oneill: Scrapped Princess - A pajama-clad Christopher Armalite Weihrauch holds his head in one hand, his expression drowsy (Sleepy!Chris)
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[Content Notes]

Scrapped Princess | Canzonetta of the Unforgiven | An Unwavering Bond | Part 1/3

Shannon bit his lip.

He had known it would come to this someday.

And he had feared it. Ever since that day, when their days of innocence had come to an end, it had been easy to imagine that a situation like this would arise one day. For that very reason, he and Raquel--and Pacifica, as well--had left their hometown behind, choosing instead a life of constant wandering, with no place to go.

And yet, Shannon and his sisters had taken a brief respite.

Even knowing what they did, they had dared to act as though they had forgotten the danger they were in. They were weary. Taking down one assassin after another had also puffed up their pride. No one could blame them for any of this, but . . . anyone would have to admit that they had let their guards down.

"Fortunately, it doesn't look like Falke was seriously injured . . . At any rate, that child gave me this."

Pacifica leaned forward to say something, but Shannon stilled her with a glance.

Seeming to see something in her elder brother's eyes, Pacifica kept quiet and sat back in her chair.

Safir held out a small slip of paper. On it were rows of precise writing.

Dear Guardian Shannon Casull,
I'll be waiting in Arwen1 Ravine. Come alone, or else . . .

Christopher Armalite

Shannon crushed the slip of paper and asked, "What's this Arwen Ravine?"

"It's the glass valley half a glock's walk northeast from the North Gate. It's a pretty dangerous place, so it's a restricted area. Anyway, the volunteer watch is mustering up the young men around town. Soon's they get everything in order, they're going--"

"You have to stop them, sir."

Safir's voice shook with impatience; by contrast, Shannon's voice was perfectly level. His was a frighteningly quiet voice.

"Barging in with a large force will put Winia in danger. It's not the sort of place you can rely on numbers to hold down, anyway. He took that into account before calling me out."

Besides . . . against a skilled fighter like Chris, their efforts would be in vain, no matter how many people they threw at him.

It was not simply that he excelled in the art of close combat. SpecOps combat technicians were masters of unconventional combat. They did not mobilize in large numbers, but they underwent training that allowed them to fight by making use of anything and everything in their environments, including the terrain and weather.

Surprise attacks, booby traps, longbow sniping--the volunteer watch, who lacked such technical skills and knowledge, would most likely be annihilated without ever catching sight of the enemy. They should count themselves lucky that Falke survived.

"I'm going alone."

"But Shannon--!"

"Please. I'll bring her back safe no matter what."

Safir tried to raise a further objection . . . but he sank into silence.

He was looking right into Shannon's black eyes.

Not even Safir could understand why the words would not come to him. After a short silence, he groaned, "All right . . . I'll go tell the volunteer watch."

"Thank you, sir."

Shannon bowed his head low.

A cold wind caressed her cheek.

She blinked twice, thrice.

Winia forced her eyelids open, and a glossy darkness flooded her field of vision like the surface of a lake in the dead of night. Geometric patterns crisscrossed that darkness, unhindered in either direction.

Black walls stretched out as far as the eye could see.

The vast surface of the walls exemplified a glassy stillness, and countless cracks spread out over them like a web. The subtle variations in the density of the shadows combined with the chaotic wandering of those rigid lines to birth a complex design. It was an incredibly beautiful sight.

Dazedly sliding her gaze over the vast surface of the walls, she could see the moon floating in the night sky, which had been whittled down to a long, narrow strip.

For a moment, the unfamiliar landscape confused Winia, but she quickly grasped that she was at the bottom of the gap between the two walls.

It was just wide enough for carts to pass each other in each direction, and the nearly vertical walls seemed to lean toward each other, bearing down on her.

"Arwen Ravine . . . ?"

The large, strange valley to the northeast of Taurus . . . a glass valley, as they are called.

These wondrous geological features are not limited to the area--they can be seen throughout the Kingdom of Leinwand, or rather, throughout the continent of Dustvin.

When and how they were formed--it all remains a mystery, and these sleek, glassy rifts in the earth continue to torment geological minds. One hypothesis states that they are remnants from the Genesis War, when God battled the Devil, but the truth is yet shrouded in darkness.

