A Dreamy Night for that Princess
Editing: Ulti, Xenthur
“Sir! What the hell is up with this mask!”
The magic item shop.
I ran back here to lodge my complaints, shifting Wiz who was collapsed in the middle of the store to the corner as I ran in.
Sir Vanir took one look at the mask I was holding and placed his hand against his forehead.
“So it was the mask Moi gave to you yesterday after all. Is this useless shopkeeper fated to always do something unnecessary?”
Sir gave Wiz whom I just shifted an intense glare.
“Don’t keep it to yourself, tell me about it too. Just what is this mask?”
“That’s an item I came up with after observing another magic item. It’s an interesting item that comes in a set of two and switches the spirits of two people if both masks are worn at the same time.”
In other words, my spirit ended up in Rain’s body, and hers ended up in mine.
“So what happened yesterday wasn’t a dream… Dammit! If only I knew, I could’ve done some much more amusing things, like fondle my breasts or strike erotic poses in front of a mirror, or hit on a handsome looking man before spurning him just as things get heated!”
I fell to my knees and repeatedly punched the ground to vent my frustrations.
There were so many things I wanted to try out. If only I had known!
“From what the songbirds told me, you did do some pretty interesting things regardless.”
“Don’t laugh! Thanks to this mask, all my earnings went up in smoke, and the erotic stuff didn’t go anywhere either!”
“Vent your frustrations towards that left behind shopkeeper laying over there. She’s the one who misplaced the complimentary gift masks and replaced them with high quality magic ones.”
Even if you say that, her eyes are rolled into the back of her head and she’s charred to a crisp. I can’t really do much more to her.
“Even for me, when she’s in such a state… Hmm, wait, if Rain unwittingly puts on her mask again, then I would switch positions-”
“Unfortunately, that’s impossible. For crime prevention purposes, that item can only be activated once. Someone who is strong in magic might be able to activate it one or two more times, but it’s impossible for you.”
So it’s a once in a lifetime item?
I really want to get even with Rain for spending all my money, but I most probably won’t ever see them again.
I patted my empty wallet. Before thinking about filling it back up, I first needed to tackle the issue of filling my belly. Without money, I could either hit up the Eris Church’s soup kitchen or steal some food from that old man at the general store.
Just as I was considering which side I would rather deal with, I caught sight of Yunyun heading into a cafe.
Well, she showed up at just the right time. She might complain, but she’d definitely treat me to a meal if I prostrate myself before her.
Entering the cafe behind Yunyun, I spotted her jittery form at a seat by the window.
And the person seated next to her is the Explosion Girl. Crap. She has no reservations about speaking her mind and is quite protective of Yunyun, so she’s really troublesome to deal with.
I made to leave, but then I caught sight of the two other women at the table. One was in an attention-grabbing white suit and the other was a plain-looking girl.
What are Claire and Rain doing here?
“Pull yourself together, Rain. You’re acting like you have a hangover. You did act pretty strange after wearing that mask yesterday.”
“I’m sorry, Claire-sama. Perhaps it’s because of the dream I had. I recall dreaming I was an adventurer and drank a large amount of beer, but… ”
I’m a little curious as to what this strange combination are doing together, so I stealthily took a seat at a neighbouring table in order to listen in.
“We called you over here today to discuss the issue of I-Alice-sama.”
“Megumin-sama, it has been some time. Is Kazuma-sama doing well? You didn’t bring him along, did you?”
“He seems to be busying himself with lazing around the house today, so no.”
Rain cautiously asked, and heaved a sigh of relief upon hearing Megumin’s answer. Claire, too, relaxed her posture almost imperceptibly.
… Why are they so guarded towards him? Just what did Kazuma do? I should ask him the next time I have the chance.
“Hearing that puts me at ease. We’re here today because we have a request for you. I’ve heard that Alice-sama considers the two of you her closest friends amongst the adventurers of Axel.”
“Ehehehe, close friends…”
“Please stop laughing so creepily. Alice isn’t a friend, she’s a member of my band and I’m her boss. And she’s also my rival of sorts. Did she make some selfish remarks that troubles you because of her position? She hasn’t been coming over to play recently.”
So all of them know Alice?
Judging from the way she’s speaking, Megumin knows Alice’s true identity. As for Yunyun… Nah, she doesn’t know.
“The family is particularly busy right now, and the neighbouring country is sending a delegation to us too, so Alice-sama can’t be away for long at the moment. Though, even if that wasn’t the case, it’s quite troubling how easily she sneaks away.”
