The First Watch
They sat in a room of the Demon King’s castle, with a massive crack running up the wall.
Canary, who had gathered together both the adventurers who had agreed to take on the request to subdue the 《Phantom Thief》as well as the original client the Demon King, slapped down the contract on the table they sat around.
“I shall explain the conditions of this little venture… Shirley, just how long do you plan on moping?”
At the very end of that long table, sitting as far away from everyone as she could, Shirley held her head in her hands, the only thing you could see of her face was her bright red ears.
“Shirley-san, what’s wrong?”
“Who knows…? She’s been like that ever since the Guild Master intervened in their fight.”
For people who had come to know her a little bit, this was quite an unusual sight. It seems she realized that as well, as she murmured quietly.
“I… I’m so ashamed that I lost control of myself and acted violently when I was invited as a guest. Even though I want to seem like a proper adult so that I can be a good example to my daughters…”
“Oh, so she actually knows that she did something wrong?”
“Actually, I’m pretty sure that she’s just worried about her image.”
The three of them thought a bit harder about what exactly the everyday Shirley was like.
A proper adult… According to her, that’s what she acted like, but is that really the case?
When the birthday presents Sophie and Tio had made for her had been stolen, she had committed genocide on the goblin population of the entire region.
When Sophie and Tio had caught a cold, in order to collect powdered horn as medicine she had rushed out of town in a blind panic to hunt down an ancient dragon for its horn and returned in one day. 
When she feared that the parent visitation day she so looked forward to might be cancelled, she resolved to face an entire army of dragons alone.
When she was caught in the middle of a violent custody battle with her awful former fiancée, she had cut an entire castle in half with one swing of her sword.
When she wanted to secure more materials for her daughters’ coming of age gifts, she subdued an ancient bejewelled dragon without killing it.
Because she wanted to look good in front of her daughters, she had secretly asked Kyle to teach her how to swim and took cooking lessons from Martha, not to mention that whenever she won anything at the guild’s annual prizegiving, she only ever thought about her daughters when it came to the custom-made magical tool prize.
Whenever an unfamiliar male would approach Sophie or Tio, be they a man or a child, she would unleash an overwhelming bloodlust that would either cause them to run for hills or simply faint on the spot.
As they mulled all that over in their heads, the three rookie adventurers nodded at the same time.
“…..You’ve never really seemed like a proper adult at all, Shirley-san.”
“Why are you so surprised!? Don’t look at me like that!”
That doting mother was the only one in the room shocked by that revelation. Even if she might be a mighty warrior, she definitely lacked in a few other areas.
“That was indeed quite the marvellous fighting spirit you showed off. ‘My daughters are the cutest in the world!!‘ was it not? I am sure that battle cry of yours echoed throughout the whole country. Though I wonder, just what would your daughters think if they saw such a thing?”
“….AHHH!! AHHHH! AHHHHHH!”
“FUHAHAHAHAHA! Whatever’s the matter, Shirley!? Has the Demonic White Sword dulled today!?”
She tried to run Canary through with a rapier as she kept one hand covering her face, but the witch lithely dodged all her thrusts as she kept cackling.
Despite the violence, Shirley knew all those words were true. However, hearing other people repeat it back to her filled her with an overwhelming sense of shame.
“Hey, Shirley-san, no one here really minds anymore. So, it’s fine if you sit down, okay?”
After Shirley sat down in the seat that Leia pulled out for her, Canary whispered in Zector’s ear.
“So, what do you make of her? Did she live up to the billing?”
“…..Hmph. It is hard for me to accept a woman who so stubbornly refuses to admit that my daughter is the greatest in the world… However, I can see that she has the spirit of a true parent, so I do not think that she shall betray me, and it is plain to see that she is a powerful fighter.”
Despite their intrinsically opposed beliefs, Zector was able to acknowledge Shirley as a kindred spirit.
“The most important thing of all is that she never said a word against my Grimhilda.”
“Then it is settled… So, shall we promptly begin?”
In order to get the attention of everyone gathered, Canary clapped her hands twice.
“The request this time is to serve as guards at Edward’s royal castle for the duration of the Summer Solstice Festival. It is unlikely that you shall be seeing the outside of the Kingdom as you see out the contract. However, there are certain impediments around having adventurers openly work in the castle. It may not sit right with certain army captains or ministers. No matter where I seem to go, there are always such troublesome characters, no?”
“Then what do we do?”
“Simply put, all you must do is work at the castle in such a way that not even those busybodies will be able to complain.”
As the younger adventurers looked at her in confusion, Canary’s malicious grin seemed to spread from ear to ear.
“I shall have you all be reborn as different people for a while.”
The law in the Kingdom that you could not seek employment until you had finished your compulsory education did not gel with the policies of the Adventurer’s Guild.
