Dokuhakihime to Hoshi no Ishi: Chapter 2
Credits and Translator's Notice:
Chapter 2: The Mute Princess's Wedding
The scent of flowers was putrid.
It was a brisk clear day with cloudless skies. A warm breeze blew, carrying with it the unfamiliar smell of earthly greenery. An open carriage lumbered along the streets of Red Ark, blowing aside this breeze.
From their windows, citizens of Red Ark scattered flower petals down towards the carriage, their faces full of anticipation and curiosity.
This was their country and their city. They were welcoming the bride of a new era, as she was to marry the prince of this land.
What a beautiful princess! -- a married woman who was watching the bridal procession remarked.
Glossy black hair, mysterious red eyes. You see it?! Those red eyes!
The bride was still very young. Everywhere in the streets, people were whispering how the prince was also young, and how they were such a perfect pair.
Though the bride could not hear these comments, she could tell from the ambient atmosphere what they were thinking.
(It's like I'm a circus exhibit.)
Elsa sat in the bridal carriage, trying to avoid people's eyes. She lowered her head and stared at the ground. This place was completely different from Vion; there weren't any dead stray dogs or beggars on the street.
(A rich country.)
Perhaps it was because of this that the people looked so peaceful and so welcoming of a foreign princess.
As a result, they even praised Elsa.
(Beautiful? Are they talking about me?)
In the carriage that was essentially her cage, she examined herself. Yes, I am very beautiful -- she silently murmured to herself. However, her self-centered thoughts were full of disdain.
Inwardly, she mocked the ignorance of the people of this country, the way they were kept in the dark.
Those snow white wrists, smooth and tender hands, delicate knuckles, and perfectly shaped, polished nails. The girl who sat on the carriage was nothing close to the pitiful figure of a beggar. She was beautifully dressed in a tight ceremonial robe that was worthy of a royal princess. However, her true self was either a beast or a curse. In short, she wasn't even human, Elsa thought.
Those days when she was imprisoned, Elsa wasn't even allowed to make the tiniest cries of a little bird.
Having grown up like a beggar, this was the world she had entered.
(My birth was a mistake.)
Now that she had left her own hated country, starting today, she had new sufferings to endure. Even though she was already sitting on the carriage, she still couldn't see herself as a bride.
Before long, the bridal carriage arrived at the castle and it passed through the gates.
Elsa kept her lips tightly sealed as she gazed at the castle, at a loss. Her red eyes were dull and murky, without the slightest glimmer. The inhabitants appeared and welcomed her in turn, giving her a grand reception. They kept telling her apologetically how it must have been a long and difficult journey, greeting her with bowed heads.
The emissaries from Vion helped Elsa off the bridal carriage. Because she had been sitting in the rickety carriage for such a long time, Elsa's knees trembled unsteadily.
Her countrymen grasped her arms with their powerful and rough grip, without the slightest respect or delicacy. She was basically like a prisoner in their custody, Elsa thought.
"Presenting Her Royal Highness Princess Viontine--"
And so the seers of Vion spoke. Her Royal Highness Princess Viontine. That was Elsa's first time hearing anyone say that.
"As we previously notified you, due to an unfortunate mishap, the princess has lost her voice."
An unfortunate mishap.
She almost laughed out loud. She had no idea who came up with that excuse. However she quickly found out there was no need to hold back her laughter.
Even her laughter had been taken away.
She wanted to laugh, but the nerves in her cheeks were stiff and unresponsive.
She was a princess who had lost her voice and words. Despite her misfortunes, the people of this city looked up to Elsa with dreamy and doting affection.
Their doting was not because of their inherent kindness. The people of Red Ark were accustomed to curses.
That was because a cursed person also lived in this city.
The seers continued to give their shameless salutations.
"So therefore, we regret the inconvenience it will bring, but..."
"Actually, it is hardly much of an inconvenience at all, as it is a honor and our pleasure to serve the one will will become our queen."
A lively and powerful voice suddenly cut in.
Surprised, Elsa looked at the man who interrupted the seers. This man advanced briskly out of the crowd of people, who parted to form a road for him.
