A Different World
The year 989 of the Holy Calendar.
Beltram, the capital of the Beltrant Kingdom lies in the western hemisphere of the Yufilia continent, the province of Strahl.
There, lived a mother and child, leading a peaceful life in a small but modest house. The mother was a young, beautiful woman accompanied by her androgynous looking son whose fair features were clearly inherited from his mother.
It was a day when the sun shone brightly overhead while the spring rains poured.
“Nee, Kaa-san. Why is our hair black? We’re the only ones around here with black hair.”,
asked the boy while gazing into his mother’s chestnut coloured eyes.
Nobody else in the capital possessed raven black hair like the two of them. Therefore, the boy felt that their hair colour was unusual. His mother floated a troubled expression,
“You know, Rio, it’s because Otou-san and I came from a faraway place.”
After a momentary pause, she answered like so.
“Does everybody living far away have black hair?”
“Yes, you’re right, it’s not only us two. Otou-san’s hair was black and so were Ojii-chan and Obaa-chan’s.”
When the boy called Rio inquired about the oddity, his mother smiled softly and replied in a tender voice.
Satisfied with the answer he received, Rio innocently smiled back. For the five-year-old Rio, his mother was everything to him.
“Hee~ I1, want to see Ojii-chan and Obaa-chan one day.”
“…Is that so? Once you grow older, I’ll take you there, to Yagumo.”,
said his mother while floating a troubled smile once again.
“Of course, promise.”
* * *
Two years later, it is currently early spring of the year 991 of the Holy Calendar.
An orphaned boy is living in the slums of the Beltrant Kingdom’s capital.
In the corner of a dingy, dirty wooden shed lies the boy, cold and thirsty, letting out a weakened groan.
Red in the cheeks, the boy continues struggling for breath. His ragged clothes are damp with sweat. All signs indicate that he is suffering from a fever.
There are traces of other people living in the rundown shed, but currently, nobody is nursing the boy. Who knows how long this boy has been lying all alone.
Lying on the cold wooden floor with only a thin cloth to use as a blanket and without anybody attending to him, it would not be surprising if he passes away if things take a turn for the worst.
Suddenly, for an instant, a gentle and warm light envelops the boy’s body.
It was a different than the stifling heat tormenting the boy just a while ago. It was a warm and pleasant sensation that one would want to yield themselves to.
The boy’s complexion begins to rapidly improve and before long, his breathing is in order again. The unbearable feverish heat assaulting the boy’s body subsides and his body temperature returns to normal. As quickly as it came, the light fades away.
A short while afterward, the boy slowly cracks open his eyes. Facing upwards, the boy blinks a few times in rapid succession before he is able to regain focus. A gloomy, wooden ceiling comes into view.
His mind is hazy and coherent thought is still impossible. Despite his body temperature having returned to normal, his energy has yet to recover since he was in a horribly weakened state just a moment ago.
While being assaulted with severe fatigue, the boy stares up at the ceiling in confusion.
When his mind has recovered enough to reorganize his thoughts, the boy starts pondering the situation he is in at the moment. He tries to raise his body, only to experience a sensation akin to dozens of whips lashing at his torso.
Perhaps as a result of his illness, or perhaps from sleeping on the hard floor, a dull pain pulses throughout his entire body causing the boy to distort his face in agony.
Surveying his surroundings, a dimly lit room littered with a few pieces of broken and worn furniture enters his view.
The boy felt that the room was familiar.
Yet, at the same time, an indescribable feeling of incongruity arises. The scene is oddly familiar, yet foreign at the same time.
It should be impossible but, the presence of two overlapping consciousness is realised—
Something feels off, but exactly what, cannot be pinpointed. Rather, his memories are a mess. The boy continues to absentmindedly look around the room.
Then, an unpleasant, pungent odour reaches his nose. Subsequently, he notices the ragged clothes hanging from his body, drenched in sweat causing him to knit his eyebrows and frown in displeasure.
However, he is now fully awake thanks to the stimulation. Taking a deep breath, the boy flops back down onto the hard wooden floor. He was in a mood to lie down for a while longer.
The boy moves to place his hand over his eyes but at that moment, he notices a peculiarity with his hand. It is a hand no doubt. No, the oddity is that it is a hand of a seven-year-old.
But that is odd. Something is not right.
While enduring an unusual headache, the boy puzzles over the oddity.
(A child’s… hand? I2 am… No, I am?)
Rio— That is the name of the boy.
An orphan living in the slums of the capital of the Beltram Kingdom whose only goal is to exact revenge on a certain man. For that reason only, did he manage to survive until today.
That is Rio, the boy that should be known as Rio—
And yet, why does he have memories of another person?
The memories of a man living in a completely foreign world—
Various memories flash through his head. They are so vivid that Rio cannot simply discard them as delusions he unconsciously came up with.
A man by the name of Amakawa Haruto who lived in a foreign world— according to the memories, he was a twenty-year-old man attending university. No, he is still only a child— he is still Rio. That is right, the feeling is similar to what just happened a short while ago.
Strange, uncanny memories fill Rio’s head. He forcefully shakes his head to help clear his mind.
(What are these memories? Amakawa Haruto?)
The overlapping memories throw Rio’s mind into chaos.
Wanting to divert his attention from the matter, he stares at both his hands in awe.
They are not the hands of a child living in an abundant country like Japan. They are dangerously thin from malnutrition, rough, and dirtied with grime.
According to his memories as an orphan, he had not taken a bath in a long time.
(Are you serious…?)
Rio’s face cramps up at his own uncleanliness.
Glancing at his ragged clothes, he cannot recall the last time he ever washed them. Of course, wearing any sort of socks or shoes is also out of the question.
Still, perhaps he should be thankful that he at least has clothes to wear. His long, messy, unkempt hair feels uncomfortable and happens to be black in colour.
Taking a deep breath in an effort to calm himself down, Rio begins to try and make sense of his memories and situation. He puts a hand to his lips, assuming a posture of deep thought.
He is Rio, and he is supposedly also a university student by the name of Amakawa Haruto. There are memories of the seven years he has lived in the Beltram Kingdom as well as the memories of the twenty years he lived as a Japanese person.
The memories overlap, yet the current Rio is not Amakawa Haruto.
If he is Amakawa Haruto, then he cannot possibly be a child. On top of that, it is impossible for him to be in such a place since according to Amakawa Haruto’s memories, he should not even be alive.
“I died whilst on the bus… right?”
He remembers being assaulted by a powerful impact and then enduring an intense pain akin to having his whole body being crushed. Rio has difficulty accurately recalling the whole ordeal but it is difficult to believe that he survived it.
