On the largest continent currently identified, there were five independent nations. The Kingdom, The Empire, The Duchy, The Theocracy and the Land of Demons. And it was in the Empire that the following took place.
With a rush of wind, the ornate sword drew a trajectory like a blooming flower.
In a garden with a luxurious pavilion at its centre, a young lady with a long red ponytail danced with her sword, twisting and turning in the shape of a rose.
The daughter of the Marquis Regnard, whose territory lies in the eastern part of the empire, Lumiliana is a strong girl of 17 years, who serves as a knight directly under the Imperial Princess, a rare honour for a woman.
Due to those strong-willed red eyes that have kept many a man at bay, she possesses a strange atmosphere of both resolute strength and youthful naivety.
“Milady, I have brought you some refreshment.”
“Mm. Thank you.”
Taking the cup of water the maid had brought in on a tray, Lumiliana drank it with one gulp.
As the icy cold water spread through her body that had become overheated during her exercise, she sheathed the enchanted sword that was a family heirloom and wiped the sweat off her brow with a towel.
“Where is Her Highness now?”
“She is currently reading in the library. When I brought her tea not long ago, she still had several dozen documents left so she may be some time.”
“Okay. I understand.”
The Empire is currently in tumult. Seven years ago the Crown Prince, the Emperor’s oldest son, inherited the throne at the age of twenty-three, and ever since then oppressive tax measures that exploit the common people have gradually increased.
The rumoured cause is the wife to the current Emperor, the daughter of the Duke of Earlgrey. She lived a life of decadent luxury, during the day she received gifts of jewellery and foreign dresses and at night she organized extravagant balls and parties. The tyrannical tax policy is thought to be what is paying for this.
For the sake of reversing the dwindling fortunes of the Empire the Imperial Princess, sister to the emperor and Lumiliana’s master and close friend of the same age, was currently in the territory of Regnard to gather allies for a planned rebellion to overthrow her brother.
In order to save the people who were suffering in these hard times, the Princess didn’t mind if the Imperial House she belonged to completely fell from power in the process of the revolt.
In order to protect such a noble and just lord, Lumiliana would risk life and limb. With that determination burning inside her, the young lady swordswoman who had a long cherished dream of becoming a knight trained as much as time would allow.
“Come to think of it, milady, did you hear of it? The story of the adventurer who is currently active in the Kingdom.”
Lumiliana raised one of her well-shaped eyebrows.
She had heard stories of the ‘White Haired Demon’ who had been the bane of nobles in the old days, and of course, everyone knew the rumours about the ‘Golden Witch’ who founded the Adventurers Guild.
Unlike most Imperial aristocracy, she didn’t think of the White-Haired Demon as such. Rather, she thought of him as more of a hero, who ended the nobility dominated system that had brutally oppressed the underclasses.
However, she can’t say the same for the Golden Witch. Although she’s never met the woman directly, the stories about that witch using powerful sorcery and financial strength to cause all sorts of trouble were infamous the continent over.
What’s more, it’s not wrong to say that witch also created the concept of adventurers. Just outside of the borders of the empire at the frontier of a foreign country there exist numerous adventurer guilds, but Lumiliana can only think of them as meeting grounds for armed scoundrels who wouldn’t lift a finger for anyone without money.
Uncouth and greedy, these unorthodox warriors could never reach the level of a true and chivalrous knight. Although she understood the demand for their services having participated in various monster exterminations herself, every encounter she has had with adventurers was thoroughly unpleasant, so she decided that she would never rely on their assistance.
“Of the three dragon kings that attacked the Kingdom, apparently the head of one of them was taken by a lone adventurer in single combat.”
“What did you say!?”
The Dragon Kings are the most powerful type of dragon that she knows of, with only eight existing in the world. Of the three of them that attacked the Kingdom from different directions, two of them were repulsed by the adventurers guild, and according to this story, the third was felled by one adventurer alone.
To slay a dragon is an incredibly meritorious deed for adventurer and knight alike. Lumiliana couldn’t hide her astonishment that there was an adventurer who could defeat a dragon king alone.
“I believe… ‘Demonic White Sword’, or something to that effect, was the name of the white-haired woman who defeated that dragon.”
“‘Princess of the Sword’, you say?” (SEE TL NOTE)
A large misunderstanding seems to have occurred.
What Lumiliana is referring to is the title granted to the winner of an annual martial tournament held in the capital to determine the female knight granted the honour of directly serving the Imperial Princess, the ‘Princess of the Sword’.