It was a handsome man. He had blond hair and blue eyes, which were together fresh and charming. His mature and calm face had accumulated years of experience, but it also emitted youthful energy.
He did not hesitate to approach Elsa and respectfully take her hand.
"It is my honor to be able to meet you. Princess of Vion... I welcome you to this country."
He kissed the back of her hand, demonstrating his respect.
Confronted with Elsa's bewildered expression, he laughed.
"My name is Ann Duke MacValen."
The emissaries and seers of Vion all caught their breath when they heard those words.
"R-Red Ark's Holy Knight...!"
Elsa also realized it too.
He was the Knight of the Holy Sword. The Kingdom of Vion had long envied his power.
The country of Red Ark had been allied with Vion since ancient times, and has long regarded the Holy Sword as the ultimate treasure.
The Holy Sword chose its own masters, and in particular it choses Holy Knights, who must dedicate their life to battle. This country had not had seen a Holy Knight in a long time, and for nearly a century it laid unused before a hero emerged to claim it.
The instant she realized this man was the Holy Knight, she felt his hands were disgusting. Before she knew it, she had rudely brushed away his hand.
"Your Royal Highness Princess Elsa!"
The Seer's face became pale as he exclaimed aloud.
Just touching his hands made her want to vomit.
As if attempting to hide Elsa's contorted face, the seer stepped in front of her.
The Holy Knight who had his hand pushed away still smiled gently, even he couldn't see Elsa because his line of sight was blocked.
"It seems like the Princess is very nervous. But she must be tired because of the long journey, so let's save the introductions for tomorrow."
The Holy Knight's timely comment gave the seers relief, and their complexions relaxed.
"Please take the princess to her room. As for our guests from Vion, the chancellor is waiting for you."
Elsa accepted the Holy Knight's instructions, and walked into the castle led by female attendants. Her long ceremonial robes were heavy, and she couldn't get used to it. They were like leg irons shackling her movements. The attendants were respectful, but they seemed unsure how to treat Elsa who had lost her voice. They seemed cautiously fearful of her as if she were diseased.
Elsa was taken to her bedroom, and she was surprised to see how luxurious it was.
(How much is this room worth?)
Everything that she touched and smelled was so different. Even though they told her this was was her room, she just stood there stupefied and speechless.
(If I sold everything in this room, how many days worth of food could I buy?)
Elsa had always thought that as long as one had a full stomach, and a dozen blankets or so, that was pretty much the definition of happiness. Though, she had no idea whether the master of this castle was happy or not.
(In this room...)
As a princess, or a queen, did they expect her to be a doll at another's mercy? Or someone's sex toy?
These depressing thoughts were interrupted by the opening of the door, together with a voice that came from the end of the corridor. The voices of female attendants were also mixed in. She heard someone say:
"What's wrong with that? I just want to see!"
It was a teenager's voice. A male voice.
"Isn't she going to be my bride?"
Elsa shuddered as she listened to his words. Not from fear, but disgust. This was the prince of this country. This person...
This person didn't hesitate to step into Elsa's bedroom. Taking off his cloak, he headed straight to Elsa's side.
If one was arrested on charges of disrespect, it wasn't unusual to be executed. However, this sentence was the first thing that Elsa thought upon seeing the prince. If she still had her clear-cut voice of the past, she would have blurted it out immediately.
Although the prince was short, he was only shorter than Elsa by a tiny bit. Elsa had always assumed princes were tall and strong, so it was contrary to her expectations.
The prince's hair was pale silver, close to a gray color.
He was skinny, and as has his little head turned towards her, Elsa saw that his large eyes were a murky green. Those colors caught her attention, and subconsciously her hands reached for her bosom. She held her Star Stone in her hands.
With the prince's dim eyes watching her, he said:
"Hello, it's nice to meet you. My name is Claudius... Claudius Vain Yordelta Red Ark. I'm going to become the king of this country."
King, he said. With such slender limbs it was hard to believe he could bear with such a heavy responsibility.
His clothes were sewn with high quality material, but he was surprisingly lightly dressed. He wore a short-sleeved shirt and boots, so his elbows and knees were exposed.
