Next chapter is the last chapter for this arc! I can’t wait to translate the second arc, but after this I will work on my other series along side. So updates will be more sparse. But enjoy this chapter!
ED: clover, eristol, xtostos
“Now, Klaus-sama, please hold this flower properly as well.”
I picked another faint pink rose with the pruning shears.
I handed it to Klaus who has turned into a bouquet-creation machine.
Klaus seems to have been scolded by his parents last night, as there are bags under his eyes.
He didn’t suffer major injuries, but his whole body should be full of scrapes and abrasions.
There is also a large bandage plastered on his cheeks and forehead, which makes him look like a boy from a manga.
Nevertheless, the spots where his skin wasn’t ruined are youthful as is his privilege as a beautiful character.
Ah, my Erica-the-Marvelous-Villain’s body also doesn’t have rough skin.
I soberly appreciate the fact that I didn’t have any muscle aches either, despite only exercising a little usually.
“Ufufu, Klaus-oniisama. Today I will have you listen to what I say, yes?”
Today we are walking through the Knot Garden of Spring Palace as promised.
All of the gardeners are looking happily at Ann who seems to be in high spirits.
Followed by me with the pruning shears, and Klaus who is holding a lot of flowers.
The impression of our group is as if Ann is a princess, while Klaus and I are her attendants.
Spring’s greenery stung my eyes.
Klaus’ eyes are also blinking rapidly. Ooh, a comrade.
“Erica, did you stay up all night, too?”
“Yes, I was cleaning up some of the aftermath……Klaus-sama, good work on enduring the scolding.”
“It’s not ‘good work.’”
Huh? Should it be ‘good work’?1
That is what I considered thinking of Japanese, but in fact we are having our conversation in this world’s language.
Here the polite expressions are fuzzier, so there shouldn’t be any regulation about that.
“……The preaching……no, my father’s teaching, it’s not over yet. I just had a momentary break.”
“After that, it seems to be my mother’s turn……”
“Hiie……Klaus-sama, I hope you stay alive.”
It seems to be a considerably strict family.
But, that is the Hafan couple’s way of showing their affection.
They are strict because they are worried on the inside. Surely.
“There is a very beautiful rose over there!”
“I guess it can’t be helped. Only two or three more, you hear.”
“Onii-sama! If you haven’t reflected enough yet, I will let Otou-sama and Okaa-sama know……”
“Kuh……! Let’s go, Erica! If we let her be, she will reap all the roses in this garden!”
“I won’t do that!”
“Yes, yes. Ann-sama, I will cut as many for you as you like.”
Klaus was reluctantly going along with his sister’s selfishness, while his sister was enjoying herself to the utmost uninhibitedly.
Above all, these siblings were good friends with each other.
(Aaah~~ at last, one of my death flags has completely broken……it was a tough death flag……)
I feel completely out of my mind.
The lack of sleep is also adding to that, so I am just like a flower-picking machine with a fully automated garden commentary feature.
It is wonderful that I won’t die even when I am this absentminded.
“Erica-oneesama, what is that yellow flower over there?”
“It is a banks rose native to the southern continent.”
“How lovely! Erica-oneesama, I’m going to see it up close!”
“Yes, go ahead, Ann-sama.”
Since last night, Ann has been calling me ‘Onee-sama.’
What is this, this classic girly novel sensation?
I felt a bit happy, but I was pretty embarrassed in compensation.
Will she make me exchange rosaries with her?2
Since there is no culture of wearing a cross on this continent, as expected, it has become the star crystal necklace? Sounds ominous.
“Good grief……I don’t know where she gets her inability to stay calm from, that girl.”
A lot of flowers chosen by Ann were held in both hands of Klaus.
Today’s Ann is unforgiving towards her older brother because of the lingering excitement from yesterday’s adventure.
I also dazedly cut the rose as Ann commanded and handed it over to Klaus.
With that synergy, suddenly he was holding a tremendous amount of roses.
Aside from the massive amount of flowers being held by Klaus, what was horrible was the fact that the flowers brought back to Ann’s room were about three times the amount of those flowers.
It was not a joke or a hyperbole, she could truly reap all the flowers throughout the garden.
