Chapter 170 : Fluctuation
「This is bad, Elena, you take Estel first! 」
Silvi gave her order while Rio made a beeline towards Flora. However, Renji was standing in his way, becoming an obstacle to Rio.
「GET OVER ME FIRST! 」
Renji shouted as he strengthened his physical ability with 「Cocytus」that was in its Halberd-Form currently, whilst simultaneously swinging it toward Rio. In a split second, the tip of his halberd released a cold air forming several ice lances that were launched towards Rio.
But, Rio kept charging toward the incoming ice lances, looking like he didn’t even care about the threat to his person. He only looked at the ice lances, then calculated which ones were going to hit him before parrying them with his sword, thus passing through the ice lances with the least amount of movement and effort possible.
「W-What! ? 」
Seeing Rio’s ease in parrying his attack, Renji’s eyes widened in shock as he had never imagined that someone could do that. Due to his shock, his movement was halted for a while, and Rio used that opening to slip through. In the split moment they passed each other, he glanced at Renji, observing.
As expected, he’s Japanese. Is he a hero too? Then…the weapon in his hand is the Divine Raiment…
Rio thought as he tried to drive the most powerful strike he could at the moment, using the pommel of his sword at Renji. All the while, he was observing Renji’s face and the halberd he held in his hands. Meanwhile, Renji dodged Rio’s strike in the nick of time, thanks to the strengthening magic he did before. However, Rio prepared another strike, this time he also strengthened his physical ability through his spirit arts in order to oppose Renji whose physical ability was supported by his Divine Raiment.
It was only then that Renji’s expression shifted to show his anxiety since he felt that he couldn’t dodge Rio’s strike this time. Fortunately for him, before anyone realized, Silvi, whose existence had been ignored till that point and who had positioned herself several meters slanted to Renji’s right, suddenly shouted at him.
「DON’T LET YOUR GUARD DOWN, RENJI! 」
Silvi readied her rapier-like demon sword, and then thrust it into the empty air between them. The blade of her demon sword released a dazzling light and then fired a sharp beam from its pointed end.
Despite being slightly surprised by the middle range attack from her demon sword, Rio dodged the beam of light gracefully with dance-like steps, thus missing the appropriate moment to strike Renji down.
「TAKE THIS! 」
Renji, who was able to avoid the strike due to Silvi’s help, brandished his halberd as Rio inadvertently made an opening when he dodged Silvi’s attack. He swung his halberd with all his power behind while raising a loud cry. Rio reflexively swung his sword to stop Renji’s strike, but the moment their weapon collided, an extremely cold air was released from the tip of Renji’s halberd.
Rio’s eyes widened slightly when he noticed this. A moment later, the space around him froze, encasing him within an ice prison.
As soon Renji managed to encase Rio within the ice prison, he let out a loud cry, injecting as much mana as he could into his Divine Raiment. He was desperate. There was no mercy at all in his move.
Flora who was watching the battle without being able to help out, was about to step in irrespective of her helplessness. However, she was obstructed by Elena.
「Stay in your place.」
Elena, who had already moved to stand guard right beside Estel before anyone noticed her, sharply warned Flora from her position. Meanwhile, Renji heaved a sigh as he lowered the spearhead of his halberd to the ground. He turned to face Silvi and thanked her.
「Thanks for your help, Silvi.」
「No, this amount of help is nothing much. But…………… As expected, he’s dead huh.」
Silvi looked up at the ice prison that imprisoned Rio with a frown on her face as she went to stand beside Renji before she looked at him.
「…….. Sorry, he’s not the type of opponent I can go easy on.」
Renji apologized awkwardly when he received her gaze.
「Well, that’s enou–! ? 」
Silvi was startled from completing her sentence when she heard the crackling sounds that came from the ice prison. She turned to the ice and widened her eyes in shock.
The next moment, the ice prison that imprisoned Rio had crumbled into countless small pieces. Followed by rising air current that spiraled upwards, carrying with it the splinters of the ice into the sky.
Renji looked at that scene with a dumbfounded face, but he wasn’t stunned for a long time. As soon as he saw Rio coming out from the eye of the storm unscathed, he reflexively charged towards Rio. He tried to take the first move advantage so Rio would be on the defensive.
