Chapter 129.1 : Battle of Outpost
… …. …
Few days after Arein joined Lucci.
Rio-tachi had arrived at the trading town that was located on the ridge at the national border separating Galwark kingdom and Bertram kingdom.
Having just arrived at the city, they headed towards an inn located outside of the rampart with Rio as the vanguard. As they had been walking for dozens of kilometres in one day without resting, they wanted their nights to be a comfortable resting time for their bodies to recover.
Celia was walking at Rio’s side as if cuddling close to him, Christina and Vanessa were behind them, followed by Kouta and Rei. Everyone wore their hoods in order to not carelessly expose their faces to other people.
As the sun was yet to set, there were still many people walking on the street forcing the group to weaving their way through the crowded street.
「Quite a lot of people right.」
Christina who was born and raised as a princess was curiously looking at the surroundings.
Though they had visited various places during their journey, those places were either a post town or a small city. And, since she had almost never left the royal castle when she lived in the Bertram kingdom capital except for her commute to the royal academy ,she was curious about her surroundings,and the crowd.
「This town is the most prosperous town due to its trade with Galwark kingdom. Please pay close attention in order to not be separated from each other――」
Vanessa walked beside Christina as she gave her a warning and then――,
Christina collided with a large man who had suddenly appeared from the crowd.
Or rather, the man was the one who collided into her. She failed to evade him as he had come from her blindspot.
The man dropped the box he was carrying almost at the same time and, a sound that resembled porcelain breaking resounded.
「P-.. Are you okay? Young lady. ? 」
Though Vanessa had almost said 「My lady」 in a moment, she immediately changed it to 「Young lady」, and began checking Christina for any injuries.
「………. Yeah, I’m okay.」
Though she was staggered by that, she told Vanessa that she was alright.
But, on the other hand――,
「Are you okay, aniki? 」
「OOUUUCH, IT HUUURTS. I’M DONE FOR. THE TRANSACTION GOODS WERE TOTALED. YOU BASTARD, DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU JUST DID?」
While being worried on by the two youths who looked to be his subordinates, the man who bumped into Christina started picking a fight in an unnatural way.
Thereupon, a few people who got curious about the commotion started to take some distance from them forming a circle around them. Their attention gathered at the center of the ring.
The man who picked the fight with Christina had a sword on his waist and looked like a mercenary or a rogue adventurer and seemed to be used to picking fights with strangers..
「What are you talking about, you’re the one who bumped into me!」
Christina objected in a sullen voice. If it had been her little sister Flora who had been the to be bumped by that man, she would have started apologizing to that man by reflex by now.
「HaaaN？ You are a woman huh?? 」
The man with the large build squinted his eyes and looked at Christina’s face hidden under her hood.
Vanessa stepped into the gap between the man and Christina with her hands already on the hilt of the dagger at her waist by reflex.
「Woah, that is dangerous!」
The man started smiling happily instead. But, his eyes looked warily at Christina and Vanessa.
On the other hand, Rio and Celia calmly observed the series of events from the back.
（It finally came huh…?）
The man looked like an accident faker at a glance but, Rio was almost convinced about their origin.
They are Lucci and Arein who were tailing Rio-tachi under the order of Reis. Their information was basically leaked to him as their action were being monitored by Aisia.
According to her, the two of them would try to get into contact with Rio-tachi. For this reason they were moving individually, with Lucci and Arein going ahead to wait for them in this city.
By the way, as Arein had started taking a different action at the same time as Rio-tachi arrived at this city, he was Aisia’s current priority.
Therefore, he would have gotten prior contact from Aisia in case the man in front of him had been Arein.
Nevertheless, since he hadn’t heard anything from Aisia, Rio concluded that the overbearing man in front of Christina was Lucci.
Though it doesn’t close the possibility that he really was an accident faker……..
「Cecilia, go to young lady Tina’s side.」
In order to avoid injuring Celia, Rio ordered her to go to Christina’s side.
Celia timidly nodded at him and went to Christina’s side half running.
