Title at the end of the chapter
Some time before, Rio came to the epicentre of the chaotic odo and mana, on the way to the Bertram Kingdom.
But, since it was already a little bit over an hour since the occurrence of the phenomenon, he couldn’t find anyone in that place.
Rio stretched his line of sight, surveying his surroundings.
Thereupon, he discovered the slight traces of weeds being stepped upon.
There had be someone in this place before.
There’s three footprints, and it seems that to be mix of women and children according to it’s size.
The direction is going toward the opposite direction of the forest.
「That way was to the highway …… Are they going toward that way? 」
(What was just happened in Strahl region)
(The remains of the disturbance of odo and mana due to the activation of large-scale magic is really obvious in this place)
(Is it have some kind of relationship with the pillar of light from sometimes ago)
The strange anxiety that he can’t describe with words made Rio to tracking those footprints.
There’s a highway beyond this point.
He discovered the trace of the ground being trampled by horse along the way.
It seems the people that was moving to this direction encountered human who’s mounting on horse.
There’s no traces of battle, those three was going to the highway with the horse just like that.
Rio is following the footprints further, though he soon arriving at the highway, since the highway is being trampled upon, he can’t even judge which direction they’re going to from the footprints.
Thereupon he’s clicking his lips a little, after confirming that there’s no one in his vicinity, Rio flying high in the sky with spirit arts.
Thereupon he discovering several coach far in front of him on the highway.
The group of the coach that was advancing on the highway was divided into two group.
Maybe just by some chance, those three that was in the epicentre of odo and mana disturbance was boarding on one of those coach.
Maybe because he’s worried if he just leave as it is, he decided to chase after them.
(Which way I should goes to?)
When descending to the ground again, leaving on 50% probability, he’s approaching one of the couch group.
Thereupon, he catching up to one of the two in just two minutes.
From the look of the boys and girls who’s getting on the load-carried coach, Rio guessing in an instant that the one shipping this is a slave merchant.
Maybe the armed group that surrounding them is the convoy mercenary.
His unpleasant premonition is getting stronger, Rio decided to talk to those men that was spreading like escort convoy.
「Ha~h, what do you want ？」
Noticing Rio figure that getting closer, he’s talking to the man who seemingly-the leader of the convoy while somehow taking a pre-caution.
「Sorry. I’m looking for people. Did you by any chance meet three people that moving together in this place around one hour ago? 」
For the time being, Rio’s doing a non-hostile appeal.
「Oh？ Three fellow that moving together? 」
The representative of the group answering while pretending his ignorance.
The man looking at Rio body.
He’s slightly perplexed when he noticing it’s elaborated design of Rio sword that peeking from the gap of his long coat.
And just like that he’s looking at Rio sword with thin eyes.
Rio increased his vigilance.
「We didn’t meet those — 」
As the man looking back at Rio face and tried to feign ignorance.
A girl voice who’s shouting at her wit’s end echoed.
The man clicking his lips a little and looking toward that girl.
Rio also looking toward the origin of that voice with perplexed face.
At that place was a black haired girl.
On her side is a flustered black haired boy.
Rio eyes opened wide in an instant, and instantly looking back at that man —- .
「…… Yeah, she’s the person I’m looking for. I wonder why you place her along with clave coach? 」
Thus he asked while sending a spine chilling gaze.
Rio intuition was almost spot on, based on circumstantial evidence, they’re metastasized.
More than anything else, the words that coming out of that girl was the evidence.
Her language didn’t exist in this world, right, it’s japanese language.
「Ah, Ha~h, we can’t understand their language, so we’re protecting them from being lost. Unfortunately we have no space left for another person aside from among the slave」
While being overwhelmed by the sudden change in Rio atmosphere, the man answering with thoughtless voice.
「Why she ask me to save her just now？」
He’s asking while facing toward that man with even sharper line of sight.
Thereupon, the man was showing a boored face.
「Che, so you understand their words. It’s look like you’re really looking for them」
The man said that without even being ashamed.
Rio then —–.
「Then, can you also release the boy beside that girl？」
He’s saying that while looking at that man.
That man then winking to the other men to give a signal and they began to release a dangerous atmosphere.
「Ha~, it can’t be helped since you’re witnessing our criminal act …….. 」
While saying the words that look like a threat, the moment he tried to draw his sword, a thick killing intent that’s been condensed spewed from Rio.
All of his condensed killing intent pointing toward the man who met him.
「!!!!! ？ 」
He’s going to kill me.
Was what the man feel in that moment, as his body unable to make even slightest movement.