“We know that Alice-sama has an accomplice helping her from the outside. Whenever she sneaks away, someone always sets off an Explosion nearby to draw men away from the capital… Do you two have an idea about that?”
Yunyun and Megumin stiffened upon hearing Claire’s question, didn’t they?
“There’s someone who’d do such a thing? There really are some shameless people walking around.”
“Y-Yes. I-I know nothing about it. I’m not being forced into it by Megumin or anything.”
Yunyun is just absolutely horrible at lying. She’s definitely involved somehow.
Anyone who saw her nervous figure as she tried to play it cool would naturally become suspicious.
“Claire-sama, let’s leave that issue to some other day. We’re here to make a request of them today, after all.”
She’s really good at this. With this, the Explosion Girl and Yunyun won’t be able to refuse any request they make.
It’s not strictly speaking a threat, but it certainly gives them a lot of leverage.
“So, about our request, a few days ago, we got into a little bit of an argument with her. Ever since then, she has been in a bad mood and refuses to speak with us.”
“Though she looks really cute when she puffs up her cheeks.”
“Claire-sama, please keep quiet for a while. We managed to raise her mood a little last night, but it seems like she’s been accumulating a lot of stress recently.”
“As both her educators and her bodyguards, there are some things that are hard for her to say to us. So, as her friends, we were wondering if you know of anything that’d be great to help her de-stress. ”
Well, that kid does have to deal with the pressures that come with being the first princess of the country.
A princess who desires to fly free, huh…
“Umm, can I ask why is Alice-chan so stressed?”
“My apologies, I suppose that was too little information. I can’t go into much detail as it concerns family affairs, but in short. In truth, Alice-sama has an excellent older brother, but he’s currently at the front lines in order to fight against the Demon King’s army. As such, as the first pri… lady of the house, most of the responsibilities of running the estate falls to Alice-sama.”
“Well, someone in Alice’s position is sure to run into a lot of troubles. Ah, no, I shouldn’t say that in front of Yunyun.”
“I’ve always had this feeling, but what exactly are you hiding from me!? It’s odd how little common sense Alice-chan has, and isn’t it strange for her to have two nobles as her educators!? Don’t tell me…”
Seemingly the only one out of the loop, Yunyun grabbed Megumin by the shoulders and started shaking her.
“There are some things in this world you’re happier not knowing.”
“Saying that just bothers me even more! Rain-san, Claire-san, you two are hiding something too, right?”
“We are not at liberty to disclose Alice-sama’s secrets. And if you are aware of the secret, your life might be risk… Even after knowing that, do you still wish to find out?”
Yunyun vigorously shook her head.
Rain bowed apologetically, but I think it really is for the best for Yunyun to remain ignorant.
If she ever found out that Alice is the princess, she’d be to nervous to even hold a proper conversation with her.
“May I turn back to the original topic?”
“Ah, sorry. Please continue!”
“So, if you two know of her favourite foods or anything she is interested in, we would appreciate it very much if you could tell us.”
“Hmm, well, she likes hearing about adventuring stories. She does enjoy listening to Kazuma’s tales, almost like she looks up to the adventurers who live freely.”
“We are aware of that. In preparation to allow Alice-sama to live the lifestyle of an adventurer for a day, we’ve already experienced some adventuring work. Thank you very much for the other day, Yunyun-dono.”
“T-There’s… Please raise your head! I had a lot of fun too.”
“Say, hasn’t your circle of friends gotten larger without me noticing?”
The Explosion Girl wrinkled her brow.
That’s definitely jealousy. They do quarrel and fight every so often, but it’s common knowledge amongst the adventurers of Axel that those two are actually pretty close.
“Apart from that, well… I suppose it’d be the story about that Dragon Knight. That story really is quite romantic.”
“The story about that useless Dragon Knight who kidnapped the princess and threw away his rank and status? What’s so appealing about that story?”
My thoughts exactly.
“Why do you think this way, Megumin!? That’s a wonderful story!”
That story is really popular amongst idealistic girls, but Megumin is a girl who has no interests in anything other than Explosion.
Claire and Rain made a complicated expression.
“That story is pretty famous amongst the nobility too. I’m sure that story resonates deeply with Alice-sama.”
“Claire-sama, speaking of Dragon Knights, didn’t the neighbouring kingdom send one to the capital as a delegation recently? Couldn’t we make a request of him to give her a ride?”
