I watched as Hestia dozed off while listening to the vice principal’s speech. She was drooling slightly, so I wiped a bit of her drool with her yellow strap.
I raised my head to look at the scenery of the academy around me. The tall mountains lingered in my eyes. It was evergreen. The leaves gently swayed with the wind. It looked like the leaves were dancing.
‘The original story of the novel ended around here, too.’
I muttered quietly to myself.
The novel, ‘Hestia and the Bastards,’ didn’t mention anything that happened from this point onwards. At first, I thought that I had entered a novel, and didn’t see any of my friends as anything other than characters. Although that seemed to have disappeared on its own as time passed.
If the story was coming to an end, that meant that I would lose the extra ability that I had that allowed me to know what was going to happen next. Honestly, I had relied a lot on my past life and the memories that came with it to help me view and understand the world around me.
But now, the people around me and I was too precious to rely on my memories of my past–just like I had been until now.
I felt like was starting anew, but I also felt like I had lost something.
I hesitated in the face of my first act of self-reliability.
I had been handed a brand new page, without the words and doodles that had been drawn on before.
Now, I was drawing my future on my own. I was given crayons of all different types of colors, but I was just holding onto it.
After the long, almost endless speech, the vice principal returned to their seat.
Students needed to go up to receive their awards, so they went up when their name was called. I was the one with the highest achievements, so my name was called first. When I walked forwards, the students congratulated me and cheered and clapped loudly for me.
I could hear people telling me that I did a great job, as boring of a compliment that could be. There were a lot of nobles, or, noble adults, but all of the students were excited because it was their last time together, and everyone spoke casually to each other because they were all close. The academy had gotten a lot more lax as time had passed, so this was deemed acceptable. I solemnly received my award amidst the loud cheers.
“Shushu! Don’t you have some kind of award ceremony?”
The students booed and told me I was boring, but I shrugged. Today was a melancholy, uneasy kind of day for me.
Hestia received her award next. She had high achievements in history and literature, and had received the appropriate award for that. She held the award that the vice principal handed her and waved it slightly with a clenched fist. She looked truly happy. Seeing how she was tearing up, she must’ve been truly touched.
Cory received the award for magic, and he seemed a bit embarrassed about the whole ordeal–he rushed up and down. Hylli received the award for swordsmanship, as expected. Everyone cheered loudly for Hylli as well. Hylli seemed embarrassed, but he just smiled and waved gratefully.
And then, finally. The highly anticipated, Swanhaden.
[……Swanhaden Blanche. Mo, model student award?]
The entirety of the participants went mad as soon as the name was spoken. Swanhaden smirked at the loud reaction before walking over to the stage. Swanhaden kept staring my way, as if telling me to keep watching.
[T, the above student presented mo, model? Behavior to the stude…nts…….and is receiving this award?]
The teacher’s voice shook slightly as they read the award. Their eyes were shaky with mistrust.
Swanhaden politely held up his hands to receive the award and showed me his award for me to see. He kept staring at me, but I had no idea what he wanted me to do.
“How did he receive the model student award?”
“What even is this?”
“This has to be a misprint.”
The other students were in chaos, and so was I. What was the criteria for being a model student….?
Luckily, I was sitting right next to the teachers. The teachers were sitting together and gossiping, so I was able to receive a lot of inside information.
They were talking about the model student award. Apparently, it was point-based.
The reasoning behind Swanhaden receiving the prize was incredible. No matter if he destroyed everywhere he went, he kept up with his community service, so he had the most points. No wonder why he was always recycling or picking up trash–he had been aiming for this. I thought he was getting punished whenever he was picking up trash. Or he was trying to make up for his destruction with points somehow. But he had gone through all of the punishment and went through all of the community service and accumulated all of the points like that until now.
“He had the highest amount of negative points, and the highest amount of positive points.”
The teachers blankly stared as they watched Swanhaden. They looked slightly awed at him. All of the other students were the same. Just out of curiosity, I turned around to see if the Duke Blanche was here. The duke was here, but he had a dumb expression on his face after hearing that Swan received an award.
Swanhaden, for some reason, always called himself a good person and a model student–but he actually accomplished it. He became a model student to everyone known. Now, nobody could refute his personality. No, I’m not sure if being a model student had anything to do with personality. Anyway, I wanted to applaud Swanhaden for his tenacity and consistent efforts towards his goal. Incredible, Swanhaden. I hope you get a frame to place it on your wall.
After a long state of chaos, they began to wind down the ceremony. The ceremony was finally over.
“It’s finally over!”
Countless caps flew into the air. I took out the camera that I had made and took pictures of the flying caps, and took a picture of my own cap flying upwards. I was feeling incredibly excited, but I was also feeling kind of empty inside. I felt like my heart was empty right now. My nose itched slightly. I didn’t know why. I had an uneasy feeling for some unknown reason.
