[Vol 1] Chapter 4 – Hunting Hound of Mists



4-1

When it was nearly dusk, Fino finally opened her eyes.

After she got up, the nightmare had provoked a sense of disgust.

(… Such a scary dream.)

Fino pouted and let out a long sigh.

In her dreams, Selo was attacked by wild beasts, fell down a cliff, then swallowed by the darkness.

Fino reached out her hand, but wasn’t in time to catch him. She could only helplessly watch Selo fall.

The temperature wasn’t hot, but she was covered in sweat.

“… Did Selo return?”

Using a tired voice to mutter to herself, Fino quickly got dressed and left the room.

Kardena was waiting in the corridor.

“Ojou-sama, you have awakened?”

“En… Selo?”

Seeing the expression on Kardena’s face, Fino could immediately predict her answer. But, she still asked.

The young maid had a sullen expression and shook her head.

“Still haven’t returned. The knights haven’t contacted us either.”

“Is that so…”

Fino helplessly murmured, and wobbly paced around in the corridor.

“Ojou-sama, where are you going——?“

“I’ve rested enough, so I’m going to find him.”

Fino said like it was a matter of fact, but Kardena still hurriedly grabbed her arm.

“Please don’t go out. The sun is already setting.”

“… What are you saying, Kardena?”

Fino replied with a sweet —— an incomparable sweet smile.

Kardena’s expression stiffened. Seeing the lack of smile in Fino’s eyes, she couldn’t help but feel terror.

Fino uncaringly used her rotten expression to stare at Kardena.

“You really want to let my Selo stay in the mountain alone tonight again? If you want to stop me, even you——“

“P-please calm down a bit! I’m in the same boat as ojou-sama!”

Noticing the terrified Kardena, Fino finally awoke.

“S-sorry! I was still sleepy ——“

—— She accidentally revealed her true self.

Fino tried to hide it using a guilty and naughty smile, and grabbed Kardena’s hand.

“Isn’t this great? Since this is an emergency situation, only tonight…”

“I won’t let you go out.”

Perhaps he heard their conversation, Ordoba walked out from the library.

He glared down at Fino, his solemn expression slightly twisted.

“Fino, leave Selo to the knights. Today at noon, Helmbekt-san and I talked over it, Selo might have left you by choice——”

Hearing this, Fino’s eyes opened wide.

In the morning, her adoptive father had also stated this possibility, now she finally understand the “basis” he made this judgement on.

Fino seemed to forget to blink, and used doll-like eyes to stare at her adoptive father.

“… Father, did you say something to Selo?”

Standing at the side, Kardena’s shoulders trembled.

Ordoba had not yet noticed Fino’s change.

Since they were not blood related father and daughter, the two rarely conversed. It was precisely because of this, he had never noticed Fino’s true demeanours.

Ordoba sighed, and once against said words that stimulated Fino.

“I advised him —— to maintain a distance from you. Although I didn’t tell him to leave, but Selo is a smart child. He definitely…”

“—— Unforgivable.”

A black substance within her body started to surface.

Fino gave into that magic creature, and stared at her adoptive father.

“Why did you say that to my Selo? Father ——“

Ordoba knitted his eyebrows.

He finally noticed his daughter’s aura —— No, it’s more accurate to say craziness.

Ordoba raised his hands in confusion, his vision started to shake.

“… Calm down, Fino.”

Fino silently nodded.

“En, I’m very calm. Because I have properly controlled the impulse of immediately chopping father to death. I am already so calm, but why does father have to say such things?”

Fino revealed a smile without her “killing intent” hidden.

Seeing that terrifying smile, Ordoba couldn’t help but feel a shiver creep through his heart.

He moved his sight towards the equally scared Kardena, seeing the maid’s knees tremble as she looked towards the floor, he took several steps back.

“Wait… Wait a moment. This isn’t certain yet. It is only my prediction, he might just be lost.”

Ordoba who tried to explain himself in a flurry clearly contrasted what he said previously, Fino replied with only a calm and quiet voice.

“If it was because father had something, causing my Selo to get into an accident —— I won’t forgive father. Where is Selo?”

Cold sweat begun to surface on Ordoba’s forehead. Fino’s eyes stared at him without blinking, as if seeing through his lies.

Her eyes —— The eyes containing the “Seed of Ortaff” that Fandal had brought, caused Fino’s aura of craziness to become even more wild.

Ordoba reached his hands into the pouch that contains a protective magic tool and took several steps back, putting more distance between him and Fino.

“I, I really don’t know —— Really, how would I know! I only said ‘it might be so’, and it was never proven. I also want to know why Selo had disappeared.”

Seeing the fazed Ordoba —— Fino returned a soft yet wicked smile.

“… Father is so weird. There was no need to be so nervous —— It’ll be fine, I’ll find Selo. Then, see you later.”

“Ah… Ahhhh.”

Fino politely curtsied, then turned her back towards Ordoba.

The maid Kardena stood at the side with a pale expression.

Fino smiled towards her, but her body violently shook, and her teeth clattered.

“Kardena, what is it? Are you actually worried about Selo too?”

“Ah, no… no no! Yes, yes ——“

Hearing her weird reply, Fino smiled sweetly.

“Calm down, Kardena. I don’t get your position if you speak like that. Then I’m off.”

There was no one left to stop Fino.

She took several absentminded steps out of the door and took out the Celestial Wooden Horse.

Fino injected mana into the black wooden horse.

The wooden horse named Liquorice was gifted to her at a young age by Selo’s grandfather Zerdonato. She used to ride it often with Selo, despite how it was originally a magic tool for a single person to ride, lately the chances for it got less and less.

Fino prayed that the wooden horse could take her to Selo’s side, and let out a painful sigh.

The wooden horse glided across the courtyard.

The sun gradually settled, and the dark night started to descend.


4-2

The adoptive father Ordoba that was left behind by Fino wiped the sweats, and gazed to the figure of his leaving daughter.

The maid Kardena didn’t say anything, and only stood stiffly in place.

(That kind of Ojou-sama… It was my first time seeing it…)

Kardena’s shoulders shivered unstoppingly.

Seeing the normally naïve Fino, no one could have imagined her showing such an attitude just now.

Kardena treated Fino kind of like a younger sister. Compared to other servants, Fino was also closer to Kardena, who was of a similar age.

Despite so, she turned into a completely different person when it concerned Selo. Kardena also knew that Fino and Selo’s relationship was great, but the current problem didn’t merely stop at that level —— Fino clearly held excessive feelings for Selo.

Ordoba was also very troubled.

He took a deep breath and relaxed his shoulders.

“… Kardena, can I ask you something?”

“Yes, yes.”

“Did —— Did I make a fatal mistake?”

Kardena couldn’t understand the meaning behind this question.

