“Now, Klaus-sama, please hold this flower properly.”
I picked a faint thin pink rose with pruning shears.
I handed it to Klaus who turned into a bouquet-creation machine.
Klaus seemed to have been scolded by his parents last night, there were bags under his eyes.
He didn’t suffer major injuries, but his whole body should be full of scrapes and abrasions.
There was also a large bandage plastered on his cheeks and forehead, which made him look like a boy from a manga.
Nevertheless, the spots where his skin wasn’t ruined were youthful as was his privilege as a beautiful character.
Ah, my Erica the Marvelous Villain’s body also didn’t have rough skin.
It was appreciated by the plain fact that there wasn’t any muscle pain even though usually I only exercised a little.
“Ufufu, Klaus-oniisama. Today you will listen to what I say, right?”
Today we were walking through the Knot Garden of Spring Palace as promised.
All of the gardeners were looking happily at Ann who seemed to be in high spirits.
Followed by me with the pruning shears, and Klaus who held a lot of flowers.
There was an impression about our group that Ann was a princess, while Klaus and I were her attendants.
Spring green eyes froze.
Klaus’ eyes were also blinking rapidly. Ooh, comrade.
“Erica, did you stay up all night?”
“Yes, I was cleaning up a little……Klaus-sama, good work on enduring the scoldings.”
“It’s not ‘good work.’”
Huh? Was he feeling tired?
I tried to think in Japanese, but in fact it was a conversation in this world’s language.
Here the polite expressions were fuzzy, 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……”
“Hii……Klaus-sama, please live.”
It seemed to be a considerably strict family.
But, that was the Harvan couple way of showing their affection.
They were strict because they were worried inside out. Surely.
“There is a very beautiful rose over there!”
“I guess we have no choice. There are only two or three more.”
“Onii-sama! If you don’t reflect properly, I would like to 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, you can cut as much 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 felt completely out of my mind.
The lack of sleep was also adding to that, I was just like a flower-picking machine with a fully automated garden commentary feature.
It was wonderful that I wouldn’t die even if I was absentminded.
“Erica-oneesama, what is that yellow flower over there?”
“It is a wooden rose native to the southern part of the continent.”
“Lovely! Erica-oneesama, I’m going to see it up close!”
“Yes, go ahead, Ann-sama.”
Since last night, Ann had been calling me ‘Onee-sama.’
What was it, this classic girly novel sensation.
I felt a bit happy, but I was pretty embarrassed by the compensation.
Could you let me replace the rosary?
Since there was no culture to wear a cross on this continent, as expected, it became the star crystal necklace? Sounds ominous.
“Good grief……, I don’t know where she gets her inability to stay calm, that girl.”
A lot of flowers chosen by Ann were held in both hands of Klaus.
Today’s Ann was unforgiving towards her older brother because of the lingering excitement of 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.
Beside the massive amount of flowers that Klaus currently held, what was horrible was that the flowers that had been brought to Ann’s room was about three times 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 Klaus-sama. She’s very curious. Aah but, Klaus-sama lacks 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 were more likely to carry to other people’s ears, how troublesome.
While turning my eyes off him who was pouting, I cut out a diluted crimson rose that caught my eyes with pruning shears.
I adorned Klaus’ hair with the cut out rose, glossing over his previous question while making fun of him.
Fuhaha. How was it? It was inevitable if both hands were blocked!
“Oh, it really suits you, Klaus-sama.”
“Wait a minute! Stop that!”
Klaus’ cheeks were dyed in shame.
This one was excellent!
In order to shake off the rose inserted in his hair, Klaus hurriedly shook his head.
However, it seemed 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! Edward-oniisama, welcome back!”
My older brother’s traveling clothes were the same as when he was about to leave, and in his hand he was holding a leather bag, which was the Wunderkammer.
As usual, although it was a groomed appearance and a graceful conduct with no gap, I could see a slight tiredness in his complexion.
Did Edward-oniisama stayed up all night?
“Damn……! Stop it! Don’t look at me like this!”
Klaus concealed his face with a bunch of roses.
His ears were 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, Edward Aurelia! This shame, I will definitely get rid of it!”
Leaving behind a needlessly embarrassing parting remark, Klaus ran in the direction of Ann and escaped.
I wondered if it was that embarrassing to be seen by Onii-sama.
Maybe he had a one-sided rivalry with the alchemist Edward.
“Because the news reached me by owl delivery, I came home in a hurry, but……I’m sorry, Erica. Did you almost die because of the trap I set up?”
“No, I was able to dispel it safely, so it’s alright.”
Rather, I gave a lifetime of thanks to his super powerful death trap.
I couldn’t go to bed with my feet facing Onii-sama1.
“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 had helped my lovely little sister to survive. I’d rather be proud.”
Onii-sama crouched down to look at me and gave a soft smile.
For a moment, I felt tears seeping out.
It was nice, to have an older brother.
However, with the next words, the angelic smile of Onii-sama changed instantaneously to a dark smile.
“Oh, but for the time being, please tell me later, as much as you remember about the details of who used it and how much they used it.”
“……What are you going to do?”
