…I mean, what’s up with that?
I’m such a simple person. He was able to save me, with just that one simple statement.
I didn’t say any more than that. There was no need for any more words. Just that warmth was plenty.
I wonder for how long we embraced each other. His grip loosened, and he peered into my face. To be honest, I didn’t want my face, messy and tearful and it was, to be seen, but he didn’t seem to mind, wiping my tears with his finger. He went so far as to kiss it. At that warm sensation, I felt as though my face was aflame.
In stark contrast to the moment I had realized I was lying in the princess’s bed, all of my blood had suddenly rushed to my head. My face was definitely bright red. Seeing this version of me, Edi smiled. His smile made the faint scar under his left eye twitch, but despite that, it was beautiful. It hadn’t changed at all from when we were young, that smile he only showed when I made some sort of mistake. It was that same way of smiling.
I became more and more embarrassed, and unable to put up with being looked at by that face, I hid my own. A chuckling voice reverberated my earlobe. It was completely different from that crying voice. This laugh was comforting, although at this particular moment it was frustrating as hell. Suddenly, it stopped.
「By the way, Filmina.」
That serious tone of voice wouldn’t allow me to avert me gaze. When I looked elsewhere, he moved to face me once again. At his serious expression, which matched his tone of voice, I reflexively adjusted myself in his embrace. I assumed he was going to ask me about the dream. Having those expectations, the question that came out of his mouth threw me for a loop.
「What kind of relationship do you have with Ronein?」
「With Sir Celves?」
I tilted my head, not understanding the question, but Edi knit his eyebrows the moment I mentioned that name. Even though I had just said a name, he had this reaction. At dinner, he had told me not to meet with him anymore, but to think they didn’t get along to this extent.
To be fair, they didn’t look appear to be compatible at all. Even if you say that, the amount of people who could get along with this man were few, so attributing the fault to Sir Celves was perhaps unfair. Or maybe that was just me.
「He previously helped me. Since then, we’ve spoken occasionally.」
What else could I say? To be entirely honest, I gave him a sandwich that one time, but I didn’t think I needed to say that. Not able to understand the meaning behind the question, as if a question mark was floating above my head, I stared at Edi for a little.
He sighed. Then, 「OK then,」he muttered, and embraced me again. It’s not like anyone was watching, so there wasn’t a need to be embarrassed, but I still couldn’t stop from blushing.
「I’m sorry for spoiling the party, but do you mind if I come in now?」
At the sight of the princess, who had opened the door without being noticed, I nearly let out a scream.
「Yes! Of course! Edi, let me go!」
Hey, don’t make that sad face. And don’t click your tongue.
Forgetting myself in an excess of embarrassment, I struck his back over and over again. Looking extremely reluctant, he separated from me. The princess, looking at us with a lukewarm gaze, drew as near as the bedside, then, telling Edi to get out of the way, sat on the chair. Disregarding Edi, whose sharp look appeared as if he wanted to protest, she smiled and asked,
「Filmina, are you not hungry? If you are, I can get something prepared right away.」
「Um, no, I had dinner not long ago.」
At my response, the two beauties both looked surprised.
Had I said something strange? If my memory was right, I had collapsed during dinner. Seeing my quizzical expression, Edi, who after he had lost his chair to the princess, came to stand by my side, pointed at the window with one of his long fingers.
「Have you not noticed? You slept through the whole night.」
That was crazy. It didn’t feel like I had slept long at all. I was about to argue, but then I looked at where he was pointing. Shining in through the window glass was not moonlight, but the yellow light of the sun.
Not knowing how to respond, I looked between Edi and the princess. The princess’s smile vanished, and she started to speak. Under the gaze of that white lily-esque beauty, I instinctively gulped.
「I suppose I’ll cut to the chase. Filmina, you’ve been put under a curse. And a considerably complicated, troublesome one at that.」
「Yes. Didn’t you realize it yourself?」
It was hard to say yes to that right in front of Edi. But I realized too late that hesitating was a confirmation in itself. His gaze hurt. His face looked as if he wanted to ask 「Why didn’t you say anything?」 once again. The princess let out an exasperated sigh.
