By Sarasa Nagase and Mai Murasaki. Released in Japan as “Akuyaku Reijo Nanode Rasubosu o Katte Mimashita” by Kadokawa Beans Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Taylor Engel.
This is a short story volume, but it contains the basic theme for the entire series, which is that when Aileen is doomed, or on the verge of execution, or otherwise has to work really hard to achieve anything, she’s fantastic, amazing, stupendous. When she’s surrounded by her loving husband, loyal allies and BFFs, she has a tendency to… well, there’s no getting around it, she’s a sub. The end of the book discusses Aileen and Claude’s first time, which we briefly heard about at the end of Book 6, and it’s immediately apparent that Aileen is in terrible denial about the fact that, in bed, Claude can not only wrap her around his… not-so-little “finger”, but she also just gives in to him, which embarrasses and humiliates her. And also turns her on, we’re meant to understand. If this is a surprise to you at all, this must be your first volume. That said, there’s more to this volume than that.
The short stories in this book are in chronological order, with the earliest happening after Book 1 and the latest ones taking place at the end of Book 6. Most of them are short, and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that they were extras with a store exclusive or DVD release. There are bulkier ones, though. One goes into much greater detail about how Walt and Kyle went from the Church’s honed weapons who are there to kill the Demon Lord to his most trusted bodyguards. (If your response is “because the Church is evil, congrats, you read Japanese light novels.) Because this is an otome game world, Valentine’s Day exists, and we get to see the ladies of the book (minus Lilia, who is notably absent from most of this volume) dole out candies and chocolates to all. And, as I mentioned above, Aileen and Claude have had their first time. He’s very, very happy. She’s a wreck.
I mentioned the lack of Lilia. She does show up at the very beginning, in a scene taking place before the start of Book 1. It mostly just shows off her perfect heroine vibes that she’s deliberately cultivating. More interesting is the end, where we see all the main couples do something. Aileen and Claude consummate, Isaac and Rachel decide to elope (their parents are against it) and buy a house. Auguste proposes to Serena, who reacts in exactly the way you’d expect a furious tsundere to react. Roxanne gets reassurance that she’s not just “the top of the harem” but the only wife. And Sahra… um, exists, I guess. They can’t all be gems. But Lilia is determined to avoid her fate. She declares she’s staying “All Ages”, despite being married to Cedric. What’s more, the thing that gets her over the moon more than anything this volume is not Cedric doing anything, but Aileen re-enacting, just for her, one of the villain CGs from the game. Lilia is far more like Maria Campbell than we’d expected, adn Cedric is still coming in second to the villainess in her heart.
So that was not essential, but it was pretty fun! Claude fans will love seeing him 100% in charge here. Presumably back to more “if Aileen doesn’t fix this immediately she’ll be executed” next time.