“Queen Noel…?” (Makoto)
A dark and gloomy underground prison.
The one there was the Sun Country’s queen.
Why is she at a place like this…? -before I could even think about it, the alarm of Detection rang.
There’s two guards in front of the cell where Queen Noel is in.
I hurriedly hid my presence.
That said, both seem to not have that much drive, looking absentminded, so they haven’t noticed us who are a few ways away.
“Are you not going to run away quickly, Master?” (Tsui)
Tsui looked here and asked me in wonder.
“Let’s save Queen Noel. Please help me out here, Black Cat.” (Makoto)
“Isn’t she the woman that Princess Furiae-sama hates?” (Tsui)
“She is the wife of my friend. I can’t abandon her. My Spirit Magic has too much firepower and the Great Water Spirits are currently in bad condition, so it is hard to seek their help. Any good options?” (Makoto)
“I see… So you would even ask for the help of a cat, huh, Master. Fufu, no choice then.” (Tsui)
“…Yeah, that helps out.” (Makoto)
Even though he is my familiar. Is he really a cat?
He is so human when I talk to him to the point that I feel as if it is the reincarnation of someone.
While I was thinking that, the black cat cried ‘nyao’ cutely as he approached the cell where Queen Noel is in.
Looks like the guards have noticed.
“What’s with this cat? Did it wander in here?”
“How pitiful. The underground prison is made like a labyrinth after all.”
“Oh, this guy doesn’t dislike it even when you try to pet it.”
“Must be used to human hands. Is it a house cat?”
“I will lead it to the surface.”
One of the guards seemed to be a cat-lover, he extended his hand to the black cat and held it up in his arm.
The next instant, the eyes of the black cat shine.
“Moon Magic: [Sleep Curse].” (Tsui)
The two guards were caught off-guard, hit by the spell of the black cat, and collapsed in place.
And soon after, snoring could be heard.
I slowly approach Tsui in a way that doesn’t make any sound.
“When did you learn a spell like that?” (Makoto)
“Princess Furiae-sama taught me.” (Tsui)
He answered my question as if nothing and grooms himself.
What are you teaching him, Furiae-san?
But it helped me out here.
Queen Noel is sprawled lifelessly inside the cell and doesn’t notice me.
I thought that maybe she was sleeping, but she must have noticed my presence, her head shot up.
I put a finger on my mouth to signal her to not raise her voice.
“…How did you get here?” (Noel)
“I had my familiar save me. I found you by coincidence.” (Makoto)
The black cat cries as if answering.
“Oh my, what a cute familiar-san.” (Noel)
“Let’s get out of the cell for now.” (Makoto)
I say this and take out the dagger of Noah-sama.
There was a magic lock that released sinister mana on the door of the cell.
“Makoto-sama…this cell has been locked with a specially tight barrier spell. If you don’t have a mage that can use barrier magic at a higher rank than monarch…” (Noel)
Queen Noel was trying to explain something to me, but I swung the dagger.
That kind of sound was made and the magic lock was split clean in two.
I look down at the shocked face of Queen Noel as I slowly open the door of the prison cell.
It must be maintained, the door didn’t make much of a sound as it opened.
“U-Uhm…how did you do that just now…?” (Noel)
“Let’s leave the details for later. Can you stand up?” (Makoto)
“Yes, but I can’t leave this place. Please look at my legs. I can’t run away because I am connected with the Chains of the Land. This magic chain cannot be cut without a Holy Sword class weapo—” (Noel)
I cut off the chains that were tying the legs of Queen Noel.
Queen Noel freezes while letting out a dumbfounded voice and showing a face a queen shouldn’t be making.
“Now, let’s get out of here.” (Makoto)
“N-No no no no no! Makoto-sama?! How did you do that?!” (Noel)
“I will explain on the way.” (Makoto)
Queen Noel is making an unconvinced face here, but she is obediently following me.
“As expected of the sacred treasure of Master which cut the Chains of Heavens into pieces. National treasure magic tools are like toys.” (Tsui)
“The Chains of Heavens into pieces?! Wait, the cat is talking?!” (Noel)
Queen Noel’s eyes were darting around as if she was panicking here.
Or more like, what is this guy doing?
I told you that was a secret.
“Oi, Tsui.” (Makoto)
“…Sorry, Master, my tongue slipped.” (Tsui)
Even if you apologize with a praiseworthy expression, it is already too late, you know.
“Queen Noel, please don’t take the jokes of a cat seriously.” (Makoto)
“Uhm…your cat familiar-san here is speaking quite fluently. Also, I heard that one of the highest ranked artifacts of the Sun Country, the Chains of Heavens, has been cut to pieces…” (Noel)
“Hahaha, no way that’s possible.” (Makoto)
I feel cold sweat running down my back.
