You know what. Since I’m impatient to start on the next mini arc, I’ll post this today.
This is the longest chapter to date with more than 4200 words, so pace yourself. There are many hints in this chapter, so I think you will be able to connect them with the previous chapters’ hints.
ED: clover, eristol, xtostos
It is the second day after we arrived at the Island of Messenger.
Tomorrow is the day when the jousting tournament will be held.
The Advent Festival seems to have been in the peak of excitement for the last few days and the town has become more bustling.
I also got permission to go out today from my father.
So I decided to go out to the town with Tirnanog.
“I’m glad that you could eat lots of delicious things yesterday, Tir.”
『Umu. It is not enough for me to fill my belly, but my tongue is satisfied.』
“I may have eaten a bit too much yesterday.”
『So that’s why today you did not attend the garden party.』
Today’s garden party is not being hosted by the royal family but by the Marquis family which is the Queen Consort’s deceased parents’ house.
Rather it seems to be an elderly noble-centered event.
My father received an invitation, but as for me, it was said that it is alright not to attend, so I took advantage of that offer to escape from that party.
“Well, that too.”
『Is it not because you do not want to meet that bad guy Louis you were talking with last night?』
“That is also true……but see, on the subject of the oracle, I’ve been thinking on how to change it a little.”
『Ah, I see.』
Tomorrow is the awaited day of the jousting tournament which will decide my fate.
There is only one more day left to avoid the flag.
However, the current death flag itself has already been almost avoided.
Auguste would participate in the tournament.
Auguste would fall from the dragon.
Erica would ridicule Auguste for his failure, or say something that would cause a misunderstanding.
Through these three conditions, Erica would be selected as a victim of ‘The St. Angel Anthropophagy Case’ six years in the future.
So, there are several ways to prevent the death flag.
In other words, do not let Auguste participate in the tournament.
If Auguste successfully rides on a dragon.
Even if Auguste falls from the dragon, do not ridicule him.
If it still happens, then beat the contract beast ‘before Auguste makes a contract with it’ or ‘before going back to Aurelia territory for some reason’ might be acceptable.
Yes, the conditions are easy if I only want to avoid my destruction.
However, if I consider avoiding Auguste’s destruction, this is not enough.
If Auguste fuses with the contract beast, whichever route the heroine chooses six years in the future, the beast would run rampant.
Even if the murders don’t occur, if the beast separates itself from Auguste, he definitely would lose his ability to ride on a dragon.
I could infer this from the scenario of Harold, the third capture target, in which Auguste had also become unable to ride on dragons.
Auguste’s future as a dragon knight would be closed when he makes a contract with the contract beast.
『You are also exposed to the destiny of destruction, but you can still think of helping others……but, if I think about it, you were the one who released this me who was originally sealed.』
“Somehow, there are things that I cannot ignore without particular reason. Since I have become friends with Auguste, it is all the more so.”
『I cannot understand this kind of thing at all……but, I do not dislike it.』
Tirnanog shrugged his shoulders and shook his head with a gesture as if saying ‘it can’t be helped.’
『Yosh, I understand. Let me help you when you want to defeat the contract beast.』
“Uwah, talk about the most dangerous option……ah, but that’s certainly for the best. The chance of falling down from the dragon and feeling desperate is not limited to only this year’s tournament.”
For example, next year, someone might be ridiculed by falling down again.
Even then, it would be safer if the contract beast has already been knocked down.
The investigation strategy has been decided.
The aim is to discover where the contract beast is hidden in the Island of Messenger.
I can’t search all of the island in a day, but I know someone who might know where the contract beast is.
It is Auguste.
If I ask him, he should know the approximate place where the contract beast is.
“So, I think I will go to the cathedral. If it is not in the cathedral, then the next place is the castle, I think?”
『Umu. I will keep quiet today.』
『Don’t worry. Just by going out with my friend like this, I am happy.』
Tir said some embarrassing things.
While returning an embarrassed grin, my fist gently touched Tirnanog.
Along with my reliable partner, I headed for the cathedral.
“Are you in here, Angel-sama~?”
I was walking while calling for Auguste in an unpopular section of the cathedral.