Although the Guild Master Canary had a close relationship with the royal family and had made great contributions to solving both the issues of refugees and dissidents flooding the Kingdom as well as the monster threat with the maintaining of the guild so she was not publicly disparaged, since she still treated laws more as suggestions than rules it was hard for the general government to come to terms with her outside of grave emergencies.
And even when crisis situations do arise, because the government never had a uniform opinion on any issue, voices would always pipe up about adventurers sullying the sanctity of the royal properties or the pride of the royal army.
“Therefore, I shall do some light tampering with your birth records.”
Considering the current state of affairs, Canary had concocted a plan for the adventurers to be able to protect Grimhilda inside the royal castle. They wouldn’t be adventurers, however, their records would be manipulated to show that they were instead royal guards.
Of course, they wouldn’t suddenly stop being adventurers in reality, but in the legal fiction created by these tampered documents Shirley and the others are said to be royal guards who had passed the government’s assessments and was assigned as an honour guard to distinguished guests.
In order to give Shirley the leeway she needed to protect Grimilda from Crowley’s designs, this was the best compromise they could make with regards to the Kingdom’s officials.
“Even if she said that the His Majesty, the Prime Minister and some of the other ministers will be fine with it… I’m not really comfortable acting like a criminal.”
“Guess we have to get used to it. By the way, that guard uniform seems a little stretched between your shoulders, doesn’t it?”
“Well, once I get used to it, it shouldn’t be a problem… For some reason, though, I feel a little nervous whenever I’m wearing unfamiliar clothes.”
They were in the royal castle, back in the Kingdom’s capital.
When Grimhilda travelled to the castle, Shirley and the others had accompanied her as guards after exchanging their well worn adventuring gear for pristine new uniforms.
They weren’t the rough and practical pieces of armour you’d expect a soldier to wear. Instead, in order to keep with the noble atmosphere of the royal castle, the uniforms they wore were well pressed and navy blue with shiny buttons and a golden epaulette. Apart from the weapons carried on their waist, they barely looked equipped for battle at all.
Even though Kyle and Cudd were still only fifteen, she still remembered that shameful state of undress they had seen her in some time ago, so she felt a bit stiff.
“Wow… You don’t look half bad, Kyle! Meanwhile, Cudd looks like a shaved monkey in a civil servant’s outfit, but that’s pretty amazing in its own way.”
“That’s not praising me at all. Anyways, have you even looked in the mirror? Are you playing dress up or something, you brat?”
“The Guild Master had this made especially for me, so what the hell are you talking about…!?”
“Isn’t that because they didn’t have anything else that’d fit you…!? Since you’re so damn short!”
“You two… We’re in the royal castle, so please don’t fight…”
His words fell on deaf ears as Cudd and Leia kicked each other’s shins hard.
Since it was a Canary Custom, Leia’s royal guard uniform was a touch different from the others’. Although the coat had the same design, her pants weren’t long like Kyle or Cudd, instead, she wore shorts that suited her cheerful personality.
“Is it really okay to be remodeling the uniform like that?”
“Apparently there are a lot more women in the royal guard these days, so there are some more unique designs. Canary’s design company was responsible for my uniform as well.”
As she said that, Shirley buckled two blades, one on her left hip and the other on her right.
“Oooh! It suits you really well, Shirley-san!”
“…Thank you. However, wearing clothes similar to the imperial guards that escorted me ten years ago does feel strange.”
Unlike Leia, whose shorts showed off her thighs, the ever conscious Shirley instead opted for a long skirt.
Her beautiful pale skin and white hair only stood out more when matched with the dark colours of the royal guard’s uniform. Her usually free-flowing hair was tied in a long ponytail behind her back, giving her a more mature look than usual.
“Is it really necessary to carry a sword? Honestly, they’re in the way.”
In the royal castle, the guards are required to carry a ceremonial sword as part of their garb. In order to keep up the appearances their falsified documents suggest Shirley, as well as Cudd and Leia who also don’t typically use swords, all had sheathed blades on their waists.
To not dress as formally as possible in the royal castle would be akin to lese majeste and spitting on the prestige of the nation’s ministers. As long as it was their job to stand guard here, they couldn’t disregard formalities.
“It cannot be helped, it’s part of the uniform. Do all of you still have your usual weapons?”
“Yeah. Thanks to 《Invisible》.”
They couldn’t just walk around the castle wielding a mace, a crossbow or a dagger. That’s why they were taking advantage of Cudd’s magic that he sometimes used in combat, 《Invisible》.
It was a magic that bent the paths of light around an object, obscuring their vision, so when it was applied to something small like a weapon it could be used to catch an opponent off guard.
“Then, all that’s left are Sophie and Tio…”
“Mama, sorry to make you wait!”
