Chapter 21: Tears of a Beloved Girl
Master? Why do you look so pale? … What? An order of execution?!?!
Glancing between Aria’s face and the parchment in front of him, Tama’s heart dropped.
For the sake of protecting his master, he attacked a pervert without any regard for the latter’s status, and shamed him in public as a result. Unfortunately, Kassman is a very stereotypical and arrogant nobleman. Apparently his reaction was to throw his father’s weight around to get Tama killed.
「This… No… NO!!」
Her adorable Tama. Her beloved Tama who risked his life to save hers. There was no way she was obeying something this absurd, but a noble’s orders are absolute to those they stand over.
Aria curled up where she stood, hiding Tama with her body as tears streamed down her face. It had only been a couple days, but she was attached to him enough that she wasn’t going to let him go down alone.
「Isn’t there anything we can do…?」
「Impossible. You heard Kassman’s the baron’s son, right? We’re powerless here.」
The onlookers were beating themselves up, as they couldn’t fight back. Even the Strongest Receptionist, Arnaldo, had her eyes shut tight, unable to oppose a noble’s authority and come out unscathed.
… What do I do? If I run here, I can save myself without breaking a sweat. But I can’t, I’d be running from my own master. That’s not something I can allow as her knight.
Tama was caught between his life and his oath, frantically searching for a third option. And yet strangely, the one who provided an out was the same man who started it.
「Ah… How miserable, Miss Aria. Tell me, is that elemental cat of yours truly so dear to you?」
「He is! He’s the most important thing in the world to me… like my own child. Mr. Kassman, please forgive him…!」
The tears obscured Aria’s vision, but Tama saw it—behind Kassman’s gentle tone, his eyes were clouded over, a goal he desperately wanted to reach within his grasp.
「Then Miss Aria, I have a suggestion. Would you like to have a duel with me?」
「Duel… A duel? Why are you…」
「What, is it so wrong that your overflowing affection for your pet has reached me? As such, I’m taking pity on the situation you’ve been placed in. Sad to say, though, that the decree of a noble house cannot be revoked so easily without my family losing face. So, we shall decide this with a duel. Should you win, the order shall be rescinded… How about it?」
Kassman spoke with exaggerated gestures, but he was at least giving her a choice. Not that it made her feel any better. Aria was a D-ranked adventurer; and on top of his expensive and effective equipment, Kassman didn’t make it to C rank for nothing.
「Don’t look so down, Miss Aria. I never said the duel had to be one on one, did I?」
「I’ve heard tell that you began fighting with that elemental cat at your side, is that right? I’ll be happy to allow you to do so now!」
He declared it loudly so the entire guild could hear.
If it’s with Tama…
Aria started to look hopeful again, but not for long. Kassman was acting too lenient, and she knew something was wrong.
「What are you after…?」
「Kukuku… Miss Aria, you’re a clever girl. It’s quite simple, really. In the event that you win our little duel, I belay your pet’s execution. However, should I win, Miss Aria… You are to become my wife. That’s all.」
Aria—no, the entire guild only stared at Kassman in shock.
If it wasn’t obvious enough, this is what Kassman wanted from the very start. He just used Tama’s little scratch as a reason to make it happen. Really, he was just salty the direct approach didn’t work on her.
「So, your reply, Miss Aria? Will you take my offer for a duel? Or maybe…」
「I-I’ll do it! I accept your duel! Just… just hold the order…!」
Aria agreed to his deplorable condition, still crying her eyes out and trying to shield Tama. Kassman watched her with nauseating glee, knowing it was the only chance she had.
Tama trembled not with fear, but fury. At Kassman, and at himself for being unable to protect the girl he swore his life to.
For making Master cry, you will regret this, Kassman!