But, Rio’s reaction was even faster than he expected. Before he even reached halfway to him, Rio had already kicked the ground and closed the distance between them in a moment. Then he did a sharp roundhouse kick that contain every bit of the power his momentum garnered to strike Renji at the side of his head, sending him flying to the west side of the forest. [TL : Imagine the Rider kick of Kamen Rider Kabuto]
As soon as his brain registered the impact at his head, he became more and more dizzy by the passing moments, before, at last, his field of vision became pure white. Thus, he was easily blown to the forest.
Though Rio’s kick just now was loaded with more than enough power to separate almost anyone’s head from their bodies, Renji shouldn’t die from that kick due to his strengthened body. Well, as long as he was lucky…
In the mean time, Silvi rushed towards Rio without a moment of delay. She thrusted her demon sword at him, unleashing a beam of light in an attempt to pierce Rio from point-blank range. However, that attack completely missed its target.
Rio had completely ignored Silvi as he ran passed her from under her raised arm. He went straight towards Flora, allowing that beam of light to pierce the empty air where he stood just a moment ago.
「GUH, As if I’m going to let you………..! 」
Seeing where Rio was headed to, Silvi immediately reacted by swinging her sword, firing yet another beam of light towards him. She tried her best to mow down Rio.
But, her efforts were useless as Rio only slightly shifted his body, and managed to easily dodged the beam. Just like that, he closed in the distance between him and Flora. There was no one else left to block the straight path between him and Flora. Or so he thought――,
「As if I’ll let you！ 」
Elena who was nursing the unconcious Estel right beside Flora blocked his path.
「Stop him, Elena! 」
Silvi, who was about to fire another beam toward Rio, ordered as she changed her mind and decided to chase after him. Hearing her order, Elena could do nothing but stay in her place ready to intercept Rio.
「Leave it to me! 」
Elena drew her sword from its scabbard on her waist, and stood on her position to stop Rio. All the while waiting for the renforcement from Silvi.
Rio saw through her scheme within a moment and accelerated even faster instead. The battle between the users of body strengthening magic was decided within a split second. He couldn’t be stopped by anyone anymore.
As expected, Rio won against Elena in that milliseconds fight. Rio skillfully parried Elena’s sword and continued onwards. He slipped into Elena’s guard, and restrained her arm.
「KuH, Let me go! 」
Elena shouted at him.
As you wish.
Rio thought as he tossed Elena body towards Silvi who was fast approaching from behind him, using her as his meat shield.
「M-My apologies! 」
Embarassed Elena apologized to Silvi as she was about to crash into her. All the while Rio was closing in to reach Flora’s side.
Elena’s apology was in vain as Silvi side stepped to dodge her, making her yell indignantly in the end. However, Silvi disregard it as she tried one last struggle to stop Rio.
Thus, she set her demon sword, and then fired countless beams of light towards Rio’s exposed back. The direction of her shot had Flora and Rio in its range. And, while she knew that she needed to somehow keep him alive to gather more information, they really couldn’t afford to hold back in this situation. Rio was too strong for them to handle.
Flora, who noticed Silvi’s attack, shouted in panic.
But, in the end, Flora and Silvi were rendered speechless when they saw Rio’s action. They looked on as Rio turned around and swung his sword without any hesitation, as if there were eyes on the back of his head, taking down the incoming beams one after another with ease.
And while Silvi was still in a dumbfounded state, he used that gap to reach Flora’s side.
「Are you okay? 」
Rio approached Flora gracefully, with steps akin to that of a dance, and asked about her condition.
「…………….. E-Ah, yes, I’m fine. W-What about you, Haruto-sama? D-Did you get hurt by the ice from before? 」
Flora was still looking at Rio with the dumbfounded expression from before. But soon she snapped out of her dazed state, and asked about Rio’s condition.
「I’m fine. I just waited for a while inside that ice prison for an opening. You don’t need to worry about me getting frostbites.」
After confirming Flora’s safety, Rio replied to her concerned questions with a smile on his lips. By now, the situation had completely reversed. His actions were no longer one step behind because of the surprise attack, and he gained a hostage called Estel in exchange. And while he didn’t have any intention to actually use a hostage, his opponent might think otherwise. No. They definitely thought otherwise.
