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    At the same time, I heard the sound of something snapping.

    “What’s that?”

    Then, from beyond the door, I heard someone yelling.

    Suddenly, the weight on me lightened. It seemed that Audley had moved off of me. I cautiously opened my eyes to find Audley looking irritatedly toward the door, and with a click of his tongue, he got off the bed and headed toward the door.

    “Hey, keep it down! I’m at the good part——”

    “Lord Audley, please escape!”

    As Audley opened the door and bellowed out in annoyance, he let out a dumbfounded “Huh?”

    The shouting voice was familiar. It was surely that of the pink-haired young man who had come to pick up Haruka-chan by carriage. But I never got a glimpse of that young man’s figure. Instead, beyond the door came a groan, “Guh-ack, uh!!!”

    I rushed to listen. After that, the young man’s voice was no longer heard. Audley tried to rise, but his arms were bound to the headboard, and he couldn’t sit up to see what was happening.

    “Could it be… How did they find this place… Damn it!”

    Audley cursed and grabbed the sword that was hanging on the wall. However, before he could draw it, he was punched hard in the face by someone who had burst into the room.

    “Guu, ouch…!”

    Audley let out a growl like a beast as he dropped the sword.

    Chaos ensued, but in the next moment, Audley lunged towards me on the bed. I tried desperately to escape, but the handcuffs hindered my movements.

    “Guh-ACK!”

    But right before Audley’s fingers touched me, his massive body was blown away. The person who had jumped into the room struck Audley again with swift movements.

    Audley grunted as if his breath was crushed and his body slammed hard against the wall.

    “Keugh, you— What are you! Why here… How dare a mere commoner like you, to a noble of the Oster Kingdom like myself! Give me back my Takumi! My Takumi, huh?”

    The intruder, who heard Audley’s roaring, looked down at him with visible anger and kicked him hard in the cheek with the tip of his shoe.

    “Guh-ack…!”

    “That guy, he isn’t something a lowlife like you can have. Heck, he hasn’t even become mine yet. Like I’d hand him over to you.”

    “Guuh… uh…”

    Audley let out a pained voice and collapsed onto the floor, apparently having lost consciousness.

    “G-Gazelle…!”

    I watched the person who had entered the room with disbelief.

    “Ta, Takumi!”

    It was Gazelle, who had been glaring at Audley with eyes filled with murderous intent and hatred, but upon hearing my voice, he quickly turned and rushed over to me.

    “Takumi! Are you alright?!”

    “Mmmh… how did you know to find me here?”

    “The perfume shop you went to… that boy sent a message to the knights. ‘A black-haired, black-eyed girl visited the store. She mentioned she was heading to the place of a noble of the Oster Kingdom named Bernard Audley, but something about it felt suspicious,'” he recounted.

    “Did Mars-kun say that?”

    “Huh?

    But when Haruka-chan and I were talking, Mars-kun had gone to the back of the store, right? How does he know what Haruka-chan and I were talking about?

    Besides, even if he understood that I went to Audley’s place, how did Gazelle find out the exact location of the mansion I’m staying at so quickly?

    “Has Takumi been found?!”

    As I tilted my head in confusion, another person entered the room—it was Felix. Uncharacteristically, he was out of breath, his forehead sweaty and his face pale.

    When he noticed me on the bed, he stumbled over his feet and rushed towards me with more vigor than Gazelle. Mid-sentence, Felix’s face stiffened.

    “Takumi! I’m glad you’re safe, I—”

    But,

    His gaze was fixed on my naked body, and on my wrists handcuffed to the bed’s headboard.

    “Don’t worry, Takumi. A rescue team from the White-winged knights is also on their way here,” he assured.

    “Eh, the White-winged Knights?”

    “Yes. When that Mars boy contacted us, Commander Leon of the White-winged Knights happened to be there. He was investigating a girl with black hair and black eyes at Takumi’s request, wasn’t he? I had no idea you had asked Commander Leon to do such a thing, but yes.”

    “Is that so?”

    This is bad.

    Felix, with a big, friendly smile on his face, looks incredibly scary.

    That’s right, I consulted with Commander Leon and Commander Ortoland about looking for Haruka-chan, but I hadn’t mentioned it to Gazelle and Felix, as sweat poured down my face.

    Felix sighed before his gaze shifted to Audley, who was still collapsed.

    “Remember that time when we were once requested to escort a merchant from Oster country? It turns out that person is actually swapped with a slave trader. It seems that this man was the one who assisted that slave trader.”

    “What, really?”

    “When Commander Leon investigated the girl with black hair and black eyes upon your request… it seems he found out that this Audley had been obsessively inquiring about you at one time. Following that, the White-winged knights conducted their investigation and discovered that this man had been financially supporting the slave trader. It was probably a ruse from the start, aimed to abduct you in that recent incident.” Felix then continued, “So the slave traders were taken down, but he couldn’t give up on you, and now he’s come to this country himself.”

    “So that was it…”

    I couldn’t believe that this Audley was the patron of the slave traders from before… 

    As I was staring at Audley in disbelief, suddenly, something warm was placed on my shoulder.

    Seeing me, Gazelle picked up the sheets from the bed and draped them over my body.

    “Wait a moment. I’ll bring you something to change into right now,” he said.

    “Okay.”

    “I’m sorry for being late. Were you scared?”

    “No, it’s okay. Because both of you came to help me right away.”

    While glancing sideways at Felix tying up Audley, with Gazelle’s help, I got off the bed and onto the floor, wrapping the sheets around my body once more.

    Then, from beyond the door, an incongruously cheerful voice could be heard. “Gazelle-dono, is Takumi safe?”

    “Yes, Leon-dono. Takumi is safe, and Audley here is just as you see… And what happened to that young lady? Did she get injured?”

    From behind Gazelle, who was speaking, I peeked out my face curiously.

    There stood Leon, who had been mentioned earlier, cradling a petite girl in his arms—a classic princess carry.

    “Thank you for coming, Leon. The one in your arms is…”

    “Ah, Takumi-san! Look, look~! I’m being princess-carried by my crush~! I could die happy right now!” Haruka-chan exclaimed with hearts in her eyes, hugging Leon’s neck tightly.

    Not only Leon, who was being hugged, but also Gazelle looked bewildered.

    “O-Oh… It’s a relief that you’re safe.”

    Ah, so the “Ingrid Perfume” Haruka-chan had been so eager to meet was Leon… It’s good to see Haruka-chan so energetic, in many senses.

    Afterward, the mansion was searched by both the Black Wing and White-winged Knight Orders.

    As a result, numerous records and contracts relating to the slave trade, which Audley seemed to have been involved in, were discovered. Audley was transferred to detention, and his servants and attendants as well.

    Although Audley was a noble of the Oster country, slave trading was prohibited there, too, and plenty of evidence had been found. It was unlikely that Audley could escape his crimes now.

    ***

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