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Alice had confirmed the truth of Ekkehardt and Shayna’s words.
She had acknowledged their words, and even nodded in confirmation, that she was a member of Atem’s royal family.
“We have been concerned, your highness. May we ask, how have you come to this place? ――It is dangerous here. There are many Other races about. Allow us to return you to the royal capital. We, Atem’s [Second King’s Blade] shall guard and guide you,” Ekkehardt said while keeping his face turned towards the ground.
But Alice shook her head.
“No, I may have once held the name of Atem’s royal family, but now it is different. I am [Alice Art]. I am just a….let’s see――a [failure of an Other race].” (Alice)
“What are you saying? You are a child of our king. To call yourself one of the Other races――it is impossible. You are one of the [Pure] race. It would not be an exaggeration to call you a pure-blooded [Uura Mythos].” (Ekkehardt)
“Incorrect. ――――Since you brought it up, even though you call yourselves the [King’s Blades], you would not know of the truth of the royal family.” (Alice)
“Forgive me for asking, but what is this truth?――” (Ekkehardt)
Both those of the Other and Pure races in attendance waited for Alice’s reply.
“Do you want to know?” (Alice)
“Yes, if your highness wishes to speak of it.” (Ekkehardt)
“I understand. Then――I will tell you. Let me see, I will try to make it as brief as possible, so those of you who wish to listen please pay attention.” (Alice)
Alice looked at Sare and the others and the soldiers who faced them with her usual expressionlessness.
“I would first like to mention that the Atem royal family is an existence which is [half Other race]. I believe it has been this way since around 500 years ago.” (Alice)
“That’s――” Shayna immediately interjected, intending to negate Alice’s statement, but――
“Please listen properly and save your questions until the end,” Alice interrupted. She waited until everyone had lapsed back into silence before she continued,
“Since ancient times, Atem Kingdom has always been secretly maneuvering for the sake of enacting a grandiose [project]. Atem has always shared a deep connection with a certain race, and that project would help them finally subjugate them. The name of this project was――”
Alice turned her gaze towards Sare before continuing:
“The [Majin Project].”
“It is a rather straightforward title. I suppose Atem’s royal family back then lacked the naming sense to do any better, but let us move on.”
“The Majin….Project?” The words escaped Sare’s lips.
“To put it simply, it was a project to create a Majin for the sake of destroying the Majins. Please understand that to explain it in detail would take a very long time, so for now I would like to return to the subject at hand――”
Alice continued, “Around the halfway point in the project, at a certain stage, [that existence], something that was not a Majin, was created.”
Sare suddenly remembered something written in Alfred’s note.
[As a separate project from creating a Majin, the Atem Kingdom would raise warriors of the Pure race for the express purpose of destroying those of the Majin race.]
Alfred was talking about the warriors that Atem had used to force that soul into the bodies of successive Majin emperors.
An existence that was of the Pure race, yet able to stand against Majins.
“――That existence was us, the [Atem royal family].” (Alice)
At her words the ideas and memories swirling in Sare’s head suddenly came together as one, like a woven thread.
“Back then, in order to give the Atem royal family the ability to stand against the Majin emperor, and in order to bequeath their descendents the power to subjugate the Majins in the future, this project was begun and has continued for many generations. The Pure race members of the royal family undertook the duty of concealing this inhuman project. But, no matter how many of them chose to specialize in fighting them, their enemies were still the great Ehno Ayla. Their line was known as the strongest seed amongst the other races. Against them, no matter what those of the Pure race did, their wishes would never be granted. Even when they occasionally borrowed the power of the Dios and became Oracles, even then their strength could not match the Majins,” Alice took a deep breath before continuing,
“Since that time 500 years ago, Atem’s royal family has continued to become closer and closer to the other races,
“――Basically, in order to subjugate the Majins, they found a way to turn someone of the Pure race into a Majin. It sounds like a joke. The original goal of the project was to create a strong Majin who would fight for Atem’s sake, but somewhere in the middle they decided they wanted to give birth to a pale imitation, a so-called [Pure Majin]. Oh dear, as expected, after saying all this, it really sounds like some foolish story――really….”
Somewhat uncharacteristically, Alice let out a derisive laugh before continuing.
“To become closer to the Majin, the Atem royal family began experiments. They were gruesome. Implanting one with a Majin [eye]. The eye that houses the great power of which the Majin are so proud――the eye of destruction, [Gram Istoora]. But at the start, they could not bear the power of the eye of destruction, after using the eye at full strength just once, those of the royal family who were chosen to receive the eyes would die. Even though it seemed impossible, after the royal family invested a large amount of time and lives, they were finally able to get their hands on a body capable of bearing the burden of invoking the eye countless times.”
Alice paused before continuing, “To answer the question I was asked at the start, the result of these efforts was――[Alice Art Atem],” she spoke with a voice seemingly emptied of all emotion.
