Chapter 9:

Deal with a Devil

Chained Regalia

“Now, take your clothes off. I want you to try something.”

“… You have to be doing this on purpose, right? There’s no way you don’t realize—”

“Stop interpreting things that way, pervert.” She sounded unenthused, which made “pervert” come off as less of an insult and more of a descriptor, which was infinitely worse. “I want you to take off your nightwear and try manifesting the clothes you were wearing before. You did so subconsciously when first summoned, but I want you to try doing it intentionally.” After she said that, she turned to face the other way.

“Ah, so your order to ‘strip’ was for practical reasons, huh? Disappointing, but expected,” I joked in an attempt to assuage the awkwardness I was feeling at this whole situation.

Lucia would probably never yield, so I followed her directions and began taking off the nightwear I had put on last night, trying my best to ignore my embarrassment. “What would you have done if I immediately followed your directions the first time you asked, while you were still watching me? Oh, did you perhaps originally intend to watch me do it?” Lucia had poked fun at me in similar ways yesterday, so my intention was just to get even with this comment. Plus, she looks really cute when she blushes, so maybe I’ll get to see that—

Her reaction cut off my musings. As she often would do, she started by clicking her tongue. “Do you truly find your humor that amusing?” As she made her reply, she turned towards me sharply, an exasperated look on her face. “I obviously wasn’t planning to—”

Our eyes made contact. A strange yelp-like sound left her lips, and, naturally, she immediately turned around again. Despite the fact that she was no longer facing me, she held her hands up to her face, covering her eyes. “I-I-I—”

As she had failed to string together a coherent sentence, I jumped in instead. “Ah, well, um… only my shirt was off, so it really wasn’t that big of a deal, right? Haha. Sorry for making stupid jokes.” The response was littered with an excess of uncomfortable fake laughing. Shit. Could I have possibly responded more awkwardly?

“I-I didn’t mean to… I turned on reflex. I wasn’t thinking…” she finally murmured a response.

Now that I was getting a better idea of who Lucia was, I was beginning to realize how quick she was to respond defensively when provoked, even if it was clearly done playfully. In a situation like this, her reaction was so reflexive, she completely blanked on the context for a moment. Whenever she was in control of a conversation, she rarely lost her composure, but the moment she was caught off guard, things were different.

As strong as she may seem, she’s the type to get easily baited into a trap. I’ll need to look out for that.

Frankly, I wasn’t all that different when it came to spur reactions; in just the single day that I’d known Lucia, I’d spoken without thinking on several occasions, only to immediately regret whatever I’d said once the logical part of my brain caught up. I guess I can’t look out for her very well if I’d be just as easily tricked…

I sighed, then continued what I was doing. I wanted to get it out of the way as quick as possible to avoid the exact scenario that had just occurred. Now in just my underwear, I closed my eyes and tried to ‘manifest’ clothing.

… Yeah, I have no idea how to do this. Every other time, I’d done it without thinking, so now that it was up to me to do it consciously, I was lost.

I really need to hurry though. Even if she’s not looking, being mostly naked here is way too embarrassing…

As much as I tried to push it away, that feeling of embarrassment was overbearing, and it was all I could think about, until suddenly…

“Huh?” I suddenly felt warmer. I opened my eyes and looked down, greeted with the strange clothing I had awoken in yesterday. It was in a pristine condition, unlike how it had been last night.

“Did you do it?” Lucia’s voice was still quiet, and I could tell she was still covering her face.

“Y-yeah, I did. You can turn around now.”

She lowered her hands but didn’t turn towards me. “I’m glad you figured it out. Do you have a better idea of how to manifest, now?”

“I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, but I think I figured something important out.” Both now and when I had manifested the sword, I was compelled to do so by a strong emotion. The moment I had focused on my embarrassment, my clothes manifested. “I think it has something to do with channeling my emotions… or something.”

