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“You know, don’t you!? What will happen if the outlandish you and me, a hero, were to fight here!” said a flustered Lepard, unwilling to fight against Frau from the bottom of his heart, but Frau only stared at him without any sign of being perturbed.
While suspicious of whether Frau possessed some kind of secret weapon against him due to her excessive confidence, Lepard continued, “I’m the beastmen’s hero, and although I’m indebted to Renya~nya in various ways, it’s not like I have any duty to follow your guys’ order, do I!?”
“It’s an order from master ~nano!”
“Then bring him over here! Or come back again once he’s returned!”
Lepard’s demand wasn’t that unusual. In the first place, Klinge’s side didn’t possess the authority to force Lepard to do anything. Since the beginning Lepard himself had declared that he would only do what Renya told him to do.
“Master is busy ~no! Right now, Frau is master’s representative ~nano!”
“I ain’t lowering my head to a representative!”
Being told so, Frau groaned deeply. And Lepard, who had said it, donned an expression of knowing that he had gone a bit too far.
Certainly, the other party was a fairy boasting outlandish abilities, but she also had some mentally immature parts to her, just as her appearance suggested. If he dealt with such a person with a tit for tat approach like he had done just now, it wasn’t known what she would do once she felt offended.
If pushed to say, one would think that the correct approach would be to soothe her while persuading and talking it out with her, but unable to take back the words that had already left his mouth, Lepard clenched his fists tightly, believing that at this point there was no other way out other than duking it out.
However, what Frau did in front of Lepard, who had resolved himself for battle, was something that drastically diverted from his expectations.
“I understand ~no. In that case our side will deal with you appropriately ~no.”
The instant Lepard put himself on guard, wondering whether she would come at him, one fire pillar after the other suddenly blew up into the sky on the plain that should be empty.
The fire pillars illuminated the plain, which was on the verge of darkness as the sun had sunken, bright red, and Lepard instantly narrowed his eyes and shaded them with an arm due to the dazzling intensity of the flames.
With several fire pillars gushing out behind her, Frau spread her arms. Without Lepard realizing, her usual apron dress had changed into a black robe decorated with an excessive amount of golden and silver accessories.
“Hero Lepard, for thou art foolish enough to oppose this Frau. Know thine own standing ~no.”
Frau’s voice, which had been girlish until now, had gone down an octave, changing into something that echoed strangely well for some reason.
Even while surprised by the change, Lepard harbored doubts about the flames bursting from the ground. As a warrior, Lepard had seen spells resembling the flames, which continued to blow upwards with rumbling sounds, on several occasions, but they shouldn’t have had a continuous effect. Even as he wondered whether it might be some kind of illusion, the heat wafting over from Frau’s direction indicated that those fire pillars were quite real.
“Foolish hero, it’s not too late yet. Submit to me. The other three heroes have already surrendered to my camp. Even if thou defy me all by thineself, it bears no meaning by now.”
“Umm, come on. What kind of demon king are you supposed to be?”
As if not having heard Lepard, who glared at her with half open eyes while still standing at the ready, Frau continued, and as if in response to her words, the fire pillars’ intensity increased by yet another level, “Or do thou wish for thine soul to be eradicated at the end of eternal torture? Do thou wish to be exposed to unending cries of pain while being carved into ten thousand times? Do thou wish to learn that even death won’t save thee from my hands?”
With each word, lightning ripped through the sky. With the lightning and fire pillars behind her, Lepard couldn’t see Frau’s expression because of the backlighting, but only the crescent-moon-like smile on her lips strangely burned itself deeply into his eyes.
“As I said, what kind of demon king are you supposed to be!? Are you a devil!?”
“I’m a lovely silky-san who was born in Kukrika and grew up in Klinge, but what about it?” Frau flatly answered Lepard, who had shouted as loudly as he could to make his retort, as if her exaggerated eeriness until now had been a lie.
“A silky wouldn’t do stuff like that! No matter how you look at it, ain’t ya the final boss who’s sitting on the throne in the innermost room of a castle!?”
“There’s no castle, nor am I sitting on a throne ~no. Frau right now is simply standing on a plain ~nano. Okay, that wins me the argument ~no.”
