“Kenta…” The crying Rine is looking at me and nods. “Yes, we will do it together. We’ll survive together forever! Nothing will stop us!”
And then a strange light shines. From below.
I get the strange feeling of déjà vu. When did I already saw that light? With a bad feeling, I look to the light’s source. It’s a ring. The cursed ring on my left ring finger, which even shone through my glove.
A second glow appears, in front of me. “No. No. No-No-NoNoNoNoNoNoNONONO!” Of course, my loud denial did nothing. Only a message-window pops up and I don’t even need to read it, to know what’s written there.
You just wed Katarine von Stolzherz.
You finally got your second wife and it’s a princess, to boot. You may gain WPs with your new sweetheart, the same way as with Momokawa Kyou.
Since your new wife is not a hero, she will be transformed into one, gaining access to all the advantages of that status. Additionally, her backpack will become an [Inventory], so you may share your [Inventory] with your new wife, as well. This is a wedding gift, be thankful.
Your luck has just doubled!
While Rine’s whole body is engulfed in the strange light, I fall into despair. How did my luck doubled? Ah, because my luck is negative, of course it can be doubled, it just is double the negativ value! So my misfortune became that much greater, huh?
“Kenta, something strange is happening to me.” Oh, what a coincidence, something horrible happened to me at the same time! “The pain is dulling, I can breath normally now, and I see things at the border of my field of vision.”
“Rine, just ignore it.”
“And the fourbirds are backing away.”
“You shine, Rine. They think that you’re charging death rays or something.”
“Why is your voice so lifeless.”
“I feel the urge to kill myself, and I don’t have the energy left to do so.”
“Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?”
“You may throw me off the cliff.”
“Kenta, we said to survive together.”
My eyes are tearing up, but I don’t have even enough emotional energy left to cry. Slowly, I take my spear out from my backpack and clench it. There is still work to do. I need some exercise. “Rine.”
Without any hesitation, Rine is rushing to the fourbirds, which tries to get away. They sure know what’s best for them.
Even I, the [Student] charge right in, since I don’t want to think about anything right now. The uninjured fourbirds lost all confidence of winning and left their wounded kin, which rears up, since they know, they can’t escape.
With the usual casualness, Rine amputates their legs and chops their heads, the moment they fall to the ground. Finally she’s serious and the quickness is nothing to laugh at.
I, on the other hand, am not that deadly, but without hesitation, I pierce the heart of one of the fourbirds, goring it like a pig in fiction. My mind still refuses to work right, there is no feel of accomplishment or satisfaction, just emptiness.
So the two of us fell into a killing spree, the fourbirds didn’t stand a chance.
At the end, we only got the wounded ones. With no power left to muster, I sit down. Actually, my SP are still OK, it’s more of a mental fatigue: “Phew…”
“We did it.”
Without a word, I nod.
“Are you sure to take a rest, here? Among all the corpses, while Kyou ist still imprisoned?”
“At least she can’t run away.” I may murmur that, but stand up nonetheless. Rescuing Kyou-san is the only reason we did this stunt. “Let’s try to uncover these holes.”
“OK. But what are these things?”
“The ones at the border of my field of vision.”
“Phew… one thing at a time. Just ignore it, like forever.”
“Nn? It’s that bad?”
“Not bad, but now is not the time.”
Rine must talk about the HP-, SP- and MP-bars and the minimized status window. They are within the peripheral sight and if we try to concentrate on them, they’ll grow and move into our line of sight. But since Rine tries to just look at them, her pupils are wandering around without seeing them. Maybe it’s something, which is easier if you know PCs or other digital screens. I never had much trouble with it and the trick how to open them is written in our manuals.
I don’t know much about optics, but there may be a relation to modern media and operating your status screen.
Nonetheless I may look at Rine’s stat, which also appeared right next to Kyou’s minimized status window. I just take a casual glance.
“Are the enemies here!?” Rine has already drawn her sword and istrying to look in every direction.
“No… sorry, I… it’s nothing.”
This is unreal! To understand it, you must compare my attributes and Rine’s. And I will use my stats as a [Pikeman], to be more precise.
