Chapter 82: Preparation For Interception
In an alley going towards the east from the central plaza of Almond, Rio faced against the grey ghoul.
「T- Too strong……」
Natalie muttered with a dumbfounded face as she witnessed the one-sided battle happening in front of her.
Rio, who didn’t draw his sword, was easily overwhelming the ghoul with nothing but pure martial arts as he moved around with an astounding physical ability.
The damage was already accumulating on the ghoul’s body, though at first it was restoring the bone fractures or damaged parts with it’s astounding recovery ability, its movements considerably slowed.
Though Rio didn’t use magic, looking at his powerful physical ability, Natalie judged that he might be using some sort of magic tool.
Currently, amongst the artifact-class tools, the ones that raise the strength of the body and the physical ability of the user are not small in number.
That aside the problem is, despite the overwhelming difference of their skill, why he’s obviously fighting it in a way as if going easy against it, that question was 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.
Though the battle of Rio against the ghoul can’t be seen as anything but a play where they’re sparring against each other, normally, if a child of Mirey’s age saw a battle against a monster, it’ll become a gruesome spectacle that will probably leave a trauma to their life afterward.
To be specific, the mangled bodies of the human or monster, the rain of blood that splashes incessantly in the area, that kind of spectacle.
Starting with throwing technique that will break bones, accurately landing a blow on the vital parts of the human body and, though Rio attacks are merciless, the ghoul maintained its body in perfectly looking condition, at least from its outward appearance.
This and that also might be in consideration for Mirey’s psyche.
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 the deadly battle.
（But, nevertheless, to fight barehanded against THAT as his opponent is……）
Natalie felt a chill down her spine as she questioned whether she could do the same kind of action.
Though the ghoul’s movements are monotonous, it’s recovery ability and physical ability compensates for that shortcoming.
She knew that she would receive a fatal wound if she took the attack of the ghoul with her flesh, its form that continuously restores the received damage would slowly chip at her fighting spirit.
Even so, though it’s not that hard to catch up with that recovery ability if she had a weapon, when it comes to performing such a feat with her bare hands, being at the level of martial arts that won’t allow even one mistake is an absolute condition.
The courage and ability of Rio who can easily perform this feat is simply unfathomable for Natalie.
While Natalie was still astonished with various things in her mind, Rio hurled the ghoul to a far away place for the second time.
The ghoul was somehow standing with both of its broken legs while trembling non-stop.
Though its warlike vigor can be seen, it might be unable to continue the battle due to it being tormented by its bones and internal organs.
The ghoul was tottering unsteadily.
（It’s unexpectedly tough）
Rio was amazed at the tenacious body and the vitality of the ghoul deep inside.
Though he has yet to try the effect of a slashing attack, its body is hard and has unbelievable resistance to blunt blows.
Though its movements are monotonous, since its recovery power and physical ability are wonderful so 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 of it, Rio stepped up slowly and approached the ghoul.
The ghoul groaned powerlessly, threatened by Rio while vomiting blood.
But, Rio did not stop his approach.
During the timing where the other party was trying to move, the instant when he was closing the distance, standing in front of the ghoul standing in the blindspot for Natalie and company.
Rio seized the jaw tip of the ghoul and then, breaking the neck of the ghoul that had already lost its strengthened physical strength.
The painful sound of fractured bone resounded along with a dull shriek.
As expected, since he broke its neck while the ghoul was suffering from damage all over its body, it became stiff, twitched for a second, and then slumped on the ground.
Rio warily looked over the ghoul.
If it really was a monster, he felt that the ghoul will disappear and leave nothing but a magic stone――.
Sure enough, several seconds after it lost its life, its plating, the skin of the ghoul crumbled down.
Rio’s eyes opened slightly wide when the wings attached on its back were also torn off exposing the human skin beneath.
「Is it…… Human？」
He murmured in a low voice.
Its appearance definitely resembled that of a human.
No, the thing WAS a human itself.
It’s as if, the origin of that thing was a human transformed into a ghoul――, that kind of crazy premonition floated in his head.
But, the body of the ghoul dried out the next moment, it started cracking and making a crumbling sound as it dissolved into ashes.
This is a peculiar phenomenon that happens when a monster dies.
After a short while, one stone remained.
It flashed for a moment in the ruins of the perfectly crumbled ghoul.
A sapphire-like dark purple colored gem――, the magic stone.
But Rio’s eyes opened wide since it seemed different, whether it’s the size of the stone or the quantity of magical power inside, from one that was left behind by a normal monster.
And then, at that time.
「Thank you very much. It’s truly splendid. As I thought, THAT is a monster right？ 」
Natalie was calling out to Rio from behind with quite an apologetic voice. [Ed: I though it was going to be a boss]
Maybe she felt regret for letting Rio fight alone.
