Vol. 2 Chapter 12 – HSP

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A Demon’s Instigation

 

Like yesterday, I saw Greed-sama when I was going to work.

He is a that corner of the courtyard that can be seen from the hallway again. He was looking at the sky, like what he was doing yesterday. There is nothing, except for the bright sky.

—I wonder if there is something over there.

Even if I do not see anything, Greed-sama is a hero who can use magic, and who also possesses [Spirit Protection]. So it isn’t weird if he were to find something that I cannot see.

But I pushed that thought aside from my mind. That’s not going to happen. Because this castle is protected by a barrier. Rare incidents seldom happen.

……But what if a rare incident will……?

While I was pondering, Greed-sama, who immediately noticed my presence, kept staring at the sky. Because he did not look as tense as yesterday. I felt hesitant to call him out……

I quietly left the hallway.

I felt that it was better to leave him alone, and I also can’t make up my mind on what kind of attitude should I take when I face him after hearing yesterday’s explanations and what to do next. So I postponed it once again. While feeling a little uneasiness in my chest.

 

It was lunch break that day when I felt that little uneasiness, or should I say, premonition again. Ever since that day when I was proposed to by Greed-sama, I attracted a lot of attention from other people so I decided to take my lunch at the maid’s antechamber beside the Princess’s room and not at the cafeteria.

Since the Princess’s meal is delivered from the kitchen, the Prime Minister also arranged for my part to be delivered at the same time.

……In retrospect, this was part of the plans to protect me.

The more that I am exposed to the eyes of many people, it will be easier for my information to leak outside and it will be easier for people to approach the hero through me. My master’s room, which is my workplace, is located near the heavily guarded main residence. And the servant’s quarters is connected here by the hallway which is used by the nobles and high-ranking servants of respectable positions. That place is also close to the main tower and the main residence, and   it is difficult for outsiders to enter that place. The rooms of the maidservants and menservants, those who are working behind-the-scenes, are situated outside the castle.

I sometimes see a maid cleaning the main tower from the Princess’s room, but such girls have powerful backers. It’s about being assigned to a special building.

In other words, wherein the range of my workplace, I should only meet the people I truly know. That’s why if someone approached me, I usually did not mind it at all.

The place where I encounter an unspecified number of people was the dining room. That’s why the Prime Minister must have secretly helped me. But I did not realize that and was only delighted that I did not get exposed to many eyes.

……So you can say that I don’t have any sense of crisis.

Today, I went to the cafeteria during lunch break…… No, to be exact, I went to the kitchen next to the dining hall, pushing the wagon where I put the dishes that was used by the Princess and me in order to return it.

A new maidservant who came in as an apprentice usually returns the dishes, but today, she took a day off from work so I thought of doing it myself.

……Who would have thought that I would get involved in a mayhem.

 

“Aria, Aria!”

I left the main residence (Palace), and in the corridor on the way to the cafeteria, I sensed that someone was calling me.

This voice…… When I looked back, I saw Alfred-sama, the second prince of this kingdom.

Today he did not escape his bodyguards, for two knights are standing behind him, maintaining a reasonable distance.

“Oh, Alfred-sama, good morning.”

Although I reflexively smiled and greeted him with the best of my manners, I remembered what happened in my room a couple of days ago and the corners of my mouth twitched a little.

Yes. Alfred-sama is mob-faced like me and looks like a harmless wind, but he is a dangerous person who sneaked into my room in the middle of the night!

By the way, this person, because of Greed-sama……

“Aria, I’m glad I met you!”

Alfred-sama approached me quickly with a smile. When he was just a few meters away from me, it happened.

“There’s something I wanted to ask. I heard rumors, you and the Hero-dono…… Whoa!”

His legs slipped as if stepping on the banana peel and was about to fall down on his back.

“Your Highness!”

Though he looks lucky to fall on his backside, he may not be so lucky to hit the back of his head……

While thinking about that, the knights who were waiting behind him ran over to him with their impressive reflexes and grabbed Alfred-sama’s arm just before he could fall on the floor. Although they were wearing armors, they are really agile as expected of a knight. Though they are the type of knight that is burly, plain faced and hotheaded.

“So-Sorry. Thank you.”

Alfred-sama thanked them casually, which is inconceivable for a royalty, and stood up supported by the arm of the knight.

……As I thought, the Greed-sama’s spirits are still going on with their admirable sabotage.

It’s because there was nothing at the spot where Alfred-sama was about to fall down, so it was impossible for him to slip. Alfred-sama also thought the same. When he stood up, he took a glance at the floor, then faced me with a complicated expression. But since I could not tell him, I gave him a stiff smile and feigned ignorance.

“Ah, I’m sorry, Aria. I let you see something unsightly.”

Alfred-sama raised his face and told me awkwardly.

I shook my head and said, “Don’t mention it.” Because it’s not Alfred-sama’s fault at all.

“The floor here is slippery, isn’t it? It’s alright since Alfred-sama was not injured.”

I kindly said to comfort him. Although it is not really slippery, the end justifies the means…… Look, once again, I’ve already been here for 6 years.

“Aria……!”

Alfred-sama’s face turned redder and redder……. Huh? Is it perhaps because some flag is triggered?

“Do you need some help?”

“Well……”

He is the elder brother of my master after all. He is a prince of this country, and above all else, I was the cause of Alfred-sama’s misfortunes.

I said that in that sense but…… Hey, Alfred-sama, why are you blushing hard?!

Eh, don’t tell me I failed? Not only did I triggered it, but I also instigated it?

Alfred-sama again asked in a determined expression.

“Aria, I heard a strange rumor about Hero-dono and you—”

“Prince Alfred!”

A very panic-stricken voice muffled Alfred-sama’s voice, and I saw another knight running towards the bodyguards.

This…… Is this a new obstacle created by Greed-sama and the spirits? I thought so because the timing was perfect. It was as if it was carefully aimed. However, the running robust knight looks like he is at his wit’s end.

The knight stopped in front of Alfred-sama, took a breath and reported.

“There is a very serious incident!”

“What exactly happened?”

It was not Alfred-sama but one of the bodyguards. He wore an armor of the same color as that of the guard, and he was obviously familiar with him.