It was almost at the level of a quarrel between kids, but Lepard faltered as he didn’t find any words to return.
“Fuhahahaha! Foolish Hero!”
“You bitch…you’re definitely messin’ with me!”
“I’m no bitch, I’m a little girl ~nano.”
Lepard gave up as he realized that he couldn’t win with words. He sensed that he would probably be one-sidedly defeated if things were to continue like this, no matter how much he tried to struggle.
What should I do then?
“Frau, if you ain’t listening to me that you should come back with Renya, I have an idea of my own as well.”
“Oh hero, let’s hear it. What kind of idea does thou have?”
“Since ancient times it’s always been a tradition to spank brats that don’t listen to what you tell ’em!”
Given that he had gone out to hunt as light amusement, Lepard hadn’t armed himself decently. It’s not like he brought his hero equipment with him, and what he was wearing on both arms were simple leather gauntlets, but still, once he clenched his fists tightly, putting strength into them, a slow swaying similar to a heat haze rose up from them.
“If you push me this far, you ain’t getting away with just your ass though!”
“What exactly does thou plan to do?” Frau calmly asked Lepard who had started to shorten the distance between them while leaking murderous intent.
“Well, that’s of course…” Just as he said so, Lepard vanished from Frau’s view.
When Frau realized that he had vanished from her sight by rushing while slightly shifting his focal point, Lepard was already ready to attack Frau from her front right side.
“…I’ll beat you black and blue until you apologize in tears!”
His fist, which he had launched with such a force and speed that it released a shock wave into the vicinity, was aimed at Frau’s face.
Due to Lepard’s blow, which lacked any mercy towards his opponent, the surrounding soldiers wondered what would happen afterwards if he went through with it, but from Lepard’s point of view, he had no choice but to go for Frau’s face. After all, his opponent possessed a fairly small body compared to him. If he tried to hit any place other than her face, the damage would be low since he would have to twist his body into an unreasonable posture.
“As expected of you, Lepard. If you just rank the hero’s considering their battle aspect,, you’re in first or second place ~nano.” Frau said without trying to block or dodge the approaching fist. Her eyes were fixedly staring at Lepard himself, and not his fist. “But, you’re still naive ~no.”
Frau pointed her left hand’s thumb somewhere with a jerk without averting her eyes from him.
Being in the middle of his attack, Lepard was about to go through with it, judging that this had nothing to do with him, but being bothered by Frau’s strangely cocky attitude for some reason, he ended up glancing in the direction Frau pointed, despite averting one’s eyes from the opponent in the middle of combat originally being a fatal mistake for a warrior.
His fist that was about to land on Frau’s face was stopped by Lepard himself, a hair’s breadth away from hitting Frau. The attack’s aftermath caused Frau’s forelocks to sway, but Frau didn’t move while maintaining a daring smile.
“Do you know who that is ~no?”
Lepard couldn’t reply to Frau’s question who let a low, suppressed laughter slip from her lips.
The one at the end of his gaze was Kaede, who was lifted up while being entangled by something thin that swayed lightly as it extended from the ground, while still in her shrine maiden’s garb.
As far as he could see, her clothes weren’t disheveled, but Kaede, who hung there limply, didn’t seem to be conscious.
“Frau, you lil’ bitch…what did ya do to Kaede!?”
“Kukukuku. Hero, does thou believe that that’s the proper attitude to take when asking someone about something ~nano? Pay attention to your attitude and way of speaking ~no. Frau doesn’t know what will happen to Kaede…if I give the order ~no.”
Behind Lepard who ground his teeth, all of Klinge’s soldiers, who had remained on standby to impede Lepard from escaping just in case, revealed dejected expressions. Certainly, taking hostages was an effective method, but with this Frau was heading straight down the path of a villain, and they, who were her subordinates, had become the cast supporting Villain No. 1. Even they didn’t have the slightest intention to act like champions of justice, but the feeling that she had gone too far with this was strong amongst them.
However, Frau apparently didn’t understand the soldiers’ feelings. She turned over the hem of her robe with a thud, and loudly declared towards Lepard, who stood stock still in front of her, “Now then, hero! Let’s first begin from <Please tell me, Frau-sama> ~no!”