“I am very sorry. I don’t understand what you mean ——“

“… No, it’s fine. I should have separated Fino and Selo earlier. Did the kindness I showed to Selo due to Zerdonato get wasted?”

Ordoba tiredly pressed the corners of his eyes and prepared to return to the library.

At this moment, the Knight squadron leader Helmbekt that went searching for Selo appeared.

Despite having gone out for so long, he didn’t look tired at all. He walked to Ordoba’s side.

Fino showed complete disgust for this youth commander cladded in military uniform.

To Kardena, she didn’t understand the reason for Fino’s disgust for him. Helmbekt’s attitude didn’t seem weird at all.

“Ordoba-sama, did something happen?”

“Ahh, Helmbekt-san. Aii, Firiano went to search for Selo again. That child was completely ignorant of her status as nobility. Perhaps it’s because she grew up in the countryside, I don’t know how to handle her.

Helmbekt nodded in pity.

“Is that so —— Firiano-sama is the proactive type. I had planned to have a chat with her after tonight’s dinner. What a shame. But, Ordoba-sama had raised her by yourself, it must have been tiresome right?”

Helmbekt said with a hint of regret, and comforted Ordoba.

Ordoba smiled towards the youth commander cladded in military uniform embarrassedly.

“No, it wasn’t too bad —— Compared to this, Helmbekt-san, thank you for your hard work. About Selo ——“

Hearing Ordoba’s question, Helmbekt returned to his calm expression.

“Yes. We didn’t find him. There were some weird blood traces underneath the cliff, but that might have been left behind by wild beasts, and we didn’t find any of his belongings either —— So, I will continue searching with my subordinates tomorrow.”

Kardena felt something indescribable from his words.

She had thought that he was worried about Selo, but his voice sounded hesitant, it didn’t feel blunt enough.

“Did you find something? No matter how trivial, is there anything you can tell ojou-sama?”

Kardena couldn’t help but ask, thus Helmbekt turned towards her.

“It is regrettable, but there is nothing right now. You are Kardena-san right? How is Firiano-sama?”

Kardna silently shook her head.

Helmbekt seemed to have guessed the current situation from her actions, his expression showing immense pain as he pressed the area between his brows. The fluent actions of this youth seemed like a painting.

Ordoba spoke to the youth seriously.

“Ah yes, Helmbekt-san —— the matter regarding ‘letting Fino become a royalty’s mistress’ from a few days back ——“

“En, I can suggest it to my boss, but it will take a little time…”

“No, about that, I hope you can give me some time to think it over. That child, how to put it —— is very dangerous.”

Kardena let out a sigh in her heart as she heard their conversation.

Fino probably doesn’t know that she will become the mistress of the royal family, but the news had already spread between the servants. This wasn’t impossible with Fino’s looks, and Ordoba also had his ambitions.

Compared to being the mayor of a rural town, he preferred to work in research agencies, and research magic tools in a comfortable environment.

That’s why, he wanted to use Fino to take the first step —— But, seeing Fino’s attitude just now, it was only natural for Ordoba to give up this idea.

Becoming the mistress of the royal family, this should be an honor for Fino, any normal noble maiden would jump at this ‘rare opportunity’ —— But, judging from Fino’s attitude just now, Ordoba could only relinquish his well-thought-out plan.

If she did something like ‘kill’ a member of the royal family, then as her adoptive father, Ordoba could not escape punishment.

Ordoba seemed to be scared from the depths of his heart, his face turned pale.

Helmbekt watched his expressions from the side.

“… Is that so. Although this is slightly rude, but you are currently unsure of how to handle your daughter right. Then how about this, Ordoba-sama? May I have a chat with Firiano-sama?”

“With Helmbekt-san…? No, but ——“

Kardena, who couldn’t watch any longer, interrupted.

“Ehh, I’m very sorry —— Ojou-sama is very confused right now, please do not disturb her, it would be better to allow herself to calm down——“

Hearing Kardena’s advice, Ordoba also nodded.

Originally when their master were conversing, servants should not interrupt, but the current him would not scold her. After all, Kardena also tasted Fino’s dark side.

“Yes. Helmbekt-san, I’m very sorry. I’ll leave Fino to Kardena for now. She has served Fino for a long time, so she understands Fino’s thoughts quite well…”

She had thought Helmbekt would give up after hearing Ordoba’s words, but he unexpectedly continued.

“Then let Elsie chat with her. That girl is around Fino-sama’s age, and is a thoughtful knight. She can also serve as Fino-sama’s guard.”

Kardena had seen lieutenant knight Elsie. When they arrived the previous day, Kardena had took her around the mansion under Fino’s orders.

Although she was a bit cold, the girl was very frank, she should have a lot of talent as a member of the military. Furthermore, her age was younger than Kardena no matter how you looked at it.

(The lieutenant of the Magic Knight Squadron is such a young girl…)

Kardena couldn’t help but have these thoughts.

Ordoba murmured hesitantly.

“Yes —— But, Fino has already left. This can wait until after dinner.”

“Okay. Then I’ll see you in a moment.”

Helmbekt casually left.

Towards her master deep in thought, she timidly asked.

“That, director-sama —— Did those knights of the Magic Knight Squadron come to aid you in your research?”

Ordoba nodded.

“En. Also about Selo, but there has been no progress about that —— Why?”

“Actually, there has been rumours between us servants about what kind of research it is.

Kardena thought she would be scolded harshly by Ordoba, she didn’t expect him to just sigh.

“I don’t have anything to hide. They seem to be very interested in my thesis which was published in the royal capital last year. I summarized the successful progress to restore ancient magic tools, but the restoration process was all Zerdonato’s doing. They probably wanted to see the now deceased Zerdonato.”

Selo’s grandfather —— Magic tool craftsman Zerdonato had passed away three years ago.

Kardena also attended his funeral. Although they served the same master, they had nearly no communications.

That old man Zerdonato always stayed in his workshop, aside from the young Selo and Fino, as well as his master Ordoba, not many people had the chance to talk with him.

Ordoba seems to hold his techniques in high regards.

Although there were a lot of differences with Fino, who is in her prime, Ordoba was very honest for a noble, and did not have many unreasonable requests for his servants, he is a very reliable master.

The old Zerdonato also seemed thankful for Ordoba’s shelter, aside from being in a master and servant relationship, they could also be said as research partners.

Ordoba hugged his thick arms and squinted his eyes.

“… But, I’m not certain if the knights’ goal is actually the results of that thesis —— They seemed to have other things to take care of. It seems like there is a need to have a good talk with them these two days.”

Ordoba said to himself, and walked back into the library.

Kardena, who was left alone in the spot, fell into deep thoughts.

However, there was nothing she could do as a servant. She only knew that it would be unsettling to leave Fino alone.

Although she couldn’t catch up to Fino who was riding on the flying Celestial Wooden Horse, the next time she comes back, Kardena ought to be more concerned about her thoughts.”