“She’s exactly like you, Klaus-sama. She’s very curious. Aah but, Klaus-sama, you lack Ann-sama’s courteousness.”
“Oi, Erica……no, Lady Erica. Just now, what did you say?”
“Oh my, Klaus-sama. Please, have a look. It’s a lovely large-flowered rose.”
Slanders are more likely to carry to other people’s ears, how troublesome!
While turning my eyes away from him who was pouting, I cut out a diluted crimson rose that caught my eyes with the pruning shears.
I adorned Klaus’ hair with the cut out rose, glossing over his previous question while making fun of him.
Fuhaha. How is it? It is inevitable if both hands are blocked!
“Oh, it really suits you, Klaus-sama.”
“Wait a minute! Stop that!”
Klaus’ cheeks are dyed in shame.
This one is excellent!
In order to shake off the rose inserted in his hair, Klaus hurriedly shook his head.
However, it seems that the thorns tangled well with his hair, and it didn’t fall off easily.
I did it, that was fun! Rose-san good job!
“Oya, Klaus-kun, you’re surprisingly pretty cute.”
“Well! Eduard-oniisama, welcome back!”
My older brother’s traveling clothes are the same as when he was about to leave, and in his hand he is holding a leather bag, which is the Wunderkammer.
Although he has a groomed appearance and a graceful conduct with no gap as usual, I can see a slight tiredness in his complexion.
Did Eduard-oniisama stay up all night?
“Damn……! Stop it! Don’t look at me like this!”
Klaus concealed his face with a bunch of roses.
His ears are bright red.
Anyway, that phrase, you’d better quit it somehow, Klaus.
“You don’t have to hide. Isn’t it pretty?”
“Guh……Remember this, Eduard Aurelia! This embarrassment, I will definitely get rid of it!”
Leaving behind a needlessly embarrassing parting remark, Klaus ran in the direction of Ann and escaped.
I wonder if it was that embarrassing to be seen by my brother.
Maybe he has a one-sided rivalry with the alchemist Eduard.
“Because the news reached me by owl delivery, I came home in a hurry, but……I’m sorry, Erica. I heard you almost died because of a trap I set?”
“No, I was able to dispel it safely, so it’s alright.”
Rather, I give a lifetime of thanks to his super powerful death trap.
I can’t go to bed with my feet facing him3.
“Rather than that, I’m sorry I devastated your supplies for exploration.”
“It’s okay. I heard the story from father yesterday. To think that the leftover of my supplies have helped my lovely little sister survive. I rather feel proud.”
My brother crouched down to look at me and gave a soft smile.
For a moment, I felt tears seeping out.
It is nice, to have an older brother.
However, with the next words, the angelic smile of my brother instantaneously changed to a dark smile.
“Oh, but for the time being, please tell me, as much as you remember about the details of who used them and how much they used them.”
“……what are you going to do?”
“It’s a secret. You don’t need to be bothered by that, Erica, so please be relieved.”
Klaus……it seems my brother wants to charge a full payment for the wands and the potions.
What a salt to his injury. Misfortunes never come alone, huh.
When my older brother’s invoice arrives, I guess he will have to sell out some forests from the planned inheritance.
Let me plead to my older brother at least to repay my life debt.
Anyway, after Klaus becomes the Duke of Hafan, he should do his best in territory management and compensate for the deficit.
Even so, I am at a loss.
As to whether or not it is alright to tell my family about what happened in the Ruins of Visitor.
That huge monster Zaratan can be a scandal of Aurelia of the West.
“I also went to the ruins secretly a few times, but I could hardly reach the place I wanted.”
“What place would that be?”
“My friend investigated through literature, but in the deep part of that ruins, the remains of an unknown gigantic creature seem to sleep.”
“O-oh……is that so—I don’t believe it—”
“Considering the surrounding soil and the distributions of star crystal and star ore veins, it’s apparently possible that the Ruins of Visitor are located in the center of what would be the remains of this creature, which must have been around 5 kilometers in its diameter, by the minimum estimation.”
“Hiie……5 kilometers, huh……?”
“Truly a fantastic thought, isn’t it?”
I heard that it was formerly city sized, but to think that it was a creature that exceeded 5 kilometers in length.
Somehow, it’s a bit too beyond imagination.
I’m glad that the Zaratan we met was in his small form.
