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“All preparations are finished.”
While she said this, Dame Joan’s face remained as stony and expressionless as ever, like a grim reaper.
“I apologize, Dame. Because I’ve dragged you all the way here.”
“No. Rather, I appreciate your candor.”
Dame Joan was also present at the underground ball today.
I couldn’t get away from Dame Joan, who was trailing me in order to escort me, so I confessed my destination after giving it a lot of thought.
With the request that it never, ever, ever reach Ian’s ear.
It was a gamble. Making a secret from Ian, the commander of the Holy Knights would be inconceivable for a devoted holy knight like Dame Joan.
However, I staked my chances on the “blood oath” that Dame Joan offered me.
Dame Joan, who had heard about the underground ball, showed a stony expression and a deafening silence.
This was the very first thing that Dame Joan, who didn’t begin speaking until much later, spoke,
‘If anyone tries to rudely contact the saintess, can I subdue them in any way?’
……In any way?
Even though it was a terrifying sentence, all I could do was nod in response to it.
That’s how I got to go to the underground ball with a strong escort named Dame Joan.
‘It would be nice if nothing special happened.’
I let out a tinier sigh.
What I care about the most right now is finding out whether or not the real name of the incubus that is going to be exhibited at the dark auction is fake.
‘There’s a high chance it’s just a rumor.’
Items, the value of which had been exaggerated with weird stories, were placed at illicit auctions with the intention of attracting inquisitive customers.
After all, the name with the true name of the incubus on it is so easy to get around.
“Then shall we set off, Dame Joan?”
I walked cautiously through the Cathedral’s darkened corridors, accompanied by Dame Joan.
Ian, who was supposed to be the biggest impediment to going out today, didn’t even cast a shadow all day.
Because there were no creases in the sheet in the sleeping spot next to me when I got up in the morning, I assumed that he did not even use my bedroom as a place to sleep.
‘I was the only one who bore the weight of the world on my shoulders.’
I clicked my tongue as I stared at the cold bed.
Not only today, but also for the past few days, I haven’t seen or heard from Ian.
I’m not sure what he was up to, even pretending to be a newlywed couple, but it worked out for me in the end.
I snuck onto the horse-drawn carriage in the middle of the night and used the dye powder that I had made earlier.
My pink hair, which resembled cotton candy when I first got it, went brown very soon.
‘Pink hair really bothers me. It draws unnecessary attention to itself.’
While the passengers complained, the driver continued on to the location that Lizello had specified. When we got there, we found ourselves in the vicinity of a huge townhouse.
‘A meeting place in a prominent building on a street like this?’
Even though the underground ball had gained quite a reputation, the rumor that the emperor’s mace had not yet reached it seemed to be true.
I entered the mansion, tightening the mask around my face.
As soon as I went in, I could smell the alcoholic tang of the wine.
It had already been some time since the banquet had begun.
As I entered the hall, I noticed a lot of eyes on me.
Even though my face was beyond the mask, it was a direct gaze that was felt.
I pretended to be calm as I moved my fan about and gazed around the large space.
Men and women were dancing or speaking while dressed in exquisite costumes and wearing lovely masks that slid easily over their faces.
‘Than you think…… Is it good?’
It was a little more unconventional, unlike any other ball dressed in a modest style; nothing else was unusual about it.
There were no obscene displays of intimacy or illegal gambling.
‘It’s different than what I expected.’
As I tilted my head, someone called from behind me.
“Beautiful lady. Are you by yourself?”
When I turned around, I saw a red-haired young tall man even though he was wearing a mask, smiling wide.
I answered quickly, conscious of the presence of Dame Joan standing by my side.
“I apologized. I have a partner.”
“Ah. Please pardon me.”
The young man with the red hair smiled, nodded, and then bowed before leaving. It was overshadowed that he was wary of being more tenacious because the place was a place.
The young man backed away, and I murmured something to Dame Joan.
“It just looks like an ordinary ball.”
“It’s too early to pass judgment. If ‘that thing’ you were talking about is here, then there is a good chance that the cultists will be here as well.”
Cultist. When I heard the name, I immediately clamped my lips together.
The cult, a group that worships the demon god Pereas, was also a source of consternation for the main couple in the original novel.
Their main goal is to summon demons and destroy the world.
‘They were ambitious, but they weren’t a particularly frightening villain because they mostly failed……’
Things would be different if they summoned an incubus.
The risk was low until now because there was no record of success simply talking about summoning a demon, but if it were successful, the risk would rise.
‘By the way, where is Rizello?’
The ball was supposed to start at nine o’clock, but we didn’t specify a time to meet Rizello.
To be more specific, it was a predefined but highly ambiguous criterion.
‘What do you mean, after the ground has been submerged?’
Couldn’t that bastard master say anything without peppering it with cryptic expressions?
Nothing happened at the ball until the clock struck ten.
As I watched the men and women slowly waltz, I forced myself to ignore the boredom that was building up inside of me.
