Chapter 82 [Preparation For Interception]
TL : Cnine
PF : Algebra
In the alley going towards east from the central plaza of Almond, Rio was facing against a gray ghoul.
「T- Too strong……」
Natalie muttering with dumbfounded face as she is witnessing a one-sided battle that’s happening in front of her.
Rio who hasn’t even drawn his sword hanging from his waist is easily overpowering the ghoul with nothing but pure martial arts and astounding physical ability.
Damage has steadily accumulated on the Ghouls’ body, though it was restoring the broken and damaged parts with phenomenal healing ability, it’s movement has become slow.
Though Rio isn’t using magic, looking at his considerably powerful physical ability, Natalie judged that he might be using some sort of magic tool.
Currently, amongst the artifact-class tools, the one that raising the strength of the body and physical ability of the user is not small in number.
That aside, the problem is, despite an overwhelming difference of their skill, why is he going easy against it, that question cleared right away.
「WOOW！ Onii-chan is strong！」[TL : Oniichan TUEEEE!!!]
Behind Natalie, Mirey was looking at the figure of Rio fighting the ghoul while wearing an excited expression.
The battle of Rio against the ghoul can’t be seen as nothing but a play where they’re battling against each other, normally, if a child of Mireys’ age is seeing a battle against a demon, it’ll become a gruesome spectacle which will probably leave a trauma to her life afterward.
To be specific, the mangled body of the human or demon, the rain of blood that rains incessantly in the surrounding, that kind of spectacle.
Starting with throwing techniques that will break the bone, accurately landing a blow on the vital parts of the human body, though Rio’s attacks are merciless, the ghoul is able to maintain a perfect looking body, at least the outward appearance.
This and that also might be in consideration for Mireys’ sense.
The difference of ability between Rio and the ghoul is overwhelming to the point that he has leeway to do this in the midst of a deadly battle.
（But, nevertheless, to fight barehandedly against THAT as his opponent is……）
Natalie felt a chill upon her spine as she’s questioning whether herself can do the same kind of action.
Though the ghous’ movement is monotonous, it’s recovery ability and physical ability is compensating for that shortcoming.
She knows that she’ll receive a fatal wound if she gets hit by the ghouls’ attack and the ghouls’ ability to restore damage will slowly chip her fighting spirit.
Even so, it’s not that hard to catch up with that recovery ability if she has a weapon, when it comes to performing such feat with bare hand, the height of martial arts that won’t allow even one miss is an absolute condition.
The courage and ability of Rio who can easily perform this feat is simply unfathomable for Natalie.
While Natalie is still astonished with various things in her mind, Rio hurled the ghoul far away for the second time.
The ghoul’s somehow standing with both of it’s broken legs while trembling non-stop.
Though it warlike vigor can be seen, it might be unable to continue the battle due to it being tormented by its’ bone and internal organ.
The ghoul was tottering unsteadily.
（It’s unexpectedly quite tough）
Rio was quite amazed to the tenacious body and the vitality of the ghoul deep inside.
Though he has yet to find the effect of slashing attack unless he tries it, its’ body is hard, it has unbelieveable resistance towards strong blows.
Though it’s movement is monotonous, since its’ recovery power and physical ability are wonderful, it’s quite a troublesome opponent to fight with martial arts only.
But, he also roughly grasped how to deal with the ability of the ghoul.
As if to say that he’s going to put an end to it, Rio’s stepping up, slowly approaching the ghoul.
The ghoul was groaning powerlessly as if being threatened by Rio while vomiting blood.
But, Rio continues approaching it.
During the time where the other party was trying to move, the instant when he’s closing the distance, standing in front of the ghoul to become a blindspot for Natalie and co.
Rio’s seizing the jaw of the ghoul and then, breaks the neck of the ghoul with strengthened arm power.
The painful sound of fractured bone is resounding along with a dull shriek.
As expected, since he broke its’ neck while the ghoul is suffering from damage all over its’ body, the ghouls’ body becomes stiff and twitched for a second then slumped to the ground.
Rio’s warily looking over the ghoul.
If it really is a demon, he feel that the ghoul will disappear and leave nothing but magic stone――.
Sure enough, several seconds after dying, it’s plating, the skin of the ghoul is crumbling down and peeled off.
Rios’ eyes opened wide when the wings attached on it’s back are also torn off and exposing the human skin beneath.
「Is it…… Human？」
He’s murmuring in low voice.
