For Crown Prince of the United Kingdom of Roa Gracia Zafar Idinarohk, his brother Viktor ten years younger was too adorable, a brother he had the urge to dote and protect.
Until that moment.
When his younger brother said with a childish tone while giving him violet petals torn into pieces, Zafar was the only one who thought he was cute back then.
Children, in particular, were often tempted to pick some beautiful flowers for fun. It would be one thing if such things belonged to them, but the entire place, including the servants’ entire livelihoods, belonged to the royal Idinarohk family. Even though a mere common stock was damaged, he would if you damage a violet in the flower bed, will not be reprimanded by the gardener.
Woah, so Zafar exclaimed, and received the things those little hands passed over, thank you, he patted the little head of his brother, praising the petals’ praise. The young prince smiled happily; he was truly so endearing back then.
He would pat his brother’s little head without fail without consideration, even if it was a plucked butterfly wing, a fallen goldbug wing, or an odd thing like a beautiful feather or a snake scale that clearly were not simply picked up, he wouldn’t think anything of it and would just stroke his little brother’s head.
“Brother, look at this.”
Zafar could not smile anymore when his smiling little brother handed over a blue kitten’s eyeball with his two hands.
It was only then that he came to his senses.
So that was it.
The child was a snake.
United Kingdom of Roa Gracia Southern Front
At this moment, the battlefield of the United Kingdom of Roa Gracia was shrouded by the seven veils of the Wailing Goddess.
The Wailing Goddess wore pure immaculate white veils of ice veil, and a pale, dark gown. Against the darkness of the opposite two colors, she danced wildly like a frenzied princess, dazzling and bewildering all who saw her. Thus was the black and white battlefield of the United Kingdom, where all sense of direction and distance was gone, and even the targeting laser of the fire control system could be deceived.
Beyond the veil, the steel-colored silhouettes of “Legion” seemingly appeared out of a sudden as they swarmed towards the defences United Kingdom army.
Beneath the steel hooves of “Legion”, the steel anti-tank barriers at the front that took the form of spears, frozen trenches, and Tochkas that were colored the same as the snow had all collapsed, buried along with the lurking soldiers, assault rifles, recoilless cannons, old anti-tank rifles. Even the United Kingdom’s Barushka Matushka, decapedaled Feldreß with enhanced artillery, were crushed in their attempts to stop the enemy.
A horde of Löwes raced forward. Even in the hillscape of thick snow, the large monsters of 50 tonnes in battle weight continued to push forward with ridiculous speed.
At that moment,
A girl’s hearty laughter echoed in the blurry white.
The laughter was sufficiently subtle, hard to hear through the howling snowstorm. However, there were many footsteps that accompanied it. The Ameise tracking alongside the Legion caught sight of distinctive spiked footsteps through it composite sensor, along with the distinct, hard sounds made when walking through the frozen land.
The “Legion” could identify the name and specs of the unit if the footsteps were compared to the database. The matching result was a multi-legged fighter of the United Kingdom. Based on the intel shared, the turrets of the Löwes started to turn silently.
It seemed she too had noticed the savage expressions of the Löwes targeted at her, but she did not mind..
Beyond the snowy night the “Legion” looked at was seemingly the military headquarters of the United Kingdom, and suddenly, a pale white fighter unit leaped out.
Like a coyote through the snow, she ran between the narrow gaps of the coniferous forest like a carnivore moving in the winter where its prey had difficulty moving. She let out laughter of a demure girl tapping on glass as she ran through the white-blue battlefield.
The decapedal fighter had five pairs of slender legs, and a fancy cockpit that might not exist. A hazy light appeared between the snow veil, and it was the glow from the optical sensors that were pale as ghost fire.
The “Alkanost” was a multi-legged fighter tasked to defend the United Kingdom.
The fighter scampered in all directions to avoid the first salvo from the Löwes. The shell fragments we incapable of damaging it, but it leapt with ridiculous maneuverability, jumped above the turret of the front-most Löwe, and wrapped itself around it like a vulture.
The untimely female laughter was followed by a literal zero-range barrage.
The fighters were lightened to ensure high maneuverability, and thus, the cannon caliber was reduced to a short type of 105mm. The combat maneuverability of the “Alkanost” was thus to compensate for the cannon’s lack of accuracy of the gun’s aim with a close-range barrage.