On the other hand, the completely forgotten Kouta and Rei were standing still at their place. But, Rio was grateful for their choice as it’ll mean more trouble for him if they moved carelessly.
Rio suddenly started moving and came to Venessa’s side and,
「Please calm yourself.」
He pacified Vanessa who was on the verge of exploding with a calm voice.
Vanessa had an almost frenzied expression as she kept her vigilance towards the man who was in front of her.
She might have been feeling irritated at not being able to prevent the incident.
Nonetheless, the way Lucci erased his presence and his footwork was superb.
Since even Rio couldn’t feel his presence till right before the collision, it really couldn’t be helped that Vanessa failed to prevent the collision.
「…….. He just bumped into her. …….. That PAIN will go right away」
Rio warned her.
If this man was truly trying to do an accident faker-like scam to Christina, a royalty, he won’t be able to complain as he would be killed right immediately where he stood. [TL : Something similar to what those idiotic duo[Stead and Alphonse] tried to do to Rio in Almond] It’s a suicidal act.
But unfortunately, she can’t wield her authority, since the current her was traveling incognito.
Maybe realizing that she had just been scolded by Rio, Vanessa loosened her semi-battle stance with a frown.
「Sorry. My head has cooled down.」
Rio and Vanessa had such an exchange in a low voice.
「Oh my, what’s now, coming as a group. My business is with this young miss. So will you step aside?」
The man with the large build said so as if threatening them while looking at the exchange between Rio and Vanessa.
「The one who bumped into her was you right?」
Rio replied to that threat in a bone chilling voice.
「HaaaN？ It was an important commodity that got broken here. I won’t let you go unless I get the compensation for the commodity.」
The man with the large build replied with the typical phrase used by accident fakers.
Maybe that wasn’t an act as his tone truly forced one to doubt whether he really was an accident faker or not.
「I see. By the way, may I ask what is the commodity inside of that wooden box? 」
While asking so, Rio looked at the wooden box that had fallen on the ground.
「Ou, it’s tea utensils made of porcelain. I was about to sell them for 5 gold coins. What are you going to do about it? 」
The man picked up the wooden box and showed what was inside to Rio-tachi. It was definitely a tea set.
「That is………. 5 gold coin? Your lying, isn’t that just cheap goods?」
Celia who had excellent insight in regards to tea utensils stared at the design on the broken product as she muttered those words in a displeased tone. As long as one took a good look broken goods, they would know that it was cheap goods at first glance.
「I see. Then, you are saying that you want us to reimburse you the money for these goods? 5 gold coins correct? To be certain, you have no objections as long as we pay that amount of money right? 」
Rio asked the specifics of the demand made by other party with a nonchalant tone.
「………. Well if you’re willing to.」
The big man replied with a slightly vigilant expression in hearing a business-like reply from Rio. On the other hand, the two of his so called underlings were watching silently from the side to the point of being creepy.
「I will hold you to your word.」
Rio took out 5 gold coins as he said that.
「Wha, H-Haruto! ? Why are you giving 5 gold coins for such inferior goods that aren’t worth that amount of money?! 」
Celia shouted at him in a flustered voice. But, she was not the only one surprised by it.
Christina-tachi, the onlookers and naturally the two youth underlings who were standing on the side, looked on perplexed by what was happening before them.
The only one who kept his cool at a glance was the big man who picked the quarrel with Rio.
「What’s the matter？ Not going to take this money? 」
Rio asked him in a provacative tone. Though that man couldn’t see Rio’s expression hidden by the hood of his robe, he might have been sneering at the big man.
「………………… Oi, Orin. Quickly, take it.」
After a brief silence, the big man instructed his underlings with a displeased tone.
The youth called Orin startled by that big man’s voice, quickly walked to Rio. He went back to that big man’s side after he received the 5 gold coins with trembling hands.
「Ceh, let’s go.」
The big man clicked his tongue as he turned around to leave. As expected, he couldn’t find a fault seeing that the other party was willing to pay for the damages.
The two underling youths followed after that man in a hurry.