“Actually……”

The knight who came running was catching his breath, breathing heavily. He was about to open his mouth to answer, when he finally noticed my presence. Breaking off, he shot a troubled look at Alfred-sama. It seems that it was impossible to say in front of me. Alfred-sama was in-charge with the security of the castle, and it seems that an important problem in the security had occurred, so he ran to find Alfred-sama.

Being tactful, I told Alfred-sama.

“I have to bring my dishes back to the kitchen, so I will excuse myself.”

“Eh, ah, ah…….”

Alfred-sama looked somewhat disappointed and reluctant, but since he must obviously prioritize his work over me, he reluctantly nodded.

“Well then, I will leave first.”

As I said that, I lowered my head to Alfred-sama and slightly bowed to the knights who were behind him, then pushed the wagon and started walking.

Seeing me leave, the knight spoke.

“It might be a big deal, Your Highness.”

“What happened?”

“Actually—…………”

“……Wh-What…!!?”

Behind Alfred-sama, who let out a startled voice, I left the place.

While walking in the corridor pushing the wagon, I strongly grasped the handle of the wagon. The knight who came to report has a louder voice than usual. So even though he trying to keep it secret, even though he is trying to whisper, it was in fact so small, however in places wherein sounds easily resonates like the hallway, some will be able to hear it.

—Including me who was pushing the wagon.

—According to the report, a humanoid demon was spotted inside the castle grounds—

The knight definitely said so.

 

*    *    *

 

The castle is enclosed by a barrier. It protects the castle from invasion of demons.

It was destroyed by the Demon King once to capture the princess, so the current barrier was made by a magician who did not sleep and rest for many days. So at the event that it will be destroyed, it will be fine and the demons will not be able to enter…… That’s what it was supposed to be.

However, according to the report of the knight, demons were spotted inside the castle.In other words, it means that—the barrier is not functioning. A cold chill ran down my spine.

I remember, a few days ago, Greed-sama told Alfred-sama in my room.

The magicians of this kingdom have put up an anti-demon barrier but there are inadequate parts in some places. Probably it is because there is a difference in the ability of each of the magicians. The barrier is mottled, wherein there are tightly stretched parts and thin parts. It can withstand if it is just an ordinary demon, but a high-class demon can break through the thin parts of the barrier.

In other words, even if it can block a beast, a powerful demon might be able to break it. After that, I think the magicians will reinforce it, but it might take three days. There were also many parts that were not reinforced yet, but that’s not the case. What was seen was a humanoid type of demon.

We call it roughly the same as “Demon”, but in reality the demons belong to two kinds. One is a beast that looks like an animal. The other one is said to be just a handful. They are the himan-like demons that possess intelligence and high magical power.

It is mainly the beast that appears in front of a person and attacks humans and domestic animals, but a humanoid demon rarely appears.

I have also a seen a horse-like beast, but in fact, it was my first time to see a humanoid demon and that was that macho Demon King.

Even Famima-sama, the longest living royal magician who has been deeply involved with demons for so long, has never seen a humanoid type of demon. Other than that, there are a few opportunities to see humanoid type of demons.

That’s because—when they appear, nothing remains. Due to their overwhelming magical power, human life, buildings and nature have been destroyed.

I wonder that such a high rank demon might be inside the castle… Are they certain?

And as doubt clouded my eyes, both the Palace and the east building seem to remain unchanged.

However, the castle grounds was wide, and even though there was a uproar somewhere, it was enough to make thoughts run wild.

Who on earth did they witness and where? Looking at the places that has not yet riotous, could it be the magicians? The knights?

Just when I thought of that, I suddenly remembered Greed-sama. In connection to demons, of course it’s the Hero’s party. There are no other people who were more familiar to demons than them, and even if they were able to encounter the top brass demons, there’s nothing to worry since Greed-sama defeated the Demon King.

The information about the demon who was spotted inside the castle was probably known by Greed-sama—

“……I don’t think so.”

I stopped pushing the wagon and muttered to myself. Unfortunately, our kingdom has a so-called face. They will not probably say, “A demon was spotted. Then let’s ask the Hero.”

The Hero was not invited in order to get rid of the demons inside the castle, nor they had reason to stay. They are state guests, the guest of the kingdom. Towards the guests, it is not proper to ask them to do something before we could deal this with ourselves.

Besides, there’s the issue of the pride of Alfred-sama, the knights, the soldiers and the magicians. It would not be good to entrust the territory they are responsible for protecting, even though he is the hero. I’m sure they will manage to do something…… Before the big sacrifice.

When the situation gets out of hand, I guess.

Since I am one of those who are working in the castle, I can understand their feelings. For example, if a maid from another country suddenly arrived, well, I’d probably feel offended. It’s the same for them.

But . . . this involves human life. It is too late since there are victims. I feel bad for Alfred-sama, but I think that Greed-sama should know that a demon had been spotted! [T/N: The spirits have already told him, I’m pretty much sure.]

With determination, I pushed again the wagon and walked again in the hallway. As soon as I deposit the dishes in the kitchen, I will proceed to the living room of the Hero’s party to tell Greed-sama what I have heard.

Though I personally knew the route to where Greed-sama and the others are, Alfred-sama may not know it…… so I have no choice but to tell him, right?

With such thoughts, I passed in front of the dining room and headed toward the adjacent kitchen. I then returned everything in the wagon, and when I retraced my steps, something happened.

“Kyaa!”

There was suddenly a scream coming from the dining room.

“What is that!?”

“D-Demon!?”

I stopped on my tracks upon hearing those words, and the big door of the dining room opened and people scrambled out and ran to escape.

“Run!”

“Knights! No, we have to call the magicians!”

“Why is there a demon in this place?!?!”

There seemed to have quite a panic in inside. I was pushed by the waves of people who came out of the dining room, but I went behind the door that was left open.

Even though a demon was nearby, I do not know why felt calm, but I will think about it later. Anyway, I had to report to this to Greed-sama and the others, so I thought it was best to check it with my own eyes.

Because I have seen the Demon King, I am more or less immune to humanoid demons.

…….Though the Prime Minister said “it’s because I am a member of the Milford family.”

Anyway, compelled by a sense of purpose, I peeked inside the cafeteria when the wave of people ceased, feeling fearless. Those who were unable to stand up due to fear, those who could not move, the soldiers and knights, as well as several magicians, remained and were present in the cafeteria at this time. They are pointing all their swords towards the window.