Its appearance is definitely resembling that of human.
No, the very thing WAS a human itself.
It’s as if, the origin of that thing was a human that transformed into a ghoul――, that kind of crazy premonition is floating in his head.
But, the body of the ghoul is dried out in the next moment, it’s cracking and starting to make a crumbling sound as it’s crumbling into ashes.
This is a peculiar phenomenon that happens when a demon dies.
After a short while, One stone is remaining and flashing for a moment in the ruin of a perfectly crumbled ghoul.
The sapphire-like dark purple colored gem――, the magic stone.
But Rios’ eyes opened wide since it’s different whether it’s the quantity of magical power inside, and size with the one that is left behind by a normal demon.
And then, at that time.
「Thank you very much. It’s truly splendid. As I thought, THAT is a demon right？ 」
Natalie was calling out to Rio from behind with quite an apologetic voice.
Maybe she felt guilty for letting Rio fight alone..
「Yeah, it was probably a demon」
After Rio’ turns back and answers, he shows the magic stone to Natalie.
As if to say that leaving a magic stone was the best proof that it was a demon.
Though of course, the ghoul from before, its’ human-like appearance that appeared before it vanished won’t disappear from his memory.
「That’s an extremely big magic stone isn’t it. Should I say “it’s natural if the demon is that powerful”」
Maybe Natalie missed the human-like appearance which appeared before the ghoul vanished, she was looking at the magic stone with great interest.
「Yeah, that should be the reason right」
Rio’s giving an evasive answer.
But, being curious and attracted by the magic stone, Natalie missed the change in his tone.
「Anyway, let’s leave this place right away」
After shaking off the question in his head, Rio told her that.
Since there’s no guarantee that new demon won’t come to this place, now is not the time to think about it.
「Yes. Of course」
Natalie is nodding in approval.
When Rio’s exchanging glance to face with Natalie.
「Well then. I’ll go this way. Since I’ll take them along with me to east gate」
After saying that he’s nodding at her and then turned his heel.
Though the matter of being involved with troublesome matter more than this is distasteful, it’ll leave an after taste if he left the powerless Rebecca and Mirey.
Therefore, as he tried to left this place taking along those two to avoid to do some necessary conversation but.
「E, AH！ E-EEEEH. A, P-Please wait a minute！ 」
Natalie was trying to stop Rio in hearing the much too simple separating words.
「Regarding that demon from before, my master……. I would like to express my wish for you to explain about it to Liselotte Kretia, will you？It is safe in the mansion, and it’ll be faster to arrive there than going to the east gate.」
Natalie keeps talking non-stop.
From her point of view, the matter of reporting to Liselotte regarding the unknown demon is a must.
Presenting the magic stone of the ghoul, if possible, receiving the testimony straight from the mouth of the person who fought it is more desirable, so Rio going along is indispensable.
Natalie’s’ duty is something that he can understand, but.
「By the way……. Do I have a right toveto？」
Rio asks, showing a slightly frustrated face..
「My deepest apologies. This case is a forced compulsion as a proxy who’s using the governor’s power during the state of emergency」
Natalie’s telling him with a slightly stiff face.
Maybe because it’snot her own will, it resounded as if disgust mixed in her voice.
Though it’s forced compulsion, for Natalie, she has no confidence that she’ll be able to drag Rio back with her but.
Rio’s sighing after hestitating for a while.
「Certainly. Let’s go」
He answered as if resigned to his fate.
Currently, the mansion where Liselotte lives has become livelier as if it’s a battlefield.
Everything is because the large crowd of demon that is flowing in from the west gate of Almond.
「Those who are severely wounded will get healing from the healing magician. Please keep the supply for the magic stone for recovering magical power. The reception of the refugees that were too late to evacuate is being conducted in the reception hall of the mansion. the guidance is for the sake of smoothing the operation！ 」
In the garden of the mansion, Cosette the chamberlain was making a brief instruction to the employees and the soldiers who are working in the mansion.
The wounded adventurers and soldiers are being carried non-stop to the temporary open air hospital erected in the garden of the mansion.
And, part of civilian who missed the chance to escape the attack of the demons at west gate was coming asking for shelter.
Though there was some panic, the sheltering of the people is almost completed.
From the fact the they’re given an emergency drill in case for emergency situation to the people who live in the peaceful city, there was never a case in which they fall into a frenzied state.
Liselotte was looking at the bustling people moving around the garden with unpleasant expression from the windows.