“…Where did Selo go… It would be great if ojou-sama finds him.”

Just as Kardena finished muttering to herself, her body shook violently.

If Selo is already dead, and Fino found him——

Then, Fino would likely break.

Kardena prayed for the two’s safety as a servant, and returned to finish her work in the mansion.


4-3

After sunset, Selo wasted some time before he finally began to move towards the town from the forest.

There was not a person in sight in the town at dusk.

The town of Misthound was on the border, and as soon as night falls, there wouldn’t even be a shadow. There was even less worry of bumping into someone in an alleyway.

Selo prayed that he wouldn’t be seen as he quickly ran towards the location of the secret passage.

There is a church near the mansion courtyard —— The tunnel hidden underneath the floorboards was a shortcut that led to the Doriarudo house.

There was no one living in the church, only during wedding ceremonies or funerals would the inhabitants come.

There was barely anyone who knew of this passage’s existence now. Although people knew that there was an underground space underneath the church, they seemed to assume that it was just a normal underground storeroom.

Without important incidents, no one would deliberately come to this dark and filthy place.

Selo tried to quieten his footsteps, and walked into the ancient church.

After passing through the large door inside the church, there was a staircase that led to the second floor.

Underneath the staircase was a storeroom, and it also served as the exit for the secret passage of the mansion.

Originally it was an exit for the Lord to run away when riots happened.

Selo lifted the floorboards, and opened the pitch dark exit, the air that was moist underground touched his cheek.

(This probably had never been used as an escape passage…)

He wasn’t too familiar with the history of Misthound, but he at least knew that since this mansion was built, there has never been any large scale riots.

And Ordoba only lived in the mansion after receiving the orders to move here, he shouldn’t have noticed the existence of this passage.

Although its original purpose was completely neglected, to Selo, this passage was filled with memories.

There was no time to carry a lantern.

The inside was only a straight narrow path, there was no worry of getting lost, so Selo started moving forwards as he used his hands to probe around.

When he was younger, he often used this passage with Fino to go out of the town.

The security of the mansion had always been tight, so they could not easily escape through the main gate. Thus under the influence of the adventurous nature of children, the two used this passage.

Sometimes he held her hand in the darkness, sometimes his hand was held by her. Selo still remembered that intense heartbeat he had at that time.

The last time this was used, when was it ——

Within the pitch dark tunnel where he couldn’t even see his own fingers.

Selo used one hand to support himself on the stone wall as he continued walking while reminiscing about the past.

(… Ah, it was after grandfather passed away.)

Several days after Zerdonato’s funeral. Fino used this passage, and took Selo out to the church.

It wasn’t because she had something to say.

Fino only stood by him, and tightly embraced the depressed Selo to comfort him.

After losing his grandfather, his only family, Selo only overcame that intense loneliness due to Fino.

After that, three years had already passed.

Both of them grew taller, and Fino’s status as a noble lady also became more apparent.

Ordoba had scolded him, and Fino also knew, one day the distance between them will be pulled apart. Thinking to this point, his determination to see her started to waver.

(… But, Fino really liked to worry.)

He didn’t want her to show a miserable expression, and so, hid without doing anything. He could also imagine Fino’s current state of not even wanting to eat.

After walking in the dark passage for a while, he finally neared the exit.

This hidden passage was connected to the underground storage in the mansion.

After opening the door, Selo’s cheek could feel the fresh air that was different from the sullen underground.

There were naturally no lights in the storage. Selo used his hands to trace the wall as he walked towards the exit.

Passing through the organized ingredients, wine barrels, etc, Selo climbed up the stairs. The moonlight leaked in through the gap in the door at the end of the staircase.

Selo poked his head out to check if anyone was outside.

It was the time where everyone should be sleeping, Fino should be in her bedroom.

Her room is on the second floor.

Selo tried to eliminate the sound of his footsteps as much as possible and walked up the stairs, arriving in front of Fino’s room. The mattress on the floor absorbed the sound of his footsteps.

He had thought the knights would be on guard everywhere, but there was no sign of them here.

“—— Fino, are you there?”

Selo used an almost inaudible voice to ask, as he turned the doorknob.

It wasn’t locked.

The mansion was completely silent, and it made the creaking sound that came with the opening of the door a little scary.

As the door opened, Selo smelled Fino’s scent.

There was a clear scent of sweetness, with a hint of sourness. The smell in this room shocked Selo. He hadn’t entered Fino’s room often even when they were younger.

“… Fino.”

Selo called quietly and approached the side of the bed.

There were no problems thus far. No one discovered him in the mansion. As long as he took her away, that would guarantee her safety temporarily. Although Selo was also worried about Ordoba and the others, he was the most worried about Fino.

Since the window was closed, the room was almost pitch dark. On the dark bed, the blanket had been wrapped into the shape of a human.

Just when Selo reached out his hand, and was about to shake her shoulders——

He realized something was off.

—— There was a scent mixed in that did not belong to Fino.

When he retraced his hand in surprise, a gust of wind blew past his eyes.

The figure lying on the bed sat up, and pierced the edge of the “scythe” towards Selo.

At the same moment, the closed door was suddenly opened and Selo froze in shock as he turned around to look.

“… That scared me. I didn’t think you were really still alive.”

Standing outside the door was Helmbekt of the “Magic Race”, who smiled as he observed Selo.

Then, the female knight Elsie got up from the bed and pressed the ice-cold blade on Selo’s neck.

She wasn’t wearing a military uniform, instead she was wearing the same black costume that she wore the previous night when she attacked Selo. Her appearance reminded him of a beautiful devil or shinigami.

As if being stared at by a carnivorous beast, Selo didn’t even flinch.

“Why… Fino, where is Fino——?”

Selo asked in a confused manner, causing Helmbekt to snicker.

“It’s truly awful to have missed her by just a hair length. She left to find you. She probably won’t return until morning. I had Elsie wait here to talk with her —— But, this was only one of the reasons. It was because I was thinking that you might return.”

Selo bit his lips. He had thought Fino would definitely be in her room at night, it seems like he predicted Fino’s actions wrongly.

“… How did you know… That I was still alive?’

Helmbekt smiled wryly. His smile was very rational, without a hint of honesty.

“I had no solid proof. This morning, we searched underneath the cliff, and although we saw blood, the most important thing which is a corpse, was missing. There wasn’t even any pieces of personal belongings or clothes. The blood was also faked right?”

It must have been his savior, Alcain’s doing.

“I thought your corpse must have been taken away by wild beasts, but there was also the possibility of you hiding some sort of magic tool —— Most importantly, you are that Zerdonato-san’s grandson, falling down that easily, this made me vigilant.”

Helmbekt’s evaluation of Selo was clearly too high. If Alcain hadn’t saved him, Selo would have definitely turned into a corpse lying underneath the cliff.

“But, your luck seems to be bad. If you escaped, then you wouldn’t need to die. What a shame.”

