The fourth afternoon of my bodyguard duty. When Ravi and I showed our faces at the brothel, the early risers were roasting some sweet potato in the courtyard.
「Douglas-san, Ravi-chan! Roasted sweet potato, want some? 」
Ted and the others were waving at us with a bright smile. As I glanced towards Ravi, I laughed because of a gulping sound that came from her. Let’s join them immediately.
「Here. Be careful, it’s hot. 」
「Yeah, thanks. Ravi, wait for a little while. 」
I received it while wearing a glove. The steam rises as I split it into two while holding the both ends. It looked dark-colored inside, and very sweet looking.
Ravi raised a voice of exclamation. I wrapped the hot roasted sweet potato with a hand towel before handing over to Ravi.
「Is that so, that’s great. 」
I laid my hand on the other half. Ooh. She’s right. It’s soft and has a fruity sweet taste.
At our exchanges, Veronica had looked from afar.
……Even though it would’ve been fine if she participated. But I knew that I would be scolded again if I raised my voice.
It’s the second day since she cried out loud. When I came to notice it, Veronica’s figure was in the shadows of a pillar or building.
If our gaze met, she would be panicking immediately, and then shrinking herself. But then she would start observing soon again. When I asked if she had any business with me, all I’ve got is she chasing me away with 「Don’t be conceited! 」
She’s a strange one. After that occasion, she’d never brought up her past. It was because that she made a promise with me when she cried. That she won’t talk about the past. The crying face that stared at me with hatred, seemed to have been lightened from its burden. That would be good if it’s true.
My work as a guard is also over by today. And Ted’s injuries had recovered to a good extent. It seems that he still needs a cane, but the pain had subsided.
And the method with flowers is going well too. The customers were entertained by it, the other brothel’s manager and prostitutes had come out to watch too.
The madam said 「It’s the topic around the entire city! It’s good that this shop is no longer just a street corner. 」 smilingly. If the girls’ daily life had become safer as a result, I will be more than delighted.
「By the way, madam. That day, what did you mean by 『The punks can’t do their evil deeds after five days. 』? 」
「Yeah. Five days from that day, today is the day. The leader of the punks, Carlos’s father will be coming back from his travels. His father is Baron Morris. 」
「Barron Morris……? 」
「Oya, do you know him? 」
「No, I haven’t met him yet. 」
Baron Morris. It’s the name of the baron that Theo-jiisan introduced to me in Addinton. The collector that’s interested in collecting items related with magic. The person who we’re going to sell Ravi’s necklace to, to think that he’s Carlos’s father……
「I wanted to find someone who would buy a magic item but, now I’ve done in his son, it seems like it’s going to be difficult……」
「No, that won’t be the case. Baron Morris is……well, he has a little quirk, he’s not a person to mind little details. 」
「Since Baron Morris is strict towards his son, when he’s in the house, Carlos is docile. Carlos would only do such things when his father isn’t around. 」
「But I’m planning to visit the baron’s mansion and report this incident properly. The baron would even listen to what we commoners say. If he came to know this, I’m sure that Carlos wouldn’t be able to lay his hands on the Rose Princess again. 」
「I see. 」
「That’s why it would be all okay if we can endure until the baron returns. 」
But, I wonder how it’s going to be. To put it the other way around, those punks have today as their last chance. And I became confident that something would definitely happen today.
That evening. As per my expectations, the leader of the thugs, Carlos brought his underlings and assaulted the brothel. Coincidentally, Ravi and I were helping the girls that were doing laundry duty, collecting the sheets from the courtyard. As usual, Veronica is hiding in the shadow of a tree.
Carlos who came in the premise on his own accord, kicked the laundry basket and scattered the white sheets on the ground. He looked at the soiled sheets and a huge smirk on his smug face.
「Yo―, it’s been a few days. Call the Rose Princess for me. 」
He stroked his bright-colored long hair and laughed at us full of bad intentions. His smile today is very leisure. The reason is probably because of the people behind him. Behind the thugs, there were about ten new faces with bulging muscles. I knew at a glance they were mercenaries from the weapons they were carrying and their fierce atmosphere.
