404 – Hostage
My partner snarls through her closed mouth. The light of [High Rest] leaks from the gaps between her teeth. She must be healing Volk inside her mouth.
Nice, partner. Immediately after, she spits him out like a glob of gum, and he spins through the air with a spray of her saliva, then neatly lands on the ground.
“…I suppose I owe you my thanks.”
After landing, he touches his beloved sword to confirm that it has been dirtied, and a slight glint of disgust appears in his eyes. Th-there was no indeed to eat the sword too. I-it was sudden though, so I guess there was no helping…
“It’s the worst case! Volk has fully recovered!”
“Don’t worry, we have Mephisto-sama and Thermal-sama with us!”
“…But this situation really is bad.”
Volk’s legs kick off the floor, and he starts swinging his greatsword in a violent dance. The elastic arm of a knight slime that reaches for him is hacked and splatters apart. He then lightly bends his knees to spring up and bisect a different knight slime from behind along with its armour. The slime’s liquid scatters.
First, I want to understand the situation. As I look at the movements of the slimes around me, I ask my partner to heal the fallen adventurers. She nods and cries “gaa”. The light of High Rest shines from various places throughout the hall.
I look around. Miria should have also been invited here. As I look at the adventures, my eyes meet with those of a blond woman weaning a thick mantle.
Her look of apathy towards me is familiar. She’s the Saint’s attendant, the holy knight Alphiss. It seems she infiltrated the party as the Saint’s vanguard. She quickly takes her eyes off me to fight a knight slime closing in on her.
It seems to me that Alphiss can’t accept me due to me being a monster, having drawn a clear distinction from the start. She looks at in a way that conveys she thinks of me as a mere monster. It’s clearly a different attitude from the Saint, who thinks only in terms of what’s useful to herself.
Looking in the other direction, my eyes meet with a black-haired woman who is crouching down. She’s staring at me from a corner of the hall with her eyes wide open.
The last time I met Miria was before I evolved into an ouroboros. I don’t think she’s noticed that it’s me. If a dragon suddenly appeared, anyone would pay attention to it.
But… As I look into Miria’s eyes, the memory of killing Gregory, then pointing my claws at Miria and leaving the village surfaces as clearly as though it were yesterday.
Unable to bear her gaze, I’m about to look away when I notice the man next to her and hurriedly examine him.
With emerald green two-tone hair, an androgynous baby face, and a poisonous smile… He’s one of the princess’s Three Knights, 『Death Sword Thermal』. Like Miria, Thermal is also looking at me.
N-no way, does he intend to take her hostage? Does he know the connection between me and Miria? Did our relationship leak out when I protected her from him earlier? No, can he even connect the humanised me from that time with the dragon in front of him?
Or, if their boss really is the slime that has somehow survived, the information could have leaked from there. I don’t recall ever talking with Miria in front of the slime, but it had taken the skill that the mahaa wolves used to share information through magic power waves and allowed them to use the eyes of other mahaa wolves as their own.
Anyway, right now, the details of how he knows doesn’t matter. What’s important is that Thermal is securing Miria with the intention of deterring me, and that he’s correct in that such a strategy will be effective against me.
“Hey, Irushia! That’s your name, right!?”
As I thought, he knew my name. This further raises the possibility that it’s that shitty slime behind them.
An impatient smile floats on Thermal’s face. It’s the face of a man calling out my name as a desperate means of survival.
From the reactions of the other soldiers, it seems they expected the Saint to attack, but they didn’t expect her to bring an ouroboros. It seems the Demon Lord was prepared to some extent, but it could be said that the Saint won an advantage by contacting me and making me her ally.
I clench my teeth and glare at Thermal.
『Hey, partner. You’re getting too worked up.』
I know that. I’m fully aware. I don’t know how much information they have on me, but I doubt they’re certain. If I react poorly, it might put Miria in more danger.
“Ha haha haha! As I thought, that’s how it is then? Suddenly stiffening up like that is as good as confessing.”
“…S-sorry to tell you this while you’ve got your hopes up, but even if that dragon is Irushia-san… I’m not sure I’ll be of much use as a hostage…”
Miria’s words wrench my heart. I turn away to face another knight slime.
Right now, the highest priority is extermination of the slimes in this room. The Demon Lord is summoning adventurers to turn them into experience. If nothing is done, it’s likely that they’ll soon die.
“Besides! It’s not like you can kill me at your own discretion!”
Miria’s voice causes my shoulders to tremble. He can’t kill her? What does that mean? No, regardless of why, if that’s true, it’s information I’m incredibly grateful to know.
“Y-you! Shut up, girl! Don’t push your luck, I can kill you, no problem… It’s not as though you have any value other than as a hostage.”
At the edge of my field of view, Thermal reaches out a hand for Miria’s neck.
I gather magic power in my abdomen and release a [Roar] towards Thermal. For a moment, all movement in the hall stops. Thermal’s expression also freezes, but that soon melts away and he smiles.
“This woman is important to you? Then come get her. Don’t leave it to your underlings, or you’ll regret it for sure.”
Saying that, he takes Miria’s arm and runs into another room.
At the last moment, my eyes meet with Miria’s.