I do not own Rising of the Shield Hero
Author's note in the end for those who's interested to see me blabber about my inner thoughts. Once again, there WILL be spoilers for anime/manga only fans.
This chapter is edited and expanded by Comrade Broseph, thank you very much for improving my original work! Also huge thanks and shout out to fellow writer Fluffball13 for reading my first rough draft and give feed backs! I highly recommend her story 'Shield Ninja' for crossover section of Rising of the Shield Hero. She managed to make 'Naruto going into another franchise and take the place of the main character' trope I absolutely hate work for her story.
Nurtured properly, man's ambition allows us to take flight, and kingdoms are elevated alongside the man.
But ambition without wisdom is like a bird without wings.
"What a waste of time." The red-headed princess slams the journal shut with a sneer on her face.
Sneaking into her mother's private reading room did not yield as much fruit as she initially hoped. She still doesn't understand what makes her mother tick. She still doesn't know what she can do to put herself above her younger sister. She still doesn't know how to reinstate herself as the heiress.
With a soft sigh, the princess carefully puts the journal back in its original resting place. Deciding to postpone her search for answers for the moment, she leaves the private reading room. There is still some light left in the day to do something fun before she turns in for the night. Contemplating the possibilities of what she can occupy her time with she makes her way out of the Queen's quarters, careful to not be seen, just as when she was making her way inside earlier. Once she's left them sufficiently far behind and confident in having gone unnoticed, she relaxes somewhat and breathes another, albeit louder, sigh. With no need to slink through the side corridors and the staircases the princess moves more openly, no longer avoiding the other denizens of the castle, her sudden sneaking dashes from corner to corner morphing into a measured confident stride. That's when she notices something amiss.
She sees it in the first castle servants she encounters after the hours spent reading in her mother's private study. Sees it in how they move. While those commoners often keep their head down and out of nobility's way, today their movements are just a little faster than usual. Their heads held a little higher to clearly see where they are going, an unusual focus in their gaze revealing a sort of nervous tension.
The second sign is how at her approach the guards straighten their backs as if attempting to be statues. Standing still, yet tense. Unable to hide their nervous twitching, as if they suddenly stopped in the midst of a march. Their eyes darting around like they are expecting trouble.
Something big is happening. Possibly right in this castle. And she hates how she's excluded from it!
"You! Guard! Where is my father! I need to see him now!" The red princess spins on her heel and points her finger at the nearest guard. She can hear the faint gulp coming from the guard's throat as he somehow stands up even taller.
"Th-the king is in the throne room. But he's not to be disturbed." He stutters. She narrows her eyes as the guard looks away.
Why is the guard nervous? Is the guard lying? Doubtful. The whereabouts of the king are easy to find out. The price for lying to the princess is severe.
Something suddenly clicked in the head of the red princess. She remembered the reason why her mother is away from the kingdom.
No, there is no way father would be this stupid, even in his old age. It can't be what she is suspecting. Yet...
The princess spins on her heel once again as she makes a dash towards the throne room. She ignores servants who haphazardly duck out of her way, as well as the shouting guards making half-hearted attempts to dissuade her from disturbing the King. She simply picks up the pace, leaving them behind her.
Chapter 1: The royal summoning
She doesn't stop to catch her breath until she reaches the doors to the throne room. A young knightis standing guard in front of the doors together with two men at arms. She can't remember his name, if she ever even bothered to learn it. Hearing her laboured breathing he jerkily turns her way."Stop by the order of the king... ah, princess."
"I'm sorry to intrude, kind sir. But I have to see father for urgent business. Perhaps you can help arrange it?" The red princess looks up from her hunch and winks at the knight. She can hear the faint gulping sound from the knight as a rose taint slowly decorates his face.
"I'm sorry, princess. But the king is not to be disturbed."
"Not even by his favorite daughter?" She moves her face closer to the knight's, giving the young man another wink.
"The king's order is absolute, princess. He is not to be disturbed!" Immediately some noise carries through the doors. The sounds of many people shuffling about, whispering animatedly with one another. The red princess arches an eyebrow and the young knight can't help but let out a little wince.
"So, it's true... father is summoning a legendary hero." The knight's eyes open wide but his pupils shrink, his breath going ragged and fast despite the lack of any physical exertion on his part.
The princess smiles. Looks like she hit the crest feather on the head of the Filorial.
"You don't need to say anything more, kind sir." The red princess winks at the hapless young man once again. She touches the knight's lip with her finger, stopping the young man from uttering a single word. "If you don't say anything, father can't blame you for anything. Isn't that right, kind sir?"
