A day later, in the castle's prison tower.
Her experience in the past half-a-month was enough to convince Melina to publish her memoir. Being kidnapped by demons twice in a row was not something every human would experience.
Melina did not find it difficult to be locked inside the prison for twenty-four hours a day, because the sound of the piano that would play from time to time completely immersed her in it.
Suddenly, Melina heard approaching footsteps. She went to the edge of the cell and saw the figure of a person that should never have been there—Belle.
What happened next was just like the story. In order to save her loved one, the kind Belle decided to take her loved one's place and stay in the castle.
The elderly Melina could not fight against Zenarth's strength as she was roughly dragged out of the castle by the latter, then tossed into the gardens outside.
The castle gate closed once again as Melina fell onto the snow-covered ground in grief and despair.
"Mistress Melina! Mistress Melina!"
Just as despair was about to overcome her, Melina heard her servant's voice.
Her servant led the old horse across the garden, which was full of thorns and hurried to her side.
"You... You actually stayed behind." Melina looked at her servant in disbelief. The servant was just a person she hired with money, and she did not have any master-servant relationship with him.
As a merchant, Melina knew there was no relationship more fragile than the one maintained by money. Yet, the servant actually hid on the castle's grounds despite the risk of being killed by the demon.
"Honesty is the most basic principle of life, but that's not the point. Mistress, quickly get on the horse and leave this place. It will take you back all the way to the village. Look for Gaston. Perhaps he can help you rescue Belle," the servant said.
"Gaston... Yes, I can seek Gaston's help." Melina remembered that she knew a great mage who could move freely around in the Demonic Realm. She quickly got on the horse with agility, unlike an elderly woman.
"What about you?"
That was the only horse Melina had brought from the village.
"Don't worry, I've found a hiding place nearby," the servant said.
Melina did not dither. She was a person who knew her priorities. After she left the servant with a "Take care", she kicked the horse's abdomen, and the horse started to gallop away from the castle.
The servant looked on as Melina disappeared into the forest beyond the castle, taking the Ring of Metamorphosis off his finger.
"To think that you said the word 'honesty' with such a straight face."
Ciri walked out of the woods on the other side of the garden and looked at Joshua, who was standing before the pile of snow. As a behind-the-scenes director, Joshua was really handling everything from planning to scripting and filming. He was also simultaneously making cameos in many roles.
However, the servant character was not actually a cameo.
"Why not? I'm a demon after all."
Joshua quickly walked back into the castle.
Joshua's retort had Ciri at a loss for words. If it had not been for his deliberate reminder, she would have forgotten that Joshua was a demon prince.
The inner hall of the castle was not as dark as the outside. The moment Ynor arrived at the castle in the afternoon the day before, Joshua worked overtime to film "Beauty and the Demon".
The screenplay Joshua was about to shoot was the most touching scene in the whole story. It was a scene that would make countless girls scream—the scene where Belle and the Beast danced in the castle hall.
The instant Joshua walked into the hall, Ynor was dancing at the center of the hall while holding Zenarth's hands.
The succubus had already changed into a gorgeous princess dress, and with his unique charm, he was destined to be everyone's focus the moment he appeared. Any male or female would be attracted once they saw him.
Three minutes later.
The music gradually came to an end as Ynor and Zenarth slowly stopped dancing.
Once they stopped, the two demons looked at Ciri by the edge of the dance floor instead of Joshua.
Speaking of which, Joshua could not believe that the young lady who was so poor she could only eat tree barks every day and the occasional lucky rabbit meal or two was both Ynor and Zenarth's dance instructor.
"I'll give it a pass. As much as I don't want to admit it, both of you are fast learners."
Ballroom dancing was not difficult, and anyone who mastered the rhythm would be able to learn it easily. While it was called the dance of the nobility, it was nothing but two people spinning around in Ciri's eyes. It was practically pointless to her.
"Let's take a break, then. Zenarth, Ynor, get some rest. Also, look at the script and prepare for the next scene."
Joshua held the originium crystal that the banshee had handed over to him. The shooting of the scene consumed seven crystals, each recording various angles. Joshua borrowed all seven of the crystals from the banshee. As faint white magic radiated from his hand, he edited and merged the footage into a single crystal according to his memory.
Joshua then wrote a "72" on the surface of the crystal with a runic inscription and placed it in his suitcase.
"Say, you don't even know such a simple ballroom dance?" Ciri suddenly approached Joshua and asked.
"I wouldn't need you to be my instructor if I knew it."
After Joshua got well-acquainted with the young mage, she had become less and less concerned about his status as a demon prince. If not for the "collar" that Joshua had placed on her neck, Ciri could have very well resumed fighting with Joshua with her short staff.
"Well, this will definitely be useful if you want to visit human societies in the future. So, do you want to learn it?"
Ciri had finally found the opportunity to let off her pent up steam. Every time she communicated with Joshua, Ciri always felt like there was this "Intelligence Repression" thing going on because Joshua would always talk about things that struck her knowledge blind spots. This time around, Ciri finally found something that Joshua did not know!
Joshua looked at Ciri and recalled a husky he had kept back on Earth... It was bad manners to compare a girl to a husky, but for some reason, Joshua saw a few similarities.
"Then, please do teach, Ciri."
What Ciri did not expect was Joshua actually asking her for guidance.
"Al... Alright... I.. will teach... you."
Ciri admitted that she was impulsive when she said that. In fact, rather than childishly trying to show off to Joshua, Ciri was more affected by Zenarth and Ynor's performance.
Even as a spectator, even when she knew that Zenarth and Ynor were acting, Ciri was still immersed in the most beautiful scene of "Beauty and the Demon"... Any girl would be affected by that scene.
That was why she was so impulsive, but it was too late for regrets as Joshua had held his hand out to her. Ciri could only grit her teeth while she took his hand.
"Place... your hand... on my waist." Ciri's body stiffened for a little before she finally uttered that sentence out.
Joshua gently placed his hand on Ciri's waist while she placed her hand on his shoulder.
The music played at that moment, and Ciri started to guide Joshua for another performance of "Beauty and the Demon" on the dance floor.
It was indeed another performance, but Ciri did not realize that her fate would not be as beautiful as Belle's...
Could this work? Ciri lowered her head as she stole a glance at Joshua, but just a few steps in, Ciri's dream was brutally shattered by Joshua's tossing.
"You've stepped on my foot!"
Reality was never as perfect as a movie, and Joshua, a total novice in ballroom dancing, ruthlessly tore apart the romantic scene Ciri had built in her mind.
"Sorry..." Joshua's apologies did zilch.
"You stepped on me again! Did you do that on purpose?!"
"Can you give the newbie some leeway?"
While Joshua was saying that, his mind was not on the matter. When Joshua held Ciri's hand, he noticed that there were a lot of scars on her hands, even her arms as well. Even when Ciri had deliberately tried to hide them, at such proximity, Joshua could see the various scars that were completely jarring on her fair skin.
They were not hands that a girl should have.