She was a girl who had surely had a strange life. Her mother slain when she was only seven, she was swallowed by Monster King Leviathan not much later, and within that very year on the topside, she celebrated her eighteenth birthday. She toppled a giant, joined forces with the Monster God, and did battle with a supreme being.
And she had met . . .
That year was an odd kind of year for a man of only twenty-six. He had seen the destruction of his kingdom. He met a great man, a Paladin. Together, they got the revenge that he sought. Along the way, he had seen his parents after they had been turned into monsters by that demon. And alongside the Paladin, they slew the demon and the demon’s master. But that wasn’t the end of his journey. No, for he had gone on to crush a metal giant and even slew the manifestation of evil! But none of that mattered much to him.
Well, at least, not half as much as it mattered that he had met . . .
Ohh, he was such a troublesome man. He’d fall head-over-heels every time he got a chance to see up a girl’s skirt. It didn’t matter if she was the Dancer from Baron Town, one of the Clerics of Toroia, little Luca from the Dwarves’ Castle, or even that kiddy girl monster from the Monster World where She came from. That man was such a pervert.
But somehow . . .
Maybe that’s what he’d fallen for. She was so different from every other girl that He’d ever met. It was as if she wasn’t . . . familiar with humans, even. As if she was even a little distanced from them. But you know . . . he’d give up everyone he’d ever skirt-chased, give up everything he had as long as it meant being with her.
And so . . .
It had been a while since she had seen him. Cecil’s coronation was the last time, wasn’t it? Though she had been in and out of the Monster World, it had already added up to more than twelve years of her time, probably much less than that in the topside’s time. But even so, she was worried. That man was so lecherous. But he was a king; wouldn’t he have found a queen by then? That aside, through all the time that had passed for her, something about the thought of him like that flustered her somehow.
Maybe, though . . .
The last time that he’d seen her was at the Paladin’s coronation. She even came up to him then. Yet he was worried. That had been two years ago. On top of that, she did that just out of courtesy, didn’t she? That was heartbreaking. That some monster might be trying to win her over at that very moment was so painful to Him.
Even through all that . . .
“Oh, Rydia. You’ve grown so much since I’ve seen you last.”
“Grown how, Rosa? Old?”
“Don’t be silly. You’re hardly thirty, aren’t you? What brings you to visit Baron today?”
“I . . . Rosa, I have never been so good with things like . . . this. You see . . . lately, and more and more often, I find my thoughts wandering to . . .”
“Him?! You can’t be serious.”
“Um.” She was very shy about it. She was somewhat touchy about all this. “But I am.”
“Well, of course you remember the time that you fell in battle and he went to help you, don’t you? Well, let me tell you, in your unconsciousness, he tried looking down your . . .”
Well, that was strike one.
“And he has no social graces at all. Why, he’d have to grow to a thousand times his size if he wanted his body to match his ego. And then he’s so lecherous. You and I both know that if it weren’t forbidden by society, every woman he came across would be carrying his children.”
She nodded. Strike two.
“And you know what else? He’s probably a little turned on by your being some part monster.”
And somehow, Rosa’s words, no matter how revealing about the bare truths about him, convinced her of something. Even though it might’ve been for all the wrong reasons, he could love her for what she was.
“Rosa, even through everything else . . . that’s exactly why he’s so . . .”
“Haven’t we been through this discussion hundreds of times?”
His advisor nodded. “Indeed we have. That just reaffirms the gravity of the situation. You aren’t getting any younger, King Edge.”
“Yeah, but I still got it. No woman can resist my awesome technique.”
The advisor coughed. “Some kind of repellant technique?” he added under his breath.
“Erm. That was just a strange cough, your majesty.”
“Damn straight.” He sat in his throne for a moment. “Forget this. I’m goin,’ awright?”
“Going . . . ? Where?”
He grinned slyly to hide his pensiveness. “Wherever, y’know.”
“Rydia! Rydia! There’s a weird man here!” a little monster said excitedly.
“Hmm . . . ? A weird man?” she asked.
“Mm! He was looking at Shiva with googly-eyes and then she hurt him!”
“Oh. . . . Googly-eyes? Well, that sounds like . . .”
Well, that certainly hurt, didn’t it? Damn, monster-chicks were always so sensitive about wandering eyes.