“It’s a secret. Erica doesn’t need to be bothered by that, so please be relieved.”
Klaus……Onii-sama seemed to charge a full payment for the wands and the potions.
What a salt to his injury. Misfortunes never came singly.
If my older brother’s invoice arrived, I guessed he would be selling out some forest from the planned inheritance.
Let me plead to my older brother at least to repaid my life debt.
Anyway, after Klaus became Duke of Harvan, he should do his best in territory management and compensated for the deficit.
Even so, I was at a lost.
Whether it was alright to tell my family about what happened in the Ruins of Visitor.
That huge monster Zaratan could 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 is the destination place?”
“My friend investigated through literatures, but in the deep part of that ruins, the remains of an unknown gigantic creature seem to be sealed.”
“O-oh……, is that so–. I don’t believe it–”
“In relation to the surrounding soil and the distribution of star crystals and the distribution of veins, with Ruins of Visitor as the center, even if it is a small estimation, it is likely that a diameter of at least 5 kilometers is formed on the base of the remains of that creature.”
“Hii……5 kilometers, huh……?”
“It’s an impossible dream, 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, the imagination was too much.
It was good that the Zaratan we met was in his small form.
I didn’t feel like we had a winning chance at all if it was the original size Zaratan.
Ancient alchemists would be forced to use the Wand of Sailor’s Song and risked their lives on that last resort.
“That’s right. I don’t think you will go to the ruins anymore, but if you get lost for some reason, don’t go deeper than the seventh layer.”
“Uu……why is that?”
“A group of tough monsters were living in the eighth layer. The good thing is that they were barely wiped out, but if you used a few big magic, you would unfortunately deal a fatal damage to the labyrinth. Worst, the layer might collapse.”
“T-that is dangerous……”
“I was consulting with a collaborating researcher whether we should reinforce the labyrinth or dig a tunnel to repair it. Either way, since it is beyond the scope that can be investigated secretly from father, I must arrange a way to send an official investigation team through Leandez Magic Academy.”
The shrewd Onii-sama had to have secured a position in that investigation team.
Oh, by the way, my stomach was feeling painful because I was feigning ignorance.
“That reminds me, yesterday, when we were inside, we heard a loud noise that felt like the ground was breaking downstairs.”
“Ah, maybe it has collapsed already. Is digging a tunnel the right choice? Even so……what was the trigger, there should have been no mechanical linked with other layers……maybe I missed it……”
It was painful to be pointed out the inconsistencies more than this.
After all they were poor lies and the secret was getting ridiculous.
“By the way, Onii-sama! It’s amazing that there was such a big creature!”
“Oya, are you also interested in the giant creature, Erica?”
Rather than interested, perhaps I should say that I had a bad experience with that creature himself.
“Alchemist Jaconius, commonly known as Zaratan, Erica also knew about that, right? There is a theory that the person called Zaratan was possibly the name of that gigantic creature.”
“There are people in Leandez who noticed such a great thing, huh…”
“There are also other theories, such as that 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 were such outrageous theories, Onii-sama.
It seemed that he had a group of professional editor that loved outrageous conspiracy theories.
“Onii-sama, the giant creature theory……”
“Oh, there are several folklores that supports it.”
Edward-oniisama was hesitating for a moment.
It was a gentle smile as ever, but a little bit of sad atmosphere had been weaved into it.
“Alchemist Jaconius, as what recorded in Aurelia’s family’s official history – there were differences between the story of the Philosopher’s Stone and the solitary Zaratan, and the story that was circulated in the ancient Aurelia’s family.”
“I only knew the story of Zaratan that appeared in the fairy tale.”
“Yes. Actually, it is a hidden legend that is conveyed to the dukes of Aurelia. In the legend of our family, Zaratan was killed by the magic that drops a star, but in the official history that Erica has yet to learn, in the end he was killed with a knife while he was sleeping.”
I was surprised.
Certainly, that was what Zaratan himself had said. He was killed in the gap when he was exhausted and slept.
For Aurelia, killing Zaratan should be a taboo.
That truth became a small fragment and it remained in the present age.
“I have a friend who loved that story first. 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 the folklore was being scattered and ultimately lost, but–”
With that preliminary talk, Onii-sama 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 from their home land.
An ancient alchemist reported as Jaconius created one artificial organism at sea.
The name of the creature was Zaratan.
Zaratan grew to the size of a huge island after a long period of time, and carried our ancestors in place of an aging ship.
A city was built on the shell of Zaratan and the bones of Zaratan became precious ores, including star crystals and star steels.
After a long voyage, in which leadership had changed, they arrived at Ichthyes.
However, the alchemist who was the leader at that time killed Zaratan who was a meritorious creature and the person who was the son or daughter of Jaconius.
It was said that they did it to obtain the Philosopher’s Stone which was thought to be hidden in the body of Zaratan.
But no matter how much they dissected the body of Zaratan, they couldn’t find the Philosopher’s Stone.
The alchemist opposed their own deeds and regretted their sins.
They buried the child of Jaconius carefully in the depths of the body of Zaratan.
The alchemists made a deep labyrinth that nobody could approach its deep, while still being 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 Duchy of Aurelia.