Elsa's eyes quivered, looking at his hands and feet. His flesh was striped with sinister colors, and complex patterns traced his skin, like distinct carvings on his elbows and knees. He stood there, not hiding his any of it.
(...the Deviant Prince.)
Red Ark's cursed prince was known as this, precisely because of his four limbs. Indeed, people found him revolting. However...
He's just an ordinary person, Elsa thought.
This country had many legends that were passed down through the ages. These legends continued in the present day.
The Holy Sword, the Knight who wielded it and the Witch, as well as the Forest of Night -- also, the prince who had grotesque limbs, who was the only heir to the throne.
However, Elsa was annoyed. King or not, strange or not.
(He's just the son of some royalty, that's all.)
To herself, Elsa concluded that he was nothing but a sickening member of the aristocracy; the kind of person who wore a majestic crown and concerned themselves with elegant manners more than anything else.
(It's not like they care about the lives of their subjects.)
To them, human lives were worthless like ants. Even if he had limbs like those, aristocrats were all fundamentally the same, Elsa thought.
Claudius called her name. His quiet and gentle voice seeped through Elsa's mind like black ink.
Claudius seemed to understand the meaning of Elsa's silence.
"Oh, right, you're the Mute Princess. If I offended you, please forgive me. I heard about you before, but I accidentally forgot."
It took some Elsa some time to realize that he was talking about her. Elsa had known about the Red Ark's Holy Knight and Strange Prince. Therefore it shouldn't have been strange for the prince of this country to have heard about her own abnormal situation and called her as such.
She could already imagine the bards singing cliche ballads; how the Princess of Vion lost her voice due to an unfortunate mishap. How she became the pitiful Mute Princess.
(Well that's completely wrong...)
Elsa laughed ironically to herself.
(I'm no Mute Princess.)
There were more accurate titles that described her, but it was now impossible to use them. That was because she had lost her sole weapon.
"Elsa Viontine. Although I'm weak, I want to help you any way I can."
As Claudius spoke, he lifted Elsa's hand. She realized that he was going to kiss her hand like the Holy Knight did, and she couldn't help but get goosebumps.
In the places where he touched her fingertips, a strong electric current coursed though. Elsa felt an irrational sensation, and suddenly flung aside his hand.
Claudius eyes widened in surprise, and his pupils that were the same color as Elsa's Star Stone appeared. Elsa was also shocked by her own reaction.
...What was that?
It was a different feeling than when the Holy Knight kissed the back of her hand, and she clearly felt "something" was there.
Elsa's hair stood on end and she was stiff with inexplicable foreboding. Claudius's strangely patterned hands were frozen in midair. Still facing Elsa in her tenson, he furrowed his brow as he spoke:
"Are you afraid?"
Towards the prince's gentle question, Elsa suddenly felt a torrent of mute words tumble forth, spinning like a maelstrom inside her.
(Are you an idiot?)
Elsa was furious inside her mind. If she still had her voice, she would be shouting right now.
What the fuck is, 'Are you afraid?'! I'm not some shitty glass crybaby princess!
(I just don't want to be touched!)
I'm not afraid of you.
I just don't want you to touch me.
The more she wanted to say these things to him, the furious she got. Unspeakable anger filled her chest, and she clenched her teeth. Tears were starting to flow, and her fair complexion was distorted with pain. She was clenching her Star Stone with all her strength.
She never had anything. She came into this world with absolutely nothing.
(Why'd they have to take away my voice too...?)
Claudius, faced with Elsa who was clearly bursting with regret, couldn't help but feel panic.
Helpless and confused, he tried calling her name. "Elsa." His eyes were full of sympathy; he attempted to imagine what it was like to be driven off a bridal carriage, married away in an exotic country, .
However, he was a cursed prince. In another country, it wouldn't have been strange if he was abandoned after birth. But, maybe that makes us alike -- Elsa thought, for a split second.
Claudius's hands with vein-like markings trembled slightly. Conscious of disturbing the atmosphere, he held his breath, and expressed extraordinary self-awareness. Again, he held out his hand, touching Elsa's cheek.
