Experiments and Preparations – Q of Hearts (Part 1)
Note: Please don’t read it in the little pop-up for the reader. For some reason it doesn’t reflect my later edits (which I often make a lot of after publishing), so please click ‘view original’.
Think of it as throwing money at the author and Alphapolis, and getting a book with squiggles and pretty pictures as a pleasant extra.
The sound of a little sneeze rang out through the empty room.
Now that the winter is approaching, the inside of the castle is getting colder and colder. I can see my breath.
Like every year, it’s the season where everybody uses flame magic.
The days went by as I stayed at the castle and did my job.
There were plenty of things I needed to do, after all, and I was close to both the castle library and my workplace now, so there wasn’t really a problem though.
To think the day would come when I would be sleeping at the castle just like my father the marquis.
This morning, thinking that it wouldn’t be great to leave the marquis estate unoccupied, I said “What if it’s just me that stays at home, and travels to the castle for work?” when for some reason Achille’s mood took a nose dive. And so, I immediately escaped to the Magic Building.
Right now I’m in the middle of seriously doing my job.
Just now I had just been exterminating an infestation of crawlers that had popped up in the rural areas of the country, and I’m just coming back from it.
Crawlers are grotesque-looking giant caterpillars.
They’re an annoying pest that occasionally pop in the countryside and eat up all the crops.
A hateful thing that shines in my ‘top 5 monsters I’m bad at dealing with’ list. Once they grow up, they end up metamorphosing into yet another grotesque thing; a moth monster.
These monsters eat not only the crops, but attack livestock and humans as well, so once they appear on the farms, you have to quickly exterminate them.
Now then, about the “creation of a tattoo that stops forbidden-magic”… today, I’ve finally succeeded in creating one that isn’t limited by number of uses.
With this, we should be able to deal with most forbidden arts. The scale designs have changed to a chain design.
With this, all I need to do now is cast a forbidden spell on myself to test out the effectiveness… but, unfortunately, right now I’ve fallen into a state where I can’t.
Last time, I casted a forbidden spell while looking in a mirror to test.
In that case, even if I failed, there wouldn’t be anybody hurt besides me; a relatively peaceful choice. If I immediately dispelled it, there wouldn’t be any harm done after all.
But, last time when I finished the final test for the scale tattoos, Achille ended up seeing everything, so this method was banned.
According to him, casting forbidden magic on myself was insane.
But hey, if you don’t test out its effectiveness, you can’t use it in battle, right?
If by some chance the tattoos weren’t good enough during a confrontation with the Heroine, the situation would turn really bad.
“Hmmm, what do to?”
I was thinking about somehow getting permission from Achille to test it on myself, but… I ended up running away from him today when his mood worsened. I regret the slip of tongue from this morning.
Royce-sama and Achille are really busy working to deal with the commoner extremists, so I don’t feel right just sitting around, but there’s not much I can do to help when it comes to that.
All I can do is working on a way to combat forbidden magic, and remodelling spells to deal with the Heroine.
But if I can’t do a live experiment, I’ll be really troubled.
Even while all this is happening, the number of forbidden magic victims might have increased.
And what’s more, for some reason that Heroine has been obviously aiming for Achille and trying to win him over too.
If the Heroine cast forbidden magic on Achille… I absolutely wouldn’t be able to stand it!
As long as there’s a way to defend against it, I want to hurry up and test it.
I thought about quietly testing it in secret but… this mana sensing device known as my wedding wing is on my finger, so I’d definitely be discovered.
Uuu… Damn you Achille, to have prepared this far.
He really is a husband that overlooks nothing.
After finishing work, I timidly returned to my room.
It’d be nice if Achille’s mood has returned to normal.
I have to somehow get permission from Achille to experiment.
I let out a sigh of relief.
It seems that Achille hasn’t come back to the room yet.
“He’s been quite busy lately, after all. I wonder if it’s overtime.”
Tossing off my work clothes, I changed into homewear.
In just my underwear, I was just about to put my clothes on, when the door opened to a clack.
Turning around in surprise, I found Achille frozen in front of the door, more shocked than I was.
If you trace it back to the start, it’s my fault for boldly changing right in front of the door though.
I didn’t think that Achille would come back so quickly after all!
In a great fluster, and still wearing nothing but underwear, I hid myself behind the sofa.
“Camille, you forgot this…”
Achille picked up the homewear that I had forgotten in my panic, and tossed them towards the sofa.
It seems that his anger from this morning hasn’t dragged out until now.
Letting him see me like this. How pathetic.
While I was changing on this side of the sofa, Achille was kind enough to wait in front of the door.
It’s great that you’re not moving from the door.
But you know, if you keep sneaking so many glances this way, won’t I start to mind it?
I wonder if you couldn’t wait outside, instead.
…After somehow getting my clothes on, I timidly left the shadow of the sofa and made my way to Achille.
