The days pa.s.sed by within the dungeon.
“It seems there's been a lot of shaking lately.”
I've recently been feeling slight tremors.
“All things considered, I seem to be getting visitors on a daily basis.”
[That just proves how excellent you are as bait, Master.]
“That doesn't please me.”
n.o.bles trying to deceive me have been coming here.
They've relentlessly been trying to get me to either tell them how to start up Partner or hand over Arroganz.
Sometimes they would arrogantly threaten me with execution, but later would try to get on my good side through whatever means and negotiate with me.
It's not just the marquis' faction.
Many kinds of people have been visiting, wanting to make use of me.
Among such people, the ones I've lost my patience with are──those from Marquis Frampton's faction.
As I was laying down on the hard bed in the dungeon, Luxon spoke to me.
[It seems that the kingdom has failed to live up to your expectations, Master.]
──It seems that Anjie's papa and Milaine couldn't do much.
Within the dungeon, I heard the noisy footsteps of a crowd approaching, perhaps armed.
“It seems this is the end.”
[You're exaggerating, Master.]
My accomplice's remark was painfully true.
The person who's supposed stand watch was away since someone else was coming in to take their place.
As the armed group approached during that interval, their leader, someone I recognized, stood at the forefront.
He was a viscount in his thirties who belonged to Marquis Frampton's faction.
In his hand was a bottle of alcohol.
“Viscount Baltfault, I thought you'd be lonely, so I brought a gift.”
The alcohol the viscount carried──was probably poisoned.
“I don't drink alcohol. Take it home and share it with everyone.”
The Viscount smiled, as if mocking me.
“How long do you plan on living in such an unsightly manner? A n.o.ble would die with grace.”
Grace, he says. I'd like to live my second life until I die of old age, so no thanks.
Besides, it would be rather unfortunate if it that were to happen.
Right when I was thinking about escaping from this dungeon, or rather this kingdom, I heard some frantic footsteps.
Luxon appeared, surprising the viscounts as they readied their handguns and rifles.
“Is that the familiar from the reports?! Seize it! With that thing, the airs.h.i.+p is ours!”
[Even if Master dies, I will not follow your orders. More importantly, shouldn't you pay attention to what's behind you?]
Chris jumped out from the entrance, holding a wooden sword.
He then knocked down the knights that were behind the viscount.
“Baltfault, are you alright?!”
Why is Chris here? As I was pondering about it, Jilk entered the jail and shot down the handgun that the viscount held.
“I won't let you do that to Viscount Baltfault.”
As the viscount clutched his hand, causing him to drop the poisoned drink and shatter it, he glared at Jilk and the others.
“D, do you all know what you are doing? I suspected there was someone behind me. As of now, nothing you do can──”
Luxon slammed itself down onto the viscount's head from above, causing him to faint.
When Jilk opened the door with a key, he tried to quickly rush me outside.
“Now then, hurry up.”
──Why did these people come here to help me? When I looked at Luxon, it moved its eye up and down, as if to nod.
Does that mean it's okay for me to escape?
“Why are you guys here?”
“We tried a lot options, but they all failed. In the end, something serious happened, so we went with using force in order to help you.”
“You guys really are idiots, aren't you?”
Chris spoke to me.
“We were able to make in time because of that. So isn't it fine?”
I ran up the stairs of the dungeon, pushed from behind by Jilk and Chris.
Brad and Greg were waiting by the exit.
The two were looking below at a tied-up warden.
“You guys are here too? What happened to that guy?”
I was thinking that they had caused harm to my warden friend, but it seems that wasn't the case.
“He was already restrained when we arrived.”
“Never mind that, let's hurry. Julian's waiting for us.”
While checking the safety of the warden, I joined the four and stealthily headed towards the royal palace's grounds.
During that time──I felt another tremor in the ground.
I arrived at a courtyard after being led by the four.
Julian appeared from the shadows of the trees in the courtyard.
“I've been waiting.”
“Hey, why did you take me to a courtyard? Weren't we fleeing?”
While pondering about how strange it was, Julian explained while seeming to be a little proud.
“There's a secret pa.s.sage here that only the royal family knows about.”
“Don't reveal that kind of secret to me! Are you an idiot? You really are an idiot, aren't you?”
“What a remark to make considering that we helped you. ──Whoa, there seems to be a lot of shaking.”
When we were arguing amongst each other, the ground trembled once more.
As the six of us were gathering at the courtyard, which happened to be surrounded by buildings, while talking to each other, Luxon spoke.
[Master, we're surrounded.]