Following the direction of their gaze, I also saw—Standing outside the window, ‘something’ is staring at us.

It has hands and feet and muscular body like a human. However, from the neck upwards—it has a head of a bull.

“Mi-Minotaur……?” I mumbled unconsciously.

That’s right. Outside the dining hall’s window, there was a therianthropic beast that was mentioned in the legend!

A Minotaur is a famous legendary beast. A queen of a large island in the south gave birth to a beast which was fathered by a demon; a Minotaur that has a head of a bull and a human body with the appearance of a bull. The king feared its power so he made a huge labyrinth and confined the beast there. And every year, seven boys and girls were sacrificed and sent to the labyrinth.

However in one group of sacrifice, a valiant young man called Theseus, who later on became a hero, defeated the Minotaur and escaped from the labyrinth by following the ball of thread that he had prepared in advance. That was the story.

Still, it is just a legend.

There is no former hero who was called Theseus, and in the first place, children cannot be born between a demon and a human being. It’s because a demon is a vessel with a magical core, and their method of reproduction is different from humans. I wonder if such a legend was born in order to give an explanation to its appearance, but nothing is born between a human and a demon because the races are different.

Perhaps the people of olden times did not know that fact and made a story when they saw the therianthropic beast. In fact, the half-human is just a beast’s appearance. Most of the time, humanoid demons have higher intelligence and magical power than beasts. But……

“It definitely has a human form, but……”

What’s with this feeling of disappointment? Here I was, thinking of a demon who clearly looked like a human being because it is a humanoid type. It is a therianthropic beast, but unfortunately—no, fortunately, I encountered this type of beast.

There are a lots of knights and magicians in this castle, so if it is only this one, we do not have to borrow the power of Greed-sama and the others.

Looking at the beast in front of me, I let out a sigh of relief.

……However being incautious, I was forgot the most important thing.

With the capability of the beast, it should not have been able to pierce the barrier and penetrate this castle—

The Minotaur that is out of the window (I will say so for convenience) looked towards the dining room through the glass in a lazy attitude.

Because most of the people have escaped from the dining room, there are not many people left inside. I caught it looking at me, who was peeking inside through the door.

Ugh. I gasped and ducked my head, but its gaze quickly ignored me.

Because my face is ordinary and can be seen anywhere, it probably did not care. Hurray for my mob face!

But when I thought of that, the magicians screamed, “Ahh!”

“! [Concealment]?!”

“No, perhaps [Teleportation] was used!”

“Wait!”

Carefully looking at the Minotaur, how did it gradually fade?! The figure of the Minotaur is on the verge of becoming unclear.

The wizards started chanting something, but before it was over, the figure of the Minotaur became completely transparent and then disappeared, and when they noticed it, there was nothing outside the window.

“It’s no use. I cannot detect its presence.”

“Damn it!”

While the magicians were unanimously expressing their frustration, one of the knights rushed to the window, opened it, and looked down and looked around. Yes, the dining hall is not on the ground floor but on the second floor. In other words, the Minotaur was floating in the air.

“Not good. I can’t see it anywhere!”

“What happened? Did it go away?”

One of the knights asked the magicians while sheathing his sword. One of them answered, frowning.

“It used concealment magic as well as teleportation magic. In other words, it used a technique to disappear by making itself invisible, then went somewhere.”

“Where to?”

“That…… Because we failed to trace its presence, we don’t know……”

“Good gracious……”

Color drained from the face of the knight, and I can see that despite his sun-burnt skin. Even I myself paled.

The magicians were unable to keep up with the series of actions of the Minotaur. It was too quick, so they could not trace its presence when it disappeared. Therefore, it is completely unknown where the Minotaur went to.

I don’t even know whether it went outside the castle or somewhere within the castle. But I do not think it concealled itself and went out of the castle. I think that the beast hid its presence and is still somewhere inside the castle.

Ah! I’m so stupid! Why did I not immediately think of the princess!? [T/N: How to lure the Hero: Princess Louise <— Aria <— Greed]

Wasn’t the Princess kidnapped by the Demon King just recently? No wonder the demons attacked again, aiming for the Princess!

……Of course, I have not forgotten that there was the possibility that I could be targeted due to my association with the Hero. But the Minotaur did not react at all when it saw me. Maybe, it wasn’t aware that I am [The Fiancee of the Hero], but still if it wanted to target me, I think it should have somehow reacted when it saw the maid’s uniform!

However, since it did not react, it means that it’s aim was not “The Princess’s maid, [The Fiancee of the Hero]. I can’t sense what it was looking for and its intent remains unknown, but still it does not necessarily mean that the Princess is not targeted. After all, invading the castle of a small kingdom, there is only a small possibility on who the demons are targeting.

—The Princess, the Hero and me. These are the only possibilities.

Now that the possibility that the target is me was eliminated, the considerations are—Ah, why did I leave the Palace?! I wish I could rush to the Princess as soon as possible!

Anyway, I should confirm the safety of the Princess as soon as possible, then inform the Hero and the others, and have them protect the Princess! [T/N: Hmm, doesn’t the Princess have a prince already? And a magician to boot.]

I ran earnestly through the hallway. However, at the hallway leading to the Palace, I stopped advancing further. The door in the hallway where I entered a while ago was tightly shut.

The Palace is an important place where the royalty and state guests are staying. Therefore, if something happens, the door of the hallway that is connected to another building is closed to prevent the intruders from entering. A beast appeared in the dining hall, so the door was closed.

That door can only be opened from the Palace, so I can’t do anything about it. No matter how much I pound it, it was futile.

“Ugh~!”

Without realizing it, I kept on pounding the door in anger…… I only hurt my leg.

“What should I do……?”

Trapped here, I cannot confirm my master’s safety and I cannot report the Minotaur to Greed-sama. Is there any way to enter the Palace……?

I thought while biting my nails out of irritation.

And the idea which suddenly came to mind was the entrance from the servants’ quarters that I use every morning.

It should have been treated as a backdoor. Perhaps it wasn’t closed……?

Unfortunately, there is no direct way to go to the servants’ quarters from here, but I have no choice but to go outside and go around towards the Palace. I have no idea when that Minotaur will reappear, and I’m honestly frightened . . . to go outside of the building.

But if I am stuck here, what if something happens to the Princess……?

When the macho Demon King abducted the Princess, I couldn’t do anything out of fear and I only stood there and watched it happen.