“I only know so much about Chains, and I am not particularly familiar with how a Chain’s abilities work from their perspective. I only understand them from an outsider’s point of view.” She turned very slightly, taking a sidelong glance at me. “So there would not have been very much I could offer in assistance if you were struggling. Good job.”

“Oh… thanks.” I was somewhat taken aback by the sudden earnestness of her statement. You know what, I did figure it out on my own. I guess I have a knack for this, maybe.

Suddenly, she let out a light laugh. “I have not seen you wear such a cocky grin before. Honestly, it doesn’t suit you. I will be sure to downplay any future compliments as to prevent it from happening again.”

I let out an exaggerated sigh of exasperation. Well, looks like she got over her embarrassment. At least when she gets like that, she tends to bounce back quickly.

“Alright,” she continued, “I would like to change now, too. Would you please step outside for a minute? I will not be long.”

“You stayed in here while I changed, so why can’t I? I’ll turn around.”


“Of course, milady.” I was already on my way to the door.

Once I entered the hallway and closed the door, I leaned back against it and stretched. I guess I don’t need to stretch this body, huh? Well, whatever.

Just then, I heard a voice from the room. It was quiet, so I don’t think Lucia was trying to talk to me. Is she talking to herself? Or maybe she’s casting a spell? The speaking continued on and off for a little while, and then it ceased. Not long after, I heard the doorknob turn, and I quickly stepped away so I wouldn’t fall backwards once it opened.

My gaze naturally fell onto Lucia as she came into view. Her outfit was similar to what she had worn yesterday. Her hair was tied into a ponytail again, and, beneath the same armored breastplate, she wore a brown dress, although this one was slightly longer and lighter in color than the one she had worn yesterday. She wore the same tall, fortified boots, as well, with the only sizable difference overall being a lack of leg armor.

“Oh, you did take them off, huh?”

She clicked her tongue. “That’s really your first comment? Gross. Nothing my arm being healed or my armor being mended?”

“Wait. Really?” I checked to confirm what she had just said, and both statements turned out to be true. “Wow… healing magic is amazing.” I was awed despite being told about it yesterday.

“I told you; the wounds were minor. Magic can easily fix surface-level gashes like those, though it does take a lot of stamina to do so.” She then pointed to the stomach region of her breastplate. There was a very faint line where it had been torn yesterday, but it was otherwise in perfect condition. “Mending materials is also fairly trivial.”

I had no idea if she was underplaying her skill with magic or if it was simply that convenient for everyone, but for the sake of my future self who would be learning it, I hoped it was the latter.

“Oh, also, don’t call me gross. That was uncalled for.”

“Are you still on that? Would you have preferred something more derogatory?”

“Uh, forget I said anything.” I sighed. “So, what are going to be doing today, anyway?”




“When I said ‘training?’, that meant ‘please elaborate’.”

“It should be obvious.” She crossed her arms and continued, “If we will be fighting Lishkarn, you need to learn how to fight. That will involve mastering your Chain abilities, of course, but also…” She tapped the scabbard at her side. “I need to teach you swordsmanship. We will be sparring.”

“Wait, wait, wait, wait. I’ll die if you use that! That sword’s insanely sharp!” I lifted my arms as if surrendering.

“Oh, we won’t be using proper swords, of course. We will use wooden ones. That does not mean it will be easy, however.” Her lips curved into a terrifying grin. “I'll work you to the bone. Then I'll do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and so on, until you can hold your own.”

“That much training will kill me. Have you seen how frail my body is?”

“You should fully recover every night, remember? There is no risk of that.” She sounded amused.

“… Are you actually evil or something? Shouldn’t this qualify as torture? It definitely does. Did I accidentally sell my soul to a devil?”

“Don’t say that. This is for your sake, so that you won’t die.” The way you’re smiling while saying that really doesn’t make it feel like it’s “for my sake”.

She strode past me towards the stairs, at which point I frantically chased after her so as to not get dragged across the ground again.

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