Helmbekt sighed deliberately, and the tip of the scythe also trembled.

“—— Should we take care of him here?”

With waving black hair, Elsie asked coldly.

(I will definitely be killed this time ——)

In front of the frightened Selo, Helmbekt slowly shook his head.

“Wait a moment. From the perspective of cleaning up afterwards, it would not be wise to leave any blood traces in the room. Also Selo, can you tell me how you were saved?”

Helmbekt’s reply clearly contained a mocking tone, at the same time it also contained some authority behind it.

Being terrified was only natural in this kind of situation, but Selo angrily stared at Helmbekt.

He had almost never disliked anyone before, but concerning the young knight in front of him, Selo felt the same sort of disgust as Fino had.

Helmbekt didn’t mind his stare.

“Are you so scared that you can’t speak? Falling from that height, how were you saved? In other words, you must be hiding some sort of magic tool —— It really piques my interest.

(… Oh yeah, Alcain gave me a charm ——)

Recalling that item, Selo didn’t reply, and took out the blue stone from his pocket.

Helmbekt squinted his eyes.

“… What’s this? Isn’t this a “Resonating Stone”? This sort of thing, how did you…”

“This isn’t mine —— A cat I met in the forest gave it to me.”

After Selo finished ——

Helmbekt’s expression twisted unnaturally.

“… You said… a ‘cat’?”

There was a little tremor in his voice. This unexpected intense reaction made Selo very surprised.

“Did you say a cat? Did you meet a monster cat with black fur with a hint of azure —— as well as a pair of golden eyes?”

Helmbekt snatched the blue rock from Selo as he walked over. Selo had no means of resisting since there was a scythe on his neck.

Helmbekt placed the rock on the palm of his hands and injected a bit of mana into it.

Under Selo’s gaze, the rock begun to let out a blurry light.

It looked like shimmering stars, causing Selo to widen his eyes.

Finally, a fist-sized ball of light appeared above the rock, and a smiling “cat” face appeared within.

He was the one who saved Selo, a miraculous cat with black fur ——

Alcain.

“Hello, Helmbekt. It’s been a while.”

He raised his paws and smiled.

Alcain’s friendly voice made Selo feel a sense of desynchronisation, and Helmbekt returned a hateful gaze to him.

“You are Alcain ——! The one who saved this brat must have been you!”

Helmbekt roared with anger, and didn’t care about his voice resounding in the residence.

Elsie knitted her eyebrows in annoyance, but didn’t stop him.

“Why did you come to this rural place!? Is it to mock me!”

Alcain stuck his tongue out.

“En. This is not a bad way of having fun, but compared to this, my friend is there right? Are you okay?”

Getting called, Selo pressed his face close to the rock.

“Alcain, this is…”

“Ahhh, it’s good that you’re alright. This is a magic tool to communicate from afar. Did you see Fino?”

Selo bit his lips.

“She seemed to have gone to find me, so I missed her… Alcain, please protect Fino. She should be inside the forest ——“

“That’s the end of it. Alcain, what do you want?”

Selo didn’t finish, and Helmbekt placed the rock closer to his own face.

From the light the blue rock was emitting, the black cat with golden eyes stared at Helmbekt.

Just like that, Helmbekt’s body became stiff.

Although Selo heard that Alcain and him had some disagreements, but from the looks of it, It seemed that Alcain probably left him with some terrifying memories.

“Why are you helping this brat? This should have nothing to do with you right?”

Hearing his question, Alcain smiled.

“I’m different from you, I don’t have any interest in murdering children, and also, I’m not interested in leaving a child on the brink of death. Despite my appearance, I’m a gentleman.”

Helmbekt retorted unhappily.

“You really know how to bullshit. If a distasteful fellow like you counts as a gentleman, then those wild cats must be royalty and nobility.”

“You’re not wrong. Wild cats are unexpectedly noble. Their manner of survival in comparison to the thug that turned to the Magic Race, and does bad things depending on his boss’s mood, is far closer to nobles.”

As Helmbekt listened to Alcain’s mockery, his eyes were filled with blood.

Alcain smiled like he enjoyed this bickering.

“You are still so narrow minded. Ever since you lost that magic tool, you could no longer fight against us as normal, yet you are still trying to obstruct me —— Do you want to waste those nine cat lives?”

“You’re so boring, you’re still so childlike even when conversing with a cat. Cats only have one life.”

Seeing the snickering Alcain, Helmbekt became even more agitated.

“Just a cat had caused us to suffer so much——! Since you are here, then I’ll say it now. Appear immediately and see how I chop you up and feed you to the birds!”

Although the words were very lame, the feelings behind it were real. From another perspective, this also revealed his fear of Alcain.

Alcain casually raised a paw.

“Never mind, the current me cannot fight against you guys. But, since that child is caught, I cannot not do anything. Then, shall we make a deal? Helmbekt·Souleater——” (Note: The middle name is written in English in the raws)

Selo noticed Helmbekt’s middle name was different to what he had heard. It seems like him as a member of the Magic Race and him as a Magic Knight, had different names.

“Deal? A despicable cat like you, would ——“

Alcain’s figure that was reflected in the rays of light smiled slightly.

“The ‘Ring of Backflow’ —— Ahh, this is a very interesting magic tool right?”

Hearing Alcain making fun of him, Helmbekt’s body stiffened.

Within the light, Alcain’s gaze moved away. His gaze moved to “something that should not exist”, attracting Helmbekt’s attention.

“Alcain… Where did you get that?”

Seeing the fazed Helmbekt, the black cat sorcerer showed a mischievous expression.

“Didn’t you remember that the now deceased Zerdonato-san and I are both people of the Fandal faction? There are many hiding methods that only we would know. It didn’t take too long to find. Although I did doubt its existence —— But, it seems like it succeeded, even I’m shocked.”

Saying this, Alcain showed off the thin silver bracelet in his hands.

(It really… exists.)

Selo was also very surprised. Alcain had clearly said to him, that it is “a delusion that cannot exist”.

Helmbekt scowled.

Yet Alcain revealed a soft smile towards him.

“I know you really want this, but it is not the type of magic tool I like. If you want it, then I’ll give it to you. Of course, I won’t easily give it over directly.”

Alcain raised his paw and waved the bracelet around, then winked.

“—— Then, Helmbekt. Let’s make a deal? You have three choices.

One, forcefully take it from me.

Two, give up on getting this magic tool.

Three, obtain it through a deal with me.

—— You know I would suggest you choose the third option right? But, from my perspective, it’s better for you to run away.”

“… Tell me the contents of the deal.”

The long silence implied that Helmbekt had in internal conflict.

Seeing Helmbekt’s serious expression, the black cat’s smile became even more carefree.

