Blue aura surrounded the Captain. Albert charged at me; I felt the wind push me. My short hair flew backwards, almost like an ostrich. His speed caused a whirlwind in the room. For a moment, my eyes widened in surprise. He noticed and gave me a slightly proud smirk.
I sidestepped, just narrowly dodged his attack, then gave his back a slight push to knock him off-balance. The moment we made contact, though, I heard a breaking sound. It was like glass shattering into a million pieces.
When he regained his balance, he looked at me strangely. The light-blue aura disappeared and the raging whirlwind just…vanished.
I noticed everyone slack-jawed when my eyes wandered around the room. Zinnia looked astonished and giggly, as if she just found her idol. The King rested his chin on his hand as he looked over me, contemplating something.
Taking this opportunity, I smacked the still-surprised Albert with the wooden sword on the head. That shocked him out of his stupor, but when he came back, the match was over. He dropped the sword and sighed in defeat.
“My…win?” I shrugged awkwardly. My lips formed into a cramped smile.
I looked down at my right palm as I opened and closed it repeatedly. Something definitely shattered when my hand brushed Albert’s back, but I didn’t know what.
“W-wow…” Zinnia gazed at me with upturned eyes. It weirded me out a bit. “Allyson definitely has the makings of a hero!” She ran up to me, grabbed both my hands, and shook them intensely. Zinnia was really eager to watch me, it seemed.
It felt pretty ticklish having a teenager look up to me like Zinnia did. I felt she was way too easy-going and naïve compared to her haughty twin sister or her obviously manipulative pops.
Zinnia taught me ‘birds of a feather flock together’ isn’t always true.
Were they raised differently? I thought to myself as I lightly bit the joint of my finger. I caught myself, slowly irritated I couldn’t get rid of my anxious biting habits.
I looked up at the sparkling princess, my hand subconsciously stroked her braided dirty-blonde hair. I formed a sweet smile at her; she seemed genuinely happy at my reaction. Good.
“Thank you, Princess Zinnia,” I told her, “I was nervous during this fight. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to impress you.” My voice contained an emphasis on you. I wanted to make Zinnia believe we were going to be close. Manipulating a princess didn’t sound too bad in the long run.
I thought to myself, Ah, this person probably didn’t have many friends. Since I was a foreign person, Zinnia probably wanted to take this opportunity to make friends.
When I first talked to Zinnia, I had noticed the nobles more interested in her sister’s reaction of me; none of the were looking at Zinnia.
Was it because of throne succession? That was probably it. I was in deep thought when Zinnia pulled my arm; she was being a bit pouty.
“Geez, you weren’t paying attention,” She bit her lip in mild frustration. For me to not have heard it, I really must’ve been day-dreaming.
I wonder if I could use her to get out of this castle. They’re most likely going to want to control me, I thought to myself. Before my ‘summoning’, my life was mostly just following orders from white coat bigwigs. Clearly, I was nothing more than a weapon to them. I wanted something different now.
I had a chance to really be free.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite hear you, Princess Zinnia,” I said, giggling as I saw her frown a little more.
She pouted like a squirrel, but quickly collected her bearings, “I was wondering if you wanted to attend a tea party with me.”
A tea party? That really didn’t suit me. My hands folded back my sleeves to see the countless knife scars underneath. I made sure not to let the princess see my arms, though.
If I can compare this world to the fantasy fiction novels back on Earth, then tea parties are typically to meddle with noble society. People were probably going to try to butter me up there.
While I didn’t want to bother with that, I couldn’t deny the usefulness of expanding my contacts, especially since I just arrived to this world about a day ago.
I should go…but…why am I feeling so uneasy? I looked down to where my scars were, then glanced at Zinnia’s face, devoid of scars.
This…is a complicated feeling.
Pushing myself, I asked her, “Are you sure you’re fine with me attending one of your tea parties? I am a soldier, definitely not a noble.” It came out as a half-plea to not invite me.
She placed both palms together and gave me a bright smile, “Of course! You’re the summoned hero! People will love to see you!”
I see…So it’s basically just a Hero exhibition…I sighed internally. My shoulders drooped a little. I shouldn’t have expected anything more than that. They want to prop me up like a statue.
Why am I suddenly feeling disappointed?
“It’ll be a nice change of pace,” I said, without breaking my smile, “When is it?”
“A week from today! I’ll have Father send you the invitation tonight!” She scurried to her father’s side and whispered something in his ear.
I nodded with a “I’m looking forward to it” smile.
Though firstly, I needed to learn the language of this world. The only reason I was able to speak with them is because of the AI ear-to-voice earpiece that pretty much translates everything they say to me and vice versa. However, it was at low battery; fifty-nine percent to be exact. Not to mention the Athens AI was damaged; it was only a matter of time before Athens deteriorated completely.
I needed to fix Athens, my suit, and find another power source if I wanted to salvage what I brought to this world.
Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be much use of electricity in this place. While there were lights, the maids told me everything in the castle was powered by mana crystals, which meant the only other power source I could use for my suit was magic, but seeing that I couldn’t use it, it might be awhile before I could boot up my suit again. I should see if I could somehow rewire my suit to feed on these ‘mana crystals’.
Should I request some books? I could benefit from learning to read and write too.
But I really did NOT want to be in the King’s debt. At least more than I already am.
Screw it, I just won’t pay him back, I decided shamelessly.
