Stampedes occur when a demon stone suddenly increases in power, influencing the nearby demons to rally and move together as a group.
For the demons, it provides an opportunity to escape and survive by seeking out new lands. It is only natural that they show desperation to survive.
What if we could communicate with the demons? What if they were trying to escape the Black Forest because of a threat to their wellbeing? The truth is it is a harsh reality in which demons become materials. And who is that lying in wait to collect all the materials?
“So many, there’s so many...! Isn’t this stampede way bigger?!”
Anne-Sophie surveyed the overflowing amount of demons with a smile on her lips. At first glance, the number of gathered demons easily exceeded triple digits. It was much bigger than the average stampede.
Despite this, Anne-Sophia’s expressed only joy. There was not a single trace of fear. That is because Anne-Sophia could only register the demons as “materials”.
“There’s no point in telling you all that it would have been better if you didn’t leave the forest. You’ve all managed to escape but I can’t have you all wreaking havoc and causing trouble out here. And so—let’s make the most out of this situation!! Come at me!!”
Anne-Sophia’s lips curled with twisted rapture. Normally, hunting at this scale would result in people getting angry at Anise for going overboard but, in the case of a stampede, it couldn’t be helped. The situation would be overwhelmingly worse if left alone.
That is why it was allowed… Although it is common knowledge that defeating demons yield materials, calling a stampede an ‘opportunity to gather materials’ is something only an eccentric freak like Anne-Sophia would do.
And so, Anne-Sophia’s battle begins.
“I shouldn’t mess around too much, let’s take this seriously…!”
Anne-Sophia channeled magical energy through the engravings on her back. The dragon’s magic stone dissolved, but in return, its power stored within the engraving began to course through Anne-Sophia.
To gather more power, one must offer more power. It wasn’t long until Anne-Sophia was enveloped in an aura erupting from her body.
The aura seemed to take hold of Anne-Sophia’s body, manifesting in dragon-like horns and claws. Her eyes change into reptilian ones with pupils that look like vertical cuts.
The more power you draw from dragons, the closer you come to resemble one. Some would call it a curse. Others would call it a grudge from the one who was slain. Some consider it an honor as if to say, ‘only a dragon can defeat a dragon’.
“Here… I go—!!”
Once the power from body enhancements from the engravings peaked, with the Mana Blade in hand, Anne-Sophia kicked herself off the ground. She poured her excess magical energy into the Mana Blade, forming the blade.
The demons quickly noticed the incoming Anne-Sophia, turning their attention and preparing to face her. However, that wasn’t enough to stop Anne-Sophia.
“That’s one! Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine!”
Firmly gripped in both hands, the Mana Blade abruptly lobbed the heads of the demons one by one, strike after strike. This movement could be described as a spinning waltz. From the center of a group of demons, Anne-Sophia, in one circular sweep, swung at the necks and sent the heads flying.
The demons always seemed to be one step too late as they try to strike back at Anne-Sophia, however each demon that came close met with a grim demise.
“Grey wolf, Killer Ape… ah! A cockatrice! Kyan~! That’s so cool!”
With that ecstatic smile still on her face, Anne-Sophia shuddered with delight. She wondered how much money she’d make if she decided to sell all the materials that dropped.
However, something put a damper on Anne-Sophia’s excitement. The oncoming demons charging at Anne-Sophia trampled on the demons that she had slaughtered.
When Anne-Sophia saw this, her smile disappeared. With indifference, she dispatched the approaching demons in one fell swoop.
“You’re damaging the materials!!”
The Mana Blade responded with Anne-Sophia’s anger, further extending the length of the blade. Anne-Sophia swung the blade horizontally around her for one full rotation.
The bodies of the demons were cut in a way that seemed like gravity ceased for a moment until all their torsos slipped and fell to the ground.
“Crap. If I keep this up, I’ll end up with less materials.”
Another blunder after blunder, Anne-Sophia muttered to herself in a casual tone. Sensing the lack of fear in Anne-Sophia, the demons tried to maintain a distance away while trying to intimidate Anne-Sophia.
