She and Alike as Two Peas in a Pod
Silence – the area became still as death.
We have no idea what happened. With that written on their faces, the magicians are staring here dumbfounded. I can’t see his face since he’s behind me, but Freed is probably surprised as well. I guess it’s natural. Because, although it was me who tried doing it, I’m the most surprised.
… It turned out frightfully well.
Even though I’m hopeless at practicing regular magic, I managed neutralization magic on the first try.
Come to think of it, I did unconsciously invoke it on Cain.
While nobody moved from the shock, I sharply called out his name.
Now’s the chance.
With his name called, he instantly recovered and ran past me with the sword in hand. In the twinkling of an eye he reached the magicians, and the next moment he cut both down.
Having confirmed that, he let out a breath. After all it seems he was considerably tense.
He smashed the vase with his sword’s handle, and as he came back at ease, I asked him.
“… What about the knife user?”
Freed shook his head to deny. He wiped blood off his sword and sheathed it. The metallic sound that reverberated as he did that felt awfully real.
“As I surveyed the place, the presence had already disappeared, he must’ve run away. Only us are moving here now”
“I see… Is it over?”
“Yeah… Rather, Lidi?”
Told that it’s over, strength left my body. In a hurry Freed caught me who lost strength in his arms.
“Haha… Strength left my body”
Freed tightly hugged me who laughed with a pitiful face.
“… I’m glad you’re safe”
Freed’s voice trembled. Then, his second arm too embraced me.
“Suddenly you stood before me… Just how scared was I at that time. I’ve never experienced such fear, even standing at the frontline at war. Thinking I might lose Lidi, I felt like my heart would stop…”
At the sorrowful sound I hung my head.
“Never again do that. No matter how many lives you have it’s not enough… Are you unhurt?”
“Yup, I’m alright”
The breath of relief let out together with those words spoke of just how much he fears losing me. Even so, at that time I had no choice. I don’t want to see him hurt all the same.
When I clung to him with my feelings welling up, he lifted me just like that. Held in his arms – in the so-called princess carry, I became flustered. He does it in his room often, but now we’re outside. As expected, it’s embarrassing.
“F, Freed? Let me down”
“Nope. In the first place, you can’t stand, can you. Be obedient”
I became lost for words as he guessed that not only strength left me, but I even went weak in the knees.
There’s no use putting on a brave front. With resignation I wrapped my arms around his neck.
Freed smiling as if to say you did well looks extremely cool.
Being at the precious point-blank range, I very much wanted to watch him in fascination to my heart’s content, but checking on him takes priority.
“Freed, you? Any… injuries?”
When I touched his cheek, forehead, and so on, Freed laughed embarrassedly.
“None. Because Lidi protected me… Really, it was nothing short of rash. I absolutely didn’t expect you’d use neutralization magic there”
After all he knew, I thought so as he expressed his surprise.
It’s a rare magic that’s not well known, but if it’s him it’s not strange he knows of it. I felt relieved I was saved the trouble of explaining. Honestly, I’d be troubled to explain something I don’t understand well.
“Because I thought Freed would get hurt if I didn’t…”
“Did you stand in front of flames and did your best just for that? For my sake?”
When I nodded that it’s exactly like that, saying I’m beaten he looked up at the sky.
“… It’s my complete defeat”
“Nothing. I just thought I fell in love with Lidi all over again. And? Can you tell me about that neutralization magic?”
My eyes darted around as Freed smoothly said a dreadful thing.
“If it’s to the extent I understand”
If it’s come to this, I won’t keep anything secret. Since it’s been exposed, it’ll be quickest to explain it properly. Besides, I don’t think things will turn weird if I tell it to Freed.
“Can I tell about it to Alex, Will, or Glenn?”
“I think it’s fine to talk about it with the people you want… But if possible, please don’t mention Ms. Delris”
“Delris? The witch?”
“Yup. She’s the one who advised me that it’s better to keep neutralization magic a secret”
When I told him that, after pondering for a while Freed nodded.
“Okay. I was also warned by the witch. Even Father is silent about meeting a witch. From the start they’re such beings, I’ll skillfully gloss over her. Just, the witch said it too, but since Father is friendly with the Connecting Witch, he might suspect something. Supposing he asks, could I tell him at that time?”