Even if I was heard by other people, since it was the Advent Festival and inside the cathedral, if they saw the situation where a child was calling for an angel, people would think of it as a surreal or charming scene.
I would keep it to myself that I received a great damage as the one I was searching for was smiling at me.
“Ah, Erica, you’re here. I’ve been waiting for you.”
Auguste looked up at the stained glass.
If I look closely, this is the same place where we met yesterday.
I wonder if that stained glass is his favorite design.
“How did you know that I will come?”
“Because there is a friend with keen hearing.”
“Ah, did you ask Palug-san?”
That person is mostly a mysterious person, isn’t she?
Who is she?
An escort? An attendant? Somehow she feels different.
“Oh, today you are a daughter of a merchant’s house, huh. The ribbon suits you as well.”
“Thank you very much.”
Today, I tried dressing as a wealthy merchant’s daughter for sightseeing.
Blue skirt with white shirt, and blue ribbon.
I was aiming for a coordination that look like Alice in Wonderland.
It is considerably more functional than the noble lady’s apparel, especially the footwear.
“What do you want to do today? Would you like to see not only the cathedral but also other church buildings? Or, should I show you around the city?”
What should I do?
How should I ask for information on the contract beast?
While thinking that way, I noticed a strange thing for the first time since I was standing in front of the stained glass next to Auguste.
“This……is there almost no blue color? Even though there are plenty of beautiful red and yellow colors.”
“Aah, it seems that the colorant to make superior blue glasses is Gigantia’s specialty. There are old blue glasses, but they are gradually becoming impossible to repair.”
Gigantia is the enemy country of the Federal Kingdom.
It is a country of the Karkinos continent, which has been continuing the Giant War with our continent for a long time.
Even though currently we are in a cease-fire, our relationship with Gigantia is not good.
Because of that, the products of Gigantia would naturally become more valuable.
“Every church is having trouble with it. The colorant seems to be traded at twenty times the price of silver of the same weight.”
“Uwah~ it’s an unscrupulous business law.”
“Well, regarding this stained glass, since the subject is the sun, it does manage even without some blue.”
In the stained glass, the figures of an angel, the Founder King of Ignitia and a beautiful sun were depicted.
Is this the scene of the founding myth?
I inadvertently became fascinated by it, but this is not the time for that.
I have to get the whereabouts of the contract beast.
“About today, is there any sightseeing spot related to the contract beast?”
“Erica, you know about such a minor monstro as well. The information of the contract beast is only transmitted to the royal family of Ignitia, you know?”
“Some of the Ignitia’s royalty also married to the Aurelia in the past. I think it is because of that I have heard of such a story.”
For the contract beast, the source of information was the walkthrough in my previous life.
However, I couldn’t say that, so I tried to bring out the past marriage relationships between our two families.
If he becomes wary, I can’t continue the investigation.
“They said any wishes will come true, that kind of miracle beast is only a fairy tale~”
“It is a fairy tale, huh.”
“Yeah, so it’s a complete fantasy beast that is neither a magical beast nor a phantom beast.”
No, no, Angel-sama.
That seems to exist, that contract beast.
It seems that it would fuse with you, according to 『Liber Monstrorum』.
Though if you really don’t know, then at least there won’t be a bloody incident.
“Are you interested in the contract beast?”
“Yes, it has a dreamy flair, don’t you think?”
“Well, it’s decided. Let’s make a sightseeing tour of the contract beast today~ Now……if we don’t narrow it down a little bit, we won’t be able to visit all the places today.”
“Eh……are there a lot of places where the contract beast originated from?”
“Ah, although it is reported to the public as many different monstro, but to the royal family they are one monstro of the same name.”
“Heeh, you seem familiar with it.”
“Well. I am the most familiar with it in the current royal family of Ignitia.”
Auguste seemed to be brimming with confidence.
“Alright, let’s start from the monstro inside the cathedral.”
That said, Auguste started the sightseeing tour.
Tirnanog and I chased such an Auguste and arrived in front of a mural which I hadn’t seen so far.
It was a mural painting of a yellowish cat-like creature and a boy-like person.