The courtyard was instantly hit by a light, and while I was covering my eyes from its radiance, I heard the swift footsteps of approaching knights.
I was about to give an order to Luxon when one of them spoke.
“Please wait, your Highness Julian! We are not your enemies!”
Julian stepped in front of me as if to protect me from the shouting knight.
“If that's the case, how about letting us through?”
The same knight told us that he couldn't do that.
“We came to reclaim Viscount Baltfault.”
I wonder if I can take his words at face value.
It's possible that he's lying.
Luxon said “It would take a few minutes to bring Arroganz over here,” so I thought about buying some time by negotiating.
While I was pondering about it, a figure appeared before me.
Julian lowered the sword he held.
“Julian, don't make a poor decision. Everyone, lower your arms and come here.”
It was His Majesty the King──”Roland Rafua Holfault.”
He had some gray, somewhat quirky hair and a moustache.
He was tall and had a well-trained, slender body.
He held the dignity of a king.
Realizing it was him, we went down on our knees.
“Viscount Baltfault, you've had a rough time. However, thanks to you, we've come to a decision.”
Does that mean Anjie's papa won?
“Father, Baltfault's about to be killed!”
When Julian voiced his complaint, the king nodded his head and responded.
“I know the whole situation. This is not the time for leisure talk.”
When the ground trembled, the king looked downwards and seemed worried.
After a change of clothes, I was led to a conference room.
The kingdom's leading figures sat there, but──there weren't many of them.
The king and the queen, Milaine, were there.
Vince was there as well. Indeed, it seems that the people who've been on my side were gathering here.
“You seem in good health, Viscount.”
I wanted to voice a word of complaint, but since they've been helping me out, I decided not to take an arrogant stance.
Looking around, Julian and the others weren't here.
The king answered as if he knew who I was searching around for.
“Julian and his group are waiting in a separate room. Or rather, perhaps I should say they're being restrained.”
When I grew cautious upon hearing that, Milaine explained it to me.
“Don't be mistaken. We're hiding them for their own protection. It's the same as you, Leon.”
“Can I ask why I've been called here?”
“We intend to answer that.”
Vince said those words, but the minister, Bernard, was the one who explained.
He's Clarice's papa.
“A fleet from the princ.i.p.ality has arrived at the kingdom's mainland. We've lost more than ten scouting s.h.i.+ps and defense units. Nearly a hundred units of armor have been shot down.”
The kingdom has a great national power, but since their war potential has to be spread across the entire land, there's not much to offer when it comes down to numbers.
If the princ.i.p.ality were to make a serious attempt at attacking, there would be considerable damage.
“The opponent's fleet numbers at around one hundred and fifty s.h.i.+ps. It is unclear how many units of armor there are. Reports say that there are countless monsters leading the front. Their numbers shrouded the sky.”
Hertrude's magic flute came to my mind at once, but Vince denied such thoughts.
“Her Highness and the magic flute are still with the kingdom. The princ.i.p.ality must have had another flute. We suspect that this is the work of the second princess.”
I was listening closely, but this was the first time I've heard about a second princess.
Vince explained as if it was a matter of course.
“Indeed. Her Highness Hertrauda.”
──I didn't know there was a second princess.
Furthermore, another magic flute? I've never heard of such a thing, and that otome game never had that kind of setting either.
No wait, perhaps it was part of the setting, but never explained?
I couldn't put my chaotic thoughts into order.
The king continued on, saying “In addition.”
“Other countries aside from the princ.i.p.ality are making a move as well. There have also been relief requests from forces and feudal lords near the national border. We're being attacked from all sides.”
Minister Bernard took over the explanation.
“The local troops are unable to handle the situation. ──Reinforcements are unlikely.”
“The capital city has some fighting capability, right? If you gather the troops, they should amount to a considerable number.”
It seemed that the people around were overly pessimistic.
Milaine answered my question.
“Something occurred a couple of days ago. The temple requested for cooperation, and as a result of the negotiations, the kingdom's troops were dispatched for reinforcement. Two hundred s.h.i.+ps were sent.”
Milaine spoke while in low spirits.
The temple, gaining confidence now that they had Marie, had collaborated with the Marquis' faction.
As for the result of that…
“──The princ.i.p.ality tore them apart. Only ten or so s.h.i.+ps have managed to make it back.”
It happened a few days ago.
While Julian and the others were attempting to free Leon, a priest visited Marie.
“Marie, the time has come to show your power as the saint.”
“I suppose I have to~.”
