Chapter Chapter 22 Valerie, the Human-eating Demon(ask)
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
”Hey! You! Get up!”
”I said wake up!”
Lucas opened his eyelids and saw Olga, whose face had a desperate look in front of him.
”Hmm, is it… morning already?”
He rubs his sleepy eyes and turns his eyes toward the window.
The wind seems to have eased up, but there was still a thin, silver thread of rain falling.
Considering the brightness of the sky, the time is probably just before dawn.
It was a little early to call it morning.
”Please let me sleep a little longer…”
Lucas grumbled in frustration, but Olga opened her mouth in an impatient tone.
”You idiot! That’s enough! I can smell blood! …I can definitely smell blood through the door!”
Lucas’s expression becomes involuntarily tense. It is true that there is a smell of rusty iron in the air.
He hurriedly searches for the bundle of keys that he had left in his pocket, but they are there.
”Someone could have come inside while I was sleeping, couldn’t they?”
”No! You’re the one who’s leaning on the door, aren’t you! No one’s coming in here!”
”I’ll open the door anyway!”
Lucas grabs the biggest key from the bunch of keys and unbolts it.
He grips the lock and pushes it with his shoulder with all his might. The iron door opens with a heavy sound, almost like a scream.
”What is… this?”
Lucas immediately raised his eyebrows.
The smell of thick blood leaked out from the end of the corridor.
He throws away the lock he has removed and looks back at Olga with a tense expression on his face.
(Something has happened. Something terrible has happened.)
When he looked at her, she nodded her head with a stiff look on her face.
She drew her sword and Lucas, with the cantera in his hand, pushed the door open with his shoulder and stared out into the darkness beyond the passageway.
But there is nothing to be seen within the reach of the lights except the stone floor that leads to the end of the passage.
As they step into the passage, the sound of their footsteps echoes over and over again.
Although it is just before dawn, it is still mid-summer. Lucas’ skin is sweating from the heat in the room, and perhaps in a hurry, he hears Olga’s breathing a little faster from behind him.
Eventually, at a dead end of the passage, an outline of an iron door, a heavy-boned door, emerges in the faint light.
”…Where are you, Commander?”
Lucas called out in a low voice, but there was no answer.
In the first place, in front of this door, there should be Valerie, the commander of the knight order, who was supposed to be guarding the door, but she is nowhere to be found.
Moreover, the door is slightly open.
It can’t be.
It was Lucas who had the key.
But no matter how hard he try to convince himself that it can’t be, the door is actually open.
The closer he gets to the door, the stronger the smell of blood becomes.
Lucas also heard Olga’s throat gurgling.
Still, both of them walk up to the door with silent footsteps. Lucas then raises his cantera and peeks in through the slight opening.
* * *
”…Where are you, Commander?”
Valerie thought she heard Lucas’s voice.
She immediately felt as if she were rising from the depths of the water to the surface.
It was a familiar feeling. That feeling she gets when she wakes up from a muddy sleep the morning after a hard day’s work.
(What… is it morning already?)
She feels the hard, cold cobblestone pavement under her body.
(Why am I sleeping here? Did I sleepwalk and fall out of bed?)
Her face aches.
She tries to speak, but all she can manage is a moan, and she is too lazy to sit up.
She hears Lucas and Olga making some kind of noise, but she can’t make out what they are saying.
(Have they become good friends? Did they get along with each other? But… it’s complicated if they get along with each other too much.)
She’s still in a daze, thinking such a thing,
”Are you Commander?”
Lucas’s question came to her clearly. At this, she is a little miffed.
(Can’t he even recognize his own wife if he doesn’t check?)
She complained, but then, she turns around slowly with sleepy eyes.
She saw Lucas, with cantera in his hand and Olga.
But just as Valerie is about to open her mouth, Olga pushed Lucas away from her, and thrust her sword in front of Valerie’s eyes.
”Valerieeeee! I knew it, the story is true!! You are the ‘Human-eating Demon’! You are the one who ate Her Highness!”
* * *
Olga’s sword is held in front of Valerie’s eyes.
The blade reflects the light of the cantera, illuminating her face.
Her mouth is covered in blood.
But if she had to describe the expression on her face in one word, bewilderment would be the best way to describe it.
It was an expression of confusion, of not understanding what was going on.
To Lucas’s eyes, it looked no like an act.
