Having left the Rikka Firm’s head office, the sun had already begun to set as Rio made his way towards the inn district.
The inn district was not all that far from the marketplace.
The surrounding shops were already buzzing with activity as people gathered around bars and restaurants for the evening.
Rio examined the surrounding buildings trying to find an inn to his liking.
（I want to, at least, stay in an inn with a bath.）
Although bathing culture existed in the Bertram and Galark Kingdoms, baths where one could submerge their whole body only existed in hot spring regions.
Producing hot water was also expensive.
Therefore, bathing merely consisted of a wooden bucket approximately 1 meter in diameter filled with water warmed using the residual heat of a kettle. To wash, one would scoop up water from the bucket and pour it over their body.
In the case of a rich household, a magic tool was used to heat the water allowing a sauna to be installed in the house.
Cheap inns without even a bathtub could easily be found everywhere though inns with saunas did exist.
Rio was aiming for an inn with a bathtub since he was not currently interested in a sauna.
「Nee~ Nee~ That black-haired Onii-san over there!」
While Rio was restlessly looking around for an inn suiting his needs, a voice suddenly called out to him.
People possessing black hair were extremely rare in this country.
Thinking it could only be himself who was being called, Rio turned around to see a typical city girl wearing an apron over a tunic dress.
She was probably two or three years younger than him.
「E~tto, are you referring to me?」
「Yup, that’s right! Are you by any chance looking for an inn?」
So as not to let a potential customer escape, the girl clung to Rio’s arm.
「Ah yeah. Is there a bathtub? I’ve been wanting to take a bath.」
「Yup, there is!」
The girl gave him a cheerful answer.
「Oh that’s great. Then I’d like to stay for a night.」
「Yay! One guest, get! Over here! Quick, quick!」
The girl impatiently began pulling Rio towards a nearby inn.
It was a wooden two-story building. Just at a glance, one could tell the building had some age behind it.
Upon entering, a counter greeted them with a door on the right leading to the dining hall and bar.
Noisy voices could be heard from the other side of the door.
Merry singing and loud quarrels, such noises indicated that the men inside were already drunk.
「One silver coin for a night including dinner and breakfast. Hot water and a towel will be another 10 copper coins. The fee is to be paid in advance!」
Rio smiled wryly at the rowdy clamour while the girl cheerfully explained the rates.
The girl was a splendid inn employee.
「Then, one night with hot water and a towel please.」
Having already intended to bathe, Rio replied immediately and handed over 1 silver and 10 copper coins.
「Roger! Thank you for your patronage~! By the way, what’s your name?」
The girl asked him in high spirits.
Such an energetic child, Rio thought.
It was a refreshing sight in contrast to all the irritated looks from the Royal Institute.
「So it’s Rio. I’m Chloe, best regards from now on!」
Chloe smiled sweetly.
「Yeah, best regards to you too.」
In contrast to the bright and cheerful Chloe, Rio’s expression was rather dull.
「Muu~ you keep making a sullen face, you should smile more! Smile! Smile!」
Rio gave a wry smile.
「Muu~ well, that’s good enough. I’ll take you to your room!」
Saying that, Chloe grabbed and pulled Rio’s hand.
「Here’s your room. The toilet’s over there. You can use the well outside as you like. Just call when you need hot water and a towel! And lastly, here’s the key. I recommend that you don’t leave any valuables in the room though. Do you have any questions?」
Somehow, Chloe said all that in a single breath.
「It’s alright, I don’t have any.」
Her heartwarming attitude made Rio genuinely laugh.
「O— that’s not something to laugh about! Muu~ Onii-san’s more attractive when smiling! Anyway, if you need anything, feel free to ask anytime! Come downstairs when you’ve finished putting away your luggage because it’s already time for dinner. The dining hall is to the right of the reception. Ah, and please don’t get into any fights with other Adventurers.」
「Ah— are you expecting something like that?」
Not having any intentions of involving himself with anything troublesome, Rio intended to obey to her request.
「Un, you could say it’s almost an everyday occurrence at an inn. A lot of people come to pick a fight, especially against the younger ones. The adults are really just idiots! To so easily be provoked…」
Rio saw a shadow cast over her face as she complained.
「Well, I’ll just ignore them so don’t worry.」
「U~n, do your best okay? Somehow, Rio doesn’t sound too convincing…」
Leaving with a concerned expression, Chloe skipped her way back to the first floor.
Rio unlocked the door to his room and entered to unload his luggage before making his way to the bar.
When he opened the door to the bar, he was met with the scent of alcohol and loud noises.
A large majority of the room turned their gazes towards Rio.