“…You easily cut the Chains of the Land just before, right?” (Noel)
“Now, let’s escape from here first!” (Makoto)
I forcefully changed the topic.
He may have saved me, but it seems like I need to have a talk with Tsui later.
Us 3 continued onward in this dark underground labyrinth.
The guide is the black cat.
We continue deeper and deeper inside the labyrinth prison that feels endless.
The light of the candles illuminated the ground.
Only our footsteps resonated for a while.
“It is here, Master. We can get to the 9th District with Shadow Magic: Shadow Walk.” (Tsui)
Saying this, the black cat jumped inside the black hole that appeared in the air.
“Queen Noel, go ahead first. There should be no danger.” (Makoto)
Queen Noel nervously entered the black hole of the shadow walk.
I followed after.
It turned pitch black for a second.
The next instant, the dim light of the sun entered my eyes.
“This is…?” (Makoto)
“Looks like a vacant house.” (Noel)
Queen Noel was covering her mouth with a handkerchief.
It must be because of how dusty it is.
It is the inside of a deserted house as if it had been several years since people stopped living in it.
“Now then, I would like to move somewhere else, but…” (Makoto)
I look at the attire of Queen Noel.
Maybe because she had been in prison for long, it is slightly messy, but it is a flashy dress that draws attention.
If she walked in the city with that attire, she would be instantly found out as the queen.
Looks like Queen Noel has noticed my gaze too.
“I am sorry, Makoto-sama. I have not brought a change of clothes…” (Noel)
“It can’t be helped. Tsui, can you help get a change of clothes for Queen Noel?” (Makoto)
“You are one cat slave driver, Master… Please wait for a bit.” (Tsui)
Saying this…he disappeared inside the shadow.
“Let’s wait. A place where we can sit… Here, I guess… Water Magic: [Water Wash].” (Makoto)
I searched for a chair that we could sit on and wash it with water magic.
“Go ahead.” (Makoto)
“Thank you very much.” (Noel)
Queen Noel obediently accepts my offer.
I sat on the ground close to her.
At the time when I was choosing my words for what to ask…
“…How much of the current situation are you aware of, Makoto-sama?” (Noel)
She asked first.
“Uhm, after I was knocked out by the Devil King, I woke up in a room at the castle and…” (Makoto)
I explained what happened in these few days.
And then, Queen Noel told me what happened but, unfortunately, there wasn’t much difference in the information we both had.
“I see. So we don’t know what happened after the ceremony.” (Makoto)
It seems like she was imprisoned the whole time just like me.
“All of my acquaintances have been Charmed by the Calamity Witch. Even Lucy, Sa-san, and Princess Sofia…” (Makoto)
“Yes…same here. Ryosuke-san and even the Great Sage-sama…” (Noel)
“So you met Sakurai-kun and Momo.” (Makoto)
I let out a sigh of relief.
I managed to confirm the safety of the two who I haven’t seen.
“But…even when Ryosuke-san saw my state, he didn’t say anything…and it seemed like he didn’t even know who I was.” (Noel)
Queen Noel’s expression was dark.
“That’s strange… The Light Hero shouldn’t be affected by Charms…” (Makoto)
The light of the sun is coming in from the window of the vacant house.
It is different from 1,000 years ago where the Pitch Black Clouds covered the sky.
Also, even Momo who is familiar with the Calamity Witch?
“The Calamity Witch is stronger than 1,000 years ago after having received the power of the Great Demon Lord…?” (Makoto)
“…That might be the case.” (Noel)
Silence falls again.
We won’t be getting more information talking here.
There really is no other choice but to go outside and confirm the situation directly.
At that moment…
“Sorry for the wait, Master.” (Tsui)
The black cat had come back at some point in time.
He was holding female clothes in his mouth.
“Queen Noel, can you change by yourself?” (Makoto)
“Yes, of course. I will go change.” (Noel)
“I will be over there.” (Makoto)
“Master, wouldn’t it be bad to go too far away?” (Tsui)
“Makoto-sama, I don’t mind. It is okay to not go.” (Noel)
“…I will face that way then. Please tell me when you are done changing.” (Makoto)
I turn my back towards Queen Noel with uneasy feelings.
I hear the rustling of clothes.
I heard from Princess Sofia that royalty normally doesn’t change their clothes themselves.
She normally would have someone who would help her change.
And so, they don’t mind it much when others see them, but…
(…It is uncomfortable.) (Makoto)
I use Clear Mind and count sheeps.