“Tsk…p-p-…please tell me, Frau…-sama.” Lepard obediently followed Frau’s demand, seemingly having grasped that he couldn’t act too imprudently now that his lover had been taken hostage.
Of course, Lepard didn’t believe that Frau would do anything excessive to Kaede, but at the same time he understood that he also didn’t know what she would actually do, even if it wasn’t something excessive.
“Too quiet ~no! Oh well, Frau is a merciful person, so I can tell you what you want to know ~no.” Frau said while patting Lepard’s fist, which was trembling while strongly clenched in front of her face, with her palm.
“That’s overeating ~nano!”
“She finally got smashed after eating sweets and drinking large quantities of beverages filled with plenty of alcohol ~no. Frau was slightly startled as well ~no. Sure, Frau had planned to get Kaede drunk and use her against you as a trump card for the anti-Lepard battle, but I definitely hadn’t expected for her to continue eating until she got smashed ~no…”
Frau had schemed to get Kaede drunk by slowly mixing alcohol into the provided sweets and black tea, but because Kaede’s food consumption and consumption speed went far beyond Frau’s expectations, Kaede went beyond getting drunk, and got smashed instead. Frau thought that one would have probably noticed it at some point, but since Kaede ended up smashed without even having actually realized it herself, Frau accepted it as inevitable.
Frau came up with a change of plan, and even mobilized Putry-chan to transport Kaede who had become dead drunk while faintly smiling.
“That’s why there was no other option but to handle it like this ~no.”
“You…that’s really dirty…to get Kaede drunk.”
Behind Lepard who muttered that while trembling, Klinge’s soldiers looked at Frau from the side while nodding their heads, but Frau made them shut up with a sidelong glance.
“Now then, hero! Surrender to me if thou care about Kaede’s safety ~no!”
“Are you the devil!? To begin with, what do you plan to do with Kaede? It’ll turn into a major problem if you do anything bad, you know!? After all is said and done, Kaede is a high-ranking shrine maiden among the beastmen!”
Unlike the hero, Kaede wasn’t a combat personnel since she was a shrine maiden. If it were Lepard, it was possible to explain the situation away almost completely by calling it training or a somewhat rough treatment because of his habitual bad behavior, but those excuses wouldn’t work in regards to Kaede. Since she was a person with a fairly high standing, it could very likely develop into a problem between the races which would be worse than an international issue, just as Lepard said.
“We won’t inflict any harm on her ~no.”
Frau’s reply left her mouth very naturally. It was an answer that anyone present would consider reasonable. However, with a reply like that, Kaede wouldn’t have any value as a hostage.
Preceding Lepard who was about to retort that point, Frau uttered something outrageous, “For starters, we will take her clothes off ~no.”
“Take her clothes off!?”
Frau dispassionately continued talking to Lepard, who couldn’t believe what she had just said, “And then we will toss her into the pond where Putry-chan lives ~no.”
“What the hell is Putry!? Are you possibly talking about that tentacle holding Kaede’s body!?”
“It’ll be fine. There won’t be any danger to her life. Moreover, she might be able to go to heaven ~no.” Once Frau cracked a smile, sweat drops started to appear on Lepard’s forehead.
Sure, it’s not the kind of harm that would damage her body. However, it was pretty obvious that she’d be treated in a way that would make bodily harm look like the better alternative. Furthermore, the other party is Frau. If she says she’ll do something, you can expect her to carry it out almost definitely. And, if she really puts it into practice, there’s no guarantee that Kaede will come back to me safely.
“Well then, hero! If thou want me to safely return Kaede…”
“I got it! I will do as you say, so please let go of her!”
If the opponent were the demon king, there would have been no way for Lepard to throw away his pride as a hero, and he might have abandoned Kaede.
However, the other party was Renya’s fairy maid, albeit looking demon kingish at the moment. Lepard decided that he should secure the safety of Kaede’s body by bending his will here.
Klinge’s soldier, who saw Lepard go down on his knees in a crestfallen manner, all soundlessly thought, Our Head Maid is scary.
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