Class: Kenta [Pikeman], Rine [Princess Knight]
[Level] Kenta 39, Rine 24
[Health] Kenta 406, Rine 346
[Stamina] Kenta 369, Rine 397
[Mana] Kenta 304, Rine 334
[Strength] Kenta 132, Rine 100
[Vitality] Kenta 106, Rine 88
[Dexterity] Kenta 54, Rine 113
[Agility] Kenta 41, Rine 144
[Intelligence] Kenta 38, Rine 21
[Luck] Kenta 35, Rine 114
[Persuasion] Kenta 20, Rine 97
Most of her stats surpass mine with ease, while her level is much below mine! And even where my attributes are higher, it’s not by much of an margin, if you consider the level difference.
How can her level be similar to Kyou-san’s while having these stats? Is the [Princess Knight]-class that much of a cheat!? I want it, make me a princess, just let me have this class!
And how can the machine of destruction have less [Strength] than I, if she butchers everything with ease? Is this another cheat?
It doesn’t make sense!
“Kenta. You’re looking scary. Is it that serious? Am I sick?”
I just spaced out. Concentrate! “No, in fact it’s the opposite. But let’s talk later, we uncover these holes first.”
I better try to find her cheats when we rest.
Currently, my [Strength] is far below Rine’s, since I’m stuck to the [Student]-class, but with Rine’s help, it’s possible to move these stone slabs and look into the holes.
The first, more boak-crawlers.
The second, another bearington, which is slayed by Rine, before it could do anything. So since I gave her the kill-order, she’s not hesitating. But since we’re -urgh- married, I should get XP, too.
I wonder if Kyou-san is also getting part of the XP. I check my status and I think, I got less than before for killing a bearington.
Before Rine joined our cursed-club, I got only 50% of the kill and I guess, now I get a third. Three people, a third of all XP, anyone of us does.
“Sorry. I’m just thinking.”
“Don’t worry. Kyou has to be still alive. I’m sure, that she’s fine.”
…What have Kyou-san’s well-being to do with it? Maybe I want her to be alive, but a bit of suffering would do her good.
We shove another slab to the side, and then another. More boak-crawlers, some mountain-crawlers, bearingtons and some of the holes were empty, and the more holes we open, the more irritated I grow. In the end, we couldn’t find Kyou-san.
“DAMN IT! I HATE IT! I HATE HATE HATE HATE IT!!!” I cover my face while yelling, bending my body in anger, which wants to be unleashed, but the frustration is far worse. “WE DID THIS WHOLE SUICIDE-COMMANDO FOR NOTHING!” This is the nest, she has to be here! If she died, I would surely get a message, and she even gets XP for Rine’s kills, so Kyou-san has to be alive!
It’s not like I have no time left, I still have a SP-cushion, so it won’t kill me that quickly. But if Kyou-san is not here, then I don’t even know where to look. And searching through a whole mountain-range is too much to feel comfortable with.
“Damn it!” I kick against one of the boulders, it hurts, but the pain is worth it, since I could vent at least some of these aggravating emotions.
Something wraps around me. It’s warm. It feels like a person. “Don’t worry.” It’s Rine. She’s embracing me from behind. “We’ll find her. I promise. We can do it, together.”
You gain 1 WP.
Your wife is bringing comfort to you, who suffers through a life crisis. She may not be able to solve all your problems, but at least she’s there for you.
Damn curse! Why do I have the life crisis in the first place!? It’s all your fault!
“Kenta… maybe I got hit on the head. I see things… ‘You gain 1 WP… Bringing comfort to your husband… husband? I don’t know, what that means.”
“Phew…” I can’t take it anymore. I’m about to jump from the cliff… “We need to talk. A lot.” But in the end, I submit. This is how things are and whining about it won’t change anything.
I already told Rine some bits of the whole mess, but if I want her to shut up, I better tell her the whole story.
Kyou finally ended her screaming tantrum and now it’s like all her energy is used up. Neither her eyes nor her movements have any life in her. She’s just staring at nothing and sometimes, Masahiko hears a wail.
All of his party-members are huddling together to determine, what to do.
Masahiko. “We need to take care of her. That’s what friends for.”
Daichi. “What did he do to her, that she would react like that? I never thought Katsuragi as someone, who would even be able to deceive someone and now she looks like he betrayed her big time.”
Eri. “It’s a world of magic. Maybe he’s brainwashing her and after they separated, the mind control is wearing off.”
Katsuo. “… It could be.”
