Chapter 171 : Journey Toward Rodania
When Rio took Flora to escape that area, Silvi and co could only watch with an astounded look on their face. On the other hand, Reis only looked at their escape with a pleasant smile on his face; as if he had expected Rio’s move.
「Oh my, they escaped huh.」
Reis said looking carefree as if nothing wrong.
「…H-How can you be so easy-going about this matter! ? 」
Silvi, who was the first to return to her senses, turned to Reis as she asked with a flushed red face, angered.
「Easygoing huh. This one here is troubled too, you know. At any rate, princess Flora escaped because of you guys. To be honest, even I don’t know what to do if they escape by flying in the air.」
Reis replied mockingly, shrugging his shoulders at the same time.
「T……… Rather than that, Estel’s matter is more important now. So will you return Estel back to us?」
After taking a deep breath to suppress her resentment, Silvi demanded Reis to fulfill his promise, looking at the unconscious Estel, who was surrounded by Lucci and co, worriedly.
「Oh, then, does that mean you’re going to leave this one here with us? 」
Reis questioned merrily, contemptuous smile firmly fixed on his face as he pointed at the unconscious Renji..
「Renji too! 」
Silvi’s voice froze the surroundings..
「Hahaha. What a greedy fella. Well then, shall we have a little chat for a while before we proceed with the transaction? For example…the matter of you guys attacking princess Flora before…you realize that this action of yours had caused Rubia Kingdom’s standing to deteriorate right?」
Reis nonchalantly changed the subject of the conversation.
「W-What are you bastard trying to say! ? 」
As expected, Silvi got enraged when she heard his words.
「The ones at fault for moving on their own this time were you guys. Even though we planned to deliver princess Estel back to you guys as long you guys waited patiently in the inn like good children… 」
「Stop lying! If you truly planed to do that, then explain to us why Estel is in this place, right beside princess Flora? 」
「Well, irrespective of your speculations, I will tell you this. Princess Estel here is just a bait. We were just using her to create a chance to get to princess Flora. After all, she and her guard would be much more inclined to let down their guard if the bait was someone that had nothing to do with the princess nor was her acquaintances, correct? This is merely a case of ‘Going into the tiger den to get tiger cubs’. However, thanks to your interference, all of our hard work had gone down the drain.」
Reis explained the situation while looking extremely disappointed at the other’s lack of insight.
「Well, a promise is a promise. Hey, give princess Estel back to her. As for that hero over there, we’ll need to see after further discussion. So, will you listen to my proposal? I think it’s not a bad idea for the Rubia kingdom either you see? 」
Hearing Reis’s carefree tone when he spoke grated at Silvi. So she grimaced as she tried to provoke him with her retort.
「What sort of discussion are we going to have when your side holds our people hostage? Besides, isn’t it better for us to rescue her with our own power since she is right in front of us? As for Rubia Kingdom’s matter…it should be enough if we offer our apologies by presenting your head to Restoration, don’t you think so?」
「Well, in that case, I’ve got to give you my gratitude since I assume that I can use the two of them as hostages to gain an advantage over you, right? 」
Reis’ smile was condescending as he replied to her provocation with an ease that suggested he was used to it.
「Bring it on. The moment you do that will mark your end.」
「Fufufu, well I am interested in how you will make your statement come true…but…Well, whatever. Then, one of you guys, give princess Estel back to her.」
Reis spoke with a resigned voice, as if he had no other choice but to submit to Silvi’s threat, so he ordered Lucci and co to take Estel back to Silvi. However, Silvi would not allow them to touch Estel’s body, thus preventing them from bringing her right before Silvi on their own.
「You bastard, don’t you dare to touch Estel! Elena! 」
Silvi shouted, before ordering her royal knight’s captain, Elena to do it instead.
At once, Elena moved to secure Estel, and fulfilled her order.
Lucci and co just shrugged their shoulders, showing no sign of resistence at all. By the way, Elena had fixed Estel’s disordered state whilst Rio was still fighting with Renji. However, at that time, the magic formula that was located on her chest didn’t show itself. Thus, Elena was not aware of the cause of Estel’s current state.
「How is her condition? 」
「She’s alive. She’s just unconscious at the moment.」
Elena replied immediately when Silvi asked her.
Silvi looked at the fainted Estel and heaved a sigh of relief.
「I guess we’re just wasting our time throwing one banter after another. So I’ll get to the point and make it quick. Please listen very carefully.」
When he noticed that it was already the appropriate time to speak, Reis proceeded with the conversation at once without even waiting for Silvi to reply.
◇ ◇ ◇
Meanwhile, the southwestern area of the Rubia kingdom. Around the national border’s forest. Rio’s current position was already several kilometres apart from the battle site against Silvi and co.