Call me irresponsible but I hardly ever paid anyone back. My siblings considered me the ‘swindler’ of the group. In my opinion, I’m just an opportunist. Yes, it’s all in the opportunity.
That’s my motto.
Well, my siblings weren't wrong about me being a swindler, I thought to myself.
“Lady Hero,” The king pulled me back to earth, “It seems you have been bestowed a unique ability by the Goddess. We will have to research your ability further.”
Not even a congratulations, My gaze was as cold as ice for a moment as I gazed at the King, And they want to know everything I can do. I don’t think so.
“Yes, I’d like to know what I can do, too.” I ‘agreed’ with him, and he seemed satisfied since a small smile crept over his normally stoic face.
Seriously, I always thought he was creepy. The king had a handsome face with blonde hair that reached down to his shoulders; but even with the best features he still made me feel very, very uncomfortable.
After that, I was pretty much on autopilot. I went to dinner, which was pretty much in an obnoxiously fancy dinner hall, along with the King and his daughters. Something I took notice of ,was the lack of a Queen.
I wanted to ask, but that would be insensitive of me.
“So, what happened to the Queen?” I asked, shamelessly. Hah, if you thought I wasn’t going to ask, you thought wrong!
An awkward silence settled in. I looked down on the venison meat before me, then cut it with the silver knife in my right hand without minding the sour mood.
With a heavy sigh, the King said, “She was assassinated by one of the Majin. It possessed her most trusted maid and killed her in her sleep.”
“Majin can do that?” I asked the King. I was suddenly very on-guard for these new species.
He nodded, “Yes, everyone in the castle has a protective enchantment against Majin possession, though. And we also have a barrier around the castle, so you don’t have to worry about them.”
“The Majin are spiritual in nature?” I asked, eyebrows raised.
“Yes,” The King stated almost dismissively.
My curiosity piqued at this new race. I wanted to learn more about them, “If so…how could they make a country?”
The princess I hadn’t talked to much, Amaryllis, interrupted, “By possessing others. They’re literally spiritual parasites.” Her tone was venomous, much unlike Zinnia. It amazed me that these two princesses were twins. “From a distance the country looks harmonious, since it has all kinds of species. What you should know, is that all the humans, elves, demihumans, and other species are all possessed by Majin…” She clicked her tongue, “It’s utterly sickening.”
I heard a small sob. Instinctively, I turned to Zinnia and noticed a few droplets fall from her eyes and onto the table. She was crying silently.
“Zinnia’s personal maid was the one who was possessed,” Amaryllis informed me, “In the end, we couldn’t exorcise the Majin, so we had to execute her. Not only did we lose our mother at age twelve, but we also lost one of our most trusted maids. Someone who was completely innocent.”
A small choke caught my attention as I heard Zinnia mutter, “H-her name was Angelica…she…was a catkin. I loved her very much…”
I punctured my fork into the venison in front of me. As I chewed, I muttered, “I see.” That was all I really could say after an exposition like that. So many raw emotions laid out on the table, I couldn’t help but feel rather troubled. I wanted to ask more, but after the King’s glare, I had to keep quiet.
Still, after hearing the Royals’ story, I grew interested in the Majin more and more. I wanted to meet one badly. How could they exist as spirits? If they exist, is there an afterlife for me? How did they possess people? Could they possess any living creature? What about animals? Plants? Insects?
I had soooo many questions.
The dinner ended quiet melancholically. The princesses had grim faces while the King was in an obviously foul mood.
Zinnia, in particular, had her makeup ruined because of her crying. Her makeup was especially ruined around the eyes, giving her eyelids a particular black shade to them. The princess’ normally beautiful features now appeared grossly exaggerated.
I left back to my chambers, where the maids I met followed me.
Claire, who was especially ecstatic to see me, said, “Your abilities are truly mysterious! To shatter Captain Albert’s mana shield like that!”
So that’s what it’s called? I thought to myself. I was tired, so I simply said, “Thank you,” and smiled.
The other maids basically turned me into their dress-up doll. I didn’t see the point if I was just going to wear pajamas, but the maids wouldn’t have it. Lilia was weirdly into forcing me into this frilly flower-patterned pink nightgown. I swear her eyes were bloodshot!
Though something else was bothering me more than Lilia. The black-haired elven maid shot me a jaundice glance. She also moved…somewhat differently. Unlike the girl from a few hours ago, she slouched just a little.
The way she helped remove my clothes was also much clumsier than before. I raised my eyebrows subconsciously at her.
The maids turned off the mana lights and left. I then decided to catch some sleep.
I covered myself with that heavy crimson blanket sprayed over my queen-size bed.
A few hours passed but I couldn’t sleep. No, that wasn’t quite right; I couldn’t afford to sleep.
The lock on my door started to rattle, as if someone was fiddling with the keyhole. Then, Click! the sounds abruptly stopped.
With a slight creak, the door to my room opened. I laid still as I calmed my breaths. The footsteps were light in nature. Was it one of the maids?
The footsteps stopped right at my bed. I hurriedly opened my eyes and saw a knife glistened by the moonlight that escaped from the window.
Instinctively, I rolled to the side, dodging the knife, and grabbed the perpetrator’s arm. I hurled the assassin with full strength over the bed. With both hands on her wrists, I figured out the perpetrator’s identity.
It was the black-haired elven maid.