“――But, just as I was to take upon the burden of the Atem royal family’s destiny and had taken my first steps out into the world, the king called upon me.”
“[Without using the power of the Majins, I have caused the downfall of the Majin race. You have become an unneeded existence], or so my father told me in a frenzied madness.”
“He repeated those words with cruelty, like a demon. It felt as if my world had crumbled to dust. In shock, and without thinking, I let my [eye of destruction] run wild until I became blind,” as Alice said this she absentmindedly touched the area around her eyes.
“Ah, by the way, the reason that the royal family’s hair is usually somewhere between gray and black, and why their eyes seem light red is from the influence of the Pure Majins. That is because those of the Majin race have jet black hair and eyes the color of fresh blood. ――Because the Atem royal family are all just [imitations], the colors are a bit faded.”
Alice then turned to face Sare, and gave him a sad――smile.
“How is it? ――Can you see the symbol of the [Gram Istoora] in the center of my pupil?”
Being asked so suddenly, Sare absentmindedly looked into her eyes.
Although the color was faint, the pupil was red.
And within its center he could see the six-pointed star of the [eye of destruction].
“You see? I have received confirmation from a pure-blooded Majin. Even though I can no longer invoke it, even though I have lost my sight and can no longer focus my eyes on anything, it can still do that much.”
Sare wanted to ask, ‘How did you come to the Other race’s side?’
Even though he wanted to say it, after that first word his throat closed up and nothing came out.
Still, with just his one word Alice knew what he wanted to say.
“I see. To put it simply――it is because I loath the Atem royal family,” Alice muttered.
“Why does the royal family go to so much trouble to wholeheartedly hate the other races? It is not as if I am disregarding their fears that the other races are ‘dangerous,’ even if that were the reason their actions are unreasonable. I cannot speak for what happened in the distant past, but is there any plausible reason for the blind exclusion of all other races in this day and age?” Alice seemed as if she wanted to say more, but held it in. She paused to recollect herself before continuing,
“Well, to the royal family such thoughts are heretical. Even I thought that way once. Whenever such thoughts were voiced out loud severe punishments were dealt. But in the end, after father said his piece to me, I no longer cared about being punished. I dare say, it was as if I had finally woken up. I let myself get lost in the bustle of the royal capital, I wandered mindlessly until I found myself in the outskirts of the region. That is when those guys came.”
By those guys, she likely means this group.By those guys, she likely means this group.
“The result is that I, who simply went with the flow, now stands before you. ――But, allow me to say one thing. I am indeed [related to your enemy]. That is why, please feel free to resent me. Also, I offer up my own life――if you desire it,” Alice spoke these words with her usual expressionlessness.
“And those of you of the Second King’s Blade. To you I am a [half Other race]――your enemy.”
“Indeed, you may have become soldiers in order to protect the royal family, but you also exist to protect the order and ideals of Atem. Besides, I have already thrown away the Atem name. Following Atem’s goal of the supreme rule of the Pure race it is your [duty] to kill me.”
“Whichever side wishes to aim for me, those with the [right] or those obligated by [duty]――it is first come first served.”
After her dramatic monologue, Alice suddenly threw open both arms.
It was a pose which daunted both parties.
The frontline group was stunned.
They couldn’t understand the situation.
It was chaos.
They had lost their center, their purpose had been destroyed.
Even Sare was unable to immediately move into action.
But, within their numbers was one person who was incapable of hesitating.
One who turned towards Alice with her fairy tale-like wings fluttering.
――It was Premiere.
On Atem’s side, Ekkehardt and Shayna, who lead the Second King’s Blade and were trained commanders, reacted quickly.
――If you put it that way, that’s exactly right.If you put it that way, that’s exactly right.
The princess said it herself.
She was already no longer a member of the royal family, half of her was an Other race.
And the Second King’s Blade was fighting for Atem’s ideals, and bore the [duty] to enforce them.
――It was a simple matter.It was a simple matter.
Their doubts towards the royal family should be put aside for now, instead they must focus on their duty as soldiers of Atem.
In other words――In other words――
Ekkehardt reached for the large sword held in a scabbard at his back.
With a similar motion, Shayna reached for the bow at her back and paired it with an arrow she pulled from her quiver――
Which she shot.
Premiere who flew towards Alice like a bolting horse, or the arrow shot by Shayna, which was faster?
No matter which arrived first――
――I will die.I will die.
Even though it was not my intention, I regret that, in the end, I have betrayed them.Even though it was not my intention, I regret that, in the end, I have betrayed them.
Although, I am the one to blame for hiding the truth.Although, I am the one to blame for hiding the truth.
――Indeed. Making excuses at this point serves no purpose.Indeed. Making excuses at this point serves no purpose.
That is why, at the very least――That is why, at the very least
――All of you must survive.All of you must survive.
These thoughts came to her mind as Alice closed her eyes.
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