「Sorry, but rejected. 」
「……Rejected? You’re getting too high on your horse, fool! 」
It seems that he’s referring to me.
「You can only act high until now! These are the experienced mercenaries I got specially from Balzac. They’re different than you who only have muscle power! 」
I see. It’s mercenaries from Balzac. Milton to Balzac, using the fastest horse would take at least three days. These few days, the reason he was being so docile was waiting for the mercenaries to arrive.
The others were anxious.
「Step back. Ravi, stay beside the others. 」
I lightly pushed the scared Ravi’s back. Immediately, Veronica who was with the others came out and grabbed her.
「I will look after her properly. 」
I nodded back to Veronica who said that.
「You’re over the limit. It’s worse because if you like Rose Princess, you shouldn’t be troubling her. 」
「W-What you say……? 」
「Continuing your harassment like this, do you think you can get your loved ones? Although I’m also not really an expert in that area……. Even so, I think you’re doing it all wrong 」
「Shut up――!!!! 」
Carlos yelled angrily. Even veins had surfaced on his forehead. I didn’t think I was taunting him, but it seems that I’ve stepped on a landmine.
「Oi, you all!!! Go deal with him! I paid you already so go work your part!! 」
「Why are you getting so upset. It’s just a small fry old man. 」
「Just go quickly! 」
Carlos yelled angrily.
The mercenaries cracked their fingers and stepped out.
「To get so much money for such easy job, lucky me. 」
「But by the way, the prostitutes……they are quite……. How about having a bout when we’re done? Of course, free of charge! 」
「It’s not much different with ten of us right? You’ve done it so many times a day! 」
The mercenaries laughed loudly with a lowly act. And the ones at the back, Carlos and his underlings were also laughing cynically.
Their shoulders suddenly jumped up.
「Don’t talk bad about their job. 」
The atmosphere surrounded us suddenly became silent.
「W-What, you’re getting too high, old man! Hey, you guys think so too right……? 」
Carlos hit his cheeks before turning back to the mercenaries.
「……He―, this pressure……He’s not just a small fry huh. ――Hey, Carlos-san. It’s fine even if I kill him, right? 」
The leader of the mercenaries who had a buzz cut confirmed with Carlos.
「O-Of course! You can only kill that guy. Well, I wouldn’t mind if the others get a little injured. 」
「Then, to your heart extent, go wild!!!! 」
They raised a war cry, before assaulting all at once.
(Repel them with wind magic……!)
As I thought I was going to shoot my skill…….
The mercenaries raised a dull scream before collapsing on the ground.
It’s not just the mercenaries. Carlos and the others also raised a muffled sound before collapsing. Even though I haven’t released my skill.
I looked up at the diagonal roof as I raised up my head silently. There stood a small figure with the moon on his back. It’s a young man with a thin body. It’s not much wrong to say that he’s just a young boy.
I took my stance immediately. Because I felt the irregular atmosphere. He’s different than the foes that I’ve came across till now.
「Are. Could it be, you saw my attack? 」
The boy raised a voice of surprise. I silently stared at his movements.
「It’s strange. I should be too fast that no one saw it though. 」
While tilting his head, he lightly landed on the ground.
He jumped down from the rooftop calmly. He posed like it’s an enjoyable time and smiled.
He looks like he’s joking around but there isn’t a gap in his stance.
And his eyes.
……That’s the gaze of someone that had experienced hell.
He’s different than the thugs and the mercenaries after all. I immediately discerned him to be an opponent with skill.
I shielded the others while taking a distance from him. It’s quite long since I felt this after I’ve retrieved my abilities.
「Isn’t it a little lacking for little fries as the opponent? Old man’s going to win overwhelmingly after all, that’s why I helped out a little. Better thank me, old man. 」
The matching black mask along with his black clothing. The weapon holders strapped around his belt on his waist. Hanging there was various sized assassination tools.
Why did an assassin……?
「Well then, let’s get into the real topic. 」
The assassin’s words covered the muffled pain cries of the mercenaries. The mercenaries and the thugs were, squirming on the ground in pain.