“Excuse the wait.” (Noel)
Queen Noel spoke.
I slowly turn around.
“How is it? Does it look strange?” (Noel)
“It looks good on you.” (Makoto)
I feel like Sa-san has worn it before -it is the so-called village-girl attire.
It is hard to believe it is the same Queen Noel who always wears fancy dresses fitting of royalty, but it unexpectedly suits her.
“Then, let’s go. Let’s go on paths with as few pedestrians as possible.” (Makoto)
Queen Noel nods nervously.
I slowly open the door of the vacant house.
What spread before us after opening the door was an ‘ashen’ world.
It is as if the roads, sky, buildings; everything had their colors fade away.
“No way… Just what in the world…” (Noel)
Queen Noel covered her mouth as if she was shocked by this.
Everyone would react like that when seeing this for the first time.
But I have seen this sight before.
“It is the same as the Demonic Continent 1,000 years ago.” (Makoto)
“…Makoto-sama, is that true?” (Noel)
“Yes, no doubt about it.” (Makoto)
After saying that, a bad feeling spread in my heart.
At the time when I stepped on the Demonic Continent, the first place I arrived at was a small demon village.
The demons there were weak and were not harmful towards us.
After that, we had a battle against the Demon Lord alliance army, and headed to the capital of the Demonic Continent.
The residents there all had one thing in common.
They were all…Charmed.
And this Sun Country capital is in the exact same state as the Demonic Continent of 1,000 years ago.
“Let’s continue onward carefully.” (Makoto)
“Yes, Makoto-sama.” (Noel)
Of course, I won’t draw hasty conclusions.
I also didn’t say anything that could give Queen Noel unnecessary worries.
…That all the people of the West Continent might be Charmed.
“Over here, Master, Princess Noel.” (Tsui)
In contrast to me and Queen Noel’s gloomy expressions, the black cat’s voice was nonchalant.
That was helping us out right now.
“Tsui, it is Her Majesty, you know?” (Makoto)
“No, I don’t mind. Feel free to call me as you please.” (Noel)
Queen Noel smiles faintly.
We were guided by the black cat and we advanced through a back alley of the 9th District.
I passed by a number of people on the way, but we weren’t called to a stop.
But everyone was Charmed.
My fear was getting even more concrete.
No, we don’t know yet.
More importantly, let’s think about the future.
“Queen Noel, do you have any place we could go after escaping the capital?” (Makoto)
“A bit to the south of the capital, there’s a city of decent size. There’s many Templars stationed there. There’s also the knight order of the Southern Sky, so we should be able to obtain some fighting force. Also, if there’s anyone who can use transmission magic, we can call for reinforcements from other countries.” (Noel)
“Understood. Let’s go with that plan.” (Makoto)
I had no objections with the plan.
What worries me is that we have to find a means of transportation.
It would be nice if we could obtain a carriage or something of the sort, but it would be difficult in the capital.
I tell Queen Noel that.
“Makoto-sama, I can walk. I have even done training at the academy to walk for a whole day.” (Noel)
Queen Noel proposed this with a smile.
Princess Sofia told me this before.
The Oracles of the Goddess Church are made to train their stamina so that they can run on their own strength in the war against the revived Great Demon Lord army.
“T-That’s quite the relieving statement…” (Makoto)
Honestly speaking, I am more worried about my stamina.
I was the one who was pulling the legs of everyone when it came to travelling 1,000 years ago after all.
“Tsui, can you move us to the city with your shadow magic?” (Makoto)
“Unfortunately, Shadow Walk is a spell to move fast inside a city. It is not suitable for long distances, Master.” (Tsui)
The line I was relying on easily died there.
Can’t be helped… Let’s walk…
“Oh, the city gate.” (Makoto)
We have arrived at the edge of the capital.
There’s sentries checking the entry and exit of people at the city gates, and they will demand your identification.
“This is troubling…” (Makoto)
Normally, Queen Noel could pass with just her face alone because she is the top of the Sun Country, but right now we are fugitives.
We must hide our identities.
“Is there anything…?” (Makoto)
I rummaged my stuff to see if I have an adventurer guild ID, and found a silver badge in my pocket.
“That’s…the coat of arms for the royal knights of the Highland ruler.” (Noel)
“We could use this. Please hide your face, Queen Noel.” (Makoto)
It is something I was given to participate in the strategy meeting, but it works just right in this situation.
The post of a royal knight is high, so we shouldn’t be questioned hardly by the sentries.
Queen Noel is in villager clothing, so it should be okay as long as they don’t see our faces.