Just like that when Rio hand touching the handle of his sword, the man body trembling little by little.
This is bad.
His skill is way above us.
I’ve made an error in dealing with him.
He’s not an ordinary brat.
He’ll kill me if I made a suspicious move.
He’ll kill me if I’m talking nonsense.
He’ll kill me if I’m showing hostile intent.
He couldn’t help but think that way.
「You guys aside, I never think that you’re going as far as snatching away slave other than using normal route*」
Rio changed his tone as he’s talking to that man who was being silenced.
By doing that, Rio will become a slave burglar.
Rio didn’t want to go as far as comitting serious crime by releasing unfamiliar slave.
「I just want you to obediently hand over those two slave that abducted by you. You know that much right? 」
Rio continuining saying those words with indifferent voice and bone chilling smile.
「B-But. We also have our job. Don’t think that we’ll just obediently handing them」
That man squeezed his voice to answering with shaking body.
Though he has live through the battlefield, right now that man is scared as he feels a fear that he never experienced in his life.
But, due to the pride on his own occupation, he’s frantically trying to resisting it.
「Kidnapping slave is illegal act right. Isn’t that mean you’re also doing an illegal act during your work? 」
「I-Isn’t that something that often happed?」
「Yeah. It’s something that often happens」
Rio agreed to that man in an instant with voice devoid of emotion.
That’s right, it’s not something unusual.
Survival of the fittest.
The people who observing the rules is limited only to where their power reach, outside of that, power is the law.
The weak didn’t have the right to say anything before the overwhelmingly strong one.
Even Rio know about that.
「Even so, I hate that concept」
「W-what’s with that. Are you trying to act like a hero？ Something like that is already outdated. If it’s you, there’s a way to make your live more comfortable. If you like it, how about join us？ 」
「You just keep talking like that since sometimes ago. I already said it right. I came to this place since I have the duty to save those two」
「Hehehe …….. It’s as you say」
「If you know that, then move yer ass. Anymore than this, are you really want me to forcefully snatching them by trying to buy some time? 」
That last line was a final blow.
The man was calling out to his subordinate that was on alert near the coach.
「…… Understood. Oy, open the lock! Release those two！ 」
「V-Vice leader？ Is it really okay？ If we’re releasing them arbitarily like this, the leader will …….. 」
The subordinate with the exception of the man who they call as vice-leader was asking in perplexed voice as they’re not noticing Rio killing intent.
The man is enraged due to that words.
「SHUT UP！ YOU IDIOT！ ARE YOU LOOKING TO DIE！ ？ WE’RE MERCENARY, WE’RE LIVING BY RECEIVING MONEY. AND KNOW WHEN TO BACK OFF！ 」
Power analysis to know the ability of their opponent.
Is an indispensable ability to live as mercenary.
The one who’s failed to polish that ability couldn’t have a long live as a mercenary.
Though normally one exuding such ability along with dreadfulness have long experiences under their belt, some of them have this power without knowing it.
The man knew that.
There’s many of them who have innocent face that will unhestitatingly killing people when it become a battle.
Rio was surely of that type.
It was only by luck that man noticing Rio power.
If Rio’s want to kill them, he’ll do it in one breath before even releasing his killing intent.
「If you know that, get them out of the coach！」
Being harsly rebuked by the man called as the vice-leader, the subordinate man was opening the door of the coach in panic.
And then courteously taking out Aki and Masato.
By the way, after they’re descended from the coach and released, they timidly going toward Rio.
「The other one isn’t in this group？」
「Yeah, since the other one will be sold at high price as a harlot, she goes to another route」
The man answering honestly to Rio question without hiding anything.
Though he’ll know immediately that Miharu isn’t in this place if he asking Aki and Masato, he was trying to make a good impression to Rio even if it’s just a little.
「Are you separated at the highway before coming to this path？」
「Ah. That’s right」
After he get the necessary information, RIo’s looking at Aki and Masato as if losing his interest in that man. [TL : I really pity that man[vice-leader] thus I named you “Mercenary B”, we will meet an even more pitiful “Mercenary A” later]
In that instant, he somehow getting a deja vu when he’s looking at Aki, though he’s taken a back a little, he instantly ignoring that.
「…….. Let’s go. We’re running out of time right now. There’s still the other one right? 」
He’s talking to those two using a somewhat clumsy japanese.
There’s no way he won’t save the other one after saving these two.
Instead it’ll made easier to get the stories from the saved person due to debt of gratitude.
「EH? Ah, japanese language? Foreigner? 」
Though Aki seems to understand Rio’s words, maybe she mistaking Rio for a foreigner due to his appearance and broken speech.
