“It was Manaria-sama……? What do you mean?”
“Don’t play dumb with me. You were the one who seduced her.”
“No, that’s not it.”
So Eve was Manaria’s lover?
“That person loved me dearly. I had to back off for her sake, but I’ve never forgotten about the love that she held towards me.”
I somehow felt a bit uneasy about the crazy things that Eve was spouting out of her mouth.
There was something suspicious about her.
I had a strange feeling about this.
What exactly was making me uncomfortable though?
“But even so, you did something to her……! I won’t forgive you……!”
“Eve, I think you’re mistaken. Manaria-sama and I never did anything with each other.”
Eve tried to hit me.
I quickly moved my body to dodge it.
I took a step back from Eve, who had forcefully closed the distance between us, and we stood face-to-face with one another.
Unfortunately, the only door to leave the room was behind Eve.
Since this was a room full of important data, in order to make sure that the documents couldn’t be leaked, there were no windows.
“Eve…… Where did you even meet Manaria-sama?”
“What are you trying to accomplish by asking that question?”
“I just want to make sure of something.”
“Hmph, are you trying to make sure that Manaria-sama loves you?”
“Like I said, you’re mistaken.”
Ignoring my words, Eve put her hand in her pocket.
What she pulled out was a small knife.
Eve prepared herself.
“Manaria-sama is mine…… I’m the only one who will serve her with my mind and body……!”
‘Serve her,’ she says…….
Manaria-sama once mentioned that she had laid a hand on one of her maids, but it seemed that the maid in question was Eve, huh.
If I remembered correctly, the maid left the royal palace, and as a result, Manaria-sama ended up being neglected as well.
I thought that her age didn’t match with the story, but I recalled that Eve once mentioned something to me.
That was back when we were tailing Joel before we lost track of her.
Eve had said that she was much older than me.
In any case, that did not seem to be the source of my discomfort.
What was it then?
What’s making me feel like this?
“You stole Manaria-sama from me! Give her back! Give Manaria-sama back to me!”
A glint flashed across the blade of Eve’s pocket knife.
She had missed me by a hair’s breadth.
Eve’s melee combat ability seemed quite weak, but the same could be said for me.
Although Claire-sama taught me a bit of self-defense, I hadn’t had a lot of time to sharpen those skills yet.
If I used magic, I was confident that I wouldn’t lose.
Eve’s magical ability was also much stronger than her melee combat ability, but even so, I was sure I’d come out on top anyway.
The problem was, my magic was a bit too powerful.
If at all possible, I didn’t want to injure her.
Using magic was virtually not an option.
I thought back to the fight that we had against Louis.
“Hey, Eve. You mentioned before that you and Lana are from the same country, right?”
“What does that have to do with anything right now?”
“Just answer me. You and Lana are from the same hometown, right?”
“Yes. Lana and I are from the same place.”
So that’s why it seemed strange.
“In that case, where did you even meet Manaria-sama? You mentioned that you were from Euclid, so how was it that you ended up serving in Sousa’s royal palace?”
Eve’s eyes widened with surprise.
Unlike the Empire, Sousa never adopted a meritocratic system.
It was reasonable for somebody with a high status like Claire-sama to enter the royal palace, but for a commoner like Eve to be there―― and to be serving the royal family as a maid, no less―― was impossible.
Perhaps when Sousa enters an era of peace, it would be possible.
But Sousa was still in the middle of a dispute of who would succeed the throne prior to Manaria-sama’s ascension back then.
Under those circumstances, there was no way they’d hire a commoner from another country to serve as a maid at the royal palace.
“Eve, just try and think about it. Were you really Manaria-sama’s maid? Or rather, are you sure that you’re actually from Euclid?”
Eve’s face gradually became more and more distorted.
It looked just like the face of somebody who had just seen a ghost.
“Ah…… Aah……. Aaah……..!!!”
Eve held her head and started rampaging.
She twisted her body around like she was in pain and burst into a shriek.
“Eve, please get a hold of yourself!”
I approached her, threw the knife out of her hand and held her down as she rampaged.
When I looked at her face, there was no light to be seen in her eyes.
The sight reminded me of something.
She looked unlike herself.
I don’t know how it happened, but most likely, Eve was under Salas’ hypnosis.
It seemed that her actions were done out of her own will.
Figuring that was the case, I took something out of my pocket.
“With the blessing of the moonlight, banish the evil that spreads through her――!”
When I said the phrase, the ring-shaped Tears of the Moon began to glow.
A soft light surrounded Eve.
Eve’s distorted expression gradually softened and became more gentle.
I gambled on whether or not it would have any effect on her, but it seemed like Salas’ hypnosis was treated as a status ailment.
Eventually, Eve stopped moving and fell on the spot.
I rushed to catch her body.
“Eve…… Eve……! Please get a hold of yourself……!”
I patted Eve’s cheeks repeatedly.
Eve, who seemed like she had fainted, woke up immediately.
“…… Rei-sensei……. Where are we……?”
“We’re in the data room in the Empire. Do you remember anything?”
Eve looked absentminded for a while.
Her gaze wandered around and examined her surroundings.
“I……. was here to help you and Lana…… and then……”
“…… And then, if I remember correctly…… ――!?”
Eve’s eyes suddenly shot wide open and she got up immediately.
“I…… How could I……”
“Eve, please calm down…… You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“It’s fine, so please stay calm. Take a couple of deep breaths. Okay, inhale.”
Eve obeyed me as it seemed like the hypnosis had worn off.
The hatred that she had always directed towards me was nowhere to be seen in her eyes either.
As I thought, Eve was hypnotized―― most likely by Salas―― and deceived by him.
“Well, let’s make sure of something first, okay? Eve, is it really true that you served as Manaria-sama’s maid and you were her former lover?”
“And because of that, you came to hate me?”
“…… At least, that’s what I should be feeling, but I’m not sure now. Why did I feel like that at all, anyway……? Right now, I don’t feel like that at all anymore……”
“Yeah. It seems like you were under somebody’s hypnosis then. None of this is your fault, Eve.”
I hugged Eve tightly.
Eve entrusted herself in my embrace as she held her head down.
“Manaria-sama and I…… had already made things clear between us. When I think about her circumstances, we both knew that we couldn’t be together, so it was for the best that I left.”
“After I left Sousa, I did a lot of maid work in various different places, and then…… after that…..”
As Eve was digging through her memories, it seemed like she had suddenly remembered something important as she raised her head immediately.
“Sensei! This is bad! You need to return to the dormitory right away!”
“Mei-chan and Alea-chan are in danger!”
“W-What are you talking about?”
Suddenly, Eve became incredibly flustered, and left me bewildered.
And then, she said one sentence that quickly roped me back to reality.
“The person that hypnotized me was Lana!”