Although she’s not quite sure it’s proper for a noblewoman to call herself a princess, she nevertheless takes great pride in the term.
For an adventurer woman to copy the title she loved so much, and to accomplish such great deeds with it, she was a little indignant.
“But still, for such an amazing swordswoman to never have been heard of before in the empire, isn’t it strange?.”
“It can’t be helped. She’s an adventurer, after all.”
The reputation of adventurers is something that is spread from one adventurer to another. Since there are very few adventurers in the empire, naturally news of their deeds travels very slowly.
Inevitably the exploits of S-rank adventurers will make the rounds, but the swordswoman in question still remains in B-rank without having been promoted.
“From the rumours, it seems that she has a stunningly beautiful appearance, and has both blue and red eyes.”
The same eyes as the White-Haired Demon. Lumiliana found herself becoming even more more interested in the story being told by her longtime maidservant.
The strongest swordswoman in the Kingdom against the strongest swordswoman in the Empire… Even if she was just an adventurer, Lumiliana was excited by the prospect of such a match.
“Hey… Is there really such a beautiful woman with white hair and odd eyes in the Kingdom…?”
With a quivering voice, there stood her master, those stunning blue eyes wide open and her long blonde hair swaying in the breeze.
“By any chance, is that person’s name…”
Changing our setting to the Imperial Capital, in a luxurious villa that was built on separate grounds to the Imperial Palace, a woman approaching her thirties with pinky blonde hair sipped from her teacup in a foul mood.
It was the true princess of the current Emperor, Empress Alice Ragdoll. Originally the second daughter of the prestigious Duke of Earlgrey, eleven years ago this woman married the Prince after having her older sister dragged out of court and imprisoned.
Her real face that could once be described as lovely had aged like milk as she grew older, and she battled the inevitable tide by applying copious amounts of makeup.
“Why do things have to be this way… Everything else… Everything else is going so well!”
Alice slammed her teacup back onto the saucer with a clatter.
Through immense effort, she had taken the hand of her beloved emperor and become part of the Imperial family. Besides her husband, there are many women who devote themselves to her, and she has the backing of her still-powerful family.
But, what was the one thing that could threaten to strip away all of her prestige?
“A child… If I only had a child, my position would be rock solid…!”
A congenital disease that has left her infertile. In the eyes of the Emperor who must have an heir, it was a glaring flaw.
Although the Emperor still loves Alice, those manipulative nobles whisper in his ear that being married to a barren 29-year-old woman could leave the empire in future jeopardy, and advise him to divorce her to marry a concubine.
Even her idiot sister-in-law is trying to have Alice removed from the Imperial family on those grounds.
As a matter of fact, many of the people who were on her side eleven years ago when she had her older sister removed from court were beginning to gravitate towards the Imperial Princess’ faction.
Between the Emperor and the Imperial Princess, she wonders who really has more allies.
“What’s wrong, Alice? Why do you raise your voice like that?”
It was Albert Ragdoll, Alice’s husband and the current Emperor, who had called out to his wife in that worried tone.
Despite being older than Alice, who had already begun to develop wrinkles, perhaps it is the privilege of being royalty that has let Albert keep his dandy charm even at his age.
“To tell the truth, I… There are many who doubt my suitability to be your Empress if I cannot produce for you an heir… If things continue like this, I wonder if it would not be better for me to stand down before causing Albert-sama any more inconvenience…”
“Oh, my poor sweet Alice. Worry not, if there are such knaves who seek to disparage you, I shall remove them.”
Becoming a much more meek and modest man as he aged, Albert gently hugged his wife to comfort her.
Although, in some ways, her husband hasn’t changed at all. His constant feeling of needing to protect any damsel who sheds crocodile tears in front of him, he truly is an easy man to handle.
By keeping the people who have issues with their marriage at bay like this, without noticing that his power base is slowly crumbling, the Emperor and Empress could ignore the political world and focus on their love.
As evening eventually came, Albert spoke gently to Alice who lay on the bed beside him.
“Alice, you needn’t worry about children.”
“I was researching the recent case where the Kingdom was attacked by dragons, and incidentally learned that, surprisingly, Shirley seems to still be alive.”
When he spoke that name she hadn’t heard in a long time, her consciousness that up until that point had been boiling in frustration suddenly froze over.
Her hateful older sister who had fallen from grace suffered unbearable torture and ended up in a twisted and hideous form. Although the jailor spun some bald-faced lie about how all her wounds had miraculously healed, Alice assumed she had simply died in a ditch somewhere after breaking out of jail, but apparently, she yet lived on in the Kingdom.