And then released a deep sigh short while later.
「And then, what’s the progress in every battlefield？」
Liselotte turns behind and asked Aria who’s standing behind her.
The office of the mansion is treated as a temporary emergency headquarter, she’s currently in the middle of receiving a report of the situation from Aria.
「Ha. I think The number of the demon that came to invade won’t reach 1000 bodies at maximum. Most of them is invading from west gate then advancing toward the center of the city」
Aria was reporting with indifferent and calm tone.
「In order to intercept them before they arrive at the central plaza, the unit that composed of the adventurers and Almond Soldier brigade are currently fighting large amounts of demons. Though our side is inferior in number, it seems the condition of the battlefield is somehow at 50/50. It seems Captain Patrick is doing a wonderful job here」
Aria explains fluently.
Liselotte’s listening in silent while showing a mysterious expression.
「We concentrate our troops in the vicinity of the eastern gate where refugees gather, and it seems that there are cases where a small number of demons that leaked out are flowing in, but it seems that they were able to fight off without trouble for the time being.」
Liselotte’s stiffened as she’s sighing in an unpleasant way.
Though their numbers are few, it’s still a grave situation for the loose demons reaching the east gate.
It seems we need to quickly annihilate those demons.
「Though there’s a patrol that’s going around the vicinity of the east gate composed of several commanding unit from the soldier brigade, our side can’t guarantee enough number with our severe lack of manpower」
After conveying the report till that point, Aria stopped for a moment in order for Liselotte to put things in order and understand the situation.
「…… Thank you very much for your report. I roughly grasped the war situation. Is there something else that you want to report？ 」
「Yes. There’s one point in which I’m worried about. …….The truth is, there’s a report about the appearance of an unidentified demon」
Aria’s nodding and said that while slightly hestitating.
Liselotte lets out a puzzled voice.
「Yes. It’s look like they’re human shaped demon which is different from orc, ogre, or goblin. For some reason when looking at their appearance when they’re attacking the city, though it seem they slaughtered the adventurers with unexpected power, there’s no further report of the same individual appearing again in the city*」 [TL* : The witness is inside their stomach]
「Is it a new kind of demon？」
「I fear that it is most likely……… But then, since the survivor who seen that demon is zero, I can’t go as far as giving final confirmation」
「I see ………… It’s better if we’re taking a precaution against them isn’t it」
As she say that, Liselotte’s shutting her eyes as if pondering about something.
「At any rate, now let’s think with maximum priority of keeping the victim in the city to minimum. All the more if strong demon will most likely to appear in the city」
After opening her eyes for the second time as if deciding on something, Liselotte’s expression suddenly sharpened.
When she’s looking at Aria.
「Aria, you’ll go to the central plaza. And then, please annihilate the demons in that place for me」
Liselotte gave her command..
From the fact that main force of their enemy is just in front of the central plaza, they might need to annihilate the demon in that place as fast as possible.
Striking with their greatest war potential in the home ground at the main force of their enemy―― Though it’s an extremely simple and clear tactic, it’s matching to their advantage.
With exception that they should prevent the increase of victims, now is not the time to be frugal and go all out.
There’s someone of the most excellent skill under her control, the absolute trump card in her hand who’s a cold beauty as if ice herself.
Though that person might be angry if she heard about what she says regarding that person, Aria was a great force boasting for the strength of thousand*. [TL* : 一騎当千-Ikkitousen-Match in thousand]
And, Liselotte have an absolute trust in her that If it’s her, they won’t be outdone by demons whose number are thousand at best.
「As you command」
Bowing her head, Aria accepted her order.
「You may take Fragahha from the armory」
Liselotte added that after smiling a weary smile.
As for Fragahha, it was the artificial class demon sword that was in her possession.
It’ll strengthen the body and physical ability by using the magical power of the one equipped with it, the sharpness of its cutting edge is at the utmost limit, magic for inhibiting the healing of the cut wound is added in it, if one were to buy it, several hundreds of mystic coins won’t be enough for it.
If Aria’s equipped with it, it will definitely make her even stronger.
「And then, save for the personnel that needs to protect the mansion and the user of healing magic from each of the chamberlain squad, please feel free to use the remaining as personnel to raid the entire parts of the city. You may include the guard personnel and chamberlain who have yet to return from information gathering」
Liselotte’s going on with additional orders.
