The day Charlotte Aria steeled her resolve, humanity issued a draft call in five cities, including Eva and Haramark.
When the morning dawned the next day, a group of Earthlings rushed to the Eva Royal Palace. It was to protest and oppose the sudden draft call.
Despite the flustered soldiers trying to stop them, it wasn’t easy to block stubborn Earthlings from barging in, especially when there were hundreds of them.
The Earthlings, determined, forced themselves into the grand hall with eyes that could only be described as fierce. The man leading the group was about to shout something as soon as he saw the Queen, but abruptly shut his mouth.
Including Kim Hannah, Tong Chai, Odelette Delphine, Hao Win, and a few more— the core members of Valhalla and its affiliate organizations were waiting in the palace, expecting such a thing to happen.
It was an excellent choice given the outcome. Without these big shots, the Earthlings would gladly have unsheathed their swords.
But even though they shrunk back after seeing the members on standby, the spirit of the masses did not die down in the slightest. Each member of the mob was glaring viciously, clearly demonstrating that they would intimidate the royal family into retracting the draft call.
As an uncomfortable silence flowed in the air, Sorg Kühne chastised the glaring Earthlings with a stern voice.
“It hasn’t even been a day since the royal family ordered the draft call. Committing a grave crime akin to civil strife when every waking second is of utmost importance, are you lot out of your minds?”
“Civil strife? Grave crime? Hah!”
A loud snort rang out.
“Go eat shit.”
The man who spearheaded the mob sneered, causing Sorg Kühne’s expression to quickly stiffen. Sorg Kühne tried to pressure them by mentioning their act being a crime, but they didn’t give a damn as expected.
“Let us return those same words to you. Are you out of your mind?”
Sorg Kühne’s eyebrows went up furtively.
“Did you forget you are in the presence of the Queen?”
“Fuck off. She’s your Queen, not ours. Anyway, queen or not—”
The man snorted and growled while revealing his yellow teeth.
“I’m not gonna stay here and go on and on. Why don’t you withdraw the draft call while we’re being nice, huh?”
“What did you say?”
The man gave an ultimatum like scolding someone’s dog.
Sorg Kühne’s face reddened. He knew there would be some level of pushback and that some Earthlings would cross the line. But the way this Earthling was spitting out vulgar words, the pushback was harsher than he anticipated.
“Don’t be ridiculous. Why should the royal family withdraw the draft call without a lawful reason?”
“Huh!? Didn’t you say a war broke out in the Federation!?”
The man roared angrily, shouting like he was dying of frustration.
“The Parasites are attacking the Federation! Why the hell should we go to Tigol Fortress!?”
“Are you asking that because you truly do not know? The Federation, especially Tigol Fortress, is a neighbor of Eva—”
“Screw off with the strategic location bullshit!”
“I don’t give a crap about that stuff! It would be a different story if it was Eva! But it’s not like we’re getting attacked! So why the hell should we be dragged to war against our will!?”
“I’m telling you—”
Sorg Kühne truly looked dumbstruck.
Forget trying to persuade him, the man wasn’t even listening to him! He only raised his voice, insisting that he was right.
What was even more startling was that he confidently shouted, ‘What the hell does the Federation being in danger have to do with us?’
However, that was simply how most Earthlings thought. To them, Paradise was no different than a stimulating, hardcore video game that they logged into whenever they were bored or had free time.
They had Earth, a home they grew up in, a place they could return to. There was no reason for them to risk their lives for Paradise. Seol Jihu was just an exceptionally rare case.
Before anyone noticed, loud voices were going back and forth. Furthermore, the mob cheered for the man and backed him up whenever he spoke, making the grand hall clamorous.
While the circular argument continued meaninglessly like a gerbil running on a hamster wheel…
Charlotte Aria was silently watching the scene with a nervous expression.
Although she was doing her best to seem unperturbed, her jaw was shaking faintly. No matter how much she tried to hold it in, her teeth clattered continuously.
To be honest, she was afraid.
She was afraid of the menacing man yelling continuously. Every time he roared with his bloodshot eyes, her heart quivered. She wanted to get away from this place this instant. She tried to endure, looking at Sorg Kühne, who was facing off against them alone, but…
Her body automatically shrunk back whenever her eyes met the flashing eyes of the Earthlings.
