Shorty Meigan, a reporter for the Dragon Nation Newsletter, was taking on the biggest challenge of his short life with extremely high expectations.
The challenge was to interview the candidates for the royal selection that would elect the next heir to the throne, a historic moment that would change the face of the Dragon Kingdom of Lugunica.
The royal selection encompassed a three-year-long electoral battle among the five candidates—a topic of mystery that captivated the attention of the kingdom.
Their personalities, backgrounds, and beliefs were all under the scrutiny of the public eye. Rallying up the public’s enthusiasm was the inevitable task that fell to Shorty. His goal was to find out how each candidate really felt and make them known throughout the kingdom.
Undertaking this great feat together with Lululala, a news artist, sent Shorty on a journey full of peaks and valleys as he interviewed the five candidates of the royal selection. And after a long and winding road of turmoil and emotion, he had ultimately reached his final destination.
The last candidate he needed to interview was someone who caused much fear and trepidation among many journalists, except for Shorty.
“Lady Emilia is a very kind-hearted person.”
After making his way to the Mathers estate with pathetic resolve, Shorty clasped the delicate hands of the young girl working in the mansion and pleaded with her to understand the situation.
She was a pretty girl with bright orange hair adorned with a large ribbon. She wore a stunning maid uniform and her large eyes sparkled in earnest.
The grand estate was the residence of the margrave, Roswaal L. Mathers, and was used as the base of the candidate, Emilia. Acting as the benefactor for Emilia’s bid for the throne, Margrave Mathers was known as one of the most eccentric figures in the kingdom. He was a man decorated with the nickname “Demi-Human Lover,” and rumor had it that despite his odd personality he possessed extraordinary magical abilities.
Perhaps that would explain the reason behind his decision to support Emilia despite her troubling physical likeness to a certain silver-haired half elf.
“Excuse me, miss, but you wouldn’t happen to be a demi-human, would you?”
“No, I’m not… Oh, do you mean the rumors about Master Roswaal? That’s got nothing to do with me,” replied the maid. “If anything, Master Roswaal has nothing to do with me.”
“Don’t you think that’s a rather nonsensical response?”
The young girl was sharp, grasping the intent of his questions with quick replies. However, some of her more irrational answers were fueled with emotions.
It seems that this maid called Petra—hates her master, Roswaal.
“But you don’t think of Lady Emilia like that do you?”
“Of course not. Sister Emilia is…” began Petra. “I love her so much. But Subaru makes it a little complicated though...”
“Sorry? Do you mean Mister Natsuki Subaru?” asked Shorty.
At the mention of his name, Petra leaned forward. Now he had her attention. “Yes! Lady Emilia’s knight is so cool and handsome!”
Her burst of enthusiasm struck a chord with Shorty.
Watching the scene play out before her, Lululala ran her brush across her notebook. It seemed that something Petra said struck something within the artist and had unknowingly become her muse.
In Shorty’s eyes, she was a sweet girl with a promising future ahead of her.
“How did you become a maid, Petra?” he asked.
“Me…? Ok, but don’t tell anyone about this, got it?”
“Oh, is it a secret? I was hoping to include your story in the article for this interview, but…” Shorty nodded. “Ok, I won’t tell a soul.”
Shorty knew that these were the type of stories that were key to painting more color into his news article.
“Mister Subaru and Lady Emilia saved my village…” Petra’s voice slightly trailed off. “From the Witch Cult.”
“What?! You mean the incident where they defeated a Sin Archbishop of the Witch Cult?”
Petra shared with the young journalist the story of Emilia’s knight, Natsuki Subaru, who had been involved in the eradication of the Sin Archbishop of Sloth. And before that attack, she talked about the part Subaru played in the defeat of the White Whale, one of the Three Great Witchbeasts. The maid recounted how the knight’s reputation quickly became known across the kingdom after defeating the two major disasters that had plagued the world for so many years.
“I get it now…” said Shorty. “So it was because of his heroic acts that you came to this mansion…”
“Huh?” Petra shook her head. “That’s not it at all. Subaru and Sister Emilia are usually pretty unreliable and careless, so I have to be here to help them.”
Shorty couldn’t help but catch glimpses of love far beyond her years reflected in her eyes. He could see that she yearned for something, yet at the same time, her tender affections and hopes were lost in a wave of worry and fear.
“I’m very good at what I do. I figured that it would be better for those two if I worked here. Plus…” she added. “I get to work together with people I look up to and wear a cute maid uniform.”