I don’t feel like we had a winning chance at all if it were the original-sized Zaratan.
Ancient alchemists would’ve been forced to use the wand of Sailor’s Song and risk their lives on that last resort.
“That’s right. I don’t think you will go to the ruins anymore, but by chance if you get lost, don’t go deeper than the seventh layer.”
“Uu……why is that?”
“A group of tough monsters were living in the eighth layer. Fortunately, we barely managed to wipe those out, unfortunately we dealt some fatal damage to the labyrinth when we used a few larger-scale spells. In the worst case scenario, the layer itself might collapse.”
“T-that is dangerous……”
“I was consulting with a collaborating researcher whether we should do reinforcement repairs on the labyrinth or dig a different tunnel. Either way, since it is beyond the scope of what can be investigated secretly from father, I must arrange a way to send an official investigation team through Lindis Magic Academy.”
The shrewd brother of mine has to have secured a position in that investigation team.
Oh, by the way, my stomach is feeling painful because I am feigning ignorance.
“That reminds me, yesterday, when we were inside, we heard a noise loud enough that it felt like the ground breaking away from the lower floors.”
“Ah, maybe it has collapsed already. So is digging a tunnel the right choice, after all? Even so……what was the trigger, there should have been no mechanism linked with other layers……maybe I missed it……”
It is painful to be pointed out the inconsistencies any more than that.
After all they are poor lies and the secret is getting ridiculous.
“B-by the way, Onii-sama! It’s amazing that there was such a big creature!”
“Oya, are you also interested in giant creatures, Erica?”
Rather than interested, perhaps I should say that I have had a bad experience with that particular creature itself.
“Alchemist Jaconius, commonly known as Zaratan, you also know about his legend right, Erica? There is a theory that the figure called Zaratan was possibly the name of that gigantic creature.”
“There are people in Lindis who noticed such an amazing thing, huh…”
“There are also other theories, like this giant creature theory, the secret organization theory and the alien theory, that it was an ancient super-energy generator facility with a built-in space control mechanism.”
As one would expect, those are such outrageous theories, brother.
You’re going to bait a bunch of professional editors who love outrageous conspiracy theories.
“Onii-sama, about the giant creature theory……”
“Oh, there are several stories in folklore that support it.”
Eduard-oniisama was hesitating for a moment.
It was a gentle smile as ever, but a little bit of a sad atmosphere was weaved into it.
“The Alchemist Jaconius, as he has been officially recorded in history authorized by our Aurelia family – among various of the old, distinguished families of Aurelia, there are differences between his story and that of the solitary Zaratan, creator of the Philosopher’s Stone.”
“I only know the story of Zaratan that appeared in the fairy tale.”
“Yes, that one is also actually a hidden legend, only conveyed through the Ducal Family of Aurelia. In this legend passed along through our family, Zaratan was killed by the magic that drops stars, but in the officially sanctioned history, which you haven’t been taught yet, Erica, he was instead killed with a knife during his sleep.”
I was surprised.
Certainly, that was what Zaratan himself had said. He was killed in the gap when he was exhausted and sleeping.
For Aurelia, killing Zaratan should be a taboo.
That truth remained in the present age as such a small fragment.
“I have a good friend who loves stories like that. At first I was helping him, but before I noticed, I was completely absorbed in the story more than him……our taciturn ancestors wanted to leave something for their distant descendants……somehow, isn’t that kind of story fascinating?”
“Onii-sama, do you know what happened to Zaratan?”
“It is not perfect because some of the folklore was scattered and ultimately lost, but–”
With that preliminary talk, my brother started talking.
Our ancestors lived beyond the shining and distant seas of the stars.
But, due to a disaster or some other reason, they were driven out of their home land.
An ancient alchemist reported as Jaconius created an artificial organism when it was time to set forth.
The name of the creature was Zaratan.
Zaratan grew to the size of a huge island after months and years and carried our ancestors in place of the aging ships.
A city was built on the shell of Zaratan and the bones of Zaratan became precious ores, including star crystals and starsteels.
After a long voyage, during which generations had changed, they arrived at Ichthyes.
However, the alchemists who were leading the journey at that time killed Zaratan who was a meritorious creature and the person who was the son or daughter of Jaconius.
