The Villainess is a Marionette - Chapter 130
1STKISSNOVEL. DO NOT STEAL MY TRANSLATION!
By the time Raphael led his horse out, the participants, who had already been split up into groups, were ready to leave. He headed towards the group with a red flag, it was the team which he belonged to.
«I greet Your Highness the Prince,» he greeted politely as a familiar man appeared.
There was Rezef in this hunting party as well. The participants of the contest were sorted into certain arrays and each of them had to go to the different grounds. Though Yester was in another group, Rezef was in the same one with Raphael.
«Today’s hunt is going to be quite intense!» chuckled a nobleman in the same group.
The red flag team with a total of six men headed for their designated ground. They entered the woods, but, even though they passed through a certain distance, no prey except for some red squirrels that appeared once in a while, was seen.
«Somehow I can see no pheasant,» someone grumbled.
’It’s too quiet.’
Something here felt weird. Raphael looked around. There were not any signs of small beasts roaming around. However, there were other ones.
’There are large footprints all over the place, and the traces of claws are large too… That must be a cat family mammal.’
It did not seem to be just one either. It was natural to notice the disappearance of the small animals as an effect of a predator’s attack.
Raphael checked the faces of those who were teamed up with him. Unfortunately, with the exception of Rezef, they were not individuals who could be called strong.
’That’s a trap.’
Usually the meaning of such a plan was clear: to give it all to The One. Obviously, either Raphael or Rezef would have taken the best quarry among the group.
But it was different now. Currently they were not the most appropriate force especially while confronting a dangerous situation like this, — assessed Raphael. Was this what Yester was up to? It was a bit trivial for such a thing. Knowing the danger, the best choice would be to get out of the woods and not go any further.
«There’s no prey here, so we’d better change the location. Let’s go out.»
Raphael’s words were disapproved by those except Rezef.
«Then why don’t we go in a little bit further? If you go back without a quarry, it’ll be assumed as vamping up an excuse.»
«There are trails of massive carnivores over here. They seem to hunt small animals and this is the reason why it’s so quiet.»
«Really? It can’t be…»
«You’re making weird excuses, Duke,» Rezef, who had silently listened to the conversation so far, commenced speaking.
«What do you mean?» replied Raphael making eye contact with him.
«There can’t be predators in this hunting ground, can there? Moreover, we’ve got enough weapons. Or are there any other reasons to go back?»
There were some who wanted to return to the camp, feeling very uneasy because none other than Raphael said it. However, it was impossible to ignore the Prince, thus they had to find a moderate compromise.
«…Uh, then shall we move a little bit further?»
Afterwards, a strange silence fell between them. Or more precisely it should be called tension. Just as Raphael said, predators could pop out and tear them apart! Professional hunters must have chosen these hunting grounds, judging that it would not be dangerous therefore how come that happened?
Contrary to the laxity they had shown earlier, they began to be vigilant about their surroundings.
«…It actually seems there’s no prey around at this point-,» noticed one of them after glancing around.
An eerie squeal was heard not too far away.
Their eyes turned to the place where the scream came from.
«…It must be from a different team,» another man struggled to open his lips.
There should not have been such an animal in these hunting grounds to make one scream this way. There should not have been…
The men’s jaws began to tremble one by one.
«Is-isn’t there… something wrong? Right?»
«…Let’s go back!»
Grrr-! This time a low cry of the beast erupted.
Someone, being scared, fired into the air.
The one who just shot seemed to have lost his reason. He had the expression of someone who had intuited his death. The man quickly swung his reins and mounted toward the exit of the woods. Soon, however, the bushes shuddered and that human’s shout accompanied with the horse’s cry were heard.
«…I’m sure there’s already a beast in that direction, so let’s take a detour,» told Raphael.
Rezef frowned at the unexpected situation taking place. What kind of a beast of prey could be at these grounds? He was the one to choose the hunting spot. Certainly, according to Mrs.Dottie’s recommendations…
Rezef gritted his teeth. Although he decided to form an alliance, he did not trust him. Yet he did not expect him to commit such a troublesome crazy thing.