When Aria’s slightly hestitating, ア
「I will humbly obey it. In that case, I’ll leave Cosette as the bodyguard of Liselotte-sama」
She told Liselotte with a composed voice.
Cosette’s ability is next to Aria amongst the chamberlain working in the mansion.
Seeing that Aria’s leaving from the mansion, there’s none who she can entrust with the job of protecting Liselotte except for Cosette.
「Yeah, please do so」
Liselotte’s agreeing without hestitation.
「Well then, I’ll excuse myself」
After bowing respectfully, Aria left from the office.
Leaving Liselotte alone in the office.
Drinking the already cooled tea, after appeasing her thirst, she let out one deep sigh a short while later.
「Though the preparation is already in place right now, I should do it right. I never expected that demon will come to attack the city in group」
Liselotte muttered with a gloomy face.
It’s different with the Demon-God War Era, after the beginning of the sacred calendar, the talk about demon attacked human in large number is matter of history, their number is never that much.
In the first place, the mysterious point in the ecosystem and the action of the demon is just too much, since none of them is gifted with high intelligence, there’s too many points that are shrouded in mystery.
Now, pondering about the cause of the attack in Almond, as expected, it might be due to the black dragon that was confirmed around 10 days ago, or else something entirely different.
「At any rate, that’s something to think about after getting over this situation」
The brilliant sunlight is shining upon gently in the early afternoon, in the forest located in the southeast of Almond, Masato was swinging his sword in silent.
Practice by repetition is vital, he trust the advice of Rio, the person who taught him, he’s singlemindedly doing nothing but repeating the kata that he learned in this few days.
Aki is also waving her pole right on his side.
The three, Miharu, Aisia and Celia’s looking at those two while sitting on their chair.
Miharu who finished the housework sometimes ago is taking a rest and invited the other two to have a tea.
In the meantime, Miharu’s receiving a practice conversation by Celia, sometimes Aisia’s acting as interpreter in between them.
This is a heartwarming scene that can be seen in this place lately.
It was virtually a peaceful moment but, Aisia suddenly stands up.
Her line of sight is sharpened and squinting her eyes as she’s staring in the forest where there’s no one else.
「What’s matter, Aisia？」
Celia asked with a curious tone.
「A strange presence is heading to our direction while bringing along flocks of demon」
Aisia’s bluntly reporting the situation.
Celia showed a befuddled face for a moment.
But, she gasped right after knowing the meaning of those words.
「Is that true？」
She asked, slightly flustered.
Though this house should be protected by a barrier so that there won’t be any intruder, if there’s one, then it’s really a serious matter.
「No doubt about it. Something with unpleasant sign is leading those demon. At this rate they’ll arrive here in 10 minutes」
Aisia asserted the situation with firm tone.
In the first place, why could Aisia notice the presence of the demons that can’t be seen by eyes, for her who’s a spirit, there might be a certain searching method which can’t be understood by Celia.
「Celia, hide yourself in the house with Miharu」
Aisia is giving an instruction for her to take along Miharu, Masato, and Aki to hide inside the house.
Celia’s putting her hand on her chin, pondering about something and,
「I won’t. I agree with the matter of hiding Miharu and co in the house but, I’ll fight with you 」
She gave a decisive answer.
Aisia’s looking slightly perplexed for a moment.
「I won’t let myself to be protected when Rio is away and can’t be here. I might be unable to win against you but, I, even like this is a splendid mage. I’ll help you at least」
Celia’s saying that as she’s smiling at Aisia.
Aisia unable to make a decision for a moment and just silently stares at Celia.
And nodded at her.
Just like that, Aisia’s looking at Miharu.
「Miharu. Take Aki and Masato to hide in the house. Since there’s demon coming this way. They might be trying to raid this place」
After Aisia’s telling that, Miharu’s taken aback.
Feeling as if something’s wrenching inside her chest, she’s tightly biting her lower lips.
What should I do, or maybe I really can’t do anything――, she’s trembling non-stop as that kind of thought keeps revolving in her head.
But, there’s nothing Miharu can do.
At most, it might be for her to hide inside of the house so that she won’t become a hindrance for Aisia.
That was a fact.
「Yes. I should tell this to Aki-chan and Masato-kun right」
Knowing about that, Miharu answered with the best smile she can show.
Just like that, she quickly rushes towards Masato and Aki, and explains the situation.
Thereupon, Masato comes running at her with a mysterious expression.