I was looking through the pictures that I took with Hestia and the others when I could hear voices from behind me.
Someone was fighting behind the wall.
“Wait, you’re the one that got it, so why should I?”
“Shut up and go before I change my mind.”
“If you’re embarrassed, do it yourself.”
“You, I’m being generous you know?”
Swanhaden and Hylli was giving and taking back an item between themselves. There was a small, expensive-looking box in Hylli’s hand. As soon as our eyes met, Swan turned away and looked yearningly towards the small box in Hylli’s hand.
Swanhaden grabbed Hylli by his collar and dragged him behind the wall. There was another fight behind them, but Hylli soon popped out from behind the wall.
“Um, Shuraina. I have something to give you.”
Hylli said, approaching me with a serious expression on his face. In his hand was the box from earlier. Hylli stood in front of me and opened the box.
Hylli took out none other than a rose brooch. It looked a bit old.
My eyes grew wide in shock.
The rose brooch in question was a present that Se-yoo and my younger siblings had saved up for to give me to celebrate my becoming a legal adult. Hylli lowered his head slightly and tousled his hair.
“Congratulations for graduating.”
He gently stretched his hand towards me and put the rose brooch on my clothes. He flicked the badge with one finger and smiled, telling me that it looked pretty.
The wind blew on my face. My orange hair covered my face for a brief moment.
At first, I let out a scoff.
Then, my hands went up to my eyes.
I covered my face with my hands.
I bit my lips at the imminent tears.
Soon, I burst out into loud sobs.
I hunched forwards and cried for a long time, then smiled happily.
I was hesitating, scared of walking into a future that I didn’t know.
But I felt like the warm, gentle hands on my back were gently pushing me forwards.
My fear and hesitation melted away in the warmth of the sun.
Side Story 7. The End and The Beginning, Drawn by the Dragon
Hundreds of crows lined the sky. The sun bled a dark red as it set behind the mountain, staining the sky blood-red. Monsters raged out of control and ripped humans apart. The anguished screams of the humans sounded so deliciously sweet. They needed to be more miserable, more in pain than I ever was. That was why I raised my arms up higher and yelled louder.
[Tear it to shreds! Burn it all! Spread the misery!]
When I screamed loudly from where I stood, bearing witness to the chaos up high, the monsters screamed with me. I was so immersed in my excitement and righteous fury that I ground my foot down on the Orde flag with my form on it. I felt amazing, watching the empire that was built upon my misery and heart burn down in flames.
I rested my hand on my waist and laughed loudly. My lips twitched in joy. I had been stuck sucking my thumbs in that smelly mountain for a long, long time. I had finally collected enough cores to recharge enough to storm into the castle and regain my heart and my powers, and I no longer needed to hide.
Destroy it all! Make it disappear!
The love and care I felt for the humans once upon a time had been ground into dust and had long disappeared. Dragons, as protectors of all life, were obligated to protect, but I’d thrown those morals away long ago.
‘Blanchielle….. If only you were here next to me.’
I was smiling, but my heart ached.
Blanchielle was long gone. Her soul had been placed somewhere else, too. She had died, burdened by the selfish whims of humans.
This was a tragedy that had begun under the first emperor, Lesleyan, and his greed. A tragedy built upon his ambitions and greed. It was truly disgusting. For him to repay grace with evil.
Lesleyan Orde Ianess’ soul had long disappeared. The only one left now was the emperor-to-be, Hylli Orde Ianess. He was exactly the same as Lesleyan–just as cruel and evil and uncontrollable.
So I also ripped apart Hylli Orde Ianess, the current emperor, into shreds.
The one who had held me down and allowed Lesleyan, the first emperor, to stab me was the DuBois.
Daniel DuBois. He was almost as skilled as a dragon in regards to his skills with normal magic. But for him to use his skills like this….. It was shameful. He had been played by Lesleyan’s ambitions.
So I made Cory DuBois, the future Marquis DuBois, explode into pieces.
The start of all this was the Lunaasha. I had no idea how they had learned of this fact, but they had sold Lesleyan the information that dragons stored their power in their hearts. They went above their station and asked the emperor to give them a dragon’s corpse.
Blanchielle had been the unfortunate victim in all of this, while I had escaped and hid in the mountain.
Even her corpse underwent torture. The Lunaasha used her bones to create swords, and created and sold clothes made from her leather. The unsold remains of her body still remained as displays in the Lunaasha estate.
The truth bit into my newly returned heart. I yelled loudly, miserable. I didn’t want to believe anything. I wanted to make everything disappear.
So I made sure to tear the head of the Lunaasha, Yvnes Lunaasha, into the tiniest bits that I could.
T/N: we have two more chapters of the main story before we head over to the side stories—those will be fun! 🙂