「Agedilus, could you stop with that menacing look?」
「It’s not like I’m trying to be menacing…」
「Even if you don’t mean to, it looks like that from here. It’s because you’re like that that Filmina couldn’t say anything. Has that oh-so-clever brain of yours still not figured that out yet?」
As expected, the princess was merciless. She laughed scornfully at Edi, who had been robbed of words. Then she turned back to face me.
「To put it simply, this curse is like a flower seed.」
「Right. It’s like if the seed of some magical being’s curse were planted in the foundation of your soul. That parasitic seed spreads its roots deep into your soul, and then starts to invade the host itself. How exactly it invades depends on the curse, but in your case, it has been intruding on your dreams.」
The princess’s amber eyes were looking straight at me. Depending on the light, they appeared golden. Looking into those eyes, it didn’t feel like they were looking at my exterior. I got the feeling that they were staring deep into my inner self, and it made me anxious.
「The real nefarious part of this kind of curse is the fact that from the outside, it’s hard to sense that it’s a curse. For a normal curse, the caster has to keep a connection to the host basically the entire time. In that case, there will be an unknown presence following the host around, and any competent magician would, sooner or later, notice this. But this curse is different. Previously I referred to it as a seed, right? Once planted, the seed can grow, apart from its caster. Because it is attached to the host’s soul, there isn’t a trace of a second party. It really is an ingenious curse. That’s probably the reason that Edi didn’t notice until you collapsed.」
It’s still pathetic that he couldn’t though, is what her smile said.
「Well, once you notice it, it’s a fairly simple curse. It really is pretty clever though. With my light magic, I think I could forcibly remove it. Against dark magic, I’m more suitable than him of course. He knows that, that’s one of the reasons he brought you to me.」
The grimoires had said that the dark magic that borrowed the power of demons and the light magic that borrowed its power from the gods were two sides of the same coin.
In other words, if you needed to fight dark magic, light magic was what you wanted. For lifting a curse, there was probably no one more qualified than the goddesses’ shrine maiden princess.
But having said that, suddenly teleporting into the princess’s home was beyond unreasonable. At my bemused expression, the princess showed me a quick smile, but then she became serious again and continued.
「However, there is a risk involved in lifting the curse. The seed has rooted itself deeper than you think.」
「Is that so?」
「It’s buried deep enough that this man couldn’t notice it. If we remove it clumsily, we could damage your soul.」
She made it easy to understand, but I wasn’t terribly grateful for that explanation.
「Then, what should we do?」
Edi, who had been silent until then, finally spoke. The princess’s beautiful face scowled.
「Obviously, we ought to catch the caster and make him remove the curse himself. But getting him to do that might be a bit troublesome.」
「Oh, I know.」 He muttered. Then he smiled.
「I’ve got it. Leave it to me.」
This man’s beauty, and the various beautiful expressions that he made, by now I should be used to them. But this one made me speechless. That violent smile gave me chills. I felt the temperature of the room drop suddenly.
「Agedilus? What are you scheming?」
「I won’t do anything bad, so don’t worry. I’m just going to make use of a little cheat, is all.」
At that somewhat disturbing statement, I kept silent, and the princess simply raised one eyebrow and asked,
「Just to make sure, this won’t cause any harm to Filmina, right?」
「Of course it won’t.」
「Well then, I guess that’s okay. By the decree of your princess, I entrust this matter to you.」
At the princess’s words, Edi put his right hand over the left side of his chest and bowed. Seeing that figure, I thought, 「Don’t fix things that aren’t broken.」 Some pieces of wisdom are timeless.
For some reason, even as the victim, I wanted the culprit to appreciate this sight too. Then, in my mind to the culprit I still had yet to see, I gave a gesture of gratitude for bestowing upon me this holy scene.