After the sudden destruction of the Imperial Palace, the Capital was thrown into a state of turmoil. Everyone in and around the palace had mysteriously been moved out of the area, so no one was killed or injured, but the collapse of the priceless Imperial Palace had both a mental shock on the people who witnessed it, as well as a further shock for those who knew full well the cost of repairs would be fatal to the Imperial treasury.
Of course, since the slicing of the castle had coincided so perfectly with the swing of her sword, many people in the audience cast their suspicions on Shirley… But, to slice a palace in half with a sword was something in the realm of the absurd, so neither nobility nor Imperial royalty wanted to make themselves look ludicrous by accusing her.
“You did it, didn’t you!? Since you can use that spatial magic, you must have used some spell to pull the castle apart!? What do you intend to do about this!? All my jewels and dresses were in there!?”
“But I did no such thing? Would you care to prove your baseless accusations? Hm~?”
Instead, since she was such an obvious culprit, many people including Alice turned their anger towards Canary. As they hurled their accusations at her, Canary seemed to enjoy the limelight, grinning maliciously as if to egg the Imperials on.
Indeed, if someone had used spatial magic to destroy the castle there would be evidence in the magical residue left behind, but there would be no evidence left over if it were cut by a blade.
“In any case, are you honestly Shirley’s younger sister? Your make up is going to peel off even more if you stay this vexed, hm~? … Are you truly not her much older sister, or perhaps her aunt? Even though she’s thirty, she’s a match for any teenage beauty, so why don’t you compare at all? Haa… Age truly is a cruel mistress, no?”
As she kept Shirley’s semi-immortality a secret, the thousand-year-old witch gleefully listened to the Empress’ angry yelling as she played on Alice’s complex about her looks and her deeply harboured jealousy for her older sister. Meanwhile, Albert had already left everyone else behind to look for Shirley, his thoughts clouded and jumbled.
(M-My castle… That damned witch… My castle…! Shit! At… At the very least, my daughters…!)
As he desperately cursed Canary for having destroyed the symbol of both the nation’s pride and his own, he quickly moved towards the part of the stadium he knew Sophie and Tio would have to be considering where they sat.
Now that the Duel Ordained by the Goddess has been so decisively concluded, there is no way he can simply invade the Kingdom and claim the girls by right of conquest, the only means that lay open to him are to steal them away like a thief in the night or persuade them directly.
(It’s okay…! They’ll become the heirs… Of course, they would want to leave behind their lives as poor commoners to come and live as an elegant Empress!)
With confidence that sprouted from absolutely groundless reasoning, as Albert fully believed that his daughters would willingly choose to come with him he came across Sophie and Tio in the southern passage leading to the arena.
As he watched the two of them from the shadows, Sophie and Tio ran towards their mother who had just returned from the arena and hugged her tightly as she bent down on one knee, gazing at her in pure admiration, around her were the escorting rookie party of Kyle, Leia and Cudd, led by Asterios.
“Ooooh, we finally meet at last! My beloved daughters!”
And after witnessing such a heartwarming sight, Albert interrupted the scene without reading the atmosphere at all and called out to the girls who shivered with fright as Shirley immediately hid the two of them behind her back.
“What the hell are you doing here you shit hea- MGGGGUUUU!?”
“You shut up! You’re going to get us arrested!”
Completely ignoring Leia who was about to run her mouth before Cudd slapped his hand over it, the Emperor didn’t notice the pure wariness and disgust in Shirley’s eyes as he spoke to the daughters she stood in front of.
“It’s lovely to meet you, my name is Albert Ragdoll. I am your father and the ruler of this Empire. If you like, you may call me Papa.”
Facing the Emperor who had sweat matting the hair on his forehead due to his rush to meet with his daughters, Shirley and the rest could only watch in stunned silence.
This was the very same man who had ordered mages to cast mind control curses on these girls in an attempt to kidnap them and bring them back to the Empire. And now he suddenly appeared before them and asked to be called ‘Papa’, anyone would be suitably creeped out by the absurd scene before them.
“I am truly sorry for the humble life you’ve lived until now. But it was all the result of such a sad turn of fate… That’s right, because of the Golden Witch’s malicious trap, Shirley had to take the two of you and leave the Empire!”