Rezef, who had just been pondering in thoughts, stared with startled eyes: Raphael fired at somewhere with a hunting rifle. In the direction pointed by the gun, there was a leopard lying on the ground, neatly shot in its head.
«Oh, His Grace is the Duke after all! Now we’re all fine…»
Grrr! At that time the leopard, which was just shot right in the head, wriggled. Everyone looked at it with dazed eyes. What must have died was now raising itself up.
Raphael fired a few more shots. However, the beast did not fall. When the animal lifted its eyelids, something like a purple fog was flickering where the eyes should have been.
«Oh, the Devil!»
In addition, not only this beast, but also others were slowly creeping to this place one after another.
’Is it magic?’
If so, then there was no way to overcome it with the power of ordinary humans.
«Everyone, run away!» cried out Raphael.
* * *
Gunfire was heard from the hunting grounds and the ladies, who were drinking tea, chuckled.
«There must be quite a lot of prey as so many shots can already be heard.»
It was peaceful here. The band played music and the nobles were enjoying a leisurely tea time by taking out snacks from picnic baskets. Cayena was getting along with those around there plausibly but as the gunshots started erupting too frequently she had a foreboding.
’…Should I check it out for a second by space moving?’
She abruptly slipped out of her seat. Cayena was going to use magic inside the barracks to avoid other’s eyes just in case.
Upon entering the barracks, an intruder was found. Cain, the wizard, grinned.
«It was you?»
Cain’s figure dissipated in the black smoke and suddenly appeared in front of Cayena.
«I didn’t even expect it to be the Princess.»
«Why don’t you watch your behavior if you know that?»
She expected Cain to show up at the competition, but she did not expect him to appear right now. She was not afraid, though.
Cain tilted his head slightly watching Cayena’s calm expression. Who was this woman? When all of a sudden a new wizard appeared and the flow of time was stopped, Cain shuddered. He could not forget the exhilarating sense of time-space’s repelling. He wanted to find the one who improved this ability and then devour her right away.
’And she is the Princess of the Empire.’
Cain considered the woman in front of him curious and amusing. She was pretty good to entertain with before he started dealing in earnest.
As his dark brown eyes stared at Cayena, she managed to store mana to use for moving the space in case things went bad. There were too many people here to fight openly.
«Don’t overexert yourself. I’m here with a good offer.»
«You know?» Cain continued his words with a smile as if he really was harmless. «There’s a way to get the magic rose back.»
«…What are you talking about?»
«If the magic of time and space was received, a great part of one’s life was traded, right? To the extent of one’s death the next day.»
«…….» Cayena did not bother to answer, yet Cain smiled with a look of knowing everything anyway.
«I don’t know what purpose you would have made such a deal for, but what are you going to do once you achieve what you want? It’s too in vain — to just die,» Cain’s voice was low and insidious, his sweet whisper felt as though the temptation of the devil. «And yet… Did you know that if I inherit the Magic Garden and nullify your contract, the lifespan you traded will come back?»
She did not know. It was the first time Cayena heard it.
«Certainly, that will take a toll on most of the Black Garden’s flowers: they will wither. But I don’t intend to live in hiding like my brother. That amount of lifespan can be revived with another new deal.»
It was undoubtedly an interesting offer. Just achieve your goal and get your life back.
«So, I mean if you cooperate with me to seize the garden, I will be able to help you get back to your normal life anew.»
Cayena had obtained magical powers just for revenge, only for those she wanted to protect. But was there a way to live a full life after all this came to an end? She could not help but be tempted.
«What if you don’t keep the deal?»
Cain spread his palm as if he knew his words would cause such suspicions. A black quill pen popped out in the air and began writing imperial language letters while sprinkling with a golden hue.
If the content of the magic contract is not complied with, the contract will be enforced in obedience to the laws of the world, and the wizard who violates the contract will die.
«Any proof that this contract is true?»
«I wish hyung could tell you whether that’s true,» said Cain, turning his head to Cayena’s question.
Cayena also turned her head sideways. It was unknown whether he was here before, but Bael stood silently in his human form.
«That’s a true wizard contract,» confirmed Bael. «As described, there is no such an assumption that this contract may be violated, as this contract is made up according to the world’s rules .»