Flattered, she rode an airs.h.i.+p while in high spirits, but──
She was on top of an airs.h.i.+p's deck.
Marie, dressed in the saint's outfit, had a necklace, bracelet, and cane, the tools that displayed her t.i.tle.
The wind blowing atop the deck was freezing cold.
Before she could complain about the wind messing with her hair, she called something else to attention.
“──I, I never heard about this!”
The temple had around thirty s.h.i.+ps.
Borrowing strength from the kingdom, there were an additional two hundred s.h.i.+ps in the fleet.
They would be able to fight the princ.i.p.ality if it was just a matter of numbers, but the opponents had sacrificial p.a.w.ns, namely monsters.
The power of their numbers was beyond imagination──it terrified Marie.
As the monsters were advancing, Marie raised her cane.
The cane lit up, deploying a large spherical s.h.i.+eld that covered the fleet.
The large light with white patterns caused the monsters who touched it to vanish.
The surrounding priests and temple knights praised Marie.
“That's the saint's power!”
“We can win. Victory is ours!”
“Move the s.h.i.+ps forward! Use this momentum to push back the princ.i.p.ality's fleet!”
Marie's neutralization of the monsters raised even the lowest of morale.
With a stiff smile, Marie was relieved that she could erase the monsters with her own ability.
(W, well, I can do this just fine. I was a bit worried at first though.)
Julian and the others were not within Marie's vicinity.
The temple asked for their accompaniment as well, but they unfortunately couldn't show up since they were trying to free Leon.
Furthermore, Kyle wasn't there either.
Those from the temple did not get onto an airs.h.i.+p.
As a result, Marie was fighting alone, helpless.
There were indeed some temple priests and knights around her, but she did not recognize their faces.
She was a bit timid.
As the pompous airs.h.i.+p advanced with Marie riding it, the monsters that collided with the s.h.i.+eld vanished as if bursting apart.
“Right. This isn't child's play. I am the saint! There's no way that I would be thrown down with just this!”
Though she had originally been worried about Julian and the others not being there, Marie became drunk with her own power.
The princ.i.p.ality watched the kingdom's fleet being led by Marie.
Inside a wars.h.i.+p, Hertrauda was looking at a model of the battlefield with ally and enemy pieces arranged on top of a table.
“It seems that the saint's power is the real deal.”
The leading figures around Hertrauda observed her.
Upon getting up from her chair, Hertrauda took a flute, the magic flute, from a woman.
One of the leading figures spoke.
“Princess, we have reached the kingdom's mainland. We've made some deviations from the plan, but there are no issues.”
After saying that, Hertrauda glared at the flute with a stern expression and took a deep breath before placing her mouth to the instrument.
She was about to reach the point of no return.
Though tense, she resolved herself and blew into the flute.
Its tone was ominous, yet beautiful.
The surrounding onlookers closed their eyes and listened to the flute's timbre.
(Now then, Saint──will you be able to stop the princ.i.p.ality's wrath?)
The sky was a battlefield.
The combat zone became darker upon the arrival of thick clouds.
Then, what appeared out of those clouds was──an absurdly large monster.
Its round body had numerous eyes.
Its long arms sprung up.
Its white body had something pulsating, resembling blood vessels, and it was a giant monster with many eyes and arms.
Its size was larger than humble floating island.
It was a monster whose size could span thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of meters.
The kingdom's fleet began to tremble from the sudden appearance of the monster.
When Hertrauda took her lips away from the flute, she nearly fell over.
Once the surrounding people helped her onto her feet, she smiled.
“With this, the kingdom is no more.”
The leaders clapped their hands.
Some of them were even moved to tears.
“And now our long-standing grudge against the kingdom will clear.”
“How splendid, Princess.”
“The kingdom's troops stand no chance before the guardian deity. What's left is to enter the kingdom and rescue her Highness Princess Hertrude.”
Hertrauda spoke of her desire to see what was happening beyond the window, and so she was led outside while being supported.
The wind was blowing violently outside the s.h.i.+p's interior.
What she saw in front of her was the sight of a monster and its arms reaching out from the sky, knocking down the kingdom's troops.
Once the saint's s.h.i.+eld had been destroyed, its giant arms mowed down the airs.h.i.+ps.
Its many eyes released beams of light, shooting down s.h.i.+ps and causing them to burst into flames.
“Caught between the sky and the sea, your land will sink.”
The princ.i.p.ality was determined to sink the continent.
Hertrauda laughed with a pale face.
n.o.body around her seemed to pay attention to her pale expression, and whether it was from exhaustion or fear of what she had just done.