She takes another step towards the knight, their clothes and armor almost touching together by now. "But I do have a favor to ask, my kind knight. Could you perhaps... let me slip onto a balcony and take a look at our hero? I will find a way to repay you... handsomely."
The red princess runs her fingers on his chest plate. She enjoys hearing the young man swallowing harder than before. "Please, princess... such actions are beneath you."
She giggles at the knight's awkward reaction, and the look of envy the other guards throw him behind his back. It appears her 'kind knight' is the honorable type, who likes to bury their desires underneath the facade of righteousness. Those are her favorite kind. She enjoys twisting them around the most. "Ah, perhaps I stepped out of line, my kind knight. But desperation can make one act rather passionate. And as a princess, I have a thing for strong and noble heroes. I'm sure you understand."
"But the king is not to be disturbed." The young man let out one final weak protest. She smiles as she knows how to get around his feeble defense.
"And I will not disturb father and his ceremony with the hero. All I ask is to be allowed to slip onto one of the balconies and look at the hero from afar. I promise I won't cause a scene, my kind knight."
"I... suppose that's okay. But please, don't cause a scene, your highness." The knight looks to the side while taking a step back with his left foot. As he does she moves her right foot forward to lean into the knight, as if she's about to plant a kiss. The red princess blows into the knight's ear instead.
"You have my gratitude, my kind knight."
The red princess rests her back against the wall, letting the shadow blanket her face and upper body. She likes this little tunnel between the hall door and balcony. It has enough view to let her see the throne room below, but is out of the way enough to hide her features from the prying eyes of others.
Father, King Aultcray Melromarc XXXII, is down there sitting on his throne. Still regal, yet with visible signs of his age showing. One of his ministers is standing next to him, whispering something something into his ear. She narrows her eyes at the man. The first princess knows that particular little worm has been getting close to the Three Heroes Church lately. His whispers bound to be pouring the clergy's poison into her father's ear one sweet word at a time.
She pulls her eyes up to look at the other balconies, many familiar faces dotting the view. The nobles in high standing within Melromarc hierarchy chatting with each other in a hushed whisper, yet their collective hum being loud enough that she heard it even when outside the throne room. Most have their daughters with them. Malty even spots the faces of her playmates amongst them: Lady Iris of House Amelia, Lady Katarina of House Claes, Lady Bertia of House Noches...
Historically, the legendary heroes summoned from another world have always been young men. It's no wonder all the nobles invited to this ceremony brought their young daughters with them. If their daughters can attract a hero they will surely be able to increase their family's current standing, if not outright challenge the royal house.
There will no doubt be a lots of alliances and schemes exchanged under the table on this day...
Yet father did not invite her?
Granted, she's been uncharacteristically keeping to herself for a while. Trying to dig through the notes, diaries and journals of her mother in an effort to understand how her mother thinks before her return. Honestly, it is both hard and fruitless work, but given its incriminating nature it's not like she can ask a commoner, or a child of nobility to do it for her.
Ironically, she thought of a passage she read in Mother's journal recently.
As a king, you would lose subjects if you don't keep your secret. As a subject, you would lose your life if you don't keep your secret. If you don't keep important secrets with you, it will come back to haunt you.
And out of all the people to keep this illegitimate hero summoning from, father decides to keep it from his favorite daughter.
Father should have said something like: Daughter, I'm going to summon a legendary hero behind your mother's back, while she's in a world conference negotiating with other world leaders who gets to summon which hero... You know, exactly the kind of thing I SHOULDN'T be doing. So be a dear and don't tattle behind my back, okay? Good, I'm glad we are on the same page.
On the bright side at least her sister is also absent.
What a mess. This could blow up in everyone's face if father wasn't careful. She tried to console herself with the thought that her father never does anything without some sort of plan.
The sound of the double doors opening brings the red princess out of her thoughts. Four young men wearing strange clothes step into the audience chamber.
Wait a minute, four?
The princess shuts her eyes hard and reopens them. She wonders if stress is playing tricks on her mind. Nope, she still sees FOUR young men standing before father.
One holds a sword pointed at the ground, while looking around the room with a faked bored expression. One plays the string of his bow in an absent minded manner. One leans his spear on his shoulder while looking at father sideways. The last fidgeting on his feet while touching his shield in a self-conscious manner.
Father summoned ALL four legendary heroes to Melromarc.
When each country is only supposed to have one.
And Melromarc isn't supposed to be the first to perform the summoning ritual.
It makes sense for Melromarc to want any, or all three heroes bearing weapons. The country's state religion is the Church of the Three Heroes after all. But the Shield?
