Thanks Asma for the support
It has been a while since Alexis has been in this dungeon, and it seems that the party's operation has changed somewhat in the short time that he has been gone.
Now, monsters appear one after another from behind the fog, and a total of about eight monsters surround the party from the front and back.
「Haah, what a hassle, we're surrounded!」
Sara muttered to herself.
「Dorothea-san! That one! Give me that!」
Valencia was standing at the back of the party, holding a sword with one hand and waving her hand.
「Yes, yes, let's see... here it is!」
Dorothea took a crest stone out of the bag she had unloaded and threw it toward Valencia. Valencia takes it and throws it toward the monsters behind her.
Just as the stone hit one of the monster, it shattered with a crack, and in a moment, the space exploded with a loud vibration.
"Oops," said Alexis, as he almost staggered because of the shaking of the ground, and he put down his shield to keep his footing.
However, the monsters that had just been hit so hard and so close seemed to be unable to resist, and a few of them dissipated in a black mist.
「All right, there's only one left behind! Take care of that one quickly! I will handle this side, and the rear support should concentrate on the front!」
Valencia said, and then she swung her sword and cut at the monster.
Fransisca nodded at her and drew her sword from her waist.
「Alexis-sama. We too...!」
As Alexis readies his shield, Dorothea's voice comes from behind him.
「Prince! There's a crest stone with the effect of 「Sleeping Smoke」, shall we throw it?」
「...Well, you'll see it now! Prince, hold your breath and hold up your shield!」
Alexis did as Dorothea told him, placing the shield in front of him and standing in front of the members.
Then, from behind him, Dorothea threw a ball which flew over Alexis' head in an arc, and threw it into the back of the monsters. Then the stone cracks open, and something comes out of it. It was a white smoke that came out from the stone with a loud "BUSHHH!".
Alexis does as he is told, keeping low behind the shield and holding his breath.
The smoke seems to have disappeared, parting to the left and right by the shield.
As the smoke dissipates, Alexis stretches out his lowered body and looks beyond the shield.
There, about three monsters were lying on the ground, each of them motionless.
"They are sleeping, Alexis-sama," Fransisca answered.
「Valencia taught me to add a certain amount of crest stones to the operation.」
「I see. That's good.」
Then, Alexis readjusted his stance and turned around saying, 「Well then, let's take them down quickly!"
「I'll help you!」
With these words, Dorothea puts her hand on the mallet hanging from her waist belt.
「Then, I'll support you!」
Sara cast a series of strengthening spells.
Maria was silent, which worried Alexis, but she seemed to be supporting the rear of the group.
By shooting fireballs and magic arrows from the rear, she boosted the team's firepower.
Thus, they were able to defeat several monsters in no time.
It seems that the depth of the sleep is shallow, and even a single blow to them will wake monsters up, but even so, just by striking the unprotected area with the first blow, a significant improvement in advantage can be achieved.
「I see. This will make the battle much easier. You're doing a great job, Valencia! Your two years of survival have come in handy.」
Alexis fixed his weapon and shield, then turned around and praised Valencia.
Valencia's cheeks were stained, but she was happy to hear Alexis' praise and began to puff out her chest.
「Heh heh, isn't it? My two years were not in vain! Please praise me more!」
「Well, let me pat you on the head. Come here.」
「Hey! The formation will collapse if I do that!」
Valencia pointed this out to Alexis, and Alexis thought that was true.
「That's true. Then let's put it off.」
「Eh, that's terrible, Alexis-sama! Please praise me more!」
「Okay, okay, I'll do it later.」
「Ehh, why must you do it later?」
Valencia complained, but the group resumed their journey.
* * *
After a short exploration, they spent the rest of the day in the dungeon, setting up a box garden and taking a rest.
Alexis decided to go to the bathhouse immediately to let off the sweat as soon as possible.
When he went to the entrance of the bathhouse, he found Fransisca, Dorothea, Valencia, and Sara gathered there, except for Maria who was currently on guard duty. The girls did not seem to be aware of Alexis' arrival.