“Huh, I guess you can make money and have fun too, right?” asked Shorty as he ran his fingers over his bangs.
Petra smiled and nodded confidently, replying with “Yes, that’s right.”
At that moment, Shorty felt a strong sense of connection with Petra. How could he put it into words?
“I think I get where you’re coming from. Hmmm, how should I put it? It might be arrogant of me to say it, but I just want to wish Lady Emilia and Mister Subaru all the best in their endeavors. They give me the impression that they want to help everyone.”
Shorty was honest about what he felt. Petra’s round cheeks flushed red, and she laughed as if she was showing off her treasures.
“That’s right!” she said. “That’s my Subaru and Sister Emilia.”
She said it so charmingly that Lululala immediately started working on her next illustration.
“I was talking with Petra and she mentioned that she was happy to work with a certain someone she admires…”
“Is that what Petra said? How embarrassing.”
The tall, beautiful maid with long, golden hair—the third maid in the mansion, Frederica—softly touched her cheeks in reply.
After his first shrewd impression of Ram, followed by the adorably confident Petra, there was still one more person he wanted to talk to in the mansion. Honestly, she was the most maid-like out of all of them.
Living up to Shorty’s expectations, Frederica gently held the sides of her skirt and curtsied. “Speaking of which, I heard that my incompetent younger brother caused you some trouble. I heard that Mister Subaru, Lady Emilia, and even Miss Beatrice, were present too, but… I apologize for his behavior.”
“Oh! No, not at all! I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth.” Frantically waving off her abrupt apology, Shorty tilted his head in confusion. “Hang on a sec…”
It seemed that Frederica was apologizing for the farce that took place after he and Lululala arrived in the town nearby when Subaru and Emilia guided them to the mansion.
But who was she referring to? Could she have meant…?
Shorty’s lips parted as he realized Frederica’s relationship to Garfiel.
“By any chance are you the sister of Sir Garfiel?”
“Yes, I am. He’s my brother and we both work here at the mansion.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that! Actually, Sir Garfiel and Mister Otto were kind enough to allow me to interview them.”
Upon closer inspection, Frederica and Garfiel did share similar features such as their hair and eye color. The two sibling’s most striking feature were their sharp fangs. Seeing Garfiel’s left quite an impression on Shorty that he wouldn’t soon forget. But what impressed him the most about him, was the manner in which he was interviewed.
“Sir Garfiel was more than happy to answer my questions, which really helped me out!”
“...I’m sure he got carried away with himself. I hope Otto kept a good rein on him.”
Shorty looked around sheepishly and replied, “Errr, you can read the article later for more details…”
“—. I guess I’ve got my answer then.” Frederica sighed gloomily.
She was as pretty as a picture, but in regards to her brother, her concerns weren’t far-fetched. Shorty would need to consider how much of Garfiel’s interview to include in the article.
“It’s hard to tell where reality and fantasy meet,” said Shorty. However, regardless of the length of his footnotes, some parts of Garfiel’s story remained consistent.
“There’s no mistake that Sir Garfiel adores Lady Emilia and Subaru.”
Hearing Shorty’s answer, Frederica glanced down and gently nodded. “I’m sure that’s true…” she murmured. “I also feel that way about them.”
Garfiel talked a lot about his activities, but he would always finish his answers accompanied with gratitude and hope for Emilia and Subaru.
Her brother’s words brought a smile to Frederica, who previously called him an incompetent brother.
“How did you come to be at the mansion, Miss Frederica?”
“I was um… Master Roswaal L. Mathers gave me a home here. I have been in his service for more than ten years now. It’s thanks to him that I have gotten to know Lady Emilia.”
“I see. And what do you think of her?”
“As I told you before, I love her as if she were my own sister. Besides that…”
Shorty noticed Frederica’s distant look and waited for her to continue. She paused for a beat, then smiled. “Nothing,” she said. “She’s the one that might be able to turn my wish into a reality. And although that’s not the reason why I stay here, I am rooting for her wholeheartedly.”
“...May I ask you about your wish?” asked Shorty.
Her smile was so striking that Shorty was tempted to ask her what was on her mind.
Of course, her smile was frantically being drawn in a sketchbook by the mute Lululala. Unfortunately, it would not be possible to include all of her drawings in the article since a large part of conveying the thoughts and events to the reader rested on Shorty’s penmanship. —For that very reason, I want to know what she’s thinking about.