Perhaps it was drawn a long time ago, but I felt that it was a technique more childish than that of a mural painting.
“This is a scene of the contract beast giving a riddle.”
“If you win in a riddle match with the contract beast, it would make one’s wish come true……that’s why I was looking into this beast for a while.”
“Perhaps I will be able to ride a dragon if I wish for it to this contract beast.”
The fingers of Auguste traced the yellowish cat of the mural painting.
From his voice there was no severe brooding atmosphere, but I became worried.
You can’t do that, Prince.
Because that is also the way to your destruction.
“But Auguste-sama, isn’t making a contract with the contract beast dangerous?”
“Yeah, they said that it will eat you if you lose in the riddle match. But back then I was wondering whether or not there are at least some hints about how to win, you see.”
“Is that so?”
“However, it is a fictitious animal after all. It is too convenient. As long as you make a contract, whatever your wish is, it will come true.”
“What do the folk tales say about this?”
Tales of this kind always contain a stroke of truth.
This is a rule of thumb based on my past experiences — I took my lessons from the case of the legendary Zaratan, so I intend to pull out the exact truth.
“There are some stories but they are mostly scattered into disconnected parts. There are two that I know in form of a proper story. First, it is a story about when a large number of people died in a pandemic disease, they asked for the contract beast to eat the disease.”
“Because the beast ate the disease, many people’s lives were saved. However, the contracted person had been swallowed by the beast as a compensation. That person is enshrined as a saint……the shrine is located in a different city. Let’s leave it for another time.”
Somehow, it seems to imply my destiny.
I hope that beast is not the kind to eat one person each time a wish comes true.
“Another thing is that a boy suffering from a serpent’s harm made a contract with the beast and gained the power to manipulate snakes. The contract beast had won the game with the King of Serpent and it had the right to control the serpent’s clan.”
“Controlling snakes, huh……somewhat niche……”
“In addition to fulfilling wishes, there are patterns that show it demands blood for compensation. The boy was about to be killed by the beast, but he made a contract which was convenient for humans by winning the riddle match……that’s what this mural is all about.”
“The riddle match comes from here, huh.”
“Aah, this beast was cursed by God, and it seems that it has no choice but to accept it if a riddle match is set up.”
“It’s a strange story, huh.”
“No, it’s a common story. If there is nothing like that, people cannot overcome such a beast. It is surely the way God created it.”
Certainly, I feel that the two choices to win against monstro of old tales are to either win by ability or by intelligence.
In other words, the contract beast would need to listen to what you say if you win against it in a riddle match through quick wit.
“Well then, let’s go to the next one. First of all, the obelisk right outside this building.”
Auguste said that and headed for the exit.
Tirnanog and I also followed after him.
While moving, I asked Auguste about the main problem.
“Do you know about the location of the contract beast, Auguste-sama?”
“I wonder, if I knew about it, I would have made the contract a long time ago and my wish would have been fulfilled.”
At this time, Auguste shouldn’t have any contact with both the place where the contract beast is and the contract beast itself.
Did he conceal the fact that he is holding the hints to find it sooner, or will he discover definitive hints after this?
……I hope this investigation doesn’t bring unnecessary trouble upon myself.
In the square in front of the cathedral, there was an obelisk about twice as tall as an adult’s height.
I have seen the obelisk itself many times, but this is my first time hearing that it is related to the contract beast.
“I cannot say it out loud, but the contract beast is also the ancestor goddess of Ignitia’s royal family. The obelisk pedestal was made since we united under the faith of the only and true God, but the pillar was made on the Karkinos continent during the ancient Romulus Empire era.”
“There seems to be no place where the beast can hide.”
“Ah, so you’re trying to look at it from the premise of someone searching for the beast. Oh yeah, there might be a cavity underneath the obelisk……?”
“That would be difficult……”
“Right. There is no air hole. There was an old poem that said the contract beast likes to sleep under the sun, so I thought that there was a possibility.”
The stone-made obelisk had become a sundial.
The pedestal of the inscription-carved pillar was made of stones with carvings that marked the time.
At first glance, there seemed to be no mechanism that could move it, and it didn’t sound hollow even when I hit it.
“There is no cavity in the pillar, either.”