「Yeah, it probably was a monster」
After Rio turned back and answered, he showed the magic stone to Natalie.
As if to say that leaving a magic stone was the best proof that it was a monster.
Though of course, the ghoul from before, its human-like appearance that appeared before it vanished won’t disappear and was etched deep in Rio’s memory.
「That’s an extremely big magic stone isn’t it? Should I say “it’s natural if the monster 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 gave an evasive answer.
But, being curious and attracted by the magic stone, Natalie missed the change in Rio’s tone.
「Anyway, let’s leave this place right away」
After shaking off the question in his head with a shake of his head, Rio told her that.
Since there’s no guarantee that a new monster won’t come to this place, now is not the time to think about it.
「Yes. Of course」
Natalie nodded in approval.
When Rio exchanged a glance at Natalie’s face.
「Well then. I’ll go this way. Since I’ll take them along with me to east gate」
After saying that he nodded at her and then turned his heel.
Though the matter of being involved in a troublesome matter more than this is distasteful, it would leave a bad after taste if he left the powerless Rebecca and Mirey behind.
Therefore, as he tried to leave this place taking along those two to avoid doing some unnecessary conversation but.
「E, AH！ E-EEEEH. A, P-Please wait a minute！ 」
Natalie tried to stop Rio after hearing the much too parting words.
「Regarding that monster from before, my master……. I would like to express my wish for you to explain about it to Liselotte Kretia, will you？ It’s for the safety of the mansion, since it’ll be faster to arrive at the mansion if I’m following the road to the east gate」
Natalie kept talking non-stop.
If it’s from her, the matter of reporting to Liselotte regarding the unknown monster 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.
Such a duty of Natalie’s is something that he can understand, but.
「By the way……. do I have a right of veto？」
Tried to escape a little, Rio asked as he peeked at her face.
「My deepest apologize. This case is a forced compulsion as a proxy who iss using the governor’s power during the state of emergency」
Natalie told him with a slightly stiff face.
Maybe because it’s not her own will, it resounded with some disgust mixed in her voice.
Though it’s forced compulsion, for Natalie, she had no confidence that she’ll be able to drag Rio back with her but.
Rio sighed after hesitating for a while.
「Certainly. Let’s go」
He answered as if resigned to his fate.
Currently, the mansion where Liselotte lives was becoming livelier, as if a battlefield.
Everything was caused by the large crowd of monsters that flowed in from the west gate of Almond.
「The one’s that were severely wounded are to go under the healing magician. Please keep the supply for the magic stones exclusively to recover magical power. The reception of the refugee that was too late to evacuate is being conducted in the reception hall of the mansion. The organization 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 worked in the mansion.
The wounded adventurers and soldiers were being carried non-stop to the temporary open air hospital erected in the garden of the mansion.
And, part of the civilians who missed the chance to escape the monster attack were coming asking for shelter.
By the way, though there was some panic, the sheltering of the people was almost completed.
From the fact that they were given an emergency drill before for the people who live in the peaceful city, there was never a case in which they fell into panic.
Liselotte looked at the bustling people moving around the garden with an unpleasant expression from the windows.
And then released a deep sigh a short while later.
「And then, how goes the progress in the battlefield？」
Liselotte turned around and asked Aria who was standing behind her.
The office of the mansion was treated as a temporary emergency headquarter, she was currently in the middle of receiving a report of the situation from Aria.
「Ha. I think the number of monsters that came to invade do not reach 1000 bodies. Most of them are invading from the west gate then advancing towards the center of the city」
Aria reported with an indifferent and calm tone.
「In order to intercept them before they arrived at the central plaza, the unit that is composed of the adventurers and Almond Soldier brigade are currently fighting a large amount of monster. Though our side is inferior in number, it seems the condition of the battlefield is somehow kept in balance. It seems Captain Patrick is doing a wonderful job here」
Aria’s explanation went on fluently.
Liselotte listened in silence while showing a mysterious expression.
「The refugees who are gathering together in the vicinity of the east gate with a military force. Though it seems that a few monsters have managed to sneak past the attack, it was pretty much repulsed without much trouble」
Liselotte stiffened as she sighed in an unpleased way.
Though their number is few, it was still a grave situation for the loose monsters to reach the east gate.
It seems we need to quickly annihilate those monster.
「Though there is a patrol, composed of several commanding units from the soldier brigade, that goes around the vicinity of the east gate, our side cannot guarantee enough numbers with our severe lack of man power」
After conveying the report till that point, in order for Liselotte to put things in order and understand the situation, Aria stopped for a moment.
