Chapter 43 - Burial Chamber of Angels (part nine)

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Chapter 43: Burial Chamber of Angels (part nine)



To say that they were ears, they were too fluffy for that.


They felt soft to the touch and triangle-shaped.


They were certainly cat ears.


They were cat ears that were elaborately made.


In other words, they looked like the real cat ears themselves.


They felt warm when I touched it, which meant that blood was flowing.


When I noticed that the pulse was linked with me, once again I realized the seriousness of this situation.


If they didn’t return to normal, even if I didn’t die physically, I would die socially.


In the meantime, my heart would also die.


Actually, my eyes that was reflected in the hand mirror went beyond dead like fish eyes, and more like dried fish eyes.


『You look ve~ry cute and they suit you well.


If you win, I will restore you to normal, although if you like it you can stay in that appearance, you know~?』


Palug was smiling like a Cheshire cat.


As for me, I would like to respectfully decline.


I wanted to argue, but I still hadn’t recovered from the shock, and the words that I wanted to say were not assembled properly.


……I kept my emotions low and kept my eyes on objectivity, but I might reach my limit soon.


There was no such thing!


It wasn’t like that!


Even though my life was barely hanging on a thread, why would you strike me with shame!


Now, now, it’s not the time to be fascinated with your own lovely figure.


If you aren’t willing to ask the next question, you can accept your loss as it is, you know?


Feeling ashamed regarding the cat ears and feeling terror regarding physical erosion.


To me who was confused by the two emotions, Palug mercilessly demand me to continue the match.


I had to think about what question to ask next with a confused head.


Neck that came out of the mouth was a yawn1.


Bread that couldn’t be eaten was a frying pan2.


The one that hit the raccoon’s shoulder was a persimmon3.


This was a bad miscalculation.


The riddles that I had heard in my previous life was mostly language-dependent, and it didn’t make any sense when I translated them into this world’s language.


Right now, it was not good to recycle the Japanese riddles.


It would only butcher the words that was quoted from the original language and would not even become a riddle.


It was inevitable.


I only had to overcome this problem by myself on this one occasion and passed through this.


Rather than the usual puns, by turning the gears inside my brain, somehow I succeeded in creating one riddle.


“It is both a cradle and a graveyard. It is both soft and hard. A sun that sleeps in a small sea. What is this?”


Palug giggled as she heard my childish riddle.


『Oh my, is it fine to ask such an easy question?


It is a soft cradle for a growing life.


However, for those who cannot break the hard shell, it is a graveyard.


In the transparent white sea, it is packed with golden yellow yolk similar to the sun.


That is……an egg, right?』


“……Correct.”


I tried hard but I couldn’t even buy myself time.


And now the questioning right shifted to Palug.


If I made two more mistakes, I would be devoured by Palug this time.


In other words, I only had a room to make one mistake.


However, when I thought that I would be forced to get something equivalent to the cat ears, I didn’t want to make a mistake again.


『Now then, daughter of an alchemist. I will ask you again.


It is more greedy than any beast.


It cannot help but eat what it touches.


However, it disappears once it stops eating.


It is tamed by people, but sometimes it turns its fangs toward its owner, eating and killing them.


What is the name of this thing?』


About the riddle of Palug, I first thought of dogs, cats, and other demons.


‘Eating people’ usually associated with large carnivores.


But, was it such a simple thing?


In particular, I didn’t understand about ‘it disappears once it stops eating’.


It didn’t die, it disappeared.


Was there no corpse remained?


Ah, maybe—


“The answer is ‘disease’. Both animals and plants, all living beings can be affected by some disease. Moreover, after it causes death the disease itself will be gone.”


『Ufufufu, I see. So that’s what you came up with.』


I gently stroked my chest in relief.


However, looking at my relieved state, the facial expression of Palug turned into a mean smile.


『But, that’s incorrect. Disease does not eat anything other than life, and people don’t tame them.


The answer is fire.


Fire tries to burn everything it touches.


If inflammable material disappears from its surroundings, fire cannot exist.


Humans learned how to manipulate fire freely as theirs.


However, too much fire will destroy the humans themselves who tried to manipulate it.』


Aah, this was bad.


I thought that it was a living thing by the word ‘eat’.