( ( (Huh? What does the guild master have to do with this?) ) )
The three rookie adventurers share the exact same thoughts in their surprise, but Shirley meanwhile is struggling to keep a lid on her anger. How the hell did she ever fall in love with a man like this?
“But there’s no need to be sad anymore, a life of wonder awaits you from now on! Now, let’s return to the Empire hand in hand so that you can both become beautiful princesses.”
Understanding his attention to try and directly persuade the children to go with him, she was about to step forward and confront him, but Sophie and Tio stepped out from behind her and, doing their best to suppress their trembling, they looked straight into the Emperor’s eyes as they spoke.
“We… Will not go to the Empire.”
As if he couldn’t understand the words that came out of their mouth, Albert muttered in disbelief.
“We want to live in the town with all those adventurers and become adventurers with mum. Sorry, but being a princess sounds like a chore.”
“So, please don’t come and see us anymore. Our family is just mama… We’ve never had a papa.”
When they stood up like that, Kyle truly saw that they inherited not just Shirley’s looks, but also her bravery. Although Albert was momentarily stunned by their firm rejection, suddenly his expression brightened and he declared something truly awful.
“I-I see! Of course you wouldn’t want to be separated from your mother at such a young age, right!? So what about this, how about I take Shirley in as a mistress as well!”
It’s the kind of thing that defies belief. In fact, Sophie and Tio who had rebuked him, Kyle who had heard everything standing nearby and even Shirley, the person in question, were all completely stupefied by his words.
For Albert, this was a fine opportunity. Although he had never dreamed of having to sacrifice his palace for it, if he could obtain a warrior strong enough to handily defeat Lumiliana it would be a major boon for his own power, not to mention when he saw Shirley’s beauty for the first time in over a decade, he found his heart tinged with regret.
Objectively speaking, Alice couldn’t measure up to her beauty at all. He can only expect that those daughters will also grow up to inherit their mother’s adult beauty, as the animalistic desire to once again possess his ex-fiancée so that he can have them grow up to their true potential fills his mind.
“I heard it all from Alice. That you were jealous of her getting closer to me and treated her harshly. But thinking back on it now, it was such a long time ago and although many sad things have transpired between us in the past, as an Emperor I will magnanimously forgive your mistakes so that we can be together again. Just as I do with Alice and the children, I shall share my love with you as well.”
As Albert reached out a hand towards Shirley, he licked that irresistible body up and down all over in his mind.
In response to the Emperor’s words, Cudd’s eyes flared up in anger, Leia, whose mouth is still clamped shut by her rival’s hand, emitted a muffled curse word and even Asterios, ever calm and sage-like, knotted his eyebrows in a frown.
Shirley stood still in stunned silence as Sophie and Tio looked up at their father with a painful expression on their faces.
―――― Just how many times do you have to humiliate our mother until you’re satisfied?
Cheating on their mother with her sister when they were engaged, falsely accusing her of imagined crimes and condemning her to unspeakable tortures, then without even a hint of remorse he returns to ask for her hand once again, it goes beyond what anyone could have imagined.
They naturally turned to look up at Shirley’s face. She said nothing, her face a mix of anger and sorrow. As they watched her, the twin’s eyes brimmed with tears as they thought about the blood that ran through their veins.
“…Damn it! Uwaa! What are you doing!? Cut it out――――!”
Before Leia who had managed to push away Cudd’s hand could bite into Albert, someone else moved silently past them.
As that boy finally cast 《Physical Boost》for the first time without chanting, something he could never do in practice, he ran towards Albert.
The movement seemed to come so naturally to him, that to an on-looker he must have seemed like a seasoned master. Although Asterios and Shirley had seen his movements from the beginning, they were shocked that he had even moved at all, as his right fist carried by the momentum of his run-up smashed straight into the Emperor’s face.
Albert was completely knocked off his feet by the force of the blow. As the Emperor’s head slammed into the stone wall behind him, his eyes rolled back into his head and he went limp with blood pouring from his nose, everyone present silently gazed at the perpetrator.