「…… Thank you very much for your report. I have roughly grasped the war situation. Is there something else that you want to report？ 」
After Liselotte’s question.
「Yes. There’s one point which I’m worried about. …….the truth is, there is a report about the appearance of an unidentified monster」
Aria nodded and said that with a slight hesitation.
Liselotte let out a puzzled voice.
「Yes. It’s looks like they are human shaped monsters which are different from an 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 monster appearing again in the city*」 [TL* : The witness is inside their stomach]
「I wonder what we must call the new species of monster？」
「I fear that they most likely……… But then, since the survivors who saw that monster are zero, I can’t go as far as giving final confirmation」
「I see ………… It is better if we take precautions against them isn’t it?」
As she said that, Liselotte shut her eyes as if pondering about something.
「At any rate, now let’s think, with maximum priority, of keeping the victims in the city to a minimum. All the more if strong monsters are likely to appear in the city」
After opening her eyes for the second time as if deciding on something, Liselotte’s expression suddenly sharpened.
Then she looked at Aria’s face from the front,
「Aria, you’ll go to the central plaza. And then, please annihilate the monsters in that place for me」
So Liselotte told her order.
From the fact that the main force of their enemy is just in front of the central plaza, they might need to annihilate the monsters in that place as fast as possible.
Striking with their greatest war potential in the home ground of their enemy―― Though it’s an extremely simple and clear tactic, it’s matching to their advantage.
With an exception to prevent an increase in victims, now is not the time to hold back.
There’s someone of the most excellent skill under Liselotte’s 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 her, Aria was a great force boasting the strength of an army*. [TL* : 一騎当千-Ikkitousen-Match in thousand]
And, Liselotte had an absolute trust in her that they have her, they won’t be outdone by monsters whose numbers are a 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 with a weary smile.
As for Fragahha, it was the demon sword of artifact class that was in Liselotte’s possession.
It’ll strengthen the body and physical ability by using the magic power of the one equipped with it, the sharpness of its cutting edge is at the utmost limit, magic for inhibiting the healing a cut wound is added in it, if going by price, several hundred mystic coins won’t be enough for it.
If Aria were equipped with it, it definitely will make her even stronger.
「And then, save for the personnel that is needed to protect the mansion and the users of healing magic from each of the chamberlain squads, please feel free to use the remaining as personnel to raid the the city. You may include the guard personnel and chamberlain who have yet to return for information gathering」
Liselotte went on with an additional order.
When Aria slightly hesitated
「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 only after Aria’s amongst the chamberlain that work in the mansion.
Seeing that Aria was leaving the mansion, there was none who she could entrust with the job of protecting Liselotte except for Cosette.
「Yeah, please do so」
Liselotte agreed without hesitation.
「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 the monsters to come attack the city in a 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 monsters attacking humans in large number was a matter of history, their number never increased that much.
In the first place, the mysterious point in the ecosystem and the actions of the monsters are just too much, since none of them are gifted with high intelligence, there are 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 is something to think about after getting over this situation」
The brilliant sunlight was shining gently in the early afternoon, in the forest located at the southeast of Almond, Masato was swinging his sword in silence.
Practice by repetition is vital, he trusts the advice of Rio, the teacher who taught him, he single mindedly did nothing but repeating the kata that he learnt in this few days.
Aki also waved her pole right on his side.
The three of Miharu, Aisia and Celia were looking at those two while sitting on their chair.
Miharu, who finished the housework some time ago, was taking a rest and invited the other two to have tea.
In the meantime, Miharu received a practice conversation by Celia, sometimes Aisia acted as interpreter between them.
This is a heartwarming scene that could be seen in this place lately.
It was a peaceful moment but, Aisia suddenly stood up.
Her line of sight sharpened and her eyes squinted as she stared at the forest that seemed empty.
「What’s the matter, Aisia？」
Celia asked with a curious tone.
「A strange presence is heading to our directing while bringing along flocks of monster」
Aisia bluntly reported the situation.
Celia showed a baffled face for a moment.
But, she gasped right after she understood the meaning of those words.
「Is that true？」
She asked as if slightly flustered.
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 an unpleasant presence is leading those monsters. At this rate they’ll arrive here in 10 minutes」
Aisia asserted the situation with a firm tone.
In the first place, why Aisia could notice the presence of the monster that can’t be seen by the 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 the others」
Aisia gave an instruction for her to take along the three of Miharu, Masato, and Aki to hide inside the house.
Celia put her hand on her chin, showing an action of pondering about something and,
「I won’t. I agree with the matter of hiding Miharu, Masato and Aki in the house but, I’ll fight with you 」
She gave a decisive answer.
Aisia looked slightly perplexed for a moment.
