Rio walked along the winding street before turning into a hidden path. The path led directly to the red light district1.
Following the main road in the red light district, he saw many soldiers looking awfully busy.
The red light district’s main street was located closer to the slums than the market and commoner district’s main street.
When the day turned into night, the streets became overflowing with prostitutes and men trying to buy their bodies.
Sweet voices calling out and negotiations being made could be heard along the street.
Public order in the red light district was surprisingly good due to nobles being among the many customers soliciting the area’s services.
Only upstanding brothels were permitted to operate in most of the Kingdom.
The few doing operating illegally situated their business near the slums.
Rio was heading to that part of town.
Upon arriving, the sounds of competition between legal brothels immediately ceased, replaced by an eerie silence. Not a single person could be seen.
It was in such a place that Rio was passing through.
There were no good feelings associated with that place.
It took him less than a minute to arrive in the slums.
Then, Rio bumped into trouble.
A little distance from him were four rough looking men wearing leather armour with cheap swords strapped to their waists.
The four men gave off the feeling of hoodlums.
An awful lot of noise was coming from the direction of the thugs. Two of the men were carrying large sacks on their shoulders.
One sack moved as if a large animal was inside.
“What’re you doing!? Where’re we going!? Who are you!? Let me out! Don’t think things will end like this! Father won’t forgive you! I’ll send all of you flying!”
Glancing at the noisy bag and the appearance of the shady men, suspicion arose in Rio’s mind.
The voice of a young girl could be heard from the noisy sack.
“Che— she regained consciousness. Shut up! Quit fussing around!”
Loud voices could be heard from the dubious quartet.
The bag instantly slightly shook and shriveled.
“Idiot! Watch your voice!”
“Ye-Yes. Sorry aniki2.”
The way the loud man was apologising suggested that aniki’s position was quite high.
It seemed that aniki was also the group’s leader.
“Che— for 10 gold coins this bag is awfully suspicious but this job is really profitable.”
The one referred to as aniki frowned while clicking his tongue. Judging from his expression, the baggage was proving to be very troublesome.
“Hehe, but 10 gold coins is really an unbelievable reward. With just this, we can spend 10 months drinking and playing around with women.”
All the underlings were smiling, their faces full of lust.
The leader was not disturbed at all.
In this country, one gold coin was enough to feed a common family for two months.
By the way, if he remembered correctly, the exchange rate for money was 100 copper coins for 1 silver coin, 50 silver coins for 1 gold coin, and 25 gold coins for 1 mystic coin.
“What kind of person’s inside? Based on the size and weight, I’d say it’s a girl.”
Unable to contain his curiosity, one of the men carrying the sack asked the leader to check what was inside.
“Maybe it’s a merchant or noble’s daughter… Oi, open the sack!”
Curiosity getting the best of him, the leader displayed a vulgar grin and ordered the sack to be opened.
“Are you sure?”
“Hmph, that man never said we couldn’t open the sack. And we need to find out if the contents are worth more than what we’re paid for. We’ll request another payment during the handover.”
The subordinates cheered hearing those words while the leader snorted.
“You, watch the surroundings and don’t let anyone come near. Well I doubt anyone’ll come to this place anyway.”
The leader ordered the man to set his bag on the ground. The man who was ordered from before had a “Let me see her face too” expression on his face.
But in Rio’s eyes, the lackey’s vigilance was extremely sloppy.
After confirming their surroundings, the man placed the sack on the ground and roughly opened it.
With a thud, a soft slender limb was exposed, together with a scream coming out from the young lady in the sack.
“Hehe, now we can enjoy a young woman to ourselves.”
Smiles crept onto the sketchy quartet’s faces after hearing the young lady’s cream.
They leisurely unfastened the ropes binding the sack.
Only 10 seconds were needed to finish the deed.
After seeing who emerged from inside the bag, the men leaked voices of admiration.
What they saw was a young girl around the same age as Rio.
Silky violet-blonde hair, purple coloured irides, and a determined expression; the charming girl had the appearance of an angel.
Due to her features and attire, she exuded the atmosphere of a high class individual.
