|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Mab||English Source: Re:Library|
“…This is nasty alright…”
Sure, this might be a world of magic, demons, and fairies, but physiologically repulsive sights like these are way outside my comfort zone.
I would guess that both Eren and Bruno weren’t very comfortable with this either, their faces were pale with a sickly white as they desperately tried to escape, but with 20 or so arms entangling their ankles, their child-like strength couldn’t facilitate their escape.
“Don’t move… magician. Move and these children will have their life energy sucked dry.” Andy and Chad —no, something that mimicked their appearances— opened their mouths at the same time, with the exact same tone and timing.
“A woman’s…?” The threat in that unfamiliar voice made me raise an eyebrow.
Perhaps in response to my muttering, Andy and Chad’s appearance twisted, churned, and when they turned into pitch-blackness for a moment, a bright white mask —much like a death mask— emerged from it, with shaggy black hair spreading out of it before an old, black, heavy-looking dress appeared from the neck down. The dress had embroidery that, upon closer inspection, seemed to resemble roses.
“This one’s name is Huberta. Known for her peerless beauty and magical prowess, the renowned Rose Princess is no one else but I!!” The self-proclaimed Rose Princess arrogantly identified herself.
…Err, well, looking at her exasperating costume, self-proclaimed notoriety, and chuunibyou-like title, she honestly seems like the kind of eccentric I’d rather avoid if I could, but the strength of her ghostly aura was not to be stifled with, not since I could even feel it behind my barrier. She’s practically a different entity from the evil spirits from before. Which means…
“A Specter, is it…” And quite a naughty one in nature at that.
“You assumed well. This one had been sealed here for long, recriminations of men and women who were jealous of this mistress’ beauty. Despite all, the seal was eventually loosened, and upon waiting for the opportunity to go above ground, half a day ago, a powerful wave of mana filled me, letting me lose my restraints! Be that as it may, this one is worn out from the lengthy sealing and thus decides to grace you the honor to be my nourishment. Ho ho ho! Rejoice, you shall become part of this beautiful mistress!”
I bit my lips hard under the hood when I heard her disclosure. A powerful wave of mana? Half a day ago? That’s definitely the Sonar Force I used!
Which means, I’m the cause of all of this.
Look at me, hastily using Sonar Force, thinking that everything was fine, only to summon evil spirits and unseal a specter. If I had examined the reactions I got from underground in more detail I could have noticed that something was sealed there, and yet I was so preoccupied with looking for the teleporter that I overlooked it. Worse yet, I underestimated the evil spirits, letting my guard down, and even letting Eren and Bruno cross the barrier, because of that, they were taken hostage.
All because of my self-conceit and negligence. I got so used to magical arts that I decided that this place was safe enough for me to be careless… because of that, I had put my two friends, Eren and Bruno, in danger. It’s all because of me.
Right beside Huberta, the specter who spoke so fluently and eloquently, Bruno, still her prisoner, shouted as if he was in control. “Ugh, shut up! I don’t know if you’re princess Rose or princess hubris or what have you, just let us go already!!”
The jovial laughter that was present in Huberta’s body language suddenly stopped, as she looked at each of our faces through her mask in a somewhat astonished manner. “You don’t know? This one is Huberta, the Rose Princess, and none other! Naturally, you must have heard of me, the famous, the beautiful, the Rose Princess of history.”
“Hell if I know!” Bruno shouted again. The specter ignored him, as her gaze turned to Eren and I.
I was somewhat at a loss for words to reply, so the same time I reflexively looked at Eren, I dug into my memories for the names of past prominent people and ladies with common names that Regina had taught me about, and yet I hadn’t heard one of Huberta. Eren, too, was desperately trying to recall anything, but she didn’t seem to be able to get one as well.
“…uh, sorry, I don’t.”
“…forgive me, I’m not aware of any of such names.”
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When I had no choice but to confess, Huberta’s temples began to twitch wildly under her mask —not that I could see it, but I just knew— and her shoulders shook.
“You don’t… you don’t know me? Are you saying… that you, children that you may be, do not know the name of the Rose Princess, the radiant beauty, the well-known Huberta…?!!”
Huberta lamented and grieved pretentiously. How do I say it, even past her being a specter and what not, this is hardly the kind of person I’d like to get to know.