He was flying straight towards the southwest while holding Flora with his left arm, not noticing that Flora was desperately clinging to him so she wouldn’t be thrown off.
Despite burying her face in Rio’s chest, she sometimes snuck a peek at the scenery around them, yet, she was unable to look ahead. The air resistance was terrifying at the speed they were moving at. Furthermore, it was also a little troublesome for them to speak to each other in this kind of situation.
Incidentally, at this moment, he was flying without using the special air space like he usually used in normal situations. Instead, he only used the storm that was generated from the tip of his sword to propulsed them forward. Thus, while he could make tiny adjustments to avoid obstruction, he couldn’t actually fly freely like he normally did. It was simply impossible.
……….. It seems they’re not chasing after us. But for now, let’s land in the forest first. We should not be that far away from the national border.
After he confirmed that there were no pursuer coming from behind, Rio reduced his flying speed bit by bit, so they would be able to land with ease and minimal discomfort. Flora noticed that and tried her best to look at Rio questioningly.
「We’re going to land after this. The landing is going to be a rough one, so please hold on tightly. And grit your teeth so that you won’t accidentally bite your tongue.」
Rio warned Flora with the loudest voice he could muster, so she would be able to hear it over the pressuring sounds of displaced air.
Flora replied back with similarly loud voice. It was only after Rio knew that Flora had understood what was going on that Rio started to reduce their altitude and flying speed little by little. Soon, there was almost no distance between them and the forest below them.
But at the same time, the end of the forest was also right before them. The area beyond that point was the foot of the mountain range which no human had ever entered. He then chose a suitable rocky area to be their landing place, before he made minute adjustments on the output and angle of the sword. In the end, he pushed forward at once the instant he deemed the adjustment suitable enough.
Flora’s body shuddered in fear since they landed at quite a terrifying velocity. As they came closer and closer to the ground, Rio pushed out the sword in his right hand, which was propelling them from behind towards the ground, allowing the powerful storm from the tip of his sword to devastate the ground.
They used the repulsive force of that storm to slow down their landing velocity. As they slowly landed on the ground, he kept releasing the storm until it was all gone in the end.
Thus, when his feet touched the ground――,
「It’s already okay. We’ve landed safely.」
Rio informed Flora softly, reassuring her who had kept on holding onto his shirt in fear with her eyes shut tight.
When she opened her eyes, she could only look around with an astounded reaction.
「Can you stand by yourself? 」
Rio asked, wondering whether it’d be alright if he tried to let Flora to stand by herself on the ground now.
Fortunately, while she still staggered on her feet, she was still able to stand properly. Only… it didn’t look like she would be able to get a grip on herself for a while.
「Surprised? I apologize for the rough travel. But, since we were in an emergency situation a while ago, there was no other choice.」
Rio smiled wryly as he recalled the situation before. He also apologized to Flora with a slightly embarrassed face when he recalled his rough handling of her.
「E-Eh, No………… I, understand the situation.」
Hearing Rio’s words, Flora only looked at him with a flabbergasted expression. She hurriedly denied his claim with an awkward voice to assure Rio, yet before he could rest-assured, Flora’s face gradually turned pained.
「Could it be that…………… You aren’t feeling well? 」
Rio asked Flora with a worried face.
「N-No, Y-You’re mistaken. Sorry, it’s not that I’m not feeling well. I mean, because of me Haruto-sama has to suffer through those kind of troubles and danger, I, I don’t even know if my apology alone was enough……..」
Due to her extreme guilt, Flora apologized again and again to him.
「Well, please don’t worry about that matter.」
Rio shook his head lightly, showing her no reluctance or blame for the situation they found themselves in before. But, Flora’s expression darkened when she heard that. She felt extremely depressed because she thought that it was all her fault.
「My ………Deepest apology……….. For the trouble I inadvertently caused」
「Don’t worry about that and no need to feel so vexed about that matter either. I mean, it’s not your fault either, Flora-sama.」
Rio gave a wry smile to Flora who was apologizing non stop to him with an extremely distressed expression.
「No, the one most at fault for that situation is me. And you know it. That person called Reis clearly said that his target was me. That’s why you don’t need to worry about this matter.」
Flora shook her head, feeling inadequate.
「Even if that’s true, you’re not at fault in this situation you see.」
「But……….. It’s not only this occasion. Somehow, my existence had always caused troubles for others. Like the time I was attacked in the magic vessel, or about that time in that village. I mean, Haruto-sama, you’ve…………」
Casting her eyes down, Flora looked like she was ready to cry at any moment.
「You’re not troubling me at all.」
「 ……Eh? 」
Surprised, Flora raised her face reflexively to look at Rio when she heard his reply.