«Did you hear that?» Cain giggled.
Unquestionably, he offered Cayena the best option to choose from. His brother could not make the same offer as he himself. Bael had already been the owner of the Black Garden for many years, and he had never taken back the magic he had sold. Although he seemed to be warm-hearted, he was an innate wizard — cold-blooded man who moved only according to reason.
Cain, on the other hand, was a greedy wizard which could be considered pretty humanly. He had no doubt that Cayena would immediately sign the contract with that black quill pen. Humans are all the same. Whether it was of the highest or the lowest rank, the result was always the same: they pursued the maximum profit they could make.
«Why are you just watching?» wondered Cayena and Bael paused. «If you discovered this ridiculous scene with a contract, you have to turn things upside down by using your glorified magic powers, but what are you doing?»
Bael’s eyes grew as big as a lantern when Cayena announced her point of view. In fact, Bael, as much as Cain, had no doubt that Cayena would sign the contract right away. There was no reason to refuse, was there? In fact, a motive behind why he did not stop Cain existed. He wanted to check something out: to observe what kind of choice a human being, who, for the first time in a long while, was worthy to be called his ’friend’ due to the strange bond that had been established between them, would make.
«I don’t deal with untrustworthy people,» Cayena smashed the pen floating in front of her and threw it away. «Especially if it’s a disobedient little brother.»
«What a half-witted, foolish human being…!» Cain’s expression began to distort grimly at her words. He could not believe she dared to ignore his suggestion. «After all, I’ve got no choice but to kill you and conquer the rose, right?» he had a dig at her folly and then Cain summoned a black spiny whip.
Whoosh! Cayena moved the space before the whip could touch her body.
Sparkle! The view had changed. It was quite far from the place where the barracks were lined up. Right next to it was a forest with hunting grounds.
«Bael!» she called for Bael in the void just in case, but there was no response. It seemed that Bael had not yet arrived where she was.
As the hunting grounds that the noblemen entered got closer, the loud report of guns became clearer. An eerie noise, which sounded like a scream, echoed.
Cayena looked at the forest with a strange foreboding.
Although it was the growl of a beast, the sound she had never heard before, Cayena could be sure. It was a large-built predator. She slowly stepped back.
’There is no way a predator is over here, can there?’
She had a guess that Yester would play some tricks during the contest. But a beast? What’s the point of all these painstaking acts?
«Was he targeting Rezef…?»
’The Prince, killed by a beast of prey in the chaotic hunting ground…’
It was not a bad scenario, but it was not the view Cayena wanted either. Her younger brother should not die this way. He had to lose something that he desperately desired and somehow was convinced that he would have had it. It must be done by no one other than Cayena herself.
Grrah! The black figure swayed in the woods. Cayena, who found the beast running in her direction, reached out and magically condensed time and space, then expanded it, causing a small explosion.
Cra-ash! The black beast that was caught in the explosion, let out a sharp cry and flew backwards. However, it quickly lifted itself up.
She clearly calculated an instantaneous explosion of such an intensity that would have killed him instantly. But the fallen beast, barely alive, was squealing, but stood up normally?
Graa-ah! It was running at an incredible speed. Cayena first moved the space away from the black creature. Only then, out of the woods, did she properly check it out.
The beast was no longer in its proper form. Even though its whole body was in a state of disarray, it ran as fast as possible. It was like a monster.
Ba-ang-! The monster running toward Cayena collapsed as the gunfire rang.
It was Raphael. Cayena paused as she tried to call his name. Holding a rifle, he was in rags and his blood was dripping as if he had already been beaten by a monster several times. Cayena ran to him with a hardened face.
«You didn’t drink Elixir?»
«It’s fine. It only looks like that at first glance…» he tried to explain but soon closed his mouth, seeing Cayena’s unusual look.
«You don’t have to spare it. We still have a long way to go.»
Raphael smiled softly at Cayena’s concern and took out the Elixir and drank it, being half in doubt. Shortly after, his body came back to normal.
«What about the others?»
«Everyone is scattered. His Highness the Prince Rezef also parted ways on the way.»
«Are there any more monsters like this?» Cayena frowned and asked another question.
