Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi

Ofuro Ashitsubo

Chapter 558

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Chapter 558: From Old Tales to the Future

「Nuooooh!!」

My right hand is held in place by Lucy as my left hand pounds the ground.

「Love at first sight!? That guy is crazy for proposing right off the bat!」

Even though I try to flail wildly, Lucy is holding down my right hand and my head so I can only flounder harmlessly.

「Calm down, Aegir-sama, it’s just an old tale.」

Celia clings to my feet.

I can’t fling her away, so I obediently restrain myself.

Lucy giggles, and pats my head once I quiet down before continuing on.

「I rejected him, not understanding what he meant initially, but I was ultimately pushed into marrying him.」

「How dare he marry my Lucy, d.a.m.n adulterer!」

I writhe my body until my back arches to form a bridge, but I get flicked in the groin.

The impact that was one step away from rendering my tool useless caused me to be silent and expressionless for about 30 seconds before I could raise a question.

「But a prince is not a king. He’s not at the top so he can’t do anything he wants, right?」

Goldonia is pretty fussy about status and pedigree.

His father, the king, won’t recognize someone of unknown background, and one who is a vampire at that.

Of course, if I was the prince, I would strike down the king and make Lucy my bride regardless.

A memory flashes in Lucy’s mind and triggers her to giggle.

「He brought me to the palace and was discovered on the same day. However, his father and mother were broad-minded, probably because he was of their blood and……was fine with his choice of a pretty girl despite me being a vampire. His father even asked if I would become his lover.」

「Guh, I see he’s quite magnanimous.」

I have to admit that.

「Needless to say, it was a secret to everyone outside of his family. In those times, vampires were a cla.s.sic example of a powerful monster, and they were more of a threat than a bandit inside the palace.」

A somewhat strained smile forms on Lucy’s face.

「Still, it didn’t prevent the whole country from going into an uproar. They were clamoring about how a prince fell in love with a sickly girl with no relatives.」

「You avoided the sunlight by feigning an illness, I see.」

Celia nods.

So the whole family protected Lucy, huh?

「There were also people who had a problem with my lineage and etiquette, but they were placated when I smiled.」

Lucy’s smile becomes more gentle.

No man can resist a beauty of this caliber.

They can tolerate a slight degree of disrespect.

Lucy can stab them with a kitchen knife and whack them with a blunt object and get forgiven with a smile.

「So you solved all your problems with good looks……urk, I can’t accept that as a woman.」

It’s not a trick that is impossible for Celia.

Although she might not be as adept at wielding her charm.

That is when Lucy notices Celia for what seems like the first time, and pats her softly.

She treats her tenderly as if Celia was a treasured pet animal.

「The person who kept complaining to the very end and flared up at every little thing was Brynhildr――that man’s sister.」

So that’s what she meant by ‘complicated relations.h.i.+p’.

「Apparently, that girl loved her brother. She tried to kill me in the middle of the night with holy water and wooden stakes. It was around that age when she developed a strong dislike of garlic so she couldn’t use it.」

「Scary. But attacking a vampire at night is not really the smartest……」

I smile when I imagine an even more foolish and childish Brynhildr than the current one.

Lucy lets out a sigh that seemed to transform her s.e.x appeal into steam.

「It was truly a warm home. Everyone was kind; both parents, that man, and even Sieg, the knight escort Brynhildr dragged around. For three years after that, I didn’t kill a single person. During the times I had the tiniest shortage of blood, I would take just a bit from the sleeping guards…… And everybody forgot that I was a monster.」

She makes a sad face, signifying the start of the next chapter of the story.

「In the three hundred years of peace, there wasn’t the slightest sign of turmoil, and I thought that I would eventually have to come up with an excuse as to why I do not grow old.」

I don’t want to hear about the happy stories of that man’s married life, and more importantly I don’t want to hear about stories that make Lucy sad.

I return my head back to her lap as if telling her that she doesn’t have to explain.

Lucy speaks about it anyways in a matter-of-fact and slightly sad fas.h.i.+on.

During a dinner party on a certain day, a clumsy maid tripped and poked a fork into Lucy’s arm.

Naturally, it was not a major wound and Lucy wouldn’t yell.

――that’s if the fork wasn’t silver.

「Rising vapor and a festering arm. Those two things would remind anyone of the fabled vampire.」

At a hundred years old, a stab in the arm is not enough to be a serious injury for Lucy.

But the secret is out.

At the dinner party hosted by the royal family, in front of the n.o.bles present――the princess was revealed to be a vampire.

「Of course, the n.o.bles all cried out, “She’s a monster. She should be executed”. That man and his parents frantically tried dodge the issue, but was instantly retorted with, “then put her under the sun”, which had no comeback.」

Lucy walks forward, at the end of her rope.

While sunlight is but a mere nuisance to her now, it would have turned her to ash at that time. Even so, she must have cared a lot about the man and his family, and thus decided to burn herself.

As the woman walked out, a shout of abuse rang out.

『Filthy corpse. Get roasted by the sun and dissolve away.』

Faster than Lucy could lower her head, the prince’s sword cut down the heckler.

「It was mayhem after that. “The prince is being manipulated”, “The royal family has been hijacked by a demon”, “Everyone will be bitten and transformed into vampires”, such ideas were freely thrown around.」

The peace which continued for three centuries vanished in a single night and the kingdom collapsed from the internal conflict.

