Chapter 40: The First Round
“Besides, I don’t think there’s anyone you’d like, brother.”
As he nodded, my brother’s face was distant. Their hair color most likely reminded him of the Shrine Maiden.
“If you care so much about her, why didn’t you just cry and beg her to stay instead of sending her away?”
“Bah…! What I felt for her was friendship, not love! Besides, her happiness lies not in this world but in the one from which she came.”
After five years, it appears that my brother has yet to realize his first love. I’m curious if he’ll ever meet a human woman. I sighed once more.
I looked in the mirror again, but my face was still ugly.
When I was summoned before, my appearance had not changed. This time, my limbs and hair seem to be the same as before. The only thing that seems to have changed is my face.
My voice, too, hasn’t changed. I’m not sure why, but I can’t use magic to transform back into my original form, so I must remain as I am.
“… I’m in trouble.”
I picture myself going to see the Demon King: a strange human woman who claims to be his friend—which is suspicious in and of itself—but the strange woman claims to be the Shrine Maiden. She’s suspicious enough that she’ll almost certainly be imprisoned.
I mean, how exactly does the Demon King’s bride selection work? I’m curious if there’s any sort of pre-meeting screening process, like a courtesy test or something, before meeting the Demon King… If that’s the case, I’ll be out for being rude to Yulin…
After putting on our dresses, all the women who had come to the castle today gathered in the hall.
“Thank you for coming all the way today—we’ll be throwing you a party tonight, so I hope you have a good time.”
Yulin said so and walked away.
There were many delicious-looking dishes in the hall.
I was going to eat something, but I was worried about the piercing stares on my face, so I stopped.
What a waste of a tasty-looking dish. I walk out into the courtyard, reluctantly, to avoid the stares.
The courtyard is magically lit, and the roses are blooming beautifully. I wonder if the Demon King grew these roses too.
While I’m thinking about it and looking at the roses,
I turn around when I hear my name called.
When I turned around, there was a young man with black hair standing there—a demon. I didn’t know that not only women but also men have black hair. It seems that black hair is really in fashion in this world.
The young man apologized as he looked at me.
“I’m sorry—you look like someone I know.”
“No, don’t worry about it.”
“…You look like “my friend,” who shouldn’t be here. What are you doing here? Aren’t the human women in the middle of a party?
“I don’t like to be in that kind of pomp and circumstance…”
half true, half false. I’m not one for pomp and circumstance, but I’m afraid to admit that I came here because the looks on my face hurt, and this in front of a young man who appears to think nothing of it when he sees my face.
“Well, you’re just like me.”
The young man gave me a friendly smile. It was a warm smile.
“These are lovely roses.”
“…I grew these roses.”
“Are you the gardener?”
I suppose the Demon King does not grow all of the plants in his castle.
“… Something along those lines. What is your name, by the way?
Mika is the name of the Shrine Maiden, and saying Mika will appear suspicious. I’ll go by “Mira,” as I told Yulin.
“Good name… My name is O’do. Mira, I have to get back to work soon, but I hope to see you again.”
“If we meet again, yes.”
The young man then walked away. However, does a gardener work at night? I was perplexed until I remembered that the “matchmaker under the moonlight” was a flower that only bloomed at night. He’s probably going to take care of those flowers.
“…The matchmaker in the moonlight.”
──What’s the Demon King doing now?
Is he preoccupied with his work? I hope he’s getting enough rest.
That’s what I was thinking throughout the party.
Towards the end of the party, Yulin appeared in the hall again.
“We will now reveal the results of the first round of bride candidates for His Majesty the Demon King!”
“The first round?”
“Wasn’t it just a party?”
“Has “he” been watching us somewhere?”
The room is buzzing with activity, but Yulin says, “Quiet.”
Yulin’s words soothed the situation.
“Fifty people have now made it through the first round of selection. —Irene, Anna, Emma, Aura, Kasara…”
The names of the women are read out one by one. There are already over 45 people, but my name has yet to be called. Now that I’ve lost my Shrine Maiden powers and my appearance has changed, the only way I can meet the Demon King is if I continue to be a bride candidate….
“Hannah, Hikari, Frene.”
If you’ve seen my manners at the party, I’m almost in the courtyard, maybe not. I pray and wait for two more names to be read out.
What’s going on here? Before the last person is read out, Yulin frowns. Then he looks at the note again, sighs, and reads the last sentence.
I don’t know why, but I did! Now we have a better chance of meeting the Demon King.
“Those named above will be escorted to their rooms and must obey the officer. The rest of you will be sent home immediately.”
A maid approached me and led me to my room.
The room was the same as the one I had stayed in at the Demon King’s castle before.
I drifted off to sleep, remembering it fondly.