Masato’s showing a quite excited look even ignoring Miharu’s warning.
「Nee, count me in too」
While saying that, Masato stared at Aisia with resolute face.
But, Aisia flatly shake her head and then,
Masato was taken aback.
「W-Why. I mean if I’m using the magic that’s loaded in this sword, I can fight！ 」
Masato’s raised his voice as he hold the sword in his hand.
Rio embedded a spirit stone in the sword in Masato’s hand, loaded inside is magic suited for battle.
Though not as much as Masato sword, Miharu and Aki pole also loaded with magic for actual combat.
For the sake of Masato and co who has yet to be able to use magic, the thing of invoking magic using the aria type, the sword automatically sucks the magical power of the user to invoke the effect of the spell if they recite the spell aria.
Practically, Masato was putting the use of the magic loaded in this sword with Rio’s supervision by his side.
If he released the true power of this sword, Even Masato can fight as much as possible against demons in the area.
「That’s just the power of the sword. It doesn’t mean that you’re strong」
Masato flinched upon hearing Aisia who easily said that.
His chest tightened, Masato tightly grasped the handle of the sword in his hand.
「Now isn’t the time for you to fight yet」
Aisia said that as she’s looking over Masato whose voice is trembling.
「But, Celia-neechan is fighting too right？」
Masato was looking at Asia’s’ face as if pleading to her while asking that question.
「I only let Celia to fire her attack magic next to me. Because I have no intention to let her get close to the demons in the first place. You’re fighting with a sword, thus unneeded」
Masato was finally loss at Aisias’ extremely logical words.
Making Aisia and Celia who’re girls to fight, and he who’s a man is hiding like this……….
Recalling the hard to describe vexation, Masato gritted his teeth with “grit”.
After calling him out as if being troubled by his action, Miharu gently led Masato by hand.
While taking Aki’s’ hand with her other hand.
Aki was looking at Masato who was seemingly anxious while being led by Miharu hand.
Masato’s looking at his feet as if averting his eyes, Miharu’s tightly grasped their hands.
While showing an extremely stiff face, Masato and Aki’s led by her hand to enter the house.
Rio’s heading towards Liselottes’ mansion for the second time.
（I never though that I’ll be back to this place again in one day）
As he’s showing a self-mocking smile, Rio surveyed the surrounding of the mansion in which the busy people are moving around.
Thereupon, the figure of Chloe who’s busily moving around is caught in his eyes.
「Mom！ Mirey！ 」
When she noticed the figure of Rio and co entering the garden, Chloe rushed over their place in panic.
「Ah, oneechan！ Long time no see！ 」
Mirey jumped to embrace Chloe while giggling “Ehehe”.
Chloe’s feeling relieved as she feel the warmth of her sister passing over her cloth.
「You’re safe, thank god. But, why is mom and the other is in this place？ 」
Chloe asked after nodding to Rio and Natalie at the same time.
「They were ambushed by a demon………….. And was saved by Haruto-sama. I’m coming here since there’s something that I wish to pass to Liselotte-sama」
Taking the place of Rebecca who is being asked by Chloe, Natalie’s explaining the summary of the situation.
Chloe is perplexed by this information.
「T-Thank you very much！」
Maybe because she understands the situation immediately, the flustered Chloe’s bowing to Rio.
「No, I just happened to pass by that place」
Rio’s shaking his head while smiling wryly.
It seems that Rebecca is Chloes’ mother, and Mirey is her little sister.
Rio’s smiling wryly inside as he think that no wonder that there’s some recollection in seeing Rebecca face.
Because this Rebecca was the mistress who managed the inn in which he lodged during his stay in Almond. [TL : See Act 2 : Trading City, Almond]
He expected that she was with her husband but, there’s no stopper even if he ponders it now.
「Chloe, you’ll go back to your work after you led them inside the mansion」
And, Natalie’s giving her order to Chloe.
「Thank you very much, senpai！」
Chloe’s replying with a reassuring smile.
Natalie is replying with a smile and then,
「My deepest apologies to make you wait, Haruto-sama. Since we’ve no time either, I’ll guide you at my master at once」
She bowed to Rio and told so.
Rio and Natalie is finishing with simple introductions in the way toward this place.
On that point is their real first meeting with each other, there’s a farce but, Rio ended up with the so called having acquinted with Liselotte.
「Yeah, please treat me well」
Rio is nodding, following the guidance of Natalie towards Liselottes’ office.