Bernard wasn’t like the Demon noble I had just killed before. He was the champion of Alerith and a Hero in his own right. He moved like lightning, and I barely managed to deflect his first attack, leaping back as I did. It all happened so quickly that I barely thought about it, but in a single move he was on the other side of the room and he was standing a few feet from Carmine. This caused my emotions to start to grow cold.
“Hmph… you’ve managed to block my first attack. It’s been some time since I’ve found a warrior who survived when I intended him to die.” Bernard said.
“I’m telling you, the miasma of this dungeon is confusing you!” I said, breathing hard.
“You’re wrong about that, Deek Deekson.” His eyes flashed with anger as he looked at me. “This battle has been coming for some time.”
I realized only then that he wasn’t calling me human scum or something like that. He was referring to me by name as if this was personal. If it was his karma in control, he’d probably see me as Drakus, not Deek. Furthermore, his eyes looked clear. He didn’t have a foggy expression at all like he was just doing what the dungeon was telling him to do. That meant that he was doing this for a different reason entirely. Was it simply because we were rivals for the cup?
“I already said, the gladiatorship doesn’t matter to me. You can win it all you want!”
“Hehe… you think this has to do with winning some championship?” He sneered. “This is about something far more important. This is about the woman I love!”
“Huh?” I blinked.
“Me?” Carmine’s eyes widened.
“S-seriously?” I asked, not feeling like I had heard him right.
He reached out and grabbed Carmine, pulling her to him. “Of course! Since the first moment I had seen the Shiny Knight on stage, I had always felt emotions for her. That’s why I made sure to watch every single one of her matches. Then, when she took off her helmet for the first time, it was love at first sight! Who could not fall for this woman’s absolute beauty and radiance!”
“Ahh… that’s nice… I do try to always look good.” Carmine blushed.
Even if Bernard had somehow managed to fight off the Miasma affecting his heart, and his feeling for Carmine were real, that didn’t mean the opposite was true. Carmine had already confessed that her emotions were being altered, and the way she was blushing next to Bernard caused my heart to feel enraged. I was doing everything in my power to remain civil without attacking him and cutting him down that instant.
“Let go of her! What is it that you want?”
“Whether I let go of her or not, that isn’t for you to decide, you Slave Master!” His voice was filled with vitriol, especially as he spoke those last words.
“How could I not know that you enslaved this beautiful woman! You have the job Slave Master. I’ve seen you prance around with your other women you bully and rape. To manage so many, you would have to be a Slave Master. That’s also why Carmine was able to remain so strong. Your job gave her strength she didn’t possess on her own and forced her to fight at a level that she shouldn’t be fighting at. The way Slave Master’s treat beauties like her, it’s disgusting!”
“I’m keeping her safe!”
“You’re using her!” He cursed back, spit flying as he shouted. “What do I want? I want to free her from your slavery! I want to make her my wife! Carmine will be mine!”
“R-really?” Carmine’s eyes widened as Bernard still had his arm wrapped around her waist, which looked less solid and daintier within her ripped princess dress.
The usually strong Carmine looked every bit the princess, right down to her blonde hair and blue eyes. Her armor had never done her body justice, hiding her alluring curves and inherent beauty. Now that the miasma had infected her, even her strength as a Paladin was being suppressed, and her expressions and mannerisms appeared more like Eliana.
“Carmine…” I reached out a hand to her.
“In this dungeon, she’s Princess Sophie, and she’s fated to be with me, the Demon Prince, remember?” Bernard’s expression turned dark.
“Please, don’t tell me you’re under the effect of the miasma!” I begged to Carmine.
Her face suddenly turned red and she brought her head against Bernard’s shoulder, “I won’t say.”
I felt like my heart was falling, and the anger inside of me was building to the point that the blade in my hand was starting to shake.
“You… bastard…” I spoke slowly and darkly. “Carmine, you can’t fall for him.”
“Eh?” Carmine glanced up. “Him?”
“See? She has!” Bernard laughed. “This is truly fate. Even this dungeon knows it. Just accept your role as some useless human!”
The blood started to drain from my face as I started to remember the first dungeon I had ever been in. There was a bit of truth to Bernard’s words, and that was what stung the most. My relationship with Lydia had spawned within that first dungeon. Part of the reason we ended up together, or perhaps part of the reason we were able to survive the dungeon, was because of our relationship. It was ultimately a story about a boy and a girl. We were cast in those roles. I hadn’t been inflicted with a karmic curse at the time, but it had essentially been the same.
