「W-What is Princess Nell doing in a place like this...?」
Sitting in the front row of the waiting room, with popcorn in one hand, Christina Damuid Spiralhorn was speechless with surprise.
She is known as the『Dragon Heart』Vice Captain of Avalon's noble Dragon Knights. There is no way she would not recognize the face of a member of the royal family that she serves – especially that of the First Princess.
Well, with those pure white wings, it could not possibly be anyone other than her. It would be impossible to not recognize her.
「Hmph, to be holding the interest of not only Captain Mordred, but Princess Nell as well... It seems he has some impressive connections.」
This calm observation came from Ludora, sitting in the seat next to Christina.
「Who exactly is this Kurono...? This is starting to feel like a dark conspiracy...」
As Christina looks at Kurono with suspicious eyes, in the next moment, she sees something that surprises her yet again.
「You can really fix it?」
「Yes, please rest assured, I will now fix it with the divine protection of『Aria!』」
The conversation between the two could be heard everywhere, not only in these special seats but also in the audience seats.
「S-she couldn’t possibly thinking of using that on this nameless adventurer –」
But that was exactly what she was thinking of doing.
As if it were nothing out of the ordinary, Nell pulled the white, shining staff from a spatial magic dimension.
「Hyiih! She really is planning to use it, the『Scale of White Wings!』」
Kurono was staring blankly at the staff, but for Christina, knowing how precious that staff was, this was beyond imagination.
「An Artifact, huh...」
「That’s one of Avalon’s precious national treasures!」
「I see, it’s completely made of pure Orichalcum... But is it really a problem for it to be used for a just an ordinary Healing?」
He thought there could be no real negative consequence except perhaps that of exposing a national treasure to the public, since it would not disappear or be used up upon use like a Potion would.
「It’s a big problem! There’s a limit on how many times it can be used!」
The basic function of a staff is to support or strengthen the user’s own magic use.
This basic function of a normal staff is not limited by anything but the durability of the staff itself.
But there are exceptions to every rule. For staves, this exception would be the『Scale of White Wings.』
In addition to the requirement of having been granted the blessing of the『Heaven-Calming Imperial Princess Aria』, each use of the staff expends some of the power contained within the staff, thus limiting its use.
It is simple to tell how many times the staff can be used. One of the large number of jewels embedded in the staff is expended with each use of its magic.
If you could replace the jewels it could be reused indefinitely, but unfortunately, the『Scale of White Wings』is an Artifact that has been passed from generation to generation in the Avalon royal family since ancient times.
In other words, there is no way to obtain replacements for these jewels except to excavate them from ancient ruins. And even then, purifying these gems is impossible even with current magical knowledge.
Nell herself is aware of this fact, and should understand that she should not use it carelessly.
「The only reason the Emperor allowed the Princess to have that staff in her possession was for her to use if she ever found herself in danger!」
「Yet she would use it for a mere adventurer? Hmph, what a benevolent princess.」
Considering the tens of millions of Klans’ worth of monetary value lost in a single use of the magic, it is a completely irrational thing to do.
Even so, Nell uses the Avalon’s precious『Scale of White Wings』without hesitation.
「– 『Providence Dispel!』」
「Hyiih, I’m not going to take responsibility for whatever happens now!」
The moment the holy, healing light filled the arena, Christina covered her face with her hands, deciding to take the stance that she had no idea what happened here today, that she was not involved at all.
「Serving the royal family is hard work, I see.」
「Uu, no matter how much love the Princess has for the people, there should be a reasonable limit to how far she goes...」
Ludora could think of many incidents where Nell’s actions for the people had gone beyond the duty expected of the royal family, so he knows of her devotion to the people as well as anyone.
「Love, huh? I wonder how that is.」
「... What do you mean?」
Christina’s voice is sharp as she responds to this possible insult to the royal family.
「Hmph, can’t you tell by looking at her face?」
In the arena, Kurono and Nell’s expressions are those of happiness as the Dispel succeeds. The audience erupts in applause once more at this emotional scene.
「Wow, it’s completely back to normal!」
「But please don’t do anything reckless with it yet, okay?」
Kurono opens and closes his hand to confirm that his arm is fine.
And then Christina noticed that Nell’s hand was still holding onto that arm.
