A small recess was given, and I used my healing to bring fix my girls. Meanwhile, Carmine was allowed to recover as well. The originally cheering that had permeated the crowds had simmered dramatically after the last two fights. Mages with earth ability flattened and repaired the arena, while people mumbled. A good fight was always loved, but seeing beautiful women being beaten to death was a sight even the crowd didn’t like.
“Did… you mean what you said?” I asked, thinking back to the words Lydia had suddenly revealed on the arena.
“Mm…” She nodded weakly, “Master is… my everything.”
“Husband?” I asked.
A blush broke out on Lydia’s face. “Ah… th-that… said I was your… w-wife… symbolically! Naturally, as your slave, I can’t be your wife. It would definitely have to be another girl.”
It felt almost like a rejection. I mean, it wasn’t like I wanted to get married, but Lydia was the person I cared about the most. Lydia must have noticed my expression because she shook her head.
“M-master would be a wonderful husband. You should definitely get married! I mean, it must be a princess or something!”
I let out a snort at that. What kind of a princess would be interested in me?
“Deek,” a voice came from behind my shoulder.
I glanced away from Lydia to see Princess Eliana standing here. Instantly, my expression turned white upon seeing the resident princess. She had come down from her box overseeing the arena. Her eyes were rimmed red and she was looking at me with a somewhat needy expression.
“What is it?” I asked over the noise.
The murmuring of the crowd was to the level that we still had to speak loudly to be heard. Even though the atmosphere was docile, a large gathering of people still made a lot of noise.
“I’m… sorry. This fight, I never wanted this to happen.”
“Here… Father will be furious if he sees me giving it away, but I want you to have it.”
“Here!?” I spun around, and then seeing something in her hand I calmed down. “Oh… a vial… what is this… an elixir!”
She didn’t catch my slip, but it turned out to be just as surprising what she actually was offering. It was something that could be said to be even more valuable than that, although if any girl heard me say such a thing she might hit me.
“Just a few drops. Enough to heal one person. You can give it to one of your girls in a time of need.”
I was surprised seeing it. It might not have been enough in the eyes of a Slave Master, but for Aberis, this was probably quite valuable. Her father had given her this bottle as a life-saving measure in case something came up.
“Thank you…” I took the bottle and let out a sigh of relief.
For a moment there, after what Lydia had said, I had some concerns that perhaps she had come for other reasons. That was just my overactive imagination getting the better of me.
I put the vial away. I didn’t plan to use it here. A bottle like this was almost useless on the surface. It was best reserved for a dungeon when people are truly on the verge of life or death. I had healed both girls now, and they were awake and giving me weak, reassuring smiles.
With our interaction done, I was about to turn back to Lydia, but suddenly the Princess leaned out and grabbed my hands. Her face was flushed red, and a sudden burst of emotion seemed to flood through her.
“Deek, I must propose to you!” she declared.
Lydia behind me gasped, and my mind went numb for a second. How could it have come to this?
“I’m too young to marry!” I cried, bowing down with my eyes.
When I glanced back up with one eye open, her expression had turned angry. “You… who says I want to marry you!”
As she yelled that, the Prince had walked up on the stage and the crowds murmuring finally settled down. As a result, only five words resounded into the silence.
“I want to marry you!”
The crowds of people all gave a collective gasp. The Prince looked down at the pair of us and then laughed.
“Ah! My sister had finally found love! Then, you and I will become brothers in every sense of the word! I’m quite happy. I accept!”
“Geh!” Eliana looked like she had just been pinched, and then she hit me. “You idiot! Just defeat him, okay!”
That was what she had come to say. She had wanted to tell me to definitely defeat Lord Tibult. However, after the mistaken wedding proposal, it now sounded like she was telling me to defeat Lord Tibult so that I could be a noble and thus, eligible to marry her. When she realized what her words suggested, she exploded in red and then ran away with her hands covering her face.
“Women! So easily moved with emotion…” The Prince said helplessly, only for a shoe to fly up and hit his face a second later. “Anyway… let’s start the final challenge, shall we?”
“The final trial is a bit different than the others… Magicians!” The mages came out and began to create a magic circle in the arena. “For those of you not familiar with it, this is the Bond-breaking Rune Formation!”
A bunch of people gasped, and I couldn’t help leaning forward. “Are you talking about the one that nullifies bonds?”
The Prince winked at me and nodded. “Yes, this is a very rare and expensive formation, but we’re using it for this competition. For the final step, the bond between your slaves and you will be nullified! No coercion. No spells. No skills. Just the truth. For you see, the final challenge today’s theme is trust! Only a master who can trust his slave and a slave who can trust his master can work.
“This is unreasonable!” the Slave Master immediately stepped forward with an ugly look on his face. “Our skills are part of who we are! Would you ask a blacksmith to prove his craft without the support of his job?”
“Yes… I would,” the prince narrowed his eyes.
He had a point there. Skills could bypass a lack of knowledge, but typically they were still a crutch. Basic swordsmanship knowledge only took you so far, but a good swordsman would eventually learn basic swordsmanship with or without the skill. In fact, it was basically a requirement to become an advanced swordsman. That job would never unlock unless you could do everything a basic swordsman could do and then add onto it the advanced skills you’ll unlock.
The Slave Master glowered at the Prince hatefully, but he continued on with his speech while giving the man no mind.
“For the first event, the slaves will show their trust in their master. In the second event, the master will show their trust in their slaves! In the final event, well, I have something special planned.”