No, it was not an act at all.
The honest Valerie could never act.
At the same time, there is something that Lucas knows because he is an assassin.
A person who has just completed a murder does not look like that even if he makes a mistake.
At this point, in Lucas’s mind, the possibility that Valerie had killed the princess disappeared.
There is not the slightest hesitation.
There was no proof, but it was absolutely impossible.
But not for Olga.
There is no access from the outside. In such a closed room, Valerie was crouched beside the dead body of the princess, her mouth covered with blood.
She was the murderer, the situation said so eloquently.
Olga was completely enraged, and was about to slash at Valerie. LHowever, Lucas grabbed her shoulder when he felt her right hand move.
”Wait, wait a minute!”
”No! Get out of my way!”
Olga shakes off his hand with her sword raised. Then she shouted.
”This guy! I’m sure she killed Her Highness! She was the only one here! Look at her mouth! It’s the best proof that she ate Her Highness!”
Now is no time to worry about our position. Lucas thought.
So, he slides in between Olga and Valerie and shouts out.
”Idiot! Of course that’s what happens when someone puts her face in a pool of blood! Even if you kill Commander and cut her guts out, you won’t find a single piece of Her Highness! Never! When the time comes, you’ll be the one who regrets it!”
”No! No way! It’s that guy who did it! So, who else?”
”You said the Commander was your friend! How can you not believe her!?”
”How can I believe her! I’m rather angry at myself for having such a woman, such a monster, as a friend!”
As soon as Lucas heard those words, he felt his hair stand on end in anger.
(I don’t like it. She talks about trust and friendship so easily, but when she really need to believe in something, she just throw it away…)
”Calm down! Just let me talk to her! If you want to kill her, do it afterwards!”
”You fool! You’ll be eaten too!”
”I don’t care! If she eat me, why don’t you slay us while she is eating me?”
Olga kept staring at Lucas. But Lucas turned his back on her and turned to Valerie.
”Commander! What’s going on! What happened here?”
Valerie tilts her head with a puzzled expression on her face. But after a pause, she jumps up and down.
”Ah, yes! Her Highness! Is Her Highness safe!”
Valerie looks around and gasps when she sees the head lying on the bed.
Then she hears the sound of teeth clenching together, and she sighs weakly.
”…I don’t know. I just smelled the scent of blood through the door… So, I rushed into the room, thinking there must be someone lurking under the bed, but I accidentally slipped on the wet floor and here I am.”
Lucas’s eyes widen involuntarily at her words.
”Under the bed!?”
He rushes to pull up the bed sheet and shines his cantera under the bed.
But there was nothing there. He looked hard, but there was not a trace of blood.
When he heard Valerie’s story, Lucas thought instantly.
The murderer hides under the bed and waits for the princess, and hides there again after killing her.
After Lucas and Origa enter this room, they escape while they are distracted by Valerie.
Such are the possibilities.
However, if the princess had been covered in blood when she was killed and then hid there again, why would there be no traces of her blood?
There is no hidden door too.
The only possible place for someone to hide in this room is under this bed.
Valerie may have thought so.
But that’s just a guess. And… probably wrong.
As if mocking their exchange, Olga shouted.
”What! This is ridiculous. If you’re going to lie, tell a better lie! We didn’t meet anyone on our way here! There’s no place to hide in the middle of the passage. If someone was hiding under the bed where the hell did this guy go? I know it, it must be you, Valerie! Because there were only you and Her Highness! You’re a monster! You’ve not had enough of Sir Amber and you’ve devoured Her Highness too, you horrid creature!”
It is an extremely unusual situation in which the corpse disappears, leaving only the head.
Normally, this story could not be explained in terms of whether a person was killed or not, but the existence of ‘Human-eating demon’ is what makes it possible to conclude this story as the work of a single person. Or perhaps it is better to call it a concept.
Lucas can’t help but feel that it is too much.
It was as if someone was trying to turn Valerie into an human-eating demon from the very beginning.
Of course, Lucas can think so calmly because he knows that it was his sister who killed Amber, otherwise he might have come to the same conclusion as Olga.
(No way, is my sister really involved in this?)
Such a thought crossed his mind for a moment. However, it is still impossible.
In any case, there is no doubt in Lucas’s mind that Valerie is not the murderer. Then he has no choice but to prove it somehow.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.