After that, didn’t I cry wretchedly in regret?

So if anything happens to the Princess besides that—

Tightly pursing my lips, I returned to the hallway, ran down the stairs and rushed outside.

Whatever, a woman should have guts! Am I still a first lady-in-waiting if I am afraid of one or two beasts?!

—The true scariest thing is losing your mistress. And regret that you could not do anything. I had enough of those days not doing anything, but only cry and pray for her safety!

I took a roundabout path towards the Palace, and headed for the servants’ quarters. Fortunately, I was not alone, because it seems that some people who fled from the cafeteria also went outside. Also, the knights, the soldiers and the magicians who heard the commotion went to the eastern building to look for the beast that disappeared. I felt afraid, but I saw that I was not the only one outside the building. Feeling relieved, I hurried to the servants’ quarters while I passed the knights and the magicians.

The servants’ quarters is across the Palace, situated opposite the Eastern building where the dining hall was located. Although the size of the castle is small because it is a small kingdom, the distance from the servants’ quarters to the Palace is still considerably far. As I ran around, I was struggling for breath. I braced my hands on the wall of the main residence for a while, catching my breath. When I could easily breath somewhat, I lifted my head and dashed.

It was during that time when I noticed that person.

It is a courtyard that is sandwiched between the servants’ quarters, the Northern building and the Palace. I found a small figure in the middle of the courtyard.

For a moment, I thought it was Greed-sama. That was the very place where Greed-sama stood this morning.

But it wasn’t Greed-sama. It was a boy with gray hair instead of light blond hair and has a much smaller silhouette than Greed-sama.

I think he is around ten to twelve years old. He wore a brown vest that most children in town wore, and navy blue pants. The boy was quietly gazing towards the Palace from among the low plants of the courtyard.

Why is this child inside the castle…… I wondered, but some noblemen’s younger siblings would enter the castle to become an apprentice valet or lady-in-waiting. And if ever they got lost inside the wide castle, they check the position they are currently in by looking up at the main tower and the main residence.

……Well, that was based my own experience, though. That’s why I though that child must be also a novice apprentice. Perhaps he got lost as when he rushed to escape the commotion in the dining hall.

When he noticed me, he hung his head. I guess he felt embarrassed that he got lost. Since that child is in a rebellious period, I’m sure his pride is high.

I contemplated on what I should do. I do not know who he is, but I cannot leave him in a place where a demon might appear. I think I should take him to the Palace with me.

With those thoughts, I was about to call out the boy while I approach him, when—

“Aria, don’t.”

I suddenly heard a voice behind me.

“Do not come closer to it.”

“Eh?”

This voice—!

Briskly looking back, my eyes widened like saucers when I saw Greed-sama, who was in his usual attire of white shirt and the Holy Sword in his waist, standing a few meters away from me.

When did he appear……? Perhaps he used magic……? But……

“……Greed-sama……”

But I was surprised not only because Greed-sama suddenly appeared. Greed-sama, who would usually smile upon seeing me, had a grim expression as he gazed at me.

Greed-sama repeated what he said, approaching me one step at a time.

“Do not approach it. Get away.”

At that moment, it happened.

As Greed-sama got near me, it activated—Yes, that “bam”!

“—Hey!”

My arm where the bracelet was worn was pulled in one go, and my feet was lifted from the ground. And, just like that, I hurtled towards Greed-sama’s chest like a released arrow. He then hugged me in his waiting arms like a treasured thing and slowly lowered me on the ground.

……He showed it off in front of others apart than those who knew the circumstances……!

Embarrassed and disapproving, my face reddened.

However, when I looked up to protest, I felt Greed-sama’s tension despite his expressionless countenance. And he is staring straight at the boy.

“……Greed-sama……?”

What is this? It seems different than usual. For a moment, I thought he was jealous of such a kid, and yet……

A chill suddenly run down my spine. Don’t tell me, Don’t tell me……

Greed-sama extended his hands towards the boy and said.

“Blade of the Divine Wind.”

All of a sudden, a fierce wind broke out of Greed-sama’s palm, became a whirlpool and went to attack the boy.

I was taken aback. Wait, towards the boy……?!

However, the next moment, I was dumbfounded.

The boy, who was supposed to be attacked by the whirlpool of wind, also extended his hand like Greed-sama, and caused the whirlpool of wind that Greed-sama created to vanish.

“……It can’t be.”

It can’t be, It can’t be……!

“As expected of the Hero. I did not expect to be noticed as soon as possible.”

The boy raised his face after saying that, sneering. When I saw his face, I gasped, unknowingly clinging on Greed-sama’s arm.

……He was a very ordinary boy. I can say that is it a mob’s face.

A face that can be seen anywhere, the face of the ordinary boy showed no sense of discomfort.

—But I don’t think that the smile on his face was child-like. Loud laughter—that kind of smile would suit his expression.

But what made me shudder above all else was—the boy’s eyes.

—Crimson, his eyes were bloody red.

 

*    *    *

 

A demon who definitely looks like a human being.

It does not have an imperfect human appearance like the Minotaur. What was in front of me was completely human in shape.

That only means one thing. It could be a demon with a high magical power.

Greed-sama spoke to the demon who took the form of a boy in an indifferent tone.

“Making a hole in the barrier without alerting the magicians who erected it—the precise and delicate technique you used was truly commendable. Had the spirits not reported it, and if we weren’t wary of the thinnest parts of the barrier beforehand, we would not notice it.”

[Watch out for the thin parts of the barrier.] When I heard that, something came to mind. That’s right. Greed-sama would stand at this place every morning and looking up at the sky. And judging from the what the demon has done until now, is the place where the barrier is thin—not here?

That’s why Greed-sama……

“Aria.”

Greed-sama suddenly touched my back, watching me. He had the usual smile on his face.

“I’m sorry, but could you go to my friends and tell Rufaga I summoned him? And also tell this to the others. The half-beast, half-human demon is currently wandering around the castle as a decoy to attract the magician’s attention. It purposely appears on places with lots of people to be seen in order to make this [boy] to be able to move freely.”

“Huh?”

“I’m counting on you.”

After Greed-sama finished speaking, my vision suddenly blurred. But it wasn’t just my vision. I remembered, I felt that the ground suddenly disappeared and floated, then shortly afterwards, it felt like I’ve lost my footing, fell down and sank at the bottom.

