Chapter 164 : Of Those Antagonist
It was sunny during the early hours of the afternoon, making it the perfect weather for travel. Just like yesterday, Rio carried Flora in his arms. They ran through the trackless path towards Rodania instead of following the highway.
It was not Rio’s top speed, he could go much faster. But he needed to account for his magic consumption, along with the possibility of causing some sort of trauma to Flora if he ran at top speed.
Something entered his range of detection.
(That’s a goblin… Let’s ignore it.)
Rio had spread his senses to his surroundings, widening his field of awareness and keeping his guard up. It was a protective measure to prevent any surprises. Travelers would often find themselves ambushed by bandits or monsters coming from all directions.
Whenever he detected creatures moving fast, like a pack of wolves, he would go around them to avoid fighting unnecessarily.
Flora was quietly enjoying the scenery while perched on Rio’s back.
She decided to break the silence they had maintained so far.
「… Um, Haruto-sama.」
「Are we in the Rubia Kingdom already?」
Flora had no idea where they were at that moment. Although she knew where they were headed, the route was left entirely up to Rio. To avoid attracting attention they didn’t need they avoided the highway, so the surroundings were unfamiliar to the princess.
「Yes. It seems we’ve already entered Rubia Kingdom’s territory. The next city should be the capital, and we can rest for the night there.」
「Waah, I see. Understood.」
It took less than an hour to travel through the wilderness and reach the highway.
Since flying out from within the forest straight into an open area would certainly cause a ruckus, Rio stopped a little distance away from the road and walked slowly toward the highway.
Flora praised his carefulness.
「Wow! Even though we didn’t use the highway, Haruto-sama didn’t get lost at all!」
「I merely confirmed our general direction from the position of the sun when we passed through higher ground.」
「… How incredible. I was taught how to confirm my general direction in case I got lost, but I don’t think I can orient myself as you do. Not losing your way without a map is an incredible feat. I was useless, only here as baggage…」
Flora looked at Rio with eyes full of respect.
「Flora-sama, I’m sure you’ll be able to master the trick immediately once you try it. You just need experience. We’ve almost arrived at our destination but, if you want, I can teach you how to do it on the way there.」
「Yes. Please teach me, Haruto-sama!」
His offer to teach her was slightly awkward but didn’t stop Flora from agreeing to it immediately. They entered the highway while deeply engaged in conversation.
Rio’ eyes swept quickly through the area, confirming they were alone.
「Let’s go, our destination is not that far. We should be able to reach it today even if we walk slowly.」
「We’re going to walk from now on? Yes!」
Flora seemed to be in high spirits from the prospect of walking on her own.
「Indeed. From this point on, we’ll begin your rehabilitation training. Please let me know immediately if it’s painful for you to walk.」
Rio carefully lowered Flora to the ground and immediately offered her a hand to hold.
She happily accepted the offer. Holding Rio’s hand made her a bit timid, but Flora didn’t let go of it. She knew he held her hand to help her walk, all in the name of rehabilitation since her strength and stamina had yet to recover.
Knowing so didn’t mean she wasn’t secretly enjoying every second of it.
「This way. Allow me to temporarily be your attendant.」
「Yes, thank you.」
Flora began walking while being supported by Rio.
She kept careful attention on the ground while he was careful to not let her fall.
As they moved forward at her pace, they were unaware of someone else keeping an eye on them. Reis watched their progress from above, floating in the air.
(As expected, they’ve already reached the Rubia Kingdom. They’ll probably spend the night in that city. I should probably go back and meet Arein and the others after those two find an inn. While at that, maybe I should mobilize that noob Hero and the Knight Princess as well…)
Still floating, he pondered about how he should proceed.
(His searching range is impressive. It even covers the air! It’s quite hard to follow them from above. At least he doesn’t have a contracted spirit and opted for a land route…)
The duo spent the night at an inn inside the Rubia Kingdom’s capital.
◇ ◇ ◇
Meanwhile, in a deserted village stood a mansion. It was where Renji and Silvi were resting.
While Silvi and Elena shared a room, Renji was restricted to another room to prevent him from contacting the two women.
Arein and Lucci were constantly on standby as they kept watch over the three of them.
Currently, Arein wasn’t in the mansion.
The only ones around were Lucci, Renji, Silvi and her attendant Elena.
Lucci sat on the living room sofa as he stared at the ceiling, a bored look on his face.
Suddenly, he got up. His senses had detected the approach of his coworker as they got close to the mansion.
The main door was thrown open and, unsurprisingly, Arein walked in. His expression was slightly tense, which made Lucci curious. He could sense something had gone wrong.
「Ou, what happened? You look tense.」
「… I just received some news from Reis-sama.」
Arein’s voice was extremely tense.
It did not have much effect on Lucci, as his next question was voiced in a bored voice.
He scratched his head, probably already feeling that whatever it was, it wasn’t good news for them.