「So, everyone, what are your opinions? Let's hear what each of you has to say.」
Fransisca said and was the first to raise her hand.
「Leave it to me tonight! I will fulfill my duty with great success!」
「Duty, huh? How about Dorothea?」
"Eh, m-me?" Dorothea is startled by Fransisca's question.
「Uuh... I-I don't know what I should do... But, well, it's not good to leave it to foreign princess... It's about the matter of our prince.」
They seem to be discussing about Alexis.
"...And Sara?" Fransisca now looks at the small girl.
「Well, I'm fine with everything」
Sara is smiling.
（What are they talking about? I can't take a bath...）
The girls are gathered in front of the bathroom door, so Alexis can't seem to get through.
「Well. So, neither of us has a responsibility, right?」
Fransisca looked at Valencia and Dorothea, then clasped her hands together.
「Then, I will do it. Although this is something I don't intend to be responsible for, there is no need for the two of you to bear the burden.」
Fransisca smiles at this, but apparently that is not the end of the story.
「No, it's okay, Your Highness, you don't have to be shy! I'll take this place!」
「It's not worth having someone from another country here. After all, I'm here.」
「Eh? But if you call it your duty...」
「If it's me, I don't care about it... Eh, Alex-kun...」
Turning her face to the side, Sara was the first to notice Alexis' presence.
Following her, Fransisca, Valencia, and Dorothea also turned their heads toward Alexis.
「At last, the star of the show is here!」
Sara says this, and Alexis can't help but be more and more suspicious.
「...You guys. What are you doing?」
Alexis finally asks, and while Valencia and Dorothea look away, each with a tinted cheek, Fransisca answers with a smile, "Well, you see..."
「We were talking about who would wash Alexis-sama's back. That's what we were talking about.」
What an auspicious discussion. Well, there are about two people who are talking about their responsibilities.
Anyway, Alexis took a breath for now.
But then, Fransisca clapped her hands.
「Ah, yes. Since we're here, let's let Alexis-sama decide」
She smiled innocently.
In response, Dorothea makes a startled expression, "What!?"
「Ah! I-I agree! I want you to decide too, Alexis-sama!」
Valencia stands there, her lips pursed in nervousness.
「Umm... whatever, I don't really care...」
Sara takes a few steps backward with a wry smile, then turns to look at the girls from a distance.
「So, how about you, Alexis-sama? Me, Valencia and Dorothea—who would you like to have your backs washed?」
Fransisca asked him and Alexis laughed.
「Well, I don't know, suddenly I'm asked to choose...」
He was at a loss, but he did not mind at all.
Well, since everyone is here, he'll make a choice. So he looks at the three women in front of him.
Sara seems to say she doesn't care, so he should choose one of them this time.
Fransisca seems to be the most polite and devoted, but they just had intercourse last night.
As for Valencia, he appreciates her feelings, but she is stupid and clumsy. He's not sure if she can handle a back massage with the right amount of force. However, he promised to praise her later...
Dorothea is a woman who has some common sense, so at least she won't do anything bad to him. However, she seems to complain a lot.
（Hmm... what should I do?）
Alexis was troubled for a while. Then he made a decision.
「—Okay, Dorothea, come here.」
Dorothea, who probably didn't expect to be chosen, is blushing up to her ears and sounding puzzled.
Alexis nodded his head and said.
「Yes, Fransisca and I just had intercourse last night, and she's a Princess-Maiden to begin with. I promised Valencia that I'd give her a praise later but it's not right to make her act like a servant. So, you're the last person I have a problem with treating like a servant.」
Alexis points at Dorothea, and Dorothea looks miffed.
「P-Prince? It's true that I am a vassal of the prince, but...! I'm here as a blacksmith, not a servant...?」
「Yes, yes. Anyway, you will bathe with me, right?」
「Eh? I-I don't mind if I do, but...」
Dorothea blushes and responds in a clumsy manner.
「Then let's go.」
Alexis put her hand on the door of the bathroom as the ladies made way for her.
Dorothea, blushing red, followed Alexis.
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