But it only lasted for a moment. As soon as the sensations stopped abruptly, my vision also cleared, then realized that I was standing inside the living room that Greed-sama and the others were using.

“Wha……!”

I was speechless. It was obvious what happened—Greed-sama used a magic spell on me and I instantly teleported!

“Aria?!”

When I suddenly appeared, all the people who were present—except Greed-sama and the magician Rufus-sama—got up from the sofa and gathered around me.

But in contrast to them, I wasn’t able to regain my sense of equilibrium, and feeling dizzy, I collapsed on a nearby sofa. Could this be the rumored magic sickness……?

Magic sickness refers to a state of motion sickness that happens when people who are not usually accustomed to magic are exposed to strong magical powers, or move using magic.

Milly-sama looked at me anxiously.

“Hey, are you alright?”

“You should use this.”

Farah-sama took a wet cloth that was placed on the tea wagon and put it on my forehead. Huhuhu, I’m sorry for the trouble.

“Thank you.”

“Aria, did Greed send you here?”

The elf Rufaga-sama took a step forward and asked me. As soon as I heard the word “Greed”, I raised my head in a panic. Yes, if not for him, I wouldn’t be dizzy right now.

“Yes! A humanoid demon appeared! Greed-sama……!”

“It finally appeared. For the past few days, the spirits were telling us that there is a demon watching us outside the barrier. Could that be him?”

“Oh, but there are several demons who hat invaded the castle. Even though one of them is a humanoid type, the other one is—”

“It’s a demon that is half-human, half-beast with a bull’s head. It was seen at the castle, causing an uproar.

“Eh, oh, that’s right but……”

“And the demon you met with an appearance of the boy was the perpetrator who broke the barrier, and also the one manipulating behind the scenes. And then Greed sent you here through teleportation, while he was in the middle of a confrontation.”

“Ye…s.”

I nodded, my facial muscles stiffening.

Erm…… I haven’t said anything yet, but why are you saying it as if you have seen it?

However, it was not only Rufaga-sama, but even the priest Renas-sama nodded while looking at something in the air.

“Oh, I see. In order for the demon boy to be able to move freely inside the castle, he released the bull beast as a decoy. In order to attract the attention of the magicians. It can deceive ordinary people, however magicians are sensitive to signs of magical power.”

……Who are you talking to, Renas-sama? Could it be . . . the spirits? Did he hear the details from the spirits?

……Is there nothing I can tell them?

I slumped my shoulders. They why did I have to be sent here?!

But…… No, I know. Greed-sama’s purpose was to make me escape from there.

Rufaga-sama said, stepping away from the sofa where I sat.

“Then I’ll go to Greed. I will leave the beast to Renas and the others. It seems like it’s using a concealling magic, so please be careful.”

“Understood.”

After Renas-sama responded, Rufaga-sama nodded and vanished. Vanish…… There is no other word that could describe it. Because he disappeared in a blink of an eye.

“All right, I will now explain the situation.” Renas-sama told the female thief Milly-sama and the female warrior Farah-sama.

“Two demons invaded the castle. One is a half-human, half-beast. Its purpose is to show up in public and to create a fuss in order to attract the magician’s or our attention. And the other one is a humanoid high-ranking demon. This guy is the mastermind. It looks like he intruded this place with a purpose. And his purpose is . . .”

Renas-sama trailed on his words and cast me a glance for a moment. However, I was not able to notice it as I was re-folding the wet cloth that was laid on my forehead. [T/N: Oh, girl……] But with that gaze, Miliy-sama seemed to understand what Renas-sama wanted to say. Lightly nodding at each other, Renas-sama continued.

“The purpose is . . . unknown. But the dangerous between the two is the high-ranking demon. Greed and Rufaga will deal with it. We will deal with the beast with the bull’s head. This thing uses concealment magic and seems to be good at hiding its presence. Although it has a head of a bull, it surprisingly has a mind of its own. It was first seen near the soldiers’ barracks, and was also seen in the garden. It was lastly seen at the dining hall.”

“In other words, it revealed itself in places where there are a lot of people. Because it is a decoy.”

“Yeah.”

“So in the meantime, it was lastly seen at the dining hall,” Farah-sama said.

“Yes. Since the magicians are all gathered over there, there is a high chance that it will shw itself there again.”

“Speaking of magicians, what will Rufus do? He must have gone to the princess.”

“Ah, the Princess!”

Remembering the Princess when she was mentioned by Milly-sama, I got into a panic mode. Because of that demon who has a boy’s appearance, I completely forgot about the Princess! Even though the Princess is important to me!

“I have to confirm the safety of the Princess!”

Although the Minotaur’s purpose was only to stir trouble, it does not necessarily mean that it will not appear in front of the Princess. I have to stay by her side!

“The Princess is all right. She hasn’t noticed the commotion. Though Rufus noticed and rushed to her side.”

Renas-sama said with a smile as if trying to assure me. But at the next moment, his smile vanished, and said with a serious expression.

“Since Rufus decided to stay with the princess to protect her, Aria should also go to the princess’s room and stay with Rufus. The place is protected by a barrier, so the bull beast will not be able to enter, but still anything could happen. And if anything happens, Rufus will be able to deal with it and protect you and the princess.”

“Y-Yes.”

Urged seriously, I unconsciously nodded but…… I suddenly asked.

“Uhm, they made a hole in the barrier, right? Yet how can you say that the Minotaur will not be able to enter here?”

Once it has entered, it can now appear anywhere inside the castle. Perhaps it is here right now.

But upon hearing my words, Renas-sama only stared blankly at me for a moment then smiled bitterly.

“Oh, right, you weren’t still informed. Actually, the main tower, wherein the Palace and the hall were located, is going to be broken again.”

“What!?”

“It commonly happens in castles. The same also happened to the royal castle of Selphida where I worked in the past.”

Farah-sama supplemented.

“The building where the royal family lives and the government offices are the most important places in the castle. That’s why those had special barriers. In the event that the barrier of the castle is destroyed, the important places will be prevented from the invasion of demons. And inside the castle, it seems that barriers were set up in the main tower and the tow main buildings. The barriers were probably made the the most powerful magicians of this kingdom, and among them, there were some who must have failed. No matter how powerful the demon is, it will have a hard time breaking it. Therefore, it should not have been broken by the likes of a beast.”

