At the meeting point in front of Fort Rohka, there was a group of people who had become familiar with each other recently.
They were Alexis, Fransisca, Sara, Dorothea, Maria, and Valencia.
No, they were not the only ones. While they were getting ready, a blonde woman dressed as a maid bowed her head.
「Your Highness. I wish you the best of luck...」
It was Fatima.
Fatima looked at Fransisca with concern. But then, Valencia stepped forward and tapped her chest through her armor, saying in a cheerful voice, "It's all right!".
「I'm here for that. I will protect you, Her Highness!」
Fatima looked up from her lowered position to face Valencia, this time with a flustered expression on her face.
「But, Valencia. You can't cook. And you can't clean the house or do the laundry. You even can't make tea...」
「Uuh—Anee-sama!? We're going to Avalon, you know? Why am I supposed to worry about that now?」
「But you have to make Her Highness feel as comfortable as possible...」
Then Fransisca smiles and says to Fatima.
「Fufu. Don't worry Fatima, we have a mage's box garden.」
「What? When did you get such a thing?」
To the astonished Fatima, Valencia smiled proudly and said, "Heh heh heh!"
「It was in the treasury that I protected! Isn't that great? Ane-sama! Praise me!」
Fatima pats Valencia's head, giving her a big smile. She is like a little animal.
（I see. This is what happens when two sisters get together...）
Alexis looked at them for a while, and then he remembered something, so he asked Fatima.
「Hey, Fatima, I have a favor to ask you.」
「Hmm? What is it? I'll do whatever you want.」
Fatima nodded generously and Alexis asked her to watch over Eden.
「Keep an eye on her and see if she can keep her silence. And when we return, report back to me. I hate to ask you to do this when you're not in good shape but...」
「That's all right. I'm well enough to walk around. All right, I'll get it done.」
「I'll see what you can do.」
Alexis patted Fatima's head with his hand.
Fatima, who was still looking cool, widened her eyes slightly and then her cheeks turned slightly red.
Seeing Fatima nod her head, Alexis removed his hand from her head.
「Okay, I'll leave it to you.」
Alexis then urged the others to get into the carriage and climbed onto the driver's platform.
He lightly whipped the horse to get it going.
Looking back toward the fortress in the distance, Fransisca waved to Fatima.
Fatima waves back and smiles as she looks away.
* * *
It had been a long time since Alexis had been in a dungeon.
As soon as he stepped into the darkness, a gloomy atmosphere filled with fog spread out.
Alexis felt that he had lost his senses and that he had become nostalgic for it.
Alexis was in the front row, Fransisca was behind her, Dorothea was next, Maria and Sara were next, and Valencia was last. As they formed up like this, Alexis asked Fransisca a question.
「How far did you go last time?」
「Yes. I was wondering if we could get a better idea of the geography, so we checked the objects. After going in and out of the area several times, we have checked the status of the objects by using the types and shapes of debris, stones, trees, springs, grass, and so on as landmarks. Like other areas, I wondered if the topography of this area would change, or if it would remain unchanged. That's what concerned me...」
As he listened to Fransisca's story behind him, Alexis reached out and touched the large shield and spear sword on his back to check them.
（This is also a weapon that I haven't touched in a long time. I should swing them a little to get back my senses...）
The long-handled spear-sword was made for the position of a guardian, and although it is better than a normal spear, which Alexis have not had much contact with, it is a weapon that he has to have a habit of using.
Now, he holds this spear-sword in his right hand and the shield in his left, and tries to swing it vertically and horizontally several times, while holding the shield.
（The handle is long enough so that the shield will not be in the way when I attack. This way, I can attack while guarding. In some cases, I can support the shield with the sword on the ground, so that the shield can miss the strong impact. If I match it with a big shield, it is much easier to use than a sword. —Though I can only swing vertically, thrust in a straight line, and attack horizontally to the left side where there is no shield...）
The shield creates a blind spot. However, the guardian is not an aggressive position to attack...
However, as a former attacker, it is a habit that Alexis can't get rid of.
Incidentally, he wears an artifact bracelet on his left arm, which Fransisca gave him. Though the effect of the bracelet is still unknown, he can't help but wear it as long as it is in his possession.
「...Okay, this one is fine. So, how was the terrain? Did you figure it out?」
Alexis put his weapon and shield back and asked Fransisca a question.
「By coincidence, we were able to teleport to a place less than a hundred meters away once, so we were able to check it out. We found out that, apparently, the topography does not change. Instead, it seems to be terribly wide... It would take several days—maybe even a month or two—to explore the whole area. Because of the randomness of where we enter from the blackness, it seems that we often end up in unfamiliar places, so much so that we could be fooled into thinking we are changing.」
「What about here? Does it look familiar?
Alexis asked, and Fransisca answered,"」No".
「I don't recognize it.」
（...So this is where we were transferred for the first time...）
After thinking about this, Alexis sighed.
「Oh right... you were doing such a crucial search with an outsider Eden, weren't you?」
I turned around to look at Fransisca and was met with a troubled look on her face.
「Ah... I'm sorry. I didn't realize...」
「Don't be sorry at all. Anyway, didn't the others stop her?」
Alexis checks on the other four.
"Eh? Well, I thought it was okay," says Sara.
"I was a little concerned, but I thought the prince said it was okay," says Dorothea.
"It's what Her Highness says! So, I'll do whatever she wants!" says Valencia, her voice full of enthusiasm.
Maria did not reply, but only looked away silently.
Alexis was getting a headache.
Damn, what a party this was!
For the note, Maria seemed to be in a bad mood when she made eye contact with Alexis, though she was not frightened anymore. It seems that she still hates him.
（Is she all right? Well... let's just trust that she's okay...）
Alexis turns his head and looks ahead through the fog.
Then he said, "Well, let's go!".
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