Princess Philia and I slipped away from the Imperial Palace in the middle of the night, heading over to where Clarice was kept in custody. For Philia, it seemed like it’s been a while since the last time she left the Imperial Palace. Perhaps because of that, she looked around a bit restlessly.
She went wearing the maid uniform because she couldn’t go out freely without hiding her identity. But since the princess’s beautiful hair looked way too conspicuous, it was only a matter of time until her identity would be exposed. If she got exposed, it could be misunderstood that I was a kidnapper who took the princess out of the Imperial Palace without permission. It was an emergency to help Clarice, but the situation was still a bit discomforting. While I was still thinking about it, it turned out that we’ve already arrived at the outskirts of the Imperial Capital, where the security was lesser.
“Let’s take a different course from here.”
When I said that, Philia had an anxious expression because the perpetrator told her to come alone. I explained the plan to Philia, that she should be the one who takes care of the negotiation and I would be watching from a hiding place.
At last, we arrived in front of the place we were told to come. The time showed 2 a.m. now and it seemed like there was nobody around. Philia stood in the place told beforehand and I hid in the shades of the building next door. Then we could hear a small footstep.
“To think that the Imperial Princess really came alone,” the woman who came into view said that. She was dressed in the plainest black clothes I had ever seen . A relatively beautiful woman with freckles, she was the maid who came to tell us that Clarice was missing in the daytime. As I thought, it was a person from the Imperial Palace.
“So it was Theodora who left that letter,” Philia said. So Theodora was that woman’s name.
“Yes. And If Her Highness had gone to tell the imperial guards, my accomplice inside the imperial guards would use that excuse to tighten the security around you.”
“That way, you can easily kidnap me.”
“But because Your Highness has already come here, I didn’t have to go through such a roundabout process. As your servant, I thank you for that.” Contrary to the words, Theodora’s voice sounded mocking.
With a clouded expression, Philia asked, “Is Clarice safe?”
“I haven’t caused her any harm. So rest assured, we aren’t villains after all. That girl is an incompetent maid but she doesn’t have dirty blood flowing through her body, so she’s different from Your Highness.”
Philia’s face looked frightened as she stepped back. Dirty blood? That word’s meaning in the empire was–
“Your Highness Philia, I knew about that.”
“Please don’t say it…!”
“That you are the devil’s daughter.”
Then I gasped. Devil? It was an existence with the same appearance as a human being, but had the same characteristic as the demons in the ruins.They were beings that have been despised, enslaved, and oppressed by humans. And yet, they held tremendous power. They could also breed with humans.
“Our emperor is a man without integrity, because he made a child with a devil. Is that devil truly your parent? Even if the imperial family desperately hides the fact, many in the Imperial Palace would have known about it.”
“What are you planning to do with me…”
“Please, look at this.”
Theodora pulled up her sleeve and showed her right arm, where an ominous tattoo was placed. I knew that tattoo. It was a symbol of the human supremacy secret society, known as Natural Alliance. Natural Alliance was an illegal organization whose aim was to eliminate all inhuman races, such as Elves and Beastmen.
Theodora said, “You know, I just can’t forgive them. Devils are in the same category as demons, humankind’s enemy. They are carelessly pretending to be human beings. It was horrifying that such things mixed with humans and made children all over the place. Worse, they even mixed with the royal family.”
“Why do you resort to such a troublesome way to kill me?”
It was true what Philia said. Rather than having to call her here, it would be easier to kill her with poison inside the Imperial Palace. But Theodora grinned and smiled.
“No. Your Highness must be left alive. If we announce that Her Highness is a devil’s daughter, the world will experience a greater sense of crisis.”
“Because then you can use me as evidence for that?”
“Yes. After you’re done with your role, I will do my best to kill you in the cruelest way possible. It will be a great show for the world,” Theodora said happily.
It was not like I wasn’t doing anything while Philia and Theodora were facing each other. I was trying to find out how many enemies were there. From the looks of it, there were five people. Using the searching magic also gave me the same answer. If there were too many people involved in the plan of kidnapping the princess, the risk of being caught would increase. And because even Theodora didn’t think that there was a high possibility the princess would show up, there was certainly no need to have a large number of people here. To put five people was pretty reasonable.
I took a deep breath. It was a good time to act. Then I pulled my sword out and got ready.
“Well, for now, please sleep for a while, Your Highness.”
Almost at the same time as when Theodora said that, I took a small wand out of my pocket and jumped out.
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