「We’re going to run for a bit after this. You, please ride on my shoulder」
Rio said that toward Masato.
「EH? Isn’t that will make us slo ……… 」
Masato replying with perplexed face.
To Masato common sense, it was an extremely inefficient act to run while carrying another person.
「It’s okay, get on quickly. Aren’t you want to save the other person? 」
With that words as the trigger, Masato timidly climbed on Rio back.
To Masato who’s almost entering his growth period after this and Rio who’s already at the end of his growth period, since there’s more than 20 cm differences in their height, the proportion can’t be called as unbalanced.
「You too. Though this might be embarassing, please bear with it」
After saying that, Rio carrying Aki.
「Kya …… 」
Aki screaming a little.
Though it’s look like a strange spectacle when looking from the side, the men in the surrounding was looking at them without making fun of them.
「Hold on tight, you two. Especially the one on the back, you’ll be thrown off if you’re not hold me tightly. Is that clear？ 」
Being urged by Rio, Masato holding on tightly Rio.
After confirming that.
Rio began to run in one breath.
The two letting out a small scream since the reaction is more than what they thought of.
Aki and Masato was perplexed to Rio who’s steadily accelerating.
「I never even heard the rumor about that brat. And have age more than the leader」
Leaving that place with only the juveniles slaves and it’s convoy mercenary behind.
Looking at Rio retreating figure that running at the speed that not less than horse while carrying two person, that man was muttering with trembling body while recalling the unforgettable killing intent that was emitted by Rio sometimes ago.
「U-Uhm！ Please tell us, what kind of place is this？ 」
As he keep running, Aki asked while looking up at Rio face from point blank range.
Though Rio keep running with unmatched speed since sometimes ago, he’s not even panting.
She think that it might be okay even if it’s come to this, she boldly decided to confirm their current situation.
「This place is Strahl region of Eufilia continent, and we’re currently nearby the national border of the country called Saint Stellar」
Rio giving a precise answer to Aki question.
「Eh, this place isn’t Japan？ 」
Aki letting out a dumbfounded face to the completely unfamiliar name of the country, places, and the continent.
「Japan ……… You’re mistaken」
When he’s pronounciating the name of the Japan with completely moving tone, Rio gave a complete denial to Aki question.
「T-Then are we somewhere in the earth？」
Aki asking timidly.
That line of sight filled with the emotion as if she’s anticipating something.
「Sorry to let you down but, this is not the earth.」
But, Rio counter blow answer as if tearing apart those expectation.
A dubious expression floating on Aki face as she’s unable to swallow that truth.
「Then, this place is ……. Beside, why that words ….. 」
Aki murmured with a little dumbfounded face.
Her voice is reaching Rio ears who sharpened his five senses along with his physical abilities.
But, He pretended to never heard that.
Though he saved Aki’s in the spur of the moment, he want to shorting the information inside his head right now.
In the first place, why there’s japanese in this world.
He really want to hear the detail about that.
（Why. This child is …. ）
The problem is how far he should be getting involved with Aki’s.
From her appearance Aki is a middle school student, Masato should be around the fifth or sixth grade of the elementary school.
Though he don’t know how old the other one who came along with them, it’s a fact that it’s impossible to survive when suddenly being thrown in this world without any warning.
The fate that awaiting them is either die or become the abducted slave of the people with malice, it will be one of those two.
（As expected it’ll leave a bad taste if I leave them like that after I know their story）
There’s a teaching, that one need to cares for other till they can at least taking care of themself.
It’ll become a problem depending on how far he disclosing the information about himself including his previous life.
Currently, Rio’s hiding his social status.
Though coup d’etat has occured, Rio was on the wanted list within Bertram kingdom few years ago.
Though at time he didn’t want to come back and doing nothing but runnind away, he’ll be moving in this region for a while after this.
So he have no choice but to do his best to hide his lineage.
For this reason he’s going as far as making the magic tool for changing himself.
Though the result for that is that he’ll be living together with Aki and Masato for a while, there’s no need to tell them about his lineage with the assumption that they’ll be separating sooner or later.
But, if they’ll be living along for a long time after this, it’s preferable to teach them about it to make it easier.
The first is to made an alias for himself might be the right way looking at the current situation.
Is what he thought.
「A-Ano, how can you talk in japanese？」
While Rio thinking about such things, Aki has recovered from her bewildered state and asked that question.
The communication won’t happen unless they’re using japanese, and the information can’t be gathered without using japanese.
Though he couldn’t denying that it’s a little troublesome.
