BBYW Vol. 1 Chapter 17
Chapter 17 – The First Kiss Tastes Like Poison
【POV : Sakuya】
My name is Sakuya.
I work as a maid for Lord Dyngir Maxwell, heir to Margrave Maxwell, the leading noble of the eastern province.
My special skills are staying awake throughout the night to guard my lord, escorting, patrolling the manor, concocting poison…then assassination, poisoning, garroting, bludgeoning, erasure, massacre, extermination, and many more.
Presently, thanks to these skills, I am working as an impeccable maid, but until three years ago I was engaged in a different profession.
A profession commonly defined with the word “assassin”. In the land my ancestors hailed from, it was also called “Ninja”.
The organization I used to belong to, a league of assassins called the 『Fangs of Steel Ninja Squad』, originated from an island country located beyond the sea east of the continent.
More than 50 years ago, in the far east country of “Wanokuni”, our ancestors accepted requests received from the government and the daimyo — in this country, one would call them nobles — and mainly performed infiltration, sabotage, and assassination work.
The village where our ancestors lived, however, was completely destroyed by a certain daimyo: chased away from their own country, they sought refuge in this continent.
After a long period of vagrancy, their final destination was here — the kingdom of Lamperouge.
The Lamperouge kingdom was founded when its predecessor, the Lamperouge Alliance — a group of city-states — decided to band together in order to protect themselves, triggered by the empire’s territorial expansion.
Fifty years ago, when the kingdom was newly established, it was surrounded by enemies in all directions.
To the north and east lay the empire, a known aggressor country boasting massive military strength.
To the south, territories were subjected to the pirates’ turf wars, continuous plundering, and massacres. The western borders were often threatened by a fearsome army whose name people did not even dare to pronounce.
In a country surrounded by enemies, where the flames of war never died out, our ancestors had countless opportunities to put their skills to use.
They assassinated generals from hostile countries, procured secret documents, eliminated subversive cells within the country…eventually,『Fangs of Steel』became known as the name of a legendary group of assassins.
Legends too fade over time.
The empire’s invasion attempts were put on hold, the pirates’ turf wars reached their conclusion, a truce was formed with the terror army. The value of the 『Fangs of Steel』 also dimmed.
As the kingdom entered an era of peace, our existence was relegated to the fairytales.
To discard our profession as assassins and continue living here, or leave to seek new battlefields.
The time to choose had come.
It was precisely at that time that he appeared before us.
“Hello there, this is the hideout of the assassin guild 『Fangs of Steel』, yes?”
It happened three years ago, in the small town where the 『Fangs of Steel』 established their headquarters. A young man suddenly opened the door of the tavern that served as a front for the hideout.
The young man was about fifteen years old.
He had a black sword at his waist and carried a bag over his shoulder, which seemed filled to the brim.
“…what are you saying, boy? This place is for members only.”
The 『Fangs of Steel』 member who acted as tavern staff replied, unfazed.
All the people present in the tavern, me included, were『Fangs of Steel』ninjas.
I was sitting at a table and eating. When the young man came in, I casually took my poisoned needles from under the table, preparing to attack him if necessary.
The other ninjas disguised as tavern patrons secretly prepared their weapons as well.
“Haha, all this killing intent you’re giving out is proof enough. Let me guess, all those here are assassins?”
The waiter made eye contact with me.
It was the signal to move: I quickly moved behind the young man, without making a sound.
I would not kill him immediately: we had to interrogate him first, to know where he had learned about the location of our hideout.
(First, you will be paralyzed.)
I tried to stab the young man’s neck with a needle coated in paralyzing poison, but something very unexpected happened.
“Oh, you’re fast.”
The young man dodged my attack, without even looking at me. The next instant, he turned around, grabbed my wrist, and raised it high.
“Whoa there! You have bad manners, girl!!”
I tried using my free hand to poke his eyes, but the young man dodged that easily as well, then caught my other hand too.
(Kh…but I still have my legs…!)
I tried kicking him between the legs to send him flying, but the young man retaliated with a surprising attack.
“You sure are feisty, despite your size. As expected of a legendary league of assassins! Okay then, I should start by giving a reward to this young lady here.”
The next instant, the young man kissed me.
It was the first time my lips touched someone else’s. My first kiss, as they say.
