「Thank you for your hard work. That was indeed a splendid performance, Kurono-sama.」
As I enter the passage leading out of the arena, there is a pale-faced man in a tailcoat waiting for me.
I’m bewildered by the sudden appearance of this strange man, but before I can ask anything, he introduces himself as Mordred’s steward and quickly brings up an important matter.
「May I present to you the prize money; it comes to a total of 13 million Klans. Please accept it. And, may I also present–」
From the steward’s『Shadow』, he produces a series of familiar-looking cursed weapons. I say familiar-looking, but it’s because they’re the weapons of the enemies that I just faced.
There are the eight Nameless weapons and the pitch-black naginata. But what’s remarkable are the two eyeballs with strangely beautiful purple pupils, floating around in a bottle of Potion. Saeed’s Demon Eyes.
When the hell did he pick up those weapons, how did he harvest the eyes, wait, is it alright to pickle them in a Potion like that? Man, I wanna ask him all these questions.
But before I can ask him any of them, the steward starts putting my prizes into my Shadow without asking – wait what, other people can open my『Shadow Gate』?!
「Forgive me, but it appears that your hands are occupied.」
It’s true that I’m still carrying Nell, but it’s not that big a deal.
I guess what he’s doing is interfering with the spatial magic dimension. I think I’ve heard of it before, but having it done to me in front of my eyes is pretty surprising.
Well, it’s too late to complain, so for now I’ll just blacken them inside my Shadow. Especially your eyes, Saeed, as payback for my right arm.
「Now then, I shall escort you to the infirmary. All personnel have been removed from the room, so the two of you can enjoy your time at leisure.」
He’s just taking us to the infirmary, but it sounds like he’s presenting us our hotel suite. I’m just planning to get Nell some rest, make sure my arm’s got no problems then I’m out of there.
Or, so I thought...
Nell whispers right into my ear, startling me. Our bodies are coming together on top of the clean, white bed – These circumstances could lead to some horrible misunderstanding, but it’s definitely not an indecent situation!
「I’m still healing your arm, so you mustn’t move, you know?」
That’s right, right now we’re in the infirmary and Nell is using her healing magic to properly fix my arm, which only just got turned back to normal.
But the reason my heart is beating so fast is none other than the fact that Nell is holding tightly onto my right arm.
Let’s also not forget that the right sleeve of『Diablo’s Embrace』was destroyed, so my arm is actually bare right now.
She’s also removing the glove of「Black Hair Curse『Coffin』」, saying that it would get in the way of the healing.
I hear a strange complaint of「Goshujin-samaaa~ You mustn’t be triii~iiicked!」as the glove resists being taken off, but she manages to remove it.
And now my arm is now completely bare all the way up to my fingertips.
There’s nothing obstructing my arm’s sense of touch. I can feel Nell’s white palms, so soft that you would never imagine that she’s an adventurer, stroking my arm. And even through her clothes, I can feel the weight and warmth of her chest pushing against my arm.
On top of that, Nell’s head is resting right on my shoulder. So when she speaks, she’s whispering directly into my ears.
「Hey, Nell, err, maybe you shouldn’t be so close...」
「I have to be, I’m still treating your arm!」
As she says that, I can only apologize.
It goes without saying that this is extremely embarrassing, so I can’t look Nell directly in the eyes.
I avert my eyes and start looking at random things around the room. If I don’t do this, I’ll end up focusing on a certain soft feeling... Calm down, Kurono!
In the first place, wasn’t it a bad idea to leave just me and Nell together in this room?
Unlike what you’d expect of a conventional infirmary, the walls are made of rough stone. But seeing the medicines and Potions stacked on the shelves, I can see that it’s quite a well-prepared facility.
Okay, observation complete. Once again I’m conscious of the sensation of Nell clinging to me. An uncomfortable silence passes.
These days we’ve been seeing each other every day and having friendly conversations, but right now I can’t think of any topics to talk about. Thanking her for healing me... That doesn’t work, since I’ve already thanked her plenty.
What should I do, is it alright to just sit here in silence, or should I force myself to come up with something to talk about?
Like, umm, the cursed weapons that the steward gave me earlier?
No way, this isn’t the kind of light-hearted atmosphere where I can just say something like「Ehh, I wonder how to use these Demon Eyes.」
The Demon eyes that seem to be called the『Amethyst Gaze』are quiet for now, thanks to the effects of the blackening.
But I get the bad feeling that if I were to undo the blackening, it would shoot out that cursed light again.
Rather than take the risk of trying to use these myself, maybe it’d be better to sell them off. They seem to be famous, so I could probably sell them for a million Klans each.
While I’m thinking about these things, time passes by in silence. The only things I can feel are the warmth of Nell’s body and her soft breathing.
As the light of the healing magic suddenly stops, she calls my name.