What that told me is that there was a reason that the dungeon picked these roles. There was a reason that Carmine had become the princess, and Bernard had become the prince. Perhaps, there were some underlying feelings there. Maybe it was destiny that they would complete this story. If I did nothing now, the Demon Prince would take her to the Capital with him. This would likely be the instigating event that started the human invasion. Without it, there would be no war.
“Um… I think you guys have the wrong-” Carmine started to say.
“Darn it!” My fist hit the wall, causing her to jump. “Carmine… I won’t let you be with any other man!”
“Master… about that…”
“I will take your heart, your body, and your mind and make them mine!”
“R-really?” Carmine’s eyes brightened, telling me my words were affecting her.
“Don’t be swayed by him,” I said. “I’ll buy you anything you want. I will fetch you the shiniest armor from the deepest dungeon. Anything you want, I will make it yours. As my woman, I will make sure you never want for anything. I will care and love you every day!”
“You beastly Slaver… you think you can just promise her stuff and get her to turn like that?”
“I-I’m listening…” Carmine said weakly.
I never imagined that the battle I had with Bernard would end up being a battle over Carmine. However, it was a battle I absolutely wouldn’t allow myself to lose. The thought of losing her tore at my heart, and every second she was in his hands was like torture. She may have been infected by miasma, but she was a Paladin. She had to have some kind of resistance to that. I couldn’t allow her to become the Princess Sophie who fell for the Demon Prince. She needed to remain my Carmine, the slave, Paladin, and champion who I had a link with for months now.
I had promised myself that I would take my relationship with my slaves more seriously. In the past, I had pushed Carmine and her sister to the side, but I realized I couldn’t take advantage of people’s feelings like that anymore. My only hope to keep myself from losing everything was to appeal to the Carmine that I knew. She was a girl who valued stuff as much as people. She was a bit shallow and was also vain. However, she did have an inherent desire to protect people, and she genuinely wanted to be a good person.
“Don’t listen to this devil’s sweet words, my love!” Bernard cried out. “I love you.”
“Ahem… I mean… my body and mind feel like they’re being torn apart!” Carmine cried out. “Princess Sandra…”
“Princess Sophie… Carmine… I don’t know who I am. Please, Master… you must tell me all the things you’ll give… ahem… I mean how much you care or I might be lost forever!”
My mind was filled with rage and worry, so I didn’t see any signs but to take her words at face value. I took a step forward, but Bernard held up his blade menacingly.
“Please! Carmine… I don’t want to be without you!”
“Ah…” She let out a little noise, then covered her mouth. “I mean… I-I think… I love Bernard…”
Rage exploded inside me again. “I won’t allow it! I will steal you back, and I will have you, and I will make it so your body responds only to my touch. I will have my way with you until my body is the only thing your body remembers.”
“See… Princess Sophie! He’s a beast! Ah… you’re drooling!”
“Hah… Hah… Ah, s-sorry!” Carmine, looked away. “It seems… that I have become Bernard’s love forever. So, Master will just have to do those things…”
“I won’t let him!” Bernard screamed, seemingly finally realizing that Carmine was playing with him and shoving her to the side while he lifted his sword. “Ultimate Destruction!”
A surge of power exploded around him, quickly building within his blade. I held up my sword, but his attack was far quicker and polished than I could do, and I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to block it even as I held up my blade. Without Carmine defending me as a fully armored Paladin, there was no way I could stop this.
He truly wasn’t holding back at all. All of my anger and frustration finally fluttered out as common sense returned to me. I had been screaming and yelling in an enemy fort, fighting with the Demon Prince over a woman. I started to feel caution again, but Bernard was already racing at me with his sword raised.
“Oops.” Carmine, put out a foot, which Bernard hit as he lunged toward me.
I sidestepped as the man stumbled and then fell right out the window behind me. He fell out the castle tower and plummeted to the ground with a scream and sudden tremor of thunder as his skill backlashed. When the smoke cleared, I heard a yell.
“Caarrrrmine!” He screamed from down below. “Guards! Get the intruder and kill him!”
“We need to go!” I ran out and grabbed Carmine’s shoulder.
“Wh-what about all the other stuff…” She asked, her fingertips pushing together and a face filled with red.