“Then who am I now? Is this a dream? Was I reborn?”
Multiple possibilities are voiced in an effort to try and make sense of the situation.
However, judging from the oddly vivid sense of realism, it is doubtful that this is a dream.
This is the world after death— yet it does not seem like either heaven or hell. Actually no, the current environment is quite close to hell.
As far as the situation is concerned, albeit skeptical, Rio considers the possibility of being reborn.
Can such a scenario like this be in a dream?
In the first place, was there really a person by the name of Amakawa Haruto?
Are the memories present even real?
However, no matter how hard he tries, he cannot come up with a satisfactory answer and there is nobody to ask. To his understanding, Rio is his current self, not Amakawa Haruto.
Speaking of his memory and identity, despite being confused initially, the identity of Amakawa Haruto had gradually fused with Rio to form a single identity.
The memories of two people and their identities have combined. Perhaps it would be better to say that they merged seamlessly.
The long life led by Amakawa Haruto strongly surfaces in his mind. Rio is Amakawa Haruto and Amakawa Haruto is Rio. Such a thing is naturally accepted.
As a result, it becomes possible to perceive each other’s memories and experiences without going mad. Thinking about it carefully, a sense of uneasiness wells within him. Without a doubt, this is a very unusual sensation.
But apart from that, the problem at hand is—
*Guu* The sound of his stomach reverberates throughout the room.
At that moment, the acute hunger causes him to feel dispirited.
Rio sighs dejectedly at his stomach’s emptiness which is accompanied by light-headedness.
Are the memories of his previous life real? Assuming they are real, why was he reborn? Why is it now, that he regains his memories? Many worries plague him.
However, it is clear that he will not arrive at a satisfactory conclusion even if he broods over it. Therefore, Rio shifts his thinking towards figuring out a way to break out of his current predicament.
With Amakawa Haruto’s memory recovered, it is quite a feat that Rio is able to calmly think over everything like this. If Rio stayed as Rio, the future that awaited him would be one where he eventually dies as an orphan.
It is the worst possible outcome. He must live to achieve his goal, he cannot afford to die in such a place.
(If I die, that man…)
Recalling the existence of that wretched man, Rio grits his teeth in anger.
Rio lost his father immediately following his birth and his mother was murdered soon after he became old enough to become aware his surroundings. From that day onwards, he had lived in this garbage dump called the slums.
Rio’s parents were foreigners from a distant country and the two of them made a living as adventurers during their travels. However, when his mother, Ayame, became pregnant, she temporarily withdrew from her adventurer life. Naturally, Rio’s father, Zen, became their sole source of income. Despite being a skilled adventurer, Zen died soon after Rio was born.
Still, Ayame continued raising Rio by herself. Her savings dwindled but they were still able to live a modest life.
However, their peaceful life ended when Rio turned five years of age.
Ayame was an exotic beauty. Although she had a child, she was still young and many men sent leering gazes at her.
As a result, when her weakness, Rio, was used against her, she was swallowed up by the surrounding malice and cruelly murdered before Rio’s eyes.
Rio can still vividly recall that fateful moment. From that day forward, he vowed to seek revenge on the one who murdered his mother.
The vow for vengeance had already etched itself deeply into Rio’s heart by the time Amakawa Haruto’s memories returned. However, Rio has now also absorbed Amakawa Haruto’s sense of values.
Without a doubt, his mother’s murderer is detestable but, would not permitting revenge also be just as detestable? Amakawa Haruto’s sense of values clashed with Rio’s resolve.
However, Rio’s own sense of values burned strongly with the desire for revenge. Whenever that man’s existence is recalled, pitch black emotions well up from his heart.
(Revenge is wrong? What an idealistic…)
Rio clicks his tongue at the contradicting emotions swirling around in his mind. Just as he is about to frown, the door of the shack is violently thrown open.
Struggling to raise his impoverished body, Rio turns his eyes towards the door.
There, several men and a woman enter the shed.
“Hm? What, Rio, did you3 just wake up?”
Discovering only Rio inside the clammy shed, the leading man spoke up. He is a man Rio is familiar with.
“Or rather should I say, you’re still alive? I thought you died. Aniki4, that Rio bastard’s still alive. I thought he was going to die from that.”
Staring in surprise, the man spoke to a gigantic man in the back of the group.
“Hah, brat has the devil’s luck, eh? Even though you were out with a fever yesterday. I thought you were going to kick the bucket once you slept.”
The giant called Aniki spoke in admiration.
Rio frowned unintentionally as he gave an answer.
These men are the big shots of the slums. They dabble in all sorts of illegal activities to turn a profit.
Everything from human trafficking, sales of illegal contrabands, and assassination, to theft, fraud, blackmail, and disposal and transportation of stolen goods. You name it, they do it.
For such men, orphans in the slums were frequently employed thanks to their convenience. They were used and subsequently thrown away so it did not matter if they died.
Rio was also picked up and used by them and lived with them in in this shack. Every day is spent in fear of abuse and maltreatment.
Sometimes, he is used as a punching bag for stress relief, while at other times he is brought along for jobs and left as a decoy if something goes wrong.
His treatment is no different than that of a slave’s and yet, he cannot survive without them. It is that kind of unjust world.
Only by following them had Rio been able to survive until now.
“By the way, it’s cold. Let’s drink up to warm ourselves.”
The underling spoke and food and liquor are set on top of the wooden table in the center of the shed.
“Oh right. Oi, put that thing in that corner. Seems to be asleep thanks to the medicine, don’t disturb it.”
An order came from the group’s leader. One of the underlings carries out the order and places a sack filled with what seems to be spoils on the floor.
Afterward, the cheerful men are served by the woman and the meal commences.
“Nevertheless, 10 gold coins is way too good, Aniki.”
An underling laughed in good humour at those words.
“Fuun, 10 gold coins just for transport. The contents are probably quite dangerous. It’s impossible for them to be normal slaves, maybe a noble’s child?”
“Wait, what? Nobody’s crazy enough to do that, right?”
The woman serving the food asked with a doubtful expression.
The leader approaches and embraces the woman while floating a fearless smile.
“Even if that’s the case, a deal worth 10 gold coins is too much to pass up.”
After gulping down the alcohol in one go, the leader takes a hearty bite from the meat held in his hand. At that sight, Rio can only swallow his saliva.
The contents of their conversation are alarming but for Rio currently, the food is much more appealing. The work they did is nowhere close to decent but if Rio participated, he could have earned a small portion of their meal.
However, the chances of the sick Rio receiving any food this time are incredibly low. Unless the men have a sudden change of heart—
The relationship between the men and Rio up until now has been very clear-cut.