“Event one, I will need three girls to come up onto the stage from each group. Masters, you will be handed three bottles. One of them is poisoned! The poison will not kill them, but it will cause them extreme pain! Masters, you must choose which bottle you put in front of each girl!”
I stood up. “That’s cruel! How can that gain trust? It’ll destroy it!”
“The girl must state whether she thinks it’s poisoned or not!” he declared. “If she drinks it, she gets one point, if she’s right in her guess, she gets two. The team with the most points wins!”
“Hehehe… I’ll accept!” the Slave Master giggled.
“It’s okay, Master… I’ll go!” Miki said.
“And me,” Celeste added.
“Master… please, poison me.” Terra declared, standing up. “My high constitution and pain tolerance, I can handle the pain of this potion.”
“Terra, I won’t poison you!” I declared.
Terra gently smiled and then walked up to the stage with the other two girls. Before I could object, three bottles were put in my hands. The man whispered that the first bottle was the poison. I wanted to smash it over his head. How could I choose? This was absolutely too cruel! However, I handed the bottles to them anyway and told them where I wanted them.
“Erect the barrier!” The Prince shouted.
A barrier went up over the people. We could see them, but the girls couldn’t see us. They were on their own to make their decision.
On Lord Tibult’s side, it was Shao, Carmine, and then Salicia. Shao snorted at my girls and then picked up her potion, looking down at it.
“This is not poisonous! Master wouldn’t poison me! After all, of the three of us, I have done nothing to displease him. I won both of my rounds.”
With those words, she gulped down the potion. As soon as it entered her stomach, her expression began to change. She let out a scream and then collapsed to the ground. The dark miasma began to glow around her, but the pain was from the inside, not the outside. She could only bellow and whimper.
“Not poisoned!” Carmine drank hers.
“Not poisoned!” Salicia also drank hers.
The Slave Master gave the girl on the floor an ugly look. “You stupid wench! If I gave the poison to the first person, then the others would clearly know! Even an idiot could figure that out. It assured me six points! Geh!”
The round went like lightning, and they had earned 5 points because of Shao’s error in the way she thought. She expected leniency or fairness, and the Slave Master didn’t think in those terms. She was pulled off the stage with the other two girls.
Meanwhile, my side had lined up a Terra, Miki, and Celeste. Terra had been eyeing her vile for a while now. It was clear she was trying to hype herself up. Although her vision was blocked from me on the outside so I couldn’t give her a hint, she had seen the pain Shao went through.
“Master… has given me the poison!” Terra declared.
She picked up the vial and drank it. She waited for a few moments, and then nothing happened. She shot a look at the direction that I was, an uncomfortable expression on her face.
“Master… why…” Terra said, feeling depressed.
She had asked me to use the poison on her to spare the other girls. Since I didn’t use it on her, it meant one of the other girls had to suffer. I lowered my head, a slightly guilty expression on my face.
“Okay… since Master didn’t pick Terra, we must think realistically,” Miki responded. “Since Master didn’t choose you, it must be because he was worried about the damage you already faced. Master is fair, and wouldn’t want you to experience more pain. Likewise, my constitution has always been weak thanks to my spiritual tails. Thus, he wouldn’t pick me either! Master did not give me the poison!”
She took a drink, closing her eyes nervously. After a moment, she let out a relieved sigh. However, then she froze and turned to Celeste standing in the end. Celeste cocked her head in confusion. It was abundantly clear that with vials downed, the third would be poisoned. Celeste was the one he selected to feel pain. It made sense that I’d pick her, after all, she was uninjured and was a powerful Fairy Queen. Perhaps, I was even a little angry that she had failed her task earlier too. My eyes never looked more closely at Celeste than they did at this moment.
“Go ahead,” Terra said nervously. “You must drink the poison vial. Be strong for Master.”
“Eh? Drink this?” Celeste looked down on it. “But Master wouldn’t give me the poison vial. See?”
The two other girls made noises of protest, holding out their hands as Celeste brought the vial to her lips and drank it. The blood drained from their faces. She had lost a point by being wrong about the poison, that brought the girls to four, and they lost this round. However, after some time passed, Celeste didn’t bend over in pain. As time continued and nothing happened, the audience started to murmur in confusion. Celeste gave a giggle.
“Silly sisters, Master would never hurt us if he had a choice. Could you believe he poisoned any of us?”
Miki’s confused expression flashed with realization. “Master… used Cure Poison on the vial!”
How would I ever hurt them? To the simple-minded Celeste, the question was that simple. Her trust in me was absolute, and even in the face of conflicting proof, she knew that Master would never harm her. Of course, I had used the spell. Even if I had lost the points, or this entire event as a result, I would still have made the same choice.
I didn’t believe it was because the other girls didn’t trust me, it was simply that they overthought it. The second Miki realized that no matter how she looked at it, she couldn’t see me giving her a vial of poison, she felt like a complete idiot. As for Terra, she truly hadn’t trusted in me when I said I wouldn’t poison her. She was convinced there was no other way but her own sacrifice and believed in that instead of believing in me. In a single moment, Celeste had outsmarted Miki and gave me more trust than Terra.
“M-master!” Terra broke into tears and suddenly raced out and leaped off the stage.
“Oi! Oi!” I held out my hands desperately as she landed on top of me.
As a golem, Terra was exceptionally heavy despite her size. Furthermore, as she leveled and regained her strength after years of being in a dungeon, her weight only increased. The ground cracked as I was flattened on the ground. A second and third girl landed on top of me as well. However, they all started kissing me, and their bodies were soft, so I decided it wasn’t that bad after all.