The time when Ardis was attacking the headquarters. In one corner of the noble’s residency area, Minerva was just before heading to sleep in the Nyrestia residency.
「Here, Rona. It’s cold there right? Let’s sleep together. 」
Minerva reached her hands out on the luxurious looking bed with a canopy, though the golden beast only replied her and didn’t move.
Although Rona was entrusted to Minerva by Ardis, he really didn’t look anything other than a ferocious beast. Because all the other servants of the duke residency were afraid of him and never approached, in the end, Minerva had to take care of him alone.
Though of course, Minerva herself was more than happy to. After all, she wasn’t afraid of Rona, rather, Rona is more like a fluffy stuffed animal that is also her teacher’s companion.
She had been arranging meals and sweets for him, and even brushed his fur gently, it was a top-notch treatment. And for the few nights, Minerva had brought Rona into her room, and slept in the same room.
Minerva would want to feel his fur in the bed to sleep but the golden beast would never reply to her invitation. Rona would curl up beside the bed every night, he was like a knight that protected Minerva as he kept looking at the entrance and the window. That made her recall the attack few days ago.
A group of masked individuals that appeared during the training with Ardis. Though it was obvious that Ardis had fend them off, it didn’t mean that she is completely safe now.
Regarding that, her father, Duke Nyrestria didn’t reveal anything about it, which only made Minerva more anxious.
「I was kept out even though I’m the one they targeted……. It’s the usual but, it really doesn’t feel well. 」
Minerva sighed, and Rona raised his head and looked at her in worry.
「It’s nothing, Rona. 」
The reason why she would say something that she wouldn’t normally, is probably because Rona was there to listen.
Though it’s a beast that wouldn’t speak. Even if Rona is a smart beast that can understand what people say, it’s not like he had the answers to a noble lady’s problems.
She would feel better even if she just speaks of her anxiety anyways. Since there was someone there to listen, Minerva talked more than usual that day.
「Commander Greystar had arranged escorts, so it should be reassuring. But if I said I’m still anxious, it would mean insulting him. 」
Several escorts were injured or died on that day, on top of that, having escorts that needed to accompany the duke on official matters and the duchess, there’s a serious lack of manpower.
It’s not easy to fill the vacancy, and so the numbers of guards in the residency had no choice but decreased momentarily. To fill the hole, the army’s battalion commander, Moore ・ Greystar that had known the duke personally agreed to guard the residency with some of his subordinates.
Though it’s obvious they’re mixing up official and personal matters, it is also the power of a duke to make that possible. Of course, it was for the safety for his daughter, and Minerva who was on the receiving end of that parental care had no reason to complain.
『Don’t worry about it, it’s a good experience for my guys to experience guarding as well. And I’ve owed some favors to His Excellency after all, there’s nothing Ojou-sama have to worry about. 』
Though she was sorry to make Moore and his subordinates take on this job even though they’re busy, she couldn’t say anything if the person himself dismissed her concerns with a laugh.
From what she heard, it seems like they’re going to receive extra vacation time after this too. In other words, guarding the duke residency is taken as an official task of some sorts.
On top of that, there’re compensation from the duke house too, so it seems like there’re many that volunteered as well. As such, there’re about ten soldiers that had been added into the guard’s rank in the duke residency.
Of course, it’s not like everything is solved even if they have enough manpower now. The defenders are always forced to be passive while the one attacking has the initiative.
As Minerva dived into her bed, the room shrouded in silence.
Was it a minute, or ten. As her consciousness wasn’t clear, the short or long period of time passed, just before Minerva’s consciousness got sucked into the dreamland, Rona stood up without a sound.
Minerva who felt that was roused.
「……What is it, Rona? 」
With the starlight from outside the window, Minerva looked at Rona.
Rona’s ears piqued. In a moment, an angry growl broke the silence.
「W-What is it? 」
Then, a ruckus that Minerva could hear. Heavy footsteps were heard running around the mansion, just when she thought she was hearing swords clashing from the floor below, there was a woman scream coming from the floor above.
「We’re under attack! Many of them! 」
「Be careful of their diversion! Guard the stairs! Don’t let them pass! 」
「They, even the servants……! 」
The silence a moment ago disappeared like it was a lie, there were cries of battle surrounding the residency.