「What is this……! 」
「Uguh……my insides……it’s burning……! 」
The assassin furrowed his thin brows.
「Noisy―. I thought it would be boring to just kill them outright, so I left them with poison. Maybe my decision was wrong after all, is it better to kill them? 」
His eyes and mouth turned into a crescent moon shape, and he grinded the abdomen of the mercenary at the ground with his feet.
「Oi, stop that. 」
I can’t continue look at it after all. There were a few girls who started to tear up from the pressure. As I moved in to stop him, he looked me with a surprised expression.
「Stop? They are your enemies right. 」
「It doesn’t matter. 」
Certainly, the thugs and the mercenaries were my opponent until just now.
But more than that, I’m disgusted with the attitude of the assassin in front of me where he plays with people lives without hesitation.
「Hahaha! Naïve! Well, you’ve been all around with the same thinking. The Mattroc people in Addinton wasn’t finished off. But in the first place, you’ve never fight with the intention to kill right. 」
「In the first place, if you can kill someone, I guess you wouldn’t have spared the hunter near the river in the beginning huh. 」
The way he talks is as if he’d known all my movements. No, he probably had『Witnessed』all of it after all. A high-grade assassin is able cut off their presence perfectly.
But why did this person had been stalking my movements. I thought, but I came to a realization immediately.
No. It’s not me.
He just said 「The hunter near the river in the beginning 」 in that way. If that’s the time he started to observe me……
His target is…….
I only shifted my gaze a little towards Ravi. Ravi was trembling with a pale face beside Veronica. I can tell even at this distance from the intense shivering. The degree of fear isn’t normal.
「Did you realize? Well, it’s not like something I would hide though. Tell me your answer. A buzz if it’s wrong! 」
「…Nothing!? What, you’re bad at getting on the flow! Fine already. I will go after retrieving the rabbit. 」
He started stepping towards Ravi.
「Stop right there. 」
I stood right in front of him as I blocked his advance.
「Fu―n. Then, the first would be old man you, right! 」
Countless knives rained down from the assassin who leaped backwards highly. And the same time, he started chanting the poison magic.
I can dodge both of them with ease with the current me.
The target of the attack wasn’t me.
It was aimed for the others behind me, and the thugs in front of me. The poison knives thrown by the assassin was heading towards both sides.
Wind magic, and detoxification magic. I immediately casted both skills.
A hair breadth. Deflecting the path of the knives using the wind magic, and then cleansing the thugs with the detoxification skill. If they are exposed to even more poison, I knew that their body wouldn’t be able to withstand it.
「I see. It’s the truth you can easily use two-fold skills. But that’s your limit! 」
The assassin rained down knives, while diving down towards me. I was able to dodge all of it somehow, and the both skills I deployed had continued guarded the others.
「Hahaha! Old man, unexpectedly you’re capable. But there’s no end if you can only dodge! 」
This guy, fast……! I can’t handle him with a handicap. As I felt the sense of lacking, a sudden intense kick landed on my abdomen.
I was sent flying and crashed into the wall of the store with the air forced out of my lungs.
I stopped them with my hand as they wanted to rush towards me. My vision is a little shaky. I shook my head a few times and blinked. I can’t fall yet. I put strength into both of my legs and stood.
「How is it? You can only use two skills……If you don’t cancel either one of wind magic or detoxification magic, you can’t attack. But doing that will sacrifice the others. 」
The assassin smirked enjoyingly.
「I like the most when people forsake people. ――Hey, why not show that to the rabbit. Aren’t you acting as her guardian? The thing called common sense in adult’s world, teach her that. 」
「Don’t joke around……. The thing I’m planning to teach isn’t that. 」
「Fu―n. You’re still saying such lively things? 」
He took up his knife and ran towards Ravi.
「……! Ravi……!! 」
「The thugs or the prostitutes. Now, old man! Which are you sacrificing!? 」
My body moved without thinking.
「Oh―. What a boring answer― 」
He muttered so as I’ve engaged him in a close combat. I glared at the assassin as I took breaths repeatedly.
The intense pain at my abdomen. Gazing downwards, there were purply liquid flowing from the knife stuck in the stomach.