The shell exploded almost immediately near the muzzle, and the metal torrent eroded the upper armor of the Löwe through the Munroe effect.
At the same time, the shell fragments scattered in all directions, piercing the armor around the long, thin legs and torso of the “Alkanost”.
The HEAT shell that hit the Löwe had its power set to the minimum range to ensure that the multi-legged unit would not be damaged by the shockwaves and shrapnel caused by the explosion. At this point however, the directive was lost abandoned—it was a blast up close to destroy the enemy, even if it meant damaging her own unit.
Even so, the pilot inside the “Alkanost”—who might be a girl, would not stop. The Löwe that was detonated by the shell spewed flames, and the turret was blown away by the impact. It took the scrapped enemy as a springboard and leaped onto the next “Legion” (prey). The other “Alkanosts” units that appeared in the snowy field one after another trailed behind and trampled on the steel-colored wreckage.
Sensing that the defensive line had been breached, the United Kingdom’s Feldreß, the “Barushka Matushka” vanguard squadron, stood under the light.
Beneath Under the snowy sky were the steel-colored silhouettes of countless “Legion” units, and the pale white spiders that surrounded them and hunted them down.
At this time, a pale white figure appeared in front of them, who were watching the battlefield in half-awe.
There were one—no, two units. One of them was an “Alkanost” with a white sea bird person mark, while the other was a “Barushka Matushka”. The massive decapedaled unit was equipped with 125mm smoothbore guns, grenade launchers lined side by side, heavy armor and heavy armament that resembled a demonic city, heavy looking. It was a multi-legged fighter with enhanced artillery.
The personal mark was a serpent wrapped around an apple.
The call sign was “Gadyuka”. It was the personal unit of Viktor Idinarohk, the fifth prince of the United Kingdom and commander-in-chief of the Southern Front.
The United Kingdom revered martial arts, and the Idinarohk royalty were the apex of it all, taking pride in commanding armies into battle. This prince too seemed to exhibit so as he stood on the frontlines in his multi-legged fighter.
The distinctive blue and white optical sensors of the United Kingdom’s multi-legged fighter glanced toward the mech squadron. It was as if a beautiful black serpent was eyeing its prey with merciless eyes.
“—Is the commander present?”
It was difficult for the pilots of the mecha unit to identify the sweet, musical tenor voice that rang through the noise of the radio.
The tone of voice was one used to giving speeches, and could draw people’s consciousness into the abyss. It came from a teenage boy who had yet to be an adult.
How could it be Prince himself who asked the question?
The squadron commander, who was frozen for a moment, regained his senses and replied in a different, almost opposite tone. He was merely a junior officer, and talking to the royal family directly was by no means a reward.
“My Sirins will buy time. Focus on rebuilding the defense line.”
“As you wish.”
But did he really hear the commander’s reply? While speaking, the “Serpent” directed his optical sensors away from them, and moved his massive machine after the “Alkanosts” which had disappeared into the snow—it was a tradition for the Idinarohk royal family to appear on the frontlines. He probably intended to take command before the defense line collapsed.
At the same time, he was controlling the machine without words, tailing the “Alkanost” with the personal mark of the sea bird like a shadow.
The squadron pilots silently watched him leave in awe and a hint of displeasure.
The pilots of “Alkanost”, whom the prince called “Sirins”, were all young girls. They were all birds of death that feared no death for the sake of the royal decree, including the girl with the personal mark of the sea bird he followed.
It was a commonly known fact that the fifth prince and his troops were the main point of defense of the United Kingdom. To the soldiers who knew that this feat was built on the wreckage of countless “Alkanost”, his great work could only be described as unnerving.
While looking in the direction of where the units disappeared into the snow, one of the pilots could not help but utter what was on his mind.
The leader of the Sirins Battalion, so beautiful it was terrifying—
“—The Serpent of Shackles and Decay.”
“…I suppose he assumed I did not hear him.”
Royalty he might be, they were in the midst of the battle, and it was a battlefield.