The strong and the weak; the person using and the person being used.
Kept if useful, thrown away if useless. Rio had witnessed numerous other children being discarded like that.
He did not intend on continuing such a relationship forever but he is still only a seven-year-old child.
It is survival of the fittest in the slums so Rio could not expect to achieve anything by trying to survive on his own.
However, the smell of food only makes it more difficult to bear with his hunger.
Even sheer willpower cannot turn his thoughts away from food.
Leaning against the wall, Rio decides to rest his body while absentmindedly ignoring the party’s conversation. Then,
“Ooi, Rio, Rio.”
On of the underlings called out to Rio.
“You stink of sweat. Go wash yourself. You’re making the food taste bad.”
Slightly hoping he would receive some scraps of food, it only turned out to be false hope.
While picking his nose, the man gestures for Rio to leave. Having become aware of it, Rio realises he is drenched in sweat and foul odour was arising from his body.
Slightly lowering his head, Rio unsteadily gets up. Although Amakawa Haruto does not know this man at all, Rio does, causing an odd feeling to emerge.
With unsteady steps, Rio makes his way towards the door.
“Rio, if you don’t get better, I’m going to sell you off as a slave. If you’re lucky, you can fetch a decent price.”
Perhaps the effects of alcohol were starting to kick in but the leader spoke to Rio in a good mood.
Finding the leader’s remark amusing, the underlings erupt in laughter.
“C’mon, you shouldn’t treat a child so harshly.”
Although the woman serving them rebuked them in disgust, Rio exited the hut without a looking back.
The door behind him is pushed open and the woman came out. Having his name called, Rio turns around.
“Here, eat this for breakfast. You can eat hard bread and plain soup, right?”
Saying that, the woman hands over three copper coins to Rio. She is a prostitute that the leader favoured. Being acquainted with Rio, she had gone out of her way to look out for him several times.
“…Thank you very much, Jiji-san. But, is this really okay?”
“When you get older, you should come play with me with your earnings.”
When Rio thanked her, the woman called Jiji smiled gently.
Rio gave an awkward laugh.
“It was a joke. I said it before, I have a niece around your age so when I see you, I can’t just look the other way. I’m also quitting this job soon.”
Jiji said that with a sudden shrug.
“You’re opening a shop with your younger sister, Angela-san, right? I’ll be sure to drop by sometime, okay?”
Rio smiled softly as he spoke.
Rio had heard it from Jiji before. Jiji and her younger sister, Angela, had saved up a sum of money from prostitution to open a shop.
Recalling her aspirations, Rio intended on repaying the favour eventually and brought up the topic, but,
“Has something about you changed?”
Jiji asked in surprise.
“No, I don’t see how. I don’t really get what you mean but…”
Startled, Rio tilts his head to one side with a puzzled expression.
“You, so you can make such a face, huh? You have a cute face so this is much better than your usual sullen look.”
“Uhm, okay. I’ll keep that in mind.”
Seeing Jiji’s joyful expression, Rio timidly nods.
“Well, whatever. I should go. They’ll get angry if I dawdle too long.”
“Okay. Thank you very much.”
Lowering his head deeply, Rio turns around and leaves.
* * *
It is early morning.
A peculiarly stagnant air hung over the slums where crude wooden houses line the streets. Still, when bathed in the warm sunlight and crisp morning air, Rio is able to regain some peace of mind.
Despite being told to wash himself, there are no decent bathing facilities available in the slums. The only way to get a bath is to exit the slums and find a place with a well.
The royal castle stands enclosed by castle walls in the center of the Beltram Kingdom’s capital with its remaining surroundings divided into multiple blocks. A toll and permission are required to pass the castle walls.
Naturally, only the upper class reside within the safety of the castle walls. Only those above a certain level are allowed to live within those walls.
In addition, the closer one resides to the royal castle, the more distinguished and prosperous they are.
On the other hand, one is free to come and go in the areas outside the castle walls. While life outside those walls is dangerous, expansion and development progress quickly, unlike within the walls.
The slums are located on the outskirts of the capital and people are of course, free to come and go. Even if safety is lacking outside the walls, the slums are notoriously dangerous.
The country had long given up trying to impose order on the slums and lawlessness is rampant. Besides those who have no choice other than to live there, no sane person would dare venture into the slums.
Rio leaves the slums in search of a well in the neighbouring district and upon finding one, decides to quickly wash himself. Probably because of how early in the day it is, there are few people about.
Owing to that fact, Rio is able to leisurely take his time. Of course, soap and warm water are luxuries he cannot afford so he has to bear with only water.
After washing his body and clothes, Rio quickly devours the cheap soup and hard bread before returning to the entrance to the slums.
Finding a suitable area with sunlight, he crouches on the ground while patiently waiting for his clothes to dry.
It is currently early spring, still quite cold to be standing around without a shirt on. Moreover, Rio is still sick. However, having become used to living in the slums, he is able to endure it.
The brothel district is next to the slums and because a new day has broken, women who sold their prostitution services and men who bought those services are making their way home.
However, a few are returning from the brothel district to the slums. They are mostly small time criminals who struck it rich and went out to spend their earnings.
Not particularly interested in watching them, Rio contemplates on how he will continue surviving.
Honestly, Rio has no intentions on continuing his relationship with those men. It is clear he would be used until the inevitable day he gets cast away.
However, he has no choice. The world is not kind to orphans like himself. For orphans living in the slums, what choices do they have? Do they scavenge for scraps? Steal? Become used by criminals like in Rio’s case? There are not many things one can do to survive.
(Theft is out of the question. If possible, I’d like to find somewhere to work…)
His chances of finding work are slim.
People willing to employ orphans in this cruel and unforgiving world are difficult to find. Orphans from the slums are always keenly observed in markets for theft.
Orphans would not exist if they could find employment, but even then, they would be exploited and worked to the bone for ridiculously low wages.
In that case, there is one thing he can do. Rio remembers a specialty of his that might prove useful. It was something that he dedicated a good chunk of his previous life into.
University level education, domestic skills forged through living alone, there was a myriad of skills he developed from living with his parents and his part-time job. Rio starts brainstorming practical ways of putting his skills to use. In his present situation, where he has no social status or connections, it is vital that he makes the best out of his abilities.
When it comes to that, only dishonest tasks seem to be the most efficient. Rio feels, no, the Amakawa Haruto within Rio is holding back on performing criminal activity. Such ideals were already discarded by Rio long ago.
However, even if thoughts of petty crimes like theft are discarded now, Rio had already participated in many criminal acts alongside those men. When thinking about that, a sense of guilt springs forth.
