Eltrinde looked at the ground as if she had suddenly remembered something.
Vermudol thought back to what Celis and Reina had told him. Eltrinde had been cast out of the kingdom’s capital by Narika because she saw her popularity as a threat. However, that didn’t change the fact that they were family, and there was no doubt that Eltrinde very well understood the situation that Celis was in.
She had always stood up for Celis when she felt isolated and alone. She’s probably still struggling to interpret what happened in the labyrinth.
However, Vermudol just couldn’t bring himself to believe that the Celis in the labyrinth was really her. There have been plenty of cases where people have made this mistake based on appearance. There’s a very good possibility that the person she met was just disguising themselves as Celis.
And since it had been revealed that there existed some sort of intelligent upper rank Alva that was controlling the rest, it might have been a decoy prepared to deceive Eltrinde.
「But, even then, I…」
「Ahh, hold on a second.」
As Eltrinde started to say something, Ykslaas cut her off. She had been playing with her hair with a bored expression, and did not seem willing to spend any more time listening.
「Let’s stop there with the memories. No matter how much we talk about the past, there’s nothing we can do about it now.」
She was right. There was no point in talking about it now. The only thing they could change is the future.
「You’re going to hunt down Mazenda, right? Isn’t that what you came here for?」
Ykslaas walked up to Eltrinde and looked at her face. Ykslaas’s eyes glowed with confidence, not showing the slightest sign of hesitation. She stared at Eltrinde with a gaze that seemed to pity her, yet push her to act.
「Worrying about everything else is useless. You should focus on your goal.」
「…Ys, hold on a second.」
Ykslaas swung around as Vermudol spoke out to her.
「What’s the matter?」
「You have a strategy in mind, right?」
「I don’t know what you’re talking about.」
Ykslaas brought her hand to her mouth and giggled.
「The real strategy is in the Second Princess’s hands.」
「…What is that supposed to mean?」
「…You’re saying… it’s in my hands!?」
Eltrinde opened her eyes in shock and reached her hands to the sword attached to her waist. She ran her fingers around the beautiful black sheath and gently stroked the painted roses that adorned it.
「It’s simple… It’s really quite simple.」
Her fingers wrapped around the handle and she gripped it firmly
「A plan devised for the Second Princess’s infiltration, with the intelligence unit as backup. It should have been a perfect plan, isn’t that right?」
Vermudol and Eltrinde both remained silent.
Vermudol was silent because he, too, had come to the realization. Eltrinde was silent because she didn’t seem to understand what Ykslaas was talking about.
「And a perfectly timed play that was carried out along with it. And the place that served as the stage for this surprising turn of events is the mysterious dimension created by the Alva.」
「Wha-… What are you trying to say, Ys?」
Ykslaas smiled gently at Eltrinde’s visible confusion.
「Don’t worry about it. However, there is one thing that I would like to ask you, Eltrinde.」
Ykslaas slowly pointed her finger toward the trees behind Eltrinde.
「Is that black-clothed figure spying on us back there one of your subordinates?」
Eltrinde opened her mouth to ask her what she was talking about, but at that exact moment, Ykslaas pushed her to the ground. As spear of ice flew through where Eltrinde’s head had been just a few moments ago.
The spear that flew toward Ykslaas was deflected by a massive shield that appeared before her.
「…You really take a lot of risks, don’t you?」
Lowering his shield, Shironos sighed.
「Well, that’s just a sign of how much I trust you, Shironos.」
Ykslaas did not panic at all. It was almost as if she had known what was going to happen the entire time.
Laying on the floor, Eltrinde watched them in silence. But suddenly, she sprang up to her feet in surprise and looked behind her… And she saw something that she couldn’t believe.
「Come on, can’t I kill him already?」
First, she saw a man dressed completely in black. He was one of her subordinates, and the co-captain of her intelligence unit. He was being strangled.
The man strangling him was wearing a bright red set of armor.
「No, you can’t do that, Olred. We still have lots of things that we need him to tell us. But first, we need to verify his identity. So, is this someone you happen to know?」
「Ah, ahh… Yeah, he’s one of my subordinates.」
「Hmm? Hey, Shion. What do you think about this?」
The black-clothed man cried in pain as Olred held him down. Gazing at him, Vermudol activated his status confirmation magic. After a moment, he shook his head.
「…He looks like a normal human to me.」
「That’s right. I thought so too. I guess that can only mean one thing.」
Ykslaas smiled. Vermudol remained expressionless.
Eltrinde looked at their faces and looked back at the man, who was still being restrained by Olred.
「…What is going on? I don’t… I don’t understand…」
「I thought I told you. The answer is very simple…」
Ykslaas snickered. Vermudol took a sigh and finished her sentence.
「…It means that you’ve been betrayed. It’s as simple as that.」