Seeing distance forming between her and the demon, Anne-Sophia looked back at the demons with another smile as she brought the length of the Mana Blade back.
“What’s wrong? Why aren’t you fighting me? If you don’t, the others will come and I’ll end up with less loot. Look, uh, if you won’t come at me then…! I have no choice but to come at you!”
Having lost her temper due to the demons no longer approaching, Anne-Sophia once again dispatched the surrounding demons in whirlwind fashion. The demons realized the potential threat Anne-Sophia imposed and thus began to flee.
Anne-Sophia was not so lenient as to let the demons escape. Immediately, she charged after and caught up with fleeing demons, thrusting the Mana Blade into their backs.
“Don’t run away! You’re all making this inefficient!” Anne-Sophia indignantly shouted, still hot on the demons’ trail.
“Ah, she’s as cruel as ever…!”
“That’s… the Marauder Princess…!”
“I don’t know which is the real demon…!”
“Don’t rush! Ready up and get into formation! If you head in now, you’ll be taken down by the Marauder for trying to take her loot!”
The adventurers all watched Anne-Sophia from afar, trembling in fear. Despite all their preparations, there wasn’t a need for any of them to interrupt Anise’s display of greed.
The demons were just prey to Anne-Sophia now. If anyone else were to try and butt in, Anne-Sophia would notice. She’d think her fever time was over and that was that, but no one else thought Anise would just give it all up.
Having witnessed Anne-Sophia’s deadly dance, Euphilia’s hands tensed and clenched into a tight fist.
Strong. Overwhelmingly strong. The figure of Anne-Sophia, who fiercely ran in all directions and slaughtered every demon she found, did not seem human. The magical sword held in both hands claims demon after demon.
A single swing ended a single life. Sometimes, instead of using her sword, Anne-Sophia would smash a demon with a powerful kick. Taking to account the raw power bestowed upon her by the dragon’s engraving, her physical prowess was beyond amazing.
She was a dragon. She couldn’t deny being called one after this display of utter rampage. It was a curb stomp.
“… Should I… not have done that…?”
Euphilia couldn’t help but think so having seen what Anne-Sophia had done.
Did she go insane? Such thoughts filled Euphilia’s mind. Anne-Sophia could not use magic. Magic is a sign of a nobleman’s status, and if the magic one uses is different and powerful the individual would draw in attention.
This girl didn’t have any magic at all. Because she didn’t have any, she created it. The fruits of her labor are what you see here. It was scary, Euphilia thought. She wondered how far Anne-Sophia could go.
“… Magic… is terrifying.”
Is this one of them? Euphilia was reminded of something Anne-Sophia told her once. Euphilia wasn’t sure if she was afraid of Anne-Sophia because magic can be horrifying, or if she was afraid because Anne-Sophia herself created the spell. Maybe she was afraid of both.
What drove Anne-Sophia to do this? Did she create this spell just because she couldn’t use magic?
Euphilia couldn’t take her eyes off her. Even though fear washed over her, she kept staring at Anne-Sophia. How could this person—how could they be so energetic and happy? Euphilia wondered.
As those thoughts haunted Euphilia, a roar loudly rang.
She looked around to for where it came from, noticing something moving deep within the Black Forest. It was a huge figure beyond the size of the demons that had gathered here.
Its roar pierced the air; a guttural cry that paralyzed those who heard it with fear. The figure seemed to resemble human anatomy, but the features were far too distorted to be a human. Once it emerged, Euphilia gasped.
“Is that… an ogre!?”
Ogres. They are a sub-race of demons feared for their cannibalistic nature. They are so dangerous that they are assigned with an immediate kill contract upon discovery.
The ogre’s physique was much larger than a normal human. It carried a large log like a club, lacquered with bloodstains. Its face contorted into an ugly smile upon seeing a crowd of people.
