Chapter 73

 After a break of a week, the long absence from the dungeon seemed like a while.
 The next day, after completing most of the necessary procedures for the fort and making up for the lack of manpower, the members of the team gathered for the first time in about a week to head for the dungeon.
 —Although the members of the team were the same as before, some things had changed a little.
「P-Pleased to meet you...」
 A frail-looking girl with round glasses, holding a staff as tall as she was and wearing a conjurer's robe bowed her head deeply, looking tense.
 Her plum-colored hair, which was in abundance, was tied back in a large, fluffy braid. Although she looked innocent, her green eyes added color to her mature but pretty appearance.
「I-I've been assigned to take Fatima-san's place... Eh, uhh. My name is Maria Keithley, and I'm a Conjuror. Eh, umm, it's nice to meet you...」
 Maria bows her head frantically while her voice seems to fade away.
 She seems to be very nervous because she is talking to a very important person, but it seems that her shyness is also a big reason for her nervousness.
 Alexis folded his arms and looked at Maria, then let out a sigh when he saw that she did not seem to be releasing her tension.
「Don't be so nervous. You have been selected well, haven't you? I heard you used to be the deputy head of the library. So, you must know a lot about magic. Then be more confident. It's true that we have a captain and a vice-captain here, but we're a pretty frank team, aren't we?」
「Y-Yes, but the previous person, Fatima-san, is a Sagrado person. Sagrado priests are very good at magic.」
 Maria looks down and plays with her glasses.
「I'm sure you'll be fine. The Krangals are taking care of everything but the strategy. It will be fine.」
 After he answered, Alexis looked at her and saw a figure.
 It was Dorothea, a blacksmith who was leaning against a large sack and sighing.
「Why are you here?」
「I have no choice, do I? I don't like the idea of accompanying the prince idiot either, but Lorenzo asked me to take over as engineer.」
 Dorothea is still ambiguous.
 Well, Lorenzo had just had a womanization incident the other day.
「He was supposed to be in good health unlike Fatima. He looks like he's in great shape. So why does he need a replacement?」
「Well, after what he went through, he seems to have been very depressed... With his condition, won't it take him a long time to recover?」
 Sara spoke from the side as if she was talking about something else, but it all started with her.
「Fatima's treatment method is also a problem.... Sara. Do you have no sense of conscience?」
 Alexis asks, to which Sara smiles and replies, "I threw those 'things' away a long time ago because they interfere with my research".
「Oh, I see...」
 There is no one stronger than someone who is open and honest.
 And with that thought, Alexis decided to give up on pointing out any more.
「...But do you have engineering skills?」
 Turning his attention back to Dorothea again, Dorothea says, "Oh, yeah, I'm fine in that area."
「After all, a blacksmith must have that kind of dexterity. I can also unlock locks and disarm traps, which is necessary knowledge for making gimmick weapons.」
「I see. That makes sense. Just...」
 Alexis folds his arms and groans. Apparently, he has one more complaint.
「Is there something else?」
 At Dorothea's question, Alexis finally opens his mouth.
「Who's going to take care of the armor when you're gone?」
 "Ah, that?" Dorothea laughed at the thought.
「That won't be a problem. Tomorrow the reinforcements from the blacksmith guild will arrive. I mean... didn't the prince ask for backup? Didn't you say we were shorthanded?」
「That's true, but I called them here to assist you. After all, I like the armor you make. I'm telling you, I don't even want to use the inferior quality of the weapons anymore.」
 Alexis is not happy, but no craftsman would feel bad about being told that he likes their work.
 Dorothea seemed to feel the same way, and her cheeks were stained with embarrassment, but she only managed to keep her mouth from slackening.
「Don't worry, it's going to be okay... because it looks like my grandfather and his two apprentices are the ones who will come.」
「Oh. Your grandfather is coming?」
 Dorothea nodded her head and said, "Yes," to Alexis, who blinked at her.
「I got a letter saying he's coming, so I'm pretty sure. I'm sure Grandfather is better than me, so don't worry.」
「I see. So I don't have to worry, huh? But, you know, like skill, there's a habit of making things, isn't there? I like yours because it feels comfortable in my hand. But then again, habits change, don't they?」
 Alexis, who is still groaning, seems to be surprisingly conservative.
「...Oh, but there is one advantage if Dorothea comes with us.」
 Fransisca, who had been silently watching the proceedings until just now, clapped her hands with a snap of her hands as if an idea had just occurred to her.
「Hmm, what is it?」
「You can take care of our armor while we're in dungeon, right?」
 Fransisca pointed out with a smile.
 "Dorothea, that's good too!" Alexis agreed easily.
* * *
 Thus, the team was now ready to go, with Alexis, Fransisca, Sara, and the new members, Maria and Dorothea.
 After getting on the carriage as usual and sitting on the dais himself, Alexis had a sudden realization.
「It looks like I'm the only male member of this group?」
「Yes, that's true. But isn't it good? Alexis likes women, don't you?」
 Fransisca smilingly replies as if she has no bad intentions.
