The day was bustling since morning.
Several people, including Strauss, Travis, and someone who seemed to be an aide, had come to the usually guarded western tower.
They hurriedly kicked the stone floor and lined up in front of the cell where Mabel was.
“Mable Ratra Eakes.”
“…What is it, Strauss-sama?”
Mabel, sitting on the floor, looked up at Strauss from below.
“We found a use for you,” with a loud clunk, the lock on the cell was removed.
Without saying a word, Mabel waited for him to continue speaking.
“Stop being so sluggish. I will take you with me to the upcoming engagement announcement. After all, we ‘found’ the kidnapped princess Mable.”
“That way, after infiltrating the ceremony, we will kidnap Kathy in your place. How about that? It’s a splendid plan, isn’t it?”
One of the soldiers grabbed Mabel’s arm as she sat, forcibly pulling her up.
She was compelled to walk and was clumsily led out of the cell.
She glared at Travis, who was standing next to Strauss, and reproached him.
“Are you kidding? If I return and tell the truth, it will be exposed immediately.”
“Indeed. If it weren’t for a certain Mage-dono saying strange things, we wouldn’t have to rush like this.”
“There’s no helping it. I can’t allow Kathy to marry him.”
She also directed a contemptuous gaze at Strauss, who was nodding beside her.
“It doesn’t matter how much you speak the truth. It doesn’t matter. Soon, that country will belong to Wiski.”
Upon hearing Travis’ words, Mabel looked at him again.
“As soon as we confirm Kathleen-sama’s arrival here, we will begin the invasion of the Eakes Kingdom; so your testimony means nothing.”
“Eugene won’t let you do such a thing!”
“Yes. Perhaps I should buy some time.”
Behind them, another lock clicked tightly.
When Mabel turned to the source of the sound, she saw that the adjacent cell, where Mutabilis had been, was now open.
Accompanied by soldiers, a figure appeared, just like Mabel.
A loud clunk echoed as a heavy shackle was attached to his leg.
He was quite tall and had very thin limbs. His clothes were tattered, and the hem was dirty and frayed. His hair was long and tangled, with an unusual color that resembled gray or white.
But Mabel’s attention was drawn to one point, so much so that she couldn’t see anything else.
A white mask.
A long-beaked mask that resembled the face of a bird was on Mutabilis’ face.
“Mutabilis, could it be you?”
“The Shadow Mage. Is that you?
Travis quietly smiled as he announced. Mabel had heard that name before from Eugene.
‘If I remember correctly, when I was attacked by a wolf…’
Mabel tried to say something, but her arm was forcefully pulled by the soldier, and she was made to walk. It seemed that Mutabilis was following from behind, and they were all brought to a room at the edge of the tower.
Inside, there was an old desk and chair, and a slightly larger window than the cell. However, thick curtains covered it, allowing only a faint glimpse of light through the gaps.
“Tie her up.”
Following Strauss’ command, the soldiers tied Mabel’s hands behind the chair in the center. She tried to resist, but they were too strong, and her efforts were in vain.
Meanwhile, Strauss, Travis, and the soldiers accompanying Mutabilis stood in front of her.
“Mabel-sama, I will cast a spell on you.”
“A spell, you say.”
“Yes. More accurately―a curse, might be the right term.”
Saying that, Travis glanced at the soldier holding Mutabilis captive.
Mutabilis was forcibly dragged in front of Mabel, but he stumbled and fell due to the weight on his leg.
With the clinking sound of chains, Mutabilis slowly stood up.
“Shadow, you understand, don’t you?”
“Use your magic on her.”
Mutabilis stood still for a while.
Mabel stared at him intently, but his expression was unreadable behind the white mask. However, only his mouth, not covered by the mask, was tightly closed.
“Shadow, what are you doing?”
“…No, I don’t want to.”
Travis raised an eyebrow at those words but quickly narrowed his eyes and smiled.
“How unusual. Are you feeling sentimental?”
“Are you okay with not regaining Melveilleuse’s Heart?”
“. . .”
Mabel held her breath at those words.
―Melveilleuse. That was Mabel’s mother’s name.
“Now, hurry up.”
At Travis’s words, Mutabilis slowly raised his arm to shoulder height.
At first, he murmured something quietly, but gradually it grew louder, eventually filling the room with a terrifyingly uniform song. Mabel could only hold her breath, wondering what was about to happen.
Eventually, Mutabilis pointed his finger at Mabel. Instantly, a high-pitched snapping sound was heard, and strange patterns began to appear around Mabel.
With those words, the floating patterns converged on Mabel’s body as if sticking to her.
Instantly, she felt her heart tighten as if it were being squeezed.
‘What is this?!’
She had experienced chest pain a few times when she was with Eugene, but this was far worse. She could feel her heartbeat quickening, and Mabel’s breathing became erratic.
Gradually, the pain in Mabel’s heart subsided, leaving only slight discomfort.
She instinctively looked at Mutabilis.
Although her eyes and nose were still hidden, Mabel could tell that his mouth was open in surprise.
“Well done, Shadow. Take her away.”
Following Travis’s instructions, the soldiers captured Mutabilis and tried to leave the room.
At that moment, Mutabilis muttered in a small voice.
But he was urged to leave by the soldiers, and Mabel couldn’t hear any more of his words.
In the room now devoid of Mutabilis, Mabel remained seated and glared at Travis. Just as she was about to complain, Travis silenced her.
“It’s better if you don’t speak.”
“I’ve cast a spell that will take your life if you speak the truth. You don’t want that, do you?”
Mabel swallowed hard.
If she spoke, Mabel’s life would be forfeit.
―But if she stays silent, Kathleen and the Eakes Kingdom will be in trouble…
“Well, I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s ceremony.”
A wave of fear washed over Mabel.
‘I absolutely won’t let that happen… But what should I do!’
Mabel desperately pondered what she should do.