“…W-what did I just…? I just punched an Emperor…?”
The boy who stood in the centre of that silent group of people… Kyle’s voice suddenly became very quiet when he realized the enormity of what he had just done.
Near the capital, a tomb for the Imperial family line exists. On an old windswept hill where the former palace sat, there were various tombstones inscribed with the names of the Imperial family. At one pair of tablets, two single flowers were laid.
“Emperor Legrand… Empress Elizabeth…”
It was Shirley who stood in front of them, looking down on the tombstones with melancholy in her eyes as she remembered the two people who had been like parents to her.
Legrand and Elizabeth, the late Emperor and Empress. He was an impassioned and energized man who ruled based on his ideals, who could draw a map of the Empire from memory and always acted the best that he could for his people.
Elizabeth treated her daughter-in-law just as well as her real daughter, Philia, and that gentle Empress, as well as the kind Emperor, were the first people to teach her the warmth of family. Since they were such good people, it’s hard to imagine just how Albert grew up to be the man that he did.
When she thought about the fact that the two of them had passed away and been buried without her ever knowing, she felt like there was a hole in her heart.
“…You shouldn’t have to hesitate because of me, it’s fine if you would like to lay a flower?”
Still staring at the gravestones, Shirley called out to the person behind her. Then, Philia emerged from the shadow of a pillar, bashfully holding a bouquet.
“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t want to disturb you, but I guess I ended up distracting you anyways…”
“Don’t need to worry about it. You shouldn’t have to pay any attention to me if you want to lay flowers for your parents.”
She placed the bouquet of flowers down as an offering, then lowered her head in silent prayer. Neither of them spoke a word as they stood side by side, looking at the names on the gravestones. Just when Philia couldn’t take the awkward silence anymore, Shirley opened her mouth to speak first.
“I heard it all from Canary. That the two of them were hostile to the current Emperor… I don’t want to sound pretentious, but was that because of me?”
“That’s… Probably the truth.”
Shirley showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that she had no intention of returning to the Empire by bisecting the castle that was the symbol of Albert’s power. However, the matter of what happened eleven years ago wasn’t truly settled.
When she was falsely condemned, the Imperial Majesties, as well as Philia, were on a tour abroad. If the three of them truly were the people Shirley knew and she had been out of touch for such a long time, it would have caused them no end of worry.
In order to move on with life, she had to face what she left behind in the Empire. That was the least she could do.
“When father and mother returned and realized what had been done to Shirley, His Majesty flew into a rage and the Imperial Family broke in two, with factions led by both the Emperor and the Crown Prince. Originally it seemed like father’s faction was well and truly in control, but when he brought up the topic of disinheriting the Crown Prince…”
“He was assassinated?”
When Philia was in the Kingdom, she had told this dark story to Canary who in turn had told Shirley. It’s not a fact known to the general public, but when various aristocrats who had sided with Albert thought they might be ruined if he was disinherited, conspired to poison the Emperor.
From that point on, the trust and honour that Emperor Legrand had built with the rest of the world on behalf of his nation fell into the dust.
“No matter what I said to His Majesty, he never listened. Since they were subjects of mother and father, they likely poisoned my parents for other reasons, such as acting on behalf of a foreign power or looking to control him.”
If that was true, the situation was even more serious. Thinking about it that way, he was essentially making himself into a puppet by staying on such good terms with the retainers who he knows were enemies of his parents.
“…Did they ever say anything about me?”
She was supposed to have cast everything aside, no longer caring about anything to do with the Empire. The reason she had begun to think about the two who had acted as her surrogate parents was because of the words her beloved daughters had spoken to her, about not wanting to leave her side.
“…They always thought about you. My mother and father flew into a rage when they heard about how you were treated, but even more than that, they were truly saddened. They were hostile to the Crown Prince from that point on, always searching for you, hoping that even if they couldn’t find you that you had at least found a quiet life for yourself somewhere, not having to be burdened by all this anymore.”
That’s what I hoped for too… She couldn’t say those words. She didn’t want to muddy the feelings of her late parents with her own excuses… That was how Philia wanted to show her sincerity.
