“Alicia, is it too difficult to hypnotize me Lets just forget about it if its too much to handle,” Roel said, scratching his face.
“Ah No, thats not it…” Alicia hurriedly refuted it.
She felt a pang of guilt for contemplating the notion of deceiving him.
With their current bond, there was no need for her to resort to trickery and lies at all.
If anything, it would only undermine the competitive advantage she had built up thus far.
Having thought things through, her mind finally eased up, and she turned her focus to trying to get Roel to fall asleep.
“Lord Brother, please try to relax as much as possible.”
Humans are less susceptible to suggestion when in a state of nervousness.
That would significantly reduce the effects of the hypnotism,” Alicia explained.
“I see…” Roel replied with a nod.
He tried to empty his mind and relax, but it wasnt working at all.
Seeing that, Alicia pondered for a moment before offering another suggestion.
“Lord Brother, why dont we try something else if you arent able to clear your mind”
“Try something else”
“Youll have to relax and properly rest up now before any mishap occurs.
This is the right way to go if you truly wish to protect the Ascart Fiefdom.”
I could think of relaxation as a means to my goal instead.
Ill try that.”
Roel closed his eyes and tried again.
Soon, his tight expression began to slowly loosen up.
Meanwhile, Alicia slowly leaned in and planted a light kiss on his forehead.
As the kiss landed, Roel felt a surge of mana flowing in from his forehead.
His first instinct was to resist the mana inflow, but he quickly forced himself to relax.
While it was an unusual way of casting a spell, he didnt think much about it.
Kisses were a common medium in hypnotism spells since the forehead had the closest access to the head, thus maximizing the spells effectiveness.
This was also the reason princes always resorted to kissing whenever they were trying to rescue princesses from the control of dastardly villains.
Much to Roels surprise, he didnt feel anything after the kiss had landed.
He felt no inclination to sleep whatsoever.
This perplexed him.
“…Alicia, did the spell fail”
“No, it worked.
It just takes time for the effects to set in.
Spells that take effect right away tend to induce the greatest resistance from transcendents, so I opted for a gentler method.”
“How long will it take for the effects to set in”
“Around ten minutes.
You should find yourself slowly growing drowsier in the meantime.
Until then, Lord Brother, you just have to relax.
Ill be watching you from the side.”
Alicia rose to her feet, held Roels hand, and attempted to guide him toward the bed.
Roel hesitated for a brief moment before obediently following her onto the bed.
Roel was a little unaccustomed to the current situation.
Alicia wasnt acting like her usual self.
Even after the two of them settled down on the wide bed, she didnt try to pull anything like she usually would.
Instead, she meticulously took care of him as if he was a patient.
This had Roel blinking in surprise.
Feeling a little awkward, he racked his brain for a conversation topic as a distraction.
It was not as if he had never had a proper conversation with Alicia before, but it was rare for them to converse on the bed.
Thinking about it, this was the first time he was searching for something to talk to her about in such a relaxed state.
Meanwhile, Alicia asked about Roels condition.
“Lord Brother, do you still feel uneasy”
“…Im afraid so,” Roel hesitantly replied as a furrow formed on his forehead.
Frankly speaking, his life had been growing increasingly hectic in recent years.
All kinds of crises had surfaced with the reawakening of the Savior and the Mother Goddess, putting him in an increasingly dangerous position.
Even so, he had never felt such intense danger before.
For two nights since New Years Day, Roel had been in a constant strung-up state, and that further stoked his nervousness.
Based on what he knew, the more persistently his instincts for danger screamed at him, the more severe the crisis was likely to be.
Furthermore, he wasnt in his best condition to deal with any threats.
That was also where a major source of his stress was coming from.
On the bright side, his link with Artasia had been growing stronger after her previous warning.
Most likely, he should be able to re-establish a connection with her in three more days.
As long as he could last that long, the Witch Queen would return with crucial intelligence required for him to turn things around.
However, if the crisis broke out before then, he would be in a very dangerous position.
Roels heart grew heavy thinking about this issue.
He turned his gaze toward the sky outside the window.
Alicia could guess what was going through Roels mind just by looking at his expression.
She kneeled down in the middle of the bed and beckoned Roel.
“Lord Brother, come here.”
“Hm You are…”
“Its a lap pillow, Lord Brother.
You dont like it”
“Its not that I dont like it, but… why a lap pillow all of a sudden”
Alicia didnt answer the question, but she obstinately continued to beckon him over.
Seeing that, Roel could only do as he was told to.
Noticing that she was wearing a nightgown, he turned his head away, not daring to glance in that direction.
However, Alicia didnt permit him to do so.
She cupped his face and held his head steady, forcing him to meet her eyes.
“Lord Brother, Ill answer your earlier question.
Your eyes are focused on me when youre lying on my lap.
That should leave you with no room to think about unhappy stuff.”
Roel was taken aback.
A smile formed on his lips, and he looked at Alicia with gentle eyes.
“I see… Yes, youre right.
Im happier when Im with you.
It does help me to take my mind off other things.”
“A-ah L-lord Brother”
Alicias heart skipped a beat.
However, Roel had no intention of taking back his words.
He stretched his hand upward and caressed her cheeks while staring quietly into her ruby eyes.
Under his gaze, Alicias fluster slowly settled down.
A tinge of warmth slowly suffused their surroundings.
The night seemed to have quietened down to give them their moment.
Roels mind gradually relaxed under this comfortable atmosphere, and his consciousness started to fuzz out.
If my instincts are spot-on and a battle really breaks out, Alicia will be swept into the mess too, right Even though she has already made up her mind, I still cant help but worry about her, he thought in this moment of silence.
A long time later, he finally spoke up.
“…Ill protect you, Alicia.”
With the utterance of those words, Roels hands began to lose their strength.
His eyes closed, and his breathing became deep and long.
After two days of turmoil, he had finally fallen asleep.
Looking at her vulnerable older brother, Alicia smiled.
She gently placed his hands onto the bed and solemnly murmured a vow.
“…Its the same for me too.
Ill definitely protect you well, Lord Brother.”