She subconsciously began to walk on eggshells to avoid getting yelled at. Having lived a sheltered life, this thorny situation was too painful to endure.
In the end, she carefully looked around the grand hall with her head cowering. She wanted someone, anyone, to come help and protect her.
On the other hand, she felt resentful as she looked at the quietly-standing Kim Hannah’s back. She was supposed to be on her side, so why was she just standing there and watching?
‘If Seol Jihu was here—’
The moment she thought so, Charlotte Aria went “Ah”. Her expression contorted to a frown.
She had sworn never to think like that again. Even if it was just once, she wanted to stand on her own feet without relying on others.
She really wanted to…
It was funny. The way she loudly boasted about paying back Seol Jihu’s benevolence.
Although she mustered up her courage, the result didn’t change. When reality set in, she was still the same scared little girl who couldn’t say a word.
This was Charlotte Aria’s true nature as a person.
What was even more despairingly horrendous was that she was seeking outside help even as she thought this.
In the end, nothing had changed. She would never be able to change.
Falling into a deep self-loathing, Charlotte Aria’s eyes began to glisten with tears. Soon, she shut her eyes and asked herself.
What should I do? Just what am I supposed to do in this situation?
It was at this moment.
[Listen carefully to what I am about to say.]
The words Roselle said not too long ago suddenly crossed her mind.
Charlotte Aria widened her eyes at Roselle’s firm voice.
“Don’t ever do anything. Just stay still and remain quiet.”
Roselle gave a sidelong glance at the girl dazedly looking up at her and continued.
“Because you will probably get in everyone’s way if you tried.”
A sudden verbal abuse came flying out.
“Given the gravity of the situation, I would like to spend my time doing something more meaningful. Wasting my time when I’m already so busy, that is the one thing I hate doing.”
Charlotte Aria’s complexion turned dark from shock.
She had heard Roselle’s criticisms multiple times in her study of sorcery. But those criticisms had always been reasonable and came with advice. They were more like affectionate pointers from a master to her lacking disciple.
But this time, it was different. Rather than calling it a criticism, it was more like a blind condemnation. To put it bluntly, Roselle was trashing her.
Hearing such words from a teacher she trusted and respected, Charlotte Aria received a huge shock that could not be described with words.
“I may have been a little harsh, but there is no other choice. You understand, right?”
Charlotte Aria nodded her head, barely holding her tears back from bursting out.
“I’m useless… I’m a failure of a queen… so there’s no helping it…”
But hearing this, Roselle tilted her head.
“Eh? No, I think you’re gravely mistaken about something.”
Crossing her arms, she shook her head.
“I didn’t mean you should stay still because you’re useless.”
“If I make a useless person do something, then it’s my fault for commanding a useless person. More importantly, I wouldn’t have had any expectations if you were useless.”
“The reason I was so harsh on you, Charlotte…”
Roselle cleared her throat.
“It is because you don’t try to help when you have the ability.”
Charlotte Aria blinked rapidly.
I have… the ability? I’m not trying to help despite this?
“Look. Yuri is frantically racking her brains to try to do something. You’re in a much more advantageous position, yet you’re only sucking your thumbs. How spiteful would she feel?”
“Don’t say no.”
Roselle cut her off sharply.
“As I said before, you are the queen of a kingdom. A queen is someone who leads and is respected by the masses. Would a person of such a position truly lack the ability to help?”
Charlotte Aria was struck speechless and could only stand with her mouth agape.
Roselle gave her a sideways glance before letting out a heavy sigh and shaking her head.
“What a poor man! He is doing something that might be impossible even with the support of his wives. Yet, the woman who should be his most reliable ally is calling herself a failure of a queen and binding her hands and feet. Ah~ How pitiful.”
Although she made it sound like a monologue, it was clear that she meant for Charlotte Aria to hear it.
Once Seol Jihu was brought up, Charlotte Aria flew into a rage, her eyes flaring. However, facing Roselle’s cold pupils, Charlotte Aria instinctively averted her gaze.