Speaking of eyes, what he was seeing with his? Well . . . did that monster kill him? He could have sworn he was seeing an angel.
Nah, angels had long, blond hair and feathery white wings. This one had tied-up green hair and . . . hey, this one was . . .
“Mm, I think I need mouth-to-mouth resuscitation . . .”
. . . Dammit, that hurt more than what that monster did.
“Edge. What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I had to come here, you know?” he replied.
“You had to come here just you could do lecherous things?! What were you thinking?”
I was thinkin’ that she sure had a nice ass . . . "Hehe. Well, I’d rather not say. But truth be told, I came to see you, Rydia.”
“You . . . came to see me?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“It’s been so long already.”
“It’s only been two-ish years.”
“Oh . . . but I’m . . . how I’m in and out of the topside, time’s passed so much faster for me . . .”
“You can’t be that much older. What are you now, twenty-four? You’re not much older than that, right?”
She giggled. “Thirty, Edge. Thirty! Can you believe it? You know, to think about it, I’m your senior now, aren’t I?”
“Huh, you’re right. But you know what? I’ve always liked older women.”
She rolled her eyes. Somehow, she was convinced that he wasn’t joking.
“But truthfully, Rydia . . . I did come to see you. It wasn’t only that, though.”
“Hmm? What else were you plotting in your rotted mind?”
He was quiet for a long time. Had she said something that plucked a chord?
And then he spoke. “Rydia. All this time, my advisors have been nagging me to get myself a queen. I’m not getting any younger either. But I’ve looked high and low. I’ve traveled from Eblan to Damcyan, from Toroia to Fabul. Of course there’s a million fish in the sea, and I’d be lying to say that none of them were beautiful. But through all that, my thoughts always came back to you. I won’t lie to you. Even though we’ve been apart all this time, in that time, I feel like I did when we fought together. No, I lie to say that. I feel so much more . . . but . . . twelve years for you, Rydia. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve fallen for some monster here. But I’d give everything up for you, Rydia, even if we couldn’t be together in the end. I’m living for you and I’d die for you. That’s just the way it is with me . . . so I gotta know, you know?”
She listened. How couldn’t she? What did He have to know from her?
“Rydia, it doesn’t matter about anything else, y'know . . .”
He sure was stalling. Either he wasn't sure about this or . . . was he worried?
“I gotta know if you would be willing to . . . um . . . become . . . my queen.”
Her reaction was very unspectacular. She couldn’t bring herself to blush and look away like in the romantic stories. She couldn’t bring herself to look at him with warmth in her eyes. She wanted to do all that, but for some reason, she couldn’t. Somehow, she had seen this coming. Yet at the same time, she had been blind to it.
She felt a little bad, even, sitting there looking dumb. As if he hadn’t even said something.
But . . . but he was a terrible womanizer. He was full of himself. He didn't care about what other people thought about him. His ego did outweigh his brain by at least a hundred fold. And he was truly in love with her. Through all of his other terrible traits, that shining beacon had stood the test of time along with everything else.
He crossed his fingers. Dammit, what if she said "no"? Then . . . but what if she said "yes"? . . . Aw, man, He didn’t even have a ring! Didn’t he?
“Edge.” She had resolved herself.
“Of course,” she said finally. “But when you say this, you’re promising me, aren’t you? That you’ll never leave my side. That you’ll never chase after another woman. That we’ll be together, just you and me.”
His face brightened up. The whole world couldn’t possibly matter any more than this! It never would again! All that mattered now was her! And she’d really meant it, hadn’t she! Oh, yeah! Oh, man, nothing could ever touch him ever again! Oh, he was on cloud nine for life! Oh . . . oh, dammit, what would he use for a ring?
. . . Yeah, that was it. He slipped the ring off of his own finger. The one bearing the Eblan Crest. “Rydia . . . this ring . . .”
“Edge, do you promise?”
He closed his eyes. It was so easy. But to sound as sincere as he meant to be . . . “. . . Mm. Yeah. Yes. Yes! I promise! I swear with all my heart! I swear on my two swords! I swear on my departed parents. I swear on my country, and everyone who ever contributed to its prosperity! We’ll be together. Just you and me, never anyone else, ever! Forever. Forever.”