Hesitating on where to sit, Chloe guided him to a counter seat.
「I’ll get you your food right away. Would you like a drink? Only the first cup is free, though.」
「What do you have?」
Since he came here, he might as well drink some alcohol—
「Beer, wine, and mead, alcohol is only free for the first cup, though. Tea and milk are free afterwards.」
Chloe listed the free drinks.
「I’ll have a beer then.」
Although Rio was interested in the paid drinks, he decided to choose a free drink for the time being.
「Ue~, you can drink such a bitter thing?」
It seemed like Chloe had yet to understand the merits of beer.
By the way, even children were allowed to drink in this world.
「That’s how it is. Oh, and I’m hungry so I’d like to order immediately.」
「Roger! You can look forward to mother’s signature dish today.」
Chloe skipped back into the kitchen.
And then, as if on cue, three burly adventurer-like men waddled over.
Although Rio noticed them approaching, he did not even glance at them.
「Gahahahahaha! Ooi, Nii-chan. Can ye even drink that beer ye ordered? This no place fer young‘uns who can’t drink~」
「That’s right, that’s right. It’s bad for yer body! Why doncha go running home and drink mommy’s milk~?」
「Now, now guys. Yer all scaring him so much he can’t even speak.」
It appeared that the men were already drunk.
The guests sitting at other tables were watching Rio while smirking.
Rio frowned at the men’s foul breaths reeking of alcohol.
「Hey! It’s no good to bully Rio. Rio, here, a second helping of bread and soup are free of charge. I personally baked the bread!」
Chloe brought over the food with a worried face.
A considerable amount of food was piled up on the wooden plate.
「Is that so? Thank you. Then, I’ll have another piece of bread later.」
「What, hey ya bastard Rio. How dare you let a lil’ girl defend ya and still call yerself a man.」
Ignoring the Adventurers’ provocations, Rio took out his own set of tableware and began to eat.
The food was quite delicious. His knife, fork, and spoon were moving non-stop.
「Che, you even prepared yer own tableware. Such a fancy noble-sama.」
Surrounded by guests eating with their hands, Rio’s elegant appearance of eating using proper tableware reflected in the men’s eyes.
The men became even more disgusted.
「Oi, ya listenin’ ta me!?」
Although Rio was enjoying his bread, the Adventurers were starting to lose their temper at his carefree manner.
Chloe nervously watched the situation unfold from the kitchen.
「Don’t ignore me!! Look at me!!!」
One of the men shouted at Rio and grabbed his collar forcing him to stand.
Rio’s current height had not yet reached 160 centimeters while the opposing men easily exceeded 2 meters in height.
「Uwa, your breath stinks. What do you want?」
Rio spoke in an irritated tone.
「Whatcha just say!?」
「Look here buddy. Even though I put in so much effort to talk to you, you just ignore me? Ya got anything to say to me!?」
The surroundings became dead silent in an instant as everybody watched the commotion.
「Look, I don’t even know you in the first place so I thought you were talking to someone else. Also, your breath stinks, can you stop talking… actually no, can you stop breathing?」
When Rio expressed his discomfort, the men’s shoulders began to tremble.
The whole bar burst out in laughter at his remarks.
「Ahaha. Oi, oi. That boy is making light of them~」
「That’s right, that’s right. Jeane! Isn’t that great for you~」
The surrounding guests jeered at the men picking a fight against Rio.
As expected, the man called Jeane’s face was dyed red.
「Yo— YOU BASTARD!」
When Jeane started to raise his fist, Rio swiftly struck his opponent’s jaw with an open palm.
The strike gave Jeane a cerebral concussion causing him to fall on his knees and onto the ground.
It would likely take several minutes before he could regain consciousness. All the guests in the vicinity were unable to comprehend what just happened and could only blankly stare in surprise at the fallen Jeane.
Rio sat down again and resumed his meal.
「Oi! What’d ya do to Jeane ya bastard!?」
One of Jeane’s companions shouted at Rio.
「Who knows? Maybe he drank too much and got alcohol poisoning.」
Having gotten his revenge for disturbing his delicious meal, Rio feigned ignorance at the lackey’s question and quickly wolfed down the remainder of his meal.
「Ah, Chloe, seconds please.」
Despite being stunned by the current events, Chloe regained her senses when called.
Replying in a fluster, she quickly darted back into the kitchen.
Jean’s companion loudly spoke up once again.
「Thank you very much. The bread’s delicious. You should return to the kitchen, things might get a little messy.」
Thanking Chloe who brought out the second helping of bread and soup, Rio stood up with a sigh.
