“So… What is this supposed to mean?”
What she thought was a safe response resulted in a hand stained in blood being pointed to her.
Him showing her his arm that was drenched in her blood while asking that was something that made sense only to the two of them.
“Please take this.”
His response sounded like an indirect question, but it was expected and she was neither upset nor frightened.
She walked up to the boy calmly and courteously, then handed him a red pill.
“From what I know, most of the forbidden arts require either a sacrifice or the blood of the living. Especially, when the person using it isn’t immortal, so… Please use this. It’s a drug developed by our kingdom’s Magic Pharmaceutics to compensate for the loss of blood.”
Literally, a magic potion that increased one’s blood.
Not even healing magic could replace lost blood, so drugs to that end were developed by a field known as Magic Pharmaceutics.
The reason Stella could stand there now despite having bled profusely was precisely because she has already taken such medicine herself.
However, she knew that it was not only herself who needed it but also the boy.
“…Is this supposed to be an apology?”
“Not at all. It was our fault in the first place for not adopting such a stance right from the start, yet not only did you inform us of our mistake and scolded us, you even made it so that it would end merely on this note. So if anything… This is me showing gratitude.”
It was hard to tell if Stella meant that, given her ever unreadable expressionless face and flat voice, but she meant what she said.
She had neglected to admonish Lilisha despite being her servant.
And their excessive optimism led to the murder of a Tenkorius, so if anything, the punishment the boy had given them was still on the soft side.
His attack must have already taken into consideration the healing prowess of a great magic kingdom.
Truly, it was only thanks to his kindness that they could get away with just that.
Though perhaps he might have also considered the consequences of killing them here.
It was curious what the boy thought of her actions, but him taking that medicine was all the trust that Stella needed.
“Nku… Haa, I underestimated the eyes of someone that takes care of others for a living.”
Without hesitation, the boy swallowed the pill, then conjured a ball of water and put his hands in it, washing them as if this were a regular occurrence.
He casually used that spell without a chant, but that wasn’t a surprise given his level.
However, the way the water ball instantly evaporated as soon as he was done washing off the blood on his arms still made everyone gasp.
“I’d intended to hide it, but───It makes me anxious to leave behind blood. Oh, thanks.”
Everyone was similarly surprised, but Stella still quietly handed him a hand towel.
Already, this level of taking care of another person was habitual, and her gratitude toward him had been so sudden that it took him off guard.
After wiping his hands, he looked alternatingly between her and the now used towel in his hands, wondering what he should do. For a moment, he looked just like his age, and that finally relieved Stella of her tension.
She told him to return the towel and upon recovering it asked.
“…Why didn’t you use my blood?”
She could infer from his words that he’d used her blood to hide his own.
In so doing, he was able to show superiority over the lich lord since it seemed as though he could use the forbidden arts without blood, and it also reduced the possibility of his own blood being used.
But if he’d decided on that plan the moment he touched her, then he might as well have just used her blood instead.
“W-Well, the only reason you’re like that is because I bullied you, and you’re not really related to this.
And while I can indeed use your blood without affecting you, there’s still that one in ten-thousand chance that you might be affected by a rebound, and I wouldn’t want that, so…
Yeah, if anything, I didn’t actually have any reason to use your blood.”
The boy was surprised for a moment when she asked that question, but he immediately tilted his head.
In response, everyone else made a difficult expression.
He hastily came up with an answer, and while it didn’t seem to be a lie, it seemed as though he didn’t even realize that using her blood was an option.
Stella nodded to show that she understood, but deep inside, she was confused.
She couldn’t help but be doubtful of the difference between his abilities and his conduct.
Although he had such a good grasp of the inner workings of the Earthgant royal family, and although he had skillfully lured the lich lord and mentally destroyed him, something was off.
Even the reason he came up with just now was basically just him saying that he didn’t want to trouble others since this was just him being selfish, and that was also the reason why he believed it was okay to use his own blood.
It was a behavior that reeked of serious hardship, not the sort of behavior one would expect form someone with an S Rank in Skill.
As one’s rank in Skill increased, so was their ability to live ‘better’, but he had none of that air that one would expect from a master or an hermit.
For some reason, he looked just like a clumsy child to Stella, and she found herself wryly smiling at him.
“Umm, sorry to interject while you’re talking, but…”
Then a small creature interrupted with an apologetic voice and body.
Golden fur like that of the ears of rice and three tails, it was a young Tenkorius.
“Oh, sorry about that. I ended up putting your matter for later because of my circumstance.”
Perhaps because she was the only one here who was truly a victim, the boy turned to the Tenkorius, got on his knees, and spoke to her with a gentle expression.
He seemed like a completely different person from the one that threw the princess.
The difference in attitude was so stark that the maids couldn’t be blamed for struggling to keep their faces from twitching.
“N-Not at all! In fact, there’s no need to trouble yourself with my matter! I can wait as long as you’d like me to! And I’m sorry for having taken so long to come out— Ki!”
The young Tenkorius showed an unnaturally reverential attitude toward the boy, while for some reason – and technically it wouldn’t be wrong to say so – she looked at Stella as though she’d murdered her parents, causing both the boy and Stella to blink their eyes in incomprehension.
“W-Well, I’m grateful for that, but… Are you sure?”
Despite that, the boy still needed to ask, so he muddied his words and asked her for her intentions.
The Tenkorius understood his intentions and said.
“Yes, I was quite upset earlier, but while we might be able to understand the human tongue and talk like this, we ultimately live under the law of the jungle. Though we have emotions close to that of humans, the emotions we possess are not exactly the same as that of humans.”
That’s why she was telling him not to mind her situation.
They were beasts at heart and did not hold the same sentiment for her parents as a human would.
But unlike Lilisha and the others, the boy’s expression remained gentle.
He held out his hand and quietly urged the Tenkorius to get on, then he brought her up to eye level and gazed intently into her small eyes that weren’t anything like those of a human.
“That might be the case, but they were still the ones that brought you here, so I’m sure you must have been close. You also strike me as someone who resembles humans more than the others, and besides, even if your species is like that, there’s no reason for you to be like them. Well, at least, that’s what I think.”
He had an admonishing tone but was nonetheless careful not to come off as intrusive.
Regardless, not a hint of the boy that mercilessly toyed with them could be seen in that attitude.
It was curious what the young divine beast thought of that, but she nodded her head and wryly smiled.
“…Yes. It would indeed be a lie to say that I felt nothing. But at most, I just want to punch them once.”
“Heh… Well, you heard the girl. Better brace yourselves.”
The boy smiled, then told the girls that with a monotonous voice.
The girls were aware that they were at fault, and they also found the difference in treatment to be upright of him, so they just meekly nodded.
The boy waited for the young Tenkorius to jump onto his shoulder, then made sure to position himself somewhere they could all see each other before sitting himself on a fallen tree and clapping.
Then in a casual tone, he said.