「I won’t let myself be protected when Rio is away and can’t be here. I might be unable to win against you but, I, even like this, am a splendid great mage. I’ll help you at least」
Celia said that as she smiled at Aisia.
Aisia was unable to make a decision for a moment and just silently stared at Celia.
And nodded at her.
Just like that, Aisia looked at Miharu.
「Miharu. Take Aki and Masato to hide in the house. Since there are monsters coming in the vicinity. They might be trying to raid this place」
After Aisia told her that, Miharu was taken aback.
Feeling as if something wrenching inside her chest, she tightly bit her lower lip.
What should I do, or maybe I really can’t do anything――, she trembled non-stop as that kind of thought kept revolving in her head.
But, there’s nothing that could be done by Miharu.
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 could show.
Just like that, she quickly rushed toward Masato and Aki, and explained the situation briefly.
Thereupon, Masato came running at her with a mysterious expression.
Masato showed an excited look even ignoring Miharu’s warning.
「Nee, count me in too」
While saying that, Masato stared at Aisia with a resolute face.
But, Aisia flatly shook her head and then,
Replied to him.
Masato was perplexed and taken aback.
「W-Why. I mean, if I’m using the magic that loaded in this sword I can fight my own way！ 」
Masato raised his voice as he held the sword in his hand.
Rio embedded a spirit stone in the sword held in Masato’s hand, loaded inside were a few spells suited for battle.
Though not as much as Masato’s sword, Miharu and Aki’s poles were also loaded with magic for actual combat.
For the sake of Masato and the girls who have yet to be able to use magic, like the phenomenon 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 supervision on his side.
If he released the true power of this sword, Even Masato can fight as much as possible against monsters of that area.
「That’s just the power of the sword. It doesn’t mean that you’re strong」
Masato flinched after hearing Aisia who easily said that.
His chest felt gloomy, 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 looked over Masato whose voice was trembling.
「But, Celia-neechan is fighting too right？」
Masato was looking at Aisia’s face as if pleading to her while asking that question.
「I only let Celia fire her attack magic next to me. Because I have no intention of letting her get close to the monsters in the first place. You’re fighting with a sword, thus unneeded」
Masato was finally at a loss of words to Aisia’s extremely logical words.
Making the two women fight, and he who’s a man to hide like this……….
Recalling the hard to describe vexation, Masato gritted his teeth with a “grit” sound.
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 seemed anxious while being led by Miharu’s hand.
Masato looked at his feet averting his eyes, Miharu’s tightly grasped their hand.
While showing an extremely stiff face, Masato and Aki were led by her hand to enter the house.
Rio’s returned toward Liselotte mansion for the second time.
（I never thought that I would be back to this place again so soon）
As he showed a self-mocking smile, Rio surveyed the surroundings of the mansion in which the busy people were moving around in.
Thereupon, the figure of Chloe who’s busily moving around got caught in his eyes.
「Mom！ Mirey！ 」
When she noticed the figure of her family entering the garden, Chloe rushed over to them in panic.
「Ah, Oneechan！ Long time no see！ 」
Mirey jumped to embrace Chloe while gigling “Ehehe”.
Chloe felt relieved as she felt the warmth of her sister through her clothing.
「You’re safe, thank god. But, why are mom and the others in this place？ 」
Chloe asked after nodding to Rio and Natalie at the same time.
「They were ambushed by a demon………….. and were 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 was asked by Chloe, Natalie explained a summary of the situation.
Chloe was perplexed by this information.
「T-Thank you very much！」
Maybe because she understood the situation immediately, the flustered Chloe bowed to Rio.
「No, I just happened to pass by that place」
Rio shook his head while smiling wryly.
It seems that Rebecca is Chloe’s mother, and Mirey is her little sister.
Rio smiled wryly inside as he thought that no wonder there’s some recollection in seeing Rebecca’s face.
Because this Rebecca was the mistress who managed the inn in which he lodged during his stay in Almond.
He expected that she would be with her husband but, there’s no point even if he pondered it now.
「Chloe, you’ll go back to your work after you lead them inside the mansion」
And, Natalie gave her order to Chloe.
「Thank you very much, Senpai！」
Chloe replied with a reassuring smile.
Natalie answered with a smile and then,
「My deepest apologize in making you wait, Haruto-sama. Since we’ve no time either, I’ll guide you to my master at once」
She bowed to Rio and told so.
By the way, Rio and Natalie finished with simple introductions in the way towards this place.
On that point it’s their real first meeting with each other, it’s a farce but, Rio ended up being so called acquaintance with Liselotte.
「Yeah, please treat me well」
Rio nodded, following the guidance of Natalie towards Liselotte’s office.