This should soon change the shape of Avalon once again.
And with the pendant's magic deployed, Fransisca and the group left the dungeon.
On the return trip, Valencia took over driving for Alexis, who was tired. Valencia says this is her way of making up for fainting all the time, but no one thinks that Valencia has blundered. It was inevitable.
「—I don't expect it. The crest stone doesn't work」
Alexis folds his arms behind his head and leans his back against the edge of the carriage, looking up at the dimmed sky.
「...But I'm glad I beat him. He let his guard down, and I was able to take him down」
Alexis looked down and saw his left arm.
Then, looking at the arm, he says to Fransisca, "Hey, Fransisca."
She was dozing, perhaps because of her fatigue, but she looked up at Alexis.
「No way, this is...」
Alexis shows her left arm, and Fransisca smiles.
「It seems to have worked. That's good」
Fransisca smiled with relief.
She had given him the bracelet of the artifact. And Alexis had kept it on his wrist for a long time, but it had disappeared before he knew it.
「Was it really the effect of the bracelet?」
Alexis asked, and Fransisca nodded, "Yes."
「The artifact is called the Aegis Bracelet. It is a bracelet that saves the owner's life in exchange for the bracelet's existence when the owner's life is in danger」
After saying this, Fransisca smiles, "—Of course."
「No one has ever demonstrated its effectiveness. I was skeptical about whether it would really work or not...」
Fransisca laughs and adds, "But, I'm glad it worked"
However, her expression quickly fades, and she says, "...I'm sorry."
「It's my fault... you had to protect me. I'm so sorry...」
Fransisca was really shocked.
She had not expected him to drop his shield and come to her defense.
But Alexis smiled and said.
「...I told you, didn't I? I'm the one who protects your back」
Fransisca's cheeks turned bright red, but her face immediately turned into a tearful smile, and she nodded "..Yes."
Then, she rested her head on Alexis's shoulder, and she spoke to him in a sweet voice like a whisper.
「Hmm? W-What is it?」
With some regret, Alexis is embarrassed to think back on what he had said earlier. But...
「...Thank you very much.」
Fransisca said and put her hand on Alexis' hand.
「You are my benefactor. I-I should thank you for everything... Because you have helped me with everything. My pride, my mission, even my life... this is the second time you have saved me.」
Fransisca looks into Alexis' eyes and smiles.
Alexis feels embarrassed but blurts out, "Is that so?" then Fransisca smiles at him and nods, "Yes."
「The first time you helped me was when you had just arrived at the fort. At that time, I still regret that I treated you so poorly and did so many terrible things to you」
「...But now you've suffered a lot from me, haven't you?」
Alexis replied jokingly, and Fransisca shook her head.
「I don't mind being your plaything, you know」
「I thought about it a lot at first. A lot... but you're one or two steps ahead of me. And Alexis-sama, you don't really do terrible things, right?」
Fransisca giggles and Alexis is puzzled, "W-Well, I don't know."
And Fransisca, perhaps enjoying Alexis' unusual awkwardness, continues to talk in a cheerful voice, not letting go of the body still attached to hers.
「I'm really, really happy. I'm so happy to be able to marry you. I never thought I'd be with the person I love」
Alexis chokes up at the lonely smile she gives at a moment's notice.
Seeing Alexis like this, Fransisca's eyes narrowed. It was a happy expression but also a sad one.
「But now... you are really going to enter Sagrado...」
Suddenly, her voice was filled with anxiety with an indescribable expression on her face. Alexis nodded with a tightening of her shoulders.
Her voice was somewhat gloomy for the future, completely changing from the joyful voice she had used earlier to talk about the past.
She must have some things she has to prepare for and something about Sagrado she foresees. Knowing this, Alexis tells her clearly.
「...I'm already going to do it.」
At that, Fransisca lets out a shallow sigh.
「Then, I-I have to tell you... everything.」
She said in a sighing voice.
「I have to... tell you about the secrets, the rituals, the secrets of the royal family. The mission, the role, the guilt, the sin, the... punishment. Everything...」
Alexis nods in silence.
Guilt. Sin. Punishment. These are not the words of a priestess.
But that's why she's showing her shadow now, and that's what Alexis will have to deal with.
「...When we get back to the fort, let's settle up and get married...」
「...I understand. Then I will finish preparing the room according to Sagrado's formula. But...」
Fransisca stops mid-sentence, and Alexis looks at her questioningly.
「Are you sure? Are you sure... you won't regret it?」
「What are you talking about, now?」
Alexis dared to laugh at her.
「Let's do it, Fransisca.」
Then she sighed as if she had finally given up.
「...Alexis-sama, let me remind you that from now on, I will not tolerate adultery with anyone other than those whom I have approved of, okay? As your legitimate wife...」
Alexis couldn't help but look up at the sky when she said this.
「Are you kidding me...?」
「Alexis-sama, did you intend to increase the number of couples...? Isn't it enough even now...?」
「Well, that's one thing...」
「No way... now that you are a member of the Sagrado royal family, you should be a little more modest... in terms of appearance...」
Fransisca's lips are pouting in exasperation, and Alexis looks away from her.
Surprisingly, she cares about his reputation.
Alexis wanted to tell her, "Are you getting close to Fatima and Sara?" But, it seems that he might be partly responsible for this too. After all, the innocent princess knows a lot of things. And mostly his own fault.
「Well, I'll think about it.」
Alexis blurts out ambiguously, and Fransisca looks displeased.
The atmosphere is ruined.
Besides these two, the others in the carriage are already sleeping, probably exhausted and covered with thin blankets.
Seeing a break in the conversation, Valencia, who was sitting on the coachman, called out to them.
「Both of you, you can go to sleep now. I'm driving the carriage.」
Alexis and Fransisca apologized to Valencia and decided to take a nap.
Soon silence fell, and the carriage continued its slow ride through the meadows of Sagrado under the twinkling stars in the sky.
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