「You know what? You talk about me as if I were a womanizer...」
 Alexis said, and Dorothea folds her arms and says "Eh? Is it wrong?". At this, he feels that he has malice in his heart.
 —Well, he is aware that he has done something that could be taken as malicious. So, he could only sigh.
「Lorenzo-kun is gone, too. As for Fatima-chan's replacement... there are many women in the conjuror's position, so no matter how many times we replace them, there is a high possibility that only girls will come.」
 Sara was the one who pointed this out.
「...Come to think of it, I wonder if Fatima will really be all right?」
 Alexis asked Sara.
 He had a reason to be worried.
* * *
「Fatima-chan, please drink this.」
 It was in the doctor room where Sara handed Fatima a vial of black-colored liquid.
 In the room with only medical equipment and a bed, Fatima was dressed in a one-piece sleeping gown and sat on the bed.
 Fatima opened the lid of the vial as if she had made up her mind, and the room was filled with a cynical smell of burnt smell mixed with a pungent odor.
「What is this? It looks like something obviously dangerous...」
 Sara answered Alexis' gasping breath with a simple word.
「It's a poison.」
 Despite Alexis's apprehension, Sara went to the side of the bunk where Fatima was sitting and immediately prepared an infusion and inserted a needle into Fatima's arm.
 The room looks rather stuffy as there are about three other medics in addition to Sara, Fatima, and Alexis.
「This is a lethal poison, so be careful with it. Fatima-chan will be given an antidote while she take the poison, and wait for the poison to permeate the body, so that it can reach the monster in her intestines.」
「What?! I-Is it safe...?」
「As long as the dosage is right. But if the amount of the antidote is too much the monster won't die, and if it's too little Fatima-chan and the monster will die too.」
「Hey!? That's not true, right!? If that's the case, it's better to do nothing...」
 Alexis was about to say so, when Sara looked back at him with a look of dismay: "You know what, Alex-kun?"
「Do you know how much pain and fear Fatima-chan is going through? Alex-kun, can you supply Fatima-chan with one or two pitchers of semen in her bowels for the rest of her life? Since there's no guarantee of that, we have to treat her, don't we?」
 Alexis was stumped.
 Indeed, he can't help Fatima forever, since he himself has a desire to restore the tentacles between his legs.
 Still, in a place where there are three other medics, why don't she try to be a little more subtle? He thought.
「Don't worry, trust me. I won't make a mistake if it's a life in my hands. As a doctor, I promise to help her.」
 Alexis thought that Sara was being unusually serious.
 However, her eyes were serious.
 Her eyes were mature and determined on her young body. Alexis nodded her head.
 Instead, he walked up to Fatima and spoke to her.
「...Fatima, good luck.」
 Fatima nodded at Alexis' words.
「I know. I can't leave you and the others to die first. I know it's a painful treatment, but Sara's good.」
 Alexis nodded, but his expression showed that he was still anxious.
 Fatima smiled calmly.
「...Well, after I finish the treatment successfully, can I ask one favor from you, Alex?」
「What is it?」
 When Alexis asked, Fatima's cheeks turned red and she said.
「Well, you know... I want you to go on a date with me.」
 "A date?" Alexis asked back.
 Fatima nodded her head, her cheeks turning red.
「If you agree, I can work harder on that... I can promise you that I won't die.」
「...Okay, I see. If Fatima says so.」
 Alexis was puzzled, but he suppressed it and reached out his hand to Fatima.
 Fatima took Alexis' hand and squeezed it, nodding her head.
「I promise.」
 After saying this, Fatima was pumping the poison.
* * *
「...And yet, you are here instead of focusing on Fatima's treatment」
 Sara looked miffed when Alexis pointed this out to her on the coach.
「Because I've written down the dosage of the antidote for three weeks in the instructions, and even the medic can adjust it, and to begin with, there's a new magic doctor from Krangal coming today at noon, isn't there? Alex-kun, are you saying that you don't trust your own doctor? Is that so?」
「...No, I didn't say that...」
 Alexis flinched.
「...But why didn't you choose to have a substitute?」
 In response to Alexis' simple question, Sara smiled and said frankly.
「Because Avalon is full of fun and strange materials! It's a treasure trove of new medicinal materials!」
 Sara's eyes are shining as she makes such a strong argument, and it seems that she thinks of the Avalon strategy as a secondary or a third priority.
「...Well, it's okay if you're here because I can use you as a healer as well as various kinds of medicines...」
 Alexis decided to give up.
 It is true that Sara is a good healer and he doesn't want to see her go. Perhaps Sagrado Kingdom had invited her as a court mage for similar reasons.
「—Oh, look at the flowers!」
 Suddenly Fransisca smiles and points at a wild flower she found on the carriage.
「Oh, yes, indeed!」
 Dorothea responds with a smile.
 Casually, Dorothea seems suited to be Fransisca's caretaker.
 "...Well, I guess we can manage," Alexis thinks, and decides to get himself together.

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Edited Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.
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