「At least, I’ve never thought of you as a troublesome person. In any case, it was not only because of you, since those guys and I were already enemies before this. You could say that we were ‘fated enemy’. Besides, the battle a while ago was meaningful to me since it let me gain insight into my enemies and the situation.」[ED: Only you. I think she’s a very troublesome person myself. Honestly, you go apply to be a saint. I’m sure you’ll be accepted.][TL : Unfortunately, this world has no saint.]
He told Flora that so she would not excessively blamed herself or think that she was the sole reason they were being cornered to that extent.
To be honest, Rio in fact could deal with the previous situation with some leeway in his hand. He would be able to tidy up the situation for good as well from what he was able to understand after he got involved with those guys. However, it would take too much effort, and his first priority was Flora after all. That’s why he chose what he did. After all, while it was a bit troublesome to look after her, looking at the overall situation, she wasn’t that troublesome.
However, Flora was not easily appeased. She clenched her fist, looking down to the ground, and if one were able to see her face, they’d be able to easily see the self-loathing expression fixed there.
「Is that clear? 」
Rio asked so with troubled face.
「I…Really am useless. Ever since I was small, I was oblivious to reality. I was always hiding behind another person’s back. I also severely lacked the awareness of a princess, that I AM a princess. Really, I don’t have anything I’m good at. I could only be a burden for everyone around me」[ED: OMG, You’re AWARE!!]
Flora told him, feeling extremely disconcerted with her own lacking self, eyes teary.
Rio, who was suddenly being told of her laments, didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what he had to say to her. Thus he could only lend her his ear, silently listening.
「I mean, even a while ago, I couldn’t do anything but rely on Haruto-sama, who was already doing his best to save both of us. Furthermore, before I was helped by Haruto-sama, I had already caused trouble for so many people. Like that time in the magic vessel. Even now, I don’t know how many people had suffered then because they happened to be on the same magic vessel as me when I was attacked. Or how many people I troubled whilst I was on my way back to Rodania…Really, I couldn’t imagine how many people I’ve troubled ever since I met that man called Reis. And…I…I was even too scared to move when you were encased inside that ice prison. I couldn’t move! I couldn’t help! Even though you’ve helped me out so many times…when you needed it…I just couldn’t move.」
Flora spoke at length, telling him on and on about her own worthlessness…
「Is someone like me actually qualified as a royalty? A princess? What a joke! What kind of a princess am I… when all I could do is to rely on Haruto-sama’s kindness just to get myself back to Rodania.」
At the end of her speech, she asked such questions with an extremely weak, frail, and self-depreciating voice. Was she really an important person? Was she really someone who needed to be protected by the people around her?
「…………… It’s because you’re a princess. You’re the second princess of Bertram kingdom, Flora Bertram. You were born as a princess. It’s a fact, and it has nothing to do with qualifications whatsoever. And, it’s only because you’re born a princess that you have your usefulness, your value.」
Flora’s body twitched when Rio told her the blatant truth. There was no other value to the person called Flora, he said, as if to tell her that her only worth was the identity of a princess. But――,
「But, even without being a princess, you should know better than me that there are some who are worrying about you and cherish your very existence in Rodania, right? Am I wrong? 」
Rio tone softened when he asked that question of Flora.
Flora was taken by surprise in hearing such words as she replied haltingly to him.
「That’s why you have to go back to Rodania for those people. Am I wrong? 」
When she realized that, Flora suddenly spoke clearly, as if she was revitalized from her previous state.
「That’s why, let’s go to Rodania. We shouldn’t stay in this place for too long. However, since my mana was consumed too much due to the previous flight, we’re going to cross the national border by running. We’re in a bit of a hurry now.」
Rio’s words were firm as he invited Flora to follow him.
Flora nodded as she agreed with his plan.
「Well, excuse my rudeness then.」
Rio then went to embrace Flora at once. But, at that moment Flora spoke to him, timidly.
「What could it be？ 」
Rio stopped right in front of Flora as he tilted his head.
「Haruto-sama, Why did you save me? 」
Flora asked him, looking up to his face.
「………… I could save you, thus I saved you. It has nothing to do with whether you’re a princess or not.」
Rio replied honestly.
「Haruto-sama………..Thank you very much for saving my life」
Flora smiled a smile that was not quite a smile as she expressed her gratitude while apologizing to him in her heart.
「Well then, excuse my rudeness then.」
Following that, he went to embrace Flora.
「Please take care of me then, Haruto-sama.」
Flora implored Rio, gaze already directed to the southwestern direction.
「Yeah, please hold on tight since we’re going a little bit faster this time.」
After he said so, he dashed right towards the national border on the southwest. And then arrived at Rodania in the Bertram kingdom 8 days later.
(~’.’)~To Be Continue In The Next Release Xp~(‘.’~)
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