I’ve secured princess Flora. And I think their target is this unconscious girl. In that case, I guess it’s time for me to leave the stage…
Rio thought about his next course of action while keeping an eye on Silvi who was still vigilant against him. He had several options to choose from. First, he could leave this place along with Flora. Second, he could open a negotiation with Silvi and co. Or, third, he could continue their fight right now.
Honestly, he didn’t really want to poke his nose into other people’s problems. He was still concerned about the man who had attacked them before. After all, while he couldn’t see that man’s face since he wore a hood, the sword that he held was very similar to Lucius’ own sword.
I wanted to confirm the relationship between Lucius and these people. And if possible, what the identity of that hooded man is .
Silvi frowned in frustration, while Elena who was tossed away glared at him. Rio and Silvi with her people were unable to determine each other’s affiliation. Therefore they were eyeing each other warily. Rio from his inability to determine whether they had a relationship with Lucius or not. Silvi and co from their inability to see through Rio’s relationship with Reis and co. [ED: I’m also frowning here. The original text is so confusing.]
That’s why Silvi launched that relentless ambush. Because her topmost priority was to secure Estel no matter what. But, seeing that her ambush plan had failed, she couldn’t do anything but wait for the next development of this situation.
She’s not going to attack. As I thought, her goal is this girl. Then, I————-!
When Rio was about to say something as he looked at Estel, he sensed countless magic bullets being fired from the western forest’s direction. Sensing the threat, he immediately secured Flora.
「KYA！ ? 」
Due to the sudden movement, Flora let out a small scream in surprise. Meanwhile, the magic bullets that were fired at them vanished into the empty eastern forest. And soon, the silhouettes of three men leapt out from the western forest.
They rushed straight towards the unconscious Estel. And just like that, they managed to restrain Rio and Silvi’s movement. However, they did not do anything further than surrounding Estel’s unconscious figure. It was as if they were waiting for someone to come.
And sure enough, closely following after them, was another person, or not―― Anyway, this other person carried Renji’s unconscious figure with them. And with the arrival of the newest person, all of them removed their hood, and exposed their real face.
「If it isn’t her highness, Princess Silvi…」
It was Reis. He lowered the unconscious Renji to the ground, and spoke to Silvi lightly. As if there were nothing wrong.
When Silvi heard him, her expression soured immediately.
Princess Silvi? …that Rubia Kingdom’s princess?
As soon as Rio heard Silvi’s name, he immediately guessed her identity. And, although he had never met her in person, now that he knew her name, he recalled the fact that he had seen her from afar when they attended the evening party of Galwark. So, there was no doubt about her identity.
But, what surprised Rio even more was the fact that Reis and co’s position seemed to be higher than hers in this situation.
Those three, moreover, that sword is…
Rio thought as he looked at Ven, Lucci, and Arein, along with the familiar sword that was currently sheathed in Lucci’s scabbard, before letting out a relieved smile since his previous guess of Lucius being alive seemed to be false.
At the same time as he thought that, Reis was looking at Silvi, while Arein and Lucci were glaring at Rio as if he was their parent’s enemy. Ven on the other hand was observing Silvi and Elena closely.
… It seems they have a grudge against me.
Rio, who noticed Arein and Lucci’s glare, was pondering about the reason for their grudge towards him. While that trio belonged to the mercenary group that was founded by Lucius, he was still unsure about the source of their grudge towards him. Whether it was because they resented him for turning the tables on them when he escorted Christina, or whether their grudge was caused by him killing their leader, or even for both reasons. He simply didn’t know.
「No answer huh. Well whatever. Our business this time is with those two over there after all.」
Saying so, Reis gaze turned towards Flora and Rio.
Correspondingly, Rio also shifted his gaze from Lucci and co, and stared at Reis. Although he didn’t know his face or his name, Rio did know about Reis from Aisia.