“Is that… so…”
Shirley looked up at the sky. Those parents-in-law who had taken her in after she had such a terrible life with her previous family, they were strict at times, but on the other hand, they could be just as kind and gentle.
When she raised Sophie and Tio, she had always unconsciously followed their lead. When she had declared her vendetta towards the Imperial Family, many people had become the object of her hate, but the warmth and love she had received from them wasn’t a lie.
“In terms of trying to make your daughters successors to the throne, the Empire has lost diplomatic legitimacy after losing this duel. In addition, I’ve ordered all of the records about your birth and life in the Empire destroyed, so we’ve lost legitimacy in terms of the bloodline as well.”
Philia went so far as to cover up all the connections Shirley had to her original Ducal family. If there aren’t any birth records or family registration documents, it’s a lot easier to deny her blood connection to her old family and even her Imperial citizenship… Even though her family is undoubtedly connected to Albert by blood, she could now deny it legally.
“Then, this is farewell. I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused you all this time.”
And in that way, her connection to Philia had also been severed. The two of them who were once going to become close sisters-in-law, with all official records of their past they shared erased, were now total strangers on paper.
Parting ways with the person she had loved and respected as an older sister, the ideal she had always aimed for. As Philia turned her back on her, trying to convince herself that this was the best she could do for her now, Shirley murmured something.
“You managed to make a friend, right?”
Her feet stopped unintentionally. When Shirley was still in the Empire, Philia had been alone and friendless due to the pressures and isolation of the Imperial family, it had always been something she had suffered with.
“That knight girl who was my opponent… She was gifted, but there was something more to her strength than pure talent. When I saw her in the guild before, you two seemed very close.”
“Yes… She’s my best friend.”
Why would you say something like that now? Philia desperately tried to hold back her tears, her body trembling at the fact that Shirley even remembered something like that from back then.
“You would always hide behind my skirt when meeting someone new and since you were so shy, I was constantly worried about whether you would grow up to be lonely.”
“You thought so much of me back then, I really felt like you were my real little sister, I was looking forward to that becoming official one day.”
Those feelings were exactly the same as Philia’s, who had truly hoped that one day Shirley would become her real older sister. Tears began to spill down her cheeks as the princess struggled to force out any words from her trembling breast.
Hers had always been a lonely battle, without a single ally she could call family. She had only one true friend in her struggle, the fight to bring down the Imperial family she herself belonged to that was in no small part fueled by the memories of the person she had admired so much.
“After everything that’s happened, we no longer have that connection… But, I will never forget what you’ve done for me. If something ever happens, send a message to the guild in that frontier town in the Kingdom. I’m an adventurer, so if there’s a request, I’ll come and help you.”
The tears she’s trying to wipe away aren’t tears of sorrow, but they still won’t stop flowing. Shirley handed Philia a handkerchief, then walked away.
The fate she held in the past had now been well and truly cut away. Henceforth, her destiny was one of an adventurer. From now on the relationship between Philia and Shirley would be one where they would lend and borrow each other’s strength.
“Thank you… Big sister…!”
She doesn’t know what awaits the two of them in the future, but now she can say that without any regret. Their fates had been intertwined in a completely new way… And in a sense, that had saved her.
“Now that this is all settled, I have business to attend to in the Duchy. I’m confident our paths will cross again.”
After saying so, Edward, along with Alicia and all their accompanying retinue boarded a massive gondola pulled by four enormous tamed dragons that Canary had arranged for and took off into the blue sky.
“Tio! Look, look! Those dragons are huge!”
“Mm…! I wanna ride one.”
“That’s right, if you like, I can take you on a dragon ride with me when I get the chance.”
“Really!? That’s a promise then!?”
In the plains outside of the Imperial Capital, Shirley watched over Sophie and Tio as they gazed at the dragons disappearing into the distance, their eyes full of wonder.
“Maaaan, we can finally go back… Well, saying that, it didn’t really take that long.”
“Honestly I still can’t believe it, though I guess I should have expected it from Shirley-san. Even though that opponent was really skilled, Shirley-san beat her so handily.”
“Perhaps now you understand the gulf in experience that exists between you two and her. When we return, shall I give you a lesson on that?”