After the battle, Viktor—Vika handed over the damaged unit to the maintenance crew, and walked around without being greeted by an attendant in the hangar full of crude multipedaled units that focused only on sturdiness and functionality. He was wearing a purple and black mecha pilot’s suit that was no different from the United Kingdom’s normal pilots, and had black kite-like hair and amethyst eyes like a tiger. The only difference between him and the general military was the unicorn silver plate that symbolized the royal seal of authority on the insignia badge. Unlike the general officers who were only lent granted a portion of their command, he was able to exercise the command he had as a royal. Such was the proof of ‘special general’.
The only girl accompanying him as a knight looked towards him with her beryl green eyes, and asked,
“What do you wish to do, Your Highness?”
It was as if she would obey immediately if ordered to behead someone, happily even. Such was the tone she spoke with as she looked towards Vika.
She was like a hound with only one thing on her mind, cautious and straightforward.
Like a blind follower.
Hmph, Vika snorted.
Responding indifferently, he said,
“A crass dog is barking, but I have no intent to pursue every single one and beat them up. I have neither the pettiness nor the time to do so, Lerche.”
Just give up.
Lerche reluctantly nodded her head. Seeing her look of defiance, Vika snickered at her.
“We have insufficient soldiers, and while they are lacking in etiquette, it doesn’t matter as long as they can fight the “Legion”. We’ll use what we have…there’s no need to punish such painless insolence.”
“Still affected by the prior attack?”
“…Yes. At least we have an option other than to retreat.”
The United Kingdom used the Dragon Corpse Mountains, a natural obstacle, as the main battlefield in the war against the “Legion” Legion, and placed the northern side of the mountains, which overlap the north and south, as an absolute defense line. The south was supposedly occupied by the “Legion”, and both sides remained hostile against each other across the valley and lowlands.
Since ancient times, it was tougher to attack from the low ground, especially a treacherous rolling mountainous terrain that was not beneficial towards the Feldreß that mainly fought on the plains. The hilly country Alliance of Wald, centered around the range surrounding Mount Wyrmnest, built their multipedaled weapons based on the “Legion” out of national security concerns, and were no different from the United Kingdom in this regard.
The United Kingdom maintained a defense line for eleven years, and to a certain extent it was successful in the south, but it also showed that the United Kingdom was merely a battlefield ‘attacking from the high ground.’.
They suffered many losses in defence facilities and soldiers under the prior major offensive. The United Kingdom army had yet to recover, and was trying its best not to retreat, mentioned.
The United Kingdom, which had the northern part of the continent, could not retreat any further. Beyond the Dragon Corpse Mountains would be the largest farming stretch of the United Kingdom. The northern half of the United Kingdom’s territory was unsuitable for food production due to sunlight and temperature, so the southern farming areas was the lifeline of the United Kingdom.
They could not let it be consumed by war.
“We can’t build an elite squadron like the Federacy, the 86th Strike Package, can we?”
Vika glanced at her and looked down at the snowy-white face that was the lower half of her head. The 86th Strike Package, huh?
“An advanced force comprised mainly of the Eighty-Sixers with the mission to prioritize the “Legion”…well, I can’t say it can’t be done…”
He paused for a moment and shrugged at Lerche, who was tilting her head.
“Create another squadron? Father and Brother will seek other methods, so…”
At that moment, a sergeant in a purple and black uniform stood before the two.
The sergeant saluted with honorifics—it was the heart salute distinct to the United Kingdom Army, where the right hand was placed on the heart.
It was not a royal salute, but it was used as a military salute in the battlefield, and it meant a order to not only Vika, but to all royalty and soldiers. This ostentatious ritual was merely a waste of time on the battlefield, where time was of the essence.
“What is it…you have permission. Keep it short.”
“Yes. Your Highness, I have been ordered to recall you. It is from your father, His Majesty the King.”
Vika did not look back at Lerche, who was looking up at him, but merely raised a neat single eyebrow.
“I heard that Viktor had been summoned from the southern side, Brother Zafar.”
He knew it was rude to do so, but Zafar stopped in his tracks and looked back. The main hallway of the Roa Gracia palace was inlaid with gold leaves, amber, topaz and heliodor, creating a brilliant, warm golden glow in the faint northern sunlight.
Slowly carrying the hem of the hand-wove gown were the identical-looking twin attendants as his half-sister, the first princess who was younger by half a month. The rich fragrant aroma that arose was the jasmine perfume, made from flowers that could be smelled from far away, which only the greenhouses of the United Kingdom could cultivate.