“There is a different barrier here……?”

It is my first time hearing this, but Farah-sama’s explanation sounded convincing.

That’s right. In case of an emergency, there is a need to have another level of protection to protect the royalty and other important people if the castle’s barrier will be destroyed!

“……By the way, the macho Demon King who abducted the Princess from her room……”

“Ah, it means that he broke the two barriers by force. Instead of making a hole in the barrier, I guess the barriers were crushed into pieces by using more force than it could withstand. It is a magic that can only be used by the Demon King. But it is not as simple as it is. Aside from the Goddess and the Spirit King, only the Demon King and Greed can perform such magic.”

Wait, just now, Farah-sama said something too scary without hesitation! Seems like Greed-sama and the Demon King are of the same level!

As expected of the strongest Hero. No wonder he is called the walking natural disaster or the ultimate weapon.

“By the way, we will be relieved if you stay here. But we have things to do, that’s why, Aria, stay with Rufus. Please never leave this building.” Milly-sama made sure to remind me. “To see the current situation for a moment, or take just a little glimpse is a no-no.”

“I understand. Since I am not the heroine of the story, I will not do such things.”

Hey, it occurs frequently, right? The pattern wherein the heroine, despite being warned, will be exposed to the danger of a desperate situation as a result of diving into the danger herself.

Although I was advised on what not to do, it felt strange. But I am not the heroine, so why am I reminded about danger and to stay put?

Nevertheless, Renas-sama still looked worried when I left the living room at the end. Does he thing I’m a child? By forbidding me, it makes me think that he is enticing me to do the contrary…… No, I will not do it, okay?

If I were the heroine of the story, I will force my way to follow Renas-sama and the others because I am worried about Greed-sama who was facing the demon, and will forget all the warnings and go see the situation.

—However, I kept my musings to myself, and obediently went to the Princess’s room.

I did not hear or see how the incident ended after this, even from the testimony of the witnesses and the person himself, and the testimony Renas-sama asked from the spirits.

 

*    *    *

 

—After sending me to the living room through magic, Greed-sama confronted the demon with a boy’s appearance.

 

“What is your purpose? What are you trying to find out that you had to resolved to use a decoy?”

Greed-sama interrogated the demon with indifference. But his tone was different from what he used to Aria had just now. His tone was rough and he dropped the honorifics anymore. However, the demon with a boy’s appearance could not understand the difference and only frowned.

“Hey, Hero, the aura you emanate when the woman is here just a while ago is quite different. Aren’t you putting up a facade?”

The demon then paused to think about something, then widened his red eyes.

“……Don’t tell me it’s her? That woman was the hero’s……? Oh, no, it seems I made a mistake. I did not expect that the target was right in front of me and I have let her escape.”

“……As expected, your purpose was her.”

Greed-sama’s eyes narrowed. His tone remained detached as usual, but it held coldness like ice.

However, the demon did not seem to care at all and only smirked. If only its eyes weren’t red, its appearance looked like a cheeky boy. Though the words coming out of its mouth is not like that of a child at all.

“I have let her get away before my eyes and was sent inside the barrier. For something that was built by humans, it was a good one. Well, it’s not as if I won’t be able to break it with my hands, but just as I was thinking that it would take time, I saw her coming. Ah, how unfortunate. Really unfortunate. I could have saved a lot of trouble had I known.”

“As if I will allow it. Espiridion.”

The demon was surprised upon hearing Greed-sama say that as he pulled out the Holy Sword out of its sheath.

“How did you . . . My name…… Ah, that’s right, the hero has an annoying skill called [Analysis], right. Moreover, it is said to have included the names of the demon clan. An incredible hero, they say.”

The demon—Espiridion said and waved his hand to Greed-sama. Soon, several sharp-pointed ice columns appeared in front of him, and attacked Greed-sama all at once. Shooting from the sky, Greed-sama dodged the attack. However, the ice columns changed its trajectory and tried to attack Greed-sama from behind this time.

Greed-sama floated into the sky, lightly somersaulted to avoid the attack, and brandished the Holy Sword in his hand. The next moment, an invisible power released from the Holy Sword broke the ice columns into pieces, and without losing its power, it attacked Espiridion.

“……Ugh.”

Espiridion crossed his arms to shield himself. However, the momentum of the Holy Sword couldn’t be stopped, and he was dragged by a few meters behind from where he was standing.

“No way, this……”

Lowering his hands, it seems that his composure was lost judging from Espiridion’s face. However, Greed-sama descended from the ground, breathing just fine.

“Amazing…… The only one who could defeat the Demon King, huh? Noir-sama told me not to mess with you……”

Espiridion murmured, grimacing. Although it is presumed that they exchanged attacks, just by a single blow, the difference between their abilities was clear in everyone’s eyes.

—By chance, that was also the opinion of those people who were looking at them from the window.

The next moment, the surrounding air vibrated, and a person suddenly appeared.

“Sorry to have kept you waiting, Greed.”

It was the elf Rufaga, who has a silver-white hair and silver-white eyes, and an out-of-place radiant smile.

 

 

Renas-sama and the others headed straight to the courtyard that was located between the North building and the East building without entering the dining hall. It is because the information that the Minotaur will appeared again was reported earlier by the spirits.

There were many knights and magicians in the courtyard. They also expect that the Minotaur will appear but apparently, the magicians seemed to have failed to sense the presence of the Minotaur again this time and the atmosphere was filled with tension. Due to the sense of urgency, Renas-sama came but unexpectedly, it was easily accepted by the knights and magicians. I guess they cannot deal with it by themselves anymore.  

The priest Renas-sama, the female thief Milly-sama and the female warrior Farah-sama arrived. Even Rufus-sama, a magician like them, who stimulates their complex, does not possess a high-ranking magical power like Greed-sama, thus the others were not repulsed. They can show each other what they’ve got in defeating the demon, which may have malicious intent.

For now, Renas-sama and the others, who got the cooperation of the magicians, prepared for battle.

Even if they have the ability to defeat the enemy, they will not be able to do anything unless they can see it.

Reelis flowers began to spread in the courtyard.

Reelis is a symbol of the Goddess, and it is compatible with the sacred magic that Renas-sama was chanting. Using the Reelis flowers, it created a space in the courtyard which will nullify  the concealment magic of the Minotaur.