“No creature would be able to survive to this day if completely plastered with stone—”
I believe, is what I intended to say, when my eyes met with Tirnanog’s who was at my feet trying to tell me something.
Now that I think about it, there was a beast who was resurrected by something like ‘destroying the monument and suddenly coming out of nowhere!’
“There is a possibility that the obelisk itself is the beast which was sealed in another dimension. If we achieve a specific condition or offering for the resurrection, perhaps—”
“Somehow things got much more specific all of a sudden……”
“……I was only imagining a common hypothetical situation.”
Actually though, it is based on real experience.
But, it is unlikely anyone would actually seal such a dangerous creature in such a bustling area.
“You cannot try it.”
“I won’t. But, guessing from the old tales, the offerings are likely to be human flesh.”
“Human flesh is impossible though.”
Both of us were nodding in earnest.
After we did that and watched the obelisk for a while, Auguste hit his hand.
“Ah, that’s right. This obelisk has a hidden point. In the surroundings it has been scraped off, but you can see there are traces where characters were carved a little, can’t you?”
“Ah, that’s true.”
“We scraped off all the inscriptions of the era when we trusted the contract beast, and now there is only the God’s hymn that is carved there. It seems that the remaining traces of scriptures are leftovers from that.”
“After all, they must have wanted to conceal a god who demanded human sacrifice to fulfill people’s wishes.”
“I guess there must have been a fastidious person.”
It was a precious clue.
With an expression that seemed to ooze out feelings, Auguste looked at the ancient characters that had almost disappeared.
“Well, next is—”
The contract beast tour continued after being prompted by Auguste.
The herbal workshop and the clinic were decorated to mimic the face of the cat monstro as much as possible.
It was like onigawara1 in Japan.
The decoration of a lynx eating the demon of ill-health was placed on the entrances and the parts of a building where water is circulated, it is said to be a lucky item to repel diseases by eating invading diseases.
There were traces of the contract beast in the stalls and other places as well.
The beast seems to have been the guardian deity of children.
Amulets for pregnant women and infants made with cat’s eye are still sold here and there around the Island of Messenger.
In old temples and shrines, there were a great variety of remaining legends of the contract beast.
An image of a monstro with a musical instrument in hand, a mural painted with an anthropomorphized cat monstro, a deep scar called the fingernail mark of the beast was attached to an old altar.
All of these were mysterious and interesting.
It was quite fun as a sightseeing tour, but I couldn’t find the contract beast.
“I went to that herbal workshop, about two years ago.”
“That was fun. There are plant specimens that I have never seen. I want some samples.”
The herbal workshop was my most favorite place I visited today.
The herbal medicinal garden attached to the herbal workshop at the monastery was especially interesting.
It was a treasure trove of rare plants brought from Karkinos continent.
Some of the flowers had unique beauty, I also want to grow some.
“You are diligent, huh.”
“I am more or less an alchemist in the making. I am interested in unusual materials.”
“Even though you’re still eight years old, you’re steadily becoming a great alchemist. Will you go to Lindis Magic Academy when you’re fourteen, Erica?”
“Yes……there are many worries about it though.”
I told Auguste about my lack of talent as an alchemist.
The magical power output in my body didn’t work well.
By having such condition, I couldn’t make many magic items including a wand.
“I see. You are having a difficulty too, huh. I thought I’m the only one having a hard time.”
“Well, I am the second child after all, so I won’t have too many responsibilities. There is no heavy pressure like you, Auguste-sama.”
“Still, aren’t there many hardships if you cannot do what others can do normally?”
“That’s true……it is good for now, but when I think about the mistakes I might make when I enter the academy……”
“It is difficult to be a poor student, huh. Especially when you have a high social status.”
It was a big leakage.
This kind of grumbling isn’t something I should do before other people, but I carelessly confided in him.
As expected, it is easier to talk if you have similar troubles, huh.
“Well, even if you feel depressed, it can’t be helped.”
“I guess so.”
“……That’s right, would you like to go to a special place later on?”
“A special place?”
I looked up at Auguste, and he only smiled sweetly.
“There is a secret room that only the royal family knows about……ah, wait. Palug also knows about it.”
