Chapter One: Well, There Are Times Like This
A year has passed since I was summoned into this world. Time passed quickly, and I was eventually deemed useless and thrown out of the royal palace. In my defense, I tried my best. I mean, what else can an ordinary female student do? Back home, my grades were decent, and my athletic abilities were epic. I was the ace at softball. However, I was still just a junior high school student.
As for my appearance, my hair and skin were severely damaged. My hair had gotten sunburnt during club activities, and my golden skin had turned brown. I wanted an easy-to-clean hairstyle, so I had also gotten a boyish cut. My arms and legs were slightly longer than normal, and my chest was annoyingly flat. Based solely on my appearance, my feminine appeal was incredibly close to zero. Therefore, people tended to feel sorry for me.
I still remember the day it all changed. I was on my way home from club activities when I fell into a manhole leading to a different world. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by magicians and a bright light shining at my feet.
The room was silent, but that changed quickly.
“What’s the matter with you?” a distinctly disappointed voice muttered. I looked up to see a man swing off his splendid golden throne. He was dressed in a scarlet cloak, and a crown sat gracelessly on his head. I later found out that he was the King who had ordered the chief priest to summon me, ‘the sacred virgin’. However, his muscular body, strong-willed personality, and domineering face made him look more like a brutish hunter than a king.
The King walked towards me and casually put his hand on my chest. He tilted his head and kept groping the area even after realizing that it was flat. He was clearly a pervert. There was no mistaking it. I wanted him dead. However, I settled for brushing his hand off and biting his palm.
“You little monkey!” he yelled as he pulled his bloody palm out of my mouth.
I hadn’t seen the King since then, and I didn’t want to. I was later told that the King was appeased by the prime minister. I was then approached and given lessons on the ‘Goddess of a Different World’. Naturally, I didn’t understand any part of these lessons, and the course simply flew over my head.
“Once in a thousand years, someone is summoned to make the people happy. Not particularly to solve the world’s crisis or take a trip to overthrow the demon king,” the prime minister told me during one of my many bring lessons.
“So, what on earth do you want me to do?” I asked.
However, rather than a straight answer, the minister once again gave me the runaround. This happened so many times that it became very frustrating. Nevertheless, even though the prime minister, chief priest, and the maids never said it out loud, I realized that I was supposed to have special abilities. For some reason, they believed that I had some superpowers that were bound to manifest in due time. All my efforts to make them realize that I was just a junior high school student who was summoned proved futile.
However, it was during that time that I started to seriously consider how to behave in this new world. Blaming the priest for summoning me without permission was a waste of time and energy. Three months went by, and I still couldn’t do anything extraordinary. They finally accepted the fact that I had no powers. Unfortunately, they couldn’t send me back home. According to them, summoning was more of a one-way street kind of deal.
(Sorry, Mom and Dad. However, I doubt that you guys give a damn. After all, the two of you forced Grandma to take care of me just because you were too busy with work. Grandma was dead now, so to a very large extent, I didn’t have to worry about anyone being concerned about me.)
As the chief priest and the prime minister began to give up on me manifesting special abilities, the lessons were reduced. I had a lot of extra time on my hand, and I decided to use it wisely. I asked the maid about the currency, common sense, culture, and economy of the world we were in. My hands were nimble, so I tried to do some embroidery work. With the help of the maid, I was able to go to town occasionally, shop, and meet new people. I even succeeded in making many acquaintances.
Finally, today arrived. The day that marked the first year since I had been summoned.
The prime minister walked into the gorgeous drawing-room where I had been waiting for him. He sat down and immediately delved into telling me that I was to leave the palace and the reason behind the decision.
“You are getting married to Earl Greeden.”
“What?” I asked the prime minister in a sharp tone despite myself.
The prime minister ignored my question and continued talking as he stroked his long beard.
“It’s Earl Greeden,” he said. “He was the head of the previous King’s knights. He is a great man. You are to leave this place and take up residence in his royal palace.”
“I know him,” I interrupted the prime minister.
The maids had told me a lot about Earl Greeden. He was the right-hand man of the previous King and achieved many military achievements during the war. The war was a very important part of the new world’s history as it led to the unification of the continent.