Is it already too late? Mouthing self-mockery from his lips, Rio frowns and stares at his hands. At that time,
“Oi, is that… a girl?”
Rio was called out to by a dignified, feminine voice. When he raises his head in response, he is met four people of varying ages. Each wore a fine robe covering their bodies and faces, making it difficult to discern the gender of the other three people.
However, judging from their builds, the lady who called out to Rio seems to be the eldest of the group. Her youthful voice indicates that she cannot be older than twenty.
Behind the lady, stood one person whose figure suggested that they were in their early teens, as well as two small children around Rio’s age.
The lady who spoke was probably unable to accurately discern Rio’s gender. Rio possesses androgynous features and in combination with his long, unkempt hair, it is no surprise he was mistaken for a girl.
One of the two children in the back muttered in blatant disgust.
Judging from the voice, it was a girl. It was a lovely, beautiful voice yet contents of the remark were undisguised revulsion.
“I’d prefer somebody who doesn’t smell so bad. It’s bad for my health.”
The other child, who also seems to be a girl, spoke.
(Don’t be so selfish…)
Receiving a considerable shock, Rio nearly frowns unintentionally. He was well aware of his unpleasant odour but he had just washed himself recently.
Rio turns his eyes towards the two girls. Despite their faces being covered by a hood, it is obvious they are looking at him with eyes of disdain.
On the other hand, the other person standing next the girls is patiently observing Rio from under the hood. Though, it does not seem like that person is displaying any hostility.
“Oi, did you hear me? Or is it that you don’t understand my words?”
The lady asked in a fierce voice. For some reason, she seemed agitated and impatient.
“I heard you. What?”
He responded in a cold voice. The eyes of the four observe him carefully.
Their clothes are too clean for them to be residents of the slums. An exquisitely designed hilt peeked out of the lady’s robe.
What kind of business do such people have in the slums? They surely do not seem like the type to commit armed robbery. Rio increases his vigilance against them.
“Have you seen a girl with light purple hair? She’s around your age.”
The lady poses a question for Rio. Her voice was one of authority that did not leave the one inquired any choice but to answer. They seem to be looking for somebody.
Although he was not angered by her tone, Rio did not intend on responding either. After all, he has no idea about this girl they are trying to find.
Rio stands up straight while eyeing the four of them and with a sigh, begins to walk.
“Oi, wait. Answer the question.”
Clicking her tongue, Vanessa called Rio to halt.
“Eh, don’t know.”
Stopping, Rio gave a half-hearted answer.
“You’ll regret it if you lie to us.”
However, perhaps doubting Rio’s response, the two girls in the back cautioned him in an arrogant tone causing him to become irritated.
“Like I said—”
“You two, you aren’t going to get an answer like that.”
Even if Rio tried to answer, he does not know anything pertaining to the person they are looking for. The two children fall silent from the last person’s light reprimand. It seems like this person is a girl as well.
“Muu, c’mon Celia.”
The lady looks towards the one called Celia.
“Leave this to me, Vanessa-sama.”
“That’s, right. You’re an active lecturer so you’re probably more suited for this than me.”
The lady referred to as Vanessa seems to hesitate a bit before entrusting Celia with the questioning. Celia takes one step forward.
“Nee, you. I’m sorry we scared you. What’s your name? Ah, I’m Celia.”
Kindly asked by Celia, Rio answered.
“Rio? That’s an unusual name.”
“…It’s because my parents were foreigners.”
“I see. So that’s why your hair’s black. By the way, Rio, I have something I want to ask you, will you answer me?”
“Have you seen a girl with light purple hair? We’re looking for her, do you know anything?”
“Uhm, I haven’t seen anybody like that…”
Rio shakes his head.
It’s probably already too late— were words Rio did not add.
It is doubtful that a child who does not belong in slums, to stray into it and be safe. Even clothes that commoners wear would be worth a fortune for folks in the slums.
The inquired girl is probably related to these four so it is likely she is wearing nice clothes. If she is lucky, then she would only be stripped of her clothes, otherwise, she might be sold off to a brothel.
Celia responded in a disappointed tone.
“Is that the slums over there?”
However, taking after a deep breath, she asked so.
“Are the slums large? We want to go in but we’re a bit afraid of getting lost.”
“It’s really big and it’s quite a maze in there… do you intend on going in?”
Rio widens his eyes in surprise.
“Yes, we have to search for that child.”
Celia responded with hesitation.
“You better not.”
Rio looked at the puzzled Celia whose head was tilted to one side.
“…The high-quality clothes you’re wearing basically screams ‘Attack me’. It’s still morning so there aren’t a lot of people up yet but there are still people around. It’s not a place for a woman like you to enter.”
At Rio’s detailed warning, Celia’s eyes widen in surprise.
“Those are quite some words for an orphan”, mutters one of the girls.
“Ah, I see. Public order in there is bad as expected.”
Celia said so and looking at her clothing with a bitter smile, mutters,
“Haa… Even though I thought this was just a simple robe”.
If Rio had yet to recover his memories as Amakawa Haruto, he would not have provided any advice to Celia. Especially with the presences of the overbearing Vanessa and the two girls, he would never even think to warn them.
If you enter the slums on a whim, then you should be prepared to die on a whim. Those are his true feelings.
However, the human called Amakawa Haruto inside Rio is a softhearted person.
Despite having only met Celia, he at least stopped her from entering the slums as a form of minimum courtesy.
“Uhm, what kind of clothes do women in the slums wear?”
“What kind of clothes, you ask. Clothes that commoners wear but much more tattered. There are those who wear nice clothes too but they are the ones calling the shots in the slums.”
“I see. I’ll use that as a reference.”
Celia sweetly nods her head in understanding.
“By the way, for an orphan, the way you speak is oddly polite. Do most orphans talk like that?”
“…Is that so? My late mother taught me to speak like this.”
Rio answered in a slightly stiff voice.
At only seven-years-old, Rio’s vocabulary is not that developed yet. However, as a result of being frequently hit by older men if he did not watch his mouth, Rio now always matches his tone with the opposing party’s temperament.
In addition to his mother always speaking politely, the emergence of Amakawa Haruto has also boosted his mental growth resulting in a much more mature tone.
“I— I’m sorry. I’ve asked about something unnecessary.”
Celia apologized in a fluster.
“No, it’s nothing…”
Rio responded without showing much emotion.
Perhaps having gotten a glimpse of something in Rio’s eyes, Celia widened her eyes.
“Celia, let’s come back after we’ve changed our clothes.”
Vanessa who had been listening to their conversation in silence finally spoke up.
“What are you saying!? We need to hurry or else that child will—!”
The two children impatiently insist on continuing their search.
