29 – Frontline

The Monster Stampede, a milestone event in the game, would occur once the capture target’s likability to the Saint heroine reached maximum.

The event’s difficulty would vary with the Saint heroine’s Theurgy Skill. The higher the skill, the more difficult it was, and the closer the Stampede would happen to Argrey’s capital.

In lower difficulties, all of the country’s knightly order would also be there as reinforcement as well. However, if the Stampede happened at dungeons close to the capital — the First dungeon to the Fourth — there would be barely any support from the country. The Saint heroine would be forced to fight at the frontlines together with her capture target.

The event this time occurred at the Third Dungeon. The second highest difficulty.

This Dungeon was at the center of the capital as well as being closest to the academy. Subsequently, the Saint heroine would receive the help of the academy instructors and the second prince’s imperial knights, though she would be required to take command of the priests of the capital’s Church to fight at the frontlines.

 

“Come, my lady Saint! With your power, we shall show this world the Goddess’ light!”

 

The supposed ‘commander’ had been dragged to the battlefield by the Church’s priests.

This Stampede wasn’t supposed to have happened. Chieri hadn’t even raised her likability much with the grown-ups that were the targets of the Saint heroine — Elias the Holy Knight, Andy the imperial knight, Eric the academy instructor — and her own Theurgy Skill was still just level two when the maximum was ten.

Not only that, there was the scandal that was the priests’ assault on a marquis’ young lady, who was also a student of the academy. The Church needed to show that their members and the next Saint were capable of putting an end to this Stampede, no matter what it takes.

Even as the dispatched priests venerated Chieri as the next Saint, anyone could see that they had no intentions of letting her out of their sight until the incident was over. Chieri even overheard their mutters. “We almost had a fiasco on our hand. Thank the Goddess for giving us this chance to recover our dignity,” they said, without a hint of consideration. It sent a lance of pain through Chieri’s heart.

Why?! Why did this happen?! I did pray for the Goddess to do something, but I can’t deal with this! She screamed in her mind.

A few moments later, her thoughts switched tracks.

She did think it would have been impossible to escape from that trial without something suitably drastic. She would even go so far as to say that nothing less than a natural disaster would do, even. At the same time, she also knew that she did not have the power to end this event by herself.

…then there must be another way. A safer way, a way to make this crisis even worse…

Chieri’s mind whirred, and a plan began to form.

She had failed once because she had mistakenly thought that the people of this world would act like characters in her game. Now that the plot had left the rails, she was finally making use of her true talent, one that she had refined through years of maneuvering people to her purpose.

“You, over there.”

“Yes, my lady Saint. What do you require of me?”

She searched the Church’s force for an easy mark. She found a young and naive-looking priest and called at him, smiling and presenting herself as best as possible.

She knew how effective her own looks were, after all.

“I have just received another Oracle from the Goddess.”

 

***

 

Knock knock knock.

“Oerghl!”

A hulking mass collapsed to the ground. The earth shuddered.

That was an ogre I have encountered in the streets and have finished off with a triple bogey. Strangely enough, I thought I saw a flash of euphoria on its face during its final moments.

Greetings, everyone. This is Fleurety, the maid who would be very happy if she could share her joy with others.

 

“Right, where should I go…”

I’ve been heading toward the salt dungeon, but I’ve been wondering if I should go save Andy and Joel like I promised milady, or if I should deal with the dungeon itself. This is quite the dilemma.

“I suppose I should prioritize my promise, then.”

If I solve the problem here and yet let Andy be injured, I would be most ashamed to face milady. Nothing is more important than her words. Not even the city’s survival, in fact.

 

“Grargh!!”

Ah, another stray monster. This one is called… hob-something. While it’s true that I’ve also been getting closer to the dungeon, the fact that I’ve been meeting monsters so frequently really does show how bad things have gotten.

A sudden, metallic clang sounds out. The hob-something gurgles and drops to the ground in two pieces. As I see the figure of a knight through the spray of blood, I clasp my hand in front of my waist and give a gentle bow.

“Thank you for your assistance, sir Elias.”

“Oh no, I’m sure you didn’t need it.”

 

The man who has just gallantly, heroically arrived is Elias, the Holy Knight of the Church. At the moment, he is thoroughly wiping off the blood on his sword with a piece of cloth and with a smooth motion, returning it to its sheath. It makes him look like such a playboy from a well-to-do family.

“…were you thinking something unflattering?”

“Not at all. I was simply admiring the sight of a knight protecting a helpless maid.”

“…I find it difficult to think of you as helpless, miss Fleurety.”

He has surprisingly sharp intuition.

“Speaking of which, how goes the battle? I have heard that our forces are being pushed back by quite a bit, despite his Highness Joel’s participation,” I say.

“My subordinate knight-priests have arrived to reinforce. I believe the lines will be re-established. That aside, I’m surprised you found out so quickly…”

“The walls have ears, after all. I have also encountered quite a few monsters on my way here. If I may speak my mind, sir, I believe there is a rather large leak somewhere.”

“…what?”

“Yes?”

Sir Elias looks at me as though he can’t believe what he’s hearing. Unfortunately, he should know that that gaze only excites me when it’s milady doing the looking.