Certainly, because this was a riddle, the word ‘eat’ could be a metaphor.


Now then……now two thirds of your body is mine. Are you prepared, Erica Aurelia?


Palug brandished her right hand with a flowing movement.


The lit up nails were the same color as my cat ears.


I drew back reflexively and covered my face with both hands.


Such efforts were also useless, the claws of Palug went through my defense and touched me.


(This……this is……!?)


I felt something moving inside my clothes.


Something as smooth as velvet was touching my skin.


Because it was blocked by my clothes, the inside of my skirt felt cramped.


Considering the length and shape that was touching my skin, it felt like a tail.


I moved it and stretched it out of the way.


I felt fear that such a thing that suddenly grew could be moved at will.


With such steady preparation, Palug was ready to rob my body.


『Good grief, unexpectedly there is no response for that. The next question has to pack more punch, or else I won’t tolerate it.』


In contrast to her words, Palug grinned and showed her sharp fangs.


It was the smile of a beast who was asserting her own superiority.


How vexing.


I couldn’t afford to make another mistake.


Then, what should I do?


I couldn’t win with a frontal attack.


Even in the riddle match I was driven into the corner.


I was inferior to Palug, both in power and wisdom.


But, was it truly a checkmate?


For me who was still a normal human being, there was a means to counter monsters who had knowledge beyond that of a human.


If the monster in the folklore was defeated, how did the weak humans defeat the monster?


For example, putting them to sleep by drinking alcohol.


For example, flattering them and fooling them into taking the form of a small weak creature.


For example, fooling them into trusting you, and dug information about their weaknesses and their True Name.


Each one of those were not fair, they involved cheating and cowardly means.


Would it be impossible to win the riddle match with Palug unless I cheated or used cowardly means?


But, with a simple foul, it would be my immediate death when it was seen through.


What I needed was a foul that could attract the interest of Palug and got her hooked.


Something that Palug had a strong interest and emotional attachment to.


I only knew one such a thing.


“……Prince Auguste.”


I started off with those words.


In response to that word, Palug’s ears snapped up in attention.


Her face still maintained that calm smile.


But the fact that she kept smiling, without saying anything, was evidence that she was listening carefully to this topic.


I continued the question while watching Palug’s reaction.


“Who is Prince Auguste’s most important person?”


I didn’t know the answer.


No, the real answer of Auguste was unknown.


Surely, since we were talking about Auguste, if I asked the person himself, he would dodge the question.


But, in this case it was convenient because no one knew the answer.


Unless the person himself denied it, if I said ‘his father’ or ‘his mother’ it would be a likely answer.


For example, if Palug answered ‘his mother’ then I would say it was ‘his father’, and if she answered ‘his father’ then I would say ‘his mother’ was the correct answer.


If she said ‘his parents’……then I would say that ‘his siblings’ was the correct answer.


By preparing multiple correct answers, I could make the answer different from whatever Palug would say.


This was the method I came up with after thinking it over.


“Now, answer it. It should have been easy since you stayed with Auguste for a long time, right?”


In order to drive her into my trap, I provoked Palug to rush her.


Palug who was questioned cast her eyes downward for a while, but she immediately raised her face.


She exposed her sharp fangs and had a terrifying smile on her face.


My heart beat faster.


Although she had a smile on her face, I felt like she was mad enough that the time when I was fighting with Zaratan cannot be compared with what she felt right now.


『Ooh, how annoying……unexpectedly, you asked me that.』


“U-um, Palug-san……?”


『Yes, of course I know. Even I know that. I have been with him for a long time, so how can I not notice?』


Palug stared at me with a smile on her mouth, but her eyes were burning with hatred.


I didn’t know what went wrong.


But, it seemed that I definitely had stepped over the landmines of Palug.


『How vexing! To think that I have to spit such words!


The answer is you, the daughter of an alchemist of the West, Erica Aurelia!


In such a short time, you filled the prince’s loneliness, snatched away his heart and left!』


“Eh……?”


For a moment, I didn’t know why Palug said my name.


As I understood the meaning gradually, surprise spread in my heart.


No, there was no way that was the truth.


I wondered how I could become the most important person even though we only had met for a few days.


Even if that was what Palug thought, it might be rude to Auguste.


