The woman had been completely unaware of Stella’s presence, but that was only a given, after all, being able to hide one’s presence completely was one of the essential skills of being a maid.
In the face of women that have been trained well enough to become excellent assassins in their own right, there was no way an impromptu performance could have ever possibly worked.
As realization dawned on the woman that her plot had been foiled, she called out to her comrades, but when no voice nor movements reacted to her call, a chill ran down her back.
“Head Maid, we’ve finished catching them.”
“Well done. Keep rolling them over like that.”
As the woman realized what had happened, she bit her lips.
Even without seeing, she already knew that all the assassins pretending to be sacrifices have already been neutralized, and that no matter how much power she put, the silver tray would never budge.
With Stella strengthening it with her Magic Raiment Battle Law, that silver tray was durable enough to withstand even a stroke from a famed sword.
“Victims kidnapped by the cult turning out to be cult members themselves? I see you cultists have a knack for rehashing the same story repeatedly,” the hooded boy snickered.
As someone who was experiencing this strategy for the fifth time, such a description was certainly apt.
That’s why he’d said to just drop them.
Not everyone was able to understand what he meant by that, but Stella did, so she was able to orchestrate everything that happened afterwards.
“Tsk, so I really am still lacking as a servant compared to Stella. I helped, but I didn’t understand anything at all. How frustrating!”
Youko said as she used her own tail in place of a handkerchief and bit on it.
Lilisha had actually seen through Shinichi’s intentions as well and used herself as bait, but it was probably best not to tell her that.
“Oh, so that’s what it was. I learned something new.”
Kite said as he pointed his sword at the woman’s neck from behind.
Rather than be indignant because he was fooled by everyone’s act, he was impressed by how everyone worked together.
As for the woman, she only felt humiliation for how lightly this group was treating her. It was even worst than what the reports claimed.
It was as though her and her organization were truly just insignificant matters before them.
And in fact, they were strong enough for that to indeed be the case – something she has been made privy to personally.
Be it in Status or Skill or combat experience or numbers or situations… There was not one aspect they were superior in.
Even risking her life for one last move wouldn’t be able to threaten these people.
At the very least, she was of no threat at all in a straight up fight.
If there was any way at all, it could only be through a method that no one would expect.
And fortunately or unfortunately,
“O god of ours, please forgive this servant of yours!”
Suddenly, she changed her grip on her blade, and without any hesitation, pierced her own throat.
That took everyone by surprise, and for a moment, their thoughts stopped.
It was Kite’s first time seeing someone take their own life with a blade, so he was surprised purely because of that, but everyone else had a different reason.
It might sound strange, but the Evil God Cult prohibited suicide.
The moment they were accepted into the faith, they belonged to the evil god, and they could no longer do whatever they wanted with their lives.
That teaching was drilled especially hard into those with jobs close to death, such as assassins and soldiers.
That why it was well-known among those involved in anti-terrorism and statecraft that although the cultists wouldn’t kill themselves, they would also never open their mouths.
Yet no matter how unified an organization’s ideologies might be, there would always be those that interpret the tenets to their own convenience, and precisely because they were fanatics, there were also those who wouldn’t be loath to break the tenets to accomplish their objective.
That woman was one of those, and it just so happened that she had yet been put in a situation for that side of herself to be revealed.
That’s why the momentary surprise of Shinichi’s group was an opportunity to her.
Though blood gushed out like a fountain from her carotid artery, the woman gloated to herself as though she’d won, a crazed smile beyond any human framework plastered on her.
“Get back! Don’t let the blood touch you!”
The boy, who understood the modus operandi of the cult, was the first to recover his senses.
Kite didn’t know about the prohibition on suicide, so he followed along as usual, but the girls were different, and they responded a moment slower than normal. That delay wasn’t even enough to fill an entire second, but it was a fatal mistake in the face of all that fresh blood.
Stella jumped in front of the princess and sent her back to shield her, causing that apron dress that had remained white this whole time to be dyed in red.
“Ahaha, glory to the evil god! Curse all the fools that fixate over this worthless world!”
The woman had just cut her own throat, so it was curious where that voice was coming from. Yet those words did come out, and the woman laughed madly before abruptly collapsing like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
“Get back! Damn it, to think that a mere cult warrior would force me to bring out my
Shinichi, who understood
That turned out to be the wrong move.
For just as his
“Hah! You think something like that could hurt me— What!?”
Evil ki transformed into black smoke swallowed the corpse in one go and took the shape of a giant arm.
Shinichi took on a provoking stance in response, but the arm ignored him and flew behind him instead, to attack Lilisha, who was currently on her tushy after being pushed aside, and Stella, who was bathed in red.
It wasn’t until later that Shinichi would realize that it was because the arm had recognized him to be
“Not on my watch!”
As a servant, as a royal guard, Stella moved half-reflexively.
She took the princess into her arms, and made a big jump back to dodge the arm of black smoke.
Or at least, that was what she intended to.
“Stella, what’s the matter!?”
But the moment she tried to jump back, the power left her legs and she found herself kneeling with the princess in her arms.
It was as though she couldn’t put any strength into her body at all. If she’d let her guard down, she might have even dropped the princess she was supposed to protect, and that flustered her greatly.
Her being able to roll away and dodge the giant arm of black smoke despite all that was only thanks to her superb reflexes.
Yet the girls still looked down too much on that small bit of power of that one drop of evil god that the arm possessed.
An arm that should have been dodged.
Yet in the end, that arm was nothing but the form that the black smoke had taken.
And when Stella sought to take a step out amidst the lethargy, a different arm grabbed at her.
Immediately, – just like a certain someone – she forced mana through her body and forcefully manipulated her unmoving body to throw the princess toward her
She could heave a sigh of relief when she saw them catch her safely, but now it was time for the black smoke to claim her, and claim her it did, as it dragged her away from right in front of the princess and her sisters.
Cry as they might the black smoke would hear none of it as it leaped into the torrent of cursed waters and vanished.
The princess tried to give chase, but the maids stopped her, a gray cloak fluttered
As the princess was stopped, the boy kicked off against the ground and dove straight into the torrent of cursed waters, giving rise to a heavy sound that, for some reason, seemed to echo throughout the area slowly.