“Well, Palug-san is always together with you.”
“During the Advent Festival, it will be conspicuous if we loiter around that area. How about we carry out the plan when the population diminishes slightly? If I’m not mistaken, the Aurelia will stay for long-term, right?”
“Yes. Even after the Advent Festival, we will remain here for a few days in relation to my father’s work.”
“Alright. It’s decided.”
Before we knew it, the shadow of Auguste walking ahead was getting longer.
The bell informing the evening time resounded.
That said, I still don’t know where the contract beast is.
Well, at least I know that there is no dangerous beast in places that can be easily seen.
As I mentioned earlier, I was supposed to be able to stay even after the Advent Festival.
I hope to find and incapacitate it before returning home.
“Shall we go home soon? Won’t people be worry if it’s too late?”
“Then, I will send you back to your temporary residence.”
On the way back to the Duke of Aurelia’s temporary residence, Auguste looked up to the sky unexpectedly.
There was the figure of a dragon returning to the stable.
Auguste didn’t say a word, he just kept staring at the sight.
As if looking at something radiant, he seemed to yearn for it.
Somehow, I felt uneasy.
“……Prince Auguste, please do not force yourself to participate in the tournament.”
“I won’t. There is no dragon to participate with, and I cannot ride it in the first place.”
“I’m sure that you will be able to ride on a dragon one day, you will become a dragon knight.”
“Hahahaha. You say that easily.”
Auguste seemed desolate, he was laughing without power.
“It seems that people who are optimistic will go well at such times.”
“Optimistic, huh……you don’t need to tell me. Well then, optimistically, I’d like to ask you one thing, Erica.”
“Eh? What is it? Please tell me, I’ll help you if I can.”
“Really? Well then, I’ll take you up on your kind offer—”
His arms suddenly blocked my progress.
I was pushed lightly as I stepped back until my back touched the wall.
Auguste came closer as he looked into my face.
I instinctively leaned back, he fixed me in the place by pressing my body against the wall.
“Erica, I want it……your……”
Is this posture the ‘Kabe-don’ that I had heard so much rumors about?
This is the thing that Auguste did after his affection grew in the game.
However, the other party in that scene was Chloe, the original protagonist, not me.
After his affection grew, Auguste would become even flashier.
Auguste was staring at me with serious eyes.
His supple fingers were attached to my chin.
My right hand was instantly searching for the Wand of Hold, but I reconsidered it three times since I was reluctant to use it.
Auguste’s hand that was on my chin turned sideways, and then he pulled out the ribbon I used to tie my hair with.
“Hm? Are you surprised? What did you imagine?”
Auguste laughed while flipping the ribbon he stole from me.
“You surprised me! What are you suddenly doing to a lady!?”
“Rather, it is because you are a lady. For the sake of showing his devotion to the lady, the knight wears the lady’s belonging and flies through the sky, right?”
Auguste jokingly tied his hair with my ribbon.
It suited him very well.
This guy truly looks like a girl.
I can’t believe that he will become the host-type in the future.
However, since I felt a bit frustrated, I rebelled.
“Please return it! I will not give it to a mean person!”
“N-o-w-a-y! Isn’t it fine, it’s not going to decrease anyway.”
“It is decreasing! My ribbon has decreased by one!”
Auguste laughed happily, evaded my hand and ran away.
His expression looked like he was having fun, and my hand that was trying to take back the ribbon was hesitating.
I decided that this current lively Auguste is better than the alabaster statue one.
“Aren’t you my friend? Won’t you give me a ribbon?”
“Uh, that’s true, but—”
“Right. Then, it is decided!”
Auguste started running when I faltered.
I also chased after him.
“It’s a promise! I will definitely fly through the sky wearing this proof of our friendship!”
Auguste’s smile was sparking in the evening sun.
One day he will have become able to ride dragons, and fly in the sky wearing my ribbon.
I imagined such a scene in my mind.
Surely, it would make me proud.
1 Onigawara is a type of roof ornamentation found in Japanese architecture. They are generally roof tiles or statues depicting a Japanese ogre or a fearsome beast. Often found on Buddhist temples. (source)