“I did think you were defective, but to think that your comprehension would be this bad. It’s giving me a headache. No matter how strong Silver Wings is, it doesn’t have the ability to interfere with the soul. There’s no way you didn’t know that!”
But Stella just snorted in mockery as though it didn’t matter, and then a giant stone arm protruded from the ground and struck her.
Alas, there was no wiping away the smirk on her face.
Still, the giant arm transformed into dozens of sword that rained upon Stella.
Most of them missed their mark, but they still managed to stop her from escaping. And unable to move quickly, Stella couldn’t find a way to launch a counter attack.
Stella rolled on the ground while crying out incomprehensibly from the pain. She managed to avoid anything fatal, but the swords still pierced her left shoulder and right thigh, and at long last, her body finally gave out, and she found herself unable to move.
“…How dare you look at me like that…”
Despite that, her gaze remained sharp. If looks could kill, the alchemist would have long died.
Finding that unsightly, the armored doll struck its sword into the ground, merging it with the ground, before it came back out as a giant battle axe.
“Enough, I will cleave you into two.”
It was about twice the size of an adult man, and at the alchemist’s behest, it swung straight for Stella.
Before the ominous glow it emanated and its great mass, even Stella could not help but wonder if this was the end.
However, she did not avert her glare and readily accepted death.
But the blade of death, the guillotine that would have sounded her execution true did not descend, and instead it shattered from right before her.
What accomplished that was none other than a thunderous spell of lightning, and all eyes turned to the direction where it came from.
The alchemist, who had his helmet blown off by the shockwaves, once again made a look of surprise with his childlike face.
“What is it this time!?”
Near the large hole on the wall that Stella had opened with her Silver Wings could be seen the princess standing resolutely.
Despite her simple dress, she stood there proudly, displaying an unusual degree of composure given the situation.
“Lilisha Earthgant… Ah! I messed up! I ended up giving her the time to complete the unlock code!!”
The armor that restrained Lilisha could no longer be seen.
The alchemist had completely forgotten about her because of the hero’s strength and the maids’ persistent attack and provocation.
“The Silver Wings weren’t meant to kill me but to break the wall and the barriers. And to make sure I didn’t notice that, you kept on provoking me… Arrgh!”
He’d been had.
His advantage over them had not changed, but the thought that he’d been dancing on the palm of opponents like this infuriated him to no end.
“Lilisha-sama! Why didn’t you run!?”
But surprisingly, it was Stella who was surprised.
Though they did not talk among themselves or use telepathy, they should have all been able to understand each other.
The princess would be safe if she could just get to where he was.
“I know that I should have fled! But I’m sorry! There’s no way I could just leave you here to die while I ran away on my own!”
Lilisha knew that staying behind and risking the lives of her maids would turn out poorly, but at the same time, she felt as though she would lose something even more important if she ran away.
“Looks like, Shin really was right. I’m not suited to be a princess.”
Though she stood there boldly, she wore a wry smile on her.
She appeared guilty for allowing herself to get carried by her emotions, but she didn’t appear to regret that one bit.
“…Marvelous. What a spectacular performance. To come so far only to get cold feet. You might be brilliant, but at the end of the day, you’re just a little girl.”
“Indeed, as regretful as it is, I actually do share your opinion in that regard.”
“Moreover, it appears that you had to push yourself quite hard just to complete the unlock code. You look terrible. That spell from earlier must have drained not only your mana but also your stamina.”
“Yes, to be honest, I’m barely standing.”
“…Little girl, what is it that you’re scheming this time?”
The alchemist mocked the princess, but she readily answered without hesitation.
In fact, she even acknowledged her own situation. Perhaps due to everything that has happened so far, the alchemist could not help but be suspicious of Lilisha’s composure.
“Nothing in particular.”
“Another ambiguous answer, but enough is enough! I wanted to get the materials in good condition, but I don’t care anymore!”
The alchemist raised his hand and the light of alchemy brought the rubble all around to gather together and form two guillotines.
“Foolish princess, if they’re that important to you, then just die together!”
As the alchemist’s hand swung down, the two guillotines headed straight for Lilisha and Stella.
With no way to defend themselves, their impending doom was all too clear.
Cries resounded from all around, and despite their plight, Stella still called out in concern for the princess. It was within such a situation that the princess muttered to herself.
“Foolish, indeed. And that’s precisely why I can still say something so shameless.”
Surprisingly, the princess was actually calmer than anyone else as she muttered those words.
She’d always felt like she shouldn’t say those words.
She didn’t want to cling to him or rely on him, for – as unreasonable as it was – she feared that that would make him leave.
Despite that, she had no choice but to say those words now.
Because if she didn’t, she would surely come to regret it. So she put her hands together, and as though offering a prayer, she wove those words into a wish.
──────Save me, Shin!
Even as she prayed and yelled, she refused to avert her eyes from her impending doom riding on those blades of death.
She was shameless enough to cry for help, so she believed she shouldn’t close her eyes.
From the bottom of her heart, she prayed and believed. It went against all reason, but even then, she did it because she wanted to. If there’s a death that she could not flee from, then at the very least, she hoped to be a woman he would miss and mourn. It was a vain and wretched wish.
One that led her to believe that if she waited for him until the end, he wouldn’t be able to forget her.
The reaper’s scythe was now upon her. If she were to reach out just a little, her arms would surely be cut.
──Do I have to be this sly to be able to stand next to you?
And yet here she was thinking such things. It was kind of funny.
But whether such thoughts were born out of leisure or merely resignation, it was because of them that she saw that clearly.
Swifter than the gale, more powerful than thunder, a black flash of light that carried with it the tinge of silver.
“Every single time, I swear───”
Two shooting stars full of brilliance suddenly split.
Their fate had been decided, they should have died, and yet as though the boy hadn’t been informed about such a script, he unreasonably crushed that ending.
Before any word or thought could even take shape, a drop of tear slid down from her eyes.
He came. He really came. Or was this just a dream she was having now that she was on death’s door? Surely not.
For who else but him would come to her at a time like this?
The sight of him gave her such relief that the princess collapsed right there and then.
“────Every single time, always this timing!”
The boy that appeared was neither beautiful nor muscular, an unremarkable boy that did not stand out from the crowd.
The way he complained too was nothing like the heroes spoken of in the legends.
Yet none of that mattered to Lilisha.
Not even the part where she suffered so much or the predicament they were in just awhile ago.
Because a miracle that could overturn everything was here.
────Lilisha’s hero made it in time.