With a clatter, she unfolded her fan of ivory and gemstone fan, gracefully covered her smiling face and continued,
“Father and Brother, you two finally wish to see that monster…those Sirins are in the southern forces of the army, and are such unnatural troops after all. I guess it cannot be helped if they cannot repel the “Legion”.”
Zafar could not help but laugh.
He was born to the queen, while the first princess and the second prince were born to other concubines. They were fighting for the throne, vying for accomplishments, but such sarcastic digs that seemed cute were pointless, and a waste of time.
“Is it that bad? For seven years, he has stopped those steel monsters in the Dragon Corpse mountains. During the prior slaying of the Railgun, Vika led the Sirins in ballistic observation and infiltration destruction, and was highly lauded by Father.”
As long as approval was given, it was possible that Vika, whose succession rights were removed, could make a comeback, but Zafar did not mention so.
Assuming the youngest brother Vika regained his position as heir to the throne—he would certainly be the most formidable enemy to whomever…of course, this would include Zafar, but the latter firmly believed this would not be the case.
The child of Snakes was truly not interested in authority or power.
The reason was the world he was in—…
“This summons is to change the situation where we had to retreat from the defensive line. Or rather, Father would expect to task that child with the mission to suppress the “Legion”…I suppose you have heard the 86th Strike Package that had been assisting us.”
“The 86th Strike Package? …ah yes, the garbage heap unit consisting of the Eighty-Sixers from the Federacy that was seized by fervent plebeians that even the wretched Republic has abandoned.”
Oho, the first Princess showed an elegant smile.
“That army is suitable for him, but you are assigning your own biological brother there?? ….Truly you and Father do not have a long term view of this, Brother. Are you intending to discard them after using them? Those forces are established to ensure that their country’s people were not sacrificed.”
“But it is a necessity.”
This country, the United Kingdom, was ruled by a unicorn royal family. His Father was on the throne, while Zafar himself would one day inherit it.
Despite this, she had stubbornly took Zafar’s abandonment of Vika as a trip up, and Zafar himself thought it was really her faction that had sent Vika to the Strike Package. Or perhaps it was the concoction of the second prince’s faction, and she tagged along. Nevertheless, the two would not stop coercing their younger siblings who were not much younger than them.
Both the First Princess and the Second Princess deemed that Vika, who belonged to Zafar’s faction, never regretted the loss of his succession rights, and pinned his own accomplishments onto Zafar, was a major obstacle. They wanted to seize the chance to dispose of Vika. If the latter contributed greatly with the 86th Strike Package, the credit would undoubtedly have been given to Zafar.
The United Kingdom no longer has the luxury of keeping Vika on the defensive line. Rather, one would say he and his Sirins would only shine in combat.
Despite this, Zafar felt it was unforgivable.
“Does that Serpent still obeys?”
“Of course. That child is a loyal sword to Father and I, along with the United Kingdom we defend. As long as Father or I give the command, he shall protect this country…even if means giving up his own life.”
His Father shall know his own limits, along with that of the United Kingdom’s.
That youngest brother would forever be a sharp sword for the United Kingdom.
Phew, there was a sense of elegance from the fan fanned by the First Princess.
“Brother, a word of advice to you…it is best not to rely on that Serpent too heavily. There is suitable prey for a hunting dog to work on, but he is ultimately a humanoid monster born without being able to comprehend human emotions. Even if he does take the throne, he is a merciless monster that remains nonchalant about the honor that comes with it…there is nothing tougher to handle than a shackled monster. You have no idea what this savage serpent is thinking, or which he will bite you. The best way is to let go of him.”
Unlike those who were raised with money, honor and authority…nobody knew how to raise an emotionless serpent.
Hmph. Zafar sneered elegantly.
“You are envious, no, Feodora?”
Zafar saw that the beautiful face of his younger sister was gloomy.
It seemed her mettle was still lacking, and Zafar coldly responded with a perfect smile.
Since young, they were taught as royalty to never show others of what they were truly thinking.
He was dealing with an opponent coveting the throne, and it would be terrible if he did not put in some effort on his appearance and showed his heart.