However, because the Renas-sama’s sacred magic is particularly weak against the demon, it will take precaution and will not appear. Therefore, it is decided the other magicians will cover up Renas-sama’s sacred magic in order to camouflage it.

“Lux (Latin for ‘light’).”

Renas-sama opened a book which he always carries and started chanting sacred magic. At the same time, the magicians scattered in the courtyard also began to chant. And they waited for the Minotaur to appear in the courtyard.

Approximately five minutes later—the shining space created by Renas-sama clearly showed that the Minotaur was floating midair and was trying to cross the courtyard. Its silhouette can be seen by everyone present. After that, everyone went to thoroughly beat it.

Using the camouflaged magic by the magicians, they created a barrier to confine the Minotaur.

“Flight.”

Farah-sama and Milly-sama, using flight magic, approached the Minotaur with their weapons in hand.

Farah-sama’s weapon is a rapier, while Milly-sama’s was a dagger. Their weapons were tools in which Renas-sama bestowed [Blessing] in advance to become a weapon for the opponent. With ordinary weapons, it is difficult to scratch a demon.

The dagger suddenly darted out of Milly-sama’s hand. The aim was precisely unprecedented, and it pierced first the right hand of the Minotaur, its right knee then its left knee. Something like a thunder and lightning ran from the dagger that was stuck in the Minotaur throughout its body.

“Roooaaarrr!!”

The Minotaur let out a tremendous roar. Although it has a bull’s head, it didn’t sound like “Moo, moo”.

Milly-sama’s dagger seemed to have a magic that seals the motion of the beast, and the Minotaur was suspended in the air, unable to move. However, the Minotaur also seems to be able to use magic. Roaring while taking the sword in its hand, it released magic toward Farah-sama when she approached it.

Within the barrier, an immense stormy wind blew violently. The wind stirred up Milly-sama’s cloak and Farah-sama’s long hair. With resolution, both of them endured the raging winds, not allowing themselves to be blown away.

According to the narration I heard later, it was because the two of them have high magical powers, and it was also thanks to Renas-sama who covered them with a barrier of sacred magic.

Then Farah-sama, while sweeping away the magic attacks coming towards her, struck the small long sword into the Minotaur’s left chest when she reached in front of it. In other words, if it was a human, she struck the part which corresponds to the heart.

One of the nucleus of magical power which the beast has is often situated in the so-called heart part of the human body. Such was the case of the Minotaur. Farah-sama’s rapier definitely pierced the magical nucleus.

At that moment, the wind that was blowing within the barrier stopped. And then—

“Roooaaarrr!!”

Again, although the Minotaur again bellowed, it gradually echoed like an agony of death and eventually, its body crumbled like a sand and disappeared into the sky.

 

*    *    *

 

I heard the two roars in the Princess’s room.

“Oh, it seems that Renas and the others have defeated the half-human, half-beast demon.”

To me who trembled at the second roar, Rufus-sama smiled as if to give me a peace of mind.

……While stroking the Princess’s back that was leaning on his arm so as to calm her.

They’re definitely flirting.

It-It’s not as if I am envious~ But I just think that it is good to have an arm to lean on, yep.

Maybe he saw some yearning on my face, for Rufus-sama said.

“Greed is alright. He will definitely win in order to protect you. He will never let that demon escape. Perhaps at this moment, he has already……”

 

*    *    *

 

“An elf……”

Looking at Rufaga-sama who suddenly appeared through Teleportation magic, Espiridion’s face contorted in anger.

“Irritating, a Goddess’s dog.”

“Please say whatever you like.”

Rufaga-sama said with a smile, although his words were filled with contempt.

“It’s because what you said was true. We elves were created by the Goddess and the Spirit King in order to bring stability to the world. A regulation device to maintain the balance in the world. Indeed, we are the Goddess’s dogs.”

Rufaga-sama continued and turned to look at Greed-sama who descended beside him with a thump.

“I thought that was the case but he does not seem to be influenced*.”

“Yeah. He seems to be under the control of Noir*.”

[T/N: The author used the word (色つき, irotsuki), which I think means get colored/dyed. Think, because it has no direct translation T^T *sobs*. And I guess it is also because Espiridion’s master’s name, Noir, is related to color. It means “black” in Latin. But to make it somewhat related to the context, I used the word “influenced”.]

“I don’t think that he will be easily influenced since he is just a very small pawn. He may only have two nucleus. His strategy was rather good. To think that he could release such a monster as a decoy.”

Despite his smile, only bitter words spilled out of the mouth of the white young man. Had I heard it on the spot, I would have absolutely thought that he was the same kind of person as the Prime Minister, a person who practices caution.

“He was often ordered to do reconnaissance after being valued for his dexterity, but I guess he could no longer endure.”

“……”

Espiridion silently gritted his teeth. Apparently, they’ve hit the mark.

Greed-sama indifferently said while looking at the demon.

“Their target was her.”

“I know, right?”

—Although I did not know that I was a target of a demonic group until much later, during this time, the demons began to organize various movements in order to obtain information about “the Hero’s beloved”.

Espiridion was one of them, and with instructions from influential—that is, the upper echelons of the demon clan—to scout and investigate for me.

“It’s useless to squeeze out information from such a small pawn. Because they do not seem to know the location of their leaders.”

Rufaga-sama said, with regret in his tone.

Espiridion frowned at these words but he already guessed he has no chance of winning. He lightly floated in the air and said.

“I was tasked to do reconnaissance. I was not ordered to fight you. Since I had done enough, then let me get rude.”

Whether he will engage in battle or not is not as certain as the truth or falsehood, but Espiridion’s stance and words suggest his withdrawal from here on out.

But when he rose towards the sky, he murmured something that Greed-sama could not ignore.

“Our objective has been carried out somehow. I have sensed the presence of the Hero’s woman, so I need not stay here anymore.”

At the next moment, Greed-sama disappeared from the side of Rufaga-sama and moved in front of Espiridion who floated in the sky.

“What?!”

—Espiridion was surprised by the Holy Sword that was thrust in his chest, not able to avoid it.

“Gaha—!”

The moment it penetrated his chest, Espiridion groaned. His eyes were wide open, and incredulity was painted all over his face. He is a demon but he could not keep up with the movement of Greed-sama, who is a human being.