「Oh… Then what’s the news?」
「It’s time to make Princess Silvi do her part. We’ll move as planned and bring that brat along. I will tell you the details, but… Oh, f#ck. Okay, just stay calm and listen carefully.」
「… Just tell me the f#cking news already!」
With how serious Arein’s tone sounded, Lucci was starting to lose his composure alongside him. He got even more curious about the news.
「Our leader… Was killed.」
After delivering the news, Arein paused, perhaps because even he was unable to accept the truth.
Lucci’s reaction was to just tilt his head, confused.
「Our leader was killed.」
Staring at Lucci’s dumbfounded look, Arein repeated the same phrase.
Once he processed what he was told, Lucci let out a dry laugh. However, his eyes weren’t laughing at all.
「… Oi oi oi, what kind of b#lls#t joke are you spouting? Our leader was killed? Today isn’t April Fools, you know? Stop with the stupid jokes!」
「It’s not a joke. Our leader was annihilated from this world. And by that I mean he died without even leaving a corpse behind. Not even a speck of dust was left.」
A deep sigh left Arein’s mouth.
Lucci suddenly raised his voice, loud enough to be heard by the other inhabitants of the mansion. His shout resounded through the halls, making Arein wince and warn him.
「… Your voice is too loud.」
「SHUT UP! TELL ME THE TRUTH! OUR LEADER ISN’T SOMEONE WHO CAN BE KILLED SO EASILY, RIGHT?」
At this point, Lucci abandoned all pretense of boredom. His face held a menacing look as he directly questioned Arein at the top of his lungs.
Arein answered him with a frustrated look on his face.
「Yeah, it’s true. I also couldn’t believe when I heard about it at first. But Reis-sama told me to not make him repeat what he said again and again!」
「… MOTHER F#CKER!!!」
Lucci was speechless, but seeing how serious Arein looked, he restricted himself to cursing and decided to trust the news he had just received.
His coworker was silently grinding his teeth in frustration.
「… Who’s the f#cker that killed our leader?」
「… It was that bastard from before.」
Lucci appeared calm, but he was raging inside. Arein, on the other hand, had only shame coating his words. Those same words confused Lucci greatly.
「That bastard from before?」
「That wind magic swordsman who was investigating our leader’s whereabouts. The one who thoroughly beat us.」
Arein’s words forced Lucci to remember their run-in with Rio.
「WHAT? THAT HANDSOME BASTARD?」
「That’s right. He’s the one who killed our leader.」
With a nod, the confirmation shocked Lucci to his core… but also made him tremble in fear.
「Be grateful. Our next target is that guy. We’ll be able to avenge our leader.」
「I’ll let Princess Silvi know about the situation now. Stay down here and cool your head, I’ll tell you the details later.」
Arein left the room, leaving Lucci alone in the living room with his turbulent thoughts.
Sitting back down on the sofa, he leaned back in a comfortable position. Although his body trembled all over, it was unclear if it was from fear or anger.
「… Leader… It’s a lie, right?」
◇ ◇ ◇
Meanwhile, Arein arrived outside Silvi’s and Elena’s room.
He gave a quick knock on the door and waited for a response before entering.
Once he was inside, Silvi squinted her eyes at him.
「What was that scream just now? Did you meet some sort of trouble?」
「… It’s nothing. I found Lucci asleep during his duty, so I did something to surprise him. But I came because it’s time for you to cooperate.」
Arein feigned ignorance and quickly changed topics.
「Was it from Reis?」
「Yes. Nice deduction. The situation has changed.」
He merely shrugged his shoulders at the Princess’s snort.
「Alright. What do you need me to do?」
「We’ve known for quite a while that Your Highness’s chivalric order is stationed in the city nearby. For now, let’s go meet them.」
「… What did you say?」
Elena knitted her eyebrows at the man’s tone. Arein wasn’t giving them any room to refuse his demands. Her arm was grabbed by Silvi, who pulled her back.
Contrary to her attendant, Silvi’s tone was very calm.
「What are you people trying to do?」
「Don’t worry, we’re not going to incite a war with another country. I just want you to spread your personnel around this region to do some inspection.」
Arein replied with an aloof expression.
This was different than what she had expected.
「… Inspection? So you want us to search for someone?」
「Correct. Such a small request shouldn’t pose a problem for someone with your level of authority, right, Your Highness?」
「Who are you looking for? And what is your goal?」
「Hahaha… I don’t need to tell that to someone who doesn’t even want to cooperate.」
「… You want us to look for someone who we don’t even know. How can we cooperate if you don’t tell us who you’re looking for?」
Silvi made her standing on the matter clear after some careful consideration.
Respectfully, Arein obeyed her order.
However, a putrid hatred was visible in his eyes.
「As you wish, Your Highness. Your attendant will be the one to deliver the message. Don’t misunderstand me, please. We need you to stay here, after all.」