It is said that they did it to obtain the Philosopher’s Stone which was thought to be hidden inside the body of Zaratan.
But no matter how much they dissected the body of Zaratan, they couldn’t find the Philosopher’s Stone.
The alchemists opposed their own deeds and regretted their sins.
They buried the child of Jaconius carefully in the depths of Zaratan’s body.
The alchemists made a deep labyrinth whose depth no one could approach, while it also served as a tomb.
‘Do not let anyone interfere with the sleep of Zaratan along with the child of Jaconius.’
The youngest brother of Jaconius who survived and the daughter of the leader got married and became the new head of the Visitor’s Clan.
That was the beginning of the Aurelia Ducal Family.
“It appears that the alchemists breached a contract when they killed Zaratan, an artificial creature, but I don’t yet know what that contract was.”
“What a sad story……”
“I don’t know if everything is true, but I think that the truth is hidden somewhere in this story and it may be the role of us who are the descendants of Jaconius to unravel it……that’s how it is.”
Brother smiled brightly to cheer me up.
“According to my hypothesis, I think that they were not only buried, but they were enshrined as gods. I believe that the faith of the god4 Bren was made by combining the child of Jaconius and Zaratan.”
“Zaratan, a god……”
“If the altar of Bren faith is found in that ruins, it will support my hypothesis……but, if the labyrinth has collapsed, I wonder how many years it will take for a full-scale investigation……”
Ah, so it was like Sugawara no Michizane5 or Taira no Masakado6, huh?
Even though he bore grudges against humans, he had been made a god by humans, huh?
Betrayed, killed, and to appease him, worshiped—
No wonder I could empathize with him somehow.
Defined irrationally, loved selfishly, killed unreasonably, isn’t that the same as me?
He is also a companion in getting beaten by a blunt weapon.
Well, something like a crowbar can’t compare to a meteor, though.
“By the way, Erica, that golem……it’s made of starsteel, huh? When did you make it?”
I looked at my feet flustered.
A large stuffed toy-sized, steel body, full-armor was there sitting quietly.
When did he follow me to the garden!?
“Ah……that, yesterday, Onii-sama, I reused your acid hydrogel golem’s core……”
“Haha……I don’t mind, since I can make as many acid hydrogel golems as I want.”
“I will appreciate it if you say so.”
“But, you came up with a golem made of starsteel, huh. Since it deforms to some extent with magical powers, it can do living organism’s natural movements, I take it.”
“Y-yes! That’s right!”
“It’s quite interesting……oya? Perhaps, this is a two-layer structure?”
“Hiie! It’s a top secret technology that is still under experiment right now!”
“I see~ too bad……oops, it’s already this time……”
I am already at my limit of glossing over the questions!
As I thought that, my older brother began to check his watch.
Y-yosh! I seem to have dodged the bullet!
“I will return to my room at once. It seems you have completely devastated my supplies.”
“Let’s talk about that necklace when everything has settled down. I found out something interesting about it. Then, later, Erica.”
That said, Eduard-oniisama went back to his room.
When I looked at my feet, I could see the back of the starsteel golem.
In truth, it is not a golem.
A certain someone is just wearing a small armor made of starsteel.
“Why did you follow me?”
『I decided that I’m interested.』
『Why did you let me live?』
『I dislike compassion. You do not understand my feelings.』
『But, I also heard something good.』
“The story that Onii-sama just told us?”
Tears were spilling from the black cavities.
『I was not betrayed by that person. They were also killed. 』
“Looks like it. Though it’s still just according to folklore.”
『May I cry for them too? 』
Last night, after the ceremony of the solution spell, I was handed the bottle where Klaus sealed Zaratan.
‘You can do whatever you want with it,’ he had said.
So I immediately decided to take advantage of that and take him up on his offer, and unsealed it.
“I figured your revenge is justified, and I also wanted to fulfill the contract my ancestors had with you.”
『Why is that?』
“Compassion, you don’t have to understand my feelings.”
The Zaratan who was unsealed got even smaller, due to the effect of space compression magic by Klaus.
An anomalous dragon with the size of a cat.
That is what he is now.
Black scales like a night sky. Two twisted horns like a ram.
Sharp saw-like fangs are lined up in lines like those of a shark.