«Of course,» but the answer did not come from Raphael. «Your Highness the Princess.»
Cayena looked back.
«Do you like the monsters I’ve raised?» Yester smiled grotesquely, pointing his gun at them and two men in black robes appeared behind him.
Those were the wizards led by Cain. It seemed that he had completely colluded with Yester and they were determined to sweep today’s hunting competition away.
’He’s being even more daring as he received a thing he’s certain of.’
Cayena pulled Raphael behind her. She was going to take him and flee from here. Yester seemed sure that he was already in an ultimate winner’s position. The wizards will cooperate with him, and those ordinary ones would be crushed in the blink of an eye.
«I didn’t expect that madwoman, Medea, to be the Princess.»
One of Raphael’s eyebrows rose sharply at the expression of ’that madwoman’.
Raphael was about to shoot Yester right away, but Cayena grabbed him by the arm.
Yester only knew that Cayena was Medea, but he did not see her casting magic personally. That was why he, not knowing her being a wizard, behaved as he pleased.
«Did I hit where it was itchy?»
Yester’s expression suddenly changed when he was being provoked lightly. As he widened his eyes sharply, Cayena smiled, teasing him. She looked as if asking whether he wanted her to hit him again.
«You seem to have no idea what’s going on, Your Highness.»
He glanced at the wizards standing beside him with a mean smile. Cayena’s gaze likewise reached the two wizards. Cain could turn into the black smoke and exert a force around him. When the smoke touched something, it melted or corroded as if it was sulfuric acid. They might be able to use such high-level attack magic, too.
«Where is the Cat Mask wizard who helped Her Highness back then? You should at least cry for help.»
Raphael’s eyes narrowed. The Cat Mask wizard somehow seemed to be the owner of the Black Garden. Cayena smirked while Raphael was speculating.
«Well, there’s no response.»
Cayena physicalized her surroundings, encircling a shield. Yester opened his eyes wide and looked in disbelief at the shimmering transparent membrane that was created around there. Wasn’t it magic!
«…You were a wizard as well?»
It was not enough that Cayena was Madam Medea, but she also was a wizard?
‘Then, is it the Princess that the wizards were looking for?’
It was very troublesome. He thought it would be a win-win game, and so he acted totally malevolent to her, but he did not know his opponent was a wizard.
‘If I can’t handle the Princess here, I’m done.’
Yester pulled a small flute from his bosom and blew hard..
Soon, monsters started popping out of the forest one by one. Obviously, the fervour was over. It was possible to escape by moving through space, but clearly the nobles encamped in the barracks would die helplessly.
Then there was the sound of an explosion from the barracks. Ba-ang! An ominous smoke was rising.
«Looks like the firecrackers I prepared for you are starting to set off,» Yester giggled.
His plan was to set fire to the gunpowder he had filled the shells with that looked like javelins and destroy the surrounding area. As soon as he finished speaking, a second terrifying explosion was heard. Cayena opened her mouth with a cold hard look.
«There must be nobles there who support you, right?»
«The sacrifice in a great clause is always necessary, Your Highness.»
«There will never be a crown on your head.»
At Cayena’s words a fire flashed in Yester’s eyes.
«If I survive here, I will be crowned!»
Yester shot relentlessly to break the barrier that protected Cayena. Raphael realized that it was possible to attack from the inside of the shield and fired as well.
’Isn’t the wizard of the Black Garden helping you?’
Raphael felt helpless for the first time in his life. Among the transcendent beings, he was just a powerless human being.
At that moment, an unprecedented eerie black energy was felt.
Wham! In an instant on Cayena’s shield a thread-like fissure appeared.
«A hunting contest is a pretty fun thing, isn’t it?»
Cain emerged in the black smoke and Raphael frowned. It was because his appearance resembled Bayel a lot.
«…what’s with your brother?» Cayena asked with a sigh.
«Oh, hyung is trying to fix the explosion over there. He’s doing some stupid crap to help you,» Cain shook his head. «It would have been nice if you had signed the contract with me earlier. Then there wouldn’t have been a mess like this.»
