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There was no energy in my whole body.
I was so exhausted that I just went ahead and passed out on the bed.
The interrogation that was carried out by the Commander of the Order of the Holy Knights was a laborious task in and of itself.
‘What a quirky man!’
I thought that I had pushed a well-prepared excuse, one that contained a small amount of lies mixed in with the majority of the truth.
Ian probed my weaknesses with questions that were as penetrating as a well-honed awl.
Still, it was over and over again. The proof was that I was lying there, not in the cathedral dungeon, but in my bedroom.
I heard that the true name of an incubus would be auctioned off at a dark auction. Ian expressed great discomfort with such a sincere appeal.
‘For any reason, it is forbidden to act alone.’
Ian said with a stony expression and cold tone.
‘You are my contract partner, but before that, you are a saintess who must be protected by me. Do not forget your duty.’
In response to the authoritative tone, which reminded me of the voice of the grim reaper, all I could do was nod my head.
However, it came out sooner than expected.
I was prepared to be held captive for several hours.
I don’t know why, but in the middle of the day, I asked him if his body was okay, and he didn’t like it. To be honest, I was prepared for a much scarier interrogation, but maybe Ian had enough generosity to overlook me as an acquaintance.
Anyway, for the time being, Ian’s surveillance of me will intensify. It didn’t bode well.
‘Because I couldn’t get my hands on Cakulta essence…… Damn it.’
I pictured the face of the Master of the Magic Tower in my mind.
Even though the dark auction itself was a struggle, wouldn’t he keep his promise even if he saw my sincerity in going to that place?
“Madam Irene. I got a lot of letters today!”
After that, one could hear Annette’s vivacious voice.
At just the right time, my ears perked up when I thought about the Master of the Magic Tower.
“I’ll take a look.”
“Yes, I will bring them all over here right away!”
Annette eventually presented me with a stack of letters on a silver tray after some time had passed.
I went through the cards, checking the sender’s name one at a time, and I soon came across the name that I had been looking for.
‘Melody Hyacinth. As expected!’
When everything came to an end in such an unpleasant way, there was no way Rizello could have avoided getting in touch with me.
I quickly opened the card, and to my surprise, there was a recognisable phrase hiding behind the usual greeting.
「Oh. Melody likes to be alone. Do you know?」
I remember getting a card in the past with exactly the same phrase written on it. I turned to Annette.
“Annette, I need to go to sleep right now because I am so exhausted.”
“Ah, sure. I can only imagine how exhausted you must be after the amount of work that you’ve had to do today. I’ll assist you in getting ready for bed as soon as possible.”
Annette’s cheeks flushed with red at the mere mention of the phrase “a lot of work.”
Also… … Another strange thought, that kid.
It was completely my fault that I had to listen to a child’s wild speculations about what had happened earlier in the carriage.
It wasn’t long before I was by myself in the bedroom.
When I looked at the card once more, I noticed that the text had begun to twist and change.
「I am sorry about what happened today. I didn’t know your husband would make a mess. I’m sorry.」
The handwriting felt sharper than usual as if he was really regrettable.
「But a promise is a promise, so I will send you what you want. Actually, it’s not that difficult for me.」
The pride that appeared out of nowhere was unobtrusive, but it was an excellent addition nonetheless. I didn’t expect him to give it to me so easily.
I was worried that he would find another reason to fight, but it seems that the distribution must be substantial in order to achieve the position of owner of the mage tower.
‘I’ll go see you soon.’
A deep sense of relief enveloped me.
It was only natural that if he got the essence of Cakulta, I would be able to heal the time-limiting curse that Nine had placed on me.
I will, at long last, have the opportunity to escape the horrible Nine.
‘I’m a little concerned about the fact that I’ll come see you soon… … .’
No meeting place or time has been set. It was true that it was a bit embarrassing, but the opponent was the owner of the Magic Tower. When it comes to dealing with customers, he is an honest and trustworthy person, so I can count on him to keep his word.
Thinking so, I stretch out across the wide bed.
Today, I was the only one who slept in the bed. After I had finished my line of questioning, Ian exited the cathedral once more to finish the investigation for today. He informed me that he would not be able to return today.
‘Is this the room for the bride or the room where you live?’
We’ve been married for a long time, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve fallen asleep in this room with Ian.
I repeat, of course, it was good for me. Ian would have never been able to move like this in bed.
‘By the way, was the paper with the true name of the incubus really on display?’
I thought of a question all of a sudden. Even though Rizello asked for the meeting and I went there, I was also very interested to see if the paper would be sent in.