If he was rejected again, he firmly decided he was never going to touch Elsa again.
In contrast with the the prince's steady determination, Elsa's feelings were raging and turbulent. She sensed the Deviant Prince's tenderness in his movements, and she too laced her behavior with her feelings. However, the sentiment that emerged was anger, not sympathy.
I won't forgive you.
Her ill mood flared, and she didn't even feel anything the moment Claudius touched her cheek. His touch was numbing. She had no idea where the feeling was coming from or what was going on. However, in her inner turmoil, she wanted to fling it all away.
She flipped those gentle wrists and knocked away the Deviant Prince's hand.
"Don't touch me! You anorexic bean sprout freak!"
She shouted without thinking, and time seemed to stop.
At those vicious words and repulsive actions, Claudius was very shocked, but Elsa was even more flabbergasted.
Elsa's throat squawked in a scratchy falsetto. It was unmistakable.
Elsa held a hand against her throat, rubbing her vocal chords as she exclaimed in a rich voice:
"It's back... it came back! My voice! My..."
It was what she wanted more than anything. Her own voice and her words.
Claudius had been staring blanking at her, but soon he frowned and whispered quietly:
"Elsa. I think you may have been cursed with some kind of spell."
Claudius looked down at his hands.
"That is, I think my hands it did something. My limbs have some kind of magical power. Whenever I come in contact with anything that is enchanted, I seem to dispel it..."
But Elsa didn't hear anything Claudius said. Life had returned to her bright red eyes, and her chest had ignited with fire and ambition.
Her will to survive swelled.
(As long as I have my voice.)
As long as I have words, I can keep living!
Elsa's next action was as fast as lightning. She grabbed a fine vase that was beside her and threw it at the wall. Claudius backed off a step as he exclaimed:
Elsa did not answer, and she used the shards from the broken vase to shred through her dress. She didn't care that her legs were exposed, and she kicked aside those horrible shoes that were difficult to walk in.
The ceremonial robes had quickly become a large rag. She tossed her hair ornaments into those rags, and flung in valuable trinkets from the room as well.
Claudius stared at Elsa, dumbstruck, and asked her while tilting his head:
"What are you doing?"
"Can't you tell?"
Elsa shot back with only a few words, and didn't answer Claudius's question. He wanted to know what she was doing? Wasn't it obvious? She was running away.
Then, she was going to sell all of these valuables, every single one!
Claudius blinked his dim eyes several times, confused, and opened his mouth:
"Then what you are going to do?"
"Lemme ask you this!"
Elsa whirled around agilely. In a split second, she had become a completely different person from her past self who had not yet regained her voice and torn her dress.
"Why do I have to get married with you?!"
In the land of a foreign country, her voice somehow seemed different. It seemed more free. Even if no one knew her reputation, she could make listeners wince. However, Claudius was unfazed as he spoke:
"It's for the good of your country and mine."
His answer was too quick, too quiet, gentle, and steady.
Elsa snorted as she addressed his response.
"Hah! My country? The fuck is my country? As you'd expect from a prince, you just don't get it!"
Then she smirked, and bore down on him with a fierce glare.
"I have no country!"
Claudius accepted those repulsive words as well as everything else head on. However, before he had a chance to reply, the doors opened, and the blond haired Holy Knight entered.
As the knight entered, he called out to Elsa with her formal name, and to Claudius was the nickname he was accustomed to.
In the corridor behind him, several servants peered in with worried looks on their face.
Claudius turned around and spoke the name of the Holy Knight. Claudius too, also used informal speech to address him.
The Holy Knight, who had heard the quarrel and burst into the room, stopped in his tracks as he saw the devastation of the bedchamber and Elsa's terrible state.
"What's going on here...?"
With her bag of spoils on her shoulders, she glared at Ann Duke with her red eyes and spoke:
"Hey. Did they go back?"
Ann Duke's eyes widened in surprise. The slender, gloomy, and demure Mute Princess whom he had met not long ago had vanished. She looked at him with contempt, and her red eyes burned with raging fire; right now she was a fearless, quick footed young girl. Ann Duke failed to notice this detail though, and instead addressed the more obvious difference.