We joined the line of people who were leaving the capital, and showed the sentry the badge.
As expected, the sentry hurriedly saluted us, and we were allowed to go with almost no check.
We passed through the big gate.
A little ways away from the city gates of Symphonia…
At a place where there were no people around anymore, Queen Noel, the black cat, and I took a breath of relief.
“Successful escape, Master.” (Tsui)
“You saved us there, Tsui. Good work, Queen Noel.” (Makoto)
“Thank you very much, Makoto-sama. But we can’t take it easy. We will be asking for help from here o—” (Noel)
Just when we were having that talk…
“Oh my, oh my, where are you going this late? Did you not like the meal at your room, Apostle-sama?”
An elegant voice called me to a stop.
I hurriedly looked behind me.
There was no one there just a moment ago.
I paid attention to my surroundings with RPG Player.
In other words, the other party used Teleport to move.
In the West Continent, the one user of Teleport is…
“Great Sage-sama…” (Noel)
Queen Noel muttered.
The one who was there was Furiae-san…no, Nevia in the form of Furiae-san.
At her side, the white robed Momo.
“Makoto-sama…my apologies.” (Momo)
Momo apologized with her eyes stained golden.
“It took me time to Charm Momo-chan. I finally managed to have her cooperate.” (Nevia)
The Calamity Witch smiled sweetly.
(…So she knew it all along.) (Makoto)
The ashen world that spreads to the outside of the capital…that is the barrier of the Calamity Witch.
Then, as long as we are inside that, there’s the chance that we are being observed.
It is a big barrier, so I thought that she wouldn’t be able to do any detailed checks though.
“Dia, can you come?” (Makoto)
“Yes, Our King.” (Dia)
I called a Great Water Spirit.
There was a barrier to weaken the power of the Water Spirits in the room I was trapped in.
But it shouldn’t be as potent outside of the capital.
I was right in that assumption.
“Oh my, so you are going to resist. Momo-chan, please do.” (Nevia)
“…Uh, sorry, Makoto-sama.” (Momo)
Momo raises her staff with a sad voice.
Magic circles of many sizes appeared all at once as if surrounding us, and they all shone fiercely.
“Dia, protect Queen Noel!” (Makoto)
“I-I have the ability to protect myself!” (Noel)
We braced ourselves for the attack, but the spell of Momo was not one that aimed to attack us.
Hundreds of undead…past Demon Lords appeared with Teleport as if surrounding us.
There were even familiar faces within those.
There’s also the Devil King who knocked me out.
“Don’t be so on guard. We won’t do anything to you.” (Nevia)
The Calamity Witch had the gall to say that after corralling us with Demon Lords.
“In the first place, where do you even plan to go after leaving the capital?” (Nevia)
We don’t give any answers.
The Calamity Witch showed no sign of being bothered by that.
“Fufufu, you won’t answer me? Then, let me try and guess. Go to a city somewhere and gather forces. Or maybe cross to another country to request their help.” (Nevia)
What she said was exactly what we were trying to do.
Anyone would be able to guess that much.
“But it is impossible.” (Nevia)
“Impossible…as in?” (Noel)
Queen Noel reflexively asked back at the fully confident voice of the Calamity Witch.
The Calamity Witch giggled as if teasing the answer.
“Apostle-sama, don’t you have an idea already? This ‘ashen world’ spell will put all the people here under the Charm of the Moon Oracle. It was the spell of that personage, so it only worked on demons and devilkin 1,000 years ago, but the current Furiae-chan is the Holy Maiden of the Goddess Church. Moreover, the one who built the foundation of the barrier was the Sun Oracle Noel-chan there. Holy God and Devil God; all believers of either side can all be Charmed.” (Nevia)
The Calamity Witch continues speaking dramatically.
Does she have her guard lowered?
But I feel complete confidence in her tone.
“What is the effective range of this spell?” (Makoto)
I act calm as I ask this.
1,000 years ago, she Charmed the whole Northern Continent.
That’s why there’s the chance that, at worst, the whole West Continent has fallen into the hands of the Calamity Witch.
The Calamity Witch grinned with the face of Furiae-san…a grin that Furiae-san would never do.
“Everyone on this planet.” (Nevia)
I couldn’t understand what she said for a second there.
“As I said, no matter where you go, it is impossible to ask for help. Now, let’s return to the castle.” (Nevia)
The Calamity Witch smiled as if announcing her victory.
There were a lot of comments saying ‘it got better!’.
I should retract my statement already…
I said I would finish it this year.
At the speed I am going right now, it might end at around February or May of next year.
I will take my time writing it, okay?