“No, wait, isn’t that way too risky? Plus, considering our positions, there’s no way they’ll allow that.”
They continued talking about various other matters, but I don’t get the feeling that I’d be able to sponge a meal off them, so I made my leave.
“If a princess were to make such a request, it’d cause no end of problems. I can sympathize with her on that front.”
I said to no one in particular. In order to get rid of the clawing feeling in the pit of my stomach, I headed over to a tavern.
Great, what’s going on now?
I couldn’t find anyone I knew at the tavern, and predictably, they wouldn’t agree to put it on my tab, so I had no choice but to head up to my room and collapse onto my bed.
To ease my boredom, I placed the mask Sir gave to me on my face, and found myself standing in a completely different place.
A blonde-haired, masked girl is standing before me.
She’s wearing a set of expensive-looking pajamas, and, for some reason, she has a blanket tied around her neck like a cloak.
I feel like I’ve seen her somewhere before, but I can’t quite make out her features through the mask.
“Alice of the Silver-Haired Thieving Band is here!”
She dramatically fluttered her blanket-cloak back and struck a strange pose.
So this is Alice, aka Iris, the first princess of the Kingdom.
I thought our spirits ended up swapped again, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
I had absolutely no control over Iris’s body. Furthermore, neither my words nor my thoughts seem to be reaching her. It seems like I’m merely an observer here.
“This mask is really cool. If only I could join Onii-sama with his chivalrous thief activities while wearing this mask.”
Her voice sounded incredibly lonely.
The princess wants to become a chivalrous thief. Anyone who hears that would think of it as an impossible dream.
“Right, enough with such fantasies. I still have some work I need to do.
She pulled out one of the drawers of her desk and retrieved a stack of documents.
Looking at the papers on top of the desk, she placed her hand on her forehead and sighed.
“This really won’t work out. If we don’t agree to Levi-sama of Elroad’s request and secure their financial assistance, the battle against the Demon King will…”
The document on top of the desk seems to document the amount of money Belzerg is currently receiving from the other nations.
This country serves as the bottleneck against the forces of the Demon King. If it were to fall, the other countries would be at risk.
The other countries are very well aware of this, of course, and as such provide military aid to this country. However, countries with poor military strength instead support the war effort with funds, and the country that provides the most in financial assistance is Elroad.
That is, if I recall correctly.
That country is famous for its casinos which attract the fabulously wealthy to spend their money there. According to rumours, they have gotten extremely wealthy through that alone.
“If I’m betrothed to him and make an appeal in person, I should be able to guarantee the funds.”
So this must be why Iris is so stressed.
The betrothal itself isn’t particularly odd. Getting married to secure political alliances and seal deals is almost like the duty of royal born women.
Falling in love with someone in a different station and marrying them is something that only happen in stories. Most royal marriages are devoid of such dreams.
“I wonder what Onii-sama is doing right now… He’s always surrounded by women, so I’m a little uneasy. It’d be really unfair if Boss makes a move on him just because I’m not there! … Will he be angry if he finds out about the betrothal? Or maybe he’d be jealous instead… I’d be really happy if he did get jealous…”
She really does seem her age when she clutches her blushing cheeks in her palms and dances around like that.
“If he were to swoop in and steal me away like that Dragon Knight… I wonder what that princess was thinking when she threw away everything to be with the one she loves…”
That only happened because that person ordered him to abscond with her. I really wanted to say that right now.
“Sigh… No, there’s no way I can be this selfish.”
Selfish, huh? It’s really cute that you’d use that term to describe someone who would merely entertain those thoughts without going through.
A truly selfish princess would be someone who wouldn’t listen to anyone and drag a straight laced knight with her to live as she wishes.
“If I were to run away, this country will definitely be destroyed at the hands of the demons. I can’t possibly do something so irresponsible… But, if I can fly freely in the skies like that princess on the back of a dragon…”
She’s bearing a responsibility far too big for her tiny body.
It’s really admirable that she hasn’t collapsed under that. That’s what I genuinely think.
Walking out onto the balcony, she gazed upon the dragon sleeping in the middle of the courtyard and let out a lonely sounding giggle.
The dragon is fitted with a riding saddle. One I’m very familiar with.
It can’t be from Elroad… It must be the dragon that the delegation from the neighbouring country rode here.
“Iris-sama, it’s almost time for your bath.”
“I understand, I’ll be down shortly.”