「O— Okay. Your welcome.」
Heeding his warning, the frightened Chloe returned to the kitchen.
「Are ya listening to me!?」
The man angrily glared at Rio as he reached for his knife on his waist.
Rio dumbfoundedly looked at the man.
「I wouldn’t do that if I were you. I won’t go easy on you if you plan on using that.」
Rio sternly warned him in a cold voice.
「Let’s see you try!!!」
Unfortunately, the man was already dead drunk so Rio’s words could not get through.
The man furiously unsheathed his knife.
Despite also being drunk, the remaining companion’s expression paled at Rio’s words. However, he could not turn back from a situation that he and his companions started which was further reinforced by the other man’s drawn knife.
Rio kicked his opponent’s forward leg and like that, the man fell to the ground spectacularly.
Taking the man’s knife, Rio stabbed it into the thigh of the other man who had remained standing.
The man who got stabbed released a loud cry and crouched down.
The fallen man glanced at his companion in horror and looked back at Rio with a pale face.
「A— Ashil! O— Oi! What the hell are you doing!?」
Seeing the knife protruding from Ashil’s thigh, the man scowled angrily at Rio.
「What? It was legitimate self-defense. He was acting violently so I stabbed him.」
Rio spoke in a calm manner.
He had learned to always keep calm when dealing with such people after getting involved with those back in the Royal Capital.
He also found those who derived pleasure from harming others to be absolutely despicable.
These men were at fault for one-sidedly deciding to attack to him.
Rio hardened his heart and brushed away the man’s complaints.
「The hell didja say!? Look at what you just did!」
However, the man refused to accept Rio’s answer and flared up at him.
「Isn’t that your knife? You should understand the repercussions of drawing a knife in such a crowded area. Since you drew your knife and slashed at me, I exercised my right to defend myself.」
Rio spoke while staring coldly at the man.
「Should I just wait there quietly and get stabbed?」
With that, Rio signalled the end of the discussion.
「We— Well no… but…」
Maybe he had sobered up a bit but the man’s expression was as white as a ghost.
「It’s only a small wound but I suggest you stop the bleeding quickly. He won’t die but you shouldn’t leave it like that.」
Rio took his eyes off the man and sat down on the counter to resume his meal again.
As expected, the surrounding guests who were sneering at Rio earlier were now dead silent.
「A— Ashil-san! Are you alright!?」
A woman came rushing over with a pale expression.
She was a beautiful woman in her late twenties but carried a tired atmosphere.
Unable to respond to her, Ashil continued wailing loudly and writhing on the floor while grasping his thigh.
「I— I’m going to pull out the knife and stop the bleeding now. It’s going to hurt but please endure it.」
Saying that, the woman pulled the knife out of his thigh and began administering treatment.
Even though the woman immediately dressed the wound in bandages, blood spewed out from the wound instantly dyeing the bandages red.
Seeing that the woman had fallen into panic, Rio let out a deep sigh and approached the man.
「Please, step aside.」
Rio ignored the woman’s perplexed voice.
Carrying the bulky Ashil to a corner of the room, Rio undid the bandages.
The surroundings guests watched in astonishment as he effortlessly lifted the man.
Light shown from Rio’s outstretched hand over the man’s wound as he chanted an incantation under his breath.
It was not magic that he used, but Spirit Arts.
A geometrical pattern would appear when one invoked magic but that was not the case for Spirit Arts.
Rio hid the treatment using his body so that the onlookers would not notice the anomaly.
Closing the gaping wound, Rio only gave the man the bare minimum treatment so as to not arouse suspicion.
「I’ve stopped the bleeding. However, please refrain from any intense movements for the next few days.」
Rio talked loud enough for everyone to hear him but they were all too stunned to give a reaction.
「Ju— Just now, that was『Heal』right…? This is the first time I’ve seen it…」
「That kid’s a mage…」
「Could he be a noble?」
「I— Isn’t this really bad…? Laying hands on a noble can get you executed.」
Finally understanding what Rio had done, the surrounding guests started to anxiously talk amongst themselves.
While there were few commoners who were able to use magic, people who could use『Heal』were exceptionally rare due to the high difficulty of its magic control.
On top of that, witnessing a boy who had yet to even reached adulthood use it so casually left them all flabbergasted.
Rio became annoyed at the noisy atmosphere.
Rio called out to Chloe to inquire about the bath so he could retire for the night, but she responded in a clearly frightened voice.
Her eyes no longer carried the friendly feeling from before.
「Sorry. It’s nothing. The food was delicious. Thank you.」
Thanking her, Rio left the dining hall and returned to his room.
1. Read as “Heal”, written as “Healing Magic”↩