A/N: We get quite a bit of vitamin Sharon this time.
In the dungeon, Sharon’s maid and irreplaceable friend, Fleurety, had been caught in a teleportation trap and had disappeared.
The young lady panicked.
“L-Letty?! Where did she go?! Come on, we have to hurry!”
“Sharon! Sharon, it’s fine, look at me,” Andy said, frantically trying to calm her down. “Elias is with miss Fleurety. He is the greatest knight of Argrey Kingdom. Her safety is guaranteed.”
In his hurry, he hadn’t noticed how he had gotten close to her, had talked to her the way he used to a long time ago.
“Y-yes, right, right…”
Andy’s reminder and her own knowledge of Fleurety’s strength helped her regain a measure of composure.
Her friend had promised her they would always be together. Fleurety was a strange girl, she thought, but more than anyone else, she also knew that her maid wasn’t one to break promises.
…when did we make that promise again?
Sharon was sure of it, that they had sworn to become friends, that they would never be apart, and yet in her memories, there was no recollection of when it had happened, nor how.
There was only their bond carved deep into her mind, into her heart.
“Although… why is there a teleportation trap so close to the entrance? Do you know if this has happened before, Sharon?”
“…no, I do not.”
With her reply, Sharon’s thoughts changed tracks. Had she been able to remember what she had forgotten, then perhaps she could have gained a hint to Fleurety’s identity, but as it was, she pushed the matter out of her mind. She simply chalked it up to ‘Letty being Letty again’.
“A teleportation trap’s destination would be somewhere on the same floor. There are no monsters on this floor that could hurt them, and we have the floor’s map as well. I’m sure we can find them.”
“Y-yes… that’s true.”
Sharon was anxious, he noticed, but somehow it felt as though she was worrying about something else.
“…Sharon?” He asked.
“…no, it is nothing.”
Mid-way through his words, he finally noticed his inadvertent return to their old familiarity.
“My apologies, lady Sharon! I was…”
“N-no, I wasn’t worrying about that! Besides, umm, I… I also thought it was nice… it takes me back…”
By the end of her words, her eyes had pointed slightly downward, her ears blushing red. Andy similarly looked away, finding himself unable to look directly at her.
If only there was someone here to prevent the awkwardness.
“Ahem… let’s search for them. The dungeon’s map is with… mister Genki?”
Andy spoke, trying to get their conversation back on track, and only then did he remember the existence of their other companions — the two middle-schoolers from Earth.
“…wait, where are they?” Sharon asked in puzzlement.
“Ah, mister Sei!”
They noticed Sei, one of the middle-schoolers, lying on the ground of a hallway some distance away, and they hurried toward him. Fortunately, he was unhurt, only unconscious. Andy took out some smelling salts and Sei woke up, albeit still groggy.
“Mister Sei, what happened? Where is mister Genki?”
“Ah… sorry, I’m not sure what happened either. I just suddenly felt so sleepy…” Sei replied.
He then explained that he could still remember what happened until the trap activated, but immediately afterward, an intense drowsiness had assaulted him. He only woke up just now thanks to Andy.
“Where is he…?”
Only Genki was nowhere to be seen. As far as Andy recalled, Genki hadn’t been caught by the trap. He should have been with Sharon at the back of their group.
“…maybe he’d gone ahead alone?” Sei muttered.
Both Andy and Sharon’s faces paled.
Genki was the one to possess a detection Skill, and he was in charge of the dungeon map and checking for traps. Andy and Sharon thought he might have felt responsible for discovering the trap too late and letting it catch Elias and Fleurety, and so he had gone alone to search for them.
“He might have put me to sleep since he thought we would stop him…” Sei said.
“We should move immediately. With his strength, I do not think this floor is very safe for him.” Andy said, looking at Sharon.
“Yes, sir Andy!”
The three began to search through the floor’s rooms, impatience bubbling inside them.
Searching even a single floor was a daunting task. An old dungeon not only had more floors, but each floor was growing larger as well. Each of the circularly-shaped floors of this Third Dungeon were as large as a baseball field.
Sharon’s recent intense training had been rewarded. Her current magic control had gotten much better. While her spells were still sometimes too wasteful and sometimes too weak, it was a vast improvement considering that brute-force area-of-damage spells used to be all that she was capable of.
The giant lizard was slowed down by the ice javelin, held in place by Andy, and sliced apart with Sei’s Sword Skill.
The enemies of this floor hadn’t posed much of a threat to the three of them. Being the defender of the group, Andy had gotten slightly scratched and hit by some light poisons, but Sharon was able to treat him with her newly-learned theurgical spells.
“N-no, don’t mind it…”
It was neither the time nor the place for them to be embarrassed, but then again, perhaps it might be expecting too much out of these two.
“Andy, Sharon! There’s something on the ground over there!” Sei shouted, pointing toward the other end of the hallway behind the giant lizard’s corpse.
“Ah, yeah, got it!”
Things left on the ground in the dungeon, whether it be an object or a corpse, would vanish in time. This was a phenomenon that everyone in this world took for granted. One of the current theories was that they were reabsorbed by the dungeon, while another claimed they were eaten by slimes. As yet, there was still no proof either way.
Seeing that the object was still there for them to find, the implication was clear.
“Yes. Likely, this was Genki’s equipment.”
It was a dagger, still brand-new. It could have belonged to some other explorer, but generally, explorers that could go in this deep would have gone dungeon-delving for long enough to have their reserve weapon show signs of previous usage.
