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Chapter 728

Battle didn’t begin right away. Their army ended up surrounding our fort, and a small group came out, demanding to speak to the commander. Rather than show myself, I decided to remain low. I had a feeling Bernard had a way of detecting me inside the keep. I had advised the commander to pretend the princess wasn’t there, but for some reason, he wasn’t willing to do that. Perhaps, it was the will of the dungeon that we couldn’t deceive them in that way.

“What are you doing, surrounding our fort! This act of aggression is unacceptable!” The commander shouted as soon as he appeared on the wall.

“Don’t be so naïve commander. Skirmishes have been breaking out along our borders for years! It was only a matter of time till one side made a move!”

“And so, you have decided to show your true colors, is it?” The commander wasn’t just talking to the demon, but he was trying to incite the morale of his troops too.

Everyone in both armies could hear them yelling back and forth. The commander on the skeleton side wanted to make it abundantly clear who was at fault. His men would be filled with indignant rage, and the demon side would know that every death that followed was because of their hubris. I felt like I could learn a few things about leadership from these guys. I wasn’t sure if I was in charge, I could motivate a troop in quite the same way.

“Will you stop hugging me so close,” I asked.

“I refuse!” Carmine said, nestling her chest around my arm.

“You never acted this way before. You’re making the skeletons soldiers feel awkward.”

“It’s fine!”

At first, I had feared that the princess would be revealed to be Carmine, especially with her fighting the karma and using spells to diminish its control on her. However, it seemed like in the mind of these soldiers, she had already become the princess in body and spirit. That princess was still acting extremely affectionate with her savior, causing more than a few brows to furrow. I understood that this was a result of the dungeon too. The princess fell in love with the man who saved her. I saved her, so she was in love with me. It still felt a little awkward to see Carmine acting so affectionate though.

“We want the princess returned to us, or we will attack!”

“Returned? She is the human princess! How ridiculous! You failed to kidnap her the first time, and now you want us to just give her back?”

Even the commander was incredulous by this statement. If Bernard was the one pushing this though, and he wasn’t completely controlled by the dungeon, then he likely didn’t care about the rules of the dungeon. He wasn’t attacking to set the dungeon right again, but because of his desires. Thinking about it, I didn’t realize my arm had wrapped around Carmine’s hip and held her closer to me, an act that caused her to grow a pleasing smile.

“This is not a request! This is an ultimatum! You have until tonight. Tonight, we will attack your fort, kill all of your men, and claim your princess. If you give her up now, we will allow you to live!”

Chapter 729

“Pure bullying!” The commander came off the wall and cursed as he approached the pair of us. “The demons have truly gone too far this time!”

He didn’t not notice how close we were holding each other, but other than a twitch, he didn’t say anything and pretended to notice nothing.

“What about the other skele- I mean, humans?”

The man who gave me his Karma, Drakus, seemed to be aware he was a skeleton, but everyone else in this undead fort seemed to be acting like they were humans, so I wasn’t sure if I should call them humans or skeletons. I decided it was best to just keep calling them humans. It made it easier to remember what side I was on.

“Reinforcements?” He asked. “Regrettably, I didn’t anticipate such a swift retaliation. You had barely walked through the door when they did this attack. They must have sent their men immediately after. You had to realize they were on your heels the entire time, right?”

“Ah… actually… we returned a different way…” I scratched my neck. “Wait! That’s right! That gives me an idea!”

The commander cocked his head. “You have a plan to help us get reinforcements?”

“Better! Oh… but, I need to check a map of our fort first.” I responded, hoping he didn’t find it too suspicious.

“You were the man who saved our princess…” He responded after a moment of silence. “Get me a map!”

Once he gave me the map, I opened it up and copied the contents to my Map. Then, I put it on a table and started talking.

“Okay… here’s what we are going to do…”

After finishing my plan, the commander had a slight grin on his face. “If you can do that, then this will be a huge blow to them. You’ll get a promotion after this!”

Didn’t he already offer me a promotion? Well, anyway, I sent him on his way excitedly, and then I left with Carmine still holding on to me. This trip didn’t have anything to do with the mission, but I made it sound like it did. We were looking for a door that didn’t belong. It took about thirty minutes, but we still had plenty of time before the demons would launch their attack.