Possibly she was the daughter of a noble.
Her exceptional beauty mesmerized Rio in an instant.
There was no mistake; a noble’s daughter had just been kidnapped.
But for what reason? For such important cargo, they would not be handed over for transportation to some hooligans.
Rio was speechless and had no idea what was going on.
It was safe to say they must have received inside help from guards of the noble’s house.
“Ah— Curiosity killed the cat huh? This is bad… we may have overstepped our boundaries.”
The leader nervously scratched his head with a difficult expression painted on his face.
They must have understood what it meant for them to kidnap the girl. They finally realised the gravity of the situation.
“Well good thing we only carried them this far. After reaching to our destination, let’s ask for additional payment. C’mon, let’s go! We gotta finish this quickly.”
The criminals’ plans continued along with the girl’s misfortune.
Being glared at by the goons, the young girl tightly shut her eyes.
“Well come on. Quietly get back in the sack again.”
“NO! <Flame Shot>!”3
The young girl raised her hands up and recited something. Something started coming out from the palm of her hands.
However before the phenomenon of magical power could be converted into a magic spell, the girl received a sharp kick from the leader.
“Agh— gah ho…”
Rio was startled witnessing the young girl being blown away.
At the same time he was fascinated by the magic she was about to release.
Rio could only use his magical powers for body and flesh reinforcement while that young girl was doing something else entirely using an unknown technique.
Before the magic discharged, something resembling geometrical patterns floated in front of her.
“Che, that was a close one. I let my guard down. To think she’s a magic user, as expected of a noble’s daughter.”
The unfamiliar word “magic” reached Rio’s ears.
Looking at the young girl clutching her stomach in pain, one of the hoodlums opened his mouth.
“E~tto, she’s not dead yet right?”
“It’s alright. She’s still moaning in pain.”
“We don’t know if they’ll give us our payment for damaged goods…”
“Ah? Ah, well we’ll know at that time comes right?”
The leader’s outrageous conduct made his underlings tremble in fear. They responded by giving him troubled smiles.
From their conversation, they were a bunch of worthless people.
(What should I do…?)
While suppressing his impatience, Rio pondered at the question.
The young girl would not die from only that level of a kick.
But at this rate, she would be abandoned.
Or he could head over and provide her some assistance.
But that was easier said than done.
There were four opponents, based on Rio’s estimations they were no threat to him.
Still, even with his abilities he was not had doubts he could flawlessly defeat all of them.
Moreover they were all armed while he was unarmed.
His opponents would not hesitate to kill him.
Even though Rio practiced ancient martial arts in his previous life, he had never once taken a person’s life.
In other words, Rio had to fight barehanded against a group of four armed men who had experience in committing murder.
Furthermore, if he was slashed by one of those cheap blades, the injury would most likely suffer an infection.
Rio was strongly against killing other humans.
He recalled the words of his grandfather who was also his master.
If he remained in his position, the scene before him would soon disappear.
But the incident would not end just like that; the young girl would be moved somewhere against her will.
Rio heard from rumours that some brothels in the area sometimes held sadistic events where people gathered and tortured young girls.
There was a chance the girl in front of him would be sent to one such place.
However the incident unfolding before him had nothing to do with him.
Hiding and watching the group depart the area would leave a bad aftertaste, but there was no need for him to risk his life for a complete stranger.
Really? Was that really okay?
While Rio was mulling over those matters, by coincidence, it really was a coincidence, one coincidence on top of another, the girl’s line of sight matched Rio’s.
Noticing him, her face distorted in fear and anger. Seeing that, Rio felt he could no longer run away.
Another man came over with a sack.
The man suddenly started moving; he focused his line of sight on the young girl and let go of the sack.
With a thud, a soft resigned voice resounded from inside the sack.
From inside the bag, a young girl similar in age was kicked letting out a similar voice.
“Che— Oi, she’s not injured right?”
In a tired voice, the leader asked the man carrying to sack to verify the content’s safety.
With an evil grin, the subordinate opened the bag to confirm.
They were distracted, it was now or never.
(Damn it all!)