“My condition is for you to retreat from here. Don’t harm Selo, Fino, the people in the mansion or the people in town. Just leave like that. In return, I will hand this ‘Ring of Backflow’ to you. Although it is a rare magic tool, but you know what my affinity is.”

Helmbekt wailed like a wild beast.

“The method of exchange?”

“Ah yes. I want to prevent any commotion in the town as much as possible, so move to the southern plains first. Then, I will hide the Ring of Backflow somewhere outside town, then use that rock to tell you the location of it. After you retrieve it, then it is all over. It’s a pretty sweet deal right?”

Helmbekt laughed coldly.

“No way. After we leave town, you will just run away with it.”

Although sweat had appeared on his forehead, his thoughts were still calm.

Alcain squinted his eyes into a single line.

“No, you guys possess combat power. If I don’t hand the magic tool over, you will attack the town right? I don’t want that to happen. But, as long as you achieve your purpose, you don’t need to stay here anymore. In simpler terms, I don’t want you to cause any trouble here. So, I think it is fine to hand the Ring of Backflow over. If you need time to consider, then contact me later.”

Helmbekt didn’t reply and only silently pondered.

He solemnly looked at Elsie, then allowed Selo to stand.

Just at this moment, perhaps hearing Helmbekt’s loud voice from earlier, the footsteps of servants could be heard from the corridor.

“What happened! Are there intruders again…”

That was the servant with a great relationship with Fino —— Kardena’s voice.

Selo couldn’t help but yell.

“Kardena-san, don’t come over!”

“…Alcain, that is my reply.”

Selo’s low yell overlapped with Helmbekt’s speech.

As the door opened, the youth knight gave Elsie a cue.

The girl that came out from the bed wielded her large scythe.

In front of Selo, whose head had turned around, Kardena was standing in shock at the door.

Selo immediately leaped towards her side.

After thinking about it, his body moved on its own.

To protect Kardena from the giant scythe Elsie was wielding ——

A thought flashed across his mind, and so he pushed her onto the other side of the corridor.

A gust of wind blew past his head.

The maid saw Selo who was lying on top of her body, and widened her eyes.

“Se-Selo!? You’re alright…!”

“Kardena-san, run! Quickly…!”

The cold blade’s edge was on his neck.

Kardena, who was underneath Selo, held her breath.

Selo also realized his position and froze.

Elsie’s giant scythe didn’t move.

She used one hand to organize her messy hair and said.

“… I’m very sorry, Helmbekt-sama. Should I kill him this time?”

Helmbekt let out another sigh.

“I didn’t think he was this fast —— Just leave it at that, Elsie. We have to prove our goodwill —— right, Alcain?”

  

Helmbekt looked towards the rock with a faint smile.

From where Selo was, he was unable to see Alcain’s expression, but his silence seemed to be worrisome.

Helmbekt seemed to be very happy.

“I have seen through you. Telling us to move, wasn’t to ensure their safety, but to buy time right? Who’s going to let you have “time to call your companions”. We must resolve this before tomorrow morning ——”

Hearing Alcain’s thoughts getting seen through, Selo clenched his teeth.

That sorcerer with a cat’s form said, “fighting alone would be difficult”. If he could delay the trade for several days, his companions should be able to make it in time. Because he moved on his own whim, Alcain’s plans were ruined.

Helmbekt smiled sickly, he walked over one step at a time and grabbed Selo’s hair from above.

Then, he pushed Selo who had knitted his eyebrows in pain beside the rock.

“Listen up, there are plenty of hostages to kill in the city. Alcain, come over immediately! After one hour, I will start killing the people in the mansion one by one. If you bring the “Ring of Backflow”, I will not raise a hand against the people in town, and I will even let you go. Bring that magic tool over —— Now!”

Helmbekt no longer tried to dampen his echoing voice in the mansion, and laughed loudly.

The rock let out a faint glow, Alcain squinted his golden eyes.

“——Then, I will be there in an hour. Don’t regret this, Helmbekt.”

Alcain’s voice contained no emotions, causing even Selo that was listening on the side to shudder.

The Magic tool —— Resonating Rock lost its glow, and the figure of the black cat also disappeared.

Ending the conversation, Helmbekt pushed Selo to the side and loomed over Kardena.

The maid Kardena seemed to tremble in fear at this sudden incident, and could not let out any sound normally.

Even so, she still forced herself to sit up straight, and lightly asked.

“You, you guys —— What are you doing, why…”

Helmbekt and co. who was supposed to be with the Royal Knights nearly killed her —— Kardena seemed to be in chaos due to this irregular incident.

Selo was also tricked by them last night, and nearly died, so he could understand Kardena’s feelings.

Elsie’s scythe lightly waved for a moment, and Selo once again stood in front of Kardena.

“…Alcain will be here in an hour. Then, please don’t raise a hand against her.”

Helmbekt smiled.

“Is that so. Although young, he’s quite brave. Alcain must have seen this in you. Or is it after nearing dying once, you made some sort of weird resolution?”

Helmbekt joyfully said, and reached his hand into his pocket.

He took out Selo’s grandfather’s remnant that was originally placed in his home ——the “Black Rock”.

The first time Selo met Helmbekt, he was very focused on this magic tool. It seems like after Selo left, he stole it.

Although he didn’t know what magic tool it was, it might be a very precious item.

Noticing Selo’s expression full of hatred, Helmbekt showed a satisfied expression.

“Although I hate that distasteful cat —— But, I don’t hate an honest kid like you. Because there is no worry of being tricked. I will let you live on, as long as Alcain fulfills his promise —— But, I don’t think that cat will fulfill our promise.”

“… This is because the Magic Race are evil people?”

Selo deliberately said so. This is because he felt a sense of danger, if he didn’t attract Helmbekt and co.’s attention from Kardena to himself, they might kill her while chatting.

Helmbekt didn’t value anyone else’s lives. They would be allowed to live if they had any use, those that obstruct him will be killed —— That was his way of survival.

Helmbekt didn’t scowl at these words, instead, he became more happy.

“It is exactly so. But, those that would make deals with these evil people, are also extremely evil people. It’s only that, that fellow was unable to become a completely evil person, so we took his place.”

Helmbekt tied up Selo and Kardena’s arm and ordered his lieutenant.

“Elsie, call the knight squadron over. Alcain will be here in an hour. He is different from those guys from before, you cannot afford to let down your guard against this cat. This time —— This time, I must kill him.”

Selo quietly asked Helmbekt that revealed his bloodlust.

“What is the conflict between you and Alcain?”

“… I have no reason to tell you.”

Helmbekt answered coldly, and Selo wasn’t sure of what to say after that.

It seems like to this man, Helmbekt, talking about that memory was forbidden.

“Elsie, this fellow is the best hostage to use against Alcain. Move this servant in another room like the others.

Lieutenant Elsie nodded, and retracted her giant scythe temporarily. She hung the magic tool-turned jewel in front of her chest, and used her ice cold hands to caress Selo’s face.