“The alchemists seemed to have broken one contract when killing Zaratan, an artificial creature, but I don’t know yet what that contract was.”
“It’s a sad story……”
“I don’t know if everything was 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.”
Onii-sama smiled brightly to cheer me up.
“In my hypothesis, I think that they were not only buried, but they were enshrined as gods. I believe that the faith of the god2 Bren was made by combining the clan of Jaconius and Zaratan.”
“Zaratan, a god……”
“If the altar of Bren faith was found at that ruins, it will support my hypothesis……If the labyrinth collapsed, I wonder how many years it will take for a full-scale investigation…”
Ah, so it was like Sugawara no Michizane3 or Taira no Masakado4, huh.
Even though he bore grudges against humans, he had been made a god by humans, huh.
Betrayed, killed, and to appease him, worshiped—
I thought that I could empathize with him somehow.
Defined unreasonably, loved selfishly, unreasonably killed, wasn’t that the same as me?
He was also a companion who was beaten by a blunt weapon.
Well, a crowbar couldn’t compare to something like a meteor, though.
“By the way, Erica, that golem……made of star steel, huh? When did you make it?”
I panicked and looked at my feet.
A large stuffed toy-sized, steel body, full-armor was sitting quietly.
When did he followed me to the garden!?
“Ah……that, yesterday, I reused Onii-sama’s acid hydrogel golem’s core……”
“Haha…I don’t mind, since I can make as many acid hydrogel golem as I want.”
“I will appreciate it if you say so.”
“But, I thought that it was a golem made of star steel. Because it will deform to some extent with magical powers, it could do living organism’s natural movements.”
“Y-yes! That’s right!”
“It’s quite interesting–……Oya? Perhaps, this is a two-layer structure?”
“Hii! It’s a top secret technology that is still under experiment right now!”
“I see–, too bad……Oops, it’s already this time……”
I was already at my limit in glossing over the questions!
As I thought that, my older brother began to check his watch.
Y-yosh! I seemed to dodge the bullet!
“I will return to my room at once. Erica seemed to have completely devastated my supplies.”
“Let’s talk about that necklace when you have calmed down. I found out something interesting about it. Then, later, Erica.”
That said, Edward-oniisama went back to his room.
When I looked at my feet, I could see the back of the star steel golem.
In truth, it was not a golem.
A certain someone was just wearing a small armor made of star steel.
“Why did you follow me?”
『I decided that I’m interested.』
『Why did you make use of me?』
『I dislike compassion. You do not understand my feelings.』
『But, I also heard good things.』
“The story that Onii-sama just told us?”
Tears were spilling from the black cavities.
『I was not betrayed by him. He was also killed. 』
“Looks like it. It is a thorough folklore.”
『May I cry for him 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 up on his offer, and unsealed him.
“I think that your revenge is justifiable, and I want to fulfil the contract that my ancestors had with you.”
『Why is that?』
“Compassion, you don’t have to understand my feelings.”
The Zaratan that 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 was what he was now.
Black scales like a night sky. Two twisted horns like a ram.
Sharp saw-like fangs were lining in lines like those of a shark.
Short and sharp claws for all of his ten fingers.
The scales on his back were particularly thick and coalescing, and they looked like a shell.
Perhaps he was taking shape as his juvenile form, his head and forearms were large while his upper arms and tail were small.
The balance was exactly like a teddy bear.
He could be called a fish due to his scales and web-feet, and could 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 star steel which responded to magical power and changed its shape as much as we liked.
The spell was physically carved and built with a hunting knife.
I was one of the few alchemists that couldn’t build spells or charge magic.
And then I released his soul inside the armor.
One of the reasons was to disguise him as a golem.
The other was so that he could infinitely expand the cage of his body.
『……My revenge is over.』
“Is that okay?”
『I thought I killed you once.
At that time, my heart was filled with joy to the extent that nothing would matter.
You look like that guy.
I did not care about Aurelia.
I only care about killing him.
Only he was special to me.
Therefore, it is good. That guy has already gone.』
“The truth is, you wanted to kill him by using Alchemist’s Star in revenge, right?”
『……You understand well.』
The small black dragon who passed the age of over six hundred years laughed happily from the inside of the armor.
“If I can, I will carry out the contract in the 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 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 Harvan siblings came home with a lot of roses.
A refreshing wind blew through the flower-lined Spring Palace.
In this way, the curtain for my first adventure had fallen.
“Come, my friend, let’s give a new name to the Promised Land over this sea: Tír na nÓg5.”
1 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.
2 The god here is actually referring to an ancestor that was worshiped as a deity.
3 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)
4 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)
5 Tír na nÓg is the name of the Promised Land/The Land of the Dead in the Irish mythology and folklore. (source)
Edit: So, in the folklore, Jaconius and Zaratan were the same person, but that wasn’t true. In actuality, Jaconius was killed by Alchemist’s Star while Zaratan was killed in his sleep. Zaratan was happy that his maker, Jaconius actually didn’t betrayed him.
I edited what Zaratan said to Erica, so you might want to check it again.
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.
1,379 | 1 165 chapters