Rio wrapped his entire body in magical power in an instant and launched himself like a bullet. No other human being his age would be able to achieve the same speed.
He was shocked at the acceleration and resistance he never felt before. Even with his flesh reinforced, his body was still that of a child’s and should not be able to produce something to this extent.
Success of failure would be decided in an instant so immediately Rio seized the initiative.
The first to notice Rio was the leader and he immediately drew his blade. But in that short moment, Rio was already in front of him.
Without letting the chance slip by, he twisted the leader’s elbow dislocating his joints before throwing him.
He flawlessly executed techniques learned from the ancient martial arts he practiced in his previous life.
By reinforcing his body, he was able to throw a grown man twice his size.
The leader did not know anything about Ukemi4 and spectacularly hit the ground with a loud sound.
Rio was already moving his body.
He gathered all his power and drove a kick into the abdomen of the man standing beside him. Using that force and his opponent’s own weight, Rio slammed the thug into the ground.
Confirming his opponent was unconscious, he prepared to face the remaining thugs.
Enraged by the loss of their companions, the remaining two chose to face Rio together.
If they took the girl hostage, the situation would be hopeless.
Multiple opponents meant they had more choices than him.
Rio was afraid of that.
However the men were suffocated by their emotions that they forgot to adopt the most effective means.
Brandishing a 50 cm long sword, one of the thugs rushed and slashed at Rio.
He avoided the blade by side stepping and launched a counter with his palm aimed at his opponent’s chin.
The counter connected with the thug’s chin and instantly knocked out him out.
The last thug desperately brandished his blade but could not even come close to landing a hit on Rio.
Avoiding the poor swordsmanship, Rio slipped into the man’s bosom, grabbed the thug’s hand and forcefully twisted, disarming and making him unable to hold the weapon. He then knocked the thug out with a throw.
I did it.
I ended up doing it.
Before he realised it, his body moved on its own.
It was strange for him to risk his life to save a young girl he never even met before.
Rio did not move an inch from where he was standing, because he was out of breath.
He felt his body temperature rising and his heart beating so wildly that he could hear it resounding throughout his body.
SHUT UP, he nearly screamed those words.
He was unable to deliver the final blow to the thugs.
He could not bring himself to kill them.
But he still had the skill and strength to overpower them and lightly damage their internal organs.
The damage was only to the extent where they lost consciousness.
Given the current situation, it would not be strange if they were fatally injured and died.
All kinds of terrible outcomes flooded Rio’s mind.
If by some chance the thugs died from their injuries, Rio would be unable to cope with the sense of guilt.
He currently lacked the resolution to kill another human being.
No problems would exist if he could calmly kill a person.
But he was not that kind of person.
And undoubtedly, none of the thugs were dead.
So he did not kill anyone yet.
Still all kinds of excuses for killing them popped up in his mind. Realising the kind of thoughts he was harbouring made him feel disgusted.
What’s done is done.
At least he would not be blamed for helping the two young girls.
Rio fought down the emotions he was feeling to prevent them from showing on his face. He suddenly remembered the existence of the two girls and noticed one of them was watching him in awe.
The two girls resembled each other in appearance.
One of them was still trying to free herself from the sack while the one that got herself kicked was already freed.
From their violet-blonde hair and identical faces, Rio concluded the two were sisters.
The one who was causing a ruckus earlier was the elder sister while the one still trying to free herself was the younger sister.
“Are… you alright?”
Still breathing roughly, Rio timidly greeted the sisters.
The elder sister glared sharply at Rio.
From her glare, Rio found it difficult to believe they were the same age.
Rio’s train of thought halted for a second.
The same shining geometrical pattern that made her get kicked appeared again.
(Is that… magic?)
“Cough, cough. What are you waiting for? Help me!”
“O-Onee-sama, I just casted <Heal>5 so please don’t move around so much. Don’t push yourself too hard…”
Ignoring her younger sister’s plea, the elder sister approached Rio and slapped him across the cheek.
Pan, a dry sound resounded in their surroundings.
To this sudden development, Rio could not understand what was happening.
Why did this girl get angry at him?