Was it a dark auction or an illegal gamble?
It was at that point that I started to complain so much.
“You’ve been waiting a long time. Everyone.”
A discordant voice echoed across the hallway.
The men and women who were dancing the waltz before, exchanged glances and began giggling. That was a sly grin on their face, as if something had finally arrived.
“Madam Irene. Please come closer to me.”
Dame Joan was standing right next to me. At the same time, the voice rang once more.
“I’m glad you that all of you were able to remember to get together this year. We have a lot of entertainment planned out for you to enjoy that will not let you down this time, so please enjoy it to the fullest. And always keep in mind that what goes on below the ground will never leak out above the ground.”
The voice sounded cheesy, possibly due to the content of the speech.
I shuddered unknowingly, but the floor began to vibrate at the same time.
Dame Joan quickly grabbed me as I struggled to maintain my balance and lost my footing.
The ground continued to vibrate and move throughout. At the same time, it appeared that the ceiling was strangely receding.
No. It was definitely moving away from us.
‘The floor is going down!’
The floor began to fall in earnest, as if in response to my realization.
With Dame Joan’s assistance, I stared up at the ceiling, which was receding further and further away.
A few seconds later, a huge veil of dark red light descended from the ceiling.
The lighting from the chandelier, which had been magnificent before, then passed through the dark red veil, and it changed to an odd color.
When the lighting shifted, it was as if the space in front of me had undergone a complete transformation from what it had been.
“You were here, customer?”
A peculiar sound escaped my lips as my nerves were already on edge.
When I turned around, my eyes landed on a mysterious figure wearing a vibrant purple mask, smiling in my direction.
Although I couldn’t see his face, only one person could call me ‘customer’.
“Do you know him?”
Dame Joan took a step forward and questioned. Rizello blew a whistle at the same time.
“Oh, you brought your loyal guard dog as well. Good to see such thorough preparation.”
“Don’t talk to my escort knight.”
“Oh, excuse me.”
Rizello showed his contrition by putting both hands up in the air and apologizing. I wasn’t fond of the discomfort I experienced as he apologized, but I didn’t want to cause a problem with the person in charge of the magic tower while we were in this uncomfortable place.
“The auction will start shortly. After three waltzes, most likely.”
Rizzello, who was bending over me, whispered.
Nonetheless, sweet music was emanating from all directions. With hesitant eyes, I looked at the dancers more closely than usual.
“In the meantime, if you’re bored, I can deal with you.”
I looked up at him with exuberant eyes.
“As I previously stated, I am a married woman. I don’t dance with random people.”
“You are sure of your fidelity.”
Rizzello laughed sarcastically.
“Since we’ve been talking about your husband, I’m curious about how things are going for the two of you. Do you enjoy your marital relationship?”
“…… Why should I tell you that?”
I was irritated, and the pointed response turned into gossip almost immediately.
“Of course it is. It’s perfect marital harmony.”
“Is that so? Hmm. According to the information that I obtained by accident, the commander of the Holy Knights has been sitting in his office for several days.”
I kept my mouth shut after being attacked right in the middle.
Indeed, I haven’t seen Ian’s shadow in three days.
It’s time to act as a newlywed couple in full swing, but I can’t even see their faces. True, I was beginning to feel a little out of place.
‘Somehow it feels like a simple new bride.’
“Because he’s always busy with work. He is in charge of a very important mission, as you know, right?”
As I defended him, Rizello made a ho-huh sound and pursed her lips.
At that time, someone came up to Rizello and said something in a whisper.
Rizello, who had lost his twirling laugh in an instant, paused for a moment before turning to face me and said,
“Please wait a moment, customer. I’ll be going somewhere soon.”
“Come only before the auction starts.”
It would have been better if I could go.
After spending time with Rizello, regrettably, I looked up to see a man and a woman dancing close to the wall.
It was considered dishonorable to be stuck on the wall without dancing at the ball because it expressed alienation; however, at this point, I had no qualms about being alienated in this place.
I lazily flapped my fan while becoming a perfect spectator and scanning the crowd.
It was a fascinating experience to take in the surroundings.
People who were exquisitely dressed and had adorable dance moves. Gentle lighting and scattered throughout the space are a few sparkling jewels.
Perhaps the splendor that surrounded this place contributed to the appearance of the people here having an abundance of style.
Take for example, the man who is standing in front of the pillar over there.
My eyes, which had been darting aimlessly around the room, suddenly focused on a complete stranger who was standing there.
The marble-like skin lay beneath the jet-black hair, which gave the appearance of devouring everything, including the chandelier lights.
Even from far away, he was handsome and could get my attention with just one look.
‘I live alone in the world.’
Even though I was wearing a mask, the presence of blurring the men around me made me naturally tongue-tied.
‘Somehow he seems familiar.’
Indeed, it is said that when people see the golden rule, they instinctively feel more secure. The body of that man was the perfect illustration of the golden ratio.
That was probably the reason for the strange sense of sight.