Translator: Adam Seacord
I could tell. That voice belonged to Elliot. The look on the magician’s face confirmed it, too. I thought that it sounded like he was very close, but I was concerned more about what he had said.
Get out of there.
The carriage isn’t safe. But more importantly, Olivia is here. The one who should be protected. Why won’t he call her?
It was like an instinct. A wild one, maybe. I didn’t know what it was, but it was a feeling that something bad… Danger was incoming. That much I knew. It felt like cold needles piercing my spine. The bad taste in my mouth I got when I would notice an enemy’s trap in the battlefield. The target’s on us.
I shouted, before I knew it. When I tried to do the same to my other side, I realized that Princess Olivia wasn’t in the chair she was just sitting in. I didn’t know when she got out of there, but it was good.
Sara the magician was trying to maneuver her off the side of the carriage. I moved a few steps in the opposite direction, and through the shield in front of the carriage. Who knew where the attack was coming from? I had to do anything I could to intercept it.
At the same time, with a sundering whiz, a beam of light flew in. Grazing the very edge of my shield, it was slightly derailed. The arrow that meant to strike the chair where Olivia was sitting had struck right in front of it instead… When an explosion erupted. A pillar of flames roared.
An explosive sound, shaking, and radiant heat. I could hear numerous debris hitting the door in front of me. It must have been the sound of sharpened stones and metal. The weapon used by that one-eyed sniper was most likely a weapon that recreates gunpowder bombs with magic. A moment later, indicating that the carriage had broken in half, the floor beneath me tilted sharply. I barely held on to the pole next to me.
The roaring sound subsided after a while. It should have only been a few seconds, but it somehow seemed much longer than that. My ears were still ringing, so I could have some trouble hearing. Still, I had no time to hesitate.
Luckily, I wasn’t hurt. I double checked my illusionary item, opened the bent up iron door, and peeled back the rag that was an elaborate curtain until a moment ago.
The still warm air flowed in. There was still a crowd. Most of them were looking my way. I covered my mouth and raised my hand high, to notify that Olivia wasn’t hurt. Sara, still knocked down by the carriage, was whispering something into the audio-transmitting item, but the receiving end was still in the room behind the carriage. The expensive dress that Sara was wearing was now scorched and covered in soot. Despite her thin armor below the dress, she had numerous wounds on her arms and legs. But her mind seemed clear, and I could sense that Sara, while she wasn’t without a scratch, she wasn’t terribly hurt. I tried to wave at her to get her to see me, but she didn’t seem like she could be looking around any time soon.
To the front of the carriage, the illusionary magic I had set in the stage had long expired. That’s why I had to come out in the open. This spell was far from complete. In the center of the parade, and on the horse-drawn stage, I had continued to project Olivia’s image and kept it moving. She was a double created by illusionary magic. Olivia was never on the carriage to begin with. In order to keep up the spell so people could see Olivia from all angles, I, the conjurer had had to keep up the ritual very close. So, I had modified the car behind the carriage into my very own ritual circle and command tower.
「It’s Lady Olivia. Look, she’s alright!」
Cheers erupted. The knights were looking up, too, surprised. However, I was most worried about Layla. She sounded like she was close to the explosion when it hit… The parade seemed to have reached near the river, so I could smell the water. Some soldiers on guard were spreading the crowd, bring back buckets of water.
There she was. Layla. She was crouching down next to the shattered saddle. Her helmet, perhaps because it was damaged, was off of her head. Her armor had several tiny dents in it. She seemed conscious, as she was speaking to other soldiers, but Layla herself was bleeding enough to stain a part of the armor red. I could only hope that none of her wounds her deep enough to damage any organs. If she hadn’t been wearing her full ceremonial armor, she wouldn’t have gotten off so easily. If Olivy, who would have to keep her face revealed, had been hit by the explosion at this range, she wouldn’t have made it.
I looked around, and raised my hand again. Walking slowly, I approached Layla. Layla looked up at me, and was filled with relief. Was she well enough to stand? Keeping down the urge to run over, I slowly approached her and stretched out my hand. While I couldn’t speak to her, I just wanted to see that she was all right, and I wanted to move away from the center of the carriage to where the crowd was thinner. There was no guarantee that there wasn’t another attack incoming.
I had had Nubia guard where the sniper would escape out of the church. If we could take that sniper, he can be used against House Lambert. Even if we can’t take him, it was too risky to let him get out of here alive.
「The Princess Blare is unhurt! Huzzah!」
That voice triggered a storm of cheers. It was a clear, resonating voice. A familiar one, at that, but the man I recognized wouldn’t say something like that genuinely. He would, however, repeat it a thousand times if that’s what needed to be done.
I sensed a pulse of magic nearby. Not very strong, but a subtle flow of magic. Like turning on a magical item.