Why would she slap her saviour?
He fell into confusion, his cheek stinging in pain.
“You watched us the whole time right? If that was the case you should’ve helped us sooner!”
Rio almost got himself slapped a second time.
However this time he was expecting it and caught the girl’s arm.
Her face became distorted in frustration and she tried using her free hand to slap him.
The young girl became hysteric and started acting violently. Rio started turning angry after experiencing such unreasonable treatment, but he could not treat a young girl like her poorly.
“Let go of my hand! Filthy! Smelly!”
“O-Onee-sama, he saved us so isn’t it wrong to get angry at him?”
The younger sister was trying to soothe the elder sister’s fury.
The elder sister could smell the foul odours originating from Rio and it was clearly reflected on her face.
She was also greatly shocked at his repulsive appearance.
Though thanks to the younger sister’s cries, the elder sister ceased her violent actions towards Rio.
Even if the other party was still very young, her actions were unreasonable since the beginning and Rio’s anger was reaching its boiling point.
He already got himself into another troubling situation.
The elder sister was glaring at his filthy forelocks.
“A-Aah. Thank you very much for saving us.”
Sensing Rio’s displeasure, the younger sisters came forward and lowered her head.
“No, it wasn’t much.”
As expected Rio could not disregard the young girl expressing her gratitude to him so he gave a curt reply.
“What? What kind of attitude is that?”
Rio decided to disregard the elder sister.
The dangerous atmosphere dissipated again due to the younger sister rebuking her elder sister.
“Hmph, I’ll forgive you for Flora.”
It appeared the younger sister’s name was Flora.
Seeing her older sister calm down, Flora breathed a sigh of relief. But right after that, the elder sister’s words were like pouring oil onto a dying fire.
“Peasant, lead us to the noble district. As for the men over there… take two of them with us.”
Rio was amazed at how easily he commanded him.
“You were able to throw them so this should be simple right?”
Rio was unamused at her attitude. In addition her tone was almost hysterical.
Her panic was probably due to only recently escaping from a horrific situation but the current Rio was too irritated to notice such things.
“…Is that the attitude one uses when asking for assistance?”
Rio understood it was necessary to provide assistance to the daughters of a noble.
But this girl’s overbearing attitude chased out that thought.
He wanted her to at least consider his feelings a little.
“A-Ah no, I’m sorry! I would also like to request your help. If necessary, I will ask father to reward you!”
Rio’s current impressions of nobles were rock bottom.
But thanks to Flora it did not drop any lower.
Surely the two girls must have experienced life void of hardships so far.
They got whatever they desired.
They were so dazzling for someone like Rio that it only gave birth to one vulgar thought after another. As for Haruto, he could not stand Flora’s straightforwardness.
Rio unwillingly agreed to Flora’s request.
“Thank you very much!”
Rio got to work immediately.
The two young girls cut the sacks previously used to transport them into ropes and Rio tied the men with them.
He also took their weapons along with any valuables he could find.
It was bulky but it could not be helped; the current him was in dire need of money.
Since a while ago his actions could already be classified as a crime so he did not bother justifying his actions.
Rio did not know of any laws regarding the treatment of a criminal’s possessions. Since that was the case, he might as well loot all the thugs’ belongings; there was nothing wrong with getting his hands on a few valuables.
“Hmph, so greedy…”
Looking at his behaviour, Christina6 said those lines while looking down on him. Hearing that, Rio felt some resistance but pretended he did not hear anything and continued with his work.
Finishing his work, Rio and the sisters left the red light district and continued towards the market.
Along the way, people in the red light district looked at Rio and the young girls with great curiosity. However no one called out to them due to the foul smell Rio gave off.
Upon arrival at the market, soldiers immediately ran up to Rio and the sisters. Christina and Flora were put under their protection afterwards.
1. Prostitute district
2. Common Yakuza slang for senior
3. Read as Flame Shot, written as Flame Bullet Magic
4. A falling technique in Judo
5. Read as Heal, written as Recovery Magic
6. Ed: Christina is the elder sister’s name. Yeah I don’t know how we suddenly got her name either.