That’s Claire’s voice.
Iris started moving towards the door before she remembered that she still had the mask on. She stopped and briefly admired herself in front of the mirror before raising her hand towards the mask.
When my vision came back to me, I was staring up at the aging ceiling of the inn.
In my hand was a cracked mask. It seems like it was pushed past its limits and broke.
It must have activated because of the vast amounts of mana that Iris, as a royal, possesses. That’s the only explanation that made sense.
The hardships of the royalty.
In the past, I’ve seen exactly what that means first hand…
“No, no, cut it out! Don’t make me remember it now!”
I knew I shouldn’t have have gotten involved with Iris. Betrothal and the hardships of being a princess. Everything about her just reminds me of that other person.
I can’t help but see the image of a certain woman whenever I close my eyes.
“I should try and get Lynn to buy me some beer.”
I definitely won’t be able to sleep tonight without some alcohol. I leapt off the bed, put on my jacket, and left the room.
In the end, I couldn’t get a wink of sleep at all.
Despite her complaints, Lynn did buy me a few drinks, but I didn’t get drunk at all, and before I knew it, it was morning.
“This really isn’t like me. Guess I’ll find a friend and get a stiff one to go.”
As usual, I made my way to the tavern of the guild. I couldn’t see Kazuma anywhere, but I did spot Yunyun and Megumin.
They were seated at her usual table by the window and were loudly talking about something.
I took a seat at a nearby table, but they were too involved in their conversation to notice my arrival.
“I really think a walk would be best to de-stress! She could head to my house or go shopping together. What do you think?”
“Sigh~. Well, I personally don’t mind, but as I’ve said before, the security around Alice’s house is pretty tough. We won’t be able to bring her out easily. A frontal assault is so hopeless that it’s not even worth considering.”
“Say, can’t we just ask her out to play normally? Why are you talking about dangerous things like frontal assault right off the bat? You really are hiding something important from me, right!? Don’t leave me out! Tell me!”
Yunyun pleaded with tearful eyes, and Megumin placed a hand on her forehead.
It seems like she’s keeping Yunyun ignorant partly to tease her, and partly out of consideration for her personality.
“Do you really want to know? Are you really fine with me telling you? You won’t regret it, will you?”
“Eh? If you put it that way… It kinda scares me.”
“If you really want to know, I don’t mind. I already warned you, so even if you cry and whine afterwards…”
Suddenly assuming a gentle tone, Megumin grabbed Yunyun by the shoulders, preventing her from running away.
Probably unnerved, Yunyun desperately struggled against her grip, but it seems like she isn’t able to get free.
“W-Wait, Megumin! I think it’d be best if I didn’t know!”
“No, please listen. Actually, listen! It’s too late for regrets now!”
“No, don’t, stop! It’s fine! I don’t want to know!
Just as I was watching the antics of those two while helping myself to some water, someone took a seat opposite me.
“Seeing you stare at girls really makes you seem like a proper criminal.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean!?”
The one who made me out like I’m some sort of villain was Lynn.
Normally I would retaliate with some moves of my own, but I do owe her for treating me to a drink last night, so I’ll hold off this time.
“Waitress, one salad please!”
“I’ll have a beer and something deep fried.”
“Why are you piggy backing off my order? Just so you know, I won’t be treating you.”
“Don’t be so petty. Why don’t you help yourself to some meat too? Isn’t it because you always eat salad that you’re so flat?”
I stared directly at Lynn’s chest. She really isn’t developed at all.
And yet Yunyun managed to grow a fine pair even at such a young age.
“One of these days, all the victims of your sexual harassment are going to gather together and have you thrown in jail. Just so you know, yesterday wasn’t a treat. It’s a loan.”
“Ah, you little! That’s unfair! You said it was a treat yesterday! Is your personality as petty as your chest!?”
“I don’t want to hear that from you! … Say, haven’t you been acting weird lately?”
Her face suddenly turned serious, and she moved her face closer to mine while staring me directly in the eye.
She was close enough that our foreheads were just a hair’s breadth away from each other, so, to get out of this, I rolled my lips into a kiss.
Lynn smiled… and poked me in the eye.
“Gyaaaa! You almost destroyed my eye! Wouldn’t you normally lean in for a passionate kiss!?”
“Why do I have to do that with you? Anyway, why don’t you give them a hand? It really bothers you, right? You’ve been acting strange ever since you met with those nobles.”