「What is it?」
Since she’s talking to me now, I can’t keep looking the other way. When I look down, I see Nell is gazing at me feverishly again, with tears in her eyes.
No longer under the effect of the divine protection, her eyes are back to their normal sky-blue color.
Looking at her eyes from this close, it feels like I could lose myself in their perfectly clear blue colour. They’re like enchanting Demon Eyes.
「You know, I –」
As she began to speak, the sound of a loud knock filled the room.
I'm surprised by the sudden knock, but I'm even more shocked by Nell’s overreaction.
Who the hell could that be? Wait, didn’t the steward say that all personnel had been removed?
「It’s open, so come in.」
Well there’s no reason to turn them away, seeing as it might be the steward who’s come to tell us,「On second thought, hurry up and get out of here.」
「I apologize for my intrusion.」
Saying that, a woman dressed in black entered the room.
She’s wearing a tight, full-body suit similar to the one that Saeed’s huge body was wearing when I was fighting him. It clearly emphasizes her attractive, feminine body shape.
Actually, the equipment attached around her arms, legs and waist makes it quite different from Saeed’s suit.
「Excuse me, who might you be?」
Nell, suddenly on guard, asks her to identify herself cautiously. Her grip on my arm tightens.
Any more than that is really bad, no matter how uninterested I am in large breasts, my arm is touching them directly and I can’t help but – No, the real problem at hand is that woman.
Judging from her equipment, she’s probably a Bandit or Assassin-class fighter.
But it looks like she’s just been fighting in the arena; her clothes are torn to pieces and her left wrist is completely broken. So at first I think it’s the person who fought in the match after mine. But looking closely at her face, it seems familiar.
Her bright green hair is tied back in a ponytail, and she has clear, water-coloured eyes. She’s a very beautiful woman, and I’ve definitely seen her somewhere before.
「Hey, is that you, Seria?」
「Yes, it has been a while, Kurono-sama.」
With that, she bows politely, and this perfectly matches the image in my head of the guard-maid who always follows Wilhart like a shadow.
「Also, please forgive me for appearing before you in such an unsightly state, Princess.」
「Oh no... If I am not mistaken... You are Prince Wilhart’s maid, are you not? Please do not mind such things.」
As to be expected of the royal family; Will and Nell are even acquainted with each other’s maids.
「I sincerely apologize for interrupting you while you were enjoying yourselves.」
「No, we weren’t really doing anything to be enjoying ourselves. Anyway, what happened? Weren’t you supposed to be at the open-field exercise with Will –」
「The open-field exercise was cancelled due to a Rank 5 monster attack.」
Nell and I raise our voices in surprise at the same time.
「What do you mean?」
「Further details are written here.」
From her breast pocket, Seria pulls out a piece of paper and hands it to me. That piece of paper is something that any adventurer would recognize immediately – a written quest form.
Emergency Quest – Please save us
Reward: Anything you wish for
Time period: Right now
Contractor: Wilhart Tristan Spada
Contents of request: Kurono, I humbly request of thee, sworn friend of my soul. Would you please save us?
The form omits any detail of what happened, but it describes the current situation:
We students of the Royal Spada Academy, who were participating in the open-field exercise, are now trapped in Iskia Fortress by a large group of monsters, and are currently isolated here. The rescue groups of knights and adventurers may not make it in time to save us.
But I believe you would make haste to help us in our predicament in the same way that you came to my rescue when I was being chased by Wrath-Pun in the Galahad mountain range.
This is why I entrust none other than you, the Nightmare Berserker Kurono, with this request.
And a final piece of information is written at the end.
The leader of these monsters is the Rank 5 monster, Greed-Gore.
But it is not an ordinary Greed-Gore; judging from its black coloration, it may be a subspecies. This black Greed-Gore accompanies this huge, diverse army of monsters.
From the battle, we have established that the monsters are being controlled by a lightning-type Parasite, but no further information is known.
If you find the Royal Academy’s students, no, even myself, to be in the control of this Parasite, please do not hesitate to cut us down.
Everyone is already prepared for such a possibility.
P.S. Simon is also anticipating your arrival; please do not make this lovely alchemist cry.
「As you can see, Iskia Fortress is currently in a state of crisis. Prince Wilhart has royally requested that you accept this emergency quest, Kurono-sama.」
On the corner of the form was Spada’s royal coat of arms in red ink; two swords crossed over a crown.
「It is an unofficial quest that has not yet been approved by the guild, but may I ask you to accept it?」
Official or unofficial, who cares about that?
The Irz Village, the battle at Alzas... Again, why am I not there when my friends are in crisis?
No, I won’t let that happen. I’m sick of this. I let it happen twice. There’s no way I can let it happen three times.
This time, this time for sure, I’ll help them, I’ll be there in time.
「Of course! I’m heading there right now, so you better be alive and waiting for me, Will, Simon!」
Buy us some coffee!