Cayena was on high alert against Cain, who among the other monsters rushed frantically to break through her barrier. He swept a black smoke at Cayena and it was corroding everything around, as if it did not matter to Cain whether the monsters were hurt or not.
Kya-a! The monsters began to melt here and there with terrible appearances.
Cayena continued to keep the wizards in check by exploding time and space, but this had its limits. The damage she made was ridiculously low compared to theirs. Her magic wasn’t combat type in the first place. Cain’s abilities were too mighty. Cayena wanted to release more powerful magic, but she already felt the limits of her body.
She might lose her mind if she overdid it here. Cayena bit her lips tight. The shield began to crack like a spider web.
’Raphael also needs to escape.’
It was when Cayena decided so.
«The jokes end here.»
Cain shot an incomparable level of black mana right head-on. Cra-ash! The shield was broken. Cayena moved through the space with Raphael, but they could not run away because of her strength.
Raphael realized that Cayena had reached her limit. Wouldn’t Cayena be able to escape if he bought her a little more time? Without hesitation, he blocked Cayena’s body with his and repulsed Cain’s attack.
Cayena’s eyes grew bigger. Berserk magic was trying to rip Raphael to pieces. His face was contorted with pain, drops of blood were gushing out, a black fog was engulfing him. She hugged him as he collapsed and let out a shout.
Pop, pop, pop…
The black fog stopped. Raphael’s body also stopped corroding. Cain felt his body splitting apart as he forced himself to move against the stronger resistance of time and space than it had ever been.
Wasn’t she really insanely talented? It was a magic that was strong enough to place such restrictions on him, who no one else could deal with except for Bael.
Cayena moved alone in it. She removed the black energy from Raphael and spilled Elixir around his mouth. Her hands were shaking with nervousness. It was terrible. She was mad and felt it in a completely different way than when she had been murdered.
Fortunately, the wounds disappeared and his complexion began to return to normal. But the fact that Raphael was attacked was not erased.
The time was back again. The ground cracked and a series of explosions were heard. Amid the chaos of sharp screams and the corpses of monsters being thrown to the floor, Cayena alone was holding Raphael in her arms.
«Why…» she murmured in a crumbling voice. Yet no one could hear it because of the noise around her.
Cain knew she was too exhausted to stop time anymore. He put a mean smile on his lips. This was an already won game. Now, he would be able to extort that woman’s rose. It was when he thought so.
Everything went flat down.
Cain knelt down on the floor without understanding the situation. Something seemed to have caught him. He was not the only one to have fallen. Dozens of barracks all collapsed onto the cracked ground. The pink petals that were fluttering in the air were stuck down as if they weighed a thousand pounds. The weight of the world had changed. Cayena had greatly increased the gravity of this area.
Yester had no magical ability to protect himself. Thus, he squatted on the floor and emptied his stomach.
He forcibly turned his head and saw the Princess, who was sitting on the ground and hugging Raphael. She was so fine in this mess. Except for the eyes that seemed crazy.
Except for the place where Cayena and Raphael were, everything was crushed by high gravity. He got goosebumps all over his body. Was that the real face of the Princess? Such a wicked woman was hiding behind a mask, pretending to be relaxed with a gentle smile. No, it was the face of the ruler. She really seemed like the master of the world, dominating everything.
«Cayena,» Bael, who came hurriedly after solving the urgent situation, broke through her strong repulsion and called her. «Stop it!»
This was not a human ability. In other words, it was dangerous for Cayena to use it.
In fact, Cain was in ecstasy. Indeed, that woman must have been crazy. How could she manifest such powers! Was she really just a human being?
«Ha-ha-ha!» Feeling like his body was about to explode, he burst out into madness. «Excellent, excellent!»
And he grabbed the wizards nearby.
The wizards trembled throughout their bodies, and gradually their bodies corroded — they were absorbed by Cain.
He let out a long breath. Now he felt a little better off. Cain took a step closer to slumped Cayena, who was sitting on the floor and making the world sink down. All he had to do was to put his hand on her back. Then the magic of time and space could have been absorbed.
But as Cain was approaching Cayena, his skin began to crack again.
He quickly stepped back while blood was forming on his hands staining them completely red.