“Your ignorance is unforgivable! You, who does not know the beauty of this mistress, are unforgivable!!”
“Hah! You keep yapping that you’re a beauty again and again, I’d bet you’re ugly as a pig, that’s why you hide behind that mask!”
“What… did you say…?”
“Ah~ Come to think of it, you keep boasting about your beauty and yet you hide it. Isn’t that suspicious or what?”
As Huberta grew silent in anger due to the children’s obnoxious words, her phantasmal body shook, before two of her hands unexpectedly reached out and grabbed Eren and Bruno by the nape.
Almost instantly, their faces turned ghastly white and they collapsed.
“Hah, they still have some of their life energy left. This mistress very much wanted to suck them dry, but it was hardly enough. Thus, much like those men outside the town, I have kept their lives intact so they can be harvested time and time again.”
Huberta’s hateful remark left me both relieved and despairing.
(I see, so both Andy and Chad had become her feed. Thankfully, it sounds like they’re both still alive.)
I knew that she might have already made contact with them, seeing that she first appeared disguised as those two —and the emus we brought with us had become her underling, too— this ensured that I would face her alone.
“Such boorish men, such an unrefined, uneducated lass, they should have never touched the lips of this mistress, alas… There aren’t many options at hand. I’ll live with it.”
Her unreasonable self-centeredness tipped my boiling point over, and before I knew it, I was already grumbling out.
“You know what, all I hear from you is your face this your face that, but the value of a person isn’t determined by their face alone. My mentor once said ‘Beauty can only be forged from character, experience, and months and years of hard work. A single layer of skin can’t decide the outlook value of a person!’.”
“How moronic, that is nothing but empty talk! A woman’s value is determined wholly by her face! In fact, just take a look at the world. Beauties, regardless of their gender, are favored and gain, while the ugly ones… always scorned, ridiculed, and treated as losers!”
As Huberta expressed her hatred with a shaken voice, a feeling of deja vu washed me. Isn’t this the very same thought that I had when Regina said to me the words I said to Huberta? Is her obsession with beauty and ugliness a mirror reflection of my own?
The moment those questions were raised in my head, I realized where Huberta was coming from— why she was so concerned with beauty, and why she spoke for the sorrows of the ugly.
“I see…so that’s how it is, Huberta. Eren and Bruno were right on the mark, weren’t they? That is the reason why you hide your face behind a mask…”
“NO!! This one is beautiful! My beauty is too divine, it will be a waste to show it to snobs like you, it’s all”
There was desperation. Her attempt to deny was both comical and relatedly sad.
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“Huberta, I don’t think appearances are everything.”
“Shut up! You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“…I’m just like you. I was shunned, I was ridiculed, and I was even assassinated by my own family, all because I am ugly.”
“—Lies! Don’t lie before me!”
“…how I wish it had been a lie. The Ragweed Princess of the Livitium Imperial Kingdom, that’s what they call me.”
Huberta’s emotions, the waves of malice that she had been emitting so fiercely, eased up.
“To be honest, I feel frustrated about my appearance, and I find myself grieving the fact that I was born with such an ugly appearance. However, even though I’ve lost my birthright, my wealth, there are people who call me their friends regardless of how I look.”
Catching my gaze, Huberta glanced at the two kids who lay unconscious at her feet.
“My mentor, a difficult person that she was, told me that even ragweed can bloom flowers. Regardless of how we look, we still can grasp what is truly precious to us.”
To embolden Huberta, I took off the hood I was wearing and revealed my (albeit somewhat improved) ugly bare face.
Immediately, Huberta gasped and turned away.
Seeing her losing words and shaking her body, my point must have crossed over… I thought, almost relieved I had succeeded in persuading her, when—
“…you…” A faint mumble escaped Huberta’s mouth.
“YOU’RE THE LAST PERSON I’LL FORGIVE—!! I’LL SMASH THAT FACE AND KILL YOU—!!!”
She let out a resentful shrill so hard her entire body shook, her eyes bloodshot and vindictiveness erupted from her spectral body
I was confused by the unexpected reaction when repulsive-looking evil spirits were spawned from the ground and came rushing toward me in droves.
In short, Jill’s totally at fault.
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