"I . . ."

Now that she knew where she was, her memories from right before she fainted came rushing back.

She had been kidnapped by that chestnut-haired boy in the middle of town. Right after that, Winia had taken a laughably light blow to the back of the neck and promptly lost consciousness.

". . . have to get away."

When she made a speculative effort to move her body, Winia realized that she had been bound by thin cords.
Scrapped Princess - Winia Chester sits with her hands and feet bound by cords and a fearful expression on her face.
The restraints looked rather flimsy, but . . . of course they were not so slack that a girl's thin arms could pull them to shreds.

"You're awake?"

Turning toward that voice, she saw the boy in question sitting with his back against the near wall.


"Christopher Armalite. Chris is fine."

As he gave his name, the boy wore an expression that could be called innocent.

It made Winia's skin crawl.

"Are you a . . . a hired killer?"

"Ah, don't worry. You aren't my target this time, Oneesan. So long as those Guardians don't try anything stupid, I shouldn't wonder that you'll make it home safely."

Target. Needless to say, that word meant . . .


Winia let out a shriek despite herself. She was speaking to a murderer--a tactless provocation would be fatal . . . This thought flitted through her mind, but the words came pouring out of her mouth all on their own.

"Why Pacifica . . . Why . . ."

". . . Oh. So you don't know," Chris said, a calm smile on his lips.

That smile was neither scornful nor mocking.

It was such a gentle, calm smile that it seemed impossible that he could be a murderer.

"It's a tale from a certain kingdom, from long, long ago. The queen gave birth to a pair of twins, a boy and a girl."

"What are you talking--"

"They had long waited and wished for an heir. However, rather than rejoicing, the people of the castle trembled in fear. Why? Because there had been an oracle concerning those twins."

That . . . was no fairy tale.

Winia had heard of it as well. It was likely that all of the kingdom's citizens knew of it.

Rumors spread easily. Irresponsible, groundless rumors quickly spread and permeate a population. As those people who try to suppress such things might sneer, the more scandalous the rumor, the more quickly it spreads.

While everyone knew about it, it was not something that could be discussed in public . . . It was that sort of rumor.

"'Of the twins that issue forth from the queen's belly, thou shalt at once put the girl-child to death. That being shall become one who amasses a mountain of corpses and a river of blood in this world. That being shall, on the Day of Fate, become a rank poison that destroys this world.'"

"The Oracle of St. Grendel--!"

Few people knew the truth from the lies, and over time the rumor had passed into legend. By this time, its credibility had been worn away, and it had become nothing more than a folk tale; neither those who spoke of it nor those who listened perceived any sense of reality in it.

Feared as the second coming of the Dark Lord, censured as the symbol of evil, deprived even of a name, denied her very existence . . . The legend of the princess who--on orders from her father, the king--had been obliterated in secrecy.

"You can't mean . . . that Pacifica--"

"After that, fourteen years went by," Chris merrily recited. That was probably how it would seem to an ordinary person.

However . . . to Winia, this boy seemed terribly pained.

Just as though he were recounting his own tragedy.

"But then, one day, chance led the Royal Family to discover that the Scrapped Princess, who was supposed to have been killed, still lived. The king was thrown into a panic. The daughter that he himself had given the order to kill, the daughter declared by prophecy to be the destroyer of the world, lived. If that daughter learned what he had done, would she harbor malice against him? When she became the Dark Lord, wouldn't she come for him first, and tear him limb from limb?"

Then . . . this boy was sent here by . . . Amid her frightful tremors and chills, Winia dazedly thought, The one trying to kill her is--!

"The fact of the matter is, the various factions are split on what steps to take in dealing with the Scrapped Princess. The upper echelon of the Church of Mauser have taken a stance of absolute obliteration; the Crown and the Military Intelligence Agency see her elimination as a safeguard for their authority and crisis management; and then there are those within the military who intend to use her as a trump card against the Crown . . . and so on and so forth. They're all holding each other in check, you see . . . It's all so ridiculous."

Chris shrugged his shoulders and laughed.

Winia knew about the Oracle of St. Grendel, of course. As the kingdom's state religion, the Church of Mauser was the largest religion on the Dustvin continent . . . and in its Holy Land of Grendel, a single prophecy was received each year. Their accuracy could just as well be called absolute.