“If our information is correct, then there should still be time. Also, we’re moving in secret. We cannot carelessly get in the way of the search parties. Surely Christina-sama doesn’t want to create an uproar, right?”
“…Then let’s hurry up and change our clothes already.”
At Vanessa’s explanation, the girl called Christina distorts her face in irritation.
“Celia, wasn’t there a suspicious maryoku response in the area?”
“Uhm, please wait a moment <Area Search5>.”
Taking a deep breath, Celia uttered words unfamiliar to Rio. Then, a formation with geometric designs forms beneath her feet.
Immediately following, Rio feels a strange sense of uneasiness. The sensation felt something like ripples in the air. Then, a wave of light is emitted from Celia’s body.
An illusion? Rio strains his eyes as the thought flashes through his mind.
Celia stares at Rio’s face.
“Is there something wrong with that child?”
Vanessa inquired about her reaction.
“He was caught in
. It should only react to those with maryoku beyond a specified amount, so it seems like this child possesses quite a lot of maryoku. You have the aptitude to use magic, right?”
“Ah, I see… So there are such orphans too.”
“That guy has maryoku?”
Vanessa displayed an expression of understanding while Christina expressed doubt with a tilt of her head.
“There are humans who can use magic despite not being an aristocrat. Even if their parents don’t possess maryoku, some can inherit it from their ancestors. Well, without training, one can’t notice maryoku, so some people live their whole lives without realising it.”
Celia gave a simple explanation.
“Hehh… So it doesn’t depend on appearances, does it?”
The girl whose name Rio does not know murmured in admiration.
“I see, so that’s how it is. But in the end, he’s still an orphan, such a waste.”
Vanessa turned her gaze towards Rio.
(Magic? Maryoku? Was that strange, pulsating light just now magic? Surely, I felt something just now, right? But, I shouldn’t be able to sense it since I haven’t undergone any training… Why is that?)
Rio tried to piece together the conversation between the three people.
“Then, wasn’t there a suspicious maryoku response?”
“Uhm, nothing within a 50m radius. There was only a reaction from us and this child.”
“I see… Sorry for dragging you along, it’s only thanks to you that our investigation has been progressing smoothly. People who can use <Area Search> are rare. On top of that, nobody can match your range either.”
After listening to their conversation that made little sense to Rio, Celia turns her eyes back towards Rio.
“Thank you. Here, would you please accept this as payment for your information?”
Saying that, Celia handed Rio five large silver coins.
Upon receiving the coins, Rio’s eyes widen in surprise. The information he gave was worth nowhere near that much. This girl’s sense of value seems to be quite off.
Having those thoughts, Rio stares at Celia.
“Uhm, is it not enough?”
Such reply came back.
“…That’s not it.”
A short moment later, Rio lightly shakes his head. Any amount of money he can get, he should be grateful for. There is no way he can bring himself to return the money.
“Thank you very much.”
Rio lowers his head towards Celia while thanking her.
“Even though I said that, hush money is included in that as well. Please forget everything you saw and heard here.”
In a slightly cold tone, Celia imparts a warning.
Rio nods immediately.
Perhaps, the four are nobles. Curiosity kills the cat. It would be unwise to get on a nobles bad side and Rio is not foolish enough to poke his nose where it does not belong.
“Uhm… thanks? For informing me so politely.”
Celia nervously expressed her thanks.
“…No, I should be thanking you.”
“Then, farewell. Don’t give up.”
Perhaps having been emotionally affected through her contact with the orphan Rio, remorse can be seen of Celia’s face.
“Then let’s go, Celia.”
The four people turn around and depart from the entrance of the slums.
Rio continues staring at their retreating figures. Looking closely, he notices a faint light emitting from the girls’ bodies for some reason.
Startled, he looks down at his own body and realises that the same light he saw from Celia is also radiating from his body. There is no mistake. The light reflected in his eyes is real.
Just like how blood fills his entire body, the light also fills his entire body. Like water gushing out of a spring, the light overflows from Rio’s body.
Out of the four people, the girl who seemed like Christina’s attendant gave off the most light.
However, the amount of light coming from Rio’s body is a lot more than in comparison to Celia.
Where the heck is this light coming from? Would Celia not have noticed? Rio ponders such questions but cannot come up with an answer.
(Can’t other people see this? Isn’t it bad if someone notices?)
When Rio becomes conscious of the amount of light being emitted from his body, in a surprising discovery, he is able to easily retract the light. A small amount is still leaking out but seeing that the intensity is a lot lower than when compared to Celia, Rio suspects that it will not become a problem and breathes a sigh of relief.
(This light is maryoku… right?)
If it really is maryoku, then maybe he can do something with it.
However, without knowing anything about magic, he does not want to risk any serious injury. Therefore, experimentation will be necessary in a place away from prying eyes.
For the time being, though, Rio decides to return to the shed since it would be ill-advised to return too late.
* * *
Making his way back to the shed, Rio used the time to think about his future.
With the five large silver coins he received from Celia, he would not have to worry about living expenses for a while. Still, he has no fixed income so he cannot afford to just part from those men. Outside of the capital’s slums, Rio does not have anywhere to go meaning that the risks of abandoning the group are being hunted down and beat up.
For the time being, just having money and warm meals made him feel satisfied. Now that he was a little better off, was it time to leave those men? Possible means of living and escape routes are carefully taken into consideration.
While thinking about such things, Rio finally arrives at the shoddy hut. A gloomy air hung around the shed causing Rio sigh.
Announcing his return, he enters the shed.
He would likely be shouted at, depending on the men’s mood. Fortunately, thanks to the presence of Jiji and alcohol, they seemed to be in a good mood today. They might even be fooling around right now.
(Have the lights gone out?), thought Rio.
It is pitch-black and eerily silent inside the shed. The window is closed and all the lighting in the room is extinguished making it difficult to see.
The sharp smell of rusted iron fills the room causing Rio to distort his face.
(What is this smell? Blood?)
It was the fragrance of blood that registered in Rio’s mind. It smells like when one is physically injured.
Then, a muffled voice could be heard inside the shed. The source of the voice is originating from the corner of the room.
The sudden voice makes Rio shiver.
A rustling noise can be heard. Perhaps somebody is asleep?
Slowly, Rio begins making his way towards the source.
Warm liquid clings to Rio’s bare feet. The floor seems to have somehow become wet. Holding doubts towards the true nature of the liquid, Rio decides to open a window.
(The window is…)
Relying on a mental map of the room, he advances towards where the window should be while enduring the unpleasant feeling of the floor. Rio opens the sole window in the room.
The light from the outside slowly starts to brighten the room.
A disastrous and revolting scene greets him causing Rio to instantly be at a loss for words.
