One month since the Empire’s declaration of war in a very common bar that also serves as inn, located in Mismarca’s castle town. The residents aside, a group of travelers calling themselves hunters and even adventurers are here today, resting or gathering information. The sun has long disappeared over the horizon yet the bar is still thriving.
“I thought there was a war on? It sure is slow round here.” (Amid)
Amid said while nursing a mug. She’s past her mid-twenties, wearing a priestess hat and pigtails. A cross hanging from her neck marks her as a sister of the Divine Faith Organization.
“Well, guess there just hasn’t been a major scuffle yet, huh? Oh, miserable lambs, waste not these scarce peaceful times. Praise the Lord!” Amid cackles.
Jace, sitting opposite the delinquent sister, scowled at the guffawing Amid while saying,
“…Are you an idiot? Aren’t you a sister? What happened to…thou must not drink?” (Jace)
“No, no. According to the Lord in the 471st doctrine, thou must not drive if you drink. Doesn’t that mean that all those not praising the Lord are bound for hell for drunk driving!?” Amid cackles even more wildly.
Jace only sighs in irritation. Pointedly ignoring her, he stabs the chicken with the fork in his left hand and puts it into his mouth.
“Hey, you listenin’? You’re a Brave, right? I’m a sister. Look here, you just got lucky in the lottery of the oracle, but I’m part of the Lord’s family. A great, transcendent being. You get what I’m tellin’ ya? Thou must not defy a sister. Okay?” (Amid)
Amid drunkenly bangs on the table but Jace just continues to silently stuff food in his mouth.
It’s only been a few days since Amid met this 18-year-old brave. Since then, she hasn’t seen anything but a scowl on his face. He was probably bullied in the past. He was a gloomy, unsociable youth.
Having given up on trying to make him laugh, Amid lowers the tone of her voice.
“…Now then, my Brave, whaddya think is going to happen tomorrow?” (Amid)
“In regards to?” (Jace)
“You’d get it if you looked around!” (Amid)
Amid licked her lips once and gestured at the surroundings with the mug in her hand.
“The one at the counter over there is Noble Youth Phendy. The ones writing autographs for the waiter back there are the twin Braves, Binary Star AbelCayn. At the five-person table on the opposite side, that armored woman is the Battle Maiden of Zemun, Jasmine Arljew…” (Amid)
Jace silently looks in each direction the mug is pointed. His eyes wander over the people, each with their own style and all adventurers with good looks and equipment.
But his response was curt.
“Don’t care.” (Jace)
“Tell you what, though…they’re all here to rub elbows and impress the Mismarcan king and get that legendary sacred treasure, the Holy Devil Cup. All of them be titled A-rank Braves. How bout it? You nervous now?” (Amid)
The international major religious power that propagates the Mary Faith, the state religion of many countries on the continent, and also acts as the authority of heaven to purify and exterminate all things deemed demonic 1…that’s the 『Divine Faith Organization』.
Based on its doctrine, the term 『Brave』 is granted to young people that have been chosen through a ritual called oracle. The title Brave is granted to very few each year. Among those granted that title, the ones that managed to obtain the rank of A class through their resourcefulness and power were the true heroes of this age.
“…I have no clue who’s who. This is the first time I’m seeing any of them.” (Jace)
“So apathetic…you’re so unlovable.” (Amid)
While they are talking, yet another new figure appears in the bar’s entrance. Probably because of its proximity to the main street, it’s a very accessible business.
“Hey, that…ain’t that Shina!?”
“You’re right, that’s Shina Millrosa!”
“Shina, the Rainbow Sword!”
If male Braves are heroes, female Braves are idols. She is the epitome of that.
Long hair held back by an Alice Band, light armor with a stylish design over a beautiful robe, she was a beautiful Magic Swordswoman. The bar was swept with excitement at her entrance.
“Oh man, that’s amazin’. An S-rank is here. Tomorrow is going to be a good show.” (Amid)
“…I’ve seen her somewhere.” (Jace)
“Ain’t it cause she was in the same class as you?” (Amid)
Surrounded by the ordinary folk, Shina is flooded with requests for autographs. Even the Braves that Amid pointed out earlier were socializing with her but…when the uproar finally died down a little, she suddenly noticed Amid and Jace, and approached them with a look of mild surprise.
“Oh my, just when I was wondering who it might be, isn’t that you, Jace? You were still alive?” (Shina)
“What, so your memory does work.” (Jace)
Shina lightly flicked her long hair over her shoulder, eyes narrowing with disdain.
“How could I ever forget you…? There’s no other Brave with an appearance like yours, is there? Rather than that, for you to come to this country, Jace, don’t tell me you are targeting the Holy Devil Cup…there’s no way you are going to say something like that, right?” (Shina)
“That’s my intention.” (Jace)
As soon as he answers, Shina put her hands on her hips and scoffed at him.