And then she looks carefully at Princess Nell’s expression. And on her face, there is a smile filled with what could only be described as love –
「That’s the face of a woman in love. That’s not a face that she should be showing a man that isn’t her husband or fiancé, is it?」
Ludora’s observation was completely true.
「BLASPHEMY!」Christina said in rage, but she did not attack him, because of the truth in his words. Nell’s expression was that of a person who had been completely captivated.
「Th-there’s no way that can be...」
The words of denial came out of her mouth, but the entranced Princess’s expression was reflected in Christina’s own blue eyes.
She was looking at him with feverish eyes, like a maiden in love.
The subject of her passionate gaze, Kurono, was completely oblivious to it – no, his face shows that the way she was looking at him is an ordinary thing to him.
He looks like he is earnestly thanking her, but the look on his face is as if he is already sure that Nell is his woman. That surely has to be the case, because otherwise there would be no way he could keep a normal, straight face while a woman as beautiful as Princess Nell looks at him in such a way.
「Ah, ahh, this is bad... This is really bad...」
「A scandal for the royal family would certainly be quite bad, wouldn’t it.」
Christina makes a loud noise as she quickly stands up.
「Please excuse me.」
Saying nothing more, with a wave of her rolls of blonde hair, she headed towards the passage that led to the arena.
Ludora watches her leave in silence, and then a slight smile creeps onto his face.
「Hmph, intrusions onto the arena are standard for arena fights, aren’t they.」
「Wow, it’s completely back to normal!」
When the bright light subsides and I look at my right arm to see that it’s made of flesh and blood again. I can even feel magical energy flowing through it, and I could probably use『Force Boost 』on it if I tried.
Only my arm itself was healed; the crystallized sleeve of my coat had broken and crumbled. Well,『Diablo’s Embrace』has the same regenerative ability as Baphomet; it’ll grow back soon enough so it’s not a big problem.
「But please don’t do anything reckless with it yet, okay?」
I can feel Nell’s kindness both in her words and in the softness of her hand's touch on my right arm.
But I wonder why Nell is staring at me so strangely. She’s got a dizzy expression like she’s caught a cold or something, and her hand feels kind of hot.
Could it be a side-effect of having to use her magic? The『Providence Dispel』she just cast was a special power of her divine blessing. It’s likely there is another cost to using it other than just using up some magical energy.
But it wouldn’t be unlike Nell to use such powerful magic for me like that without hesitation.
「Yes, what is it, Kurono-kun?」
As she replies, her face has the most gentle smile on it. Even with red-flushed cheeks and feverish eyes, she smiles firmly.
Even though I’m concerned, if I were to ask her if she pushed herself too hard, that would only make her uncomfortable. The only reason she had to push herself in the first place is because I was careless.
So it’s probably best not to say anything like that right now.
「Thanks so much, you really saved me!」
The only thing I can say is words of gratitude. I swear to myself I’ll definitely return this favour – Wait, Nell’s hand is touching me right now, does that mean she’s reading my thoughts through telepathy?
「Oh no, that’s... I... If it’s for you, Kurono-kun...」
It looks like Nell’s fever is getting worse; even her ears are red now and she’s facing downward, looking at the ground. She also doesn’t really seem to be paying attention to what she’s saying. At the very least, it seems that she isn’t reading my thoughts.
「Nell, err, you know, if you’re tired from using up your magical energy just now, I’ll give you a hand. Are you okay?」
I won’t tell her that she pushed herself too hard, but I have to show at least this much concern.
It might be similar to when Fiona used her『Golden Sun – Aur Soleil.』If that’s the case I have to not just give her a handshould probably be carrying her.
「Eh? Umm... Ah, Yes! I’m really tired! I can’t even take another step!」
I’m a little puzzled by this oddly energetic declaration. But if she’s really nearly out of magical energy, it can’t be helped.
「Well, this might be a bit embarrassing, but bear with it.」
To think that I’m actually holding a real princess in my arms*. Even though I’m actually doing it, I’m slightly in shock.
Well I could have carried her on my back, but I kind of wanted to try doing this once, or maybe I just wanted to look cool.