Tattered corpses lay on the floor.
And in the center of the corpses of men who were merrily drinking just a while go—
—Was the body of the prostitute, Jiji. She, who gave Rio a free meal just a short while ago, lay dead, with a large amount of blood pouring out of her wounds. She lay on her back, her dress dyed a crimson red.
Nausea arises within Rio, but he is somehow able to force it down.
“Nh~! Nh, nnnh~!”
A muffled voice can still be heard from the corner of the room.
Despite the shock and discomfort, he is feeling, Rio turns his eyes towards the source of the voice. A single sack lies in the corner of the room. Perhaps it contains some sort of creature.
(A person…? It can’t be—)
Judging from its size, the bag is too small to fit an adult human. Though, maybe a child can fit.
A bad premonition is felt by Rio and his heart beats uncontrollably. Holding his breath, he unsteadily approaches the bag. The contents of the bag squirm restlessly.
Rio gingerly unties the string to reveal the contents of the bag.
Just as he had predicted, an overwhelmingly beautiful girl in a charming dress resembling a Shinto priestess’ clothes appears before him. Light purple hair and violet eyes, the girl around Rio’s age absentmindedly stares at him.
—Ah, like I thought.
At that moment, Rio experiences an emotion akin to despair. Alarm bells go off inside his head.
However, it does not last for long.
Despite being seized by the desire of wanting to leave this place as quick as possible, when he witnesses the helplessly frightened face before him, he felt strangely embarrassed.
“…Are you okay?”
When Rio reluctantly asked her that, the girl nodded. Timidly staring at him, she does not seem to be too cautious of him, likely thanks to their age proximity.
Fortunately, since she is still lying on the ground in the bag, tied up, she has not noticed the carnage in the room yet. She might become panicked if she notices. Not that it matters since sooner or later, she will notice it.
“I’m going to remove your gag and bindings now. Wait a moment.”
With that said, Rio first removes her gag.
The girl quickly gasps for air. She seems to be considerably weak and her face is slightly feverish.
“Wh— Where? This… Where… am I?”
Perhaps frightened by the dark room, or due to the cold air, or simply both, the girl’s body trembles.
“The slums district. This is the house where I live with my companions but…”
While removing the ropes binding her, Rio offered a brief explanation.
“Sl— Slums district? Wh— Why? I…”
The girl floats a puzzled expression while still in a daze.
“Who knows? It’s off. You can stand now.”
Having finished untying her, Rio spoke.
“Ye— Yes. Thank you very mu… Ah, aah.”
The girl tried to stand up while thanking him, but perhaps due to the lack of strength, she faltered. She suddenly collapsed when trying to raise her body.
“Are you alright?”
Supporting the girl after she lost balance, Rio once again inquired about her condition quietly.
She nodded but her breathing is rough and her body is hot to the touch.
Speaking in a slightly tired tone, Rio continues observing the girl’s face.
(This child, isn’t she the one Celia and her group was looking for a while back?)
Rio was thinking that this girl might be the person the four aristocrats he met earlier were looking for. Light purple hair and a beautiful dress only affordable by nobles, it is quite likely this girl was their target.
The girl called out to Rio. It seemed like it took her utmost effort to talk. Perhaps spending all that time in that bag had made her slightly dehydrated.
“Excuse me but can you… take me to the castle?”
Taking laborious breaths, the girl made a request.
“Please… Father will… reward you.”
Rio awkwardly parroted what the girl said while having a feeling that he was about to be pulled into something troublesome.
As expected, the girl is thirsty.
“Please lie there for a moment. Don’t move.”
Saying that, Rio walks over to a barrel of already boiled water.
His nose had been paralyzed from the stench and can no longer smell anything. Whether he wants to or not, the disastrous scene enters his view making him grimace.
Contrary to being assaulted by nausea and disgust, Rio absentmindedly wonders what he was doing here.
Filling a wooden cup with water, he quickly returns to the fatigued girl.
“Here, it’s water. Drink it slowly.”
Rio offered the water to the girl while holding onto it to assist her drinking. In cases of dehydration, ideally he would want to offer her a drink containing salt and sugar, but such luxuries are unavailable in this shed.
The girl drinks the water with great relish.
“Puhaa, haa… Kepo kepo.”
“Slow down. It’s bad for your body if you drink too quickly.”
Seeing her choke, Rio cautioned her.
Having satisfied some of her thirst, the girl gave a faint answer before all the remaining power left her body.
Rio called out to her in a fluster but the girl seemed to be totally exhausted.
Judging so, Rio closes his eyes and while suppressing the desire to groan, he lays her on her back. At that moment—
Owing to the miserable state of the deteriorating hut, he can hear the creaking of the wooden floor inside the room.
Frantically turning his head around, he catches sight of a masked man approaching him—
A knife is about to be plunged into his body.
Death. The instant he realises his fate, Rio’s heart stops.
However, he reflexively moves his hands and dodges the incoming knife by a hair.
Then, grasping onto the man’s hand, he redirects the knife away from his body.
An astonished voice leaked out from underneath the man’s mask.
Rio stares at his hands in blank amazement as well. The reflexes developed by Amakawa Haruto in his previous life were manifested by instincts. Before he was able to notice, his body had moved on its own.
However, now is not the time to ponder over such matters.
(This bastard, was he hiding all this time? Why is he trying to kill me?)
Having been caught in a fight for the first time, Rio begins to panic.
It is only natural, though. Even in his previous life, he had never confronted an armed opponent with the intent to kill.
Cold sweat drips down his back while his heart beats wildly. Despite having barely moved, his breathing is wildly out of order. It is terrifying. Madly trembling, he can barely keep his balance.
Rio takes a stance and slowly edges backward.
Perhaps his unexpected block had made his assailant become wary as he is still standing there, knife in hand.
Honestly, he only got away from that first attack by pure luck. The man is definitely no amateur and Rio is still but a child. Even if he goes all out, it will be next to impossible to win because of their size difference.
The man slowly approaches, looking for an opportunity.
Without a doubt I’ll be killed if I fight him— is what Rio thought. However, even if he tries to run away, the chances of successfully escaping are infinitesimally small. Then,
A mysterious female voice resounded inside Rio’s head. It was a sweet and beautiful, yet cold voice. However, the voice sounded strangely exhausted. Then, the next moment—,
Rio’s eyes open his eyes wide. Suddenly, an unthinkably beautiful girl with light pink hair appears before him. However, it was only for a brief moment and the girl vanished at once.