And this should never had happened to him who is a demon.

Greed-sama pulled the Holy Sword from the chest of Espiridion. However, since the demons generate their bodies through magical powers, no blood came out.

“U-Ugh…”

Espiridion shook violently in the air, and was thrown off balance. Apparently, the nucleus of his magical power is at the area of the heart like the beast.

In a blink of an eye, the nucleus of magical power was destroyed. Although he somehow managed to escape from the destruction of another nucleus, his power was greatly reduced.

Halting himself from falling, Espiridion rapidly breathed, catching his breath, and stared at the gaping hole in his chest.

“Since you already know her, do not think you can leave here alive.”

Which villain are you?

He spoke to Rufaga-sama, who idly spectated below.

“Rufaga, where is the other nucleus of this guy.”

“It’s on the base of his left foot.”

“Ku,”

Using his magical power, Espiridion leapt to distance himself from Greed-sama, his face contorted in chagrin.

“Since it has come to this……”

Espiridion turned his red eyes towards the main residence. There was a malicious grin on his face. At the same time, his small body began to emit red.

“The barrier here only prevents enemy invasion. It cannot prevent attacks, shock…… Hey, Hero, I will let you kill me. But before that happens, I will take the life of that woman along with this building, then the lives of people around her.”

“Oh, is this self-destruction?” Rufaga smiled wryly.

“Greed, it seems he will make his magical power go berserk. Even though the nucleus is down to one, if the magical power that maintains his body erupts, the whole area will be slightly blown away.”

Rufaga-sama said an outrageous thing in a relaxed tone.

It’s not someone else’s problem, you know?! If I were there, I think I would have inserted my tsukkomi.

However during this time, Rufaga-sama was actually not worried for a worse situation. That is because—

“This place is already within the barrier that the Spirits and I have made. No matter how much your magical power will go berserk, it will have no effect on the buildings. Also on hers. Espiridion, you are the only one who will disappear in the explosion of your magical power.”

“Wha…… Barrier……?”

Espiridion widened his eyes. He did not notice the barrier surrounding him at all.

It was not impossible for Espiridion to be surprised. Demons are much more sensitive to the presence of magical powers than humans. So if it is the usual, he should have noticed Greed-sama’s barrier. However, he failed to notice it, and only after being told by Greed-sama, he knew that he was surrounded by a strange prison.

“Wh-When did you……?!”

“Immediately after I sent Aria to my friends via magic.” [T/N: The ancient bluetooth? LOL okay bad joke.]

……After I disappeared, Greed-sama’s manner of speech changed.

Espiridion misunderstood that Greed-sama’s tone became boorish because his beloved woman was not beside him anymore and did not know that it is a signal that will remove the controller. [T/N: NANI?! Oh, well.]

Actually, Greed-sama has already surrounded him with barrier that time.

“Once the situation gets bad, the only thing that the stupid likes of you could think of is to take hostages and drag them into the strife. So I took the first move.”

Greed-sama informed him impassively.

“From now on, I will not let you have a chance to get in contact with her.”

He pointed the tip of the Holy Sword towards Espiridion. With eyes like a glass bead, not reflecting any emotion. However, it seems that a cold and silent anger emitted from Greed-sama’s body.

“Disappear.”

“!”

Greed, who quickly reduced their distance, swung down the sword while looking at the base of Espiridion’s left foot. Espiridion tried to avoid it, but was not able to do so in time. And then—

“……Noir-sama……!”

It disappeared, leaving behind a scream.

——A few minutes later, when the courtyard has regained its usual silence, Rufaga-sama told Greed-sama.

“It seems that the target of the demons’ movements was her after all. What are you going to do about it, Greed?”

“There is only one thing to do. Protect. That’s all. If we defeat all the leaders of the demon clan, she will not be targeted anymore.”

Greed-sama responded impassively as usual.

“Then let’s pray for the demons to appear as soon as possible. For her sake…… However, since they sent a scout, it will not be long before they appear, right—to target the ‘Fiancee of the Hero’.”

“Yes.”

Greed-sama muttered in agreement, turning his eyes with unreadable emotions towards the sky.

“The remaining are Azure (blue), Noir (black) and Verde (green)……”

—Did the two people in the courtyard really noticed?

Actually, it happened that there were people who saw Greed-sama’s battle from the window of the Palace.

“……Did you see?”

It was His Majesty, the King, who spoke to the person beside him.

“Yes…… It was more than what was said in the rumors.”

The person beside His Majesty, His Excellency, Prime Minister, who was also looking outside the window, answered.

Originally, they were supposed to be doing their respective work in the office of the main tower, but today, it happened that they were going to have lunch with Her Majesty the Queen, and they came back to the main residence. However, such a fuss broke out and the passage towards the main tower was closed, so he decided to make the spare room as an interim office and took responsibility in dealing with the emergency situation. The window of the room faced the courtyard where Greed-sama and the others were fighting.

“It was my first time to see a humanoid demon, but I heard that its power is tremendous, enough to sink a capital of the great country overnight. However, when that high-ranking demon encountered the Hero’s party, it was like a baby.”

“As expected of the so-called the strongest Hero of the generation. It is a good thing that he defeated the Demon King.”

“Yes.”

His Majesty nodded, looked at Greed-sama who seems to talk to Rufaga-sama about something in the courtyard and spoke once again.

“Prime Minister, by all means, I want to have a connection with the Hero.”

“Yes. A connection through Prince Rufus is not bad, but there is someone who we want to have a direct connection.”

“Fortunately, the interests are consistent with the other side.”

“Yes. I also want to have a connection with the Hero. I want that girl for that Hero. The interests are in agreement. Besides……”

The Prime Minister held his tongue tongue for a moment, before adding this statement.

“Besides, it is for that girl’s sake.”

“Because the Prime Minister is the guardian of that girl, you feel various complex emotions…… Unfortunately, if we are to choose between personal feelings or national interests, we have to choose the country. Even if you feel remorse for forcing that child, you have to take the method that seems to be the best for the country. …… It is that kind of government.”

“I understand., Your Majesty.”

The Prime Minister replied, his bespectacled eyes cast down.

After that, Renas-sama, who fought the Minotaur at the East building’s courtyard, have won.

—In this way, all the demons who entered the castle were subjugated and thanks to the Hero’s party, the trouble was over.

 

 

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