“That appearance of yours is joke enough, you don’t need to do anything else. I don’t know what you’ve been up to, but amongst us classmates, you are the only one still stuck at E-rank, you know? And before that, are you saying you will be able to accomplish something in that state?” (Shina)
“Yeah, unfortunately I’m in this sorry state. I cannot kill the demon king without the Holy Devil Cup.” (Jace)
Since Jace didn’t seem to realize that he was being mocked, Shina shrugged her shoulders and sighed.
“You really don’t understand anything. Are you still saying such nonsense? In the first place, why do you think Mismarca is gathering Braves? To defeat the demon king? No, it’s because a war has started. If the continent is ruled by the Grand Marsenal Empire, it will turn into a world where us humans would be treated as slaves for life.” (Shina)
A vague sort of anxiety seemed to settle over the entire bar at Shina’s words. The invasion of the Empire and the existence of the legendary Holy Devil Cup had already become common knowledge, after all. However, the one who brushed that anxiety away was also Shina.
“But, such tyranny cannot be allowed. We cannot yield to it. The might of the Holy Devil Cup is necessary for the sake of justice. In order to awaken that might, the power of us Braves is required. For the sake of justice! Isn’t that right!?” (Shina)
Rallying cries resounded through the bar, not just from the Braves and travelers but also from the citizens. But…
After all this, only my Brave has still that unchanging sour look, Amid sees. Jace looks on at the display with cold and indifferent eyes.
“What we need in the alliance right now is a will to win against the Empire! Yes, you might be a Brave, but if you say something anachronistic like defeating the demon king, you’ll just be turned away at the gate, Jace.” (Shina)
And with the flow of the conversation so far, even the other guests have understood the situation. Half of them look on with disdain, and the other half address them with sympathetic voices. Amid roughly scratches her head. While she’s pondering what kind of sermon she should give based on the situation…
“It took great pains for me to arrive here. I will try anyway.” (Jace)
What a perfectly honest reply. Believing that her warning had been ignored, the look in Shina’s eyes hardened and she brought her hand down on the table.
“With someone like you becoming a Brave, people might think that we’re on the same level. I’m telling you that you’re a bother.” (Shina)
“My bad.” (Jace)
Even this apology is upfront. But, his eyes are also looking straight forward without hesitation. As though…she was unable to endure, the one who averted her eyes first was Shina. Instead, it was Amid who suffered collateral damage.
“Humph…do as you see fit. Just keep that drunken fake sister of yours company.” (Shina)
“What, I’m a real sister. Thou must not doubt. If you like, I can bless you? Do your best Brave! Here, you have my super divine protection! See?” Amid laughs.
Finally Shina’s jaw drops in disbelief. She ignores any attempt to form a connection and turns towards Jace.
“Three years ago, when we received our oracle, it was regarded as a once-in-a-century good year for us Braves. Only you are still an E-rank. I haven’t heard anything of you in these three years. Despite not having put in any effort and not doing any good deeds, you’re boldly aiming for the Holy Devil Cup now that you’ve heard that it possesses an almighty power!” (Shina)
She stopped talking and pointed at the Mismarca castle towering over the town through the window.
“Right now the kings and ministers of all the nations have assembled over there to frantically discuss day and night how they should fight against the invading Empire. Even Riezel, who is from our generation, is currently fighting in that place as representative of Highland! And yet you…! You are saying that you want the Holy Devil Cup just for your own sake. Don’t you find that inexcusable!?” (Shina)
“I don’t.” (Jace)
Shina lifts a brow at his immediate reply, releasing a somewhat threatening aura.
“…Look here, my Brave. Do you know the expression A conversation is like playing catch?” (Amid)
“Don’t care.” (Jace)
This guy’s a lost case.
“I got it, I got it. In the end you are still the same. Whatever. But, if you want to defeat the demon king so much, I will tell you just one thing.” (Shina)
“What is it?” (Jace)
“The direction is the other way. The place where the demon king supposedly lives is at the end of the western regions. At the very least, this is not the place where you should be.” (Shina)
Shina turned, flicking her mantle, and swept out of the bar she had just entered…as if she were unwilling to even breathe the same air as him.
The interior of the bar was in uproar. There are many looks and voices that seemed to shun Jace.
“Don’t worry, my Brave.” (Amid)
“It doesn’t matter. I’m me.” (Jace)
Has he grown accustomed to such public attention? Watching Jace’s ever-unchanging face, a natural smile formed on Amid’s lips.
“Good fortune to you!” (Amid)
“Not necessary. As long as I get my hands on the Holy Devil Cup, all will be fine.” (Jace)
Chewing the last of his food, Jace leaves his seat and heads towards the second floor of the inn. Amid holds her mug up at his retreating figure.
“I earnestly wish you all the best, my Brave…” (Amid)
The youth that Amid had met a few days ago was dressed shabbily, like a thief, and his hair had turned white, like he had suffered some great shock. His right eye is missing. And so is his right arm.
- 魔 (ma) – this one’s a bit tricky as it’s a kanji appearing in many words. In this case it first refers to the Holy Devil Cup, where the Devil is represented by that kanji. It also appears in the words for Magic or Sorcery and many other occasions. Basically imagine it as kanji pointing towards many things that have with “demonic” to do