“I did some more digging, and apparently she now has two ten-year-old twin daughters.”
“Ten years old… You don’t mean to say…”
“Ah. If you consider the timeline, it seems I’m highly likely to be the father.”
A black haze stirred in Alice’s heart.
Even though she can’t bear a child, she still lives a joyful life alongside her Emperor, and now that older sister who had always looked down on her apparently gave birth to Albert’s children and wants to smash her hard-won happiness to pieces.
As his wife’s eyes boiled with jealous rage directed towards that older sister who has the one thing she couldn’t, Albert spoke completely unaware of her feelings.
“So what I was thinking… What if I arranged to bring a daughter back here to be my heir to the throne, then you wouldn’t have to worry about providing a successor yourself?”
“And so? Is the cleanup of the conflict with the dragon kings complete, hm~?
In yet another place, this time the clerical room of the Kingdom’s royal castle. A member of the demon family with two black horns and blonde hair flowing down to her feet, Canary who operated under the moniker of the ‘Golden Witch’ sat down in a chair with a malicious smile on her face, as she watched the King struggle with the stack of papers on his desk.
“Ahh… The post-battle assessments that Canary so demanded were both reports of victory, unnecessary confusion and chaos were suppressed as much as was possible. …Every once in a while, I wish you wouldn’t push such mundane work on to me.”
“Is that not the prerogative of the king? Are kings and nobles not merely the stagehands behind the drama that is the nation?”
The man with jet-black hair in the prime of his life managed to maintain his dignity as he smiled wryly at her. He is Edward Pendragon, the current King.
Popularly known as the ‘Black Lion King’ Kings throughout the generations have been well acquainted with the Golden Witch, a long time ally of the Kingdom.
“That reminds me, some of the soldiers in units I sent out to investigate the battlefield returned with reports of an adventurer who single-handedly slew a dragon king, is there really such a woman known as the ‘Demonic White Sword’?”
“As luck would have it, yours truly is an acquaintance of hers.”
“Oh? When I inquired about her background, what I heard made me doubt my ears.”
This wise king still remembered it vividly… The night where he attended a ball in the Empire and exchanged words with that person.
White hair that would be lost amongst the snow, and a face so beautiful he doubted whether it was truly of this world. The woman’s eyes had sparkled red and blue like precious gemstones as she stood arm in arm with her fiancée, beaming with happiness.
Edward who loved his own wife dearly could understand just how earnest the feelings of that girl were, so he was incredibly saddened when he had heard about what happened to her as a result of the Prince’s unjust actions, but now he hears that she is living happily with her two daughters despite being in the rough profession of an adventurer.
As both a king, and a person, it made him truly happy.
“Canary, about the commemoration ceremony for the adventurers who took part in the battle against the dragon kings, how many have expressed interest in participating?”
“Ah, you should look at this.”
Canary handed him a list of the adventurers who had fought against the dragons who approached from three angles.
Edward looked down the list, noting whose names were crossed out and whose were not, and raised an eyebrow.
“Much fewer than I thought… Not even ten people? Should I take this as my lacking prestige?”
“Adventurers are people who abhor such formalities. Rather, the ones that expressed interest might be regarded as queer by the rest of the guild, hm~?”
“For the sake of the country, I still must repay them in some way… And Canary, you’ve already taken away the easy answer of money with your reward. What shall I do?”
“Why not throw a feast? That would be far more suitable than receiving some trinket of a medal in a ceremony.”
The king seriously considered the suggestion of Canary, who laughed heartily. Though as he glanced at the list again and noticed that the name of the person who had piqued his interest before was crossed out, Edward sighed.
“She really won’t come, will she? My wife had been hoping to meet her again for the longest time… Dragon slaying aside, any country would love to have such a talented person in their employ. I simply must have her attend, is there anything I can do?”
“Well, it’s impossible.”
The witch grinned.
“When I inquired if she’d like to attend your little ceremony, she refused saying that ‘I’m going to be teaching my daughters how to bake cookies that day.’ I think you may suffer through some unpleasantries if you tried to force her to come along, don’t you?”
About the whole misunderstanding
剣鬼 = Kenki = Demonic Sword/Demon Swordsman/etc
剣姫 = Kenhime (Read as Kenki) = Sword Princess/Princess of the Sword/etc
Basically just pretend it makes sense, ok. I spent so long thinking of a way to make it work in english and it just would not happen.
Oh boy, I think I can see where this is going.