An auditory hallucination, and a vision? Rio immediately scans his surroundings but cannot spot the girl. To begin with, was the girl not calling him Haruto? Nobody in this world should know that name—
Not understanding what happened, Rio’s mind descends into chaos,
(There isn’t much time. Odo— the way to use maryoku… I’ll show you how, sense it, memorize it.)
Once again, the voice of the girl resounded inside Rio’s head.
I wasn’t hearing things after all!—, thinks Rio,
“H— How do I use maryoku?”
Clinging on to a bare thread of hope, Rio cried out to the mysterious voice. The man’s body in front of him immediately started trembling but he did not have the luxury to mind him right now.
(Sharpen your senses. Light will be produced… from your body. Use that light to strengthen your body… your power. Picture it in your mind. It’s all right. You can do it… Haruto.)
The girl’s voice rang intermittently in his head. The explanation was quite vague. However, the following moment, Rio remembered the warm sensation that enveloped his entire body.
(This is… reflexes surpassing human ability, you can do it. The sensation just now… did you recall it? Maintain it… I’m sorry, I too—)
Thereupon, the girl’s voice trailed off.
However, Rio was surprised at the change happening to his body. At that moment, light overflows from his body and his body feels incredibly light.
Neither his visual nor auditory perception was improved but rather something akin to a sixth sense was developed. He could perceive things that he could never notice before.
Like that mysterious girl had said, using the light pouring out of his body, he is able to fortify his body and strength. Although he was skeptical and mystified at her advice, all he knows is that she helped him at a crucial time.
Thanks to her, he is able to use maryoku. Maintaining his current state is not difficult at all and he can probably invoke it next time with ease.
As for who the mysterious girl was and what this light is, he still has no idea. However, what is important now is that he deals with his assailant.
Only around 10 seconds have passed since the attempted stabbing.
The man has been suspiciously observing Rio ever since he stopped retreating from the man.
Pulling forth his fighting spirit, Rio eyes the masked man.
At that moment, the man mutters some sort of incantation.
“<Enchant Physical Ability6>”
A geometric formation shines below the man’s feet for an instant.
Rio briefly widens his eyes. Before, light shone dimly from the man’s body but after the formation disappeared, his light’s intensity increased drastically. The intensity of the light still greatly lagged behind Rio’s light but Rio became more wary of his opponent.
The next instant, the man dashes towards Rio at a ludicrous speed. The knife is thrust out towards Rio at a rate no ordinary human can react to. It seemed that his assailant was looking to decide the fight in an instant.
However, to Rio, it looked like the man was moving in slow motion. His visual perception and reaction speed had increased dramatically.
Rio tilts his torso to the side and the knife cuts through thin air. Taking a step forward to make up the difference in their reach, Rio slams his palm into the man’s abdomen.
Receiving an intense impact in his abdomen, a low moan leaks from the man’s mouth. The man, who easily weighs over 80 kilograms, is blown off his feet. The single blow he received from Rio carried power unthinkable for a child.
Although he is barely able to break his fall, the man nearly lost consciousness. Utter confusion and shock are written on his face. Kneeling down on one knee, he stares at Rio in astonishment. Still, the man struggles back onto his feet and slowly approaches Rio, striking with his knife once again.
However, Rio grabs hold of the man by his wrist and twists the joint.
Feeling pain in his wrist, his hand parts from the knife.
Rio destroys the man’s stance and knocks him off the ground.
His physical prowess had been greatly enhanced. The burden he was exerting on his body should not be physically possible for a child to endure but the mysterious girl from a while ago had said that he should also see a rise in strength. He did not feel any negative effects on his body whatsoever.
“Guu, shit… this brat… damn it. Who…?”
Lying on the ground, the man grumbled a few curses at Rio.
Having remained standing, Rio breathes heavily. His heart is still racing as he stares down at his hands in disbelief.
A short moment later, Rio looks up at the man scowling at him. Eyes filled with hatred can be seen through the eyehole gaps of the mask.
The man’s body trembles as he attempts to get up once more.
(Is he still trying to fight!?)
Rio’s distorts his face in agony.
The man must be covered in injuries. He cannot have much strength left to stand up.
And yet, why is he trying so hard? There is only one answer, the man will continue struggling until his last breath. Rio cannot wrap his head around why the man is driven to such a point.
Though, nor does he want to understand it either. However, if the man is aiming for his life, he will—
Rio releases an irritated sigh and pushes the man down onto the floor, face first.
A painful groan leaks from the man’s mouth.
Climbing onto his back, Rio grabs the man’s neck with both of his hands. It is possible for him to strangle the man to death if he so desires.
However, his hands would not stop trembling. When he tries to tighten his grip, the trembling worsens.
He cannot bring himself to take the life a person. He cannot kill. He was almost killed but he cannot bring himself to kill. Hesitating for a moment,
Cursing, Rio rams the man’s head into the ground with all his might. The man’s struggling ceases immediately and his body goes limp.
He fainted. After confirming his condition, Rio stands up,
“I— I need to get out of here—”
Overwhelmed by what had just transpired, Rio mumbled a few words in a daze. He begins to walk on unsteady legs.
Rio cautiously scans his surroundings wondering how he would explain the scene if somebody passes by. He cannot help be feel scared.
Thereupon, the figure of the passed out girl is reflected in Rio’s eyes—
* * *
It was still morning.
Any upstanding citizen would have headed off to work a while ago, but despite not a single person in the slums holding a respectable job, the streets are still deserted.
Dragging his feet around the slums, Rio carries the fainted girl on his shoulder. Her dress is was too conspicuous so he covered her body with the bag she was originally trapped inside. Even though he is not injured, Rio walks with slow steps.
How did this happen?
Why did he allow himself to become involved in such a mess?
Despite having grievances over his decisions, he cannot bring himself to get angry at the turn of events.
Rio could only keep walking on. Before he noticed, he had arrived at the entrance to the slums.
“Y— You! Wait!”
A nearby young girl immediately called out to Rio.
However, Rio failed to notice he was being called out to and continues walking in a daze.
“I said wait!”
Hearing the voice again, Rio reluctantly turns around. It seems like somebody is trying to remove the girl he is carrying off his shoulder.
“Ch— Christina-sama! Please wait!”
“Vanessa, Flora is—!”
The person who called out to Rio — one of the four he met at the entrance to the slums earlier — was Christina. The other three are present as well.
Although they had changed out of their former clothes and now donned shabby robes, Rio could still recognise them from their names and height.
Seething with anger, Christina pulls the girl she called Flora off of Rio’s shoulder.
“Oi, you little shit, get away from Flora-sama.”
A cold voice reverberated from Vanessa as Rio loosens his grip on Flora.
At that moment, Vanessa lifts Flora off of Rio’s shoulder.