Since the conversation already going this far, it might be hard to falsifying the reason.
Different with name, it might cause many suspicion if he tell an unskillful lie.
Though he thought of haw many lie that’ll be suitable, it might be too suspicious if it’s come in the spur of moment.
Should he tell a lie according to the situation first?.
「…….. That’s because I’m used to live in japan」
Rio answered after several seconds of pause.
「Eh, you’re used to live in Japan？」
Aki head inclining with curious expression floating on her face.
This isn’t earth.
But, the youth before her speak in japanese, he said that he used to live in Japan.
What does that mean.
Rio appearance is at least not that of a genuine Japanese.
Even his hair color, she felt that he’s a foreigner or a half at most.
（Is he a half that was returned to his country？）
Was Aki misunderstanding.
「Let’s put that talk aside for now. By the way, may I hear your name？ 」
He advancing their conversation as the two slightly passes.
「M-My name is Sendou Aki」
「Sendou Aki. Aki ……？ 」
Rio staring at Aki face as he muttering her name.
「Ah, Yeah. Is my name strange？ 」
Aki was asking with slightly red face as she’s staring at Rio face from close range.
「No, I think that it’s a nice name」
When Rio replying that way —-.
「T-Thank you very much ……… 」
Aki face blushing even further.
「Then, you on the back, what’s your name？」
Rio asked for Masato name who he carrying on his back without even noticing Aki change.
「M-My name is Sendou Masato！」
And then, Masato saying his name with somewhat excited expression.
Maybe looking at the scenery that changing rapidly excite him.
「I see. I’m Haruto」 [TL : He said his name in Katakana(ハルト), this will be explained later]
「…….. Haruto ？」
When Rio using his name in his previous life as his alias, Aki atmosphere changed a little.
She’s muttering Rio name with somehow inorganic tone.
「……. Is there something with my name？」
「Ah, no, it’s nothing ………. 」
Aki just denying it as she vigorously shaking her head.
「I see………. The two of you are sibling. Is the other one your elder sister? 」
「No, we’re indeed have a big brother but, uh~m, the other one who with us till sometimes ago is someone who’s like an elder sister for us despite not related by blood …… 」
「Oops, sorry. It seems we’re catching up to them. Can you please wait for a while in this place? 」
While Aki in the middle of answering, she’s interrupted by Rio.
Rio strengthened eyesight catching the coach that’s moving in faraway place.
Aki’s might not see it and only seeing it dimly.
「I will go to those guys. Is that sister-like woman for you also have black colored hair？ 」
As he’s stopping as if trying to hide behind the medium sized rock, he then gently let them down.
「Ye-Yeah. That’s right. That’s, please save her! 」
「Yeah, I’m okay. Please don’t move from the rock since it’s dangerous. There’s no dangerous creatures in the vicinity but, do not coming out from the rock」
Rio was strictly instructing them with strict face.
Though it’s quite far, there’s a chance that they might see something ugly.
Though he have some precautions against that situation, it’s purely thinking about the safety of those two.
Though the possibility for that is low, just in case, so that the aggressive living creature that’s flying in the sky didn’t approach the two that can’t defend themself.
Aki and Masato answering with tense voice to Rio warning.
「Good kid. Let’s continue our talk after I’m going back」
After giving a relieving smile, Rio left that place with casual place.
Rio movement is extremely refined even seeing from Aki point of view.
It’s alright since Rio will save them.
Aki’s prayed like it’s an unconditional trust.
Leaving from the shadow of the rock, Rio’s approaching the highway on the place where the coach will passing by.
「Please wait for a moment ？」
Just like that when he’s on the arrival point of the coach, stopping on the highway and to not causing vigilance on the other party, Rio was speaking in a polite tone.
Thereupon, the merchant group halting their advance.
A big man that seems like the leader of the mercenary group is looking at Rio from above his horse, he asked with cold tone.
His muscular body is wrapped in a good quality leather armor, and wearing cloth armor under that.
He’s glaring with vigilance at Rio while un-sheating his sword that glimmering on his waist.
There’s no appearance of someone who’s making light of a kid who has yet to grow their hair like the man that confront Rio sometimes ago*. [TL : Mercenary B, the current guy is the Mercenary A]
He’ll stab instantly Rio if Rio also drew his sword.
「I hear that you’re taking care of a black haired girl within this merchant group —- 」
「What’s happen！？ 」
Incidentally when Rio tried to breaking the ice, a man who’s wearing nice dress made his appearance while cutting his words.
Maybe he’s the one who’s the leader of this merchant group.