Layla’s expression was now that of a child. Her eyes were lacking any gleam of free will, as they only reflected my face… Olivia’s face, as I was now her second double through my illusionary item. Keeping her dreamy expression, Layla moved. I feel a hot sensation in my side. The world fell silent. A cold blade penetrated my abdomen. I had this in my shop. Lubreo had bought it, and given it to Layla on the spot…
The sword, and most likely the sheath, was enchanted. They had set a trap within Layla, too. Truth be told, I had never expected them to be so brazen… To use Layla, who was connected to House Lambert. House Lambert’s… Lubreo’s… Gratina’s final trap was Layla.
A distant scream.
The world turned pitch black.
…Knight Layla of House Lambert had gone mad. The news that she had attacked the heir of Earl Abram during the parade immediately spread through Abram. At the same time, an incident at House Lambert was also brought into light. Excluding the next-in-line Lubreo and his knights, who had stayed the night before the parade at the castle, all staff and family, including the current Head of the House, were all murdered. No one other than Knight Layla, who had commuted to the castle from her house the day of the parade, could have committed the crime. Because her father had been a spy for an enemy nation, it was rumored that she had been holding a grudge against House Lambert all this time.
Lubreo, the next-in-line, was injured in a battle against an assassin while he was guarding the parade, but took it upon himself to relinquish half of his land back to Earl Abram, as well as suspend himself from any public appearance for the foreseeable future.
Lord Lubreo was attacked again a few days later. Lubreo Manor had nearly burned to the ground, and he had lost his family, his life-long home, and all staff. While Lord Lubreo himself had been severely burned all over, he survived. While he was criticized for having the assassin Layla, who started the whole ordeal, under his wing in the first place, but it was indisputable to anyone in Abram that he had risked his life to protect his lady during the parade. Combined with all of his losses, society had eventually turned to call him a tragic hero. Of course, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that many schemes had taken place to accomplish this.
Princess Olivia, who had been the target of these assassinations, was unhurt. From her own words, it was disclosed right after the incident that the Olivia that everyone saw on the parade was a double, and she had disguised herself as a Blare knight, staying close to the crowd under the guise of a messenger.
There were many residents who report seeing a messenger knight that looked very much like Prince Olivia, who evacuated the crowd amidst the chaos caused by the explosion. It was indisputable that Princess Olivia, as well as for her own protection, had kept herself close to the people under disguise. In reality, there were numerous assassination attempts, And although some had complained that she should have never been part of the parade in the first place, no one blamed her for not actually being on the carriage.
The culprit of the assassination attempt, Layla, and the fallen magician who served as Princess Olivia’s double, were still at large. Soon after the incident, they were taken by a snake monster who emerged from the river. This put the scene in utter chaos, but Princess Olivia herself took to calming the crowd. The snake monster who had peeked out of the water… The lamia was a victim, turned into a monster by the monster of the mining village Grandle. While they had defeated the lamia, they had decided to spare her, and Princess Olivia had kept her as a personal bodyguard. All of this was made public.
The day after the parade. Princess Olivia took the lamia to the temple, who was baptized and acknowledged as “one with a human soul.” The further course of action for the lamia (whom the princess had named Miyabi) was still a topic of debate at the temple in the capital due to her unusual existence. However, as soon as she was allowed to interact with people after her baptism, the people began to accept her. Although her mind was close to that of a child. Miyabi, who didn’t attack people and had a very human-like, attractive face, was an abnormal entity that most people could easily accept. The fact that she used to be human was tragic enough to call for sympathy.
It was famous that the monster of the mining village Grandle (once dubbed the Man-Eating Dungeon) would turn the people it captured into monsters. So, most never suspected Miyabi’s story. Her rumor spread with the narrative that the glory of the gods reached even the poor girl who had been turned into a monster. Her existence was beginning to be accepted in Abram.
Miyabi, whether she was aware of these rumors or not, had started slipping out of the castle to swim around the waters under the claim of guarding the rivers or water gates of the city. Travelers who visited Abram would all clamor to get a glimpse of Miyabi, who had a human heart, and some travelers would even come to Abram for that sole purpose. In order to prevent further confusion, Miyabi was officially registered as a warrior for House Blare.
According to Miyabi, the treacherous knight Layla fled with a serious injury, but had to have died soon after. Her body was never found, and rumors that she was a monster, or else a spy, entertained the people’s mind.
The magician would had become Olivia’s double was carried to the basement of the castle by Miyabi, but died despite treatment. The body had rotted because of the poison on the sword, which prevented even burial.
There were various rumors about that figure, who was a close friend of Princess Olivia and the court magician Sara. Some even rumored that he was the owner of a magical items shop in Old Town. However, none could find the answer, and people’s interest faded with time, along with their memory.
After the small fire in it was put out, Elliot’s Magical Items Shop never resumed business, and no one saw the young man who owned the shop, or the beautiful shopkeeper.