“Hnn!! Nnh…! Nnh…mmh…”
I desperately resisted at first, but as the young man’s tongue penetrated inside my mouth, I gradually lost the ability to move.
The young man’s tongue skills were so lethal, I began to wonder if his tongue had been coated in poison.
He sucked on my lips, licked and caressed each one of my teeth.
I felt all my strength leave my body, and before I noticed it I was leaning against the young man.
(…I never felt…anything so…good…)
I felt as if I had been lulled into an ecstatic drinking stupor, but that moment of bliss ended abruptly.
“Hmm, delicious. Unripe fruits have a great taste too.”
My lips were finally released, after who knows how long.
I was dazed for a while, like I was floating. When I fully regained my senses, I saw the tavern’s tables and chairs scattered and broken, broken bottles and shards of glass everywhere.
All the 『Fangs of Steel』 ninjas except me were lying on the floor. The one posing as the waiter, my older brother Oboro, was lying face down: the young man stepping over him.
“This is what you get for interrupting a love scene, you uncivilized goons.”
“Who in the world…are you…?”
All of the ninjas present were 『Fangs of Steel』 assassins. Each one of them had survived countless deadly situations: they were all masters of their art.
And this young man defeated them all by himself….while kis…kissing me…?
“Me? Oh yeah, I didn’t introduce myself, right? My name’s Dyngir Maxwell. I have a hunch we’re going to have a long relationship, me and you. Well, anyway, pleased to meet you.”
The young man — Lord Dyngir Maxwell smiled like a mischievous kid.
I opened my mouth to say something, but before I could laughter echoed in the tavern.
“Ho ho ho, it sure is lively in here today.”
I turned around and found the familiar face of an elderly man.
The tall man with a long white beard was Jogen: he was the current head of the『Fangs of Steel』 and my grandfather. After my parents had died in the line of duty, he was also the person who raised me.
“I must say I am surprised to see someone who can manage this much against our youngsters. I see they don’t call you prodigy for no reason, Maxwell boy. Impressive, impressive.”
Grandfather laughed merrily, like a kind elderly neighbor, but his eyes were not even smiling. He glared sharply at the intruder and the ninjas who were defeated so easily, in turn.
Lord Dyngir released me from his embrace. Still overwhelmed by his passionate kiss, I slumped down on the floor.
“I’m the impressed one here, elder. I didn’t even feel your presence until you spoke.”
Lord Dyngir praised grandfather with a smile.
“Haha, I didn’t grow old doing nothing, after all.”
My grandfather replied and smiled back. The atmosphere around them seemed peaceful, as if they were already friends.
I noticed, however, that they both carefully kept their distance from each other, gauging the other’s range.
“Well then, Sir Dyngir, may I ask what brings you here? I’m sure you did not come only to teach a good lesson to our youngsters.”
“That’s right. I came here for a work request.”
“Ooh, that is intriguing. Let us hear it.”
Lord Dyngir placed the bag he carried on a nearby table. He then opened it, revealing a large number of gold coins.
“The request is for assassination. And the target is — Dyngir Maxwell. In other words, me.”
Those were Lord Dyngir’s exact words.
His unbelievable words created total silence in the room for a while. I was still sitting on the floor, speechless.
“…Is this some kind of joke?”
Grandfather too was suspicious: he frowned as he asked Lord Dyngir to explain himself.
Lord Dyngir grinned, as if our reaction was just what he expected. He then raised his index finger next to his face and replied.
“No, this is definitely not a joke. To put it simply, I want to make a bet with you 『Fangs of Steel』.”
“A bet? What do you want to say?”
“Yes, a bet. You have one month to try to assassinate me. If you succeed, that money is yours. If you fail, the 『Fangs of Steel』 will become my subordinates.”
“Hooh…you would have us serve you?”
“Yes, that’s right. The conditions aren’t bad, are they?”
“Hohoho, how funny. Young people should be reckless, as they say. However…you’re getting ahead of yourself, boy.”
Grandfather was laughing heartily one moment, but the next one his expression changed completely, as he sternly addressed Lord Dyngir.
I had never seen grandfather brimming with such killing intent: even if I wasn’t the target, I couldn’t help but tremble.
“Your little victory over our men here must have gone to your head. We are assassins, not warriors or mercenaries. Our essence is only one, to murder. We use any means available, no matter how low or immoral they may be, to silence our targets forever. Do you really think you could escape the full extent of our assassination techniques? You, a brat less than twenty? What arrogance!”