Teruko. “Poor Kyou-chan. And I thought she might have betrayed us.”
Since none of them knew the truth, they jumped into their own conclusions.
Masahiko remembers something. “The ring. He gave her one, it might be a mind-controlling device.”
Katsuo. “What do we do?”
Masahiko. “We must take it. Daichi and Katsuo, you will hold her down, Teruko and I will fixate her arms and Eri, you will take the ring. Any questions or other suggestions?”
All of them comply. While trying to be unsuspicious, all of them surround the lifeless Kyou. “Let’s go!”
Two boys push a single girl down, without knowing the context, it’d look criminal. Daichi is pushing down her body and Katsuo is holding her legs. Masahiko hold down her left arm and Teruko her right and Eri is pulling down her glove. The copper ring is in plain sight.
Kyou, of course, isn’t taking that well: “Are you crazy!? What are you doing! Get off of me!”
“Sorry, Kyou-chan!” With an apologizing face, Eri is pulling down her ring… or more tries to. “It doesn’t move?”
“Is it stuck?”
“Kyou-chan, that might hurt!”
“Wait, don- Ah! Stop! Hurts!”
“Masa, it’s not working.”
“Stop it, you all! It can’t be removed, listen to- Ouch! STOP!”
Even though unable to put up any resistance, Kyou is still trying her best to escape the hold. At the end, Masahiko’s party realized, that there is no way to remove that ring by force, without risking Kyou’s finger.
“Teruko, Eri, bring the rope.”
“Masahiko-kun, what are you trying to do to me!?”
“Kyou, I’m sorry, but we have to be sure.”
“Masa, hold her arms down, she’s clawing me!”
Swiftly, Masahiko took both of her arms and fixate them over her head to the ground.
… … …
Finally, some calm.
While binding her, Kyou bit, scratched and pinched everyone in reach of her arms and the moments her legs were unsupervised, she kicked out. This amount of resistance just cemented the suspicion Masahiko’s party had: Katsuragi-kun has to mind-control Kyou!
Kyou would never hurt her friends like that! Masahiko is sure of that.
Since she would shout all the time, they had to even gag her.
Now Kyou is looking at Masahiko and his friends with contempt.
“Masa, what do we do?” Daichi seems to be conflicted.
“I don’t know. We should think about it together.”
“In front of her?”
Masahiko wants to discuss it with all of them, but they couldn’t go to a place, Kyou-san can’t listen to. Otherwise, she might be attacked by monsters, while she can’t defend herself, being bound and gagged. So he asks his childhood friend. “…Eri, do you have a spell to deafen her temporarily?”
“Sorry, I don’t. But there may be something in our equipment.”
In the end, they improvised using clothes. A scarf was wrapped up several times above her ears. This should at least make it hard for her to understand what will be said.
Matsuhiko begins the meeting: “Does anyone have a bright idea?” He keeps a low volume, that way Kyou won’t be able to hear them.
Of course, nobody answers right away. The silence shows how little they could do, right now.
“We don’t know anything about this mind-control.” Katsuo reminds the gang the root of their problems. “So the only thing we can do, is ask Kyou-san or Katsuragi-san.”
Teruko sniffs. “Asking her won’t help and why should Katsuragi undo his stuff? Should we force him? … Wait, that’s an option. Beat him up a bit, beat him up a lot, and then force him!”
It should be said, that Teruko can’t stand Katsuragi-kun.
“Teru-chan, you’re right! He will pay for what he’s done to Kyou-chan!”
Eri dislikes him, too.
“He thinks, he’s all great, but now he went too far. Time to take him down!”
Even Daichi had one or two episodes with Katsuragi-kun.
“Me too. He called me a good-for-nothing bootlicker for Masahiko and I always wanted to beat him up for this. Now we’re not at school and he did something horrible, no reason to hold back!”
Maybe that’s the reason, Katsuo pointed to that direction.
Masahiko feels like helping Kyou lost in priority to beating Katsuragi-kun to a pulp, and even though Masahiko doesn’t hold a grudge before, now with Kyou on the line, he doesn’t dislike the idea of being a bit rough to him.
“So we’ll do this. But how do we find him?”
This time, Eri got the idea. “We might use Kyou-chan for this. They may be connected or maybe there is some form of communication they can use.”
After discussing the details, it’s time to confront Kyou once more.
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