“We finished changing.”
Speak of the devil. Sophie and Tio entered the room, wearing black dresses with a white apron down the front, the traditional dress of a maid.
Since it was such a simple piece of clothing, it truly tested the wearer. It was the same kind used by daughters from noble families who served in the royal castle as part of their education, and those maid uniforms that exemplified chaste virtue suited the twins down to the ground.
In a split second, Shirley moved at a divine speed that no one present could even comprehend.
Not able to resist pulling out her newly bought magical tool from the Hero’s Toolbox, she summoned a magic camera and took at least ten shots from all different angles of Sophie and Tio each individually in their extraordinary maid outfits. She also took about twenty shots of the two of them standing side by side.
It all took approximately one second. That sophisticated, accurate, expedient and elegant blur of motion was awfully similar to what she had done at the Parent Visitation Day.
“So, what do you think about this outfit?”
“Do they look okay? Mum?”
“Yes. You both look lovely.”
Honestly, she would have been satisfied with that alone as a reward for this request, she felt that much fulfillment as she smiled softly at them. Yet although she couldn’t say that herself, that happiness of hers only increased as the two girls ran over and embraced her.
“You look really pretty too, mama!”
“Mm. You always look good, but today you look especially cool.”
“…Is… That so…”
Even if she hadn’t about the uniform herself earlier, if her daughters said they liked it then it couldn’t be all that bad. Although she was a little worried about the rookie adventurers who looked fondly at the heartwarming scene, Shirley decided to let herself enjoy the moment as she gently stroked the heads of the two girls.
“Oh my, everyone has already gotten changed, I see?”
Alicia entered, alongside Grimhilda. Shirley and the other adventurers wearing the royal guard uniforms clasped their hands behind their back and spread their feet, whilst Sophie and Tio both swept back their left foot and bent their right leg in a deep curtsey.
Before they had arrived, Shirley had taught them all appropriate gestures of respect. As Alicia simply nodded once in satisfaction, Hilda walked in front of her and looked down at them haughtily.
“From today onward until I return home, you shall all have the honour of being in my company! Do your utmost to serve me with all your heart! I won’t tolerate any disrespect, I expect you to act as proper maidservants to the Princess of the Land of Demons! Oh ho ho ho hoooooo!”
“I understand completely, Princess Grimhilda!”
“……T-That said, when we aren’t in public, y-you may… just talk me like… like usual… like friends…”
However, as soon as she actually gets the respect she so arrogantly demanded, she seemed to completely trip over her words as she felt a sudden sense of loneliness. After watching them warmly, Alicia turned to Shirley with a thoughtful smile on her face.
“This feels nostalgic. I never truly thought that I would one day be able to meet with you in this castle again.”
“You really are as gorgeous as I remember. There are so many things I would love to talk with you about, so when you have a free moment, would you not like to have a tea party with me? Of course, your daughters may come along too, as well as your cute half-elf companion. I will pick out some dresses personally for all of you if you like?”
“Eh!? Me too?”
“Your Highness… That would be…”
“Please excuse me.”
As Shirley faltered over how to respond to Alicia’s kind offer, a tall and muscular man opened the door from the hallway.
“I hope the day finds you well, Your Highness Queen Alicia. And the same goes for all of you adventurers that I am meeting for the first time. My name is Glorious Alderton, Marshal of the Kingdom. I would like to extend my personal gratitude for helping to ensure the safety of our guest at the Summer Festival.”
The adventurers in the room other than Shirley were completely shocked by the sudden appearance of the highest-ranking commander of the Kingdom’s royal army.
“Marshal Alderton? What are you doing here today? Have you already concluded the matter with His Majesty about the defense spending in regards to protecting against the Empire?”
“That stuff is a royal pain. Besides, I was more interested in these adventurers here.”
Glorious looked at the four adventurers in the room… Or more specifically, he looked at Shirley.
“The female adventurer Shirley… Are you truly her?”
“What of it?”
“I’ve heard all the stories about you. Ever since I first caught wind of them, I’ve been pining for the chance to meet you.”
“….You say as much, but are you truly just here to talk?”
‘If you have something important to say, say it quickly’, Shirley’s words seemed to suggest, as Glorious smiled dryly.
“Since I see that you don’t like to beat around the bush, I’ll get to the point. Word has somehow already gotten around that you’ve arrived, so I’ve been flooded with requests from many of the soldiers and guards in the castle to have practice duels with you. I’ve already spoken to and gained His Majesty’s consent, so everything simply hinges on you accepting the challenges… So, what will it be, Demonic White Sword?”
 Reference to an LN original side story that I haven’t translated (that’s where the image comes from as well).
If anyone was interested in helping me edit these chapters (out of the goodness of your heart), please get in touch through the contact page