I don’t even need to ask who she’s referring to.
Turning my attentions back to the Crimson Demons, they were currently discussing a plan where Megumin attacks the gates with an Explosion before Yunyun boldly walks through the wreckage and announces her name.
“It feels like they’ll do something really outrageous if you leave them be.”
“Even they wouldn’t actually go through with that… They won’t do that, right?”
I thought I was confident no one would actually do such a thing, but looking at them…
Megumin angrily stood up and left the guild, and Yunyun chased after her while screaming ’I’m begging you, please stop!’
“… I think it’s best if we were to watch over them.”
It’d be one thing if they were pulling such antics in Axel, but they would be arrested instantly if they were to do it in the capital.
Iris will probably be able to get them off the hook, but I really don’t think it’s a good idea to put more stuff on her plate right now.
I really want to just drop everything on her guardian, Kazuma’s, lap, but I don’t have the time to go fetch him at the moment.
The two of them headed immediately for the teleport station and left for the capital. Using Lynn’s money, we followed after them.
“Hey, this is a loan, alright? You hear me? Don’t cover your ears.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll pay you back when I strike a fortune. I’ll just need to get on my feet first.”
“Yeah, and how long will I have to wait for that to happen? There is nothing less trustworthy than your word.”
She really is a naggy woman.
We’ll lose sight of the Explosion Girl if we get into an argument here, so I bit back my reply for now.
The two of them headed straight for the castle. I really doubt that she’d be foolish enough to force her way in during broad daylight. With that in mind, I tailed them from a respectable distance away, but…
“Right, I have a perfect shot from this square! My Explosion will blow the gates wide open, so I’ll leave the rest to you!”
She really is a fool.
The crazy girl stood in the center of the square, pointed her staff at the castle, and started chanting. Next to her, the loner was just waving her hands around in a panic and being completely useless.
“Please stop! They’ll definitely get angry!”
“As if you’ll stop her with that.”
I snatched the staff out of the Explosion Girl’s hands in the middle of her chant.
“What are you doing!? Give that back!”
I held the staff high above her reach, and she repeatedly hopped in place in her attempts to grab it back.
She looks kinda cute when she does that. Still, I wonder if all Crimson Demons think the same way.
I heard that Yunyun was considered strange by Crimson Demon standards. If there was an entire village full of people who think the same way as this Explosion Girl… Nah, there’s no way that can be the case.
“You two should really stop doing stupid things.”
“I don’t want to hear that from a delinquent!”
“Such words have no persuasive power at all when they come from Dust-san…”
I drove my knuckles into Yunyun’s temples.
“Uuu, this is horrible. I’m getting sexually harassed by Dust-san.”
Right, leaving her aside…
“What are you doing here? If you’re here to get in our way, the future chief of the Crimson Demons, Yunyun, won’t stand idly by!”
“Why do you only acknowledge me as the future chief during such situations!?”
“I’m not here to stop you or get in your way or anything.”
“Eh, you’re not going to stop her!?”
“Now, now, just hear me out. You need to use your heads when you’re up to no good. Just charging straight in is the actions of a fool. You need to look deeper and find out what they really hate. That will lead you to the most efficient method.”
Saying that, I stepped back with a smile.
These guys are too straightforward, and they’re thinking too small scale. If we are doing this, we are going to go all out.
“You really are a villain, aren’t you?”
Lynn might be saying that, but she doesn’t look the slightest bit displeased right now.
Everyone stared at me when I brought up who should be the one to sneak into the castle. I tried to protest, but it became clear that there isn’t anyone else suitable for the role, so I reluctantly agreed.
We didn’t have enough materials for the operation, so I alone went back to Axel.
Returning is easy enough, but the real problem is actually finding him.
Lynn told me of a method that will get him to show up, or so she claims, but I wonder if it would really be that easy.
“Well, there’s no harm in giving it a shot. Ah~ I want to have a drink with a fellow man today~! I wonder if there’s a rich noble young master who would give me a treat~!”
I said loudly as I walked down the main street.
Several of the passersby pointed at me and whispered amongst themselves, but I’m not the type of person to be so easily discouraged.
“If he really would come out with just this-”
“If it isn’t Dust-san. Pant, Pant. It’s been some time.”
When did he!?
Standing behind me was a noble wearing a helmet.
… He really appeared. I first ran into him when he helped out the succubus store when they were in a spot of trouble. Ever since then, I’ve been mentally calling him ‘Helmeted Bastard’.
