“Well done seeing through that, Princess. I was trying not to get my head crushed since it’s troublesome, but since you managed to crush it anyway, I figured I might as well pretend to be dead and trick you. I was so sure I isolated my aura perfectly too, but…”
“That doesn’t matter. We already know that you’re an alchemist, and alchemists always put themselves somewhere safe. Especially for a skilled and experienced practitioner capable of creating such intricate dolls.”
It was impossible to transfer one’s consciousness into a doll and control it remotely.
Though the princess had been quiet when she first realized that they were dealing with an unwelcome guest, she was now talking a lot.
Unpleasant speculations crossed her mind. If the mage himself wasn’t present here, and his dolls attacked them one after another, wouldn’t they run out of strength before they could win? But of course…
“I see, that indeed makes sense. It’s a given to be on guard, but…
“…What did you say?”
The alchemist readily denied her speculations.
He could be lying, but he could also be telling the truth.
One thing was certain, however, and that was that his childish appearance was a doll.
There was no human that didn’t bleed and no human with a gelatinous body.
If that body wasn’t being controlled remotely, then the will of the original body must be in it.
And there was only one situation that could make that possible.
“Don’t tell me… Did you migrate your soul!?” The princess said.
Chills ran down Lilisha’s spine, while the alchemist only smirked with confidence.
If her suspicions were true, then this was no ordinary alchemist.
“I thought I’d gotten used to these sort of situations in this half month, but it appears I’m still lacking,” the princess said.
What a troublesome opponent.
Though it was indeed much easier now because of Shinichi’s training, if he truly did transfer his soul, then this was still bound to be a difficult fight.
It was unlikely that he was lying, for such a matter was simply too sophisticated, making it ill-suited to be a lie.
Besides, the only thing she needed to know if he was lying or not was to discern whether a soul was ‘there’ or merely a portion of his mind.
And she knew it was the former.
“Umm, by migrate, you’re referring to that thing birds do when seasons change and they move residence, right?” Kite said.
“Yes, the soul version of it. It’s one of the answers to the pursuit of immortality. If the collapse of the physical body is inevitable, then one could simply keep preparing new vessels and use alchemy to transfer one’s soul into it. It’s one of the secrets of alchemy.”
The princess’ face stiffened in disbelief as she explained that. Who could’ve thought that there was actually someone who could use it?
Kite couldn’t avert his eyes from the enemy, but he could still sense the atmosphere and so gulped.
“Transferring souls… Wait a moment. Um, princess, is this one of those alchemy stuff where he’ll just keep making new bodies no matter how many times we destroy them?”
The princess didn’t say anything, but he could still sense the nod she made, and Kite along with the rest of the maids wryly smiled.
What a troublesome opponent. At first, they’d feared the enemy having multiple dolls, but for better or for worse, though the concept was similar, this situation was actually worse.
“It is incredibly difficult to manipulate souls. And you also need to keep preparing new bodies, so it was supposed to be an impractical theory.”
Lilisha glared resentfully at the alchemist, causing him to grin as a sense of superiority filled him.
But if he realized that the reason for that was because Lilisha wasn’t happy that he could do something she couldn’t, perhaps it would actually be him whose face would distort.
“To borrow Shin’s words, we found a troublesome opponent.”
Someone good enough to manipulate his soul even with an impromptu doll has already reached the apex of the secret of alchemy.
A person like that could easily prepare a new vessel using anything that could be sourced from around him.
Of course, he would still need to expend some mana, but alchemy required much less mana compared to magic.
The reason for alchemy’s decline was the vast amounts of knowledge that the field demanded, but that also meant that as long as a practitioner could achieve that, they would have a greater number of spells under their disposal.
“We should have just teleported along with the others!”
The princess could tell that a barrier that interfered with teleportation has been erected, so it wasn’t possible to run away using that method anymore.
That barrier was most likely activated after she teleported the other guests away.
Had she teleported them somewhere far enough to escape its range, it probably wouldn’t have activated, but alas…
“…Ka ka ka, it’s unfortunate, Princess Lilisha, but you’ve lost. You appear to have teleported them to the residence of the royal family, but the Teleportation Formation there isn’t working either. Besides, did you really think that I didn’t prepare anything against that monster beast?”
What was he talking about? Lilisha seemed to ask with her eyes, while pillars of flames and magical shockwaves could be seen through the windows to the side.
They were coming from the direction of the royal villa, where the princess had teleported the guests.
From that vantage point, the count’s mansion point was diagonally to the right behind.
Though they couldn’t see it directly, from the sound and presence of the attacks, the battle seemed to be taking place by the front gate.
“Oho, from the sound of things, they must be resisting rather desperately. The opponent may be a child, but a tenkorius is a tenkorius, so I’m sure our side will lose in the end.