Although ogres prefer to eat humans, it is not averse to eating other creatures, like demons. That was probably the cause of the stampede in the Black Forest.
The ogre just stared at the group of adventurers, only recognizing them as food. Euphilia felt a chill run down her spine.
“It’s… it’s so big…!”
“That is a ‘named’ class ogre! Even normal ogres are dangerous!”
“That thing would completely destroy a village if it reached one!”
“We’re more likely to survive fighting off a stampede…!”
It was only because of the stampede that this ogre was discovered. One could consider that a blessing in disguise. If the ogre hadn’t caused the stampede, it could have made its way to a human village undetected so the situation could have been much worse.
On the other hand, it was possible that the stampede might have provoked the ogre into appearing. In any case, the ogre was now approaching from behind with Anne-Sophia on the other side. It was like being sandwiched between two, overwhelming forces.
“… uweh, an ogre, huh? I’ll probably only get a demon stone out of this.”
Anne-Sophia was still in the middle of culling demons but even she could sense the shift in the mood. The person who was happily subjugating demons was no longer there.
There were very few applications for sub-demon stones, hence why Anne-Sophia’s motivation significantly dwindled when posed against this new threat. However, fighting an ogre during a stampede was dangerous, to say the least. The potential risk of damage significantly increased.
“… Fever time is over, huh. Oh well.”
“Yare yare,” Anne-Sophia sighed, casually walking over.
The other demons didn’t bother to move closer, instead it was the ogre that approached. The ogre sprinted ahead to devour the adventurers.
Anne-Sophia avoided the initial dash, leaping up and landing a kick onto the side of the ogre’s face with all her might.
The ogre was knocked back to where it first appeared, sliding across the ground with great force. As Anne-Sophia landed, she readied her blade and yelled a command to the adventurers.
“Knights and adventurers! I’ll take care of the ogre! I’ll leave the stampede to you guys! Is that cool? I already took care of most of them! So, here and now—just don’t die! That’s all!”
Euphilia just stared blankly at Anne-Sophia as she gave out the order.
Even if that girl was a strange, eccentric, and doesn’t seem like she’d be princess, Anne-Sophia is royalty. Even if she didn’t want the throne, she was still willing to stand up and fight for her people, no matter the circumstances.
The irony was funny that Euphilia’s shoulders relaxed. She brandishes Arc en Ciel from her waist then called out to the knight next to her.
“Um, excuse me, sir? Is Her Royal Highness always like that?”
“Hm? Ah, yeah. No matter how dangerous the situation is, she’ll be the first one on it.”
“In that case, we should do as she ordered and take care of the stampede.”
“Yes, yes we should. Um, I don’t mean to offend you but are you, perhaps, Lady Euphilia Magneta, daughter of the duke…?”
“Ahaha… could you keep that a secret? No one was supposed to know about our little field trip.”
“A field trip!? What purpose does a duchess have going on a field trip?!”
“What are you two wasting your time on?! We have a stampede to deal with!”
An older knight who seemed to be organizing the others yelled at the two. Euphilia stepped forward, smiling at the knight who flinched at his superior’s reprimanding.
There were many things Euphilia didn’t know about or understand. It was impossible to know what was going to happen in a situation she had never imagined she’d end up in. It was an utterly terrifying experience but for some reason, Euphilia felt hope welling inside her.
“You really are weird. I can’t take my eyes off you, can I?”
Will I be catch up to you? Euphilia wondered. She poured her magical energy into Arc en Ciel, preparing to unleash her magic. For now, she’d focus all her attention on the fight ahead of her.
＊ ＊ ＊
To be honest, I’m not good with ogres. Ogre demon stones don’t have much use for magic, so I never had a reason to gather them or keep any on hand.
It’s supposed to be my Fever Time to gather materials, but my motivation is dwindling. It’s dangerous for most folk but that doesn’t mean I can’t handle it. In fact, I could probably deal with it easily, so I think I’ll just end it quickly and head home.