She whispered beside the ears of the trembling Selo.

“Such a pretty boy —— Helmbekt-sama, can you leave this kid to me? I want to gift him to Lunastia-sama as a local product.”

“… Ah? Lo-local product as in ——“

Selo stood up frantically, and Helmbekt turned his body back in interest.

“After using him as a hostage for Alcain, do whatever you want. Especially since this guy doesn’t have any use.”

“Yes, thank you.”

Elsie lightly placed Selo on her shoulder. Her strength in no way reminded you of a frail young girl.

Because his limbs were tied causing him to unable to resist, Selo clenched his teeth.

After that, Elsie used another shoulder to carry Kardena.

“Se-Selo… This…”

Selo looked over at the terrified Kardena.

“Please honestly obey their orders for now, Kardena-san. If chaos arose… It would be dangerous.”

Kardena held her breath and nodded.

Elsie carried the two people, and followed behind Helmbekt.

They passed through the long corridor under the moonlight, towards the staircase.

“Hembekt-sama. What should we do about Ordoba? He is also a sorcerer. To prevent him from fighting together with Alcain, we should take this chance and seal his actions ——“

“Yes —— But, he seemed to have taken the initiative to come over.

Hearing Helmbekt’s words, Selo and Kardena were shocked.

“… Ordoba-sama!”

Just as Helmbekt had said, Ordoba alone was standing in the living room at the bottom of the staircase.

He wasn’t wearing pajamas, his tall stature was cladded with a purple robe befitting that of a noble sorcerer.

“Isn’t this Helmbekt-san—— It’s the middle of the night, why are you so loud?”

His voice was sullen.

Ordoba seemed to have noticed Selo and Kardena’s existence, his tone clearly indicated that he had already treated Helmbekt and co. as the “enemy”.

“Ordoba-sama! Please run away! These people aren’t normal sorcerers…”

Hearing Selo’s scream, Ordoba’s gaze sharpened.

“I heard your conversation upstairs. Originally it was for Fino’s safety, I didn’t think an incident would occur.”

Perhaps surprised about the foolish behaviour of the knights, Ordoba let out a long sigh.

Helmbekt and co. only stood on the staircase looking at Ordoba.

He had no intention of finding an excuse and an expression belittling Ordodo was shown on his face.

Helmbekt used a sullen gaze to cast an angry at them.

“… Helmbekt-san, I had wanted to persuade you to leave —— However, it seems like I don’t have the ability to discern people. But ——!”

Ordoba clenched two sticks whose ends were like dog heads in his hands.

This was the magic tool that he was most proficient at, and was also the “Mist Hounds” that Zerdona had specially made for his employer —— Ordoba held the most famous weapon in the town and put on the posture of a warrior.

“In this mansion, illegal actions are not permitted. Helmbekt-san, if you don’t want to get hurt, then please give up.”

Due to Ordoba’s tall stature, he showed a lot of authority.

“Since it has come to this, then it can’t be helped —— Elsie, be his opponent.”

Helmbekt ordered.

Selo predicted the reason he told the lieutenant to fight.

This was within the mansion, where there was no “soil”. He guessed that Helmbekt’s magic tool that created soil dolls could only be used where there was soil.

The black haired girl placed Selo and Kardena onto the floor, and jumped down from the stairs quickly.

The jewel in her hands released a glow, and instantly transformed into a giant scythe.

The sharp edge of the “Scythe of the Thunder Beasts” was aimed carefully at Ordoba.

Ordoba squinted his eyes, and knocked the sticks in his hands together.

“It’s hunting time, ⌈Mist Hounds⌋!”

After the command to activate its effect resounded, white mist blew out with an unbelievable speed from the dog heads on the ends of the sticks.

The mist became two wild beasts, and attacked the girl that jumped down from the stairs.

Elsie waved her scythe, but because her opponent was mist without a solid form, the blade cleanly passed through.

At the same time, the sharp claws of the mist beasts tore her clothes.

Selo, who was lying on the floor, was very surprised.

Able to nullify their opponent’s attack, and could still hit the opponent with their own —— Possessing such a good magic tool, it wasn’t surprising for Ordoba to show such confidence. Although it was the magic tool made by his own grandfather, in this peaceful town of Misthound, it was the first time he saw the “Mist Hounds” used in combat.

It seemed like it was also Kardena’s first time seeing her master’s weapon, her eyes opened wide.

The body was the hounds were just white mist, but the mouth, teeth, and limbs were very real, from the first glance it looked like it existed for combat.

Seeing this unexpected ambush, Helmbekt cursed under his breath.

This way, Elsie could only fight as she retreated. The two beasts chased after the fleeing girl.

Ordoba once again knocked the sticks together.

As if stimulated, the wild beasts became even more ferocious.

“Did you look down on nobility that was sent to the countryside? What a shame, the thing I have most is time. I never slacked off from research and practice of the magic tools.”

“So that’s why —— It really was a pity to leave such talent and magic tool in the countryside.”

Helmbekt murmured as if understanding something.

During the battle, he politely lowered his head to Ordoba from the staircase.

“… Then how about this, Ordoba-sama. If you become our companion, then we’ll help you get into the research institute in the royal capital.”

“What nonsense are you spouting, you are only fakes using the name of the Magic Knight Squadron. Didn’t you say things like ‘Magic Race’ before ——“

Helmbekt smiled.

Selo also noticed Ordoba’s misunderstanding.

It seems like Ordoba only heard the conversation just now, and did not know about the Nelfowl royal family being replaced by the Magic Race.

If he found out that Helmbekt and the rest were the real “Royal Magic Knight Squadron” ——

“We are the real Magic Knight Squadron. The Nelfowl royal family is now in alliance with the Magic Race.”

Hearing this, the actions of the Mist Hounds slowed.

After that, Helmbekt used his silver tongue to sway Ordoba’s confused heart.

“There is no advantage to us fighting. Opposing us right now, is equivalent to opposing the royal family’s decisions. If you want to keep your position as a noble, then you should ally yourself with us.”

“Royal family and the Magic Race…? How am I supposed to believe that ——“

Saying this, the Mist Hounds stopped their movements in conjunction with Ordoba.

Then, Helmbekt immediately said.

“This is the truth. If you want to remain loyal to the royal family, then the action you should take is obvious —— Don’t continue to fight against us, and become one of us.”

Selo already noticed, Helmbekt’s act of showing honestly is only a trick. But, looking at it from Ordoba’s perspective, it was understandable that his heart started to waver.

If the royal family and the Magic Race were truly allies, then resisting Helmbekt and co. would lead to danger for Ordoba’s positon as a ‘Noble’.

Selo, who served the nobles, could understand his feelings.

—— He didn’t plan to blame Ordoba from stopping his attacks. Their most important things were different depending on the people.

Ordoba knitted his eyebrows, and suddenly laughed.