Minerva who was hugging Rona unintentionally suddenly thought of something and went to the closet and took out a sword. It was the short sword that Ardis gifted her a few days ago for self-defense.
Since she was receiving guidance from a strong mercenary, if she would be afraid of the enemies, it would be too pathetic. The reason why she wished to be strong herself was because that she wanted less people to be sacrificed for her.
「Cut them down! 」
The ruckus had become closer than before. The sound of swords clashing behind the door, the sound of flesh being cut, and blood being splattered could be heard.
「I……, me too……」
Minerva who had made her resolve pulled her sword and had her hands on the door. While feeling that Rona is at her feet, she opened the door slowly.
Just as she opened the door, the stench of blood flooded. Minerva who narrowed her eyes due to the sudden bright light coming from the corridor became speechless the next moment as she saw the scenery.
It was supposed to be a familiar corridor. A scenery of many people collapsed on the ground that would never happen.
One, two, three persons……. The floor and the wall where they died at were dyed with a vibrant vermillion.
「Ojou-sama! It’s dangerous so don’t come out! 」
It was like an angry yell at her.
「Ah……. Commander, Greystar……」
As she found out the owner of the voice, Minerva called his name with an expression on the verge of crying.
「We’re under attack. There’re many of them but they aren’t powerful. Stay put in the room and rest easy, it will be settled immediately. 」
「Aa, I-I too……」
Minerva’s hands were shaking as she grasped the short sword.
「Don’t be stupid. It’s disgraceful for us to make someone we should guard holding a sword. 」
Minerva turned around and hid her face. While feeling hatred at her own hands for only shaking, she understood what Moore was saying as well, and so her eyes were filled with tears.
「There, return to your room. 」
Moore said so gently. As expected, he couldn’t reach his bloody hands towards the young noble lady in sleepwear. While hesitating with his hands, he chased Minerva back into her room.
The sounds that she heard died down, and it felt like the ruckus was settling.
Nodding without energy, Minerva returned back into her room. That time, Rona who had been quiet around Minerva’s feet suddenly leapt out.
「Eh? Rona? 」
At the same time when Rona barked, the window glass broke, and two shadows intruded the room. The shadows glanced at the bed, and then without hesitation, they attacked Minerva with a dagger.
「Back down! 」
Saying so, Moore stepped in front to protect Minerva.
At the same time, Rona went in from the side and bared his fangs towards the attackers. That action was probably unexpected for the attackers. Without even the time to react, one of the attackers had his throat gouged out by Rona, and then ended just like that.
The other attacker was still aiming for Minerva but, of course, Moore was standing in his way. Moore himself who is the battalion commander in the army is a strong person.
Even if the attacker is skillful, he wouldn’t be outwitted in a one on one situation. After about three exchanges, the attacker fell without causing any damage.
「Their purpose was this huh. But too bad their timing wasn’t good that I’m here……. No, I guess it would’ve been fine even if I’m not here. 」
Moore looked at Rona who had easily taken one of the attackers by himself.
「As expected from the partner of 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』. You’re not just a normal beast huh. 」
Of course, Rona barked so. As the sounds of battle slowly died down in the silent night, the presence of the attackers eventually went away.
「Well then, I guess that’s all of them, I will have to look for the injured now. 」
「W-What about me? 」
「Ojou-sama should stay here……, no, we should move somewhere else since the window is broken. ……There’s this dependable escort here too, I will call for someone, so wait first――, nn? What’s the matter? 」
Moore who was talking about their next plan realized the abnormality with Rona. Rona who had easily killed one of the attackers were looking around the place seemingly in unrest.
「What is it, Rona? …… Huh? 」
Minerva noticed Rona’s behavior too, then, a strange feeling coming from the surroundings assaulted her.
「What, is this? 」
「What happened? 」
There’s no one who could answer Minerva’s question. As for Moore who couldn’t understand what was happening, it was because he couldn’t notice the change.
There was a heavy atmosphere wrapping around her entire body, making her senses scream. The next moment, her consciousness became afar, holding the short sword in one hand, her other hand were hugging Rona.
While only that sensation remained as she desperately tried to hang on her spirit, her limit came eventually.