「……………. If my memory serves me right, We met once before at the outskirt of Almond.」
Rio asked Reis with a sharp glint in his eyes. Rio encountered Reis before at the outskirt of Almond during the raid there some time ago.
At that time, Reis had hidden himself while instigating the demons to attack the rock house where Celia and co were waiting for him. At that time his mid-air combat was too brutal, so he let Aisia fight the foreign presence that had instigated the demon’s attack. However he had never expected that dragon-like assist to happen, thus Reis had managed to escape from their group’s grasp.
「Ooh, I’m honored that you remember me. 」
Reis showed him an empty smile.
「As if I’m going to forget about you.」
「Ohohoho, as scary as ever I see.」
Reis nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders when Rio curtly confronted him.
「Didn’t you say that you will not involve yourself with me anymore? 」
「Yeah, I didn’t want to involve myself with you as much as I can. However, many people who are close to you, happen to have something to do with me.」
Reis told him that as he heaved a sigh.
「… Did you come to avenge Lucius? 」
After a brief pause, Rio asked about Lucius’ name, and looked at Lucci and co behind him. He thought that there was no way Reis didn’t have anything to do with Lucius.
「He is included, but he is not the main reason. There’s another reason. Princess Christina. You’re the reason why she manage to arrive safe and sound to Rodania. Yes, that time, you were saved from a lot of trouble thanks to your partner right. As for those three over there? They had a deep grudge against you ever since you beat them black and blue.」
Reis replied with an easy-going tone, looking over at Lucci and co, who were still glaring daggers at Rio.
「………. I see, I assume that your name is Reis then.」
Rio recalled the event that happened while he was escorting Christina to Rodanie. He concluded that the name of the man before him was Reis. During his fight against the 『Sword of The King』, Alfred, Aisia had fought against Reis. Thus he knew about Reis from Aisia. According to her, Reis told her that he was 「An existence similar to her」.
「Yeah, I guess you heard about me from that girl.」
Reis nodded as he let out a smile.
「……….. How does that guy have Lucius’ sword? 」
Rio asked, looking at Lucius’s sword that was sheathed in the scabbard hanging on Lucci’s hip. At that time, Rio had fired an extremely powerful Odo infused slash towards Lucius who held that sword. The aftermath of his attack at that time was a gigantic crater. That sword was supposed to be gone alongside with Lucius. So, how…
「Ah, it seems that you’ve a strong resentment against Lucius. Don’t worry. I can assure you that his body was completely obliterated by your last attack. But, the sword in his hand was made from special materials, so I took it back. I just gave that sword to Lucci over there.」
Reis explained in detail.
「…….. You were there when I killed Lucius huh.」
「That’s right. Well, though I went as fast as I could, by the time I arrived, I was too late…It’s really troublesome for me you know? Since things always go out of control whenever you’re involved. Including the case with princess Flora over there too.」
Reis said, a sad expression etched on his face, though his eyes were sharp as they were nailed on Flora’s figure.
Since he was nearby, it means that he saw me saving princess Flora too.
Rio frowned when he learnt of the past situation.
「W-What! ? 」
However, the one reacting strongly to those lines was, surprisingly, Silvi. While she was silently arranging her group so she would be able to save Estel whilst listening to their conversation from the sideline, she had never thought that princess Flora’s name would come out so suddenly. She was also shocked to hear that princess Flora was there, and the group she had attacked just now was her group.
This situation could cause an international dispute. So, to ensure that what she heard was right or not, Silvi tried to confirm the fact by checking Flora’s appearance which was still hidden below the hood.
Flora squirmed uncomfortably when she realized that everyone’s attention had gathered upon her. Noticing this, Rio signaled her to move behind him so that he could protect her more easily.
「‘It’s been a while’ is what I have to say, am I right? Your highness Flora. It’s a pleasure to meet you again like this.」
Reis politely greeted Flora .
However, Flora tilted her head in confusion. She couldn’t understand what he actually meant. After all…it was not like she had ever met him…right?
「Did you forget our previous meeting? We met in the magic vessel on the way towards Rodania, remember? I was with the person who teleported you right to the middle of a certain forest of the Paladia kingdom.」
Reis explained when he noticed that Flora didn’t remember their first meeting.