“… Is that so —— If it is true, then the action I should take is obvious.”

—— As long as Ordoba retracted his weapons, his life could be spared. Thinking that this was the best course of action, Selo closed his eyes.

But, Selo was wrong.

Clang, clang… A loud sound was heard form the magic tool “Mist Hounds” in Ordoba’s hands.

The two wild beasts that stopped moving growled.

Helmbekt was really angry, Ordoba looked up at him solemnly said.

“—— You seem to have a misunderstanding about nobles and the royal family. When the king loses his rights to be king —— The nobles had the responsibility to uphold what is right, and not just blindly follow orders. Although we are in the same boat, us nobles are not the subordinates of the royal family. It doesn’t matter how our strengths waver, it doesn’t matter as time moves forward, those that forgot about this pride, has no right to be nobles. Remember this, brat ——!”

His unexpected actions shocked Selo. Kardena also held her breath and watched her master’s movements.

Helmbekt let out another exaggerated sigh.

“… Such foolishness. If you wanted to live a good life, then you should choose a long lasting method.”

“I won’t refute this. If my personality could be a little more smooth, then I wouldn’t have been transferred to this kind of rural area to become the mayor.”

Ordoba lightly smiled, and continued to hit the sticks together. As the sound vibrated through the air, the Mist Hounds also became full of energy.

“Right now, I’m only going to do what I can do, and that is to capture you who tried to harm my retainers, then hand you over to the jurisdiction. If they let you go without punishment, then I have no reason to continue being loyal to these corrupt royals. Whether what you say is true or false, let us use this method to find out —— Okay, the hunting starts once more.”

Having receiving Ordoba’s orders, the two Mist Hounds once against started running.

Elsie dodged the hounds’ attack and continued to agilely retreat.

Her back was stuck against the wall.

“Pincer attack!”

Ordoba shouted. After that, Elsie who had reorganised her condition waved her scythe.

“O brave Thunder God Nemuare, please aid your humble servant——“

She chanted in a priestess-like voice, and wild beasts Selo had saw at the flower field rushed onto the surface of the scythe.

The thunder shaped wild beasts and the Mist Hounds were entangled together.

Neither had a solid shape, and couldn’t attack each other, so it looked like they were entangled together. He had thought that they would pass through each other, but electricity and water seemed to be affecting each other.

The moment the Mist hounds were entangled, several more wild beasts appeared from the giant scythe.

These beasts were different from the hounds and could fly in the air.

“This isn’t good! Come back!”

Ordoba knocked the sticks together. As the loud sound rang out, the hounds turned around, but it was already too late.

The thunder beasts had already arrived in fornt of Ordoba like arrows.

The wild beasts bit onto Ordoba’s thick arm.

Feeling the impact of the sudden shock, Ordoba widened his eyes. The sound of static electricity could be heard in the air, and Ordoba shouted afterwards.

“Ugh!?”

With a scream of pain, his giant body jolted up, and the sticks in his hand fell onto the floor.

After that, Ordoba fell onto the floor with a puff of dust and stopped moving.

“Director-sama!”

Kardena let out a sad wail beside Selo.

Losing their master, the “Mist Hounds” dissipated like mist.

Selo stared at his employer, and clenched his teeth.

The place bitten by the thunder beasts didn’t bleed, nor did his clothes tear. But, the moment he was bit by the beasts, a surge of electricity coursed through Ordoba’s large body.

Elsie took away his magic tool from the fallen Ordoba’s side.

Grandfather’s work “Mist Hounds” was also in Helmbekt’s hands now.

Beside Selo who was trembling due to the unwillingness of resigning, the young knight faintly smiled.

“… It is a pretty good magic tool. Local products increased again. The two hounds that this man controlled was probably the limit —— But, if it was used by us, probably ten could come out. These type of magic tools that requires skill to use, we must spend some time practicing with it, so we can’t use it immediately.”

Helmbekt said happily, and looked down at Selo.

“—— It’s not bad being a member of the Magic Race, boy. You seemed to be bad at using magic tools, if you turned into a member of the Magic Race, then you might be able to use it.”

Selo glared at him angrily. Becoming Helmbekt’s companion? What a joke.

He didn’t want to become whatever a Magic Race was, but Helmbekt’s words caught his attention.

“Turning into a member of the Magic Race… What do you need to do, to become that?”

A smile surfaced on Helmbekt’s face.

“—— Accept the Baptism. That’s all.”

Selo who gazed up at him trembled even more due to his expression.

To obtain a strong power, one must give up something important —— He had a seemingly crazy smile like this.

Helmbekt was smiling.

As if there was nothing more ridiculous than this; looking down on everyone else, but it was a ridiculous smile that seemed pitiful in other people’s eyes.

Carrying Selo and Kardena, Lieutenant Elsie looked over at Helmbekt coldly, then started walking uncaringly.

He couldn’t understand this female lieutenant either.

Although she wasn’t so hateful like Helmbekt, she gave people a feeling of emptiness, and this made her very weird.

“You… Are you also a member of the Magic Race?”

Hearing Selo, who was being carried on her shoulders, ask this, the girl didn’t agree nor deny, she only showed an ambiguous smile——

Then she caressed Selo’s cheek once more.


4-4

In the pitch dark forest, Fino’s Celestial Wooden Horse was gliding along like it was sprinting.

(Selo… Selo…)

She called out the youth’s name in her heart, and frantically looked around.

From when she had left home to find Selo, a long time had passed —— But she didn’t know exactly how long ago.

Perhaps it was a long time, but she also felt that it was really short, she even thought that no time had passed.

She often had hallucinations about Selo standing safely in the darkness, the place would be empty when she got closer, and then she when she looked into the darkness once more, a hallucination of him would be there —— The repeated cycle cause her mind to tire.

“Selo! If you can hear me, then answer!”

In the forest at night, Fino’s hoarse voice rang out. Her voice was almost a wail, and it echoed endlessly in the forest.

Then, replying to Fino’s scream, wasn’t Selo, but another existence.

“—— Ojou, excuse me.”

The bright voice above her head scared Fino, she hurriedly stopped the wooden horse.

When she turned around, she saw a black figure jump down.

Underneath the lighting of the light magic tool in Fino’s hands —— the “Light of the Night”, stood a black cat.

It was a prideful cat, with beautiful fur, his golden pupils contained a mysterious light.

He was wearing a feathered hat, a short sword was adorned on his waist, and he wore military boots as well as a black coat, which made his figure seemed like human.

Meeting with the resolute gaze of his golden eyes, Fino shook in surprise.

“… Were you the one who just talked?”

The cat standing on its hind legs slowly nodded.

“En, it was me. You are Fino right?”

“… En. Yes I am… But, this is bad. It is my first time meeting a hallucination and hearing it speak, what should I do?”

Fino asked confusedly as she got down from the wooden horse.

