Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
Just before midday, Ain woke up and went into town with Chris. Dill was not with them because he was going separately as Katima’s escort.
“It’s really crowded.”
The main street where Ain was walking was crowded with tourists. There were as many stores as in the royal capital, which only attracted Ain’s attention to see what they were selling.
“But it would be a shame if I couldn’t see inside the stores, wouldn’t it?”
Ain stopped in front of a store and tapped on the white wall.
The walls of the store became transparent like glass.
“Fufu, it is also a magic tool.”
“I can’t believe how much Ist-like this place is…”
He took his hand away from the wall, and within seconds it was back to white. When Ain touched it again, the wall became transparent, and he could see the inside of the store again. Ain was stunned and repeated the process several times.
“Ain-sama, aren’t you playing too much?”
“I never thought I’d see such an amazing magic tool. It is impressive.”
“But it’s very difficult to use it, isn’t it? That thing.”
“I might have to replace the walls in Katima-san’s room with this to surprise her.”
“…You can’t do that, okay?”
Chris’s cheeks broke into a smile, saying, “You’re still the same.”
“By the way, I wonder what Katima-sama is doing?”
“Dill was being sacrificed, you know. You must know that.”
Although it sounds good to say that they are working separately, in the end, Dill is actually Katima’s baggage handler. So he’s probably taking care of Katima right now, guarding her.
“Err… from the standpoint of an escort myself; I’m still worried about letting Katima-sama go separately.”
“I can understand what you’re saying, Chris-san.”
But it’s Katima, so it can’t be helped.
“Let’s go over there. There are a lot of stores, and maybe we can find some information about the kidnapping incident.”
Ain looked at a street a little off the main road. The streets were a little less crowded, but Chris nodded and walked next to Ain.
While enjoying the streets of Ist, Ain investigated the kidnapping incident.
──It was natural that it would be difficult for two people to investigate.
The sky is covered with a dark lapis lazuli color without any traces or information that can be heard.
They stopped in a narrow alley, and Ain said to Chris in a resigned voice.
“Can I make an excuse?”
“Yes, go ahead.”
“It’s hard to find the way in the alley at Ist, isn’t it? I can’t see the Tower of Wisdom, and I don’t have a good sense of direction.”
“It’s definitely unique, but then why did you take the narrow path…? No, it’s my fault for not stopping you… I’m a bad guard because I’ve been getting carried away by Ain-sama lately…”
“N-no, no… I said I’m sorry…”
It’s better to describe the space surrounding them as a gap between houses rather than a road. If Chris jumped to the roof, she could see the direction, but at any rate, she did not want to stand out.
“I can’t deny that I felt like exploring along the way.”
“Geez… I already figured it out. When we get back to the inn, we’ll see who got pushed around more, Dill or me, okay?”
She said that she was fine and continued on her way; Ain couldn’t say anything firmly.
“We could see the knight on the main street, but not here.”
“I don’t think this is part of their patrol route. No one usually sets foot in a place like this.”
Ain averted his gaze at the righteous argument.
“Ah, but someone is running towards us. I’ll ask that person how to get back.”
Suddenly, Ain noticed a figure approaching from in front of him. But the figure was running so fast that it made both Ain and Chris feel nervous as the figure approached.
“Yes. It seems that that figure is being chased by someone.”
Chris said and pulled out her rapier.
It was a girl who approached them.
Her cheeks were stained with dirt, and her clothes were so ragged and thin that it was questionable whether they could be called clothes. She wasn’t wearing any shoes, and her appearance was so far removed from that of a commoner.
She was very thin, but she looked to be about fifteen years old.
Listening closely, Ain could hear the rough breathing of her voice. Then upon looking more closely, he noticed several men following the girl.
“They are probably some hired adventurers or something.”
“I suppose. And they are chasing the girl.”
“Whatever the reason, I wouldn’t overlook it. Ain-sama, please stay behind me.”
The distance between them grows smaller by the minute.
“──Please help me! Please… please!”
Finally, the girl noticed Ain and Chris and shouted.
The men also seem to have noticed.
“Hey, what should we do?”
“I don’t know. Maybe we should just take them with us.”
Hearing the voice, Ain’s eyes narrowed.
“I think it might have been a coincidence; what do you think?”
“Just a coincidence, huh? We didn’t wander into this place with any intention; it was only a coincidence!”
“I know, I know. Let’s just say we got lucky.”
It was related to the kidnapping, Ain thought. Chris also seemed to agree, and in her mind, she strongly believed that she would take the men alive.
“Once that’s decided, we won’t need to stay here long.”
A gust of wind blew, and a moment later, Chris disappeared from everyone’s sight.
“It’s really unbelievable…”
The next moment, the men were lying on the ground behind the girl. Some are bleeding lightly; others have their swords sliced in half.
Chris suddenly appeared in front of the panicked girl.