“N-No, I’m not saying I won’t help…. There’s a royal administrator called Sorg Kühne… He’s very loyal and capable….”
Charlotte Aria stammered.
Roselle’s eyes narrowed.
Her voice suddenly changed. Rather than purposely offending, it was chastising someone who truly did wrong.
“Letting the heart be hot, the head be cold. No, I don’t expect this much. Charlotte, you are incapable of even being angry at your inaction. How can you get enraged at the current state of affairs and step up to the plate?”
Charlotte Aria dropped her head dejectedly.
Roselle smiled bitterly and called out to Charlotte quietly and tenderly.
“I will ask you one last time.”
“Do you truly wish to help that man?”
“Really? Is it not a fleeting feeling? Do you truly feel that way?”
Charlotte Aria quietly nodded her head.
But reading her thoughts, Roselle denied it.
“Look straight at your inner self. In my eyes, it is only a temporary feeling, just like how a boiling pot becomes cool when it is no longer applied with heat.”
Charlotte Aria gently bit her lower lip.
However, Roselle’s cold words took a turn.
“Finding out that an always cool pot can heat up is a very worthwhile thing.”
Saying so, Roselle gave a beaming smile.
“Perhaps this might be the first and last chance for you to grow.”
“A chance for me to grow?”
“Yes. No matter what anyone says, you are the direct descent of the Aria Family. The sole member of the lineage that governs thunder and lightning.”
Roselle’s eyes lit up, and she asked.
“Charlotte, do you remember what the most important element is for the development of bloodline magic?”
Charlotte Aria answered right away.
“That’s right. The bloodline of water requires flexible thinking, the bloodline of fire requires unrelenting courage, the bloodline of ice requires imperturbable reason, and the bloodline of lightning requires…”
Roselle trailed off and glanced down. She was signaling Charlotte Aria to finish the sentence.
Charlotte Aria replied with an entranced expression.
“The bloodline of lightning requires rage that opposes injustice.”
Then, she shrugged.
“But Charlotte isn’t the type to get enraged by nature. Or should I say it’s by acquisition, rather? Anyway, it should be difficult for you to get truly enraged.”
Roselle winked at the dazedly staring Charlotte Aria.
“Soooo! This teacher is going to tell you about a special method.”
“A special method?”
“Yes, a special method.”
Roselle said clearly.
“If you find it difficult to get enraged on your own, why not borrow someone else’s power? Don’t you have more confidence in doing that?”
Charlotte Aria was taken aback by her playful tone.
“I-I don’t understand what you mean.”
“It’s simple. Just think about that person.”
“The man Charlotte trusts deeply and loves passionately… Well, it doesn’t really have to be him. It’s fine as long as it’s someone you cherish.”
While Charlotte Aria struggled to understand the meaning, Roselle’s voice slowly got quieter.
“Charlotte, you have to act if you want to obtain something you want. This is the natural law of the world.”
“Of course, you might still get what you want by staying still, but looking at the proportion of successes and failures, the former choice is overwhelmingly superior. The same goes for this situation.”
“Look back and remember. Think about the people you could have helped and what happened as a result of you doing nothing. Think about what will happen.”
Charlotte Aria flinched.
The faces of two people who had already departed and one person who might depart flashed across her mind.
“Once you’ve done that—”
Charlotte Aria’s complexion waned.
“The target can be anyone. You can rage at the damned world, you can rage at an irritating obstacle, or you can rage at your powerless self.”
Roselle placed her hand on Charlotte Aria’s heart.
“Towards what doesn’t matter. Just rage, and rage again.”
Her whispering voice echoed in her ears.
[Entrust yourself to that rage.]
Even if it’s just once.
Charlotte Aria opened her eyes.
The situation in the grand hall was still the same. The mob of Earthlings was protesting in a near-riot, and Sorg Kühne was facing them all alone.
Charlotte Aria carefully observed the mob with a subdued gaze. Then, she slowly remembered. One by one, she recalled the faces of each and every person that she cared for deeply.
[This involves our people on a smaller scale and all of Paradise on a bigger scale. I’ll be off.]
Campbell Aria, who cared for the people more than anyone else.
[Because this is something that has to be done.]