Lynn told me that he’d be hanging around the tavern facing the main street around this time of day, but I didn’t expect to find him so quickly.
“Yeah, it’s been some time. If you are having trouble breathing, why not take off your helmet?”
“N-No, it’s fine. This is a very important helmet, pant pant. Pay it no mind, pant pant.”
“Well, if you say so… Oh, yeah, it must be some kind of fate for us to meet here. There’s a favour I would like to ask of you.”
“What is it!? I’ll do anything you ask of me!”
The hand he used to accept mine is covered in sweat.
He might have been in the middle of a jog, what with the sweat and his heavy breaths and all.
As night fell, we decided to put the operation we discussed this afternoon into action.
Well, I say operation, but it’s really a very simple strategy.
Encamped near the castle, I gazed up towards the sky.
Unfortunately, it’s completely overcast tonight, so not a single star was visible to me.
“It should be about time.”
The moment I said that, a streak of red light shot into the sky and exploded with a loud boom.
I’m quite some distance away, but even I can feel the shockwave from that blast.
That explosion chased away the clouds covering the sky, revealing a blanket of shimmering stars.
The capital is a place where even casting low grade magic in the streets would result in a large commotion. It should be obvious what would happen in such a city if Explosion magic was unleashed.
The castle gates flew open, and a large amount of soldiers stepped out at once.
“There is no doubt that whatever unleashed such powerful magic in the city is an ally of the Demon King’s army! There’s no need to bring them in alive, so use your own judgement!”
The one standing in the middle and giving out such dangerous sounding orders is Claire. Her white suit really stands out at night. Additionally, it seems like Rain is with her too.
Well, this would be the way a castle guard would normally react. At this rate, there is a chance that Yunyun, who’s currently running away with the drained Megumin in tow, could be captured.
Thus, there’s a need to sow confusion into their ranks.
“The Silver Haired Thieving Band appeared at that nobles mansion!”
The voice of a young woman emerged from an alleyway.
This is echoed by not just one or two other voices, but the voices of almost everyone in the neighborhood.
Seems like Lynn did a good job spreading the story.
“Hey, did you hear!? They’re holding a sale for those new diet pills that lasts only for today!”
“That highly popular product that even the nobility and royalty make use of!? If we don’t hurry up, it’ll be all sold out!”
This time, the voices of two men emerged from an alley directly opposite the first.
That’s the voices of Taylor and Keith who agreed to help out even though they weren’t told the full details.
My companions really are something… I’ll have to treat them to a mug or two later.
Hearing those voices, Claire and Rain fell into a panic.
“They must have made use of the commotion to slip in! We’re splitting up the troops. I’ll go after the one who casted the magic, Rain go after the Silver Haired Thieving Band.”
“I understand. Be careful… Claire-sama, aren’t you heading in the opposite direction from where the Thieving Band appeared?”
“O-Oh, yeah. It seems I’ve gotten turned around.”
She’s playing it off, but the diet pill sale definitely weighted heavily on her mind. From the looks of things, it seems like she already finished off what she bought.
Splitting them into three groups would be ideal, but having them split into two is fine too.
Still, that’s not all. I still have one more card left to play.
I acted like I was drunk and wandered into their path.
“Oh~, if it isn’t the nee-chan from the other night. How have you been doing-”
“You’re Trash, if I recall. What are you doing here… No, now’s not the time for that. We don’t have the time to spend dealing with a drunkard! Get out of the way!”
“My apologies, it’s an emergency!”
They’re panicked enough that they aren’t even trying to conceal their impatience.
Still, they haven’t lost their sense of judgement. I should sow a little more chaos into their minds.
“Oh, I see. Sorry for getting in your way while you’re in a hurry. By the way, have you seen Kazuma around?”
At that instant, the blood drained from their faces.
“What did you just say? Kazuma-dono is in the capital!?”
“You’re kidding, right!? Claire-sama gave strict instructions that he’s to be prohibited from using the teleport station!”
The two of them immediately wheeled on me.
I’ve heard that they don’t get along well with Kazuma, but I didn’t expect that just dropping his name would be this effective.
“Ah, so that’s why he was covering his face with a hood when he came here with us. I thought it was a little strange.”
“I slipped up. So he slipped in together with other adventurers…”
“W-What should we do? If Kazuma-sama came here to meet up with Alice-sama, there’s a chance that all this is just a distraction…”
“In that case, we can’t allow the security of the castle to be thinned. However…!”
