As soon as everyone gathered in front of the fort, Sara showed a metal stick the size of a pen with a big smile on her face.
Three different colored metal sticks are spiraling and intertwining with each other.
「What is that?」
Alexis wonders, and Sara's expression turns serious.
「It's used to test for poison. See, I told you the other day, didn't I? I have a good one that I used to use when I was mage doctor. I went to the town to get it while I was on vacation」
「Oh, I see. That's great」
Thinking that Sara hadn't been seen on the fort during her vacation... Alexis was convinced.
Alexis then turned to Lorenzo, who was nodding his head, still carrying his big baggage on his back.
「Oh. I have prepared five days' worth of food, as you requested」
「Good, that will extend the duration of our stay」
「We have a long way to go. It's best to assume that the dungeon is getting bigger... and bigger.」
Alexis looks over to see two horses hitched to a carriage, side by side.
「The territory has narrowed, so we'll have to go a little farther」
「――about that,」 Fransisca said, her shoulders slumped.
「I apologize for the inconvenience...」
Alexis replied with a sigh to which Fransisca replied, 「I'm sorry,」 without a shred of comfort. The reason being...
「...I didn't think there were three people who couldn't ride a horse...」
Alexis mumbles something.
「I-I just haven't had the chance... I mean, there's no way a Princess-maiden would ride a horse, and I used to be her maid」
Fatima, looking miffed, retorted.
Yes, the second member who could not ride a horse was Fatima. And the third member was Lorenzo.
「Even Sara can ride a horse... I wonder how Sara rides a horse in the first place...」
The petite loli girl who looks to be no more than ten years old for all intents and purposes tilts her head and says, "Well, you see".
「If I jump on it like this, and then give it a little tingle, it will run for me!」
Sara says with a smile.
And Alexis answered with a straight face, "I see, I don't understand".
「I mean, Sara, who the hell are you anyway... the more I learn about you, the more mysterious you become...」
"Hmm, I wonder", Sara laughs.
Feeling that there was an atmosphere in which it was not appropriate to ask any more questions, Alexis decided to cut the conversation short.
「—Well, let's go!」
Alexis said to the four members except himself.
* * *
The carriage drives for about an hour before arriving at the front of the darkness.
The area that had been affected with darkness is now a forested area, where deployed soldiers have already set up their positions.
「—Maybe if we can conquest Avalon, Sagrado Kingdom can be restored to its former state」
Fransisca's face brightened with a sense of hope, but Alexis was thinking inwardly.
（Is that so? I think we should consider different situations. First of all, if we could go outside the area, even to a remote village, then we can understand the situation...――）
He thought so, but he couldn't bring himself to tell her, seeing the princess's face breaking into a happy smile at the moment.
* * *
After leaving the carriage to the nearby soldiers, they were finally entering the dungeon.
This dungeon is covered with moss and mushrooms in some places, in addition to shining gems on the walls here and there.
「Is this... edible?」
Lorenzo gulps and clears his throat.
Fransisca stopped him, and said, "Well, let's check the poison just to be sure, shall we?". Then Sara pulled out a metal stick for poison analysis from her pocket.
「Oh, this one has paralyzing poison in it」
「Then how about this?!」
「This... ah, it looks like a neurotoxin. Is it what you call a warai-dake （Panaeolus papilionaceus）?」
「Then.. how about this!」
「That red and blue coloring is dangerous, you know? ? Don't touch it!」
「Whoa? My hand? My hand hurts!」
While Lorenzo and Sara are exchanging such comments, Alexis is leading the team.
「There doesn't seem to be much of a view over there... Should we stop?」
Just as Fransisca comes up behind Alexis.
Suddenly, Alexis' feet sank slightly with a sound like a button being pushed.
"...Hmm?" he was mumbling, and Whoosh! An arrow is shot from the wall.
He tries to quickly ready his shield, but he can't make it in time. Then...
Fransisca suddenly jumped out.
Fransisca's thin body hugs Alexis' body tightly, as if protecting him.
The arrow pierced Fransisca's left shoulder.
The voices of the three vassals echoed.
「F-Fransisca, yyou idiot!? How dare the attacker protect the guardian!」
Alexis turned pale.
「Ah... I'm sorry. I was just thinking...」
Fransisca laughed weakly and then collapsed to the ground.
Alexis immediately took her in her arms and shout, "Lorenzo, set up camp and Sara, take care of her」
* * *
The curtain was thus stretched, and Lorenzo and Fatima stood guard.
Inside the curtain, Sara cast a healing spell for a while, and then she dropped down.
「...This is not good. This isn't just an injury. It seems to be coated with a plant poison, so [Antidote] won't work either. But I can get some medicine when we get back to the fort...」
「Then we'll come back immediately」
「No, impossible. Because only Her Highness can use the pendant to get back home!」
「W-what did you say?!」
Alexis was surprised.
「What is the reason!? Isn't Fransisca's pendant an artifact of an ancient civilization? Can't anyone use a magic tool like that?」
「Yes, yes, but... this one is special. The princess's pendant is a treasure that has been passed down from generation to generation in the royal family of the Sagrado Kingdom. That's why it can only be used by those of royal blood... she told me before...」
「Sagrado kingdom... the land of priests, huh? With this Avalon and the special artifact... is it a country with a strong connection to ancient civilizations?」
「Yes, I guess so」
With a nod, Sara stared at Fransisca for a while, who showed no sign of waking up.
Now Fransisca is sleeping peacefully thanks to Sara's efforts at palliative care...
（If this continues, then Her Highness will... ――No, if it comes to this...）
Sara was determined.
「...It's no use. Let's make an antidote with what we can find in the dungeon!」
Sara told Alexis.
「Can you do it?」
Sara nodded to Alexis, whose eyes widened.
「Yes, probably. The mushrooms that grew here and there in the dungeon... they were all poisonous, but I think we can use them as a detoxifier if I mix them well... But we don't know what else they contain besides poison. So there might be side effects. It's a risk, but...」
"Fine!" Alexis said, standing up.
「It's a lot better than sitting here with our fingers crossed and waiting to die. In that case, Fatima and I will go get the mushrooms. Lorenzo will keep watch and you stay with Fransisca」
"Yeah, okay," Sara nodded her head.
「So, what are the characteristics of these mushrooms... oh, and take this stick with you just in case」
Alexis took the metal stick from Sara and asked her about the characteristics of the mushrooms.
Apparently, this stick can detect the presence or absence of poison and its symptoms by the combination of three different metals that change color.
「Have you learned it well? I'll leave it to you!」
「Yeah! Leave that to me!」
Alexis said and walked out of the curtain.