“Miss Fleurety… I would much prefer you to be using another weapon. The club you hold in your hand is cursed, is it not? If I’m right, the curse creates an attraction to certain types of monsters, that is to say, the types that have more… powerful breeding instincts…”

“Ah, I see.”

 

I have completely forgotten about that little detail.

I have used my Orc Killer EX for far too many Nice Shots to orcs, creatures that think with their lower heads, and this has strengthened the curse on the weapon. Before, it used to cause uncontrollable rage on orcs only, but now the target has been expanded to all humanoid monsters of a similar nature.

 

“My apologies. I have not thought it to be a problem.”

“I understand my gift might have been an inferior weapon. Still…”

As he had promised, the other day Elias had sent me a one-handed club made of mythril. I still continue to favor the spiked club, however.

Elias has said that it is ‘inferior’, but that one-handed club was a very wonderful thing indeed. It sold for a whole thirty gold coins in the black market, after all. Considering that I bought this spiked club for the cut-price of one silver coin, that mythril club was on an entirely another level of v… quality.

Yes. Quality. I certainly did not mean to say ‘value’.

At any rate, this means I would have to change my plans.

“I see that I should not be getting close to his Highness Joel with this Orc Killer in hand. Well then, please excuse me…”

As I begin to step away, Elias calls at me.

“Wait up, please.”

I might be able to pull away the monsters that are attacking Andy if I join up with him, but I would also be attracting more monsters from far away. It would just defeat the purpose. It is why I have decided to switch to my plan B, dealing with the dungeon as fast as possible to remove the source of monsters itself, and I would have been on my way if not for Elias. I wonder what he has in mind.

Elias kneels in front of me as he once did when we first met.

“Virtuous maiden, thou who would face death itself to save the common people. May I be allowed the honor of being your protector?” he says, swearing an oath with absolute sincerity.

Well, he’s free to follow along. If he can, that is.

 

The two of us head for the dungeon depths. Not to the very end, though. According to Elias, there are cases where the tunnels that the dungeon created to bring in monsters from the outside would connect to its upper floors, or in other words, floors closer to the dungeon entrance.

The Monster Stampede happens whenever one end of a dungeon-created tunnel coincidentally opens up to a region full of monsters, and the other end coincidentally opens up on one of the upper floors. It’s all coincidences.

I’m a bit disappointed, to be honest. I’m in another world here. Are there no Demon Kings or Dark Lords?

 

I sprint for the dungeon, fully intending to leave Elias behind. Surprisingly, he doesn’t seem to have much trouble following my speed.

This cannot do. An expert maid should always be able to stay in front of the gentleman. At this rate, I’m going to be punished by the Maid Chief.

 

“AAAAAAAAHHH!”

 

“That scream…”

“It sounds like the glass-shattering shriek of an overgrown maiden, sir.”

“‘Overgrown’… wait, no, is this the time for such nonchalance?”

My very-much-reasonable assessment leads us to the source of the voice. We arrive at the scene soon after.

“This must be a human-eating parasitic plant. Would it count as ‘lewd tentacles’, I wonder?” I say.

Elias doesn’t reply.

“Stop fooling around and save me already!” The victim shouts.

 

The woman currently being assaulted by a number of strange, slimy tentacles is the one who had been the quickest to run from that trial: lady Camilla.

I was sure she had run to her home, the dukedom house, but it seems she really was trying to deal with the incident. Well, her life as a noble would be over if she ran anyway, so as proud as she is, there wasn’t much of a chance she would do so. I never thought she was actually frolicking with tentacles here, though…

 

“You really do have that sort of hobby, don’t you?”

“I’m not doing this because I like it! Save me already!”

“I suppose we should. Just as well that the source of the monsters also seems to be here.”

Lady Camilla must have made the discovery. I wonder if those suspicious Oracles had anything to do with it. On the ground nearby are Camilla’s own private soldiers, who seemed to have fallen in their attempt to deal with the source.

It doesn’t take much time for me to clear out the monsters and destroy the source.

Now there is only Camilla, half-naked and being toyed with by lewd tentacles. Other than it being a somewhat indecent sight, there doesn’t seem to be any other problem. She is freed in short order, though, as Elias is too much of a proper gentleman to leave her trapped for any longer. Of course, I made sure to procure a few photographs of lady Camilla’s lewdness for future uses.

 

Now that things are over and done with, I can’t help but feel that it was too easy. Assuming that the tunnel’s entrance was already close to disappearing by the time I dealt with it, then if only Camilla had been able to hold on for a bit longer, then she really would have been considered the person to have resolved the incident.

 

“Miss Fleurety, what is on your mind?”

“It is nothing, sir Elias. Now there is only the matter of dealing with the monsters that have escaped the dungeon. We should leave.”

“Let us… wait, hold on a second.”

Elias takes out something that looks like the shell of a bivalve mollusk and places it to his ear. If I’m not mistaken, the bivalve-shell-thing acts as one part of a pair of magical tools which allow one to communicate at long distance, and they are called ‘portable magitech communicators’. Milady and I wanted them too, but just a pair already cost two hundred gold pieces. Too much for us.

 

“What?! Monsters have spilled into the town? Lady Chieri is taking command? What’s going on outside?!”

 

Apparently the Monster Stampede is not over yet. I wonder if Chieri had done something again.

But more importantly, I worry for milady’s safety.

Please wait for me, milady. Your maid will be with you before long.


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