I kinda feel bad for Kazuma, but dropping his name here really did have the desired effect. Far more than I expected, in fact.
Giving up on one of their leads, or dividing their soldiers into three groups. It’s certainly not an easy decision.
At an impasse, the two of them started bickering over what course of action they should pursue.
The soldiers couldn’t take action without orders, so they simply waited restlessly while the two of them tried to reach a solution.
All of them had their attentions fixed squarely upon Claire and Rain.
This is my chance. I slipped into the alley and put on the suit of armour and helmet that the Helmeted Bastard lent me.
I always felt that his helmet looked familiar, but as it turns out, he bought the very same helmet that I sold to the general store quite some time ago.
This operation wouldn’t work without that helmet, so I had to ask him to lend it to me, just for today. Not only that, but I also had to request a fitting suit of armour to go with it.
He immediately agreed, but before he handed the items over, he said,
“You don’t have to wash or wipe it down before returning it! No, really, it’s fine!”
When I asked him why he’s so readily agreeing to my requests, he said
“I’m the sort of person who can’t speak normally without wearing that helmet, and I have no friends either. That’s why being relied upon like this makes me really happy.”
Well, he seems genuinely happy, at least.
So he’s basically like a male version of Yunyun. I should have a drink with him sometime, but for some reason, that person really rubs me the wrong way.
He had a bag on his head when he handed the helmet to me, in order to avoid having his face exposed.
“Ah, well, I guess it’s fine. I’ll have a drink with him sometime later. On his dime, of course.”
It’s been a while since I’ve been clad in proper armour.
With this, my form is completely hidden.
I’ve made all my preparations, but here’s where the main event lies.
Stepping out of the alley, I boldly walked up towards Claire who was still deciding on their next course of action.
“What’s the matter? It’s quite noisy out here.”
“You must be the delegation. My apologies for the noise!”
I casually waved Claire’s apologies away.
Great, she didn’t notice. The design of the armour is a little different, but the helmet is the real deal. It might’ve been a different story if I was standing in broad daylight, but in the dim light of the moon, it’d be hard to pick up on those differences.
Not to mention, with their current panicked mental state, they weren’t in the right frame of mind to pick up on such inconsistencies.
The helmet also muffled my voice, so they couldn’t tell that it was me.
“If there’s anything I can do to help, don’t hesitate to ask.”
“No, we cannot ask such a thing from a guest! The commotion should die down soon, so please relax in your room.”
“There’s no need to stand on ceremony. With my dragon, I can easily provide an aerial view of the area.”
Rain didn’t catch on to me either.
Accepting their apologies, I executed a perfect bow and walked through the front gates of the castle.
Yes, step one is clear!
I’ve heard about the layout of the castle from Megumin, but it’s not like she knows every nook and cranny of it, so there’s no time for any unnecessary detours.
I headed straight for my destination.
I ran into several maids and soldiers, but all of them gracefully bowed to me as I walked past and none of them got in my way.
Acting as though I belonged here, I made my way down the stairs and emerged in the courtyard.
Inside the courtyard is a dragon, curled up into a ball as it slept.
I looked around, but it doesn’t seem like its original rider is here.
The dragon woke up and raised its head at me when I moved closer, so I removed my helmet and looked it right in the eye.
Instantly, the dragon lowered its head and closed its eyes.
“Good boy. Can I get you to give me a little help tonight?”
The dragon flared its nostrils and rubbed against my face. I got onto the saddle and grabbed its reins.
“Right, let’s go!”
I could see Iris standing on the terrace, staring sadly into the night sky.
It is late enough that most kids would be in bed by now, but she was wearing a dress instead of a set of pajamas.
“Sigh~ The meeting got extended, and I hadn’t the chance to take a bath… Ah, I’ve been so swamped with work these past few days that I haven’t even five minutes to myself. I want to go play with everyone in Axel… If only Onii-sama would take me awa-… Eh?”
Iris stiffened in surprise as my dragon and I emerged from beneath the terrace.
While keeping one hand on the reins to make the dragon hover in position, I extended the other hand towards Iris.
“If you’d like, would you care to join me on a nightly stroll?”
Recalling my old manner of speech, I offered in a gentle tone.
“Umm, err, you’re the delegation, yes? I’m happy that you made such an offer to me, but wouldn’t this cause problems for you?”