Maybe he’s moving absurdly since he’s in a bad mood.
Rio’s sighing a little.
「I hear that you’re sheltering a black haired girl in your group a little while ago. I’m her guardian. Thank you for keeping her safe and sound」
He’s saying that while showing an expressionless smile.
Rio intentionally using this way of speaking though it’s obvious that Miharu is kidnapped by them.
It was an indirect appeal to let this matter ended smoothly.
If they let him go with just this, or he need to threatening them like a while ago, the latter is the worst possible way as he didn’t want to use force.
「…… We’ve no such girl」
But, the slave merchant calmly feigned his ignorance.
Squinting his eyes while looking at Rio who’s letting out a cold smile.
Their line of sight met.
「That’s strange. The other two that under my protection is already retrieved by me …….. If you like it, will you let me to confirm it by looking inside the coach? 」
Rio shrugged his shoulder as if being troubled.
His expression still didn’t change from the previous cold-hearted smile.
The slave merchant expression turned into an unpleasant one.
The slave merchant gave out an order to kill Rio with bone chilling voice.
The mercenary leader is sneering a little —.
And just like that, charging ferociously at Rio on horseback.
The man reduced his distance with Rio in an instant.
Threatening him by releasing killing intent is already too late at this point.
Rio sighed a little.
Rio figure was blurred for a moment ——-.
The sound of severed meat resounded.
The body of the man on horseback is slanted and spurting blood a while later.
In that moment, Rio frowned a little due to the stench of the blood that assailing his nose.
The slave merchant raising a voice that can’t even becoming a scream to that spectacle.
Even the other mercenary member in the surrounding is staring dumbfoundedly at that spectacle.
Before they noticed, Rio unsheathed his one handed sword and returned it inside it’s scabbard without even speck of blood on it.
At the same time, the body of the man is crumbling down on the ground from the horse that still runnning.
A silence descended on the surrounding.
「If possible, I’ll be grateful if that was the last one for now」
Rio said that as if being distressed by it but, he’s looking at the slave merchant with bone chilling eyes.
That laid back voice caused the slave merchant body shuddered.
Under him was a body that was cut right in half, that was the body of the mercenary who have long experience of life and death struggle who didn’t even realize himself that he’s dead.
When their eyes met, the slave merchant crumbling on his knees.
Though he barely managed to keep standing, all of his faith tothe mercenary man all but made a crumbling sound.
「Which coach is the child that you kidnapped？」
「Hyi~, Uck, the second from the back …… 」
When he speak to him, the slave merchant letting out a faint scream.
Glancing at the slave merchant who’s answering with trembling voice, Rio is walking calmly toward that coach without even showing a trace of vigilance of his surrounding.
Or not, since there’s no need for him to even raise his vigilance.
Even the slave merchant who’s not a martial artist know that there’s that much difference in ability between them.
The man that was slayed by Rio sometimes ago was quite famous mercenary.
To the degree that he know that Rio won’t even lost even if he’s facing the other mercenary together.
And Rio slayed that man with a speed that could be said as “God Speed” to the point that no one in the surrounding noticed it.
Even the mercenary could only looking dumbfoundedly at Rio who’s approaching the coach.
Maybe they know by their experience as mercenary about the different in their ability more than himself who’s a merchant.
The mercenary that looking at Rio coming toward them stepping back vigorously with pale face, their thought is same with the slave merchant.
At that time Miharu felt an undescribable anxiety.
Suddenly the coach stopped, she quickly percieved that the surrounding atmosphere become heavier.
Even the young girls with slightly dirty clothes coiling around their bodies near Miharu are showing similiar reaction.
Though the smell in the coach is a little too intense, it’s not what worrying her right now.
Suddenly, she could hear the sound of the footsteps of one person toward their coach.
That person was approaching this coach at ease.
Thereupon, the owner of those footsteps arrived upon their coach.
Miharu heartbeat raised in one go.
When she timidly raising her eyes, a youth was standing on that place.
He’s moving gaze restlessly at the girls looking at the girls face in the coach.
It seems that he was looking for someone.
Soon the youth line of sight fell upon Miharu.
The youth is looking absentmindedly at Miharu.
Miharu almost unintentionally absorbed by the eyes of that youth.
Just like that, the youth and Miharu staring at each other in silence.
As if the time has stopped moving, the youth didn’t move even an inch.
The same thing was happened to Miharu.
「Mii ………. Chan？」
When the youth muttering something with low voice, tears spilling from the corner of his eyes.
For some reason Miharu was also crying as she think that transient moment was very beautiful.