The meal came to an uneventful end.
The winner of the argument was the warrior, so it seemed like he was free to roam the castle as he pleased.
However, he couldn’t expect a cooperation.
“We will probably be interrupted by servants and attendants while investigate the castle,” he warned as he returned to his room.
If the servants interrupted, the earl would simply chalk it up to ‘the rash behavior of the underlings’.
If they protested, they would be met with a perfunctory apology and an assurance that the servants would be punished.
I watched Reg and Herrin, whose faces were darkened at the words, and couldn’t resist and said a word.
I was going to be quiet now, but it’s frustrating!
“Don’t worry, we’ll be sneaking around anyway.”
“Sneaking… you mean?”
The warrior tilted his head in question.
His honey-colored hair swayed.
He stared at it, then answered.
It’s customary to visit the basement at night, when the dawn is approaching.”
“I’ll take your word for it, Cylon.”
And a hearty laugh.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a story where the main characters boldly explore the enemy’s underground during the day.
Night or dawn is the rule for exploring the basement.
I smiled confidently at him.
“…Still, it might arouse suspicion, so let’s go around the castle, at least as a formality.”
After a moment’s silence, the warrior made a brilliant suggestion.
I applauded the thoroughness of his plan.
It was a very satisfying routine, shedding a subtle smile on the attendants who were obvious to interrupt at the order of the count, eating a delicious dinner, pretending to investigate the mansion, and asking the landlord where to buy the bed.
Now all we had to do was sneak into the basement at night and figure out what was there.
All of the servants who spoke up said that there was only a prison down there, but Herrin had checked with the spirits, and they said it wasn’t a prison.
The spirits were offended and kept their mouths shut, so they couldn’t predict what the hell was underground, which was a little uncomfortable.
But even that was a proof that something was wrong with the Count’s castle, so there was nothing I couldn’t think positively.
I relaxed and assumed that, at best, there would be chimeras and devil worship, both fantasy staples.
I never expected to see a very familiar face hanging from the ceiling.
With both arms dangling from the ceiling and legs pinned to the wall, it was a familiar face.
His ragged appearance made it impossible to recognize the extent of his injuries.
I couldn’t tell if it was skin or wounds that were stained with blood.
There was a steady stream of blood.
Fresh blood dripped over the already congealed blood, creating a horrible puddle.
Four buckets were lined up at his feet to receive blood.
There was a rattling blood in it.
It looked like the buckets had been specially treated and the blood hadn’t even thickened.
“Oh… who is this, Cylon the Coward?”
The dried blood at the corners of his mouth cracked with every movement of his corpse-like face.
“Cylon, do you know him?”
Herrin, who had covered her mouth with a grimace of disgust, asked in a low voice.
I nodded nervously.
“Hahahaha! Are you still saying that?”
Kassel was cheerful, even though he was dangling.
“What do you mean still? It’s not enough to memorize the chant.”
“What’s the chant?”
“I don’t know, you idiot.”
Kassel rolled his eyes for a moment, muttering ‘asshole Cylon’ repeatedly under his breath.
“…First, let’s get you down.”
The sight of the warrior’s pale face broke my heart.
Should I tell him that Kassel had been experimenting with his own body for research, and that he had placed a curse on himself to constantly produce blood because he didn’t have enough for his experiments? That he had to have his blood drawn periodically because it was overproduced, and that he laughed all the while?
I nodded, holding back what I wanted to say.
He had the least to do with ‘excessive blood loss’ in the world, but I had to ask him why he was here.
From the looks of it, he hadn’t even tied himself up.
But just in case, I interrupted the warrior as he was about to cut the restraints and spoke in a suspicious voice.
“Kassel, you’re not developing a new taste for research, are you?”
“Don’t worry, I’m just the same.”
I smiled slightly at his response.
After glaring at me, the warrior swung his sword and freed Kassel.
Apparently, the restraints had some sort of magic suppression, and as soon as he was free, Kassel cast a cleanse spell on himself.
Afer a quick examination of the cleaned-up, Kassel revealed the source of the blood: blades embedded in his body.
It had a faint enchantment, like an enchanted item.
I had expected a lot of annoyances after becoming a member of the Warrior Party, but this was worse.
