Lana, who welcomed us as we entered, looked just like she always did.
She wore a bright smile on her face and grinned at us.
Behind her were the figures of Mei and Alea, both of them tied up.
The room was hardly lit up, so it looked quite dim and dusty.
The ceiling looked collapsed here and there, so you could see the cloudy sky above those areas.
Lana was situated in the back of the room and stood in front of Mei and Alea.
“You really did come.”
It seemed that neither of them had sustained any injuries.
For now, at least.
I briefly checked over their appearance.
The two of them were changed into their outdoor clothes and were wearing their shoes properly.
Mei was wearing her pouch, just like usual.
“Just wait there. We’ll come and rescue you right away.”
Claire-sama also had a slightly relieved expression on her face.
She was probably happy to be able to confirm that they were both well and uninjured.
“Aha, is this the part where I comment on how heartwarming this reunion is, sensei??”
Lana, who was holding a knife in one of her hands, pointed it in Mei and Alea’s direction.
When I took a step forward,
“Whoa there, don’t take a step closer. If you do, I’ll cut an ear off from your children.”
I immediately came to a halt.
I tried to think of a way to get her to drop the knife.
“Magic is also forbidden, okay? If you use it, I’ll mercilessly gouge out an eye from them as well.”
“I get it, so please don’t hurt them.”
Claire-sama also agreed to her terms.
Maintaining the safety of our daughters was our highest priority, after all.
“Hmm? You two seem quite anxious, huh? You must really value your kids, don’t you?”
“Of course? They’re our children, after all?”
“But none of you guys are blood related, right?”
“Even so, that doesn’t change a thing.”
The frivolous grin on Lana’s face disappeared for a split second.
She looked over at Mei and Alea before switching her line of sight over to us.
“I don’t understand that at all. Aren’t children supposed to be mere pawns to their parents? Aren’t you two actually quite stupid for rushing headfirst into such a dangerous situation just to save them?”
“You can say whatever you want.”
“…… I see.”
It seemed that Lana could not comprehend the feelings that Claire-sama and I had for our kids.
That was probably something you could only come to understand once you had kids of your own, though.
“Well, whatever. Let’s get this over with. Sensei, you both want to save your kids, right?”
When we nodded, Lana laughed cruelly and,
“In that case…… Rei-sensei, kill Claire-sensei.”
Said this to us.
“Did you not hear me? I told you to kill Claire-sensei. If you kill her, then I’ll let you come and rescue your kids. So, you know, kill her, okay?”
“Lana, don’t say something so stupid. Just free them already.”
“I wish you didn’t make me have to repeat myself over and over again…… Maybe you’ll understand if I scrape their noses off?”
Lana said something so horrible while still wearing her usual smile on her face.
The knife was pointed directly at Mei.
Mei still had a brave look on her face.
“Now then, what will you do?”
Lana shouted while making a show by waving the knife around.
If I wanted to save the kids, I would have to kill Claire-sama.
If I didn’t kill Claire-sama, we wouldn’t be able to save the kids.
It was the ultimate decision.
The worst case scenario that I wondered about at the end of the Pope’s assassination case had become a reality.
As for my answer――
“I can’t accept that, Lana.”
I answered with a “no”.
“H-Hah! As expected, your lover is the most valuable to you, huh! That’s only natural! Children only mean so much to their parents, after all!”
“You’re wrong, Lana. No matter what, the two of us will save our daughters. However, even if it’s for the sake of the two of them, there’s no way we’re going to let any one of us sacrifice our lives in the process.”
“And until we are fully assured that they are completely safe, we will not engage in any sort of negotiations.”
Claire-sama and I both expressed ourselves resolutely.
We were proceeding with the conversation, just like how Dor-sama taught us.
We had to regain control of the conversation.
‘Which choice was the right one?’ was something that I had frequently wondered about when it came down to something as extreme as this.
But why not just aim for both?
Was there anything wrong with bouncing around, searching for a solution until we could save everyone?
Perhaps our answer made Lana feel displeased, since she had such a villainous expression on her face as she said,
“Ehh, is that so? In that case, I guess I’ll just have to make them suffer a bit――”
“The moment you leave so much of a scratch on them, I bet you’d probably be reduced to ashes.”
