril. But even so, she’d do everything she can.
And although she feared that the nature she had resolved to leave behind might return someday, She still swore that until such a time, she would strive to let these girls grasp a happiness she never had. She would never let go of their hands.
It was in this way, Shirley who pledged to start a new life free from thoughts of murder and vengeance, arrived in a small frontier town within the Kingdom’s borders. And then, ten years passed…
Hey y’all. So yeah, I just decided to pick this one up, I’m surprised no one else has done it since it’s so popular. Maybe they were scared off by the opening chapters? Also, apparently I can’t translate anything if the first chapter doesn’t deal with some kind of broken engagement it seems.
I swear this is a more light-hearted series than the opening suggests.
Also, I’m still continuing with The Villainess Blooms, and I’ll keep going so long as people are enjoying it. I haven’t worked out a schedule yet, but I’ll try and keep TVB daily for now since I hate bucking a good trend.
Anyways, let me know what you think. And please, for the love of God, help me come up with a way to shorten that title.