Shorty didn’t want to miss anything important to the story.
“My wish is for everyone to have a place where they belong… I intend to serve my master with that very intention in mind.” she replied sincerely.
From her fangs to her origins, Frederica’s honesty echoed the same sentiments that had come up with his interview with Petra. The name “Demi-Human Lover” came to Shorty’s mind.
Roswaal was called the Demi-Human Lover because he liked to have demi-humans as his followers and servants and provided them employment. In Lugunica, there was no difference between humans and demi-humans, but in truth, this was nothing more than an illusion.
Frederica had chosen to fight this reality and decided to serve Roswaal.
This was probably connected to Emilia’s interview when she talked of her aspirations to become queen so that she could give everyone a choice.
“I’ve served Lady Emilia for my own reasons. I suppose this doesn’t speak well of her character though, does it?”
“…I think it’s difficult to entrust one’s dreams and aspirations to a single person.”
Shorty smiled bitterly at his own answer and shook his head at Frederica. Shorty had his own dreams as a journalist. Even if he couldn’t make them come true on his own, he couldn’t imagine giving up and letting go of his dreams.
Even if there was someone who could turn them into reality, he knew it was something he wanted to fulfill himself. It would have to be someone exceptional who he could entrust such an important part of himself to…
“I do understand what you’re saying. I can only hope that you can one day trust Lady Emilia with your future aspirations. I’ll be happy if you write about that.”
Shorty thought that Frederica’s pride in giving way to her own ambitions was the most convincing comment on Emilia’s character.
Shorty read over the notes from the interviews that filled his notebook, and Lululala puffed her nose and murmured in agreement.
“I knew I was going to get a lot out of that interview…” murmured Shorty.
”...got lotsa good drawings,” murmured Lululala.
Normally, Lululala could fill up an entire sketchbook or two if the mood struck her. But undergoing this trip to interview the candidates for the royal selection was unlike anything she had ever done before.
Several sketchbooks full of illustrations were lined up across Shorty’s desk. He had the luxury of pondering which illustrations would best accompany his articles.
“My first priority is to feature the candidate’s quotes, but…”
“...But what?” asked Lululala.
“If possible, I’d like to also include quotes and interviews from their supporters as well.”
The closest people to the five candidates were those in the position of being called knights. However, Shorty felt that it was not the candidates themselves or their knights, but the people around them who drew a closer connection to the readers of the Dragon Nation Newsletter.
That’s why it was so useful to hear from those individuals.
“Urgh! Why is there so much blank space staring back at me! If I could just write down what I heard, then I could recount it all as it happened. That would be the best way to go about this article, but…!”
Shorty mumbled away to himself when he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his neck. He looked up to see Lululala holding a paintbrush in her hand. Using the hardened tip of the brush, she poked Shorty’s neck.
“Careful! That thing is hard enough to kill someone, ok?”
“Cuz you say stupid stuff, you get what you deserve.”
“Are you saying I’m an idiot…?”
Lululala glared at Shorty, leaving him at a loss for words.
But with a reproachful look in his eyes, Shorty guessed what she was trying to say. “Yeah, you’re right… I was wrong to think I could tell this story from just what I heard and saw. That’s not real journalism. How naive and stupid of me.”
“No kidding. So stupid.”
“It is up to the reporter to tell the truth more clearly, more deeply, and more honestly than what one actually sees or hears. If I can’t do that, then I’ll never reach my goals!”
If he couldn’t entrust others with his dreams and aspirations, then it was up to him to reach them.
Thanks to Lululala’s painful jabs, Shorty understood this and felt grateful for her support. In a way, Lululala was to Shorty as the people who supported the candidates were to the candidates. She was important to him because she kept him from straying down the wrong path. In her own way, she was helping him reach his dreams.
“I’m glad you’re here, Lululala… Ouch! Why did you jab me again!?”
Lululala pushed the tip of the brush harder this time. Shorty shouted, but for some reason, she didn’t answer him.
With tears in his eyes at her attitude, Shorty once again immersed himself in his journals and notebooks, thinking about what kind of article he would write.
“However, there’s just one thing… I don’t think I’ll be able to keep my promise to her…”
Lacking the space on the page, he was forced to edit down the contents of the article—meaning he wouldn’t be able to include the story about the Head Internal Affairs Official of the Emilia Camp.
Shorty felt sorry that he didn’t have enough space to keep the official’s tales of heroism.