While smiling, he looked down at her as he continued on,
“He is just a hunting dog close to Father and me. A beautiful, sharp sword, an irreplaceable fang of of a venomous snake…and you always loved pretty dolls, no?”
She was miles away compared to Vika and the beautiful dolls who always looked so tentative behind her, lacking in class and heinous.
“…Who cares about that filthy serpent?”
Feodora said with a tone of slight regret, and she lifted her long eyebrows, her emerald eyes looking up at him. She and her biological brother were different from Zafar, who had a pair of amethyst eyes.
Of their eyes, the ones deemed best were amethyst, and of the siblings, only Zafar and Vika inherited them.
“Speaking of which, I cannot understand why you are so doting on him. While he may be a serpent, he is still Father’s own son. As a brother though, he did cause the Queen, your mother—”
“I thought you wanted to say something else. Is it not a given to dote on my little brother, Feodora?”
Unlike you, who only has Father’s blood.
That was the tone of his unspoken words in the face of his half-sister.
Even if he was the cold-blooded child of Serpents.
Even if he was the Serpent who devoured his kin to survive, whose flesh and blood had rotted away.
“He is still…my adorable little brother after all.”
Before he knew it, it had been a long while ago until he knew of the true nature of his little brother, and subsequently,
Ever since then,
That moment when the gouged eye retained its clear blue and remained still, even though it was stained from the blood.
Zafar recovered, and smiled at his infant little brother.
The little brother who was still three years young, born from the same mother.
“Vika, why did you think of bringing this to me?”
Vika blinked his wide blue eyes, and smiled innocent,
“Because it’s pretty!”
So that was the case. The kitten’s eye was a pretty blue, and so were the petals of the violets, the wings of the butterfly and the goldenbug, bird feather, snake scale and others. That was why he would gift them to his ‘dearest brother’.
“Did that cat not suffer…whimper or scream?”
“I see. Do not do this again.”
Vika asked incredulously, and Zafar pondered.
“Well, you hate to be hurt, do you not, Vika? Nobody wants to be hurt, and hate to be hurt. At the same time, do not do something to be hated.”
“But why? I’m not a cat…the cat would feel pain, but not it.”
Ahh goodness, Zafar brooded.
It seemed that in his little brother’s world, he was the only existence.
There was only Vika…or to those he felt a need to maintain a relationship with, his father, Zafar himself, the milk mother and the milk sister girl were all important to him. To him, he simply needed to protect himself, and nothing else mattered, and he did not care if anything else existed.
But if it kept up.
If he could more or less convey his words—Zafar truly wished that Vika would establish contact with people aside from him.
“Vika. ‘I’ do not like it when a cat is suffering and tormented.”
The large purple eyes blinked and flickered.
“You dislike so, Brother?”
“Did you not look for pretty things to make me happy? Since I dislike them, you cannot do them, Vika.”
“Look, I do not like to see cats tormented. Do not do this again, starting today, Vika.”
If Vika were to show complete disinterest in anything aside from himself or those related to him, he would easily be a target of scorn.
Zafar could not allow that to happen.
The young Vika pondered seriously with the thought process befitting his age.
“…The cat doesn’t want to be hurt, Brother dislike it. I can’t do anything that Brother dislikes.”
It seemed he understood.
Vika lowered his shoulders dejected.
He did not apologize for harming the cat.
Zafar himself did not think that harming the cat itself was a bad thing though.
“Yes. I shall not do so again.”
One had to wonder if that pitiful cat was still alive. If it was, Zafar wanted to personally raise it.
Since such a sin was committed, some compensation was required.
Suddenly, as Zafar was about to turn and look for the cat, a little hand tugged at him.
Zafar looked back at Vika, who was trying to conjure words.
Given the tense look, it was obvious Vika did not want to be hated.
Vika’s world consisted only of him and some other people who were important to him.
No matter who left…it would mean to Vika that he would lose part of himself. A world with only himself was more terrifying than anything else.
“Is it because I can’t do that, not because you hate it? Then can I continue to give things to you, Brother?”
Despite the cat’s blood on his hand, Zafar wrapped the eye that was starting to turn murky, and held Vika’s little hand as he kept pace, saying,
“From now on, you must remember that your thoughts will be different from others, and you will probably encounter such situations. Until then, remember to ask me. If you do anything wrong, I shall teach you…and have you understand.”