Claire-sama interrupted Lana, who tried to threaten us, with a cool tone behind her voice.
There was no point in keeping hostages if they weren’t kept safe, after all.
The moment the hostage is harmed, then they stop being considered hostages.
Of course, if she actually hurt Mei, that would be considered a loss on our side, but in exchange, Lana’s life would be on the line as well.
I can’t say this for certain, we already had a certain method of self-defense laid down here already without Lana’s knowledge.
So to begin with, Lana was already at a disadvantage during our negotiations.
“It’s not like I value my life all that much anyway! If it’s for Papa, I’ll do anything――”
“Is Salas the ‘papa’ in question?”
“That’s right! Papa told me that if I dealt with you guys, he’d love me only!”
Lana was still smiling, but somehow, it looked a little empty.
There was a joyful gaze directed towards us, but it felt like her eyes were looking somewhere else.
“Rei-okaasama, please save Lana as well.”
“Lana is probably affected by some sort of bad illness.”
Even in this kind of situation, Mei and Alea still cared for Lana.
They probably believed in her.
And that the Lana right now was simply not in her right mind. To them, the real Lana was the fun, elder sisterly figure that always played with them.
“Of course, Mei, Alea.”
“Leave it to us.”
Lana interrupted our conversation by screaming at us.
She seemed a little strange.
With her so riled up, it was possible that she might end up hurting Mei and Alea, so we had to tread carefully going forward.
“…… I’m fine….. As long as I have my Papa…… All I want is to follow Papa’s voice…….”
Lana muttered to herself.
As expected, she was likely under Salas’ hypnosis.
“Papa….. Tell me….. What should I do…..?”
In the next moment, the expression on Lana’s face disappeared.
And shortly after, a flat voice spilled from her mouth.
“First of all, kill off one of the twins. If you do that, those two over there should know their place.”
The voice was Lana’s, but at the same time, it wasn’t hers.
Lana looked overjoyed as she squeezed the knife again and pointed it towards Mei’s neck.
Claire-sama and I jumped into action.
Just when it seemed like we couldn’t make it in time――
“What is this!?”
The blade that struck Mei’s neck was suddenly met with something translucent and soft.
Relaire was hanging out in Mei’s pouch.
Relaire was always with the twins since she was used to neutralize the blood curse that they had.
I cast a spell on Lana’s knife.
Among the spells that I knew, that was the one I could cast the fastest, and the knife froze along with her hand.
The moment we were able to render Lana’s knife useless,
Claire-sama attacked the already damaged ceiling as I lifted Mei and Alea up out of danger.
This spell was something that I modified from the original so that I could cast it at a much faster speed.
Lana couldn’t get a hold of the situation at all.
Taking advantage of her confusion, Claire-sama immediately tackled her.
With Lana’s hand still frozen, Claire-sama pinned her down.
“Let me go…..! Let go of me――!”
“Rei, use the Tears of the Moon.”
“Yes. Oh moonlight, banish the evil from her――!”
A soft light emitted from the ring and wrapped itself around Lana.
“Let me go――! Papa, Papa……!”
Lana did not appear to change at all.
She was still rampaging while under Claire-sama.
“Rei-okaasama, maybe it has something to do her headband.”
“Lana got it from her father, after all.”
As Mei and Alea watched the situation unfold from above, Lana became even more violent.
Was it acting as a magical tool?
“Don’t……! This is important to me! This is the only thing I received from my father――”
“Lana, I sympathize with your situation. However, you need to be freed from Salas’ curse. Rei.”
I took the headband off for Claire-sama, as she was still holding Lana down.
“Don’t! Stop it――”
The moment I removed the headband, Lana fainted and her eyes became white.
This probably meant that she was released from the hypnosis now.
Her rampaging had also stopped.
“…… Haah. Is it safe to assume that this is settled now?”
“I wonder about that.”
For the time being, Lana’s situation had been kept in check, and Mei and Alea were both safe and sound.
So then, what was this?
For some reason, I felt uneasy.
Would such a scheming man like him come up with such a simple strategy?
“? Rei-okaasama, something is flying this way.”
“Something black and scary is coming this way.”
What the twins said sent a chill down my spine.
“Mei, Alea, hurry and come here――”
But before I could even finish what I was saying, a dark light had directly struck the abandoned building.