” “We’ll pass.” ”
Cudd and Leia’s faces turned pale as they rejected Asterios’ suggestion. Meanwhile, for Kyle――――
“Ohoho, do I see a speck of dust upon my shoes? If you have to use more wax, so be it, put some elbow grease in and polish them to a mirror shine!”
“Ugh…! I still don’t regret it…!”
He was frantically polishing Canary’s shoes as she sat upon a luxurious throne that floated in mid-air, her free foot using Kyle’s head as a footrest.
Assaulting an Emperor is no minor crime. Although when the Imperial guards had inevitably stumbled upon the scene there was a massive uproar, Canary had rewritten the memories of all the Imperials aside from the fainted Albert using magic and the situation had calmed down, but Kyle inevitably had to pay a heavy price for it.
“I am truly fatigued from all that memory manipulation. What’s more, I’ll have to use spatial magic on our way back~ I’ll need some incentive~ …The slave labour of one measly human should be enough, no?”
“I-I will wholeheartedly do all your chores…!”
It really was humiliating. But it would be unreasonable to accept her help, then not accept her conditions. That said, Kyle might be working like a slave now, but it was Canary that suddenly decided to help him out yet again.
“So, what do you say Shirley, I believe you owe this boy a favour, do you not?”
“Hm? I suppose so.”
“Ehh? What what? What are you talking about?”
Some unrelated parties began to butt in. Before, Kyle had told them the story about how he had rescued the twins from Rudolph’s kidnapping attempt, as well as admitting he hadn’t received anything in return for it, so now Cudd and Leia pulled Kyle away with mischevious smiles and began whispering in his ear.
(This is your chance to ask her out! It’s the role of a new man to heal the wounds caused by the old man, right?)
(Eh… HUUUUUUUUUUUUH!? T-that’s impossibleeee!)
(You idiot, do you really think anything is gonna change if you don’t man up?)
Everyone in the party knew that Kyle’s feelings for Shirley were more than just admiration. Much to his deep regret, Kyle isn’t exactly a hard person to read, but somehow Shirley is the only one who hasn’t yet noticed.
As his two companions urged him to try and deepen his relationship, Kyle unintentionally found his eyes drifting to look at Shirley. The person in question looked confused at the sudden kerfuffle, but her daughters who stood either side of her sensed a disturbance.
“Sophie? And Tio too… What’s the matter?”
“S-Somehow it feels like something…?”
“Mm… Something to resist.”
Can such young girls already have a woman’s intuition? Maybe it’s a sixth sense they’ve developed from the number of confessions they’ve received from boys? As the twins sensed the emotions in the boy who looked at their mother, they moved in front of her as if to shield her with their slender figures.
Apparently, they’re on full alert. Asterios looked at the scene with a heartwarming smile. In truth, Kyle didn’t intend to ask and Shirley herself couldn’t hear the evil words Leia and Cudd were whispering into his ears.
His feelings would never become public and they would all just remain simply as friends――――
“What’s that!? You wish to go out with Shirley!?”
“No way!? We were whispering so quietly!?”
“Anyways, why did you yell that out so loudly!?”
When the witch known as Canary is involved, you can never count on things going that smoothly.
As she screamed out the poor boy’s true feelings for Shirley, Canary’s mouth twisted into a malicious grin as she looked at the twins whose vigilance increased ten-fold and Kyle whose face was dyed red in shame and despair.
“Now then, Shirley. There may be somewhat of an age gap… But, are you not interested in this lovely young man at all?”
“Stop! Wait just a minute, guild master! I don’t really want to go out with Shirley-san――――!”
“N-no! M-mama going out with another man… It’s way too soon!”
“You’ll have to get our approval first…!”
As things got heated and shouts rang back and forth, Shirley’s calm answer cut through the hustle and bustle like a knife.
“I’m fine with doing that much.”
” ” “EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!?!?!” ” ”
Aside from Asterios who looked on in silent wonder, everyone else shouted in surprise. From Kyle’s point of view, this is a huge step forward and from Sophie and Tio’s point of view, it’s the sudden emergence of a future stepfather.