Christina desperately pleads Flora’s name as Vanessa holds onto her in her arms.
“Please calm down. She has only fainted. Celia, Roana, please tend to Flora.”
After calmly diagnosing Flora’s condition, Vanessa requests aid from two people.
The two that were called out to nod and Celia takes hold of Flora. Rio watches them with a blank expression, apathetic to their concerns.
“Oi, you bastard!”
Vanessa scowls at Rio.
She fluidly draws her sword and points the tip at Rio.
However, Rio does not flinch. Vanessa did not seem to possess an intent to kill. Her atmosphere is different from the man from before.
However, that does not mean that he is calm. If anything, he feels indifferent.
“Bastard, tell me what you know.”
Vanessa orders him in a cold voice.
Not caring enough, Rio turns on his heel to leave. However,
Having said that, Christina runs in front of him, blocking his path.
Vanessa cried at in desperation.
However, Christina ignores Vanessa’s warning and proceeds to slap Rio across the cheek. *Pan* A dry sound echoes throughout the area.
Rio, who was not paying attention, instantly regains focus.
A dumb sound leaked out from his mouth.
He did not understand just what had happened. Why is Christina so angry? Why was he hit despite saving the girl they were looking for?
The stinging on his cheek gradually intensifies as he stands there in bewilderment.
“Don’t just stand there like an idiot, give me an answer! You lied to us. What were you intending to do with Flora?”
Christina instantly jumps to a conclusion as she berates Rio.
Rio had no idea what she was saying. A lump forms in his throat.
Letting out an incredulous voice, Rio fixes his gaze on Christina.
Christina’s body trembles. Immediately, she tries to slap Rio across the cheek a second time.
However, Rio moves his hand and catches her by the wrist.
Christina distorts her face in irritation and tries to slap him with her other hand.
And once again, Rio catches her other hand with his free hand.
“Let go! Filthy! Foul!”
Despite her outbursts, Rio does not loosen his grip. Then,
Ordering him in a cold voice, Vanessa points her sword at Rio’s neck.
Glaring at Vanessa, he slowly lets go of Christina’s hands.
As expected, now with her hands free, Christina unleashes a slap onto Rio’s cheek with all her might. He could easily block it but chose not to.
Rio openly scoffs at her with a sarcastic smile.
Seeing his reaction, Christina’s body trembles again.
She seemed afraid. For the sheltered Christina, Rio was the first to show such a twisted smile.
“Christina-sama! Please stop trying to provoke him!”
“He’s dangerous! He has committed lese majeste!”
“This boy doesn’t even know you’re royalty. We should at least hear him out.”
“Then, restrain him quickly!”
At Christina’s shout, Vanessa lets out a troubled sigh.
“As you heard. Boy… or rather, Rio. Will you accompany us to the castle?”
“I’d rather not.”
Rio firmly declines.
“Sorry but this isn’t a request, but an order. You have no say in this.”
Saying that, Vanessa points her sword at Rio’s neck. If the sword shifted even a few millimeters, it would pierce his neck.
However, unperturbed, Rio continues staring at Vanessa.
Vanessa returns his stare.
Christina, Celia, and Roana nervously watch the scene in silence from the side.
A brief moment of silence passed between the five of them.
(This boy, is he really a child?)
Vanessa was impressed at Rio’s audacity.
An ordinary child would have lost their composure and shouted at her. It would not be surprising if they were begging for their lives by now. And yet, Rio acted defiantly, keeping calm against Vanessa, who held the upper hand in the current situation.
Vanessa felt a strange disturbance from the boy before her.
“I helped that girl who fainted. You should ask her when she wakes up.”
“That’s not good enough. We have no proof that you’re telling the truth.”
Vanessa curtly deflects Rio’s suggestion.
With the way things are headed, any further discussion would be futile. Vanessa is trying to coerce me into coming to the castle— is what Rio thinks.
With the power he acquired a while ago, there is a possibility of escaping, but they already know his face and it is unlikely he can defeat all of them in a fight.
If he does go through with such a plan, he will without a doubt, be labeled as a criminal, since the other party is of nobility. It is nothing but a short-sighted plan. Finally, Rio makes up his mind.
“…I only have to tell you what happened, right?”
“Yes, if you’re found innocent, you will be let go. Nothing bad will happen to you. You can tell me on the way.”
Thus, Rio, who is but a mere orphan, travels from the outer most layer of the capital to the center.
A while later.
By the time Rio arrived at the castle, the shed where Rio resided was cordoned off by an investigation party dispatched from the castle. The slum residents gathered around the perimeter of the site in curiosity.
“Alfred-sama! I found a live one!”
Saying so, a knight donning the Kingdom’s Imperial Guards uniform emerged from the door of the shed.
“Restrain him and bring him out. He might be one of the kidnappers.”
Alfred Aimard — a man in his late twenties dressed in a knight uniform with a luxurious mantle draped over his shoulders, gave out orders.
A single person amongst the onlookers observed the exchange. The person is garbed in a black robe making it impossible for anybody to guess their age and gender.
At that time, a man is carried out of the shed, with his hands and feet bounded. He is the man who attacked Rio before. The mask had been removed and his face lay bare, for all to see. He seems to have regained consciousness and is grimacing from the injuries he sustained.
Seeing him, the person in the black robe mutters,
“This is… quite bad now, isn’t it?”
Judging from the tone of the voice, it appears that the robed figure is a man. While his expression cannot be seen because his face is covered by a hood, in contrast to his words, his voice did carry a hint of agitation.
“…It can’t be helped.”
Muttering under his breath, the man takes out a jewel-like stone from his robe. Grasping the stone, he crushes it without hesitation.
“Uh… ah… Gahaa.”
Immediately after the stone was shattered, the bounded man begins to convulse. His body trembles violently for a moment before breathing his last.
The knight carrying the man calls out in panic.
“He— He’s dead.”
By the time Alfred noticed the oddity, the knight had already confirmed that the man was dead.
“What?”, was the only response Alfred could give.
Satisfied with the results, the robed man melts back into the crowd of onlookers.
“It’s time, isn’t it? I suppose I can return now.”
With those parting words, the man leaves the area.
1. He refers to himself as ‘boku’ ↩
2. He uses ‘ore’ here even though Rio refers to himself as ‘boku’ ↩
3. Rio is referred to as ‘teme’, a rude way of saying ‘you’ ↩
4. ‘Aniki’ is a common term used within the Yakuza to refer to a senior rank ↩
5. Written as ‘Range Search Magic’, read as ‘Area Search’ ↩
6. Written as ‘Physical Strength Reinforcement Magic’, read as ‘Enchant Physical Ability’ ↩