“S-, Sorry about that, Achille. I showed you something unsightly…”
“Why were you changing right in front of the door? What were you going to do if someone other than me opened the door?”
Although he was nagging me, the arms that wrapped around me were kind.
Even when I show him ugly behaviour like this, Achille won’t leave me in disgust.
He’s an extremely broadminded husband that I’m glad to have.
“Camille, your hand.”
Giving him my hand like a dog, Achille’s bony, white hand overlapped with mine.
As expected… I don’t know when, but my body’s been completely conditioned to these pathetic reactions.
“…A new tattoo?”
You sure have good eyes.
It seems he immediately noticed the new tattoos on my hand.
A small, silver chain that wraps around my right wrist…
“Mn… It’s a magic tattoo to defend against forbidden magic. I haven’t tested it yet, so I don’t know how exactly how effective it is, though.”
Thanks to a certain someone, I wasn’t allowed to experiment after all.
While staring right up at Achille, he sighed.
“It seems that you didn’t decide on your own to test forbidden magic, huh.”
“I mean, you’d get mad at me, right?”
“Obviously. To think of casting forbidden magic on yourself…”
“…But Achille, you’ll need tattoos for your plans against the Heroine, right?”
“Even so… Hahh.”
Massaging his brows as he sighed, Achille suddenly stopped talking.
While hoping that he’d given up and would give me permission to experiment, I peered into his face expectantly, only to have my chin lifted up in his fingers, and my gaze locked in place.
“…Then how about you test it on *me?”
His clear cobalt eyes stared right at me.
“You can just draw that tattoo on me, and then test a forbidden spell on *me. Even if anything happens, you of all people would be able to deal with it, right?”
But then, if anything happens, *Achille will get hurt.
Even if only for a little, he’ll have to suffer a forbidden spell.
The magic tattoo is still in the experimental phase, so there’s no proof that it’ll actually work.
To use Achille as a guinea pig in such a stage…
“…Don’t want to. I’m not going to cast forbidden magic on you.”
My voice trembled unwillingly.
With my chin held, I couldn’t move about, so only my gaze moved away.
I mean, I definitely don’t want to have Achille do something so dangerous.
That would be putting the cart before the horse.
Even if there wasn’t any risk, firing a forbidden spell at Achille is something I just can’t do.
“Why? Isn’t it safer to have two people experimenting over one?”
“I said I don’t want to! Don’t make bad jokes like that! Even if you don’t get hurt, I still don’t want to!”
If I let go of this chance, I might not be able to do human experimentation anymore.
But if I have to use Achille, then…
“Rather, wouldn’t it be better if you cast it on *me, Achille? I mean, look, I’ve already got the tattoo on.”
In that instant, Achille looked disgusted.
Even though he said stuff about it being cast on him! Why is he against casting things on me*!
This time with dissatisfaction as well, I once again stared up at Achille.
“You sure say cruel things, huh… Just like you don’t want to cast forbidden arts on me, I don’t want to cast it on you either.”
“I’m the same, you know? Why is it that no matter how long it’s been, you still don’t understand?”
Above my eyes, on my nose, on my cheeks… Achille’s lips fell on them one after another.
In contrast to his scolding voice, his touch was so kind that I stood there with my eyes closed and accidentally forgot to resist.
“When you’re hurt, or in pain, I suffer as well, after all.”
When I opened my eyes again, Achille was making an incredibly sad expression. My chest hurts.
He usually doesn’t let his feelings show much.
All I see is his poker face, or his angry face, and occasionally a laugh.
The only one he’ll show such a pained expression to, is none other than me.
Just now was my fault. I went and meaninglessly said something hurtful.
I can’t use forbidden arts on Achille. I don’t want to. Definitely not.
But despite that, in my annoyance, I told Achille to do the same thing to me…
For now, I’ll give up on experimenting on both myself and Achille.
“Take care of yourself more, Camille… But even if I say that, I’m sure you’re just going to be careless when it comes to your own safety, so from now on just think of avoiding danger as something for my sake.”
I parted from Achille’s hands, and sat on top of the sofa in seiza.
Although I do get the feeling that somehow I was led into a direction convenient for him, it’s obvious that this time I was at fault, so I had no choice but to obediently nod to his comment.
It can’t be helped if I suffer, but if it makes Achille sad, then I definitely don’t want to.
I don’t want to be the reason he makes that kind of expression again.
“As for the human experimentation, I’ll figure something out. You don’t have to worry about a thing, Camille…”
If we can’t test on ourselves, then just how on earth does he plan on testing it then?
While I was looking uneasy, Achille gave me a soothing smile.
“It’ll be fine.”
“Camille, your hand.”
The term he uses here is the Japanese dog command for ‘shake’/’handshake’.
Also, did anybody else suddenly have the words “Riajuu wa BAKUHATSU SHIRO!” erupt from their mouth as they were reading this? No? Just me?