He’s so meticulous that even the knives are layered in poison……
「A……aah……no……. D-Daddy…… No……!! 」
The trembling scream was heard, I looked back to Ravi who was wailing.
Ah, I’m glad.
You’re fine, right……?
「Daddy……! Daddy――……!! 」
Don’t cry like that…… Ravi…….
I wanted to protect the smile of yours……
The red cheeks, and the teeth that is showing when Ravi laughs.
I don’t want to damage the most precious treasure that I’ve got for the first time……. I want to protect her smile. I can’t leave her crying.
For that sake, I will.
I will, no matter what……
The intense war cry as I stood up. I don’t feel pain or dizziness. Healing and detoxification will come later. I took one step at a time.
「Hey hey……impossible right……. The knife is still stuck so why? The poison effect……Why, that……」
「I have things I want to protect. 」
「For the sake of that child, I will do my best. 」
As I took out a step, the assassin panickily took his distance. And the attacks of knives and poison resumed. And I avoided them with the two skills again. As if weaving through the gaps, the assassin advanced with a knife.
「Old man, you’re finished!! 」
The assassin gripped the knife and rushed. It’s a speed multiple fold of the previous attempts.
To receive the attack head on, I started chanting. Only two skills can be casted simultaneously. Surpassing that limit, to stop this man……!
「Your heart, I will gouge it out……!! 」
Cast the lightning before his knife reaches.
《The God of anger whom control lightning, resound the rage of thunder――》
There’s a fever deep in the chest that I’ve never felt before. Gripping onto my chest, I continued. The chant, to activate the third skill!
《Lightning magic, thunder―!!!! 》
A roaring resounds. A lightning bolt fell on the assassin’s body from above.
Before he took the attack, a startled look showed on his face. Unable to withstand the pressure, he was blown away. The assassin collapsed on the ground due to being paralyzed.
It seems that he’s doing his best just by suppressing the pain. The victory is set. I casted a high-grade light magic, and manifested chains of light.
Restraining both of his hands. It won’t be dispelled unless I wished it to be. With this, he can’t escape.
「Stuffing his mouth……No. That wouldn’t be necessary. 」
The assassin is in a state that he’s barely clinging onto his consciousness. To ascertain, I confirmed his MP was zero in his status.
「……What you gonna do catching me? Kill me? 」
「I’m handing over you to the military. 」
The assassin laughed.
「……No―I guess that would be troubling for me……. My client will be annoyed. 」
「Who’s your client 」
「Go ask the rabbit if you want to know. That chibi, dangerous stuff, she has a mountain of it. 」
Ravi was listening to this exchange too. I decided to end the talk now. After capturing the assassin, detoxification is the priority. He should’ve no more energy to use any skill now.
As I pulled out the knives from the thugs, I realized my fingertips were numb.
The poison is starting to spread like wildfire.
I didn’t have time to check it during the combat but, the bleeding is serious from my stomach. But the thugs are probably already on the edge. I must prioritize them over me who can still move.
When I touched the thugs and started the detoxifying process…….
「Well then, I guess there’s no choice……」
A soft muttering was heard from the supposedly incapacitated assassin.
「Aah, so wasteful……. But I guess it’s my mistake……」
He was muttering to himself in monologue. The assassin that curled up, neared the wrist that was bounded with his heel.
「Oi, what you’re doing――……」
It’s the sound of flesh being severed.
The chain glowing in bluish light returned to me with momentum. And what was attached was the severed wrist.
And in front of me who was speechless, both wrists fell on the ground with a plop.
The girls screamed with a throat-splitting voice. I looked over, and the assassin was trying to escape while the stump of the wrist is still bleeding buckets of blood. A knife that was soaked with blood was on his heel.
A hidden knife……!
I met my eyes with the assassin. A fierce smile was on the face full of greasy sweat.
「So long, old man……. My hands will be loaned to you for the time being. 」
Not good. It would be dangerous for me and Ravi for the future if he escapes. But as I tried to catch up with him, I collapsed on the ground with a shaky vision.
The distorted vision.
And the consciousness ended there.