However, those nobles won’t survive. I’ve prepared enough to be able to destroy a fairly sized country.
Even if the tenkorius survives, the rest won’t.”
Are you planning to go to a battlefield like that? The alchemist seemed to say with his mocking smile.
That was a smile that belittled the princess for trying to help the guests escape when she realized she couldn’t protect them.
Despite how adorable the childish appearance of the alchemist was, the expression he wore was nothing short of hideous.
Yet the expression on the girls was odd.
They only looked at each other without so much as a word, then they nodded. The same thought was shared by them all.
──The alchemist hasn’t noticed the most dangerous person.
But then again, the alchemist couldn’t exactly be faulted for that.
For how could any Falandian dare imagine that the master of the tenkorius would be even stronger than the tenkorius. Nay, it would be impossible unless they experienced it for themselves.
Fortunately or unfortunately, there have been many commotions since their encounter, but Shinichi has never once used those absurd powers of his and instead entrusted the matter to them.
Perhaps that’s why the alchemist’s knowledge of them was superficial at best.
He probably didn’t know anything about that fated encounter, and for that, it was curious whether he ought to be pitied or envied.
The former because he would be antagonizing someone he could never hope to defeat, and the latter because he was ‘yet’ to know that truth.
But regardless, since this was the case, they now knew what to do.
“I understand… But in the first place, what even is your objective?”
No chance of winning, no place to flee, and no hope for rescue, or at least, that’s how it looked to the alchemist.
He had driven them into a corner, and yet the only response he got was a calm look full of pity.
But the princess didn’t pay that any heed and just gave voice to her own speculations.
“I doubt you were aiming for any of the guests. Were that the case, you would have given chase the moment they were teleported away. It is also unlikely that you simply want to acquire a large amount of mana from us by way of the Magic Formation of Mana Absorption. You were so easily able to infiltrate this place, after all. If you just wanted mana, then it would have been much more efficient for you to sneak into a research lab or into an army. If anything, it felt as though you were trying to get rid of the guests while also getting yourself some mana.”
The princess said all of that in a single breath, and while the alchemist remained dubious, he nodded nonetheless.
It was obvious that the princess was buying time, but the alchemist was optimistic enough to play along, not realizing that that was exactly what the princess was going for.
“If so, then your objective must be us. Moreover, you’re not after our life,” the princess said.
“Ku ku, exactly. My life long research has come to a halt, you see. And in order to make the next breakthrough, I must get the blood of a royal woman along with her maids,” the alchemist said.
“…If I’m not needed, can I go home?” Kite said.
“Ka ka ka, you say some funny things, Brat. But since we’ve gotten this far, I might as well bring you along. I want to study the body of an otherworlder too. Besides, you don’t actually want to leave, do you?”
He was someone who could easily lop off the head of a child.
The alchemist had investigated him beforehand and was shocked to see him do that, but he could still tell that he wasn’t cruel enough to abandon his comrades.
“…As expected, there’s no room for negotiations. I don’t have any intention of letting you tinker with my or those girls’ bodies.”
“I’m impressed you can say that in a situation like this. But what exactly are you going to do? You’ve already been mated.”
“Nothing special. Just… Resist with everything we’ve got───Right, everyone?”
“Yes,” the maids said.
“Yeah, let’s fight hard!”
The maids responded unanimously in their usual manner, while Kite responded nonchalantly.
As though that were a signal of sort, the princess and the hero stripped off their clothes and revealed a beautiful and majestic armor that pursued both aesthetics and performance.
In the princess’ hands was a staff with a dazzling jewel, while in the hero’s hands was a dazzling silver great sword that was as big as him.
“An application of dimensional storage, Dress Change, huh. I’d always thought that was a spell for changing clothes, but I see you’ve incorporated it with an armor, but…”
The alchemist couldn’t understand. That technique couldn’t store a lot of clothes.
It would not be strange for them to always have combat gear ready since they were traveling, but if so, the quality of their equipment was too
“If my eyes haven’t betrayed me, those armor the two of you are wearing are good enough to be stored in Earthgant’s treasure house. Aren’t those something you’d use only when the country is in danger, Princess?”
A dress armor and a knight’s armor made mostly of Silverganth.
A staff luxuriously made from the branches of the legendary great tree and a precious jewel, and a great sword made with enough silverganth to cost the national budget of a small country.
It was the sort of equipment one would prepare before a final battle, and yet they had actually prepared them in advance.
The alchemist felt as though something was off.
“They could also be an excellent replica, you know,” the princess said.
“As if!” The alchemist retorted.
In the end, the alchemist was met with great resistance from the girls without knowing what exactly was the source of his discomfort.