＊ ＊ ＊
In the Kingdom of Palletia exists a large, dense forest called “the Black Forest”.
It earned its name due to the dense growth of trees that make it look as if there was no light.
The Black Forest is a place where spirits gather, and thus where spirit stones are often made. It is also famous for being the dwellings of many demons—the bread and butter for adventurers—and for inspection teams sent by the royal knights.
A roar echoed through the Black Forest.
It’s not uncommon for a stampede to occur in the Black Forest. Normally, as a countermeasure, adventurers and knights hunt demon to cut down their numbers but it’s impossible to completely prevent one from happening.
As such, when adventurers started to see signs of a stampede, the Adventurer’s Guild gets notified. The adventurers and knights who stayed behind to protect the nearby villages also prepare for the stampede.
“Hurry! Get the villagers out of here, now! Remember your battle formations! Quickly, before the stampede!”
“How bad is it this time!?”
“Don’t forget to prepare your healing salves!”
“Oi, you’re in my way! Watch out!”
The sounds of discourse rang out as everyone ran around to prepare for the battle that was to come. In the midst of all this madness were new adventurers who had come to the Black Forest for experience, awkwardly scrunched up and wedged between one another.
“Um, w-what should I do?”
“What are we going to do… during the stampede?”
“Between running away and fighting here, we have a better chance of survival if we fight with everyone.”
“I didn’t expect this to happen on my first outing… I’m so unlucky!”
Cursing only happens when you regret your current situation. From here on, there is only death. Their original plan was to get their daily pay from slaying demons and gathering spirits stones in a relatively shallow area. It really was just some bad luck to get caught up in a large-scale demon subjugation.
From afar, the same roar from before now shook the ground indicating its approach and instilling fear in the adventurers. Their legs trembled, stomach-turning and constricting, and their minds scrambling to the point of wanting to run away.
——It was at this very moment that their hearts were filled with dread.
“What the…? Can’t you hear that?”
“Hear what? I’ve been hearing it for a while already! That sound is the sound of demons coming!”
“No, not that! This sound… it’s like, a really stupid sounding roar……”
The adventurer that stopped to listen looked over at their companions with a growingly frustrated look. The other adventurer shared the companion’s expression but broke off their gaze elsewhere.
The adventurer looked towards the other end of the Black Forest. The other roar seemed to be coming from around the village. The adventurer squinted and stared. It seemed like there was something like a small black shadow was approaching.
“Oi, is something coming this way?”
“What do you mean by coming!?”
“I dunno, but that sound is getting louder!?”
“Are you for real!?”
And so, the shadow that was hovering in the sky approached at tremendous speeds revealed its shape.
The figure took shape of a strange-looking “ship” and steadily approached the adventurers. As it got closer, they could hear the familiar-sounding roar. It sounded mysterious and in distress.
What is that sound? everyone wondered. The approaching shadow made a sound like a wind groaning as it dispersed. The figure was slowing down……
“I forgot how to land———!! Get out of the way——!!”
The ship collided with the earth with all its strength, bouncing as it gradually skidded into a halt.
Everyone’s attention turned to meet the strange-looking ship and the two girls that exited it. The two moaned as they crawled out.
“Euphie! Hang in there! If you throw up now, your maiden dignity will be at risk!”
The healthier-looking girl placed her hand on the other girl who was doubled over with a pale look in her face. Someone, who had been watching the whole thing unravel, muttered to himself out loud.
“It… it can’t be……! For something like a strange ship flying in the sky, to the odd behaviour that can only be described as out of ordinary, and that dainty appearance……!”
“The Marauder Princess!?”
“Who are you calling ‘the Marauder Princess’!! At the very least, call me Mud. Mud!!”
The girl who refused to accept her nicknames, no, the princess of this very country herself, Anne-Sophia von Palletia, cried out in indignation.
Immediately, the adventurers erupt with cheers. They all raised their hands and celebrated the arrival of Anne-Sophia. On the other hand, the knights wore an expression akin to having a bad taste in their mouths.
“The Marauder is here! A stampede is nothing now!”
“Hey now, don’t be pushing it. If you take from the princess’s loot, we’ll be hunted down!”
“The demons will have to go through such misery……! My chest is getting hot……!”
“The princess really is here! We’re definitely going to win!”
“Don’t you think my reputation is mean!?”
“…… Don’t you think you deserve it?”
Euphilia murmured to herself as she stuck to Anne-Sophia’s side, still looking rather pale.
The knights were rowdy trying to get the excited adventurers to calm down. Anne-Sophia didn’t seem to care about the crowd as she focused her attention on the Black Forest.
“Well then, Euphie! I’ll leave you to support the knights from the rear!”
“…… Lady Anise?”
Euphilia looked towards Anne-Sophia, her lips tensed, as she couldn’t help but have another bad premonition.
“Welp, I’m off! Tell the knights to form a siege formation!”
“Um, Lady Anise, to just suddenly—!?”
“Fever Time——!! Time to hunt for materials!!”
As soon as the girl tried to interject, Anne-Sophia made a beeline to the forest alone. Euphilia looked away after a bit, dumbfounded, but began to tremble as if she couldn’t bear it, then shouted:
“What kind of princess goes into a stampede by herself!?”
T/N: The remaining part was a lot shorter than I thought, oops. This part in particular had a bit of issues with some really awkward phrasing when it comes to finding English equivalences, though. I didn't want to assume genders so I used a lot of they/their when referring to the adventurers.
Also, yep. Anise would rather go with 'マッドと', or Mud. Mad?
Thanks for reading! As a side note, I've been considering picking up dropped mangas as a side project. If you have any suggestions, let me know!