She had read from books that there were wild beasts that could understand human speech, and there really seemed to be this kind of wild beasts far away. But, a talking cat seemed to only exist in fairy tales.

Fino thought she had fallen asleep and was in the land of dreams.

The cat smiled.

“Since you are in the land of hallucinations, then are you willing to trust an unknown cat? Although I say that, but this isn’t your hallucination. Selo is in danger, he needs your help.”

Hearing this name, Fino leaped towards the black cat.

“You know Selo!? Where is he——!”

She grabbed the cat’s paws and raised him from the ground.

The black cat’s soft body was stretched out, and he squinted his eyes.

The black cat revealed a confused expression and used her paws to lightly tap on Fino’s arms.

“Ahh~ Calm down a bit, calm down a bit. Also, this is very uncomfortable, you should be more careful. Suddenly raising an unknown cat up is also against common etiquette…”

“This type of things doesn’t matter! Where is Selo!? Is he alright!?”

Fino shook the black cat’s body and continued to ask.

The unique cat cried out in pain.

“Uwhh, very… very painful…!”

“Ah, I’m sorry.”

Fino quickly stopped and let him back down. She finally got information on Selo, she was just scared of missing this opportunity.

The black cat awkwardly shook its head and let out a long sigh.

“…. What an impatient child. Never mind that, we really don’t have much time… Selo is fine. At least for now.”

“Really!?”

Fino, who had already imagined the worst scenario calm down temporarily. But, the black cat had said “at least for now”, triggered her unease.

The cat pointed towards the wooden horse.

“I won’t run, I hope you can let me ride on the wooden horse, and take me to town. I will tell you the details on the way.”

“But, Selo he…”

Towards the emotional Fino, the cat squinted an eye.

“Selo was caught by bad guys when he was trying to find you. He is in the Doriarudo mansion right now. Now, I must go and save him ——“

Hearing this, Fino widened her eyes.

“How! Then we missed each other…”

As if trying to calm her down, the black cat lightly chuckled.

“Isn’t the relationship between humans just like that. Precisely because of this, the joy of seeing each other would increase. Okay, now, let’s get going. That fellow Helmbekt is already mad. You’re also a sorcerer right? I hope you will also help.”

The cat that was placed back onto the floor fluttered its cloak and jumped up onto the back of the wooden horse.

“Helmbekt, is it that guy from the Magic Knight Squadron…?”

The black cat nodded on the back of the wooden horse.

“His real identity is one of the “Magic Race”. He has targeted Zerdonato-san’s magic tools, and wants to kill Selo. It was I who saved Selo. After you left, Selo and the people at the mansion were captured as hostages, they want to lure me out ——“

Hearing this unexpected turn of events, Fino was shocked.

She was already vigilant of Helmbekt, but what the black cat had said far surpassed her imagination.

“I’ll save the details when we’re on our way. If we don’t get there in thirty minutes, he will kill a person. Especially because that man —— has deteriorated.”

Fino hesitated for a moment, but still chose to believe his words.

The black cat’s golden eyes held a rational sage-like aura. At least she didn’t feel the same disgust that she felt towards Helmbekt.

Holding the soft black cat, Fino rode behind his back.

She immediately allowed the Celestial Wooden Horse to fly, then accelerate towards the city.

The breeze fluttered her hair, and Fino asked by the black cat’s ear.

“You know Selo?”

“En, I just met him yesterday —— I am Alcain·Darkferido·Lomnalius. I became like this under special circumstances, I am also a sorcerer. Please take care of me.”

His turned face was very friendly, yet also possessed a noble aura that made him seem hard to approach.

Fino returned a greeting to the cat named Alcain, and also said her name.

I am Firiano·Misthound·Doriarudo. Since my name is too long, please call me Fino. You said you saved Selo… Is that true?”

“En. I saved him when he was pushed down a cliff. But, despite how hard it was to save his life, he still wanted to go to somewhere dangerous. It seems like you are very important to him.”

Hearing Alcain’s teasing words, Fino forgot about the situation, and her cheeks turned a peach red colour.

“Did Selo say anything about me?”

“I didn’t hear about anything special. But when I advised him to run away, he said ‘I can’t leave Fino behind’ and ran back, that’s why he got caught by those fellows. Originally I thought he could succeed, but I was too naïve. Helmbekt may not be as foolish as I imagined.”

Alcain murmured like he was reflecting, and turned his back towards Fino.

“I also have some responsibility. Fino, I leave protecting Selo to you. I will get those people’s attention, then take him and run. But, it would be good if you can release the people in the mansion as well.”

Towards his determined words, Fino was very surprised.

“Wait. You can’t be planning to fight those people of the Magic Knights alone? Although it is just a squadron, they are real magic knights right?”

Alcain showed a slight smile.

“I don’t plan to fight with them till the end. When you and Selo escape, I will also retreat. Only ——“

A small light flashed across the black cat’s eye.

“… No matter what, I will get rid of Helmbekt. As long as I defeat the commander, they will be unable to return to Lonbordo.”

Boldness could be felt from his voice, and a sense of inexplicable unease jolted through Fino’s body.

She was worried that if Selo and herself had brought the black cat they just met a whole lot of trouble.

As if seeing past her thoughts, Alcain showed her a warm smile.

“I have to bear the responsibility for letting Helmbekt go. Also, Selo is Zerdonato-san’s grandson. I visited here under such conditions, might be due to the deceased Zerdonato-san’s guidance.”

“You know Selo’s grandfather?”

Although Fino didn’t know the black cat’s age, Selo’s grandfather passed away three years ago, and he had lived a secluded life before. If they knew each other, then that means this cat was far older than his appearance showed.

Alcain squinted his pondering eyes, and shook his head.

“We never met. He seemed to be my master’s old friend. I didn’t know that Zerdonato-san had passed away, and wanted him to tell me something, that’s why I came here…”

“Who is your master?”

“En.”

Alcain lightly smiled.

“‘Majin’ Fandal —— One of the Six Sages.”

Hearing the name he said, Fino was shocked.

Just last night, she had heard this name from Helmbekt.

When they were eating dinner, Helmbekt had mentioned the disappearance of the ‘Majin’ leisurely with laughter.

Fino quickly asked.

“Ne, is the disappearance of Fandal-sama true? When I was a young kid, Fandal-sama helped me…”

“Oh, you met master? That is rare. Master usually wouldn’t get involved with people from the outside world.”

Hearing his thoughts, Alcain took a deep sigh.

“… As opposed to disappearing, it should be said that his location is unknown. Did Helmbekt tell you this?”

“En, but he said that it is only a rumour…”

“We are already setting off to find master’s location. Helmbekt and them should be in the same boat as us, and are searching for Fandal-sama. Ah, a lot of things happened after all.”

Speaking to this point, Alcain’s eyes revealed signs of loneliness. Fino didn’t continue this topic.



References

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