“Are you okay? We are…”
Chris tried to protect her by telling her who she was…
The girl was either relieved or confused by Chris’s actions.
Standing in front of her, Chris hurriedly held the girl’s shoulders and said, “E, eh?” She looked at Ain with a puzzled voice.
“There’s one thing that’s definite.”
“W-what is it?”
“It means that we can’t ask her for directions anymore.”
It is because of Ain’s adventurous spirit, to begin with.
But it’s also true that they came across some kind of disturbance that gave them a clue, so Chris let out a small breath and carried the girl on her back. The knights would carry the fallen men.
The two exchanged glances and left this narrow alleyway.
◇ ◇ ◇
It took a little while, but they got to the main street, and Chris commanded the knight. The knight, who was being shown her status card, hurriedly followed the order to secure the men.
After a few hours of putting the girl to sleep in the spare bedroom, she woke up before the sun changed.
“This place is…”
As soon as she woke up, she sat up on the bed.
“Oh, you’re awake-nya?”
“Well, we’ll explain it later-nya. Hey, everyone! She’s awake-nya!”
Katima’s shouting voice lured Ain and Chris out of the lounge. Chris was holding a tray of food in her hands.
In exchange, Katima left the room, rubbing her eyelids sleepily.
“You must be hungry. You should eat and relax first.”
Steam rose from the food on the tray. The aroma was appetizing. The girl wiped a single tear from her stained cheek and wiped it with her dirty clothes.
“Is it okay? Can I eat such food?”
“It’s okay. I prepared it just for you.”
“Take your time. You don’t need to rush yourself.”
After receiving the tray from Chris, the girl grabbed a fork with her unhealthily thin fingertips. She moved her hand unaccustomedly but slowly chewed the food on it.
It must have been a long time since she had a warm meal. The girl chewed her food with tears streaming down her face.
(An orphan from the slums?)
The way the girl was dressed and the way she didn’t look like she had been bathed in water made her look like an orphan. After bringing her in, Katima looked at the girl and made that conclusion.
A few minutes later, the girl was done eating.
Her blood color seemed to have improved, and the girl bowed her head with relief.
“I can’t thank you enough for giving a person like me such a great meal.”
“Don’t worry about it. But may I ask you something?”
“…You mean about the people who were after me?”
“Yeah, I want to know why they were chasing you.”
“…I don’t know. When I came back to my house ─ my house, which is a small, shabby hut ─ those men were there instead of my sister, who was waiting for my return.”
Ain, who was sitting down, exchanged glances with Chris, and Chris asked the girl in a calm tone of voice.
“Excuse me, but where is your sister now?”
“I-I don’t know…! I think she was taken somewhere, and I was almost taken, too…”
“──Thank you. I understand what happened.”
The girl ran away in a desperate attempt to avoid being caught.
Ain was annoyed, and his nails dug into his right hand, which he clenched tightly.
“Please! I’m a rude woman who receives charity and then asks for more charity, but…”
“We were chasing those men, too. Don’t worry; we’ll help your sister too.”
The girl whose face is wet with tears and snot is relieved by Ain’s words.
They didn’t know each other’s identity yet and hadn’t even told each other their names. But right now, they don’t have the luxury of talking about it.
“Please rest a little longer. I’d like to talk to you tomorrow.”
Chris offered her a warm cup of tea, which she accepted with trepidation. She took a sip, then swallowed a second sip.
Ain stood up after hearing those words.
“I’ll leave your drinks and light meals here. You can use the bathroom as you like, and you can rest in this room. I’ll be back in the morning, so take your time.”
Smiling at the girl, Ain left the room with Chris.
(Speaking of which…)
Ain had a question.
He wondered about the girl’s intelligence, even though she was a slum orphan. Thinking that it was not a big problem, he went straight to the lounge.
As soon as he returned to the lounge, he heard a knock at the door. After hearing Ain’s answer, the door was opened.
Dill returned, looking tired.
“Welcome back. How did the interrogation go?”
“I have some information to report.”
Dill took out an envelope from his pocket and handed it to Ain. Ain quickly opened the envelope and took out the paper inside.
“Well, that’s not so easy to figure out, is it?”
He had hoped to find out the mastermind’s name, but it was not going to work out that way. Instead, he found out something interesting.
The children the men had kidnapped were being delivered to the outskirts of the slums. The information said that they are particularly targeting girls these days, as they are worth a lot of money. And the best part.
“The witness happened to see a carriage carrying the woman who had been handed over on its way to the Tower of Wisdom…”
Normally, when a kidnapped girl is handed over, there are several relays, but this witness happened to see the carriage carrying the girl, it seems.
“Well… something is starting to smell a bit fishy.”
This is because he did not expect the Tower of Wisdom to appear here. The building and the kidnapping of people, which assert their existence in the center of Ist, how do these two overlap, and what is happening in this town?
The dizzying pace of the past few days finally brought Ain to his senses.