I found a door that didn’t appear to have a room on the Map. I pushed inside to find another safe room. I nodded my head. I had been almost certain that if the other fort had one, this had one as well. This had been what I was looking for when I stumbled on this fort in the first place. Shortly after entering the safe room, Carmine removed her grasp on my arm and took a step away.

“Apologies, Master…” She said, her head lowered, blushing.

“It’s fine…” I waved it away. “It’s kind of nice to see you express yourself in that way.”

“Wh-what are you saying?” She grew very flustered by my words.

I decided not to say anything in response. I had meant that she usually acted conceited and full of herself, and made unreasonable demands. Strangely enough, the princess seemed to be lower demand than the Paladin. If I said that, though, I’d need to push her out of the saferoom to keep her from making me pay for that comment.

Chapter 730

“Before we continue, perhaps it would be a good idea to get rid of your karmic infection with Ablution.”

Carmine’s eyes widened sharply. “You had a skill that can resolve this? Why didn’t you use it sooner?”

I coughed awkwardly. I didn’t want to say that my sudden cure had been so sudden I hadn’t thought of it and that we had been busy up until now. Besides, she had been handling it herself, so I didn’t think about it.

I raised my hand. “Ablution!”

Carmine glowed with a white light, and after a moment, she opened her eyes. “Is it better?”

“It should be.”

With that resolved, I turned to the kiosk. Carmine followed me.

“You said something about some kind of challenge?”

“Since I am able to translate the text, and you’re not, it’s best if you don’t try to finish this challenge.” I explained.

“I am capable of translating,” Carmine said, causing me to glance over at her in surprise.

“What? Do you think that a Paladin isn’t prepared the translate obscure text? Did you forget how we met?”

I suddenly remembered that she had been researching Terra’s dungeon. Terra was pretty foggy on how long she had been buried in that dungeon. It predated Aberis, both the country and the demon lord. When I got specifics though, she grew vaguer. She was aware of Shei Gescar, and she knew her parents had even come from there. However, she couldn’t even confirm if they were living in Osteria at the time, the country that existed before the Aberis and the Ost Republic.

However, one thing was for sure, considering Carmine was there planning to break through an ancient dungeon and take control of an age-old clockwork dragon, she had to have some means of translating ancient texts. I seemed to recall meeting her while she was piling through books reading. Could it be that Carmine was a bit of an academic? I had completely forgotten about that aspect of her, but if she had been church educated her entire life, she had to be pretty smart, right?

“Master, the way you’re looking at me irritates me slightly. Maybe I should leave the safe room for a bit and recover that loving personality you seem to like so much.”

“Nothing!” I coughed. “I mean, it’s good you have some means of translating the demonic text. I was just surprised that you didn’t get the Linguist job as a result.”

“You spent a lot of time teaching Miki to read, and she also didn’t gain the job.” Carmine shrugged. “Isn’t it a lot stranger that master seems to pick up so many jobs with ease? I wonder…”

“Hmm?”

“Most people have a very clear path, with most jobs being the advancement of previous jobs, plus an occasional honorary job or hobby on the side. Only Master seems to have such a hodgepodge of jobs. Is it because you’re from a different world with a different education system? Or…  is it because of Master’s inability to commit to a career that leaves him with no specific clear job path?”

“…” At first, I thought she was saying something nice about how I was special, but suddenly it seemed like I was a NEET or something.

I wasn’t a NEET! I was the lord of a country! Besides, my abilities were supportive, so it was good that I had a lot of them. It made me multi-facetted in my skills. I was a jack-of-all-trades! It wasn’t because I was indecisive!

However, the longer I thought about it, the more depressed I got. To distract me, I decided to forget about my woes and check out the mural that depicted the next part of the story. I had not expected anything exciting when I glanced up at it, but when I saw what was drawn, I could only let out a noise.

“What is it?” Carmine asked, growing just a bit concerned.

“I’m not sure I understand the dungeon lore at all,” I said, scratching my chin.

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