She stands corrected. This WILL totally blow up in their faces worse than a failed ritual spell.
"Uh-huh. So, you expect us to just work for free, then?"
"That's sure convenient for you."
"...It really is selfish, you know. Dragging us into a problem that doesn't have anything to do with us."
The three heroes who have weapons begin to complain about their situation.
THESE are supposed to be their saviors from another world? They are behaving more like the fools one would hire to entertain guests at a banquet. The kind who dress in funny clothes and act like pompous asses while holding prop legendary weapons to make the lords and ladies laugh.
The red princess gives a quick glance to the Shield Hero. He simply looks at his three other-world compatriots with a slightly raised eyebrow, evidently surprised by their self-assuredness.
Of course, the Shield is the only one with some sense in him. Oh, the irony.
The red princess narrows her eyes. She holds her right fist in front of her mouth. Her neat white teeth gently dig at the skin of her thumb. Time to figure out why father summoned all four Legendary Heroes together before these clowns distract her further. She needs to stop thinking like a scheming princess second in line for succession, and more like the wise king.
At any given time there can only be four legendary heroes summoned from another world. So Melromarc summoning all of the heroes behind every other country's back will come to light very quickly even if father leaves the shield. It won't be a surprise if the other countries unite together to pressure Melromarc into handing over the Legendary Heroes. Or in the worst case scenario, declare a crusade against Melromarc to fight over the possession of the Legendary Heroes.
To also have the Shield Hero within Melromarc's grasp on the other hand gives them a diplomatic leverage. Those beastmen from Siltvelt and Shiltfreden can't make a move against them if the Shield Hero stands by Melromarc. Foublay by itself will hesitate to attack Melromarc with all four Legendary Heroes residing here, not even counting father as the hero of the wand.
As an added bonus, the delegations from the other countries will no doubt express their outrage at mother. They will accuse her of scheming together with her husband for a power play. This will tie her in the conference, and father will be able to act the way he sees fit here in Melromarc.
The downside to this path are the traps father will have to navigate around the fanatics from Three Heroes Church. But if anyone can do it, it sure will be the Wise King... She hoped. The scene of the wormy little minister whispering into her father's ear still played in her mind.
Below her the Heroes are properly introducing themselves. As the Shield finishes her father looks down from his throne at him. He is looking at the Shield more like something you scrape off the bottom of your shoe than a Hero you summoned from another world. His gaze finally drifts back to the other three.
"Hmm. Ren, Motoyasu, and Itsuki, eh?"
He didn't mention the name of the Shield Hero.
Well, there goes the idea of getting the Shield Hero on Melromarc's side.
Is he going senile?
No, seriously. IS FATHER GOING SENILE?
The red princess looks down at the king with her eyes wide. She barely notices her hand falling from her face and drops to her bent elbow. The princesses looks closer at her father. His hair still vibrant and plenty like a lion's mane, but aged lines decorating his face like grapevine.
Has anyone even realized the hero of Melromarc is getting old? That the king they constantly look up to for guidance like a light in the darkness is no longer as wise as he was back in his prime?
She thinks back to all the bedtime stories her mother and father told her before sleep when she was little. The fantastical tales of the Wise Hero of Wand who saved Melromarc from the savage beast barbarians and married the princess to become the Wise King. That man is not her father sitting on the throne right now, looking down the Heroes he summoned illegitimately.
A smirk decorates the angelic face of the first princess.
One's stupidity is another's opportunity.
Isn't that right, father?
The red princess turns around to leave the farce in this audience behind. There is work to do.
I confess I have a thing for Malty/Bitch. She's in her own way, a very iconic character for how single minded sadistic she is, especially with the late story 'what a twist!' on her character. But I think the original author of Shield Hero could have made her a much more interesting character. If she is a very smart character and can consistently challenge Naofumi on an intellectual level, the story would be more interesting for the last 2/3rd when Naofumi is no longer prosecuted.
That's why I wrote 'Believe in Me' a few years back, imagine what a smart Malty would be like. I liked the ambiguous way that story turned out where it's hard to say if Malty is still a scheming villain trying to use Naofumi as a stepping stone, or she is starting to form an actual connection with our beloved shield hero, or even a combination of both. But I also want to make her into something more specific. So this story is essentially a spiritual successor to the ideas I had in that one-shot, but with me writing in the specificity of a Malty with the one definitive ending I planned for her.
The idea is first sparked by VaatiVidya's 'Dark Souls 2 Story - Alonne and the Iron King', which is why I had a specific quote from his video at the start of this chapter as a tribute. I hope this doesn't count as plagiarism, but if people tells me it does I will rework the beginning of my chapter.