“Elder…yes, looking at you, I understand how reckless I was. I really underestimated the legendary league of assassins, it seems.”
Lord Dyngir sincerely bowed his head, then continued.
“I cannot swallow my words anymore though. I might have a very slim chance of victory, but do let me try those legendary assassination arts of yours.”
“…what pushes you to do such a thing? If you wish for us to be allies, you could simply offer money or land in exchange.”
“I know well you don’t mean what you just said. As if that would be enough to sway you.”
Lord Dyngir shook his head at grandfather’s legitimate question.
“Fifty years have passed since the 『Fangs of Steel』 first appeared in the history of this country. You have accepted the requests of many, but never pledged allegiance to one person or group, have you? I don’t know if that’s your motto or you simply haven’t found someone worthy enough to accept as your master yet. When I thought about a way to win you over, the only thing I came up with was to show you my resolve and abilities. So here I am.”
“Thus you stake your own life to win us over? That’s flattering indeed. It would all mean nothing if you die, though.”
“If that happens, that will mean that it was my limit as a man. They say I have the devil’s own luck though. I’m going to fight tooth and nail with everything I have, you’ll see.”
Lord Dyngir laughed brazenly. That time, I thought he was glowing. I felt as if I had seen the sun for the first time in my life.
I pressed my hands on my chest to stop it from thumping so much, but my heart continued to beat faster, stronger, louder.
“Very well, I understand. Your request has been accepted. If one month from now you are still alive, the 『Fangs of Steel』 shall become retainers of Sir Dyngir Maxwell.”
“I’m really looking forward to that. Causing harm to anyone else is against the rules though, all right?”
“Hohoho, very well.”
Lord Dyngir then left our hideout.
I looked at him go, then asked grandfather a question.
“Was it really alright to accept such a request?”
“That was the only way. A single man showed such a resolve to us, how could we not respond in kind?”
Grandfather nodded while stroking his prized beard.
“Our current way of life has reached its limits, anyhow. This might actually be a good chance.”
The age when the 『Fangs of Steel』 were considered necessary was long gone.
The requests for assassinations, which bore the most fruitful rewards, decreased day by day. We were forced to reexamine our way of life.
Based on such a situation, entering into service of a powerful noble house such as the Maxwells was not a bad prospect at all.
“The only problem is whether that boy was a worthy enough vessel or not…no, it does seem he could be worthy as a vessel, and he has enough strength too. It all depends on what kind of star he was born under, now.”
Grandfather looked at his unconscious subordinates, shrugged, and sighed. He then turned towards me, a deadly serious look on his face.
“Sakuya. I leave the assassination of that man, Dyngir Maxwell, to you.”
Grandfather’s order took me completely by surprise.
I could not understand how such an important mission, upon which depended the very fate of the 『Fangs of Steel』, could ever be assigned to someone who had already lost and was shamed like I was.
“Are you truly sure about this, grandfather? There are many members more skilled than me…”
The unconscious members in the tavern were all young members of the 『Fangs of Steel』. I knew and was proud of the fact that I was the most skilled one of them all, my brother Oboro included.
Among the members who supported the group through the warring age alongside grandfather, however, there were much more skilled than me.
Grandfather shook his head to my question.
“Those who will serve sir Dyngir are not us elderly, but you youngsters. Normally, it would be the next head’s duty to perform this test…but looking at Oboro’s pitiful state, I cannot entrust it to him.”
Grandfather stepped on my brother’s body, then scratched his head.
“I’m going to have to retrain this fool, so the request is yours. This is my decision as head.”
If my grandfather ordered me to take the mission as the head, I had no choice but to obey.
I was going to do everything in my power as an assassin to fulfill the request.
“Use all the techniques you have learned and determine whether he is fit as our leader or not. Do not go easy on him, even if you’ve fallen in love! Are we clear?”
I forgot my position and talked back to grandfather, then hid my burning red face with my hands.
One month had passed since then. I targeted Lord Dyngir’s life with all the means at my disposal.
The result was…defeat.
I did not hold back in the slightest, but Lord Dyngir foiled all of my attempts, through sheer luck and his own abilities, thus proving that he was fit to become our master.
After failing an assassination, Lord Dyngir caught me and did all sorts of things to me.
As a result, I realized my only path was to serve him as a maid…but that is a story for another time.