“Wait!? Are you quite s-serious!? You intend to go out with this little boy!?”
“Yes, of course. I owe him my gratitude, after all.”
As Canary yelled out in complete bafflement, Shirley looked directly into Kyle’s eyes and spoke.
“So… Where would you like to go out to? The weapons shop? The training ground?”
All that could be heard was the sound of a gust of wind. As Kyle was lost for words, Shirley looked confused by the lack of a reply.
(You’ve got to be kidding…? That’s seriously her reply…?)
(I thought she might be a bit dense, but this is more than I could have imagined.)
(How can she not be aware of it with the way that he looks at her?)
That beautiful thirty-year-old woman had somehow confused the desire to date with the desire to run errands. She’s already had a fiancée and given birth to children… Should they be worried about just how exactly she sees relationships between men and women?
“By the way, you… What kind of valuation do you have for this child?”
Although she was still recovering from the shock, Canary asked her that with a slightly insidious smile as she laid a hand on Kyle’s shoulder. The way Kyle saw that hand, it was like a hawk’s talons grasping a baby mouse.
“What’s this, all of a sudden?”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. Now, without flattery, tell him how you really feel?”
“…Let me see.”
As those blue and red eyes he yearned after looked him over head to toe, Kyle found himself wanting to edge away.
“He’s kind and hard working. He’s a bit timid and naïve sometimes, but he’s sincere, an upright junior of mine who looks up to me… Did that answer your question?”
“That’s a much better valuation than I anticipated! Aren’t you glad!?”
“N-No… That kind of thing is… I still have a long way to go… Ehehe…”
“Although, he does give me a strange feeling. My family is just my daughters… But if I ever had a ‘son’, maybe I would feel the same way about him.”
Kyle collapsed as he spat blood. He was happy with the valuation he got before, but suddenly out of nowhere, she had used the word ‘son’. What exactly is he supposed to make of this?
“…Phew. Thank goodness.”
“? What do you mean?”
“No, it’s nothing… Let’s be together from now on mum… Just the three of us.”
“Yes… Of course.”
It wouldn’t do to mislead you, so you should know that neither Sophie nor Tio have any hatred for Kyle. They’ve only spoken to him a few times, but they’re aware of just how good of a person he is from the way he carries himself and they will never forget the way he saved the two of them.
They intended to repay him in some way one day, but if that means having to hand over their mother as a bride, then that boy will have to wait.
(There’s got to be some other way to pay back Kyle.)
(Mm… It’s too early for mum to get married.)
Their mother is a beautiful person. They don’t know whether it will be Kyle or not, but certainly, a day will come when someone will come to take her hand. But for now, when it comes to their strong and graceful mother, those daughters want to have her all to themselves.
The battle against the Empire had reached its grand finale. However, malice does not wash out easily, it is a persistent and pervasive stain.
“Shiiit! That brat…! Raising a fist against a future legendary Emperor…! Don’t think I’ll forgive this crime!”
Whilst keeping pressure on his nose that still throbbed in agony, Albert slammed his fist down on the table. He had to move to his villa because this palace was destroyed, he was beaten by some common boy and he lost both the successors to the throne and his legitimacy to claim them diplomatically once again. He had lost so much because of Canary’s incessant meddling, Albert’s handsome face twisted in frustration as he took his anger out on the furniture around him.
“Just you wait… I’ll show you all…! I’ll take everything, my daughters, Shirley and the title of the greatest ruler this continent has ever known…!”
Greed always overstays its welcome, arrogance is a hard thing to break. As his eyes clouded in anger, Albert stared at the map and the Kingdom that lay to the south.
That’s the final chapter of Volume 2 of MotoMusu. It seems that Shirley may yet have to enact her revenge despite everything if certain idiots keep lining up to catch her sword with their face.
But, I’ll be taking a short break from this series as I work on a few other things. Daily 2500+ word chapters for nearly a month do have a tendency to wear someone out. Don’t worry too much, Shirley will be back in a couple of weeks, I have no intention of dropping the series or putting it on an actual hiatus. If I’m late, feel free to send me angry or threatening emails.
Until then, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. MotoMusu will return next year with Volume 3: Summer Strife.