«Are you having fun, Cain?» It was a soft, kind voice.
Cain raised his head. Just as he thought in the barracks, she was a hell of a beautiful woman.
«You thought,» Cayena asked Cain with a picturesque smile worthy of her beautiful face. «You could get your hands on anything you wanted?»
«What do you…»
«Why do all men think the same way?»
Cain shut his mouth — he felt something unusual in that peaceful voice and attitude that did not match this situation at all.
«Stealing, killing, controlling…» Cayena murmured regretfully.
Her hand reached to fainted Raphael. From his cheek to his body, she gently swept it down. At the touch, time was turned back and the messy attire looked fine again.
Cayena’s eyes turned to Cain as Raphael became clean.
«Are you still standing in front of me?» As soon as the words were said, Cain got stuck into the ground.
What was this? He had just absorbed the powers of the two wizards, so how come…?
As Cayena made a long breath, the gravity, which weighed down the whole area, returned. Instead, all her powers were concentrated on Cain. She manipulated the space so that Cain would prostrate courteously.
With his eyes wide open, Cain strengthened, surrounding his body with mana. He somehow managed to overcome this domination and try to get his body up, but it was being crushed. The man’s vein threads commenced bursting through his body.
«You-…you cheeky bitch…!»
Slap! An intangible energy hit Cain’s cheeks fiercely.
«Watch your mouth,» her lips burst straight away. Cayena was rebuking him with a tone as though disciplining him. «How dare you think you’re gonna get away with this?»
«Dare?» bawled out Cain full of anger.
Cayena chuckled. Murderous mood was reflected in the horrifying laughter.
«You’re shooting off your mouth.»
Cain’s body twisted as if bound.
Bael’s skin was tingling and almost a little numb by the fact that Cain could be beaten so unilaterally. Cain was ranked as the number one target for execution by wizards. But the scale of his power was so huge that no one could hasten to punish him. Even Bael did not have the courage to face Cain face to face. Cayena, however, treated Cain as if playing a joke. It was a creepy talent.
«Bael,» Cayena caled Bael. «May I myself take care of Cain?»
«…there’s such a thing as a trial among wizards, too. Cain is already a subject to execution.»
«I’m glad since he’s a fine ’fair game’.»
Cayena handed Cain, who was completely crumpled to death, over to Bael and the man sighed, seeing Cain fainted.
«…Don’t use magic for a while. It was too much for today.»
Cayena smiled briefly at his words.
Soon, Bael disappeared with Cain. Cayena felt her vision blurring and drank Elixir. Before she knew it, Elixir had gotten to the bottom. She thought she had a lot left, but it was drunk every time she used magic, and it seemed to shrink quickly.
She sat down and closed her eyes gently. Immediately after using a tremendous amount of power, all her senses were awakened acutely. A large Paladin unit was approaching here.
Cayena distorted her forehead and tears, that welled up around her eyes, began to roll down.
«There’s a person over there!»
Raphael’s appearance was neat, but Cayena was a total mess. She was not cleaning herself on purpose.
Soon the Paladins, who had expanded their search radius to the hunting grounds, rode horses to the site of Cayena’s being. They found Her Highness sitting on the floor while hugging someone who had fainted. Everyone had an astonished expression on their face.
«Her Highness the Princess!»
It wasn’t just that. Yester was laying down with a gun on the ground, surrounded by terrifying beasts around. The Paladins were very perplexed. Shivering, Cayena spoke to them with a faint voice.
«The Grand Duke controlled the monster with a flute. Strangers started a fight over here, and then Duke Kidray was struck down by a blunt weapon and swooned!»
The Paladins’ expressions hardened at these words.
«The explosion near the barracks is also Yester’s fault. We’ll have to catch him right now and get to the bottom of it!»
«Yes, Your Highness!»
The divine trial mercilessly punished an opponent much more strictly than the nobility trial.
No one questioned why Cayena was near the hunting ground in such a terrible situation. They just thought that they should somehow protect the Princess, who was sadly shedding tears in this scary place.
Cayena soon climbed into the carriage under the protection of the Paladins. The wagon set off for the Capital.
«Did Rezef escape…?»
The tears stopped imperceptibly.