In the afternoon, the rain has become heavier and the wind mixed with rain is beating hard against the shutters.
The weather is so stormy that it could almost be called a storm.
Thunder shook the earth, and a low roar echoed in the distance as if it were a drum beating in the distance.
Without a light, the room is dark even during the day.
Furthermore, there is the smell of blood. The smell of death.
Lucas, Valerie, and Olga are now in the room where the bodies were hung.
"...we must go back and meet their families..."
"It's... better not to think about that right now."
Valerie's shoulders droop, and Lucas's words are gentle.
He knows that she would feel even more depressed if he were to be nicer to her. But he still did it.
As Olga lights the cantera in her hand, a dark stain appears in the pale light.
On the floor, blood dripped onto the floor in spots, which had not been wiped away.
The bodies of Ernesto and the others had already been taken to another room.
They came back here because Lucas said, +I want to check something+.
After all, when he found the dead body, he had an indescribable feeling of discomfort.
It was as if something was missing that should have been there.
That's why he came back here.
Several hours have already passed since then.
Their colleagues are still angry at the death of their comrades, and they are still looking around for escaped Prisoners of War.
Some of them have gone out to look for the escapees... but it would be in vain. Even if escaped, it is almost impossible to follow the traces in this wind and rain.
No, it's all right if they got away. There's no point in avenging. It may sound heartless, but if someone dies, his time stops there. It means nothing more than that.
But a man who could do that to three knights. He's not an ordinary man. If such a dangerous man has gone, he should welcome him with open arms. Lucas thinks so.
Rather, the problem is the princess.
She was very upset when she heard the report.
Of course she was. She was sleeping peacefully at the bedside of her own bed, one wall away, while a bizarre murder was taking place.
She was completely frightened and said, "T-This princess will go back! No matter what happens, this princess will go back! This princess doesn't want to stay here even for a moment longer!” Olga and the knights tried their best to calm her down.
Even if they were to return home, it was still raining.
It would be too dangerous.
The princess is completely frightened and shivering with a blanket over her head.
Just beyond this wall is her bed. That's where she should be.
Right now, her personal knights are stationed inside and outside the room, standing guard.
"But... hanging a corpse is not an easy thing to do. If it was the work of the escaped prisoner, the question is why this guy needed to do that..."
Lucas put his hand on his chin and murmured, and Valerie nodded right next to him.
"Well, it was such a bother to take the trouble to drain the blood. We should assume that there was some kind of purpose.”
Lucas raised his eyebrows, and Valerie bowed her head.
"Oh, yes, I'm sorry. You don't hunt. This is how we drain the blood from our prey. We stun them, hang them upside down, and rip out their carotid arteries while their hearts are still beating, and they'll bleed out."
"Why go through the trouble?"
"The blood left in the body coagulates and decomposes quickly if left untreated, and it smells bad. In other words, if the blood is not drained the meat will lose its flavor.
"Valerie... so the escaped prisoners of war hung them up to eat them?"
"No, no! That's not what I meant."
Olga raised her eyebrows, and Valerie panicked. For Valerie, who had been suspected of having been eaten by an unveiling, it was a very unintentional remark.
However, thanks to this, Lucas was able to realize the true nature of his discomfort.
"I see... But I'm even more confused now."
The reason for the discomfort was the amount of blood.
The amount of blood on the floor was small.
If the blood was drained from the bodies of three people, this room would probably be a pool of blood by now.
It would not be more than a few spots.
It probably means that this guy took the drained blood with them, but whatever it means, is not clear.
* * *
Olga reported the fact of the "Blood-draining" to the princess, though she should not have done so.
Despite the fact that she told the princess to report every detail of her findings, she was too inflexible.
Why are knights, like Valerie and Olga, such straightforward idiots?
As expected, the princess became more and more distraught.
"Are you sure this is the work of the escaped prisoner? No! The human-eating demon who ate Amber must have come to eat this princess next. What!? Could it be that this person ate Amber to lure me here? No! No! I don't want to die! Stellanova! We're going back! Return to the capital now!"
Valerie and Olga look at each other and shrug their shoulders as the princess escalates the conversation on her own and flails around on the bed.
"Your Highness, I'm afraid that we can't even move the carriage in this wind and rain where I can't even see my own toes. Tomorrow, the rain will probably ease. Please bear with it until then at least."
"No! This princess doesn’t want to die!"
With these words she throws the pillow in her hand to Olga.
"Your Highness, we will protect you even if it costs us our lives! Please bear with us for a while!"
"Shut up! There's no guarantee that you are not the human-eating demon!"
Perhaps it was just an accident.
But this kind of thing that comes out of her mouth made the situation worse.
Because she immediately jumped up, startled by her own words, and hugged her trembling body.
"Yes, yes... there are no guarantees. There are no guarantees at all... No, Stellanova was with this princess on the day of Amber's death, so it's different. But Stellanova can't protect me... that's right! There's another one. There is! There's one person I've confirmed isn't the human-eating demon!"
With dilated eyes, the princess looks at Valerie.
"Valerie! Come here! Protect me!"
It is true that there is evidence of Valerie's whereabouts at the time of Amber's death.
The princess herself said so.
Ironically, Valerie, who was suspected to be the human-eating demon, became the only person, except for the silver-haired maid, whom the princess could be sure that she was not the human-eating demon.
"I-If we can't go home, then change rooms. Although it’s a bit of trouble. But it must be somewhere more secure. A warehouse, anything. A room without windows. A place where no one can come in from the outside!"
Lucas and Valerie looked at each other.
There is only one place in the fortress that meets the conditions mentioned by the princess.
"There... is it?"
"That's the only place... right?"
In their minds, the hidden room they had found a few days before came to mind.
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