“How did you know that erotic asphyxiation was my ultimate turn on!” The demon cried out happily.
“Ew! Ew! Ew!” Carmine screamed.
Seeing the situation, a man naked in the room with one of my women, caused a fit of fiery anger to shoot up within me. Carmine had various rips in her dress, which exposed various bits of skin and made her look very vulnerable despite her usually toned physique. The man was acting extremely perverted and was even getting off on her actions, no matter how vicious they were.
My mind seemed to shut off, and all I saw was darkness. I lunged toward the man without even thinking, and my sword took his head without a moment of hesitation. It was only when his head hit the ground with a thud that I started to think again.
“C-Carmine…” I looked up at her.
She had her mouth opened, and she was a bit surprised. However, these demons were the products of a dungeon. His body would be absorbed by the dungeon soon enough. Killing him wasn’t a big deal. However, I knew, even had it been someone else in a different situation, such as her with her genuine lover, I might have reacted the same way. That was what shook me up the most. As for Carmine, it must have been the extreme look of emotion on my face that caused her to choke up.
I stepped forward and grabbed her, and before I even thought about it, I was kissing her, my tongue gently exploring her mouth as I held her body against mine. It had been days since I had slept near any of my women, and it was a feeling I hadn’t even realized I missed until I felt her warm body in my arms. She trembled slightly as I held her, but she didn’t fight at all as I held her body close.
When I pulled away, I had many things I wanted to tell her. I wanted to tell her that I was sorry I hadn’t done anything sooner. I was busy being indecisive while she was nearly raped. I wanted to say that I missed her. I wanted to say that she was important. Instead, my hand reached around and grabbed her hair tightly, and I looked at her with a dark expression.
“You’re my woman, and if any other man ever touches you, I’ll kill him!”
Those were not the words I had expected to say at all. The only words that were more startling than my own were Carmines. She might have grown indignant or upset. She could have complained or shot me a glare. Instead, she lowered her head shyly, looking as meek as she could be.
“Y-yes… Master. I’m yours.”
Somehow, those words were exactly what I needed to settle me. I let go of her hair. She didn’t look upset. Instead, she reached out and grabbed my shirt, which had come out a bit and was sticking out of my armor. She looked extremely cute and alluring when she acted shy like this. I wondered what I had done that caused her to become so tame. When Miki wasn’t acting mischievous, she might have acted this way, but Carmine was always the knight who acted like a princess. Now she appeared to be the princess, and I was the knight!
“How did you end up here?” I asked once my sudden rise of emotions seemed to settle.
“Once I entered the dungeon, I appeared lost in the forest. While trying to find my bearings, I stumbled onto a caravan being attacked by demons. I decided to try to help, but halfway through, I realized the caravan was full of the undead! I stabbed a zombie wearing a dress, and suddenly the demons were trying to capture me while calling me princess.
“They said they would take me to their lord, and I thought that perhaps you would be him, so I went with them. Instead, I was attacked by this freak! He said he fell in love with me at first sight. He made me put on these embarrassing clothes. It was then that I realized I lost all of my combat ability. Even then, I was about to escape seriously, but I was hoping to get more information from him before I left.”
“Hmm? Really? Oh… right.”
I was confused until I remembered that I no longer had my blessings and I didn’t have Harem Master or Slave Master equipped. Since I had been on my own, I hadn’t considered that cutting off my jobs would also cut off her jobs. She was back to being just a Paladin. I felt guilty as soon as I realized it. Overall, without my boosts, her combat ability was only okay. Compared to standard riffraff, she was fine, but it wasn’t at a level she could fight armies, especially with her limited attack abilities.
I considered immediately restoring her abilities, but it would be weakening me to strengthen her. Since there were just the two of us, it didn’t make sense. Instead, I accepted her back in my party.
“We need to escape before they realize we’re here,” I said. “Ah, but I wonder if there is anything we can do about it.”
“The Demon Prince was supposed to arrive and save you from being raped. Then, you were to fall in love with him.”
“Huh? I absolutely wouldn’t!” She said, and then blushed. “B-besides… I already l-l-love…”
“That’s right!” I interrupted her, “You don’t know you’re the princess.”
“This dungeon seems to use miasma to infect people with karma,” I explained. “I don’t know much about it. Shao or Astria might be able to explain it better. Simply put, when the princess touched you, she gave you her identity. I don’t think that you chose to be captured just to meet me. You were compelled to be captured because that was the role you needed to play in the dungeon.”
“So, for some reason, the Prince didn’t show up. Did my actions somehow delay him? In that case, what does my stopping the lord cause? If we take you out of here, how will that disrupt the dungeon’s lore? Where is the Prince? Was he killed?”
“I wasn’t. It just turned out… that I showed up a bit later than expected.” A voice came from the doorway.
The two of us turned to find an unexpected man standing there. It was the Demon Slayer, Bernard!
“I was wondering why the demons suddenly changed their attitude toward me.” Bernard said with a frown. “As soon as I murdered their prince, they somehow started treating me as their prince. Naturally, I was confused, and it took me some time before I decided to play along. I’m glad I did, as it brought me here to this room.”
I nodded thoughtfully. “You’ve absorbed the Demon Prince’s miasma? This is a good thing.”
“Oh?” He cocked his head.
“Getting into the demon castle and getting past the Demon King would be very simple if he sees you as his son. We might be able to get through without fighting him at all!”
“And?” Bernard raised an eyebrow. “This is a competition. Each man is on his own. Just because I lucked out and have a one-way ticket to the exit doesn’t mean I need to share it with you!”
I blinked at his words. I had forgotten that. I was here more or less as a prisoner. My only reward was survival. However, for everyone else here, even Carmine, this was still the final selection for the gladiator match. Whoever made it through the portal was the winner.
“If you help us get through, then there is no problem,” I responded carefully. “We have no desire to win at this point. We just want to get out with our lives. As for those awards, you can have them.”
I did have a use for the dwarf girl, and I had even been asked by the head of the church to protect her, but that was before many things happened. I had always considered finding and rescuing her as a secondary mission. We weren’t close, and it had been many months since I had last seen her. I seemed to recall that she was a bit irritating.
“In that case, I’ll be happy to help,” Bernard said.
I breathed out a sigh of relief. “Good.”
“I will help the princess and free her from your treachery! As for you, Deek Deekson, I will see you in hell!” He pulled out his sword.
“Huh? Why is that?” I asked in a startled voice, but just to be careful, I pulled mine out as well and got into a protective stance in front of Carmine.
“Hehe… you don’t get it? The princess and I were meant to be together!”
“The miasma!” I hissed. “Look, Bernard, you’re not the Demon Prince for real! You don’t need to follow what this dungeon tells you to do!”
“The only thing I’m following is my heart!”
“No, you have the Demon Prince’s karma, and she has the princess’s karma. At this point in the story, you two are supposed to fall in love and be together.” A flash of realization struck me, and I grabbed Carmine’s arm.
“You… you mustn’t let the karma affect your heart.”
She teared up while looking at me. “I’m sorry. Master… it’s too late! The karma has already done the deed. I can’t stop revealing my true feelings!”
She slapped her hands over her mouth as if trying to keep herself from saying any more. So, it was true. She was now in love with Bernard. Anger started to surge in me once again. There was one thing I wouldn’t stand for. No one would take my woman from me!
“You heard her! Now, get out of the way and let our love ring true!”