“He should be deeper in. Let’s hurry.”
The thought of Genki being attacked by monsters passed through their minds. The two advanced into the hallway.
From the darkness, an arrow sped toward them.
“Sharon!” Andy shouted, raising his shield to block the arrow.
“Who’s there?! Show yourself!”
In dungeons, there were tool-using monsters such as goblins and kobolds, but most of their equipment were either taken from explorers or hands-me-down. Weapons as pristine as the arrow shot at the two of them were rarely in the hands of monsters.
There was only one conclusion to be made.
“They’re… people, right?”
“Looks that way…”
Andy moved in front of Sharon and raised his shield protectively, while she gripped her staff with trembling hands, ready to support him. Sei’s face paled, his fingers in a white-knuckled grip around his sword. This would be the first time he went against a human opponent.
“Sharon, can you cast the illumination spell?”
Summoned by Sharon, a ball of light, somewhat overcharged with magic, floated into the hallway depths. Perhaps unable to dispel the light, several people jumped out from the hallway’s shadows.
“Who are you?! Why are you—”
“Shut up! It’s all your fault, pestilent wretch!”
They were wearing the typical equipment for explorers as well as masks, so Sharon had thought they were murderers or bandits lying in wait. But once the ostensible leader of the group, a woman, shouted invectives back at her, she was puzzled. She was sure she had heard that voice before.
“Have I done anything to you…?”
“YOU RUINED EVERYTHING!” The woman screamed, then abruptly returned her volume back to normal as she turned to her group, her voice affected and without a hint of sincerity. “…umm, right, subdue that girl! For the Saint!”
“””FOR THE SAINT! FOR THE GODDESS!!!””” They responded with fervor.
Several men wielding maces inched forward. Andy stayed in front of Sharon as the two retreated step by step.
Hearing what they had let slip and seeing the holy sigils on their chests, Andy came to the conclusion that they were fanatic believers of the Goddess. Madmen who ignored the Church to commit murders while still proclaiming the Goddess’ name. Rarely seen, but not non-existent. Andy knew that even if the two of them surrendered, there was no guarantee they would be spared.
Their opponents numbered five. If only we have just one more person, Andy thought…
“Finally, finally! Your luck runs out here, you—”
Feeling a hand on her shoulder from out of nowhere, the woman turned around. Standing behind her was the lovely black-haired maid with a blossoming grin that sent an ice-cold rod down her spine.
Hello, everyone. It is me, Fleurety, a very satisfied maid after I’ve kicked the woman in the ■■■■, pumping her full of ■■■■ and causing her to enact a scene that I would prefer not to describe.
“I’m back, lady Sharon.”
Milady runs toward me with teary eyes, looking so adorable that I couldn’t help but pick her up, spinning her around and ending it with a hug.
“I’m not a kid anymore!”
“My apologies. I was simply going into withdrawal after being too long without your essence.”
“What even is my essence?!”
Gosh, milady, are you really making your pure and innocent maid answer that?
“Miss Fleurety. Their identities were as I expected.”
While I was busy ■■■■ing the woman leading the group, Elias had finished dealing with the others and has returned. So they really were from the Church, then.
“Who is she?”
“Just an acquaintance, sir.”
This ■■■■■■ woman was the personal maid of Yohanne of the Michel marquis house. Her name is Mia.
She also used to belong to the house of Balla that no longer existed. Perhaps she has been dreaming that she could take control of the marquis house once again if milady was to disappear.
At the moment, she probably has more of my ‘medicine’ than blood now. Her mouth is agape, her cheeks wet with drool, and her eyes are unfocused. Sweet dreams, Mia.
By the way, Genki is one of the masked people.
“Genki…” Sei whispers, looking pained. Andy grimly followed with a question.
“Mister Genki, why have you done this?”
“I-I didn’t want to! L-Lady Camilla told me lady Sharon was up to no good, so I was just…”
Genki fearfully mutters. Yet I wonder why it looks as though he’s being scared of me, when Elias was the one to have taken him down. Did he see what I did to Mia…?
Well, I can deal with that memory later.
“And yet you seemed to be quite willing to attack us, weren’t you?”
Upon hearing my words, Genki’s whole body twitches. From what I saw, he didn’t exactly hesitate in his attempt to harm milady.
A possibility passes through my mind. I whisper into his ear.
“Has your heart been taken by lady Camilla, Genki?”
His face immediately burns red. For some reason, the words ‘A Private Afterschool Lesson’ pass through my mind.
I wonder what they mean. It sounds like a title. Perhaps best to not tell milady.
“Sir Elias, sir Andy, may I trouble you to process these men? I would like to take Mia and Genki into my custody.”
“I admit that’d be simpler for us, but are you sure?” Elias asks me back.
“Yes, I am,” I say as I give him a slight nod.
There’s no guarantee we won’t get our arms twisted if we try to prosecute these two, after all.
“What will you do now?” Andy asks, his worried gaze on milady.
…oh, my. Has something happened between them?
“We will return to the academy, of course. There is much to do.” I reply.
I’ll make sure they won’t get out of this scot-free.
That aside, it seems Genki here is still very excited. The dorm mother can help calm his nerves, I think.
A/N: The dorm mother continued to be terrified of her horse carriage. It’s been a while since the last time she could go downtown to buy some young men.