"Viontine, your voice..."
"My name is Elsa!"
Elsa snapped back as she approached Ann Duke.
"I asked you whether they left? Those Seers! Did those demented fucked up old tarts leave yet?"
The Holy Knight was intimidated by her aggression, and he hesitantly replied:
"The emissaries from Vion left a long time ago..."
Elsa smiled sweetly. Her smile was by no means elegant, and it was totally unsuited for the luxuriousness of the room. But in her opinion, there was no place too inappropriate.
"So, those despicable monsters ran away already. Convenient, at least. See ya later, then!"
"H-Hold on a second! What's going on?!"
Ann Duke grabbed Elsa's shoulder with worry. Elsa felt disgust towards those hands, and she tried to wriggle away as she shouted:
"I told you not to touch me! I'm not staying here a instant longer!"
Seeing Ann Duke strengthen his grip on Elsa, Claudius stepped forward at this moment to stop him.
"Andy, you can let go now."
Although it was not as thunderous as Elsa's voice, Claudius's voice was crystal clear. With similarly sharp eyes, he peered at Elsa and spoke:
"Elsa, you have to calm down."
Faced with Claudius's piercing gaze, Elsa recoiled a little, but then rebounded and spat:
"I am extremely calm! And I'll tell you very calmly, I am definitely not going to marry you."
Ann Duke looked at the two, and had a sudden thought about the scene: Claudius's silver and green, together with Elsa's black and red, were really beautiful colors.
Ann Duke felt very strange.
The first time he saw Elsa, her dark and sullen expression made him uneasy. Their prince had a very gentle and quiet temperament, and tended to empathize too much with the suffering of others. Like this, Ann Duke believed that if the prince, who was burdened with his own deep pain, was together with someone who was also miserable, it would be impossible for them to be happy.
Now however, Elsa, who for the most part still looked the same, seemed to give off a wholly different impression.
Claudius's eyes, which were as serene as a pool of water, gazed at Elsa. Almost whispering, he spoke:
"Um... I think I understand... but if you run away, it's very embarrassing for us."
"Even if you want to stop me, it's useless!"
Elsa was helpless. "What now...?" Claudius murmured to himself, but he did not seek help from Ann Duke.
He tried a plea with Elsa instead:
"Dinner is ready. I understand fully well that you don't want to marry me, and that's fine... but let's eat first?"
From the beginning, Elsa had intended to reject him no matter what he said. She opened her mouth to refuse, and she searched for something to say.
But then, she astonished herself. Even though she was called the Poison-Breathing Princess, nothing came out of her mouth.
She tightly rolled her hands into fists, completely unsure of what to say. She opened her mouth and her shoulders sagged. Then, she conceded:
"...I'll eat a bit."
Her response made her seem like a child. Claudius smiled and told her: "Well, let's get changed first."
The Holy Knight sighed deeply as he compared the princess who stood out from all others, and his own liege whom they called the Deviant Prince.
Translator's Notes and References
- Translating this was actually rather difficult. Claudius’s title is “异形“, which means a lot of things — most literally it means strange-shaped, but the connotation is hard to pin down. It can mean anything from grotesque to weird to fantastic (in the horror movie-way) to suspicious-looking. At first I had it translated as “Strange Prince”, but then I realized it wasn’t going to work very well for his future title “Strange King”. I also had the title, “Grotesque Prince”, which fits extremely well for this chapter, but won’t later on (when he’s a king, it is supposed to have a positive connotation). Ragebeat_06 had it as “Aberrant King” (which is understandable but a really clunky title imo). Amazingbuffalo who translated the prequel series Mimizuku had it as “Ornate King”, but that’s out of the context of this novel and out of the question for Dokuhakihime. In the end I went with “Deviant” because it has a mixed connotation in my opinion and sounds cool (and sounds similar to demon or devil, which, if you read Mimizuku, is where Claudius gets his markings from), but just know it says nothing about his behavior — it just means Claudius is physically creepy and unusual.
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