“Yup. That’s fine. Thanks”
I don’t want to spread the matter of Ms. Delris as I please, so I was relieved to hear that. It’s fine to make the King an exception. He seems to have friendly relations with a witch to begin with.
Regarding the main point concerning me… whatever. I feel like I’ve carelessly forgotten about neutralization magic until just now. Ms. Delris advised it’s better not to reveal it to others, but this is force majeure. There’s no particular problem if it’s known to the people I have relations with.
“I’ll unhurriedly listen to the details about neutralization magic after we return. At any rate, let’s return to the castle now? Look, the guards came running”
When I followed his gaze, I saw several soldiers in guard uniforms running here.
“Your Highness! Princess Consort! Are you safe!?”
It must be the captain of the guards who raised an inpatient voice. He is the only one wearing a cap with a different color, and is running in front of the unit.
“… Even if we took passages only locals know, they’re slightly too slow…”
“Didn’t you say there would be no full-time security today?”
As he knit his brows, I asked whether it couldn’t have been helped. But, Freed didn’t intend on going easy on them.
“Even so the security system should have been set up. I’ll have to question them later”
As he complained that things would have been different had they come a little earlier, I informed him of what was probably the case.
“Perhaps, they couldn’t come even if they wanted to? Ms. Delris must’ve confused the guards. Isn’t that why it took them time to find us?”
I’ve heard before she does things like that.
This time it simply backfired. I can only say that the timing was bad. Before the guards found us, the other side found us first.
“… Is that why Alex said he often lost sight of Lidi in town”
“Keep it a secret from Older Brother, okay?”
“I know. I promised. I won’t talk about the witch”
When he said that he understands the reason so it’s fine, we awaited the guards’ arrival.
Even though the evening is growing late, no matter how you look at it you can discern the corpses scattered about. Seeing the traces of the fierce battle that had taken place, the captain’s complexion changed.
All guard members here kneeled, and bowed their heads.
“I apologize! We are late. We have absolutely no excuse…”
“I’ll listen later. I want to take her home as soon as possible. Is it fine to leave this place to you?”
“Yes! That is the matter of course”
“One knife-using assassin escaped. It might be futile, but organize a search party just in case. Don’t forget to have some members of the Magician Division dispatched and have them check for traces of magical arts”
While in Freed’s arms, I listened absentmindedly to the exchange between him and the guard.
I wonder if fatigue washed over me, as I was abruptly assailed by drowsiness. While dozing off, Freed tenderly told me it’s okay to sleep.
Accepting his offer, I surrendered myself to the comfortable arms of Morpheus and lowered my eyelids.
But, when I was about to close my eyes, I saw something in the edge of my vision.
Awfully bothered, I slowly lifted my eyelids.
I shifted only my eyes towards the location that caught my eye.
In a place a little away. In an inconspicuous nook in houses’ shadow was a figure of a young man.
Unable to believe what I had seen, I lifted myself inside Freed’s arms.
My drowsiness had already been blown away. Freed made a puzzle face as I revived from dozing off.
I have no leeway to answer. I’m intently staring at that figure.
A tall slender man with black hair. Perhaps he’s wearing glasses. I can’t see his face from here. However, he’s similar. Frighteningly so – to him.
Just for an instant. I felt like he looked here and our eyes met. Paying no heed to me who had her breath taken away, he easily turned away. When I came to my senses, there was nobody there.
“Lidi? What’s the matter, Lidi”
In a daze I shook my head at Freed’s words.
What was that just now? Did my eyes deceive me? No, it’s too much for my eyes deceiving me…
But, but that can’t be.
It can’t be him. It can’t be that.
Because he is――――.
“Lidi? You look strange?”
At Freed’s third question, this time I answered.
“… I was only surprised to spot somebody who looked a little like my acquaintance”
That’s right. It can’t be him.
I didn’t get a good look at his face, so it might simply be a wrong impression.
Accidental resemblance is a common story.
Thinking about it carefully, I had a feeling he was slightly older than him.
… It’s a different person, no mistaking it.
I concluded a little forcibly, still I breathed out in relief.
“I see, then it’s fine”
Perhaps because it wasn’t a lie, he didn’t investigate further.
Ultimately, leaving the guards on the spot, it’s been decided I and Freed would return to the castle ahead――――.
Having been shocked in various ways, as soon as I returned to the room, I seem to have gotten fever and collapsed.
I was amazed to hear that when I woke up, it was actually the morning three days later.