But, if by any chance Auguste held romantic emotions towards me, I couldn’t use the answers I had prepared.


On the contrary, my reaction might have exposed the foul play itself.


『Oh? Perhaps you didn’t know?


Even though you didn’t know the answer, you asked me such a thing?


You made a riddle for me that you don’t even know the answer for?


—You committed a wrongdoing, daughter of an alchemist!』


A cry similar to the roaring of a lion echoed throughout the room.


The light of the patterns engraved on the wall turned into dark red and began to heat up as if burning.


Not only her nails, all of her arms were wrapped in flames, as if in response to Palug’s anger.


『How dare you, to defile the sacred contract ritual with an unfair riddle.


You are now a filthy offering.


I cannot afford to eat you.


Now that I can’t eat you, I’ll kill you, and in the short time that I have left, I will go around eating every human with power that I can get hold of in this Royal Capital.


There would probably no one more suitable for the offering than you, but it might be able to maintain the fusion with Auguste for several years.


Everything is for this child’s wish……for my last wish!』


Intense heat stroked my skin.


Due to the intense heat contained in the air, my throat seemed to burn.


I looked at Klaus, Tirnanog, and Auguste.


Klaus might be eaten as an offering.


Or perhaps he might be spared as Palug had promised.


But, Klaus’ family, Ann and the Duchess of Harvan might suffer.


Palug was extremely opposed to Tirnanog.


Palug wouldn’t keep the black dragon alive.


Or, Tirnanog who possessed a strong sense of duty might challenge her to a reckless fight in revenge.


As long as Auguste fused with Palug, the loss of his riding ability was inevitable.


He would endeavour to leave the royal family in order not to disturb his brother’s succession to the throne in the ending of his individual route.


His family would lose him.


Not only that.


It would be the duty of Auguste, who had lost his memory about her, to give the final blow against Palug who had lost her sanity.


That tragedy occurred under the circumstances that both of them didn’t remember each other.


But, as I had known about that, I couldn’t let them to bear such fate.


Regret filled my heart.


If this was the case, it would have been better to just lose the match and being eaten by Palug.


Then, perhaps at least Palug’s mind would be saved.


A glowing clas drew near me.


I decided my resolution and closed my eyes, just before the unavoidable death.


『Guh!?』


Palug let out a groan.


Through my closed eyelids, I could feel the blazing nails of flame approaching my eyes.


But the nails didn’t attack me at all.


(What does it mean? There’s no way that Palug who was so angry suddenly decide to forgive me.)


When I opened my eyes, there was a flame-covered right arm of Palug in front of me.


Her right arm stopped right at the moment she was about to swing it down.


Klaus’ work?


I thought so, but Klaus was still on the floor.


The spell cards were not deployed either.


Palug seemed to be able to move except for her arm, and I also could move without the magic of Neutralization.


This was not due to the Time Delay barrier.


Then, why?


When I looked around, my eyes met with that person.


“Wait please, Palug. You do not have the right to kill Erica.”


『Uh……no way……, h-how……?』


Auguste stood up, with his palm facing us.


Sweat drenched his forehead, and he had a complexion that made it seem he was likely to collapse even now.


I understood now.


Auguste used all of his mental interference ability and stopped the movement of Palug.


Of course, that was not the original usage.


Surely, his body and spirit were terribly burdened.


Palug was frightened as if she was a little child whose wickedness was seen, and she extinguished the flames that was burning on both of her arms.


At the same time, she firmly put away her killing intent which she had let out plainly.


Auguste approached Palug step by step while enduring pain.


With a gentle smile as if he knew everything, he said:


“You, the answer to that problem……you don’t know about the most important person for me.”



1 Neck is くび (kubi), while yawn is あくび (akubi). So, a neck (kubi) that comes out of the mouth is a yawn (akubi).


2 Bread is パン (pan), while frying pan is フライパン (furaipan). So a bread (pan) that cannot be eaten is a frying pan (furaipan).


3 Raccoon is たぬき (tanuki), hitting the shoulder is 肩たたき (katataki), while persimmon is 柿 (kaki). In this case, you have to read the ‘tanuki’ as [ta] nuki, which means without ‘ta’. So the whole riddle roughly becomes: What hits the shoulder (katataki) without ‘ta’? The answer is persimmon (kaki).


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