The image of Pacifica's smiling face passed through her mind.

That girl would destroy the world? That girl who was unusually energetic and sharp-tongued, yet in some respects spoiled and in constant need of company . . . who, when you took everything into account, was really quite an ordinary girl--she was going to destroy the world?

It was absurd. Surely anyone would think that . . . if anything but the Oracle of St. Grendel had declared her so.

The Oracle of St. Grendel's solid results meant it could grant an air of truth even to the most outlandish of claims.

"That can't be . . ."

"You really didn't know, did you?"

Chris watched in apparent amusement as Winia murmured feverishly.

Shannon took a set of gear from the coach that was parked behind the Big Bear.

It was something he rarely used. He had no reason to use it, and besides, Shannon was the type who preferred to be light on his feet in a fight. No matter how light it may be, donning armor increases one's defensive capabilities at the cost of reducing one's agility.

However, his opponent was Christopher Armalite. Even if he poured his all into the fight right from the start, that would not guarantee a victory.

"I'm going too!"

Pacifica swung a mop about in one hand, as though intending to use it as a weapon.

"Idiot. You're his ultimate target. So yeah, just go waltzing on up to him. Just like a damn pigeon flying into a kitchen with a basket of herbs on its back."

Once he had finished looking the gear over, he took the mop from his younger sister's hands.

"I told you, I got this. So let me handle it."

The armor that formed the core of his gear was cuir bouilli. Tanned animal hide boiled in wax to increase its hardness. Its durability was inferior to that of plate armor, but mere bladed attacks would not pierce it, and it was lighter and easier to move in by far.

Type-Zero multifunctional cuir bouilli armor, Brigerd.

The armor their father, Yuuma Casull, had worn on active duty.

"But . . . but--"

Shannon looked at Pacifica's downcast face and realized what was bothering her.

. . . I'm the idiot.

Right now, he was wearing the same gear as their dead father. It had not even occurred to him that that might stir some remembrance in Pacifica's heart. And of course, she was probably worried about Winia, and yet he . . . Shannon was furious at his own thoughtlessness.

"It'll be my fault if anything . . ."

Her voice trembled so badly it seemed like she would lose it at any moment. Someone who was only familiar with the way Pacifica usually acted would probably be shocked to see her this way.

But Shannon and Raquel knew this side of her as well . . . No, they knew that, in a sense, this Pacifica was the real one.

A girl who hid her tender heart beneath a mask of selfishness. A girl whose trusting nature gave her strength but also made her terribly sincere and easy to hurt.

"I got this, so be a good girl and help Raquel take care of things on this end. You can pay me back by getting dinner ready. Mix up the sugar and the flour like you did that other time, and I'm gonna write moron across your face and hang you from the eaves."

"You--you're one to talk. You made the classic mistake of mixing up sugar and salt!" Pacifica shouted, her face going bright red.

"You can let that pass, though. It just tastes bad. But you can't digest raw flour, so it gives you diarrhea." Shannon turned toward Raquel, who was standing at the ready nearby. "Well . . . I'm off. I'm counting on you."

Come alone, or else . . . Those were Chris's terms. Since he had taken a hostage, they had to abide by them. Raquel may have been a first-rate mage, but she had neither spells nor techniques that could allow her to get anywhere near an opponent as skilled as Chris without his noticing.

That was why they were going to slip a little something up Shannon's sleeve.

"Shannon, you probably know this already, but--"

"I do know, so cram it," Shannon interrupted. For a moment, he glanced in Pacifica's direction.

Raquel seemed to catch his meaning right away--she let out a small sigh and nodded. "Sorry . . . Well, here we go." Raquel held her right hand out toward Shannon and chanted quietly:

By the covenant between me and thee . . .
O Absent One,
Though my worthiness to wield
The power at thy command
Be transient,
Grant it me now,
And, thou who art hidden, show thy power . . .


[Next] [Previous]

1) ARWEN (Anti Riot Weapon ENfield) is a less lethal weapons system designed by the British Royal Small Arms Factory and now owned and manufactured by Police Ordnance Company Inc.. It includes the ARWEN 37 and the ARWEN Ace. Back

Man, if I had any kind of consistency, I could be halfway through Book 7 by now.
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