But the wings on her back are so big; it’s kind of hard to carry her. Maybe I should have just carried her properly on my back after all... But Nell’s face is now so red it looks like it’s been boiled, so I don’t have time to change how I’m carrying her. Let’s just go like this.
「Stop at once!」
As I went to take a step, a high-pitched, sharp female voice rang through the arena.
「Release Princess Nell from your wretched arms right now! Nightmare Berserker!」
The loud shouting came from the lady I had seen in the waiting room earlier, with her blonde hair twisted into drills and wearing dark, full-body armor.
But what is she thinking? She’s talking to me like I’m some evil demon king who’s kidnapping the Princess.
「Wow! Our regular contender in our『Curse Carnival』that I’m sure everyone is familiar with, Christina Damuid Spiral Horn, has intruded onto the staaaaaage!」
I can thank the announcer for this commentary.
Wait, intruded? Now that I think about it, when I fought that handsome Elf, he said that intrusions like this were standard events, didn’t he?
Since I put a stop to the hardest opponent, Saeed, it seems I’ve attracted unwanted attention. Tch, what a pain.
「I don’t know who you are, but I don’t have time to deal with you right now!」
I have to let Nell rest, since she’s already exhausted her energy. I can’t start a fight here.
Even under perfect conditions, I would have no desire to fight. The ones who have been cursed are already in an irreversible Zombie-like state, so I can cut them down without hesitation, but that’s not the case here.
「Wh-What an arrogant thing to say! Do you even know who I am?!」
I did just say I don’t know who she is, didn’t I? This person seems like the kind of person who doesn’t listen to what she doesn’t want to hear.
「Grr, what is that disinterested look in your eyes! Hmph, fine, if you do not know, I shall tell you! I am known as the『Dragon Heart』Vice Captain of Avalon's honored, noble Dragon Knights, Christina Damuid –」
「Lady Spiralhorn, please stand down.」
Nell cut her long-winded self-introduction short.
Wait, it was Nell who spoke, right? The voice definitely came from the girl in my arms, but her tone was like a completely different person’s – so cold-hearted.
「I told you to stand down. Did you not hear me?」
Nell’s character has changed completely.
Not just her voice, but her cheeks that had been feverishly red until just now have changed to their normal white colour, and her usual doll-like beauty has returned.
Nell is completely expressionless. I’ve never seen her face like this before.
「But Princess! This joke has gone on long enough! You’re being seen in the eyes of the public with some unknown adventurer, who is also a man! This kind of thing–」
「I’m telling you to stand down, aren’t I? I’ll have you executed for treason!」
Quite frankly, I’m also speechless. I’m getting an unpleasant feeling that’s even worse than getting glared at by Demon Eyes.
「Kuh, uu... I sincerely apologize for my behaviour, Princess...」
With tears in her eyes and a bitter expression on her face, the lady finally backed down.
Her dark armor rattles and her gorgeous blonde rolls of hair spin around as she turns her heels and walks away.
「But I’ll definitely be reporting this to the Emperor!」
She leaves with this sharp remark, glaring at me over her shoulder.
The Emperor, she means the King of Avalon, Nell’s father, doesn’t she? Even going so far as to report her own friend... I guess being part of the royal family is rough.
No wait, the fact that Spiralhorn even went so far as to make her way onto the arena to try to stop Nell... That definitely means that I’m getting too close to someone who’s the Princess of a whole country. Unlike Will, Nell is a girl, and her relations with men are probably strictly regulated. Damn it, I shouldn’t have gotten ahead of myself and held her like this after all.
「I’m sorry, because of me, another person said horrible things to Kurono-kun...」
Just as I was about to put her down, Nell’s left hand, no longer holding the staff, wrapped around my shoulder. Now I can’t put her down, and she is holding onto me tightly.
Well, I don’t have any desire to let go of Nell anyway.
「Well, shall we get out of here? It would be a pain if someone intruded onto the arena again.」
She says her usual, positive line, like nothing’s changed. But I immediately start to sense danger, like someone whispering softly in my ears.
Calm down, Nell told me earlier that we’re friends. She has no interest in me; she’s just helpless right now and needs me to carry her.
Now I feel like I can understand how her older brother, Nero felt...
As if shaking off these impure thoughts, I finally leave this bloodstained arena behind me.