The Earl was a man of character who didn’t oppress the enemy after the war. Everyone knew and loved him as a noble knight. Many sagas were centered around his life, with the main character based on him. He was rich and could live an elegant life in the capital. However, he decided to take up residence in a remote area and declare it his territory. He was a competent ruler, and after a few months of ruling his territory, he developed trade with the neighboring countries which had been abandoned.
Unfortunately, even though he was a gentle nobleman, no one could accept him. I was not familiar with the details of the rumors, but I knew there was a dark story involved. I wondered if the dark story was what warranted his need for a sacred virgin. Did he think I have magic and could help him? I suddenly remembered a vague detail of the story I had heard from the maids.
“He’s a grandpa, isn’t he?” I asked, looking straight into the prime minister’s eyes.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear what you said. I have been hard of hearing lately,” the prime minister replied.
He was clearly lying. If Earl was the right-hand man of the previous King, then he was surely going to be over sixty, irrespective of how young he was back then. What’s the age difference between fifteen and sixty? I thought as I considered the absurdity of marrying the old man.
I let out a sigh and spoke.
“You didn’t have to cook up this charade to get rid of me. I was going to leave the palace anyways.”
However, this was a lie. I had no special ability nor concrete plans to leave the palace. I wanted to but didn’t know how to. The prime minister knew this too, and he went ahead by emphasizing that I wouldn’t be able to leave the palace on my own. I figured that the prime minister had a good reason for marrying me off to an aged man. However, marrying a sixty-year-old grandpa was bound to be a hassle.
On the bright side, the timing was right. Just three days ago, I was able to sell off some of the precious metals I had received from aristocrats who saw me as the sacred virgin with potential special abilities. They had been willing to shower me with gifts after the summon with hopes of earning my favor. I felt quite guilty for keeping them and even more guilty for selling them. However, I now had enough money to rent a house under the palace.
Nevertheless, my plan was inadequate. Living alone is very dangerous and expensive. I had done some research, and I realized that the economy was quite good. There were job opportunities that offered live-in situations. Black eyes and black hair were not uncommon. Therefore, blurring into the masses of ordinary people promised to be easy. However, there were still a lot of things that could go wrong.
Lynn walked into the drawing room, carrying my luggage. All I had could fit into one bag, so it wasn’t really a problem. Lynn was the only maid who still attended to me. There used to be eight. However, one after the other, they all left until it was just good ol’ loyal-to-a-fault Lynn and me. I couldn’t blame the maids that left. It was a matter of profit and loss. Lynn was the prime minister’s granddaughter. So, for her, profit wasn’t a major goal. I think she decided to remain as my lady-in-waiting simply because she liked me. Why? I had no idea.
I was about to stand up to take my bags and leave when the prime minister rushed to me in a flurry.
“It’s a royal order for you to marry Earl Greeden. Going down to town alone is ridiculous. Moreover, it is not set in stone that you are incapable of manifesting power.”
“Ah. I see,” I replied in false surrender.
Luckily for me, Lyn spoke up.
“What you want is insurance,” Lynn said confidently as she held on to my bag. “You want to be sure that she is within your grabs if her ability awakens. If she is outside the country, you would have to fight whichever country she is in for ownership over her. I don’t want Nako-sama to be exposed to such an obscene adult alone. Therefore, I am going with her.”
The prime minister trembled with anger as he looked at his granddaughter. His lips quivered violently as he spoke.
“Grandfather, your blood pressure is rising again,” Lynn reminded him in a calm and tender voice as she walked towards the prime minister and tried to calm him down.
In the end, a consensus was reached. I was to marry Earl Greeden, and Lynn was going to be my escort.
It made sense because it gave the prime minister an opportunity for Lynn to escape the boring palace and for the prime minister to hide his unruly granddaughter away from the palace. The palace was filled with proud noblemen and cheap concubines. Therefore, the prime minister was convinced that the royal palace wasn’t a good place for his granddaughter to stay. She was growing into a beautiful woman, and her personality was developing rather strongly. If she stayed in this place, it was only a matter of time before she either annoyed or attracted a nobleman.
And so, I, Saegusa Nako, was imposed on Earl Greeden in the form of a grant from God.