While fighting the ogre, I turn my attention towards the roaring at my side. Magic is being shot into the swarm of demons, taking them down one by one. Amongst the crowd, the one who stands out the most to me is Euphilia. I could tell she was leading the way.
… I wonder if I could loot the materials from the demons Euphilia defeated. If I do that, the materials I had to forfeit because I had to deal with this big guy are free to grab again. Well, I probably can’t loot that much otherwise the other adventurers will get mad at me.
“If only I had some disposable money, I wouldn’t have needed to take this job.”
It’s like I don’t enjoy fighting. My main focus is on being a researcher. It’s why I go on these business trips; materials are up for grabs and its profitable. I’m not some battle maniac.
Also, if a princess, of all people, were to jump into the frontlines of a demon hunt, I think it’s perfectly fine to think that they weren’t royalty. It doesn’t bother me.
As I am now, it’s impossible for this ‘named’ class ogre to defeat me. It’s pretty lame comparing it to a dragon, but once you get into a fight like that you start to lose all rationale and act on instinct.
“Hah, but that doesn’t mean I’ll go easy on you.”
Now then, it’s time I finish this. Filled with determination, I steadily grip my Mana Blade with both hands.
An ogre at full strength; its physical capabilities were beyond any normal human beings. It has the strength to crush anything. In other words, don’t get hit.
Observe your surroundings, your opponent—read the situation and predict their movements. Using my past experiences fighting with ogres, I put myself in a comfortable position to fight them.
I absolutely love this feeling of immersion. It’s like reassembling a puzzle. One by one, piece by piece, it all came back to me.
I move to an ideal position. The memory, this feeling, it all comes back to me and manifests into a decisive strike against the ogre.
The head of the ogre is sent flying by my counterattack. The body of the ogre staggers about until finally falling as if realizing it had lost its head.
… I didn’t want to damage its materials so I’m a bit bothered I sent its head flying. If I wasn’t interested in gathering materials, could I have dealt with the situation faster?
Once the demon pack noticed the ogre was defeated, they all ran around me as they retreat back to the forest, avoiding me.
Since they were just trying to run away, I didn’t feel a reason to give chase. I’ve dealt with most of their numbers and its unlikely that they can muster enough numbers for another stampede. They’re also likely to hide in the forest for a long while.
“A job well done.”
I suspend my magical energy from the Mana Blade and sheathe it back in its holder. Now that it felt like it was truly over, I let out a big sigh of relief.
I then stop the flow of magical energy to my engravings and return to my usual state. The warm, tingly sensation that lingered where my engravings were made me feel relieved. It’s normal to feel a little bit of heat, even after the initial burn wore out.
Cheers start to echo around me. The adventurers, and even the knights, roar with a proud battle cry. Not to toot my own horn but stampedes tend to be fatal so I think it’s not too smug of me to say that it would have been a lot more dangerous if it weren’t for me.
“As I thought, living life freely like this is the best.”
Even if people tell me it’s not royal-like of me, I won’t back down. I will protect whatever is in reach and keep it there. I want to be able to pursue what I love and obtain it by my own merit.
I don’t want to be revered or obeyed. I just want to live my life the way I want to and seek the happiness that I think makes me the happiest. Such a life can only befit me, Anne-Sophia von Palletia.
“Well then, time to gather my materials!”
Wait for me, my lovely materials! My rewards, too! I can’t help but keep smiling thinking about it all.
T/N: Sorry for the delay! I tend to take breaks after working on translations and I caught a fever during the period I work on translating. My family was worried it was covid, so for the most part I was incapacitated. False alarm, lucky for me. I'd hate to catch it twice.
This chapter was pretty simple, although there were awkward flows when it comes to translating it to English. I did my best, but I apologize if its still somewhat awkward for you guys.
Anise is kinda scary, isn't she?
As a reminder, MWM, the original translator of this project, are translating the manga adaptation. Chapter 2 came out recently, so check them out! The art is so lovely. (*≧▽≦)／
Once again, thanks for reading. Hope to see you all next chapter!