「We didn’t have many allies. The capital fell from the collective attack from all the n.o.bles. Our parents were arrested and burned as monsters, while I was led away by that man.」

I don’t think Lucy had any intention to fight.

「Staying together until the end was me, that man, Brynhildr, and Sieg. As we were running, Brynhildr suffered a fatal injury.」

Lucy, relying on her instincts, turned Brynhildr into one of her own kind.

And needing inhuman power to shake off their pursuers, she also turned Siegfried into a vampire.

「Brynhildr’s mind didn’t change. As for Sieg……half of his mind was destroyed.」

The four of them hid in this forest and built a house to keep out the sun.

I once again look at the burnt remains.

「Then, I’m not sure if it was ten years or twenty years that pa.s.sed. All I remember is that the four of us lived here long enough for him to turn into an old man.」

「You didn’t turn ‘him’ into a vampire?」

I thought I screwed up as soon as I asked the question, but it was too late to swallow those words.

Lucy casts her eyes downward briefly, then replies.

「I was probably scared. If he just died, or became like Sieg……or worse, if I failed and his mind was completely destroyed, I wouldn’t know what I’d do. Thinking that, I couldn’t do it. He simply laughed that we’d be in trouble if n.o.body could go outside during the day……even though it was my fault that the country and his parents were gone, he still smiled kindly.」

Mmm, my jealousy is bubbling, but he seems like a nice guy.

But one day, he wandered out of the forest.

「After the death of the royal family, the kingdom was a mess due to the struggle for power. Perhaps he missed the feeling of the past, but he went to find a place that might accept us. He said that he wanted us to be able to walk unashamed in the light again.」

「Walking under the sun would be bad though.」

Lucy agrees and smiles.

It’s not like I can’t read the atmosphere.

It’s because I knew the conclusion that I purposely cracked a joke.

「He never returned.」

「He can’t have run away. He wanted to bring Lucy back to the public before he grew too old and unable to move……even if it cost him his life in the process―― Wait, why am I giving my rival the benefit of the doubt?」

「Waaff.」

I squeeze Celia’s cheeks to vent my anger.

「With him gone, Brynhildr also parted ways. Since she was a crybaby, I couldn’t leave her alone, so I had Sieg accompany her.」

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That’s how Lucy came to live by herself for close to two hundred years.

「No, it’s my imagination. Besides, if you were simply a replacement, I would have dismembered you at that time. My preference for boys who are honest yet a.s.sertive may have had an effect on me.」

「O-oh.」

She gives my face a teasing slap.

「You’re not anyone else but my Aegir. You’ve become quite rugged, but you’re still my cute Aegir.」

Lucy has to stand on her tiptoes in order to close the distance in height and give me a peck on the lips.

「Alright, I have no more indecision. I won’t say any cowardly things again.」

I pick Lucy up in my arms.

「Arara, I can walk on my own.」

「No. I’m carrying you no matter what you say.」

I turn my back on the burnt house of memories.

I will probably never return.

「Hey! Don’t ignore me!」

Brynhildr jumps and clings to my neck.

She climbs up and rides on my shoulders.

「I-I’m coming too!」

Celia attaches herself on my back, avoiding contact with Brynhildr.

Siegfried follows about twenty steps behind us.

Obviously, with his speed, he can catch up in an instant.

「Fufu, then shall we chat about ‘him’ on the way back?」

「Can we not!? He was my brother. It’s awkward, dammit!」

「Brynhildr, don’t talk so much……your mouth stinks.」

Don’t yank out my hair in a fit of anger.

What am I going to do if the top of my head goes bald?

Now I know a bit of how Schwartz feels.

「Ah Aegir, go to the right.」

I move according to Lucy, and she extends her hand with the speed of lightning to grab something on top of a tree.

「Go left.」

When I listen to Brynhildr’s instructions, her tiny hand grabs something that jumps away in an attempt to escape.

「「Aaaah! I got caught!!」」

I see familiar green hair and long ears.

Trembling and looking pale are Natia and Felteris.

Natia writhes desperately but Brynhildr’s slender arm doesn’t let go.

Felteris activates some kind of magic, but Lucy’s eyes glow red and negate the spell.

「For some reason, I’m seeing a lot more supposedly rare elves recently. I just got rid of a group not too long ago.」

「It’ll take some time to return to the capital. I’ve never sucked an elf before, maybe I should try.」

「「Hnggyaaaa!!」」

As they scream boisterously, I keep walking with my beloved woman in my arms.

This is a feeling I’ve never felt even after conquering the capital, I wonder if this is what a triumphant return is.

I’m sure Leopolt and Adolph will have much to say when I get back.

Before we departed, I didn’t care and thought it was fine to let them do as they pleased, but that’s not the case anymore.

A kingdom claimed by great betrayal is more fragile than a tower built on sand.

I can’t let it fall apart so easily and leave Lucy alone again.

Politics and governing have never been interesting to me, but I’ll take it seriously now.

I pull off Natia, who is biting the top of my head, and Brynhildr, and also separate from Lucy who is ruthlessly readying her arm to mutilate Felteris, who has resigned herself and taken off her clothes for some reason, and move forward.

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