“There won’t be a problem as long as no one finds out. Fortunately, there’s been a commotion nearby and most of the soldiers have been sent out. If I recall, the two Crimson Demons were talking about storming the evil castle to save their captured comrade or something of the like.”
“Is that… Boss, I wonder…”
A troubled expression flashed upon Iris’s face for an instant, but was instantly replaced with a smile.
“I bring a message from those two. It’s fine to just let loose every once in a while, just like Kazuma. So, would you like to join me on a journey to the stars?”
I firmly grasped Iris’s hand, pulled her up on the dragon, and placed her on the saddle behind me.
She wrapped her arms around my waist.
With a little tug on the reins, and a strong flap of the wings, we quickly shot towards the stars.
Between the darkness of the night and the commotion within the city, there isn’t a single person who’d be looking up at the skies. Certainly no one who’d notice us.
“Uwaah~ This is amazing! The city and the castle look so tiny!”
Hearing Iris exclaim in wonder, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the first time I gave a ride to her.
… Would she be angry if she knew about this? Or would she…
I wouldn’t get an answer no matter how much I think about it, so doing so is just a waste of energy. What’s important now is to see to the happiness of the princess seated behind me.
Besides, what she told me was:
“You’re my knight, so you shouldn’t use a spear unless you’re protecting me or someone you really want to protect. Do your best with that sword instead.”
So there’s no problem with this… probably.
I drove the dragon to move a little faster to give the princess a little more thrill.
“Uwaaaah! This is faster than even the lizard drawn carriage!”
Hearing the excited voice behind me, I drove the dragon onwards.
We crossed mountains, valleys, and saw the vast plains sped by below us. After a few laps around the area, I judged that this is more than sufficient for a night stroll and brought her back to the castle, dropping her off at the same terrace I picked her up from
Though, it seems like she is still bursting with excitement as she got off, clutching her hands towards her chest and looking at me with sparkles in her eyes.
“Today was really fun! Thanks to you, all my stress has been blown away! I think I’ll be able to sleep well tonight.”
“There is no greater joy for a knight than to become the strength of such a wonderful princess.”
We haven’t been away for very long, and it doesn’t seem like anyone has noticed her disappearance.
Saying something so pompous makes my back itch, but I suppose I can put up with it for today.
“Now then… Oh, if it’s not too presumptuous of me, allow me to offer a few small words. There’s no shame in relying on others. Just as you think of them as important, so do they too share the same thoughts towards you.”
“Rely on others… I see. It’s true, perhaps I did try to bear too much upon myself. Heh. Thank you very much, Dragon Knight-sama.”
Unlike a certain someone, I have no interest in kids.
But seeing her smile like that makes me sort of understand why Claire became so smitten with her.
If she can make such a genuine smile, it seems like things will be fine.
I gave Iris, who was giving me a wide exaggerated wave, a slight bow, left the terrace, and guided the dragon back to the courtyard.
“Thanks for your help today. You did good.”
I patted the dragon around the neck, and it comfortably closed its eyes.
I did push him in the middle of the night, so I really wanted to pamper him a little more, but it’d be real troublesome if Claire or the others were to return.
I retraced my steps and left the castle.
Giving the saluting soldiers a bow, I snuck off into the nearest alley and removed my helmet and armour.
“Now then, all that remains is to see if those two managed to escape.”
I stuffed the armour and helmet into the large luggage I borrowed from Yunyun and made my way to the rendezvous point.
The only other person who was there was Lynn. She gave me a wave as she saw me approach.
“My side went off perfectly. How did it go for you?”
“No problem at all. Megumin and Yunyun hid in an Axis Cult church, so the soldiers shouldn’t be able to get close to them.”
“Well, even the Demon King’s army avoids them. It definitely is the safest place in town.”
I don’t know why, but the two of them seem quite familiar with the Axis Cult. Perhaps it’s because the Axis Cult and Crimson Demons are both a little shot in the head, so they find some kinship in each other?
“I won’t ask you for details, but was Alice-chan satisfied?”
“Oh, she is very satisfied. You could say she’s been blown away, in a lot of ways.”
This is Lynn we are talking about, so she might have guessed who Alice really is.
And, what happened in my past too…
Lynn, who was walking in front of me, suddenly turned around and looked at me with upturned eyes.
“You’ll tell me someday, right?”
“Right, I’ll let you off for today.”
I didn’t ask what exactly she referred to.
I’m sure there will come a day where I must reveal what happened today and my past to her.
As for when, well, who knows?