Evangeline Rose, who, while a bit egotistical, wanted to protect Paradise more than anyone else.
[We don’t have time. Every second of every minute is of utmost importance.]
And Seol Jihu, who was devoted to Paradise more than anyone else.
And when she did, suddenly, an indescribable something boiled from the bottom of her heart and shot up honestly.
Evangeline Rose had put in so much effort.
Seol Jihu was risking his life, crossing the line between life and death.
They’re the same Earthlings, so why were they so different?
Was it a lack of reason? A lack of justification?
It was obvious that humanity would be next once Tigol Fortress was toppled and the Federation fell. So how could these people so shamelessly act like thugs in this grand hall?
In truth, this was a question she should have asked a long time ago. But to Charlotte Aria, who always anxiously repeated, ‘It’s too agonizing. Help!’, this was a somewhat new emotion.
[Towards what doesn’t matter. Just rage, and rage again.]
She gritted her teeth, hearing the ruffians who refused to even listen to Sorg Kühne.
Rage shot up from her heart, seeing the scoundrels who made a mess of Seol Jihu’s plans and tried to destroy it.
Frustration exploded at herself, who could not utter a single word properly.
Charlotte Aria groaned quietly.
Her face was hot. The hot steam that shot up from her belly heated up her body.
It was then.
“Do you truly mean to disobey Her Majesty the Queen’s command!?”
“Oh please! The Queen’s command? You mean your command! Everyone knows you’re the regent of the kingdom! Do you take us to be fools!?”
The man roared before suddenly adorning a sneer.
“Good thing you brought it up! Right, let’s ask while we’re on this topic whether the Queen really wants a war.”
He pointed with his finger and asked.
“Come to think of it, didn’t humans go to war against the Federation in the past?”
“That was a long time ago. What does that have to do with anything?”
“That’s your opinion. From what I heard— didn’t someone from the Eva Royal Family die in that war?”
Just where did the man hear that from? Sorg Kühne became speechless for the first time. He seemed petrified from shock.
“You do not know of the past circumstances!”
“As I said, I don’t give a crap about what you think. Let’s hear the Queen’s thoughts, hmm?”
Having seized the initiative, the man smiled and spoke brazenly.
“Let’s not mince words here. Isn’t it good for the Queen if the Federation falls?”
“W-What did you say?”
“It’ll be sweeeeet~! In a way, the Parasites will be repaying her grudge against her family. Right?”
The moment Charlotte Aria heard this—
“Am I wrong? Hah! Helping the Federation. Give me a break. The Prince who died fighting the Federation will roll over in his grave!”
Charlotte Aria’s eyes shot open. These words had poured oil on an already burning fuse.
In an instant, her blood boiled. A shiver ran down her spine. Every human being had a bottom line.
Charlotte Aria’s complexion turned pale, then heated red.
The shiver that swept down her back spread out across her entire body. The convulsion grew in size by the second, and her stiff body began to shake.
On the other hand, Kim Hannah, who was quietly observing, secretly clicked her tongue. The reason she maintained her silence so far was because of Sorg Kühne’s request.
He said that the Queen was trying to change, that she should stay back and watch for just a bit.
‘This is it.’
This was the limit. The Earthlings who barged in were growing fiercer. It was time to hurry up and nip the bud.
Kim Hannah didn’t have an ounce of expectation toward Charlotte Aria in the first place, so she turned her gaze without regret.
That was why she failed to notice.
“Have you finished speaking?”
Sorg Kühne, who was arguing heatedly…
“What? Did I say something I shouldn’t have? Just ask the Queen already!”
And even the Earthling, who was pointing at the very person, failed to notice.
That the air fuming out of the Queen’s nose had become extremely hot and violent like the snort of a bull.
That a spark flickered from her wide-open eyes.
Then, just as Kim Hannah was about to step in—
With a shaky…
The Queen’s pupils crackled with blue lightning.
At the same time…
“Step out of the way, old man. I’ll personally ask—”
The mouth that was only moving slightly and the lips inlaid with bite-marks and a bruise opened.
“SHUT YOUR MOUTH THIS INSTANT!”
Then, a thunderous roar burst out.
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