Short and sharp claws for all of his ten fingers.
The scales on his back are particularly thick and coalescing, and they look like a shell.
Perhaps he is taking the shape of his juvenile form, his head and forearms are large while his upper arms and tail are small.
The balance is exactly like a teddy bear.
He can be called a fish due to his scales and web-feet, can be called a turtle due to his shell.
Called the Philosopher’s Stone, called a god, called an evil spirit.
But in the end, they couldn’t give him a name to call himself.
There was only one lonely anomalous black dragon in this world.
I made a small armor last night.
The material was the starsteel which responds to magical power and changes its shape as much as we like.
The spell was physically carved and constructed with an athame knife.
I can neither build spells nor charge them with magic, yet this is something I, as one of few such alchemists, was capable of.
And then I released his soul inside the armor.
One of the reasons was to disguise him as a golem.
The other was for it to serve as a cage to his infinitely expanding body.
『……my revenge, it is over.』
“Is that okay?”
『I thought I killed you once.
At that time, my heart was filled with joy to the extent that I felt like nothing would matter.
You look like that fellow.
I did not truly care about Aurelia.
I only cared about killing them.
Only they were special to me.
Therefore, it is good. That fellow is already gone.』
“The truth is, you wanted to kill them using the Alchemist’s Star in revenge, right?”
『……you understand well.』
The small black dragon who has passed the age of over six hundred years laughed happily from inside the armor.
“If I can, I will carry out the contract on behalf of my ancestors.”
『My wishes have not change even now……I wish for a friend, and then, I wish for a new name.』
“Is it okay with just that?”
『I have been craving precisely those for hundreds of years now.』
“……so that’s how it is.”
I bent over and touched the black dragon Zaratan’s clawed hand.
“Then, I will give you a new name—”
At that time, the beautiful and brave Hafan siblings came back with a lot of roses.
A refreshing wind blew through the flower-lined Spring Palace.
In this way, the curtain of my first adventure had fallen.
“Come, my friend, let’s give a new name to the Promised Land over this sea: Tír na nÓg7.”
1 Erica first uses ご苦労さま (Gokurou-sama), then wonders whether お疲れさま (Otsukare-sama) should have been used instead. Both these expressions express the idea of appreciation (i.e. ‘good work’) in Japanese, but the former is usually used by superiors towards their subordinates, whereas the latter has a stronger association with being used by subordinates towards superiors. That said, in practise this is quite context dependent and not at all a strong implication in many situations. Moreover, Erica’s current language does not differentiate between these two terms, but as the original is written in Japanese where one of these terms had to be used over the other the author instead used this opportunity to clarify that in-world there should be no difference – hence Erica’s mild confusion.
2 Reference to Shoujo-Ai and similar manga, in which christian-sounding private girl school settings were (are?) popular, along with the practise of couples exchanging their rosaries as symbol of their affections etc. Think Strawberry Panic! – one of the more well-known examples for this kinda thing.
3 Referring to the idiom ‘cannot sleep with my feet facing in his/her direction’: expressing that we are grateful for what that person has done for us. In Japan, showing our feet is an act of disrespect, so conversely, if you don’t show that person your feet, you are showing him/her respect.
4 The god here is actually referring to an ancestor that was worshiped as a deity.
5 Sugawara no Michizane was a scholar, poet, and politician of the Heian Period of Japan. Today he is revered in Shinto as the god of learning, Tenman-Tenjin. (source)
6 Taira no Masakado was a samurai in the Heian Period of Japan who led one of the largest insurgent forces in the period against the central government of Kyoto. He became a demigod to the locals who were impressed by his stand against the central government, while at the same time feeling the need to appease his malevolent spirit. (source)
7 Tír na nÓg is the name of the Promised Land/The Land of the Dead in the Irish mythology and folklore. (source)
If you remember, in chapter 6, the command words that were engraved on the transfer gate was:
“Come, my friend, let’s give a new name to the Promised Land over this sea.”
In this chapter, the words Promised Land has the readings of Tír na nÓg on top of them, and I tried to incorporate it like what is shown in this chapter.
If you don’t get it, the new name for Zaratan that Erica gave is Tír na nÓg. But for later chapters, the author wrote it as Tirnanog.