|| TL: miyakriko ||
Before Adonis lay a vast expanse of sand and rock. The scorching sun beat down on him, and heat waves shimmered in the distance.
“This is… even worse than I expected,”
said the muscular man with short, brown hair who stood beside Adonis, sounding exasperated. His body, toned by repeated combat, was evident in the armor he wore and the curved sword that hung from his waist.
“Looks like the village chief in Mirmoos was right, Grant,”
Adonis replied, and his warrior-like escort nodded in agreement.
“If the land is this barren, there’s no point in trying to settle on it,”
“Good thing we didn’t bring all our luggage. It looks like we won’t even find a place to settle down,”
Adonis sighed. They had ridden their horses for an hour from the village of Mirmoos, which was located on the eastern edge of the vast territory of the Krondeig Kingdom. As they had traveled farther east, the grassland had turned into a wasteland, eventually becoming a vast expanse of sand and rock where nothing grew.
In any case, they needed to investigate the situation on-site before attempting to settle in the area. They had unloaded their luggage in Mirmoos and made their way here.
“So, what do we do now, Prince Adonis?”
To be frank, I don’t have any thoughts. Of course, I’ve been thinking about various things on the way here, but in a place where there is nothing, the very premise is flawed.
“If only there was a place that could be a base for living.”
“It doesn’t look like there’s anything here. Hey, Scosia, did you see anything?”
Grant called out to the girl with braided blonde hair wearing a hooded robe and holding a staff, who stood on a large rock next to him, staring out into the desert.
“I used long-distance magic to look further east, and there seemed to be some sort of ruins where people used to live. It might be a village or more like a ruin, but I don’t think we can expect to find any residents there.”
The girl, Scosia, a librarian from the Royal Magic Library of Klondike and Adonis’s assistant in knowledge and magic, lightly jumped down from the rock and landed next to Adonis.
The magical light in her green eyes disappeared.
“I saw it with long-distance magic, but there’s a ruin a little to the east where we can at least shelter from the rain and wind. However, I’m not sure if we can use it as a base until we actually go there and check it out.”
“Alright, let’s go check it out. We need to establish a base here first. We can’t just stay in Mirmoos Village forever.”
Adonis and Grant mounted their horses and Scosia hopped onto Grant’s horse.
“That old man was giving us a pretty obvious scowl, wasn’t he?”
“Can’t be helped. A prince who’s been exiled is nothing but a troublesome matter.”
As Adonis said that, they galloped off, as if to blow away those words.
“Hah, well, I guess it can’t be helped. After all, he’s a prince with only three companions. Ha ha ha, everyone ran away along the way.”
Grant laughed heartily.
“What’s left are just me, the rough muscle-brained idiot who’s the laughingstock of the Royal Knights, and one maid, right?”
“Who are you calling a muscle-brained idiot, dammit. You’re a magic idiot who lost your place because you picked a fight with the first prince of Verano.”
“I came with Adonis of my own free will! It’s also to carry on my master’s will.”
Scozia said that as she gazed into the distance. Adonis couldn’t read what she was thinking from the complex emotions on her face, but he guessed that she had some thoughts about the death of the sage she called her master.
“Actually, it’s good that you guys are still here. I was prepared to do it alone.”
“Well, that’s just a suicide mission. Anyway, even if we’ve increased to four people, what can we do…”
Grant shrugged his shoulders skillfully while on horseback.
“I’m counting on you, Grant, Scozia. We need some results for Taretto* who’s waiting in Mirmoos Village.”
Adonis thought of the maid, Taretto*, who stayed behind in Mirmoos Village to unpack their supplies. He was actually most surprised that she came along with their colonization expedition. She had been a maid for the royal palace since she was young, and she was always dedicated to her job, not even once speaking ill of others or slacking off on her work.
“That quiet maid is the most mysterious one. She’s not disliked by the other princes or the king, like us.”
“Someone with a head that’s just muscle like you wouldn’t understand the intricacies of a woman’s heart.”
“What was that, I’ll knock you off the horse!”
“Before that, I’ll blow your head off with magic.”
Adonis smiled softly as he watched the two of them bickering on horseback. He felt deeply relieved by their consistently cheerful demeanor. If he was alone… he might not have been able to do anything.
After riding their horses for a while, they saw a giant rock in front of them.
“That’s…I see. It does give off the feeling of a ruin.”
The huge rock, larger than any house, was hollowed out inside, and windows and doors were installed in the side openings.
“It could be called a house… but it feels more like a ruin.”
“It looks like it’s been abandoned for at least a hundred years.”
“For now, let’s check inside. There might be monsters lurking.”
Grant and Scosia dismounted their horses a short distance away, each holding their weapons at the ready.
As they approached, Grant spoke in a tense voice.
“――Adonis, stay on your horse.”
“I sense a bad presence. And it seems like a really dangerous one.”
“I feel it too… It’s a kind of magic I’ve never felt before.”
As they spoke, they gradually approached the ruins. Scosia held her staff at the ready to cast magic at any time.
The moment Grant muttered those words, the door to the ruins burst open with force.
“!! Flame Lance――”
Scosia reflexively tried to cast magic, but Adonis saw a figure and shouted sharply.
“Scosia, don’t shoot!”
However, a spear of flames had already been launched from the tip of her staff, hitting the door of the ruins. A deafening explosion echoed, and dust rose up with the blast.
“What the hell, who just shoots like that out of nowhere!”
Grant shouted in anger, but Scosia waved her staff around, about to burst into tears.
“I-I’m sorry! But I felt the presence… Wait, huh?”
“Hey, hey… You’re kidding, right?”
As he listened to the surprised words of the two, Adonis stared intently at the door.
“Phew, I was planning to greet you properly, but you had to go and attack me right away. If you don’t keep a tight leash on your subordinates, you’ll have trouble ahead, you know? The next, Dragon King.”
Saying that, the one who emerged unscathed from the dust was a black-clothed witch with flaming red hair waving about.