He’d done nothing, and his strength was gone.
He watched from a distance as Kassel pulled the blade out of his own body.
Kassel groped for the blade, found it, pulled it out, and tourniquet it himself.
His face was white, whether from pain or from more blood being lost than produced, he couldn’t tell.
“Kassel… did you increase the size of the curse?”
I don’t know what’s wrong with the number of knives.”
“Haha! I raised it because I thought I was going to die.
Fortunately, it was possible because it was before being tied up.
Oh, it’s thrilling.”
Kassel says he was kidnapped, hit in the back of the head, knocked to the ground, and a knife stuck in his body.
He says he drew blood in panic.
I could see where Kassel’s sense of crisis came from.
The tower was full of lunatics.
Thanks to this, I could tell how crazy a stranger was by the look in their eyes or their behavior.
On the downside, instead of being able to pick out the crazies, I was able to differentiate favors, scams, pranks, and malice.
I became an odd sort of eye that could pick out the crazies from the rest.
Kassel must be similar.
Judging by the amount of blood he’d drawn, he’d decided his captors weren’t so crazy after all.
“So, Cylon, why are you here… huh?”
Kassel grunted and removed the blade from his back, then stepped forward to introduce the party.
“We are late, but we greet you.
We are companions of Cylon.
We were chosen by the God to join him in his quest to slay the Demon King.”
Kassel stared at the warrior blankly, then frowned.
Did you tell the Dean?”
I recognized the look on Kassel’s face, a look similar to that of a junior in my past life who asked me if I’d told the professor when I had to leave for a few days for a family emergency.
“I ran away a long time ago, what can I tell you?”
You actually ran away? That’s awesome.
Should I run away too?”
It was the best choice.
I ran away from the tower before I remembered my past life.
If I had realized my past life in the middle of my research, I would have been so frustrated and angry that I would have messed up the experiment on purpose.
And then I would have been called to the dean’s office, and I would have been yelled at, and I would have messed up again….
I didn’t even have to look.
I stood next to the warrior with a creepy feeling in my stomach.
His body, bigger and stronger than mine, felt like a wall.
I could feel him staring at me.
“You said you liked Dean Chas.”
“I do, but….”
Kassel and I had different deans.
There were eight deans at the tower, each specializing in a different area of research.
One of them, Dean Chas, was Kassel’s mentor, and he studied ‘mages’ itself.
He would write papers like
This is why Kassel experimented with his own body.
He couldn’t put his colleagues on the table, so he used himself.
Of all the students under Dean Chas, Kassel was the most active in his research.
The other students did not show the same enthusiasm for cursing their bodies.
Most of them would rather tear off flesh in one fell swoop than draw blood with a daily knife.
To me, they were all insane.
And I didn’t enjoy hanging out with a group of people who, in the eyes of a third party, were nothing more than a bunch of self-harmers.
It was a quick fix.
I couldn’t be bothered to hang on to their legs for a hair donation at every opportunity.
“Why are you here, the guy who got stuck on the 58th floor and never came out….”
“Oh, that’s right, haven’t you seen Herriot here?”
“Herriot? Who is that?”
Kassel scratched his head.
“Brown hair, kind of snake-like, skinny, and….”
As Kassel’s description continued, a person came to mind.
“Is he a mage?”
“I think I saw him next to the Count.”
Apparently the mage’s name was Herriot, the one who inspected the room where the soundproofing spell had been broken.
“Hmph, that guy, he gave me money and ended up doing it….”
“Did you know him from the Magic Tower?”
Kassel’s face grew serious and tense.
I felt a gentle hand stroke my stiff shoulder.
Kassel’s eyes were on my shoulder, too.
Unlike the warrior, who looked back and forth between my shoulder and his, he dutifully finished his sentence.
“The bastard who lured me out of the tower and kidnapped me.”
The bomb-thrower began to inspect his attire, while Herrin and Regs, who had fallen behind, argued with each other.
Their muffled voices echoed through the structure of the basement.
“…Is it prejudice on my part to say that mages are unique?”
I’ll take it halfway.”
“You’re more stubborn than you look.”
Elementalists make their living being stubborn.”
“…I’ll keep that in mind.”
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