Stern to the end
※ Dorothea’s point of view.
From my early age I realized I was different from people around me.
It wasn’t because I was a member of the imperial family, it was simply a matter of ability.
What people might take years to learn, I was able to do it in the blink of an eye.
It didn’t matter if it was academia or martial arts.
From when I was a young child I was expected to be the empress, and I took it for granted too.
Not many people would understand that being able to do anything is boring.
Everything for me was just a way of killing time.
I was certain that I would eventually succeed the throne, but it didn’t move my heart at all.
From the time I remember, I was already tired of life.
Other people would call it an extravagant worry.
But for me, this world was a very boring place.
That all changed when I encountered the demon queen.
One by one, my vassals died before my eyes.
Others, far weaker than me, had thrown away their lives to protect me.
There was nothing I could do about it.
I was too helpless.
‘I won’t kill you. If I killed you, history would change too much.’
The demon queen said that and left.
All that was left behind were countless corpses and one foolish clown.
I was made to realize what fear was.
And from that moment I’ve only lived to get rid of that fear.
‘W-Wait! What do you want!? If it’s the throne, as soon as you’re old enough–’
I killed my father, the emperor.
It happened when I was seven years old.
My father had planned to abdicate as soon as I came of age, but I thought that would be too late.
Quickly, as soon as possible.
In order to defeat the demon queen, I had to create a mighty empire.
No, an empire wasn’t enough.
Unless all of humanity was united, we would be no match for that calamity.
From then on, I strived to make the country bigger.
I repeatedly invaded other countries and tried to force humanity to become one.
That may have been too forceful a method.
No matter what the cause, there was no justification for such aggressive acts.
I knew there was no justice in it.
Nevertheless, I knew I had to do it.
‘Your Majesty, you should be more aware of other people’s pain. If you continue as you are, no one will understand you, Your Majesty.’
Old man had been preaching that at every opportunity.
I didn’t need understanding.
I only sought power.
Without power, I couldn’t do anything.
Power was everything to me.
And before I knew it, there was nobody left around me.
“Even you must be slowly getting tired, right?”
The demon, Arist, said so in a mocking tone.
I wanted to close that mouth of his immediately because I was sick of listening to his drivel.
“However… Even if you’re an enemy, I’m impressed. You’ve slain so many, and yet you’re still standing.”
When I looked around after he said that, I saw countless corpses of monsters and demons scattered around me.
I didn’t know how many I’d killed.
But even so, there were still countless monsters and demons in front of me.
“Why don’t you give up? No matter how strong you are, it’s reckless to fight alone against so many.”
“Yes, it is.”
I was the only one left standing.
The soldiers from the rearguard had all died, leaving me alone.
I didn’t think I could kill all the attackers by myself.
Still, I couldn’t fall yet.
“Good grief… It can’t be helped. I’ll deal with you myself. You should feel honored.”
“Don’t talk so proudly after you sacrificed your subordinates to wear me out.”
I readied my swords.
My trusty twin swords were chipped all over, but so far they didn’t break.
They just need to bear with me a little more.
I exhaled sharply and closed the distance with the demon.
“This is the God of the Sword, Dorothea?” I was appalled by how slow I was.
I hadn’t been this exhausted when fighting the battalion from Sousa.
I just prayed that we bought a little time.
“You’re attacking this me head-on… It looks you can’t afford to do anything else. This is the end, God of the Sword.”
Before my brandished swords I saw the demon’s claws.
This is as far as I go.
Before I could attack, my head would fall off.
Arist must’ve seen my body disappear.
I moved behind Arist with a speed impossible with my remaining strength.
This was the final ace up my sleeve – my living armor.
The jet-black armor I was wearing was a living magic tool.
As I couldn’t use magic, this was the only magical tool that I could use. It was a legacy of an ancient civilization unearthed in ruins in the empire and had been passed down throught generations of the imperial family.
This magical tool had a will of its own, and autonomously protected its wearer.
“You got careless, demon.”
Making full use of whatever strength I had left, I swung my sword downwards.
“– Careless, huh. This just means I didn’t need to be careful, empress.”
The sword I swung down to deal the killing blow cut into something that wasn’t a demon and stopped.
“Coward… No, wrong.”
“Yeah, anything goes on the battlefield. Right?”
An ogre threw his body in front of the demon.
My sword cut halfway through the ogre’s horn and snapped.
“You were strong, empress. But, goodbye.”
Arist’s claw pierced my right breast.
I could instinctively tell.
It was lethal.
“What is it? Is it your will? I’ll make sure to tell your daughter.”
“? You have to be louder.”
As the demon’s head drew close to my ear, I gathered my fading strength and grabbed it.
“… I’ll take you with me.”
“!? You bastard!?”
In the next moment, black flames poured out of my armor, engulfing the demon in flames.
“It’s a fire of the ancient civilization. Savoir it and die.”
The flames, which ignite as the wearer’s life burns out, can even melt the adamantite the gods forged.
The black flames entwined around Arist like living tentacles, consuming his body.
I couldn’t keep my promise to Philine, but this wasn’t bad.
Contrary to my expectation, it didn’t feel bad.
(Forgive me, Philine. I’m laughing off my own death.)
I lived my whole life alone, and yet at the end I thought about my daughter, who I couldn’t say I’d loved.
While losing myself in laughter that welled up inside me, I let go of the last bit of my consciousness.
— I’m coming, Christoph.