It was only when he explained up till that point that Flora remembered him. And she was not to blame for that. After all, she had never seen Reis’s face since it was hidden with a hood at the time. Thus the only thing she could use to recall him was his voice and that event.
「My apologies for the late introduction, I am someone who is working as the diplomat of the Proxia kingdom. My name is Reis.」
Reis introduced himself to Flora.
「W-Wait a minute, Reis! 」
Silvi stopped the conversation, panicked. She knew that she had been put into a bad situation right now―― A really bad situation.
「Oh my, what could it be, princess Silvi?」
Reis smiled at her. A frivolous smile.
「I……………. Is that person over there really princess Flora? 」
Glancing at Flora, Silvi asked with an extremely embarrassed expression. Although she was convinced by the previous conversation, she couldn’t help but ask for a confirmation.
Flora hesitated, at a loss of words.
「Ahahaha, what are you asking now. You had even gone as far as cooperating with us in order to kidnap her during the evening party of the Galwark kingdom, remember? You should know our target right? 」
Instead of directly answering her question, Reis just shrugged his shoulders, keeping his smile. The smile on his face was the exact definition of a wicked smile. He was clearly trying to muddy the waters.
「T-That’s! What are you talking about! ? What’s the meaning of this！ ? 」
Silvi asked, flustered. However, the fact that he had exposed his group’s relationship with theirs at this point was nothing but a vicious move. Furthermore, right now Reis’s side held two hostages, namely Renji and Estel. Thus, placing Silvi’s side on the weaker end.
「My target was princess Flora all along, you see. And now, let’s ignore the fact that you were trying to get ahead of us. I’ll return princess Estel to you as long as you cooperate with us on this occasion. But, as for that guy, the hero, we need to further negotiate with the person himself.」
Sure enough, Reis indirectly hinted to the existence of the hostage, reminding her that he held the upper-hand currently. However, she had never expected that he would suddenly revealed Renji’s existence as a Hero.
It was a fortunate miscalculation that the hero got blown away to the west of the forest and fainted from that attack.
Reis thought as he smiled.
「Y-You bastard, so you knew it……….」
Silvi gritted her teeth with an extremely vexed expression.
The Female Royal knights of Silvi appeared from the forest right behind Rio and Flora.
「It seems that everyone is present now. Well then, let’s hear your answer.」
Reis asked Silvi with a smile, seeing the female royal knights arriving. Everyone of them stopped in place, quite a distance away from Rio and Flora as they tried to grasp the situation with grim faces.
Though Silvi hesitated for a while, she finally looked at Flora and Rio. In the end she only had one choice.
「P-Please leave me in this place, Haruto-sama.」
Flora, who felt that they were put between a rock and a hard place, asked of Rio. She told him that she’d sacrifice herself so that he could leave this place. However, her willingness to sacrifice herself for Rio only made him heave a sigh at this time. So, Rio just excused himself to Flora, and then held her with his left arm.
「Excuse me for a bit, Flora-sama.」
Flora could only let out a dumbfounded reaction, looking at him with a flushed red face, which was expertly ignored by Rio.
「Hold on tight.」
Rio only briefly warned her before invoking the spirit arts of the wind via the sword in his right hand. Using that, he created a powerful storm to forcibly catapult their body overhead, high into the sky.
Flora was surprised by the sudden turn of events and could only hold on tightly to Rio, hugging him.
「WAAAH! ? 」
Silvi and co merely looked on at Rio and Flora who were already high in the sky. It was only after he felt that they were already dozens metres above the ground that he steered the storm to push them towards the southeast. In other words, he had chosen to escape.
Why did he decide to proceed that way? Simple. Because, even for someone as powerful as Rio, it’d still be very difficult to fight everyone there whilst protecting Flora. Besides, he had heard what he needed to hear, so there wasn’t any other reason for them to play along with their scheme. [ED: Useless girl.][TL : She always be.]
Lucci and co clicked their tongues as they saw Rio’s figure vanish over the horizon.
「Oh my, they escaped huh.」
Seeing their escape, Reis only smiled in delight, as if he was going to enjoy the upcoming chase.