Maybe that itself was a lie to draw Ian out.
But it was strange to even think about it. Out of all the powerful demons, they choose “Incubus.”
Only the Holy Knights who have been to Rycalion know that an incubus has shown up there.
I was immersed in that thought, but I suddenly felt a little chilly.
‘Is the window open?’
I don’t think meticulous Annette would have made such a mistake.
I got off the bed and went to the balcony. The window was wide open, and the wind brushed my skin more as I got closer to the terrace.
Some kind of black smoke stuck to me like it was muffling my voice.
I opened my eyes wide when I saw a black shadow on the terrace.
“Listen as it is.” said the black shadow.
I had seen a shadow like that once before. That shadow was Nine’s minion.
Shocked at the fact that Nine had sneaked into the bedroom, my body froze.
The shadow whispered, probably noticing that.
“Don’t worry, the smoke is just to keep the sound out, it can’t harm you. I can only infiltrate the Cathedral, and I cannot even attack you.”
Feeling uncomfortable, I frowned. This shadow was oddly polite, unlike the first one, Edward Vichen, who was so forceful.
“There are doubts about the progress of the mission from the boss.”
Since taking the pendant from Edward, I haven’t let it anywhere near Ian, I hardened again.
“Are you making progress? It should be. The tolerance of those in higher positions has reached its breaking point.”
Is it my delusion?
Both the tone and the content of the shadow’s words were serious and formal, but for some reason I did not feel the malice that the other members of the Nine guild did.
Because of this, even though I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t speak up, I didn’t feel too threatened.
“I will remove the smoke now.”
After they finished speaking those words, the cloud of soot that had been blocking my mouth dispersed into the air.
I opened my free lips.
“……Yes. I’m progressing step by step.”
Judging from this question, it seemed that there was no way for Nine to know for sure if I was using the pendant.
The black shadow gave a knowing nod to my red lie.
“If everything goes as planned, the undercover work will be done by the end of this month.”
My body tensed up once more in response to those words.
The time that remained was much less than was originally planned.
“There is one last remaining step. It is also the step that is crucial.”
The voice of the shadow who said so was subtly permeated with a troubled light for a moment.
Because of that, I had the innate realisation that what Shadow had to say after that was an excessive request.
The shadow writhed and spat something out near my belly, then handed it to me.
After reluctantly accepting it, I looked at whatever it was and confirmed my suspicions while narrowing my brows.
‘Are those crystal earrings?’
Earrings with drop-shaped crystals were pretty, but looking at them made me instinctively feel uncomfortable.
I looked at the shadow with eyes demanding an explanation.
“You only need to do it once.”
The shadow moved its lips into a soft whisper and opened its mouth.
“Just this once, put some blood from the target onto that crystal.”
No one needed to ask who it was talking about.
I could feel the cold seeping into my fingertips.
‘Ian’s blood, here……’
“The crystal resonates with our warlocks, so if it is stained with blood, we can automatically detect it without any news. So you just need to be covered it in his blood.”
Things were getting worse.
To a greater extent than when I first got the pendant.
This task was not something that could be faked like a pendant would be.
“I know that asking for his blood is an unreasonable demand.”
The shadow continued as if interpreting the reason why I was frozen differently.
“It only takes a single drop. If you only perform this task, your boss won’t ask you for more.”
“…That wouldn’t give you the freedom you’re looking for.”
In a heavy voice, the shadow murmured to itself.
I clutched the crystal earring.
It was complicated enough that it made me feel like my head was going to explode, but the shadow couldn’t figure it out.
Trying to act calm, I opened my mouth.
“When is the deadline?”
“Until the next full moon rises.”
I raised my head and observed the moon as it hung in the air above me.
The moon, which had been full a few days ago, was now a little thin. A little less than one month will pass before the next full moon appears in the sky.
No longer than one month.
Hiding my agitation, I nodded.
“It’s a challenging mission, but I’ll complete it until then.”
“Once you’ve completed this task, the higher-ups will trust you.”
I responded with a sarcastic laugh.
The voice of Edward, who had threatened me, was still clear in my ears.
The confidence of such people was something that was something that was acceptable to them regardless of how much it brought them.
“Is that all you need?”
The shadows which answered succinctly slowly began to fade.
I narrowed my brows. I thought that that shadow might have been acquainted with number 76 in the first place.
‘…… But that’s not important right now.’
My palm was pricked by a crystal earring that I had tucked into my fist.
Constantly leaving an impression of my presence as if I were imprinting it.