That was how he learned to raise this humanoid Serpent.
One day, Vika would grow fangs, but one would hope he would not deliberately destroy the world.
Zafar hoped that the world would not deem his brother a threat and shun him.
He would guide Vika, for he was the older brother of this child.
For Zafar, his brother Viktor ten years younger was too adorable, a brother he had the urge to dote and protect.
At this moment.
Vika, who was assigned to the 86th Mobile Strike Package under the Giad Federacy, had removed his insignia as a special general and swapped to that of a lieutenant colonel
Zafar was brewing tea, and as the smell of his favorite sagebrush-scented black tea wafted through the air, someone suddenly spoke,
“…Speaking of which, Brother.”
Zafar felt a sense of foreboding from the eighteen year old younger brother who spoke up,
It had been a while, and perhaps the taste did not suit Vika.
But in any case, Vika’s expression was always exactly the same as when he gave violet petals and a cat’s eye as a child.
He tried to ask the reason as to why Vika did not continue,
“What is it, Vika?”
There was a common grey cat with one eye in the Crown Prince’s room, lying on Vika’s lap, seemingly forgetting who caused that injury as it poked Vika with its paw.
Till this day, Zafar had no idea if Vika knew that he caused such a tragedy.
“I actually read an interesting thesis and thought I’d try an experiment…”
Surely that thesis contained weird stuff that could not be done.
Of course, Vika, who had no idea as to what was in Zafar’s mind, could not help but project the thesis onto the holographic screen.
“It’s a technology that enables mice and rabbits to emit fluorescence by controlling their genetic factors. I don’t know if the same technology can be applied to other creatures, so I want to try it out. I don’t care about the rest, as long as the snake can emit a full spectrum of light. If it is beautiful, I will give one to you, Brother…”
Immediately after the reply, Vika slumped his shoulders dejectedly.
It was fine to play with animals, but not fine to play animals. Zafar had repeated this for the umpteenth time.
Speaking of which, while Zafar did say that dogs, cats, birds, horses, butterflies, frogs and fish were a no go, he never mentioned anything about snakes.
“So, what about a lizard…”
The little brother who had a weird thought process went silent with a gaudy look for some reason.
Is there anything bothering you? Zafar wanted to ask, but he did not.
Vika really could not understand Zafar’s values, and Zafar could not fully understand Vika’s values either.
But why could he not? The situation remained unchanged no matter how many times Zafar reproached him, and it did not make sense at all. sense at all.
Vika never said he understood either…having grown up, he realized that he was a a heretic in the human world, and had reached a point where no one can understand.
“I caught the parents of that snake…”
“Let them go. Into the garden.”
On a side note, for Zafar and Vika, who were born and raised in the vast palace of Roa Gracia, the ‘garden’ referred to here was as vast as a dense forest.
Vika thought about it again.
“Understood. I shall gift this to the commander of the Mobile Strike Package.”
“Why did it come to that. Can you not put it in the garden?”
Vika tilted his head.
“The Reaper of the Republic’s 86th district is like a snake, probably tough to handle too, I suppose?”
Zafar too had heard about the teenage soldiers of the 86th Strike Package—and like Vika, the Eighty-Sixers too were missing something. They were like snakes, no matter how good they were, they would be discarded after being used.
The Federacy had released the photo of the commander leading the 86th Strike Package, one with bloody pupils that would render any viewer awake. Zafar reminiscence as he continued,
“I do not think he will be happy, so your expected reaction might not happen. It is not funny to joke like this. Do not cause any pranks.”
“The tactical commander and the mascot of the Strike Package might show some interesting reactions. Will it be fine?”
Zafar, who sighed, said,
“Stop playing pranks that will get you completely hated.”
As long as Brother doesn’t hate it, it doesn’t matter.
Zafar expected Vika to say that, but Vika actually thought about it for a moment.
“…Understood. Then forget it.”
Ohh, Zafar widened his eyes.
And suddenly smiled.
“I see. Then everything will be fine.”
Fifteen years had passed since then.
The child of Serpents was still unable to understand human kindness and decency, but perhaps he was starting to be accustomed to communication, and closer to people as a result.